Saturday, December 3, 2011

Long Trip in a 'Stage Waggon'

[From: Travels Through Part of the United States and Canada in 1818, Vol. 2. By John M. Duncan, Glagow, Scotland, 1823].

Long distance travel on a stage wagon was anything but enjoyable maneuvering over muddy and rutted turnpikes particularly during wet seasons of the year. From:  P. 57, "The Young United States" by Edwin Tunis. 

  On leaving Schenectady, the first day's ride warned me of what might be expected on the succeeding ones. The weather was broken, the roads rough and deep, the stage waggon crowded with passengers and luggage, and the party but very moderately agreeable.

  The stage waggon which is still used in this part of the country, corresponds exactly with the picture and description which Weld has given. The body is rather long in proportion to its breadth, and contains four seats, each holding three passengers who all sit with their faces towards the horses. From the height of the seats it is open all round, and the roof is supported by slender shafts rising up at the corners and sides; in wet weather a leather apron is let down at the sides and back, to protect the inmates.
  The waggon has no door, but the passengers get in by the front, stepping over the seats as they go backward; the driver sits on the front seat with a passenger on either hand. The heavier kinds of boxes and trunks are fastened behind, upon the frame of the carriage, but the smaller articles and the mail bag are huddled under the seats in the inside, to the great annoyance of the passengers, who are frequently forced to sit with their knees up to their mouths, or with their feet insinuated between two trunks, where they are most lovingly compressed whenever the vehicle makes a lurch into a rut. The body of the waggon is suspended upon two stout leathern straps, passing lengthways under it, and secured upon strongly propped horizontal bars before and behind.

First built in 1808, the bridge over the Mohawk River at Schenectady was later covered. Its piers formed those of the later iron highway bridge.

