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Song Lampoons Rogue River Valley Railroad and Owner

Riders lampooned the Rogue River Valley Railroad, a 6-mile line joining Medford and Jacksonville Oregon, and its owner Bill Barnum.  What follows is a song from 1909, written to the tune of “It’s Just the Same Old Moon.”

“In dark ages since many years have passed,

Six miles an hour was considered pretty fast;

But now in nineteen hundred nine

That’s some speed on Barnum’s line!

Same old wheezing engine and car

Starts for J’ville with an awful jar;

Foxy Barnum rents his whole depot

And makes us wait out in the snow.

It’s just that same old train that is running

In just that same old jerky way;

No wonder we are always kicking

At the price we have to pay;

Oh won’t you tell me when we’ll get there?

Oh won't you use a little more wood?

Railroad c’mission comes to Jacksonville,

Calls in Barnum; also John and Will.

Asks them questions, tells them what to do;

Goes away, thinks its labors through.

They didn’t mind the old c’mission,

They go right on the same old way.

Same little Station, folks raising Cain;

Same busted schedule; same old train.

Source: Unattributed newspaper clipping in the Rogue River Valley Railroad Vertical File at the Southern Oregon Historical Society Research Library, Medford, Ore.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.