« PrécédentContinuer »
the need of more rapid and extended communication by land became imperative and the postal service in particular was demanding better facilities. The colonies now made strenuous efforts to improve their roads, increase the number of their ferries, and build causeways and bridges wherever possible. New England soon became a network of roads and highways, with main routes connecting the important towns, country roads radiating from junction points, and lanes, pent roads, and private ways leading to outlying sections. Philadelphia became the terminus of such roads from the country behind it, as those running from Lancaster, York, Reading, and the Susquehanna. From Baltimore, Alexandria, Falmouth, and Richmond roads ran westward and joined the great wagon and cattle thoroughfare which stretched across Maryland and Virginia, by way of York, the Monocacy, Winchester, and Staunton, to the Indian country of the Catawbas, Cherokees, and Chickasaws.
The great intercolonial highways, which were also used as post roads, ran from Portsmouth to Savannah. Starting from Portsmouth in 1760, the traveler would first make his way over an excellent piece of smooth, hard-graveled road available for stage, carriage, or horse, southward to
the Merrimac, which he would cross on a sailing ferry, and thence proceed by way of Ipswich to Boston. William Barrell started on this trip by stage in August, 1766, but, finding the vehicle too crowded for warm weather got out at Ipswich and finished the journey in a chaise. From Boston one would have the choice of four ways of going to New Haven: one by way of Providence to New London; a second by way of Providence, Bristol, and Newport, a troublesome journey involving three ferry crossings; a third over the Old Bay road to Springfield and thence south through Hartford and Meriden; and a fourth, much used by Connecticut people, diagonally through the northeastern part of the colony, crossing the dangerous Quinebaug and Shetuckit rivers, and reaching New Haven by way of either Hartford or Middletown. At Springfield, if the traveler wished, he could continue westward to Kinderhook and Albany along a road used by traders and the militia, or at Hartford he could take through northwestern Connecticut one of the newest and worst roads in New England, to be known later as the Albany turnpike. Lord Adam Gordon, who passed over this road in going from Albany to Hartford in 1765, described that section which ran through the
Greenwoods from Norfolk to Simsbury as “the worstroad I have seen in America,” and the colony itself so far agreed in 1758 as to consider it “illchosen and unfit for use and not sufficiently direct and convenient.” Though efforts were made to repair it, the road remained for years very crooked and encumbered with fallen trees.
Once he had reached New Haven, the traveler would find that the road to New York, which stretched along the Sound, still required about two days of hard riding or driving. These Connecticut roads had indeed a bad reputation. The traveler's progress was interrupted by troublesome and even dangerous ferries and he frequently had to ride over much soft, rocky, and treacherous ground. Mrs. Knight described their terrors in 1704; Peckover says in 1743 that he “had abundance of very rough, stony, uneven roads"; Birket in 1750 calls parts of them “most intollerable" and “most miserable"; and Barrell on "old Sorrell” was nearly worn out by them sixteen years later. Though Cuyler of New York, who went over them to Rhode Island in 1757 in a curricle or two-horse chair, failed to complain of his journey, his good nature may be due to the fact that he went for a wife, "a very agreeable young lady
with a gentle fortune.” Quincy preferred to take boat from New York to Boston rather than face the inconveniences of these notorious roads. Many travelers took a sloop from Newport or New London, and by going to Sterling or Oyster Bay, in order to avoid the pine barrens in the center of Long Island, and proceeding thence to New York, they not only saved fifty miles but also had a better road. There was a ferry from Norwalk to Huntington, but that was chiefly for those who desired to go to Long Island without taking the roundabout journey through New York.
The traveler might go to Albany from New York, either by sloop or by road, preferably along the eastern bank. If he were going southward, he might select one of three ways. He could cross to Paulus Hook (now Jersey City) by ferry or could go to Perth Amboy by sloop through the Kill van Kull and Staten Island Sound, or by ferrying to Staten Island he could traverse the northern end of the island and take a second ferry to Elizabethport. Once on New Jersey soil, he would find two customary routes to Philadelphia: one by road to New Brunswick and Bordentown and down the Delaware by water; the other by the same road to Bordentown, thence by land to Burlington, and
across the river by boat. In 1770 a stage company offered to make the trip in two days, and thus rendered it possible for a New York merchant to spend two nights and a day in Philadelphia on business and be back in five days, a rapid trip for the period.
Unless one were going into the back country by way of Lancaster and York southwestward or from Lancaster or Reading northwest to Fort Augusta (now Sunbury) and the West Branch, there was but one road which he could take in leaving Philadelphia. It ran by way of Chester along the Delaware, crossed the Brandywine tollbridge to Wilmington, and ran on to Christiana bridge, the starting point for Maryland and the Chesapeake as well as the delivery center for goods shipped from Philadelphia for transfer to the Eastern and Western shores. Here the road divided: one branch went down the Eastern Shore to Chestertown, from which point the traveler might cross the Bay to Annapolis; the other rounded the head of the Bay, crossed the Susquehanna near Port Deposit, and so ran on to Joppa, Baltimore, and Annapolis. Birket tells of passing over the Susquehanna in January on the ice, and describes how the horses were led across and the party followed