A Black River Canal Musical Mystery

Dave Ruch, a researcher of traditional and historical songs of New York who also teaches and performs that music, recently offered the lyrics to a canal song he believes may refer to the Black River Canal. The song was related by Des Powell (who was living in Arizona at the time) to folklorist Sam Eskin in 1946. According to Ruch at the bottom of Eskin’s notes he scribbled “Black River Canal”.

O! it’s nine miles to my darlin’, nine miles to go,
Nine miles on the old Rome haul
Gee this boat is slow
O! if ever I get back to my darlin
I ain’t gonna leave her no more
Gonna Settle down in old Rome town and open up a country story

First you pass a foundry and then you pass a mill
Then you pass Walt Waterbery’s place the other side of the hill
Then you pass a graveyard and then a bridge that’s low
Then it’s 9 more miles to my darling

O when last I saw my darlin, she was standin in the toll-house door
The tears run down her pretty little cheeks and they fell with a splash on the floor
O, if ever I get back to my darlin I ain’t gonna leave her no more
gonna settle down in old Rome town and open up a country store
By God and open up a country store.

If that second verse rings a bell, contact Dave Ruch at dave@daveruch.com.

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