1850 Flying Trip Up Lake Superior
Lake Superior Journal 8-7-1850
You will perceive by the heading of these few lines, that I am not prepared to furnish you with a minute description of the different points of interest on Lake Superior, and I will therefore confine myself to a few thoughts and ideas as they occurred to me while wending my way up and back over this beautiful lake. I meant to have said something in the beginning in praise of our boat, the "Manhattan," but as her merits are already widely known, I will confine myself by saying that she is all the traveler could desire and that the captain is "some pumpkins!"
Our trip, from which we have just returned, has been pleasant in the extreme, the weather being just cool enough to make one feel perfectly comfortable. We had on our trip up, some fifty passengers, which may be embraced in three classes: the capitalists, seeking investments; the invalid; and the man of travel and lover of nature. To the first, the rich mineral region bordering on this Lake presents all the inducements his heart could desire-to the second, the pure and invigorating atmosphere of this country proves a certain panacea for all ills-to the third, the beautiful and ever varying scenery exceeds even his wildest imagining, and well repays him for his trip up and back. Thus, all return satisfied and highly delighted, glorying in their country, and ready to exclaim with the poet—
"Lives there a man with soul so dead,
That never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!"
The travel to this region, is however, not the one-hundredth part of what it should be, and if I thought I could induce but few of those who pass a miserable summer at the fashionable watering places in the east and south, to visit this country and drink in the beautiful scenery and healthy atmosphere of this region, I should make appeal to them with all the power I am possessed of—but of this I despair. It must first become fashionable. Thousands who spend their summers abroad, would rather risk body and soul at a fashionable place, than they would step one jot beyond these limits, and while many call themselves travelers, they know but little beyond the confines of "Saratoga," or "Niagara Falls." We have scenery in this country that vies with the world, and attracts hundreds from beyond the ocean, and we have many people who turn up their noses at their mention, and are delighted with the pestilential sink holes of Europe, and forsooth because they are fashionable.
But I am digressing. Government has as yet done but little for this part of the country. Three beacon lights to cheer the mariner on his midnight journey, are evidences that they are not entirely forgotten. The fourth light is now in a state of erection at Eagle Harbor, and the fifth one will be erected at the mouth of the Ontonagon River, in the course of next summer. If Government will give the wherewith the erect the sixth one at little Carp River, the mariner will have but little reason to complain on this score. There is, however one improvement which Government has no fur, criminally neglected—the construction of a ship canal around the rapids of this place. It is a matter of general surprise to those who are at all conversant with the situation that this much needed improvement should have been thus long neglected by our Government. The cloud, however, which has so long overshadowed this and other improvements has cleared off, and that the north-west will ere long rejoice in the possession of those rights which have been so long denied them.
Next to this, the improvement of the mouth of Ontonagon River will commend itself strongly to the consideration of Congress. The expense of this would be but trifling, while the benefits derived would be immense. There is a twelve feet of water inside the bar in this river, and by extending out two piers to an equal distance, the current would clear away the bar, and make one of the best harbors on the north-western lakes. This improvement is much needed, and it is to be hoped that Congress will turn a willing ear to this prayer. If they should require that the death shriek of the mariner should ring the want of this improvement on every gale, of if the wail of the widow and orphan is necessary to convince them of its necessity, they need but neglect it a few years, and evidence will pile upon evidence to their hearts content.
But Mr. Editor, as I notice that you have taken hold of this matter in a spirit, which if followed up, cannot help but succeed. I close these few hasty lines by wishing you from my heart "God speed."