« PoprzedniaDalej »
dissuaded from venturing by myself on so long a voyage down the Ohio, in an open skiff, I considered this mode, with all its inconveniencies, as the most favourable to my researches, and the most suitable to my funds, and I determined accordingly. Two days be. fore my departure the Alleghany river was one wide torrent of broken ice, and I calculated on experiencing considerable difficulties on this score. My stock of provisions consisted of some biscuit and checse, and a bottle of cordial presented me by a gentleman of Pittsburg; my gun-trunk and great coat occupied one end of the boat, I had a small tin occasionally to bale her and to take my beverage from the Ohio with, and bidding adieu to the smoky confines of Pitt, I lanched into the stream and soon winded away among the hills that every where inclose this noble river. The weather was warm and serene, and the river like a mirror, except where floating masses of ice spotted its surface, and which required some care to steer clear of; but these to my surprise in less than a day's sailing totally disappeared. Far from being concerned at my new situation, I felt my heart expand with joy at the novelties 'which surrounded me; I listened with pleasure to the whistling of the red-bird on the bank as I passed, and contemplated the forest scenery as it receded, with increasing delight. The smoke of the numerous sugar camps, rising lazily among the mountains, gave great effect to the varying landscape; and the grotesque log cabbins that here and there opened from the woods were diminished into mere dog-houses by the sublimity of the impending mountains. If you suppose to yourself two parallel ranges of forest covered hills, whose irregular summits are seldom more than three or four miles apart, winding through an immense extent of country, and inclosing a river half a mile wide, which alternately washes the steep declivity on one side, and leaves a rich flat forest clad bottom on the other, of a mile or so in breadth, you will have a pretty correct idea of the appearance of the Ohio. The banks of these rich flats are from twenty to sixty and eighty feet high, and even these last were within a few feet of being overflowed in December 1808.
I now stripped, with alacrity, to my new avocation. The current went about two and a half miles an hour, and I added about three and a half miles more to the boat's way with my oars. In the course of the day I passed a number of arks, or as they are
usually called Kentucky boats, loaded with what it must be acknowledged are the most valuable commodities of a country; viz. men, women and children, horses and ploughs, flour, millstones, &c. Several of these floating caravans were loaded with store goods for the supply of the settlements through which they passed, having a counter erected, shawls, muslins, &c. displayed, and every thing ready for transacting business. On approaching a settlement they blow a horn or tin trumpet, which announces to the inhabitants their arrival. I boarded many of these arks, and felt much interested at the sight of so many human beings migrating like birds of passage to the luxuriant regions of the south and west. These arks are built in the form of a parallelogram, being from twelve to fourteen feet wide, and from forty to seventy feet long, covered above, rowed only occasionally by two oars before, and steered by a long and powerful one fixed above as in the annexed sketch.
Barge for passing up stream.
The barges are taken up along shore by setting poles at the rate of twenty miles or so a day; the arks cost about one hundred and fifty cents per foot, according to their length, and when they reach their places of destination, seldom bring more than onesixth their original cost. These arks descend from all parts of the Ohio and its tributary streams, the Alleghany, Monongahela, Muskingum, Sciota, Miami, Kentucky, Wabash, &c. &c. in the months of March, April, and May particularly, with goods, produce and emigrants, the two former for markets along the river, or at New Orleans, the latter for various parts of Kentucky, Ohio, and the Indiana Territory. I now return to my own expedition.
