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General Observations upon the Western Part of NewYork, continued.

Want of Stone for Building and Fencing. Defective Supply and Quality of its Timber. Water impregnated with Lime. Commerce. Different Outlets for its Commodities.

DEAR SIR;

AMONG the disadvantages, to which this western country is subject, the want of good stone for building and fencing, must, I think, be a serious one. In considerable tracts this want is absolute; in others, stone is scarce, and obtained with difficulty. In almost all, so far as my information extends, it is either lime, slate, or gypsum; neither of them capable of enduring fire, nor of such a texture as to be conveniently wrought for the purposes of building. The specimens which I saw were coarse, rough, and destitute of beauty. In many places enclosures may be formed of stone; but in many, I believe in most, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to build cellar walls, the foundations of houses, or fire places, which will be either convenient or lasting.

This material defect the inhabitants have not hitherto been able to supply by the substitution of good bricks. The clay of this country is everywhere mixed with other earths, of such a quality as to render the bricks made of it easily dissoluble by weather and by fire. In some places they are indeed firmer than in others; and their texture is perhaps generally rendered unnecessarily loose, and therefore unnecessarily subject to decomposition, by the ignorance or by the unfaithfulness of workmen. In all, the bricks are bad. Whether there may

be any remedy for this misfortune, time must discover. The timber of this tract, also, is to a great extent of a consistence too frail and perishable to last for any great length of

time, either in buildings or enclosures. In the county of Ontario, and some other parts of the country, there is a sufficient quantity of oak, and it is said of pine also, both for building and fencing. But there are large tracts, which are destitute of every species of timber, fitted to resist the encroachments of the weather. Future experiments may perhaps furnish a remedy. The oak and the chesnut, and perhaps the pine, may be planted with success. Hedges may possibly be formed, which will resist the influence of the climate; and better clay may be discovered for the erection of their houses. It seems incredible, that Providence should have made this region in most respects so desirable a residence for man; and that in this, apparently, and in several others, it should, to such an extent, disappoint a purpose so carefully pursued.

Another evil suffered by these inhabitants, of a similar nature, and even more discouraging, is this: When the forests are cut down, they either do not at all spring again, or they spring very thinly and insufficiently. This misfortune has been supposed to arise from the peculiar nature of the trees, or the peculiar nature of the soil. I strongly suspect, that it is owing to neither. Maple, beech, and bass, may not, indeed, as readily germinate from the roots after the trees are cut down, as oak, chesnut, and hickory. Whether this be true or not, I am unable to determine. But that they will not in the proper circumstances spring in sufficient quantities and vigour from the seeds, I cannot believe. That the soil is favourable both to the germination and flourishing growth of these trees is unanswerably evident from the multitude and the size of those, which are now on the ground. Besides, I have seen, in a variety of places, some of them in this very tract, à vigorous growth of these kinds of timber in spots, where the full-grown trees had been lately cut down.

Grass grows in this region easily and vigorously; and wherever it grows will extensively prevent the germination, and check the growth of trees of almost every kind. Were these inhabitants, instead of cutting down their forests in the manner, which is called cutting clean, to thin them only; and thas leave the ground so much shaded as would be sufficient to prevent the vegetation of grass; they would, I am satisfied,

find the seeds of future trees springing in abundance. Should they also effectually exclude cattle from their forests, so as to prevent them from cropping the young stems, they would probably find this evil done away.

Another disadvantage, under which this country labours, is a deficiency of water for some important purposes of life. In Manlius mill-streams are sufficiently numerous ; but from that township westward to Buffaloe Creek, they are thinly dispersed. Throughout this country generally, springs and small brooks are rare. A great part of the farms must be ill supplied with water for their pastures. The obvious substitute for these sources is wells; and these may be furnished in most places without any peculiar difficulty, and at no inconvenient depth. But as the water of all this tract is impregnated with lime, it is unfit for washing, and for several other domestic uses; and to water cattle from a well, when they are numerous, is a severe tax upon the time and labour of the farmer.

