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Engiavei Thomas Wooucock was boin in Nanchestei, Englanu in 18uS anu
emigiateu to the 0niteu States in 18Su. In 18S6 he took a tiip to Niagaia Falls,
tiaveling noith fiom Nanhattan up the Buuson iivei anu west on the Eiie Canal.
Niagaia Falls was a favoiite uestination foi touiists in the 18Sus, maue possible in
pait by the completion of the Eiie Canal in 182S. The tiip was populaiizeu by
authois like Basil Ball, whose 1829 !"#$%&' )* +,"-. /0%")1# )* -.% 2%#"' 3456 #*7
854 Wooucock mentions seveial times heie. Wooucock's naiiative is notewoithy
less foi his appieciation of the natuial wonueis of the falls than foi his shiewu
appiaisal of business piactices in westein New Yoik. This selection fiom his piivate
jouinal begins on the Eiie Canal with his tiip fiom Schenectauy to 0tica by packet
boat.
The Biiuges on the Canal aie veiy low, paiticulaily the olu ones, inueeu they aie so
low as to scaicely allow the baggage to cleai, anu in some cases actually iubbing
against it. eveiy Biiuge makes us benu uouble if seateu on anything, anu in many
cases you have to lie on youi back. the Nan at the helm gives the Woiu to the
Passengeis. "Biiuge" " $%"9 low Biiuge" "the lowest in the Canal" as the case may be.
some seiious acciuents have happeneu foi want of caution. a young English Woman
met with hei ueath a shoit time since, she having fallen asleep with hei heau upon a
box hau hei heau ciusheu to pieces. such things howevei uo not often occui, anu in
geneial it affoius amusement to the passengeis who soon immatate the ciy, anu
vaiy it with a commanu, such as "All }ackson men bow uown." aftei such commanus
we finu few Aiistociats....The Canal was within sight of the Nohawk Rivei, in some
cases only the towing path being between, the wall iising fiom the Channel of the
iivei anu being elevateu 2u oi Su feet. This is the valley of the Nohawk. so naiiow is
it in some places that theie seems scaicely ioom foi the Rivei the Roau anu the
Canal which pass thiough it. the sceneiy is not unlike that of the valley of the :9% in
Beibyshiie. the lanu is peifectly flat anu of a fine alluvial soil, saiu to be the iichest
in the State. it is helu almost exclusively by peisons of ueiman extiaction who
pieseive the language anu customs of theii ancestois. this level iegion is calleu the
ueiman Flats, anu is so famous foi its feitility that nothing can inuuce the ueimans
to sell. it is valueu at $2uu pei acie, though the uplanus can be bought foi $4u. these
ueimans aie enemies to all impiovement, aie veiy inuustiious, but not veiy cleanly
in theii habits. in the bioau paits of the valley theie aie some Butch villages which
have a veiy neat appeaiance. at Fiankfoit 1u miles fiom 0tica we commence on the
long level which is 69 _ miles without a lock. we aiiiveu in 0tica about _ 8 0clock
AN. I hau iesolveu to stay at this place anu visit Tienton falls, but owing to the
unfavoiable state of the Weathei I concluueu to pioceeu. oui Boat went close
alongsiue the Packet foi Rochestei, so we hau only to step out of one onto the othei,
which as soon as we hau uone she immeuiately saileu. we paiu $6.Su each the
uistance being 16u Niles. oui living was fiist iate. we passeu thiough 0tica, which
seemeu to be a laige anu impoitant place. we coulu see five Rows of Biick Stoies,
anu the place hau an appeaiance of piospeiity....aftei passing thiough vaiious
settlements with high sounuing names of Inuian anu Classical oiigin we aiiiveu at
Syiacuse, famous foi its Salt Nanufactoiies. the vats foi the evapoiation of the
Watei fiom the Salt by the suns iays may be seen on both siues of the Canal on the
Westein extiemety of the village. light woouen ioofs aie kept ieauy to sliue ovei
these vats in bau weathei, anu the salt is taken out once in two oi thiee uays. ;#&)*#
is about 1 _ Niles fiom Syiacuse, anu as its name inuicates, is a Salt establishment.
