Many of the best songs tell a story. People like stories.

In this song, The Wreck of the  FFV, a heart-wrenching melodrama is presented in short fashion. The song recounts a true occurence. In West Virginia in 1890 engineer George Alley, driving Locomotive #143 on the FFV line, hit a rock slide and died. A.P. Carter first wrote this one down in the 1920’s.

“Many a man has lost his life in trying to make lost time” counsels George’s mother, which I suppose is sound advice for us all.

For Heaven’s sake be careful!

Click to hear Bumba have a go at it.


Along came the FFV the swiftest on the line,
Running o’er the C&O road just twenty minutes behind,
Running into Cevile, head porters on the line,
Receiving their strict orders from a station just behind.

Georgie’s mother came to him with a bucket on her arm,
Saying, “My darling son be careful how you run.
For many a man has lost his life in trying to make lost time,
And if you run your engine right you’ll get there just on time.”

Up the road he darted, against the rocks he crushed,
Upside down the engine turned and Georgie’s breast did smash.
His head was against the firebox door, the flames are rolling high,
“I’m glad I was born an engineer on the C&O road to die.”

The doctor said to Georgie, “My darling boy, be still,
Your life may yet be saved if it is God’s blessed will.”
“Oh no,” said George, “that will not do — I want to die so free,
I want to die for the engine I love, one hundred and forty three.”

The doctor said to Georgie, “Your life cannot be saved.”
Murdered upon the railroad and laid in a lonesome grave,
His face was covered up with blood, his eyes they could not see,
And the very last words poor Georgie said was, “Nearer, my God, to thee.”

OK, I’m adding a little update. (6/8/12) I just did the song again, I think a little better.