The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Black Rock Advocate (Buffalo, NY), 27 Jan. 1837, page 3

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COMMERCE OF LAKE ERIE.--It appears from a well authenticated statement, published in the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser a few days since, that there are now on Lake Erie, 2 ships, 1 barque, 7 brigs, 148 schooners, 58 sloops, and 47 steamboats, amounting in all to 263 vessels. Of these, the tonage [sic] is owned at the several ports on the Lake, as follows.

Buffalo,8541 09
Detroit,6703 73
Cleveland,4518 33
Sandusky,1792 75
Presque Isle,1562 29
Miami,927 57
Total,24,045 76

To these may be added the steamboats and vessels now building on the waters of Lake Erie, which will swell the number to about three hundred. Of the vessels now on the stocks, and to be finished in readiness for the lake, the ensuing season, fifteen are steamboats of the largest class, and will probably compare to advantage with those of any waters in America.

In this statement, the vessels on the other Lakes, many of which trade to Buffalo and Black Rock, are not included. The tonnage on the Lake increases in a ratio of nearly fifty per cent. per annum. For some years past it has been much greater, and from the accelerated growth of the great region west of us, we may anticipate a growth of the trading and shipping interest on the Lake, hitherto unparalleled. But ten years ago, and only five moderate sized steamboats floated on our waters, and these five did hardly a living business; now, all those in service are in full employ during the navigating season, and at no former period have their profits been so great as during the past year. But ten years since, fifty or sixty small sail vessels plied on the Lakes and engrossed all the carrying trade. Within the next ten years, we predict, one thousand steamboats and sail boats, of an average tonnage equal to those now employed, will whiten Lake Erie and crowd our ports, adding millions to our commercial wealth, and thousands on thousands to our population.

The rapid increase of our commerce is rendered equally apparent by the recently published statement of the Canal Collector, exhibiting the amount of property which passed the port of Buffalo, on the canal, within the last year. Merchandize amounting to 63,011,335 pounds, and furniture amounting to 9,871,777 pounds, passed Buffalo through this channel, during the last season; being an increase of merchandize, over the preceding year, of 26,090,275 pounds, or about 70 per cent. and an increase of furniture over the same year of 523,388 pounds.

The canal tolls received at the same port, amounted, in 1835, to $106,213.58; in 1836, to 158,074.99, being an increase in a single year of about fifty per cent. The great majority of this property is destined to the country west of us; and when the hundreds of thousands who are flocking to that fertile region, shall devolope [sic]its infinite resources, and draw from the east supplies for their wants, the amount of which will increase with their ability to procure them, computation will almost fail to estimate the ... [ink blot] that will be transmitted back and forth over our canals and lakes.

Already in our mind's eye we can see the enlarged canal; its capatious [sic] yet buoyant craft, loaded down with freight, arriving at our harbor and departing from it, as well as passing and repassing continually through it; our warehouses choked with merchandize, receiving and discharging their storage; our steamboats and shipping, groaning under their enormous cargoes, and literally alive with travellers and emigrants, arriving and departing; and our mills, taking in their millions of wheat from the far off west, and lading into canal boats their rich products of flour for the Atlantic ports. What a glorious prospect is before us! New-York, by a bold, steady and onward career in fostering the trade and enlarging the capacity of the Erie canal, will secure to herself the commerce of the whole western world beyond us: and, by persevering in acts of noble policy, raise herself to a pitch of greatness that may well excite the envy of a world. In this policy she should not slacken or abate one tittle. Vigorous and prompt action is demanded, and the prize is all her own. The whole West is alive to the importance of enlarging the Erie canal, and if her counsels prevail, the speedy completion of this grand enterprise is no longer doubtful.

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Column 2
Date of Original:
27 Jan. 1837
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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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Black Rock Advocate (Buffalo, NY), 27 Jan. 1837, page 3