CRUISE OF THE AURORA
WHICH LEAVES US IN THE-POT-THAT-WASHES-ITSELF.
"BUT you surely do not propose to make the trip in that
The speaker was not a canoeist; and it was perhaps natural
then that he should express some incredulity when I explained that my
destination was the west coast of Florida. The proposed route was from
Lake George, New York, via the Champlain and Erie Canals to Buffalo,
thence Coasting Lake Erie to Cleveland, Ohio; through the Ohio Canal to
Portsmouth on the Ohio River; down that stream to the Mississippi, and
so on to the Gulf. This was the trip. The "little thing" in which I was
to make the voyage was the canoe Aurora. The boat was sharp at both
ends; hull of white Cedar; deck, quarter-inch red cedar; length over
all, 15 feet; breadth of beam, 31 inches at bottom of top streak; depth
amidships, 9 inches; at bow, 19 inches; at stern, 17-1/2 inches;
cockpit, 6 feet in length, with breadth of 21 inches. The fittings
consisted of a double-bladed paddle 9 feet in length, jointed in the
center, and two lateen sails, of a combined area of about 55 square
feet. This canoe is registered in the American Canoe Association as a
"Princess" model, and was built expressly for this cruise, by J. H.
Rushton, of Canton, N.Y. Without her fittings the canoe weighed 85
pounds. My companion, S.D. Kendall, of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, had
built his own craft, and his canoe was of excellent workmanship, but
low and rather broad for easy paddling. Her length over all was 14
feet; breadth of beam, 3 feet. Her fittings were the same as those of
my own boat, except that she carried a batten lug sail. She was called
One glorious morning in August, 1882, at the close of the
American Canoe Association meet, at the Canoe Islands, we launched our
craft from the shore of lovely Lorna Island, and glided out over the
shimmering surface of Lake George. The start was auspicious, and all
through the first day, as we paddled on through scenes of ever-changing
beauty and past one and another spot rich in historic memories, the sun
was bright, the wind fair, and the hours full of happy portents for the
thousands of miles before us. Down the lake we had passed, through the
Narrows with their hundred islands, on our left the richly clad slopes
of Tongue Mountain, on our right the overshadowing peak of Black, until
the shadows of the mountains admonished us that a camp must be made.
And selecting an island, the fire was soon burning before the tent.
On Lake George.
On the following morning we went on past Black
Mountain Point, making a brief halt to inspect the remains of the once
beautiful steamboat Minnehaha, now converted into a lodging house. With
bows toward the towering Adirondack Mountains, standing in gloomy
grandeur at the gateways of the Northern Wilderness, every stroke of
the paddle carried us through scenes of romance and song and history.
Passing out from the Narrows, we skirted the shores of
Sabbath-day Point, the scene of some stirring incidents in the history
of these waters. Friend's Point was decided upon for the last camp on
the lake; and sitting about the campfire on that brilliant night, we
recalled the traditions of the many skirmishes fought on this ground,
during the French and Indian wars.
After a night of restful sleep, a beautiful morning
greeted us, and soon the curling smoke from our fire ascended through
the heavy canopy of pines and faded into thin air. Then we paddled out
over the mirror-like surface of the water, here said to be more than
500 feet in depth. Passing under Anthony's Nose, we crossed the last
broad sheet of water, on the opposite side of which is Prisoners'
Island, where Abercrombie is said to have imprisoned some of his
captives, who, finding the water shallow, walked ashore to the mainland
and made their escape. A paddle of one mile brought us to the end of
our lake journey, and we had before us the first portage of the cruise.
To reach the waters of Lake Champlain, 247 feet below us, our canoes
must be transported one and three-quarter miles, through the village of
Ticonderoga to the creek of the same name. The services of '"Sardine,"
a village cartman, were secured; and the dainty craft, wrapped to
protect their light shells from damage, were transported in a
springless wagon. A few minutes brought us within view of the ruins of
old Fort Ticonderoga; and under the shadows of its crumbled walls we
ate our mid-day lunch. Passing southward, we had on our right Mount
Defiance, whose heavily-timbered summit has trembled under the
discharge of artillery; while on the far distant left rose Mount
Mansfield, a majestic sentinel over the fertile country at its base.
