Engine Whistles


What a part of American life was the railroad!  Huge engines steaming down the tracks, hauling freight and passengers to destinations in every corner of the country.  That day is nearly gone, and few persons today have a chance to experience the romance of the railroad.

The story of the railroad, however, has been preserved in the music of the rails.  There are songs about every part of the railroad experience, and they tell a fascinating story.

There’s John Henry, the steel driving man, who went head to head with a steam drill, beat it, and laid down his hammer and died.  There’s Casey Jones, the engineer who met his doom when a brake failure kept the cars of an oncoming train from clearing the track.  There’s the Wabash Cannonball, the mythical train whose whistle made the lonesome hoboes cry.

“Big Rock Candy Mountain” tells about the hard lot of the hobo as he rode the rails from town to town, looking for work.  Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” is the lament of a penitentiary inmate who hears the whistle of a train outside the walls of his prison.  “The Train Carrying Jimmie Rodgers Home” says goodbye to one of the first great country singers.

We’ll ride the entire length of the Illinois Central, from Chicago down to New Orleans, watching through the window as the country goes by, in “City of New Orleans”, take a “Sentimental Journey” with all those servicemen and women coming home from the war, and let the rocking and rolling of the train car lull us to sleep with “Morningtown Ride.”

Included with the music are pictures of the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, famous engines from history, the Big Bend Tunnel, where John Henry met his fate, train wrecks, and the people who sang the songs about them.


Engine Whistles includes these songs, with singalong words on the screen

Wabash Cannonball

I’ve Been Working on the Railroad

Casey Jones

The Wreck of the Old 97

The Big Rock Candy Mountain

King of the Road

Chattanooga Choo Choo

Morningtown Ride

Sentimental Journey

Five Hundred Miles

Folsom Prison Blues

City of New Orleans

The Train Carrying Jimmie Rodgers Home

John Henry



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