The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Buffalo Whig & Journal (Buffalo, NY), 1 July 1835, page 2

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To the Editor of the Buffalo Whig:

Since my arrival in your city, I have heard a great deal said about the business and the travel of the West, and the Mississippi Valley. Many wonder at the falling off of the travel by way of the Lakes. To me, from my location, the subject appears familiar, and the causes that have produced the change are plain. It is scarce ten years since a communication across the country, either for travel or business, was rendered at all pleasant or practicable. Your forwarders and steam-boat owners must well understand the difficulties that have attended the transaction of business with the valley. And it was owing to the enterprise of two or three individuals, (among whom was Col. Mack, now Collector of the revenue at Detroit, then residing in Cincinnati,) that a line of communication was opened about the year 1826, communication was opened about the year 1826, terminating on the Lake at Sandusky, a town beautifully situated on the Bay of that name.--There was novelty attending this route. It lay through the finest portion of Ohio; and besides it took passengers by an easy mode of conveyance, to the falls of Niagara, and so on wherever business or pleasure should lead. Soon after this, the Ohio canal drew the business of the south to Cleveland. This robbed Sandusky of half its consequence, and as was very natural, an attempt was made to draw the travel after the business. This, from various causes, has entirely failed.-- The travel across the country has been lessened, but it can never be drawn from its first and favourite direction. The reasons are obvious, and I will state one or two of them:--1st, the distance is shorter from Cincinnati to the Lake on this rout, than by any other one now travelled. Especially does it possess great advantages over the route to Cleveland, to which point it has been Cleveland, to which point it has been attempted to direct the travel. 2d, the roads are much better, I might say, infinitely better. The Sandusky and Columbus Turnpike, connecting (as its name would imply) the Lake country with the Capitol of the state, is 105 miles in length, on nearly a straight line, and, I may add, is one of the finest mud roads I ever passed over, especially in summer. I am thus particular for the benefit of my travelling friends, for I was not myself fully aware of the excellence of the route until recently not having of late years passed over it, in consequence of the derangement of the stage lines and steamboats.

I formerly had some connexion with the Lake country in business, before the completion of the Ohio canal. The most favourable point of contact was then at Sandusky. Since the completion of the canal, my business has been decreasing this way owing to the gradual opening of new channels through the state of Pennsylvania. My recent trip over land to the Lake at Sandusky, has called to mind former projects, and has given rise to much reflection, on the importance of the more recent project of connecting the Lake with the Mississippi Valley by means of the Mad River and Lake Erie Rail Road. I am told this work will be commenced, and I mention the subject to add my testimony to the great value of this improvement, and to hope that it will not be neglected in the multitude of such projects before the publick: Especially is the state of New-York interested in this work.

I have already written more than I intended. But you will pardon me, Mr. Editor, whilst I pay a merited compliment to the enterprise of the citizens of Sandusky, in their recent improvements. Nothing can be more acceptable to a traveller, however, than the splendid accommodations furnished by their new steam boat, which I was glad to see bore the name of their town, Sandusky. I took my passage down the Lake in her, and I may truly say she bore me "proudly o'er the water." There was a heavy head wind and I had no opportunity of timing her; but there was no resisting the conviction that she is an excellent sea boat. One of our river boats could not have lived one hour in such weather. Since my arrival in town, I have been assured that, in addition to her other excelent [sic] qualities, she is one of the fastest (if not the very fastest) boats on the Lake. She has a large and splendid low pressure engine, which, to a river man where passing is all the fashion, seemed a little strange. With such boat accommodations, and the excellent stage line between Sandusky and Columbus, and thence to Cincinnati, the travelling publick will have but little to complain of on this old and favourite route. Let me hope, Mr. Editor, as I have attempted to account for the falling off of the travel from the Valley, that you will send one or two of your papers to Cincinnati and other places, believing that my exposure will have some tendency in remedying the evils complained of.

Yours &c.

A MERCHANT, of Cincinnati.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Column 3-4
Date of Original:
1 July 1835
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Language of Item:
Richard Palmer
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Buffalo Whig & Journal (Buffalo, NY), 1 July 1835, page 2