March 14: Casey Jones

caseyJonathan Luther Jones, the much mythologized railroad engineer known as Casey Jones was born on this day in 1863. Jones gained famed as an engineer in the late 19th century. His “whippoorwill call” train whistle was well known amongst people who lived along the route of the Illinois Central railroad line. Nowadays, however, Casey Jones is best known for the way he died.

On the evening of April 29, 1900, Casey Jones was speeding down the railroad tracks, driving a train called the Cannonball Express when he saw the red lights of a caboose up ahead on the track. Another train had become stalled on the line and Jones knew that at the speed he was going, there’d be no way to stop before crashing into the train. So, he used his famous whistle to warn the other train that he was coming and couldn’t stop. He told his fireman, Sim Webb, to jump, while Jones stayed behind blowing the whistle and trying desperately to slow his train down. Jones managed to slow his train down from 75 MPH to 35 MPH, but he still collided with the other train. However, because of his quick thinking and the use of the whistle, he was able to save the lives of all aboard the other train. Jones was the crash’s only fatality. According to legend, when his body was pulled from the wreckage, his watch had frozen at the time of impact,  3:52 AM on April 30, 1900, and his lifeless hands were still clutched to the train’s brake and whistle cord.

Of course, there’s a cocktail called Casey Jones. It’s a gin based version of the Sidecar with a small dash of blue curacao for color.

Casey Jones

1 1/2 ounces Gin
1/2 ounces Cointreau
1/4 ounces lemon juice
1 dash Blue Curacao

Shake all ingredients together with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel.
Tomorrow: Just you wait, ‘Enry ‘Iggins.
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