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Origins: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O

DigiTrad:
GEORGIE ON THE IRT (parody on Engine 143)
THE WRECK ON THE C & O


Mrrzy 03 Apr 07 - 11:37 PM
masato sakurai 04 Apr 07 - 02:10 AM
Bev and Jerry 04 Apr 07 - 02:22 AM
catspaw49 04 Apr 07 - 02:49 AM
Joe Offer 04 Apr 07 - 02:52 AM
Joe Offer 04 Apr 07 - 03:28 AM
John MacKenzie 04 Apr 07 - 03:57 AM
dick greenhaus 04 Apr 07 - 12:39 PM
Mrrzy 04 Apr 07 - 06:21 PM
Bill D 04 Apr 07 - 06:41 PM
Mrrzy 04 Apr 07 - 07:30 PM
catspaw49 04 Apr 07 - 08:37 PM
Q 04 Apr 07 - 08:43 PM
catspaw49 04 Apr 07 - 09:05 PM
catspaw49 04 Apr 07 - 09:08 PM
masato sakurai 04 Apr 07 - 09:16 PM
Q 04 Apr 07 - 10:00 PM
Q 04 Apr 07 - 10:07 PM
catspaw49 04 Apr 07 - 10:22 PM
GUEST,Dave Hunt 04 Apr 07 - 10:25 PM
Q 04 Apr 07 - 10:55 PM
Joe Offer 05 Apr 07 - 04:31 AM
Charley Noble 05 Apr 07 - 12:25 PM
Q 05 Apr 07 - 02:13 PM
Mrrzy 05 Apr 07 - 03:29 PM
Padre 05 Apr 07 - 10:07 PM
Q 05 Apr 07 - 10:37 PM
Mrrzy 06 Apr 07 - 10:25 AM
Scoville 06 Apr 07 - 03:46 PM
GUEST 06 Apr 07 - 11:56 PM
GUEST,Jim 07 Apr 07 - 03:16 PM
Fortunato 07 Apr 07 - 06:30 PM
catspaw49 07 Apr 07 - 07:33 PM
Fortunato 07 Apr 07 - 07:46 PM
Janie 17 Aug 10 - 02:00 AM
Joe Offer 17 Aug 10 - 02:45 AM
mayomick 29 Sep 10 - 11:52 AM
catspaw49 29 Sep 10 - 01:09 PM
Q 29 Sep 10 - 02:07 PM
catspaw49 29 Sep 10 - 02:21 PM
Q 29 Sep 10 - 03:05 PM
GUEST,CoriSCapnSkip 23 Aug 11 - 05:14 AM
GUEST,CoriSCapnSkip 23 Aug 11 - 05:34 AM
GUEST,Don Wise 23 Aug 11 - 10:09 AM
GUEST,CoriSCapnSkip 23 Aug 11 - 03:13 PM
GUEST,mayomick 23 Aug 11 - 07:41 PM
GUEST,CoriSCapnSkip 23 Aug 11 - 11:56 PM
Q 24 Jan 14 - 02:30 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: Mrrzy
Date: 03 Apr 07 - 11:37 PM

I am shocked, shocked that (a) i've had mondegreens in this song I've known for almost 50 years, and (b) it isn't in the Trad. One of the best train wreck songs ever! Anyway, voici, à la Joan Baez:

ENGINE 143
By the Carter Family, I believe, sung by Joan Baez

Along came the F15 the swiftest on the line
Running o'er the C&O road just twenty minutes behind
Running into Cevile head porters on the line
Receiving their strict orders from a station just behind

Georgie's mother came to him with a bucket on her arm
She said my darling son be careful how you run
There's many a man has lost his life in trying to make lost time
But if you run your engine right you'll get there just on time

Up the tracks he darted, into a rock he crashed
Upside down the engine turned and Georgie's breast is smashed
His head lay against the firebox door, the flames were rolling high
I'm glad I was born for an engineer on the C&O road to die

The doctor said to Georgie my darling boy be still
Your life may yet be saved if it is God's blessed will
Oh no said George that will not do I's rather die so free
I want to die for the engine I love one hundred and forty three

Then the doctor said to Georgie your life cannot be saved
Murdered upon the railway and laid in a lonesome grave
His face was covered up with blood his eyes they could not see
And the very last words poor Georgie cried were nearer my God to thee


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: masato sakurai
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 02:10 AM

Listen to The Carter Family HERE (at Honkingduck).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 02:22 AM

We think you still have some mondegreens and the first verse should be:

Along came the FFV the swiftest on the line
Running o'er the C&O road just twenty minutes behind
Running into souville headquarters on the line
Receiving their strict orders from a station just behind

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: catspaw49
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 02:49 AM

Here are the most complete lyrics I know of to 143 from a Carter Songbook:

Along came the FFV, the swiftest on the line
Running o'er the C&O road just 20 minutes behind
Running into Seville headquarters on the line
Receiving their strict orders from the station just behind

Running into Hampton, the engineer was there
George Allen was his name, with curling golden hair
His fireman, Jack Dixon, was standing by his side
Awaiting for strict orders while in the cab to ride

Georgie's mother came to him with a bucket on her arm
Saying, my darling son, be careful how you run
For many a man has lost his life in trying to make lost time
And if you run your engine right you'll get there just on time

