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90.-Sunken trees were the most serious natural menace to travel on interior rivers during the flatboat age. Those hidden by the water were
most dangerous of all. From a sketch by Lewis.
eral introduction of steamboats. The whole region lying between Pittsburgh and Louisville was broadly known as the Upper Country, and the big barges that regularly moved from either of those towns or Cincinnati to the Lower Country—which was the southern Mississippi district — made one round trip a year.
That was the length of time it took to go from the Ohio towns to New Orleans and back again in a barge which also carried freight.” By swifter and smaller keel-boats the time could be cut in half.: The down-stream journey was made in six weeks, and four and a half months were sufficient in which to return. It required about a month to go from Louisville to Pittsburgh by keel-boat unless unusual effort was made. A freight and passenger barge was three months on the same trip. In the year 1817, just before the general introduction of steamboats, the whole passenger and freight traffic of the Ohio River was handled by twenty barges of a hundred tons each, and a hundred and fifty keel-boats of about thirty tons displacement. These were the regular craft of the river. Their work had no relation to the travel tide of the emigrants, which proceeded as usual by means of the thousands of flatboats and arks that drifted down-stream every year.
1 Which did not take place until 1817 in that part of the country.
2 According to the statement of Morgan Neville, an early writer familiar with river travel, and many others. Neville's story of conditions in the pioneer days was written in 1829, and is to be found in "The West; Its Commerce and Navigation," by Hall: p. 130. * Burnet's “Notes on the Settlement of the Northwest Territory."
The long reign of the clumsy timber boats did not abruptly end in western waters with the appearance of the steamboat there. It continued for some time even after steam was harnessed for river traffic, and did not entirely disappear until close to the year 1850. A few figures collected at St. Louis during the decade beginning with 1841 indicate the end of the period in which the many types of hand-power boats did so much toward peopling the Mississippi valley and in transporting its settlers and their goods. The statistics in question recorded the arrivals at St. Louis from the upper Mississippi, and showed the following facts ::
88 Arrivals in 1843.
Not reported Corresponding conditions would doubtless be revealed by similar tabulations made at other river towns if they
143 195 244 647 663
1 Neville's narrative: “Hall"'; p. 130. ? Ibid: p. 130. 3 Ibid: p. 130. * The figures are from Hall's “The West; Its Commerce and Navigation": p. 97.
were available. The day of the flatboat and keel-boat and ark was done. They were vehicles of an archaic time devised for a work which could not have been performed without them, and by their necessary aid hundreds of thousands of square miles came under the sway of the white race. Although the conquest in which they played the vital part took place only a little while ago, the conditions of society that then prevailed - So swift has later development been — seem to be separated from modern life by an interval of a thousand years. If by a fortunate chance one of the old-time covered flatboats is ever exhumed in its completeness of form and furnishings from a river bed, no other relic of the period will command more interest than the floating cabin in which some backwoods American family of the eighteenth century made the water pilgrimage into the West.
1 Among the states affected directly or indirectly by the river migrations, and that received much of their early population through journey's performed in whole or in part on the interior rivers are Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
INTERIOR NEW YORK RE-OCCUPIED-HOW FENIMORE COOPER
ACQUIRED HIS LOVE OF THE WILDERNESS-TALLY-
THE principal overland travel development in the
eastern states during the early vears of the flatboat era' in the West was one by which northern Pennsylvania and the interior of New York were re-peopled by the whites and permanently occupied. During the advance in question the Susquehanna River--as will be understood from what has already been said-played an important part. The long struggle with England, together with the frontier Indian warfare included in it, had driven all white inhabitants out of the country, and the few roads they had hewed through the woods with so much labor were overgrown and disappeared.
There was no idea in the mind of the people when the war with England ended but that all future conveniences of travel and transportation through the country would have to be created by the improvement of methods already known. The chief reliance of those who gave serious consideration to the question was placed in a greater usage of natural waterways and the building of roads or canals to connect them. And in mentally surveying the map of the country it was believed that the region so long controlled by the Iroquois was destined to
i From 1787 to about 1805.
91.-More steamboats invented. A broadside view of the Baltimore and
Genessee Packet. Like the two deck plans of the same vessel shown in colored plates, it is done in India ink and colors on a large folio sheet and reveals the lines of a trim-looking vessel. Original drawing of an unknown American inventor, about 1801-1803.
take an important position in the growth of future national communication facilities. General Washington was one of those to whom central New York presented opportunities of value, and in the year of 1783 he ascended the Mohawk River, from which stream he travelled overland to the head waters of the Susquehanna in order to study the problem himself, and to reflect in what manner the people might most easily move themselves and