Old Settler’s Song: About the Song

Historical Background

Most people who sought their fortunes during the days of the gold rush did not get rich. Many followed new strikes across the West and died penniless and alone in the desert. Generally, those who did well, and some did extremely well, were entrepreneurs who took advantage of the law of supply and demand. They provided miners with necessities like tools, food, water, and clothing at inflated prices. Saloons and music halls became big in San Francisco, as miners were eager to spend their money on alcohol, gambling, and entertainment.

Other success stories from the days of '49 include the old settler in this song and others like him who gave up their dreams of finding gold and made stable lives for themselves in the new western states.

Song History

"Old Settler's Song," also known as "Acres of Clams," is based on an old Irish melody, "Rosin the Bow," (aka "Old Rosin the Beau") that has supported more different sets of lyrics than nearly any other folk tune.

Lyrics

I've traveled all over this country
Prospecting and digging for gold
I've tunneled, hydraulicked and cradled
And I have been frequently sold

I have been frequently sold
I have been frequently sold
I've tunneled, hydraulicked and cradled
And I have been frequently sold

For each man who got rich by mining
Perceiving that hundreds grew poor
I made up my mind to try farming
The only pursuit that was sure

The only pursuit that was sure
The only pursuit that was sure
I made up my mind to try farming
The only pursuit that was sure

So rolling my grub in my blanket
I left all my tools on the ground
I started one morning to shank it
For the country they call Puget Sound

The country they call Puget Sound
The country they call Puget Sound
I started one morning to shank it
For the country they call Puget Sound

Arriving flat broke in midwinter
I found it enveloped in fog
And covered all over with timber
Thick as hair on the back of a dog

As hair on the back of a dog
As hair on the back of a dog
It was covered all over with timber
Thick as hair on the back of a dog

When I looked on the prospects so gloomy
The tears trickled over my face
And I thought that my travels had brought me
To the end of the jumping off place

The end of the jumping off place
The end of the jumping off place
I thought that my travels had brought me
To the end of the jumping off place

I staked me a claim in the forest
And sat myself down to hard toil
For two years I chopped and I loggered
But I never got down to the soil

I never got down to the soil
I never got down to the soil
For two years I chopped and I loggered
But I never got down to the soil

I tried to get out of the country
But poverty forced my to stay
Until I became an old settler
Then nothing could drive me away

Nothing could drive me away
Nothing could drive me away
Until I became an old settler
Then nothing could drive me away

And now that I'm used to the climate
I think that if a man ever found
A place to live easy and happy
That Eden is on Puget Sound

That Eden is on Puget Sound
That Eden is on Puget Sound
A place to live easy and happy
That Eden is on Puget Sound

No longer the slave of ambition
I laugh at the world and its shams
As I think of my pleasant condition
Surrounded by acres of clams

Surrounded by acres of clams
Surrounded by acres of clams
I think of my pleasant condition
Surrounded by acres of clams

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