Mother, I know your advice is good and later I'll take heed
I think my engine is all right, I'm sure that she will speed
O'er this road I need to go at the rate of a cannonball
And when I blow for the stockyard gate I'm sure they'll hear my call

Up the road she darted, against the rocks she crashed
Upside-down the engine turned, poor Georgie's breast it smashed
His head was against the firebox door, the flames were rolling high
I'm glad I was born for an engineer, on the C&O road to die

The doctor said to Georgie, my darling boy, be still
Your life may yet be saved if it is God's blessed will
Oh, no, said Georgie, that will not do, I want to die so free
I want to die for the engine I love, one hundred and forty-three

The doctor said to Georgie, your life cannot be saved
Murdered upon the railroad and laid in a lonesome grave
His face was covered up with blood, his eyes you could not see
And the very last words poor Georgie said was nearer, my God, to Thee


Spaw....I have some other questions though myself.....too late at night now but I'll be back.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 02:52 AM

I'm glad you posted this one, Mrr. I hadn't heard of it, and it's certainly a significant song. Harry Smith selected it for his Anthology of American Folk Music. In his Long Steel Rail, Norm Cohen devotes 13 pages to The Wreck on the C & O / Engine 143. Cohen says more than 70 versions have been collected by folklorists. Far be it from me to question Mrrzy's or Spaw's transcriptions, but here's Cohen's transcription of the Carter Family version:

    ENGINE 143
    (As recorded by the Carter Family)

    Along came the FFV, the swiftest on the line,
    Running o'er the C&O road just twenty minutes behind;
    Running into Souville, headquarters on the line,
    Receiving her strict orders from a station just behind.

    Georgie's mother came to him with a bucket on her arm,
    Saying, "My darling son, be careful how you run;
    For many a man has lost his life in trying to make lost time,
    And if you run your engine right, you'll get there just on time."

    Up the road she darted, against the rock she crushed,
    Upside down the engine turned and Georgie's breast did smash;
    His head was against the firebox door, the flames were rolling high,
    "I'm glad I was born for an engineer to die on the C&O Road."

    The doctor said to Georgie, "My darling boy, be still,
    Your life may yet be saved, if it is God's blessed will."
    "Oh, no," said George, "that will not do, I want to die so free,
    I want to die for the engine I love, One Hundred and Forty Three."

    The doctor said to Georgie, "Your life cannot be saved."
    Murdered upon a railroad, and laid in a lonesome grave,
    His face was covered up with blood, his eyes you could not see,
    And the very last words poor Georgie said was, "Nearer My God To Thee."



I verified Cohen's lyrics with the 1929 Carter Family recording, and Cohen and I agree, botched rhymes and all. Perhaps the differences in Mrr's transcription came from Joan Baez. Note that the Carter recording leaves out the second verse that Spaw posted - and that verse is the one that explains who "Georgie" was. Spaw's version has two verses not in the Carter or Kossoy versions.

-Joe-
Oh, and here's a post from another thread:

    Thread #20196   Message #209648
    Posted By: GUEST,Mrrzy-at-work
    10-Apr-00 - 12:33 PM
    Thread Name: Train Songs
    Subject: Lyr Add: THE WRECK ON THE C & O^^^

    Didn't see this one in the dB so here it is. I know Joan Baez sang it, I can't remember which album (same as Once I knew a pretty girl), and I never knew who wrote it. These are the words I hear...

    ENGINE 143

    Along came the FFB, the swiftest on the line,
    Running down that steel road, just twenty minutes behind,
    Running into Sou'ville, headquarters on the line,
    Receiving their strict orders from the station just behind.

    Georgie's mother came to him with a bucket on her arm.
    She said, "My darling son, be careful how you run.
    There's many a man has lost his life in trying to make lost time,
    But if you run your engine right, you'll get there just on time."

    Up the track she darted. Into a rock she crashed.
    Upside down the engine turned, and Georgie's breast is smashed.
    His head lay against the firebox door. The flames were roaring high.
    "I'm proud to be born for an engineer and see no road to die."

    The doctor said to Georgie, "My darling boy, be still!
    Your life may yet be saved, if it is God's blessed will!"
    "Oh, no!" cried George, "This will not do. I'd rather die so free.
    I want to die for the engine I loved, a hundred and forty three."

    Then the doctor said to Georgie, "Your life cannot be saved."
    Murdered upon the railway, and laid in a lonesome grave,
    His face was covered up with blood. His eyes they could not see,
    And the very last words poor Georgie cried were "Nearer my God, to Thee!"

    As an aside, I couldn't find the thread where how to type accents was explained, can anyone help with that?


Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:Wreck on the C & O, The [Laws G3]

Wreck on the C & O, The [Laws G3]

DESCRIPTION: George Alley, a railroad engineer, is warned by his mother not to drive too fast. But George wants to set a speed record. As his train speeds, it runs into a rock from a landslide and is wrecked. George is killed; his mother gets to say "I told you so"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1915
KEYWORDS: wreck train death mother railroading worker warning crash
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
Oct 23, 1890 - Death of engineer George Alley when the FFV train on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad was wrecked by a landslide near Hinton, West Virginia
FOUND IN: US(Ap,SE,So)
REFERENCES (12 citations):
Laws G3, "The Wreck on the C & O"
Randolph 682, "The Wreck on the C. & O." (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Warner 179, "The Wreck on the C & O" (1 text, 1 tune)
Thomas-Makin', pp. 115-116, (no title) (1 fragmented text)
Asch/Dunson/Raim, p. 62 "Engine 143" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-AFSB, pp. 31-34, "The Wreck on the C. & O. (The Death of Jack Hinton)" (1 text, 1 tune)
JHCox 47, "The Wreck on the C. & O." (6 texts plus mention of 5 more; 2 tunes)
Botkin-SoFolklr, p. 725, "The Wreck on the C. & O." (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-RailFolklr, p. 451, "The Wreck on the C&O" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sandburg, p. 371, "There's Many a Man Killed on the Railroad" (1 text, 1 tune, a fragment with only the "There's man been killed on the railroad" stanza, which could be from this, or "Talmadge Osborne," or others)
Silber-FSWB, p. 100 "Engine 143" (1 text)
DT 635, ENGIN143*

Roud #255
RECORDINGS:
Carter Family, "Engine 143" (Victor V-40089, 1929; Montgomery Ward M-4743, 1935; Bluebird B-6223, 1937; on AAFM1, RRinFS)
Duke Clark, "The Wreck of the F. F. & V." (Superior 2687, 1931)
Vernon Dalhart, "Wreck of the C & O #5" (OKeh 45102, 1927)
Austin Harmon, "George Allen" (AFS 2916 A, 1939; on LC61)
Roy Harvey & the North Carolina Ramblers, "The Brave Engineer" (Columbia 15174-D, 1927)
Bradley Kincaid, "Wreck on the C & O Road" (Gennett 6823/Champion 15710 [as Dan Hughey]/Supertone 9350, 1929; Champion 45098/Melotone [Canada] 45057, 1935)
George Reneau, "The C & O" (Vocalion 14897, 1924) (Vocalion 5050, 1927)
Charles Lewis Stine, "The Wreck of the C & O" (Columbia 15027-D, 1925; Harmony 5145-H, c. 1930)
Ernest V. Stoneman, "Wreck of the C & O" (Edison 51823, 1926) (CYL: Edison [BA] 5198, n.d.) (OKeh 7011, n.d.)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Death of Talmadge Osborn" (floating lyrics)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
The FFV
Notes: Of the two songs about wrecks on the C & O (the other is "The C. & O. Wreck"), this one is the better known and probably older. Many versions have a chorus (not found in the Digital Tradition version), "Many's a man's been murdered by the railroad / And laid in his lonesome grave" (e.g. this chorus occurs in five of Cox's six texts). - RBW
Oh dear, this gets confusing. "Many a man's been murdered by the railroad" is an ending bridge from "The Fate of Talmadge Osborne." And it shows up here too.... - PJS
Cox supplies many further details about this song. According to his report, George Alley was thirty when he died, and already had four children. He lived for five hours after the wreck. Reportedly the fireman did jump from the engine, and survived. - RBW
File: LG03

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2006 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 03:28 AM

In the CD booklet for the Tradition CD, Bowling Green: The Kossoy Sisters with Erik Darling, the notes say the Kossoy Sisters learned the song from a 1927 recording by the Carter Family. More from the notes:
    This ballad relates, though with untrustworthy details, an actual wreck which took place near Hinton, West Virginia, in 1890. The engineer, George Alley, was killed in the accident, which took place on the C&O Railroad, and was caused by a landslide. His engine number was 134 (not 143 as in the song). The express F.F.V., in the first stanza, refers to the name of the train, the Fast Flying Vestibule. The ballad is believed to have been composed by some Negro rounder at the station in Hinton, West Virginia.


Fast Flying VESTIBULE???? Cohen says the official name of the FFV was Fast Flying Virginian, but it has several nicknames, including First Families of Virginia, Fuller's First Venture, and Fast Flying Vestibule.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 03:57 AM

I learned 'Running into Siouxville town, headquarters on the line.'
Giok


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 12:39 PM

Also see Georgie on the IRT, a youthful indiscretion by someone who grew up to be a very fine mystery writer


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: Mrrzy
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 06:21 PM

Thank you for finding that old post, it has all my mondegreens! The lyrics i posted up top here came from somewhere on the Internet; the older ones were my memories. But I have just gotten some old Joan Baez Vanguard records on CD, and all of a sudden, not only wasn't it a steel road, but it was the same road he died on... so I had to run to Google and find what I thought were the right ones. Thanks!

Also, is this a true story? Why do they say "murdered" - did someone put the rock there on purpose?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: Bill D
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 06:41 PM

well..it IS in the DB as "The Wreck on the C&O"

a search on "143" finds it. You simply cannot assume titles...no matter what Joan Baez sings...*grin*


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: Mrrzy
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 07:30 PM

Thanks, I did search both the forum and the trad, and didn't find it. Don't think I searched by title but I don't remember what I *did* search under...

So, is this a love story after all? I had it filed separately from the usual train wreck love stories in my brain, because of how few verses Joan Baez actually sang. So beautifully. What a voice, even on vinyl.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: catspaw49
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 08:37 PM

I grew up a railroad kid, my Dad an engineer on the Pennsy, so these songs are favorites of mine. I have played and sung this one (badly) since I was in college with some question about what was what. Specifically, where is the headquarters on the linearound Hinton? I can't come up with anything that sounds like Seville or Sooville or anything else......but I'll keep looking now.

