Monday, May 20, 2013

Episode 162 (5-20-13): "Three Forks of Sandy," by Bobby Taylor

Click to listen to episode (2:37).


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of May 20, 2013.

This week, we feature an old-time fiddle tune named for a trio of rivers that connect Virginia to the waters of neighboring Appalachian states and—far downstream—to the Gulf of Mexico.  Have a listen for about 40 seconds.


You’ve been listening to part of “Three Forks of Sandy,” on the 2009 CD “Bobby Taylor Plays Ragged Shirt and Other Favorite Fiddle Tunes from West Virginia,” on Vigortone Records.  The tune is attributed to Ed Haley, a West Virginia native who settled in Kentucky and became a well-known traditional fiddler in the early-to-mid 1900s, despite having lost his eyesight at age three.  The tune’s name refers to the three forks of the Big Sandy River: Levisa, Russell, and Tug, all of which have headwaters in southwestern Virginia.  Near Pikeville, Kentucky, the Russell flows into the Levisa, which in turn joins the Tug to form the Big Sandy River along the Kentucky-West Virginia border.  Near Catlettsburg, Kentucky, where Ed Haley settled, the Big Sandy joins the Ohio River, one of the major tributaries of the Mississippi River and eventually the Gulf.

Thanks to Bobby Taylor for permission to use this week’s music.

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


[All Internet addresses mentioned were functional as of the posting date.]

Virginia’s major river basins.  The Virginia portion of the Big Sandy River watershed is shown in green at the lower left.  Map from Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation,, accessed 5/20/13.

Big Sandy River watershed, showing its three main forks, the Levisa, Russell, and Tug.  Map by Kmusser [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed
at this link, 5/20/13.

Levisa Fork at Grundy, Virginia, September 5, 2013.  Photo courtesty of Dan Evans.

Acknowledgments and Sources: “Three Forks of Sandy” and “Bobby Taylor Plays Ragged Shirt and Other Favorite Fiddle Tunes from West Virginia” are copyright by Bobby Taylor and Vigortone Records, used with permission.  Information about Bobby Taylor is available online at his Web site,, by phone to (304) 546-7175.

Information on the Big Sandy River watershed was taken from the Virginia Department of Conservation, online at; “Big Sandy River Basin Profile,” Big Sandy River Basin Coalition, online at; Virginia Atlas and Gazetteer (Yarmouth, Me.: DeLorme, 2000), and State Farm Road Atlas (Rand McNally, 1998).

Information on the “Three Forks of Sandy” was taken from “Big Sandy River,” by the late musician John Hartford, on the “West Virginia Encyclopedia” Web site,; and from “The Traditional Tune Archive” (formerly “The Fiddler’s Companion”) by Andrew Kuntz, online at

Information on Ed Haley was taken from the “Old –Time Music Home Page,” online at, and from the “Fiddle Fest” page on the Web site for the 2012 Ashland (Ky.) Poage Landing Days Festival, at

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