Wabash Cannonball

Our Club’s VP, Lonnie Dickson, thought I would like this Johnny Cash version of the song, “Wabash Cannonball.” He was right – I think it’s great!

It turns out that the song is old and has quite a history. What follows is from Wiki ……

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. 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).

The song “The Wabash Cannonball” is part of the The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list In addition to The Carter Family’s 1929 recording and Roy Acuff’s 1936 recording, many hillbilly artists recorded “The Wabash Cannonball” during the Great Depression era of the 1930s and 1940s. Bing Crosby recorded the song for his album “Bing Crosby Sings The Great Country Hits”. The song increased in popularity during this time. In the wake of the song’s popularity, the Wabash Railroad named its express run between Detroit and St. Louis as the Wabash Cannon Ball in 1949, the only actual train to bear the name, which it carried until discontinued in 1971. However, the train was named after the song, not the other way around.”

Some good loco footage in the vid:

The wreck of the Ole 97

I think that I have every record that the Seekers and their lead singer Judith Durham have ever made. I had the shuffle control on the other day and this one came up:

It sounded very authentic but, was it? The ‘net coughed up this vid which tells the “real story” better than I can:

At the end of the above vid is a reference to the original best-selling version of the record.:

I hope I am not the only twit around here who didn’t know the whole story!!!

Stagecoaches used along the Mendocino Coast

A stagecoach is a four-wheeled public coach used to carry paying passengers and light packages on journeys long enough to need a change of horses. It is strongly sprung and generally drawn by four horses. Widely used before steam-powered rail transport was available a stagecoach made long scheduled trips using stage stations or posts where the stagecoach’s horses would be replaced by fresh horses.  Coachmen carried letters, packages, and money, often transacting business or delivering messages for their customers. Coaches with iron or steel springs were uncomfortable and had short useful lives. Two men in Concord, New Hampshire, developed what became a popular solution. They built their first Concord stagecoach in 1827 employing long leather straps under their stagecoaches which gave a swinging motion.

What was is like to ride one? In his 1861 book Roughing It, Mark Twain described the Concord stage’s ride as like “a cradle on wheels”. Around twenty years later in 1880 John Pleasant Gray recorded after travelling from Tucson to Tombstone on J.D. Kinnear’s mail and express line:

That day’s stage ride will always live in my memory – but not for its beauty spots. Jammed like sardines on the hard seats of an old time leather spring coach – a Concord – leaving Pantano, creeping much of the way, letting the horses walk, through miles of alkali dust that the wheels rolled up in thick clouds of which we received the full benefit … It is always a mystery to the passenger how many can be wedged into and on top of a stagecoach. If it had not been for the long stretches when the horses had to walk, enabling most of us to get out and “foot it” as a relaxation, it seems as if we could never have survived the trip.

The horses were changed three times on the 80-mile trip, normally completed in 17 hours.

Here are the pics I have gathered of stagecoaches used along the Mendocino Coast:

A four horse stagecoach

A four horse stagecoach

On stageline from present terminus of the CWR to Willits

On stageline from present terminus of the CWR to Willits

Stagecoach in Mendocino

Stagecoach in Mendocino

Stagecoach in the County Museum in Willis

Stagecoach in the County Museum in Willis

Through the woods on the road to Fort Bragg

Through the woods on the road to Fort Bragg

This vid is from the movie, “Calamity Jane,” starring Doris Day. The first scene shows you how many folks yo could cram inside.

Big River News – A monthly news digest for the coastal Mendocino County

I was in our new library sifting and sorting through a pile of donated magazines when I came across the two pages you see below:

Big River News - November 1984 front page

Big River News – November 1984 front page

Big River News - front page February 1985

Big River News – front page February 1985

I have been the historian for our club for ten years or more but I have never heard of nor seen this “mag.” To say the least I am intrigued. I have just two front pages. If anyone has more or knows more I would be delighted to hear from them.

The Finns in Fort Bragg and Finnish Folk Songs and Poetry

Soon after I came to Fort Bragg in 2000 I became fast friends with Hank Simonson.

Hank was born in 1917. Hank’s father had emigrated from Finland and come to Fort Bragg to join Hank’s uncle falling trees.  His father and uncle emigrated to escape from the Russian pogrom. Hake, Hank’s real name in Finnish, was born nine months after his mother arrived. Hank’s family, like many immigrant families, spoke their native language at home and he did not hear and learn English until he went to school. Hank’s father played the violin and his brother was accomplished on several instruments. The Finns were a large community in Fort Bragg and had their own Sulo band – here’s a picture of the band:

Fort Bragg Sulo Band

Fort Bragg Sulo Band

The Band had ceased to exist many years before I knew Hank. My one and only experience of Finnish Poetry and Folk Songs came when Hank and his beloved wife Flo and I attended what may well have been the last evening of Finnish Folk Song and Poetry ever held in Fort Bragg. Per Wiki, “The folk music of Finland is typically influenced by Karelian traditional tunes and lyrics of the Kalevala metre. Karelian heritage has traditionally been perceived as the purest expression of Finnic myths and beliefs, thought to be spared from Germanic and Slavic influences. ”  I was very polite and said I liked it but in all truth I didn’t understand a word of it!

Now you know how I got “into” Finnish Folk Music and Poetry.

Whilst most of our train Club members think I am a right pillock I do have an appreciation of classical music. Recently I have been listening to a VERY talented Finnish violinist named Pekka Kuusisto.  Whilst looking up his music up on YouTube I found  this vid which is both hilarious and enables you to learn Finnish.