Sunday, April 25, 2010

Puffs from the Steamboat, 1877

The following poem was written by a man named Fish on the occasion of the construction of John Baylies LeBaron's steam boat Pioneer.

The grand achievements of noble men
Deserve the homage of voice and pen
Their hidden thoughts like diamonds bright
Astonish the world when they come to light.
We need not go to a foreign shore
To find such men at your very door.
They daily pass with a busy brain
Building something and not in vain.
Next to the Creator, man
Fulfills his part of the infinite plan.
Little by little along life's road
Every good deed, is a prayer to God.
Who would have tho't fifty years ago
This town would ever be built up so
Or any old settler, dared to dream
Old Nevertouch Pond would be sailed by steam.
Nemasket crooks, and bridges too,
How a steamboat's funnel poking through,
Or the beautiful Lake a thing so fine
As a male and female steamboat line.
Some folks laughed and gave a sneer
At the mad idea of a steamboat here,
Saying - the rocks she'll never clear
Nor the narrows either, you might as soon
Undertake a voyage to the moon
On a foggy night in a steam spittoon.
But it seems somebody understood
His business well, as others should.
For the town forked 700 over
To make improvement in the river.
All of the Lakeville points of law
Weighed in the balance, less than straw,
Were argued a little just for fun
By votes unanimous, all but one.
And the following day the work began
At Harlow's Mill the stuff was planed
And dried by steam whene'er it rained.
On the gently sloping western side
Of Nevertouch, where the billows glide
The keel was laid, with ease and skill
July 19th this proving still
There's a way, whenever there's a will.
And every day the people go
To the boat, as they would to Barnum's show
And not a few are inclined to say
I guess after all, the thing will pay.
Men of science, and ladies fair
Foreigners with distinguished air,
Lame, halt, and blind, and out of repair
Say! Where is the steamboat, oh! tell us! Where?
Most every body is wide awake
For a greater commerce on the Lake
And very likely within a year
An hundred souls may be running here.
There'll be no need of travelling round
To Saratoga and Vineyard Sound
In quest of high toned rustication
But take the quickest transportation
By river steamer at moderate price
For the pleasure seekers' paradise
Of picnics, clambakes, fancy balls,
Hotels, saloons, and fested halls.
Bazaars, and palaces, and bowers
Wherein to woo the rosy hours.
In the great lake city, sure to grow
For all the Second Advents' know.

"Steamer Pioneer", adapted from "Natchez Steamboat", photograph by
David Paul Ohmer, November 12, 2008, used under a Creative Commons license.


Post a Comment