RailsandTrails.com - Texts - 1854 Ohio Railroad Guide

  Traveler! --whoever thou art--stop one moment, to contemplate the progress and grandeur of this Western Empire! In Europe, Asia and Africa, you will be called to admire ancient castles, ruined temples, fallen columns, and all the evidences of a magnificence which is either already old, or fallen to decay. It was achieved by labor--put forth in ages past-and is made interesting and glorious, by memories and associations which are now only historical. The banks of the Rhine, still populous with its millions, are thus filled with the castellated remains of former greatness. The Nile, the Tigris and the Euphrates, are lined with the ruins of Thebes and Heliopolis, of Babylon, of Nineveh, and those thousands of cities and temples, which once stood glorious monuments of ancient magnificence--the pride and admiration of a world! There you stand amidst ruins. All is absorbed in memory! All testifies to the mutation of human affairs--to Decline and Fall.

Now look around you! -- Mark what you see! -- You have passed to the very antipodes of scene, and time, and event. The Past is gone; the Present lives before you. The new Empire is not falling, but rising to glory and grandeur. There rolls the Ohio, graceful in its curves, surrounded with green hills, but crowned with no castles,- having no memories save those of the red Indian, who disappeared but yesterday, and calling up no association of Egyptian or Gothic gods - of Cambyses, Frederick, or Napoleon, leading the heavy tramp of armies, in the career of war and conquest. Some border wars of the early time there have been, but none which destroyed or revolutionized nations. The white man came to possess a land which none had cultivated, and here, all around you, are the peaceful fruits of his labors. The thronged city, with its work-shops, its marts, its stores, its canals, its roads, its churches and schools; the vine-clad hills, the Corinthian house, the distant cottage, the observatory of science--and all that the labor and art of the modern can furnish - are here, on the banks of the Beautiful River. Whence came this magic creation? Is it due to the sacrifice of blood ? to the conquests of a great hero? to the government of an illustrious monarch ? to the well-ordered discipline of feudal retainers? --Or to some extraordinary performance of human genius? or to some miraculous interposition of Providence ?

To none of these is this creation due, though this land has received the richest gifts of Nature, and the Smiles of Providence. It is, however, the work of an ancient knight -one who dwelt in Egypt, Greece, and Rome, in their golden times, but has now left their ruins gray, to inhabit and invigorate this new and rising Empire. The Knight of Industry is his name, and he it is who has cultured the fields; and

"The towns has quicken'd by mechanic arts,
And bade the fervent city glow with toil."

In truth, all that you see in this metropolis of the Ohio Valley, is the result of only half a century of hard work. This is a plain term, but it expresses the whole. Only a little more than half a century since, the red Indian contended for the site of Cincinnati, and the stockade-Fort Washington-was the only strong-hold of the white in this valley. Soon the Indian disappeared; the but became useless, and was abandoned; the town grew up, at first only a dirty village, and now a great and prosperous city, full of art, commerce, and wealth. No where else can so entire a transformation, accomplished in so short a time, be found. Viewed in its just light, it is a far greater wonder than any of the old and renowned ruins of the earth. It is not wonderful, that Time and Decay should destroy the (mightiest work of man, or that man should be capable of great works, when he has time sufficient; but that he should perform the work of centuries in a single generation, and that he should transform the dark wilderness into the fruitful field and blooming garden, within the limits of a life, seems like the marvels of an Oriental story, or rather like the fulfillment of those ancient prophecies, which speak of the desert blooming like the rose. But--the cars are starting--let us note what we see on the way.

The LITTLE MIAMI RAILROAD did not exist. twelve years since - nor any other railway in the Valley of the Ohio - but now it is here, to take you on your journey with all the speed, comfort and couvenience of any such road, in any country; and there are three thousand miles of railway in this valley! Year after year hundreds of miles are added to the, number, and where it once took weeks to accomplish a journey, it now takes only hours! What a revolution! But the revolution is not in the gain of time only, nor even money. The great change is in society. Thousands meet now where tens could meet twenty years since. Look through these cars, and you see around, men, women and children going to see friends, or transact business, oil seeking pleasure. where they would not have dreamed of going a few years since. Some are going only to the next town ; some to the Lakes; some to the Atlantic ; some to Europe ; - and some, perhaps, will wander through old Jerusalem, or by the banks of Jordan, before they will again return. The Railroad and the Steamboat have made man almost ubiquitous on this little earth, and his fondness for novelty and change is gratified beyond the dreams of fancy. Where will this stop ? No where, till this earth is inhabited by one family, dwelling together in peace and unity.

Passenger Depot, Cincinnati.

