Steamer FOUNTAIN CITY,
June 20th, 1877
Messrs. Editors: Our good ship has just reached the dock of the beautiful city of Cleveland, and our stay here will be five hours, so I seize the opportunity for a few lines to the Telegraph.
The trip via the Lakes thus far, exceeds our most sanguine expectations. We left Buffalo at six P.M., Tuesday. As our gallant steamer left the wharf, the sun shining in cloudless splendor a cool breeze came off the Lake and as we saw the city receding, the shipping, the Fort, and all, growing more diminutive, the Lake spread out before us like a vast field, the tiny waves sparkling in the sunlight, while we left in our wake a long line of white troubled wavelets consulting over the unwonted interruption perhaps.
Here and there sailing vessels were seen, and the black, curling smoke of a steamer was discernible in the far distance. Gradually the light faded and the moon and stars looked down upon a scene so beautiful that words fail to describe it. The steady strokes of the engine seem like the hear throbs of some huge monster and we move onward with a steady, firm movement, which tends to inspire one with confidence.
The FOUNTAIN CITY is 225 feet in length, by 30 in breadth, and although she has been on the Lake for 19 years, ranks among the best. Leaving Cleveland, we find the placid stillness of the Lake has changed to a dead swell which sends us all down into the cabin in haste. Some seek their berths, but we venture on deck again as the sea grows more quiet, and enjoy a delightful evening in the moonlight. The moon makes a broad white path across the waters. Steamers with their twinkling lights are seen far across the lake, and the scene is fairy like in its beauty.
At last we retire to rest, "rocked in the cradle of the deep." Morning finds us just entering the Detroit harbor. More passengers come aboard, and now follows a sail of charming variety, up Lake St. Clair, and through the St. Clair river. At the entrance of the river we pass through a canal built, or dredged rather, in the centre of a wide channel. The banks nearly a mile and a half in length, and planted in willows, look strangely rising as they seem to do, in the very centre of a large lake, with Light Houses at either end. However, Light Houses, Hotels, &c., seem resting on the surface of the water all around. Perhaps they have a foundation somewhere, but we "can't see it." Fishermen resort here in great numbers, and sportsmen from the cities. A halt of an hour or two at a wood dock on the Canada ashore, give us an opportunity to visit her Majesty's ominions. Some of the passengers cross over in small boats to an island, and return, bringing us clusters of wild strawberries. The banks of the river are charming, and we have pleasant sailing all the way. Our next stop is Cheboygan, where we go ashore and inspect some large sawmills which cut nearly one million feet of lumber per week, employing one hundred and sixty men. They are forced to keep a huge fire burning to consume the slabs, which, although they use them to run the engines, accumulate so rapidly that they burn them in a large pit. We saw traces of the fires which have ravaged Northern Michigan. The weather here is clear and cold, and the shores are distinctly visible. At Mackinaw we went ashore, saw the fort with its huge walls and turrets, the soldiers, the Indians and dusky belles, the French Canadians with their sharp bright eyes, the beautiful Indian curiosities and the old Headquarters of the Hudson Bay Co., the office where John Jacob Astor laid the foundation for his colossal fortune. The sunset gun has just been fired and the beautiful picture fades as we sail leisurely away.
Chenango Semi-Weekly Telegraph, Norwich, N.Y.
June 30, 1877