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I've Been Working On The Railroad

A Classic Family Campfire Song

I've Been Working On The Railroad is a classic sing-along song. Its rousing tune makes it perfect for belting out enthusiastically around the campfire.

The words

I've been workin' on the railroad
All the livelong day
I've been workin' on the railroad
Just to pass the time away
Can't you hear the whistle blowin'?
Rise up so early in the morn
Can't you hear the captain shoutin'
"Dinah blow your horn!"

Dinah won't you blow
Dinah won't you blow
Dinah won't you blow your hor-or-orn
Dinah won't you blow
Dinah won't you blow
Dinah won't you blow your horn

Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah
Someone's in the kitchen I know-oh-oh-oh
Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah
Strummin' on the old banjo
And singin' fee fi fiddley-i-oh
Fee fi fiddley-i-oh-oh-oh-oh
Fee fi fiddley-i-oh
Strummin' on the old banjo.


  • This song first appeared in print in 1894, but was probably sung for a long time before that.
  • This song has been recorded by everyone from Johnny Cash to Pete Seeger to Raffi to the Muppets.
  • It has been adapted as numerous picture books.
  • The tune of this song is well known in Japan. The Japanese words are completely different - but interestingly, they are also about railroads. The Japanese song is about the loveliness of a train journey. In some Japanese train stations, this tune signals the arrivals of trains!

Who is Dinah, anyway?

When I was a child, I found this song confusing. What does Dinah in the kitchen have to do with working on the railroad?

It turns out that I was right - the two parts of the song have nothing to do with one another.

The Dinah section is an even older song, from the 1840s. It was introduced into the railway song by some college students around the turn of the century, and it's been there ever since.

Parodies of I've Been Working on the Railroad

"Monopoly" version

I’ve been buyin’ lots of railroads
All the live long day.
I’ve been buyin’ lots of railroads
‘cause the rain won’t go away.
Can’t you see my homes on Boardwalk,
My hotel on Atlantic
Soon I’ll own enough property
To make other players sick.

My monopoly,
My monopoly,
My monopoly will make me rich.
My monopoly,
My monopoly,
Will make me so filthy rich.

Someone's got hotels on Vermont, oh!
Got to pay on Tennessee, too.
Suddenly I'm losin' but I know,
I'll win later on at Clue.

I'm losing all of my dough
My Monopoly will goo-o-o
I'm losing all of my dough
But I can win still at Clue

Computer version

I've been waitin' on a download,
On my old Gateway.
Sittin' waitin' on a download,
Sittin' stuck on this display.
What's that download module showing?
Wake up I'm feelin' so forlorn,
Though I fear it's mappin' routing,
For a virus worm.

If you're a fan of song parodies, check out this site!

Now that you know the words to I've Been Working On The Railroad, check out some more of our favorite campfire songs.

For more camping hints and ideas, visit The Camping Family home page.

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