The Rise and Fall of River and Rail transportation in Madison, Indiana.

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The City of Madison of 1854?

We know there was the City of Madison built in 1860 and the City of Madison of 1882, both built in Madison, Indiana, but what of the City of Madison of 1854?

The following article is taken from the Madison Daily Courier of March 10, 1854.

“STEAMER—CITY OF MADISON — We saw yesterday for the first time this beautiful craft. —the design was originated in this city but was executed by George T. Jones, Esq., of Cincinnatti.

Judging from the external appearance, (for we did not enter the cabin) Mr. Jones has never turned out a more perfect job. From keel to pilot-house, all seems to have been done in the most workmanlike manner. Some of the decorations are highly artistic and in excellent taste. The model is “easy,” and in relation to speed, we are assured that the time occupied in a trip, to New York, for instance, will not exceed three days.

This vessel is, in short, the only genuine specimen of a western steamboat that we ever saw—-on a bank draft. Persons having further curiosity may be gratified, as we were experimentally, by purchasing at the Branch Bank a check on the East. It will be issued on the new plate lately prepared at the extensive engraving establishment in Cincinnati, of which Mr. Jones has charge.—-The principal ornaments, (always excepting, of course, the Cashier’s signature!) consist of the steamer alluded to-the name, “City of Madison,” being engraved on the wheel-house-and a fine likeness of President Madison.—With the locomotive and cars, which occupy a prominent place, the check is emphatically a Madison affair, not only beautiful, but perfectly appropriate.

The West has enough of grand and picturesque scenery, and men and objects of sufficient interest to afford ample material for vignettes and ornaments, and we have often wondered why, when western bankers could just as well select that which is appropriate to their own localities, they persist in having their checks and notes covered with sad looking resemblances of Yankee schooners, southern cotton bales, and other incongruities of “the same sort.”

From the above article it can be interpreted that a boat called City of Madison was used as a model for the bank note under discussion yet, Way’s Packet Directory mentions no City of Madison before 1860 nor do we find it on any other boat list. Nowhere in our research have we found any mention of the City of Madison during this time period.

Anyone who can add to this information is welcome and encouraged to do so. We will, of course, pursue this further. A third City of Madison would add nicely to our steamboat history.



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