Casey Jones: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Portrait of the "brave engineer": John Luther "Casey" Jones, 1863–1900
"Casey" Jones as depicted on a 3-cent postage stamp issued by the United States Postal Service

John Luther "Casey" Jones (March 14, 1863 – April 30, 1900) was an American railroad engineer from Jackson, Tennessee who worked for the Illinois Central Railroad (IC). On April 30, 1900, he alone was killed when his passenger train collided with a stalled freight train at Vaughan, Mississippi on a foggy and rainy night. His dramatic death trying to stop his train and save lives made him a folk hero who became immortalized in a popular ballad sung by his friend Wallace Saunders, an African American engine wiper for the IC. Due to the enduring popularity of this song, his life and legend have been celebrated for over a century.[1]


Youth and career

Casey Jones was born March 14, 1863, in southeast Missouri to country school teacher Frank Jones and his wife Anne, though his exact place of birth is unknown, the first of five children. In 1876, his family moved to the small community of Cayce, Kentucky. As a boy, he developed a growing obsession with trains from spending time around the Cayce depot. In 1878, at the age of 15, he went to work for the Mobile and Ohio Railroad as a telegrapher in nearby Columbus. Jones grew to be 6’4 1/2" tall with dark hair, gray eyes, and a slim build. His size and strength made him a natural for the often brutal work of railroad life. In 1884 he moved to Jackson, Tennessee, still in the employ of the M&O, to take a job as a flagman, where he stayed at a boarding house for railroad men run by the mother of his future wife, who worked there as well.[1][2]

Acquired famous name

It was at the dinner table in this boarding house that John Luther Jones became "Casey" Jones. Bose Lashley, a brakeman for the M&O, looked up from his plate one day and spoke to the gangly lad who had entered to be seated:

"What's your name, son?" he asked.
"John Luther Jones," the young man replied.
"Where are you from?"
"Cayce, Kentucky."

"Well, sit right down Cayce, and make yourself at home!" Lashley rejoined.[1]

It was common practice at the time for railroaders to give fellow railroaders nicknames to make it easier to tell them apart from others who shared the same name. Though Jones spelled his name "Cayce," his wife spelled it "Casey" in the letters she wrote, which became the accepted spelling of his name.[1]


Dark-haired Mary Joanna "Janie" Brady, daughter of the owner of the boarding house, noticed Jones' remarkable appetite and the way he blushed whenever she flashed her smile at him. Jones soon fell in love with her and made plans to propose to her. Since she was Catholic and he was not, he decided to get baptized on November 11, 1886 at St. Bridget's Catholic Church in Whistler, Alabama.[1][2] just to please her. They were then married at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Jackson on November 25, 1886, and bought a house at 211 West Chester Street in Jackson where they set about raising three children. By all accounts, he was a devoted family man and teetotaler.[1]

Promotion to engineer

Jones performed well and was promoted to brakeman on the Columbus, Kentucky to Jackson, Tennessee route and then to fireman on the Jackson, Tennessee to Mobile, Alabama route.[2] In the summer of 1887 a yellow fever epidemic struck down many train crews on the neighboring Illinois Central Railroad and provided an unexpected opportunity for faster promotion of firemen there. So on March 1, 1888, he switched to the I.C., firing a freight locomotive between Jackson, Tennessee and Water Valley, Mississippi. He was finally promoted to engineer, his lifelong goal, on February 23, 1891. Jones went on to reach the pinnacle of the railroad profession as a crack locomotive engineer for the I.C. Railroading was a natural talent, and Jones was recognized by his peers as one of the best in the business. He was known for his insistence that he always "get her there on the advertised" that is, that he would never be found to be "falling down" (behind schedule) when he arrived at his destination. He was so punctual that it was said that people set their watches by him. His work in Jackson primarily involved freight service between Jackson and Water Valley, Mississippi. Both locations were busy and important shops for the Illinois Central Railroad and he developed close ties with both between 1890 and 1900.[1]

