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The St. Peter, a tributary of the Mississippi, has its rise in a small lake about three miles in circumference, at the base of a ridge, named Coteau des Prairies. It enters the Mississippi nine miles below the Falls of St. Anthony. Its length in all its windings is about 500 miles. Its course is exceedingly serpentine, and is interrupted by several rocky ridges, extending across the bed of the river, and occasioning falls of considerable descent. During the times of spring freshets and floods, this river is navigable for boats from its mouth to the head of Big Stone lake, about fifteen miles from its sources. For a distance of about forty miles on the lower part of the river, it is only from sixty to eighty yards wide, and navigable for pirogues and canoes in all stages of the floods; higher up, its navigation is obstructed in low water by numerous shoals and rapids. The aggregate descent of the St. Peter may be estimated at about 150 feet, the general level of the country at its source having an elevation of about fifty feet above the river. The chief of its tributaries is the Blue-earth river, which flows in from the south 100 miles west of the Mississippi by a mouth fifty yards in width. It is chiefly noted for the blue clay which the Indians procure upon its banks, and which is much employed in painting their faces and other parts of their bodies. The river St. Peter's enters the Mississippi behind a large island, which is probably three miles in circumference, and is covered with the most luxuriant growth of sugar-maple, elm, ash, oak, and walnut. At the point of embouchure, it is 150 yards in width, with a depth of ten or fifteen feet. Its waters are transparent, and present a light blue tint on looking upon the stream. From this circumstance, the Indians have given it the name of Clear-water river. -Book of United States.
The Red River of the north rises near the sources of the St. Peter's; and by a northern and winding course runs nearly 200 miles within the United States limits; and then passes into the British dominions of Upper Canada, and empties into Lake Winnepeck. Its principal branches are Red Lake river and Moose river: the latter of which streams rises within a mile of Fort Mandan on the Missouri. Red river is a broad, deep, and navigable stream, abounding with fish, and the country along its banks with elk and buffaloes.
The Onio.—The name Ohio is said to signify in the language of the aborigines, “ the beautiful river.” Above Pittsburg it is called the Alleghany : the source of which is in Pennsylvania, in north latitude forty-one degrees and forty-five minutes, and west longitude seventy-eight degrees. It is formed by two small streams. At Pittsburg, where the Alleghany receives the Monongahela, the main stream is there called the Ohio. The Monongahela is formed by the confluence of two streams, both rising in the Alleghany chain, in the north-west angle of Virginia, and running parallel to each other for sixty miles in nearly a direct line. The absolute course of the Monongahela is more than 200 miles, but not above 130 in a direct line from south to north. It appears to be a larger and deeper stream at Pittsburg than the
Alleghany, which, in the dry season, has not above seven feet water, where deepest. The waters of the Alleghany are always clear and limpid, while those of the Monongahela, on the contrary, become muddy and turbid, whenever there are a few days of successive rain in that part of the Alleghany mountains where it rises. Each of the streams is about 400 yards wide at their confluence, and after the junction, the stream is more remarkable for its depth than breadth.
