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waters 90 miles above Franckfort, or 150 from its junction with the Ohio, where it is 160 yards wide. In the Cumberland mountains where it rises, there is a great abundance of fine coal which is brought down during the freshets or high waters.
At Franckfort there is a good wooden bridge, supported on very lofty stone piers. The rain, just before I arrived, had been so violent and incessant, that the river rose fifty-five feet, but owing to the fine high banks did not inundate any part of the town.
As the legislature of the State was in session when I arrived at Franckfort, I had an opportunity of seeing the manner in which public business is managed in the Western States.
There are two Houses; one of Representatives, the members of which are elected annually; and the other of the Senate, of which the members are elected for four years. The Senators are much fewer in number than the Representatives, and are persons of superior education and respectability. Each house has the power of rejecting a bill proposed by the other, and it must always pass through both before it can become a law.
The supreme executive power of the commonwealth is vested in a chief magistrate, who is styled “the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.” He is elected for four years, and
exercises the same powers in this individual State, that the President of the United States does, over the whole Federal Republic.
The Legislature meets in a large Court House. The hall of the Representatives might be called a very handsome one, if the figures on the walls and ceiling were better executed. The members are quite unworthy of their fine carpet, for they continually spit and squirt tobaccojuice upon it-a loathsome habit, which they think nothing of.
I remained eight days at Franckfort to attend the sittings, and was quite astonished to see every thing carried on with so much order and regularity. I heard some tolerable speeches in both houses, chiefly upon the subject of the currency of the State. Kentucky had been very much embarrassed in its finances by a bad system of paper currency; and as the whole State had been nearly drained of specie, a law had been passed to enable the commonwealth to issue a more respectable circulating medium. This paper, when I was in the State, had suffered a depreciation of fifty per cent. The State was even in want of copper coin; and many private individuals had issued little promissory notes of two and a half, four, and ten cents value, which of course were only accepted by those, who were acquainted with the man who issued them.
The following is a fac simile of one of these notes, the treasurer's signature being omitted.
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ACCOMMODATION * * * * * * * * * * *
to J. S. R. or beater
On account of the Franckfort and Shelbyville Turnpike
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***oooorrrrororroorrrrrrrrros* * *
Hitherto the weather at Franckfort had been remarkably wet; but by one of the sudden changes, common in America, the cold in one night became so intense, that the ponds and stagnant waters were covered with ice several inches thick, and many even of the running streams were frozen. At nine o'clock A.M. of the day after the frost set in (Dec. 3), the thermometer was — 20 of Fahrenheit. I never had experienced so sudden and violent a change, and for a few days found it very disagreeable. · I now set off for Louisville, a town situated at the falls of the Ohio. I was two whole days in performing this journey of only fifty-two miles ; but the road which had been very muddy, had been afterwards suddenly hardened by the frost, and had become so uneven, as to bear a considerable resemblance to the surface of a Swiss Glacier. I had to walk a great part of the way, leading my horse by the bridle; for the poor animal, treading on the rough sharp projections, walked much as a man would do, if obliged to pass barefooted over broken flints.
Louisville is the most flourishing town in the State of Kentucky, and contains between four and five thousand inhabitants. Its commercial activity is owing to the following circumstance. During the dry season, when the water of the Ohio is low, boats cannot pass down the rapids ; so that all the produce, manufactures, &c. coming down from the States that border on that river, or which communicate with it by means of its tributary streams, must necessarily be disembarked at Louisville, and carried three miles in waggons.
The grand and remarkable rapids, or “falls” as they are called, are occasioned by a most curi. ous ledge of rocks, which traverses the current. The true bottom of the river below the falls is only a few inches lower than that above them; but owing to this ledge, the water descends twentytwo feet in a distance of little more than two miles. It may easily be conceived, what a superb rush must be made down the slope, by so enormous a body of water as the whole of the Ohio.
The ledge which causes the rapids is chiefly of · limestone, and contains a variety of beautiful mà
rine fossils. In one part, there is a large reef of coral and madreporite, which latter subtsance, from its singular appearance, the people call “ petrified wasps' nests.” A geologist might here collect a vast number of very curious and interesting specimens, and at the same time exercise his ingenuity, in speculating, how they could possibly have been formed in such a situation.
The river here is about 1000 yards wide; and I was told that, during still calm weather, the noise of the rapids may be heard by those descending it, at a distance of five or six miles. It has been in contemplation to cut a canal round these rapids, so that steam-boats, and other craft, may pass and repass at all times. This canal, from the flatness of the ground bordering the river, could easily be made, and would be of incalculable utility.
The year I was at Louisville, the town had been most terribly afflicted with a fever, which made a great havoc among those whom poverty or urgent business prevented from removing. This epidemick fever resembles the yellow fever; and, from its prevalence over all the alluvial soil of the Ohio, greatly checks the increase of population.
Most of the steam-boats that ply below the rapids, stop at a little village called Shipping-port, where they take in passengers and cargo.
The first steam-boat that ever floated on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers was one built by a Mr. Rosewall, and launched at Pittsburg in the month of March, 1817. When we think of the recency of this date, and examine the following tables, we may form some idea of the growing wealth and importance of the Western States. Such a rapid increase of wealth is indeed probably unequalled in the annals of civilization.