This page is dedicated to poetry and to song lyrics about railroads.

I would prefer that the poetry or song lyrics be of a general nature or about the Southern Pacific Railroad.

If you would like to add to this page, please contact the host.

This page is part of David Coscia's SP Site

October 20, 2012


By Edna St. Vincent Millay

The railroad track is miles away,
And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn't a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking.

All night there isn't a train goes by,
Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
But I see its cinders red on the sky,
And hear its engine steaming.

My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I'll not be knowing;
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,
No matter where it's going.

Three Trains Passing
By Lucille Younger (copyright) 1997

This greying platform
that we stand upon,
scion of ages past, present
yet unborn,
is firmly rooted in the middle
of our lives.

The wooden beams bestride
an urban street below
where cobblestones lie buried
and change is met with
every dangerous kiss
of progress.
But, in the sinews of
of the platform's aging walls
bereft of sheen, adorned
by time
the ancient task of bridging
hope, reviving chance
is altered not, nor dulled.

An ageless truth is said
to ride the rails.
In wakes of sparks it
lights the timbers and
as amber streams
of questions
flash and flair,
choices flit from fancy
to mundane;
from what you are, to
what you want to be--
and what you will become.

A sudden rumble under foot,
hairs that rise and
tingle on the arm
announce with shifting air that tilts
our equilibrium:
the daily choice arrives.

It creaks but does not sway,
this wooden island
in the sky
as trains by three come
slicing through the morning air
emerging from a fog so thick
it hangs like lint
upon your hair.

One train heads north, to
where we've been.
The other south, where
we repair as
side-long glances glimpse
the third, that
clamors east to
points unknown.

Shall we board or shall we stay;
linger here upon these planks,
those worn by even-tempered steps
and some by frenzied clogs of
hustled bodies boarding north
while captive hearts, repelled,
tug south?

Shall we go or shall we stay
upon this platform wrought
with choice
and beveled wisdom
plied with missions,
lone and shared and
built on dreams
that rush, then die
as three trains pass?

Railway to the Clouds
By Chris Tobar (copyright) 2005

Have you seen it, my friend?
The railway in the clouds
In years long, long ago
Mr. Lowe dared to dream
And men came with chisels
Hammers, shovels, and picks
Horses, mules, and courage
And cut, blasted, and carved
Through the mighty mountains
To lay the iron road
Through jagged, granite cliffs
And over fearful heights
Steel and timber stretched high
Where earth and air are one
And through the misty woods
Came the hum of the trolley
To the Alpine Tavern
Where we warm by the fire
We will sleep here tonight
Among the whispering pines

Stops along an American Dream
(Omaha to Ogden - Summer 1870)
By Jim Sularz (copyright) 2009
Click here for a PDF of the poem

Southern Pacific
By Carl Sandburg

Huntington sleeps in a house six feet long.
Huntington dreams of railroads he built and owned.
Huntington dreams of ten thousand men saying: Yes, sir.

Blithery sleeps in a house six feet long.
Blithery dreams of rails and ties he laid.
Blithery dreams of saying to Huntington: Yes, sir.

Huntington, Blithery, sleep in houses six feet long.


Southern Pacific
By Neil Young (copyright) 1981

Southern Pacific
Down the mountainside
To the coastline
Past the angry tide
The mighty diesel whines

And the tunnel comes
And the tunnel goes
Around another bend
The giant drivers roll

I rode the highball
I fired the Daylight
When I turned around 65
I couldn't see right

It was "Mr. Jones,
We've got to let you go
It's company policy
You've got pension though."

Roll on Southern Pacific
Roll on
On your silver rails
Roll on Southern Pacific
On your silver rails
Through the moonlight

I put in my time
I put in my time
Now I'm left to roll
Down the long decline

I ain't no brake man
Ain't no conductor
But I would be though
If I was younger

Roll on Southern Pacific
On your silver rails
On your silver rails
Roll on Southern Pacific
Roll on
On your silver rails

He was a Train Driver
By Eddie O'Hara (copyright) 2000

It was a cold spring evening
Another train was leaving
And the station lights were ablaze up ahead

Before our train pulled in
The baggage man peered in
Through the door of our cabin, and said
"The train's now stopping
You can walk or go shopping
While we change trains, here in Winnipeg."

