Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, Sept. 28, 1882:
About a week ago, the officers of the road at this end decided that it would be the proper caper to invite the head officials to come down from Cleveland with their wives, and make up an excursion party for the trip. No sooner was this brilliant idea conceived than steps were taken to put it into execution. The officers at Cleveland were notified, and asked to name the day. The, in the vernacular of the vulgar, "caught on big," and named Wednesday. This caused lively work, but the vessel was inspected in time and given permission to go. Yesterday morning the Cleveland people arrived; steam being raised, the vessel moved to the upper wharf, and a tribe of Zulus for a short time were busy carrying on ballast in the shape of baskets and boxes. Shortly before 3 o'clock, the bell tapped for the last time, Capt. M. R. Wolf shouted to "let her go," and Capt. Dillon began to spin the wheel around in the pilot house. The steamer not being intended for passengers has no cabin, only a small texas and on top of it the pilot house. The texas was reserved on this occasion for the ladies' dressing room, while the space aft of the boilers and forward of the engines made a splendid cabin, it being intended for an office. It was handsomely decorated and fitted up yesterday.
The head of the trim little craft being turned down the river, a look was taken around to see who was present. The following were noted down: Superintendent Wm. Thornburg and wife, General Freight and Passenger Agent W. H. Grout, Chief Engineer C. M. Barbour and wife, Master Mechanic W. A. Stone, Treasurer C. L. Cuttler and wife, Auditor W. H. Parke and wife, Train Master M. G. Smith and wife, all of Cleveland; U. S. Surveyor of the Port, A. H. Beach, General Agent A. J. Baggs and wife, Mrs. Capt. M. R. Wolf and daughter, Wm. Alexander, Esq., Dr. Fisher and wife, J. G. Brannum and wife, Mine Superintendant J. E. Waters, Misses Lide Holloway and Carrie Rhodes, and Messrs. John and E. F. Chapman, all of Bridgeport. Wheeling was represented by Sweeney & Son (A. J. and John) and their wives.
The time was first taken up in inspecting the boat. The speed she developed surprised everyone. From the time the line was cast loose in the afternoon to the time of her return to the wharf, after dark, the time was exactly five hours and fifteen minutes. During that time a distance of fifty-two miles was covered, and never was the steam over 140 pounds. The boat shot through the water, sending the spray flying. The machinery was greatly admired by the Cleveland gentlemen and the Messrs. Sweeney were justly proud of it. The general appointments of the steamer are very complete and pleased all. The Cleveland people were pleased with everything – the boat, its workings, the beautiful scenery etc., etc. During the time that had been taken up examining the boat, a transformation had taken place in the cabin. Tables had been spread and a magnificent supper laid out by Rolf, a caterer known to all of our epicures. The bracing air of the river had whetting the appetites of all, and the good things were quickly put away, as fast as they were served. After supper General Agent Baggs called Supt. Thornburg to the chair, and General Beach was made Secretary. Mr. Baggs then said he had a pleasant duty to perform, at the request of a lady who was unable to be present – Mrs. President Oscar Townsend, after whom the boat had been named. Mr. Baggs said he would preface his remarks by reading a letter he had received, which was as follows:
CLEVELAND, September 27, 1882.
MY DEAR SIR: -- I greatly regret that circumstances beyond my control prevent my joining in your excursion to-day. I beg to send the flag of our country which I trust may float above the beautiful craft on all proper occasions for long years to come. Please present my regards to her officers and crew, and assure them of my desire to take a ride upon their boat at an early day.
Truly your friend,To Capt. A. J. Baggs, Bridgeport, O.
MRS. LIZZIE TOWNSEND.
In a few well chosen words, Captain Baggs then presented the beautiful set of National colors he held in his hand to Captain Wolf. Hon. Ross Alexander was called on to respond for Capt. Wolf, which he did in his usual graceful manner, expressing not only thanks for the flag but expressing the hope that it might not alone wave over the steamer but over this glorious country for ages to come. Colonel Grout was called on and spoke of the road, its advancement, its prospects and future. Wm. Alexander, Esq., spoke of the time when this road was projected (fifty years ago as a canal) by public spirited men who have now passed away. Ex-Mayor Sweeney made one of his characteristic and pleasant off-hand speeches, and a word or two was gotten from Capt. Dillon. By this time the boat was nearing Wheeling, and the excursion closed with three cheers for Wheeling, three for Cleveland and three for the ladies.
Nearly all the Cleveland parties returned last evening on a special train.
Service provided by the staff of the Ohio County Public Library in partnership with and funded in part by the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation.