On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away is the Indiana State song.
The song was written by Terre Haute and Paul Dresser, a native of the state. Dresser is said to reminisce in the lyrics about his childhood home along the Wabash River. When asked what led him to write the song Dresser said, “The same sweet memory that inspired that other Hoosier, James Whitcomb Riley, to sing of the ‘Old Swimmin’ Hole’ … I was born on the banks of the Wabash at Terre Haute … My fondest recollections are of my mother and of my early days along this stream.”
The song was first published in July 1897 and dedicated to Mary E. South, a fourteen-year-old who lived in Terre Haute.
On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away is among the earliest pieces of popular music to be recorded on the phonograph.
The Indiana General Assembly officially adopted the song as the state song on March 14, 1913.
The 1917 song Back Home Again in Indiana is said to have borrowed heavily from this song.
J. Stuart Blackton directed a 1923 silent film of the same title that was based partially on the song’s lyrics. The song was later featured prominently in the 1942 film My Gal Sal, the title of another song by Dresser.
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