Music Spotlight On Music In Appalachia 2010

Spotlight On Music In Appalachia – The Train’s At the End Of The Track

Guitar giveaway
Well actually the guitar giveaway is at the end of the track-not the train. Do you believe there have been over 600 entries? Wow-I still can’t believe it. This will be the last Spotlight On Music In Appalachia post before the giveaway-so make sure you leave a comment for one more entry.

Trains have been on my mind for the last few days-maybe because I’ve been thinking it’s almost time for the Santa Train-maybe because during my trips back and forth to the VA Hospital I always notice the big steel rails that run along the Nantahala Gorge.

The tracks that go through the gorge-used to continue all the way to Murphy-well they still do-but trains haven’t run to Murphy in years. Seems there is always talk in town about how if we could get the train running again-it would bring tourists (and their money) to town. But so far it’s only been talk.

A few years ago, Pap and I were talking about the train that used to stop in Murphy. He told me him and his Mother used to ride it to see his father in Newport News VA. Pap’s father, Wade, had one leg that was shorter than the other-so he was turned down for service in WWII but did go to work in the ship yards.

Pap told me one other story about the train and his Mother. They were attending church in Factory Town-a little community in the city limits of Murphy. He said as they sat on the bench she poked him gently in the arm and pointed with her head out the window. Pap was only 3 or 4 years old and almost had to stand up in the pew to see what she was pointing at-it was the train. I’m not sure why I think that little memory is so sweet-but I do. Somehow it conveys the feeling of those personal glances and looks we sometimes give those we love-you know when you know each other so well no words are needed just a nudge or a raised eyebrow.

I’ve never ridden a train-but I do like a good train song. Paul recently picked out an old Jimmie Rogers song so you could hear how good that giveaway guitar sounded one more time-take a listen and see what you think.

Sounded good didn’t it? If you’ve got a favorite train song-leave me a comment and tell me about it.


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  • Reply
    November 7, 2012 at 9:36 am

    J.A. IN ARK,

  • Reply
    Donna W
    November 22, 2010 at 10:15 am

    I keep coming back to see who won the guitar. How long will it be? My favorite train song, by the way, is Railroad Blues, followed closely by “In the Pines”.

  • Reply
    November 21, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Wabash Cannonball.

  • Reply
    John Dilbeck
    November 20, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    I always loved steam engines. The last of the steam engines were giving way to diesel-electric trains when I was a kid, but I still remember a few coming through on the main lines south of Atlanta before they disappeared.
    I’ve ridden on a few tourist trains and enjoyed them. The first was at Stone Mountain when my cousin was a conductor. That was almost 50 years ago. The last I rode was the train to Silverton, Colorado about 30 years ago.
    There’s a huge difference between steam locomotives and the diesel versions. I remember the first time I saw the engineer dumping sand from the tube in front of the drive wheels so they would get traction on the rails when the arm from the piston would push them and make them turn.
    When Mom was a child, she lived in Gainesville, GA, a couple of blocks from the train line. They’d hear the whistle blowing in the distance and run to watch it pass through town. She always enjoyed talking about watching those trains.
    I’ve always liked the Flatt and Scruggs version of The Wabash Cannonball. I enjoy listening to a good fiddler play “Orange Blossom Special.”
    I liked the song y’all sang at the Folk School’s Fall Festival this year. I don’t know the name of the song, but it mentioned the “passing of the train” a few times.

  • Reply
    Jo Reece-Flowers
    November 20, 2010 at 7:36 am

    My 2yr old son and I loved chasing that NOC train. We would often see it leaving the gorge, we would wait for it as it neared Bryson, and follow along until it reached the station downtown. Then we would do our shopping and follow the same route back home. My boy in overalls, sitting on the hood of our old pick-up, waiting at each intersection became so familiar to the engineer that he would blow the whistle just for us, and then the tourists would film that little mountain boy waving his arm off and grinning. He was on a lot of vacation videos. He’s 24 yrs old now, laughs about the good old days, and yes, every once in a while, we still “chase the train.”
    (And he plays the guitar and would be surprised to have this one. Enjoys the old train songs.)

  • Reply
    November 20, 2010 at 6:22 am

    Both Paul and the guitar sound great, Tipper. I think I would have to go with “Orange Blossom Special” as my favorite train song. There are so many versions, but a great picker can really show with that one!

