« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
community separated, each to pursue his several way, and separate views. I made several acquaintances, whose names are recollected with pleasure. Dr. S. invited me to dine with him, introduced me to his young partner, Dr. Moorhead, and put me in the way of obtaining eligible private lodgings. The three weeks I spent in this city were agreeably passed, varied as they were, by short excursions in the vicinity, including the Licking valley—a stream which comes in, on the Kentucky side, directly opposite the city. I went, one day, to see an experimental structure, built at the foot of the Walnut hills, with a very long pipe, or wooden chamber leading up their sides, and rising above their tops. This was constructed by an ingenious person, at the expense of the late Gen. Lyttle, under the confident hope of his realizing a practical mechanical power from the rare- faction of atmospheric air. There was confessedly a poiczr, but the difficulty was in multiplying this power, so as to render it practically applicable to the turning of machinery. The ratio of its increase, contended for, namely, the length of the pipe, appeared to me to be wholly fallacious, and the result proved it so. The thing was afterwards abandoned. There was an ancient mound here, which had not then been opened, but which has since yielded a curious ornamented stone, bearing a kind of arabesque figures, not dissimilar, in the style of drawing, to some of the rude sculptured figures of Yucatan, as recently brought to light by Mr. Stephens and Mr. Catherwood.
I received, one day, a note from one of the directors of the White Lead Works, above the city, requesting me to visit it, and inspect in detail the processes of the manufacture. The latter I found to be defective in the mode of corroding the lead by the acetic acid; there was also an unnecessary complication and amount of machinery in bringing the oxide into the condition of a good pigment, and putting it into kegs, which had been very onerous in its cost, and was perpetually liable to get out of order.
It was during my stay here that I first felt the effects of the western limestone waters in deranging the stomach and bowels, and paid for my initiation into the habit, as all Strangers must, by some days confinement. Dr. M. brought me about, and checked the disease, without any permanently injurious effects on my general health.
When I was ready to proceed down the river, I went to seek a passage along the landing, but found no boat (steamboats were few and far between in those days ) While pacing the beach, I met a man of gentlemanly appearance, who had experienced the same disappointment, and was desirous to go forward in his journey. He told me, that he had found a small row boat, well built, and fitted with seats, which could be purchased for a reasonable sum; that it would hold our baggage very well, and he thought we could make a pleasant trip in it as far as Louisville at the Falls, where the means of communication by steamboats were ample. On examining the boat, and a little inquiry, I acceded to this proposition, I wrote a notice for one of the papers, of a locality of manganese on Sandy river, Ky., and others of some other objects of natural history in the west, which I perceived, by their being copied at the eastward, were well taken. It was my theory, that there was a general interest felt in the Atlantic States for information from the west, and this slight incident served to encourage me.
The steamboat canal since constructed around the falls at this place, was then a project only spoken of, and is here alluded to for no higher purpose than to mention, that in its actual subsequent execution, we are informed the workmen came, at the depth of fourteen feet below the surface of the calcareous rock, to a brick hearth, covered with what appeared to be the remains of charcoal and ashes.
I took walks almost daily, on the fine promenade, shaded with lofty trees, festooned with their native vines, along the Beargrass Creek, which is the common place of landing for arks and boats. On one of these occasions, there came in a large ark, which had been freighted at Perryopolis, On the Yioughagany, some thirty miles from Pittsburgh. The two proprietors were K. and K., Marylanders, both young men, or verging to middle life, who had clubbed together the necessary funds, and in the spirit of adventure, resolved on a trading voyage. There was something in the air and manners of both, which I thought I could trust in for an agreeable voyage, especially as they saw in me, not a rival in commerce of any kind, but a mere observer,—a character which I found, on more than one occasion, placed me on grounds of neutrality and advantage. Steamboats are the worst vehicles ever invented by the ingenuity of man to make observations on a country, always excepting the last improvement on locomotive rail-roads. To a naturalist, especially, they are really horrible. Not a tree or plant can be examined; not a shell, or a rock certainly identified. Hundreds of miles are passed in a few hours; the effect of speed is to annihilate space; town succeeds town, and object object, with such rapidity, that there is no distinct time left for observation or reflection ; and after the voyager has reached his point of destination, he is often seriously in doubt, what he has seen, and what he has not seen, and is as much puzzled to put together the exact feature of the country's geography, as if he were called to re-adjust the broken incidents of a night's dream. I had yet another objection to this class of boats, at the era mentioned. Their boilers and machinery were not constructed with elaborate skill and strength : their commanders were often intemperate, and a spirit of reckless rivalry existed, vhpse results were not infrequently exhibited in exploded, sunk, or grounded boats, and the loss of lives.
