[LMB] (chat) The Sharing Knife, Vol. 3: Passage -- catalog copy

Lois Aleta Fundis lfundis at weir.net
Fri Aug 17 07:55:18 BST 2007

Lois McMaster Bujold wrote:
> ***  Nope, different river.  I deliberately steered clear of Mark Twain 
> territory.  Going by geography, but not a lot of other factors, the 
> Grace River is analogous to the Ohio, and the Gray River to the 
> Mississippi.  

I'm snipping some stuff here, except to note that those who look at the 
map at the start of Legacy (or the paperback of Beguilement) will note 
that Tripoint is at the confluence of two rivers, and is mentioned in 
the text as a largish town with a lot of industry relating to iron, 
steel and coal. To a native Pittsburgher like me, this sounds *very* 

Weirton, where I live now, is a bit farther downriver (and is not on the 
TSK world's maps, it seems), but is only 35 miles from Pittsburgh.
> There was an amusing tale in my research reading about a sea-going 
> sailing vessel built in the port of Pittsburgh, early in the 19th C., 
> arriving at some European port and having a heck of a time convincing 
> its portmaster where they came from, even with the aid of maps.  Or that 
> might have been, especially with the aid of maps.
There were apparently several such ships. A local genealogical group 
(from Brooke County, W.Va.) has, or used to have, a picture on their 
website of one that was built in Wellsburg (about 20 miles south of me 
-- it then called Wellsburgh, Virginia, this being before both the Civil 
War and the spelling changes that caused most "burgh"s to become 
"burg"s. Pittsburgh had to fight to keep its "h".)  Some of these ships 
"only" went to East Coast cities like New York or Philadelphia though, 
not all the way to Europe. And the first steamship on the Mississippi 
was actually built in Pittsburgh -- by a fellow named Nicholas Roosevelt 
(IIRC, he was Teddy R's grandfather) -- who went all the way to New 
Orleans on it.

The main reason  for the Louisiana Purchase, after all, was so that 
settlers along the Ohio, upper Mississippi, and their tributaries would 
have free access to the port of New Orleans, and thence to the Gulf of 
Mexico, for the crops and other products they wanted to sell. 

Occasionally you still see a steamboat on the Ohio, but as far as I am 
aware, they are all leisure travel or tour boats like the Delta Queen 
and Pittsburgh's Gateway Clipper fleets.
> And it's a flatboat, not a raft.  I became intimately acquainted with 
> all the distinctions, physical and social, among flatboats, keelboats, 
> and rafts in my research reading. 

Most of the traffic on the Ohio in pioneer days,  the 1700s and early 
1800s,  was flatboats and keelboats. The river was quite shallow then, 
before the locks-and-dams systems were built, except after spring thaws 
and rains. People could often ford it by foot, or on horseback, or later 
by automobile, when there were droughts. (And sometimes, like Eliza in 
Uncle Tom's Cabin, walk across when it was frozen over.)   Nowadays, in 
fact, most of the shipping on the Ohio  is by barges, pushed along by 
towboats (yeah, that's backwards, but they "tug" the barges from 
behind). There will otten be ten or twelve barges being pushed by one 
little boat. Coal is still a major product in this region and is the 
thing I most often see in the barges on the Ohio and, for that matter, 
the Monongahela..

Mike Fink, the legendary boatman of frontier times (best known for 
having tackled Davy Crockett in some stories), was a real person. From 
Pittsburgh.  And Lewis and Clark's keelboats were built in Pittsburgh or 
its vicinity; they traveled down the Ohio by boat, water travel being 
faster, even before they reached the Mississippi and their official 
starting point in St. Louis. And one of L and C's crew, Patrick Gass, 
was from the aforementioned Wellsburg, where he is buried. (He lived to 
a very great age, 99, dying in 1870. It's said he tried to enlist to 
fight in the Civil War, which broke out when he was 90! Fortunately the 
Union wasn't that hard up. Truly a local hero.)

> For a motherlode of flatboat images that I lately turned up to help the 
> prospective artist, Google wins again:
> http://images.google.com/images?q=flatboat

Lois Fundis	lfundis at weir.net or lfundis at verizon.net

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