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Worst Manmade Disasters in Nashville’s History, and Their Causes

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Nashville has had its share of natural disasters in recent memory. From the great floods on 2010 to the tornado outbreak that blew out skyscraper windows downtown in 1998, our city has endured. But some disasters come about not as a result of bad weather, but due to mistakes made by people. Here is a short list of Nashville’s most devastating manmade disasters and what caused them.


  1. On November 5, 1912, the water reservoir on 8th south collapsed. Through a 175-foot hole came 25 million gallons of water roaring through South Nashville. Miraculously, no one died, though many homes were destroyed. The reservoir had apparently been crumbling and leaking for a while, but nothing was done to repair the damage.
  2. On March 22, 1916, a young boy was playing with a ball of yarn when it caught fire from a nearby stove. Panicked, the boy threw the burning ball into his yard. This seemingly innocuous event led to a fire that devastated East Nashville. Almost 650 buildings burned down over five hours. 3,000 people were displaced and there was one death, a man who was electrocuted by a live wire.
  3. The worst railroad accident in American history occurred on July 9, 1918 in Nashville. At Dutchman’s Curve, two passenger trains collided head-on. The accident killed over 100 people and injured twice as many. An investigation by the Interstate Commerce Commission found that errors by the crew on one of the trains led to failure to properly account for the presence of the other train. Additionally, the lack of a proper system for accurately determining train positions and the wooden construction of many of the train cars contributed to the devastation.

As you can see, even simple mistakes can lead to mass injury and death. If you or a loved one have suffered injuries due to another party’s negligence, discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer.

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