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Ballad of the 253
Train Song Lyrics and Sound Clip
J.W. Snyder


This song is about the story of the Florida East Coast (FEC) Railroad, known as the "railroad that went to sea" because it crossed so much open water down through the Florida Keys. It was built by Henry Flagler who built the line from near Jacksonville all the way to Key West. Specificaly, it tells the story from the point of view of a particular small switch engine the FEC #253.

Ol’ Henry Flagler built a railroad it’s called the FEC,
It starts out of Jacksonville and runs south to the Florida Keys
With bridges across the Florida bay clear down to ol’ Key West.
It’s the railroad that went to sea and it was Flagler’s best.

More than a hundred years or so, trains have plied those rails
Through frosty cold or tropic heat, hurricanes and gales,
Pullin’ freight, and businessmen both people rich and poor
A couple of bucks for a round trip seat who could ask for more?

So come on all you engineers, conductors, and boomers too,
We’re calling out you roustabouts there’s a train a comin’ for you.
Hear that whistle? Look down the track! Tell me what you see?
Good Lord almighty it’s the two fifty three!

Back in the days when coal and oil, powered all the trains,
There were engines both big and small with numbers but no names.
The big ones hauled folk and freight that’s what they were for
But in the yards little 0-8-0s were doing all the chores.

Then one day a call came through about a half past nine
The express train called the Royal Palm had de-railed on the line.
A hostler jumped in the 2-5-3 and fired up her steam
With a whistle blow and big hook in tow headed for the scene

On Labor day in ’35 a storm came blowin’ through
It knocked the Northbound off the tracks no one knew what to do
The keys were swamped, lives were lost, tracks were washed away.
But 2-5-3 and other trains came down to save the day.


Now time rolled on the railroad grew and diesels came to stay...

(Complete lyrics are included with this download)



See more of our Train and Transportation Song Lyrics


Many thanks to J. W. Snyder for permission to display these lyrics.
© J. W. Snyder. All rights reserved.

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