The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego County Whig (Oswego, NY), Wed., June 19, 1844

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To the Editor of the Oswego County Whig:

Sir: - Inasmuch as the people living on the banks of the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario take a deep and abiding interest in the noble steamers that travel those waters, it may not be uninteresting to them to see in your columns, an account of a trial of speed between two of the fastest boats between Montreal and the head of the Great Lakes.

On Thursday morning I had occasion to take passage on board the steamer Lady of the Lake, from Ogdensburgh to Rochester, and on going on board I learned from a fellow passenger that the steamer Highlander was also "upward bound," and that we should probably fall with in with her on the passage. Being somewhat a love of such sports, I watched the progress of affairs and the result was as follows:

As the Lady was leaving Ogdensburgh with 50 casks of potash and other freight on board, the Highlander, in ballast trim, left Prescott with a barge in tow, which she held on to until the Lady was overtaken and passed her, by something more than her length. - The Highlander then cast off her tow and made chase. Now commenced the contest of fleet feet. The two boats started at the top of their speed at the same instant, the Highlander falling exactly into the wake of her leader, and thus each kept her distance for some ten or fifteen minutes, when the Highlander drew ahead, bringing her bows in line with the stern of her opponent, on the inside, both boats being close upon the Canada shore. This position they maintained for a brief time, when the Highlander, finding herself in too shoal water, dropped astern and took the inside.

The excitement on both sides now became intense, and it was indeed a stirring sight - to behold those two "things of life" pressing on amid the foam that surrounded them, and seeming to strain every nerve for one foot's advantage - finally, the Highlander, by a vigorous movement, ranged along side, but the effort was exhausting, and before her friends had time to give one cheer for victory, she had begun to fall astern and close with her companion.

The boats immediately fell along side and their fenders locked together, the Highlander having fallen astern some ten or twenty feet in the mean time. in this way, like twin sisters locked together, they proceeded on to Brockville, first one towing, then the other. They finally parted by mutual consent and each took her way.

It was a fair neck and neck contest, and taken all in all, the most exciting beautiful race it has ever been my lot to witness.


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Wed., June 19, 1844
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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 County Whig (Oswego, NY), Wed., June 19, 1844