  Leaving Schenectady we crossed the Mohawk by a roofed wooden bridge, a thousand feet in length, and the road skirted for a considerable distance the northern bank of the river, affording us a view of some of the rapids and the mode of navigating them. The boats which are used here are very long and shallow, and nearly flat in the bottom.
  They are navigated by five men; one at the stern manages a long steering oar, broad in the blade and bending down with a sweep into the water, but projecting so far over the boat as to be easily raised out, and thus combining the advantages of a rudder and an oar; the other four row or pole the boat as necessity requires.
 The poles appear to be about ten feet long, the point is shod with iron, and at the top is a round flattened head. Along each side of the boat from the bow to the stern is a narrow footway, crossed at short intervals with small pieces of wood like the feet of a ladder.
 In ascending a rapid, the men go to the bow of the boat, two on each side, and with their faces towards the stern thrust their poles into the channel; then bending forward, they oppose the upper part of the shoulder to the head of the pole, and catching by the cross pieces of wood, work their way on hands and feet towards the stern. This laborious process is patiently reiterated, till at length the strength and rapidity of the current are overcome, and the boat brought once more into smooth water.
  While passing through a wood, in the forenoon, we met a large party of blacks of both sexes, in gay holiday dresses; one of the men carried a large tambourine, and from the aspect of the party it was obvious that they had assembled for a merrymaking. A person in the stage informed us that they were slaves, and that this was one of three holidays which they were allowed in the year. This was to me a new spectacle, and one that suggested painful reflections. Even the holiday of a slave is a melancholy sight, and in 'the land of liberty' particularly revolting. "Slaves cannot breathe in England,"—would that they could not breathe in America either!
  The roads through which we drove, (it was literally through,) had so shaken our waggon, that after nine hours' jolting one of the straps gave way, and we were brought to a standstill by the carriage sinking down upon the pole. Americans are not easily disconcerted. There was a rail fence by the road side, from which the driver selected a stout rafter, long enough to reach from the footboard in front to the after axle, the body of the waggon was hove up by our united energies, and the wooden substitute for a spring was thrust under it. We then resumed our seats and jolted on, quite unconscious of any additional inconvenience from riding on a rail. At the next inn we obtained another waggon.
At nine o'clock in the evening we reached East Canada Creek, about forty-six miles from Schenectady, and got supper and lodging at a country tavern.
At four next morning we were roused to renew our journey. The rain was falling copiously, and the roads were improving in depth, every yard that we advanced. Between eight and nine we stopped for breakfast at the village of Little Falls, so called from a cascade in the Mohawk.
On getting into motion after breakfast I could not help looking out with some degree of despondency, on the prospect before us. The village through which we passed was unpaved, and deep mud extended from house to house, except where a log of timber here and there afforded a narrow footing to the pedestrian. The merciless rain dropped upon us through numerous chinks in the roof of our vehicle, and was blown in at the front and sides, in spite of the leathern apron with which we were surrounded.
 The horses were wading up to the knees, and occasionally past them; while at short intervals the carriage made sudden plunges to right or left, knocking the passengers against each other, and bruising our limbs on the boxes. It was something the very reverse of comforting to reflect, that there were upwards of two hundred miles between us and Buffalo, and that the roads, if the rain continued would become progressively worse as we advanced; while it was but here and there that we could expect a comfortable inn, and never a comfortable carriage.
 My forebodings of disaster seemed to hasten to an accomplishment, when, after advancing a few miles, we reached the bank of a river in which the bare stone piers of a bridge rose above the flood, without any superincumbent arches or platform. But this contingency seemed no way to discompose our phlegmatic driver, who very coolly brought us to the brink, emptied us and our luggage into two or three small boats, and leaving us to find our way across turned his horses' heads towards the village from which we had started.
   The rain here agreed to a temporary but very opportune cessation of hostilities, and the contents of the stage, animate and inanimate, were soon safely landed on the opposite bank. Here we learned that the wooden floor of the bridge had accompanied the ice down the river in the early part of the spring; no stage was in waiting to receive the passengers, and we found it necessary to send notice of our arrival to the next town, two miles distant. "While two of my fellow travellers set forward on this service, the others rambled about to explore the neighbourhood, and I was left beside the luggage upon the bank, sole guardian of the United States' Mail, which seemed to excite as little interest as if it had been a bag of old clothes.
  Having got again into motion we passed through the flourishing little town of Herkimer, situate in the midst of what is called the German Flats. This is esteemed a very fertile district of the country, but for the present every thing presented to us a dreary prospect.
   The road now became hilly and continued so for some miles. After we had slowly ascended the successive acclivities, we reached a more level country, and found a harder surface than we had hitherto known. Our driver seemed inclined that we should enjoy the variety, and urged his horses to a very hard trot, which occasionally broke into a canter; our stage rattled furiously along, clearing the stump of a tree or a large stone, with a bound and a shock which jarred every bone in my body. Between four and five o'clock in the afternoon we reached Utica, thirty eight miles from our place of starting. 

                                  Genesee Street, Utica, in the early 1800s.

  Had time and opportunity admitted of it I should willingly have spent a few hours at Utica, in acquiring information about the progress of the western canal, which is to pass close by the town; but the evening was occupied with matters which more immediately concerned my present comfort. Unacquainted with American travelling, I had unfortunately brought with me a trunk which was too large to be admitted into the interior of the waggon, and had therefore been exposed without covering to the long continued rain, and the unmerciful shaking which was inseparable from resting upon the frame of the carriage, without the intervention of springs; its dimensions procured me the additional pleasure, of paying nearly as much for its transportation as for my own. 
   On overhauling its contents I found my clothes and books, from the united effects of soaking and friction, in a sad condition; the aspect of affairs had been no way brightened by a furious contest which had taken place, in the wooden tray at the top, between some specimens of ocks from the Cohoes fall, and an unlucky box of charcoal, which disinclination to toothache had induced me to carry along with me. A pleasant afternoon's work I had of it, as you may readily believe.
At four o'clock next morning, in darkness and rain, we resumed our seats and drove forward, leaving the course of the Mohawk by which we had hitherto travelled, and inclining more to the westward. The roads were now worse than ever. The horses could only advance at a slow walk, and the driver had to take his chance of the road, for in the ocean of mud before us, selection of one part rather than another was out of the question. Now and then the poor cattle were floundering almost up to the neck, and on one occasion the leaders plunged so deep that one got a mouthful of mud which nearly choked him.
After breakfast we passed through a village of the Oneida Indians, and saw a few of the wretched descendants of that once powerful tribe. Both men and women presented a disheartening spectacle of squalidness and poverty, but fallen and degraded as they are the behaviour of the women was perfectly decorous; they shunned us as much as possible, and whenever we did meet unvariably drew their blankets completely round them, bringing them up on the face so as to leave only the upper part of it visible. They live in small log huts apparently without windows, and scattered at a considerable distance from each other. Part of the ground round their cottages was surrounded by rail fences, but I did not observe any other marks of cultivation.
Our course now lay through the Oneida wood where the road ascended a pretty steep hill, and besides being as deep as that through which we had come, was encumbered with stumps of trees. The rain still fell, but as it was comparatively moderate and as there was a kind of foot path through the wood, we agreed to relieve the poor horses by walking. The footing was soft and slippery; occasionally we had to leap from one prostrate trunk to another, and again to make a circuit of considerable extent to avoid a quagmire. Had it been possible for an Oneida warrior of former days to have looked down on our uncouth array, how scornfully would he have smiled at the white men, muffled in great coats, and skulking under umbrellas, feebly dragging their steps round every little pool of water, and turning out of the way to avoid a fallen tree, where he had been accustomed to chase the panther or the deer, with a foot as light as the animal's before him, dashing through opposing torrents, and bounding like an antelope over every obstruction!
Having overcome at length the difficulties of the wood, and begun to descend the opposite side of the hill, we resumed our seats. Scarcely had we begun to move forward when we descried the stage from the westward coming slowly up, with the passengers straggling here and there around it. We learned on meeting that they had just recovered their feet after an upset, and the mud on their clothes sufficiently corroborated the statement; happily no one was hurt, the stage having opportunely turned over against a steep bank by the side of the road. They told us that our turn was coming, but we thought that the roads before us could hardly be worse than those behind, and that with patience and caution we might manage to get through.

  About seven in the evening we reached Chittenango, where we got tea. Off we again started, and while struggling up a very steep hill, our carriage descended into a gap with so violent a shock, that the bolt or pivot on which the front axle turned snapped in two, and the horses had nearly dragged the front wheels from under the body of the waggon. Our driver however was happily provided with a spare bolt, the passengers got out, a stout rail from the nearest fence was thrust under the carriage, and up to the ankles in mud, part on each side, we managed by dint of strength to sustain the waggon till the axle was replaced in its proper position, and the new bolt inserted. At nine o'clock we reached Manlius, but were compelled to jolt on for three hours longer; exactly at midnight we reached Onondago Hollow, and had the comfort to find that our twenty hours' work amounted to no more than fifty miles.
Before our weary frames were half refreshed the periodical time of starting had come round, and at four o'clock in the morning we resumed our uncomfortable seats. No improvement had taken place in the roads, but the rain had ceased, and of course travelling was somewhat less disagreeable. At ten o'clock we reached Skaneateles, at the upper end of a lake of the same name, a distance of sixteen miles. About two o'clock we passed through the village of Auburn, which has every external appearance of prosperity, but in present circumstances it by no means appeared to us the 'loveliest village of the plain.'
 About five in the afternoon we reached the Cayuga lake, which is here very nearly a mile in width, and is crossed by a wooden bridge supported upon piles. The wheels of our chariot rolled along the level platform, with a smoothness to which we had long been strangers; and so luxuriant seemed the contrast, that on getting to the farther end, some of the passengers proposed that we should turn the horses and enjoy it a second time!
Ascending the hill from the lake, the bolt in the front axle again gave way; but we had learned the remedy for such mishaps, and soon applied ourselves to the work with energy and success. A few miles farther we passed through the flourishing settlement of Waterloo, built upon the bank of a creek which flows between the Cayuga and Seneca lakes. The situation is most romantic, but the stranger's astonishment is chiefly excited, by the rapidity with which this and many other settlements on this road have started into maturity. The first building was erected only three years ago, and already it possesses a Court House, hotel, and stores in abundance.
A new penitentiary has been built here, for the State of New York; and a theological academy has been established, in connexion with the Presbyterian church. 
A new variety of American roads now commended itself to our attention. A wearisome swamp intervenes between Waterloo and the Seneca Lake, and a yet more wearisome log causeway, affords the means of crossing it. This substitute for a road is composed entirely of the trunks of trees, laid down layer above layer, till a solid but rugged platform is elevated above the level of the marsh. The logs are piled upon each other without any kind of squaring or adjustment, and the jolting of the wheels from one to another is perfectly horrible. 
Bad however in the superlative degree as such riding is, it was connected in the present instance with additional circumstances of annoyance, not usually attendant. By the heavy and long continued rains the swamp had been converted into a lake, which gradually rising in height had at last completely covered the wooden road. Night had sunk down upon us, and though there was a glimmering of moonlight, it had to struggle through a dense atmosphere of clouds; our charioteer, however, feeling secure in his knowledge of the channel, drove dauntlessly forward, the horses dashed into the water, and very soon our bones bore testimony to the correctness of his pilotage. 
Well was it for us that the driver's skill was not inferior to his daring, for had he gone to either side of the proper line, horses and waggon, with all that it contained, would probably have found in the marsh their last earthly resting place. Two or three times it seemed as if such a consummation was approaching :—several logs had floated out of their places and left yawning gaps in the causeway, across which our horses might be said to swim rather than walk, and the wheels followed them with a plunge, so sudden and so deep, that it felt as if the bottom of the road had literally fallen out, and our whole establishment were going after it.
  About ten o'clock we reached the Seneca lake, and were in hopes that Geneva, the village on its bank, was to terminate our day's toils. In this however we were disappointed. The innkeeper averred that it was absolutely necessary that the mail should go forward to Canandaigua, sixteen miles farther; he assured us that the road was much better than those we had travelled, promised us a comfortable carriage, good horses, and an excellent driver, and said that we should certainly accomplish it in less than four hours.                            

                             Famous in Stagecoach Days was the Geneva Hotel.

