The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Cortland Democrat (Cortland, NY), July 5, 1901

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Cortland at One Time a Port of Entry for River Craft

Standing today on the handsome iron bridge which spans the Tioughnioga river at Port Watson Street, one can hardly believe that only a trifle more than three quarters of a century ago this truly magnificent stream was utilized by shippers to convey articles of commerce from this place and points above to the Washington and Baltimore markets, and while it would seem strange at this day to see loaded boats sailing down the river, yet there was once a time when this was done.

Perhaps many Democrat readers fail to appreciate the beauty and liveliness of the Tioughnioga valley. Descending as it does from an elevated point into the valley, one beholds a luxuriance of unrivaled richness that is equaled in but few parts of the country. Back in the early days the Tioughnioga river was much larger than at present, and its proportions made it possible to convey quite heavily laden boats down stream. That quite an extensive business was carried on is shown by the following quotation of departures taken from the Cortland Democrat of date Aug. 2, 1855:
Inland Navigation - Port Watson - Highwater, Monday, 6th inst. Cleared:
Bark Exporter, G. Rice, master, for Harrisburg.
Bark Dutch Trader, Shapley, gypsum.
Bark Navigator, Parsons, gypsum, for Columbia.
Bark Gold Hunter, Sherwood, gypsum, for Columbia.
Bark Indian Chief, Billings, gypsum, for Columbia.
Bark Resolution, May, gypsum, for Marietta.
Bark Perseverance, gypsum, Marietta.
Bark Phoenix, gypsum, Marietta.
Bark Enterprise, gypsum, Marietta.
Bark Lazy Tour, gypsum, Marietta.
Bark Sour Kraut, gypsum, Marietta.
Bark Yankee Rogue, gypsum, Marietta.

Besides gypsum, great quantities of whiskey, grain, potatoes and other produce of this then wild country were sent down the river to Harrisburg and Baltimore. But the glory of the Tioughnioga has departed; the ship yard at Port Watson is gone to decay; the earth where those jolly barks were built is now under the supervision of the gardener. The raftsman's song has given way to the steam whistle, and the products are now taken to other markets at a greater speed than the river barge formerly traveled.

Many an old "cap" has smoked his last pipe while his descendants hover around the fire winter evenings and recount the hair breadth escapes caused by overladen boats going over dams and other daily adventures incident to the life of the Tioughnioga river in those early days.

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July 5, 1901
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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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Cortland Democrat (Cortland, NY), July 5, 1901