It was the greatest disaster ever known to this Western Virginia mountain village.
On May 2, 1929, the unusually violent storm slammed into the little community of Rye Cove, VA in the mountains of Scott County.
During the storm a tornado directly struck the local two-story schoolhouse, with over 150 children and teachers inside. The building was completely leveled, and the debris caught fire from an overturned stove. Thirteen were killed. The dozens of injured were rushed by special train to the hospital in Bristol.
A. P. Carter, of the famous Carter Family, was in the next valley on the day of the storm. He rushed to Rye Cove to help with the rescue efforts. He was touched by the horror of what he saw and soon composed “The Cyclone of Rye Cove.” The Carter Family recorded the song that same year for RCA Victor.
“The Cyclone of Rye Cove”
Oh, give us a home far beyond the blue sky,
Where storms and cyclones are unknown,
And there by life’s strand, we’ll clasp with our glad hands
God’s children in a heavenly home.
Oh, listen today in a story I tell,
In sadness and tear dimmed eye,
Of a dreadful cyclone that came this way,
And it blew our schoolhouse away.
Rye Cove, (Rye Cove), Rye Cove, (Rye Cove),
The place of my childhood and home,
Where in life’s early morn I once loved to roam,
But now it’s so silent and lone.
When the cyclone appeared, it darkened the air,
And the lightning flashed over the sky,
And the children all cried, “Don’t take us away,
And spare us to go back home.”
There were mothers so dear and fathers the same,
That came to this horrible scene,
Searching and crying, each found her own child,
Dying on a pillow of stone