Hurrah! here comes a breeze; and gladly do we avail ourselves of its
cooling influences, as the sun has been having it all its own way since
early morning. The paddle is laid aside, and the white sails spread,
and on we go, until we reach Gurley's Grove, the one available camp
site between Ticonderoga and Whitehall. It is on the west shore of the
lake, seven miles south of "Fort Ti." This we select for our camp. Our
after-supper pipe being disturbed by the ever restless mosquito, we
arrange the canoes for sleeping in, and, anchored a few feet off shore,
sleep the sleep of the tired canoeist.
A paddle of twenty miles the next day through an
uninteresting country brought us to within two miles of Whitehall.
While preparing our supper over a small fire, some young men hailed us
with the pleasing intelligence that the rocks about us were "alive with
rattlesnakes, and that the building, about one hundred feet above us,
was a magazine filled with powder."
Amid Historic Scenes.
At any other time we might have evacuated, but
tired nature told us to stay; and we live to tell the tale. The
following morning we entered the Champlain Canal, to follow its
tortuous course, sixty-five miles to West Troy, N.Y. The canal is fed
by the Hudson River at Glens Falls, and again at a point between Fort
Edward and Fort Miller Falls. The canoeist who is bound south, must go
up stream until he reaches the mouth of the Glens Falls feeder, about
two miles north of Fort Edward, when he will strike the current to the
southward and have the fall in his favor to the end of the canal. Canal
canoeing is unromantic generally, but a trip through this one carries
one through many localities dear to the American heart. First we came
to the ancient and famous town of Fort Edward and at dusk of the
twenty-third of August, coming to Schuylerville, we hauled ashore our
canoes on the site of Fort Schuyler, at the mouth of Fish Creek, the
outlet of Saratoga Lake. Here we spent several days, visiting the
historic ground on which Burgoyne's army laid down their arms to the
On the afternoon of the first day of September, the
voyagers again dipped their paddles into the waters of the canal and
headed the canoes to the southward. At Waterford we emerged from the
canal into the Mohawk River, about half a mile below the Cohoes or
Great Falls. The Champlain and Erie canals form a junction at West
Troy, and we here turned our faces westward and entered the unpoetical
channel of commerce. The Erie is here provided with a series of
eighteen locks in a distance of about four miles; to avoid these we
made a portage of a mile to Lock Eighteen, at Cohoes. On Sunday evening
we passed through Schenectady and made our camp on the heel path of the
canal on the outskirts of the city. When pitching the tent a storm with
heavy peals of thunder and vivid flashes of lightning, poured a deluge
of rain down upon us. While lying down enjoying the after supper pipe,
a party of three footpads were attracted by the light of our lantern.
"Let's clean them out 'o there" we heard one of them say, to which the
others seemed to give a silent assent. On their approach they were
hailed in a friendly manner and invited to come in out of the rain.
Throwing the tent flap aside, they beheld the occupants, one cleaning a
huge bowie knife and the other oiling a Colt's revolver. The spokesman
of the trio, after staring at us for an instant, "cleaned out" his pipe
and then said, "Say, boss, give me a pipe of tobacco, will you?"
Evidently a view of our armament dispelled any desire on their part to
act on the offensive.
After a night of almost continuous rain, the morning broke
clear and bright with a gentle breeze from the west. Notwithstanding
our precautions some of our cargo had got damp, not to say wet, and
about eleven o'clock, coming to a spot of clean greensward, we decided
to halt, and while Barnacle* was preparing the ingredients for a stew,
I built a fireplace of the stones lying at hand, and then busied myself
with spreading the tent, blankets, etc., on the grass to dry and air.
*The cognomen by which my companion was known
during the voyage.
