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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1860, by Harper and Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.
VOL. XXI.—No. 122.—K

 

STARTING at Jersey City, and running its tortuous course entirely across the State to Easton, on the Delaware, the Morris Canal affords an invaluable means of transit to the highland region of New Jersey, without which its mineral wealth would be entirely undeveloped; and would, like the miser's hoarded gold, rust in its rocky coffers for want of use. Like a broad river, it offers a channel for the internal commerce of the mining and agricultural districts, its benefits ramifying right and left for many miles, every highway and country road forming a tributary, over whose dusty or muddy surface teams loaded with the produce of the farm or the mine, the mill or the forge, are hurrying to and fro like a colony of ants busy in laying in their winter's store. The transportation of ore from the various mines in its vicinity to the numerous forges and mills along its banks, as well as to the manufacturing region of Pennsylvania, and the conveyance of the large quantities of coal and limestone used in the manufacture of the iron, employs large numbers of boats, the greater number of which never pass further eastward than the plane at Boonton. West of that place the canal at all times presents a busy scene, interesting in many points of view, but more particularly so in its display of life among a class of human beings who are "a peculiar people."

It would require the scope of a volume and the pen of a Dickens adequately to portray the characteristics and idiosyncracies of this numerous class, or to convey to the mind a realizing sense of the peculiarities of life among the boatmen. Like the Gipsies of the Eastern continent, they seem to be a race apart from, and having but few sentiments and feelings in common with those with whom they are daily called to associate. Individually, their characters present marked and salient points well worthy of study. A large majority are of the lowest and most vitiated tastes and habits—a drinking, swearing, riotous crew. Of course there are many and marked exceptions to the rule—of men who, from various moving causes, have taken to boating for a livelihood; but ignorance, vice, and filth prevail to a great extent, and but few seem to have any aspiration beyond the mere slothful floating to and fro between their points of departure and destination. The dull monotony of their lives is only relieved by the incidents attendant upon loading and unloading, "locking," or "going over a plane," interspersed with an occasional row when, collected in a basin, there is a strife between the captains of rival boats for precedence. Were the evil influences of such associations, and the debasing, degrading results of such a life confined to the boatmen alone, the emotions of the observer might not extend beyond pity and disgust; but when we consider that, in many instances, their families are occupants with them of the limited accommodations of their boats, and that within a space not larger than six or eight feet are huddled together father, mother, and from two to four or five children, the mind shrinks with horror from the thought that women and children should breathe an atmosphere so saturated with vice and immorality. It may not appear surprising, therefore, that the obscene jest and the blasphemous oath are as glibly uttered by the lips of the women as by those of the men, and that the first prattlings of infancy frequently take the shape of profanity and vulgarity.

Captain Blivens, of the Sarsey Fanney, was a fair specimen of the class which I have attempted to describe. Although but the remnant of a man he embodied many, if not all, of their peculiarities and characteristics. Yet the close observer could not fail to detect a vein of good-humor, as well as some traces of downright integrity, which, however, were so smoutched and begrimed by his vulgar and profane manners as to be hardly recognizable. He stood five feet eleven inches in his stocking—if he ever knew such a comfort—and he had need for but one, having lost his left leg at the hip, and replaced it with a piece of hickory, with which he managed very dexterously to stump about. He had also lost two fingers from his right hand, which, together with a long sear on his sinister cheek, gave evidence that his boating experience had been of a very exciting character, or that he had been at some period engaged in a more stirring employment. His skin was of a swarthy hue—having been dyed, by exposure to all sorts of weather, to the color of horse-hide—and seemed to cling to the bones which it covered as though it had been shrunk, by the fiery qualities of the liquor he had drank, to the consistency of parchment. His face—what with its wrinkles and its frightful scar—would have repulsed the gaze of the observer had it not been for the keen, jet-black eyes, which, set deep beneath a pair of overhanging brows, sparkled like coals of fire. His costume—if costume that could be called which barely served to cover his nakedness—consisted of a felt hat, coat, shirt, pantaloons, and one boot-all of which had evidently seen long and arduous service.

Such was Captain Blivens, as first seen by "Neutral Tint" from the banks of the canal at M'Cainsville, where he and his companion, Snell, had arrived a few moments previous with the intention of taking passage on the canal for Boonton. Their object in selecting this mode of conveyance was two-fold: first, to follow the ore which they had seen raised from the bowels of the earth to the place of its manufacture; and, second, to study life on the canal, which promised a new experience.

The Sarsey Fanney was the first boat whose destination was Boonton, and although the appearance of her commander and his occupation at the moment they first beheld him was any thing but prepossessing (he was busy in cursing and swearing at the propelling power of his barge, videlicit, a horse, a mule, and a Dutch boy about fourteen years old), yet they concluded to hail him and make known their desires.

Stopping short in his vociferations, he eyed our friends for a moment, and after calling out in a stentorian voice to his team to "who-oh," he demanded to know "what the h--- they wanted to go to Boonton for aboard of his boat."

Tint undertook to explain their object to be that of enjoying the scenery along the canal and making an occasional sketch, but was met with the response, "Then why don't you travel on 'shank's mare?' You'll get there enuff sight sooner, and won't bother eny body."

While our hero was endeavoring to mollify the Captain by representing their willingness to pay for any inconvenience they might occasion, Snell, who understood such characters much better than his comrade, and had prepared himself for such contingencies, quietly drew a pocket-flask, and, pretending to take a dram, remarked that they were desirous of "having a time."

Whether it was the action or the expression which mollified him is uncertain; the result, however, was that he consented to their wish, and they sprang on board. Walking aft, Snell presented the flask, with a polite invitation for the Captain to "smile." A preliminary taste having satisfied him that the liquor was A 1, the bottom of the flask was turned heavenward, and a gurgling sound, accompanied by a spasmodic action in his long skinny throat, satisfied Snell that he had accepted the invitation. Removing the flask from his lips to take breath, his eye rested upon the boy upon the tow-path, who, with both hands in his pockets and his mouth watering at the prospect, stood gazing at the group on the boat. The sight reminded the Captain that the Sarsey Fanney was inert, and in a voice which broke the silence like a clap of thunder, and startled the boy out of his propriety, he roared out, "Git up there, you tarnal fool! what d'ye stand gaping there for? we sha'n't git to Boonton 'fore tomorrow night at this rate, you---" interlarding his speech with oaths and expletives too gross for ears polite.

The old horse, who had dropped off into a, doze, caught a heavy blow on his flank, the towrope tautened with a twang, the Sarsey Fanney moved gracefully off from the shore, and our friends were fairly embarked on the raging canal.