The commerce of this country has hitherto struggled, and for an indefinite period must continue to struggle with difficulties. The distance from Canandagua to Albany is two hundred and five miles; and from Buffaloe three hundred. The transportation of goods over the whole distance, except seventy-nine miles, must be by land. From Utica they may be conveyed to Schenectady on the Mohawk; but the navigation is so imperfect, that merchants often choose to transport their commodities along its banks in waggons. Notwithstanding this inconvenience, Albany is the port, to which they must now, and probably for a long time hereafter, resort. Now their trade is wholly carried on in this channel. Many, however, stop at Utica; and, as the trade of that place enlarges, it may become more and more an emporium for the business of the western country. The only material difference made by stopping at Utica, or even at Albany, is, that they pay the expense and trouble of a longer journey, instead of incurring it personally. In either case, the trouble and expense of conveying the produce to New-York are always considerable; and, when the commodities are bulky, must ever amount to no small part of their price in the market. Thus grain of all kinds, their principal produce, can be carried to

market, only when it commands an extraordinary price. Thus also hemp, flax, and even wool, lose much of their value hefore they reach New-York. Beef, as it may be driven, will be less affected than most other articles.

The inhabitants situated near Lake Ontario can ascend the Oswego or Onondaga river, and, passing through the Oneida lake, go up Wood creek into the Mohawk. But the navigation of these streams is still more embarrassed than that of the Mohawk.

Another channel of transportation is opened to the southern parts of this country by the Susquehannah. I have already mentioned, that boards to a great amount are floated yearly down this river to Baltimore. Wheat, also, is carried to market the same way, in vessels of a peculiar structure, called arks. These, at times of such a size as to carry, it is said, no less than twelve hundred bushels of wheat, descend the Tioga, and the Susquehannah proper, to Tioga point; and thence pass down their common channel to Baltimore. The navigation, however, is both uncertain and dangerous. It is uncertain, because it can be pursued only during the time of a freshet; and that often will not suffice for more than onethird or one-fourth of the voyage. During the interval the ark is obliged to wait for another freshet, when it proceeds anew, and ultimately, if not wrecked, reaches Baltimore. The dangers of the navigation arise from the swiftness of its current, and the shoals and rapids in the river, which have sometimes proved fatal both to boats and rafts. In the spring the voyage is frequently made with success, and even without interruption. In the other seasons it is either precarious or impossible. When it succeeds best, the conveyance is cheap and expeditious. The arks are broken up, and sold at Baltimore, for as much or more than they cost.

When the cargo is disposed of, the boatmen are obliged to return by land. The inconvenience of such a journey needs no explanation.

Measures have been proposed by the legislatures of Maryland and Pennsylvania, which possibly may terminate in improving the navigation of the Susquehannah, and facilitating the intercourse of this country with Baltimore, and perhaps by the Schuylkill with Philadelphia.

VOL.IV.

1

Another great channel of commerce between the western country and the ocean is by Lake Ontario, down the St. Lawrence, to Montreal. This has ever appeared to me the cheapest, safest, and most unembarrassed passage for the produce of all the countries, which surround the great American lakes. The ordinary price for transporting a quarter-cask from Montreal to Queenstown is but a single dollar. Whenever a regular trade is established between these countries and Montreal, and a regular transportation round the Niagara falls, the freight of a quarter-cask from Queenstown to Chippeway will not be more, and probably less than one-fourth of a dollar. Thence merchandize of all kinds may be conveyed in ships of any convenient size to the south end of Lake Michigan; and, with the exception of a short land carriage, to the western limit of Lake Superior. A tract, consisting of from 400,000 to 500,000 square miles, will hereafter empty its produce upon the ocean through the river St. Lawrence *. Hitherto,

* Since these remarks were written, a canal, on a scale far surpassing. any thing which has hitherto been attempted in this country, has been coinmenced in the state of New York, by order of their legislature. By means of it, it is intended to connect the waters of Lake Erie with those of the Hudson, a distance of three hundred and fifty-three miles.

In the year 1810, persons, who had been appointed by the government of the state, explored the intervening country from the Hudson to Erie, and made a report; but though some acts were passed concerning the subject, yet nothing was effectually done until the spring of 1817, when commissioners were appointed by the legislature, “ to cause a cominunication by means of a canal to be made between Lake Erie and the Hudson.” Since that time, the canal has advanced with such rapidity as to surprise, not ouly the people living on its borders, but the inhabitants of the United States.

The whole expense of the canal, as estimated by the commissiovers, is 4,571,813 dollars.

At the close of the year 1821, the western canal was so far finished, that Governor Clinton, to whom perhaps the country is as much indebted for the success of this great enterprise as to any one individual, in his speech before the legislature, January 2, 1822, says, upon a full and comprehensive view of the whole operation, we may confidently pronounce, that, before the termination of the year 1823, there will be a complete and uninterrupted navigation for boats conveying one hundred tons, from the navigable waters of Hudson's river to Lake Erie.”

When this immense work, which might with propriety have been a national one, shall be finished, it will open a communication with the ocean to the commerce of a great part of Ohio, and to the countries along the

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