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Fries in Grayson County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

“New River Train” Song

 
 
“New River Train” Song Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, May 26, 2013
1. “New River Train” Song Marker
Inscription.  The original “New River Train” song was claimed by the Ward family of Galax as part of their repertoire as early as 1895. The song was believed to refer to the train that ran on the New River Line in 1883 as part of the Norfolk and Western system serving the town of Fries until 1985. It was first recorded in December 1923 by Henry Whitter. It has since been recorded by a number of artists, including local residents Kelly Harrell in 1925 and E. V. “Pop” Stoneman in 1928.
 
Erected 1987 by Department of Conservation and Historic Resources. (Marker Number UE-7.)
 
Location. 36° 42.992′ N, 80° 58.895′ W. Marker is in Fries, Virginia, in Grayson County. Marker is at the intersection of West Main Street (County Route 1001) and Scenic Road and Ivanhoe Road (Virginia Route 94), on the left when traveling west on West Main Street. If you are arriving at Fries on Route 94, it is at today’s entrance to the town, on the right. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Fries VA 24330, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured
New River Train Song and Fries Markers image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, May 26, 2013
2. New River Train Song and Fries Markers
as the crow flies. Fries (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Fries (approx. 0.4 miles away); First Court of Grayson County (approx. 3.9 miles away); First County Seat (approx. 4.4 miles away); The Railroad: Lifeline to the World (approx. 4.6 miles away); Galax (approx. 4.6 miles away); Galax: Home of Traditional Mountain Music (approx. 4.8 miles away); a different marker also named Galax (approx. 5.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fries.
 
Also see . . .  Kelly Harrell: New River Train (1926). MP3 of 78 RPM record on the Internet Archive

I’m leaving on that New River train
I’m leaving on that New River train
Same old train that brought me here
Gonna carry me away again.

Oh darling, you can’t love but one,
Oh darling, you can’t love but one.
You can’t love but one and have any fun,
Oh darling, you can’t love but one.

Verse 2: You can’t love two and your little heart be true
Verse 3: You can’t love three and then love me
Verse 4: You can’t love four and love any more
Verse 5: You can’t love five and get money from my bee hive
Verse 6: You can’t love six, that kind of love won’t mix

Oh darling, remember what you said
Oh darling, remember what you said
Remember that you said you would rather see me dead
Than see me on that New River
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train.
(Submitted on June 6, 2013.) 
 
Additional comments.
1. Norfolk & Western New River Train
Some sources cite the inspiration for the song to have been the Chesapeake and Ohio’s line through the New River gorge north of here that was built first, but these singers from Fries certainly had the N&W line that parallelled the New River and ran to their mill town in mind.

The daily outbound N&W passenger train, No. 48, started in the day in Galax 9 rail miles away and took an hour to wind its way to Fries, where a 1925 timetable says it left Fries 10 minutes after noon. It moved much faster after it left Fryes, because it was at the end of the line 45 miles away in Pulaski Virginia by 2:15 pm. Pulaski was on N&W’s main line where Train 2 came through at 2:40 pm for points north and included a through sleeping car that continued all the way to New York City. These singers were probably not traveling first class, though. They would have changed trains in Hagerstown, Maryland, and again in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to get to New York.

The daily return train, No. 49, left Pulaski at 7 am and arrived in Fries at 9:19 am.

Today the route of that train is the trail of the New River Trail State Park that runs through
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Fries.
    — Submitted June 6, 2013, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.

 
Categories. Arts, Letters, Music
 

More. Search the internet for “New River Train” Song.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 6, 2013, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 660 times since then and 50 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 6, 2013, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.
 
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Link or MP3 file of Henry Whitter’s version. • Can you help?
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