Before we start, let us look at this DEPOT. I have seen many fine depots, in the east and the west -- some of solid, beautiful stone -- but I have seen none more spacious or convenient than this. It is recently finished; and there will be need of all its accommodations, for the immense congregation of persons and things, gathering here from the numerous lines of railway, North and East. Already there are five or six hundred miles of Ohio Railroads, whose whole business with Cincinnati centres here, and the number is continually increasing. This building is 465 feet long, 90 feet wide, and 30 feet high. It is, as you see, built in the most solid manner, and beautifully arched. It covers just an acre of ground, and would contain ten thousand people. On the opposite side you will see another Depot, also very large. In these depots, and in the machine shop beyond, are included four or five acres of ground, nearly covered with buildings, and all absolutely necessary to accommodate the immense business of the Railway.

Before we start, let us recognize the localities around the Depot. We are now just at the foot of DEER, CREEK, over which is the stone bridge you have just passed. This little stream is only two miles in length, originating on the top of the northern hills, and running down the ravine in which you see the MIAMI CANAL, whose outlet is just below the bridge. The creek is now covered most of the way by a stone culvert. At the head of it, about a mile above the Depot, are the principal slaughtering establishments; and in former years, I have seen the creek running with blood, from the hogs killed upon it. In the cold weather of December and January, thousands of these animals are slaughtered each day, and. the stream is crimsoned till it mingles with the Ohio.

Up Deer Creek ravine, if you cast a look, factories, foundries and mills arise in continual succession far as the eye can see. Most of them are turned by the water power of the canal; but some are car ried on by steam, which is now very cheap. This is one of the busiest parts of the town, and an immensely heavy business is transacted in its neighborhood. Sugar mills for Louisiana, locomotives for railways, machinery of all kinds, linseed oil, flour, candles, soap, and numerous other articles, are manufactured in Deer Creek valley. The value of these manufactures, in this little ravine alone, amounts to some three or four millions of dollars per annum; and yet it is but a small part of what is done in Cincinnati.

Now let us glance at something very different. Out of sight, but on the summit of the hill just to your left, is the OBSERVATORY. The hill on which it stands is called MOUNT ADAMS, from John Quincy Adams, who laid the corner-stone of the building. The Observatory was founded by Professor Mitchell, whose untiring exertions procured subscriptions among all classes of people, which, with his own labor and perseverance, accomplished the work. The structure is quite a handsome one, and fitted with the larger class of astronomical instruments, though it still needs many of the minor appurtenances of a complete one. The great equatorial Telescope is one of the finest in the world, and is to the eye, as well as to science, really magnificent. The focal length is 17 1/2 feet, and the diameter of the object glass 12 inches. It is mounted on a stone pedestal of great strength, and is made of the most beautiful brass, polished to the brightness of a mirror. Although weighing 2,500 pounds, it may be moved to any point with your little finger, so nicely adjusted are the pivots and wheels on which it moves. Should the stranger in Cincinnati ever find an opportunity, he will be delighted with the scenery of the siderial heavens, presented through this glass. Saturn, with its golden rings; the Moon, and her dim and shadowy mountains; Jupiter, and his attendant satelites -- all are beautiful and lovely, and, to one who has never seen this telescopic vision, most wonderful.

It is very singular, yet true, that this same hill was once used as an Indian observatory; but not to observe the heavens-nor look through telescopes nor count the glowing orbs, as they career through the skies. No ; the Indian made an observatory of the tops of the high trees on the hill, to see what the white men were doing in the fort below. A lady, whose husband was an officer in Fort Washington, told me that White Eyes, an Indian chief, said that he had often climbed to the top of the " big tree" on the hill, and looked clown into Fort Washington, where he could see every movement. This was just before Wayne's victory in 1795. That gave peace to the valley, and border wars were known no more. One short generation has passed, and what marvels are seen! Yonder little stream, then filled with alder bushes, and musical with birds, is now crowded with lofty factories, and thundering with the din of machinery and the roar of wheels. Where the old fort was, rises lofty domes, and towers, and turrets, surrounded with the gay splendor of a modern city. On yonder hill-then forest-crowned -rises the Observatory; and the red Indian,

" Whose soul proud science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk or milky way,"

is replaced by the bold white, who seeks to penetrate the depths of the sky, and reveal the mysteries of heaven!

