• Published 3rd Feb 2023
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Up The Ohio Canal - BlueBook

J.H. Wilkins is a prominent Cleveland businessman in 1850. He takes a trip on the canal boat Sylph to Akron. However, it turns out to be more than he bargained for when he catches the eye of the boat's captain... a lady pony!

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Lock 3: W.J. Payne's Boatyard

The climb into Akron seemed neverending, as we bumped along through innumerable locks. Yet, steadily, the town grew larger and larger in our sights. The day was growing short now, and the sun painted the summer sky a rosy hue.

We were climbing now past the many mills, their wheels slowly turning, that I had come seeking. In the distance, I could even discern the derelict and charred hulk of the mill which had been my former supplier.

And yet, my attention wandered from business, back to the canal. As we drew within the town of Akron, the Sylph slowed to a crawl. Gingerly, we threaded our way past the many boats, most of them freighters, which lined the wharves. A great number of warehouses, retailers, and other businesses were busy loading and unloading the throng of vessels, and like other canal towns through which we had passed one could scarcely do business in Akron without some sort of connection to the ‘Silver Ribbon’.

As we drew nearer to our destination, I was greeted with a sight which I must have known I would eventually meet, yet had somehow thus far not observed. A great drydock was cut into one of the banks of the canal, and a boat sat in it, its lower hull covered in scaffolding. On its stern was the name, written in gold letters, Narragansett. Beyond the dock, a series of slipways ran up the bank. On them sat a half dozen boats, in various states of construction.

“A boatyard!” I exclaimed.

“Naturally.” Rosemary chuckled. “You didn’t think boats grew on trees, did ya?”

I smirked. “Well, not in their final form.”

Rosemary guffawed, and looked back at the yards as we slipped past. “That’s W.J. Payne’s yard; very famous. They built the old State of Ohio, the first boat on the canal.”


“Lock Three, you’d better get below again, Mr. Wilkins. We’re almost to the Akron docks.”

I nodded, and stood slowly up. Perhaps because my legs were stiff, perhaps because I did not wish for our pleasant trip to at last be at an end, I lingered for a moment.

“We~ll,” said I, stretching my arms, “It was a pleasure traveling with you, Captain Rosemary.”

“Likewise, Mr. Wilkins.” Rosemary beamed as she gently guided the nose of the Sylph toward the bank. “Likewise.”