Steam Train

04:03
Doug Spears
2010-01-01
Doug Spears

Story

At the turn of the century (the real one way back not the one we just had) the fastest means of transport, bar none, was the steam train. The railroad companies had laid substantial amounts of track down into Florida and were prospering on the trade. They made their big money not on passenger fares, but on freight – much as they do today. In those days the most prized freight contract was the contract to haul the US Mail. Contracts were let out on a year to year basis and the recipient of the contract was determined by timed races between the available rail lines. Whichever rail company ran the desired route in the fastest time won the lucrative Mail contract for the coming year. In 1901 a race for the US Mail contract was run between the Plant and the Seaboard railroad companies form Savannah, Georgia to Jacksonville, Florida. The Seaboard engine got a good start and was running strong. The Plant company, however, was having troubles. The first engine broke down literally at the starting line and had to be pushed off the tracks onto a spur. By the time the replacement engine was brought up the Seaboard train had an overwhelming lead and their victory seemed in the bag. The veteran engineer for the Plant line, Albert Gage, would have the last word on that. Using every bit of skill at his command he coaxed previously unheard of sustained speed from his machine and as her crossed the Florida line roaring into Jacksonville he set a new land speed record in 1901 of 120 mph beating the time of the Seaboard train hands down.

Lyrics

 

 

Well in 1901 the steam train was still the king,

And that steam whistle blew in every young man’s dreams,

There just wasn’t anything faster than a steam train,

Runnin’ with a head of steam.

 

Aw steam train, runnin’ down the railroad, runnin’ down the railroad track,

Aw steam train, push them throttles ahead boy don’tcha dare pull ‘em back,

You run 120 miles an hour you know you got a steam train flyin’ down the railroad track.

 

Now they set a race between the Plant and the Seaboard Lines,

Just to see who could bring the mail in the fastest time,

From Savannah on down to Jacksonville they’re gonna make those,

Big steam engines whine.

 

Well the Plant 111 she was runnin’ just a bit behind,

She got a bad start and she was gonna have to make up some time,

That old engineer was coaxin’ her throttles like a mother bird,

Tryin’ to teach her babies to fly.

 

Aw steam train, runnin’ down the railroad, runnin’ down the railroad track,

Aw steam train, push them throttles ahead boy don’tcha dare pull ‘em back,

You run 120 miles an hour you know you got a steam train flyin’ down the railroad track.

 

Now the steel rails are screamin’ and the sparks are really startin’ to fly,

That old train was really rollin’ as she crossed that Florida line,

That old engineer he wouldn’t give her no rest,

Threw her through the curves like a demon possessed,

The fire man grinned through the smoke and the grime ‘cuz that steam train,

Had set a new record time.

 

Aw steam train, runnin’ down the railroad, runnin’ down the railroad track,

Aw steam train, push them throttles ahead boy don’tcha dare pull ‘em back,

You run 120 miles an hour you know you got a steam train flyin’ down the railroad track.