RailsandTrails.com - Texts - 1854 Ohio Railroad Guide

  Ashtabula - Conneaut  
  ASHTABULA, 55 miles from Cleveland. Well, here we are, on Ashtabula creek. Ashtabula is a neat village, with pleasant aspect. It has several churches, and the usual proportion of stores, and a population of about 1,000.

We are here 2 1/2 miles from Ashtabula Harbor, the mouth of Ashtabula Creek. The Lake steamers generally stop here, and a considerable shipping business is carried on. Several vessels are owned here, and it is one of the principal Lake ports within the district of Cuyahoga.

Ashtabula received a severe shock in the loss of the Washington steamer, which was owned here. She was burned off Silver Creek in June, 1838, and about 40 lives lost. This misfortune has a melancholy interest, from the circumstances attending it. Fire is always a terrible element; but a fire in a vessel at sea-how terrible!

The Washington had left Cleveland in the morning, and a little after midnight, when off Silver Creek, was discovered to be on fire. From a deep sleep the passengers were alarmed by the awful cry of--fire! Then ensued a scene of indescribable confusion and distress; but, while there was a chance of putting out the flames, hope still whispered in their ears. But alas! for its delusion. The fire triumphed; the flames rose high, above all effort to suppress them, and then dark despair seized upon their bewildered minds, and some plunged into the waves, and some seized boards and jumped over, and some remained to be burnt up in the wreck. Then rose the wail of mothers and children, of sisters, husbands, fathers, and was borne over the dark waters.

Ah! few shall part where many meet;

The wave shall be their winding sheet:

And ev'ry billow on the shore

Shall their sad loss in grief deplore.

The small boat saved 25 persons. Other small boats came off, and a few more were saved. But, after making all allowance, it is known that at least 40 perished.

The accidents to steamboats on Lake Erie have been quite severe; but still, so beautiful is the scenery of the Lake, in a clear day, and so cozy and pleasant is that mode of conveyance, that many persons still tempt the hazards of fire and storm.

But here we are, on the Lake Shore Railroad, and whatever else happens to us, we shall not be drowned in the Lake. On the whole, railways are the safest of all modes of conveyance yet discovered, unless we except canal boats--which may the angels save us from! Here we go again; hurry--scurry--fly!

KINGSVILLE--61 miles from Cleveland, The village is a little to the south of the Railroad. It is a pleasant town, with several churches, and 500 inhabitants. It is one of a large class of villages which here, as in New England, may be found scattered over the face of a rural country.

CONNEAUT, 68 miles from Cleveland, is rather an important place, being in the extreme north-east of Ohio, and a considerable Lake port. It is 300 miles from Cincinnati, on a straight line, and 320 miles by Railway, being on one extreme of a diagonal line across the State. It is situated on Conneaut Creek, a stream having a good deal of water power, and on which there are many mills and factories.

Conneaut Borough has several churches, and about 1000 inhabitants. The port of Conneaut has a lighthouse and several warehouses. It is the entrepot for the landing of supplies and the shipping of produce for a large and fertile agricultural region, not only of the adjacent country in Ohio, but of an important section of Pennsylvania.

On the opposite side is a view of the bridge over Conneaut Creek.


Bridge, Conneaut River

CONNEAUT has been called the "Plymouth of Ohio;" for here, as we have before stated, was the first landing, as we may say, of the pilgrims to the "Western Reserve," in 1796. The spot where Conneaut port is, was then a more sand beach, overgrown with timber.

The early settlers say the harbors on the Lakes were in those days frequently choked up with sand. The mouths of the streams were continually shifting, until the artificial harbors were built. These improvements have, in a great measure, remedied those evils, and made the mouths of the streams far more healthy.

