History, 1838–1856, volume E-1 [1 July 1843–30 April 1844]

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction
Page 1757
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<​October 19​> I extract from Elder s Journal:—
“This was one of the awful, fearful, dangerous, exciting, affecting,— grand, sublime and interesting day’s journey I ever took in my life— Our boat was drawn out of the canal on cars prepared to run on the railroad, to convey us over the Alleghany mountains, which is a novel scene indeed, to see a canal boat taken apart into 4 sections while loaded with freight and passengers, and hoisted on a rail road by inclined planes into the air 1500 feet over high mountains, and then descend into the valley below, in the same way, and every rod is attended with the greatest danger, and what adds dread to it, is having careless men in attendance, who seem indifferent both to their business and the lives of men, which was apparent during this day’s scene at least. But to the detail. Horses were hitched to our cars and drew us four miles and a half, then we came to the first inclined plane which we had to rise; two cars were fastened at the top of the plane to the same rope that ours were fastened to at the bottom, the engine was stationed in a building at the top of the plane that drew the cars up and down, when all was ready, the sign was given by raising a red flag, the engine was put in operation and the cars started; this plane was half a mile long, and raised 180 feet. We went up in two minutes, and I was truly thankful to reach the top, for had the rope broke, or the fastening untied, we should have rolled back to the bottom with a tremendous crash. we were then carried on to plane No. 2, which raised 125 feet in half a mile; our boat rocked badly while going up, but no accident happened. We then continued on a level until we came to the inclined plane No. 3, this was one mile and a quarter long, and raised 320 feet, which we went up in 4 minutes. Before we reached the top, the safety car that was attached to our boat was flung from the track, which <​&​> dragged many rods, and flung the rope off the wheels for 10 or 12 rods. I made a signal to the engineer who stopped, and it was replaced, here again we were in danger of breaking the rope, which would have sent us back down the mountain more than a mile, or turned us over into the yawning gulf below. In either case we would have been dashed to atoms. My hair rose on my head, but having got all things ready we proceeded on to plane No. 4 ¾ of a mile long, and ascended 265 feet. We rose this in 3 minutes, but it looked awful to be thus suspended almost in the air, with such a weight of lives and freight depending upon a knot, a twine, a rope, a pin, an engine, and care of a man; should either of which give way, all would be dashed to atoms, unless saved by a miracle. We next continued on to plane No. 5 ¾ of a mile long 280 feet rise. We were carried up this also in 3 minutes, which brought us to the summit of the Alleghany mountains. The whole 5 inclined planes on our ascending the mountain are 4 miles in length, which raises us perpendicularly 1,170 feet, and I felt thankful to God that I was on the top of the mountain alive, but we had— to descend in the same way that we ascended. We ran on the top of the mountain <​about three miles, and then began to descend. We found snow on the top of the mountain,​> and the weather was exceedingly cold. We had 6 inclined planes to descend to get to the bottom of the mountain, the whole of which was attended with equal danger and carelessness. As we came [p. 1757]
October 19 I extract from Elder s Journal:—
“This was one of the awful, fearful, dangerous, exciting, affecting,— grand, sublime and interesting day’s journey I ever took in my life— Our boat was drawn out of the canal on cars prepared to run on the railroad, to convey us over the Alleghany mountains, which is a novel scene indeed, to see a canal boat taken apart into 4 sections while loaded with freight and passengers, and hoisted on a rail road by inclined planes into the air 1500 feet over high mountains, and then descend into the valley below, in the same way, and every rod is attended with the greatest danger, and what adds dread to it, is having careless men in attendance, who seem indifferent both to their business and the lives of men, which was apparent during this day’s scene at least. But to the detail. Horses were hitched to our cars and drew us four miles and a half, then we came to the first inclined plane which we had to rise; two cars were fastened at the top of the plane to the same rope that ours were fastened to at the bottom, the engine was stationed in a building at the top of the plane that drew the cars up and down, when all was ready, the sign was given by raising a red flag, the engine was put in operation and the cars started; this plane was half a mile long, and raised 180 feet. We went up in two minutes, and I was truly thankful to reach the top, for had the rope broke, or the fastening untied, we should have rolled back to the bottom with a tremendous crash. we were then carried on to plane No. 2, which raised 125 feet in half a mile; our boat rocked badly while going up, but no accident happened. We then continued on a level until we came to the inclined plane No. 3, this was one mile and a quarter long, and raised 320 feet, which we went up in 4 minutes. Before we reached the top, the safety car that was attached to our boat was flung from the track, & dragged many rods, and flung the rope off the wheels for 10 or 12 rods. I made a signal to the engineer who stopped, and it was replaced, here again we were in danger of breaking the rope, which would have sent us back down the mountain more than a mile, or turned us over into the yawning gulf below. In either case we would have been dashed to atoms. My hair rose on my head, but having got all things ready we proceeded on to plane No. 4 ¾ of a mile long, and ascended 265 feet. We rose this in 3 minutes, but it looked awful to be thus suspended almost in the air, with such a weight of lives and freight depending upon a knot, a twine, a rope, a pin, an engine, and care of a man; should either of which give way, all would be dashed to atoms, unless saved by a miracle. We next continued on to plane No. 5 ¾ of a mile long 280 feet rise. We were carried up this also in 3 minutes, which brought us to the summit of the Alleghany mountains. The whole 5 inclined planes on our ascending the mountain are 4 miles in length, which raises us perpendicularly 1,170 feet, and I felt thankful to God that I was on the top of the mountain alive, but we had— to descend in the same way that we ascended. We ran on the top of the mountain about three miles, and then began to descend. We found snow on the top of the mountain, and the weather was exceedingly cold. We had 6 inclined planes to descend to get to the bottom of the mountain, the whole of which was attended with equal danger and carelessness. As we came [p. 1757]
Page 1757