While thus engaged I heard a sharp report from the
galley, and beheld Barnacle in the act of performing a war dance around
the fire and the various cooking utensils, which lay scattered about.
"What's the matter with you, Barnacle?"
"Matter! Can't you see? You built this fireplace of
limestones, and they have burst and knocked our stew and coffee all to
smithereens; after this I'll build my own fireplaces."
"All right, old man, have it your own way, you may live
the longer for it."
Soon after my spread of tent, sails and blankets, etc.,
attracted the attention of a passing canal boat captain, who called out
to his cook, "I say, Maria, here we've come on an Irish wash day."
Having once more packed the canoes, we started on what
proved to be a hard afternoon's work against a wind that came in such
strong gusts that we were driven to an early camp. Notices of our
expedition and our intended route had got into the papers, and the
canalmen had, of course, heard of it, so that it was not an unusual
occurrence for us to be hailed with the questions:
"Say, boss, you the fellers thet's goin' round
"How long's it goin' ter take yer?
"Better not steal any ducks 'long the canal, or ye'll
got into inter the County House," etc.
A pleasant word to the canal engineer as we met him was
generally a safeguard against his suddenly slackening his towline as we
were passing under it, thus saving us from the risk of an upset. We
were now passing through the lovely valley of the Mohawk River, and at
one point we came to an ancient stone building which had been a
stockaded fort in Revolutionary days, but now bore the sign, "Canal
Grocery. Best Spring Water in the Mohawk Valley." At Canajoharie we
received from the brow of a high hill on our left the hail, "Canoe
ahoy," and soon the wee craft were safely housed and their skippers
were introduced to the comforts of the substantial brick mansion of one
of Canajoharie's oldest and most influential citizens. A pleasant
evening was spent with our host, and it was with no little surprise
that we heard the town clock toll out the hour of midnight. At my
request, a large roomy tent had been pitched on the broad lawn before
the house for our sleeping apartment, and to this we repaired, to the
ho little discomfort of the kindhearted, motherly hostess, who could
not understand why we preferred a bed on the sweet, soft grass to the
luxuries of a well-appointed bedroom. The following day we visited the
locality whence comes the name Canajoharie, or
"The-pot-that-washes-itself." Here is a hole cut in the rock of solid
slate, twenty feet in diameter. With its vertical walls it resembles a
large well. No doubt the cascade, now a quarter of a mile above, was at
one time directly over it, and the falling waters, rolling flint stones
and pebbles in the soft slate rock, gradually wore this well-like
IN WHICH ARE SET FORTH THE DELIGHTS OF CANOEING ON A
AGAIN we launched our craft, and accompanied by our host
in his canoe, the Souvenir, paddled to Fort Plain, and then on several
miles, until a noonday halt, when the Souvenir turned her head again to
the eastward. As a rule, we are careful not to camp too near a large
town, but we reached Rome before finding a suitable site for the night,
and long after dark, paddling between tall, somber warehouses, we
approached the locks. The gleam of the lock lamps revealed us to a
lounger, who imparted the information that "the level above us was full
of eastern-bound boats, and that the locktender said we must wait until
they had passed down." The judicious use of a nickel was an "open
sesame," and in ten minutes' time we were shooting out of the lock into
the darkness beyond. The locktender's story was simply a scheme by
which to gain a nickel. At Syracuse we were pleasantly entertained over
night by Mr. Charles F. Earle, a member of my club.
At noon, the next day, while hauling my canoe from the
water, I fell and dislocated my thumb. This necessitated a camp until
the injured member could be nursed back to a condition of usefulness.
The morning of the third day after the accident I was awakened by the
calling of some men on the towpath; and taking a peep out of the tent,
I aroused Barnacle with the cry,
"Why, the water is all out of the canal."
"Yes," said a passing man, "you bet it's all out, and
what is more, it won't soon be in again."
