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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 194, November 17, 1853

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Identifier: DX04207204

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 194, November 17, 1853

Description: Describes waiting for the steamboat Cincinnati in Cairo, Illinois.


&c were rushed into in the accustomed go-ahead style; all to be utterly swamped with dupes money, by the mighty, muddy Mississippi waters, which overflowed the place repeatedly. Now it consists of some six or eight miserable wooden-frame huts, approached up a steep mud bank, and scattered here and there, three or four barge houses moored by the shore, and a long, dreary “hotel” which looks like a big ugly boat stranded by the tide. No paths, or attempts at any, no vegetation, (save one tree I observed,) and all behind thick bare brushwood growing low in what would be swamp were the river up. Plenty of mangy, squalid hogs about; some of whom sniffed carnivorously at my bear-skin, as I clambered up to the mud bank to the hotel for breakfast. An exceedingly bad one, costing 50 cents, dispatched, I had to wait for an expected Ohio steamboat. And wait I did, all the dismal day, at this delectable Cairo. I was not alone, for some twenty hapless wretches shared my misery. They loafed about under the ricketty piazza, they smoked villanously stinking cigars, they drank more villanous liquors, they spat, chewed and swore; they rallied one another of on last night’s drunkenness, they told anent newspaper stories, and they cursed Cairo with all their hearts. The expected boat should have arrived at 10 in the morning: not at 10 in the evening had she made her appearance: New Orlean’s boats & St Louis boats many had arrived about nightfall, no “Cincinatti.” At about 7 a false alarm of this kind brought us all down to one of the big barge-stores; and here, for the most part we stayed. Boat after boat arrived at dreary intervals, at still no “Cincinatti.” Indeed from a New Orlean’s bound vessel we got news that the hoped-for boat had been detained all night by fog, at St Louis. Any amount of fire glare, letting off steam, tumult & crowding, two men severally tumbling into the river and being hauled out again. A dismal procession of wharf hounds unloading sacks of corn, tramping wearily along the barge’s margin. Desperately hopeless people, miserable people, drunken people; troubled sky and broad moon above.

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1853-11-17

Type(s): Diary

Maker/Creator: Gunn, Thomas Butler, 1826-1903

Subjects: Diaries
Mississippi River
Drinking of alcoholic beverages


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