Submitted by scott on Sat, 04/25/2020 - 22:33


It took a day, by steamboat and cars, to go from St. Louis to Bloomington, Ill; another day by railroad, from there to Chicago, where I laid over all day Sunday; from Chicago to Monroe, in Michigan, by railroad, another day; from Monroe, across Lake Erie, in the fine Lake palace, “Southern Michigan,” to Buffalo, another day; from Buffalo to Albany, by railroad, another day; and from Albany to New York, by Hudson river steamboat, another day—an [awful] trip, taking five days, where it should have been only three. I shall wait a day or so for my insides to get settled, after the jolting they received, when I shall look out for a sit;3 for they say there is plenty of work to be had for sober compositors.

SLC to Jane Lampton Clemens, 24 Aug 1853, New York, N.Y. (UCCL 02711), n. 2. 

August 19, 1853, 11am, Sam boarded the sidewheeler steamer Cornelia and traveled to Alton, Illinois. The Cornelia was sunk just two years later, running into a rock at Chain of Rocks. Chain of Rocks is a geological formation just below the confluence of the Missouri River and the Mississippi River.

Sam then took the train from Alton to Springfield. The Alton and Sangamon Railroad, chartered February 27, 1847, in Illinois to connect Alton to Springfield in Sangamon County. The line was finished in 1852. The Chicago & Mississippi Railroad extended to Bloomington in 1854 and Joliet in 1855, not available for Sam’s journey.

Sam took Frink’s stage to Bloomington. Frink’s was first established in 1840 as Frink, Walker and Company. The company came to dominate all stagecoach travel in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, and Missouri. They used Concord coaches for their routes. The name changed to John Frink and Company in 1849 and the business relationship between the two men was dissolved in 1856.

Saturday, August 20, 1853, Sam boarded the Illinois Central to Lasalle, Illinois, then on to Chicago. The Chicago and Rock Islands railroad took him to Joliet. And the St Louis, Alton and Chicago the rest of the way. He arrived in Chicago at 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, August 21, 1853: Sam departed Chicago on the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana railway. He wrote that he had the whole day as a layover.  Reports are that he departed at 9 p.m. Also, there are reports that he went first to Toledo and then to Monroe. I am dubious of that and believed he went straight through Adrian, did not veer to the southeast but went directly east to Monroe.

Day 4: Monday, 22 August. 8:00 a.m., from Monroe across Lake Erie to Buffalo, New York, by the steamer Southern Michigan.

In 1852 the Michigan Southern Co. operated six boats -- the Baltic, Golden Gate, Southern Michigan, Northern Indiana, Empire and Empire State. The four boats first named were chartered. The Empire State was owned by the Michigan Southern Co., and I think the Empire was owned. In 1853 the Michigan Southern Company operated three boats: the Southern Michigan, Northern Indiana and Empire State. In 1854 and 1855 the Michigan Southern Co. operated four boats; the three last named and the Empire. On May 1, 1855, the Michigan Southern Railway Co. and the Northern Indiana Railway Co. were consolidated. In 1855 and 1856 this new company (the M. S. & N. I.) built two large and handsome steamers -- The Western Metropolis and the city of Buffalo. In the year 1856 they also built the propeller Euphrates. While I have no positive information about it, I believe that in 1852, 1853 and 1854 the old Michigan Southern Company ran two of their boats between Buffalo and Monroe, Mich. [Monroe was the eastern terminus of the Michigan Southern Company.] I believe that in 1855 they abandoned the line between Buffalo and Monroe and ran their boats between Buffalo and Toledo.

J. B. Mansfield, ed., History of the Great Lakes. Volume I, Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1899

Day 5: Tuesday, 23 August. 7:00 a.m., from Buffalo to Albany via Rochester and Syracuse on the New York “Lightning Express”; I have not found documentation on the “Lightning Express” but it is likely to be the New York Central from Buffalo to Schenectady; the Rensselaer and Saratoga to East Glenville; and Albany and Vermont into Albany.

7:00 p.m., en route via the Hudson River to New York City on the steamer Isaac Newton.

Low Pressure Steamboat “Isaac Newton.” Built in 1846, the steamboat was larger than any previous river steamer. The vessel consumed four tons of coal per hour, a startling amount for the time. The paddle wheels were 39 feet in diameter and the ship was 338 feet long. The steamer was rebuilt in 1855, extending the length to 405 feet. The “Isaac Newton” was unsurpassed in its size and the splendor of its interior furnishings. As was often the case with steamers, the ship’s starboard boiler exploded and on December 5, 1863, when opposite Fort Lee, the liner burned to the water’s edge injuring seventeen people and killing nine.

See Currier and Ives painting:

Day 6: Wednesday, 24 August. 5:00 a.m., arrives in New York City aboard the steamer Isaac Newton.