The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Buffalo Whig & Journal (Buffalo, NY), 15 July 1835, page 2

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Ice in Lake Erie.--The cold season has so far yielded to the influence of summer suns as to make the very name of ice agreeable; we may, therefore, take our turn at discoursing thereon, as well as others.

None need be told that great has been the din and loud the clamour of surrounding editors, the present season, touching the ice in Lake Erie.--The "huge masses"--there were no small pieces- -have been tossed, and piled and packed, by editors and correspondents, in every possible form for mischief and tribulation--while few have stopped to inquire either the cause or the motive. Let us look, then at these, referring to the localities whence these dolings have emanated.

To begin, then, with the city of New-York.--A charter was obtained, some years since, for a Rail-Road from the Hudson river to Lake Erie, through the south counties of this state. Some of the stock was taken, in New-York, but the thing rubbed heavily, and finally came to a stand. Last winter the company applied to the legislature for a loan of two millions of dollars, to help on the work. This was very properly refused. They were told that other companies asked only charters, and furnished their own funds. They were cited to the case of the Utica & Schenectady Rail Road company, and shown that they asked no aid, but were building their Road, as they should--with their own money. This rebuke was too richly deserved to be thankfully received; and the parties straightway enlisted the press to aid them in noising about their grievances. After running the round of accusation, politically, and personally, and seeing that a law was about [to] be passed enlarging the Erie Canal, the horrible "quantity, duration and influence of the ice at Buffalo," came to be considered--and long and loud were the wailings upon these several heads. To this disappointment was added another. Buffalo merchants were beginning to vend goods, extensively, at wholesale; and to do it the cheaper, they had adopted the rule, many of them, of buying in New-York, from first hands, at cargo sales. This cut the Pearl street jobbers short of their profits--and a few of them felt, in consequence, too much like an hungry man who has missed his dinner. The ice, therefore, grew both broader and thicker, here, and it really seemed as though no clamour could dissolve it.

The occasion was a favorable one to Philadelphia. "The Erie Canal to be enlarged: Zounds! we have a rail-road and canal to Pittsburgh, and should like, well, to sell all the goods, and carry them too, which New-York now sends to the west, through the Erie Canal. But if that is enlarged, we are dished--so let us lose no time in freezing Lake Erie, at Buffalo to the bottom," a western breeze was felt, and down went the thermometer, at Buffalo. The whole thing seemed to work well, and why could not others profit by it? The good people of Utica, Oswego, Lockport, &c. conceiving the idea of a Ship Canal around Buffalo and past every farmer's door, clubbed their wits to set our teeth all chattering with still keener frosts.--Our Rochester friends no sooner caught the idea of a canal to Olean, upon the majestick Allegheny, than they discovered that the waters of Lake Erie were scarcely fluid, even in dog days; and the good people of Erie, Pa., so anxiously longed for a canal to Pittsburgh, that they managed, without much difficulty to keep Lake Erie from that point down, effectually congealed. To this all Dunkirk demurred, because, forsooth, there the said Southern Rail Road is to terminate, and therefore, the Lake will be allowed to freeze only from Buffalo to that point!

So then, at each of these different points, every enlisted champion has employed all his lucubratory powers in portraying the evils mankind are destined to suffer, if Buffalo cannot be annihilated.

Well! when all this will end, who can tell?--Buffalo is still obstinately expanding herself, on every side; the shouts of her mariners and the songs of her boatmen,

"From earliest dawn to set of sun,"

are ringing in the ears of her citizens; New-York capitalists, disregarding the sage warnings they have heard, are pouring in their thousands upon us, and investing them in our soil; and Philadelphians, though they will say nothing against clambering the mountains to Pittsburgh, are quietly paying their money and recording their titles to our city lots. The Canal Board, too in pursuance of the law of last winter, have met, & resolved to proceed with doubling the locks and enlarging the size of the Erie Canal. All this looks well, and we rejoice to see it. Let our friends, on every side of us cease croaking, and make the most of their local advantages, as we do. Let the Southern Rail Road Company build their road, if they think it worth building, from their own funds, as other companies do; and feel and act above the bad and begging policy of asking publick aid, or grumbling at its refusal. Hard feelings toward Buffalo are worse than thrown away- -they are not even retorted. As a community, we are satisfied with the natural advantages we have, and the uses we are capable of making of them; and we joy in the prosperity of all else, around.

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Column 4
Date of Original:
15 July 1835
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Richard Palmer
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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), 15 July 1835, page 2