Famous train whistle

Jones was also famous for his peculiar skill with the train whistle. His whistle was made of six thin tubes bound together, the shortest being half the length of the longest. Its unique sound involved a long-drawn-out note that began softly, rose and then died away to a whisper, a sound which became his trademark. The sound of it was variously described as "a sort of whippoorwill call" or "like the war cry of a Viking.” People living along the Illinois Central right-of-way between Jackson, Tennessee and Water Valley, Mississippi would turn over in their beds late at night upon hearing it and say “There goes Casey Jones” as he roared by.[2]

Service at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893

During the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago, Illinois in 1893 the I.C. was charged with providing commuter service for the thousands of visitors to the fairground. A call was sent out for trainmen who wished to work there and Jones answered it, spending a pleasant summer there with his wife. He shuttled many people from Van Buren Street to Jackson Park during the exposition. It was his first experience as an engineer in passenger service and he liked it.[2]

It was at the fair (also called The Chicago World's Fair), that he became acquainted with No. 638, a big new freight engine the I.C. had on display there as the latest and greatest technological advancement in trains. It had eight drive wheels and two pilot wheels, a 2-8-0 "Consolidation" type. At the closing of the fair No. 638 was due to be sent to Water Valley for service in the Jackson District. Jones asked for permission to run the engine back to Water Valley himself. His request was approved, and No. 638 ran its first 589 miles with Jones at the throttle all the way to Water Valley. Jones liked No. 638 and especially liked working in the Jackson District because his family was in Jackson. They had once moved to Water Valley but Jackson was really home to the Jones family. Jones operated the engine until he transferred to Memphis in February 1900. No. 638 stayed in Water Valley. That year he would operate the engine that became most closely associated with him through tragic circumstances, and he would run it only one time. That was Engine No. 382, known affectionately as "Ole 382." The engine Jones ran the night of his fateful last ride was a steam-driven Rogers 4-6-0 "Ten Wheeler" with six drivers, each approximately six feet high. Bought new in 1898 from the Rogers Locomotive Works, it was a very powerful engine for the time. When a potential disaster arose, all of Jones' skill and its responsiveness would be put to the greatest test.[2]

His regular fireman on No. 638 was his close friend, John Wesley McKinnie, with whom he worked exclusively from about 1897 until he went to the passenger run out of Memphis with his next and last fireman, Sim Webb in 1900.[2]

Rescue of child from tracks

A little-known example of Jones' heroic instincts in action is described by his biographer and friend Fred J. Lee in his 1939 book Casey Jones: Epic of the American Railroad. The book describes an incident that occurred sometime around 1895 as Jones’ train approached Michigan City, Mississippi. He had left the cab in charge of fellow Engineer Bob Stevenson who had reduced speed sufficiently to make it safe for Jones to walk out on the running board to oil the relief valves. He advanced from the running board to the steam chest and then to the pilot beam to adjust the spark screen. He had finished well before they arrived at the station as planned and was returning to the cab when he noticed a group of small children dart in front of the train some sixty yards ahead. All cleared the rails easily except for a little girl who suddenly froze in fear at the sight of the oncoming iron horse. Jones shouted to Stevenson to reverse the train then told the girl to get off the tracks in almost the same breath. Realizing that she was still immobile, he quickly swung into action. He raced to the tip of the pilot or cowcatcher and braced himself on it as he reached out as far as he could to pull the frightened but unharmed girl from the rails. [2]

Baseball player

Jones was an avid baseball fan and watched or participated in the game whenever his busy schedule allowed. During the 1880s he had played at Columbus, Kentucky, while he was a club operator on the M & O. One Sunday during the summer of 1898 the Water Valley shop team was scheduled to play the Jackson shop team and Jones got to haul the team to Jackson for the game.[3]

Transfer to passenger trains

Jones soon got his chance for a regular passenger run. In February 1900, he was transferred from Jackson, Tennessee to Memphis, Tennessee for the passenger run between Memphis and Canton, Mississippi. This was one link of a four train run between Chicago, Illinois and New Orleans, Louisiana, the so-called "cannonball" passenger run. "Cannonball" was a contemporary term applied to fast mail and fast passenger trains of those days, but it was actually a generic term, much like we would use the word "rocket" today. This run offered the fastest schedules in the history of railroading. Some veteran engineers doubted the times could be met and some quit.[1]

