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Origins: Casey Jones: Again


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JohnInKansas 20 Mar 03 - 07:36 PM
JohnInKansas 20 Mar 03 - 07:38 PM
GUEST,Q 20 Mar 03 - 08:15 PM
GUEST,Q 20 Mar 03 - 08:24 PM
khandu 20 Mar 03 - 08:53 PM
Dave Bryant 21 Mar 03 - 05:18 AM
Neighmond 21 Mar 03 - 12:47 PM
Gareth 21 Mar 03 - 02:46 PM
Mark Ross 21 Mar 03 - 07:36 PM
GUEST,Q 21 Mar 03 - 08:13 PM
Neighmond 22 Mar 03 - 01:19 AM
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Subject: Origins: Casey Jones: Again
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 20 Mar 03 - 07:36 PM

I've looked over the SuperSearch results for Casey Jones, and frankly I can't figure out where this might fit. I didn't find a previous citation of this "bit" of information – which I stumbled across purely by accident.

I'm sure it doesn't add any new information, but sometimes having a specific and credible(?) "citation" for information that's well known can also come in handy.

In searching (briefly) for a place to put it, I found a couple of references to "first recordings" in the 1950s. The text below does indicate a "first author" who was a contemporary of Casey, who's work was "polished" by an unnamed songwriter, at an unstated time.


"A light began to shine through the clouds surrounding the CB&Q strike in the form of a brave engineer named John Luther "Casey" Jones. A member of BLE Division 99 in Water Valley, Miss., Casey Jones was one of the most alert and able engineers working out of the Memphis terminal of the Illinois Central Railroad.

"Immortalized in song, Locomotive Engineer John Luther "Casey" Jones belonged to BLE Division 99 in Water Valley, Miss. Brother Jones sacrificed his life on April 30, 1900 to save the lives of his passengers.

"His widow received proceeds from two $1,500 policies with the BLE's Locomotive Engineers Mutual Life & Accident Insurance Association.

"Piloting the "Cannonball Express" on April 30, 1900, Brother Jones stayed at the throttle and sacrificed his live (sic) in order to save his passengers as his train plowed into a stalled freight near Vaughan, Miss. Almost immediately after the accident, stories began to spring up throughout the country about the "brave engineer" who died at the throttle to save his passengers.

"His sacrifice reached legendary proportions when his roundhouse friend Wallace Saunders, an engine wiper, strung together "The Ballad of Casey Jones." The ballad was picked up by a professional songwriter who polished the lyrics and gave the world one of its all-time hit songs.

"In doing so, BLE member Casey Jones became the nation's eternal symbol of the bravery and dedication of locomotive engineers."

The above is part of a History of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers linked from the BLE Home Page.

Apologies if this is old stuff, and it is probably appropriate to put it in a more suitable place if it's worth keeping.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Casey Jones: Again
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 20 Mar 03 - 07:38 PM


Next to last line should have been:

The above is part of a History of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers linked from the BLE Home Page.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Casey Jones: Again
Date: 20 Mar 03 - 08:15 PM

The story is supported by material quoted in "The Long Steel Rail," by Norm Cohen, pp. 132ff, especially p. 134, where an article from the Memphis Commercial Appeal, May 1, 1900, is reprinted.
Headline- "Dead under his cab - The Sad end of Engineer Casey Jones - Illinois Central wreck.
"Southbound Passenger Train No. 1 Crashes into the Rear of a Freight- Details of the Accident. .... The Engineer, Casey Jones, was instantly killed and Express Messenger Miller was hurt internally, but not seriously." The news report continues to detail the story much as given in the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers history.
"Christened John Luther Jones, the hero of our story was born March 14, 1863...and reared in the town of Cayce, Kentucky.

"Nine years after his death, one song in particular became a national rage: it was a pop song, "Casey Jones," written by two vaudevillians, T. Lawrence Seibert and Eddie Newton, and published in 1909."

Other claims surfaced, both as to the identity of the engineer, but they all came after the 1900 newspaper article quoted above.

