The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #4257   Message #2078038
Posted By: Q (Frank Staplin)
15-Jun-07 - 02:46 PM
Thread Name: Origin: Shenandoah
Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
The original is still unknown. Alden is one of many who speculated on the origin.

The Missouri also appears in early versions; it should be noted that the Missouri was an important artery, first for flatboats, but before the time of the Civil War was carrying a large number of steamboats. Several writers have speculated that the song originated with early shipping on the Missouri.

In 1852, the boilers of the steamboat Saluda exploded at Lexington and 200 passengers and crew perished. The ferry at Lexington, an important crossing, was started in 1819. The river was considered especially treacherous.

Lighter posted the lyrics from Alden in '05 in this thread. He noted that Alden, writing in 1882, speaks of the song being known 30 years before. Versions like Polly Brown (posted above) could point to another possible origin.