railroad

Because Somebody Blundered

In 1918, what is still considered to be the worst railway accident in U.S. history occurred right here in Nashville. Sitting unassumingly in on White Bridge Road in between the Greenway and the Hospital is a memorial.

File Dec 15, 10 23 15

Photo by Angela Schmidt

Two trains collided head on, resulting in 101 people killed and 171 injured. One train was heading to Memphis, and the other from Memphis to Old Hickory when “somebody blundered” according to the Nashville Tennesseean paper, and the engineer gave the wrong signal to the approaching trains.

Rounding the Dutchman’s Curve bend of the track, the trains collided around 7:15 am. 80% of the passengers were African-Americans heading to work at the Dupont Factory, which is still operating in a suburb of Nashville – Lakewood, TN (see also Wizard Tree).

The scene is described a little too gruesomely for me, but you can read the original newspaper story reprinted here. I prefer the old way of storytellin’ best – through music.

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Tate’s Lane Cemetery and Ghost Railroad

Tates Lane and Pet Cemetery (33)

So, technically the cemetery is called the Mt. Juliet Memorial Gardens, but I don’t know anyone who refers to it by anything other than Tate’s Lane Cemetery.  The main entrance is actually one street down from Tate’s Lane on Caldwell, but it is on the Tate farm original property.

To get to the cemetery, you must first cross the railroad tracks, which at the time when I was in high school, were used infrequently by the 137 mile line of the Nashville & Eastern railroad based out of Lebanon, TN. It was originally a part of Jere Baxter’s Tennessee Central line which went out of business in 1968 and was left abandoned (has  served as the commuter rail from Lebanon to Nashville, the Music City Star since 2006).  It was in the 1960’s where the haunted rails stories began.  Before the railroad was reestablished as the Nashville & Eastern line, stories began to circulate that cars would just die when passing over the tracks on the way into the cemetery, not leaving the driver enough time to get out before the fatal clash with the oncoming train.

Tates Lane and Pet Cemetery (73)

As if the threat of instant death wasn’t enough, the cemetery was, and probably still is, associated with Satanic and Masonic rituals (there are an incredible amount of Masons buried there- just look for the compass, anchors, beehives, clasped hands, crown and cross, double headed eagle, triangle with an eye, father time and a weeping virgin, hand holding heart, keystone with letters HTWSSTKS, a five pointed start, a snake and cross, and pretty much any other symbol on a gravestone).

In the 1990’s, many of the graves were defaced and some stolen.  There were so many problems with people vandalizing a large Jesus statue, that the statue is no longer there, only the platform on which he once stood.

Tates Lane and Pet Cemetery (50)