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of this singular collection. It lies between 43° and 47° north latitude, and between 80 and 85° west longitude. Its circumference is eleven hundred miles, and its shape triangular. A remarkable island, named Manitaulin, rises near the north shore, one hundred miles in length, and eight only in breadth; and furnishes another object of religious reverence to the Indians. A large bay, on the south-western side, called Saganaum-Bay, about twenty miles in breadth, opens eighty miles into the interior. Half way between this and the straits of Michilimackinac, on the same side, is another, known by the name of Thunder-Bay. This is about nine miles in diameter, and, as its name indicates, is distinguished from all other temperate parts of North-America by an almost perpetual succession of thunder-storms. French river, on the north, the outlet of Lake Nepisingui, about seventy-five miles in length, is the only stream, except the St. Marie, received by this lake. Its shores are less uneven than those of Lake Superior, and are more sandy and barren.

Lake Huron receives the waters of Michigan, which is three hundred miles in length, and nine hundred and forty-five in circumference; lying between 41° and 46° north latitude, and 84o and 87° west longitude. Its greatest breadth is sixty miles. Its shores are extensively flat, and covered with an indifferent soil. In its north-western corner opens a large inlet, called Green-Bay, not far from one hundred miles in length, and from fifteen to twenty in breadth. Fox river, a considerable stream, which passes through the Winnebago, and empties its waters into Green-Bay, the St. Joseph, and the river Grand, are the only streams of importance, which terminate in this lake. It is wholly within the United States, and without any islands of consequence. One of the principal passages from the lakes to the Mississippi is up Green-Bay and the Fox river, and down the Ouisconsin, and another up the Michigan and down the Illinois.

Near the mouth of the straits, which unite the Michigan with the Huron, and within the latter, is the island of Michilimackinac, long distinguished as a military post of no small importance in the contest between France and Great Britain ; and a place highly advantageous for commerce with the Indians of the north and west. This island lies in the 48th

VOL. IV.

degree of north latitude, is of a circular form, and seven miles and a half in circumference. Its distance from the shore is somewhat more than three miles. It is considerably higher than the main; and is a mere rock of lime-stone, covered with a good soil, and originally with a rich growth of timber. Its form resembles the back of a turtle, and thence it is said to have derived its name. The air is here fine, and the water excellent. Few places are healthier. Fish abound in the neighbourhood; particularly the white-fish, esteemed a great delicacy; trout, weighing from fifteen to seventy-five pounds; and various others, particularly such as have been mentioned in the account of Lake Superior.

There is a small village* on this island, built around the harbour. The streets are narrow; the houses chiefly of one story; and the number of inhabitants about 300. A few of them are Americans, some of whom were heretofore wealthy; the rest are principally Canadian French, a miserable, unanimated race, without ambition or energy, without intelligence or taste, and, during the winter, almost without business or food. Their chief employment for six months is fishing and procuring fuel.

Michilimackinac is considered as the key of the northwestern country; and is the great depot of the fur trade. Hither the merchants of Montreal, and others from the United States, resort in the spring to receive furs and peltries from their agents, and furnish them supplies for renewing the business through the succeeding season. The navigation opens in May, and closes in November.

From the fort, an indifferent edifice of little strength, commanded by high ground in the rear, there is a delightful prospect; unlimited in the east over Lake Huron, and in the west over Michigan. The fort itself is a very infirm structure, as a place of defence; and its outworks are still worse. Like other public American possessions, it has been neglected, and, as a military post, forgotten.

The water of these lakes, like that of Superior, is transparent.

The river Huron is the channel, through which this accumulated mass flows into Lake Erie. It is from half a mile to

* 1804.

three miles in breadth. The current is moderate, and the depth sufficient for ships of considerable burthen. On its banks stands the town of Detroit, nine miles below an expansion of the river, about thirty miles in diameter, named Lake St. Clair. The situation of this town is unhealthy, . Heretofore it has contained about 260 houses, and 2,000 inhabitants *. This was the principal settlement of the French in the western country. The river Huron is ninety miles in length. Its banks have long been, in a great measure, covered with plantations.