It is a regulation of law that pilots are provided for all boats,descending the falls—a descent, by the way, which can only be made on the Indiana side. When this officer came on board, the owners thought best to go by land to Shippingport. I had less at stake in its safety than they, yet felt a desire to witness this novel mode of descent; nor did the result disappoint me. Standing on the deck, or rather flat roof of the ark, the view was interesting and exciting. The first point at which the mass of water breaks was the principal point of danger, as there is here a powerful reflux, or eddy current, on the right hand, while the main velocity of the current drives the vessel in a direction which, if not checked by the large sweeps, would inevitably swamp it. The object is to give this check, and shoot her into the eddy water. This was done. The excitement ceased in a few moments, and we passed the rest of the way with less exertion to the men, and got down tLe u-maimler of tiio ialis in perfect safety. Ail this danger to the growing commerce of the west, is now remedied by the Louisville canal, which, by a work of but two miles in length, which holds the relative position of a string to the bow, connects the navigable waters above and below those falls, and permits all river craft of the largest burden to pass.
It was about the falls of the Ohio, or a little above, that I first saw the gay and noisy paroquet, or little parrot of the west; a gregarious bird, whose showy green and yellow plumage makes it quite an object to be noticed and remembered in a passage on the lower Ohio. One of these birds, which had been wounded, was picked up out of the river, a few miles below the falls. It was evident, from the occurrence of this species, and other features in the natural history of the country, that we were now making a rapid southing. The red-bud, the papaw, the buckeye, and the cucumber tree, had all introduced themselves to notice, among the forest species, below Pittsburgh; although they are all, I think, actually known to extend a little north of that latitude; and we now soon had added to the catalogue, the pecan and cypress, and the cane, with the constant attendant of the latter, the green briar. I had no opportunity to examine the pecan, until we reached the mouth of the Wabash and Shawneetown, where I went on a shooting excursion with a young Kentuckian, who gave me the first practical exhibition of bringing down single pigeons and other small game with the rifle, by generally striking the head or neck only. I had heard of this kind of shooting before, and witnessed some capital still shots, but here was a demonstration of it, in brush and brier—catching a sight as best one could. The ball used on these occasions was about the size of a large buckshot.
Shawneetown is a word which brings to mind one of the North American tribes, who, between 1632 and the present time, figure as one of the frontier actors in our history. They have, in this time, with the ubiquity of one of their own genii, skipped over half America. They were once, certain ly dwellers on the Savannah, if not, at a still earlier day, on the Suanee, in Florida; then fled north, a part coming down the Kentucky river, and a part fleeing to the Delaware, and thence west. They are now on the Konga, west of the Missouri. So much for the association of names. History never remembers any thing which she can possibly forget, and I found at least, one high-feeling personage here, who did not like the manner in which I associated the modern town with reminiscences of the savages. "Why, sir," said he, as we walked the deck of the ark, floating down the Ohio, and getting nearer the place every moment, " we have a bank there, and a court house ; it is the seat of justice for Gallatin county; —and a printing press is about to be established;—it is a very thriving place, and it bids fair to remain second to none below the Wabash." "All this, truly," I responded, willing to reprove pride in an easy way, " is a great improvement on the wigwam and the council-fire, and wampum coin-beads." It is sometimes better to smile than argue, and I found it so on the present occasion. I did not wish to tread on the toes of rising greatness, or pour upon a love of home and locality, honorable and praise-worthy in my fellow traveller, the chilling influence of cold historical facts. My allusions were the mere effect of the association of ideas, resulting from names. If the residents of Shawne«"'vn do not like to be associated with the native race, who would not have exchanged a good bow and arrows for all the court houses in Christendom, they should bestow upon the place some epithet which may sever the tie