Digital Tradition Mirror

Way Out in Idaho

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Way Out in Idaho

Come all you jolly railroad men, and I'll sing you if I can
Of the trials and tribulations of a godless railroad man
Who started out from Denver his fortune to make grow,
And struck the Oregon Short Line way out in Idaho.

     Way out in Idaho, way out in Idaho,
      A-workin'on the narrow-gauge, way out in Idaho.

I was roaming around in Denver one luckless rainy day
When Kilpatrick's man, Catcher, stepped up to me and did say,
"I'll lay you down five dollars as quickly as I can
And you'll hurry up and catch the train, she's starting for Cheyenne."

He laid me down five dollars, like many another man,
And I started for the depot as happy as a clam;
When I got to Pocatello, my troubles began to grow,
A-wading through the sagebrush in frost and rain and snow.

When I got to American Falls, it was there I met Fat Jack,
He said he kept a hotel in a dirty canvas shack.
"We hear you are a stranger and perhaps your funds are low
Well, yonder stands my  hotel tent, the best in Idaho."

I followed my conductor into his hotel tent,
And for one square and  hearty meal I paid him my last cent
But Jack's a jolly fellow, and you'll always find him so,
A-workin'on the narrow-gauge way out in Idaho.

They put me to work next morning with a cranky cuss called Bill
And they gave me a ten-pound hammer to strike upon a drill
They said if I didn't like it I could take my shirt and go,
And they'd keep my blanket for my board way out in Idaho.

It filled my heart with pity as I walked along the track
To see so many old bummers with their turkeys on their backs
They said the work was heavy and the grub they couldn't go
Around Kilpatrick's tables way out in Idaho.

But now I'm well and happy, down in the harvest camps,
And there I will continue till I make a few more stamps;
I'll go down to New Mexico and I'll marry the girl I know
And I'll buy me a horse and buggy and go back to Idaho.

From Our Singing Country, Lomax
Note See also State of Arkansas
tune: slight variant on Son of a Gambolier

Thanks to Mudcat for the Digital Tradition!

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