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No 5.

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THERE was a delicious after-glow over sky and land and water as I left New Orleans for Mobile one warm evening in March, the month which, in the South, is so radiant of sunshine and prodigal of flowers. Nothing in lowland scenery could be more picturesque than that afforded by the ride from New Orleans to Mobile, over the Mobile and Texas railroad, which stretches along the Gulf line of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. It runs through savannahs and brakes, skirts the borders of grand forests, offers here a glimpse of lake and there a peep at the blue waters VOL. VIII.-33

of the noble Gulf; now clambers over miles of trestle-work, as at Bay St. Louis, Biloxi (the old fortress of Bienville's time) and Pascalouga; and now plunges into the very heart of pine woods, where the foresters are busily building little towns and felling giant trees, and where the revivifying aroma of the forest is mingled with the fresh breezes from the sea.

The wonderful charm of the after-glow grew and strengthened as the train was whirled rapidly forward. We came to a point from which I saw the broad expanse of water beneath the draw-bridge over the Rigolets, and the white sails hovering far away, like monster sea-gulls, on either side the railroad. The illusion was almost perfect; I seemed at sea. Along the channel I could see the schooners, and now and then a steamer, coming from the deep

canals that run from New Orleans to Lake Pontchartrain, and communicate with Lake Borgne. At a little pine-built village, completely shrouded in foliage, and seemingly lulled to sleep by the murmurous song of the birds and drowsy hum of the insects, a party of roystering negro men and women left the forward car, carrying banjos and guitars on their shoulders. Suddenly my next neighbor said:

"Did you see that white man thar, 'mong the niggers, with a beaver on, 'long o' that big black wench? "

"Do you think he really was a white man?"


Yes, d-n him; p'raps his heart's black, too. Looks like that big nigger was his wife."

Then the voice grumbled itself away into silence.

This somewhat deadened the romance with which I was begining to invest the journey for the mystical twilight creeping on, the strange panorama of vegetation flitting before my eyes, the sudden transition from forest to Gulf shore, and the somber calm of the horizon where blue wave seemed mutely kissing bluer sky, all combined to throw one into delightful musings. I retired to the platform of the Pullman car, and was once more giving way to the spell of the sunset, when a sharp voice behind me said.

"Cap'n, can't you sit inside, 'n let us shet the do'? The musquitoes is gitting so they bite powerful sharp."

Then darkness came treacherously and


suddenly, as it does in that strange Southern land; and we rolled rapidly through the edge of Mississippi; past the pretty Gulfside towns, where beauty and fashion fly in spring and summer-past inlet, across river, and turned landward to Mobile.

The lovely bay on which the chief city of Alabama is located extends thirty miles inland to the mouth of the Alabama river. One of the most charming promenades near Mobile lies on the Bay Shore. Bowling merrily over the shell road one superb March day, I was impressed with the tranquil beauty of the spot as never before. There was a light haze; Mobile Bay lay spread out before me, a dimly seen vision, the foreground dotted with masses of driftwood brought in by the tide, and with the long piers running out to pretty bathinghouses.

There was a strange and sleepy air of quiet about the place; a tropical luxuriance of sunshine and blossom, so strangely at variance with one's preconceived notions of March, that it was a perpetual puzzle! A gentle breeze blew steadily inland; it seemed perfume-laden. The tide was coming in. Here and there we had glimpses of long beaches as fine in their rounded sweep as Castel-a-Mare, and massive magnolias, sixty or seventy feet high, threw noble shadows over the sheeny water, from which the haze gradually lifted. Vines, water-oaks, and pines, tall enough for the masts of Vikings' ships, bordered the way. Neat residences peer

ed from rose-smothered gardens: negro women fished silently in little pools and inlets, made by the tide, never catching any fish, and seemingly content to regard the reflections of their own ebony faces in the water; their swart husbands lazily followed the muledrawn plows afield; urchins tumbled among the snags and drift-wood hauled up to dry; and goats and kids lingered and skipped distrustfully on the knolls by the roadside.


