The Wreck Of The C&O Number Five
(Marion Try Slaughter aka Vernon Dalhart)

sheet music

From Washington to Charlottesville,
then Staunton on the line,
Came the old Midwestern Limited,
train Number Five on time;
She was a Cincinnati train,
the fastest on the line,
Through the valley of Virginia
into Clifton Forge on time.

The engineer at Clifton Forge,
Dolly Womack was his name,
Was there to sign the register
and pull the speeding train;
His fireman, Charley Poteet,
was standing by his side,
And, receiving their train orders,
they climbed in the cab to ride.

Then Dolly to his fireman said,
"Oh Charley well you know,
For years I've been an engineer
to ride the C and O;
For many years I've had this run,
just twenty-five in all,
And when I blow for Covington
they will surely know my call."

From Covington to Jerry's Run
old Number Five did roll,
Through the Allegheny Tunnel
with a crew so brave and bold;
Then westward to the mountain state,
White Sulphur Springs on time,
With orders to switch over there
and take the east main line.

"I know my engine is all right,
she's the US Mountain kind,
One hundred thirty-seven
she will put us there on time."
Said Dolly to his fireman,
"We are running way behind,
But when I pull the Big Bend Tunnel
I mean to be on time."

Just four miles farther down the line
he hit a broken rail,
No more to pull old Number Five,
no more to pull the mail;
The engine did not overturn
but a steam pipe broke in two,
Two hundred pounds of pressure
killed poor Dolly brave and true.

Until the brakes are set on time,
life's throttle valve shut down,
Some day he'll pilot in the crew
that wears the Master's crown;
With a clear block into Heaven's gate
he'll pull his mighty train,
And there in God's own roundhouse
he will register his name.

####.... Charles Meeks/Carson J Robison [1890-1957] © MCA Music, NY, NY ....####
Recorded in 1939 by Vernon Try Slaughter, aka Vernon Dalhart of Jefferson, Texas [1883-1948] on the Vocalion label.

Also published on p.236 of The Long Steel Rail. The Railroad in American Folksong, edited by Norm Cohen (University of Illinois, 1927, 1981).

A variant was collected in 1951 from Cyril O'Brien [ca.1902-?] of Trepassey, NL, and published in part in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).


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