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Suggestions to Emigrants

Canal, Steam – Boat and Stage Routes – Other Modes of Travel – Expenses – Roads, Distances, &c. &c.

Extracted from Mr. Peck’s “Emigrant’s Guide,” reproduced in Illinois in 1837, Published by S. Augustus Mitchell, 1837. Transcription may contain typographical errors.

     Persons in moderate circumstance, or who would save time and expense, need not make a visit to the West, to ascertain particulars to removal. A few general facts, easily collected from a hundred sources, will enable persons to decide the great question whether they will emigrate to the Valley. By the same means, emigrants may determine to what state, and to what part of the state, their course shall be directed. There are many things that a person of plain common sense will take for granted without inquiry, – such as facilities for obtaining all the necessaries of life, the readiness with which property of any description may be obtained for a fair value, and especially farms and wild land, that they can live where hundreds of thousands of others of similar habits and feelings live; and above all, they should take for granted, that there are difficulties to be encounter in every country, and in all business; – that these difficulties can be surmounted with reasonable effort, patience, and perseverance; and that, in every country, people sicken and die.
     Having decided to what state, and part of the state, an emigrant will remove, let him then conclude to take as little furniture and other luggage as he can do with, especially if he comes to public conveyances. Those who reside within convenient distance of a sea port, would find it both safe and economical to ship by New Orleans, in boxes, such articles as are not wanted for the road, especially if they steer for the navigable waters of the Mississippi. Bed and other clothing, books, &c. packed in boxes, like merchants’ goods, will go much safer and cheaper by New Orleans, than by any of the inland routes. I have received more than 100 packages and boxes from eastern ports, by that route, within 20 years, and never lost one. Boxes should be marked to the owner or his agent at the river port where destined, and to the charge of some forwarding house in New Orleans. The freight and charges may be paid when the boxes are received.
     If a person designs to remove to the north part of Ohio and Indiana, to Chicago and vicinity, or to Michigan or Green Bay, his course should be by the New York canal, and the lakes. The following table, showing the time of the opening of the canal at Albany and Buffalo, and the opening of the lake, from 1827 to 1835, is from a report of a committee at Buffalo to the common council of that city. It will be used to those who wish to take the northern route in the spring.

Year    Canal opened at Buffalo Canal open at Albany Lake Erie opened at Buffalo
1827 April 21 April 21 April 21
1828 April 1 April 1 April 1
1829 April 25 April 29 May 10
1830 April 15 April 20 April 6
1831 April 16 April 16 May 8
1832 April 18 April 25 April 27
1833 April 22 April 22 April 23
1834 April 16 April 17 April 6
1835 April 15 April 15 May 8

     The same route will carry emigrants to Cleveland, and by the Ohio canal, to Columbus, or to the Ohio river, at Portsmouth; whence, by steamboat, direct communications will offer to any river port in the Western States. From Buffalo, steamboats run constantly (when the lake is open) to Detroit, stopping at Erie, Ashtabula, Cleveland, Sandusky, and many other ports, whence stages run to every prominent town. Transportation wagons are employed in forwarding goods.

Route from Buffalo to Detroit, by water (in miles):

    Dunkirk, N. Y., – 39 miles
    Cleveland, Ohio, 30 – 193
    Portland, 18 – 57
    Erie, Pa., 35 – 92
    Ashtabula, Ohio, 39 – 131
    Fairport, 32 – 163
    Sandusky, Ohio, 54 – 247
    Amherstburg, U.C., 52 – 299
    Detroit, Mich., 18 – 317

From Detroit to Chicago, Illinois (in miles):

    St. Clair river, Mich. – 40 miles
    Ft. Gratiot, 14 – 71
    Palmer, 17 – 57
    Ft. Gratiot, 14 – 71
    White Rock, 40 – 111
    Thunder Island, 70 – 181
    Middle Island, 25 – 206
    Presque Isle, 65 – 271
    Mackinaw, 58 – 329
    Isle Brule, 75 – 404
    Ft. Howard, Wisc. Ter., 100-504
    Milwaukee, W. T., 310 – 814
    Chicago, Ill., 90 – 904

From Cleveland to Portsmouth, via Ohio Canal (in miles):

    Cuyahoga aqueduct, – 22 miles
    Old Portage, 12 – 34
    Akron, 4 – 38
    New Portage, 5 – 43
    Clinton, 11 – 54
    Massillon, 11 – 65
    Bethlehem, 6 – 71
    Bolivar, 8 – 79
    Zoar, 3 – 82
    Dover, 7 – 89
    New Philadelphia, 4 – 93
    Newcomers’town, 22 – 115
    Coshocton, 17 – 132
    Irville, 26 – 158
    Newark, 13 – 171
    Hebron, 10 – 181
    Licking Summit, 5 – 186
    Lancaster Canaan, 11 – 197
    Columbus, side cut, 18 – 215
    Bloomfield, 8 – 223
    Circleville, 9 – 232
    Chillicothe, 23 – 255
    Piketon, 25 – 280
    Lucasville, 14 – 294
    Portsmouth, 13 – 307

     The most expeditious, pleasant, and direct route for travelers to the southern parts of Ohio and Indiana; to the Illinois river, as far north as Peoria; to the Upper Mississippi as far as Quincy, Rock Island, Galena and Prairie du Chien; to Missouri, and to Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Natchez and New Orleans, is one of the southern routes. These are, 1. From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, by railroads and the Pennsylvania canal; 2. By the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and stages to Wheeling; or, 3. For people living to the south of Washington, by stage, by way of Charlottesville, (Virginia,) Staunton, the Hot, Warm, and White Sulphur Springs, Lewisburg, Charleston, to Guyandotte, whence a regular line of steamboats runs three times a week to Cincinnati. Intermediate routes from Washington city to Wheeling, or to Harper’s Ferry, to Fredericksburg, and intersect the route through Virginia, at Charlottesville.

From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, by the railroad and canal (in miles):

    Columbia, on the Susquehanna river, by railroad, daily, – 81
    By canal packets to Bainbridge, 11 – 92
    Middletown, 17 – 109
    Harrisburg, 10 – 119
    Juniata river, 15 – 144
    Millerstown, 17 – 151
    Mifflin, 17 – 168
    Lewistown, 13 – 181
    Waynesburg, 14 – 195
    Hamiltonville, 11 – 206
    Huntingdon, 7 – 213
    Petersburg, 8 – 221
    Alexandria, 23 – 244
    Frankstown & Hollidaysburg, 3 – 247
    Thence, by railroad across the mountain, to Johnston, 38 – 285
    By canal, to Blairsville, 35 – 320
    Saltzburg, 18 – 338
    Warren, 12 – 350
    Allegheny river, 16 – 366
    Pittsburgh, 28 – 394

     The Pioneer line, on this route, is exclusively for passengers, and professes to reach Pittsburgh in four days, but is sometimes behind, several hours. Fare through, $10. Passengers pay for meals.
     The Good Intent line is also for passengers only, and runs in competition with the Pioneer line.
     Leech’s line, called the “Western Transportation line, “takes both freight and passengers. The packet boats advertise to go through, to Pittsburgh, in five days, for $7. Midship and steerage passengers in the transportation line, in six and a half days; merchandise delivered in eight days. Generally, however, there is some delay. Emigrants must not expect to carry more than a small trunk or two, on the packet lines. Those who take goods or furniture, and wish to keep it, had better take the transportation lines, with more delay. The price of meals on board the boats is about thirty seven and half cents.
     In all the steamboats on the western waters, no additional charges is made to cabin passengers for meals; – and the tables are usually profusely supplied. Strict order is observed, and the waiters and officers are attentive.

Steamboat route from Pittsburgh to the mouth of the Ohio (in miles):

    Middletown, Pa., – 11
    Economy, 8 – 19
    Beaver, 10 – 29
    Georgetown, 13 – 42
    Steubenville, Ohio, 27 – 69
    Wellsburgh, Va., 7 – 76
    Warren, Ohio, 6 – 82
    Wheeling, Va., 10 – 92
    Elizabethtown, Va., 11 – 103
    Sistersville, 34 – 137
    Newport, Ohio, 27 – 164
    Marietta, 14 – 178
    Parkersburg, Va., 11 – 189
    Belpre & Blannerhasset’s Island, Ohio, 4 – 193
    Troy, Ohio, 10 – 203
    Belleville, Va., 7 – 210
    Letart’s Rapids, Va., 37 – 247
    Point Pleasant, 27 – 274
    Gallipolis, Ohio, 4 – 278
    Guyandotte, Va., 27 – 305
    Burlington, Ohio, 10 – 315
    Greensburg, Ky., 19 – 334
    Concord, Ohio, 12 – 346
    Portsmouth, 7 – 353
    Vanceburg, Ky., 20 – 373
    Manchester, Ohio, 16 – 389
    Maysville, Ky., 11 – 400
    Charleston, 4 – 404
    Ripley, Ohio, 6 – 410
    Augusta, Ky., 8 – 418
    Neville, Ohio, 7 – 425
    Moscow, 7 – 432
    Point Pleasant, Ohio, 4 – 436
    New Richmond, 7 – 443
    Columbia, 15 – 458
    Fulton, 6 – 564
    Cincinnati, 2 – 466
    North Bend, 15 – 481
    Lawrenceburg, Ind., andmouth of the Miami, 8 – 489
    Aurora, Ind., 2 – 491
    Petersburg, Ky., 2 – 493
    Bellevue, 8 – 501
    Rising Sun, Ind., 2 – 503
    Fredericksburg, Ky, 18 – 521
    Vevay, Ind., & Chent, Ky., 11 – 532
    Port William, Ky., 8 – 540
    Madison, Ind., 15 – 555
    New London, Ind., 12 – 567
    Bethlehem, 8 – 575
    Westport, Ky., 7 – 582
    Transylvania, Ky., 15 – 595
    Louisville, 12 – 609
    Shippingport, through the canal, 21/2- 611/2
    New Albany, Ind., 11/2 – 613
    Salt River, Ky., 23 – 636
    Northampton, Ind., 18 – 654
    Leavenworth, 17 – 671
    Fredonia, 2 – 673
    Rome, 32 – 705
    Troy, 25 – 730
    Rockport, 16 – 746
    Owenburg, Ky, 12 – 758
    Evansville, Ind., 36 – 794
    Henderson, Ky., 12 – 806
    Mount Vernon, Ind., 28 – 834
    Carthage, Ky., 12 – 846
    Wabash river, Ky., 7 – 853
    Shawneetown, Ill., 11 – 864
    Mouth of Saline, Ill., 12 – 876
    Cave in Rock, 10 – 886
    Golconda, 19 – 905
    Smithland, mouth of the Cumberland river, Ky., 10 – 915
    Paducah, mouth of the Tennessee river, Ky., 13 – 928
    Caledonia, Ill., 31 – 959
    Trinity, mouth of Cash river, Ill., 10 – 969
    Mouth of the Ohio, 6 – 975

     Persons who wish to visit Indianapolis will stop at Madison, Indiana, and take the stage conveyance. from Louisville, by the way of Vincennes, to St. Louis by stage, every alternate day, 273 miles, through in three days and a half. Fare, seventeen dollars. Stages run from Vincennes to Terre Haute and other towns up the Wabash river. At Evansville, Indiana, stage lines are connected with Vincennes and Terre Haute; and at Shawneetown twice a week to Carlyle, Illinois, where it intersects the line from Louisville to St. Louis. From Louisville to Nashville by steamboats, passengers land at Smithland at the mouth of Cumberland river, unless they embark direct for Nashville. In the winter, both stage and steamboat lines are uncertain and irregular. Ice in the rivers frequently obstructs navigation, and high waters and bad roads sometimes prevent stages from running regularly.
     Farmers who remove to the west from the northern and middle states, will find it advantageous, in many instances, to remove with their own teams and wagons. These they will need upon their arrival. Autumn, or from September till November, is the favorable season for this mode of emigration. The roads are then in good order, the weather usually favorable, and feed plenty. People of all classes, from the states south of the Ohio river, remove with large wagons, carry and cook their own provisions, purchase their feed by the bushel, and invariably encamp out at night.
     Individuals who wish to travel through the interior of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, &c., will find that the most convenient, sure economical, and independent mode, is on horseback. Their expenses will be from seventy – five cents to one dollar fifty cents per day, and the can always consult their own convenience and pleasure, as to time and place.
     Stage fare is usually 6 cts. a mile, in the west. Meals, at stage – houses, 371/2 cts.

Steamboat Fare, including Meals.

    From Pittsburgh to Cincinnati, $10
    From Cincinnati to Louisville, $4
    From Louisville to St. Louis, $12
    And frequently the same from Cincinnati to St. Louis, – varying a little, however.
    A deck passage, as it is called, may be related as follows:
    From Pittsburgh to Cincinnati, $3
    From Cincinnati to Louisville, $1
    From Louisville to St. Louis, $4

     The deck for such passengers is usually in the mid-ship, forward of the engine, and is protected from the weather. Passengers furnish their own provisions and bedding. They often take their meals at the cabin-table, with the boat hands, and pay twenty-five cents a meal. Thousands pass up and down the rivers as deck passengers, especially emigrating families, who have their bedding, provisions, and cooking utensils, on board.
     The whole expense of a single person from New York to St. Louis, by the way of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with cabin passage on the river, will range between $40 and $45; – time, from twelve to fifteen days. Taking the transportation lines on the Pennsylvania canal, and a deck passage in the steamboat, and the expenses will range between $20 and $25, supposing the person buys his meals at twenty-five cents, and eats twice a day. If he carry his own provisions, he passage, &c. will be from $15 to $18.
     The following is from an advertisement of the Western Transportation, or Leech’s line, from Philadelphia:-

    Miles, Days, Fare
    Fare to Pittsburgh, 400, 6 1/2, $6.00
    Fare to Cincinnati, 900, 8 1/2, 8.00
    Fare to Louisville, 1050, 9 1/2, 9.00
    Fare to Nashville, 1650, 13 1/2, 13.00
    St. Louis, 1750, 14, 13.00The above price does not include meals.
    Packet boats for Cabin Passengers (same line), Miles, Days, Fare:
    Fare to Pittsburgh, 400, 5, $7.00
    Fare to Cincinnati, 900, 8, 17.00
    Fare to Louisville, 1050, 9, 19.00
    Fare to Nashville, 1650, 13, 27.00
    Fare to St. Louis, 1750, 13, 27.00

     Emigrants and travelers will find it to their interest always to be a little skeptical relative to statements of stage, steamboat, and canal boat agent; to make some allowance in their own calculations for delays, difficulties, and expenses; and above all, to feel perfectly patient and in good humor with themselves, the officers, company, and the world, even if they do not move quite as rapidly, and fare quite as well, as they desire.


Contributed by Marty Crull and his volunteers.

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