I rowed twenty odd miles the first spell, and found I should be able to stand it perfectly well. About an hour after night I put up at a miserable cabin, fifty-two miles from Pittsburg, where I slept on what I supposed to be corn-stalks, or something worse; so preferring the smooth bosom of the Ohio to this brush heap, I got up long before day, and being under no apprehension of losing my way I again pushed out into the stream. The landscape on each side, lay in one mass of shade, but the grandeur of the projecting headlands and vanishing points, or lines, were charmingly reflected in the smooth glassy surface below. I could only discover when I was passing a clearing by the crowing of cocks; and now and then in more solitary places the big horned owl made a most hideous hollowing that echoed among the mountains. In this lonesome manner, with full leisure for observation and reflection, exposed to hardships all day, and hard births all night, to storms of rain, hail and snow, for it froze severely almost every night, I persevered, from the 24th of February to Sunday evening March 17th, when I moored my skiff safely in Bear Grass Creck, at the Rapids of the Ohio, after a voyage of seven hundred and twenty miles. My hands suffered the most; and it will be some weeks yet before they recover their former feeling and flexibility. It would be the task of a month to detail all the particulars of my numerous excursions, in every direction from the river. In Steubenville, Charlestown and Wheeling I found some friends. At Marietta I visited the celebrated remains of Indian fortifications, as they are improperly called, which cover a large space of ground on the banks of the Muskingum. Seventy miles above this, at a place called Big Grave Creek, I examined some extraordinary remains of the same kind there. The Big Grave is three hundred paces round at the base, seventy feet perpendicular, and the top, which is about fifty feet over has sunk in, forming a regular concavity, three or four feet deep. This tumulus is in the form of a cone, and the whole, as well as its immediate neighbourhood, is covered with a venera. ble growth of forest four or five hundred years old, which gives it a most singular appearance. In clambering around its stcep sides I found a place where a large white oak had been lately blown down, and had torn up the earth to the depth of five or six feet. In this place I commenced digging, and continued to labour for about an hour, examining every handful of earth with great care, but except some shreds of earthen ware made of a coarse kind of gritty clay, and considerable pieces of charcoal, I found nothing else; but a person of the neighbourhood presented me with some beads fashioned out of a kind of white stone, which were found in digging on the opposite side of this gigantic mound, where I found the hole still remaining. The whole of an extensive plain a short distance from this is marked out with squares, oblongs and circles, one of which comprehends several acres. The embankments by which they are distinguished are still two or three feet above the common level of the field. The Big Grave is the property of a Mr. Tomlinson, or Tumblestone, who lives near, and who would not expend three cents to see the whole sifted before his face. I endeavoured to work on his avarice by representing the probability that it might contain valuable matters, and suggested to him a mode by which a passage might be cut into it level with the bottom, and by excavation and arching a most noble cellar might be formed for keeping his turnips and potatoes. “ All the turnips and potatoes I shall raise this dozen ycars,” said he,“ would not pay the expense.” This man is no antiquarian or theoretical farmer, nor much of a practical one either I fear; he has about two thousand acres of the best land, and just makes out to live. Near the head of what is called the Long Reach, I called on a certain Michael Cressap, son to the noted colonel Cressap, mentioned in Jefferson's Notes on Virginia. From him I received the head of a paddle fish, the largest ever seen in the Ohio, which I am keeping for Mr. Peale, with various other curiosities. I took the liberty of asking whether Logan's accusation of his father having killed all his family, had any truth 'in it; but he replied that, it had not. Logan, he said, had been misinformed; he detailed to me all the particulars which are too long for repetition, and concluded by informing me that his father died early in the revolutionary war of the camp fever, near New-York.
Marietta stands on a swampy plain, which has evidently once been the ancient bed of the Muskingum, and is still occasionally inundated to the depth of five or six fect. A Mr. Putnam, son to the old general of Bunker's Hill' memory, and a Mr. Gillman and Fearing are making great exertions here, in introducing and multiplying the race of Merinos. The two latter gentlemen are about establishing works by steam for carding and spinning wool, and intend to carry on the manufactory of broadcloth extensively. Mr. Gillman is a gentleman of taste and wealth, and has no doubts of succeeding. Something is necessary to give animation to this place, for since the building of ships has been abandoned here, the place seems on the decline.
The current of the Muskingum is very rapid, and the ferry boat is navigated across in the following manner. A strong cable is extended from bank to bank, forty or fifty feet above the surface of the river, and fastened tight at each end. On this cable are two loose running blocks; one rope from the bow of the boat is fastened to the first of these blocks, and another from the after part of the boat to the second block, and by lengthening this last a diagonal direction is given to the boat's head, a little up stream, and the current striking forcibly and obliquely on her aft, she is hurried forward with amazing velocity without any manual labour whatever. I passed Blannerhasset's island after night, but the people were burning brush, and by the light I had a distinct view of the mansion house, which is but a plain frame of no great dimensions. It is now the property of a Mr. Miller from Lexington, who intends laying it chiefly in hemp. It is nearly threc miles long, and contains about three hundred acres, half of which is in cultivation, but like all the rest of the numerous islands of the Ohio, is subject to inundations. At Galliopolis, which stands upon a 'high plain, and contains forty or fifty scattered houses, I found the fields well fenced and well cultivated, peach and apple orchards numerous, and a considerable appearance of industry. One half of the original French settlers have removed to a tract of land opposite the mouth of Sandy River. This town has one store and two taverns; the mountains press into within a short distance of the town. I found here another Indian mound planted with peach trees. On Monday March 5th, about ten miles below the mouth of the great Sciota, where I saw the first flock of peroquets, I encountered a violent storm of wind and rain, which changed to hail and snow, blowing