A-Rafting on the Mississip'

By Charles Edward Russell | Go to book overview

PREFATORY NOTE

MEMORIES of a boyhood on the Mississippi have been liberally reinforced for this attempt to chronicle an odd chapter in the history of American development and the rise of a gigantic American industry.

The great period of the lumber business and of the raft, which nearly coincided with the great period of the Mississippi steamboat, was inscribed in memorials that were competent and well ordered even if little heeded by the generality of mankind. Often those that saw this vivid epoch were moved to write of it and to write well.

First among them was George Byron Merrick, who for many years kept a card index of all the steamboats on the upper river and brought to their recording a mind insatiable of detail and an almost singular appreciation of the dramatics of commerce. He was not only a notable historian himself but the cause of much history writing by others. A cloud of witnesses confirmed and supplemented him before it was too late. Under his inspiration, or because of his appeals, many oldtime river men were jotting their reminiscences. To all of them as to him I am indebted.

Loyalty to their early love is the badge of all their tribe. Even when he had pitched his home so far away as Alabama, Mr. A. D. Summers, who used to go with the rest of us down to the old mill to swim from a raft, dwelt in his soul by the waterside. Year in and year out he collected material about this queen of all the streams

-v-

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