After his boat had got her headway, the Captain again raised the flask to his lips and continued to "smile" until he was interrupted by the apparition of a dirty night-cap, covering an uncombed shock of sandy hair, which protruded itself above the cabin hatch and demanded a share of the prize. Withdrawing it with a sigh, he passed it over to the new claimant with a muttered sentence, addressed to our hero, in which all that was intelligible was the words "old ooman;" and said "old ooman" proceeded to imbibe. Ascending to the deck after returning the flask to its proper owner, Mrs. B. appeared the counterpart of her husband, so far as length of person was concerned, as well as in her dried-up mummy-like appearance. She had a snub nose, and weak eyes, whose red, inflamed lids, together with a tinge of the same color about the nose, proclaimed her fondness for, and her use or abuse of the product of the still. Her dress consisted of an old and dirty bed-gown, whose color had once been white, with a skirt of calico over another, which showed itself through various crevices and rents, and was quilted. Her hair hung and draggled over her face, and her tout ensemble was in perfect keeping with that of her husband and her two children who followed their dam to the upper air, looking very much like two young rats following their maternal parent out of a hole.

Tint was naturally curious to inspect the interior of said hole, but could not invent a pretext sufficiently plausible to enable him to do so. An unexpected incident, however, gave him the opportunity he craved sooner than he had anticipated. The old woman had gone forward to the stove on deck and stooped down to light her pipe at the coals, while the two youngsters, with their goggle eyes staring curiously at the strangers, followed slowly after, retreating backward on the narrow passage-way along the side of the boat. The youngest, a dirty little scamp of two years, with his whole soul concentrated in his eyes, not noticing whither he was going, stepped on the trail of his mother's dress, tripped, fell, and rolled overboard—all of which performance was but the work of a moment. The splash and the accompanying scream brought all hands to their feet, and in the excitement the other boy came very near following his brother: The Captain yelled to Tint, "Here, stranger, take this hellum!" and sprang for a setting-pole with a boat-hook on the end of it, at the same time hallooing to the team to who-oh! The boat being under headway, the child had nearly passed the stern before it rose to the surface, where Snell had stationed himself, and tried to grasp it as it came up, but failed in his endeavor. The Captain then made a lunge at it, and succeeded in fastening the hook in the seat of its trowsers, by which means he landed it on the boat very much as a sportsman lands a large fish, where it was saluted, first, with a volley of oaths from the Captain; next, with two or three vigorous spanks from its mother on the part where the boat-hook had fastened, by way of starting the blood into circulation; and was then unceremoniously tumbled down the cabin stairs, and put to bed while its rags were dried.

As soon as the excitement of the event was over, Tint realized, from the effluvia which saluted his nostrils, and which combined the smell of onions, stale tobacco, whisky, etc., that he was directly over the cabin; and looking down into the aforesaid hole, he discovered that its two sides were occupied by bunks containing some very dirty bed-clothing, while a table, on which were the remains of the morning's meal, interspersed with a couple of old clay pipes, a paper of smoking tobacco, a jug, two or three cracked cups, one large and two small plates, and several other culinary articles, stood against the bulkhead which separated the cabin from the cargo. An old chest and a three-legged stool closed the list of furniture, unless we reckon in the category an infant, about three months old, which was sprawling about on the damp floor, crowing at the sunlight which struggled into the noisome hole from above. Such was the summer residence of Captain Blivens and his family. He housed them during the winter in a log-cabin near the Summit, at Lake Hopatcong.

The boats are constructed in two parts, for convenience in going over the planes, and are hinged together in the centre by a simple arrangement which permits their being separated in a moment. They are open above, except a narrow passage around the gunwale, a small space at the bow, and another at the stern, where the cabin is partitioned off by a bulkhead. Midships, or where the two parts are connected, a portion of each is floored over, and on this space the feed-boxes are kept, as well as a small cylindrical stove of sheet-iron for cooking. They are from ninety to ninety-five feet long, and of about sixty to sixty-five tons burden. Their nomenclature is as varied as the orthography and tastes of their captains or owners. Among many others which struck our hero as being original, and peculiar too perhaps, were the Bluddy Pirate, the Wild Irishman, the Bridge-smasher, the Larger Bier, etc., etc.

A running fire of small talk had been kept up between the Captain and our friends, by which the latter had been able to acquire much valuable information regarding boating life; while our hero was busy in sketching many little "bits" selected from the charming scenery of the region through which they were passing. Succasunny Plains is one of the most beautiful of the numerous valleys of the highland region, and offers a prolific field for the artist. On this delightful October morning its aspect was one of singular beauty and fascination. The sun, as it rose high above the mountains in the east, lit up the haze so peculiar to our Indian Summer season, and cast that mellow tint across the landscape so charming to the eye, yet so impossible to describe. Towns, villages, and hamlets were strewn over the plain, interspersed with the more rustic and less pretentious farm-house, which, in its unpremeditated picturesqueness, is far more attractive to the artist's eye than its comrade of the town. Checkered off into parti-colored fields, rich with the tints of the crops they had so recently borne—here displaying the carmine hues of the buckwheat; there, the rich ochre of the corn standing in shocks awaiting the garnering—contrasted with the bright green of the meadows, in which the flocks and herds were quietly grazing in the rich pasture, the plain seemed to rejoice in its beauty and productiveness; while the hills looked down with a complacent smile, as though they, too, rejoiced in the calm delight of the scene.

Conversation had lagged for a time, and to revive it, as well as to satisfy his curiosity upon that point, Tint abruptly asked the Captain how he lost his leg. A savage expression, for which his interrogator was at a loss to account, passed over his face, and gave way to a sardonic grin, as, after some reluctance, the Captain replied,

"Leg?—yes—that leg—yes, I lost that leg in the service of my country, Sir. I lost that leg at Serry Gorder, I am proud to say."

"What 1 were you at Cerro Gordo? Were you in the Mexican war?"

"I warn't any where else jest then, you may bet high on that. Yes, Sir, I went all through the Mexican war, from Vera Cruz to Mexico, and reveled in the halls of the Montezumas, on'y there warn't no reveling, 'cause Scott wouldn't let us."

Here was a chance for a yarn, which our friends were eager to seize; and while Tint asked the Captain to favor them with the story, Snell, more taciturn than his brother, but not less interested, made a more telling appeal to the Captain's feelings by pulling forth the flask, uttering the word before so effective:
"Smile?"

