Title: By Water to the Columbian Exposition by Johanna S. Wisthaler
Location: Google Books Date: 1894
There are many books concerning the Columbian Exposition of 1893, but this one has to be considered unique. The author traveled 1, 243 miles by yacht, from Schenectady, New York to Chicago to visit the White City: down the Erie Canal, through the Great Lakes following the shore line, past Detroit up to the Straits of Mackinaw, then down Lake Michigan to Michigan City, Indiana and finally to the Fair itself. It’s a wonderful book, but, unfortunately, the pictures that Ms. Wisthaler took are not included in this edition nor have I found them in any other addition available on the Internet. That aside, it is a terrific tale. Following is the author’s description of her companions and the yacht itself: (Note: the spelling and grammar has been left unedited.)
Experience, this greatest of all teachers, will undoubtedly have convinced many of my readers that the most delightful voyage is only capable of maintaining its charms when made amidst congenial fellow-travelers. The grandest scenes can be fully enjoyed and duly appreciated when viewed through an atmosphere of physical comfort. Thus, in order to demonstrate the accuracy of the assertion: Voyaging with Mr. James and his family was attractive and enjoyable to me in every respect,
I must make the reader acquainted with my amiable traveling companions, as well as with their floating home, the beautiful steam yacht “Marguerite.”
Her owner, Captain S. R. James, is a stately, fine-looking, accomplished gentleman, and quite a linguist. To me it was a source of unusual pleasure to discuss French and German literature occasionally during our voyage with one who has given so much attention to these languages.
Mr. James was styled by the Buffalo Courier “a typical New Yorker;” but he impresses me more as a typified English gentleman of the thorough school, and this impression is confirmed as I reflect upon his conduct to those fortunate enough to be associated with him in any capacity. I trust the reader will pardon me if I warmly eulogize Mr. James, his lovely Wife and their Foursweet Children, together with Miss Sarah E. Campbell, the very amiable sister of Mrs. James — who were my traveling companions on this eventful trip’; for, certainly, I was extremely fortunate in my compagnons de voyage, whom I have thus introduced to the reader. They abandoned their lovely home for the purpose of undertaking the gigantic enterprise of making a canal and lake voyage to the White City.
The reader may well judge that sailing on a yacht presents innumerable novelties and advantages not attainable by any other conveyance. Since the parties on board a pleasure-boat concentrate all their thoughts to the expected enjoyments they cast aside all irksome forms and straitlaced habitudes, delivering themselves up to the free air to live less conventionally than at home. The preferableness of such an existence, freed from all unnecessary ceremonies, is still more perceptible when the trip is of long duration and having, moreover, for its terminus the World’sColumbian Exposition, a place where the wonders, beauties, and evidences of nature’s power and man’s skill are gathered from all lands.
The great anticipations we had of our unique voyage were justified in every respect. For it offered us the opportunity to store our memories with that which will never die, and to adorn them with pictures whose colors will never fade.
All this will be revealed subsequently to my courteous reader, who is cordially invited to follow me now on board the steam yacht, which formed our home for six eventful weeks.
What first strikes the observer on approaching the “Marguerite,” are the graceful lines which run from the sharp, slightly bent stem to the well-rounded stern. So beautiful is her form, and so majestically does she rest upon the water, that you will have no difficulty to recognize her, even at a great distance. You observe that she is painted with taste, and all the mouldings are gilded; you also perceive that the railings are of oak wood, surmounted by finely polished brass, and the deck of narrow deal planks is as white as snow. There is nothing wanting to make her equipment harmonize with the requirements of the present era. She has a length of a hundred feet, a width of about fifteen, with a draught of five feet eight inches; being fitted out for both steam and sail navigation.
Now, dear reader, let us go below. If you consent, we will first visit the engine-room, since it contains the most essential part of the working machinery. A force of from eighty-five to ninety horse-power is developed to propel the boat. The engine is of the triple expansion type; the diameters of the cylinders being 6 1-2, 10 and 16 inches respectively.
Are you not pleased with this piece of machinery, so elegantly finished and neatly polished? From it you can conclude that the yacht is capable of running with considerable speed, amounting to thirteen miles an hour, if desired.
Let us descend to the cabin next; can anything be more tasteful and convenient? Is it not luxurious? And, although small, does not its very limited space astonish you when you view so many comforts? This is the diningroom. What can be more complete! Just look at this
side-board, with its sumptuous outfit in silver and crystal. A multum in parvo.
The kitchen is admirably arranged; the spacious refrigerator making it possible that a considerable amount of all sorts of provisions and delicacies can be kept on board for some time.
Let us peep into the cozy staterooms. Are they not nicely furnished? Glance at the large and comfortable berths, which can be extended so as to form double berths, as in a Pullman car. All the rooms receive light, either through side-windows or from the upper deck. Every facility for enjoying open air exercise is offered by the main deck running the whole length of the ship. The portion pertaining to the stern is especially commodious, and constituted our dining-room on pleasant days. Even when the weather was unfavorable, the awnings which inclosed this delightful place formed an excellent shelter, giving the impression we were living in a large tent.
Thus, you observe, that nothing is omitted to secure comfort. Do you see this electric bell? Well, all the staterooms are provided with such bells, which are connected with the steward’s pantry.
Now, let us go forward. These two doors form the entrance to the pilot-house; please, step in. Here is the steering wheel, and by means of these brass tubes the steersman communicates with the engineer. Look up to the ceiling. It is decorated with multitudinous charts and maps. Before we leave this room do not forget to glance at the mariner’s compass in its elegant brass case.
Close by is the entrance to the fore-castle, which contains the men’s berths. The crew occupying them consists of the captain, the engineer, the cook, the steward, and the seamen.
There not being accommodation for more female servants, Mrs. James was attended by only one maid. She, however, could easily spare larger retinue, because this excellent girl has assisted her mistress in performing the manifold domestic duties for more than fourteen years, and during this long period Mrs. James has learned to value her for her dexterity in all female occupations. She is also a faithful guardian of the children whom she tenderly cares.
Flattering myself that I have given my kind readers a satisfactory, introductory description, I shall now advance with the narrative, and proceed on our journey, traversing the longest artificial waterway ever constructed by human hands; and sailing on the unsteady billows of the great lakes, which contain the largest amount of sweet water on the globe, in order to visit the World’s Fair, the grandest and most complete exposition that hum-in eyes ever beheld.