Engineer Willard W. "Bill" Hatfield had transferred from Memphis back to a run out of Water Valley thus opening up trains No. 2 (north) and No. 3 (south) to another engineer. It meant moving his family to Memphis and separation from his close friend John Wesley McKinnie and No. 638 as well, but Jones saw the move as a good one and had bid for and got the job. Jones would drive Hatfield's Engine No. 384 until the night of his fateful last ride on Engine No. 382.[2]


Marker in Memphis, Tennessee commemorating Casey Jones

On April 29, 1900 Jones was at Poplar Street Station in Memphis, Tennessee, having driven the northbound No. 2 from Canton, when he agreed to take the southbound No. 1 because the scheduled engineer Sam Tate had called in sick with cramps. Tate apparently held the regular run of trains No. 1 (south) and No. 4 (north) with his assigned Engine No. 382. Train No.1 was known as "The New Orleans Special," later to become the famous "City of New Orleans." Headed north, No. 4 was called "The New Orleans Fast Mail." Odd-numbered trains were southbound, and even-numbered ones were northbound.[1][2]

On this night, Jones had returned with his assigned Engine No. 384 and was asked to “double back south” on Tate’s run on No. 1 with Engine No. 382 to Canton. Had Tate not been sick, Jones would have made the run back the next day after a layover. But he loved challenges and once again was determined to "get her there on the advertised" no matter how difficult it looked.[1][2]

A fast engine, a good fireman, and a light train were ideal for a record-setting run of the 188 miles from Memphis to Canton. And even though it was raining, steam trains operated best in damp conditions. But it was also quite foggy that night, which reduced visibility. And the run was well-known for its tricky curves, which could prove deadly.[1][2]

With Fireman Sim Webb shoveling on coal and Jones pouring on steam they left Memphis with 6 cars at 12:50 am, 95 minutes behind schedule. The first section of the run would take Jones to Grenada, Mississippi, 100 miles south over a new section of light and shaky rails at speeds up to 80 mph (129 km/h). 40 miles south at Senatobia, Mississippi he passed through the scene of the deaths of a fellow engineer and fireman in an accident that occurred the previous November. He made a quick water stop upon arriving at Sardis, Mississippi, 50 miles south of Memphis. Another 50 miles and he had arrived at Grenada. He was now only 40 minutes behind schedule and took on more water. It was 25 miles from Grenada to Winona, Mississippi and Jones made up another 15 minutes. From Winona to Durant, Mississippi was 30 miles of speedway with no speed-restricted curves. By the time he got to Durant, 155 miles south of Memphis, he was almost on time. He was quite happy, saying at one point "Sim, the old girl's got her dancing slippers on tonight!" as he leaned on the Johnson bar. At Durant he received new orders to take to the siding at Goodman, Mississippi and wait for the No. 2 passenger train to pass, and then continue on to Vaughan.[1][2]

Jones did as he was instructed and arrived 8 miles south of Durant at Goodman to take the siding. His orders also instructed him that he was to meet northbound passenger train No. 26 at Vaughan, but No. 26 was a local passenger train in two sections and would be in the siding so he would have priority over it. He pulled out of Goodman only five minutes behind. With 27 miles of fast track ahead Jones doubtless felt that he had a good chance to make it to Canton by 4:05 AM "on the advertised."[1][2]

But the stage was being set for a tragic wreck at Vaughan, 15 miles away. The stopped double-header freight train No. 83 (located to the north and headed south) and the stopped long freight train No. 72 (located to the south and headed north) were both in the passing track to the east of the main line but there were more cars than the track could hold, forcing some of them to overlap onto the main line above the north end of the switch. The northbound local passenger train No. 26 had arrived from Canton earlier which had required a “saw by” in order for it to get to the “house track” west of the main line. The saw by maneuver for No. 26 required that No. 83 back up and allow No. 72 to move northward and pull its overlapping cars off the south end, allowing No. 26 to gain access to the house track. But this left four cars overlapping above the north end of the switch and on the main line right in Jones' path. As a second saw by was being prepared to let Jones pass, an air hose broke on No. 72, locking its brakes and leaving the last four cars of No. 83 on the main line.[1][2]

Casey Jones' home during the time of his death.

