Cleveland To Chicago
( Originally Published 1900 )
Thirty-five miles southwest of Cleveland, and some distance inland from Lake Erie, is Oberlin, where, in a fertile and prosperous district, is the leading educational foundation of Northern OhioŚOberlin CollegeŚnamed in memory of the noted French philanthropist, and established in 1833 by the descendants of the Puritan colonists, to carry out their idea of thorough equality in education. It admits students without distinction of sex or color, and has about thirteen hundred, almost equally divided between the sexes, occupying a cluster of commodious buildings. To the westward is the beautiful ravine of Black River, which gets out to the lake by falling over a rocky ledge in two streams, and on the peninsula formed by its forks is the town of Elyria. Maria Ely was the wife of the founder of the settlement, who named it after her in this peculiar reversible way. This romantic stream bounds the "Fire Lands" of the Western Reserve, a tract of nearly eight hundred square miles abutting on the lake shore, which Connecticut set apart for colonization by her people, who had been sufferers from destructive fires in the towns of New London, Fairfield and Norwalk on Long Island Sound. They secured this wilderness in the early part of the nineteenth century, and their chief town is Sandusky, with twenty-five thousand population. Here lived most of the Eries, the Indian "tribe of the Cat," who fished in Sandusky Bay, its upper waters being an archipelago of little green islands. abounding with water fowl. They were known to the adjoining tribes as the " Neutral Nation," for they maintained two villages of refuge on Sandusky River, between the warlike Indians of the east and the west, and whoever entered their boundaries was safe from pursuit, the sanctuary being rigidly observed. The early French missionaries who found them in the seventeenth century speak of these anomalous villages among the savages as having then been long in existence.
The name of Sandusky is a corruption of a Wyandot word meaning "cold-water pools," the French having originally rendered it as Sandosquet. The shores are low, but there is a good harbor and much trade, and here is located the Ohio State Fish Hatchery. The railroads are laid among the savannahs and lagoons, and one of the suburban stations has been not inaptly named Venice. There are extensive vineyards on the flat and sunny shores of the bay, and this is one of the most prolific grape districts in the State. Sandusky Bay is a broad sheet of water, in places six miles wide, and about twenty miles long. Sandusky has a large timber trade, being noted for the manufacture of hard woods. Out beyond the bold peninsula, protruding into the lake at the entrance to the bay, is a group of islands spreading over the southwestern waters of Lake Erie, of which Kelly's Island is the chief, an archipelago formed largely from the detritus washed out of the Detroit, Maumee and various other rivers flowing into the head of the lake. Here the Erie Indians had a fortified stronghold, whose outlines can still be traced. The most noted of the group is Putin-Bay Island, now a popular watering-place, which got its name from Commodore Perry, who a put in" there with the, captured British fleet at the naval battle of Lake Erie, September 10, 1813. It was from this place, just after his victory, that he sent the historic despatch, giving him fame, " We have met the enemy and they are ours." The killed of both fleets were buried side by side near the beach on the island, the place being marked by a mound. The lovely sheet of water of Put-in-Bay glistens in front, having the towns of villa-crowned Gibraltar Island upon its surface. Vineyards and roses abound, these islands; like the adjacent shores, being noted for their wines.
The Maumee River, coming up from Fort Wayne, flows into the head of Lake Erie, the largest stream on its southern coast. It comes from the southwest through the region of the " Black Swamp,". a vast district, originally morass and forest, which has been drained to make a most fertile country. This "mis erable bog," as the original settlers denounced it, when they were jolted over the rude corduroy roads that sustained them upon the quaking morass, has since become the "prolific garden" and "magnificent forest" described by the modern tourist. The Maumee Valley was an almost continual battle-ground with the Indians when "Mad Anthony Wayne" commanded on that frontier, he being called by them the "Wind," because "he drives and tears every-thing before him." For a quarter of a century border warfare raged along this river, then known as the "Miami of the Lakes," and its chief settlement, Toledo, passed its infancy in a baptism of blood and fire. It was at the battle of Fallen Timbers, fought in 1794, almost on the site of Toledo, that Wayne gave his laconic and noted "field orders." General William Henry Harrison, then his aide, told Wayne just before the battle he was afraid he would get into the fight and forget to give "the necessary field orders." Wayne replied : " Perhaps I may, and if I do, recollect that the standing order for the day is, charge the rascals with the bayonets." ' Toledo is built on the flat surface on both sides of the Maumee River and Bay, which make it a good harbor, stretching six miles down to Lake Erie. There are a hundred thousand population here, and this energetic reproduction of the ancient Spanish city has named its chief newspaper the Toledo Blade. The city has extensive railway connections and a large trade in lumber and grain, coal and ores, and does much manufacturing, it being well served with natural gas. A dozen grain elevators line the river banks, and the factory smokes overhang the broad low-lying city like a pall. To the westward, crossing the rich lands of the reclaimed swamp, is the Indiana boundary, that State being here a broad and level prairie, which also stretches northward into Michigan. The chief town of Northern Indiana is South Bend, named from the sweeping southern bend of St. Joseph River, on which it is built.. This stream rises in Michigan, and flows for two hundred and fifty miles over the prairie, going down into Indiana and then back again to empty into Lake Michigan. South Bend is noted for its carriage- and wagon-building factories, and has several flourishing Roman Catholic institutions, generally of French origin. To the westward spreads the level prairie, with scant scenic attractions, though rich in agriculture, to the shores of Lake Michigan, being gridironed with. railways as Chicago is approached.