Casey Jones, IC question

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Casey Jones, IC question
Posted by Lithonia Operator on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 8:20 AM

I have an album by folk singer Tom Rush in which there's a song about Casey Jones. It includes this line (not about the fatal run):

"He pulled outa Memphis at a quarter to nine, got to Newport News by supper time."

I briefly lived in Newport News (VA), and my parents, and also some sibs lived there for many years. I am virtually positive that was C&O territory.

So what the heck is Casey doing there???

And could any train in those days, or now (on the best possible routing, over multiple railroads if necessary), get from Memphis to NN in under twelve hours? I think not, because the quickest route by car, today, is 893 miles. I'm guessing by rail you're looking at at least 1000. No way, right?

Yeah, I know it's just a song ...

But is it possible that our distinguished, late Mr. Jones (and I do hate to call him late, for Pete's sake) could conceivably have made it to Newport News as an engineer. Did he ever work for C&O?

Basically, I think Tom Rush must have just liked the sound of "Newport News."

 

 

 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 8:30 AM

No, Casey never worked for the C&O, I think that's a bit of artistic license on Tom Rush's part, in fact I'm sure it is.

Or, Tom's just doing a version he happened to pickup somewhere.  There's a lot of variations on old folk songs.

For example, I've heard Casey's locomotive described in various versions of the song as a "Six-eight wheeler," a "Six-ten wheeler," or sometimes accurately as a "Big ten-wheeler."  Depends on the song variation.

It doesn't matter as long as the artist does a good job with the music.

And no, I don't think Casey was ever late for anything!  

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 10:27 AM

And, unfortunately, that's what got him killed in an era when "Safety First" was observed more in the breach.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Deggesty on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 10:34 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH

And, unfortunately, that's what got him killed in an era when "Safety First" was observed more in the breach.

 

And, it seems to have been the same cause of "The Wreck of the Old 97."

Incidentally, I heard a version of that one which had the engineer who boarded at Monroe, Virginia, being told that he "...had to get her in Atlanta on time." Apparently, whoever added 300 miles to the run had no idea as to where Spencer, North Carolina (the south end of his division), was.

Johnny

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 10:36 AM

Well, this has been gone over before, but the sad fact is Casey was the victim of "short flagging."  The guy who was supposed to protect the rear of the stalled freight hadn't gone back far enough to give proper warning, nor did he put down any track torpedoes.  Casey's clearance card gave him priority over anything else on the line so he was expecting a clear run with no-one blocking his path.  Didn't happen that way.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 11:16 AM

What actually killed him was probably what today we'd call 'poor ergonomics'.  It's similar to the accident in Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo that eventually lost Lawson his leg.

In those days there were no 'impact restraints' or 'crew refuges', so when the 'two locomotives came to bump' the engine would have stopped relatively short, but Casey didn't.  As happens there was a projecting bolt which just happened to take Casey in the throat, and he bled to death of that injury.

Of course, we might easily argue that had he not died tragically, there might not have been enough Titanic-style stirring sacrifice to get the song written ... and it's much more the song than the 'historical' Casey that has made the thing memorable.

Do I not recall that it was Flintlock, in his earlier incarnation, who raised the almost heretical idea that had Casey not died, he'd likely have been called on the carpet and ignominiously lost his job...

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 2:27 PM

Overmod

What actually killed him was probably what today we'd call 'poor ergonomics'.  It's similar to the accident in Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo that eventually lost Lawson his leg.

In those days there were no 'impact restraints' or 'crew refuges', so when the 'two locomotives came to bump' the engine would have stopped relatively short, but Casey didn't.  As happens there was a projecting bolt which just happened to take Casey in the throat, and he bled to death of that injury.

Of course, we might easily argue that had he not died tragically, there might not have been enough Titanic-style stirring sacrifice to get the song written ... and it's much more the song than the 'historical' Casey that has made the thing memorable.

Do I not recall that it was Flintlock, in his earlier incarnation, who raised the almost heretical idea that had Casey not died, he'd likely have been called on the carpet and ignominiously lost his job...

 

No, I never said (When I was "Firelock") that Casey would have been called on the carpet had he survived the crash.  

Most likely, the crew of the freight train who fouled the mainline would have had a wild, screaming maniac to deal with in 6'4" Casey Jones, who certainly would have NOT been happy to have had his run ruined!  

Casey was described by all that knew him as the nicest, most even-tempered and easy-going guy you'd ever want to meet, but I'm sure even he had his limits. 

What I DID say was that if Casey hadn't been such a nice guy to all he met, irregardless of who they were or what they did, Wallace Saunders never would have written the song that made Casey a legend.  Casey would have been just another dead engineer. 

The moral of the story is be nice to people, remember the "Golden Rule," because you never know, do you? 

I learned along time ago that it's just as important, if not more so, to be known as a great guy as it is to be known as a great anything else.  Served me well.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 8:12 PM

Flintlock76

Well, this has been gone over before, but the sad fact is Casey was the victim of "short flagging."  The guy who was supposed to protect the rear of the stalled freight hadn't gone back far enough to give proper warning, nor did he put down any track torpedoes.  Casey's clearance card gave him priority over anything else on the line so he was expecting a clear run with no-one blocking his path.  Didn't happen that way.

 

Agreed.  Flagman Newberry was out beyond his torpedoes.   One account, and I think it was one that appears in a Treasury of Railroad Folklore, figured that the torpedoes were in position to protect the south siding switch.  The south siding switch and the main track south of there would have been occupied by part of the two freight trains involved had the air hose not burst when beginning to "saw" south. 

IMO, Newberry had probably went out beyond his 'guns' as a precaution when the trains had "sawed" north.  Thinking it wouldn't take long for the freight trains to "saw" back south, he didn't go out farther and put down more torpedoes and then return to his position.  The burst air hose just happened at the wrong time.

Jeff

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, April 30, 2020 3:53 PM

Here's a recording of Casey's fireman Sim Webb telling the story.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OMx2zlmYF0 

Sim does seem to choke up a little at times.  Well, he was there.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, April 30, 2020 7:32 PM

Flintlock76
Here's a recording of Casey's fireman Sim Webb telling the story.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OMx2zlmYF0 

Sim does seem to choke up a little at times.  Well, he was there.

The video was posted in 2015.  I wonder when the recording of his voice was actually made as Sim died in 1957 at the age of 83.

http://www.hawaii.edu/uhwo/clear/HonoluluRecord/articles/v10n13/Casey%20Jones%20Old%20Fireman%20Dies.html

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, April 30, 2020 9:05 PM

BaltACD

 

 
Flintlock76
Here's a recording of Casey's fireman Sim Webb telling the story.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OMx2zlmYF0 

Sim does seem to choke up a little at times.  Well, he was there.

 

The video was posted in 2015.  I wonder when the recording of his voice was actually made as Sim died in 1957 at the age of 83.

http://www.hawaii.edu/uhwo/clear/HonoluluRecord/articles/v10n13/Casey%20Jones%20Old%20Fireman%20Dies.html

 

Trying to figure that out myself.  One of the commenters on the YouTube video said he found a Memphis Recording Service acetate record of this at a flea market.  

I did some research, and Memphis Recording Service was opened in January of 1950.  Later it became Sun Records, Elvis Presley's old label, among others.

So, we can guess the Sim Webb record was done sometime in the 50's, but just when is another matter.  Maybe in 1950?  That would have been the 50th anniversary year of the wreck.  

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