-- Hark! the bell rings, and we shall soon leave Cincinnati behind us. The first object which strikes the eye on the right, is the large building of the CINCINNATI WATER WORKS, usually pouring forth a dark cloud of coal smoke. Being carried on by steam, these works have none of the beauty of Fairmount (Philadelphia), so justly celebrated. They are, nevertheless, interesting from the great scale on which they are constructed, and the immense work they perform. Cincinnati is built on a great plain, with two levels, or steps ; one of which is 55 feet, and the other 108 feet above low water mark. Hence to supply it with water from the river, this water must first be raised 150 feet above its lowest stage, in order to acquire head enough to cause a flow through all the pipes. Now, when we consider that nearly two hundred thousand people are to be supplied with water from this source, it may be imagined that the power required is immense. This work is done by iron forcing pumps, moved by steam. The barrel of the main pump is I8 inches diameter, and 8 feet stroke of piston. There are two pumps which can throw five millions of gallons each twelve hours. The daily consumption of the city is about 2,500,000 gallons. By these pumps the water is forced into a reservoir, on the hill above, and thence carried in pipes to all parts of the city. This reservoir is 368 feet long, 135 feet wide, and 23 feet deep, capable of containing one million cubic gallons of water. The containing walls are of stone, several feet in thickness, double, with an interval between, and thoroughly cemented. From this reservoir, the water is carried to all parts of the city in iron pipes, of which the main stem is 20 inches in diameter. The pipes now make about sixty miles in length, and supply 15,000 hydrants.

Just beyond us, on the right, is another long, dingy volcanic establishment, pouring forth flame and smoke. This is the Rolling Mill of Shreve, Steele & Co., and may be taken as a sample of the numerous iron factories in Cincinnati. The part of the city where we now are is almost wholly occupied with mills, factories, and machine shops of various kinds; and the dwellings are of a cheap structure, occupied chiefly by work people. Hence there is little beauty in it, and, like the first view of most cities seen from public conveyances, does not strike a stranger as very imposing. The same characteristic appearance prevails for five miles, in which there is a continuous street passing through towns of different names, but in fact only prolongations of Cincinnati. Next to the city, in succession, are FULTON, PENDLETON, SPENCER, and COLUMBIA. Nothing, however, indicates where either begin, or end. They are only suburbs. As we pass along, there will be seen--notwithstanding the dingy look of houses and shops -some beautiful, as well as inter esting things. By keeping your attention mainly fixed on the right, or river side of the cars, you will see the Kentucky hills in some of their most graceful attitudes. The forest is not half cleared off, but near the river there are green fields, country seats, and villages; forming, altogether, quite a picturesque landscape. The hills have the contour and height which characterize nearly the whole thousand miles of the Ohio Valley. Above Wheeling they are more abrupt, and below the Cumberland less in height; but what you see before you is the general character of the hills which bound the Ohio, and which, with its winding curves, have given it the name of the "Beautiful River." They are gentle in their ascent, without rock or precipice, gracefully curved on every side, and covered with rich and abundant foliage. All bear the aspect of beauty and gentleness. There is nothing of the sublime, the abrupt, or the rough. Hence he who compares the scenery of the Ohio with that of the Hudson, or the St. Lawrence, does injustice to both. They are not alike. There are no such sublime heights as those of the Highlands, nor such island-covered breadth of waters as on the St. Lawrence; but neither have they anything like the graceful windings, the gentle hills, the broad bottoms, the deep green of foliage, which gives such loveliness to the vale of the Ohio. Just above this, is a most picturesque curve, with the winding town on this side, the green hills of Kentucky on the other, the river bending away around the base of the hills till lost to the sight, and curling smoke rising in fleecy clouds to the sky. Beyond that, and about six miles from Cincinnati (almost all of which is the village), on the Ohio side, is the Little Miami, from which our Road takes its name.

I have been descending the river in one of the fine Pittsburgh packets, in the beginning of May. Deep was the foliage of the forest, velvet-like the soft green of the fields; rapid and rolling the river, the wind raising on its surface the little "white tops," and bringing with it the balmy freshness of the woods. Then the Ohio is indeed beautiful; then I could say, with truth --

"See the rivers how they run,
Through woods and meads, in shade and sun,
Sometimes swift, sometimes slow,
Wave succeeding wave, they go
A various journey to the deep."

The name OHIO was given originally by the Indians, and signified nearly the same, as the French termed it, "La belle Riviere ;" but conveying the idea of white water, or white waves.

On the right, and near two miles from the Depot, you will see a handsome town on the Kentucky shore. This is JAMESTOWN. It was laid out only three or four years since, and is now, as you see, a considerable village. In a few years, the Kentucky shore, like the Ohio, will be lined with a continuous town. The three towns of Covington, Newport and Jamestown, now contain about twenty thousand inhabitants. Three-fourths of this is the growth of the last ten years.