Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > American History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

American History American History Forum - United States, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old June 24th, 2013, 06:55 PM   #1
Citizen
 
Joined: Jun 2013
From: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 2
Travel between colonies


My first post, I'm new . . .

I am writing a YA novel set in Fredericksburg, VA in 1748. *I have been trying to understand how travel between colonies worked at this time, and have been able to find very few resources. *Specifically, I'm wondering about traveling between Fredericksburg and Philadelphia. *Could this have been done? *Would it have been done? *How expensive would it have been? *How long would it have probably taken? *Would it more likely have been done by land or water? *What would have been a possible route?

That's a lot, I know. I would be most grateful for any help at all that anyone can give me.
SallyFairfax is offline  
Remove Ads
Old June 24th, 2013, 08:16 PM   #2
Historian
 
Joined: Apr 2013
From: Home of Ringing Rocks
Posts: 3,784

Quote:
The canal era began in Pennsylvania in 1797
[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylvania_Canal"]Pennsylvania Canal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

I was going to suggest canals, but that's a little later than you want.

IIRC, if there were water routes, that was usually the preferable way to travel via boat or small ship (like a sloop). Otherwise, horse and buggy, (horse) and cart/wagon.

I don't know if mules were used much until the canals, but didn't I read that Washington was the first to breed a mule? I'm not absolutely certain.
R5 plus is offline  
Old June 24th, 2013, 08:27 PM   #3
Historian
 
Joined: Apr 2013
From: Home of Ringing Rocks
Posts: 3,784

Quote:
People and goods got around on land by horse drawn wagons, coaches, and carriages. For personal transportation, people used the horse. Oxen and mules pulled wagons and carts, loaded with goods and personal property from one destination to the other.

In Europe, especially in England, the majority of roads were well kept pathways between cities and villages. This was not so in America.

America in the 18th century had no roads like the ones we have today. The majority of roads in America, were Indian trails cut in the wilderness. Those roads that did exist had tree stumps in the middle, with wagon ruts on either side.

Traveling in America was difficult if not impossible to say the least. It would be some time before America would build good roads. It was the call for a national road in the 1740's that would be the catalyst for building these good roads.
18th century Transportation

Here's some info you might find useful. The period of time your book is set is three years after settlement. It seems the roads would still be pretty rough - that's only my opinion though.

You mean Fredericksburg, MD, right?
R5 plus is offline  
Old June 24th, 2013, 08:29 PM   #4

Patton's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Mar 2010
From: Ohio
Posts: 1,294

A Colonial Road Atlas (Reason): American Treasures of the Library of Congress

Early American Roads and Trails

The first link is a road atlas from 1789 that gets you from Philadelphia to Annapolis/Bladensburg Maryland. The second is some information on some early American roads. Not sure if it helps, but good luck!
Patton is offline  
Old June 24th, 2013, 11:07 PM   #5
Historian
 
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 5,113

Quote:
Originally Posted by R5 plus View Post

You mean Fredericksburg, MD, right?
I would assume she means Fredericksburg, VA, as she said.

I don't think there were canals, but the fastest means of transportation was by boat.
betgo is offline  
Old June 25th, 2013, 02:21 AM   #6

History Chick's Avatar
Genealogist
 
Joined: Jun 2010
From: Colorado Springs (PA at heart)
Posts: 3,232

Certainly, it was possible. How many people are travelling? Are they taking anything with them? How urgent is the travel? For now, I'll work on the assumption it's one character travelling on horseback with a light pack.

I don't know about travel on water but one could have hired a horse, though I don't know how much that would have cost. If the character already owned a horse, it wouldn't cost anything except maybe if the character had to buy some food for the journey (the horse could graze on grass so no cost there) or find shelter at a tavern along the way at some point (though if they did find shelter, they might have to pay a fee for boarding the horse at a stable too). The character could have already had food in stock to take along with them and they could sleep on the ground assuming it wasn't freezing, which means it would cost them nothing. For the costs of food, shelter and stable boarding for one night, and horse hire, you'd probably have to read some kind of book on everyday colonial life.

