Commerce on Early American Waterways

The Transport of Goods by Arks, Rafts and Log Drives

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About the Book

Colonial pioneers began entering the logging and forestry industries in great numbers along the Allegheny and Appalachian mountains during the late 1700s and were soon producing more products than they could use. This book details how settlers used waterways to transport goods to coastal markets. Topics include the timeline of water craft construction; major figures in the development of early waterway transportation; types of goods transported; and occupational hazards from raging rapids to snowstorms. The book also features photographs, charts, and diary excerpts and an appendix detailing ark and raft construction.
Twenty years of research produced one hundred and fifteen sources, ninety-five percent from historical societies, since large libraries held minimal information on the subject. For the Civil War buffs, chapters 5 through 9 give the “Woodhick’s” (Pennsylvania Lumberjack) work ethic that made them a feared fighting force in the Union Army, known as the Bucktails.

About the Author(s)

Earl E. Brown, a retired Marine officer and Naval Aviator, with an M.S. in Operation Research and System Analysis, directed studies for the national government. He has previously published on water commerce in Colonial America.

Bibliographic Details

Earl E. Brown
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: 36 photos, appendix, glossary, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4742-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5596-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi

Preface      1

Introduction: The Use of Rivers and Streams to Transport Heavy Loads to Market      3

1. Early Colonial America      7

The Beginning      7

Rafts, Durham Boats and Conestoga Wagons      7

Philadelphia      9

Baltimore and the Susquehanna Valley      9

The French and Indian War      9

The Quakers Lose Control of the Pennsylvania Assembly      10

Baltimore      11

Between the Wars      11

The Revolutionary War 1776–1783      12

Pennsylvania      12

Baltimore      13

After the Revolutionary War      13

Pennsylvania      13

Middletown, York Haven and Columbia      14

Baltimore      15

2. The Susquehanna Is Opened to the Chesapeake Bay Cryder’s Run      17

3. Arks on the Penns Creek      27

The Creek      27

Building a Dam Across a Public Highway      32

Three Sides to the Chute Controversy      33

Ark Navigation      34

Butter Rock      36

Ark Stoving (Wrecking)      37

Ark Cargos      37

The Costs to Get Products to Market      38

What Was 180,000 Bushels of Wheat Worth?      39

Warehouses, Landings and Ark Construction      39

Penns Valley Arks      40

The Manufacturing of Wheat      41

4. Waterways from 1791 to the Early 1800s      43

Arks and Rafts in New York State      43

Before the War of 1812      46

Vying for the Susquehanna River Trade      47

The Steamboat      48

Baltimore During the War of 1812      48

Arks on Other Public Highways      49

The West Branch of the Susquehanna River      49

The North Branch of the Susquehanna River      51

The Lehigh River      52

The Main Branch of the Susquehanna River      53

Baltimore after the War of 1812      53

The Canals      54

5. Rafting on the North Branch      57

Strong’s Journal      57

Strong’s Voyage      58

Thomas Yates’ Charts      79

6. Rafting on the Main Branches      84

The Shamokin Dam      84

Simon Girty      85

Lazy Man’s Gap      86

Lower River Pilots      92

Conewago Falls      92

Susquehanna Gorge      95

Port Deposit, Maryland      96

Jacob Tome’s Port Deposit      98

William Lowman: a Waterman’s Life in Port Deposit      98

Dancing over the Columbia Dam      100

7. Rafts on the West Branch      105

William Langdon: 1855      105

8. Tales of the West Branch      123

Getting Stuck on a Rock      123

Rafting Grub      124

Danger at Shamokin Dam      125

A Tragedy at Millers Landing      126

Caught in a Spring Snowstorm      127

A Rafting Town in Season      132

Cherry Tree Joe      134

Ladies on the River      140

My First Rafting Trip      145

Gallows Harbor: How it Got its Name      149

9. Log Driving      151

Log Drive to Williamsport in 1868      151

John Dubois and Hiram Woodward      152

The Woodhicks      153

The Raftsmen and Log Drivers’ Relationships      154

Log Rustlers      156

The Camps      157

Camp Dubois Opens      158

The Jobber      159

Felling and Skidding      159

Parties along the Sinnemahoning Creek      160

How the Number of Logs Was Estimated      161

How the Drive Was Organized      162

The Drive Begins      162

Tragedy on the River      166

On to Williamsport      166

West Branch Log Drives      169

10. Woodhicks      173

Jam Breakers      173

Woodhick Baseball      179

Bullies      182

Abe Bloom      182

Miles Dent      184

Ambrose Campbell and Len Childs      185

Big Bob Gowdy      185

11. The Mississippi Watershed      188

Early Road West      188

The Allegheny and Ohio Rivers      189

The Mississippi River      191

Appendix: Arks and Raft construction      193

Ark Construction      193

Board Raft Construction      195

Manufacturing Sticks      199

Manufacturing a Stick into a Spar      201

Manufacturing a Stick into a Square Timber      202

Building a Hauling or Skidding Road      203

Hauling or Skidding Spars      204

Landings or Rafting Grounds      206

Oars or Sweeps      206

Rafting-in a Spar Raft      207

Rafting-in a Square Timber Raft      210

Double Bowing      213

Landing and Snubbing Rafts      213

Rafting Shanties      214

Rafting-in a Round Log Raft      215

Log Slide Construction      215

Glossary      193

Works Cited      227

Index      233

Book Reviews & Awards

“valuable”—International Journal of Maritime History.