  Persuaded against our own judgment to rely on these promises, we consented to go forward; and a young man with a bugle horn was put into the carriage beside us, to cheer us forward with its courage-stirring notes. I did not at first suspect the object of this accompaniment, but it soon became obvious that it was intended to prevent our falling asleep. I already mentioned that the stage waggon was open all round, and you would of course attribute the necessity of this to the heat of the climate. It was subservient, however, to another important purpose as well as that of keeping us cool. When the wheels on one side descended into a rut, the passengers immediately threw themselves by a simultaneous motion towards the opposite, and those who were close by the side thrust their heads and shoulders through the opening; this sudden shifting of the centre of gravity counterpoised the waggon's tendency to upset, and we had become by practice so expert in the maneuver, that often, when the vehicle seemed to tremble on the very turn, the weight of our heads turned the scale in our favor. 
  The prudent landlord at Geneva however knew well, that if we fell asleep, as our long continued fatigues would strongly dispose us to do, our heavy heads in place of being thrust out of the carriage would necessarily make a great addition to the leeward weight within, and to a certainty capsize the machine. He therefore very thoughtfully provided us with a trumpeter, who by singing songs, relating his marvellous adventures, and ever and anon wakening the warlike energies of his instrument, managed to keep us sufficiently awake to continue our exertions on behalf of the balance of power.
  The roads were execrably bad—quite as much so as any which we had yet seen. While the moonlight continued however we managed to get slowly forward, at one time throwing ourselves incessantly from right to left like a ship in a gale of wind, at another heaving to, till the driver dismounted and went forward twenty or thirty yards to take soundings. Oftener than once we were all obliged to get out, scramble over fences and make a circuit, ankle deep, through the adjoining fields, to meet the waggon at the farther end of some deep slough. On one of these occasions, in getting over a worm fence my foot slipped, the upper rail turned over, and "The skin in blipes cam barlin Aff's nieves that nicht."
  At last the moon set, and we were forced to halt outright. We drew up at a tavern by the road side, roused the inmates, and stretched our wearied limbs by the fire. Some of the passengers comforted themselves with a glass of egg-nog but the sight of it was quite enough for me. Day light at last broke, and at half past five, after divers hairbreadth escapes, we arrived at Canandaigua. The stage from the westward which was to take us forward was expected in a short time; we therefore did not go to bed but washed our glazed and sleepy eyes, and waited impatiently for its arrival.
'This youth had been a bugler in the British service, and deserted from the 70th regiment, which was at that time in Fort George. He swam across the Niagara at eleven o'clock at night, dragging after him his bugle and some clothes tied upon a piece of board. The width of the river at the fort is not great, probably about a third of a mile, but the current is very powerful, and there are numerous eddies near the sides; the story which he told us, was afterwards confirmed to one of the party by an officer in the neighborhood of the fort.
The worm fence is by far the most common in America. It is composed of straight poles or rails, eight or ten feet long. - laid horizontally in a zigzag direction, so that the ends cross and rest upon each other. It needs no nails to secure it, and although it occupies five or six times as much ground as a straight fence, ground is a cheap article here'; it is usually piled to the height of seven or eight rails.
  About ten o'clock we again set forward, but our adventures were so similar to those of former days that I need not fatigue you with a recital. We had another river to cross where the bridge had been carried away, but on this occasion the stage with all its inmates embarked in a flat bottomed scow, as it is called, large enough to contain it without unyoking the horses; we got safely across, but the scene reminded me of the picture of a cat set afloat in a wooden dish.
A compound of milk, raw eggs, spirits and sugar, violently agitated by a stirrer which is twirled round between the hands. In the instance referred to, one of the passengers after turning off his tumbler, and smacking his mouth, insisted that it had been made with raw sugar; this the tavern-keeper stoutly denied, and as we afterwards discovered with truth, for he had no sugar of any kind in the house and had substituted molasses.
At seven o'clock in the evening we reached Avon, upon the bank of the Genesee river, only twenty four miles from Canandaigua. There we stopped to get tea, and I felt myself so much overcome with fatigue, want of sleep, and a violent headache, that I resolved to give up the contest and let the stage go forward without me.
I do not think that I ever felt so thoroughly knocked up, to use an expressive phrase, as on this occasion; and I was not without some degree of apprehension that serious indisposition might be the consequence of it. Happily, however, little else was necessary to restore me than a comfortable night's rest; I went to bed almost as soon as the stage had started, and having slept without interruption for nearly twelve hours, I felt on awakening wonderfully revived.
It was now Saturday, and as no stage was to pass till Monday afternoon, it was necessary that I should either find some private means of conveyance, or content myself for two days where I was. My landlord seemed somewhat inclined that I should make up my mind to the latter alternative, for on asking him to provide me with a small waggon, I found that he would not accept of less than five dollars, twenty two and sixpence sterling,
We have nothing exactly resembling the American Dearborn, or one horse waggon. It is a very low and light carriage upon four wheels, containing a movable seat upon wooden springs which holds two; there is room enough behind (he seat for two or three trunks, for conveying me fourteen miles; with this demand I was not inclined to comply, and after making a little enquiry I bargained with a man, who had emigrated from Wiltshire, to convey me sixteen miles for two dollars.
  The rain had ceased during the night, and the sky was clear and pleasant; the first time it had been so for a week. The Englishman was intelligent and not unwilling to talk, the road rather better than most which we had seen, although we found it sometimes necessary to make a circuit through the fields, and the ride was altogether tolerably agreeable. Our conversation turned, not unnaturally, upon the comparative advantages of Britain and America; my driver agreed that if people were sober and industrious they might generally get along very well in either. 
  His anticipations, he acknowledged, had been too sanguine when he came out, but although not gratified to their full extent, he said that upon the whole he had no reason to complain. He kept a tavern, that is a small country inn, or rather occupied one which was generally left to the management of his wife, while he wrought for the neighboring farmers, or whoever needed him, with his horse and waggon. He said that none succeeded better in that neighborhood than my countrymen, of whom there was Caledonia, LeRoy and Batavia, and it is altogether a very convenient vehicle. A plain one may be had for about .£10 sterling; sometimes they are finished with considerable elegance, and provided with a covering like a gig.
   A thriving settlement named Caledonia through which we should pass. He paid them the usual compliment of saying that they stuck together amazingly, and assisted each other out of difficulties; so that whatever hardships individuals might suffer at the outset, they were as a community generally prosperous in the end. About two hours' riding brought us to Caledonia, a very neat little village, where the Englishman stopped to feed his horse; he called out,  a store-keeper to shake hands with a young countryman just imported, and a multitude of questions were showered upon me about the land of cakes, with many good wishes for it and its children.
About three in the afternoon we reached Le Roy which completed our sixteen miles; I urged him to carry me forward the next stage also, but as it was Saturday he thought there might be more customers at his tavern in the evening, than his wife alone could attend to, and therefore wished to be at home. I could say nothing against the reasonableness of this argument, so shook hands with him and parted. The innkeeper at Le Roy supplied me with another waggon, to take me forward to Batavia, ten miles farther, which I reached in safety after several miles' jolting over a log causeway.
   Batavia is a small straggling town containing about 200 inhabitants. It contains a Court House, which serves also for a church; and on Sabbath I went to hear sermon. Who or what the minister was, I did not learn, but his abilities were of a very moderate kind; his forenoon service did not extend to an hour altogether, and that of the afternoon was very little more. In the evening there was what is called a conference; a common thing with various denominations in this country. The minister was not present, but several individuals spoke in familiar language on devotional subjects, some of whom pleased me much better than the preacher had done.
   Sabbath was a warm and agreeable day, and I was in hopes that the weather was going to become settled. In the evening however the sky was overcast, a large nebulous circle surrounded the moon, and I recollected the Scottish proverb, a far brugh, a near storm.
Monday verified the saying; it was cloudy and cold in the forenoon, and very wet in the afternoon. After ineffectually attempting to hire a waggon, I found it necessary to await the arrival of the stage. To occupy a vacant hour I entered a flour mill, and was conducted by the miller through every part of it; on taking leave, he thanked me politely for having called.