My wife and I left our compartment
And from the train we departed
We really felt like stretching our legs
Rubbing our hands to keep warm
We walked up the platform
And a passenger, alighting, nodded his head

We'd seen him alone in the dining car
Now, we hadn't walked far
But, we stopped, on intuition, I guess

He was more keen on talking
Than doing any walking
And we didn't mind listening to his talking at all

He said a few things about the weather
The line ahead to Vancouver
And how he'll have been retired eight years in the fall

He said, "I was a train driver
And didn't want to retire
But age was the reason I did

Now I travel the rail lines
Whenever I can
It's the smell of the diesel
And the wheels when they clang
The clunks and the clatters and the sights down the track
To the driver's seat, they sure take me back."

He said, "I've been down many tracks
And driven many trains
Across thousands of miles
Of varying terrains

I've seen mostly the usual
Course, that's not unusual
It'd be unusual if I hadn't
Seen the usual things

And I saw some things
From the train driver's seat
That I may not have seen
In a job on my feet."

He paused for a brief while
And then giving a smile
Seemed pleased to recount a couple of those things

He said, "I once drove for four hours in a straight line
And emus raced the train, on that Down Under line
And in Montana, a grizzly was once asleep on the tracks
And I didn't think he'd wake in time."

Then he reiterated some of what he'd already stated
And stated a bit more than he did before

He said "Now I travel the rail lines
Whenever I can
It's the smell of the diesel
And the wheels when they clang
The clunks and the clatters and the sights down the track
To the driver's seat, they sure take me back.

And a gold watch they gave me when I retired
I want it riding a rail line when I've expired
And, I heard you in the dining car, say to your wife
That your grandson's embarking on a train driving life."

Then he took the watch from the pocket of his vest
Handed it to me, and then he said
"Tell your grandson, to take real good care
And tell him, four whistle blows will wake a sleeping bear."

Ridin' the Cotton Belt
By Johnny Cash (copyright) 1976

(I recently went to a big homecomin' celebration
In Cleveland County, Arkansas, where I was born
Whole family went down and there was a great day for us
I felt like this day was special especially for my mother and my daddy
Though it was daddy's and mama's homecomin'
And I was so proud of 'em ridin' that carriage
Down the Main Street of Rison, Arkansas,
Sometimes the songs I write sound like talkin' about myself
But actually in some of these songs
Especially this one I'm writin' about my daddy)

Ridin' on the Cotton Belt Cleveland County's where I long to be
I got onto Brinkley and every mile I make is a memory
This boxcar's cold and windy and the dust goes around in circles in the air
But my hard times are behind me and I'm returnin' home so I don't care
And I'm ridin' on the Cotton Belt railroad line
In the pitchin' rolling rhythm and the noise
Railroad men are friends of mine and I'm ridin' on the Cotton Belt boys

Ridin' on the Cotton Belt across that little river called Saline
That's where I went fishin' and I hunted in her bottoms as a teen
Now just ahead's a farmhouse and in the kitchen window there's a light
And I've just got fourteen dollars but I'm taking it myself home tonight
And I'm ridin' on the Cotton Belt...

Jumpin' off the Cotton Belt ain't easy when she's going forty per
But I see my wife standin' there hoping that I'm coming home to her
I got a few new cuts and bruises but this old working hobo's made a home
So long to your Cotton Belt thank you for the ride keep rolling on
I'm ridin' on the Cotton Belt...

TN&O Blues
By Lucille Bogan (copyright) 1933
(some of these lyrics may be incorrect, please contact me for corrections)

The train I ride is 18 coaches long
Train I ride, 18 coaches long
And the man that I love got here and gone

I hate to hear that T&NO blow
I hate to hear, T&NO blow
But my mind often wonder, make me want to go

Gonna beat the train to the crossroad, gonna burn the trestle down
Beat the train to the crossroad, gonna burn the trestle down
That's the only way I can keep my man in town

He's a railroad man, and he shore do love to ride
He's a railroad man, shore do love to ride
If he don't ride that T&NO, he shore ain't satisfied

Gona fall down on my knees, pray to the Lord above
Fall on my knees, pray to the Lord above
Please send me back the only man I love