Low Bridge (Erie Canal)

Thomas S. Allen, 1905 | Roud 6598, Ballad Index San171

Lyrics:

I’ve got a mule and her name is Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
She’s a good old worker and a good old pal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
We haul’d some barges in our day
Filled with lumber, coal, and hay
We know every inch of the way
From Albany to Buffalo

Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge, yeah we’re coming to a town
And you’ll always know your neighbor
And you’ll always know your pal
If you ever navigated on the Erie Canal

We’d better look around for a job, old gal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
You can bet your life I’ll never part with Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
Get up mule, here comes a lock
We’ll make Rome ’bout six o’clock
One more trip and back we’ll go
Right back home to Buffalo

Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge, yeah we’re coming to a town
And you’ll always know your neighbor
And you’ll always know your pal
If you ever navigated on the Erie Canal

Where would I be if I lost my pal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
I’d like to see a mule half as good as Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
A friend of mine once got her sore
Now he’s got a broken jaw
‘Cause she let fly with an iron toe
And kicked him back to Buffalo

Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge, yeah we’re coming to a town
And you’ll always know your neighbor
And you’ll always know your pal
If you ever navigated on the Erie Canal

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About the Song:

Originally titled “Low Bridge, Everybody Down”, this Erie Canal folk song was written in 1905 by Thomas S. Allen after the construction of the New York State Barge Canal began, which would go on to replace the Erie Canal in 1918. The Erie Canal had been in service since 1825 and was very small and shallow. Only small barges could fit on the canal, and these barges were often hauled by mules. When possible, travelers would often ride on the roofs of their barges, and they would either have to lay flat or get off of their roofs altogether to fit under the bridges. Around this song’s conception, the mule-powered barge fallen out of favor thanks to the invention of steam power, with diesel power being well on its way. The song was written to memorialize the nearly 100 years of the Erie Canal.

Other common names include The Erie Canal Song, Fifteen Miles/Years On the Erie Canal, and Mule Named Sal.