The hero took a "horrible smile," which had the effect to open his heart and his mouth at the same time, and he went on to say,
"Well, I don't mind telling you how 'twas, 'cause I ain't ashamed on't, though it ain't so mighty convenient as it might be to trot around on a stick o' timber. Well, you know, I warn't raised in this 'ere State; I were born in Pennsylvania, although it ain't much to boast uv, 'cause I never had much brouten up, any way. I come up pretty much as all the boys on the canal do; for the first thing I can remember, I was drivin' on the tow-path; and I've allers follered boatin', 'sept while I was in Mexico, and was boatin' when a feller cum along about Easton lookin' for recruits for the war. He had a mighty sight to say about glory, fitin' for your country, reveling in the halls of the Montezumys, and sich like stuff; and I was just d---d fool enough, and just tight enough, to 'list, and 'fore I knowed what I was about, or where I was, I found I'd jined the Pennsylvania Volunteers, and was on my way to Mexico. Well, you know, we landed and druv the greasers out'en Vera Cruz, and then started for Punte Nashunel 'and the City of Mexico. I owed my captain a grudge for having me whipped 'cause I got tight one night and slept on my post, and I made up my mind the first chance I got I'd give him fits, as well as the sargint what informed on me. It warn't long 'fore we was sent out on a scoutin' party, and fell into an ambuscade. The greasers were thicker'n fleas in a dog-kennel, and we ketched it, we did. The captain was brought in mortally wounded, and the sargint turned up missin'; and as I'd made threats agin 'em, they suspicioned me right away, and they sort o' kept their eyes on me after that. I tried to get away, but 'twarn't no use; so I made up my mind to stay and see it out. At Serry Gordy they put me in the forlorn hope, for I reckon they warnted to get rid on me, and I was jist mad enough to fight like -—-—. I didn't see any the rest of the battle, 'cause I had 's much as I could 'tend to to look out for Number One. We was ordered to drive the greasers from a hill on the left, after we had defeated a party uv skirmishers that had been shootin' down our men right sharp; and we did it, too, in a hurry, I can tell you though they was firing on us from their batteries in the road, and heavy volleys was pouring down on us from above. We didn't stop to fire back, but went at 'em with the bayonet; and in less'n ten minutes every d---d greaser of 'em was legging it down the other side as though the devil was at their heels. And so he was; for, after stopping to blow a minute or two, we took after 'em—and a prettier race you never seen. Down the hill we went, across the valley, cuttin' 'em down and stickin' 'em like so many pigs, as fast as we cum across 'em, until we came to the base of the hill of Serry Gordy, and we was a-rushing up the same way, when the recall was sounded, and, countin' noses, we found there was on'y seventy-five outen two hundred men left; so we concluded to go back. As soon as we turned round, the bloody greasers opened fire on us from artillery and escopetas, and a ball from an escopeta struck me, shattering this leg below the knee, and I dropped in the chaparral. One of the boys picked me up, and tried to help me, but the curnel told him to let me be and cum along; so he had to leave me where I was, and there I laid till after the battle was over. I tell you what, if I warn't dry that night, then I never was; the recollection ov it has made me dry ever since."

Saying which he reached out his hand for the flask, and, after taking another long "smile," continued,
"Well, I'd laid there, I reckon, till about two hours or so after dark, listening to the groans of the wounded all 'round me, and trying to tie up my wounded leg, when I heard footsteps, and pretty soon I seen a teller cuming toward me that I thought first was one of our boys, but he turned out to be a cussed greaser, looking for plunder. I could just make out that he had a sword in his hand; and I prepared myself to fight for my life if he should discover me, 'cause I knew he'd give me fits if he found the breath of life in me. So I tried to unfix my bayonet—and I reckon he saw the movement, for he made a rush at me, and, spattering some d---d lingo that I didn't understand, he made a crack at me with his sword, which I just had time to parry with my hand, but lost them two fingers, and got that cut on my cheek. Well, if I warn't mad I wouldn't say so; and though I was faint with loss of blood, and so stiff I could hardly move, I yanked the bayonet off my gun and closed in on him. We had it hot and tight now I tell you, for a minute or two, rollin' over and over in the chaparral, until finally I got him by the throat and druv my bayonet through his heart. I must have fainted away as soon as I done his business for him, for I don't recollect any thing more until I was picked up by some of our fellers and carried off to the hospital next day, after the battle was over. My leg was so bad they had to take it off below the knee; and when we got to Perote, the hurry of traveling, the hot weather, and one thing and another, caused inflammation to set in, and they had to take it off again up here. Well, I staid in the hospitle until my wounds sort o' healed up, and as soon as I could hobble round on crutches I was sent home 'long with the rest of the disabled."

"But how abort 'reveling in the halls of the Montezumys,' and going all through the war from Vera Cruz to Mexico?" said Snell.
"Oh l that was on'y a figger of speech," said the Captain, finding himself guilty of an anachronism; and as they did not wish to get into an argument our friends dropped the subject. They were approaching the plane at Baker's Mills, and their attention being attracted by the novelty of the incidents connected with going over a plane, they did not further allude to the Captain's yarn.

Not the least important among the many objects of interest on the line of the canal in the highland region are the inclined planes, of which there are thirteen in Morris County. The summit level, at Stanhope, is over 900 feet above the Atlantic Ocean; and these planes have been constructed for the purpose of overcoming the sudden and excessive changes of grade which frequently occur. This is accomplished at a great saving of time in the transit over the same extent of locking. A single track of heavy rails is laid on an incline of about fifteen degrees from the horizontal, and on this the cars containing the boats ascend and descend at the rate of six to eight miles an hour. About 75 yards from the summit a substantial stone building contains the motive power, in the shape of a water-wheel, moved by the water from the upper level, which is conducted to it through a flume. This wheel is connected with a drum, over which passes a heavy wire rope, about two inches in thickness, attached at either end to the car. The car, or cradle, is a heavy framework running on flanged wheels, and descends a sufficient distance into the water to allow the boat to float into it, where being secured, boat and car descend or ascend the slope together. From the forward end of the car the rope passes over friction rollers between the track, to and around a large wheel beneath the water, some 100 feet distant from the summit, thence over the drum and other friction rollers by the side of the track to another wheel at the foot of the plane, around which it passes and is attached to the rear end of the car.

Arriving at a plane, the boat is drawn into the car in the order of its arrival, the team is unhitched, the tow-rope coiled up on deck, the boat secured to the car by hawsers, and its two parts disconnected by means of a lever which pulls out the bolt uniting the hinge. The blade of the rudder is then raised out of harm's way, and all being in readiness, a signal is given to the operative who controls the machinery in the wheel-house by a wave of the arm. The gate in the flume is raised, the wheel slowly revolves, and the boat soon reaches the summit and begins the descent. The brakes are now put on, and, resting securely on the bed of the car, the boat descends to the water at the bottom of the plane, where the impetus communicated floats it out of the car, and the tow-rope being attached to the whipple-tree of the team, which has been driven around by a by-road, it continues on its course. The time occupied in the descent is about five to eight minutes.

Some one has said that the worst use to which a human being could be put was to hang him. Tint, however, is firm in the belief that there is no more degrading, debasing application of the forces and aspirations of an immortal soul than to confine it to the dull routine of driving team on a tow-path. Kicked, cuffed, and cursed from morn till night, through heat and cold, through sunshine and storm, it trudges along, with no relief from the monotony, no cessation to its toil, except to sleep and eat; only one degree removed from the brutes it drives, and that only in the fact that it is an immortal soul, and ought, if it does not, have higher, nobler aspirations. Physically the team has the advantage, for it is at least well cared for, for there is value in horseflesh; but a boy can be picked up at the next town to supply the place of the driver, at the merest pittance which will maintain the union between soul and body. A man of family has the advantage over his bachelor rival, as his wife assists, not only in cooking his meals but in navigating the boat, while the oldest boy, as soon as he is big enough, is put upon the tow-path to drive team, oftentimes at the tender age of five and six years. The initiation is simple, and the requirements limited. One little fellow, who made an efficient driver, was so small that his head barely reached the belly of his mule, to mount which he was compelled to climb up, hand over hand, by the harness. He was proficient, however, in all the acquirements necessary for his station, and could curse and swear with the best—a habit acquired at his mother's breast, and common to most, if not all, of the children. While wandering along the banks of the canal at Boonton our friends stopped to watch the sports of two boys, whose ages were respectively two and a half and four years, and who were amusing themselves by the side of their father's boat with chips attached to strings, with which they were playing "boating." All went well for a time; but their tow-lines becoming entangled a quarrel ensued, in which the youngest boy "Dod damned the soul" of his elder "to hell'' with an unction and a pungency which was terrible to listen to, while his mother stood by with a smile upon her face.

