The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Post and Tribune (Detroit, MI), July 11, 1883

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"Talk about yer fast time on river steamers! Guess you Evansville critters don't begin to know what running means, churning along with yer stenwheelers, like a fleet o' lopsided washing machines with the flappers a runnin' out behind."

"You have faster steamers where you come from, I presume."

"Faster! Well, I should smile. Faster, why one of our river boats 'ud run all day long round them tubs and take it so easy as the passengers 'ud 'gin talkin' of lynchin' the captain fur crawlin.' Not as I mean to say even our clippers could make their time in these waters."

"Why not? Do you mean on account of the stream?"

"Stream! Not much! But our rivers is filled chuck full o' water clear as the sparkling diamonds of Peru, not pea-soup stuff like this. 'Taint water, its only liquid. I often wonder how a fish can wade through sich slush. And it stands by consequence as a ship can't make the same headway agin sich a puddle as is so thick yer can almost take the waves up in a pitchfork and pile 'em on a heap."

"Where may you come from, stranger?"

"From Michigan. Did you ever hear of the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, the river St. Clair and Lake Huron?"

"Why, yes. Beautiful waters, those!"

"Beautiful! Yer may say so! An' as good as they look. Seventy feet deep all year round, steady stream in the middle and slack at the sides, more nor a mile wide in the nearest points and don't never run over in them in big floods as splashes over this country, so as Noah's little dampness wasn't a circumstance to them."

"But how about your river steamers? Are they very fast?"

"Yer may say so. We've a side-wheel steamer called the Idlewild as will knock the spots off anything you ever heer'd on. She goes so fast es the guv'ment was obliged to pass a law fur her to run on check within five miles o' the 'canal' fur fear her wash 'ud sweep the whole consarn out inter the lake an' lose it."


"Yes, indeed. And we've a little narrer boat called the Mary, es just goes along like a streak. D'ye know what happened the other day? I was down at Lampton, a little one-hoss village on the Canady shore, a layin' in my summer stock o' . . . well, say tea, when thet Mary passed down the river. Go! Gracious Joseph! She flew!"


"Well, when she'd passed about seven minits we seed somethin' a flickerin' and a flutterin' on top o' the water, and what d'ye think it war?

"How should I know?"

"Well, I wouldn't a believed it, on'y Jem Hathaway passed clean over it with his skiff."

"What was it?"

"It were the shader o' thet boat a humpin' along fer to catch up. Never saw anythin' so curious in all yer life."

"Must have been. Have another glass?"

"Well, yes, since you are so kind. But no water, thank ye. Water's a fust rate element for transportation an' washin' an' tea and sich, but my stomick's kind o' too weak to take it neat an' needs somethin' a little more meaty." - [Evansville (Ind.) Argus.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Evansville is on the Ohio River near the extreme southern point of Indiana.
Date of Original:
July 11, 1883
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
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 Post and Tribune (Detroit, MI), July 11, 1883