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    November 19, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    Oh how I wish that we had the passenger train service that once ran between Hot Springs and Asheville twice a day!
    (But don’t enter me in the drawing, Tipper)

  • Reply
    Dale Anderson
    November 19, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    My Dad’s first job was a telegrapher on the RR in Murphy and my Uncle was a station agent up and down the line. In my childhood years I remember visiting him and spending time in the depot in Clyde, Lake Junaluska and Black Mountain. The steam engines and train whistles still remain strong in my memory.
    Enjoyed the concerts at the Folk School while attending Intergenerational Classes with my Grandson several years ago.

  • Reply
    Brenda Kay Ledford
    November 19, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    I sure love songs about trains. It just thrills my mama to hear trains whistle. Glad you posted this Appalachian music.

  • Reply
    November 19, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Hey, Tipper…first time visiting…but I love it! Yes, he was very good & is playing/singing professionally? My favorite “train tunes” are Wabash Cannonball (Benny Martin) & Johnny Cash’s “Legend of John Henry”…:)JP

  • Reply
    November 19, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Hi Tipper, thanks –but I don’t participate in Giveaways.. However, i do love TRAINS. My Dad worked for the railroad and I was around trains all of my early life.
    There is a Santa train out of Kingsport, TN –which helps the poor in the Appalachians around Kentucky. It is such a fabulous project..
    When we were near the Nantahala Gorge area this Fall, we did see a train… Maybe it’s the one which goes from Dillsboro and/or Blue Ridge…
    You’ve had alot of interest in the guitar… i hope someone gets it –who will love it and use it ALOT.

  • Reply
    Sharon Allen
    November 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I think the farthest back train song I remember was ‘This Train is bound for Glory, this train’.If I’m lucky enough to win, I can’t wait to just play all day and night and teach myself to play better.How exciting to think of. We saw one of the last steam trains back in 1983 or’84 come through the town we lived in, it was a really great experience to show my young kids at the time.Well, good luck to everyone and thanks for all the great stories and things you put in this newsletter, love looking at all of it, really makes my day.I’ve had bad days that I read Blind Pig and it literally just brings a smile to my face.Keep up the good work, it’s wonderful!Thanks!-Sharon Allen

  • Reply
    Nancy Wigmore
    November 18, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Train songs are some of my favorite…One thing I do miss about watching the trains go by is seeing the caboose on the end. I work at the public library here in Smithfield, NC and train books are among the favorites of preschoolers. Thanks for sharing wonderful posts and enjoy hearing the music too. Have a pleasant day!

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    November 18, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Tipper, love all the train songs.
    “Ride that Train” by Alabama comes to mind, and of course, the “Wabash Cannonball” is a standard. Thanks for sharing your music.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 18, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Yes, Tipper, that guitar sounds very good and Paul is not bad either!
    Like everyone who grew up in my era I have an interest in trains. I was never on one till a few years ago. It was a short trip, a few hours, but it was fun.
    When I am stopped for a train to pass at a RR Crossing I can’t help looking at the cars going by and wonder where they have been!

  • Reply
    November 18, 2010 at 12:07 am

    When my daddy would play and sing “Wabash Cannonball”, or “Casey Jones”, he would cup his hands and make a sound like an old steam whistle – a long “WHAAAAAW!”
    This site makes me remember things I thought I forgot…

  • Reply
    November 18, 2010 at 12:07 am

    Reminds of falling asleep to a train whistle back home in Kentucky. When I moved to San Francisco, I had to get used to falling asleep to a light-rail rumbling through–it’s just not as romantic as a distant whistle in the night.
    I think my favorite train song is Joni Mitchell’s Just Like This Train: not exactly a mountain song, is it 😉

  • Reply
    patrick tomlinson
    November 18, 2010 at 12:01 am

    heres to trains

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 17, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    I have never been on a train, but have lived by the tracks. (In Florida if you live by the water you live by the tracks) I remember the trains carrying passengers when I was a little girl. My sisters were 6 & 5 years younger than me and when the FEC stopped carrying passengers they took the elementary school kids for a ride to the next town. I wanted to go so bad, but Momma wouldn’t let me miss school, I wish she had. I love all songs that have the train whistles in them, that is a lovely sound.