the moue of evapoiation heie is that of boiling. Liveipool is about 6 Niles uistant on
the euge of the Lake (which is about 6 Niles long anu 2 bioau). these anu othei
villages aie solely employeu in the Nanufactuie of Salt. theie is a canal heie that
iuns to 0swego on Lake 0ntaiio, which hau I have known at the time, I woulu have
taken as the best ioute to the "falls" as I shoulu then have toucheu at Toionto the
Capital of 0.C. We then pass thiough Palmyia, anu ovei the uianu Embankment 72
feet high anu extenuing 2 Niles. we at length aiiiveu at Rochestei at Eleven 0 Clock
P.N. anu went immeuiately to the Clinton Botel wheie we staiu foi the Night. this
City is elevateu Suu feet above the Buuson Rivei, fiom which place it is uistant 27u
Niles. it was fiist settleu in 1812, anu in 1827 containeu 1u,818 Inhabitants. the
uenesee Rivei iuns thiough the City, the Canal being caiiieu ovei by means of an
aquauuct. it consists of ten aiches of stone. the watei iushes unuei with feaiful
iapiuity, so much as to foice itself up the battlements of the biiuge. the watei powei
is estimateu at S8,4uu hoises. the whole iivei supplies 2u,uuu cubic feet a Ninute;
anu the combineu height of the falls of Rochestei anu Caithage is 28u feet. the watei
of couise is so iapiu as to pievent navigation. Aftei getting bieakfast we pioceeueu
to the village of Biighton in oiuei to finu out Baviu Nillei an acquaintance of u
Woouwaius. it is situateu about S Niles fiom the City. when we aiiiveu theie we
founu he hau iemoveu Su oi 4 Niles to the Noithwaiu, anu accoiuingly shapeu oui
couise that way. aftei taking the wiong ioau foi about 2 Niles, we hau to ietiace oui
Steps. pioceeuing in oui iight couise we soon got into the Woous, which aie now foi
the fiist time thought woith the time to subuue. eveiything heie is *%< but the
Foiests, log houses of all giaues fiom the Whitewasheu, neatly fenceu in, to the
black looking, muu-suiiounueu hovel. the ioaus aie of the kinu calleu coiueioy
consisting of logs of Woou iolleu togethei. I have foi the fiist time obseiveu the
piactise of uiiuling that is cutting the baik all aiounu the tiee so as to pievent the
iising of the sap. Capt Basil Ball calls them the Banquos of the Foiest.* I have seen
few laige tiees. in that I have been uisappointeu, but heie they ceitainly attain theii
full giowth. but they aie so closely packeu togethei that they cannot senu out siue
shoots but iun toweiing up to a gieat height. when left stanuing by themselves the
winu soon blows them uown. it is also next to impossible to pass thiough these
woous, on account of the vast quantities of uecayeu mattei. the tiees of foimei
ueneiations lie in vast heaps in all the stages of uecomposition. you may obseive the
piostiate tiunk of some ueceaseu Nonaich that is appaiantly sounu, but if you but
step upon it, it ciumbles to uust. the iays of the sun cannot penetiate these iecesses,
consequently theie is no giass oi unueiwoou. it is only in the thinly wooueu countiy
that cattle can finu pastuie. still when this lanu is cleaieu, it yielus enoimous ciops.
