“Billy Richardson's Last Ride”


"Through the West Virginia mountains came the early mornin' mail Old Number Three was westbound...." Engineer Bill Richardson is "old and gray," but still wants to make good time. He dies when his head strikes a mail train


Although the accident described in the song happened, roughly as described, in 1910, Cohen reports that the song was written 16 years later. Poet Meeks heard Vernon Dalhart's recording of The Wreck of Old 97, decided to produce his own train wreck item, and sent it to Dalhart. Carson J. Robison added the tune, and Dalhart started on his usual cycle of recording for every label known to humanity.

The Meeks/Robison combination also gave us "The Wreck of the C & O Number Five." - RBW

Historical references

  • Dec 14, 1910 - Death of William S. Richardson (1848-1910) after he looks out of the FFV train and is hit in the head


  • Vernon Dalhart [as Al Craver], "Billy Richardson's Last Ride" (Columbia 15098-D, 1926)
  • George Goebel, "Billy Richardson's Last Ride" (Conqueror 8156)


  1. Cohen-LSRail, pp. 232-233, "Billy Richardson's Last Ride" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Roud #10440
  3. BI, LSRai232


Author: Words: Cleburne C. Meeks / Music: Carson J. Robison
Earliest date: 1926 (letter from Meeks to Vernon Dalhart)
Keywords: train wreck death