The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Gazette (Detroit, MI), 30 Oct. 1828, page 2

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...The St. Joseph falls into Lake Michigan in the latitude of about forty-two degrees and a half. It affords two hundred miles or more of river navigation, having abundance of water in the driest seasons. The craft now used are batteaux or Mackinac boats and pirogues. There are many rapids, and the transportation of goods is expensive and slow, though not dangerous. The average price of boating has been one dollar per barrel from the Lake to the landing opposite Cary Mission, fifty-five miles. The batteaux carry about thirty barrels. Next year Durham boats will be built, and the cost of carrying reduced at least one half.

The mouth of the river forms a good harbor, and the largest vessels on the lakes can enter with safety when the wind is not very high.--Capt. Black with the Napoleon came in, in July last, without any difficulty, though the river was much lower than usual. It is the only good harbor that I have heard of on Lake Michigan south of Green Bay.

This river must receive the surplus produce of the richest grain country in America; that bordering on the boundary line between this territory and Indiana. Vessels are enabled to leave the St. Joseph two or three weeks earlier than they can get through the straits of St. Clair, in the spring. consequently the upper country will be supplied with provisions &c. through Lake Michigan at that season of the year when such property brings the highest price in the north-west.


...The land as you proceed from the mouth of the St. Joseph, is low and marshy for two or three miles. There is now a rude log store-house by the side of the eminence where the town will be built, where the lake vessels leave the property destined for the settlement above. On the other side of the river, and between it and the lake, the land rises in mounds of sand thrown up by the wind, and hardly exhibits any sign of vegetation. It will not answer the purposes of a town, and will long remain a waste, except such parts of it as may be used for lumber-yards, ship-yards, &c....

I left the landing opposite to Carey mission in a small canoe, at five minutes before 8 A.M. and arrived at the mouth of the river at 10 minutes before 6 P.M. The distance according to the French voyageurs, is 13 leagues, and their computation is usually very correct. So I must have travelled at the rate of something more than 5 miles an hour, with little assistance from the paddles. The current of the river is quite rapid, and we passed down with such velocity, that I had scarcely time to notice the objects on its banks. The channel is very crooked, scarcely more than half a mile of the stream being at any time in view.

The distance from the mission to the lake by land is about 25 miles, on the Indian, or south-western side; a good road might be made with little expense.

In the morning we left Burnett's, (the only house then at the mouth of the river,) in a Mackinac barge, which is a much more pleasant mode of travelling than a canoe, though less expeditious. The wind blowing strongly up the river, we rigged a square sail, which carried us up the stream at the rate of four miles an hour. For ten miles from the mouth, the current is less rapid than above, the land is lower, and the channel comparatively straighter; for this distance therefore, a boat may avail itself of a favorable wind, whilst above, the boatmen have to depend entirely upon their oars and poles....

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Date of Original:
30 Oct. 1828
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Dave Swayze
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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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Detroit Gazette (Detroit, MI), 30 Oct. 1828, page 2