However, it carries 15 feet water to the mouth of the Ohio, to which place it is from one and a half to two miles wide, and thence to Kaskaskia from one mile to a mile and a quarter wide. Its current is so rapid, that it never can be stemmed by the force of the wind alone, acting on fails.
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Any vessel, however, navigated with oars, may come up at any time, and receive much aid from the wind. A batteau passes from the mouth of Ohio to the month of Missisipi in three weeks, and is from two to three months getting up again.
During its floods, which are periodical as those of the Nile, the largest vessels may pass down it, if their steerage can be insured. These floods begin in April, Page 6 and the river returns into its banks early in August.
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The inundation extends further on the western than eastern side, covering the lands in some places for 50 miles from its banks. Above the mouth of the Missouri, it becomes much such a river as the Ohio, like it clear, and gentle in its current, not quite so wide, the period of its floods nearly the same, but not rising to so great a height. The streets of the village at Cohoes are not more than 10 feet above the ordinary level of the water, and yet were never overflowed. Its bed deepens every year. Cohoes, in the memory of many people now living, was insulated by every flood of the river.
What was the eastern channel has now become a lake, 9 miles in length and one in width, into which the river at this day never flows. This river yields turtle of a peculiar kind, perch, trout, gar, pike, mullets, herrings, carp, spatula-fish of 50 lb. Aligators or crocodiles have been seen as high up as the Acansas. It also abounds in herons, cranes, ducks, brant, geese, and swans.
Its passage is commanded by a fort established by this state, five miles below the mouth of Ohio, and ten miles above the Carolina boundary. The Missouri, since the treaty of Paris, the Illinois and northern branches of the Ohio, since the cession to Congress, are no longer within our limits. Yet having been so heretofore, and still opening to us channels of extensive communication with the western and north-western country, they shall be noted in their order.
The Missouri is, in fact, the principal river, contributing more to the common stream than does the Missisipi, even after its junction with the Illinois. It is remarkably cold, muddy and rapid. Its overflowings are considerable. They happen during the months of June and July.
Their commencement being so much later than those of the Missisipi, would induce a belief that the sources of the Missouri are northward of those of the Missisipi, unless we suppose that the cold increases again with the ascent of the land from the Missisipi westwardly. That this ascent is Page 7 great, is proved by the rapidity of the river. Six miles above the mouth it is brought within the compass of a quarter of a mile's width: yet the Spanish merchants at Pancore, or St.
Louis, say they go two thousand miles up it. It heads far westward of Rio Norte, or North River. There is, in the villages of Kaskaskia, Cohoes and St. From New Orleans to the city of Mexico is about miles: the roads, after setting out from the Red river, near Natchitoches, keeping generally parallel with the coast, and about two hundred miles from it, till it enters the city of Mexico. The Illinois is a fine river, clear, gentle, and without rapids; insomuch that it is navigable for batteaux to its source. From thence is a portage of two miles only to the Chickago, which affords a batteau navigation of 16 miles to its entrance into lake Michigan.
The Illinois, about 10 miles above its mouth, is yards wide. The Kaskaskia is yards wide at its entrance into the Missisipi, and preserves that breadth to the Buffalo plains, 70 miles above. So far also it is navigable for loaded batteaux, and perhaps much further.
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It is not rapid. The Ohio is the most beautiful river on earth. Its current gentle, waters clear, and bosom smooth and unbroken by rocks and rapids, a single instance only excepted.
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Its length, as measured according to its meanders by Capt. Hutchins, is as follows:. In common winter and spring tides it affords 15 feet water to Louisville, 10 feet to Le Tarte's rapids, 40 miles above the mouth of the Great Kanhaway, and a sufficiency at all times' for light batteaux and canoes to Fort Pitt. The inundations of this river begin about the last of March, and subside in July. During these a first rate man of war may be carried from Louisville to New Orleans, if the sudden turns of the river and the strength of its current will admit a safe steerage.
The rapids at Louisville descend about 30 feet in a length of a mile and a half. The bed of the river there is a solid rock, and is divided by an island into two branches, the southern of which is about yards wide, and is dry four months in the year. The bed of the northern branch is worn into channels by the constant course of the water, and attrition of the pebble stones carried on with that, so as to be passable for batteaux through the greater part of the year.
Yet it is thought that the southern arm may be the most easily opened for constant navigation.
The rise of the waters in these rapids does not exceed 10 or 12 feet. A part of this island is so high as to have been never overflowed, and to command the settlement at Louisville, which is opposite to it. The fort, however, is situated at the head of the falls. The ground on the south side rises very gradually. This river crosses the southern boundary of Virginia, 58 miles from the Missisipi. Its current is moderate. It is navigable for loaded boats of any burthen to the Muscle shoals, where the river passes through the Cumberland mountain. These shoals are 6 or 8 miles long, passable downwards for loaded canoes, but not upwards, unless there be a swell in the river.
Above these the navigation for loaded canoes and batteaux continues to the Long island.
This river has its inundations also. Above the Chickamogga towns is a Page 10 whirlpool called the Sucking-pot, which takes in trunks of trees or boats, and throws them out again half a mile below. It is avoided by keeping very close to the bank, on the South side.
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There are but a few miles portage between a branch of this river and the navigable waters of the river Mobile, which runs into the Gulph of Mexico. Cumberland, or Shawanee river, intersects the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina 67 miles from the Missisipi, and again miles from the same river, a little above the entrance of Obey's river into the Cumberland. Its clear fork crosses the same boundary about miles from the Missisipi.
Cumberland is a very gentle stream, navigable for loaded batteaux miles, without interruption; then, intervene some rapids of 15 miles in length, after which it is again navigable 70 miles upwards, which brings you within 10 miles of the Cumberland mountains. It is about yards wide through its whole course, from the head of its navigation to its mouth.
The Wabash is a very beautiful river, yards wide at the mouth, and at St. Vincennes, which is a post miles above the mouth, in a direct line. Within this space there are two small rapids, which give very little obstruction to the navigation. It is yards wide at the mouth, and navigable 30 leagues upwards for canoes and small boats.
From the mouth of Maple river to that of Eel river is about 80 miles in a direct line, the river continuing navigable, and from one to two hundred yards in width. The Eel river is yards wide, and affords at all times navigation for periaguas, to within 18 miles of the Miami of the Lake.
The Wabash, from the mouth of Eel river to Little river, a distance of 50 miles direct, is interrupted with frequent rapids and shoals, which obstruct the navigation, except in a swell. The Wabash overflows periodically in correspondence with the Ohio, and in some places two leagues from its banks. Green River is navigable for loaded batteaux at all times 50 miles upwards; but it is then interrupted by impassable rapids, above which the navigation again commences, and continues good 30 or 40 miles to the mouth of Barren river.
Kentucky River is 90 yards wide at the mouth, and also at Boonsborough, 80 miles above. It affords a navigation for loaded batteaux miles in a direct line, in the winter tides. The Great Miami of the Ohio, is yards wide at the mouth. At the Piccawee towns, 75 miles above, it is reduced to 30 yards; it is, nevertheless, navigable for loaded canoes 50 miles above these towns.
Salt River is at all times navigable for loaded batteaux 70 or 80 miles. It is 80 yards wide at its mouth, and keeps that width to its fork, 25 miles above. The Little Miami of the Ohio, is 60 or 70 yards wide at its mouth, 60 miles to its source, and affords no navigation. To these towns it is navigable for loaded batteaux, and its eastern branch affords navigation almost to its source. Great Sandy River is about sixty yards wide, and navigable sixty miles for loaded batteaux.
Guiandot is about the width of the river last mentioned, but is more rapid.