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This project pays for  publishing a dramatic history of America’s Worst Train Wreck, exploring the lives and times of those involved.
This project pays for publishing a dramatic history of America’s Worst Train Wreck, exploring the lives and times of those involved.
51 backers pledged $4,167 to help bring this project to life.

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The Day The Whistles Cried; the great cornfield meet at Dutchman's Curve

Two steam locomotives collide head-on in a cornfield at the edge of Nashville on July 9, 1918, taking the lives of more than a hundred  people and injuring at least 300 others. This tragic tale, set against a backdrop of wartime urgency and human error, unfolds in the midst of the racial and societal divisions of the early twentieth century. Segregation and cultural mores helped decide who would perish and who would survive this cataclysmic event, resulting in a book that is more than fact: a riveting story of decided historical impact.

Be a part of the revelations hidden in the past. The passengers were a sampling of the travelers of the time. Although eleven African American women were killed in the wreck, there were no white female casualties at all. There are clear reasons why. This is more than the story of a train wreck – it’s a window of time into 1918 Southern life. The research is done. The book is almost ready. This story needs telling to a wider audience. Become a part of  relating this piece of history by helping me publish the creative non-fiction account of America’s Worst Train Wreck! Your rewards can include a copy, an e-pub, a guided tour of the site by plane, even a night spent in a historic train station and an invitation to a fun book release party.

When I first heard about the Great Nashville Rail Disaster, I was fascinated, as readers will be. I felt that the ghosts of the train wreck were weary of being called “the 101 victims.” I felt called to find out more about them. Five years and hundreds of research hours later, the events surrounding the incident still captivate me. I am compelled to publish the story not only of the wreck, but of the people.

Explore the fraternal world of The Knights of Pythias, both white and “colored” branches, and their two prominent members on the train: esteemed lawyer Douglas Bates and railroad porter George Hall. Journey to the accident scene with Doctor Duncan Eve, Jr., sent by the railroad to direct the medical help, facing many familiar faces among the torn and dying. Meet Mary Kennedy, widow of Engineer David Kennedy, who fought his sole blame all the way to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

The Day The Whistles Cried also reveals the railroad system in action in its heyday. Romance and adventure, systems and rules, architecture and machinery. Its sub-culture was intrinsic to America’s economy and people.

People are drawn to legendary disaster stories such as that of the Titanic, seeking hope and heroism among the wreckage. The Day The Whistles Cried is a true disaster tale, filled with real people and their lives. Reading about America’s worst train wreck is opening a window into Time.

How will the book, The Day the Whistles Cried, be produced?

I will self-publish The Day the Whistles Cried, at the Nashville based Published by Westview Inc. publishing house. The company offers an “author friendly” non-exclusive contract, where I retain all the rights to my book.  Company owner, Mary Catherine Nelson will take care of the book’s interior--and cover--design and layout and has promised  to give me one on one support throughout the publishing process.  The company will also provide the book's ISBN and bar code

Once its printed The Day the Whistles Cried  will be included in the well-known Books in Print  and other on-line bookseller catalogs.

How will The Day the Whistles Cried be printed?

The book will be printed by Lightning Source a print an on demand  company located near Nashville.

Print on demand is a service that allows authors to order as many—or as few—books as they desire.

How long will it take to get a printed copy of The Day the Whistles Cried?

That is—to paraphrase a popular saying—the three thousand dollar question.

In 2008 I worked with the Metro Nashville Historical Commission and members of my Nashville community to raise money to fund the historical marker that now stands near Dutchman’s Curve. I had never headed a big project like that before and at first I was overwhelmed by the task. The job became easier for me once I developed a timeline and picked a date to have the marker erected by. I followed my timeline and the marker was dedicated in a ceremony on July 9, 2008—just like I planned.

I started writing this book in May of 2010. I’m in the final stages of writing now and expect to see my manuscript turned into a printed a book by December 2013.

My Timeline

October---Developmental editing.Rewrite.Copy editing. 

November—Rewrite, proof, final edit

December—Layout, design, proof. Send to printer

January--Hold book in hand!  See my very own copy of The Day the Whistles Cried placed on a book shelf in my home!

Risks and challenges

The greatest risk to completing this project by December is the editing process. Having to make a lot of changes to my manuscript could prevent me from sending it to my publisher on time.

I don't know how many passages or chapters will need to be rewritten or reworked after my editor works her magic on my manuscript. Entire paragraphs disappear at the slightest wave her editing pen. If that should happen during the final edits I will work hard on the rewrites and try to stay on pace.

I will keep my supporters updated on the book's production status throughout the editing and proofing process.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    A shout out to you from, Facebook/dutchmanscurve.com, The Day The Whistles Cried official Facebook page

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    Email me a picture of yourself and I'll add it to a Facebook album---My Kickstarter Friends--along with a shout out to you--- on my books official Faceook page.

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    A book marker specially designed for this project and a picture of you added to the book's Facebook photo album----My Kickstarter Friends

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    One e-book of The Day The Whistles Cried (optimized for iPad, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader and other devices).

