Port Ontario - The Harbor - Light House - Business of the Port - the bridge, &c.;
Port Ontario does not at present seem to be in a very thriving condition. It made quite a figure, I am told, in 1836 and 1837. It was surveyed into lots, and made a respectable appearance on paper, and promised to be a place of considerable importance. There was a newspaper published here about one year - the Port Ontario Democrat - but it does not now look as if another would be commenced for some years. There is only one small store here, and this does not appear to be doing much of a wholesale business.
I now speak of Port Ontario, although the Port or Harbor is about one mile from this. To reach this, we cross a formidable bridge, 84 rods in length, and for the privilege of so doing are required to fork over a penny, as we are in Oswego. A little better bargain is to be had here, however, than at Oswego, for we pass a better bridge, of twice the length, and still the cost is precisely the same! Seriously, however, was there ever a greater nuisance than the one-penny toll on foot passengers?
The settlement at the harbor is called Selkirk. It is about as large as Port Ontario. It contains one store which is owned and managed by Mr. McChesney, the collector of the port. They have a very good Light-House, erected on the top of a building like the cupola to a church - which we could not help thinking a good idea, for it can be lighted without troubling one to go out doors, which is sometimes anything but a pleasant job on the coast of our Lake.
The Harbor is a very good one. It is entirely safe when the vessel is once in it. But some alterations and improvements a very much needed, and it is a great pity that President Polk should not have suffered the bill making an appropriation for this and other harbors to become law.
There is a handsome increase of business at this port from last year. It is expected that nearly or quite seven millions of Lumber will be shipped from this port the present season. The average price of lumber here is probably not less than $10 per M. if so, the snug little sum of $70,000 will be realized by a few towns in the eastern part of the county from the lumber trade alone. It is obtained principally from the towns of Richland, Orwell and Albion.
Another article of export is that of Butter and Cheese, 300 tons of which left this port last year - from which we presume, at a low estimate, at least $50,000 were received. - This with the amount of Barley and other grains shipped makes a very handsome commerce, and renders it necessary that the Government should be enough, at least, to make the harbor easy of access.
The land between this and Pulaski, is of the first quality. There is probably no better soil in Oswego county than in this part of Richland.