Meanwhile, Jones was almost back on schedule , at about 75 miles per hour toward Vaughan, unaware of the danger ahead as he was traveling through a 1.5-mile left-hand curve which blocked his view. Webb's view from the left side of the train was better and he was first to see the red lights of the caboose on the main line. "Oh my Lord, there's something on the main line!" he yelled to Jones. Jones quickly yelled back "Jump Sim, jump!" to Webb, who crouched down and jumped about 300 feet before impact and was knocked unconscious. The last thing Webb heard when he jumped was the long, piercing scream of the whistle as Jones tried to warn anyone still in the freight train looming ahead. He was only two minutes behind schedule about this time.[1][2]

Jones reversed the throttle and slammed the airbrakes into emergency stop, but "Ole 382" quickly plowed through a wooden caboose, a car load of hay, another of corn and half way through a car of timber before leaving the track. He had amazingly reduced his speed from about 75 miles per hour to about 35 miles per hour when he impacted with a deafening crunch of steel against steel and splintering wood. Because Jones stayed on board to slow the train, he no doubt saved the passengers from serious injury and death (Jones himself was the only fatality of the collision). His watch was found to be stopped at the time of impact which was 3:52 AM on April 30, 1900. Popular legend holds that when his body was pulled from the wreckage of his train near the twisted rail his hands still clutched the whistle cord and the brake. A stretcher was brought from the baggage car on No. 1 and crewmen of the other trains carried his body to the depot ½-mile away.[1][2]

The headlines in the Jackson, Tennessee Sun read: "FATAL WRECK - Engineer Casey Jones, of This City, Killed Near Canton, Miss. - DENSE FOG THE DIRECT CAUSE - Of a Rear End Collision on the Illinois Central. - Fireman and Messenger Injured - Passenger Train Crashed Into a Local Freight Partly on the Siding-Several Cars Demolished."[1]

A Jackson, Mississippi newspaper report detailed the accident this way:

The south-bound passenger train No. 1 was running under a full head of steam when it crashed into the rear end of a caboose and three freight cars which were standing on the main track, the other portion of the train being on a sidetrack. The caboose and two of the cars were smashed to pieces, the engine left the rails and plowed into an embankment, where it overturned and was completely wrecked, the baggage and mail coaches also being thrown from the track and badly damaged. The engineer was killed outright by the concussion. His body was found lying under the cab, with his skull crushed and right arm torn from its socket. The fireman jumped just in time to save his life. The express messenger was thrown against the side of the car, having two of his ribs broken by the blow, but his condition is not considered dangerous.[2]

Legend begins

Jones' legend was quickly fueled by headlines such as, "DEAD UNDER HIS CAB: THE SAD END OF ENGINEER CASEY JONES," The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee; and "HEROIC ENGINEER- Sticks to his post at cost of life. Railroad Wreck at Vaughan's on Illinois Central Railroad-Terrible Fatality Prevented by Engineer's Loyalty to Duty - A passenger's Story," The Times-Democrat, New Orleans.[2]

The passenger in the article was Adam Hauser, formerly a member of The Times-Democrat telegraph staff (New Orleans), who was in a sleeper on Jones' southbound fast mail and made these (excerpted) comments after the wreck:

"The passengers did not suffer, and there was no panic."

"I was jarred a little in my bunk, but when fairly awake the train was stopped and everything was still."

"Engineer Jones did a wonderful as well as an heroic piece of work, at the cost of his life."

