Come gather 'round friends And I'll tell you a tale Of when the red iron pits ran plenty. But the cardboard filled windows And old men on the benches Tell you now that the whole town is empty. In the north end of town, My own children are grown But I was raised on the other. In the wee hours of youth, My mother took sick And I was brought up by my brother. The iron ore poured As the years passed the door, The drag lines an' the shovels they was a-humming. 'Til one day my brother Failed to come home The same as my father before him. Well a long winter's wait, From the window I watched. My friends they couldn't have been kinder. And my schooling was cut As I quit in the spring To marry John Thomas, a miner. Oh the years passed again And the givin' was good, With the lunch bucket filled every season. What with three babies born, The work was cut down To a half a day's shift with no reason. Then the shaft was soon shut And more work was cut, And the fire in the air, it felt frozen. 'Til a man come to speak And he said in one week That number eleven was closin'. They complained in the East, They are paying too high. They say that your ore ain't worth digging. That it's much cheaper down In the South American towns Where the miners work almost for nothing. So the mining gates locked And the red iron rotted And the room smelled heavy from drinking. Where the sad, silent song Made the hour twice as long As I waited for the sun to go sinking. I lived by the window As he talked to himself, This silence of tongues it was building. Then one morning's wake, The bed it was bare, And I's left alone with three children. The summer is gone, The ground's turning cold, The stores one by one they're a-foldin'. My children will go As soon as they grow. Well, there ain't nothing here now to hold them.