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November 1998


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Walter Lewis <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 24 Nov 1998 23:10:01 -0800
text/plain (35 lines)
[log in to unmask] wrote:
>  My immigrant ancestors landed in New York in 1847.  How would they have
> traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  One source I have seen suggested they would
> have taken a packet boat to Albany.  If this is true, I would like to find out
> more about these boats--how long it took, what they were like, how much it
> cost. How would they have gotten from Albany to Buffalo?  Any help will be
> apprecited.

The _Rip Van Winkle_ is an average example of the classic New
York-Albany steam packets of the mid-1840s.  There are sketches of her
on pages 78 and 79 of Stanton's _American Steam Vessels_ (reproduced for
the WWW at http://www.hhpl.on.ca/scripts/Bib.asp?PubID=3)

If fairly poor, in 1847 they might have taken a canal boat from Albany
to Buffalo, but the tide had turned towards the railroads.  By 1847
there were expresses from one end to the other of the patchwork of
railroads that would become the New York Central.  At Buffalo at least
one, and frequently more, steamboats left on the arrival of the
coaches.  The _Empire_, illustrated on pages 74 & 75 of Stanton, is a
representative of the best of the mid-1840s Great Lakes steamers (and
very similar in profile to the Hudson River steam packets). While your
ancestors could stay in Buffalo, many chose to sleep overnight on the
lake boats (wake up around Cleveland). In 1847 the Michigan Central
Railroad was open, so travelers to Lake Michigan had the choice of going
around by the Straits of Mackinac or crossing Michigan by rail and going
on to Chicago or Milwaukee by steamboat.  The year before, odds were an
immigrant would take the all water route from Buffalo; three years later
there were relatively few through passenger vessels and people proceeded
by a variety of routes. Ten years later and the passage was typically
all rail.

Walter Lewis
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