RailsandTrails.com - Texts - 1854 Ohio Railroad Guide

  Pendleton to Plainville  

PENDLETON is three miles from Cincinnati, but is only a continuance of the town we have passed. The Company have here a large stable for locomotives, a machine shop, repair shop, work-shops, &c., &c. The accompanying plate gives a view of this establishment.

Car Shops and Engine Depot. Pendleton, L. M. R. R.

The cars were formerly compelled to move slow from the depot to this point; but the Company having purchased the ground, at immense expense, for their own use, there is now no interruption, and we move swiftly on.

From Pendleton we pass rapidly into the Valley of the Miami. Almost imperceptibly, the cars turn more than a quarter circle; leaving a high hill, on the left, the summit of which is called TUSCULUM, and occupied as a peach orchard and vineyard. From this hill is one of the finest views in America, commanding, the suburbs of Cincinnati, the Valley of the Little Miami, and the beautiful curves and surroundings of the Ohio. It is well worth while for a traveler in Ohio, to drive, some clear morning (as he may, on a good road, to take a view of this charming scene. If, when we gaze with delight from yonder hill, the red Indian could return, he might well exclaim, with Roderick Dhu, --

"Saxon, from yonder mountain high,
I marked thee send delighted eye,
Far to the south and east, where lay
Extended, in succession gay,
Deep waving fields and pastures green,
With gentle slopes and groves between.
These fertile plains; that spotted vale,
Were once the birthright of the Gael;
The stranger came, with iron hand,
And from our fathers reft the land.
Where dwell we now?"

It is in vain; neither Roderick nor the Indian can regain their native land. And why should they? The earth must be cultivated; and it is not the wild hunter nor the Highland robber can do that. Civilization must prevail, and sympathy is wasted upon those who, either for want of will or capacity, or Providential favor, are unable to perform their part in reducing the wilderness to cultivation, and the human mind to discipline. This work of cultivation and discipline is what we see before us. This Railway is one of the highest types of Physical Progress, and the science by which it is accomplished, one of the highest evidences of intellectual discipline.

Scene by moonlight at Red Bank.

Now look to the right, as you turn, and take a view of the broad fields of the Miami Valley. The river runs on the other side, in a narrow grove of trees, which conceals it from your sight, and joins the Ohio about a mile and a half from the turn round the hill. Few spots present a richer view of the fertile soil of Ohio, in its products, than this vale in mid-summer, when the Indian corn waves its tassels, the meadows are verdant, and here and there a market garden has a little patch blooming with various plants.

The FIRST BURYING GROUND is six miles from Cincinnati, near where we are. It is just to the right, a narrow inclosure, with a few old tombs yet visible. It is the burial place Of the first settlers, -- for COLUMBIA was settled before Cincinnati. The first colony was composed of Mr. Stites and twenty-six others, who landed here in 1788. The failure of this settlement was owing to the fact of these bottoms being overflowed at high water, so that, in the very next year, all the cabins but one were under water. Oliver Spencer, one of the earliest inhabitants of Cincinnati, says of Columbia: "Fresh in my remembrance is the rude log house, the first humble sanctuary of the first settlers of Columbia, standing amidst the tall forest trees, on the beautiful knoll where now is a grave-yard, and the ruins of a Baptist meeting house of later years. There, on the holy Sabbath, we were wont to assemble to hear the word of life; but our fathers met with their muskets and rifles, prepared for action, and ready to repel any attach of the enemy. And while the watchman on the walls of Zion was uttering his faithful and pathetic warning, the sentinels without, at a few rods' distance, with measured step, were now pacing their walks, and, with strained eyes, endeavoring to pierce through the distance, carefully scanning every object that seemed to have life or motion."

The first clergyman who preached in the old log church was Mr. GANO, the father of General Gano, one of the early settlers. Daniel Gano, for many years Clerk of the Courts in Cincinnati, was born here-one of the oldest living men born on the soil of Ohio.

In this little, unpretending grave-yard, were buried the early dead of Ohio. They went to sleep in the wilderness, but their bones lie amidst hundreds of thousands, who now live where the wilderness stood. Of them may truly be said,--

Beneath those rugged elms, that locust's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell forever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

They were not so very rude; for most of the settlers of Ohio, were intelligent men. But these were the forefalhers--and not of a hamlet only; nor merely of a common city; but doubtless of some modern Babylon or London, which here rising on the banks of the Ohio, shall rival the renowned cities of the earth.

The cars are flying on, and we hasten too. We are now passing over a little stream called DUCK CREEK, and truly it is a very good cluck creek, and there is some pleasant shade along its banks. We now come on to the MIAMI RIVER, which you will see on one side or the other, for more than fifty miles. I may as well introduce you now to the character and history of the Miami, whose company you are to keep for so long a time. This river rises in the western edge of Madison county; thence traverses a part of Clarke; and thence through Greene, Warren, and part of Clermont and Hamilton. Its whole length is about 80 miles, and its descent in that distance, about 700 feet; or, an average of about 9 feet to a mile. This rapid, but generally equable descent, makes it an admirable mill stream -and there are in the valley of the Miami, numerous mills and factories, most of whose products go to Cincinnati. There are a million and two hundred thousand bushels of wheat, grown in this valley; and at least four millions of bushels of corn. These, of course, cause a large export of flour, hogs and whisky, which furnish heavy freights for the Little Miami Railroad, and bring a most profitable tribute to Cincinnati. Notwithstanding the fall in the river is so great, the current is gentle, -- and the whole scenery is soft. Generally, the trees and shrubs on the banks, are suffered to grow -- and the river is seen through the foliage. We pursue the valley very closely, till we reach Xenia, where we leave it, and bend over the upland plain towards Columbus.

