1850 Lake Superior Trip


We are off for a short visit to Copperdom; we could not have chosen a more pleasant afternoon to go out upon the great lake. It seems to be the beginning of that calm, dreamy and delightful season of the year, known as the Indian Summer, which is nowhere else so charming as in this northern latitude. It was within two hours of sun-set when the lines were cast off from the pier at the head of the Portage and our noble vessel glided out into the clear and beautiful current of the upper Ste. Marie River.

We sat on the upper deck as long as we could see to admire the splendid and ever varying scenery along the river, and never before had it appeared to us half as beautiful. The roar of the rapids grew gradually and "beautifully less" till no murmur reached the listening ear, and the village soon was lost in the dim distance; then came the charming pic-nic groves of Pointe Aux Pincs. Upon either side, near and far, the splendid hills rise up with their ever varying forms of beauty. The frosts of autumn have visited the forests, and they have doffed their summer green, and put on their magnificent array of "Fall Styles".

All except the ever-greens have changed their colors. In this wild, mountainous region nothing in nature can be compared, in richness, to the varied splendor of our forests at this season of the year, except the gorgeous thunder clouds that sometimes rise up before a summer sun-set.

We passed Gros Cap just as the last rays of the setting sun were gliding the high and rocky summit; soon the steep promontory and all the neighboring hills assumed dark and indistinct forms and sank down on either side of the broad lake, which we were now entering upon; and while the passengers have betaken themselves to the cabin to read and to chat over books and new papers, we are compelled to be unsociable to our fellow travelers for the sake of being social to the readers of the Journal.

But listen to the conversation going on in our elbow: "What a change," says one, "is taking place on the shores of this vast lake. Six years ago there were but two small sail vessels on the lake, and not more than one or two white families were to be found within the distance of 400 miles, from the Saut to La Pointe. Now there are three large propellers and half a dozen sail vessels. There are four light houses where there were none four years ago, and several thousand inhabitants scattered along the coast and upon the Copper and Iron hills, along the lake."

"But this is nothing," remarks another, "in comparison to the change that must inevitably take place within as many years to come. The mines are increasing every year in richness and in number, and the long hidden wealth of this wild, unvisited country will soon be made known, and its shores will teem with life and business; towns and cities will speedily spring up on its borders and pleasant fields will take the place of these unbroken forests."

"Not till a ship canal," continues another, "shall be built around the Ste. Marie Falls will the great impetus be given to this change. When this great work shall be completed, think of the rush that will be made for Lake Superior. Steamers, Propellers, Brigs, Schooners and Fishing Smacks will throng around the canal locks, anxious for admission to this inland sea. Here then will spring up an immense addition to the already rich commerce of the lakes. Copper, iron, lumber and fish, will, within ten years, give freight for 100 times the amount of tonnage as is now employed."

"You are setting it up steep," remarked a copper speculator, his eyes brightening with the prospective richness of his location; " but let the canal be built, and the change that must follow will astonish the natives, undoubtedly."

Thus the evening passed away pleasantly, with much conversation of like kind, on the past present and future condition of our noble lake; but travelers must sleep, and one by one pops into his state room, to dream of-rich copper veins, of home, or friends.