(Joe T Babcock)
as recorded by Marty Robbins
While drivin' a herd of cattle out in old Nebraska way,
Headin' east at Broken Bow one hot September day,
Tryin' to get to Omaha we hoped to find a buyer,
We never counted in the odds of a western prairie fire!
A hot south wind was blowin' and the air was gettin' dry,
Somethin' far away was spellin' trouble in the sky!
Comin' closer was a sound that topped the devil's choir,
Then we knew we had to race a raging prairie fire!
When all at once a flame is seen a lickin' at the sky,
And every heart is quicker and there's fear in every eye.
We'd just one chance to get away, for there's no place to hide,
Gotta reach the river Platte, one inch deep and one mile wide.
The herd is gettin' tired but we've got no time to rest,
I try to clear the red dust that is gettin' in my chest.
From ridin' tail on a thousand head with the weather gettin' dry,
The black cloud in the west is warning, "ride ride ride!"
The roarin' heat is closer, ashes fallin' by our side,
And every breeze is burnin', singin' with its warnin' cry.
We've got to reach the river but it's still ten miles or more,
And close behind us we can hear that wild infernal roar!
But fate had other plans for we lost that fatal race,
We lost for neither man nor beast could long keep up the pace!
The mighty Platte subdued its rage but none were there to rest,
We did our best to get away but only I am there!
Now on the blackened prairie, far as the eye can see,
The grim remains are there to show that God rules you and me!
Just one he left to tell the tale, just one was his desire,
We lost our herd and thirty men to a raging prairie fire!
(Transcribed by Peter Akers - October 2020)