Sailing Up My Dirty Stream- How Song Changed the Health of the Hudson River- Lissy D.

Steamboats were the major means of transportation of goods on the Hudson river. They also contributed to siltation in the Hudson River.




Recent Efforts for the Remediation of the Hudson River through music

Sailing Up My Dirty Stream (The Hudson River Song) 1961- by Pete Seeger

Sailing up my dirty stream
Still I love it and I’ll keep the dream
That some day, though maybe not this year
My Hudson River will once again run clear.
She starts high in the mountains of the north
Crystal clear and icy trickles forth
With just a few floating wrappers of chewing gum
Dropped by some hikers to warn of things to come.

At Glens Falls, five thousand honest hands
Work at the Consolidated Paper Plant
Five million gallons of waste a day,
Why should we do it any other way?
Down the valley one million toilet chains
Find my Hudson so convenient place to drain
And each little city says, “Who, me?
Do you think that sewage plants come free?”

Out in the ocean they say the water’s clear
But I live right at Beacon here
Half way between the mountains and sea,
Tacking to and fro, this thought returns to me:
Sailing up my dirty stream
Still I love it and I’ll dream
That some day, though maybe not this year
My Hudson and my country will run clear.

For my research paper, I’m focusing on the nature of the movement to clean up the Hudson River.

For most of the 20th century, the Hudson River was seen as a ecological disaster. It was famous for its polluted water, due to its industrial history. The Hudson River was basically perceived as an aquatic freeway, hosting every type of ship in its waters and fueling industrial activity. The idyllic images of the Hudson River School were replaced with feelings of disgust and embarrassment towards the river that brought such industrial success to the east coast.

Pete Seeger was one person that made it his mission to change this perception. Through his organization Clearwater, he helped turn the perception and the health of the Hudson River around. One thing I am particularly interested in, however, is how he used his talent for music to change this perception. He wrote many songs of hope that the hudson river would improve, and these songs became the soundtrack to the American Environmental movement of the 60’s.  Many others followed, writing songs calling for environmental change.


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