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"Sacramento," From The Days of ‘49

"Sacramento" from the recording entitled The Days of ’49: Songs of the Gold Rush , Folkways FH 5255, provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. © 1957. Used by permission.

When news of finding gold (mostly exaggerated) came from Sutter’s Creek, men took off singly and in groups for "the promised land." Ships were chartered to make the long trip round the "Horn", and wagon trains were formed to cross the great western plains. As they made their way West, they sang this song with enthusiasm and jubilation, and as they made their way back, they added bitter stanzas which mirrored their disappointment. The version sung here is obviously from the early days when men dreamed of fantastic "strikes" and tremendous fortunes to be had for the "picking." When the gold rush fever died down, the song remained at sea where it was sung, with appropriate verses, as a captain shanty.

Partial Lyrics:
"…The gold is there most anywhere
We dig it out rich with an iron bar,
But where it is thick, with spade or pick
We take out chunks as big as a brick.

Then, Ho, boys Ho, to Californy-O,
There’s plenty of gold, so I’ve been told,
On the banks of the Sacramento

Then, Ho, boys Ho, to Californy-O,
There’s plenty of gold, so I’ve been told,
On the banks of the Sacramento.”

 

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