As to "FFV"........Well laugh all you want but the train was the FAST FLYING VESTIBULE originally and would have ben known as such at the time of the accident. I found the following article from the time on a website:

Wreck on the C&O
Monroe Watchman
October 30, 1890


Accident to the Vestibule

This morning, as the east bound vestibule train was going round a curve near the mouth of Greenbrier river, it ran into a rock that had fallen from the cliff, and the engine, tender, baggage car and postal car were derailed, the baggage car and tender going over embankment. Three of the train men were injured, on of them fatally, but none of the passengers were hurt. The injured are:

Engineer Geo. Alley, of Clifton Forge, left arm broken in two places, right leg broken, and terribly scalded. He died at 11 o'clock this morning.

Fireman Lewis Withrow, of Hinton, badly scalded on the arms, neck and side.

Fireman S. Foster, of Staunton, badly bruised. Foster was an extra fireman on his way home.

The passengers had a narrow escape as but for the slackening of the train's speed at the curve, all the coaches would have gone over the embankment into the river. The railroad company should have extra watchmen at the points of the road where land slips are likely to occur, in such weather as we had last night, and perhaps some of these costly accidents might be avoided. - Hinton Independent


This one also answers the questions about the fireman. Withrow was the regular fireman and was scalded in the wreck. Foster was deadheading home to Staunton which also means the train was running west to east so look west of Hinton for Seville or what-the-hell-ever it is. Hopefully all of you are smarter than I am because the article SAYS the EASTBOUND TRAIN..............Geeziz am I a dumbass or what? LOL (answer is not "or what")

Spaw


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Subject: ADD: the Wreck on the C & O
From: Q
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 08:43 PM

The first version collected, by John H. Cox, 1915

THE WRECK ON THE C. & O.
Miss Maude Rucks, Braxton Co., West Virginia

1.
Along came the F. F. V., the fastest on the line,
Running o'er the C. & O. Road, a quarter behind time;
As she passed Sewell, 't was quarters on the line,
Waiting to get orders at Hinton, late, behind time.
2.
When she got to Hinton, the engineer was there;
George Alley was his name, with bright and golden hair;
Jack Dickerson, a faithful man, was standing by his side,
Waiting to get orders; both in the cab did ride.
3.
Georgie's mother came to him with a bucket on her arm;
Gave him a letter and said, "My boy, be careful how you run;
For many a man has lost his life in trying to make lost time,
But if you run your engine right, you'll seldom be behind."
4.
Georgie said, "Dear mother, to your warning I'll take heed;
I know my engine is all right, I know that she will speed;
But if I had a local train, the truth to you I'd tell,
I'd run her into Clifton Forge or drop her into hell."
5.
Georgie said, "Now listen, Jack, it must be known to all,
I'm going to blow for the Big Bend Tunnel; they'll surely hear my call."
Then he cried, "O look, look, Jack! a rock ahead I see!
I know that death is waiting there, to grab both you and me."
6.
"So, from the cab, Jack, you must fly, your darling life to save,
For I want you to be the engineer when I'm in my grave."
"No, no, George, I cannot go! on that we can't agree."
"Yes, yes, Jack, you must! I'll die for you and me."
7.
So from the cab poor Jack did fly; the river it was high;
Farewell, he kissed the hand of George; old No. 4 flew by;
Up the road she darted, just like an angry bull;
To get her back in action, the lever he did pull.
8.
Against the rock the engine crashed, and upside down she lay;
The best engineer on the C. & O. Road went to his grave that day;
Brave and strong he held his grip; at last she made the crash,
Knocked poor George upon his face, his tender breast did smash.
9.
........................
........................
The firebox fell against his head and burning flames rolled out,
[He said], "I'm glad I was born an engineer to die on the C. & 0. Road."
10.
Georgie's mother came again; with sorrow she did sigh,
When she looked upon her darling boy and knew that he must die;
She prayed for every engineer to take warning from her son,
In making any schedule to be careful how they run.
11.
The doctor said, "Now Georgie, my darling boy, be still;
Your life may be saved, if it be God's precious will."
"No, no, Doc, I want to die! I'm ready now to go,
I said I'd die on my engine, No. 134."

No. 47 A, pp. 222-223, J. H. Cox, 1925, "Folk-Songs of the South," Harvard Univ. Press; Dover Edition 1967.

Except for the stations mentioned and Alley's name, the version is largely fiction. His mother was never involved.
Norm Cohen, in "Long Steel Rail," printed newspaper reports from "The Clifton Forge and Iron Gate Review." The second, a week after the accident, read:
"Mr. George W. Alley
In the last issue of the Review, it briefly noted the death of our friend and fellow-townsman, Mr. George W. Alley, of this city. The sad news reached us just as we were going to press, but few of the particulars. Too much cannot be said in praise of the heroic conduct of this brave man. The facts are few but they tell the story. The slide had blocked the track- he saw the rock- he refused to jump- he stood by his post endeavoring to stop the train. The shock came and he lost his life, and a brave and noble christian spirit passed from earth leaving behind a noble example of unselfish devotion to duty and principle.
"He lingered a few hours suffering intense pain, which he bore with great patience. Every effort was made by the railroad company to enable his wife and children to reach him before he died, but all was vain. He spoke of them continually every few minutes asking, "Are they coming! Are they coming?" which circumstance is touchingly alluded to in the following lines written by Mrs. Alexander McVeigh Miller of Alderson, who is an aunt of Mr. Alley.