Patton's link from the Library of Congress looks useful - although the map is from a little later (1789), I don't think it's so far off that you couldn't use it in a novel, especially considering that is just the date of when the map was made, not of when the road was built. Additionally, before being made into a road it might have been a more simple trail. So you could definitely work with this.

According to Wikipedia:
At a walk, an average horse's speed is about 4 miles per hour.
At a trot, about 8 mph.
Canter, 10-17 mph.
Gallop, 25-30 mph.

Fredericksburg straight to Philly is about 190 miles on modern roads but it's a pretty straight route so in history it was probably about the same distant.

Of course, a horse can only go for so long before it needs to rest and eat. This book might tell you more about how far you could push a horse at what gaits before it dropped of exhaustion:

[ame="http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Horses-Getting-Right-ebook/dp/B004EYUD46/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1372147938&sr=1-1&keywords=writing+horses"]Amazon.com: Writing Horses: The Fine Art of Getting It Right eBook: Judith Tarr: Kindle Store@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51d09gKaXfL.@@AMEPARAM@@51d09gKaXfL[/ame]

So at a walk, it would take about 47 hours, plus time to rest and eat, which I estimate would take at least 4-5 days. This is on the assumption that the character is travelling for 10-12 hours each day - if travelling for shorter periods per day, it would probably take more like a week. Most likely, the time of year would have an influence on how long one could ride per day, since they likely wouldn't ride before sunrise/after sunset.

At a consistent trot, it would take about 24 hours but again, the horse would probably need to stop and rest so realistically, I'd say it would take a few days at this pace. At a canter, it would take around 15 hours and at a constant gallop, about 7.5 hours. But again, the faster you push the horse, the sooner it will need to rest and I do not know if a horse could gallop for 7-8 hours straight. It certainly could not do so comfortably and you'd only push a horse like this if it were a matter of urgency. It might also depend on the health and stamina of the horse. These are the sort of answers you might find in the book above. If one was not in a rush, they would probably leisurely walk/trot most of the way.

Additionally, you'd have to consider terrain. There's no major mountains between the two cities but there was probably a lot of dense forests. With a road/trail to make use of most of the way, the timings I estimate are probably pretty accurate though the route from Fredericksburg to Annapolis might be slower goings if there was no trail or road.

If they were travelling in a wagon or carriage, this would obviously slow them down. A horse probably couldn't comfortably go faster than a trot while pulling a wagon or carriage and probably wouldn't be able to travel as long. I'd estimate it would take at least a week, probably closer to two. If there was no road or trail, it might not have even been possible to take a wagon or carriage through dense forest.

I took horseback riding lessons for about 10 years so I have a lot of experience with horses but of course, I never rode over this kind of distance so I still recommend the book. When I took lessons, they were an hour long and sometimes the horse would be used for another lesson later on, sometimes back to back with only a few minutes rest in between. An experienced rider would mostly spend lessons cantering and jumping, periodically stopping/walking to talk with an instructor. By the end, the horse would be sweating (even in the winter, there would be sweat underneath the saddle), breathing somewhat hard, and visibly tired. But of course, we did not push the horses to exhaustion but this suggests a horse could canter for at least 2 hours straight without putting their health at risk. I don't know if these are the kind of details you're looking for but I hope it helps.

If your character is travelling under a matter of urgency, you may want to also study the details of Paul Revere's ride - though I believe there were others who rode to relay warnings too, studying them as well might give you some idea as to the limits of how long a horse can maintain a gallop.
History Chick is offline  
Old June 25th, 2013, 04:15 AM   #7
Historian
 
Joined: Jul 2012
From: Here
Posts: 4,244
Blog Entries: 9

Welcome to the forum, Sally. You've raised a good question and have gotten some great answers. One I didn't see (but may have been there) was season and weather during travel. Winter and spring (snow and mud) would affect traveling times in that period.
Jax Historian is offline  
Old June 25th, 2013, 05:29 AM   #8

d'artanian's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Aug 2010
From: USA
Posts: 2,951

In 1702, Francis Louis Michel, a native of Bern, Switzerland traveled to Virginia for the purpose of setting up a colony. He wrote home regarding his explorations, and most of his account was preserved by family members and is held in the Bern Library. Anyway, it was first translated and published in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography in 1916.

