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Lakes and Rivers.] It may in truth be said, that no part of the world is so well watered with springs, rivulets, rivers, and lakes, as the territory of the United States. By means of these various streams and collections of water, the whole country is checkered into islands and peninsulas. The United States, and indeed all parts of North America, seem to have been formed by nature for the most intimate union. The facilities of navigation render the communication between the ports of Georgia and New Hampshire, infinitely more expeditious and practicable, than between those of Provence and Picardy in France ; Cornwall and Caithness, in Great Britain ; or Gallicia and Catalonia, in Spain. The canals proposed at South-Key, Susquehannah, and Delaware, will open a communication from the Carolinas to the western counties of Pennsylvania and NewYork. The improvements of the Patomak, will give a passage from the fouthern States, to the western parts of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and even to the lakes. From Detroit, on Lake Erie, to Alexdria, on the Patomak, fix hundred and seven miles, are but two carrying places, which together do not exceed the distance of forty miles. The canals of Delaware and Chesapeek will open the communication from South-Carolina to New-Jersey, Delaware, the moft populous parts of Pennsylvania, and the midland counties of New York. These important works might be effected, an accurate and well informed computer fupposes, for two hundred thoufand guineas ; and North-America would thereby be converted into a cluster of large and fertile islands, communicating with each other with ease and little expence, and in many inftances with out the uncertainty or danger of the fea.
There is nothing in other parts of the globe which resembles the prodigious chain of lakes in this part of the world. They may properly be termed inland seas of fresh water; and even those of the second or third class in magnitude, are of larger circuit than the greateft lake in the castern continent. The best account of those lakes that I have feen, is in Carver's Travels in North America. This book is my authority for the defcriptions which follow.
The Lake of the Woods is so called from the large quantities of wood growing on its banks; such as oaks, pines, firs, spruce, &c. This lake lies nearly cast of the south end of Lake Winnepeek, and is the fource or conductor of one branch of the river Bourbon. Its length from caft to weft
in about seventy miles, and in some places it is forty miles wide. The Killiftinoe Indians encamp on its borders to fish and hunt. This lake is the communication between the Lakes Winnepeek and Bourbon, and Lake Superior.
Rainy or Long Lake lies ealt of the Lake of the Woods, and is nearly an hundred miles long, and in no part more than twenty miles wide.
Eastward of this lake, lie several small ones, which extend in a string to the great carrying place, and thence into Lake Superior. Between these little lakes are several carrying places, which render the trade to the northweft difficult, and exceedingly tedious, as it takes two years to make one voyage from Michillimackinac to these parts,
Lake Superior, formerly termed the Upper Lake, from its northern fituation, is so called from its magnitude, it being the largest on the continent. It may juftly be termed the Caspian of America, and is supposed to be the largest body of fresh water on the globe. Accordingly to the French charts it is fifteen hundred miles in circumference ; Carver supposes that if the utmost extent of every bay was taken, it would exceed fixteen hundred. A great part of the coast is bounded by rocks and uneven ground. The water is pure and transparent, and appears generally, throughout the lake, to lie upon a bed of huge rocks. It is worthy of remark, in regard to the waters of this lake, that although their surface, during the heat of summer, is impregnated with no small degree of warmth, yet on letting down a cup to the depth of about a fathom, the water drawn from thence is so exceflively cold, that, when taken into the mouth, it has the same effe& as ice.
The fituation of this lake, from the most accurate observations which have yet been made, lies between forty-six and fifty degrees of north latitude, and between nine and eighteen degrees of west longitude from the meridian of Philadelphia. There are
islands in this lake, two of them have each land enough, if proper for cultivation to form a considerable province ; especially Ille Royal, which is not less than an hundred miles long, and in many places forty broad. T'he natives suppose these illands are the residence of the Great Spirit.
Two very large rivers empty themselves into this lake, on the north and north-east lide ; one is called the Nipegon, which leads to a tribe of the Chipeways, who inhabit a lake of the same name, and the other, is the Michipicooton river, the source of which is towards James's Bay, from whence there is but a short portage to another river, which empties itself unto that bay.
Not far from the Nipegon is a small river, that, just before it enters the lake, has a perpendicular fall from the top of a mountain, of more than fix hundred feet. It is very narrow, and appears at a diftance like a white garter suspended in the air. There are upwards of thirty other rivers which empty into this lakc, some of which are of a considerable fize. On the south side of it is a remarkable point or cape of about fixty miles in length, called Point Chegomegan. About an hundred miles weit of this cape, a considerable river falls into the lake, the head of which is composed of a great assemblage of small ítreams. This river is remarkable for the abundance of virgin copper that is found on and acar its banks.
