Journal of Dr GFW
Saturday, 3 May, 1828
- Hits: 2202 2202
Left our anchorage early this morning and finding by observation on the shore we were in good speed, which was gradually increasing every moment, a source of much gratification to us as we were all very desirous of ending our journey as soon as possible. This morning we passed Mocontongo Rifts and indeed it may be called by such hard names. It indicates long before you reach the real place something more than ordinary. You see or think the mountain closes across the River. And you can hear the roar of the water as if dashed over rocks in the greatest violence, creating to the timid a dread increasing in the same ratio as the near approach increases. I was patiently waiting the moment we should enter the focus of the dashing waters, and I cannot say that I approached it entirely indifferently. My mind would in spite of every effort say it is not exempt from danger when we consider the feeble union of plank to each other. But dismay is of no avail when danger stares you in the face and there is no means of escape, as was the case with me at this moment, because it was impossible even if we all had so willed it, to have rowed our floating bark ashore. No. Leave me unpleasant feeling, and if death much come, let me take it in a mind scorning to flinch at the near approach. While I had been making these calculations standing in or near the center of the raft, in as instant the waters were dashing on every side, foaming and tumbling in every form, and the pins which united the piles of Boards cracking and squeaking at every place of union; but so rapid was our progress that you had scarcely time to think of danger before all was passed and in a smooth but rapid current which hurried us along so rapidly that in a space of time less than one hour we found ourselves at Liverpool, twelve miles from Miller's.
Liverpool is a dirty looking place. Buildings are principally of wood and some almost as the timber grew in the forest. A small creek runs between the town and the River and to me it appeared to be a singular situation for a village. Miller's Burgh, situated on the East side of the river three miles below, is neat looking, pleasant little place and has one Meetinghouse. The surrounding country is quite level and the soil of an excellent quality. The land rising from the River in an agreeable and pleasant ascent producing from the water a fine view. Hallifax, on the same side of the River further down, is said to be an agreeable little place. The interposition of an Island deprived us of a full view. Here we had to row quite to the opposite side of the River. Our crew, however, accustomed to such work, applied diligently at the oars and after a laborious tug of nearly one hour we were in the proper and safe channel and our ship moving by computation about five miles per hour. The weather was now fine, clear, and warm, giving us every opportunity to enjoy the scenery of the country. We were now in the section of the country where internal improvement was going on. A Canal was in progress of execution along the banks of the Susquehannah. As soon as we had passed the mouth of the West branch of the River the canal commenced. There we saw large numbers of hands at work far up the side of the Mountain, digging rocks and precipitating them into the water for the purpose of building or laying the foundation of a wall - in those places where the elevation rose abrupt from the shore of the water - and this was the case in many places - we saw some walls completed for at least a mile in length. It looked beautiful, rising perpendicular out of the water and running in a straight line. It made a beautiful shore to the water. If not as durable as the mountain itself it will stand a monument of the greatness of those who projected it when they themselves shall have returned to their Mother Dust. But their deeds must be as durable in the minds of a grateful people as the rocks they have converted to the use of Man.
Many Irishmen were here at work, and some would labour all day at this, the severest kind of work and at night would spend in drink which done them no good the whole wages of the day. It would seem, to a real reflecting man, that any individual in a perfect sane state of mind could not act in such a manner. Yet I have been often assured that it is a sincere fact and of frequent occurrence. I hope that this may never be my disposition or practice. You would hear these Sons of Erin shout in dozens at once, Hurrah! for Jackson, giving every word they said the real Irish brogue.
We now approach the Seat of Government of Pennsylvania, Harrisburgh. We have now spent nearly five days on the raft, in the company of the crew, and I must say that I was much disappointed, from all I had ever heard of the conduct of most of those individuals who follow this kind of occupation. Every one of these were sociable and agreeable in common conversation and not addicted to use much unbecoming language. Our short stay with them had contracted considerable attachment and our parting showed evidently we had gained their good will.
The place where the raft landed was not convenient for unloading our baggage or for getting into the road after we had affected the first object. However, after some little trouble and vexation (a thing uncommon in this life) we succeeded in reaching the road in safety with all our effects, and entered the Capital of Pennsylvania just as the sun bid adiew to this hemisphere.
At about seven o'clock we were joined by the Captain and his company. We all took a good supper in good health and fine spirits - I drank a glass of good wine - promenaded the city until eleven o'clock, called in at a druggist's shop, prepared eye water for the pilot whose eyes for the last two days had become considerable inflamed. Returned to the Inn, took leave of water companions and retired, giving the mind the full liberty to indulge in such visionary schemes as might best suit her fancy during the hours of sleep. Thus ended our voyage on the Susquehannah.