Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

May 11, 2013

CANAL DISCOVERIES: The Irish in song

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — When the Erie Canal was finished, it was hailed as the 19th century wonder of the world. It should come as no surprise that the music that described the canal would find its way into almost every segment of society.

At the Erie Canal Discovery Center, we greet people from all over the country, and some from all over the world. Many visitors come seeking more information about a song that has been swirling in their heads ever since childhood when grade school teachers lead their classes in songs about low bridges and a mule named Sal. 

Probably every school child has at one time or another sung the ballad whose lyrics include “Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.” That song is titled The Erie Canal Song or Low Bridge, Everybody Down. In reality, it was a Tin Pan Alley song written in 1905 by Thomas S. Allen. It’s shown here in the hopes that it brings back fond memories from your own childhood.

“I’ve got a mule, and her name is Sal,

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal,

She’s a good ol’ worker and a good ol’ pal,

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.

We’ve hauled some barges in our day,

Filled with lumber, coal, and hay,

And we know every inch of the way

From Albany to Buffalo.

Chorus: Low Bridge, everybody down,

Low bridge, for we’re coming to a town,

And you always know your neighbor,

You always know your pal,

If you ever navigated on the Erie Canal.

Doug Farley is the director of the Erie Canal Discovery Center. His column appears every Saturday. The Erie Canal Discovery Center is a great place to start your Erie Canal adventure and is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. The Discovery Center has a great selection of Erie Canal music including the new compilation of winning Erie Canal song contest entries. Join us on Saturday, May 18th at 1 pm when Cynthia Storrs Cotten will offer a free, public presentation and book signing for her new children's book, "The Book Boat's In."

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