Many small islands, particularly on the eastern shores, abound with copper ore lying in beds, with the appearance of copperas. This metal might be easily made a very advantageous article of commerce, as it costs nothing on the spot, and requires but little expence to get it on board boats or canoes, in which it might be conveyed through the falls of St. Marie to the INe of St. Joseph, which lies at the bottom of the traits near the entrance into Lake Huron, thence into Lake Ontario, from which it may be con. veyed by water into the Mohawks river, except two portages, one of twenty yards, and the other of about a mile ; down Mohawks river in the Hudfon, except the portage at the Cohoes; thence to New-York. The cheapness and cafe with which any quantity of the ore may be procured, will make up for the distance and expence of transportation. This lake abounds
with fish, particularly trout and sturgeon ; the former weigh from twelve to fifty pounds, and are caught almost any season of the year in great plenty. Storms affect this lake as much as they do the Atlantis Ocean; the waves run as high, and the navigation is equally dangerous. It discharges its waters from the south-east corner through the Straits of St. Marie, which are about forty miles long, Near the upper end of these straits is a rapid, which, though it is impossible for canoes to ascend, yet, when conducted by careful pilots, may be descended without danger.
Though Lake Superior is supplied by near forty rivers, many of which are large, yet it does not appear that one tenth part of the waters which are conveyed into it by these rivers, is discharged by the abovementioned strait. How such a superabundance of water can be difpofed of, remains a secret. They doubtless have a passage through some subterraneous cavițies, deep, unfathomable, and never to be explored. The entrance into this lake from the straits of St. Marie, affords one of the most pleasing prospects in the world. On the left
beautiful little islands, that extend a considerable way before you; and on the right, an agreable fucceffion of small points of land, that project a little way into the water, and contribute, with the islands, to render this delightful bason calm, and secure from those tempestuous winds, by which the adjoin. ing lake is frequently troubled,
Lake Huron, into which you enter throngh the straits of St. Marie, is next in magnitude to Lake Superior. It lies between forty-two and fortyfix degrees of north latitude, and between four and ten degrees west longitude, Its shape is nearly triangular, and its circumference about one thousand miles. On the north side of this lake is an island one hundred miles in length, and no more than eight miles broad. It is called Manataulin, signifying a place of spirits, and is considered as facred by the Indians. About the middle of the south-west side of this lake is Saganaum Bay, about eighty miles in length, and about eighteen or twenty miles broad. Thunder Bay, so called from the continual thunder that is heard there, lies about half way between Saganaum Bay and the north-west corner of the lake. It is about nine miles across either way. The fish are the same as in Lake Superior. The promontory that separates this lake from Lake Michigan, is a vast plain, more than one hundred miles long and varying from ten to fifteen miles in breadth. This plain is about equally divided between the Ottowaw and Chipetray Indians. At the northeast corner, this lake communicates with Lake Michigan, by the Straits of Michillim.ackinac. It is remarkable, that although there is no
diurnal food or ebb to be perceived in the waters of these straits, yet from an exact attention to their state, a periodical alteration in them has been discovered. It has been observed that they rise by gradual, but almost imperceptible degrees, till in seven years and an half they had reached the height of about three feet; and in the same space of time, they gradually fell to their former state, so that in fifteen years they had completed this inexplicable revolution.
The Chipeway Indians live scattered around this lake; particularly near Saganaum Bay. On its banks are found amazing quantities of fand cherries.
Lake St. Claire lies about half way between Lake Huron and Lake Erie, and is about ninety miles in circumference. It receives the waters of the three great lakes, Superior, Michigan and Huron, and discharges them through the river or strait, called Detroit, (which is in French the Strait) into Lake Erie. This lake is of a circular form, and navigable for large vefsels, except a bar of fand towards the middle which prevents loaded vessels from passing. The cargoes of such as are freighted must be taken out, and carried across the bar in boats, and reshiped. The town of Detroit is situated on the western bank of the river of the same name, about nine miles below Lake St. Claire.
