East Bound Freight Train

Today’s post was written by Paul.

The Streamline Cannon Ball

For this installment in our train song series, I was lucky enough to be joined by local musician Scott Ferguson, a well-known musical fixture in and around Brasstown. Of all the people I could have played with, Scott is perhaps the only one I know who actually can say that he has traveled the rails across our country as a hobo (his own word).

He told me that riding the railroads was his education. 🙂 He said it taught him a lot about human nature.

We shot this video at the old depot in Murphy. The train no longer runs there, though the mayor and others have worked hard to bring it back (for tourism).

While we were preparing to shoot, Murphy PD rolled up. They were actually there to help set up for a fundraiser the following day, but it reminded Scott of a time he dealt with railroad detectives near the Colorado River.

Scott is a great musician and has played in many bands around our area for decades, including the Raven Welch Band, with Jamie Mason who appeared in last year’s series, and many others.

If you happen to own the gospel CD Shepherd of My Soul that Pap and I put out around 2015, Scott was instrumental in us recording Pap’s song “At the Name of Jesus.”

Pap had written the song several years earlier, but it wasn’t until we heard Scott play it on the fiddle one day that we became very interested in the song. On the recording, Chitter plays the fiddle and does a great job, but it was Scott’s performance of the song that inspired us to record it.

As with our other train songs, we jumped right in on this one shortly after tuning up and going over the words. Scott had sung this song before but had never fiddled it. His fiddle kick-off is one of my favorite parts. He and his wife came up with a different arrangement of the chorus, which is kind of an abbreviated approach to the notes/lines in a seven pitch. It makes this rendition of the song a little different, but I like it, and I hope you do too.

I appreciate Scott taking time to give the song a whirl. It was a lot of fun.

I hope you enjoyed the third song of our November Train Series!


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  • Reply
    November 19, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    My grandma had a soft heart; she used to take pity on all the hobos riding the rails, especially during the Depression. When one would come to the back door, she’d make him a plate of food, and say he could sleep in the attic (accessed from a hill, the house being built into the hillside), on one condition: that he be on his way by dawn’s early light. I still love a train whistle; makes me wonder who’s (or what’s) going where and why.

  • Reply
    November 17, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    That was great…I was also kinda applying it in my heart to that Great train that’s bound for Glory… the train whistle too….we use to have a train depot here in our city, so many are sorry now that they tore it down….. once gone , gone. Since 1927 we’ve had a railroad shops …many of our dads or grandads made their living there ,or out in the yards, or as engineers…… it would have been neat to still be able to go have a look at that depot, ponder and reminisce.

  • Reply
    Kenneth Ryan
    November 17, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    I like the rendition of the song, Paul. Great job by you and Scott!

    • Reply
      Mary Lou McKillip
      November 17, 2019 at 4:22 pm

      Tipper such a talented family you have. Tipper your to young to remember the pVine I rode it when I was a baby. truman and I were in Fort Wayne Oka. And saw a train called the Pee Vine wondering if it was the old Pee Vine that was here in Marble and Murphy maybe giving to the Indians. Will Rogers and widow buried there. I think Will might been from Cherokee County

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    November 17, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Thanks for the Train Song. I guess you could call us boys hobos too. Almost every morning we’d walk down the Railroad Tracks to meet the Train a coming. We were after the Fuziesses that got us Jacket Nests, so we could go Fishin’. There was about 8 of us, and we knowed where the Train slowed down at. The conductor (or whatever he was called in the tail-end of the Train) couldn’t do anything with that many young boys, so we got all the Fuzies holding the windows open that we were able.

    We had fun, until one day a couple of Train Detectives came up to the house. Well, being Mountain Boys, me and Harold knew how to keep a Straight Face. We listened carefully while the Detectives questioned Mama about the issue, and we knew Mama didn’t know anything about the matter, cause we never told her, or daddy. (They would have skinned us.) Finally, the Detectives left, they were nice and respectful, but they talked a little funny. Mama stood in the doorway, wouldn’t about to let them in, besides there was lots of eyes peeping from behind the curtains. And they had guns. These were all our brothers, and had been thru this before.

    Anyway, we got our Fuzies and left way before the Train stopped at Topton, near the Bridge that takes you to Graham County. The train men checked the brakes and things out before heading into the Nantahala Gorge.

    Hugh Passmore, mama’s daddy, and wife Delia, had 16 youngins, some of them dead before I got here. He was the Foreman of the Railroad from Asheville to Murphy and this was during The Great Depression. I never knew most of my uncles and their wives on my Mama’s side of the Family, but when I got here, I knew all of Daddy’s brothers and sisters. …Ken

  • Reply
    Hank Skewis
    November 17, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Thank you Tipper! How about “life’s railway to Heaven “? Wonderful song.
    One of my favorite places on Earth is the RR town of Thurmond in the New River Gorge in W VA.

  • Reply
    November 17, 2019 at 10:17 am

    I really enjoyed this lively song on a cold, dreary morning. I have always loved trains, and I enjoy traveling by train.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 17, 2019 at 9:47 am

    If I’m not mistaken, that song was written by Louis Marshall Jones “Grandpa Jones” of Hee Haw fame!

    • Reply
      Sanford McKinney Jr
      November 17, 2019 at 11:32 am

      According to the sources I searched, you are correct: “Eastbound Freight Train” (Grandpa Jones) by Grandpa Jones, Jim & Jesse, Reno & Smiley

      • Reply
        Ed Ammons
        November 17, 2019 at 2:09 pm

        Arthur Lee “Red” Smiley Jr. of Reno and Smiley was my 1st cousin 2X removed although I never knew him.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    November 17, 2019 at 7:27 am

    Here’s a good train song written by Elizabeth Cotten. I was fortunate enough to hear her perform it live at the Carter Fold in Scott County VA quite a few years back. She stated that she develop her style of pickin and Myrle Travis learned to play her style. She seemed not to be happy about that and, I believe, even said he stole it from her. She was born in Carrboro NC in 1893, Died in Syracuse NY in 1987 (94 years and 5 months old). Her given name was Elizabeth “Libba” Nevills.
    Elizabeth Cotten – Freight Train – YouTube
    Jan 27, 2014Freight Train, Freight Train Run so fast Please don’t tell what train I’m on They won’t know what route I’m going When I’m dead and in my grave No more good times here I crave

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 17, 2019 at 7:13 am

    Good job, thanks! Most of us have no grasp of the important the trains were in our history. When we think of transportation we think of cars and airplanes. however there was a time when trains were it, well, besides horses.
    Thanks for the song, and the reminder!

    • Reply
      Terry Stites
      November 17, 2019 at 9:49 am

      I loved the song Paul. My family and I “chased a train” yesterday. The steam engine Big Boy is making his last run before retiring. We caught him going through a small town and then followed him to the next town where he stopped for a short time. We finished up with a whistle stop in the last town of his Oklahoma leg of the journey. People were stopped all along the tracks waiting to see Big Boy roll by.

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