For forty years it has been possible to say annually, “This is the greatest year in the history of the lake marine.” For essentially it is a new and a growing factor in the industrial development of the United States. So far, from having been killed by the prodigious development of our railroad system, it has kept pace with that system, and the years that have seen the greatest number of miles of railroad built, have witnessed the launching of the biggest lake vessels. There is every reason to believe that this growth will for a long time be persistent, that the climax has not yet been reached. For it is incredible that the Government will permit the barrier at Niagara to the commerce of these great inland seas to remain long unbroken. Either by the Mohawk valley route, now followed by the Erie canal, or by the route down the St. Lawrence, with a deepening and widening of the present Canadian canals, and a new canal down from the St. Lawrence to Lake Champlain, a waterway will yet be provided. The richest coast in the world is that bordering on the lakes. The cheapest ships in the world can there be built. Already the Government has spent its tens and scores of millions in providing waterways from the extreme northwest end to the southeastern extremity of this water system, and it is unbelievable that it shall long remain violently stopped there. New devices for digging canals; such as those employed in the Chicago drainage channel, and the new pneumatic lock, the power and capacity of which seem to be practically unlimited, have vastly decreased the cost of canal building, and multiplied amazingly the value of artificial waterways. As it is admitted that the greatness and the wealth of New York State are much to be credited to the Erie canal, so the prosperity and populousness of the whole lake region will be enhanced when lake sailors and the lake ship-builders are given a free waterway to the ocean.
**Transcriber’s note: Page 256: changed estopped to stopped.
THE MISSISSIPPI AND TRIBUTARY RIVERS—THE CHANGING PHASES OF THEIR SHIPPING—RIVER NAVIGATION AS A NATION-BUILDING FORCE—THE VALUE OF SMALL STREAMS—WORK OF THE OHIO COMPANY—AN EARLY PROPELLER—THE FRENCH FIRST ON THE MISSISSIPPI—THE SPANIARDS AT NEW ORLEANS—EARLY METHODS OF NAVIGATION—THE FLATBOAT, THE BROADHORN, AND THE KEELBOAT—LIFE OF THE RIVERMEN—PIRATES AND BUCCANEERS—LAFITTE AND THE BARATARIANS—THE GENESIS OF THE STEAMBOATS—CAPRICIOUS RIVER—FLUSH TIMES IN NEW ORLEANS—RAPID MULTIPLICATION OF STEAMBOATS—RECENT FIGURES ON RIVER SHIPPING—COMMODORE WHIPPLE’S EXPLOIT—THE MEN WHO STEERED THE STEAMBOATS—THEIR TECHNICAL EDUCATION—THE SHIPS THEY STEERED—FIRES AND EXPLOSIONS—HEROISM OF THE PILOTS—THE RACERS.