"The marvel and mystery is how Engineer Jones stopped that train. The railroad men themselves wondered at it and of course the uninitiated could not do less. But stop it he did. In a way that showed his complete mastery of his engine, as well as his sublime heroism. I imagine that the Vaughan wreck will be talked about in roundhouses, lunchrooms and cabooses for the next six months, not alone on the Illinois Central, but many other roads in Mississippi and Louisiana."[2]


The next morning Jones' body made the long trip back home to Jackson, Tennessee on passenger train No. 26. On the following day the funeral service was held in St. Mary’s Church where he and Janie Brady had married fourteen years before. Burial was in Mount Calvary Cemetery. Fifteen enginemen rode 118 miles from Water Valley to pay their last respects, which was something of a record.[2]

Illinois Central Railroad report on accident

A conductor's report filed just five hours after the accident stated "Engineer on No.1 failed to answer flagman who was out proper distance. It is supposed did not see the flag." This was the position the I.C. would later take in its official reports.[1]

The final I.C. accident report was released on July 13, 1900 by A.S. Sullivan, General Superintendent of the I.C., and stated that "Engineer Jones was solely responsible having disregarded the signals given by Flagman Newberry." John M. Newberry was the flagman on the southbound No. 83 that Jones hit. According to the report he had gone back a distance of 3,000 feet where he had placed torpedos on the rail. He then continued north a further distance of 500 to 800 feet, where he stood and gave signals to Jones's train No.1. But doubt still lingers about the official findings and some wonder where Newberry was positioned that night. Some feel he wasn’t there at all. Some say Jones was "short flagged," but Newberry was an experienced man and he had flagged No. 25 a short time before. In the report Fireman Sim Webb states that he heard the torpedo explode, then went to the gangway on the engineer's side and saw the flagman with the red and white lights standing alongside the tracks. Going then to the fireman's side, he saw the markers of the caboose of No. 83 and yelled to Jones. But it would have been impossible for him to have seen the flagman if the flagman had been positioned 500–800 feet before the torpedoes as the report says he was. Once the torpedoes exploded the train would have already been too far past the flagman’s reported position for him to be visible. So if Webb did see the flagman at this point, he had to be out of position at about 3,000 feet north of the switch, not 3,500–3,800 feet north as stated in the report, which means Jones was indeed "short flagged." It's possible that after the flagman flagged the No. 25 freight through, he heard the commotion as No. 72's air hose broke and everything got jammed up with No. 83 fouling the main line. He may have gone to No. 83 to find out what the situation was, assuming he had time before Jones arrived. He then headed north along the tracks and placed the torpedoes, but by then Jones may have come roaring out of the fog before he made it to his reported position. If this is what happened, Jones lost a good 500–800 feet of stopping distance, which might have prevented the collision. In any event, some railroad historians have disputed the official account over the years, finding it difficult if not impossible to believe that an engineer of Jones's experience would have ignored a flagman and fusees (flares) and torpedoes exploded on the rail to alert him to danger. Contrary to what the report claimed, shortly after the accident and until his death Webb maintained that "We saw no flagman or fusees, we heard no torpedoes. Without any warning we plowed into that caboose."[1][2]

Injuries and losses from the wreck

The personal injury and physical damage costs of the wreck were as follows:

  • Simeon T. Webb, Fireman Train No. 1, body bruises from jumping off Engine 382 – $5.00
  • Mrs. W. E. Breaux, passenger, 1472 Rocheblave Street, New Orleans, slight bruises – Not settled
  • Mrs. Wm. Deto, passenger, No 25 East 33rd Street, Chicago, slight bruises left knee and left hand – Not settled
  • Wm. Miller, Express Messenger, injuries to back and left side, apparently slight – $25.00
  • W. L. Whiteside, Postal Clerk, jarred – $1.00
  • R. A. Ford, Postal Clerk, jarred – $1.00
  • Engine No. 382 – $1,396.25
  • Mail car No. 51 – $610.00
  • Baggage car No. 217 – $105.00
  • Caboose No. 98119 – $430.00
  • I.C. box car 11380 – $400.00
  • I.C. box car 24116 – $55.00
  • Total – $2,996.25[2]

