The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
On Board Steamer "Baltic"
Buffalo Courier (Buffalo, NY), 14 Jul 1847, p. 2

Full Text
Editorial Correspondence of the Courier
On Board Seamer "Baltic"
Lake Michigan July 8 and 9

We left Chicago about 10 o'clock, on the 8th, freighted wih as many humans as could well be mowed away at night in state rooms, upon tables, sofas, settees and other fixins. The great body of the delegates had departed the evening previous, for the east, and the west, and the north and the south. The St. Louis carried up a full load to the "Soo" including many Buffalonians. We saw Clinton safe aboard with his rod and line, and have an opinion that the trout will suffer some on account thereof.

The first place we made was Southport. The view of the village from the Lake is not pleasing, but after getting into it, it presents a fine, go-ahead, business aspect. Its piers are very commodious. It contains, we should judge, not far from 2000 inhabitants. Next in order, is Racine. It is situated upon a high bank, and it shows to much advantage from the water. It is the county seat, and a place of much business, containing about the same number of inhabitants as Southport. These towns are growing rapidly, and much business is done at them. The harbors at both have been mainly constructed through the energy and enterprise of the citizens.

About 7 P.M. we arrived at Milwaukie. This is our first visit, since the city was here, and we availed ourselves, as did nearly all the passengers, of the two hours leave of absence from the boat, and took a "hasty" drive through the city. We found it one of the best locations west of Cleveland. There are lowlands along the river, but the hill sweeps around in nearly a semi-circle, thus giving it a commanding and beautiful appearance from the Lake. The river, after crossing the bar, is wide and deep, affording most excellent harbor accommodations. Water-street, which is the principal business street, looks like the avenue of some old town, with its substantial brick buildings towering three and four stories high. Its buildings generally are better than than [sic] those of Chicago. We noticed some elegant stores resembling more those of Buffalo than any we have seen in the western country. The population of Milwaukie is estimated at 14,000, which, for a city whose first settlement dates no farther back than 1835, shows what can be and is done in the west.

In addition to its commercial facilities, Milwaukie possesses great hydraulic power, and manufactures of all kinds may be carried on here to an almost indefinite extent. There is a magnificent dam across the river above the city, and the entire water of the river is brought in a canal a mile and a half in length, and may be converted to the propulsion of machinery. An immense flouring mill is now nearly completed, four stories high, and driving five runs of stone. The erection of others will doubtless soon follow. Milwaukie contains within itself all the elements of a substantial and permanent prosperity. In addition to its business facilities, its beauty of position offers great inducements to the lovers of the picturesque as a place of residence. The elevations south of the rivers which are now covered with natural groves, look inviting, and will form the future suburbs of the city, which is expanding and growing on every side.

With proper aid from the Government, the harbor at Milwaukie can easily be made one of the best on the Western Lakes. The river, when the bar is once overcome, is of sufficient depth to float our largest steamers; and manufactories, whether flouring mills, or those of any other description, on the canal, may be approached by them. We noticed two large craft on the stocks, and a floating dock, for taking up vessels for repairing. It was erected by Captain Hubbell, and being the only one in this region, is a very important aid to the commerce of the Upper Lakes. The river has been dredged, and vessels drawing nine feet can enter with perfect case.

We were well pleased with Milwaukie, and but record the general sentiment, when we say, that it is universaslly pronounced to be one of the most beautiful places in all the West -- active in its business--its people full of enterprise -- its prospect for the future good -- and its course on ward in the road to prosperity.

The people lhere, also, are up with the intelligence of the age, and have adopted a system of free education. They are but poorly supplied with school houses, but efforts are making to have those constructed which will do honor to the city, and to the cause to which they are dedicated.

At Milwaukie we took on board the repaired machinery of the steamer Patchin, which broke her piston head, near the Beaver Island, and has since been lying at the South Manitou.

