“The Wreck of Number Nine”


A railroad engineer, whose wedding is set for the next day, leaves his sweetheart and sets out on his train. Rounding a curve, he sees another train coming. He is mortally wounded in the crash. He leaves his fiancee the cottage that would have been theirs


This, like "Zeb Tourney's Girl" [Laws E18], appears to be a Robison song that became traditional as a result of the Vernon Dalhart recording, though this seems to have had a stronger grip on tradition.

Indeed, Cohen states that, of the train wreck ballads he printed, only "Old 97" an "Engine 143" ("The Wreck on the C & O" [Laws G3]) were more popular. Both of the former are anonymous, and both based on real events; this is therefore the most popular fictional train wreck song, and also the most popular train song with a single known author.

It entered tradition very quickly; Henry collected his version from Mary E. King in 1929.

In recent years, a part of this tune has found some additional success (at least in bluegrass circles) as the basis for the chorus in the Goble/Drumm song "Coleen Malone." - RBW


  • Bud Billings [pseud. for Frank Luther], "The Wreck of Number Nine" (Montgomery Ward M-8054, 1939)
  • Vernon Dalhart, "Wreck of The Number 9" (Lincoln 2712, 1927) (Gennett 6051/Silvertone 5005, 1927) (Brunswick 101, 1927) (Okeh 45086, 1927) (Cameo 1247, 1927) (Columbia 15121-D [as Al Craver], 1927); "Wreck of the Number Nine" (Radiex 4172 [as Jeff Calhoun], 1928)
  • J. E. Mainer's Mountaineer's "On a Cold Winter's Night" (Victor 27496, 1941)
  • Ernest Stoneman, "The Wreck of the Number Nine" (Broadway 8054, c. 1930); "Wreck of Number Nine" (on Autoharp01)
  • Stanley G. Triggs, "The Wreck of the Number Nine" (on Triggs1)


  1. Laws G26, "The Wreck of Number Nine"
  2. Cohen-LSRail, pp. 267-271, "The Wreck of Number Nine" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Randolph 684, "The Wreck of Old Number Nine" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 451-453, "The Wreck of Old Number Nine" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 684)
  5. Cambiaire, pp. 88-89, "Number Nine" (1 text)
  6. MHenry-Appalachians, pp. 77-78, "The Wreck of Number Nine" (1 text)
  7. DT 668, COLDWIN
  8. Roud #3229
  9. BI, LG26


Author: Carson J. Robison
Earliest date: 1927 (recording, Vernon Dalhart)
Found in: US(Ap,So,SW)