I’ll tell all you skinners
From John Day to Bend
That the road south of Shaniko
Ain’t got no end;
It’s rut-holes and boulders,
It’s alkali dust,
But the jerk-liners gotta make
Maupin or bust.

They rolled out Pete Orman
A quarter past three.
He never had time
To get over the spree
That he’d started at noon
Only two days before;
When the call-boy came ‘round
Old Pete was right sore.

“Now what in hell
Are they fussin’ for me?”
He wanted to know,
“Get out, let me be;
Last night, my poor sidekick
Was throwed in the can,
Today we ride jerk-line
For no God-damned man!”

They rolled out Pete Orman,
And bailed out McBee;
They set a stiff price
With oats and grub free.
The boys had to take it,
The contract was made—
They watered, fed, harnessed,
And then hit the grade.

The weather was fine,
They figured clear sailin’
To the Cow Canyon line;
But while they was startin’
Up Shaniko Hill
Orm tickled Old Tommy
With a porcupine quill.

“Put in the oats
And shovel in the hay,
We’re goin’ to make it through
If we can find a way;
We ain’t quite as fast
As the Oregon Trunk,
But we’ll pull’em into Bend
If we are both drunk.”

(Tune: “The Siskiyou Miners” ; date, 1910-15, at the end of the Central Oregon freighting era. From Ramsey and Jones, eds. The Stories We Tell: An Anthology of Oregon Folk Literature. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 1994)

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