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    November 17, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    tipper: wabash cannon ball, my dad told a story about a fella name of jimmy helton,actually many stories about jimmy. it seem jimmy was on the train to proctor, this about 1920.the conductor ask jimmy for his ticket, which he couldn,t produce. so he was promptly ushered off the train. as the train pulled away, jimmy was heard to say thats allright, i was in a hurry anyhow. bye for now . k.o.h

  • Reply
    November 17, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    He sure is good with the guitar. I love trains, some of my great uncles worked on the railroad. The only train I have rode on is the Cass Scenic Train at Cass, WV. It is a slow ride up the mountainside.

  • Reply
    November 17, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    My favorite train song by Jimmie Rodgers – Waiting for a Train
    My favorite train impersonation is by Mark Simpson also playing Waiting For A Train

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    November 17, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    I’ve only ridden a train twice…once in grade school on a field trip and the last time was from Miami to Columbia, SC …Fort Jackson and basic training…. The Silver Meteor was the name of train….Wasn’t the orange blossom special for sure….

  • Reply
    November 17, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    There are two sets of train tracks in West St. Charles Parish, LA. You can hardley live in any area and not hear the trains or the whistles at the street crossings.
    My grandmother often talked about the train being the only way to get across bayous and rivers as most were there during the Civil War before highways were built. A Yankee great-great uncle from Ohio told that new LA in-law about coming through St. Charles Parish on the train during the Civil War.

  • Reply
    November 17, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    I have always loved trains. That is why I enjoyed your post. I can remember the last days when the steam engines still ran. Sure, I remember the diesel engines also back then. But, I’ve got to tell you now I loved the steam engines the best!
    There used to be some train tracks over the hill from town and when we were little boys we loved to watch the train ( a steam engine )climb the grade huffing and puffing up to the top. The best part was when the old boy would level off and begin picking up speed ( about fourty mph I guess )and I can still hear the drivers kicking as it got faster. Most don’t realize that a steam engine could really get it on once it got its speed up. They were fast! Some people say Johnny Cash’s songs had the beat of a train in them. I guess you could thank Luther Perkins for that. I know you remember him and that long neck Fender guitar.
    Whenever I hear “The Rock Island Line” I can see and hear that steam engine in my mind going down the grade. So many of Johnny’s songs reminded of the drivers on a steam engine.
    I always lived in the country and my uncle had a big draft horse he used for logging and he let her stay in our pasture. She wouldn’t run for heck but she would trot. Her name was Maude. This post of yours has made me think of trains, their sound, (and yes) Old Maude trotting home in the evening and Johnny Cash. I can also hear the beat of that big footed mare when I listen to Johnny Cash. There was also the sound of a horse trotting in many of his songs. Remember “Hey, Get Rythmn” ?
    Thank you, you didn’t realize you were giving me a trip down memory lane did you?

  • Reply
    Cheryl Soehl
    November 17, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Oh the train songs — those were some of the first I learned. Freight Train comes to mind and, of course, Railroad Bill. Nine Hundred miles was a good lover’s lament and I guess the one I sang the most — the Cannonball Blues. The trouble was that I was not a blues player, but just a little folk player and I doubt I did any of those train songs justice…

  • Reply
    November 17, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Tipper, trains have always fascinated me. As a small boy my mother took me on a trip from the RR crossing near our farm, to Jesup, Ga, then back a few days later.
    In 2008, almost 70 years later, I spent 30 days on trains; criss-crossing the North American continent six times, each on a different route; over 10,000 miles. OHH, the sights I saw!!! My Last Hooraw!!!
    Some day I’m going to share my Rail Journey with you all. But first I’ve got to go through more than 5000 fotos I took, to see how many are keepers.
    I tell all who will listen: it’s not where I went, but it’s the journey that is the story.

  • Reply
    November 17, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    I found this site by accident while looking for info about my Applachian heritage and am enthralled. I’m from north central WV and so many things you have discussed bring back memories. I learned to square dance while my uncle was playing the fiddle and calling “figures”. As for trains: I love them and have since my mother took me as a wee babe to CA to visit my father in the Army in the WWII, which was quite a feat for a woman in that era. Young love!! Every Christmas my present to myself is something for my model train. Thank you for the reviving old memories.

  • Reply
    Haystack Jackson
    November 17, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    My favorite railroad song is I’m Moving On by Hank Snow. I believe that song got him on the grand old opry also. he was one of my favorites. I worked for the Great Northern Railroad, which became the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, thru a series of mergers and retired from there after 35 years. Thats why i love railroad songs.