About ten o'clock the Sarsey Fanney arrived at Dover, and passed through the lock at that place. Below the lock the canal widens into a small basin, in which a number of boats had collected, leaving only space sufficient for one boat to pass. While the Sarsey Fanney was "locking," the captain of the Bluddy Pirate, whose boat was empty, endeavored to get it through this space, so as to be in advance and enter the lock as soon as Captain Blivens had left it. By strenuous efforts at poling and towing he had managed to get about half-way through when the Sarsey Fanney, having passed the lock, entered at the upper end. Ere the Bluddy Pirate could be drawn back to allow her to pass the boats came into collision, with a force which made things shake and tremble, tripped up the mule on the tow-path, and set the rival captains to swearing at each other in terms more forcible than polite. Finding the contest growing warm and serious, our friends slipped off the boat and took up a position out of ear-shot of the wordy warfare, which threatened to result in, blows. Ere it reached this point, however, others interfered, and Captain Blivens being evidently in the right, his opponent was compelled to "back down" and allow the Sarsey Fanney to pass, which she did through a shower of vituperation and abuse.

Soon after leaving the basin Captain Blivens was called upon to aid the captain of the Rip Van Winkle—a boat belonging to the same line, which had sprung a leak and was fast going down—descending to the oozy depths of the canal, there to lay its bones, another victim to the dangers of internal navigation. All hands were called to assist in saving the crew and their effects, and in the space of half an hour, through the most superhuman exertions, the captain, crew, and their furniture, including feed-boxes, stove, table, bedding, coffee-cups, tin pans, and every thing else of value, were landed safely upon the deck of the Sarsey Fanney. While the transfer was being made the old boat continued to settle, and a few moments after the last setting-pole had been rescued it made a lurch forward, staggered, trembled as though it still clung to life, and finally disappeared beneath the gurgling, surging waters, except that portion of its stern on which the name was painted, which remained a melancholy warning to others of the fate which must, sooner or later, overtake all canal-boats. Her captain kept his eyes upon the spot for a time, as the Sarsey Fanney moved off in conscious pride and security, and when a curve hid the latter end of the Rip Van Winkle from his view he turned mournfully away, dashed a tear from his eye, and adjourned to the cabin to "liquor up."

Finding the available space on the deck of the boat limited by the addition to their numbers, Tint and his companion concluded to take to the tow-path with scrip and staff, and walk the remainder of the distance to Rockaway, where they proposed to dine. They accordingly bade farewell to the Captain, who condescended to take another "smile" at their expense, and started off with elastic steps.

Passing the adit at the Sweed's mine, a mile below Dover, they stopped to renew the acquaintance with their old friend the mule, who still continued his monotonous round between the dock and the interior of the level, and to review the surface operations about the mine, and then pushed on again, following the sinuous winding of the canal through a country beautifully diversified, stopping now and then to make a sketch. or to admire some new charm in the landscape, until they arrived in sight of the village of Rockaway, at a spot where the road crosses the canal in front of an old homestead. The picturesque beauties of the spot were so attractive that Tint lingered to add it to his repertoire, while Snell lit his meerschaum, and, seated on a rail, lost himself in a day dream. Half an hour quickly glided by, and at the end of that time the old familiar team, followed by the Sarsey Fanney, hove in sight, and as she passed under the bridge they leaped upon her deck, and in a few moments thereafter were passing through the pleasant village of Rockaway.

Our friends took a final farewell of the Sarsey Fanney and her captain at Rockaway, where they stopped to replenish the inner man, proceeding on their voyage in the afternoon on board of the Jolly Boteman, commanded by a good-natured Dutchman with a long name and "a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly," whose specialty was a meerschaum and "Vaderland." Snell having passed two years of his life "on the Continent," most of which time had been spent in Hamburg, and speaking the German language fluently, monopolized most of the conversation, leaving Tint to chew "the cud of sweet and bitter fancy" until their arrival at Powerville, about a mile west of Boonton, where they spent an hour in climbing to the top of Torn Mountain and enjoying the delightful prospect from its brow. The ascent is easy, and the view from the apex amply repays the exertion of climbing. Like Holyoke, it is a prominent spur of a range, and affords a wide and extended landscape in every direction. On one side the valley of the Rockaway River extends for miles away until it is shut in by other ranges of hills and blue-topped mountains, the river and the canal interlacing like silver ribbons through its whole length; while Powerville with its mills, and Boonton with its furnaces belching forth flames and smoke, lay almost at the feet of the observer. The horizon on the right extends almost to the confines of the State.

The village of Boonton is beautifully situated—so far as a charming prospect is concerned—upon the—almost precipitous—face of a bluff, which forms one of the sides of a deep ravine through which the Rockaway River empties its waters into the plain below. It takes its name from a hamlet in the plain about a mile distant (now called "Old Boonton"), where was situated, at the period of the Revolution, a forge and furnace for the manufacture of the ore from the Hibernia, Mount Hope, and Dickerson mines into "blooms" or square blocks of iron, which were afterward rolled into bars and sheets. The principal part of the town lies on the eastern face of the bluff, the houses rising one above another in successive terraces, thus affording to each a most delightful view over the valley and the distant hills for many miles. The opposite side of the ravine is bold and rocky, and at the upper end the river falls over the rocks a distance of about 30 feet in a beautiful cascade, which at some seasons assumes the appearance of a mountain torrent. After circling and eddying over its rocky bed, now stopping to disport in some quiet pool, now darting around some huge boulder which in vain strives to impede its progress, and anon rushing impetuously over a miniature cascade, ever hymning its song to the appreciative ear, it descends to the valley where it resume its quiet flow until it joins the Passaic. The natural beauties of the spot must have been majestic, and still are very attractive; but the hand of improvement has cramped and confined them, and will eventually entirely obliterate them. The canal, the road, and the works are all built upon the side of the ravine, and occupy a portion of what was formerly the bed of the river. There are those still living and engaged in the works who well remember when the site of the furnace and mills was but a mass of boulders which had been brought down by the torrent, or from which the soil had been washed by the impetuous waters; when the howl of the wolf was heard on the neighboring hills; and when but one house occupied the site of the now flourishing town, with its large and commodious hotel, its handsome churches, stores, and private residences. Less than thirty years ago the first step was taken toward developing the resources of the place. Its immense water-power and other advantages early attracted attention, and an association under the title of the "East Jersey Iron Manufacturing Company," was chartered by the Legislature in 1829. The Morris Canal was cut through about the same time. A dam, erected above the falls, furnishes water to the canal, which is drawn off at several points, and, being conducted through the various buildings where power is required, finally finds its way back into the canal below the plane. The canal has a fall of two hundred feet, eighty of which are overcome by a single track plane of eight hundred feet in length, and the balance by means of locks. After repairing to the hotel, where they shook the dust (coal dust) off their feet, and washed their hands of life on the canal, with its profanity, vulgarity, and misery, Tint and his companion started out to gather new experiences among the nail-makers.

