Ohio River Traffic, January 1888
- from The Wheeling Intelligencer, Jan. 6, 1888:
ALONG THE LEVEE.
THE COAL FLEET GETS PAST HERE
In Good Shape — An Unfounded Rumor that Ten of the Steamers Had Grounded. Over Two Million Bushels of Coal Pass — General River News.
The Telegram will venture out today and arrive and depart in the Clarington trade. She had been laid up below, keeping out of the way of the ice.
Aaron McLaughlin and Tony Mundahl are the pilots of the Fashion. The steamer passed down yesterday morning before daybreak on her way to Cincinnati.
At Pittsburgh last night there was a depth of 5 feet 8 inches and the river was stationary. Below Davis Island dam there was a depth of 6 feet 9 inches and the river was falling.
The Courier got away for Parkersburg on time yesterday morning with a fair trip. The Ben Hur will make her appearance again this morning and leave in this trade at 11 o'clock.
The river continued to fall at this point all day yesterday. Last night the marks showed a depth of 8 feet 10 inches in the channel here and the waters were still receding. But little business was done on the levee during the day.
The Andes will leave Cincinnati for this point this evening at 5 o'clock, her regular time. She will leave on her return trip next Tuesday afternoon. Shippers desiring their goods brought up by this reliable packet can order by telegraph.
The reports received last night from points above Pittsburgh were as follows: Morgantown, 6 feet and stationary; Greensboro, 7 feet 10 inches and falling; Brownsville, 5 feet 10 inches and falling; Rice's Landing, 6 feet 3 inches and falling; Oil City, 5 feet 6 inches and rising.
The Louis A. Shirley will be here today from Cincinnati and will leave on her return trip to-morrow afternoon at 3 o'clock. The Shirley is a good staunch reliable packet, officered by an able corps of popular gentlemen and they by carefully looking after the interests of their patrons have made their boat a fixture in the trade. Charlie Reeves, of this city, is chief clerk, and aims to make it especially pleasant and agreeable for Wheeling people in their dealings with the boat.
The river presented a busy appearance yesterday, especially in the afternoon when there was not a moment when one or more boats of the coal fleet were not in sight. As reported in yesterday's issue the advance guard of the fleet passed here Wednesday afternoon, when three tows passed. That night five more passed in the darkness and fog. Their names could not be obtained. Yesterday the fleet passed in the following order: Onward, 5:30 o'clock A. M.; Hornet, 8:30 A. M.; Nelli Speer, 5 A. M.; Little Fred and Diamond, 2 P. M.; Ed. Roberts, H. E. Pierpont and Beaver, 3 P. M.; Sam Brown and Charlie Brown, 3:30 P. M.; Tom Rhees No. 2, 3:15 P. M.; Belle McGowan and Raymond Horner, 4 P. M.; James Gilmore and Pacific, 4:30 P. M.; Samuel Clark, Venture, Advance and Hunter, 5 P. M.
A report was sent out from Pittsburgh late yesterday afternoon, to the effect that the fleet was having a rough time of it on account of receding waters and heavy ice and that at least ten steamers and tows had been reported grounded near this city as a consequence. Numerous inquiries made both up and down the river failed to learn anything about such a disaster. The report caused considerable uneasiness at the lower ports.
The coal that has passed here in the past two days amounted to about 2,500,000 bushels, about one-half of which was for Louisville and the balance for Cincinnati. There possibly never was a "run" of coal attended with greater excitement or with fewer accidents to the fleets under the circumstances, than the present one. In order to get coal below the Davis Island dam great risks had to taken on account of the wickets refusing to work. For a time it seemed as though not a bushel of coal would get away on the present rise, but by taking great chances the operators succeeded in getting out about a quarter of what they had loaded and ready to ship.
A dispatch received from Pittsburgh late last night gave the following information about mishaps to the fleet: Among the tow-boats reported to have met disaster with their coal load while en-route to Cincinnati and Louisville, were the steamers Coal City, Annie Roberts, Charlie Brown and J. S. Neal. The steamer Roberts stuck eight barges at Montgomery Island and the Coal City grounded five barges at the same place; the Charlie Brown left three barges on an island near Industry, Pa., and the Neal is said to have grounded her entire tow of twelve barges at Merriman's Riffle. The barges contained 12,000 bushels each, and the aggregate amount of coal in danger is about 340,000 bushels.