For the Williston-area folks who read this long entry, it will be interesting if they can guess the subject of the photo to be posted at the end of this long note.
In this week's issue of the London Review of Books, July 27, 2017, beginning on page 23, the editors devote six full pages to a very dry article, but one that piqued my interest. I'm glad I went back and re-read it.
The full article can be read at this post.
The writer develops a wonderful essay on "The Meeting of the Waters" by the Irish Romantic poet Thomas Moore, first published in 1808 and by the end of the century it had become one of the known of his Irish Melodies.
The author, John Barrell, recalls his five favorite "meetings of the waters" beginning with the confluence of the Greta and the Tees on the Rokeby estate in Teesdale.
The highlight of the article came near the end. From the linked article:
To these reasons, I want to add one more, perhaps the most important in revealing how early, and how widely, the phrase and the song became embedded in the consciousness of early 19th-century Americans.
At the beginning of the century, the Appalachian mountains seemed to present a barrier to the western expansion of the US. The story of how this barrier was overcome has been frequently told, so I will keep it short. The answer, at once obvious and apparently impossible, was to drive a canal from Albany up the Mohawk Valley and so through the mountains to Lake Erie. This was a distance of over 350 miles, and nowhere in the world had a canal of anywhere near that length been attempted before. ‘It is little short of madness to think of it,’ Jefferson announced. But De Witt Clinton believed it could be done, and in 1817, when he became the governor of the state of New York, he was determined to see the canal built.
In October 1823, when Moore’s song was only 15 years old, Niles’ Weekly Register offered an account of a ceremony which had taken place at the 53rd lock on the Erie Canal, at Albany, celebrating the junction of the canal, which by this time was completed from Albany through to Rochester, with the newly completed Champlain Canal, running northwards to Lake Champlain and so to Canada.
The importance of the occasion was described in the Commercial Advertiser: ‘By means of this great artificial river … the Atlantic states and the rich and widely extended regions of the west will become neighbours, and a close community of interests will induce them to cling together with a degree of tenaciousness and constancy, which even a daily recollection of their consanguinity would not otherwise have produced.’ De Witt Clinton was ‘high priest’ of the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, and the opening ceremony was a Masonic ritual presided over by the excellent Grand High Chaplain, the most excellent Grand High Priest, and other grandees of the chapter, who together laid the capstone of the lock.
Samuel Mitchell, also a member of the chapter, then ‘mingled with the waters of the canal, two bottles of water’, ‘the one taken from the depths of the Indian ocean, and the other from the Atlantic’, to symbolise the meeting of all the waters of the world with the Great Lakes. The whole occasion was known as ‘The Meeting of the Waters’, and at the dinner that evening Moore’s song was played by the band of the Academy at West Point.
The following year a banquet was held in New York to commemorate the first anniversary of the partial opening of the canal.
On the menu, as well as ‘Gallipagos turtle’, was a ‘richly decorated pie’ from which ‘a pair of white carrier pigeons flew out and over the hall, bearing intelligence from Albany that the meeting of the waters had taken place’.
By the autumn of 1825 the canal was open ‘all the way through’ from Albany on the Hudson to Tonawanda near Buffalo on Lake Erie; Tonawanda, you will not be surprised to learn, was translated as ‘the meeting of the waters’. A ceremony of the ‘Meeting of the Waters’ was held in Geneva, at the north end of Seneca Lake and itself newly connected to the Erie canal system, and ten days later a final opening ceremony was held at Sandy Hook, which divides and protects Lower New York Bay from the Atlantic. Here Clinton performed ‘the ceremony of commingling the waters of the Lakes with the Ocean’, pouring a bottle of water drawn from Lake Erie into the Atlantic.Wow, I love America.
Much more at the link.
The author says that he started with five "meetings of the waters." Since then, he has turned up 200 or 300 more, and continues to turn up four or five new ones each month (Great Britain, America, Australia).
One wonders if he is aware of one of the most famous "meetings of the waters"?
Growing up in North Dakota, I was so naive that I thought the only "confluence" in the world was southwest of Williston. LOL.
Several years ago, I canoed the Yellowstone River with a brother-in-law starting about five miles south of the confluence. My brother arranged for this most memorable canoe trip.
The photo above was taken by Vern Whitten and was in his most recent batch of photographs. See tag for more Whitten photographs.
The London Review of Books article on the "Meeting Of The Rivers" also had this:
I am thinking of favourite walks, or rather favourite places to sit when out walking, like the confluence of the Nidd and the Ouse at Nun Monkton near York, or of the streamlet behind our local pub and the River Wye, where sometimes at twilight you can see otters playing: places which seem as calm as the lines from Thomson are violent.Ironically, when serving with the USAF, I was sent to RAF Menwith Hill Station in northern England. I walked the Nidd on many occasions and I can honestly say it was my favorite walk. River Nidd. Wow, it's been a long time since I've seen that in print.
The London Review of Books, like its sister publication, The New York Review of Books, suffers from Trump Derangement Syndrome. Both have become so deranged, I decided this past week to not renew my subscriptions. After this article, I am reconsidering. LOL.
I can connect each "Meeting Of The Waters" in my own life, each with a most beautiful woman.
One can hardly mention northern England and not provide a photo of my favorite "dinner": a little Scotch, a roll with butter, and herring. And that's all. Okay, maybe two rolls.