Passing down the road, which leads by a collection of low, one-story shanties, built against the hill on one side, and a long brick building containing stores and the office of the Company on the other, on, through, and around the various buildings composing the mills, they came at last, at the head of the ravine, to an irregular mass of rock, some fifteen or twenty feet in height, which seemed, like a screen, to shut out further progress. An irregular footpath led through a crevice, however, and up this they scrambled, to find themselves at length among a group of pines which grew upon the upper surface of the mass, their roots wringing a scanty subsistence from the soil which had accumulated there. A mossy carpet of the deepest emerald yielded to the pressure of their feet, and a rustic seat, erected by some considerate hand at the further perpendicular edge, afforded an excellent view of the fall, which was seen at the extreme upper end of the ravine. A light cloud of spray rose in front of it, which, as it was caught by a ray of the departing sunlight, assumed the prismatic colors, and added a ravishing charm to the otherwise wild and gloomy aspect of the spot. Elevated some twenty feet above the stream, our friends looked down upon a projecting spur of a rock that jutted out from the right, forcing the whole volume of water through a narrow gorge not more than three feet in width. Between this rock and the fall the stream pursued a languid course, forming several basins, which, like polished mirrors, reflected the foaming cascade and the dark sides of the chasm, as well as the clear blue of the sky above, where the foliage allowed the light to struggle through. Here and there, on the surface of the rocks lying in the bed of the river, were several of those "pockets" or bowl-like formations noticed at the Clinton forge, one of which, on being measured, proved to be two feet six inches across and eighteen inches deep.

After sketching this delightful spot our friends, with lingering steps, turned away to the contemplation of the more utilitarian mills and the process of manufacturing iron here so extensively carried on.

Not the least interesting among the many subjects of study is the beautiful and complete system by which every process and manipulation is so arranged that the most inexperienced person may follow the material from the heaps of coal, limestone, and ore at the upper end of the ravine, through the blast furnace, puddling furnaces, rolling mill, nail shops, packing room, to the canal below the plane, where the nails and other manufactured articles are shipped for market. This system is also evidenced in the fact that nothing whatever is wasted, from the coal dust, which is used to make soil, to the chips and shavings in the cooper's shop, which are used in starting the fires in the puddling furnaces and throughout the mills. At the upper end of the ravine the banks of the canal are some thirty feet above the surface on which the blast furnace and other buildings are erected, and at this point the canal boats discharge their cargoes of coal, limestone, and ore, which are wheeled out upon stages erected for the purpose, and dumped over the banks, where are accumulated huge piles of each containing many hundred tons. These furnish the supplies for the ever-craving maw of the blast furnace, which is a rude structure of masonry, some forty feet square on the ground by forty feet in height, having upon its top two large ovens in which the blast is heated before it enters the furnace. The chimneys of these ovens, as well as that of the furnace itself, vomit forth continually brilliant white flames, which at night time light up the hill-sides with a sulphurous glare, that, taken together with the never-ceasing roar of the furnace and the mills, gives the place a weird appearance, and reminds one of the

"Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire burn and caldron bubble,"

of the Macbethian witches.

Within this solid mass of masonry is a hollow space or flask about fourteen feet in diameter, lined with. fire-brick, which is continually fed with coal, limestone or flux, and iron ore, in the proportions of 40 to 50 tons of ore, 40 tons of coal, and from 10 to 15 tons of limestone. The ores from different mines vary in quality and purity, and while to-day's "cast' may be of "hematite," to-morrow's may be of "magnetite" or magnetic ore. That from Hibernia—which is highly magnetic—will contain but little foreign mineral substance, while that from Andover and other mines will perhaps be mixed with manganese, red oxide of zinc, or some different mineral calculated to effect the quality of the ore.

The machinery for "raising the wind" is very simple, consisting of an immense wheel, driven by water from the canal, which wheel is contained in a building near the furnace. To the shaft of this wheel two cranks and piston-rods are attached, working a pair of double action bellows, from which the air is forced into a receiver or regulator, where its volume is compressed, and whence it is carried through piping to the ovens over the furnace, where it is heated, and then passes down through tubes to the sides and rear of the furnace, where it enters and is brought into contact with the molten mass within.

At five o'clock A.M., and at five P.M., or twice in twenty-four hours, the iron is drawn off and cast into pigs, and to accomplish this two sets of hands are employed, one going to work at seven A.M. and another at seven P.M. Indeed, throughout the mills the operations never cease, but are driven night and day, Sundays not excepted, I am sorry to say, by relays of operatives. The modus operandi of casting was explained to our friends by the gentleman who has charge of this branch of the manufacture.

"You must know that there are about one hundred and forty tons of material in the furnace at one time, all of which is supplied from above, through the openings where you see that wheel-barrow, and is melted to a fluid state. The iron, being the heaviest, sinks to the bottom, while the flux, like oil upon water, floats upon the surface, and having an affinity for the dross of the coal and iron, it grasps and holds it separate from the metal, until drawn off in what is called lava, cinder, or slag. This is done once every hour. The gases evolved in the operation of smelting pass off through the chimney in the shape of flame. The trouble is, the iron also has an affinity for the dross, and does and will retain some of it notwithstanding all we can do. If I could find any thing stronger than iron there would be no need of the flux. The floor of the building is of fine sand, divided into two parts by a track, on either side of which gutters or runners' are formed, leading from the mouth of the furnace to near the entrance. At equal distances are eight branch gutters or 'sows,' as they are technically termed, which conduct the molten ore to feed the 'pigs' in the 'bed.' All these are nicely formed by each set of hands after the previous cast has been cooled and removed. They are now about to cast, and we will draw a little nearer."

The party accordingly took up a position near the mouth of the furnace, where a group of men, indistinctly seen through the darkness, were engaged apparently in trying with sledge hammers to drive a crow-bar through the walls of the flask. After repeated blows the bar yielded, and a bright glare suddenly lit up the forms of the group, bringing them out into bold relief and startling the spectator with the suddenness of the transition, reminding him of the effect produced by the slides of a magic lantern. A moment more and the molten tide was seen flowing beneath a little bridge of earth, and gliding, snakelike, down the gutter to the lowest bed, where it was diverted from its course into the sow, and thence flowed into and filled the pigs.

"You see," continued Mr. J—, 'I there are 26 'pigs' in a 'bed,' and 4 'pigs' in the 'sow;' that is, they break the sow into four parts, each the size of a pig. There are 16 beds, and consequently there are 480 pigs, or about 11 tons in each cast. At each of the branch gutters, or 'sows,' a man is stationed with a spade-like instrument with which he prevents the metal from flowing into his bed until the bed below him is filled, when he suddenly transplaces it, and, cutting off the flow downward, turns it into his own bed. The next man does the same in succession, and when all the beds on one side of the track are filled, the flow is turned in the same manner into the other 'runner,' and the process is repeated until all are filled, when the opening in the flask is closed by means of clay prepared for the purpose; new supplies of coal, iron, etc., are furnished, and the operation of smelting goes on for the next twelve hours."