The first permanent settlement of Conneaut was made in 1799. The spot was then inhabited by the Massauga tribe of Indians, who were afterwards obliged to leave, in consequence of the murder of a white man. This spot was likewise the scene of an act of maiden generosity not inferior to that of Pocahontas. Two young men taken in St. Clair's defeat, were brought prisoners to this village. They were obliged to run the gauntlet, and having been kicked and cuffed, it was solemnly decided that one should be saved, but the other should be burned. He was tied to a tree, and hickory bark tied into faggots and piled around him. Just then a young squaw, touched with sympathy, sprang forward, and interceded for him. She urgently expostulated, and by the aid of some furs, succeeded in delivering him. We have not he, name, but the fame of this lovely maiden should mingle in history with that of the virtuous in every age. The story ends with this heroic deed; and whether there was any episode of romance connected with it, we know not. But we are quite sure our young readers will imagine there was. One thing we are certain of, that the young man must have been without either love or gratitude, if he did not offer his hand and heart, and lay whatever of fortune he might hope for, at the maiden's feet. What if her skin was tanned, and her mind unlearned! her soul was as pure, her life as innocent, as though she had graced the dwellings of the high and honorable.

It was at Conneaut occurred an adventure on the water which has perhaps never been surpassed in perils anywhere. It is told in Howe's Ohio. Mr. Solomon Sweetland had been accustomed, by the aid of a neighbor--Mr. Connies--and a few hounds, to drive deer into the Lake, where, pursuing them with a canoe, he easily shot them. In September, 1817, on a lovely autumn morning, Sweetland rose at dawn, and, without putting on coat or waistcoat, left his cabin, and impatiently waited for the dogs. Soon his ears heard their deep baying; and, arrived at the beach, he perceived a deer had already taken to the water, and was some distance from the shore. He threw his hat on the beach, took to his canoe, and hurried after in animated pursuit. The wind, which was from the south, had increased in the might, and now blew quite strong; but Sweetland forgot the danger in the excitement of the hunt. The (leer hoisted his tail in defiance, and stoutly breasting the waves, showed that in a race with a canoe, the event was not certain. When Sweetland overtook him, he first became aware of his situation; for the deer turning, shot past him towards the shore; and lie tacking, discovered that he could make no progress towards the shore, but was continually drifted farther to sea! Now came a time of fearful trial to himself and friends. He had been seen by Mr. Connies and his family, from the shore, as he gradually disappeared from sight. In vain did three of his neighbors generously put off in a light boat to his rescue. In vain did they search the raging waters. The deer was seen returning to the shore, but the man was lost from sight. Where was Sweetland? The canoe was a large one, (lug out from a fishing boat, and was considered a superior one of its kind. Sweetland continued to head towards the land, in the faint hope that the wind might abate, or aid come to his relief. One or two schooners came in sight, but he signaled them in vain. The shore continued in sight, and on its distant outline, he could trace the spot where stood his cabin and his loved ones; but in vain he struggled to near them. At last these familiar objects receded from his sight, and sunk, and the shores sunk below the troubled waters. He was alone on the stormy deep! His frail canoe alone upheld him, and the spirit of the tempest alone uttered its voice in his ear!

One only chance remained-and as he was a good sailor, with a cool head and stout heart, he seized upon that. This was to put the boat before the wind, and strike for the Canada shore, fifty miles off! It was now blowing a gale, and he was borne towards the shore with fearful power. He was obliged to stand much of the time to steady and guide the boat; and he was obliged sometimes to bale with a pair of shoes! Then came the night, and its shadows gathered round him. The sky was overcast, and only here and the-re- a twinkling star sent its ray through the darkness. Destitute of food and clothing, he was thus rocked upon the billows, in that long and dreary night. At morning he saw the shore, and found he had made Long Point, Canada. Here he had an adverse wind and cross sea; but the merciful Providence which had guided him so far, enabled him to land. But his trials were not ended. He was forty miles from any settlement-and the way lay through marshes and thickets. Still, with a stout heart-though weary and faint-he managed to crawl on, till he arrived at the habitations of men. On his way, he found a quantity of goods-the remains of some wreck-which, after he got refreshed and strengthened, he brought off, and thus made an accession to his little fortune. He proceeded to Buffalo, and thence by vessel to Conneaut-where he found his funeral sermon had been preached, and lie had the rare privilege of seeing his own widow in mourning for him!

Farewell to Ohio! Green buckeye land, we must leave thee for a time. Rich are thy fields, and pleasant thy homes-long shall we remember thee when far away!