The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #49340   Message #744722
Posted By: Joe Offer
08-Jul-02 - 07:41 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Red Iron Ore / Derry down, down
Subject: ADD Version: Red Iron Ore^^
Jon, I'd like to see that version, if you have time to post it. It may help clarify some of the problems with the Rickaby/DT version. Here's a version that's quite different, from a gem of a new book called Windjammers: Songs of the Great Lakes Sailors, by Ivan Walton and Joe Grimm (2002).
-Joe Offer-

Red Iron Ore (The E.C. Roberts)

Come listen young fellows who follow the Lakes,
In iron ore vessels your living to make.
I shipped in Chicago, bid adieu to the shore,
Bound away to Escanaba for red iron ore.

In the month of September, the seventeenth day,
Two dollars and a quarter was all they would pay.
And on that same day, the north branch did take
The E. C. Roberts out into the lake.

The wind from the sou'west sprang up a stiff breeze,
And down through Lake Michigan the Roberts did sneeze,
And away through Lake Michigan the Roberts did roar,
And on Friday morning we passed through Death's Door.

Across the mouth of Green Bay this packet did ride
With the dark and deep water rolling over her side.
We rounded Sand Point, and our anchors let go,
We furled all our canvas, and then went below.

Next morning we hove in alongside the Exile,
And the Roberts made fast to an iron ore pile.
They let down their chutes, and like thunder did roar
As they emptied their pockets of red iron ore.

The tug Escanaba, she towed out the Minch,
The Roberts they thought they had left in a pinch.
And as they towed by us, they bid us good-bye,
Saying, "We'll see you in Cleveland next Fourth of July!"

We sailed out alone, through the passage sailed we,
Passed the Foxes, the Beavers, and Skillagalee.
We soon passed the Minch for to show her the way,
And she ne'er hove in sight 'til off Thunder Bay.

This packet rolled on across Saginaw Bay,
And over her bow there splashed the white spray.
And bound for the river the Roberts did go,
Where the tug Kate Williams, she took us in tow.

And down on old Erie, oh, Lord, how it blew!
And all around the dummy a large fleet came to.
The night, dark and stormy, Old Nick it would scare,
We hove up next morning, and for Cleveland did steer.

Now we're in Cleveland, made fast stem and stern,
And over the bottle we'll spin a good yarn.
I think Captain Rummage had ought to stand treat
For getting to Cleveland ahead of the fleet.

My song now is ended, and I hope you won't scoff;
Our dunnage is packed and all hands are paid off
Here's a health to the Roberts, she's staunch, strong and true.
Not forgotten are the boys who comprise her brave crew.


This passage song was second only to "The Timber Drogher Bigler" (see DT) for popularity on boats and in waterfront gathering places. The song tells of the mid-September trip of the schooner E. C. Roberts from Chicago to Escanaba, where it took on a cargo of iron ore, and the race to Cleveland that ensued with a
fleet of other ore carriers.
The Roberts, 273 gross tons, was built in Cleveland in 1856 for Brown and Reddington of that city for the general carrying trade. It remained on the Lakes for over half a century. F. L. Robertson of St. Clair, Michigan, owned the vessel in its twilight years as a tow barge.
Captain T. J. Crockett of Port Huron shipped on the Roberts as the vessel's boy in the mid-1890s when it still carried ore. He said that the Roberts was a "handy" schooner and that the crew sang this song. Harry Anderson of St. Clair, Michigan, who had sailed on the Roberts the previous decade, recalled much of the song and said he had also learned it aboard the vessel.
"Death's Door" in the third stanza is the sailors' translation of the French Portes des Mortes passage between Door County Peninsula and Washington Island, the entrance to Green Bay. The French Ile aux Galets, for "island of pebbles," was similarly mangled as "Skillagalee." The Foxes and Beavers are island groups in
northern Lake Michigan, and the "dummy" referred to in the third-from-last stanza was a decommissioned light in western Lake Erie. Near the end of the song, the singers might insert the name of the vessel master, whether Captain Rummage or Harvey Shannon or someone else, as a suggestion that the Old Man buy them a drink.
The song has not just two names, but two versions. The words and melody vary slightly, and both appear to have evolved from "The Dreadnaught" (described in chapter 4). J. Sylvester Ves Ray of Port Huron sang this in the summer of 1934 on his eighty-fourth birthday. He said he had learned it in the early 1870s "from a shipmate, Billy Clark of Buffalo, who composed it and dozens of others." Beaver Island's John W. Green, who also could sing the song complete, insisted that his sailor uncle, islander Peter O'Donnell, had composed it.
The tune sounds to me like "Sweet Betsy from Pike."

MIDI file: REDIRON.MID

Timebase: 192

Name: Red Iron Ore (E.C. Roberts)
Text: By traditional
Key: A
TimeSig: 6/8 24 8
Start
0480 1 69 110 0094 0 69 000 0002 1 69 110 0094 0 69 000 0002 1 73 110 0094 0 73 000 0002 1 76 110 0094 0 76 000 0002 1 76 110 0094 0 76 000 0002 1 73 110 0094 0 73 000 0002 1 69 110 0094 0 69 000 0002 1 71 110 0094 0 71 000 0002 1 69 110 0094 0 69 000 0002 1 68 110 0094 0 68 000 0002 1 69 110 0160 0 69 000 0032 1 73 110 0094 0 73 000 0002 1 76 110 0094 0 76 000 0002 1 78 110 0094 0 78 000 0002 1 80 110 0094 0 80 000 0002 1 81 110 0094 0 81 000 0002 1 73 110 0094 0 73 000 0002 1 73 110 0094 0 73 000 0002 1 74 110 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 76 110 0094 0 76 000 0002 1 78 110 0094 0 78 000 0002 1 76 110 0160 0 76 000 0032 1 73 110 0094 0 73 000 0002 1 76 110 0094 0 76 000 0002 1 78 110 0094 0 78 000 0002 1 80 110 0094 0 80 000 0002 1 81 110 0094 0 81 000 0002 1 73 110 0094 0 73 000 0002 1 73 110 0046 0 73 000 0002 1 73 110 0046 0 73 000 0002 1 74 110 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 76 110 0094 0 76 000 0002 1 78 110 0094 0 78 000 0002 1 76 110 0160 0 76 000 0032 1 69 110 0046 0 69 000 0002 1 71 110 0046 0 71 000 0002 1 73 110 0094 0 73 000 0002 1 73 110 0094 0 73 000 0002 1 73 110 0046 0 73 000 0002 1 73 110 0046 0 73 000 0002 1 76 110 0094 0 76 000 0002 1 74 110 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 73 110 0094 0 73 000 0002 1 71 110 0094 0 71 000 0002 1 69 110 0094 0 69 000 0002 1 68 110 0094 0 68 000 0002 1 69 110 0160 0 69 000
End

This program is worth the effort of learning it.

To download the latest version of MIDItext and get instructions on how to use it click here

ABC format:

X:1
T:Red Iron Ore (E.C. Roberts)
M:6/8
Q:1/4=120
K:A
A6|AceecA|BAGA2c|efgacc|defe2c|efgacc/2c/2|
defe2A/2B/2|ccc/2c/2edc|BAGA13/8||

^^