Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Syracuse Daily Star (Syracuse, NY), Tuesday, Aug. 14, 1849
Full Text
Correspondence of the Star.

The pleasure which yesterday's trip up the lake from Oswego to this place afforded me, was so great that my feelings prompt me to make a few dotting of the same. In my frequent visits to the Falls I have found the Lake route decidedly preferable, but if the upward passage is considered pleasant the downward is far more so, indeed, so delighted was I that I cannot but express my surprise that so many travelers in their mania for pleasure, should forget the Ontario and St. lawrence.

Within the past two weeks I have been afloat upon the Potomac, Chesapeake, Delaware and Hudson, and yesterday i found myself upon the clear blue Ontario and its beautiful outlet. Next to our own kingly Hudson and its palisade, its highly cultivated banks and beautiful residences, its lofty peaks of the Catskill, rising fair as the hills of paradise, and its many localities rendered familiar by the legendary history of our distinguished and honored Irving - I like the beauties of the St. Lawrence. To leave the din and dust of a brick-walled city and find yourself on the deck of the magnificent steamer Ontario, afloat and at ease, you cannot but be physically and mentally changed for the better. You may not experience the same amount of quiet solitude which he wild woods and gentle haunts of Nature afford, but I am sure you would find as much rest and happiness.

Gallantly we rode out of the harbor of Oswego, the atmosphere pure and bracing, with a smart breeze from the North West, sufficiently ruffling the water to give the joyous passenger a taste of a sea voyage. Very few vessels met our gaze, the cholera having driven them into harbor.

After a sail of two hours we reached Sackets Harbor. The town looks gloomy and deserted, it having remained in status quo for nearly fifteen years. During the last war considerable business centered there, but now other ports on the Lake have completely outstripped. About ten miles out from Sackets Harbor are eight considerable islands, extending diagonally across the Lake, having passed them, we enter the outlet of the Ontario and pass into the celebrated Thousand Islands. The whole number of islands on the St. Lawrence is 1,600! The largest near Kingston is 27 miles in length, from that they diminish in size to small clumps no larger than a giant hand, any thing, by the by, is an island, which grows a bush.

A stop at Kingston for ten minutes enabled me to take a short walk through one or two of its principal streets. It is a very well built city, the buildings being altogether constructed of limestone - a stone so free from silex that the hedge of the hewers instrument is not dulled in the least after constant using. Kingston contains the finest, grandest Market House on the American Continent, surpassing even the celebrated "Quincy" in Boston. The English Church, Court House and Jail are noble buildings. - I saw much to convince me that I was not on American soil. A great number of wretched paupers meet one at every corner, I saw more in a ten minutes walk than I have seen before in two years. Great discontent pervades the Canadas, said a true Canadian gentleman to me, "ten men cannot be found in Montreal who would drink the Queen's health." the late league very wisely resolved to have no officers rule in Canada except those elected by the people, nous verrons.

In leaving Kingston harbor we pass Fort Henry, and I do not know of a stronger fortification, if properly commanded I do not believe the combined armies of the world could take the city. Besides the main Fort there are six large towers well gunned, and pointing in all directions. They are generally built of limestone rock; apropos to rocks, there is a singular fact connected with the geological formation of this vicinity.

The whole city is situated on pure limestone, while as quick as you cross the channel opposite, you find that there has been great convulsions, rocks have been thrown up in every way, Iron, Mica, Granite, and Fell Spar intermingled; the same fact you will observe all along after leaving Kingston. On the American side the rocks lay in regular order, opposite, a confused mass.

From Kingston to Ogdensburg the scenery on the river increases in beauty; the islands like so many clumps of trees, grow more numerous; here is one with no mark of culture, near by another with a few miserable emigrant huts thereon; here one solitary and alone covered with massy rocks with some old and ponderous trunk of prostrate trees scattered about, while at a stone's throw your eye falls with delight upon a charming little insulated cone, green trees with their calm shade cover it, rivulets and glens are there, it breathes tranquility; as islands in the water, so hours in the river of life, here is one made up of happy golden moments, as if angles smiled upon it; then the next how change! The spell is broken, how full of sadness, grief, and sorrow; cruel fate calls it his, and breathes upon it his deadly wind.

I witnessed from the deck of the vessel a gorgeous sunset - atmosphere exceedingly clear, and the clouds were elegantly tinted, running down into small points, touched with purple and gray, while far and wide the crimson and blue were happily joined.

I never saw the wild, beautiful and picturesque more harmoniously intermingled on Nature's fine face.

In any business transaction, it is always pleasant to deal with gentlemen; in society the upright man selects the truly good and honest for his associates; in traveling I know of nothing which adds more to comfort, than meeting with gentlemanly officers of hotels, cars, &c. Now if like seek light, than all who profess to be gentlemen ought to patronize gentlemen, ought even to put themselves to inconvenience, if thereby they can favor such. The officers of boats and cars have lately assumed many unpleasant airs off officiousness and gruffness, thereby proving they are either mean by nature or are more novi homines.

In all my travels I have never yet met so gentlemanly an officer as Mr. H.N. Throop, the commander of the Lake Steam Packet Ontario. His name ought to be passed around. In the best sense of the word he is a gentleman and the prince among Captains. On deck conversing with him, giving him the desired information concerning the localities, villages, islands, and every thing of interest on the Lake. In his office, at the dining table, and in the saloon the same gentlemanly deportment characterizes him.

Capt. Throop is something of a musician withal; last evening after a highly esteemed lady from Milwaukee had favored us with some music upon the piano forte, he brought out his guitar and gave us some admirable songs and good opera selections. Now who will say that such acts, done in an easy way, do not give honorable prestige to Capt. Throop? His subordinates are also gentlemanly in their deportment, particularly the steward, Mr. Wormer, who spares nothing to add to the creature comfort on the way; servants well trained and viands rich to suit the fastidious.

Ogdensburg is a pretty village, containing some beautiful residences and well shaded streets. At the completion of the great Northern Railroad it will received a great impetus to business. It has a commodious harbor and enjoys advantages adequate to prosperity. A glance from my window shows me the sun is setting quite beautifully among the bright tinned roofs of the Canadian village of Prescott. Tomorrow early A.M., I am off to Montreal and thence to Lake George. Au revoir. CUI.

Item Type
Date of Original
Tuesday, Aug. 14, 1849
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Richard Palmer
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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Syracuse Daily Star (Syracuse, NY), Tuesday, Aug. 14, 1849