Sure enough, a few hundred yards above us, the bottom had
fallen out of an old, rotten wooden aqueduct, just as two boats were
passing, and the tremendous suction of the water had drawn both of them
into the enormous breach thus made; one going down stern foremost
twenty feet to the bottom of the creek below, while the other was
broken in two amidships and doubled up like a jackknife. In the bow of
the first boat a mule was crying piteously for help, but no one there
could devise a way for getting the poor brute out of his submerged
quarters. My companion, an old sailor, with his many devices for
rigging, now became valuable. Barnacle, directing one man to do this
and another that, soon had a derrick rigged, and a few minutes later
the mule was seen dangling by the neck, his heels flying as though the
air was filled with canal drivers. Dropped to the soft mud bottom of
the canal he soon scrambled to the bank above, and having taken a roll,
hee-hawed out his approbation of the efforts to save his life.
A Sunday Visitor.
Here was a dilemma; for four miles to the east and
sixteen miles to the west of us the canal presented the appearance of a
creek at low tide. We were hemmed in on the west by the broken
aqueduct, on the north by the almost dry canal, and on the east and
south by a dense growth of alders. Half the day was spent by Barnacle
in procuring a team with which to make a portage to Onondaga Lake, four
miles away. Barnacle came shortly after noon with two teams, and a road
having been cut through the alders the canoes were hauled out to the
waiting wagons, and we were off in search of water. The lake was
reached; we parted from the kind friends who refused to be compensated
for their trouble, and paddled out on the dark waters of Onondaga. The
outlet into Seneca River was found without trouble and we were borne on
its almost glassy current toward the city of Oswego. On an island near
the junction of the Seneca and Oswego we camped.
The next day, Sunday, our washing hung up to dry,
attracted the attention of a man from the opposite side of the river.
"Hello boys, fishing?"
"Jest havin' a good time eh? They was a party camped
here last summer, and three of us fellows came over to visit them and
we all got drunk. Got any whisky?"
"Goin' to stay here all night?''
"Well, I'll bring some of the boys over tonight, and
we'll have a good time."
Now I had had a good time on the canal nursing my thumb,
and I did not care to have any more of it, so before the sun went down
we had passed into the canal and through the town of Fulton, and its
wondering knots of spectators who had gathered to witness the passage
of the "little ships" through the locks, thus giving our would-be
entertainers the slip, and adding ten miles to our cruise. The Oswego
Canal runs along the bank of the river, here and there utilizing the
river itself by building a series of dams that cause slack water. In
time of a spring freshet I believe a canoeist could run his canoe
through to the mouth of the river with but two or three short carries,
but we found it necessary to follow the course for the greater part of
At mid-day, September 15, we passed under the bridge that
spans the Oswego in the harbor of the Flour City. A large steam tug was
lying near the breakwater lighthouse, and I hailed the pilot:
"Captain, can we get out at the west end of the
"No, you must go out around the lighthouse if you want
to go up the lake."
Outside we went. Oh, what a relief! What a contrast to the
great Erie Canal, with its dead dogs, cats and mules, is this great
swelling inland sea, with its heaving waters, rolling over the
breakwater and dashing the white spray high up against the lighthouse.
It was nine miles to the only point at which we could land with any
degree of safety, and then only through the breaking surf, rolling
continuously on the stony shores.
A Midnight Stampede.
"I am an old salt-water sailor, and have never
had a very high regard for these inland seas, but were it not that I
know this water to be fresh, I could readily imagine myself on the sea."
After having paddled about ten miles, my invalid thumb
became so painful that I decided to beach the canoes. This was
accomplished without taking any water on board. We made our camp for
the night in a picturesque grove.
