Old Wylie's Stone

Poem ~ A track worker is killed by a train

You want to see Wylie's stone—look here;
But stop where you are till the line is clear;
Pullman express from the south is due,
And will be here in a moment or two.

Here she is, coming round the curve,
Sudden and swift, and with never a swerve;
And a whirl of smoke that you scarce can see,
The driver waving his hand at me.

You see at the foot of the slope down there
That stone from the grass and moss laid bare,
That was the spot where Wylie lay,
When the engine pitch'd him over that day

We were working here, for the levels change,
And the metals often get out of range:
The wind was high, and we scarce could hear
The trains till they whistled within our ear.

Well, we just had finish'd with our repairs,
And were sorting the ballast about the chairs(1),
When the afternoon goods, about half-an-hour late,
Came round upon us as steady as fate

We stood clear of both lines, and were watching the train
Coming up with a full head of steam on the strain,
When all at once one of our men gave a shout—
There's a shovel against the rail! Look out!

The shovel was Wylie's, and swift as a wink,
He sprang into the four feet with never a shrink;
Clutch'd it: but ere he could clear the track,
The buffer beam hit him right in the back.

In a moment poor Wylie was over the slope,
And we after him, but with little of hope;
Found him close by the stone, with his grip firm set
On the shovel that cost him his life to get

We lifted him up, and as light as we could,
Bore him home to his cot you see over the wood;
Stood by his bed, each with pent-up breath,
As we saw the steady advance of death.

But just ere it came he lifted his hand,
Made a motion we could not but understand,
So we drew nearer to him as he lay,
To hear what our mate had got to say.

Wylie," I said, and he open'd his eyes,
With a look of faint, far-off surprise;
Then, clasping my hand, he strove to speak,
As his ebbing breath wax'd slow and weak

At length, as I almost bent my head
To his lips, in a strange weird whisper, he said—
"Call the spot where I lay old Wylie's stone!"
That was all he said, and our mate was gone.

So we call it "Wylie's stone" to this day,
To mark to strangers the spot where he lay;
You can see the very wild flowers from here
Growing round it. We planted them there last year