• Published 3rd Feb 2023
  • 325 Views, 35 Comments

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 1: The Akron Docks

At the Akron Docks was a fine hotel and, as any business I had would not take place until the next morning, I elected to make my lodgings there. The price was not unreasonable, and they let private rooms for a reasonable fee for several days, more than enough to accommodate my business in Akron.

I watched with interest as the Sylph prepared to move on to its next destination. Through inquiries to the beleaguered night manager (I had to represent myself as a newspaperman, perish the thought, to elicit a response), I was able to learn that she would go on to the Summit lake just a few miles ahead. Her crew would rest there for a few hours. Then, when the sun had given way to moonlight, they’d light a great oil lamp in the bow, and on they would go to Zoar, and so on until the Sylph made Portsmouth. If I was lucky, I could catch her on the return trip.

Luck, as it would have it, was on my side. In Akron I found a new miller, Mr. F. Schumacher. He’s a German fellow, just arrived, and just starting out. I was thus able to secure a rather lucrative arrangement for myself, and he has promised me he will shortly begin shipping me oats and flour. This took only a few days’ worth of negotiations.

The time taken in securing this arrangement was fortuitous, as it allowed me to book passage on the Sylph for my return trip. Captain Rosemary and I talked at length once more. I hope you do not think my friendship with her unbecoming, dear sisters. I assure I have only the most virtuous of intentions. I believe I have half convinced her that she ought to sign aboard one of the freight boats, the River Mills, which regularly delivers grain to my store, and to, when finances permit, buy it out for herself. Another example of your brother's stellar business acumen!

They say a railroad is soon to be built to Cleveland, connecting us to Columbus. I have seen some of the proposed rates for freight, and consider them to be outrageous. It may be true that a railroad train travels faster than a canal boat. But at the rates thus far proposed, one can never hope to turn a profit! Equally, there is little sense in shipping flour all the way from Columbus that can be got in Akron. As for traveling upon them as a passenger, I speak from experience when I say the attendant dangers and discomforts outweigh whatever haste one may gain. The canal will, in my book, remain forever superior.

That, my dear sisters, is the tale of my most recent trip to Akron. I can but hope that my ramblings are entertaining, and that this letter length makes up for its tardiness. I shall write to you again soon as I am able, with the latest happenings here in Cleveland. In the meantime, I wish you both good health and good cheer.

Kind Regards,

Your Brother James

Comments ( 14 )

This is a fabulous story, Blue! The description of the canal system and how it works is so detailed. I can imagine being there, riding along and seeing the sites and sounds of that time. The grocer tells a good story with his letter home. And I think he might have started a bit of a spark with Rosemary!

I really enjoyed the historical aspect and how you tied it so well into a wonderful slice of life tale. Great work!


Darn! I knew something would slip through all those editing passes. Good catch.

Nicely done story and historically accurate slow trip up and down the canals


I used to work at a place called the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument! That helped...


According to this source, "guy" goes back as far as the 1300s, in the sense of "guide or conductor", in other words a servant. Not sure if that is in fact the case.

It was also in use as far back as the 1830s in BSE to mean "strange or grotesque person", as a derisive. Much of the workforce that built both the Erie and the Ohio Canals were Irish, which is probably where Rosemary would have first heard it used. Rosemary intends to use it as a disrespectful way of referring the "state man" here.

Excellent story. Very entertaining and informational, just the way I love these PoE fics.

I like this. A nice journey through the canal with friendly faces and a small, blooming romance. It's adorable!

This is a wonderful story. I wonder whether their culture accepts interspecies-romances.

Added to
Admiral Biscuit's Fleet
"Not A Contest" folder because it is a sequel to a story in that file


Nice little gem of a story. Those two are too perfect, yet the romantic aspect remains subtle and classy.

Great story, and you've captured the feel of the language use of the time very well!

I really enjoyed this. The writing style fit impressively well within the time period you were going for, and the characters were very good.
It was also interesting because I did not know about this canal, so I ended up doing some reading about it when I got curious. Thanks for a great read.

A yarn that I imagine Samuel Clements himself would have enjoyed. The only downside for me is that it wasn't longer :twilightsmile:

Oh, that was delightful! Thank the Admiral for the recommendation. Always a pleasure to read about stories on canals, American though this one may be.

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