Packet Travel in 1794

An interesting picture of the perils to be encountered in navigating the upper Ohio, from the savages and white desperadoes who lurked upon its borders, and of the means devised for averting them, as well as of other peculiarities of the era preceding the present century, is furnished in the following advertisement, printed in Cincinnati, of the first regular packet line between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, which was formed January 11th, 1794, by four keel boats, of four tons each:

"Ohio Packet Boats - Two boats for the present will start from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh and return to Cincinnati in the following manner, viz.: the first boat will leave Cincinnati this morning at 8 o'clock and return to Cincinnati so as to be ready to sail again in four weeks from this date.  Second boat will leave Cincinnati on the 30 inst., and return as above; and so regularly, each boat performing the voyage to and from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh once in every four weeks.  The proprietor of these boats have maturely considered the many inconveniences and dangers incident to the common method hitherto adopted of navigating the Ohio, and being influenced by a love of philanthropy, and a desire of being serviceable to the public, has taken great pains to render the accommodations on board the boats as agreeable and convenient as they could possibly be made.  No danger need be apprehended from the enemy, as every person on board will be under cover made proof from rifle balls, and convenient portholes for firing out.  Each of the boats is armed with six pieces, carrying a pound ball; also a good number of muskets, and amply supplied with ammunition, strongly manned with choice men, and the master of approved knowledge.  A separate cabin from that designed for the men is partitioned off in each boat for accommodating the ladies on their passage. Conveniences are constructed on board each boat, so as to render landing unnecessary, as it might at times be attended with danger.  Rules and regulations for maintaining order on board, and for the good management of the boats, and a table accurately calculated for the rates of freightage, for passengers, and carriage to letters to and from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh; also, a table of the exact time of the arrival and departure to and from the different places on the Ohio between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh may be seen on board each boat, and at the printing office in Cincinnati.  Passengers will be supplied with provisions and liquors of all kinds, of the first quality, at most reasonable rates possible.  Persons desirous of working their passage will be admitted, on finding themselves subject, however, to the same order and directions from the master of the boats as will as the rest of the working hands of the boat's crew.  An office of insurance will be kept at Cincinnati, Limestone [Maysville], and Pittsburgh, where persons desirous of having their property insured may apply.  The rates of insurance will be moderate."


from Charles Frederic Goss's Cincinnati, the Queen City, 1788-1912, V. 2