The Western Transportation Company. which was to control much of the shipping on the lake, came into being when the proprietors of the Commercial, the Transportation, and the Telegraph lines of canalboats on the Erie Canal united their interests "for the purpose of conducting a general FORWARDING AND COMMISSION BUSINESS on the Erie and Ohio canals, and on the Western Lakes." Six canal boats were started daily from Albany and Buffalo carrying freight and passengers; a daily line of steamboats maintained a schedule from Buffalo to Detroit, touching at Toledo and Perrysburg as well as other intermediate ports; a semi weekly line of steamboats left for the upper lakes. The steamboats of the Western Transportation Company were the WISCONSIN, CONSTITUTION, ANTHONY WAYNE, COMMODORE 0.H. PERRY, COLUMBUS, VERMILLION, RHODE ISLAND, and others. The RHODE ISLAND, a ship of two hundred tons and the smallest in the fleet, put in at Lower Sandusky and Monroe to deliver and receive passengers and freight.
Two of these boats operated by the Western Transportation Company are deserving of special interest in the study of the Maumee region, for they were built at Perrysburg and were commanded by men who played vital roles in the history of transportation on the Maumee River. The COMMODORE PERRY, a steamboat of 350 tons burden, had been constructed in the Perrysburg yards in 1835, and was under the command of Captain David Wilkison.
David Wilkison, Master of the Western Transportation Company's COMMODORE PERRY, spent thirty seven years on the lake, during which time he never lost a vessel or steamer, nor did he meet with any serious accident. His success as a captain "was owing to his superior judgment, his coolness under the most trying circumstances, and his perfect knowledge of the lake." But even in 1838, when the company announced that the PERRY would be under Captain Wilkison, his reputation was such that "as a Commander . . . [he needed] no eulogy."
Second only to Wilkison in the reputation he enjoyed as a captain on the Maumee and Lake Erie, was Amos Pratt, Master of the ANTHONY WAYNE. The WAYNE 350 tons burden, like the Perry, had been built in the Perrysburg yards, and had entered into the service between Buffalo and the Maumee. The Western Transportation Company advertized the ship as "new and well built, with twenty state rooms, and a gentlemen's cabin with fifty two berths; also a ladies' steerage cabin with twenty four berths . . . [making] her accommodations equal to any boat on the lake." THE COMMODORE PERRY and the ANTHONY WAYNE ran alternately, always leaving Perrysburg and Toledo "on the arrival of the cars from Adrian." These two craft, together with the four other steamboats in the service, formed a six da, line between the Maumee and Buffalo."
The boat connection with Buffalo made rapid travel possible between the Maumee and the east. In 1839 passengers went from Toledo to New York in three days and fifteen hours, as follows:.
Toledo to Buffalo (steamboat) 39 hours
Buffalo to Rochester (stage and railroad) 9 hours
Rochester to Auburn (stage) 8 hours
Auburn to Albany (railroad) 12 hours
Albany to New York (steamboat) 10 hours
Delays between Buffalo and New York 9 hours
Total 87 hours
(from article entitled "Navigation at the foot of the Maumee Rapids, 1815 - 1845 by Maurer Maurer, published in Morthwest Ohio Quarterly, July 1943, pp. 158-173)