Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Wabash Cannonball

“The youngest of the Bunyan boys, (Paul’s family), Cal S. Bunyan, built the most wondrous railroad in the world: The Ireland, Jerusalem, Australian & Southern Michigan Line. It took the largest steel mill in the country two years operating on a schedule of 36-hour days and a nine-day week to produce one rail for Cal. Each tie was made from an entire redwood tree. The train had 700 cars. It was so long that the conductor rode on a twin-cylinder, super deluxe motorcycle to check tickets. The train went so fast that, after it was brought to a dead stop it was still making 65 miles an hour. After two months of service, the schedule was speeded up, so that the train arrived at its destination an hour before it left its starting point.

“One day Cal said to the engineer, “Give ‘er all she’s got!” That was the end of the I.J.A.&S.M. Railroad. The train traveled so fast that the friction melted the steel rails and burned the ties to ashes. When it reached the top of the grade, the engine took off just like an airplane and carried itself and the 700 cars so far into the stratosphere that the law of gravity quit working. That was years and years ago, but the I.J.A.&S.M. is still rushing through space, probably making overnight jumps between the stars.

“Old time hoboes had a name for this Flying Dutchman of a train. They called her ‘The Wabash Cannonball’, and they said there was no station in America that had not heard her lonesome whistle.”

from http://ingeb.org/songs/wabashca.html

The “Wabash Cannonball” as a song was first documented on sheet music published in 1882, titled “The Great Rock Island Route” and credited to J. A. Roff.

220px-Wabash_Cannonball_cover_circa_1882

From the great Atlantic Ocean,
To the wide Pacific shore,
From sunny California,
To ice-bound Labrador.
She’s mighty tall and handsome,
She’s loved by one and all,
She’s the hobo’s ‘commodation,
The Wabash Cannonball.

Listen to the jingle,
The rumble and the roar,
As she glides along the woodlands,
Through hills and by the shore.
Hear the mighty rush of the engine,
Hear those lonesome hobos squall,
While trav’ling through the jungle,
On the Wabash Cannonball.

Our eastern states are dandy,
So the people always say,
From New York to St. Louis,
And Chicago by the way.
Through the hills of Minnesota,
Where the rippling waters fall,
No chances can be taken,
On the Wabash Cannonball.

Listen to the jingle,
The rumble and the roar,
As she glides along the woodlands,
Through hills and by the shore.
Hear the mighty rush of the engine,
Hear those lonesome hobos squall,
While trav’ling through the jungle,
On the Wabash Cannonball.

Now here’s to Daddy Claxton,
May his name forever stand,
He’ll always be remembered,
In the courts throughout the land.
His earthly race is over,
And the curtain round him falls,
Carryin’ him home to victory,
On the Wabash Cannonball.

The Carter Family were one of the first to record the song.