During the night I was roused from a sound sleep by a
noise resembling a tornado, and a moment later the tent came down with
a rush about about our heads, leaving us to scramble out as best we
could, to find that a herd of cattle, stampeded by some dogs, had come
upon us, and tripping over the guy ropes, brought our house about our
ears. Fortunately the canoes were out of their track or the result
might have been damaging to the expedition. As it was four o'clock we
did not pitch the tent again, but prepared breakfast, and by six
o'clock had succeeded In launching our craft through the wild waves,
not, however, without shipping some water. All about us there were
indications of the approach of a severe storm. The entrance to Little
Sodus Bay was a mile distant. To reach this before the storm broke we
bent all our energies. Hurriedly we hauled the canoes out on shore and
pitched the tent over them. No sooner was this accomplished than the
gale struck us with all its fury, compelling us to stand for two hours,
holding on to the poles, that we might prevent the tent's being blown
into the bay beyond us. The storm continued three days, making it
impossible for us to launch our canoes, and finally it was decided to
make a portage by railway track twenty-two miles to the Erie Canal.
Midnight found us at the railroad station at Weedsport, an eighth of a
mile from the canal. We fastened a couple of boards to the bottom of
each craft, and hauled away, over the railroad tracks and down a steep
incline into the canal. We paddled on into the night, passing a line of
boats three miles in length, waiting for the repair of the broken
aqueduct. It was not until near daylight that we found a spot on the
heel path side where we could haul our canoes out and turn into them
for a little refreshing sleep. A heavy rain storm, accompanied by a
high wind, broke upon us shortly after daylight, and we thanked our
stars that we were not on Ontario's troubled waters. The following
night we camped on the canal bank, and toward morning were awakened by
some heavy article falling on the roof of our tent. A moment after two
half-naked bipeds rushed out into the fog to find a knight of the
towpath, on the opposite side of the canal, pelting stones at our
domicile. Two, and in this case three, could play at that game; and it
must have been a ludicrous sight, that of two disciples of the paddle,
sans culotte, pelting stones at the towpath fiend sheltered behind his
moving fortification of three mules. This duty attended to, we set
about preparing our breakfast, and by five o'clock were afloat.
The monotony of canal navigation was relieved now
and then by conversations with the officers of the canal boats, and the
commandants of the mule teams. Of course, we received much chaff,
especially at the locks, where such questions as "Where yer boun',
boss?" "How much does such a boat cost?" "Where's yer cook?" "Goin'
roun' the world?" "Aint yer doin' it on a bet?" "How do yer make any
money out of it any way?" Now and then we would come across a gentleman
who would be in thorough sympathy with us, and who would chat
pleasantly of the route and on the canoeing literature of the day. One
little boy told me he had read Macgregor's and Bishop's books, and some
day he hoped to make a canoe voyage and write an account of it.
Three hundred and thirty-three miles of paddling on this
canal had now brought us to the mountain of masonry at Lockport, the
greatest feat of engineering skill on the entire length of the canal.
After traveling over a level of sixty miles, we here struck the
mountain ridge, over which the canal is carried by five combination;
locks, each twelve feet deep by one hundred in length.
Three days more and we were at the end of the monotonous
canal journey of nearly four hundred miles, and paddled out into the
clear waters of Lake Erie, and around under the long wharves and
towering warehouses of Buffalo. In less time than it takes me to write
it, we were surrounded by a horde of wharf rats in all descriptions of
water craft, from the dry, goods box to the shapely ship's yawl, who
gathered about us, pushing and hauling, swearing and fighting to see
who could get the nearest to us, and offering all sorts of advice. One
bright-eyed, curlyheaded little fellow offered me fifty cents for the
pulp hat that I wore, while another warned me "not to get too near the
paddle wheels of the steamer near which I had drifted, as, if the
engine should start up, the wheels would grind my little boat to
pieces." I afterward learned that there was no engine in this vessel,
and there had not been for several years. On the wharf had collected a
crowd of several hundreds to witness the landing of the "little ships,"
and it required the aid of two policemen to force them back and open a
way through which the canoes were carried to the warerooms of a friend.
