The Wabash Cannonball!
“The Wabash Cannonball” is an American folk song about a fictional train, thought to have originated in the late nineteenth century. Its first documented appearance was on sheet music published in 1882, titled “The Great Rock Island Route” and credited to J. A. Roff. All subsequent versions contain a variation of the chorus:
Now listen to the jingle, and the rumble, and the roar,
As she dashes thro’ the woodland, and speeds along the shore,
See the mighty rushing engine, hear her merry bell ring out,
As they speed along in safety, on the “Great Rock-Island Route.”
A rewritten version by William Kindt appeared in 1904 under the title “Wabash Cannon Ball”. The Carter Family made one of the first recordings of the song in 1929, though it was not released until 1932. Another popular version was recorded by Roy Acuff in 1936. The song has been covered many times by many artists over the years.
From the great Atlantic ocean to the wide Pacific shore
From the queen of flowing mountain to the south bell by the shore
She mighty tall and handsome and know quite well by all
She’s a combination on the Wabash Cannonball
She came down from Birmingham one cold December day
As she rolled in the station you could hear all the people say
There is a girl form Tennessee she long and she tall
She came down from Birmingham on the Wabash Cannonball
Our the western states are dandies so the people all ways say
From New York to St. Louis and Chicago by the way
From the hills of Minnesota where the rippling waters fall
No changes to be taken on the Wabash Cannonball
Here’s to daddy Claxton may his name forever stand
And always be remembered in the courts of Alabam
His earthly race is over and as the curtain around him fall
We’ll carry him Home in victory on the Wabash Cannonball
Listen to the jingle the rumble and the roar
As she glides along the woodland through the hills and by the shore
hear the rush of the mighty engine hear the lonesome hobos call
You’re traveling through the jungle on the Wabash Cannonball
The song “The Wabash Cannonball” is part of
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list!
There was a “Wabash Cannonball” Rollercoaster at the Opryland USA Theme Park 1975-1997:
It is a signature song of the Stephen F. Austin State University Lumberjack Marching Band, the Kansas State University Marching Band, the University of Texas Longhorn Band, and of the Indiana State University Marching Sycamores, as ISU is close to the Wabash River. It was also used as the theme song by the USS Wabash (AOR5). There was a B-17 Bomber that flew in World War II named The Wabash Cannonball and Lionel Toys produced a signature named train set.
NOTE: The train was named after the song, not the other way around!
In the wake of the song’s popularity, the Wabash Railroad named its express run between Detroit and St. Louis as the Wabash Cannonball 1949 – 1971.
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