Wabash Cannonball: About the Song

Song History

The Lake Erie, Wabash, and St. Louis Railroad Company was formed in 1852. There was, however, no train named the “Cannonball” when this song was first sung late in the 19th century. The anonymous hobos who made the song up may have been paying homage to a specific train, or to a “mythical train that runs everywhere,” as suggested by George Milburn in The Hobo’s Hornbook.


Listen to the jingle, the rumble, and the roar
As she glides along the woodlands, through hills and by the shore
Hear the mighty rush of the engine, hear those lonesome hoboes call
While traveling through the jungle on the Wabash Cannonball

From the great Atlantic Ocean to the wild Pacific shore
From sunny California to ice-bound Labrador
She's mighty tall and handsome, she's known quite well by all
She's the 'boes accommodation on the Wabash Cannonball

This train, she runs to Memphis, Mattoon, and Mexico
She rolls through East St. Louis and she never does it slow
As she flies through Colorado, she gives an awful squawl
They tell her by the whistle, the Wabash Cannonball

Our eastern states are dandy, so the people always say
From New York to St. Louis and Chicago by the way
From the hills of Minnesota where the rippling waters fall
No changes can be taken on the Wabash Cannonball

Now here's to Boston Blackey, may his name forever stand
And always be remembered by the 'boes throughout the land
His earthly days are over and the curtains round him fall
We'll carry him home to victory on the Wabash Cannonball

YouTube Playlist
Spotify Playlist