Here they were visited by hundreds of people during the three days of
our stay. The canoes attracted no small amount of attention on the day
succeeding our arrival as we sailed about among a crowd of boats and
yachts assembled to witness a rowing match in the harbor. On my arrival
in Buffalo I was induced to make a change in my route, owing to the
tempestuous weather on Lake Erie, and to make a portage of seventy-two
miles to Olean, N. Y., near the headwaters of the Allegheny River. I
was loth to do this, as it would deprive me of the pleasure of meeting
some canoeing friends at Cleveland, Ohio; but as the season was rapidly
advancing, I could not risk being detained on the shores of the lake by
IN WHICH IS SHOWN THE BENEVOLENT NATURE OF BARK-PEELERS.
"You can't go down the river in your little boats,
mister," said a man to me as we were unloading the canoes from the
freight car at Olean.
"Cause they ain't water enough."
Oh, my canoeing brothers, have you ever been placed in a
similar situation? Have you ever experienced that feeling of
alloverishness that comes upon one after he has made a portage of many
miles to find water, and then is told that "they ain't water enough?"
However, we found this man mistaken; there was water enough. At two
o'clock we portaged to the river and said goodbye to Olean, and our
bonny craft were headed toward the Gulf of Mexico, more than 2,600
miles away. We had now left behind us the great watershed that drains
into the Atlantic via the chain of great lakes, the swiftly flowing St.
Lawrence and the noble Hudson, and were on the southern shed, which
pours its waters into the Gulf of Mexico by the mighty Mississippi.
About five miles below our starting point a cleared space of the high
bank induced us to camp, just as stray drops of rain came pattering on
our decks. In our dunnage we had a "watch tackle," a miniature of what
is used on large sailing vessels, and by which the watch on deck may
alter the position of the ponderous spars without the aid of the watch
below. By this we hauled the loaded canoes to the top of the bank, and
soon had them under shelter with their skippers.
We had now started down the Ohio's northern tributary,
which takes its rise in northern Pennsylvania, but whose winding course
leads it across a large area of the State of New York, when it again
enters Pennsylvania, through which it winds until it joins its waters
with those of the Monongahela, forming the Ohio at Pittsburgh. The
night was passed without rain, but a heavy fog enveloped everything the
The smoke from our breakfast fire, settling to the ground,
attracted the attention of a bark-peeler on his way to the cutting, and
with the remark that "Thet ere bacon smells good," he put in an
appearance, and gave the welcome intelligence that in less than five
miles we would find the water having a depth of three feet, and five
miles beyond that point, we could hoist sails and go to Pittsburgh
without an obstruction. For this good news we could not help but feel
grateful, and we gladly invited the bark-peeler to stand by and join us
in a slice of the sizzling bacon; and afterward he sat by the fire and
smoked a pipe of our tobacco, the while relating his experiences of
life on a raft.
Down the Allegheny.
The fog lifting, we pushed off, and with light
hearts renewed our course. Why should not our hearts have been light?
Had we not reached that point below which there was an uninterrupted
course to the Gulf? Why had that fellow at Olean warned us that before
we had gone many miles we would find very little water? He evidently
knew nothing of the river, but our companion at breakfast had "rafted
the river since he was knee-high to a grasshopper," and was thoroughly
familiar with it, "knew every stone and snag in it." To him we felt so
grateful that we parted with one of our last two plugs of fine smoking
tobacco. Why should we not? Had he not relieved our minds of the
impression that we must again "look for water," and make another long
The river bed had now widened to a breadth of at least
five hundred feet, and the banks had lowered to a height of a few feet
only. The current was sweeping us along at a delightful speed on the
smooth, unbroken surface, when all at once our ears were greeted by the
sound of falling waters. A dam? No, it could not be that; but in less
than a minute we found our canoes hard aground on the gravelly bottom
of the river. This was at about the point where we were to find the
water so deep that we could not "touch the bottom with our long
paddles," and could "hoist our sails and go down without interruption."
