The steamers the government sent to Chicago with troops and supplies in 1832 were involved with the lake ports. The 1,300 ton steamer HENRY CLAY, began traveling between Buffalo and Detroit in 1826 as companion to the SUPERIOR. Their schedule was every fourth day from Buffalo and Detroit, leaving Buffalo at 9:00 A.M. and Detroit at 4:00 P. with stops in Dunkirk, Portland, Erie, Grand River, Cleveland and Sandusky.
The arrival of a lake steamer was an important event. The local Detroit press described the first arrival of the HENRY CLAY from Buffalo at the opening of navigation on May 8, 1926:
The first arrival from Buffalo of the present season is the new and elegant steamboat HENRY CLAY, Capt. Walter Norton. This vessel is worthy of the name of the great Western orator and statesman, and we have no doubt the enterprise and liberality of her owners will be amply remunerated. The HENRY CLAY has an engine of 60 horsepower. Her model is highly approved, and her cabins are elegantly and expensively fitted up. The well known politeness of Captain Norton, his experience and skill as a seaman together with a circumstance that considerable of her stock is owned in Detroit, will insure to the HENRY CLAY a profitable business.
Six years before the Black Hawk War, Thomas L. McKenney of the Indian Department was traveling to Fond duLac, Wisconsin, aboard the HENRY CLAY hoping to negotiate a treaty with the Chippewa Indians. He wrote from Detroit on June 16, 1826:
I arrived at this place this morning, after an agreeable passage from Buffalo of 37 hours, exclusive of the time lost in stopping at Grand River, Cleveland, Sandusky, etc., to put out and take in passengers—distance, about 330 miles. It is due to the HENRY CLAY in which I made my first lake voyage, that I should speak of her as being one of the first class. She is schooner rigged, and has a depth and beam suited to the use of sails, when these are needed, and her timbers are stout and well put together, that she may sail the shores of this inland sea, and the stormy route, for which she was built . . . the steamboats SUPERIOR and HENRY CLAY are surpassed by few, if any, either in size of beauty of model, or in the style in which they are built and finished .
Fall 1996, p. 182