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    I like to say that when it comes to Nashville history there is always a Dutchman's Curve train wreck connection.
    Challenge me. Choose an event from Nashville's past--up to 1918 and I will try to connect it to the train wreck. Your challenge and my response will be preserved in a permanent album on the book's Facebook page.

    See if you can stump the Train Wreck Lady!

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    One signed copy of The Day The Whistles Cried.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    I will donate a copy of The Day The Whistles Cried in your name. Give me the name of your favorite retirement home or school or public library and I will give them a signed copy of my book.
    I will acknowledge you and your donation when I sign the book.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    Walk through time! See the past revealed--going back more than 500 years. Join me and railroad historian Terry Coats. Learn the history of Nashville through events that happened at Dutchman's Curve. Visit the wreck site. This reward is a walking tour through Nashville history. One ebook copy of The Day The Whistles Cried is also included.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Walk through time! See the past revealed--going back more than 500 years. Join me and railroad historian Terry Coats. Learn the history of Nashville through events that happened at Dutchman's Curve.
    Visit the wreck site. Take a walking tour through the history.

    A signed copy of The Day The Whistles Cried is included with this reward.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Join me at my book release party.Be listed as an honorary co-host. Help celebrate the release of The Day The Whistles Cried at a fun event held inside the Tennessee Central Railroad Museum in Nashville..
    Food! Good company! Railroad history!

    A signed copy of The Day The Whistles Cried is included with this reward.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Visit the final resting places of more than a dozen train wreck victims. Join me on a guided tour of Mount Olivet and Calvary cemeteries. Railroad engineers David Kennedy and William F Lloyd were inside the two locomotives when they collided. Visit their graves. Pay respects to the memory of 28 year old Lee Purcell a switch man who died on October 11 1918 of injuries sustained in the crash. He is the last known victim of Ducthman's Curve.

    Linger at the tomb of Vernon K Stevenson, the railroad's founder. He died in New York City about twenty years before the train wreck occurred. I will explain Stevenson's connection to Napoleon and will tell you what I think his reasoning was when he chose to be buried in a replica of the emperor's tomb.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    Is there a little known event from history that you just can't stop thinking about?. Is there a family story you would like to explore?
    Sometimes you just have to think outside the box. Meet me at the Tennessee State Library and Archives and I will help you launch your research. Nurture your inner history nerd. The answer to your question is probably out there. You just have to find it.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Party on! You plus one will be my special guests. Join me at the Tennessee Central Railroad Museum and help celebrate the release of my book.
    You also get a signed copy of The Day The Whistles Cried with this reward.

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    Pledge $120 or more About $120

    For many train wreck victims the journey to eternity began on the morning of July 9, 1918 when they entered Nashville's Union Station.

    Enjoy a private dinner with me,railroad historian Terry Coats and other Kickstarter supporters
    at Prime 108, an exclusive restaurant located inside the old train station.. Learn little known facts about one of Nashville's most iconic buildings and hear how events surrounding the train wreck unfolded inside the station's walls.

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    Pledge $180 or more About $180

    You and a guest can enjoy a private dinner with me,railroad historian Terry Coats and other Kickstarter supporters at Prime 108, an exclusive restaurant located inside the historic Union Station Hotel. Learn little known facts about one of the city's most iconic buildings and hear how events surrounding the train wreck unfolded inside the station's walls

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Lights! Camera! Action! Join me on the set while a local film production team films scenes for my book trailer. Snap the clapperboard between takes! See your name listed as an assistant director in the trailer's closing credits! This reward makes a great gift. Surprise your favorite student film-maker or aspiring videographer with a memorable experience.

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    Soar above Dutchman's Curve. Flight for two! Get an aerial view of the place where the train wreck happened. Fly in a plane piloted by Joe Loftis--great grandson of railroader and train wreck rescue worker Henry Clay Loftis Historian Terry Coats will narrate the tour.

    Times this reward can be fulfilled will be determined by the weather and subject to approval by local air traffic control.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Was the Cumberland River frozen solid the day your grandmother was born? Do you know how your grandfather purchased his first car? Did your father tell you what he thought the first time he watched a show on television? Was your mother the first mom in your neighborhood to become a "women's libber" and take a job outside the home? Every family has a favorite story. Tell me yours. I'll help you bring it to life. Using the same creative non-fiction strategies that I use in my book I'll present a chapter length, about 600 word, edited version of your story to you.

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    Pledge $600 or more About $600

    A night for two at Union Station Hotel along with an invitation to my book signing party at the Tennessee Central Railroad Museum. A signed copy of The Day The Whistles Cried is also included.

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    Pledge $800 or more About $800

    Rewards for two! The best of the best! Fly above the tracks where the train wreck occurred! Spend a night inside Nashville’s historic Union Station Hotel. Be special guests at book signing party. Receive a signed copy of my book.

    Times this reward can be fulfilled will be determined by the weather and subject to approval by local air traffic control.

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Funding period

- (36 days)