“Low Bridge, Everybody Down.”-Erie Canal Song

Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in thisworld, then it can only happen through music.” – Jimi Hendrix

A little history for this Saturday, Oct. 26th: On this day in 1825,  The Erie Canal opened up in NYS. The Erie Canal used to be studied in elementary school and popped up on history exams. I always loved the song and shared it with my students. Through music we learned English, History, Map Skills, Tolerance, Social Justice…I know, I know, I”ve written this before!  Hey, maybe there are some new readers out there so pardon me for repetition. Teachers repeat…habit of the trade!!!  

“The Erie Canal opened up western New York, and much of the Midwest, to settlement and trade. Before the canal, it cost between $90 and $125 to ship a ton of cargo from Buffalo to New York City; after the canal’s completion, that same ton cost just $4. Within the first year, 2,000 boats, 9,000 horses, and 8,000 men were working to transport cargo on the canal.”The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor

Music brings history alive and I have always promoted its use in the classroom and tried to encourage teachers to sing to and with their students and that you didn’t need a good voice!!!  Just your enthusiasm for the music was enough to inspire students…believe me, I’ve sang flat many a time! 

“I’ve got an old mule and her name is Sal

Fifteen years on the Erie Canal

She’s a good old worker and a good old pal

Fifteen years on the Erie Canal

We’ve hauled some barges in our day

Filled with lumber, coal, and hay

And every inch of the way we know

From Albany to Buffalo


Low bridge, everybody down

Low bridge for we’re coming to a town

And you’ll always know your neighbor

And you’ll always know your pal

If you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal”-Thomas S. Allen



2 thoughts on ““Low Bridge, Everybody Down.”-Erie Canal Song

  1. Nice post, thanks Ilene. An important bit of history;we may emphasize it more in Ohio because that’s how the northern half of the state was settled, people migrating by canal. A major factor in displacing native tribes too, of course.

    The Erie canal song was one of my favorites when we sang — with gestures, and at full volume! … folks in adjoining classrooms enjoyed it so much, I’m sure — in fifth grade music class on Friday afternoons.

    But I guessed wrong, expecting you to cover the first issue of The Village Voice for today. Being unpredictable is a wonderful thing, I never quite manage it myself. – Linda

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