Here was a garden filled with arbors and benches in cosy nooks: in its center, a latticed café, whose proprietor was opening soda bottles, and, bare-armed, dispensing cooling drinks to customers sprawling on seats, with their faces raised to catch the inspiring breath of the sea. There was no whirr of gilded equipages; the long avenue seemed all my own; I could almost fancy that the coast was mine, the islands and the lighthouses were mine,


and that the two negro hunters, loitering by with guns on their shoulders, were my gamekeepers, come to attend me to the chase. The delicate hint of infinity on the mingled wave and haze-horizon; the memories awakened by the sight of the dim line of Blakely Coast; the penetrating perfume wafted from magnolias and pines; the soul-clarifying radiance of the sunshine, which industriously drove away the light mist, all conspired to surround me with an enchantment not dispelled until I had once more gained the streets of the town.

We are indebted to Bienville, that prince of colonial guardians, for Mobile, as well as for New Orleans. He it was who, in 1711, built the defense called Fort Condé, on the present site of the town, and who gave the name of Mobile to the bay, because the Indians inhabiting that section called themselves Mobilians. On the west side of the bay he at one time erected a fort called "St. Louis de la Mobile." For half a century the present city was only a frontier military post, carrying on a small trade with the Indians. It was French in character and sentiment, and although but few of the Gallic characteristics are now perceptible in the manners of any of its inhabitants, there are hints of the departed French in the architecture and arrangement of the town. It fell into British hands in 1763, by the treaty of Paris, between Great Britain and France, and was too remote from the other colonies to succeed in doing anything against British rule during the American Revolution.

After the British came the Spaniards, who drove out the former, and partially burned Mobile during the siege. In due time, as tract after tract was wrested from the Indians, the territory of Mississippi was formed, with Winthrop Sargent of Massachusetts as Governor, and to this government Mobile and its tributary country were accountable, after the departure of the Spaniards, until the thorough subjugation of the savage, and his expulsion from the Tennessee valley, and from his hunting grounds on the Chattahoochee, had opened the whole domain to the white man, and a portion of Mississippi territory was organized in March of 1817, under the name of "Alabama." By 1819, white settlers had flocked into the country in such numbers that Alabama was admitted to the Union.

Mobile is to-day a pretty town of thirtyfive thousand inhabitants, tranquil and free from commercial bustle, for it has not been as prosperous as many of its southern sea-port sisters. Government street, its principal residence avenue, has many fine mansions situated upon it; the gardens are luxuriant, and give evidence of a highly cultivated taste. Superb oak trees shade that noble avenue and the public square between Dauphin and St. Francis streets. The streets and shops are large, and many are elegant; but there is no activity; the town is as still as one of those ancient fishing villages on the Massachusetts coast when the fishermen are away. Yet there is a large movement of cotton through Mobile yearly. A

cotton exchange has grown up there within the last two years, and when I visited it, already had one hundred members. Mobile annually receives and dispatches from 325,000 to 350,000 bales of cotton, most of which comes from Mississippi, whose carrying trade she controls. Some of the cotton brought to Mobile goes eastward, but the mass of it goes to the foreign shipping in the "lower bay." The port needs many improvements, and the government has for some time been engaged in a kind of desultory dredging out there, but has not yet succeeded in affording at sufficient depth of water to allow large vessels to come directly to the wharves; and the lines of artificial obstruction, built across the channel of the bay during the war, to impede. the passage of vessels, have not yet been removed.



In due time, with a revival of commerce and the development of the immense resources in cotton, coal and iron in the State, the channel through the bay will be properly deepened, and Mobile will have a wharf-line along its whole front. present, however, it seems that foreign captains rather prefer to have their ships loaded from small crafts which come twenty or twenty-five miles down the bay with the cotton, as they thus avoid port dues and the danger of desertion of sailors. It costs but twenty cents per bale to convey the cotton down the harbor, and the captains, anxious to get their lading and depart, have none of the customary port delays and exactions to complain of. In 1867-8, Mobile exported 358,745 bales; in 1868-9, but 247,348; in 1869-70, sent away 298,523; in 1870-71, the number rose to 417,508; but in 1871-72, fell again to 295,629; and in 1872-73 was over 300,

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This cotton movement does not, however, make Mobile either specially rich or active as a town, inasmuch as, aside from a few manufactories of minor importance, it constitutes the sole business.