The Little Miami is one of two streams with the same name--the other being nearly parallel -- at about twenty miles distance. From these streams, this district is called the MIAMI VALLEY, and is celebrated for its fertility. The whole section, watered by the two Miamis, contains seven thousand square miles, and more than half a million of inhabitants. This gives seventy to the square mile, and a density of habitation, equal to New England, except in the immediate vicinity of Boston.

The Miami Valley was first noticed by Washington, who having crossed the Alleghenies himself one hundred years ago, seems to have been well informed upon the character of the country and climate, on the Ohio. In a letter to a friend, written after the revolution, he mentions the country on the Miamis-as described to him by surveyors, who had visited it-as remarkably fine in soil and climate, It is singular also, that Washington should also be the first person to project the formation of the present State of Ohio. I never saw this mentioned in any history or discussion of the subject; but so it is. In a letter to a gentleman of New York, he recommends the purchase of the Indian lands, rather than a war with them. For, he says, their lands are all you can get by war-and you can get them by purchase. With that remarkable sagacity for which Washington was so distinguished, he says the purchase of the lands and settlement by the whites, go together. Hence, he recommends that a State be formed on the north side of the Ohio-whose western boundary should run through the mouth of the Great Miami, and be continued to the Miami of the Lakes, and thence to Lake Erie. The State would be comprehended between this western boundary and Pennsylvania, and between Lake Erie and the Ohio River. This is precisely the present State of Ohio, and within twenty years from the writing of Washington's letter, it was admitted into the Union. I mention this little episode, to illustrate the practical sense and foresight of him, who in fact, not less than in name, was the Father of his Country.

As we pass along, and the variegated foliage of trees and shrubs and plants appears before us, it may interest us a little to know what they are. We are not botanists or florists; but the common plants of each district of country should be noted by every observing traveler. The Oak and the Sugar Maple, we find in almost every part of our wide country. But there are numerous plants, which are peculiar to certain districts, and often to very small districts. This peculiarity seems to depend (setting aside climate) on some peculiarity in the soil, or structure of the earth's surface -- what the Geologists call its formation -- or, as I should say, its composition. I know little about Geology; but one leading fact I can tell you. This Miami country is all of it a limestone country. The farmers say that lime is one great cause of the fertility of the soil. At any rate, this lime certainly encourages the growth of some plants, and is hostile to others. Now, let us see what plants we have before us. It is spring, and we see Nature and her children to advantage. If not in their most valuable, they are certainly in their most beautiful dresses. I shall not enumerate the common trees, but merely mention some that are the most characteristic of this region. In early spring, may be seen the REDBUD ( Cercis), which bears a beautiful red bud, and seems like a jewel on the breast of the forest. Flowering about the same time, is the Dogwood ( Cornus), which bears a large white flower, shaded with a little yellow. The Flowering LOCUST (Robinia), comes later, and when in blossom is a beautiful tree. The BUCKEYE (AEsculus maxima), has given name to the inhabitants of Ohio. The POISON VINE, (Rhus Radicans) is a very common plant in summer, and by many, is supposed to be the cause of milk sickness, which was a very afflicting disease in some sections of the country below Columbus; but in the progress of cultivation, seems to have nearly disappeared The INDIAN ARROW WOOD, (Euonymus) is abundant in mid-summer. The PAWPAW (Anona Glebra), is very common in the neighborhood of all our streams, and with the Buckeye boy, its fruit is quite a favorite. The TULIP TREE (poplar), in its season, bears a very fine flower. The WILD CHERRY, CRAB APPLE, PERSIMMON, HONEY LOCUST, WILD PLUM, the ASPEN and the Box; are common trees of the country. The most numerous timber trees, are the Sugar Maple, Beech, White Oak, Walnut, Ash and Hickory.

The Miami country has no Pine; nor is there any district of pine trees within several hundred miles. Hence the transportation of pine lumber to Cincinnati -- where it is so much needed -- is an extensive business. In the future, pine boards will probably be brought by railway, from the distant regions of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

PLAINVILLE, to the left, is a station 9.2 miles from Cincinnati, and 6 1/2 from Pendleton Engine Shops. There is nothing peculiar about it, -- though the situation is pleasant; and a number of gentlemen have purchased the neighboring heights for rural residences.

The Miami, here and below, affords several mill seats, which have been occupied for many years. In the first settlement of the country, they used a very different kind of mill. A little grinding apparatus was fixed in a boat, and the boat being anchored, the wheel at the side was turned by the current. Others of the pioneers -- especially in Kentucky -- used horse mills and hand mills. Thus, the first settlement of the Nest approached very nearly the primitive state, -- when the simplest arts and usages were adopted.