The Wreck of the Old Ninety-Seven
Traditional - Woody Guthrie

Well, they give him his orders at Monroe Virginia
Saying: Pete, you’re way behind time
This ain’t thirty-eight, but it’s old nienety-seven
And you’ve got to be in Danville on time

But he turned around to his black greasy fireman
Said: Shovel in a little more coal
When we cross the White Oak Mountain
You can watch old ninety-seven roll

It’s a mighty rough road from Lynchburg to Danville
On a line on a three mile grade
It is on this grade that he lost his airbrakes
And you see what a jump he made

He was a-going down the grade making ninety miles an hour
And his whistle broke out in a scream
It is on that grade that he lost his airbrakes**
And you see what a jump he made

He was a-going down the grade making ninety miles an hour
And his whistle begin to scream
And they found him in the wreck
With his hand on his throttle and scalded to death by the steam

Well, ladies, you can all take warning
From this time now and on
Never speak harsh words to your true loving husband
He might leave you and never return


as I recorded on
* additional/alternative verse between verse 3 and 4: Then a telegram come from Washington Station / his is how it read: That brave engineer that run old '97 / Is lyin' in Danville, dead.
** mis-reading by Woody on a number of boots. The correct way to sing it is: He was found in the wreck, his hand on the throttle
Scalded to death by the steam
It's supposed to be a continuation of the telegram. (Thanks to Glenn G. Gamblin for this information)


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