Return to the Lounge Car

Selected poetry from

An Anthology of Steam Railroad Poetry

Volume 2

(Canadian Edition)

Edited By Michael Gee

111-10160 Ryan Road

Richmond, BC, Canada, V7A 4P9

Text 1987 - 2005 All Rights Reserved

Redistribution without permission from the Author is forbidden.

Used with permission


Included in this second anthology are poems selected from my modest but growing collection of steam railroad poetry as best reflecting railroading experiences in Canada. This year, 1987, marks the centennial of the arrival of the steam engine and trans-continental railroad, Canadian Pacific, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The poems of this second anthology, most of which were written by railroaders, represent a unique class of poetry never before collected and published as a complete work.

One reaction to my first anthology was one of surprise. Many readers hadn't thought railroaders, considered tough and hard-driving, capable of writing poetry. However, these poems indicate otherwise, as brakemen, engineers, machinists, switchmen and operators, to name a few. are authors in this collection.

These few railroaders had the skills and foresight to write their impressions and experiences of steam railroading. In doing so they have provided us with a valuable insight to a bygone era. Modern-day railroaders may find after reading these poems that railroading has not changed that much.

James Murray's reasons for preserving his experiences with "That Old 93" give us an indication of the effect of the job on the life of a steam engine machinist. He wrote to me, "... working on the 4-12 shift I was assigned to regulars then on dead work for perhaps 4 hours on running work keeping the Extras ready for East and West. A pretty heavy grade out of Stellarton and all those steel and coal trains had to be double headed to Gordon Summit. We had those 3200's, 3500's and 4300 Santa Fe 2-10-2's. 3593 came in for an annual and she was one son of a gun to work on. Anyway she had to have rod brasses, three crown brasses, and the usual big end brass. So every time I would finish up on the regulars I was called upon to carry on with 3593. Well, that damn engine really got me. We would just get started on her, when we would be called to the yard. Sand not working, leaking water glass, you name it. Then we would have to meet No. 9 for sure at the coal chute, fill the mechanical lubricator and grease the rods. I think every shift had a share of work on that 3593, and it was funny when I punched out to go home, I told Carol Cash, my helper, that I believe she's worth writing about."

I hope you derive as much pleasure in reading these as I have had in collecting them. My collection is, of course, still growing. If you know of original railroad poetry that should be preserved I would appreciate your contribution especially for my next publication, the International volume.

All of these volumes are to be found in Canada's National Library and in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

Michael Gee
former Telegraph Operator
Canadian Pacific Railway
Vancouver Division

If you wish a copy of the 42 page An Anthology of Steam Railroad Poetry Volume 2 you can write:

Michael Gee
111-10160 Ryan Road
Richmond, B.C. Canada,
V7A 4P9.
Cost is $15.95 plus $2.00 for shipping and handling.


The Report By O.K. Gibbings

Wreck of No. 9 Anonymous

The Yard Engine by Guy Smith

The Dispatcher by Guy Smith

To the Trackman by M.H. Moses

Beef Again by O.K. Gibbings

Bill Endicott Anonymous

Ten Commandments for Headend Men by Alan Palm

Over Easy by Alan Palm

Pensioned by The Rhyming Railroader