Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

July 13, 2013

CANAL DISCOVERIES: A letter recalls a trip in canal's early days

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — “All along the route there are worlds of fruit. Peaches were 25 cents a bushel and plums and apples were even less. The table on the boat was loaded with food of all kinds. There was also a barbershop and a bar on the boat. Everything at the bar was three cents except brandy, which was sixpence. Most of the passengers rode on the deck, to see the beautiful country they were passing through. At Lockport we met with a fine sight, and overcame an elevation of a hundred feet, going through the locks. The roar of the water was terrible and the sight grand. In a few hours we landed in Buffalo and it seemed to me we had gone half way around the world, we had seen so much.

“On our return trip the journey was equally interesting for when we got on board the packet we found no less a personage than Henry Clay. He was traveling to Washington and was the most observed man on board the boat. I can well remember how he looked and a description of him would be only a repetition of what has been told. He had a sweet voice and easy manner that lent a great charm to him. An incident that occurred in Washington, which throws some light on his beautiful character, may be of interest. John Randolph of Roanoke, who was a senator from Virginia, who at the time was in feeble health, was often carried on a couch to one of the anterooms on the south side of the Senate chamber. One time Clay was pitted against John C. Calhoun in an important debate. When Randolph heard Clay’s rich clear voice float out from the dome of the Senate, he said to his servant, “Raise me up. I want to hear that voice once more.” It was the last time, for he expired a few days later.”

Doug Farley is the director of the Erie Canal Discovery Center, the best place to start your Erie Canal Adventure. His column runs every Saturday. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Join them every Saturday during July and August for the free children's activities for Lockport Community Market. New events and activities each week.

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