  • Reply
    November 17, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    What a sweet memory!
    And that guitar sure sounds sweet, too. Although, I’m not too sure I could make it sound as sweet as Paul does.
    That’s some good pickin’, Paul!
    Train songs…there are so many. But a most recent one is “Long Black Train” by Josh Turner.

  • Reply
    November 17, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Paul sure can play a guitar well
    and his singing is great. I love
    the sound you all have.
    A long time ago I use to ride the
    train coming from Andrews toward
    Asheville. Only thing is: we hoboed the caboose about once every two weeks. The Conductor or
    whatever he was called tried to
    use a broom handle to goudge us boys from boarding, but we were fast and we could catch it on a hill easily. Once onboard we stole
    all the fuzeies proping up the windows and used them to get jacket nests for fishing…Ken

  • Reply
    Judith Alef
    November 17, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Hi Tipper! Clapping hands for Paul too. My granddaddy was an conductor on the many little spur lines in SE Texas 1910-1935 and died in 1939, years before I was born. I have a box of postcards to my grandmother; he’d write a note from all his ‘whistle stops.’ Train songs were part of Texas cultures – ballads, blues, swing, and work songs. Thanks!

  • Reply
    November 17, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I love all things trains. you will have to read about my train past at this link
    loved this whole post, every word of it. and you gave me part of my post for Friday. Daddy used to play harmonica and his most favorite song of all was his train song. I found one that is similar on YOUtube and will post it on Friday. wooooo wooooooooo

  • Reply
    November 17, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    I believe my favorite train song has to be That Long Black Train its a good one and the guitar has a nice sound. Didn’t know when I commented I was entered. GREAT!

  • Reply
    November 17, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    I really enjoyed the song. I love trains to, I can still hear those coal trains going over the mountians and in the hollers at night, Thanks for sharing this, God Bless kay

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 17, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Tipper–There are so many great train songs, I scarcely know where to start. My wife came from a “railroading” family, although her father wasn’t connected with railroad work. One of her uncles invented some kind of tie replacement machine, and at his funeral one of the grand old gospel songs, “Life Is Like a Mountain Railway,” was sung. I love Arlo Guthrie’s “City of New Orleans,” “The Wreck of the Old 97,” and Josh Turner’s “Long Black Train.”
    You need to ride a train sometime. I’ve had some memorable times on them–my first ride, from Bryson City to Sylva, to a football game when I was in high school (the whole town road, it seemed),senior trip to Washington in high school via train some 50 years ago, lots of rides all those times I was in England researching back in my “professing” days (included trips on the Edinburgh Flyer with speeds over 100 mph), and riding the Charlie Russell Chew Chew (obviously a dinner train) in Montana.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    November 17, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    I love traditional Bluegrass, but I also like some of the stuff that thinks out of the box a bit. Claire Lynch did a version of Wabash Cannonball that is amazing and her bassist really does an wonderful lick in it.

  • Reply
    Paul Certo
    November 17, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    It’s hard to beat a good train song. Paul does a nice job on it, too.

  • Reply
    Boyd Guthrie
    November 17, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    I have a great love for trains and train songs. If you ever have a chance, visit the railroad museum in Spencer NC. That is the spencer mentioned in the Wreck of the Old 97 song.

  • Reply
    Debora Kerr
    November 17, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    One of my favorite train songs is “Rock Island Line” by Johnny Cash. I love how the engineer tricks the toll man.

  • Reply
    November 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Enjoyed Paul’s singing Blue Yodel.As a child, I liked to watch the passenger trains go thru our little town. Wondered who the people were and where they were going.I’d daydream about being one of them and taking a long exciting trip. My only big train event was going to spend a few days with a cousin whose family lived in a box car because her daddy worked for the railroad. Still remember how loud the trains were passing by.

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    November 17, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    If I could make it sound like Paul makes it sound I’d enter every day!! That is some good guitar picking!!

  • Reply
    November 17, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Hi Tipper, that guitar sure sounds great, of course Paul makes it look so easy. Love his style. I like the song, Long Black Train. I rode a train from Okla to Minnesota, but can’t remember the trip. Mom took me to visit her side of the family when I was a year old. Have a great day

  • Reply
    Donna W
    November 17, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    I’ve only ridden historic trains in Colorado and at Branson, Missouri. Never actually rode one for the purpose of getting somewhere.
    That guitar sounds good, but if I win it you’re going to have to send Paul along to play it, or it won’t sound that good.

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