Authorship of the song- "The first published reference to a song about Casey Jonesappeared in the March, 1908 issue of Railroad Man's Magazine.....The song is supposed to have been sung by his Negro fireman." This 1908 vesion "is the earliest published text of the ballad." "The ballad text- or something very similar- was attributed to Wallace Saunders by two authorities on Jones history."
In 1910, the mayor of Canton Ohio wrote John Lomax that Saunders was living there, but the Lomax' didn't follow up the story until 1933, by which time Saunders was dead.
Much more is given by Cohen, but these details essentially support the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers' story.

The 1908 text is essentially the one we know, and antedates the Seibert-Newton version. Several versions are given by Norm Cohen, which I think have appeared in the DT and Forum.

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Subject: RE: Origins: Casey Jones: Again
Date: 20 Mar 03 - 08:24 PM

The 1908 version, cited above, all 10 verses, was posted by Stewie, 27 Apr. 00, in thread 19719: Casey Jones original

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Subject: RE: Origins: Casey Jones: Again
From: khandu
Date: 20 Mar 03 - 08:53 PM

The Casey Jones Museum is located in Vaughan, MS, located about two miles off Interstate 55 some 30-40 miles north of Jackson. The town, if it can be called that consist of an old abandoned hotel, that was used by RR passengers in the 1800's, a store, a few homes and the museum.

I have stopped by the Museum at least ten times and have never found it open. But that is just my faulty timing.

Jones stayed on the train trying to slow it as much as possible before impact to save lives.

Someday, I'm gonna get in that museum!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Casey Jones: Again
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 21 Mar 03 - 05:18 AM

The first Ewan MaColl's radio ballads "The Ballad of John Axon" is about a very similiar incident which happened in England in 1957. Driver John Axon stayed on the footplate trying to stop his freight train after a steam pipe to the braking system failed. Although badly scalded and in terrible pain, he remained at his post and told his fireman (stoker) to jump clear before he crashed into the back of another freight train and died. He was awarded the George Cross. An electric loco was named after him in 1981.

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Subject: RE: Origins: Casey Jones: Again
From: Neighmond
Date: 21 Mar 03 - 12:47 PM

That accedent also prompted Webb C. Ball in Ohio to campaign for more uniform standards of time on the railways, that is why the "railroad watch" came into being.



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Subject: RE: Origins: Casey Jones: Again
From: Gareth
Date: 21 Mar 03 - 02:46 PM

Following Dave B - Click 'Ere for a link into the John Axon Threads

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Subject: RE: Origins: Casey Jones: Again
From: Mark Ross
Date: 21 Mar 03 - 07:36 PM

Actually Standard Time came about about 15-20 years earlier. Up until that point every town was on its own, so 12PM in one town could be different from another two miles away. Check out Botkins' Treasury of Railroad Folklore for the story. If it isn't there it will be in Freeman Hubbards Railroad Avenue.

Mark Ross

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Subject: RE: Origins: Casey Jones: Again
Date: 21 Mar 03 - 08:13 PM

Ball's campaign was to insure accurace timing in railroad operation; it was not about what we call "Standard Time." Precision watches of 17-21 jewels, with adjustments for position, temperature, isochronism, etc. were produced by several companies, many by the Webb C. Ball Watch Co., Cleveland, exclusively for railroad service, and sold "only to railroad men"- not strictly true, the watches also were worn proudly by many business men who made a fetish of time.
An add in the Locomotive Engineers Journal (1921, Oct.) says: "The fireman who has an ambition to advance from the shovel to the throttle must be a worthy assistant to the Engineer.
"My Engineer places more dependence in me every day because I now carry the same dependable time piece that he does- both are Ball Watches."
The first Ball watches were size 18, fairly large, but after the first World War, size 16 watches were produced which had the same accuracy.
Also accepted by the railroads were Illinois, Waltham, Hamilton and others that kept accuracy in all 6 specified positions. All of these watches had to be serviced regularly by watchmakers certified for repair and servicing of railroad watches and records were kept.

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Subject: RE: Origins: Casey Jones: Again
From: Neighmond
Date: 22 Mar 03 - 01:19 AM

My Fault...When I said Uniform standards I should have been more precise-I refer to the change in regulations requiring employees under time inspection to have a certain class of watch, keeping time within certain accepted guidelines, as opposed to wearing anything they happened to come by.