The railroad connections of the city are excellent, and her citizens are anxious to improve them still farther. The New Orleans, Mobile and Texas line gives direct communication with New Orleans and Brashear City, the point of departure of the Morgan steamships for Texas; the Mobile and Ohio road connects Mobile with Columbus in Mississippi; the Mobile and Montgomery gives it a highway to the State capital, and thence via the South and North Alabama road through the wonderful mineral region, to Decatur and Nashville. It is intended to create a road from Mobile to Tallahassee in Florida, in due time, and the city already has connection with Pensacola, the most important of the northern Florida ports. All that section of the "land of flowers" contiguous to Alabama, will doubtless be annexed sooner or later; there is a growing sentiment in both States in favor of annexation. The present route to it from Mobile is roundabout; one has to make a triangular detour from Mobile to Pollard, on the Mont

gomery road, and thence return coastward on the Pensacola and Louisville route. At present the only connection which Pensacola has with Eastern Florida is via steamers to St. Marks, and thence by rail across the peninsula to Jacksonville. Pensacola has one of the most remarkable harbors in the world; it is thirty miles long, from six to eight wide, and nearly thirty-five feet deep. The average depth on the bar at the harbor entrance is twenty-four feet. Any ship, however heavily loaded,can readily approach Pensacola at any season of the year, and can reach the open sea in a couple of hours. The harbor is safe differing in that respect from many of the Floridian ports, and is amply defended by three forts in good condition. A naval station, and boasting a marine hospital and a custom-house, Pensacola, with its four thousand inhabitants, already talks grandly of its great future. The immense quantities of fine timber which grow in lower Alabama and upper Florida, furnish an extensive lumber trade to Pensacola. The completion of the North and South railroad gives it also almost an air-line to Nashville and Louisville, and promises to make it in future one of the outlets, like Brunswick on the South Atlantic Coast, for the trade of the West.*

The Mobile and Montgomery road has done much for Mobile, placing the town upon one of the main lines of travel across the country. Two excellent bridges span the Mobile and Tensaw rivers; the old and tedious transfer by boats is done away; and to-day a stream of freight and travel passes through the city from North to South, bringing with it visitors and investors. The enterprise of of the "Grand Trunk" railroad has not yet made much headway. It is intended to give an additional route from Mobile to the mineral regions, and its completion would develop a large section. of valuable country. It will stretch four hundred miles into the interior, making new trade for Mobile,

* In 1872, eight hundred foreign ships entered Pensacola harbor, and probably a thousand come there yearly. Few come save in ballast, their object being to procure outward freights of cotton and lumber.


but it is not likely to be built at once. has been completed to Jackson, 59 miles from Mobile.

Mobile does not rank as high, as a commercial city, as in the palmy days gone by; but the peculiar advantages of her location, and the vast resources of the state, whose chief seaport she is, can but bring her a good future. At present her banking capital is small, hardly aggregating over a million and three quarters, and outside rates for money are ruinously high. There is a large and increasing capital concentrated in fire and life insurance companies; the manufactures are all of minor importance, except the Creole and the Mobile cotton seed oil works. Alabama produces nearly three hundred thousand tons of cotton seed annually, of which fully one half can be spared for sale. There is a similar prosperous factory at Selma. This industry may attain large proportions. Mobile has made active efforts to become one of the principal coffee markets of the Union, and claims that direct importation from Rio to Mobile is easier, less expensive, and more direct than to New Orleans. The retail trade of the city has been greatly injured by the establishment throughout the State


of a vast number of new stores, where the freedmen on the adjacent plantations now purchase the supplies which they once bought in bulk in Mobile. There is some hope that the city may become the coaling station for the steam navigation of the Gulf; the Cedar Keys and Florida rail

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