Hayward’s United States Gazetteer (1853) page 227

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very white stream, and alluding probably to the
white caps with which its gentle surface is cov-
ered in a high wind. The physical section of the
great Mississippi valley which is drained by the
Ohio River, lies between lat. 34°
121 and 42° 27',
and Ion. 78°
2' and 89° 2' W. from the meridian
of Greenwich. According to Darby and Dwight,
who have minutely recorded the elements of
these calculations, the distance in a direct line
from the sources of the Alleghany to the mouth
of the Ohio is 680 statute miles. Yet this is not
the longest, nor, in regard to the proportions of
the area included, the most central line which
can be drawn through the valley of the Ohio.
Such a line, extended from the sources of Cat-
taraugus Creek in N. Y. to those of Bear Creek
in Aa., the extreme distances reached by the
N. E. and the S. W. tributaries of the Ohio, gives
a length of 750 statute miles. If this be con-
sidered as the transverse diameter, and another
line extending from the Blue Ridge, where the
sources of the Great Kenhawa and those of the
Wetauga branch of the River Tennessee arise, to
the N. W. sources of the Wabash, a distance of
450 statute miles, be taken as the conjugate di-
ameter of an ellipse, to the regular form of
which the Ohio valley so nearly approaches, the
whole area amounts by calculation to over 200,000
square miles. The two opposing inclined planes
of this valley are of unequal extent, about in the
ratio of 2 to 3, the larger being that which falls
to the
S. W. from the Appalachian Mts., contain-
ing an area of 120,000 square miles. This also,
declining from a mountainous outline, has a
much more rapid declivity than its opposite. The
most elevated table lands from which the E. trib-
utaries of the Ohio flow have an altitude of 2200
feet above the bed of the river; and there is no
part, from the sources of the Alleghany to those
of the Tennessee, which has a less elevation than
700 or 800 feet. Of course the declivity in this
great inclined plane is much the most rapid as it
approaches its apex upon its mountainous border.
In this respect the opposite plain, or that on the
N. W. side of the river, is directly the reverse.
The more remote parts of this more gentle de-
clivity, lying near the borders of Lake Erie and
of Lake Michigan, are, to a great extent, level
and marshy, and it is not until the waters run-
ning towards the Ohio have travelled far on their
courses, that they gradually begin to descend
more rapidly towards their recipient, as the face
of the country changes slowly from a level into
hill and dale. The principal tributaries of the
Ohio on the E. side are the Monongahela, the
Great Kenhawa, the Big Sandy, the Kentucky,
the Cumberland, and the Tennessee. Those on
W. side are the Muskingum, the Scioto, the
Miami, and the Wabash. From the difference
of feature above mentioned, in the two opposite
inclined planes, down -which these tributaries de-
scend from the E. and from the W., it results
that the scenery upon those on the E. side, as
they are ascended towards their sources in the
Appalachian chain, becomes more and more bold
and picturesque, while that upon the W. tributa-
ries, as you ascend their streams, becomes more
and more tame and monotonous. The scenery
upon the Ohio itself partakes of the peculiarity
in this respect which belongs to its E. tributaries.
Descending the river from Pittsburg, the scenery
along its banks and hills is highly picturesque
and varied; but these fine features gradually
disappear, and are entirely lost long before reach-
ing the mouth of the river. Many villages and
farm-houses are passed through the whole course
of the river; but as the bottom lands on its im-
mediate margin are liable to be overflowed, the
inhabitants usually settle a little back, so that the
buildings in view give no adequate impression
of the population or improvements of the coun-
try. The ordinary current in the Ohio is very
gentle, not exceeding, at the medium height of
water, 2 or 3 miles an hour. In the lowest stages
of the water, a floating substance w'ould probably
not advance a mile an hour. Like all the western
rivers, the Ohio is subject to great elevations and
depressions. The average range between high
and low water is 50 feet. Its highest stage is in
March, and its lowest in September. It is liable,
however, to great and sudden elevations at other
times through the
year. It has been known to
rise 12 feet in a single night. In 1832 an extraor-
dinary flood was experienced, and on the 18th
of February the waters flowed at 63 feet above
low water mark at Cincinnati. This of course
inundated the lower parts of the city. From
Pittsburg to the mouth of the Ohio there are as
many as 100 considerable islands, besides nu-
merous sand-bars and tow-heads, as those low
sandy islands are called which are covered with
willows, and are incapable of cultivation. Some
of the islands are very beautiful, and seem in-
viting as places of residence. Heavy forests
cover a great portion of the banks, and limit the
prospect from the river; but they' exhibit a
beautiful verdure, which is often exuberant with
blossoms. As a channel for navigation, few, if
any, of the rivers of the globe equal the Ohio.
The only direct cataract in the river is that at
Louisville, which is now, for all the purposes of
navigation, obviated by a canal, which admits
of the passage of the largest steamboats. The
river descends here, in its natural bed, 22 J feet
in the course of 2 miles. Even over this the
boats are able to pass in high water. The average
time of the suspension of navigation on the Ohio
by the ice, in winter, is five weeks. One half of
the rest of the year, on an average, it is navigable
by large steamboats in its whole course. The
other half it can be navigated easily only by
boats of a smaller draught. Flat and keel boats
descend the river at all seasons, but are liable in
periods of low water to frequent groundings upon
the sand-bars, and the necessity sometimes of
lightening to get off the boat. Steamboats are
sometimes grounded on the bars, where they are
compelled to wait in peril for the periodical rise
of the river. It is reckoned that the Ohio and
its tributaries have not less than 5000 miles of
navigable waters. The length of the principal
river from Pittsburg to its mouth, according to
the Western Pilot, is 959 miles, although the
distance in a direct course is only about 614
miles. The following distances upon the river
are derived from the same authority: from Pitts-
burg to Steubenville, O., 70 miles; to Wheeling,
Ya., 92; to Marietta, O., 174; to Gallipolis, O.,
264ij; to Portsmouth, 0., 349; to Maysville,
Ky., 397 ; to Cincinnati, O., 455i; to Lawrence-
burg, la., 479£; to Louisville, Ky., 587 ; to New
Albany, la., 591; to the mouth of the Cumber-
land River, Ky., 900 ; mouth of Tennessee, Ky.,
911&; and to the confluence of the Ohio with
the Mississippi, 959 miles. The commerce of
the Ohio is connected with the Atlantic by a canal

A Gazetteer of the United States of America by John Hayward.

Hartford, CT: Case, Tiffany and Company. 1853. Public domain

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