The Ohio, formed by the junction of the Monongahela and Alleghany, appears to be rather a continuation of the former than the latter, which arrives at the confluence in an oblique direction. From Pittsburg to the mouth of the Ohio, the distance is 1033 miles, following the stream. It receives numerous tributaries on both sides, in its course to the Mississippi. For 300 miles below Pittsburg, the Ohio runs between two ridges of hills, rising from 300 feet to 400 feet in height. These are frequently undulated along their summits, and extend occasionally as elevated table lands. They sometimes recede from, and sometimes approach to, the banks of the river; generally run parallel to the Alleghany chain. These ridges recede gradually as we proceed down the river, and finally disappear from the view. The Ohio flows through a transverse chain, at the rapids, near Louisville, and thence through a level country, as far as the Mississippi. The general appearance of this picturesque river is placid, gentle, and transparent, except during the floods. There are periodical inundations in winter and in spring. The vernal inundations of the Ohio commence sometimes at the end of March, and subside in July; and sometimes early in February, and subside in May. The inundations are early or late, according to the melting of the snows or the ice in the interior. The Ohio, during these inundations, is swelled to a remarkable height, varying in different places, as the river is more or less expanded in breadth. The high and steep banks, in the upper course of the Ohio, prevent the general level of the land from being overflowed, and rendered marshy and unwholesome, as in the Lower Missouri, and in the lower part of the Ohio. Yet high as its banks are, the Ohio is sometimes destructive to the towns which are not sufficiently elevated above the river. Part of the town of Marietta situated at the junction of the Muskingum with the Ohio, though elevated forty-five feet above the ordinary level of the stream, has been twice inundated, and abandoned by the inhabitants. The town of Portsmouth, at the mouth of the Great Sciota, 218 miles below Marietta by water, though elevated sixty feet above the usual surface of the river, has been also subjected to a similar calamity. At Cincinnati, the breadth of the river is 535 yards, and the banks fifty feet in perpendicular height, yet these are annually overflowed. The winter floods commence in the middle of October, and continue to the latter end of December. Occasionally, during summer, heavy rains fall among the Alleghany mountains, by which the Ohio is suddenly raised; these summer inundations are rare. During the two periodical floods, which, taken together, last for nearly half the year, vessels drawing about twelve feet water navigate the river downward from Pittsburg to New Orleans, a distance of nearly 2200 miles. The voyage from Pittsburg to the falls may be accomplished in nine or ten days, but it is generally performed in twelve days. The difficulty of navigating the Ohio during the dry season, is limited to the upper part of its course, or between Pittsburg and Limestone : a distance, by water, of 425 miles. The shallowness of the stream is occasioned by its being divided by islands into several channels; for the depth of the Monongahela branch of the Ohio alone, is twelve feet, at Pittsburg. Michaux counted fifty of these islands in the distance of 390 miles; some of them only containing a few acres, and others exceeding a mile in length. A ship, of above 300 tons, called the Muskingum, arrived at the port of Liverpool, in the United Kingdom, in May, 1845, on her first voyage from Cincinnati. This vessel was built at Marietta, 283 miles above Cincinnati, with a cargo of pork, lard, oil-cake, &c., laden at the latter place. This ship performed the voyage from where built to the Gulf of Mexico, 1933 miles, and thence round Florida, by the Bahama channel, across the Atlantic, more than 5000 miles, or in all, about 7000 miles to Liverpool.
The TENNESSEE rises in the Alleghany mountains, traverses East Tennessee, and almost the whole northern limit of Alabama, re-enters Tennessee, crosses almost the whole width of it, into Kentucky, and passes into Ohio, fifty-seven miles above its junction with the Mississippi. It is near 1200 miles in length, and is the largest tributary of the Ohio. It has numerous branches, and is navigable for boats for about 1000 miles. Most of its branches rise among the mountains, and are too shallow for navigation, except during the floods, which take place occasionally, at all seasons of the year, and allow flat boats to be floated down to the main stream. The Muscle shoals are about 300 miles from its entrance into the Ohio. At this place the river spreads to the width of three miles, and forms a number of islands. The passage by boats is difficult and dangerous, except when the water is high.
From these shoals to the place called the Whirl, or Suck, 250 miles, the navigation all the way is excellent, to the Cumberland mountain ; which the river flows through. This mountain is, in parts, so steep, that even the Indians cannot ascend it on foot. In one place, particularly near the summit of the mountain, there is a remarkable ledge of rocks, about thirty miles in length, and 200 feet high, with a perpendicular front facing the south-east, forming a magnificent wall, excelling all the artificial fortifications in the known world. The Whirl is considered a greater curiosity than the famous breach by the river Potomac through the Blue Ridge.
The Tennessee, which above the Whirl is half a mile wide, contracts to a breadth of about 100 yards, or eighteen rods. A large rock which projects from the northern shore, in an oblique direction, renders the channel still narrower, and causes a sudden bend, by which the waters are thrown with great force against the opposite shore. From thence they rebound, and form a whirl of about eighty yards, or 240 feet in circumference. By the dexterity of the rowers, canoes drawn into this whirl have sometimes escaped without damage. In less than a mile below the whirl, the river spreads to its common width, down to Muscle shoals; and thence flows in a regular and majestic stream down to its confluence with the Ohio.