Lake Erie is situated between forty-one and forty-three degrees of northlatitude, and between three and eight degrees west longitude. It is nearly three hundred miles long, from east to west, and about forty in its broadest part. A point of land projects from the north fide into this fake, several miles, towards the south-east. The islands and banks towards the west end of the lake are so infested with rattle-snakes as to render it dangerous to land on them. The lake is covered near the banks of the islands with the large pood lily; the leaves of which lie on the surface of the water so thick, as to cover it entirely for many acres together; on these, in the summer season, lie myriads of water-snakes basking in the sun. Of the venomous
serpents which infest this lake, the hissing snake is the most remarkable. It is about eighteen inches long, small and speckled. When you approach it, it fattens itself in a moment, and its spots, which are of various colours, become visibly brighter through rage ; at the same time it blows from its mouth, with great force, a subtil wind, said to be of a nauseous smell; and if drawn in with the breath of the unwary traveller, will infallibly bring on a declinc, that in a few months mult prove mortal. No remedy has yet been found to counteract its bareful influence. This lake is of a more dangerous navigation than any of the others on account of the craggy rocks which project into the water in a perpendicular direction, many miles together, affording no shelter from storms. This Lake at its north-east end communicates with Lake Ontario, by the river Niagara, which runs from south to north about thirty miles. At the entrance of this river, on its eastern shore, is Fort Niagara, which is at present, contrary to the treaty of 1783, in possession of the British government, as are most of our north-western posts. About eighteen miles north of this fort, are those remarkable falls which are reckoned one of the greatest natural curiosities in the world. The waters which fupply the river Niagara rise near two thousand miles to the north-west, and pafling trough the lakes Superior, and Michigan, Huron and Erie, receive
ing in their course, constant accumulations, at length, with astonishing grandeur, rush down a ftupendous precipice of one hundred and forty feet perpendicular; and in a strong rapid, that extends to the distance of eight or nine miles below, fall near as much more ; the river then loses itself in Lake Ontario. The noise of these falls, (called the Niagara Falls) : in a clear day and fair wind may be heard, between forty and fiftymiles. When the water strikes the bottom, it bounds to a great height in the air, occasioning a thick cloud of vapours, on which the fun, when it shines, paints a beautiful rainbow.
Lake Ontario is situated between forty-three and forty-five degrees of latitude, and between one and four weft longitude. Its form is nearly oval. Its greatest length is from south-west to north-east, and in circumference about fix hundred miles. It abounds with fish of an excellent favour, among which are the Ofwego bass, weighing three of four pounds. Near the South-east part it receives the waters of the Ofwego river, and on the north eaft-it discharges it itself into the river Cataraqui, or as it is now more commonly called, Iroquois. This river, at Montreal, takes the name of St. Lawrence, and passing by Quebec, empties into the Gulf of the same name.
Lake Champlain is next in size to Lake Ontario, and lies nearly caft from it, dividing the state of New York from that of Vermont. It is about eighty miles in length from north to fouth, and in its broadest part, fourteen. It is well stored with fish, and the land on its borders, and on the banks of its rivers, are good. Crown Point and Ticonderoga are situated on the bank of this lake, near the fouthern part of it.
Lake George lies south-west of Lake Champlain, and is about thirtyfive miles long from north-east to fouth-west but narrow. The adjacent country is mountainous ; the vallies are tolerably good.
The Milliflippi is the great reservoir of the waters of the Ohio and Illipois, and their numerous branches from the east; and of the Missouri and other rivers from the west. These mighty streams united, are borne down with increasing majefty, through vaft forests and meadows, and discharged into the Gulf of Mexico. For an ingenious, beautiful and authentic de. scription of this river, take the following, given by Mr. Hutchins, geo. grapher to the United States. The great length and uncommon depth of this river, and the excessive muddiness and falubrious quality of its waters, after its junction with the Missouri, are very fingular*. The direction of the channel is so crooked, that from New Orleans to the mouth of the Ohio, a distance which does not exceed four hundred and fixty miles in a strait line, is about eight hundred and fifty-fix by water. It may be shortened at least two hundred and fifty miles, by cutting across cight of ten necks of land, some of which are not thirty yards wide, Charlevoix relates that in the year 1772, at Point Coupeé, or Cut Point,
* In a half pint tumbler of this water has been found a sediment of twa inches of slime. It is, notwithfanding, extremely wholesome and well tafted, and very cool in the hottest Seafons of the year; the rowers, who are there employed, drink of it when they are in the firongest perspiration, and never receive any bad affeas from it, The inhabitants of New Orleans use no other water than that of the river, which, by being kept in jars, becomes perfcaly clear.