Afloat on the Ohio: an historical pilgrimage of a thousand by Reuben Gold Thwaites

By Reuben Gold Thwaites

Nineteenth-century American commute literature offers interesting glimpses into the lives of standard humans and into the heritage of the nation's payment. Reuben Gold Thwaites's Afloat at the Ohio is an outstanding instance of the style, wealthy in Ohio River personalities, legends, and historical past as visible via Thwaites's eyes. His six-week trip via skiff lined one thousand miles from Redstone, Pennsylvania, to Cairo, Illinois, the place the Ohio River meets the Mississippi. Thwaites's voyage echoes these taken through early explorers, pioneers, and settlers who spread out the West via river shuttle from the East.This variation is a reprinting of the unique 1897 edition. 

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Sometimes the little towns we see occupy a narrow and more or less rocky bench upon the hill side of the stream, but settlement is chiefly found upon the bottoms. Shippingsport (32 miles), on the left bank, where we stopped this noon for eggs, butter, and fresh water, is on a narrow hill bencha dry, woe-begone hamlet, side-tracked from the path of the world's progress. While I was on shore, negotiating with the sleepy store -keeper, Pilgrim and her crew waited alongside the flatboat which serves as the town ferry.

Our sloping willowed sand-beach, of a hundred feet in width, is thick strewn with driftwood; back of this a clay bank, eight feet sheer, and a narrow bottom cut up with small fruit and vegetable patches; the gardeners' neat frame houses peeping from groves of apple, pear and cherry, upon the flanking hillsides. A lofty oil-well derrick surmounts the edge of the terrace a hundred yards below our camp. The bushes and the ground round about the well are black and slimy with crude petroleum, that has escaped during the boring process, and the air is heavy with its odor.

We had rigged an awning over some willow hoops, but it could not protect us from this reflection. For an hour or twoone may as well be honestwe fairly sweltered upon our pilgrimage, until at last a light breeze ruffled the water and brought blessed relief. The hills are not as high as hitherto, and are more broken. Yet they have a certain majestic sweep, and for the most part are forest-mantled from base to summit. Between them the river winds with noble grace, continually giving us fresh vistas, often of surpassing loveliness.

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