Early Transportation Trivia
Ontario Repository, Canandaigua, N.Y.
Tues., July 30, 1816
A boat large enough to accommodate 20 passengers, has lately arrived
at Montreal from Schenectady; having ascended the Mohawk, to the little
canal at Rome, which connects it with Wood Creek; thence into Oneida
Lake, Oswego River and Lake Ontario, &c. When we consider that a cut
of 15 or 16 miles from the Mohawk to the Hudson would have enabled this
very boat to fetch a freight to Albany or New-York, we may estimate
the immense importance of a canal from Lake Erie to the Hudson. Till
that be made our produce and wealth must flow to Montreal and Quebec.
New York Columbian. Ontario Repository, Canandaigua,
Tues., July 29, 1817
Cincinnati, (Ohio), July 4
Arrived at this port on Monday morning last, (30th June) a small schooner
built boat of about six tons burthen, 30 days from Rome on the Mohawk
river, state of New-York! The boat was conducted by Capt. Dean and four
Indians; - passengers, two squaws and an Indian boy. It was a handsome
mode, painted in a neat style, with two masts and sails, and an appropriate
flag. They sailed hence on the same day for the Wabash; their avowed
object is to enter lands on behalf of their tribe, and then to ascend
the Wabash to its source, cross over with their boat to the Maumee,
and return by the way of Lake Erie.
This boat left Rome on the 1st of June, passed into Lake Ontario by
way of Wood Creek, Oneida Lake and Oswego River, and after navigating
the southern coast of that Lake, was conveyed round the falls of Niagara
on wheels, eleven miles, then by the way of Buffalo, across the end
of Lake Erie to the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek, and up it to a portage
of eight miles and a half across to the head waters of the Allegany
It arrived at this place, after passing two portages amounting to nineteen
and a half miles! During this time they were detained nearly ten days
by head winds and rains.
Geneva Palladium, NY, Dec. 4, 1822
From the Pittsburgh Statesman, Nov. 12
There is now lying at the mouth of Wayne-street, in this city, a shallop
rigged Keel Boat, thirty-five feet long, with several families on board,
who embarked in this boat at the mouth of Wood creek, head of the Oneida
Lake, state of New-York.
The course pursued to reach Pittsburgh, was by passing down the Oneida
Lake and thro' Oswego river into Lake Ontario, thence up to the Niagara
to within five miles of the Falls. The vessel was then carried round
the Falls on wheels, and placed in the river two miles above the Falls;
then pursued her course to Portland, on Lake Erie, and was again placed
on wheels, and carried seven miles along a good road to the Chatauqua
Lake and creek into Conewaga creek-entered the Alleghany river at Warren,
Erie county, Pa. and arrived safe at Pittsburgh.
Facts like these are worth preserving and their diffusion may be of
ultimate utility. It is also a practical evidence, that a water communication
between Pittsburgh and New-York can be opened without difficulty.
Yates Republican, Penn Yan, Aug. 9, 1825
The Subscribers, having recently received their Steam Engine from New-York,
are under the necessity of stopping their Ferry-Boat from plying between
the villages of Dresden and Lancaster, until the steam apparatus can
be attached to the Boat. Every possible exertion will be made to expedite
the labour, and due notice given to the public of its completion.
Good skiffs are provided, and will be in readiness for the accommodation
of foot passengers, until the Steam Boat commences her regular trips.
HOWARD & WATROUS, JOHN MAYNARD. August 8, 1825.
It wasn't until the following season that this boat was ready to re-enter
Yates Republican, June 1, 1826
Steam Ferry Boat
The Steam-Boat Seneca, will run regularly on the Ferry across
Seneca Lake, between Baleytown and Dresden villages. Times of departure
as follows, viz:
From Baleytown at 7 a.m., 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
From Dresden at 8:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.
This Boat has a good Cabin, in which Passengers can be safe and comfortable
at all times. Travellers who pass over the Lake at this Ferry may be
assured of a safe and expeditious passage. J. MAYNARD, and others, Proprietors.
Oswego Palladium, Aug. 29, 1859
Traveling in Old Times
Before the Canals were built, years and years ago; when Detroit was very
far west, and "outside of creation," and Buffalo a long journey from Schenectady;
when populous cities on the line were mere villages or settlements, in
a howling wilderness, people had to travel, and freight required transportation.
