LOW BRIDGE

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
  • LOW BRIDGE
    The popular song “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal” was written in 1905 by Thomas S.
    Allen after Erie Canal barge traffic was converted from mule power to engine power,
    raising the speed of traffic above fifteen miles per day. The tune is sadly nostalgic. Also
    known as “Low Bridge, Everybody Down,” “The Erie Canal Song,” “Fifteen Years on the
    Erie Canal,” “Mule Named Sal,” and “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal,” the song
    memorializes the years from 1825 to 1880 when the mule barges made boomtowns out of
    Utica, Rome, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo, and transformed New York into the
    Empire State.
    The song has become part of the folk repertoire, recorded by folksingers like Glenn
    Yarborough, Pete Seeger and the Weavers, The Kingston Trio, and western artists like the
    Sons of the Pioneers. Dan Zanes included it on a children’s album with Suzanne Vega
    singing lead. Bruce Springsteen also recorded the song on his 2006 album We Shall
    Overcome: The Seeger Sessions”.
    I’ve got an old mule and her name is Sal
    Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
    She’s a good old worker and a good old pal
    Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
    We’ve hauled some barges in our day
    Filled with lumber, coal, and hay
    And every inch of the way we know
    From Albany to Buffalo
    Chorus:
    Low bridge, everybody down
    Low bridge for we’re coming to a town
    And you’ll always know your neighbor
    And you’ll always know your pal
    If you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal
    We’d better get along on our way, old gal
    Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
    ‘Cause you bet your life I’d never part with Sal
    Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
    Git up there mule, here comes a lock
    We’ll make Rome ’bout six o’clock
    One more trip and back we’ll go
    Right back home to Buffalo
    Chorus
    Oh, where would I be if I lost my pal?
    Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
     Oh, I’d like to see a mule as good as Sal
    Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
    A friend of mine once got her sore
    Now he’s got a busted jaw
    Cause she let fly with her iron toe
    And kicked him in to Buffalo
    Chorus
    Don’t have to call when I want my Sal
    Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
    She trots from her stall like a good old gal
    Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
    I eat my meals with Sal each day
    I eat beef and she eats hay
    And she ain’t so slow if you want to know
    She put the “Buff” in Buffalo
    Choru