At Racine, a man, deranged, on his way to the Lunatic Asylum, at Utica, was put on board. his case, as it was told us, is a sad one. He is an Englishman, and arrived at Buffalo, on his way to Wisconsin, where he fell in with a gang of sharpers, and was drugged and robbed of $1000 in gold. Since then, he has been totally deranged. His wife coming on soon afterwards, found him in Buffalo; but, thinking his derangement only temporary, brought him to some relatives at Racine. But after remaining there three weks, and finding that he grew worse instead of better, she resolved to remove him to the Lunatic Asylum at Utica, and is now on the way thither. It was a sad spectable [sic], to see a man, strong and vigorous, thus crushed and desolate, and a devoted wife clinging to him under the dread affliction, until she was almost ready to sink from the exertion. A subscription was opened on board, and about $200 obtained--the proprietor of the Baltic having given a free passage to both.

Crossing Lake Michigan on the 9th, we passed in view of the Sand hills, on the northern coast of the Peninsula. They rise from the Lake to the heighth [sic] of from 100 to 200 feet, and the sun shining full upon them, they appeared beautiful, while above they were skirted with a fringe of evergreen, from the pines which abound in this region. The "Sleeping Bear" is one of the most prominent points on the coast, and is seen from a long distance.

About 5 P.M. we made the South Manitou, under the lee of which we found the Patchin, where she had been lying about a week. We stopped at the Island about two hours, and the passengers went forth to explore and make discoveries. The vegetable productions are not numerous. We found a few wild dwarf roses, and two or three other descriptions of flowers and cedar and bay trees. In the interior, to which there is a rail road, of the primitive kind, there is other timber, which is brought to the dock for steamboat wood. The cars arrived while we were there, but brought no mail or passengers, and as we find no time to extend our explorations, we got no information from the interior! There are a few residents upon this island, engaged in converting government trees into steamboat wood.

At 4 o'clock on the morning of the 10th (Saturday) we made Mackinaw, and staying here some four or five hours, we had time to examine the Island throughout. The St. Louis came in while we were here, bound for the "Soo," having failed to make Green Bay, from mistaking the course. She stays over the day, and the ladies on board are to have a pic nic on the Island, and the gentlemen who are piscatorially inclined, are going upon a fishing excursion to Carp River.

Mackinaw is a romantic spot. Upon its highest elevation, which is about 300 feet above the waters, are the ruins of an old fort. This is nearly a conical centre of the Island, approached on all sides by rather an abrubt [sic] elevation. some 25 feet below the highest point, on the northern slope, is a plaza, which was undoubtedly the parade ground of the fort, as the trees and shrubbery have been removed. Crossing a deep valley to the east, a wild and beautiful spot, we come to the "Sugar Loaf," a pointed elevation of rock, about 400 feet in circumference at the base, and of a conical form, and, as near as we could judge, it was 100 feet above the level of the valley, but situated a small distance up the eastern acclivity. It is rather loosely thrown together, and in the eastern side are cavernous looking apertures, into which we entered a very short distance. The rock bears the appearance of a volcanic formation, and lifts its head far above the surrounding objects -- the offspring of some convulsion in nature, which may have shaken the continent, and caused mountains to disappear, where are now the mighty lakes of the west. The whole region in this vicinity favors such an idea, but this is one of those things upon which we may speculate, and call into being beautiful theories, only to guilde the imagination into a more vivid contemplation of the mighty works of God, as shown every where on the North American continent, and especially along the great chain of lakes, from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the far-off waters of Lake Superior. Every where there are wonders, which call into action all our perceptions of the sublime and beautiful. the "Arched Rock" is another of nature's freaks, which no one who visits Machinaw [sic], with time to spare, should fail to see.

There is one thing which the voyager does not fail to remark in these Upper Lakes. That is, the uncommon transparency of the waters. We saw small pebbles plainly upon the bottom, at 25 and 30 feet, the water scarcely interposing a barrier to the vision.

We are off into Lake Huron, and my sketches close. B.