Ere the description had reached this point the heat within the building had become intense, and the party were compelled to withdraw to the open air, content to witness most of the operation at a respectful distance. The operatives, however, did not seem to suffer much inconvenience, although, as each bed was filled, shovelfuls of earth were scattered over it to keep down the heat.

"Now," said Mr. J—, as the opening in the flask was closed, "I wish to show you one of the prettiest sights the place affords. They are about to draw off the lava into the river, and I think you will agree with me that it is worth seeing; walk this way."

Stepping out to the edge of a precipice composed of lava or cinder, which had accumulated on one side of the furnace, they looked down into a dark chasm, and could faintly distinguish the river coursing its way among the rocks below, babbling as it ran, telling of its labor. The opposite side of the ravine was in deep shadow, except where the ghostly light from the furnace chimney lit up the topmost limbs and sprays of the trees and shrubs, while the back-ground was formed of the huge boulder, with its canopy of evergreens, outlined and relieved by the moonlight. The darkness was intensified to the eye by the sudden transition to the open air from the glare of the furnace, and the party having found a good stand-point, instinctively turned their expectant gaze in that direction.

A molten stream of lava, of the consistency of cream, was now seen stealing its way along a gutter constructed for the purpose, toward the precipice. Slowly but steadily it wound its way along like a fiery snake, occasionally emitting flame as it met some slight obstruction, and the surface was broken, until it reached the edge. A sudden plunge, and the whole aspect of the scene was changed. The ravine, so recently the heart of shadow, was now lit up with a brilliancy before which the moon, as she sailed majestically in the heavens above, paled her ineffectual light. The foliage, then of a deep grayish tint, now shone out in all its autumnal, parti-colored hues, under a light more glaring than the noonday sun, while the water sparkled and glistened, foaming and dashing among the rocks below, as though it anticipated the struggle which was to come.

More rapidly now the molten cinder pursued its way down the side of the precipice, filling up the interstices left by former flows, now lost to sight for a moment, anon appearing, flowing steadily down, until it finally reached the stream. In an instant there was a terrible commotion as the two elements struggled for the mastery, while the steam rose in clouds above the spot like smoke above a battle-field. The scene was one calculated to make a deep and lasting impression upon the spectator, and afforded a grand and forcible subject for the painter.

"You see, Sir," said their chaperone, as the lava ceased to flow and began to chill, "all this soil—about half an acre in extent—we have made by the accumulation of cinder in years gone-by, and it is as firm and solid as the rock upon which it rests. We do not ordinarily let it run over the edge, as we have already encroached upon the river as far as we dare to go. Except after each cast, it is received into cars prepared for the purpose, and conveyed to such points as we wish to extend, on a temporary track. These cars are iron platforms on wheels, upon which are movable iron cases, and into these the lava is run every hour. The cinder, being silex in a state of fusion, is converted into glass upon exposure to the air, and consequently, when the car is filled and the flow ceases, it soon becomes hardened upon the surface, although the interior is still in a fluid state. The cars are run off by a horse to the crane which you see yonder, and the case there raised clear of the 'cake,' which is run forward to the edge of the precipice, where a man knocks off one corner with a sledge hammer, the molten contents flow over the edge, and the cake is eventually upset and rolls to the bottom. The scene presented at night is but little inferior to that which we have just beheld."

Returning to the front of the furnace, our party found the operatives busily engaged in running over the red-hot iron, with long bars prying and lifting the pigs to separate them from the sow, which, by means of hammers, was subsequently broken into four parts. As soon as the iron "sets" in the pigs, which is known by its color changing to a deep cherry red, the pigs are separated and raised from the sand, and when sufficiently solid, are piled or laid over each other in such a manner as to admit the air to every side, where they are left to cool—a process which of course requires several hours. Although the brogans of the men are thickly studded with clout nails, making their soles a mass of iron, yet standing upon red-hot iron is not the most comfortable position which a man can occupy; and hence the operation of "starting the pigs" is a very lively one while it lasts.

From the blast furnace a track is laid to the mills a distance of some two hundred yards, passing the front of the foundry, where all the machinery, tools, etc., used about the establishment are cast; and here the pigs are piled in huge stacks awaiting the operation of "puddling."

The most favorable and interesting period for viewing the operations of the mills, as well as of the furnace, is at night, when the outside darkness brings out into strong relief the glare of the furnaces, and of the molten iron in its various stages of manufacture. When our friends, after carefully picking their way along the road from the hotel, over the plane, across rude bridges, down rickety stairways, crossing flumes and sluice-ways, and through narrow lanes between huge piles of "pigs," approached the front of the building in which the operation of puddling is carried on, they were struck with the diabolical appearance of the scene within. The furnaces and their attendants, at all times lit up with a ruddy glow, and here and there illuminated with a most intense brilliancy as they discharged their molten contents, which were run off on little trucks by men who looked more like demons in the sulphurous light than like human beings ; the noise and clatter of the machinery ; the loud reports from the squeezer; the flying sparks from the "trains," as the iron discharged its cinder under the operation of rolling; the gloomy depths of darkness among the intricate beams above, contrasting strongly with the lurid glare below; the traversing carts and barrows; the shouting of the men; the noise of the forge as it labored to renew the tools of the workmen; altogether made up a scene of startling interest, and one not easily forgotten. At first sight it would appear almost impossible to trace through the intricacies of the various operations the iron in its every stage of manufacture; but thanks to the excellent system by which every thing is managed and controlled, the visitor finds no difficulty in that respect. Let us attempt to describe it; which, we trust, by the aid of Tint's pencil, we shall be able to do to the satisfaction of the reader.

Within a large building some two hundred and fifty by three hundred and twenty feet, nine puddling, three heating, and one scrap or ball furnace, are arranged in the form of a horse-shoe or semicircle, at the open part of which is situated the squeezer, through which all the iron from the furnaces has to pass before going to the "puddling-ball-train" in an adjoining building.

The furnaces are constructed of ordinary brick and firebrick, closed in or faced with iron; and their foundations rest upon the original rocky surface of the ravine. On this basis a platform of red brick is constructed to the level of the floor of the building, and on this a superstructure is raised, of fire-brick inclosed in iron, and containing a receptacle for the fire called a "grate;" an oven or " bottom" in which the iron is melted; and a stove in the base of the chimney for heating the pigs to a red-heat ere they are transferred to the "bottom." The "bottom" is composed of slag or cinder on a bed of thick cast-iron plates. The fire is made of anthracite coal, and the flame and heat therefrom passes over a soapstone bridge to the "bottom," thence to the "stove," and up through the stack or chimney. About once a week the fire in the furnace is renewed.