Although the traveling public was then a very small circle of adventurous
men, and the freight interest in its babyhood, yet both existed and had
to be accommodated. The thing was accomplished by bateau, a primitive
The Schenectady News, in an article on early traveling, furnishes
the following sketch of the route to the West:
Starting from Schenectady, with a crew of from three to five
men, the bateau would follow the Mohawk through the counties of Montgomery,
Herkimer and Oneida, until it reached in the vicinity of Rome, when the
bateau passed through a canal five miles to Wood Creek, thence down the
Creek to Oneida Lake; thence the whole length of the Lake to Fort Brewerton;
thence through the outlet into the Oswego River.
On reaching Oswego Falls, pilots were necessary, and the load of the bateau
had to be lightened. The falls were from six to eight feet. The vessel
then proceeded down the river to Lake Ontario, through the lake to Queenstown,
from which point it was carried over land to Chippewa River above Niagara
Falls; thence by the way of Fort Scholosser to Tonawanda, going through
Lake Erie to Detroit. Fort Scholosser was an encampment where the French
unloaded their stores. it is two miles above Niagara. The old storehouses
are now all fallen into decay, and there are not probably three buildings
standing. Navy Island is some brief distance above Fort Scholosser. The
trade from Niagara to Montreal was principally in the hands of the British.
A bateau was considered to make excellent time if it reached Niagara in
sixteen days after leaving Schenectady.
Hazards of 'Inland Navigation'
In the days before canals, water navigation was primarily by rafts and
"arks" and even those experienced in handling these crafts found it dangerous
business. Near Cortland, N.Y. was a place known as Port Watson, which
was at the head of navigation on the Tioughnioga River, a tributary of
the Susquehanna, via the Chenango River, at Chenango Forks.
Warehouses were located at Port Watson where goods were stored until
the water was high enough in the spring to float craft down the river.
This usually occurred once or twice a year, in the early spring. Although
the boats, some 90 feet long, had colorful names, they were short lived
and were cut of for lumber once they reached their destination because
it was impractical to return them to Port Watson.
Cortland Republican, Saturday, April 11, 1818
High water...Monday, 6th inst.
Ark Exporter, G. Rice, master, for Harrsburgh, laden with cheese
Crazy Jane, L. Rice, gypsum, Harrisburgh.
Dutch Trader, Shapley, gypsum, do.
Navigator, Parsons, gypsum, Columbia.
Brother Jonathan, Taylor, do. do.
Gold Hunter, Sherwood, do. do.
Indian Chief, Billings, do. do.
Resolution, May, do. Marietta.
Perseverance, Wakefield,do do
Phoenix, do do
Enterprize, do. do.
Lazy Tom, do. Northumberland.
Sour Crout, do. Kutztown.
Yankee Rogue, do. Sunbury
Besides gypsum, great quantities of whiskey, grain, potatoes and other
produce of this then wild country were sent down the river to Harrisburg
and Baltimore. The odds of getting injured in some way on such a dangerous
voyage were great. The Cortland Republican of April 25, 1818
Distressing Accident. - A few days since, Mr. Luman Rice, of
this town, left Port Watson for Pennsylvania, with an ark laden with plaster.
On the 14th inst. he endeavored to land at Northumberland. He coiled the
rope, one end of which was attached to the ark, round his left arm and
put it round a tree that leaned over the river - the other end was seized
by his companions in the ark, where unfortunately his arm was caught in
the rope, which cu it off instantly about half way between the elbow and
He fell into the river, and the current carried him a considerable distance
from the shore. With one hand, and the bleeding stump that remained of
the other arm, faint with the loss of blood, and almost exhausted, he
succeeded in reaching the shore, after swimming eight or ten rods. It
was found necessary to amputate his arm above the elbow - thus he was
obliged to endure the pain of having it severed in two places.
Geneva Gazette, Dec. 3, 1817
The subscriber informs the public that he has added several
Boats to his Ferry, which will enable him to keep one at all times on
each side of the Lake, with attentive and careful boatmen, ready for the
accommodation of persons wishing to cross the Lake from either shore.
This Ferry is established between Reading, in Steuben county, and the
south line of the town of Ovid, in Seneca county.
JOHN GOODWIN. Reading, Nov. 17, 1817