"In Memoriam
He is dying! Are they coming?
Will he hear their last goodbye?
Last night when he passed from them
Little did he think to die-
Die like this by dread disaster
Ending his young life so soon,
Ere the morning of existence
Changed into life's fervid noon.

"The passengers on the train expressed their appreciation for his valor in staying at his post and risking his life to save others, and collected $103 in donations for his family.
This was the fourth serious accident on the FFV since the C. & O. inaugurated its first luxury 'name' train on May 11, 1889."
The accident took place Oct. 3, 1890; which suggests a high frequency of accidents.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: catspaw49
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 09:05 PM

SEWELL!!!!

Well that answered that. AND YOU CAN'T FIND IT TODAY BECAUSE IT'S A GHOST TOWN!!say "BOO" and click here

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: catspaw49
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 09:08 PM

BTW, here's a good and zoomable Chessie Track Map

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: masato sakurai
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 09:16 PM

See also Katie Letcher Lyle, Scalded to Death by the Steam: Authentic Stories of Railroad Disasters and Ballads That Were Written About Them (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1988), pp. 34-49 ("The Wreck on the C & O").


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: Q
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 10:00 PM

The Clifton Forge newspaper also said that No. 4 was eastbound- "As the vestibule train was coming east Thursday morning it ran into a slide near Don, a short distance east of Hinton." The train was coming from Sewell (one of those signs you see out of a RR window, but not noticeable as a town), 40 miles west of Hinton.
Hinton is a wide spot on the road, on Hwy 33 (Rawley Pike). Staunton is SW of Hinton.

Was Foster going or coming from Staunton? Is the story about him 'deadheading home to Staunton' incorrect? The detail is not important to the story or the song, but it twiggles the brain.

Clifton Forge had a large maintenance facility for the C. & O.
The rail line runs about NNE-SSW rather than E-W in this region.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: Q
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 10:07 PM

Looking at the map Catspaw posted, I got that lost feeling. Glad I never rode the C. & O.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: catspaw49
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 10:22 PM

Thanks for the fine posts Q.

Hinton is west and just a wee bit south of Staunton, not the other way around. That may have been your map problem. The FFV was headed east toward Staunton so it only makes sense that Foster was going home, although as you rightly point out, the term "deadheading" can apply when travelling without working in either direction. My best guess is he was headed home possibly due to a crew shuffle on the Board or he had "outlawed" although that rarely was enforced back in those times....far more after the unions became stronger.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: GUEST,Dave Hunt
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 10:25 PM

From Joe - above - 'As an aside, I couldn't find the thread where how to type accents was explained, can anyone help with that? '
Try http://french.about.com/library/bl-accents.htm - that should do the job!
Dave Hunt


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: Q
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 10:55 PM

Going from a map on the internet, Hinton was located on Hwy 33; Staunton was located SW of this hwy on the Nat. Geographic Atlas. Most confusin! Wackipedia type errors by one or t'other, probably.


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Subject: Add Version: The Wreck on the C& O (Engine 143)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 04:31 AM

In Long Steel Rail Norm Cohen says he had a hard time finding a "complete" original version of this song, since there are so many versions. This version was printed in Railroad Man's Magazine in 1913, and may be the earliest text.

THE WRECK ON THE C. AND O.

Along came the F.F.V., the fastest on the line,
A running on the C. and O road, thirty minutes behind time,
As she passed the Sewalls it was quarters on the line;
And they received new orders to make up some lost time.

CHORUS
Many man's been murdered by the railroad, railroad,
Many man's been murdered by the railroad and lain in his lonesome grave.

When she arrived at Hinton the engineer was there,
His name was Georgie Alley, with bright and golden hair,
His fireman, Jackie Dickerson, was standing by his side,
Waiting to get orders, both in the cab to ride.

Georgie's mother came to him with a basket on her arm,
Saying 'georgie dear, my darling son, be careful how you rUn
Many a poor man's lost his life trying to make up all lost time,
But if you hold your engine right, you'll get there just on time,'

'Oh, mother, I know your advice is good, to the letter I'll take heed,
I know my engine is all right, I know that she will speed;
It's over this road I mean to fly with speed unknown to all,
And when I blow for the stock-yard gates they'll surely hear my call.'

Georgie stepped into his cab, the throttle he did pull,
Off the engine darted like a fire in angry wool.
It's o'er this road I mean to fly with speed unknown to all,
And when I blow for Big Bend tunnel they'll surely hear my call.'

Georgie said to his fireman, 'Jack, a little more extra steam,
I mean to pull old No. 4 the fastest you ever seen.
I mean to pull her through, my boy, with speed unknown to all,
And when I blow for Clifton Forge they'll surely hear my call.'

Georgie said to his fireman, 'Jack, a rock ahead I see!
I know that death is waiting there to grab both you and me.
From this cab now you must leap, your darling life to save;
I want you to be an engineer when I'm sleeping in my grave.'

Oh, no, George, I will not go, I want to die with you.
'Oh, no, Jack I'll die for both me and you.'
From the cab poor Jack did fly, New River it was high,
And as he kissed his hand to George old No. 4 flew by.