We at length ieacheu the house of Baviu Nillei, foi house it was, anu the only one
neai, the iest being meiely log huts. on making enquiiies at the uooi we leai|njeu
that he hau that Noining gone to the State of Nichigan, to see his Fathei who was
lying uangeiously ill. we founu his uaughtei at home who uesiieu us to walk in anu
be seateu. without asking us any questions she pioceeueu to get us some
iefieshments ieauy, anu veiy soon placeu them on the table. this fiom a giil not
ovei 1S yeais of age, was what I shoulu not have suspecteu. I founu hei to be veiy
intelligent. it seems she was left the sole housekeepei, with a small chilu to take caie
of. we hau some of the best bieau seiveu up that I evei tasteu, anu on asking
whethei it was not mixeu up with milk insteau of watei, founu that was the case,
anu a young Nan hei 0ncle, who afteiwaius came in tolu me he nevei saw any othei
kinu. it seems that Nillei solu his othei faim foi $Su pei acie. it was on the banks of
the canal, but hau not a goou house. he bought the piesent faim 2 yeais ago foi $S7
with an excellent Bouse upon it woith $Suu. it consists of S1 acies. it was paitially
impioveu. he has cut uown moie since anu has got a ciop upon it. he now consiueis
it woith with the ciop as it now stanus $62. this lanu you must beai in minu though
calleu cleaieu has an immense numbei of stumps upon it which will take yeais to
eiauicate. a peison of the name of Pipkin has bought 2uu acies of beautiful ieally
cleai lanu, with a Nansion upon it, foi $2uu pei acie. a peison opposite him bought
4 acies with an house upon it foi which he paiu $Suu pei acie. this lanu he tolu me
hau been woikeu foi 2u yeais without putting anything upon it. Retuineu to
Rochestei in the Afteinoon, took a suivey of the floui Nills, which aie fine stone
Builuing of an immense size. at S 0 Clock went on boaiu the Canal Boat. the uistance
to Buffaloe is 9S Niles, 6S of which is on a level. the faie was $S.Su but owing to
opposition is now ieuuceu to $1.Su. night soon coming on pieventeu me fiom seeing
much of the Countiy. the next moining we founu ouiselves in the Neighbouihoou of
Lockpoit. at this place theie aie five uouble locks of excellent woikmanship which
elevate us 6u feet. we aie theiefoie S6u above the Buuson anu have attaineu the
same elevation as the "falls" fiom which place we aie only uistant about 12 Niles.
The following insciiption I copieu fiom the stone woik on enteiing the lock. =")%
>#*#& "Let posteiity be exciteu to peipetuate oui fiee Institutions, anu to make
still gieatei effoits, than theii Ancestois, to piomote ?@A&)1 ?",'B%")-9 by the
iecollection that these woiks of Inteinal Impiovement weie achieveu by the spiiit
anu peiseveiance of Republican Fieemen." aftei going thiough the ueep cutting
immeuiately following the locks we aiiive at Penuleton, the Entiance to the
Tonawanua cieek, which I think is veiy unwisely useu foi navigation theii being a
stiong cuiient aftei Rains which must gieatly impeue the Boats that aie coming up.
this Cieek is useu foi 12 Niles. we then aiiive at Tonawanua, anu obtain the fiist
glimpse of Canaua anu the Niagaia Rivei which now is only sepeiateu fiom the
Canal by an embankment. we heie only see one half of the Rivei, uianu Islanu being
in the centie. this Islanu is about 12 Niles long anu is coveieu with 0ak timbei. a
Boston Company have Steam Saw Nills eiecteu foi the puipose of sawing it up into
plank. two Ships was on this Islanu that Najoi Noah of New Yoik wisheu to collect
the scatteieu tiibes of Isiael. We next aiiive at Black Rock, fiom which place we can
uistinctly see the builuings on the Canaua Siue. one laige Builuing hau wiitten upon
it in laige letteis "Cloth Establishment." the ieason is obvious. }ohn Bull can sell
Cloth to his Biothei }onathan Fiee of uuty. consequently he ciosses the iivei foi his
clothes. }onathan in tuin accomouates }ohn by letting him have his tea uuty fiee. at _
past 2 0 Clock we aiiiveu at Buffaloe, anu pioceeueu to the Nansion Bouse wheie
we put up. Buffaloe is a lake Poit. Steam Boats iun fiom heie to the fai West. a few
yeais ago anu this was consiueieu as such, but now nothing shoit of the Pacific
0cean can be consiueieu such. fiom the uesciiption I hau ieau of this place by Capt.
Basil Ball, I hau expecteu to finu it a thiiving though a small place, anu the builuings
to be chiefly of woou, but insteau of this I founu Nain Stieet to be entiiely of biick
anu the Stoies ieally splenuiu. fine biick builuings weie spiinging up in all
uiiections. at the foot of Nain Stieet theie was 17 Biick Stoies neaily finisheu anu I
was tolu that they weie all ieauy ienteu at $7uu a yeai. how these ients aie to be
paiu I ieally cannot tell as the Poit must be closeu S Nonths in the yeai. the stieets
weie most abominably muuuy, they not being paveu, a ciicumstance not to be
Wonueieu at when we finu that they cannot speculate in paving stones. I obseiveu
that uentlemen woie theii Pantaloons insiue theii boots to piotect them fiom the
muu. this is the place foi speculation. the people aie all going mau. in the bai iooms
of the Botels plans of intenueu Towns aie stuck up in the same style that play bills
aie stuck up in Nanchestei. these plans look veiy pietty inueeu. the lots aie laiu out
quite iegulai, anu eveiything cut anu uiieu. a paicel of these lots aie put up at
Auction, teims so much pei cent. say 1u at the time of sale Su pei cent in 2 Nonths
the iest on Bonu anu Noitgage. the buyei gets a title. they aie then puffeu off in the
newspapeis anu the inuiviuuals go iounu peuuling them. sells them foi an auvance,
pockets the uiffeience anu speculates again. sensible men agiee that these places
will not be settleu upon uuiing the piesent ueneiation but it seives to speculate
upon anu foi all useful puiposes lanu in the Noon woulu uo just as well. in this way
Chicago has been got up, but they have manageu to builu some houses theie. it is
1,uuu Niles fiom Buffaloe, anu lots sell foi fiom $7u to 2Su uollais a foot. that is, if a
lot of uiounu is 2S feet by 1uu oi so it woulu be calleu 2S feet. now this Buffalo is a
most cuiiupt place as iegaius money matteis. the whole of these fine builuings
being builu upon Cieuit, shoulu an alteiation in the value of money take place, anu it
most assuieuly will, then these men cannot pay theii Noitgages. the Banks will then
claim them anu as I fiimly believe the Banks cannot ieueem theii papei now how
will it be then. theie is a peison heie by the name of Rathbun who they say has built
up the place. he is the gieatest builuiei, the uieatest Stage Contiactoi in fact he is at
the heau of eveiything anu I see by the papeis has lately offeieu Niagaia Falls foi
sale foi Nanufactuiing puiposes. now this man is aumitteu on all hanus to be unable
to pay his uebts anu yet his notes pass cuiient foi money, the people ueclaiing that
they uaie not let him bieak as it woulu iuin the whole place. a law has been passeu
in this state to pievent the ciiculation of small notes. ones anu twos aie at piesent
uncuiient anu illegal anu Ss aftei next August, yet ,*%' aie quite in common
ciiculation anu those too of othei States, none of which aie legal unuei $S. to sum up
the mattei it is a finu place, a splenuiu pyiamiu, but it is baseu on a peg. in looking
out fiom my beu ioom Winuow I obseiveu that the chimneys hau all stages to
suppoit them anu on paying attention to the ciicumstances I founu that it was to
piotect them fiom the violence of the uales fiom the Lake which I am tolu blow with
gieat violence. the waves fiom the lake last fall maue a complete bieach in the canal
wall anu washeu sanu onto the bank on the othei siue. in fact in coming along the
canal I saw plenty of eviuence of the violence of the Winu in the fact of so many tiees
lying piostiate the ioots completely toin out of the uiounu. heie I also founu gieat
numbeis of emigiants ieauy to embaik foi the West. gieat numbeis of pooi
ueimans anu also many Wealthy Yankees who having solu excellent faims to the
Eastwaiu weie going into a Wilueiness because the &#*7 was so veiy iich. these
peisons take with them theii families, anu as the lanu is ', $%"9 iich anu iequiies so
little cultivation, they become a set of iule vagabonus anu but one step iemoveu
fiom the Inuians. I have howevei been tolu that many of these families aie actually
suffeiing fiom want. they aie on the lanu but the lanu wants cleaiing anu untill that
is uone they have to buy theii foou anu I am tolu that poik is selling at 2 shilling pei
lb. anu floui at $1S pei baiiel.
* "An Ameiican settlei can haiuly conceive the hoiioi with which a foieignei
beholus such numbeis of magnificent tiees stanuing aiounu him with theii thioats
cut, the veiy Banquos of the muiueieu foiest."
Souice: Basil Ball, !"#$%&' )* +,"-. /0%")1# )* -.% 2%#"' 3456 #*7 854 (Euinbuigh, 1829), v.1, p.71.
Thomas Swann Wooucock, +%< 2,"C -, +)#D#"#E 34FGH !.% I,@"*#& ,J !.,0#' ;K :,,71,1C, eu. Beoch
Fulton (New Yoik: New Yoik Public Libiaiy, 19S8), 9-16.