The Old 97, a Southern Railway train enroute to Spencer, North Carolina, derailed at Stillhouse Trestle near Danville, Virginia, 27 September 1903, killing eleven: photographer unknown (image by Liesel, 2006)
Ben Dewberry was a brave engineer
He told his fireman don't you ever fear
All I want is the water and coal
Put your head out the window, watch the drivers roll
Watch the drivers roll -- watch the drivers roll
Put your head out the window; watch the drivers roll.
Ben Dewberry said before he died
Two more roads that he wanted to ride
His fireman asked him what could they be
Said the old Northeastern and the A and B
The A and B -- he said the A and B
It's the old Northeastern and the A and B.
On the fatal morning it began to rain
Around the curve come a passenger train
Ben Dewberry was the engineer
With the throttle wide open and without any fear
He didn't have no fear -- he didn't have no fear
He had her runnin' wide open without any fear.
Ben looked at his watch -- shook his head
We may make Atlanta but we'll all be dead
The train was flyin' by the troublin' switch
Without any warning then she took the ditch
Yea! she went in the ditch -- well, she took the ditch
Without any warning -- then she took the ditch.
The big locomotive leaped from the rail
Ben never lived to tell that awful tale
His life was ended and his work was done
When Ben Dewberry made his final run
He made his final run -- he made his final run
When Ben Dewberry made his final run.
Ben Dewberry's Final Run: Rev. Andrew Jenkins (aka Blind Andy or Blind Andrew Jenkins), n.d., recorded by Jimmie Rodgers, 1927
Southern Railway Crescent Locomotive (Ps-4 class, 4-6-2): photographer unknown, n.d. (National Photo Company Collection, Library of Congress)
Benjamin Franklin Dewberry was the engineer on northbound Southern Railway passenger train #38 out of Atlanta on August 23, 1908. Near Buford, Georgia a boy who wanted to see a train wreck threw a switch. This was the "troublin' switch" that caused the derailment in which the locomotive of train #38 jumped the tracks and Dewberry and his fireman, Mayson Wadkins, were killed.