Surprisingly, there are no clearly authentic photographs of the famous wreck in existence.[2]

There has been some controversy about exactly how Jones died. Massena Jones (former postmaster of Vaughan and director of the now closed museum there), said "When they found Jones, according to Uncle Will Madison (a section hand who helped remove Jones' body from the wreckage), he had a splinter of wood driven through his head. Now this is contrary to most of the stories, some of which say he had a bolt through his neck, some say he was crushed, some say he was scalded to death. But we have to go along with Uncle Will Madison. He was there, we were not."[1]

Later history of engines

For at least 10 years after the wreck, the imprint of Jones' engine was clearly visible in the embankment on the east side of the tracks about two-tenths of a mile north of Tucker's Creek, which is where the marker was located. The imprint of the headlight, boiler and the spokes of the wheels could be seen and people would ride up on handcars to view the traces of the famous wreck. Corn that was scattered by the wreck grew for years afterward in the surrounding fields.[4]

The wrecked 382 was brought to the Water Valley shop and rebuilt "just as it had come from the Rogers Locomotive Works in 1898," according to Bruce Gurner. It was soon back in service on the same run with Engineer Harry A. "Dad" Norton in charge. But bad luck would follow it in the future. During its 37 years of service "Ole 382" was involved in accidents which would take 6 lives before it was retired in July 1935. During its career, the 382 was renumbered 212, 2012, and 5012.[2]

January 1903: criminal train wreckers caused 382 to wreck, nearly demolishing the locomotive. Norton's legs were broken and he was badly scalded. His fireman died 3 days later.

September 1905: Norton and the 382 turned over in the Memphis South Yards. This time, however, the train was moving slowly and Norton was uninjured.

January 22, 1912: 382 (now numbered 2012) was involved in a wreck that killed 4 prominent railroad men and injured several others. It is called the Kinmundy Wreck as it happened near Kinmundy, Illinois. An engineer by the name of Strude was driving this time.[2]

Jones' beloved Engine No. 638 was sold to the Mexican government in 1921 and was still running there in the 1940s.[2]

Other people involved

Jones' African American fireman, Simeon T. Webb (born May 12, 1874), died in Memphis on July 13, 1957 at the age of 83. Jones' wife, Janie Brady Jones (born October 29, 1866), died on November 21, 1958 in Jackson at the age of 92. At the time of Jones' death at age 37, his son Charles was 12, his daughter Helen was 10 and his youngest son John Lloyd (known as "Casey Junior") was 4.

Jones' wife said she never had any thought of remarrying.[5] She wore black nearly every day for the rest of her life.[1]

Jones' tombstone in Jackson's Mount Calvary Cemetery gives his birth year as 1864 but according to information written in the family Bible by his mother he was born in 1863. The tombstone was donated in 1947 by two out-of-town railroad enthusiasts who accidentally got his birth year wrong. Until then, a simple wooden cross had marked his grave.[1]

Casey Jones References In Music

Casey Jones Media References

  • Casey Jones (1927) was a movie made about Jones and his famous wreck. It starred Ralph Lewis as Casey Jones, Kate Price as his wife, and a young Jason Robards as Casey Jones, Jr.
  • In 1950 The Walt Disney company made a cartoon based on Casey Jones.
  • "Casey Jones" was a television series loosely based on Jones' legend. It starred Alan Hale, Jr. as Casey Jones; Hale would later become well remembered for his role as "The Skipper" on the TV series Gilligan's Island.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Casey Jones was mentioned by Mr. Burns' son, Larry; the episode is entitled "Burns Baby Burns."
  • In an episode of The Real Ghostbusters called Last train to oblivion, Casey Jones is featured trying to once again prevent a train wreck.
  • There is a PS3 trophy called "Casey Jones" for the game "Infamous" which is awarded after performing a stunt on a train.
  • Grateful Dead entitled a song named "Casey Jones" telling the story of the train wreck incident.
  • Casey Jones was referenced in the song "What's Next To The Moon" by AC/DC
  • Casey Jones is the vigilante comrade of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in the 1990s cartoon series
  • In the 1993 film The Fugitive, upon inspection of a crash involving a prisoner transport bus and a train, Deputy Gerard says that the conductor "did a Casey Jones".

