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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
by Brian DeNeal
Remarkable achievement: Boating from Harrisburg down the Ohio
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By Brian DeNeal
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Aug. 6, 2013 6:20 p.m.
boat trip, saline river, middle fork, ohio, cave-in-rock
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The Saline River and its nearby salt licks created the earliest industry in Illinois. The river flows under the Peabody Mine Road on its way to the Ohio River at Saline Landing.
By Brian DeNeal | editor@dailyregister.com
June 7, 2013 11:16 a.m.

Who says there is nothing for the kids to do around here? Check out this daring boating adventure from 90 years ago when two teenagers took off from Harrisburg in a boat cobbled from barrels and scrap lumber to Cave-In-Rock.

From The Daily Register, June 10, 1923:

BOYS COMPLETE THEIR BOAT TRIP

A Remarkable Achievement Of Two Harrisburg Boys Down Ohio River

Readers of The Register will recall a story printed in its columns concerning the departure from Harrisburg of two small boys — Clement Ferrell, aged 13 years, and Julian Gustin, aged 15 years, sons of C.H. Ferrell and Alpheus Gustin — who left here in a small, frail boat, built by the two boys, bound for a trip down Middle Fork, Big Saline and the Ohio River, with Cave-In-Rock as their destination.

The trip was dangerous from many viewpoints. First, the boat was built entirely by the two boys, from barrel staves and pieces of lumber they gathered here and there. The two lads worked before and after school hours and at night in a work shop which they had also improvised themselves. The boat was, therefore, of a frail nature, incapable of withstanding the treacherous waves of the Ohio river. The boys were young in years and they were going on the trip alone. They were to camp out on the river banks when darkness came.

Despite pleadings from their anxious parents, the boys started on this dangerous trip one week ago yesterday. They were motored to Middle Fork, just east of this city, by the Ferrell boy's father, and the latter stood on the banks of that small stream and saw the lads glide away in all their boyish gladness.

Then came the anxious wait for news. Late that afternoon a friend called up from Equality and said that he saw the boys glide safely by that port, in high glee and happy conversation. Nothing more was heard from them until Sunday when word came from the grandparents at Cave-In-Rock that the boys had accomplished their purpose and that they had arrived safely late Saturday afternoon.

Looking at this trip of those two boys from every angle, you must admit that it was some achievement, a trip that few men would have entered on with the boat in question, but those young Americans had the true old Yankee Spirit and grit, and they glided down the old Ohio with impunity. The Ferrell boy returned home yesterday and Mr. Gustin, who went down to see as to their safety, came back home Thursday. In telling the writer of the trip, Clement said they had very little trouble. They were forced to wade and carry their small boat across two big drifts, both of which were encountered in Middle Fork, but when they reached Big Saline they had no more trouble of that nature. They stopped their boat when darkness came on Friday night about one-quarter of a mile from the old Lowery mine in Gallatin county, where they cooked their supper and had a good night's rest. They were disturbed frequently by the howl of some wild animal, but fear never entered their breasts.

"Gee, Clement, I believe I heard a panther then," said Julian about two o'clock that night.

"Lay still," said Clement, "and if he gets near we'll fix him."

Another happy snooze then followed and when the boys awoke it was almost sun-up. They arose, took a good wash and then prepared themselves a good breakfast, after which they got into the boat and paddled away for the Ohio, which they reached about nine o'clock Saturday morning. They rowed close to the shore in order to avoid the treacherous current of the Ohio and late in the afternoon they sighted Cave-In-Rock, far down the river yet, but they paddled some more and were soon being congratulated by their anxious and waiting grandparents.

A remarkable trip and a splendid achievement for two young Americans of Harrisburg.

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