October 8, 1832
[8 October:] On the morning of the 8th, at five thirty, the stage arrived, and we took leave of Dr. Saynisch, who wished to return and from there to sail to Europe. At the stage office, the other passengers boarded the stage; all the seats were occupied. We drove to the bank of the Ohio, and the coach, with its four light grays, was brought onto an open ferry, with which we crossed the river. We met other ferries. They are driven by wheels, which four horses set in motion in this manner:
Having arrived on the other side, we found ourselves at the base of the high, wooded mountain, which the road climbs at an angle. Here the forest was sparse and devastated but lofty and beautiful at the top. The Hedera quinquefolia, with its scarlet red leaves, climbed tree trunks and here and there made red columns of them. The foliage on the trees was beautifully multicolored. When we had climbed the high mountain, we again saw valleys before and beside us, for the road immediately left the river and entered the interior. On this mountain we saw exposed deposits of bituminous coal. People were removing the cover, as had been done at Mauch Chunk. Here the forest was beautifully colored. The tall, slender beeches were bright green with yellow tips; the maples vermilion red or yellow; the gum tree (Nyssa) vermilion red; the dogwood trees beautifully adorned with their red berries, a dark rose red (the latter common here);
Here we passed a small creek in a valley the walnut trees lemon- or orange-yellow; many oaks bright red, brownish red, others dull dark red; many other trees were still a bright green—a magnificent mixture of color, much more vivid and varied than in Europe!
On the summit we emerged from the forest. We met German emigrants everywhere, most of them still in their peasant garb, with tanned faces, often laden with children. The area is composed of high hills and valleys. One sees very many black locusts; they grow readily on dry slopes. I also noticed large, enclosed black locust groves at the edge of forests and near scattered individual dwellings. Much fruit is raised here. The young grain was sprouting vigorously. In addition, we saw many potato and clover fields. The houses everywhere are of wood and very flimsily built, but, although small and rustic, they usually have a chimney made of stones on the outside so that there is no danger [of fire].
To our left there was a deep valley with a splendid, colorful, tall forest with orange and yellow colors, especially. A mounted postman passed us. The corn was almost mature now. Part of it was cut in several places. In the woods the leaves of hickory, especially, were a beautiful yellow color. Here and there grapevines entwined the trees. Echium? bloomed everywhere with beautiful sky-blue blossoms; in the forest we saw a rectangular hole in the rocks, probably dug for the purpose of searching for bituminous coal. Seven miles from Pittsburgh, we changed horses. The sun already shone hotly. On the highest crowns of the oaks, birds sang and twittered, doubtless the starlinglike, loquacious blackbirds. And from here on, we again saw deposits of bituminous coal.
We next reached Chartiers Creek, which is also called Shirtee Creek, and drove down along it. Its banks were covered with many black locusts (Robinia). This creek makes very many bends, and from here one continuously travels downward in its valley. Near Wheeling it empties into the Ohio. Here a stretch of the road has been rebuilt; deep cuts have been made through the hills, and a covered bridge constructed over a small ravine. Several maples had already lost their top foliage. Sturdy Gleditsia triacanthos stood along the road.[Page 1:110] The seed from this tree does not readily mature in Europe; here there had been very nice seeds this year. On a covered bridge, we crossed Chartiers Creek, the banks of which are picturesquely shaded by huge Platanus. This species has its true habitat near water. Tall willows, too, appeared here; lilac-colored asters and annuals grew along the bank.
Soon we crossed the brook for the second time on a bridge, and the Platanus along the other bank were even more enormous. They were intermingled with tall elms (Ulmus). These banks are extremely wild and picturesque. The brook makes many bends, shallow rocky loops, and arms. A lofty forest with huge trees in several places reminded me of Brazil. At Fife’s Inn (Valley Inn) we had breakfast and changed horses. Afterward we saw picturesque forest valleys; black locusts grew everywhere along the meadows, in which the hay frequently stood in tall ricks, often ten or more close together. We again reached Chartiers Creek and drove down along it. Tall old Platanus. At the base of a beautiful wooded mountain wall stood the Magnolia acuminata in large numbers; the leaves were still a beautiful green. To our left, splendid tall timber along the brook. Cattle were grazing here, and the pigs were rooting in the wet lowland along the water. In these forests there is an extraordinary amount of mast for these animals. We crossed the creek; most of the bridges are covered. There are many enclosed pastures here with hayricks in them.
We now reached Canonsburg, a town where we changed horses and were gaped at by curious onlookers. There is a college here for those studying for the ministry. Canonsburg is 18 miles from Pittsburgh and 7 miles from Washington, which we were approaching. We soon reached Chartiers Creek again. Here, too, it was shaded by tall, picturesque timber, especially Platanus trees, with their enormous branches full of fruits, for which they are called buttonwood. We stopped in a small town. Twice now we had collided with other coaches. Here we saw the spectacle of a poor, matted, chilled horse that had lockjaw and joints so stiff that it was scarcely able to move from the spot. They bled it and belabored it with restraints in its mouth but soon had to give up and leave it alone again. Sixteen haystacks had been piled up in the middle of a pretty meadow and surrounded with a fence. We crossed a bridge over the creek.
In oak woodlands and along the road, too, I often noticed the willow oak (Quercus phellos), which we had not yet seen on the other side of the Alleghenies. Its foliage differs greatly from that of other oaks, but the trunk and the bark are completely oaklike. We drove on, sometimes through fields, sometimes through forests with beautiful variegated colors and tall vegetation. The region was flatter, and again we crossed a bridge over the creek. Then we reached Washington (town), a market town where we ate lunch. Farther on, forest and field alternated. One looks into valleys and hills, and from the still-standing stumps everywhere, the conclusion can be drawn that all of North America east of the Mississippi was formerly an impenetrable forest. In one forest I saw Tilia grandifolia with enormous leaves. The splendid lofty forests contrasted pleasantly with the open regions. In a very hilly region, people were cutting ripe buckwheat. Ten miles from Washington, we reached Claysville, a small market town. In the adjoining forests, I noticed Quercus phellos. Quercus alba was everywhere the most common. The redheaded woodpecker (Picus erythrocephalus) frequently flew about the trunks.
We reached West Alexandria (town),M15Actually Alexander (town).where a considerable amount of building was going on, changed horses and, in the hollow behind the market town, soon crossed the Pennsylvania border. The state of Virginia runs along the Ohio, with a tip projecting upward in which Wheeling is located.[Page 1:111] And now we were in Virginia, in a very fertile, excellently cultivated region, although this was not immediately evident in the narrow wooded valley through which we were traveling down along Wheeling Creek. A fence running straight across the valley and up along the hill marked the boundary. The valley now becomes deep and narrower. One noticed high, withered forest trees in the valley, and stumps still stood everywhere. Here an arm of Wheeling Creek appeared, along the bed of which tall Platanus trees and elms grew; wild walnut trees (Juglans nigra, alba, and probably cinerea) frequently occur here as well. We came upon herds of young cattle, all of which were from the state of Ohio.The young oxen often have very large horns; some are without horns. We drove downward along this creek, and dusk fell, which was soon replaced by beautiful moonlight. The evening was very warm and pleasant. Farther down we crossed a bridge where Mean Creek, the main branch, now unites with ours to form what is the real Wheeling Creek. To our left, not far from this confluence, stands the monument built here in honor of Henry Clay, who is famous in the United States because he was very instrumental in building this road. We had crossed Chartiers Creek five or six times, then also Wheeling Creek, and had seen how greatly these streams had beautified our road. Before long we emerged onto limestone elevations and drove along a quarried mountain. We could see to our left into a deep scenic valley, where the creek and the lights of the inhabitants shone below; [we] then soon caught sight of the Ohio before us, on the bank of which Wheeling is situated, where we took quarters for the night.
Wheeling is a city with broad, straight streets; [it] is growing very fast. Unusually rapid construction is under way. There are businesses, shops, and also stores of all kinds. One sees many Negroes and mulattos. The river here was now very narrow, somewhat like the Moselle, though scarcely so wide, but the banks were picturesque and the wooded mountains moderately high. Several steamboats were being built, and on the morning of 9 October, two such ships arrived, one of which will depart this afternoon. We will take it.M16In the morning at six thirty, the temperature was 17°R; at noon, over 20°R. After lunch we took care of some financial matters and brought our luggage on a cart on board the steamship, which was small and equipped with two boilers. We paid twelve dollars per person to Cincinnati (400 miles).
The ship has two decks. On the upper one aft, the ladies’ cabin. Before it, the large room, where there were now only immigrants. Underneath this was our cabin, or the gentlemen’s cabin, with sixteen bedsteads. The length of the ship is [——] paces; its name was Nile. These small steamboats are dangerous. They are stoked heavily, and since they all have high pressure, there is always the danger that the boiler will explode as soon as the ship is stopped to take on passengers.
Our departure was delayed until five o’clock, when we finally left. Right away we passed an island; the channel was narrow, very little water now. We passed a flatboat rowed by immigrants who are working for their passage. [The flatboats] have unusual rudders (a pole with a crosspiece on the end of it), no mast, and are completely even on top. The banks of the Ohio are 40 to 50 feet high here [and consist of] yellow-reddish sand or clay. Everywhere we still saw uprooted Platanus trunks, lying since the big flood in March, when there was water standing in the lower floors of houses in Wheeling.
The mountains that form the Ohio Valley here are bare near the bottom; tall forest in the upper region. At the base of the mountain, mostly in the narrow valley plains, there are cornfields and individual habitations. The bank itself was covered with lofty, often gigantic Platanus and other tall trees. Wheeling disappeared from sight; we recognized its location from the coal smoke rising there. There were often sandbars in the river; cornfields in the tall timber along the bank. On the second island, the bank was covered especially nicely by grapevines (Vitis) on the shoreline timber. To the left, near some dwellings along the bank, coal appeared in the steep wall of the bank, perhaps dumped there. Near the bank lay flat coal barges and a ferry with several horses. Along the bank we saw domestic geese sitting together in gaggles, all of them a European breed. Here we encountered the steamboat Orion. We stopped [for] a while and turned. Mr. Bodmer sketched the beautiful view
upstream downstream. The evening was pleasant after the great heat of the day. Magnificent moonlight appeared.[page 1:112] After supper we sat for a long time on the stern deck of the ship, where one is safest. It was not very pleasant to sleep that night in the cabin with fifteen persons in two rows, one above the other.