"The Wreck of 1256"

The Wreck of 1256 main page | song & audio

Researcher Paul Shue interviewed Sidney Dillard, the locomotive fireman, 45 years after the derailment of the 1256 along the James River in 1925. Dillard recalled the weather was cold and snowy the evening the train left Clifton Forge, traveling downstream along the river. At the community of Iron Gate, just outside of Clifton Forge, the 1256 pulled onto a siding to allow a westbound passenger train to pass, then proceeded on toward Richmond. Further down the line the 1256 rounded a curve and ran upon a rock slide which had buried the tracks just after the passenger train had traveled the same stretch. The locomotive left the tracks and rolled into the river. Dillard and the engineer, Sam Anderson, made it to safety, but the brakeman was killed.

"The Wreck of the 1256" was written by Carson Robison, a Kansas-born songwriter and performer whose career in country music spanned four decades. Robison was extremely successful at writing songs for the country-music market, and event songs were a specialty. He wrote his ballads from newspaper accounts, and "The Wreck of 1256" was recorded by Vernon Dalhart just nine months after the disaster.

The Wreck of 1256 main page | song & audio

Deathly Lyrics:
Songs of Virginia Tragedies


Audio Credits


Breeding Mill

Caty Sage


Dewey Lee


Freeda Bolt

Great Kanawha

Kent Steffie

Mollie Tynes

Old 97

Poor Goins

Roanoke Riot

Rye Cove

Talt Hall

Vance Song

Wreck of the 1256