On the engine darted and against the rock she crashed,
Upside down the engine turned, her tender body mashed,
His head against the fire-box the burning flames rolled o'er,
'I am glad I was born an engineer to die on 44.'

Georgie's mother came to him, saying 'Son, what have you done?'
'Too late, too late, mother dear, my race is almost run,
But if I had a local train, the truth to you I'll tell,
I would run her into Clifton Forge, or drop her into hell,'

The doctor said to Georgie, 'My darling son be still,
Your precious life may yet be saved if it be God's blessed will.'
'Oh, no,' said Georgie, 'I want to die, I am ready now to go;
I want to die with the engine I love, and that's old 44.'

from Long Steel Rail, by Norm Cohen


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 12:25 PM

"Many man's been murdered by the railroad" is most likely an accusation directed against the railway management for insisting that the train make up for "lost time," to go faster than usual and thus be more difficult to stop in an emergency situation such as Georgie encountered.

Nice notes to this old favorite.

I always wondered what "FFV" referred to. No one seemed to know.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143
From: Q
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 02:13 PM

The version from the 1913 "Railroad Mans Magazine" (Joe Offer) and the 1915 version from Cox are very similar. Cox also printed versions with the 'murder' chorus, collected in 1915-1916. The first versions were printed some 20-25 years after the accident. The author(s) remain(s) unidentified. Cohen (Long Steel Rail) presents pretty good evidence that the song was going the rounds in 1905-1907, but nothing definite was found from the 1890's. Cohen suggests that the errors in the song perhaps suggest that it appeared some years after the accident and details had been forgotten.
The songs have George Alley's hair as golden, but it was black and straight. A photograph of Alley was included by Cohen in "Long Steel Rail," showing an attractive young man with neatly cut dark hair and mustache. He was thirty years old when the accident occurred.

The Carter version has Alley's last words as "Nearer my God to thee," this may have been taken from the ten cent broadside "Wreck on the C. & O. Railroad at Clifton's Ford, Va.;" "as sung by Bailey Brisco, with Dakota Jack, the Cow Boy Medicine Man (reproduced in Long Steel Rail).

Perhaps mentioned above, the first recording was made by George Reneau, Aeolian Vocalion, New York, Sept. 16, 1924.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: Mrrzy
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 03:29 PM

I thought Scalded to death by the steam was the other train wreck song, about Monroe, Virginia and getting from Lynchburg to Danville? Knew that one, and when I moved to VA, I was amazed - i had assumed all the town names were fictional!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: Padre
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 10:07 PM

Hinton is NOT on route 33 - it is on WV state route 20 - if you go there today, take I-64 and get off at the Sandstone exit - follow rt 20 over the mountain (along the New River) and there you are.

The C&O called the section between Hinton and Handley (going West toward Cincinatti) the New River Subdivision. From Hinton going East to Clifton Forge was the Alleghany Subdivision. Most of the branches ging into the coalfields of WV were in the New River Subdivision.

The stations on the Alleghany SD were:
Clifton Forge
Covington (where the Hot Springs SD ran up to the Homestead resort)
Alleghany
Tuckahoe
White Sulphur Springs (Home of the Greenbrier resort)
Whitcomb (junction with the Greenbrier SD to Marlinton and Durbin)
Ronceverte
Alderson
AD Cabin
Hilldale
MX Cabin
Hinton

On the New River SD the stations were
Hinton
CW Cabin
RK Cabin
Sandstone
Meadow Creek (where the Nicholas, Fayaette & Greenbrier ran up to Swiss to meet the NYC's old Kanawha and Michigan)
Quinnamont
Prince
McKendrie
CS Cabin
Thurmond
Sewell
Keeney's Creek
Fayette
Hawks Nest
MA Cabin
Cotton Hill
GU Cabin
Gauley
Deepwater (where the Virginian Railway met the C&O)
Mt Carbon
Handley

Padre


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: Q
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 10:37 PM

Thanks, Padre. That clears up the geography.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: Mrrzy
Date: 06 Apr 07 - 10:25 AM

But *is* it a love song?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: Scoville
Date: 06 Apr 07 - 03:46 PM

No.

Well, possibly between engineer and train, but not in the usual sense. Even at that, it's more of a cautionary, like "Wreck of Old 97".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Apr 07 - 11:56 PM

His mother loved her darling Georgie

Padre


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 03:16 PM

If Georgie`s head was touching the firebox door of an engine that had been running at full speed, he wouldn`t be saying, "I`m proud to be born for an engineer on the C&O Road to die," he`d more likely be saying,"Aaaaaaaaaaaugh!!!" if he could speak at all. Those things got HOT.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: Fortunato
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 06:30 PM

Padre, 'spaw, Q, et al. thanks for the notes on the song. Especially 'Sewell', I've been faking that word nearly 30 years. Nice to know the correct town and thanks, to Tom and 'spaw where it was on the line and what's left of it.

Fast Flying Vestibule it is and was.
cheers, all, this was rather like the old days on the mudcat.
chance


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: catspaw49
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 07:33 PM

Hi Chance......Just logged on tonite myself.......and I couldn't agree more. The magic is often still here but sometimes it gets awful hard to find the rabbit.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: Fortunato
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 07:46 PM

Hey 'spaw,

yep. I was beginning to think the rabbit died.
glad you're still out there.
cheers,
chance


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Subject: Origins: Wreck on the C&O
From: Janie
Date: 17 Aug 10 - 02:00 AM

Wreck on the C&O is in the DT.