Lake Erie lies between 41° and 43° north latitude, and 71° and 80° west longitude. Its length is more than two hundred miles; according to Carver near three hundred; its breadth forty. Its circumference is said to be seven hundred and ten miles. Its water is remarkably clear and beautiful, though esteemed somewhat less so than those of the three which have been mentioned. It also furnishes, not only the same kinds of fish, but several others, Those which were mentioned to me at Buffaloe, are the following:

Sturgeon, weighing sixty or seventy pounds, and yielding a great quantity of oil.

White-Bass, large and very good.
Pike, three kinds, very good, and well-sized.
Cat-fish, large.

Salmon-trout, very good, not so large as those caught in Michigan.

It also contains a great number of water-snakes, which hide in a multitude of water-lilies, surrounding its islands.

The navigation of Lake Erie, when agitated by a tempest, is extremely dangerous, on account of a number of points, which project into it a considerable distance. Near the Cayahoga river, which discharges itself on the south shore, a ridge of rocks, forming a magnificent promontory, shoots out several miles into the lake; and has often proved fatal to navigators. Perhaps no piece of water, of the same extent, has fewer safe harbours. On the southern side I know of but three : Black Rock, Presque Isle, and Sandusky-Bay.

The shores of this lake are to a great extent unhealthy, not from the waters of the lake, but from the marshes, which in

• In the month of June, 1805, Detroit was totally destroyed by fire.

several places line its border. To the eye, surveying these shores at a distance, they are often beautiful.

Such are the fountains of that part of the St. Lawrence, which is termed the river Niagara; a stream inferior in splendour to none perhaps in the world.

It ought to be observed, that on the island of Michilimackinac there are the most decisive proofs, that the waters of Huron and Michigan are several feet lower than they once

Proofs equally decisive are presented on its southern borders, of a similar subsidence in Lake Erie. Of these facts I am amply assured by my friends, the Rev. Mr. Bacon, who resided at Michilimackinac as a missionary one season, Josiah Dunham, Esq., who commanded at that post six years, and John S. Edwards, Esq., who has personally examined the appearances on the southern borders of Lake Erie. From the testimony of these gentlemen the general fact cannot be doubted. Nor is the cause at all difficult to be discovered. The river Niagara, at and above the falls, shows unquestionable proofs, that its waters have worn their channel, particularly the rocky part of it, continually lower.

were.

I am, Sir, &c.

LETTER V.

River Niagara. Properly called the St. Lawrence. Islands

in the River. General Appearance and Character of this Region. Cataract of Niagara.

DEAR SIR;

Next morning, Saturday, October 6th, we commenced our journey to the falls. On the beach, upon which the road lies from Buffaloe to the ferry, we had a complete view of the lake. On the southern side the prospect was limited successively by three promontories; the first about eight or ten miles distant, the second at twice, and the third at three times that distance. Handsomer headlands can scarcely be imagined. They are all elegant declivities, descending with almost imperceptible gradation towards the water. The second and third are so lofty, that they may be be styled mountainous, and blend with their beauty a considerable degree of grandeur. The succession in which they are presented to the eye, adds to their individual appearance a fine impression of symmetry.

After coasting the end of the lake two miles, we came to the great outlet of this world of waters, covering about 96,000,000 acres, or 150,000 square miles. The stream, which commences here, is improperly called the river Niagara; that is, unless this name should be extended to every part of the current, from its fountains to the ocean. It has been the misfortune of this magnificent river to be called by so many names, as to leave on the mind the impression of numerous disjointed parts, and not of one vast, continued stream. Hence the geographical reader, finding it in different instances styled the river St. Marie, Detroit, St. Clair, Niagara, Iroquois, Cataraqui, and St. Lawrence, becomes perplexed and lost

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