Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hibernicus - Letter V

Submitted by Dick Palmer

(Extract from: "Letters on the Natural History and Internal Resources of the State of New York"
By Hibernicus (DeWitt Clinton) New York, 1822)

Page 22, Letter V.
Montezuma, July, 1820

My Dear Sir,
In my voyage on the canal I met with several loaded boats and scows, ascending as well as descending, and also rafts. The facility with which boats pass each other without interruption or delay, strikes one forcibly at the first view. This canal will make a great revolution in the internal trade of the country, and in the balance of political power.

One horse can draw as much on a canal, as 60 on a road. The expense of transportation will be consequently greatly reduced. I saw an advertisement of Mr. Henry B. Ely, of Utica, wherein he offers to forward goods on the canal for 25 cents per Cwt. for 100 miles, including toll, which is about five cents a ton per mile, at least one quarter less than by land. But this I apprehend is too high; the maximum cost ought not to exceed three cents a mile per ton. I saw a Utica a raft of 440 tons of lumber, which had been floated on the canal for 20 miles, for about 50 dollars. It was drawn by four horses at the rate of two miles an hour. The conveyance of this timber by land would have cost at least 1600 dollars. The price of wheat at Albany, is now about 87 cents a bushel, and the land transportation, at any considerable distance, costs at least 44 cents. A bushel of wheat can be conveyed on the canal, when finished, from Seneca river to Albany for six cents.

Gypsum is found all over the west; you can now buy it at Utica for $1.50 to $2 a ton. The great country lying on he Hudson can be supplied with this mineral for four or five dollars a ton. Salt will also be sold at Albany for 2s. 6d. or 3s. a bushel.

I enclose you a marine, or canal list, cut from a Utica paper. The activity of business which this communication has already created is perfectly surprising.

From the Utica Patriot.

May 22, 1820, arrived, boat Montezuma, with passengers; Engineer, Experiment, Western Trader, and a Cayuga boat, with flour.
Departed, Montezuma, passengers, and a Geneva boat with goods.
23. Arrived, Traveller, and Experiment.
Departed, boats Engineer, Newell, and Experiment.
24. Departed, boats Western Trader, and Experiment.
Arrived, Lady of the Lake, with stone, and John Van Ness Yates, with 250 barrels of flour from Seneca Lake.
25. Arrived, Experiment, passengers, Lady of the Lake, stone, Anne Maria, with salt, from Salina.
Departed, Experiment, Anne Maria.
26. Arrived, boat Montezuma, with passengers, his excellency the Governor, and Gen. Van Rensselaer.
27. Arrived, boats Traveller, Clinton and the Western Trader.
28. Arrived Engineer.
Departed, boat Montezuma, with passengers, commencing her regular trips.
29. Departed, the Experiment, passengers, for Montezuma.
30. Lady of the Lake, one scow, with stone.
31. Arrived, two Cayuga boats with flour.
Departed, Engineer, passengers.
June 1. Two boats from the Seneca Lake, do.
2. The Canastota and John Van Ness Yates, do.
Arrived, Montezuma, with passengers.
3. Arrived, one boat from Cayuga Lake, with pork.
4. Departed, one boat for Geneva, and the passage boat Experiment.
5. Departed, the Montezuma, for Seneca river, with passengers.

At Montezuma, I was regaled with most excellent fish of the esox genus; and at Syracuse and Rome, on my way up, I had fine salmon. I shall on a future occasion, speak of the fishes of the west: The fish markets of the cities on the Hudson will be greatly improved by the canal. new species will be ground down in ice in a perfect state of preservation, and the epicures of the south will be treated with new and untried dishes of the highest flavor.

The west is the favorite region of the peach and the plum. And these and other kinds of fruits of the very best quality will be conveyed on the canal. I have seen in various places, a plant of fine appearance, which I am told produces excellent fruit of the size and color of a small orange. It is, if I mistake not, the podophyllum peltatum and is commonly called mandrake, or May apple. This country also contains different species of wild plums of fine quality. The opening of a market for grain will prevent its conversion into ardent spirits - the curse of morals, and the bane of domestic felicity. Whiskey now sells for eighteen cents a gallon. What a temptation to inebriety! a man may now keep constantly drunk, for three or four shillings a week. Nothing but a heavy excise can banish the use of this deleterious poison.

Cattle which are fattened for the market can be transported on the canal with less expense and with more celerity, (and without any diminution of flesh) than by driving.

In one word, new uses and striking advantages will daily present themselves to observation from this great operation. It alleged that the canal will make a good ice road in winter, but I have no faith in this opinion. The use of it for such purpose will be but short. It will be in use for vessels about ten months in a year; and what is not a little extraordinary, it freezes later, and thaws sooner, than natural waters. The philosophy of this fact I will endeavor to develop on some future occasion, but such you may rely on it is the case. When the Onondaga Lake, which lies below the canal, was closed up with ice last spring, the latter was open and navigable. By the continual passage of boats in winter, the canal can be prevented from freezing; and when frozen, a vessel may open its way by placing stampers for breaking ice at its head, as I have seen in the Forth ad Clyde canal, where they are worked by a steam engine that propels a barge.


No comments: