p.3 Grimm's Ghost, Junior by Joshua Dryasdust - another in a series of letters about a journey through N.Y. state -
(part) "...The Erie Canal passage boats are generally built about 80 feet in length, and 14 feet in width, and draw only about 2 feet of water - yet, such is the shallowness of the canal in some places, that these boats, when the water is low, occasionally touch the bottom. The cabin occupies the whole length of the deck, excepting about nine feet reserved at one end for the cook, and five or six feet at the other end for the pilot. On examining the cabin you will be at a loss how so many persons are to be accommodated with beds in so small a place. You will not be kept long in suspense. The seeming mystery will soon be elucidated to your satisfaction.
"Ah! then, and there was hurrying to and fro."
The fixing of two ranges of berths on each side of the cabin will appear to you but the work of a moment. The general distribution of sheets and pillows, and pillow-slips, seems as if conducted by the hand of magic. The manner in which the upper range of beds are contrived will attract your attention. It is somewhat after this fashion: The bed consists of a narrow frame between 5 and 6 feet long, and is fastened to the side of the vessel with hinges - the outside of the frame is suspended by two small cords which are fixed by hooks to the roof of the cabin - on this is placed a small mattress and bed cloths. The cabin seats are also made into certain lengths, and converted at night into what they call settee beds, and are placed in ranges on the middle of the floor. The passengers names are called, who make choice of their berths in the order in which they entered their names on coming on board. You will find some difficulty, Joshua, in making a proper selection. You will cast your eye on the upper range of beds - but then you are afraid that the cords by which they are suspended may give way, and that you will come slap dash on the top of the person who sleeps immediately below you - and on the other hand to take one of the lower berths would be attended with greater danger, especially if the person who slept above you happened not to be of Pharoah's lean kine.
After mature consideration, Joshua, you will make choice of one of the settee beds on the middle of the floor. But alas! on stretching yourself upon it you will find that your legs are either several inches too long, or that the bedstead and clothes are several inches too short. What is to be done? - lie on your back, Joshua, draw your heels gently towards you - not too near - this will occasion an elevation of your knees, which will have the effect not only of disencumbering you of a great part of the sheets, which are excessively narrow, but also of forming an aperture below of a triangular shape, through which a gentle cooling breeze will continue to pass and repass during the night.
The ladies' cabin is neat and comfortable - but do not suppose, Joshua, that you will be allowed to set a foot within the precincts of that sanctum sanctorum. The case, to be sure, would have been different had Mrs. Dryasdust been with you - I do not mean to say, however, Joshua, that even in that case you would be allowed to sleep with Mrs. Dryasdust; no, no, Joshua."