As far ahead as our vision extended was one continuous rift, with an
average depth of three inches of water. There are two ways of getting
out of such a difficulty; we could get a team and carry around, or
track, i.e., haul the canoe along on the bottom, through the rocks and
stones. The latter was our only alternative. Having made fast one of
the stout masts to the end of the painter, we jumped overboard and
hauled away. It was tremendously hard work, especially when the gravel
had got on the wrong side of the wading shoe. Now and then we struck a
channel, where the water was an inch or two deeper, and gave us a
respite by floating the canoe for a short distance. More than half a
mile of this kind of "paddling" had been put in before we found
sufficient depth of water. The banks had now become higher and the
stream narrower and deeper. Finally we resumed our places, and Barnacle
expressed the feeling of both when he said: "I'd give something to have
that lying, tobacco-chewing raftsman by the throat for five minutes;
I'd give him something by which he'd remember this sail."
Having run about three miles in a channel hardly
sufficient to float us, we suddenly came upon deeper water, while our
ears caught the sound of falling water and the harsh screech of
circular saws, as we came into view of an extensive board camp, with
immense sawmills. Stopping at the camp store, we purchase a box of
grapes and replenish our stock of tobacco, and then haul the canoes
over the boom, which is stretched athwart the river, and go on to the
low dam, a few hundred feet below, over which we jump our canoes,
without even so much as wetting their decks, and have left Bullis City,
Pa., with its screeching saws, behind us.
A Foot Too Long.
The river bed now broadens and the depth of water
is lessened, and again we resort to tracking. Two days later, at
Corydon, we come upon the second dam in our course, it having a height
of about seven feet, with a broad apron. As this is Sunday, almost the
entire flow is rushing over the dam at one wing. We drop the canoes to
the pool at the foot of the apron. Cautiously easing the Aurora toward
the edge, so that I can get a secure foothold, I take a turn with the
stern painter about a projecting log and ease her down until she is
within the strength of the current, then let go all, and she darts into
the boiling waters and bobs up serenely at the edge of the ledge of
rocks. Barnacle prepares his craft for the plunge, and having got her
fore and aft the rush of water, lets go all; and as she shakes herself
in the sudsy waters, he remembers that he forgot to make fast his only
pair of shoes, which had been drying on the deck. With some difficulty
we get into a store, but Barnacle meets with a bitter disappointment --
his foot is too long by an inch for the longest shoes in the town, and
he must go barefooted until we strike a longer-shoed place. Rounding
the extremity of an island, we come without any warning upon a third
dam at Salamanca. The water of the river is divided and led through a
canal, and is again emptied into the river a short distance below.
Our arrival seemed to have been telegraphed over the town,
and in a few moments a score of small boys, with their chums, had
assembled on the bridge, a few yards below the dam, and manifested much
interest as to how we would overcome the obstacle. Fortunately there
was a dry chute for rafts at an angle of twenty degrees, and it was
easy to slide the canoes into the deep pool at its foot. Here we had
not more than three inches of depth, and another haulover was
necessary. The bottom here was filled with large stones and gravel,
therefore the damage to the planking of our frail craft would be
serious if coming in contact with the stones. We cleared a channel by
rolling the large stones to one side and digging into the gravel for a
hundred and fifty yards. Then we reached the bridge; and here we had to
remove, in addition to the stones, three thousand and seventy empty
corned-beef cans, other thousands of sweet corn and Boston baked bean
cans, while one side of our channel was built up with thousands of
sardine, deviled tongue, turkey, chicken and ham boxes, to say nothing
of barrels of broken glassware, old stoves and decaying vegetable
matter, together with the inevitable dead cat. The remarks of the
gathered populace were highly entertaining, and the advice showered
down upon us would fill pages. But it became our turn to laugh when we
had completed our labors and hauled the canoes into the canal, broke
away the little dam at its head, and the rush of water carried our
barks down to the deep pool below the bridge, where we again boarded
them and waved an adieu to the consumers of canned goods, to whom we
had afforded so much amusement.
© 2000 Craig O'Donnell
May not be reproduced without my permission.