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100 Years Ago

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Arriving in U.S. Was Only First Step
Many More Hours of Travel Needed to Get to Local Cities

Many early 19th century immigrants to Ohio entered the U.S. through the ports of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and other eastern cities, where, after a short stay, they hired freight wagons to transport their possessions (while they walked) to Wheeling, West Virginia, or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In both cities, they boarded steamships for the trip down the Ohio River to Cincinnati, thcrowdondeck1.gif (93016 bytes)en began the nearly 100 mile overland trip to Shelby County.

Even this part of the journey could be treacherous, as the ‘need for speed’ frequently led to mishandling and firing of the boilers which caused explosions. According to the "Early History of Ft. Loramie", in 1848, 511 people died from steamship accidents. "The price of the tripwas $1 for deck passengers, who were crowded among livestock and cargo canaldawson.gif (86366 bytes)on the lower deck, cooking their porridge on boiler flues and drinking river water. They slept on bales and boxes. They could ride for nothing if they helped load the ships with wood for the boilers at designated points."

Depending upon when and where an immigrant arrived in the U.S., they traveled by foot, horse, wagon, keelboat, flat boat, canal boat, steamer or train to their destination. For a comparative of traveling time required, a little less than an hour’s worth of driving time today would equal a minimum of a day or two journey for an early settler.


'Immigration' segment written in November, 1997 by David Lodge


[ Back to Immigration Index

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