The WABAsh rises in the north-eastern part of Indiana, and flows southwesterly across the state, then it bends to the south, and flows into the Ohio, forming towards its mouth the western state boundary. Its length, from its source to its mouth, exceeds 500 miles. It is navigable for keel-boats, about 400 miles, to Quitanon, where there are rapids. From this village small boats proceed to within six miles of St. Mary's river; ten of Fort Wayne; and eight of the St. Joseph of the Miami-of-the-lakes. Its current flows gently above Vincennes ; below the town there are several rapids, but not of sufficient force to prevent boats from ascending. The principal rapids are between Deche and White rivers, ten miles below Vincennes. White river and Tippecanoe river are branches of the Wabash.
The CumBERLAND rises in the Cumberland mountains, Kentucky, and, flowing nearly 200 miles through that state, passes into Tennessee, tirough which it makes a circuit of 250 miles, then re-enters Kentucky, and falls into the Ohio, about fifty miles above the confluence of that river with the Mississippi. From the source of this river to its junction with the Ohio, the distance in a direct line is 300 miles; and by the course and windings of the stream, nearly 600 miles; for 500 of which it is navigable for batteaux of fourteen or fifteen tons burden.
The MUSKINGUM rises in the north-eastern part of Ohio, and flows southerly into the Ohio river. It is about 200 miles in length, and is navigable for boats for about 100 miles. It is connected by a canal with Lake Erie. The Sciota rises in the western part, and flows southerly into the Ohio. It is about 200 miles long, and is navigable 130 miles. There are rich and beautiful prairies along the river, and its valley is wide and fertile. A canal passes along this valley, and extends north-easterly to Lake Erie. The Licking and Kentucky rivers take their rise in the Cumberland mountains, and flow north-westerly into the Ohio. They are each about 200 miles in length. The latter is navigable for 150 miles, and has a width of 150 yards at its mouth. The current is rapid, and the shores are high. For a great part of its course, it flows between perpendicular cliffs of limestone. While sailing down this stream the passenger is said to experience an indescribable sensation on looking upwards from the deep chasm bounded closely by these lofty parapets. Among the other tributaries of the Ohio, are the Great and Little Miami, Saline,* Green river, Big Sandy, Kanhawa.
The Illinois rises in the north-eastern parts of the state of that name, no more than thirty-five miles from the south-western extremity of Lake Michigan and communicating by locks through a morass with the River Chicago, which empties into that lake. Its two main head-branches are Plein and Kankakee. Thirty miles from the junction of these rivers, Fox river flows in from the north. The Vermilion is a considerable stream, which joins the Illinois from the south, 260 miles above the Mississippi. Not far below the Vermilion and 210 miles above the Mississippi, is the commencement of Peoria lake—an enlargement of the river, two miles wide, on an average, and twenty miles in length. This picturesque expansion is so deep that its current is not perceptible. Its romantic shores, are generally bounded by prairies. It abounds with fish.
On the north side of the Illinois, the rivers that flow in-shore have their courses, for the most part, in mountainous bluffs, which often approach near the river. For a great distance above its mouth, the river is almost as straight as a canal. In summer it has scarcely a perceptible current; and the water, though transparent, has a marshy taste which renders it almost unfit for use. The river is wide and deep; and, for the greater part of its width, is so thickly filled with aquatic weeds, that no person could swim among them. Only a few yards’ width, in the centre of the stream, is free from these weeds. It enters the Mississippi through a deep forest, by a mouth 100 yards wide. Probably no river of the western country is so well adapted for boat navigation, or waters a more luxuriant country.
ROCK RIVER is one of the most beautiful tributaries of the Mississippi. It has its source beyond the northern limits of Illinois, in a ridge of hills that separates the waters of the Mississippi and those of Lake Michigan. On its banks are extensive and rich lead mines. Its general course is south-west, and it enters the Mississippi, not far above the commencement of the military bounty lands. Opposite the mouth of this river, rises in the Mississippi, a beautiful island, on which there is a military station.
KASKASKIA RIVER rises in the interior of Illinois, near Lake Michigan. It flows in a south-west direction nearly 300 miles : for the greater part of which, during the moderate and higher floods it is navigated by boats. It flows through a fertile and settled country, and joins to the Mississippi a few miles below the town of the same name.
The WISCONSIN is the largest river of the North-West territory that flows into the Mississippi. It rises in the northern interior of the country, and near. the Montreal of Lake Superior. It flows between 300 and 400 miles, with a
* On the banks of this stream, about twenty miles from the Ohio, are extensive salt-works owned by the United States government.