The accident that changed everything


On the afternoon of Aug. 22, 1955, forty-seven children from Spring City Elementary School in Spring City, Tennessee boarded the school bus for the ride home. Eleven children never made it home from this town of 1800 people. The children ranged in age from 6 to 11 years old. According to reports, a 100-car train heading southbound struck the rear of the bus as it crossed the tracks on the south end of town. Hundreds of people from the town came to help in the rescue efforts.

Gov. Frank Clement speaks at a memorial service attended by thousands shortly after the bus-train crash. The service was held at the Spring City Depot just north of the crash site (Photo courtesy of Dean Wilson)

Thirty-nine women from the Spring City Parent Teacher Association went straight to the governor to protect the safety of children everywhere. The women petitioned Gov. Frank Clement to require all school buses to stop, look and listen at railroad crossings. Within a month, the State of Tennessee had adopted the law. Within a year, this became a law nationwide. Since then it is worldwide. Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying, “One man with courage is a majority.” These thirty-nine women changed the world.


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