14 Moaning Whistles


Let’s go down to the ferry.
Maybe have a beer or two.
I’ll tell you the legend,
about the train you can’t see.
Ferry doesn’t run anymore,                 5
though she used to haul people,
to the town on the other side.
Then she’d bring them back across,
New River was the only town’s divide.
Nobody goes swimming there now.      10
Too many tales of people drown.
Rumor has it, 12 coal miner’s
ghost are waiting to pull you down.
If we go sit on the ferry, 
just once a year I’m told.                    15
You’ll feel the rumbling
underneath you before you hear 
the whistle’s shrill blowing.
14 sorrowful, moaning sounds,
then it vanishes in the night.               20
Not one person can see it.
From out of nowhere coal dust
will fly, blinding, chocking you.
Then it’s long gone as well.
Who’s brave enough to go with me?     25
Blast of ’46 found 12 men 5,000 feet
away from the only way out.
Underground, under the river,
in the lowest level sloping tunnel.
14 train cars with 1 passenger              30
blown 1/2 a mile upward
on those tracks, throwing the 1.
11 men were dead under there,
1 made it to the top, then died.
Gas built up, here’s the thing,               35
all men were killed by severe burns.
Can you imagine wearing mask,
being able to catch your breath,
but no place to run from the fire?
Think I’ll stay away from the ferry,        40
at least for tonight anyway.
No, I’m not scared, shucks 
one was my great grandpa.
I just decided I’ll go another time.
Besides my grandpa will skin us all.      45
Can tell you what’s worst about it.
The mining company was laying off.
Only 58 men working on that day
One of the worst blast in VA. occurred.
So, they shut the mines down then.       50

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