"Here is a man," said the gentleman who chaperoned our friends, "who is engaged in renewing his fire; let us observe the process. These cylindrical bundles covered with bark and looking like logs of wood, with which he is feeding the new-made fire, are the strips and refuse of the cooper's shop, which are tied up in this shape and dried for the purpose. Upon these he shovels in coal enough to supply a small family for a month. The 'bottom' of the furnace is then supplied with slag or cinder, fine coal, and a quantity of ground ore; the stove in the base of the chimney is supplied with broken pigs of various qualities of ore, and he awaits their heating. When they assume a deep cherry-red color they are, transferred from the 'stove' to the 'bottom' by the aid of an immense pair of tongs, which are supported by a chain running up to a pair of wheels traversing a track among the beams overhead. Half a ton of iron is called a 'charge;' and as this man's charge will require three quarters of an hour to melt, we will turn our attention to another who is engaged in puddling.

"But, first, let us observe the individuals themselves, for they are worthy of study. Each furnace is double; that is, it has two 'grates' and two 'bottoms,' although one chimney is common to both. A puddler and a helper are required for each, consequently there are eight men employed at each furnace, two of each for the day, and two for night service. The puddlers are mostly Americans, are paid by the ton, and earn from two to three dollars per day each. The helpers are mere laborers, who earn not more than seventy-five cents to a dollar and a half, and are generally Irishmen.

"While surveying the figure of this man, who, stripped to his waist, an old handkerchief tied about his head, and the perspiration issuing in streams from every pore (the thermometer outside may perhaps stand at 40°), is working energetically at the long iron bar, and looking so intently into the mouth of the furnace, you would scarcely recognize in him the individual whom you met this afternoon on the street, dressed in the height of fashion, and who bowed to the ladies with such a well-bred air, yet they are the same; while the man who is shoveling coal into the grate, and who has rather the advantage of his comrade in appearance, you saw a short time since sitting on an old rickety stoop in a squalid neighborhood smoking a short black pipe, while he swore roundly in strong Hibernian accents at 'Biddy' for not having his supper ready.

"You have observed that the pigs, as they come from the blast furnace, are in a very crude state, and contain more or less cinder, together with considerable sand and other impurities. The object of the puddling process is to rid the iron of all these extraneous substances, and to mix the different qualities of metal so that the nail-plate shall have the necessary toughness, firmness of grain, etc., etc.

"The iron in the furnace being melted to the consistency of cream, it is then churned with these long iron bars, with which the men continually work it about for the space of two hours. By this time they have gathered it into 'balls,' each weighing about one hundred pounds. These are now 'drawn' and carried to the squeezer. One would naturally suppose that looking so intently into the mouth of the furnace, upon a light so brilliant as to dazzle your eyes at a glance, would injure those of the workmen, yet it is not so: diseases of the eye are rare among them. On the contrary, they can see in the heart of that intense light, which you can not look upon for a moment, the very condition of the iron, and tell to an instant when it is ready to be drawn.

"When this is the case, and every thing is in readiness, the helper raises a sliding door, or apron, in the front of the furnace, and the puddler seizes a ball with a pair of heavy tongs and rolls it out upon the iron floor, where it is caught up by a third individual upon a small iron truck called a 'ball-trolly,' and run off rapidly to the squeezer. As he starts with it a ladleful of water is thrown upon it, which, decomposing under the intense heat into its component gases, inflames, and burning with a brilliant white blaze that lights up the figure of the truck-man with a sepulchral glare, giving him a fiend-like appearance, which is considerably heightened by the stream of sparks the dripping mass leaves in its wake.

"The squeezer, toward which he is hurrying his steps, is an iron-toothed and corrugated wheel, running horizontally within a case which surrounds it, leaving a space between, in which the molten mass is squeezed, rolled, and compressed, by which means much of the cinder is forced out. After passing the circuit of the wheel, the ball, which has now assumed the shape of a cube, falls out upon the floor, where it is seized by a new operative with a pair of tongs and dragged off to the 'paddling-ball-train.'

"The effect of the squeezing operation is considerably heightened by frequent explosions as loud as those of a musket, which are caused by the water that is allowed to run over the wheel to prevent its heating. This water gets into the crevices of the iron, where it is suddenly converted into steam and tears its way out, scattering sparks in every direction.

"Adjoining the squeezer is another implement, similar in form to the points of a pair of shears or the jaws of an immense saurian, which are continually opening and closing as though seeking what it may devour. By this, balls that are not properly compacted in the former, are made to assume the proper shape and consistency before passing through the `paddling ball-train' which is near at hand.

"This machine consists of two or more sets of rollers, in pairs, with grooves of different sizes so arranged above and below each other, and decreasing in size from right to left, as to gradually compress the cylindrical mass of iron and give it the shape of along bar or sheet. The individual who seizes the mass after it passes through the squeezer drags it across the iron floor to the train and jerks it upon a platform, where another operative seizes it with a pair of tongs, and, by a dexterous twist, thrusts it into the largest groove between the rollers. It passes through to the other side, where two men are awaiting its advent—one with a long iron bar suspended to a chain depending from above; the other with a pair of tongs, with which it is seized, raised up, and passed over the roller to the opposite side again. Here the first man seizes it and passes it through the next groove; it is again seized, passed over the rollers, and so on until it has passed through the various grooves of the series and has assumed the shape of a long bar or sheet. It is now called a 'paddled bar;' and is seized by another operative, who drags it off to a shed near at hand to cool, which operation is sometimes hastened by means of a stream of water.

"The process just described also has its interesting features, not the least noticeable of which are the manner in which the texture of the iron is compressed and its fibres knit together, and the cinder ejected which still remained incorporated with it. The pressure to which it is subjected drives out the cinder in a flight of sparks similar in effect to the operation of a blacksmith's hammer.

"Near the 'paddling-ball-train' stand five or three pairs of shears used to cut the bars into plates. These shears consist of two massive semicircular pieces of iron with cutting edges, operated by power derived from an immense water-wheel near at hand, and fed by a man whose duty is simply to place the end of the bar between its jaws and keep it fed up to a cheek or stop, which is gauged to give the requisite length. As the jaws shut the bar is cut into plates, which fall upon the floor or into boxes placed to receive them.

"You would see," said the guide, addressing Tint, "if you were to examine the ends of these plates, that although the operation of the train is intended to crush out the cinder and knit the fibres of the iron together, it is still in a comparatively crude state, and contains some traces of extraneous material which must be got rid of. For this purpose it is transferred to the re-heating furnace, where it undergoes the process of heating in a new shape."

Threading their way between and around the various machines, cars, barrows, wheels, operatives, and processes, which make the place a very Babel of confusion, the party reached the front of the re-heating furnaces, where they found a number of boys piling the plates into small stacks preparatory to their being placed in the fire. In making these piles care is taken to break joints so as to avoid flaws in the nail-plate. The furnace itself is very similar to the puddling furnace, and is managed in very much the same manner: with this difference—the plates are not disturbed when once placed in the fire, but when they have been heated to a white heat, and are just ready to melt under the intense heat to which they are subjected, they are "drawn" as from the puddling furnace, are seized by an operative with a pair of tongs, and, with a dexterity acquired by long practice, are " slung" across the floor a distance of fifteen or twenty feet to the nail-plate train.

