“The Wabash Cannonball”

Author: Original ("TheGreat Rock Island Route") credited to J. A. Roff; rewritten as "Wabash Cannon Ball," perhaps by William Kindt, who copyrighted it; Cohen suspects the rewrite preceded Kindt's 1904 publication, and common tune is not the same as either Roff's or Kindt's
Earliest date: 1882 (sheet music, as "The Great Rock Island Route"; first use of the "Wabash Cannonball" title is Kindt, in 1904)
Keywords: train railroading travel
Found in: US(SE,So)


In praise of the amazing Wabash Cannonball, a train which can apparently accomplish anything. The song mentions various places the train visits and the impression it makes on the townsfolk. It may close with a eulogy for "Daddy Claxton"

Same tune

Cross references



  1. Cohen-LSRail, pp. 373-381, "The Wabash Cannonball" (2 texts, one of them Kindt's, plus a text and sheet music cover of Roff's "The Great Rock Island Route," 1 tune)
  2. Randolph 840, "The Wabash Cannonball" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 385-386, "The Wabash Cannonball" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 840)
  4. Lomax-FSNA 220, "The Wabash Cannon Ball" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Botkin-RailFolklr, p. 462, "The Wabash Cannonball" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. PSeeger-AFB, p. 85, "Wabash Cannonball" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Silber-FSWB, p. 100 "The Wabash Cannonball" (1 text)
  9. Roud #4228
  10. BI, R840