Thomas Anderson

singer, songwriter, rock 'n' roller

The Cascades of Oregon

by Thomas Anderson

from the album The Moon in Transit

Prairie schooner, homestead dreams

Calico wife and a buckskin boy

Get up there, oxen, over the rise

We're lighting out for the Territory

Thirty days out in the buffalo grass

Lost a calf in last night's rain

Up ahead yonder four or five miles

See the dust of a wagon train

Sharp-dressed stranger rides up to me

Says "Kind sir, do us the honor

Join our party on a shortcut south"

Tips his hat, says his name is Donner

Heading for the land of milk and honey

Why so forlorn and woebegone

We'll shoot right through the Sierra Madres

And bypass the Cascades of Oregon

Ninety days out where have we been

Humboldt River to the Alkali Flats

Broken axle and the cattle are weak

But we've got to beat winter to the mountain pass

Reached the mountains in the freezing rain

Reached the pass, heard the north wind blow

Built some shelters as the blizzard roared

Livestock lost and buried in snow

Twenty-foot drifts by New Year's Day

Food all gone so we boiled the hides

Ate the leather, killed the dogs

Neighbor, I don't like that look in your eyes

Hitch your dreams to foolishness

And all you had is come and gone

Hollow cheeks, sunken eyes

Pining for the Cascades of Oregon

Sent out a scout to Sutter's Mill

Not much chance that he'll get through

Hunger howls like a beast within

Look, little Timmy made us a stew

Oh, someone's in the kitchen with Dinah

Good one, boys, now fill my plate

Funny thing, once you cross that line

The second time you don't hesitate

Well, Mr. Donner, it's a fine, fine dinner

You'd be proud of that shortcut you found

But it looks like, sir, your number's up

So come on, Jesse, bring the hammer down

Scouts said never seen nothing like that

No words in the human lexicon

One kind favor: Bury my bones

Far in the Cascades of Oregon