Red Iron Ore



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 ore 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.

Collector: 
Gordon, Robert Winslow, 1888-1961
Location Recorded: 
Canton, St. Lawrence County , NY
Date Recorded: 
September, 1924
Track Duration (h:m:s): 
0:31
Original Medium: 
wax cylinder
Repository: 
American Folklife Center, Library of Congress
Call Number/Physical Location: 
AFS 19011A: G91 Misc 154
Rights: 

This material may be protected by copyright law (e.g. Title 17, US Code).

MFC Reference Number: 
MCD_A034