I stumbled across this bit in the book, Mountaineer Jamboree: Country Music in West Virginia by Ivan B. Tribe

"Some seventeen years after the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway's completion, a brave young locomotive engineer named George Alley sic met his death within a few miles of the tunnel where John Henry achieved folk immortality. On October 23, 1890, Alley's train, the F.F.V., ran into a landslide three miles from Hinton. According to some stories, a Negro who in the Hinton roundhouse put together the essentials of a ballad that has become known by such titels as "The Wreck on the C. & O.," "George Alley,(sic) " and Engine 143." I can't find where he sites his sources.



Along came the F.F.V., the fastest on the line,
Came running o'er the C. &O. Road, just twenty minutes behind;
Came running into Sewell, lies quartered on the line,
And then received strict orders for Hinton, away behind.

When she got to Hinton, her engineer was there,
Georgie Allen was his name, with blues eyes and curly hair;
His fireman, Jack Dickinson, was standing by his side,
Waiting for his orders, and in his cab to ride.

Georgie's mother came to him with a basket on her arm,
Saying, "Now, my darling son, be careful how you run;
For many a man has lost his life trying to gain lost time,
And if you run your engine right, you'll get there yet on time."

"Mother, I know your advice is good' to your letter I'll take heed;
I know my engine is all right, and I know that she will speed;
And o'er this road I mean to fly with a speed unknown to all,
And when I blow for the Big Bend Tunnel, they will surely hear my call."

Georgie said to his pal, "Jack, just a little more steam;
I mean to pull old No. 4 the fastest ever seen'
And o'er this road I mean to fly with a speed unknown to all,
And when I blow for the Stock Yard Gate, they will surely hear my call."

Georgie said to his pal, "Jack, a rock ahead I see;
I know that death is waiting to grasp both you and me;
So from this cab you must fly, your darling life to save,
For I want you to be an engineer when I am sleeping in my grave."

"O no!" said Jack, "that will not do; I want to die with you."
"O no!" said Georgie, "that will not do; I'll die for me and you."
So from the cab, poor Jack did fly; the river it was high,
And as he kissed his hand to George, old No. 4 flew by.

Up the road she darted; against the rock she crashed;
Upside down the engine turned, upon his breast it crashed;
His head upon the firebox door, the burning flames rolled o'er;
"I'm glad I was born an engineer to die on the C. & O. Road."

Georgie's mother came to him, "My son what have you done?"
"Too late, too late my doom is almost run."
The doctor said to Georgie, "My son, you must lie still;
Your precious life may yet be saved, if it be God's holy will."

"O no, doctor, O no! I want to die so free;
I want to die with my engine, old 143."
His last words were, "Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee."

Here is a link to the Carter Family version. Engine 143


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Subject: RE: Origins: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Aug 10 - 02:45 AM

Hi, Janie-
I hope you don't mind that I moved you over here. Your version looks very much like the 1915 version that Q said was the oldest one he came across, but with some interesting differences.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: mayomick
Date: 29 Sep 10 - 11:52 AM

Another of my theories down the tube .
Engine 143 driver George Alley wasn't killed because of mixed orders apparantly .A rock had landed on the tracks ahead and he couldn't stop the train. Some fascinating stuff on the 143 song on another thread I'll switch tracks over to there . May I take this opportunity to apologise for any delays caused .....


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Subject: RE: Origins: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: catspaw49
Date: 29 Sep 10 - 01:09 PM

Ya' know............After all these years, I'm launching a quest to find some damn disaster song where the main character is an asshole. I mean a non-heroic figure. Ol' Georgie in FFV was certainly an asshole but portrayed as the hero. All these guys always seem to be heroic. Did anyone ever tell the truth in these songs?

Take Georgie.......He argues with his Fireman over who should jump and Georgie bravely stays. What a fuckin' idiot!   There isn't a thing you can do that requires you to stay on an engine...... even back then!! I'm the son of an Engineman and I knew dozens of them over the years and I will tell you true that not one swinging dick in the bunch would have stayed on that engine. In the modern day the procedure would be to throttle down and put the air in Emergency......past that point not much else. Its not like you can steer the thing away in a different direction!

In one of these songs, the truth is that the engineer fell out of the cab and hit his head on a rail. The song has him courageously croaking with his "hand on the throttle" or some other nonsense. So if you run across some crash ditty where the engineer/captain/pilot got the hell out instead of buying the farm like a numbnuts, let me know.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Origins: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: Q
Date: 29 Sep 10 - 02:07 PM

A number of these old songs are fictionized as well. For truth (or an approximation thereof) go to the investigative reports.
In the Wreck on the C & O, there are several errors.
The fireman jumped out on the side opposite the river; perhaps George Alley chose taking his chances staying with engine no. 134 rather than jumping down a steep incline, or he froze in indecision. In any case, the conversation is fictional.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: catspaw49
Date: 29 Sep 10 - 02:21 PM

Also Q, if you notice, in most cases these "brave men" are in the wrong as well, operating in an unsafe manner and against regulations. But folk hero types are apt to run along those lines from Jesse James to Pretty Boy Floyd. LOL.....I guess the usual day to day dreary old existence don't make too good a folk song unless you're maybe Stephen Foster!


