“The Wabash Cannonball”


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

  • "Hail! Ye Brave Industrial Workers" (Greenway-AFP, p. 178)
  • "We Work for Hay and Company" (File: FowL26)
  • The Grand Coulee Dam (by Woody Guthrie) (Greenway-AFP, pp. 292-293; DT, GRNCOULE)
  • Delmore Brothers, "New Wabash Cannon Ball Blues" (Bluebird B-8404, 1940)
  • Delmore Brothers, "Gospel Cannon Ball" (Decca 5970, 1941)
  • Charles Stowe, "Carolina Cannonball" (on OBanks1)

Cross references


  • Roy Acuff & his Crazy Tennesseeans, "Wabash Cannonball" ((Vocalion/OKeh 04466/Conqueror 9121/Conqueror 9128, 1938; rec. 1936) [despite the band title, Dynamite Hatcher sang lead on this recording]
  • Roy Acuff & his Smoky Mountain Boys, "Wabash Cannonball" (Columbia 37008/Columbia 37598/Columbia 20034, 1947) [Note: Some pressings of these issues used the Vocalion/OKeh master listed above]
  • Bill Carlisle, "Wabash Cannon Ball" (Decca 5713 [as Bill Carlisle's Kentucky Boys]/Melotone [probably Can.] 45326, 1939)
  • The Carter Family, "Wabash Cannonball" (Victor 23731, 1932; Montgomery Ward M-7444, 1938; Bluebird B-8350, 1940; rec. 1929)
  • Clark & Edans, "Wabash Cannonball" (Gennett, unissued, 1928)
  • Hugh Cross, "Wabash Cannonball" (Columbia 15439-D, 1929)
  • Delmore Brothers, "The Cannon Ball" (Bluebird B-7991, 1939; rec. 1938)
  • Roy Hall & his Blue Ridge Entertainers, "Wabash Cannonball" (Vocalion 04717/Conqueror 9230, 1938)
  • Bill Mooney & his Cactus Twisters, "Wabash Cannonball" (Imperial 1150, n.d.)
  • Morris Brothers, "Wabash Cannonball - No. 2" (Bluebird B-8252, 1939)
  • Pete Seeger, "Wabash Cannonball" (on PeteSeeger17)
  • Art Thieme, "Wabash Cannonball" (on Thieme04)
  • Doc Watson, "Wabash Cannonball" (on RitchieWatson1, RitchieWatsonCD1)
  • Mac Wiseman, "Wabash Cannonball" (Dot 1262, 1950s)


  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


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)
Found in: US(SE,So)