Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

in dense forests, or Indian lodges on the banks of some rapid river. A very short time since Wisconsin was considered the far West; now its fertile prairies are beginning to be thickly dotted over with the comfortable homes of settlers, and its forests are rapidly disappearing before the demands of commerce. The few solitary Indians scattered about here and there, serve but to remind one of the past, and of the progress of the “pale faces.” Taking Milwaukee as the starting-point, the traveller is quickly carried over the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad, through some of the finest scenery and richest agricultural counties in Wisconsin. In a few hours, the beautiful city of Madison and the “Four Lakes” are passed, and the train enters the magnificent valley of the Wisconsin, which is about three miles wide, and runs nearly due west for forty miles. It is very level, and surrounded on either side with picturesque bluffs, rising to the height of from three to five hundred feet. Along this valley the train sweeps in fine style; the road is so direct and smooth, that the rate of thirty miles an hour is attained without the passengers being incommoded by the motion of the cars. At this speed Prairie du Chien, the terminus of the road, is soon reached. Here a first-class steamboat is awaiting the arrival of the train, and in a short time is rapidly ploughing the waters of this mighty river. These steamboats are among the best in the country, the cabins spacious and elegant, the state-rooms commodious, and the tables equal to the ordinaries of the best hotels. The officers are not only accommodating, but particularly polite and hospitable, treating the passengers as their guests, and taking pains to render the voyage agreeable. A trip to St. Paul' on one of these boats often resembles a party of pleasure, and combines in its incidents much

1 This trip to St. Paul has been made in 70 hours from New York.

variety and no small degree of luxury. Large and cheerful parties thus meet, and, as they must necessarily be at least one day together, accommodate themselves to each other, and at night, when the spacious cabin is lighted up, enlivened by the merry notes of the piano or violin, and filled with well-dressed persons, engaged in the mazy dance, it seems more like a floating palace than a mere conveyance for travellers. What a motley mixture compose the passengers on an “up river” steamboat. Here are persons going out to look at the country, and select homes for their families, travellers on business, and parties for pleasure, besides numerous emigrants. Many little episodes of life are daily occurring, strongly marked and full of interest. How many of those who come out to settle are incapable of enduring a brief pioneer experience 1 Even where the obstacles are lightest, and the goal nearest, there are many who have neither faith nor courage to meet them. The scenery of the “Upper Mississippi’’ is truly magnificent ; its charm consists in the succession of beautiful pictures presented to the eye; as soon as one disappears, another opens to the view. The bluffs on either side of the river constitute some of the most picturesque scenery in the world, often rising over two hundred feet above the water level, and remind one of huge fortifications in the distance. The rocks jutting out of the sides of some of them, appear to have been cut smooth by a sculptor's chisel; occasionally they rise to a sharp peak, the top and sides of which are thinly covered with trees of various kinds; at intervals the cabins of the settlers may be seen at the foot of some of these bluffs. The river, in many places, is full of islands, thickly wooded with willow and other trees, and shrubbery covered with vines. About one hundred miles above Prairie du Chien the scenery changes from the beautiful and the picturesque to an aspect of grandeur; some of the bluffs rise to an altitude of over six hundred feet, thinly covered with trees, giving them a mysterious beauty, impossible to describe; about seventy miles above Winona, the river widens, and forms a beautiful sheet of water, called Lake Pepin, which is surrounded by high bluffs. At the entrance is seen one higher than the rest, standing out in bold relief, called the Maiden's Rock, or Cap des Sioux; from this rock, tradition informs us, Winona, the daughter of an Indian chief, precipitated herself, rather than marry one she could not love. If the steamboat enters this lake at the close of a clear summer's day, the view presented is truly sublime, and

“Long shadows fall
More darkly o'er the wave as day declines.
Yet from the West a deeper glory shines,
While every crested bluff and rocky height,
Each moment varies in the kindling light
To some new form of beauty—changing through
All shades and colors of the rainbow’s hue,
“The last still loveliest,’ till the gorgeous day
Melts in a flood of golden light away,
And all is o’er.”

But there are many important towns situated on the banks of this noble river, and some of them require at least a passing notice. La Crosse, the terminus of the La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad, in 1853, contained some four or five stores, and perhaps fifty dwellings; now it is a thriving place, with over 5000 inhabitants. Winona, forty miles above, on the Minnesota shore, is another instance of rapid growth; last year over six hundred new buildings were erected, and the population now exceeds 4000. Red Wing, a few miles above, was settled about the same year, and has now a population of about 2000. Hastings, thirty-five miles below St. Paul, is a very thriving town, and its landing always displays a busy scene. Nininger City, seven miles above Hastings, was laid out by Messrs. John Nininger and Ignatius Donnelly, in the fall of 1856, and now contains about one hundred buildings and a population of at least five hundred. The sudden growth of this place shows what combination and concentrated effort can do to assist location. A few miles further is Kaposia, formerly called Crow Willage, from being the residence of a band of Sioux Indians, who were removed two years ago by orders from Government. Soon after leaving Kaposia, the beautiful panorama of St. Paul, the Diadem city of the Northwest, and its surrounding country, burst on the view. On a high bluff, on the eastern bank of the river, the city is seen spread out, with its conspicuous public buildings and churches, and numerous steamboats at its landing. Every American has heard of St. Paul; its rapid growth has caused great astonishment; this, however, none can adequately realize but those who have visited the place in its early days. He who saw this city as it was eight years ago, and sees it as it is now, might well conceive that nothing short of supernatural power could have produced the marvellous change. It was nought, however, but the miracle of American courage and perseverance, fostered under American institutions. After an interval of four years, I revisited this rising metropolis; on arrival at the landing I observed that the bluff had been cut away, and the place where one formerly was obliged to climb a steep flight of steps to reach the street was now occupied by large stone warehouses. Along Third street the change was, if possible, more striking; nearly all . the old frame houses were removed, and many handsome brick and stone stores filled their places. The First Presbyterian church remained as formerly, but its founder, that true

friend of Minnesota, the Rev. E. D. Neill, no longer officiated; he has charge now of the new College lately erected by his efforts in “Upper Town.” The Capitol building, the Winslow House, and the Central Presbyterian church, which I daily observed in process of construction, had been completed over two years. Nor had the march of improvement been confined only to this part of the city; the dense forest, which formerly covered what is now West St. Paul, on the opposite bank of the river, had been cleared off and laid out into town lots. Before these changes were made, the smoke of the approaching steamboat could be distinctly seen from Third street, above the tops of the trees, several hours before its arrival, and numbers used to hurry down to the landing to meet their friends; now so many boats arrive daily, that the only ones who appear interested in them are the drivers of the different hotel coaches, who congregate on the landing, loudly vociferating to the unfortunate travellers — Fuller House, Winslow, American, Snelling, &c. Of the numerous Indians that formerly were to be seen in all parts of St. Paul, not one remained. They, too, had retreated before the march of improvement to the distant wilderness towards the setting sun. It was highly gratifying to me to find that so many of the “old residents” had increased in wealth along with the city, and that the pioneer newspapers, the St. Paul Pioneer and Democrat, and the Daily Minnesotian, had, from their altered appearance, also shared in the general prosperity. These papers are now published daily, and have an extensive circulation throughout the entire Union. Were a stranger informed, on first arriving, that the greater part of the present site of this city could, nine years ago, have been purchased at $1.25 per acre, he would feel himself justified in believing his informant was im

[graphic]
« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »