Aggressive Regionalism: Texts

8. Woody Guthrie, “Ballad of the Great Grand Coulee (The Grand Coulee Dam)”

Woody Guthrie, “Ballad of the Great Grand Coulee (The Grand Coulee Dam),” reprinted in Roll on Columbia: The Columbia River Songs,
ed. Bill Murlin (Portland?: Bonneville Power Administration, 1987), 30-31.

Now the world has seven wonders that the trav‘llers always tell,
Some gardens and some towers, I guess you know them well.
But now the greatest wonder is in Uncle Sam’s fair land.
It’s the King Colombia River and the big Grand Coulee Dam.

She heads up the Canadian mountains where the rippling waters glide,
Comes a rumbling down the canyon, to meet the salty tide,
Of the wide Pacific Ocean where the sun sets in the west,
And the big Grand Coulee country in the land I love best.

At the Umatilla Rapids, at The Dalles, and at Cascades,
Mighty men have carved a history of the sacrifices made,
In the thundering foaming waters of the big Celilo Falls,
In the big Grand Coulee country that I love best of all.

She winds down the granite canyon, and she bends across the lea,
Like a prancing dancing stallion down her seaway to the sea;
Cast your eyes upon the biggest thing yet built by human hands,
On the King Columbia River, it’s the big Grand Coulee Dam.

In the misty crystal glitter of the wild and windward spray,
Men have fought the pounding waters, and met a wat’ry grave,
Well she tore their boats to splinters and she gave men dreams to dream,
Of the day the coulee Dam would cross that wild and wasted stream.

There at Bonneville on the river is a green and beautiful sight,
See the Bonneville Dam a rising in the sun so clear and white;
While the leaping salmon play along the ladder and the rocks,
There’s a steamboat load of gasoline a-whistling in the locks.

Uncle Sam took up the challenge in the year of thirty-three,
For the farmer and the worker, and all of you and me,
He said roll along Columbia, you can ramble to the sea,
But river while you’re rambling, you can do some work for me.

Now in Washington and Oregon you hear the fact’ries hum,
Making chrome and making manganese and light aluminum,
And the roaring flying fortress wings her way for Uncle Sam,
Spawned upon the King Columbia by the Big Grand Coulee Dam.

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