By the turn of the century this most often consisted of:

An open faced watch(no lid), winding at the twelve and lever seting(set by pulling a lever at the edge of the dial, near the numeral "1"(in Waltham's case, often the numeral 11)and turninng the crown, with greater than 15 Jewels(17 or greater) and commonly a safety roller on the escapement, as opposed to the older practice of fitting a pin to the top of the horns of the pallet fork which passes through a crescent-shaped notch milled just to the outside of the jewel of the roller table.

The watch had to be sized 16 or larger.

The adjustments you speak of are performed in the shop in hopes that the watch will perform in the same mannor in the field, which it usually will, but on some occasions a watch will remain immune to all mannor of correction.
There are six positions in the shop that roughly approximate the carrying positions in use. The are Pendant up, right, left, dial up, dial down, and on the highest of the high [Bunn specials, Sangamos, 950's 992's, etc.] pendant down. Pendant down is the position horologists (horologi?) are least concerned with, as the watch seldom gets into this position on its own. The watch chain usually prevents it. Adjustments for position error are made:
by poising the balance wheel (taking weight from the heaviest point of the wheel, when the wheel is at rest in a poising tool or calliper, with the hairspring and collet off, but both rollers (impulse and safety) on.
by moving the pinning point of the hairspring collet
by making certian that both balance hole and cap jewels are uniform and perfect
by flattening the ends of the staff pivots ever so lightly (causes a watch to lose in the dial positions.)
by slight minipulation of the regulator pins (questionable in theory, but sometimes works in practice)
Some watches also have a poised pallet fork, having as part of their being an extension oppisite the horn.

Isochronism is the ability of the watch to keep the same time nearly wound down as when fully wound. The first step to an isochronous(is that a word?) watch is clean, hard burnished pivots and good clean jewels and bearings, followed by a clean and well lubricated mainspring. Some firms used a stopworks, that only the more uniform center coils of the mainspring be used. Breuget(sp?) developed a method of overcoiling hairsprings early in the 1800's that made it possible to pin the outer end of the hairspring much closer to the center of the wheel(and hairspring), which helped matters much. Alloy mainsprings and hairsprings have done much to alleviate isochronal error. Usually, judicious shifting of the screws in thhe rim of the balance wheel was also required.

Temperature adjustments are made:
by placing the watch movement, cased, in a cold box (30 deg F) and noting the time deviance that follows. The screws are then shifted away from ot towards the cut ends of the balance wheel rim as the situation calls for (an uncompensated watch will gain in cold temperature, as the hairspring contracts, and a compensated balance wheel will counteract that to an extant).
the same is done for heat (around 100 deg F, if memory serves). Modern Alloy ballance wheel and hairsprings have gone far in eliminating temperature error.

The dials usually had to be white in color, with the numerals (Arabic, not Roman) in bold black, with exception of the minute markers, which were usually in red. The hands were to be Blue or Black in color. The maker's name was to have been clearly placed on the dial.

The Grade designation (grade number or name) had to be stamped plainly into the back(upper) plate of the movement, (later on) also with adjustment designations.

FWIW Webb Ball made few if any of his own movements. He contracted them out From Elgin, Waltham, Hamilton, and I think Illinois. He and John Dueber (owner of Hampden Watch company and Dueber Watch Case Company in Canton Ohio) disagreed about jeweling practices, and nearly anything else they could think of. Hampden made some of the first high-jewel movements in the country, and Webb Ball was along the lines of Edward Howard, in that he thought a full jeweled watch to have seventeen and later nineteen jewels(the two extra jewels were either on the mainspring barrel or as cap jewels in the escapement).

IMHO THE Best railway watch ever made was the Hamilton 992B and 950B-never had a lick of trouble with either. Could clean oil restaff and recase one in 40 minutes or less....nice friction staff so the wheel seldom has to be poised unless some moron had gone to town on it. Nice solid balance wheel because they had a inert hairspring, and they were nicely finished too. Wonder one doesn't see anymore than they do, good as they were. Only gripe I had was Hamilton's lator day plastic dials that cracked like the devil with age-often the older porcelan dials look far better than their newer counterparts.

Ugh. Now it's timme for a nap.

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