He returned home, then set out again, making a second trip to America in 1703 with the purpose of visiting Pennsylvania...which he tried to do on his first trip but couldn't make it for reasons of health and the lack of a passport.

If you want to know what life was like in America 1702-1704 this account is priceless. And because he was traveling around, looking for a good settlement location, he relays his travel experiences...good and bad. Following are a few excerpts from his writings:


"We found, after several days of traveling that it was possible to travel through the whole country without money, except for the ferries. Even if one is willing to pay, the hosts will not accept any money. If you try to pay, they get angry and say, "Don't you know the custom of the country?" There are few ordinaries or inns. At first we were bashful, but they admonished us that this was the custom of the country for the rich and the poor."

"Our first objective was to go to Mattapony where some Swiss people were living, especially a man known to me from military service. On the way we met a man on horseback. One almost never meets anyone traveling on foot. We asked him about the way and he helped us. One finds that the trees along the trail are blazed to show the way. He told us about a house where some Swiss were living and we came to the house shortly where the four sisters Lerber were living." [The editor of the notes thinks they may have been Anabaptists who emigrated from Bern because of the opposition to their faith there.]

In a letter written from Arundel County, Maryland in May of 1704 to John Rudolph Ochs an excerpt says:

"Most of the rivers were frozen and hence I had to postpone my trip to Pennsylvania till spring and had to take a house. As my long stay in Holland and England gave me an opportunity to buy all kinds of necessities of life, the inhabitants soon learned of it. Besides, European goods and wares are very expensive in war times, but especially this year. They compelled me almost to exhibit them. Contrary to expectations they were taken with a rush and with good profit and the statement was made that so many useful things had never been seen here before. What kinds of goods should be brought here and what other things are necessary will be reported as stated above."

"After I had sold most of my wares, I traveled with the rest to Pennsylvania, about 180 miles distant from here." [180 miles according to Michel, but in reality less than that.] "With the exception of about 8 English miles it is possible to go there by water. After my arrival I sold the rest of my merchandise even more advantageously than in Maryland. Nothing is sold under 50 percent profit, most goods bring more than 100 per cent. How easily, then, can one make money!"

"Philadelphia is a city twenty-two years old, whose growth and fame is to be preferred to most English-America cities. I was astonished to see the difference, compared with other cities of this country, with regard to her size, splendid edifices, daily construction of new houses and ships, the regularity of the streets, the abundance of provisions, at a much cheaper price than in the neighboring cities. But the strongest reason, why there is such an influx of people from other provinces, is partly due to the liberty which all strangers enjoy in commerce, belief, and settlement."

All these excerpts and more can be found in the Germanna_Colonies (rootsweb) List archives. Unfortunately, they aren't found neatly all in a row so you will want to look at both earlier and later pages of these notes.

GERMANNA History Notes Page #020

Last edited by d'artanian; June 25th, 2013 at 05:31 AM.
d'artanian is offline  
Old June 25th, 2013, 05:36 AM   #9
Historian
 
Joined: Apr 2013
From: Home of Ringing Rocks
Posts: 3,784

Quote:
Originally Posted by d'artanian View Post
In 1702, Francis Louis Michel, a native of Bern, Switzerland traveled to Virginia for the purpose of setting up a colony. He wrote home regarding his explorations, and most of his account was preserved by family members and is held in the Bern Library. Anyway, it was first translated and published in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography in 1916.

He returned home, then set out again, making a second trip to America in 1703 with the purpose of visiting Pennsylvania...which he tried to do on his first trip but couldn't make it for reasons of health and the lack of a passport.

