Archive for January, 2013

Capt Adam Poe’s Book

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

In writing about his river experiences telling about himself, he was also telling the story about the frontier and expansion to the West.  Capt Adam Poe was contributing to the growing body of literature about the West.  At that time Americans were avid readers of “Westerns”.  These novels, and epic tales of the Indian Wars,  were the core of the motion picture industry through the twentieth century – the struggle between good and evil and survival in a lawless society. 


Make time to read The True History of… by Capt Adam Poe.  The pages have been scanned and loaded for your entertainment.  It is a wonderful story.




Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

CivWar150 – 12 Jan 1863

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

On Jan 12, 1863, the str Kenton was moored near the mouth on the White River according to a personal letter by Lt Cushman K Davis of the 28th Wisconsin Regiment.  Lt Davis was the aide-de-camp to Gen Willis Arnold Gorman.  Approximately 18,000 troops had been transported to the White River from Helena or Napoleon, AR by a fleet of 30 steamers.  The str Kenton steamed five difficult miles up the swollen White River on Jan 13.  According to Lt Davis, the old General spent most of his time in swearing at the pilot who may have been Capt George W Ebert. [1]


Imagine the sight.  Amid the noises of the night, thirty packets steaming down the Mississppi.  The average packet was 185 ft x 33 feet not including its wheel.  Its stacks were 50-75 feet high.  With the usual 100 yards between boats that would calculate to nearly four miles of steamboats, bow to wheel, belching black smoke and raining sparks from their stacks.


[1]  Lt Cushman K Davis Ltr, The Waukeska Freeman Newspaper, Feb 3, 1863.



Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved


A New Year 2013

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

The elections are over.  For the many of us who got involved – it felt like much was at stake.  And there was.  Now it’s time to take a deep breath and evaluate the world around us.  And what do you surmise – much work remains to be done.


Last New Year’s Day, I posted a haiku about steamboat history and the purpose of this website.  The history of steamboats is not important for its own sake.  In fact, early American history is not important for its own sake.  What is important is to find ways to connect these exciting stories with the challenges that we face today.  These riverboat pioneers defied conventional wisdom.  Their Americanness – energy, resourcefulness, and commitment – was inspiring.  The challenges they faced teach us about what matters today and what will be important in the future:  social justice, the environment, war, the plight of immigrants, etc.  This is getting a bit thick with ugly.


I look forward to the New Year.




PS  I realize that the comment feature of this website is cumbersome so if you are compelled to write I can be reached easily via email at



Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

Fracking Redux

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

This morn I was reading a newspaper article about “fracking” in PA.  The article reminded me of a story attributed to Charley PoeCharles Edgar Poe, the son of Capt Jacob Poe, was a gentleman and a great storyteller.  His oil drilling tale was well told and well liked.  From 1860-1885, oil and gas wells were drilled in every direction centered around Georgetown, PA.  

Smith's Ferry Oil Field ca 1865 (Anna L and John F Nash Collection)

Smith’s Ferry Oil Field ca 1865 (Anna L and John F Nash Collection)

This photo from the Western Advertiser dated 25 Jan 1972 illustrates the ferocity of the drilling efforts in Smith’s Ferry opposite Georgetown.  There must be fifty derricks pictured on this spit of land.  The wells of that time had little or no casing, and few if any were capped.  To the best of my knowledge, there is no count or map of the wells drilled.  Those holes are the problem. 

 There is also no public water system in Georgetown, PA.  Drinking water is pumped from a private well on each property.  The water from some wells nearby old drilling sites has an unpleasant “oily” taste after 150 years.  Filters, softeners, and other water purification devices can not remove the taint.     


I am curiously interested in the process of “fracking”.  In Charley Poe’s day, oil drilling operators would “doctor” ailing wells.  A charge of nitroglycerin was lowered into the well casing and discharged.  If the results were good, a listless well would begin to produce oil or gas.  This process was essentially “nitroglycerin fracturing” – the shale containing the oil or gas was fractured by the explosion releasing trapped petroleum.   


Today the “fracking” boom is changing the landscape of southwestern PA, and Georgetown.  The extraction technology has changed from nitroglycerin to a high pressure cocktail of chemicals too “top secret” to be disclosed by the drilling operators.  And disclosure is not required by current PA DEP regulations.  To date according to the following NPR website page,  the total number of wells drilled in PA was 8,982 by 74 operators.  There have been 3,025 citations issued for violating PA environmental regulations, primarily water contamination.   




Climate change is a theory that has been acknowledged and accepted by 97% of our environemental planet scientists.  According to these scientists, carbon emissions from coal and oil fuels are a major cause of climate change.  Why is more oil and gas production extracted by dubious means and long term side effects the solution to our economic problems.  Fracking is the problem.  And the solution? 



Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved