www.mydfz.com > Music of Tom Paxton > (unspecified album) > Lyrics to Sully's Pail

Sully's Pail

Words by Dick Gibbons and Music by Tom Paxton*

I've a thing or two ta tell ya that I think you ought to know,
About that rusty bucket Sully carries down below.
You're not the first one stranger, that has laughed at Sully's Pail;
You're the only one that's laughing now, the rest has heard this tale.

Sure, when we was young and handsome, had ten years in the game,
Old Sull, he had a partner and Jim Rielly was his name.
They had knocked about together, Bingham, Butte, and Coeur D'Alene
And they brawled in every bar-room from Ely to Fort McLean.

Now me and old Ted Johnson, sure you'll not remember him,
We was working at the Rarus had a stope with Sull and Jim.
The four of us together, we was working side-by-side,
That's how I chanced to be there on the night Jim Reilly died.

Well, the blastin' had been easy, it was coming out like sand,
And we was muckin' out the ore, those days we mucked by hand.
And we was nearly finished, and I hadn't heard a sound,
But something must have happened, for Jim Reilly yelled "Bad ground!"

When we headed for the timb'ring, Sully must've took a spill,
For when we looked back in there, he was pinned beneath his drill.
The ceiling; it was groaning now, all set to drop the lid,
And Sully, pinned beneath his drill, was sobbing like a kid.

Well, there's some can watch their partners die, not throw their lives away,
But Reilly wasn't one of them, he wasn't built that way.
As soon's he seed what happened, "Hey, hold on there, Sull!" he cried,
And before he had the words out, he had thrown the drill aside.

They come around the ore car, Reilly wearing a big grin.
Guess he never knew what happened when the hanging wall caved in.
Sully reached the timb'ring, his face as white as chalk,
And Reilly, two yards back of him, caught fifteen tons of rock.

That day Sully's pail was buried, he ate from Reilly's pail in tears,
And he's carried that same bucket now for more than twenty years;
So, you can laugh at Sull because he's mean and drinks a lot,
But don't laugh at Sully's bucket, that's the only friend he's got.

*Correction 2007-04-09: Roger wrote and said that he'd been in touch with Tom Paxton through his agent and that Tom said he didn't write the words to this song but that they were written by a poet, Dick Gibbons, of Seattle.

The Rarus mine mentioned in this song seems to have been in the Butte Montana area according to information provided by David Mitchell. He cites the following web sites:


"The Rarus [rail] line was built in the 1890s to serve the Anaconda Company which operated copper mines in Butte along with a smelting operation in Anaconda. ..."

[Note: When I visited the above link, it did not seem to have the text shown above though it did reference the Raurs and Warren Consolidate Mine..]



Rarus Mine, Butte, Butte District, Silver Bow Co., Montana

Ref.: Dana 7:I:390; Geology and Ore Deposits of the Butte District, Montana; W. Weed 1912; Ore Deposits at Butte, Montana, R. H. Sales, 1914

Consumed by the Berkeley Pit


Various references on the Internet seem to indicate that there were other mines with "Rarus" in the name of the mine (such as the Rarus & Warren Consolidate Mine near Gunnison, Colorado and the Rarus Warrior Mines near Chaffee, Colorado.) However, the Rarus mine near Butte, Montana seems to be the only mine just called the "Rarus". None of these mines seem to have had any particularly long-lasting fame.

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