Bayou Sara


Cathy - banjo, vocal; Dave - guitar, vocal; Ed Trickett - hammered dulcimer, vocal

One of the largest boats in the Anchor Line, the City of Bayou Sara was only a year old when she caught fire at New Madrid, Mo., in 1885. A hundred years later, we learned this song from Neal McMillan in Boston while visiting him with Ed Trickett. Neal had learned it from Dillon Bustin at a Pinewoods Camp the year before. The song is from Mary Wheeler's 1944 collection of roustabout songs, Steamboatin' Days, and Dillon added some verses of his own. Another song about this disaster was collected at Rocheport, Mo., in 1914 and published in H.M. Belden's Ballads and Songs Collected by the Missouri Folk-Lore Society.

Up the river I could not stay long,
And the Bayou Sara, she burned down.
for me.
She burned down to the water line
And the Bayou Sara, she burned down.

Bayou Sara, she burned down
Bayou Sara, she burned down.

Well, the whistle went "wee,"
And the boiler went "whomp."
Deck flew off and I had to jump.

All the people got to squeal and squall.
They looked up, and they's about to fall.

I looked over yonder, and what did I see?
Captain and his mate, they were swimming for me

I looked over yonder and what did I see?
Two bright angels, they were swimming for me.

Two bright angels swimming by my side.
I want to go to heaven when I die.

Well I swam 'till I couldn't swim no more.
Arkansas City took me on board.

Who could say it'd be her last trip?
The finest boat on the Missississipp.