Way-Notes -- Chicago
Number XII
On Board Seamer "Baltic"
Lake Michigan, July 8

Accustomed to see the daily rush of emigration which passes through Buffalo, towards the west, it might be supposed that we were prepared to fully appreciate the population and resources of the region to which so many people are annually flocking. But it is not so. The west, like the great lakes, needs to be seen to be known. There is one general expression of gratified disappointment on the part of those who now for the first time have made this tour, and beheld things as they exist. And when we reflect that all the west is so young--that the second child born in Cincinnati yet lives, and has not arrived at middle age, while the city of his birth contains 80,000 inhabitants, that the old pioneer who first broke the wilderness, where Cincinnati now stands, is among the living--that the first white child born west of the Allegany mountains scarcely numbers four score years, well may we be lost in astonishment at the rapidity of the growth of the western world -- at the spectacle of a vast empie, peopled with millions, which have sprung up within the lifetime of a single generation.

Familiar as we have been with Chicago -- accustomed to a daily intercourse of steamboats and newspapers, for years, we were not prepared to find a city of such extent, of so great a population, of so much business, and containing within itself the elements of so much progress and prosperity, as we found in this giant of the northwest. But a few years since, and we remember its site as the scene of an Indian war. Chicago may date its existence as a place of any importance, form about 1832. From that time to the present its progress has been onward, though much impeded, like nearly every place in the country, by the revulsion which followed the speculations of 1835 and 1836.

Chicago is located at the mouth of a river of the same name, which is much larger, and affords a far better harbor, than we had imagined. It is about the width of Buffalo creek, where it runs through the city, and from 15 to 30 feet in depth. About half a mile from the lake it separates into the north and south branches, the latter of which is navigable for ships drawing ten feet water, for five miles -- thus affording a harbor, if necessary, for that distance. We learned, in conversation with Col. Oakley, one of the Canal Commissioners of the state, that the Michigan and Illinois canal would be completed the coming fall -- thus connecting the lakes with the Mississippi river, and affording a continuous water communication fromt eh Atlantic, at New York, to the Gulf of Mexico. The canal is to enter the river about three miles from the city. A lot of ground has been reserved at the point of junction and below the north branch, which is to be excavated for a canal basin. The citizens of Chicago anticipate, and well they may, a large addition to to their business on the opening of this canal, and are to have a grand celebration on the occasion -- such an one as we New Yorkers had when the waters of the ocean were united to those of Lake Erie by the Erie canal. The opening of this canal will not only be a new era in the business of Chicago, but will greatly add to the commerce of the lakes, as it passes through one of the most productive regions in all the west.

Chicago is situated upon a low prairie, of some twelve miles in extent. The site of the city is three and a half miles north and south, on the lakes, and two and a half east and west. It is regularly laid out, and the streets are wide and straight, running north and south, and east and west. ... kThe population of Chicago at the present time is estimated at 17,000, and from the extent of the city, and the number of its buildings, we should think the estimate not too high.

...The buildings of Chicago are generally of wood, and are those hurried structures which are first put up in all new cities. But recently many elegant brick erections have been made, of a substantial character, both for stores and dwellings.--There are a large number of warehouses on the dock, some of which are of immense dimensions. We noticed some new ones, more capacious, we think, than any we have in Buffalo. In public buildings Chicago is deficient. The Court House is one of the original buildings, of wood, and very small for so large a city. We understand that a new one is to be erected, as soon as the canal is opened, so that stone may be obtained from Lockport, where there inexhaustible quantities, of an excellent kind for building. ...

Thus much, from my hasty impressions of Chicago. That it is destined to be a large city -- a city of immense commerce, a glance at its position will satisfy any one. Its course is onward, as the resources of the mighty West are developed by an increased population, and by the bringing more of its fertile soil under cultivation. B.

Lake Intelligence

Wednesday, July 14

We are indebted to Mr. Sanford, of the seamer Baltic for the following memoranda:

Left Chicago July 8. In port Str. Michigan, Nile, pro G. Chief, brigs Banner, Walbridge, sch. Connoly, Marengo; pro J. Wood 3 miles below Chicago, bd up; a topsail sch off Southport, down; pro hercules, ste Madison at Racine, up; brigs Giddings, Wabash do down; 2 schrs 3 m above Milw., up; 9th 2 schrs off Washington, up; ste Niagara 4 miles above Sheboygan, up; a schr above, down; a sch 60 m below Manitou, down; ste A. D. Patchin a Manitou, up to leave Friday evening; ste Saratoga off Big Beaver, up; 10th 2 shcs off light-ship, up; a sch and 2 brigs off old mackinaw, down; ste St. Louis at Mackinaw, for the Sault; ste Hudson 20 m above Manitou, up; barbue [sic] Utica off 4 m pt, down; sch O Bound 10 m above Presque Isle; a sch 10 m below Thunder Bay isle, down; 2 brigs in Saginaw Bay up; pro E Cathcar, sch Raliegh in Saginaw Bay, down; a pro, do, up; a birg down; 11th, a sch off Pt au Bak, down; ste illinois, do, up; 3 schs 40 miles above Ft Gratiot, bd down; sch Nile, up T. Lemon, Amsberg St Clair river, up; Saltillo at Algonac, repairing; brig Toledo, B. Queen in St. Clair river, up; sch Excelsior St. Clair Flats, down; schs M. Hilliad, M dousman, ste Superior, up; sch Petrel, L Huron, up; sch Rough-and-REady, do. up; Ellen, Belle isle, up; L. Cass, Detroit, up.

On Baord the Seamer Baltic, Capt. Kingman,
On Lake Erie, July 12th, 1847

The undersigned, delegates to the Chicago Convention and others, deem it only just to the owners of this elegant steamer, (Messrs. Kingman & Tillotson,) to her attentive Commander, and to the careful and diligent Steward, Mr. Wormley, to express their admiration of this fine boat, and their entire satisfaction alike with the good management of the officers and crew, and with the good management of the officers and crew, and with the sumptuous, abundant and tasteful arrangements for the table, &c. They are authorized also to experss the entire concurrence of the Ladies on board -- some fifty in number -- in this commendation of the boat, its arrangements and its fare.
Jno. R. Peters, New York,
John A. Rockwell, Conn.
W. T. Eustis, Boston.
D. O. Kellogg, Troy
John H. Brockway, Ellington, Ct.
Artimas Lee, Mass
N. K. Hall, Buffalo
R. J. Van Dewater, New York
Edward G. Faite, do.
Dr. H. Carver, Rochester
Dr. A. B. Elliott, Lansingburg.
Chas. King, New Jersey.
E. Corning, Albany.
Daw Gardiner, Troy.
E. G. Spaulding, Buffalo
Littleton Kirkpatrick, New Jersey
Ezra Reed, Virginia.
D. R. Bacon, N. Y.
Lemuel C. Paine, Albion, N.Y.
C. Clark, Mich.
Sam'l A. Brown, Jamestown, N.Y.
Alex. Seward, Utica
Geo. G. Smith, Boston
James Brooks, New York.
Jas. O Brayman, Buffalo
R. P. Millikin, New York,
D. G. Marcy, Buffalo
C. C. Bristol, do.
Saml. Bissell, ___
Grand Smith, Albany.
J. C. Griswold, Syracuse
N. G. Crane, New York.
J. M. Kemp, do.
A. Watrous, Troy
Amos G. Tryon, Lewiston, N.Y.
C. Thayer, Michigan.
C. E. Peck, Chicago.
Wm. White, Albany.
Isaac Bixley, Le Roy, N. Y.
G. B. Rathbun,
Jonathan Skinner, Connecticut.
J. H. Foster.
John Evans, Troy.
Humphrey T. Lawton, Chicago
T. Severn,
E. Wood Murray
A. S. Kellogg, Detroit
B. Vernor, do.
Andrew White, Albany
Orlando McCumber, Rochester.
Luther Wilson, Niagara
B. J. Sickles, Albion,
F. Doty, do.
J. M. Cornell, do.
Zach. Bell, Bridgeport, O.
Darius R. Cole, Cayuga Co.
Noble Daniels, Stafford, N.Y.
Saml. Fursman, Buffalo
R. Matteson, New York
P. C. Wilcox, Panesville [sic], O.
William Jenkins, Attirca, N.Y.
Thomas Brush, Newport, Ky.

Media Type:
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Date of Publication:
14 Jul 1847
Geographic Coverage:
  • Illinois, United States
    Latitude: 41.85003 Longitude: -87.65005
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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On Board Steamer "Baltic"