Next morning at five we left Batavia; and at six in the evening, after a most disagreeable ride of forty miles, reached Buffalo. It rained almost incessantly; and for more than a third of the road, we had to jolt once more over a log causeway.
  Such was my first journey to the shores of lake Erie. My second was as different as possible; and, by way of contrast, I shall hastily run over it.
  I left Schenectady on the second occasion about six in the morning, and reached Utica, 80 miles distant, in the evening. The weather was good, sharp indeed in the morning but very warm in the forenoon, and we could now enjoy the beautiful scenery on the banks of the Mohawk. At Little Falls the river passes through a wild mountainous ravine, now rushing over shelving falls, now whirling and foaming round a projecting point, or detached masses of rock; on both sides the banks are rocky and precipitous, and a few dwarfish trees start from among the crevices;—if it were not for the waggon in which you travel, you could almost suppose yourself in the neighborhood of the Troshachs.
From Utica we started the following morning between four and five o'clock, and about seven in the evening reached Skeneateles, a distance of 66 miles. The orchards by the side of the road were loaded with fruit, and large quantities lying about which had dropped from the trees. Next morning at half-past five we left Skaneateles, crossed the Cayuga lake by the long wooden bridge, and reached Canandaigua about three; it seemed a very paradise to that Canandaigua, which I had entered with the bugler in the waggon beside me, after the dreary night of wading and jolting.