This is a machine similar in construction to the puddling-ball-train, except that its grooves are flat and the thickness of the plate is regulated by a wheel, by means of which an operative is enabled to raise and depress the upper roller: thus increasing or decreasing the pressure upon the plate as may be required. The operation of this train is similar to the other, except that the plate in passing between two sets of rollers is made thinner and wider than before. As it leaves the last groove the sheet is seized by two men with tongs and laid upon a car or truck, marked with the initial of the operative in charge of the train, and when the truck is loaded a pair of horses are attached and it is drawn out into the open air to cool.

Thus far our friends had followed the process of manufacture when a reference to their watches showed that it was growing late, and as the remaining operations could be better observed by daylight, they bade their gentlemanly guide good-evening and went to their inn.

The following morning taking up the thread of their researches, they followed the nail-plate from the open air, where it bad cooled during the night, to the cutting-machine, where it is cut across its length into plates about a foot long, and of a width to suit the various sizes of nail, from "two-pennies" to "sixty-pennies," and from 2½ to 8 inch spikes. The machine by which this operation is performed is simple in its construction, consisting merely of a double-crank shaft, on either end of which is a flywheel and a band-wheel. Two arms are attached at one end to the crank, and at the other to a wrought-iron cutter, which, moving in grooves in the heavy frame, rises and falls at each revolution of the wheels, and, in descending, crosses the face of a stationary block on which the strip or plate is fed, and cuts off a plate, which falls into a car placed under the machine to receive it. These cars, when filled, are drawn off to an oven, where the slips are placed on their edges on red-hot coals until they are heated to a proper temperature—say to a deep red—when they are transferred to the nail machines, whose greedy jaws are ever, like the dissatisfied Oliver, crying for more! more!

Thus far we have pursued the preparation of the material, or the manufacture of the nail-plate; which branch occupies at least two-thirds of the resources of the establishment. The nail-machines by which the plate is turned into those; indispensable articles so small and trivial, yet so absolutely necessary in every branch of industry, are situated in obscure parts of the works, and but for their noisy clatter might be passed by the visitor as of little consequence. There are one hundred and fifteen of these machines in all, of which number ten may be found in the immediate vicinity of the nail-plate train, and, as they are all similar in construction, we will only occupy ourselves with one of these. Our description will be better understood on reference to the engraving. The lever-arm, A, is attached to a cutter working in the box, C, and is operated by an eccentric on the shaft which raises it at each revolution of the shaft. Meantime the cutter is depressed and passes by the edge of the plane, d, on which the nail-plate is fed, and cuts off a long tapering strip of the plate. This incipient nail is carried down a short distance to where the head is formed by means of the curved lever, B, the outer end of which is raised, while the inner end, striking upon the end of the strip, drives a certain portion of the iron into the shape of a head. The reverse action of both arms releases the now finished nail, which drops down an incline into a box prepared to receive it.

The last-mentioned arm, B, is operated by a wheel on one end of the shaft, to which is attached, near its periphery, an arm that works the outer end of the lever, e, the inner end of which strikes upon the arm, B, and the revolution of the shaft raises and depresses the said arm in correspondence with the first-mentioned arm, A.

The human portion of the machine holds in his hands a staff or stick, one end of which rests in a prop behind him for the sake of steadiness, and upon the other end is a clamp with which the plate is held. As the action of the cutter is not reciprocal, it is necessary that the plate should be turned at each cut; and as the machine moves rather rapidly, this is a delicate operation which the feeder only acquires after considerable practice. The end of the plate being square the first clip from each is an abortion, and this accounts for the fact of so many of these misshapen nails being found in each cask.

When the plate is cut up the feeder throws his clamp over a spur which projects from the side of the machine, pries it open, throws the remnant aside to be reheated with the rest of the scraps, seizes another plate with a pair of pincers, fixes it in his clamp, and goes on as before.

The machines are gauged to cut different-sized nails, and their speed decreases in the same ratio as the size of the nail increases. Thus the machine which cuts a " twenty-penny" moves at about one-eighth the speed of another which is cutting "eight-pennies."

Immediately behind these machines, and on a floor about six feet below, are a series of bins into which each feeder empties his pan or box when it is filled, and from these bins the nails are packed into casks ready for market. Before this can be done, however, a very important series of operations, employing numerous hands, considerable power, and much time is necessary. This is the making of nail-casks, and our friends were invited next to visit the coopers' shops on the other side of the canal.

Picking their way out from among the machinery and the multiplicity of cars, barrows, piles of bars, sheets, and what not, and crossing a bridge which span a branch of the canal running into the store-house, they approached a group of buildings erected on a somewhat open piece of ground, which they were informed were exclusively devoted to the manufacture of the casks. On the outside of the principal building a lever-arm, worked by a shaft from within, sets in motion a cross-cut saw, which cuts the logs into "lengths." These are carried into the building to the "slab-cutter," which is a platform or bed moving on rollers, on which the length is fixed, and brought under the action of a circular saw. This takes off a thin slab from each side. It is then transferred to another cross-cut circular saw, which cuts it into lengths a trifle longer than the stave. Another operative, by the dexterous use of an axe, takes off the remaining bark, and the stick is handed over to the operation of the "stave-cutter." This machine, although somewhat complicated in its construction, needs no further description than to say that a circular, barrel-shaped saw, having its axis in the direction of its length, is supported on a solid frame, and a framed bed-piece is made to traverse back and forth, on which bed-piece the stick to be cut is placed and adjusted, and the machine started. Each time the bed-piece traverses the saw takes off a strip, to which the proper curve is given by the shape of the saw, and which falls upon an inclined plane that traverses inside of the saw with the bed-piece, and slides out upon the floor in front of the machine. As the bed-piece returns back to its first position a ratchet movement throws the stick forward the thickness of a stave, when, upon re-traversing, another strip is cut, and so on until the stick is cut up, when another stick takes its place. Near by a man and boy are engaged, by the aid of appropriate machinery, in chamfering the ends of the strips and trimming them to a proper width, when they become staves, and are carried to a long shed where they are laid up to dry and season. The heads of the kegs are also cut by machinery, and are laid up to season with the staves. The saw-dust is carefully preserved for bedding for the horses employed about the mills, while all the chips, bark, and waste is gathered up and used for lighting fires.

Our friends were much interested in following the various processes attending the manufacture of the casks; which, however, would be commonplace in the description, and we beg leave to omit it. Returning to the packing-room, they witnessed the operation of filling the casks by men who stand at the bins with huge claws, and while raking the nails down a narrow shoot give a rocking motion to the cask with their feet, which packs the nails. When filled, the cask is thrown upon a scale, weighed, and passed over to another operative, who heads it up, stencils it with the name and number, and rolls it away to a pile, whence, in proper time, it is shipped on board of a canal-boat at the door of the storehouse, for New York and a market.


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This page originally appeared on Thomas Ehrenreich's Railroad Extra Website

 


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