The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Oct. 5, 1859

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"A Commercial Suggestion" - Honor To Whom Honor is Due. - The plan of opening a direct connection with Europe, and, we may add, the West Indies, from the Port of Oswego, by means of vessels carrying 800 to 1,000 tons, fitted to pass the St. Lawrence locks, is worthy of the consideration of our merchants; and we think that if the subject is fairly stated, they could get Eastern capital to carry it out, as the investment would certainly be a profitable one.

The reasons are obvious. In the first place, we believe that Oswego is now, or can be made, the best and cheapest lumber market, embracing every variety that can be found on our continent, in proximity to our lakes. This trade alone, in its choice varieties, and for ship-building, to be collected in deck loads by our wheat vessels, from Cleveland, Detroit, &c., would employ a large tonnage in the Liverpool trade.

Second, the superiority of our mills, when it is their interest, as it will be, to establish a reputation in the English market, for a first-rate class of flour, would no doubt cause a steady demand, as we could select, for this object, from the best samples of wheat grown in Canada and the West. The saving of tolls, by lake and River navigation instead of by Canals and Railways, is a consideration that will claim attention, as it is now admitted by the State Auditor, and even by Buffalo that the Oswego route from the lakes to the sea-board is the cheapest.

With a reputation for good butter and cheese, which we are in a fair way for establishing, arising from the natural adaptation of this county and those adjoining us to produce these articles; also with first class port and beef, vegetables, &c. we could make up assorted cargoes for the West Indies, and effect a saving in the freight of sugar, coffee, molasses, &c., to distribute to the West by our wheat vessels, carried as ballast, as low as $1 or $1 1/2 per ton.

But I intended to give credit to our practical and enterprising citizen and ship-builder, Mr. Sylvester Doolittle, who introduced the first propeller on the Lake - and from the Port of Oswego, too - and who pointed out to the writer the advantages of a direct trade from this Port to Liverpool, by the means of vessels carrying 800 or 1,000 tons, instead of those of half the size that pass the Welland Canal. The first and self-evident advantage mentioned - that it would take only two seamen in addition to the crew that navigates the smaller vessels, of 500 tons - cannot be denied.

Again, the difficulty formerly existing in navigating the St. Lawrence, from fogs, in passing from or entering its mouth, is now removed, or may be, by the employment of steam or steam tugs. As "time is money," proved by the valuable merchandise and tonnage gradually leaving the Canals for the Railways the sooner to reach the sea-board and foreign market, and as we can save three or four or even five days in time to Liverpool, besides at least the expense of freight between here and New York, the suggestion of Mr. Doolittle is worthy of experiment. Who will lead in the matter?


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Oct. 5, 1859
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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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Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Oct. 5, 1859