CHAPTER VI. TROY TO PHILADELPHIA.
PAPER CANOE MARIA THERESA. - THE START. - THE DESCENT OF THE HUDSON RIVER. - CROSSING THE UPPER BAY OF NEW YORK. - PASSAGE OF THE KILLS. - RARITAN RIVER - THE CANAL ROUTE FROM NEW BRUNSWICK TO THE DELAWARE RIVER. - FROM BORDENTOWN TO PHILADELPHIA.
My canoe of the English "Nautilus" type was completed by the middle of October; and on the cold, drizzly morning of the 21st of the same month I embarked in my little fifty-eight pound craft from the landing of the paper-boat manufactory on the river Hudson, two miles above Troy. Mr. George A. Waters put his own canoe into the water, and proposed to escort me a few miles down the river. If I had any misgivings as to the stability of my paper canoe upon entering her for the first time, they were quickly dispelled as I passed the stately Club-house of the Laureates, which contained nearly forty shells, all of paper. The dimensions of the Maria Theresa were: length, fourteen feet; beam, twenty-eight inches; depth, amidships, nine inches; height of bow from horizontal line, twenty-three inches; height of stern, twenty inches. The canoe was one-eighth of an inch in thickness, and weighed fifty-eight pounds. She was fitted with a pair of steel outriggers, which could be easily unshipped and stowed away. The oars were of spruce, seven feet eight inches long, and weighed three pounds and a quarter each. The double paddle, which was seven feet six inches in length, weighed two pounds and a half. The mast and sail - which are of no service on such a miniature vessel, and were soon discarded - weighed six pounds. When I took on board at Philadelphia the canvas deck-cover and the rubber strap which secured it in position, and the outfit, - the cushion, sponge, provision-basket, and a fifteen-pound case of charts, - I found that, with my own weight included (one hundred and thirty pounds), the boat and her cargo, all told, provisioned for a long cruise, fell considerably short of the weight of three Saratoga trunks containing a very modest wardrobe for a lady's four weeks' visit at a fashionable watering-place.
The rain ceased, the mists ascended, and the sunlight broke upon us as we swiftly descended upon the current of the Hudson to Albany. The city was reached in an hour and a half. Mr. Waters, pointing his canoe northward, wished me bon voyage, and returned to the scene of the triumphs of his patient labors, while I settled down to a steady row southward. At Albany, the capital of the state, which is said to be one hundred and fifty miles distant from New York city, there is a tidal rise and fall of one foot. A feeling of buoyancy and independence came over me as I glided on the current of this noble stream, with the consciousness that I now possessed the right boat for my enterprise. It had been a dream of my youth to become acquainted with the charms of this most romantic river of the American continent. Its sources are in the clouds of the Adirondacks, among the cold peaks of the northern wilderness; its ending may be said to be in the briny waters of the Atlantic, for its channel-way has been sounded outside of the sandy beaches of New York harbor in the bosom of the restless ocean. The highest types of civilized life are nurtured upon its banks. Noble edifices, which contain and preserve the works of genius and of mechanical art, rear their proud roofs from among these hills on the lofty sites of the picturesque Hudson. The wealth of the great city at its mouth, the metropolis of the young nation, has been lavished upon the soil of the river's borders to make it even more beautiful and more fruitful. What river in America, along the same length of coast-lines as from Troy to New York (one hundred and fifty-six miles), can rival in natural beauty and artificial applications of wealth the lovely Hudson? "The Hudson River," says its genial historian, Mr. Lossing, "from its birth among the mountains to its marriage with the ocean, measures a distance of full three hundred miles."
Captain John Smith's friend, the Englishman Henry Hudson, while in the employ of the Dutch East India Company, in his vessel of ninety tons, the Half-Moon, being in search of a northwest passage south of Virginia, cast anchor outside of Sandy Hook, September 3, 1609, and on the 11th passed up through the Narrows into the present bay of New York. Under the firm conviction that he was on his way to the long-sought Cathay, a day later he entered the Hudson River, where now stands the proud metropolis of America. As the Half-Moon ascended the river the water lost its saltness, and by the time they were anchored where the city of Albany now stands all hopes of Cathay faded from the heart of the mariner. Englishmen called this river in honor of its discoverer, but the Dutch gave it the name of North River, the Delaware had been discovered and named South River. Thus, while in 1609 Samuel Champlain was exploring the lake which bears his name, Hudson was ascending his river upon the southern water-shed. The historian tells us that these bold explorers penetrated the wilderness, one from the north and the other from the south, to within one hundred miles of each other.