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An Excursion on the
Crosscut Canal-1839

Submitted by Mark H. Welchley
Milestones Vol 9 No 1--Winter 1984

In 1839, the citizens of Beaver County celebrated the opening of the Beaver and Ohio or Crosscut Canal from New Castle where it joined the Beaver Division Canal, to Warren, Ohio. In an era before the building of railroads in this area, this canal offered unparralled comfort in transportation and low cost movement of freight. On June 12, 1839, the following article appeared in the Beaver Argus newspaper, giving an eyewitness account of the first boat to travel from Bridgewater, in Beaver County to Warren.

"The Packet Boat Ontario, Captain A. Dronson, of the Beaver and Lake Erie line, left Bridgewater on the morning of the 20th May, on board of which there embarked a company of about fifty gentlemen, including the three excellent Amateur bands of Music of our neighborhood.

Away we sailed, our beautiful boat seeming to partake of the animation imparted by the swelling sound of our forty musical instruments, enlivened by the cheering of our friends who lined the banks of the canal, with nothing to regret except the loss of the company of many of our citizens, who were prevented from joining by the shortness of the notice, and whose elongated visages told that they too shared deeply in the disappointment. Our first move, after getting fairly underway, was to look about ourselves and learn what preparations had been made for the accomodation of such a number of men on our uncertain pilgrimage, when we found that, although the owners of the boat had but two days" notice of the letting in of the water on this day, they had made preparations for feeding and lodging one hundred passengers.

Only one important event marked our progress through the Beaver line of canal. That event was one not second in importance to any which it is the part of the faithful travelling chronicler record, viz: a good dinner; Yes, a first rate dinner; --served up in a style which would have done honor to any of our hotels and eaten with an appetite.

At about two o'clock, we arrived at the junction and for the first time a Packet Boat floated on the waters of the Penn's and Ohio Canal. I will not undertake to describe the scene which here ensued. It is enough to say that every bosom appeared to swell to bursting with the enthusiasm inspired by the occasion. A voice --fifty voices united in one, was raised in three cheers, loud, long and estimated, for the Penn's and Ohio canal --This scene was wound up with the "Star Spangled Banner," played in a masterly style, by our three united bands, with Mr. T.L. Lewis, their late teacher, at the head.

After passing ten miles on the Crosscut canal, very pleasantly, we were met by Col. Dodge, with the unwelcome intelligence that a breach had occurred about three miles this side of Youngstown, which would be the means of detaining us two days. The question was then asked "shall we wait until the breach is repaired, or return home?" when the unanimous decision was "stick to the Boat." We rested that night at Stewart's mill, five miles below Youngstown; and in the morning, after breakfast, exercising ourselves at quoits, and various other, gymnastics we started enmasse for Youngstown, when very much to our regret, we found the people nearly exhausted, from having watched for us all the previous night. We were here met by the Youngstown Band, who did the thing up for us in the music way, in a style both pleasing to us and credible to themselves. Here we passed two days, very pleasantly, filling up the time in various ways. Those of us who were musicially inclined, practiced on a new and very popular song "never before produced in this country," called "The Siege of Be Lisle," until we executed it in a style which delighted the lovers of good music, affrighted those who had no music in their souls, and astonished all. Some of us broke to the woods with our rifles, and played havoc amongst the timber: others exercised their nether limbs to the mellow extract of horse- and cat-gut, and all enjoyed alike the kind and courteous treatment of the citizens of this beautiful village, and the sumpteous table of "mine host" of the Youngstown Hotel, our old friend and neighbor, Mr. P. Reno.

On Wednesday night about 12 o'clock, the shrill sound of the horn gave token of the arrival of our boat; and mid the cheers of hundreds of people who had gathered upon the bank of the canal, we embarked for Warren, accompanied by the Youngstown band and many other citizens. The next morning about 10 o'clock, having been detained an hour or two by low water, we came in sight of Warren. What an enlivening scene was here presented -The banks of the canal - bridges - windows - roofs of houses - fences - stumps - and streets -all one mass of animation - -and all delighted by the arrival of the first boat on the canal; and amid the hearty cheering of the multitude, thus gathered to receive us, the lofty sound of music, the roar of artillery, and the smiles of five hundred ladies, we disembarked, and were escorted by a committee appointed by the council, to our Hotel; where after listening to an address from the Mayor, which was responded to by one of our company, we sat down to a sumptuous dinner, prepared for the occasion. What passed here has been published in Warren, and I presume, will appear in your paper. In the evening our three bands, with the Youngstown and Warren bands gave a concert in the Court House, and were listened to by several hundred citizens. The civilities extended to us by the Warren band, and by the Mayor and Council, and other citizens of Warren were various, and all deserve our thanks.

On Friday morning we took leave of this beautiful town, accompanied by 40 or 50 citizens, and set our faces homeward. On arriving at Youngstown, we found extensive arrangements made for our reception and entertainment, to the effect of which a battalion of volunteers, superbly equipped, added much; and we regretted that the lateness of the hour prevented our spending much time there on our second visit, as we all acknowledged was due to the liberality of the people of Youngstown. We however, took dinner and a glass of wine with them, reviewed the battalion, sang the "Siege of Be Lisle" and were off. Next morning we found ourselves on the waters of the Beaver Canal, and after partaking of breakfast, the last meal provided for us by our excellent host, the Captain: we commenced singing the "Siege of Be Lisle," which we had not completed, when at noon we arrived at home, to tell the tale of our adventures to our families and friends...