Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

The Erie Canal, an Illustrated Song

Posted on: May 26, 2014

This is such a fun song to sing and a terrific opportunity to explore an important moment in American History.

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The Erie Canal
Traditional Words and tune
Illustrated by Peter Spier

The back pages of Peter Spier’s gorgeously and incredibly detailed book of illustrations, includes printed music and historical information about the building of the canal and the lives of the people who used it.  

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THE ERIE CANAL is featured in:

Favorite Folk Songs
Compiled by Peter Yarrow
Music by Various Artists, Arranged by Peter Yarrow
Illustrated by Terry Widener
Collection of lullabies, illustrated from the:
The Peter Yarrow Songbook Series

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Peter Yarrow writes this about THE ERIE CANAL in his book Favorite Folk Songs:

The Erie Canal
The Erie Canal, finished in 1825, connected Lake Erie to the Hudson River.  Stretching 363 miles, it was an engineering wonder and at the time the longest canal in America or Europe.  Mules like Sal walked along the side of the canal pulling the floating barges filled with produce or other goods.  The canal became so popular that it was enlarged several times till finally it stretched (as the song says) all the way “from Albany to Buffalo.”  This song, one that helped to build America, is so filled with fun images of those exciting times that you feel as though you are almost there on the barge hauled by good old Sal.

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Pete Seeger sings:

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Bruce Springsteen sings live:

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History of the Erie Canal, here:

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Another history of the canal, here:

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THE ERIE CANAL (ALSO CALLED “LOW BRIDGE EVERYBODY DOWN”

I’ve got a mule and her name is Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
She’s a good old worker and a good old pal
Fifteen miles 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

Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge, for now we’re going through a town
You can always tell your neighbor
You can always tell 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
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
So one more trip and then we’ll go
Right straight back to Buffalo

Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge, for now we’re going through a town
You can always tell your neighbor
You can always tell your pal
If you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal

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A website dedicated to Erie Canal history:
http://eriecanal.org/

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Erie Canal song wiki
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_Bridge_(song)

I wondered what “Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal” referred to.  This site explains that, though the lyrics have changed somewhat over time, 15 miles is the distance a mule can pull the barge until it needs a rest.

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A webpage dedicated to the song, here:
http://www.eriecanalsong.com/

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A printable PDF of the sheet music (with vintage cover),
http://www.eriecanalsong.com/sheetmusic/LowBridgeEverybodyDown.pdf

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This page includes a bit of info about the book and images of the marvelous illustrations:
http://www.heronsbendproductions.com/html/erie_book.html

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Addendum, 10/26/2014

CBS Sunday Morning’s Almanac Celebrates ERIE CANAL 

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiZ7hRVNqPQ

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Addendum, 7/16/2017

CBS Sunday Morning’s segment on the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal, plus web extra of singer sharing a long extended version.

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CBS Sunday Morning (7/16/2017): 200 years on the Erie Canal
http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/200-years-on-the-erie-canal/

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CBS Sunday Morning (7/16/2017): Web extra: “The Erie Canal Song”
http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/web-extra-the-erie-canal-song/

 

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Related Posts

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PETE SEEGER
The Singable Picture Books of Pete Seeger
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/pete-seeger-the-power-of-song/

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PETER SPIER
The Singable Picture Books of Peter Spier
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/singable-picture-books-of-peter-spier/

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FOURTH OF JULY AND OTHER HOLIDAYS CELEBRATING THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND HER CITIZENS AND HISTORY
A list of Patriotic Singable Picture Books
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/a-patriotic-list-of-singable-books-for-july-4th/

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PETER YARROW SONGBOOK SERIES

A list of the Singable Picture Books from the Peter Yarrow Songbook series:
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/the-case-for-singing-with-children-from-peter-yarrow/

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10/26/2014, CBS Sunday Morning’s Almanac Celebrates ERIE CANAL
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/10262014-cbs-sunday-mornings-almanac-celebrates-erie-canal/

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