If you want to know what life was like in America 1702-1704 this account is priceless. And because he was traveling around, looking for a good settlement location, he relays his travel experiences...good and bad. Following are a few excerpts from his writings:


"We found, after several days of traveling that it was possible to travel through the whole country without money, except for the ferries. Even if one is willing to pay, the hosts will not accept any money. If you try to pay, they get angry and say, "Don't you know the custom of the country?" There are few ordinaries or inns. At first we were bashful, but they admonished us that this was the custom of the country for the rich and the poor."

"Our first objective was to go to Mattapony where some Swiss people were living, especially a man known to me from military service. On the way we met a man on horseback. One almost never meets anyone traveling on foot. We asked him about the way and he helped us. One finds that the trees along the trail are blazed to show the way. He told us about a house where some Swiss were living and we came to the house shortly where the four sisters Lerber were living." [The editor of the notes thinks they may have been Anabaptists who emigrated from Bern because of the opposition to their faith there.]

In a letter written from Arundel County, Maryland in May of 1704 to John Rudolph Ochs an excerpt says:

"Most of the rivers were frozen and hence I had to postpone my trip to Pennsylvania till spring and had to take a house. As my long stay in Holland and England gave me an opportunity to buy all kinds of necessities of life, the inhabitants soon learned of it. Besides, European goods and wares are very expensive in war times, but especially this year. They compelled me almost to exhibit them. Contrary to expectations they were taken with a rush and with good profit and the statement was made that so many useful things had never been seen here before. What kinds of goods should be brought here and what other things are necessary will be reported as stated above."

"After I had sold most of my wares, I traveled with the rest to Pennsylvania, about 180 miles distant from here." [180 miles according to Michel, but in reality less than that.] "With the exception of about 8 English miles it is possible to go there by water. After my arrival I sold the rest of my merchandise even more advantageously than in Maryland. Nothing is sold under 50 percent profit, most goods bring more than 100 per cent. How easily, then, can one make money!"

"Philadelphia is a city twenty-two years old, whose growth and fame is to be preferred to most English-America cities. I was astonished to see the difference, compared with other cities of this country, with regard to her size, splendid edifices, daily construction of new houses and ships, the regularity of the streets, the abundance of provisions, at a much cheaper price than in the neighboring cities. But the strongest reason, why there is such an influx of people from other provinces, is partly due to the liberty which all strangers enjoy in commerce, belief, and settlement."

All these excerpts and more can be found in the Germanna_Colonies (rootsweb) List archives. Unfortunately, they aren't found neatly all in a row so you will want to look at both earlier and later pages of these notes.

GERMANNA History Notes Page #020
Good find!

Betgo - yeah, anything after midnight, and you're lucky to get any coherency out of me at all.
R5 plus is offline  
Old June 25th, 2013, 05:50 AM   #10
Historian
 
Joined: Jul 2012
From: Here
Posts: 4,244
Blog Entries: 9

Quote:
Originally Posted by R5 plus View Post
Good find!.
Yes, it is. That source is actually a great find, d'artanian, and you provided a great selection of quotes from it

I quickly found this one that I like a lot, too:

"They have severe thunderstorms. I saw one at Yorktown when a ship at anchor was covered by waves which broke over the deck. Terrible winds, called hurricanes, frequently come with such violence and force that people often fear that houses and trees will give way. But they are soon over. Corn and other grain are often blown off the fields. The winter is not long or cold. Not much snow falls. The north wind is said to be cold in winter but it does not last long. When the south wind blows, it is warm again. When it is cold, they make big fires in the fireplaces. There is as much wood as one desires at the door."
Jax Historian is offline  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > American History

Tags
colonies, travel



Search tags for this page
Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
What colonies could have been kept? WeisSaul Speculative History 16 May 16th, 2012 02:00 AM
Just for former colonies :) sylla1 General History 24 April 12th, 2011 03:08 PM
How many loyalists were there in the colonies? Patito de Hule American History 17 January 7th, 2011 09:27 AM
American Colonies huskerguy77 History Book Reviews 5 June 7th, 2009 08:57 PM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.