(Adapted and condensed from an editorial appearing in "Home Matters," Warren Mail,
August 17, 1861)

In the following story, the editor of the Warren Mail relates his experience of taking a “relaxing" trip from Warren to Irvine in a Steamboat.

            The little steamer, H.H. Dennis, which was built at Dunn's Eddy made a trial trip to Warren last Wednesday. She is a snug, little craft, built in regular steamboat style, with side wheels. We went down, of course, to get a squint at the new boat and found a number of old and young already there waiting for a free ride to Irvine--the usual custom of all new boats. Of course, we bit at that--editors always like to ride "free." So, in we piled; men, women, children, and babies. The little Captain, behind a big cigar, gave the order to put out. We wheeled into the current, rounded the brickyard bend and slid over the “riffle” in fine style.

Just then, the Captain stepped up to us while we had an eye on the fine scenery and the boys and girls flirting on the boat. “Are you going to Irvine, sir? I'll take your fare, sir."

“How much, sir?” we said with a doubtful dive into our left pockets.

"Twenty-five cents, sir," said the Captain.

“Alright sir," said we, with a sly look at some of our fellow voyagers who thought they were riding “free.”

Just then, the boat took a "scoot" into a raft--Smash! The wheel plowed along on top of the raft, half its length, until we stopped. The women and children screamed, and we began to think of swimming ashore. But the boat kept right side up, and we all went down to lift the wheel off the raft. After straightening things out a little, we set out again, now pitching at this shore and then at that in a kind of zig-zag course down the river. At Jackson’s, we rounded to, put off some seasick passengers, and wheeled in at Irvine, landing smash on the rafts, knocking one adrift, and finally managed to tie up. This ended our “free ride" on the Allegheny, and our perils by sea and land.

The boat is doubtless alright; only the rudder and machinery work a little imperfectly at first. A little fixing and experience will no doubt make the H.H. Dennis perform as well as can be expected.

Discussion Questions

  1. In this story, the author is surprised to be charged 25 cents to ride the steamboat. Why? (Answer: It is the usual custom to let passengers take the first ride on a new boat for free.)
  2. What troubles did the boat have on its trip? Would you want to take a ride on this boat? Why or why not?
  3. How do you think the author felt about this trip? How can you tell?
  4. The steamboat traveled from Warren to Irvine. Can you find the route it took on a map of Warren County?


Courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society