Steamers on Lake Ontario
From an article in the Oswego Times, it appears that the first steamboat on Lake Ontario was built at Sacket's harbor in 1816, and commenced running in the Spring of 1817. She was called the Ontario, and was the first steamer built on the Western Lakes, and run from Ogdensburgh to Lewiston, making the trip in 10 days, charging $15 for cabin passage, and continued to run until the year 1831.
Her engine, says the Times, was made by Mr. J.P. Allaire, of the city of New York. Gen. Jacob Brown, Com. M.T. Woolsey, Hooker & Crane, Charles Smyth, Erie Lusher and Elisha Camp were the proprietors of the Ontario. Her construction as the first vessel propelled by steam built West of the Hudson, and the first sea vessel of the kind we believe ever built in this country, was considered an experiment and an enterprise, at the time, of the first magnitude.
She left Sacket's Harbor early in the spring of 1817 on her first trip, and reached Oswego the same day where she was received by the people with extravagant demonstrations; such as the firing of cannon and most enthusiastic greetings. Many of the people of Oswego continued their rejoicings all night and till the boat left the next day. It was a wonderful occasion, one that commanded the admiration and engrossed the attention of the people.
On the morning of the second day of her trip the Ontario left Oswego and reached Genesee River in the evening, where she remained till the next day, when she proceeded on her way up the Lake. Soon after leaving the river, she encountered a northeast blow which raised a considerable sea. Like all srteamers previously built, her shaft on which the wheels revolved was confined to the boxes by which it ran by its own weight only.
The action of the sea upon her wheels soon lifted the shaft from its bed, so that the wheel houses were instantly torn to pieces, utterly demolished by the wheels with a tremendous crash, doing considerable damage to the wheels. Upon this disaster, the steamer put about and with the aid of canvas returned to Sacket's Harbor to repair damages and secure her shaft.