Red Iron Ore

Singer: 

Michael Cassius Dean

Recorder: 

Robert Winslow Gordon

Recording Date: 

Sep. 1924

Location of Recording: 

Canton, St. Lawrence County, New York, USA

Duration: 

0:31

Transcription: 

Come, all you bold sailors that follow the lakes,
On an iron ore vessel, your living to make,
I shipped in Chicago, bid adieu to the shore,
Bound away to [Escanaba for] red iron [ore.]
Derry Down, Down, Down, Derry Down.

Rights: 

Duplication of sound recordings may be governed by copyright and other restrictions.

Language: 

en-US

Type: 

Music Recording

Format: 

mp3

Publisher: 

Brian Miller, Emma Dowd, Diane Giebink-Skoglind

Original Format: 

Wax Cylinder

Is Part Of: 

AFS Preservation Reel: AFS 19011A
G91
Misc. 154

Folk Song Index Numbers: 

Roud #2233
Laws D9

Alternative Titles: 

The E.C. Roberts

Song Summary: 

A sailor tells of a trip he took on the E.C. Roberts. They set out from Chicago, pick up a load of ore at Escanaba, and at last wind up in Cleveland. Life aboard an ore boat was not pleasant, but the sailor is proud of the good time the ship made.

Tags: 

First Line: 

Come, all you bold sailors that follow the lakes

Full Song Text: 

Come, all you bold sailors that follow the lakes
On an iron ore vessel, your living to make;
I shipped in Chicago, bid adieu to the shore,
Bound away to Escanaba for red iron ore.
Derry Down, Down, Down, Derry Down.

In the month of September, the seventeenth day,
Two dollars and a quarter is all they would pay,
And on Monday morning from Bridgeport did take
The E. C. Roberts out in the lake.
Derry Down, Down, Down, Derry Down.

The wind from the southard sprang up a fresh breeze,
And away through Lake Michigan the Roberts did sneeze,
Down through Lake Michigan the Roberts did roar,
And on Friday morning we passed through death's door.
Derry Down, Down, Down, Derry Down.

This packet she howled across the mouth of Green Bay,
And before her cut water she dashed the white spray;
We rounded the sand point, our anchor let go,
We furled in our canvas and the watch went below.
Derry Down, Down, Down, Derry Down.

Next morning we hove alongside the “Exile,”
And soon was made fast to an iron are pile;
They lowered their chutes and like thunder did roar,
They spouted into us that red iron are.
Derry Down, Down, Down, Derry Down.

Some sailors took shovels, while others got spades,
And some took wheelbarrows, each man to his trade.
We looked like red devils, our fingers got sore,
We cursed Escanaba and damned iron ore.
Derry Down, Down, Down, Derry Down.

The tug Escanaba she towed out the “Minch,”
The Roberts, she thought, she had been left in a pinch,
And as they passed by us they bid us goodbye,
Saying, “We’ll meet you in Cleveland next Fourth of July.”
Derry Down, Down, Down, Derry Down.

Through Louse Island passage it blew a fresh breeze,
We made the Foxes, the Beavers and Skillageles;
We flew by the Minch for to show her the way,
And she ne’er hove in sight till we were off Thunder Bay.
Derry Down, Down, Down, Derry Down.

Across Saginaw Bay the Roberts did ride,
With the dark and deep water rolling over her side,
And now for Port Huron the Roberts must go,
Where the tug Kate Williams she took us in tow.
Derry Down, Down, Down, Derry Down.

We went through North passage—oh, Lord, how it blew!
And all ‘round the Dummy a large fleet there came, too;
The night being dark, Old Nick it would scare.
We hove up next morning and for Cleveland did steer.
Derry Down, Down, Down, Derry Down.

Now the Roberts is in Cleveland, made fast stem and stern,
And over the bottle we’ll spin a big yarn,
But Captain Harvey Shannon had ought to stand treat
For getting into Cleveland ahead of the fleet.
Derry Down, Down, Down, Derry Down.

Now my song it is ended, I hope you won’t laugh,
Our dunnage is packed and all hands are paid off;
Here is health to the Roberts, she’s staunch, strong and true,
Not forgotten the bold boys that comprise her crew.
Derry Down, Down, Down, Derry Down.

Full Song Text Source: