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No. 3 Alexandr Lakier, 1857/Steamboat to Cincinnati.

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    No. 3 Alexandr Lakier, 1857/Steamboat to Cincinnati.

    Steamboating colleagues:
    Russian traveler Alexandr Lakier finally left Pittsburgh after many delays aboard the MORNING STAR. He had been prepared--and warned--about travel in general in the American west and steamboats in particular. He was anxious to reach Cincinnati.[*] = comments.
    * * * * * * * *
    "Days earlier a steamboat like ours had broken its wheel and got stuck in sight of Pittsburgh and it is still sitting there crippled. Our pilot was careful and the boat wound itself in the river, sometimes veering to the left or right. Once we had to help another steaqmboat that had gotten stuck in sand, for however much the forward spars held it off and the wheels frothed the water, it remained stationary. The combined power of our boat and theirs pull the latter free. Steamboats may be rivals but in time of trouble it is all forgotten: American rally to one another's aid with their steamboats and with their combined power do what the could not do separately. An accounting may be made later, but the service is done free of charge, as between brothers. [*Lakier viewed Indian mounds which he compared to the mound burials of the 6th century Scythians in southern Russia.]

    The first stop was the city of Wheeling on the bank of the Ohio in the state of Virginia [*West Virginia not yet a separate state.]. The only bridge crossing the Ohio--another is being built at Cincinnati--is located here linking the free state of Ohio with the slave state of Virginia. [*Lakier discusses the Wheeling bridge case between rail and steamboat interests in a long legal battle.] The Congress could not but agree with the argument for the public benefit and authorized the construction of the bridge. It was suspended by cables at such a height that steamboats could pass freely under it. But it did not last long, for a storm blew it down in 1854. Las year a new and stronger suspension bridge was constructed.

    ...I heard much aboard the boat about Cincinnati as a model of the true American western city. What a wonderful city I was going to, I thought. It must really be America in its original condition, and I joyously looked forward to reaching this Promised Land. In reality the Ohio near Cincinnati was crowded for three full miles with exactly the same kind of steamboats I had seen at Pittsburgh. [*No doubt the marine ways and shipyards from Fulton in the East End down to the Public Landing.] Their stacks, without exaggeration, seemed like a black, charred forest and I wished for the diversity that there were just one white sail. The river bank bustled with activity, with carrying to and from the steamboats., loading, unloading, selling, buying. Our steamboat just barely found space for itself, tied up to the shore, that is the levee, and via a small plank we were able to go ahosre at Cincinnati. Over the city lay a cloud of smoke as sooty and black, if not so dense, as the one over Pittsburgh. The first thing I beheld on solid ground was a huge sow with a litter of suckling pigs. With every step I found the same animals on every street."

    Next: After Cincinnati on to Louisville and more steamboat experiences.

    R. Dale Flick