                                             Cayuga Bridge

I spent Sabbath at Canandaigua, and attended the Presbyterian church three times. The regular minister did not preach on this occasion, but his place was supplied by a stranger whom I heard with much pleasure. His forenoon discourse was from these words, "Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins." In the afternoon he selected a verse from the Epistle of Jude, "—unto the judgment of the great day;" and in the evening, Cornelius's concluding remark to the Apostle Peter, "Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God." In the morning discourse, he expounded most clearly the doctrine of salvation through the atonement of the Lord Jesus, vindicating his essential divinity, and proclaiming the dreadful and eternal condemnation of unbelievers. In the afternoon he enlarged upon the subjects of death and judgment; and particularly alluded to the distinction, which God in his sovereignty had made, between apostate angels and fallen man. In the evening he enforced the duty of sanctifying the Lord's day, and of meeting as frequently as possible during the week for social worship; he concluded by reminding us of the importance of doing all in our power, by influence and example, in the various relations of life, to extend the knowledge and practice of religion. I was much gratified by these discourses, and by the earnestness and zeal of the preacher. There are other two churches in Canandaigua, one of which belongs to the Episcopalian body.
I became acquainted with only one family here; the younger branches of it are all engaged in conducting Sabbath schools. I visited one of them, and was pleased with the appearance of order which it exhibited; one of the scholars was an Irish emigrant, who read well, and had been but a short time before totally ignorant of the alphabet.
On Monday morning I left Canandaigua; passed through Avon, where I had given up the struggle on the former occasion, and got on to Batavia, from which on the following day we came forward to Buffalo :—thus accomplishing with great ease and comfort in six days, what I had with great difficulty and distress effected on the former occasion in ten. Buffalo is a busy little town, containing about six hundred inhabitants, occupying a beautiful situation at the lower extremity of lake Erie. It was burnt to ashes by the British troops during last war, as a measure of retaliation for the previous destruction of York and Niagara. 
What a dreadful scourge is war! A passenger in the stage pointed out to me a log hut, a mile or two from the town, in which he told me he saw about a hundred men, women, and children, take shelter on the night of the conflagration. The inn at which I lodge has a sign-board, swinging between two lofty poles, bearing the American Eagle as its device, which is completely riddled with balls; it was almost the only article which escaped the flames. This sign-board, and the blackened ruins of a brick house, are almost the only marks which I have traced of the destruction of the town. Like Washington, it has risen from its ashes with probably more than its former vigour. It contains a bank, and a very considerable number of large and substantially built brick houses. 

                                    Steamboat 'Walk-in-the-Water'

Buffalo stands close by the mouth of a small creek, which affords a harbor for the trading vessels. A small light-house has been recently built, to guide the benighted mariner to its sheltering haven; and a large steam boat has just begun to navigate the lake, which is appropriately named, after a celebrated Indian chief, Walk-in-the-water. The position of the town is very favorable for commerce. The great western canal will terminate within two miles of it, and it will then become the great thoroughfare between the lower country, and lake Erie, the State of Ohio, and the rest of the western territory. At present, however, the inhabitants are laboring under great difficulties, in consequence of the events of the war. It was expected that Government would have indemnified the citizens, at least to a considerable extent, for the destruction of their property; and in this hope capitalists lent many of them money, to rebuild their houses and recommence business. Congress, however, has recently, to their great disappointment, refused to afford them the smallest relief.

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