Sagebrush Music

Down Where the Lost Rivers Flow

By P. Gary Eller

Wow, there it is again: that touching song about young cowboys in Europe during World War I, pining over their home in the Lost River area of southeastern Idaho. I had encountered “Down Where the Lost Rivers Flow” several times during my search around Idaho for songs written before radio came to the state in 1923. I was struck then, and still am struck, by the song’s vivid lyrical imagery and appealing melody. Surely, it is one of Idaho’s finest cowboy songs.

Songwriter Flora Mason Foster published “Down Where the Lost Rivers Flow” in Arco as sheet music with a copyright date of 1920. The song was mentioned in the April 30, 1920 issue of the Arco Advertiser newspaper and the lyrics were published in 2000 in Little Lost River Valley by Anna Kyle Sermon [Anna’s feature, “Howe–Spotlight,” appeared in IDAHO magazine, April 2022].

A version by Treasure Valley pianist/vocalist Sean Rogers was printed in my Idaho Songs Project publication, High Tone Music of Idaho (2013). Here’s how the first stanza of the lyrics and its chorus go:

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P. Gary Eller

About P. Gary Eller

P. Gary Eller leads the Idaho Songs Project and performs historically-based songs across Idaho. He has played American roots music since childhood as banjoist, guitarist and vocalist in many bands. Gary served five years on the National Old Time Fiddlers Contest board and has organized numerous music camps and banjo contests. He received a 2020 Idaho Governor’s Award for support of the arts.

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