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&d. A few miles from the village of Hancock, We put up a large "gang" of wild turkies that was crossing the road. These birds, which I afterWards saw an immense number of in the Western States, are much larger and handsomer, as well as of a more stately gait, than tame turkies. Their colour is the same as that of the breed which we call the dark Norfolk. Their plumage is particularly fine, and has a beautiful gloss, very much resembling that of an English starling, and which immediately distinguishes them from the domestic variety, even when dead. I may here mention that the turkey originally came from America, and was Unknown to the ancients. Indeed it is now generally allowed by naturalists, that the Melea* grides of the Romans were Guinea Fowls.*
The advantage of travelling through a country abounding in game, was soon manifested in the improvement of our fare. Roasted partridges, and fine venison steaks, were brought me for breakfast at the very first place at which I stopped.
Cumberland is a thriving town on the Potowmac. It is here that begins that large coal formation which extends throughout the whole country, as far as Pittsburgh and Wheeling on the Ohio. The distance from Washington to Cumberland is 135 miles. It is intended to cut a canal joining the two places; for the Potowmac has several falls, and, like most rivers running through mountains, is too shallow in many places, to admit of its being navigated at such a distance from its mouth. This canal will not only be commercially, but also politically useful. Mr. Fulton has remarked, with his usual discrimination and intelligence, that "when the United States shall be bound together by canals, by cheap and easy access to market in all directions, and by a sense of mutual intercourse and mingled commerce, it will be no more possible to split them into independent and separate governments, obliging each to line its own frontier with troops, to shackle its own exports and imports, to and from the neighbouring States, than it is possible now for the government of England to divide and form again into seven kingdoms."
* Vide Becktton*s History of Inventions.
Leaving Cumberland, I proceeded on the great National Road which crosses the Alleghany Mountains, and which reaches from Cumberland to Wheeling, a distance of 125 miles. The road begins to ascend almost immediately, and passes through a rough and mountainous country, thickly covered with forest, which is chiefly of oak, here and there interspersed with pine and cedar. The underwood is generally very thick, the spare ground between the trees being covered with large mountain Laurel (Kalmia Latifolia). This is so abundant and luxuriant in some places, that the woods seem almost impenetrable. Deer, bears, wolves, wild turkies, and indeed all kinds of wild animals, are uncommonly plentiful in these mountains, owing to the rocky nature of the ground, which will in all probability prevent its being cultivated for centuries. It is only at considerable intervals, that even by the road side, a small spot of settled or cleared land can be seen, while at a distance from the road, the country is perfectly "wild." Another circumstance that in a great measure preserves the large game, is that during the summer and autumn these mountains are so terribly infested with rattlesnakes, that the hunters are not much disposed to enter the woods.
Some of the mountains in the State of New York, where it borders Connecticut, are similarly infested; so that the grouse which abound in them, are as I am told, preserved from the gun of the sportsman, till the beginning of winter. The rattlesnakes then retire in great numbers to a den or hole in the rocks, where they remain coiled up and torpid, to the number often of a hundred or more, until the return of the spring. On the Negro mountain, twenty-five miles from Cumberland, and close to the road side, was a den of these reptiles; and a man living within a very short distance of the place informed me, that when he first went there, he has seen, on a warm summer morning, a dozen or two together at the spot. As soon as a place becomes settled, these animals disappear; for every hog that runs at large in the woods, is the mortal enemy of all kinds of snakes, which he devours without Ceremony whenever he finds them, being protected from the dangerous effects of their bites, by the thickness] of his skin, and by the covering of fat that is under it. Hence between the hogs and the settlers the snakes are soon exterminated.
While the stage was stopping a short time in order to water the horses, and to allow the passengers to take some refreshment at a small inn on this mountain, I observed that two hunters, who had just come in with some turkies they had killed, were each of them carrying one of the long heavy rifles peculiar to the Americans. As one of them, an old man, was boasting of his skill as a marksman, I offered to put up a half-dollar at a distance of fifty yards, to be his if he could hit it. Accordingly I stepped the distance, and placed the half-dollar in the cleft of a small stick, which I thrust into the ground. The hunter, slowly raising his rifle, fired, and to my great astonishment struck the half-dollar. This was the first specimen I had seen* of the unrivalled accuracy with which the American hunter Uses his rifle, and which I had afterwards still greater reason to be surprised at when in Kentucky.
At the little town of Smithfield the road crosses the Youghiogeny, a considerable river, the banks of which are rocky and picturesque. In the neighbouring mountains, abundant veins of coal appear at the very surface of the ground, so that many people dig it out and burn it, although surrounded by so much wood.
Close by the road side, a little beyond Smith* field, I came to the place where General Braddock was buried, after being defeated and killed by the French and Indians. This disaster was. occasioned by his rejecting the advice of Washington, who then commanded the Virginian Militia.
The Laurel Mountain, so called from the great quantity of the Mountain Laurel growing on It, is the highest point which the National Road attains in passing the Alleghanies. From hence there is a most beautiful and extensive view towards the West.
A very rapid descent of four miles brought us to Union, a small town situated at the foot of the mountain; after passing which the country becomes much more level, is more thickly settled, and is in general well cultivated.
As the neighbourhood of Brownsville, a small but thriving town situated on the Monongahela, abounds with coal, several manufactories have been established there; and one of glass is in a very prosperous condition, and is no doubt very profitable to the owners. The Monongahela is a very considerable river, which has its source in the Alleghanies, and joins the Ohio at Pittsburg. Steam-boats from the Ohio occasionally ascend the river as far as Brownsville. From this place to Cumberland there will be a great deal of com