Museums in Casey Jones's honor

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u The Historic Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum in Jackson, Tennessee
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Water Valley Casey Jones Railroad Museum in Water Valley, Mississippi
  3. ^ Casey Jones Railroad Museum State Park in Vaughan, Mississippi
  4. ^ Template:Jones, Massena F.(1978).The Choo-Choo Stopped at Vaughan.Quail Ridge Press.
  5. ^ "Widow of Casey Jones Is Dead at 92; "haunted' by Ballad of Famed Engineer". New York Times at ProQuest Historical Newspapers. 1958-11-22. pp. 21. 

External links


Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Casey Jones
by Wallace Saunders
There is little doubt that without the popular ballad that bears his name Casey Jones would be forgotten today except by railroad historians searching through dusty archives. This is to be expected as virtually no acts of physical heroism survive long outside the memories of those who were alive at the time without a means of powerfully capturing the popular imagination.— Excerpted from The Ballad of Casey Jones on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Casey Jones, also billed as The Ballad of Casey Jones or Casey Jones, the brave engineer, is an american folk song that deals with the story of Casey Jones, an railroad engineer, who died in his train wreck. The song was written around 1900 by Wallace Saunders and Eddie Newton. The first version was published in 1902.


Casey Jones, 1928 (version of Gid Tanner's Skillet Lickers)

The following are the lyrics. On many records, there are some little changes.

Come all you rounders if you want to hear
A story 'bout a brave engineer,
Casey Jones was the rounder's name
"Twas on the Illinois Central that he won his fame.

Casey Jones, he loved a locomotive.
Casey Jones, a mighty man was he.
Casey Jones run his final locomotive
With the Cannonball Special on the old I.C.

Casey pulled into memphis on Number Four,
The engine foreman met him at the roundhouse door;
Said, "Joe Lewis won't be able to make his run
So you'll have to double out on Number One."

If I can have Sim Webb, my fireman, my engine 382,
Although I'm tired and weary, I'll take her through.
Put on my whistle that come in today
Cause I mean to keep her wailing as we ride and pray.

Casey Jones, mounted the cabin,
Casey Jones, with the orders in his hand.
Casey Jones, he mounted the cabin,
Started on his farewell Journey to the promised land.

They pulled out of Memphis nearly two hours late,
Soon they were speeding at a terrible rate.
And the people knew by the whistle's moan.
That the man at the throttle was Casey Jones.

Need more coal there, fireman Sim,
Open that door and heave it in.
Give that shovel all you got
And we'll reach Canton on the dot

On April 30, 1900, that rainy morn,
Down in Mississippi near the town of Vaughan,
Sped the Cannonball Special only two minutes late
Traveling 70 miles an hour when they saw a freight.

The caboose number 83 was on the main line,
Casey's last words were "Jump, Sim, while you have the time.
"At 3:52 that morning came the fareful end,
Casey took his farewell trip to the promised land.

Casey Jones, he died at the throttle,
With the whistle in his hand.
Casey Jones, he died at the throttlle,
But we'll all see Casey in the promised land.

His wife and three children were left to mourn
The tragic death of Casey on that April morn.
May God through His goodness keep them by His grace
Till they all meet together in that heavenly place.

Casey's body lies buried in Jackson, Tennessee
Close beside the tracks of the old I.C.
May his spirit live forever throughout the land
As the greatest of all heroes of a railroad man.

Casey Jones, he died at the throttle,
Casey Jones, with the whistle in his hand.
Casey Jones, he died at the throttle,
But we'll all see Casey in the promised land.


  • Joe Hickerson
  • Gid Tanner's Skillet Lickers
  • Pete Seeger
  • Burl Ives
  • Johnny Cash



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