Flat boat on Sangamon

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Flat boat on Sangamon - I Decatur and the Sangamon River Young Abe...
I Decatur and the Sangamon River Young Abe Lincoln Saw Streams As Roads to Faraway Markets BY OTTO R. KYLE In the spring of 1844 a determined determined effort was made by Decatur and Macon County men to navigate the Sangamon River or at least see if it could be navigated. Such navigation was desperately needed to improve the economy of the county. The county had been in existence for 15 years-some years-some years-some of them desperate years for town and country. The prairies were swampy and filled with plow-defying plow-defying plow-defying prairie prairie grass. Some land was in cul-tion cul-tion cul-tion but roads were mere trails and there were no big markets close. Poverty and ruin were experienced experienced by many who had settled in the rich Sangamon valley. Its richness could not be utilized to the full until there was transportation of farm produce to markets. Wheat was being hauled to St. Louis and Chicago as well as Springfield by oxen over road- road- little left to buy ound these bends with the use of a stern oar. The gentle current current of the Sangamon made it easy to handle the craft at points where trouble had been expected. The success of the trip aroused great enthusiasm in Decatur and the county. One of the outstanding results was the organized effort to clear the river. Another was that several . citizens announced they were ready to provide funds for building and putting keel boats on the river as soon as it was properly cleared of drifts and other obstructions. All this Sangamon River River navigation enthusiasm came seven years after the Illinois Legislature in its session of 1836-37 1836-37 1836-37 had proposed a vast internal improvement program that included a railroad through Decatur. It also provided provided for the improvement of the Wabash, Illinois, Kaskask-ia Kaskask-ia Kaskask-ia and Rock rivers. There was to be an Illinois Central railroad railroad from the Illinois and Michigan canal in the liam Rea (Rhea) for whom northern part of the state to k And when the driver reached the Rea bridge is now the only the Ohio river at Cairo. Also, the market"? with his Droduce. nrpspnt. memorial was in com- com- tron past and wpsf- wpsf- railrnarts low mere was mana as me uai Doai lerc ue- ue- me ooumern uross ana me calicao and catur. Northern Cross were postponed. As had been expected, drifts The Northern Cross railroad formed for years by fallen was to run from Quincy trees with no human effort to through Decatur to the Indiana ter his arrival in Decatur in remove them, were the great- great- state line. March 1830, had talked about est obstacle to navigation. The Abraham Lincoln was one of the necessity of making the flat boat encountered trouble the leaders for the internal im-Sangamon im-Sangamon im-Sangamon navigable. The state before it had pone many miles, provement program. He real-Legislature real-Legislature real-Legislature had declared the In the neighborhood of Long ized the need for transporta-Sangamon transporta-Sangamon transporta-Sangamon navigable but the Point, south of Niantic in San- San- tion and other improvements declaration did not make it so. gamon and Christian Counties, but the 1837 state effort to The ages old stream was ob- ob- there was the greatest troub- troub- provide these improvements structed at many points by le. Two men of the vicinity, encountered formidable diffi-fallen diffi-fallen diffi-fallen trees and other debris, whose names were not record- record- cutties. First of all, the im-In im-In im-In addition there were many ed, helped clear the channel provements were to be made j Abraham Lincoln . . . he had a dream 7 ways that were rutted and chimmr fraile in mumr rvlnppic tinnAe off qt ovnoncop nf -1 the trip were paid. Young Abraham Lincoln, af- af- sufficiently for the flat boat with state credit but the panic to get through. of 1837 cut off any financial aid Tha lmrr cfaaa nf flip n-nf n-nf n-nf OT- OT- fmm foPfol ennrniic Tha cfsifp ed at tne hangamon ana be- be- hampered movement and near bank was in deep difficulties, heved that at high water time fte with South 183g the state Legisjatm-e Legisjatm-e Legisjatm-e boats with produce would be Fork of toe Sangamon San. laced a hea tax20 cents able to reach the Illinois Riv- Riv- Qm r,mh, 4f m, tt,oi,f ; mn t ccnHnn a mill dams across the stream. Macon County men had look- look- er and then the Mississippi advisable to & up mm British Ioan There was bond with .delivery of produce at ; St. wag more water Soon ttere fjoub and other faCures with ix)ius ana otner river ciues were he rains with resul(. work Qn the along the way to New Orleans. banks neariy fuU the flat boat ternal improvement pro- pro- StLrSflTfeKM Proceeded with ease and safe- safe- gram was halted in 1840. tlat boat, 16 by 54 teet was records not cIear lm when state couM nSst woKttetaS 38 t0 where CaPtain Rea no lm&r Merest on its nopes it woma be tne start Qf produce but he bondS) the wbole internal im- im- ot Keel ana iiat noat naviga- naviga- had tested Sangamon ta pr0vement program collapsed, tion. The boat was loaded with KfI, , A u,u T ,m 5,. S, ifi uuuiiuw ouuuigu natct, iu iwn luuuiaa ruiu waa cicutcu guv uuiiy-iiye uuiiy-iiye uuiiy-iiye ui yiuuuue mu, wateJ. were emor Qf m lg42 wiui uiis iuau, uie uuai uiew 26 inches of water. some and it was his opinion started at once to get the state that with the drifts removed out of its financial trouble and At the time she was put af- af- navigation, even in low water, succeeded. In the meantime loat the river lacked four feet was possible with laden flat many sections of the state ! of being bank-full. bank-full. bank-full. At this stage boats. were disillusioned as to intern- intern- Short bends of the river had al improvements, among them 4 there was from two and one- one- 2 -ia -ia our f water over been considered by many to the Decatur community that Tf dams. By lightening the make safe navigation impos- impos- had hoped to have a railroad. 1 boat it would pass over tne sibie witn neavy loads m large Tomorrow: Cleaning tne fcan- fcan- rlamc mifh cofofw rQrtnir aT51 hnatc Pantain Roa nr. Cfamnn

Clipped from
  1. The Decatur Herald,
  2. 06 Jun 1966, Mon,
  3. Page 20

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