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MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Orange in Orange County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Wreck at the Fat Nancy

 
 
Wreck at the Fat Nancy Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 6, 2009
1. Wreck at the Fat Nancy Marker
Inscription. Here, on 12 July 1888, occurred one of Virginia's largest train disasters, the wreck of the Virginia Midland Railroad's Train 52, the Piedmont Airline. As it crossed the 44-foot-high, 487-foot-long trestle, called the Fat Nancy for a local African American woman who served as a trestle watcher and reported problems, the trestle collapsed. Nine passengers were killed, including two Confederate veterans, and more than two dozen were injured. Also killed was civil engineer Cornelius G. Cox, who had earlier designed the current culvert and earthen fill to replaced the unstable trestle. Former Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, another passenger, survived.
 
Erected 2007 by Department of Historic Resources. (Marker Number JJ 3.)
 
Location. 38° 14.355′ N, 78° 8.967′ W. Marker is near Orange, Virginia, in Orange County. Marker is on Constitution Highway (State Highway 20), on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Located at a pull off in front of the Oakley Mansion. Marker is in this post office area: Orange VA 22960, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Oakley (a few steps from this marker); Orange Graded School (approx.
Wreck at the Fat Nancy Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 6, 2009
2. Wreck at the Fat Nancy Marker
Looking east at the marker. The trestle spanned Laurel Creek at a point just east of the marker's location and near the modern highway. Presently the railroad line runs further to the south.
1.6 miles away); Civil War & Gilmore Farm Trail (approx. 1.6 miles away); Montpelier Flag Stop (approx. 1.7 miles away); Montpelier Train Station (approx. 1.7 miles away); The Blacksmith Shop (approx. 1.7 miles away); The Road (approx. 1.7 miles away); The Backyard (approx. 1.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Orange.
 
Categories. African AmericansRailroads & StreetcarsWar, US Civil
 
The Markers and the Old Railroad Grade image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 6, 2009
3. The Markers and the Old Railroad Grade
Looking beyond the marker is a path through the trees. After the disaster the railroad build an embankment with a stone culvert, to replace the trestle. That embankment stands today just north of the modern highway, and the culvert remains to allow Laurel Creek to pass.
Current Culvert at the Wreck of the Fat Nancy trestle site image. Click for full size.
By Paul Crumlish, September 27, 2009
4. Current Culvert at the Wreck of the Fat Nancy trestle site
Detail of the Current Culvert at the Wreck of the Fat Nancy trestle site image. Click for full size.
By Paul Crumlish, September 27, 2009
5. Detail of the Current Culvert at the Wreck of the Fat Nancy trestle site
Memorializing Cornelius Cox, the civil engineer who designed the replacement railroad right-of-way and Laurel Creek culvert for the Fat Nancy wooden trestle. Cox was killed in the wreck of the Virginia Midland Railroad's Train 52, the Piedmont Airline, on July 12, 1888.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 6, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 3,471 times since then and 227 times this year. Last updated on April 7, 2011, by Robin Meadia of Tocca, Georgia. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 6, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   4, 5. submitted on September 27, 2009, by PaulwC3 of Northern, Virginia.
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