"The Wreck of the Old 97"

Old 97 main page | song & audio | newspaper clippings | audio clip

On one cloudless morning I stood on the mountain,
Just watching the smoke from below,
It was coming from a tall, slim smokestack
Way down on the Southern railroad.

It was 97, the fastest train
Ever ran the Southern line,
All the freight trains and passengers take the side for 97,
For she's bound to be at stations on time.

They gave him his orders at Monroe, Virginia,
Saying, "Stevie, you're way behind time.
This is not 38, but it's Old 97,
You must put her into Spencer on time."

He looked 'round and said to his black greasy fireman,
"Just shovel in a little more coal,
And when I cross that old White Oak Mountain
You can just watch Old 97 roll."

It's a mighty rough road from Lynchburg to Danville,
And the lie was a three-mile grade,
It was on that grade that he lost his air brakes,
And you see what a jump that she made.

He was going down the grade making 90 miles an hour,
When his whistle began to scream,
He was found in that wreck with his hand on the throttle,
He was scalded to death by the steam.

Did she ever pull in? No, she never pulled in,
And at 1:45 he was due,
For hours and hours has the switchman been waiting
For that fast mail that never pulled through.

Did she ever pull in? No, she never pulled in,
And that poor boy must be dead.
Oh, yonder he lays on the railroad track
With the cart wheels over his head.

97, she was the fastest train
That the South had ever seen,
But she run so fast on that Sunday morning
That the death score was numbered 14.

Now, ladies, you must take warning,
From this time now and on.
Never speak harsh words to your true loving husband.
He may leave you and never return.

For credit information, see audio credits page.

Old 97 main page | song & audio | newspaper clippings | audio clip

Deathly Lyrics:
Songs of Virginia Tragedies

Introduction

Audio Credits

Allens

Breeding Mill

Caty Sage

Derby

Dewey Lee

Flood

Freeda Bolt

Great Kanawha

Kent Steffie

Mollie Tynes

Old 97

Poor Goins

Roanoke Riot

Rye Cove

Talt Hall

Vance Song

Wreck of the 1256