A Tribute To Old Time Country Music

Established 1998 (As Gary Sez)

Tragedy Of School Bus 27

Song Written by W. C. Burchett. Performed by Ralph Bowman

On Feb 28, 1958, in Prestonsburg Kentucky , a school bus loaded with children ran off the road into a flooded river. From what I understand, the stream was normally very shallow, but was flooding at the time of the accident. I was 13 years old at the time, but remember it very well. My brother was in the National Guard (Danville, KY Unit) , and his unit was called to the rescue/recovery, as were many other units around the state. When they pulled the bus up, 26 children and the driver had drowned. The recovery of bodies took weeks of dragging the river, as the water was swift, and the water temperature was very cold. It's said to have been the worst school bus tragedy in history.

W. C. Burchett wrote a song about this tragedy, and folk/country singer Ralph Bowman recorded it. Folks, it's a real tear jerker. I get chills to this day when I hear this song, and when I think about this tragic accident and what the parents of the children went through. Many of the parents and survivors are still with us, and to them I dedicate this song. God bless you all. And also to all the Prestonsburg men and women from many departments, including civilians, who worked so very hard around the clock to rescue/recover these children. And to the men of the many Kentucky National Guard units who were part of the recovery effort. Though it's been more than a half century, we will never forget what you did.

Click HERE to hear Ralph Bowman sing "Tragedy of School Bus 27" in the MP3 format.

I just recently found out that the Stanley Brothers also recorded a song about the prestonsburg, Kentucky school bus tragedy of 1958. The song was written by Jack Adkins and Buddy Dee, but I'm not sure what year it was originally recorded. A great big thanks to Bob from Ohio for making me aware of this recording, and to Jonie from Arizona for actually making the song available to me. Click on the title below to hear "No School Bus In Heaven" by the Stanley Brothers.

No School Bus In Heaven by The Stanley Brothers

Click HERE for a list of the children who perished in the tragedy of school bus 27.

Danville Kentucky National Guard Photo from 1959. I'm sure most of the men in this photo were sent to the Prestonsburg school bus disaster. Of course, many other units were there too, but this is the only photo I have. I can only name a few of the men in the photo. They are Cleo Carico, Donald Shannon, Louis Sargent, Kenny Yocum, Charlie Long, Capt. Carpener, Bobby Dennis, Jess Farmer, John Sharp and Dale Pact. If anyone knows anyone else in the photo, please contact me and let me know. It will be appreciated.

Click on photo to enlarge.

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Hi Gary, I just wanted to thank you for your site. My Daddy was from Prestonsburg, Ky and the song of Bus 27 was wonderful to find. I have the other song also about the wreck by Ralph Stanley here on my computer and would be happy to send it to you if you would like. I've lost my Daddy now but things like this keep him with me. My Mom was also telling me about Kathy Fiscus and the song that was written and that started my search, I'm so glad I found you!! I don't think you'll every know what your site means to everyone.

Thank You, Jonie
Tucson, Arizona

Great web site.
I was reading about the Rt. 23 (KY) schoolbus crash that happened in 1958 and noted that you mention a song written about it. Perhaps you may not be aware of it, but there was at least one more tribute song. Its title is "No School Bus In Heaven" but there is no credit on this album as to the author. I recently acquired a Stanley Brothers album recorded live 5-15-1960 at the New River Ranch, Rising Son, MD and the song was on it. Although I was in high school at the time of the accident, I have no memory of it. Thus, when I heard the song, I went on line to find out more.

Hope this is of some help.

Bob Prior
Columbus, OH

Thanks so much for preparing the web page memorializing the bus 27 accident. And thanks even more for posting the balad. I have looked for a recording of the song for years. Since I was a child, we had a 45 of the balad, but it had a chip in the disk so I could never hear the first 1/3 of the song. Today I heard it in its entirety for the first time.

My uncle used to ride that bus so he could go see a girl he was sweet on (he didn't need to ride the bus to get to school as he walked or hitched from David), but on the day of the accident he was feeling poorly so he didn't go.

Though I've lived out of state for neary 40 years, theres still a little bit of Floyd & Johnson County in me yet.


Gary, I Love your site, it's the best I have found on the internet. I remember the tragedy of school bus 27 well, I was but 7 years old when it happened. Dad and us kids went up and watched as the search took place. There so many people there it was hard to find a parking place. Was so so sad.
Maybe someone can asnwer a question I have asked myself over and over. How was 27 used by three ? 27 died in the accident, the bus was number 27, but what was the other 27? If you or anyone else knows the answer please email me at kyblue59@yahoo.com I would very much appreciate the answer.

Ken Thompson
Louisa, Ky.

Hi Gary,

My name is Billena Goble and I grew up hearing stories from my Papaw Goble and my Dad. They lived right by the river and they were some of the civilians that helped out with the recovery of the bodies.

My Dad was 21 and not sure how old my papaw was, but he had a large certificate of appreciation on his wall that was framed and listed all the deceased. I think it was signed by the parents and some county officials. I remember asking him about it all the time, because he was a hero in my eyes.

When I was a little girl that was the way I looked at it. Now I know that is something that most people would have done whatever they could to help.

I just thought it was very interesting when I found your site and I never knew their was a song written about the accident. I will be sure to have my dad listen to it.

My dad's name is Leslie Goble my papaw was Larcy Goble

Thanks for your site it was awesome,


I had searched high and low for a copy of "The Tragedy of Bus 27". I used to listen to that old tune while visiting my uncle, who was from Bath County, KY. He had it on an old 45 rpm record. My uncle passed away in 1997 and I asked his family if they still had the record, but unfortunately, it was lost forever (or so I thought). I had searched on the 'net several times, and had a couple of collectors looking for a copy, but to no avail. Then one night, while being bored and wide awake, I typed "tragedy of bus 27" in the search engine, and low and behold, your site was the first result listed. I have explored every nook and cranny of your wonderful website, and even passed it on to some of my collector friends. Everyone is in agreement, your site is one of the best things (as far as "us ol' boys" is concerned). Keep up the tremendously good work!

Mike, from Indiana

You don't know me but my dad was driving the wrecker that was involved in the 1958 Prestonsburg, kentucky school bus desaster. My dad has passed away, and I would love to have any information on this tragic event. Thank you,
Donna - E Mail: donnakay872@bellsouth.net

Really enjoyed reading up on all the details. My first cousin Doris Faye Burchett was one of the ones on that school bus tradegy.
Paula Sizemore

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Please note: I realize no profit from "The Tragedy Of School Bus 27" recording by Ralph Bowman. It's posted for educational purposes only, and can only be downloaded for same, or private use.

Prestonsburg bus tragedy page created by Gary Carico Using Geocitie's advanced HTML editor and Microsoft notepad. I bet you really wanted to know that!