Spaw


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Subject: RE: Origins: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: Q
Date: 29 Sep 10 - 03:05 PM

Just sing and enjoy. The song's the thing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: GUEST,CoriSCapnSkip
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 05:14 AM

Wow, GREAT THREAD! This was my favorite song at 8, 9, 10 years old. I learned the Joan Baez version and I believe sang "Senal Road." I wasn't sure if that was the name of the road or some old-fashioned word for "scenic." I don't think I knew "C & O" till college with the Kossoy sisters version. Anyhow, after listening to theirs recently I decided to find out if "Georgie" was real. So thrilled to learn this was an actual occurrence, shortly before my grandmother was born! What variations on the town spelling! I'd NEVER had guessed "Sewell." I always sang "Suville" and didn't see that among the many here. Sad to say, I can't find his grave on findagrave.com. The two George Alleys in West Virginia have the wrong dates, and the one who died in 1890 died in July in Maine, not in October in West Virginia. Perhaps someone from the area could locate and post the grave and we could all leave him notes and virtual flowers!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: GUEST,CoriSCapnSkip
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 05:34 AM

P. S. George Alley is buried at Greenbrier Baptist Church cemetery in Alderson and although 65 records from this cemetery have been added at findagrave his is not among them. This needs to be fixed!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 10:09 AM

The first verse, as I remember it sung and recorded by Alex Campbell:

Along came the FFV, the fastest on the line
Running o'er the C&O road, just twenty minutes behind
Running into Serville/Souville/Seville TOWN, headquarters on the line
Receiving her strict orders from the station just behind

Don


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Subject: RE: Origins: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: GUEST,CoriSCapnSkip
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 03:13 PM

Well, you can see why no one would attempt to sing "Sewell." If it sounds like it's spelled, it doesn't exactly roll of the tongue.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: GUEST,mayomick
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 07:41 PM

I think the tune is the same as the Sinking of the Fanad which is in Sam Henry's book of old Irish songs.

Catspaw made a point about songs making heroes out of men who were " operating in an unsafe manner and against regulations".

Listening to Missippi John Hurt's version of Casey Jones I get the impression that the song may be mocking the "noble engineer"- especially in Mrs Casey's rather callous reponse to her husband's death :
When Mrs Casey ,when she got the news
She was sitin' in the kitchen lacin' up her shoes
G'wan little children, g'wan she said
Go on into town see if your daddy's dead

Mamma oh mama , how can it be
My daddy he got killed out on the ol' IC
Hush little children , hush she said
We gonna draw pension now your daddy's dead.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: GUEST,CoriSCapnSkip
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 11:56 PM

According to Mrs. Casey Jones, the original ballad was all right but some terrible things were done later. She spent much of her life refuting the slanders in subsequent versions. http://www.trainweb.org/caseyjones/song.html

I wonder if the same person who wrote the Ballad of Casey Jones wrote the one about the wreck on the C & O and what George Alley's family thought of it if anything. Since his children were quite young at the time it's likely over the years some of them heard it. Although this source lists the train as the "Fast Flying Virginian," and all others name it the "Vestibule," it contains some interesting details.

http://www.wvculture.org/history/timetrl/ttoct.html

Fascinatingly, almost every affecting aspect of the ballad is inaccurate, while all the most touching details of the real story are omitted from the ballad.

--The ballad has George's mother warning him about excessive speed. According to the Wikipedia article, his mother was no longer living at this time.

--The ballad has George racing the train. In real life, the train struck a rock George didn't see until too late as it appeared after rounding a curve. The only way to tell if the train was running at excessive speed would be to know what time it left the previous town and when the accident occurred, then calculate miles per hour and determine if this was too fast for conditions.

--George likely made none of the statements attributed to him. Not only, as Guest Jim pointed out, was he trapped in a burning engine, but far from expressing the ballad's noble and melancholy request to die free on the railroad for love of his engine, George spent his conscious moments asking for his family. This would not seem to indicate an inclination to leave them.

--In real life, George Alley was a hero. When he saw the rock, he had time to bail and save his own life, but it would have meant leaving the train to speed toward the rock, derailing and throwing cars and passengers into the river. Instead, George stayed to slow the train, saved the passengers, and ended up the only fatality--not so much as mentioned in the ballad!

Strangely, it remains a great ballad.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Engine 143 / Wreck on the C & O
From: Q
Date: 24 Jan 14 - 02:30 PM

With the title "The F. F. V., Herbert Shellans included a version in his book, "Folk Songs of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The song sung by Miss. Ruby Vass of Fancy Gap, VA, from a notebook of Norman Lee Vass, entry "around the year 1912."
The version is much the same as those posted here, but the last two verses are an interesting variation.

George's Mother came to him,
Saying, My son, what have you done?"
"Too late, too late, my mother dear,
My race is almost run.
But if I had a local train,
The truth to you I'll tell;
I'd run her into Clifton Forge
Or drop her in to Hell."

The Dr. says to Georgie,
"My darling boy be still.
Your life may yet be saved
If it be God's Blessed will."
"Oh, no, Dr., I want to die.
I'm ready now to go.
I want to die with engine I love,
And that's old forty-four."

With musical score, pp. 60-61.
Herbert Shellans, 1968, "Folk Songs of the Blue Ridge Mountains," Oak Publications.


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