This passage of Heriot’s is taken nearly verbatim from Charlevoix, v. 2, p. 109.
I left Kentucky, and passed up the river to Wheeling, in Virginia. There is little worthy of observation encountered in a passage up this part of the Ohio, except the peculiar character of the stream, which has been before alluded to. At Marietta, at the mouth of the Muskingum, ship-building is carried on; and vessels have been constructed at Pittsburg, full 2000 miles from the gulf of Mexico. About seventy miles up the Kenhawa river, in Virginia, are situated the celebrated salt springs, the most productive of any in the Union. They are at present in the possession of a chartered company, which limits the manufacture to 800,000 bushels annually, but it is estimated that the fifty-seven wells are capable of yielding 50,000 bushels each, per annum, which would make an aggregate of 2,850,000 bushels. Many of these springs issue out of rocks, and the water is so strongly impregnated with salt, that from 90 to 130 gallons yield a bushel. The whole western country bordering the Ohio and its tributaries, is supplied with salt from these works.
Wheeling, although not large, enjoys a considerable share of commercial intercourse, being an entrepot for eastern merchandize, which is transported from the Atlantic cities across the mountains to this town and Pittsburg, and from thence by water to the different towns along the rivers.
The process of “hauling” merchandize from Baltimore and Philadelphia to the banks of the Ohio, and vice versa, is rather tedious, the roads lying across steep and rugged mountains. Large covered waggons, light and strong, drawn by five or six horses, two and two, are employed for this purpose. The waggoner always rides the near shaft horse, and guides the team by means of reins, a whip, and his voice. The time generally consumed in one of these journeys is from twenty to twenty-five days.
All the mountains or hills on the upper part of the Ohio, from Wheeling to Pittsburg, contain immense beds of coal; this added to the mineral productions, particularly that of iron ore, which abound in this section of country, offers advantages for manufacturing, which are of considerable importance, and are fully appreciated. Pittsburg is called the Birmingham of America. Some of those coal beds are well circumstanced, the coal being found immediately under the super-stratum, and the galleries frequently running out on the high road. Notwithstanding the local advantages, and the protection and encouragement at present afforded by the tariff, England need never fear any extensive competition with her manufactures in foreign markets from America, as the high spirit of the people of that country will always prevent them from pursuing, extensively, the sordid occupations of the loom or the workshop.