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It is Dr. Johnson, I think, who says, that we take slight occasions to be pleased. At least, I found it so, on the present occasion; the day of my arrival was my birth day, and it required but little stretch of imagination to convert the scene upon which I had now entered, into a new world. It was new to me.—I was now fairly in the great geological valley of the west, the object of so many anticipations.
The ark, in which I had descended the Allegany, put ashore near the point of land, which is formed by the junction of the Monongahela with this fine clear stream. The dark and slowly moving waters of the one, contrasted strongly with the sparkling velocity of the other. I felt a buoyancy of spirits as I leapt ashore, and picked up some of its clean pebbles to see what kind of geological testimony they bore to the actual character of their parent beds in the Apalachian range.
"What shall I pay you, for my passage, from Olean," said I, to the gentleman with whom I had descended, and at whose ark-table I had found a ready seat with his family. "Nothing, my dear sir," he replied with a prompt and friendly air,—" Your cheerful aid in the way, taking the oars whenever the case required it, has more than compensated for any claims on that score, and I only regret that you are not going further with us."
Committing my baggage to a carman, I ascended the bank of diluvial earth and pebbles with all eagerness, and walked to the point of land where Fort Pitt (old Fort Du Quesne) had stood. It is near this point that the Alleghany and Monongahela unite, and give birth to the noble Ohio. It is something to stand at the head of such a stream. The charm of novelty is beyond all others. I could realize, in thought, as I stood here, gazing on the magnificent prospect of mingling waters, and their prominent and varied shores, the idea, which is said to be embodied in the old Mingo substantive-exclamation of O-he-o! a term, be it remembered, which the early French interpreters at once rendered, and truly, it is believed, by the name of La Belle Riviere.
So far, I said to myself, all is well,—I am now west of the great spinal chain. All that I know of America is now fairly east of me- — bright streams, warm hearts and all. I have fairly cast myself loose
crossing the Monongahela, went up its southern banks, as high as Williamsport. I found the country people were in the habit of calling the city "Pitt" or " Fort Pitt," a term dating back doubtless to the time of the surj render, or rather taking possession of Fort Du Quesne, by Gen. Forbes. Mineral coal (bituminous) characterizes the entire region, as far as my excursion reached. By a happy coincidence in its geological structure, iron ores are contained in the series of the coai deposits. On returning from this trip, night set in, very dark: on the evening I approached the summit of the valley of the Monongahela, called Coal Hill. The long and winding road down this steep was one mass of moving mud, only varied in its consistence, by sloughs, sufficient to mire both man and horse. I was compelled to let the animal choose his own path, and could only give him aid, when the flashes of lightning lit up the scene with a momentary brilliance, which, however, had often no other effect but to remind me of my danger. He brought me, at length, safely to the brink of the river, and across the ferry.
To be at the head of the Ohio river, and in the great manufacturing city of the West, was an exciting thought, in itself. I had regarded Pittsburgh as the alpha, in my route, and after I had made myself familiar with its characteristics, and finding nothing to invite my further attention I prepared to go onward. For this purpose, I went down to the banks of the Monongahela, one day, where the arks of that stream usually touch, to look for a passage. I met on the beach, a young man from Massa chusetts, a Mr. Brigham,—who had come on the same errand, and being pleased with each other, we engaged a passage together, and getting our baggage aboard immediately, set off the same evening. To float in an ark, down one of the loveliest rivers in the world, was, at least, a novelty, and as all novelty gives pleasure, we went on charmingly. There were some ten or a dozen passengers, including two married couples. We promenaded the decks, and scanned the ever changing scenery, at every bend, with unalloyed delight. At night we lay down across the boat, with our feet towards the fire-place, in a line, with very little diminution of the wardrobe we carried by day,—the married folks, like light infantry in an army, occupying the flanks of our nocturnal array. The only objection I found to the night's rest, arose from the obligation, each one was tacitly under, to repair on deck, at the hollow night-cry of "oars I" from the steersman. This was a cry which was seldom uttered, however, except when we were in danger of being shoved, by the current, on the head of some island, or against some frowning "snag," so that we had a mutual interest in being punctual at this cry. By it, sleep was to be enjoyed only in sections, sometimes provokingly short, and our dreams of golden vallies, studded with pearls and gems, were oddly jumbled with the actual presence of plain matter of fact things, such as running across a tier of "old monongahela" or getting one's fingers