« PreviousContinue »
curious spectacle; all the tops having the appeatance of being white-washed.
In this part of the United States, the wild vine grows in great abundance, and to a prodigious size, one I measured being more than a foot in circumference. I have often seen them growing from three to four yards from the foot of one of the enormous planes, and never touching the tree that supported them, until forty or fifty feet from the ground, the vine gradually approaching the trunk, and presenting somewhat the appearance of the shrouds of a ship. An Irishman, who was asked for an explanation of this extraordinary circumstance, is reported to have said : “ Sure, don't you see that the vines begin to grow at the top of the tree, and take root when they touch the earth.” These vines are of various species, and are extremely luxuriant, stretching across from one tree to another. Some of them produce very large and well-flavoured grapes, which inight no doubt be greatly improved by cultivation.
After the steam-boat was refitted, which operation occupied eighteen hours, we again began to descend the river, and, at 151 miles from Wheeling, passed a great rock on the bank, called “ The Rock of Antiquity." The boatmen told me it was covered with figures, but I am sorry to say we did not pass near enough to see any of them. .
About 200 miles below Wheeling, at the mouth of the great Kenhawa, we came to a little village
called Point Pleasant. This spot is celebrated for the great battle fought in the autumn of 1774, between the Virginian militia, and the united tribes of the Shawanees. Mingoes, and Delawares. It was the most bloody battle that has ever been fought with the Indians. Several hundreds of the Virginians were killed ; and both parties retreated, the Virginians falling back, and the Indians crossing the Ohio with their dead and wounded. It ap. peared that they wished to make a great effort before being driven beyond that river. * · The great Kenhawa is 400 yards wide at its junction with the Ohio, and is navigable for a great distance. By a portage of a few miles over the mountains, a communication may be effected with James' river, which falls into the Atlantic at Hampton-roads, on the coast of Virginia. On the Kenhawa there are some very large salt-works, which supply a great portion of the Western States. The salt-water is so strong, that from 100 to 130 gallons is sufficient to make a bushel of salt. To prevent this water being mixed with several veins of fresh water that are met with above it, tin pipes are inserted into it from the surface of the ground, at a distance of sixty or eighty feet bored perpendicularly through the solid rock. I was in
* It was after this battle that Logan made his celebrated speech, for which see Jefferson's Notes on Virginia, and the notes to Gertrude of Wyoming.
formed, that from 500 to 600 bushels are made there daily..... ....... so ju pris,
After passing the mouth of the Kenhawa, the banks of the Ohio became more mountainous and picturesque. All the hills abound with coal, which, as it often appears at the surface, and in many places is only 50 or 100 yards from the water's edge, the inhabitants of the neighbourhood dig out, and send down in flat-bottomed boats to Maysville and other towns on the river, where they can sell the coal for a less sum, than would be asked for the mere cutting and carrying of timber. . During our voyage we passed a great many flatbottomed boats. Some of them were small, and merely contained an emigrant family and its furniture. These poor people, either New Englanders or foreigners, build one of these boats upon arriving at the banks of the Ohio, and commit themselves to the stream. Many being too poor to buy land, look out for some spot on the Mississippi or its tributary rivers, where they may remain a short time and clear the ground. Then, if they can make a little money, they give it to the proprietor for the land on which they have placed themselves. But if it is ever claimed, and they cannot raise the sum required, they re-embark their little all, and float off to some other place, where they either buy a small tract of land, or
again “squat," * without permission, trusting that it will be some time before they are interrupted. ... Some of the emigrants who were better off, were going to the Missouri and Illinois; and their boats, besides their family, &c. &c., contained also a small waggon, and two or three horses. These boats are built in the shape of a parallelogram, whose sides are in the ratio of three, four, or even five to one. They are planked up on each side and behind, and are protected by a slightly curved roof made of thin boards, their height being in the interior about that of a tall man. The upper part of the front, and a few feet of each side near the front, are left open like a sort of balcony, into which a number of children would run from the interior, to look at the steam-boat as it passed them. From this opening project two long oars, which serve to steer the boat, and, in case of necessity, to move it out of the way either of a sandbank, or of a mass of drift wood. Each boat is often divided into two or more apartments, one of which has a fire place and a chimney; so that each of these strange habitations might not inappropriately be termed, a floating cottage. - The larger sort, which, although of about 150 2 losne ...
This settling on land which belongs to another person, and clearing and cultivating it without leave, is called Squatting. The Squatters are held by the landed proprietors in the greatest possible abhorrence.
tons' burthen, are built precisely on the same plan, are called Kentucky Arks, and indeed they contain almost as great a medley of eatables, furniture, animals, &c. &c. as ever Noah could have stored into his miraculous vessel of Gopher-wood ;-horses, pigs, poultry, apples, flour, corn, peachbrandy, cider, whiskey, bar-iron and castings, tin, and copper wares, glass, cabinet work, chairs, millstones, grindstones, nails, &c. &c. These arks are navigated from the Ohio, down the Mississippi to New Orleans, touching at the small towns in their way, and if possible disposing of a part of their multifarious cargo. From New Orleans the boatmen find their way back again, either by land, travelling part of the way through the Indian nations, or else by water in some steam-boat. The ark itself is sold for the mere value of the wood it is built of.
We stopped a few hours at a small village called Portsmouth, situated at the confluence of the Ohio and the Big Sciota. This river is navigable for 200 miles; and, by a portage of four miles, which is to be obviated by a canal, goods can be conveyed to the Sandusky, a considerable river falling into Lake Erie.