Red Iron Ore

Midwest Region

George Sturz was a mining engineer who believed that mineral deposits could be found in the hills west of Lake Superior .  He discovered large iron ore deposits there.  By the time Sturz died, there was a large fleet of ships that would travel the Great Lakes taking iron ore to foundries in the east.  This ballad talks about those early days of transporting iron ore.   

Lyrics:

1.  Come all ye bold sailors that follow the lakes,
     On an iron ore vessel your living to make,
     I shipped in Chicago, bid adieu to the shore,
     Bound away to Escanaba for red iron ore.

Refrain:  Derry down, down, down derry down.

2.  Next morning we hove up along the Exile,
     And soon was made fast to an iron ore pile.
     They lowered their chutes and like thunder did roar,
     They spouted into us that red iron ore.

       Refrain:  Derry down, down, down derry down.

      3.  Some sailors took shovels, while others got spades,
         And some took wheelbarrows—each man to his trade.
         We looked like red devils, our fingers got sore,
         We cursed Escanaba and that damned iron ore.

Refrain:  Derry down, down, down derry down.

4.  The tug Escanaba towed us out of the Minch ,
     The Roberts, she thought she’d left us in a pinch.
     And as she passed by us, she bid us goodbye,
     Saying, “We’ll meet you in Cleveland next 4th of July.”

Refrain:  Derry down, down, down derry down.

5.  Through Old Louise Island it blew a fresh breeze,
     We made the Foxes, the Beavers, the Skilligalees,
     We flew by the Minch for to show her the way,
     And she never hove in sight till we were off Thunder Bay .

Refrain:  Derry down, down, down derry down.

6.  Across Saginaw Bay the Roberts did ride,
     With dark and deep water rolling over her side,
     We went through North Passage—O Lord, how it blew,
     And all round the Dummy the fleet followed, too.

Refrain:  Derry down, down, down derry down.

7.  Now the Roberts’s in Cleveland, made fast stem and stern,
     And over the bottle we’ll spin a big yarn,
     But Captain Harvey Shannon had ought to stand treat,
     For getting to Cleveland ahead of the fleet.

Refrain:  Derry down, down, down derry down.

 

Return to Midwest Region Lyrics Sheet Finale File

MIDI File
 
Folk song arrangement by Michael Burkhardt

With thanks to Sharon Ogorzalek
Created: July 2005, Last Updated: 07/28/10
http://OutsideTheBox93.org