Monday, December 7, 2009

Passengers on Canal Freight Boats - 1823

Collected by Richard Palmer

Lyons Advertiser
April 13, 1823

The navigation of the canal has re-commenced with activity and
spirit, and the superabundant produce of the country is passing
rapidly to market. As the packets have not yet began their regular
trips, the freight boats are many of them crowded with passengers,
who have been waiting the commencement of navigation to avail
themselves of this safe cheap and not unpleasant mode of traveling.

Packet Boats

As our whole canal system is still in its infancy, it is not surprising
that various and conflicting opinions should prevail upon every
subject in any way connected with it, in the form of experiment;
and under such circumstances, no method can tend more to elicit
information, than open and free discussion.That the packet boats
are pernicious to the canal, in some degree, we believe had never
been denied; but whether the damage they cause to the banks,
bear any proportion to the high duties levied upon them in the
new tariff, seems at least problematical. If the object is to drive
passengers entirely from the canals, the price of carrying them
in freight boats would require to be much increased; and if only
the safety of the canal, and the public revenue are regarded,
we cannot but suppose the new regulations injudicious. The novelty
of the work draws strangers from distant parts to view its splendor;
and a passenger upon the "Grand Erie Canal," is often purchased
at the expense of a long circuitous digression from the right line
of the traveler’s journey. These circumstances should have their
weight, and exercise their proper influence. If the packet boats
are driven from the canals, the state revenue must sustain a serious
injury by diminution , without, so far as we can discover, our obtaining
any equivalent for the loss. We hope ere long to see such an alteration
in the relative charges on packet and freight boats, as shall be
judicious in itself, and enable the respective proprietors of each
to compete upon fair and reasonable terms. This will give satisfaction
to all parties, and enable every man to pass on the canal as he shall
please, either in a packet, simply as a man; or; in a freight boat stowed
with boxes and barrels, to be talked of by the ton, and known only by
the "mark and number, as per margin"

Buffalo Journal.

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