Middlesex Canal Association - P.O. Box 333 - Billerica,
Volume 38, No. 2 March 2000
MIDDLESEX CANAL ASSOCIATION
Date: Saturday, April 29, 2000 Time: 1:30 pm
Place: Middlesex Canal in Wilmington
This walk will cover the "ox bow," passing the boulder with grooves from canal boat towropes, the Maple Meadow Aqueduct pier and abutment as well as its quarry, and the long stretch leading north to Patch's Pond. Meet at 1:30 pm at the Wilmington Town Forest parking lot on Route 38 opposite the cable TV company, approximately 2.4 miles north of Route 128. Going south on Route 38 from Billerica or Tewksbury, the entrance is just after crossing the railroad overpass.
Trip leaders: Bill Gerber (978/251-4791 - before 9 pm), Roger Hagopian (781/861-7868)
MIDDLESEX CANAL ASSOCIATION
ANNUAL MEETING, SPRING 2000
Date: Sunday, May 21
Time: 2:00 pm
Place: Symmes Room, Winchester Unitarian Church, Main Street, Winchester (corner of Main Street and Mystic Valley Parkway)
Subject: French Odyssey - Cruising the Canal du Midi
Proprietors and Directors Martha Hazen and Bruce McHenry will present a slide show and discussion of their trip last spring by rental barge on the Canal du Midi from the Mediterranean to Toulouse. This is a wonderfully leisurely trip through the wine country of Languedoc and its charming villages and towns.
Preceding the talk will be the annual meeting of the MCA This will include reports from the officers, and proprietors will vote for officers for the coming year. Refreshments will be served after the talk. All interested persons are cordially invited to attend the meeting.
Directions: from Rte 128 take Rte 3 south to Winchester; turn left at lights onto Church Street; in approx. 1 mi., turn right onto Waterfield Rd.; at stop sign (church is straight ahead) turn left onto Mystic Valley Pkwy., then right onto Main Street.
PAL (Public Archaeology Laboratory) finished its work, we have distributed the reports, and we are now organizing to carry on to put more of the Middlesex Canal in the National Registry of Historic Places.
Robert Winters, board member, offered to make a Web Page for us. That is proceeding apace. We anticipate that a good web page should help us to recruit additional members, as well as improving our internal communications beyond our twice annual Towpath Topics and occasional flyers. The web page should be up and running in the near future.
Development of a Middlesex Canal Museum through the efforts of the Billerica Section of the Middlesex Canal Commission has accelerated. One of the mill owners at the millpond in North Billerica has offered us space for a museum.
The Canal Calendar of events among nearby Canal Societies is on the next page. This was taken from the Winter 2000 copy of the American Canals Bulletin.
The spring canal walk is coming up at the end of April. The program for our annual meeting in late May will be board members Martha Hazen and Bruce McHenry telling about their trip last year on the Canal du Midi in southern France. That should be very interesting.
Nolan T. Jones, President
April 20, 2000. National Canal Museum Spring Lecture Series: Capt. Bill McKelvey on "Railroads along New Jersey's Delaware and Raritan Canal," 7:30pm in Two Rivers Landing Auditorium. Contact: (610) 559-6613.
April 29, 2000. Justice William O. Douglas Hike, Hancock area, details TBA. Contact: (301) 983-0825.
May 5-6, 2000. Pennsylvania Canal Society spring field trip: Junata Canal. Contact: Bob Keintz (717) 697-2283, Zip Zimmerman (215) 993-5525, or Charles Glanville (610) 431-0731.
May 6, 2000. Canal Society of Ohio spring field trip tour: Ohio & Erie Canal Corridor from Clinton to Navarre. Contact: Larry Turner (330) 658-6371.
May 12-14, 2000. Virginia Canals & Navigation Society annual meeting, Richmond. Contact: Wyn Price (814) 254-2725.
May 20-21, 2000. Canal Fest, Cumberland, MD. Contact: Mary Ann Moen (301) 759-3197.
May 20-21, 2000. C&O Canal Association Continuing Hike Series. Park at Whites Ferry Saturday, Brunswick Sunday, hike from Nolands Ferry 10 am both days. Contact: Pat White (301) 977-5628.
May 23-25, 2000. Conference on River Lot restoration and development and tour of region starting from Toulouse. About £425. Contact: IWI, 20 Quayside, Bridgwater, Somerset TA6 3TA, England.
June 10-11, 2000. C&O Canal Association Continuing Hike Series. Park at Dargan Bend, hike from Brunswick Saturday, from Shepherstown Sunday, 10 am. Contact Pat White (301) 977-5628.
June 17, 2000. C&O Canal Association canoe trip from Violettes Lock to Great Falls. Contact: Carl Linden (301) 229-2398 or Ken Rollins (804) 448-2934.
June 24, 2000. Evening of Wine and Jazz with auction. Susquehanna Museum of Havre de Grace (MD), $25 admission. Contact (410) 939-5780.
August 26-27, 2000. Williamsport C&O Canal Days. Contact: Tom & Linda Perry (301) 223-7010.
September 9, 2000. Annual General Meeting, Inland Waterways International, Rochester, NY. Contact: IWI, 20 Quayside, Bridgewater, Somerset TA6 3TA, England.
September 9-10, 2000. C&O Canal Association Continuing Hike Series,. Park at Shepherstown Saturday, Dam 4 picnic area Sunday, hike from Taylor's Landing 10 am both days. Contact: Pat White (301) 977-5628.
September 9-10, 2000. Hancock (MD) Canal Days/Canal Apple Days. Contact: John Popence (301) 678-6379.
September 10-15, 2000. World Canals Conference, Rochester, NY. Contact: PO Box 227, East Rochester, NY 14445; email <triversorg at acninc dot net>.
BICENTENNIAL LECTURE RECALLS COLONEL LOAMMI BALDWIN AND HIS
by David Dettinger
A wealth of talent for a young republic was the theme of the seventh presentation in celebration of the Bicentennial Decade of the Middlesex Canal. Proprietor Dave Dettinger described the nation-wide contributions of Colonel Loammi Baldwin and his sons to the building of the infrastructure of the United States. The meeting took place on November 7, 1999, at the Baldwin I building immediately adjacent to the Baldwin Mansion and only steps away from Col. Baldwin's statue across the highway.
Col. Baldwin's achievements included much beyond his crucial role in the construction of the Middlesex Canal with which we are familiar, extending to the Charles River Bridge, the India Wharf complex, and canals in other states, along with holding many public offices. These followed his important service during the Revolutionary War. Three of his sons, Loammi, James Fowle, and George Rumford, carried on the family engineering tradition with innumerable design and construction projects throughout the eastern seaboard and eastern Canada until as late as 1888, when George died at the age of 92. Just to list some of the categories of their work gives an indication of the impact these four men had upon the facilities needed by the new country: canals, railroads, harbors, bridges, water power, fresh water supplies, and --yes-- the Bunker Hill Monument!
Sad to say, the record of Baldwin contributions came to a halt with George's death, since only two of the Colonel's many grandsons survived to maturity, and these two did not inherit his talent for engineering. However, the record of Baldwin's achievements stands out as an amazing chapter in the growth of our country.
FACTS RESPECTING UNION CANAL
[Editor's note: this somehow seems as pertinent today as it was in 1819.]
This Canal is nine miles of Merrimack River, from Blodget's Canal to Read's ferry. It comprehends six different falls, three of which are passed by Locks - which have cost near 20,000 Dollars. The other three are impassable, although much experience has been laid out upon them. If these three falls were lock'd, boats would come from Boston to Concord; the other falls on the river all having Canals at them. The Union Canal is entitled to toll on boats only. Rafts can pass in the old channel. The rate of Toll was established on the supposition that the works would cost 10, to 12,000 Dollars. But already 20,000 Dollars have been laid out - and 30,000 Dollars more will be necessary to finish this Canal and do what more is wanted at various places on the river. If all this money were laid out, the rate of toll 7 and an half cents a mile, would afford a very inadequate compensation for even what has already been expended. The misfortunes of the Middlesex Canal Corporation are well known to the public as well as its great utility. It cost 700,000 Dollars and has never had a Dividend. The Legislature granted the Proprietors two Townships of Eastern Land to assist them in improvements on the river, but the lands cannot be sold on any terms and cannot be estimated at more than 13,000 Dollars at some future period, but the Proprietors have laid out 30,000 Dollars on Merrimack river in different Canals already. It is to complete the Union Canal that the Lottery is prayed for. If granted, Leave will be obtained to sell the Tickets in Massachusetts. The money will be raised there amongst the traders and merchants, who will in this manner contribute to this object. New Hampshire will be greatly benefitted, by thus giving the LAST LIFT to these important improvements.
Many of the Proprietors of Union Canal are inhabitants of New-Hampshire.
Lottery tickets are costantly [sic] sold in Boston and the money goes away to the Southern States. Why not take advantage of a spirit of adventure that does and will exist and cannot be prevented? Why not turn this stream of waste money into a good channel? Why not allow it to be directed to a really public and useful object, that good may come out of evil? If it is an evil, Providence permits it in the World; But it is the part of wisdom to make it turn to the benefit of mankind. It is on this principle that the good and wise for the promotion of religion and learning, have so often availed themselves of the spirit of adventure that exists in the world, is incident to human nature and cannot be controled. And it is in this way that thousands who can in no other way do good to society are allowed insensibly to do it; And many voluntarily to contribute to that end who have ample means.
The Bill offered is guarded in every point.
The Managers are to be appointed by the Governor, and to give Bonds. He is to appoint Commissioners at the expence [sic] of the Canal to examine their accounts, and the Directors of the Canal are to render an authentic account of the application of the money to the object of the Bill. Surely if there ever was an occasion for the patronage, the protection and the aid of Government, it is the present.
J. L. SULLIVAN, Agent of the Merrimack Canals
June 14, 1813
NEW WEB PAGE FOR THE MCA
Proprietor Robert Winters, a recent arrival to the Board, has started developing a web page for the Middlesex Canal Association. So far, he has put the text part of the Public Archaeology Lab's report into this site, and he has plans for making the site a very useful one for MCA and other canal buffs. He welcomes any input you may have, which may be sent to the address on the web site. The address is: www.middlesexcanal.org. Check it out!! Robert will be adding more material as time allows.
THE MCA-AMC FALL CANAL WALK
by Bill Gerber
[Editor's note: Bill e-mailed this to me early the morning after the walk with the comment, "The things one does when it is 0430 and one can sleep no more!"]
It was a dark and stormy night and the rain kept coming in cells, quite hard at times. This continued into the daylight hours casting great doubt that the fall walk could be run as scheduled. At best, wouldn't the trail be a muddy mess? But the forecast called for clearing in late morning, with sunny and windy conditions to prevail in the afternoon, but also for considerably colder temperatures and showers in the afternoon of the next day. And then, about 10 AM, the phone began to ring. It was a potential participant wanting to know - decision time!
Yes, I told that person, and the next and the next - we would go as scheduled. Ahh, the pucker factor. Would the sun gods smile upon us? About an hour later there was a ray of hope, in the form of a few rays of sunshine on the recently fallen pine needles in my backyard. Even a bit of blue could be seen in the breaks in the overcast. Soon the wind picked up and more of the clouds disappeared. I put in a call to my co-leader and we agreed, this was going to work. Feeling much better, I went off for a late breakfast. Returning later, there were a few more calls to answer. Yes! This was going to work.
I made it to the meeting place at about 1:15, only a few minutes before the first of the participants. Soon Tom Raphael appeared, and then Carolyn Osterberg, respectively with details of the plans for a visitor center there, along the Concord River at the canal's summit level, and MCA sale items. It appeared that Burt VerPlanck's book of maps may have been the best-seller that afternoon. Roger too arrived as the number of participants continued to swell. I handed out the MCA brochure to each who came forward.
By the time we gathered people together to begin the walk, it appeared that there were about three dozen of us. We went to the water's edge and talked about the floating towpath, a unique feature of the Middlesex Canal and the subject of the sketch on the front of the brochure. We also called attention to the excellent Corps of Engineers map inside (our tax money at work, I trust!??), a full scale version of which was also available from Carolyn. Next, we crossed over Old Elm Street and viewed the top gate of the guard lock for the north branch, still preserved under a parking area of the Talbot Mills. We then proceeded around the North Billerica Dam, mentioning the role of the dam in supplying the water for both branches of the canal as we went. One notable addition was a new gazebo and viewing area erected by the owner of the Faulkner Mill; very nice!
On around, we began our walk along the "deep cut" portion of the south branch. Initially our progress was made a bit tedious by the brush that a landowner had piled up at the head of the trail. But once in, the trail was passable, though in much need of clearing as the brush had grown quite thick since the last time that we walked this section. But everyone seemed "game" and so we pressed on. Interestingly, as we proceeded, undoubtedly due to the recent rains, it became apparent that with a canoe and chain-saw, one could probably navigate the old canal all the way from the river to the Billerica rail-yard. Ah, with a few en route portages over rails and roads, of course.
Near the Iron Mountain building by High Street and again as we approached the Billerica rail-yard, the brush became quite thick and the trail very hard to find. No secret where it had to be as the watered canal was still beside us. But I worried about some of the older members of our entourage. But, as is fairly common, the enthusiastic members opened an adequate trail for the merely curious and so we pressed on.
Arriving at the rail-yard, we were a little surprised to see evidence of a few repairs to some of the track bed and the presence of clearly serviceable rail cars on one of the sidings. Could there be a resurgence of interest in the use of the railroads in this area? Perhaps, because the next revelation caused a considerable alteration to our plans. In years past, we have walked back to our point of origin along the mainline of the commuter railroad, visiting a local Smallpox Memorial en route. But, alas, one of the Billerica "locals" who accompanied us noted that lately the railroad "dicks" have been arresting people for trespassing on railroad property. She suggested an alternative plan, to return along Oak Street, about a quarter mile to the north of us. Most of the party headed off in that direction; however, a small contingent, thinking that we were by High Street instead of Pond Street, headed off in the opposite direction. The Oak Street route was probably about two miles long; the other route was somewhat longer! But, guardian angel to the rescue, one of the Billerica women who accompanied us lived on Pond Street, and so she proceeded home, fired up the family crew vehicle and returned to ferry people back to the starting point. Her largesse was very much appreciated.
And with that, and a few people left standing and talking amidst a few cars still in the parking lot, we ended yet another successful traverse of a section of the old Middlesex Canal.
[Bill noted in a later communication that we should acknowledge the participation of the Billerica members of the Middlesex Canal Commission.]
MCA WINTER PROGRAM FEATURES
VIDEOS OF IRISH CANAL
On February 6, 2000, MCA Proprietor and Board Member Col. Wilbar Hoxie, presented videotapes of the Ballyconnell Canal in Ireland, that he and his wife had visited recently. This canal is in western Ireland, and is now used for recreation purposes. The Hodes also visited other waterways on this trip.
THE MIDDLESEX CANAL SEAL
by Thomas Dahill
A seal was affixed to the issued stock certificates of the canal authenticating them as bona fide. The seal is exactly the same as many in use today and is comprised of two discs of bronze hinged with a handle attached to each circle; one of the circles has a reversed relief (intaglio) with information relating to the institution in question. When some soft material, i.e. wax or paper, is pressed between the two halves, an impression is made on the material. In the case of the stock impressions an additional square of paper was incorporated. Several stock certificates are in the Mogan Center archives in Lowell. At the instigation of Tom Raphael and goading of Alan Seaburg, I photographed several with a digital camera, attempting to use those which had sharp impressions. The early ones were better than later, which is strange, since the seal should not have worn. Each impression is made with a square of special paper, perhaps waxed, which is attached to the certificate by the action of embossing by the metal seal. On some are traces of red wax, indicating that the seal was used to authenticate some correspondence and a hot red wax was used in that process. The photographs were successful and I enhanced them in the computer, enlarging them and increasing the contrast. I then traced over the surface, delineating the design.
The design shows a section of the canal with a canal boat, sail and rudder oar on it, with ripples in the water fore and aft. Behind are rolling hills with two clumps of trees. In the fore is a bulby tree, a stump of a tree and rather bulby shrubs. Some indication of undulating ground is in the front. In the boat are highly simplified heads of passengers, and it must have been a popular outing for all the seats are taken. The words MIDDLESEX CANAL are on top an bottom, curved to the outer circle. The letters are separated from the inner drawing by a circle of bosses. In the sky is a rippling banner with the words CEREREM NEPTUNO ADJUVANTE. A photograph of one seal with reversed light gives the impression of the original intaglio relief of the metal seal.
Tom Raphael wishes to use a line drawing of the design for the Middlesex Canal Commission stationery and perhaps some time in the future, since the original metal seal has not surfaced, have a new seal crafted. The relief is far more handsome with its subtleties than a line presentation, but below is our best attempt to reproduce it.
COMMUNICATION FROM ROBERT FULTON
contributed by Howard B. Winkler
In the September 1994 issue of Towpath Topics, there was presented the first part of a letter written by Robert Fulton. This letter was included in a TREATISE ON INTERNAL NAVIGATION dated 1817. Fulton 's letter is continued in this issue.
The copy of the TREATISE that was available to me from the MIT library was quite poor so I retyped same using the style and spelling of the original. Any mistakes are mine alone.
For our readers who no longer have the September 1994 issue or who were not members at the time, I would be glad to furnish a copy of the text. If you have an email address, please send your request to me at <lenhow at aol dot com>. If not, please send a self-addressed stamped-envelope to me at 10 Sleepy Hollow Lane, Arlington, MA 02474-2123.
In considering the profits to accrue to a company from a canal instead of roads there is another important calculation to be made, and for that purpose I will proceed with the Lancaster Turnpike: supposing it to extend to Pittsburgh, 320 miles, on which, the carriage being at the rate now paid from Columbia to Philadelphia, (that is, 10 dollars a ton for 74 miles) the ton from Pittsburgh would amount to 42 dollars; at which price a barrel of flour would cost four dollars in carriage, an expense which excludes it from market. Thus grain, the most important and abundant production of our interior country, and which should give vigour to our manufactures, is shut up in the districts most favorable to its culture; or to render it portable and convert it into cash, it must be distilled, to brutalize and poison society. In like manner, all heavy articles of little moneyed value can only move within the narrow limits of 100 miles; but were a canal made the whole distance, and by one or more companies they might arrange the tolls in the following manner, so as to favor the long carriage of heavy articles.
The expense of man, boy, and horse, as before stated, would cost only three dollars to boat one ton of flour 300 miles. This is 30 cents a barrel; suppose then that the company received 70 cents a barrel, or seven dollars a ton, flour could then come from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia for one dollar a barrel, the sum which is now paid from Columbia; thus the canal company would gain seven dollars a ton by a trade which could never move through a road of equal length. Here we see that on canals the tolls may be arranged so as to draw to them articles of little moneyed value; and it would be the interest of the company or companies to make such regulations. But on turnpike roads no such accommodation of charges in proportion to distance can be effected, because of the number of horses which cannot be dispensed with.4 Even were the roads made at the public expense and toll free, still the carriage of one ton for 300 miles would cost at least 35 dollars. But were canals made at the public expense, and no other toll demanded than should be sufficient to keep them in repair, a ton in boating and tolls would only cost three dollars for 300 miles; and for 35 dollars, the sum which must be paid to carry one ton 300 miles on the best of roads, it could be boated three thousand five hundred miles, and draw resources from the centre of this vast continent.
But striking as this comparison is, I will still extend it. The merchandise which can bear the expense of carriage on our present roads to Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Tennessee, or any other distance of 300 miles, and which, for that distance, pays 100 a ton, could be boated on canals ten thousand miles for that sum.
As these calculations are founded on facts which will not be denied by any one aquatinted with the advantages of canals, it is the interest of every man of landed property, and particularly of the farmers of the back countries, that canals should be immediately constructed, and rendered as numerous as the funds of the nation will permit, and the present population requires; and as inhabitants multiply most towards the interior, and must extend westward, still moving more distant from the sea-coast and the market for their produce, it is good policy, and right that canals should follow them. In 25 years our population will amount to 14 millions; two thirds of whom will spread over the western countries. Suppose then that 3,500,000 dollars were annually appropriated to canals, such a sum would pay for 300 miles of canal each year, and in 20 years we should have 6,000 miles circulating through and penetrating into the interior of the different States; such sums though seemingly large, and such works, though apparently stupendous, are not more than sufficient to keep pace with the rapid increase of our population, to open a market and carry to every district such foreign articles we near the coast enjoy. With this view of the subject, arises a political question of the utmost magnitude to these States - which is:
That as our national debt diminishes, and the treasury increases in surplus revenue, will it not be the best interest of the people to continue the present duties on imports, and expend the products in national improvements?
To illustrate this question, I will state some examples of duties and the expense of carriage to prove that by keeping on the duties, and making canals with the revenue, goods, in a great number of instances, will be cheaper to the consumer, than by taking off the duties, and leaving the transport to roads.
|Brown sugar pays in duty 2½ cents a pound, or for 100 pounds,||$2 50|
|It pays for wagoning 300 miles,||5 00|
By the canal it would cost in boating 15 cents for 300 miles, consequently the boating and duty would amount to $2 65, therefore by keeping on the duty, and making the canals, sugar would arrive at the interior, 300 miles, for $2 35 the hundred weight cheaper than if duties were taken off and the transport left to roads.
|One bushel of salt, weighing 56 pounds, paid in duty,||$0 20|
|To carry it 300 miles, by roads, the expense is,||2 50|
By the canal it would cost for boating 300 miles, 7½ cents. By keeping the duties and making the canals, it would arrive to the interior consumer $2 32½ cents the bushel cheaper than were the duties taken off and transport left to roads.
|Molasses pays 5 cents a gallon duty; this is for 100 pounds,||$0 75|
|It pays for wagoning 300 miles||5 00|
By the canal the carriage would cost 15 cents, and it would arrive at the interior at $410 cents the hundred weight or 27 cents a gallon cheaper than were the duties taken off and the transport left to roads.
Numerous other articles might be stated to show that the real mode of rendering them cheap to the interior consumer, is to keep on the duties and facilitate the carriage with the funds so raised. These however may be considered as partial benefits, and not sufficiently general to warrant keeping on the duties. But there is a point of view in which I hope it will appear that the advantages are general, and will be felt without every part of the States. It is by reducing the expense of all kinds of carriage, and thus economize to each individual more than he now pays in duty on foreign articles he consumes.
Wood for fuel is an article of the first necessity. It cannot be the expense of transport 20 miles on roads. At that distance it is shut out of the market, and the price of fuel is consequently raised to the amount of the carriage. Were a cord of wood carried 20 miles on the roads, it would pay for wagoning at least 3 dollars. On a canal it would pay 20 cents. Thus on only one cord of wood there is an economy of $2 80 cents. Which economy would pay the duty.
On 14 lbs. of tea,
at 20 cents the lb duty, or
140 lbs. of sugar, at 2 cents the lb duty, or
56 lbs. of coffee, at 5 cents the lb duty, or
14 bushels of salt, at 20 cis the bushel duty, or
56 gallons of molasses, at 5 cents the gallon duty.
I will now suppose a city of 50,000 inhabitants, who, for their household and other uses, will consume 50,000 cords a year, on which there would be an economy of $140 000, a sum in all probability equal to the duties paid by the inhabitants; for the duties divided on the whole of the American people are but $2 28 cents to each individual. Here I have estimated each person to pay $2 80 cents, yet this estimate is made on one cord of wood to each inhabitant of a city. Were I to calculate the economy on the carriage of building timber, lime, sand, bricks, stone, iron, flour, corn, provisions, and materials of all kinds which enter or go out of a city, it would be five times this sum; and thus the towns and cities are to be benefitted. The farmer, or miller who lives 20 miles from a market, pays at least 22 cents to wagon a barrel of flour that distance. By the canal it would cost two cents: the economy would be 20 cts.; at least 100 miles the economy would be 100 cents, and at 150 miles it would be 150 cents. Beyond this distance flour cannot come to market by roads, yet at this distance the economy of 150 cents in the carriage of one barrel of flour would pay the duty on
7½ pounds of tea;
or 75 pounds of sugar;
or 30 pounds of coffee;
or 7 1-2 bushels of salt;
or 30 gallons of molasses.
Thus it is that the benefits arising from a good system of canals are general and mutual. Therefore should peace, and the reduction of the national debt, give an overflowing treasury, I hope you, and the majority of Americans, will think with me, that the duties should not be taken off nor diminished; for such an act, instead of relieving the people, would really oppress them, by destroying the means of reducing the expense of transports, and of opening to them a cheap mode of arriving at good markets.
To proceed with these demonstrations, let us look at the rich productions of our interior country:
Wheat, flour, oats, barley, grains,
and pulse of every description;
Cider, apples, and fruits of all kinds;
Salt, salted beef; pork, and other kinds of meats;5
Hides, tallow, bees-wax;
Cast and forged iron;
Pot and pearl ashes, tanner's bark;
Tar, pitch, rosin, and turpentine;
Hemp, flax, and wool;
Plaster of Paris, so necessary to our agriculture;
Coals and potter's earth for our manufactures;
Marble, lime, and timber for our buildings.
All of these articles are of the first necessity, but few of them can bear the expense of 5 dollars the hundred weight to be transported 300 miles on roads. Yet on canals they would cost, in boating, only 15 cents the 100 weight for that distance.
There is another great advantage to individuals and the nation arising from canals, which roads can never give. It is that when a canal runs through a long line of mountainous country, such as the greater part of the interior of America, all the grounds below, for half a mile or more, may be watered and converted into meadow and other profitable culture. How much these conveniences of irrigation will add to the produce of agriculture, and the beauties of nature, I leave to experienced farmers and agricultural societies to calculate.
In Italy and Spain it is the practice to sell water out of the canals, for watering meadows and other lands. In such cases tubes are put into the canal, under the pressure of a certain head of water, and suffered to run a given time for a fixed price; the moneys thus gained added much to the emoluments of the canal companies.
But with all of these immense advantages which canals give, it may be a question with many individuals, whether they can be constructed in great leading lines from our sea-coast and navigable rivers to the frontiers of the several states, or passes our mountains and penetrate to the remotest parts of our interior country. Should doubts arise on this part of the plan, I beg leave to assure you, that there is no difficulty in carrying canals over our highest mountains, even where nature has denied us water. For water is always to be found in the valleys; and the canal can be constructed to the foot of the mountain, carrying the water to that situation. Should there be no water on the mountain or its sides, there will be wood or coals; either or both of which can be brought cheap to the works by means of the canal. Then with steam engines the upper ponds of canal can be filled from the lower levels, and with the engines the boats can, on inclined planes, be drawn from the lower to the upper canal. For this mode of operating it is necessary to have small boats of six tons each. As the steam engines are drawn up and let down the boats on inclined planes, no water is drawn from the upper level of the canal, as when locks are used. Consequently, when the upper ponds have been once filled, it is only necessary that the engine should supply leakage and evaporation. There is another mode of supplying the leakage and evaporation of the higher levels: On the tops and sides of mountains there are hollows or ravines which can be banked at the lower extremity, thus forming a reservoir to catch the rain or melted snow. From such reservoirs the ponds of canal can be replenished in the dry months of summer. This mode of reserving water is in practice in England for canals, and in Spain for irrigation. In this manner I will suppose it necessary to pass mountain 800 feet high; then four inclined planes, each of 200 feet rise, would gain the summit, and four would descend on the other side - total, 8 inclined planes, and 8 steam engines. Each steam engine of 12 horse power would cost about ten thousand dollars, in all 80,000 dollars; each would burn about 12 bushels of coal in 12 hours, or 96 bushels for the 8 engines for one day's work.
|The coals in such situations may be estimated at 12 cts. a bushel, or||$ 11 52|
|At each engine and inclined plane there must be 5 men - total, 40 men, at one dollar each,||40 00|
|Total,||$ 51 52|
|For this sum they could pass 500 tons in one day over the 8 inclined planes, which for each ton is only||10 cents|
|Suppose the mountain to be 20 miles wide, boating for each ton would cost||20|
a ton for passing over the mountain, which will be more or less, according to circumstances. These calculations being only intended to remove any doubts which may arise on the practicability of passing our mountains.
Having thus in some degree considered the advantages which canals will produce in point of wealth to individuals and the nation, I will now consider their importance to the Union, and their political consequences.
First, their effect on raising the value of the public lands, and thereby augmenting the revenue.
In all cases where the canals shall pass through the lands of the United States, and open a cheap communication to a good market, such lands will rise in value for 20 miles on each side of the canal. The farmer who will reside 20 miles from the canal can in one day carry a load of produce to its borders; and where he lands 600 miles from one of our seaport towns his barrel of flour, in weight 200 lb., could be carried that distance for 60 cents, the price which is now paid to carry a barrel 50 miles on the Lancaster turnpike. Consequently, as related to cheapness of carriage and easy access to market, the new lands which lie 600 miles from the seaports would be of equal value with lands of equal fertility which are 50 miles from the sea-ports. But not to insist on their being of so great a value until population is a great, it is evident that they must rise in value in a three or four fold degree. Every lineal mile of canal would accommodate 25,600 acres. The land sold by the United States in 1806, averaged about 2 dollars an acre, and certainly every acre accommodated with a canal would produce 6 dollars; thus only 20 miles of canal each year running through national lands would raise the value of 512,000 acres at least 4 dollars an acre, giving 2 048 000 dollars to the treasury; a sum sufficient to make 136 miles of canal. Had an individual such a property and funds to construct canals to its centre, he certainly would do it for his own interest. The nation has the property, and the nation possesses ample funds for such undertakings.
Secondly, on their effect in cementing the Union and extending the principles of confederated republican government. Numerous have been the speculations on the duration of our Union, and intrigues have been practised to sever the western from the eastern States. The opinion endeavored to be inculcated was that the inhabitants behind the mountains were cut off from the market of the Atlantic States; that consequently they had a separate interest, and should use their resources to open a communication to a market of their own; that remote from the seat of government, they could not enjoy their portion of advantages arising from the Union, and that sooner or later they must separate and govern for themselves.
Others, by drawing their examples from European governments, and the monarchies which have grown out of the feudal habits of nations of warriors, whose minds were bent to the absolute power of the few, and the servile obedience of the many, have conceived these States of too great an extent to continue united under a republican form of government, and the time is not distant when they will divide into little kingdoms, retrograding from common sense to ignorance, adopting all the follies and barbarities which are every day practised in the kingdoms and petty states of Europe. But those who have reasoned in this way have not reflected that men are the creatures of habit, and that their habits as well as their interests may be so combined as to make it impossible to separate them without falling back into a state of barbarism. Although, in ancient times, some specks of civilization have been effaced by hordes of uncultivated men, yet it is remarkable that since the invention of printing and the general diffusion of knowledge no nation has retrograded in science or improvements; nor is it reasonable to suppose that the Americans, who have as much if not more information in general than any other people, will ever abandon an advantage which they have once gained. England, which at one time was seven petty kingdoms, has by habit, long been united into one. Scotland, by succession, became united to England, and is now bound to her by habit, by turnpike roads, canal, and reciprocal interests. In like manner all the counties of England, or departments of France, are bound to each other; and when the United States shall be bound together by canals, by cheap and easy access to market in all directions, by a sense of mutual interests arising from mutual intercourse and mingled commerce, it will be no more possible to split them into independent and separate governments, each lining its frontiers with fortifications and troops, to shackle their own exports and imports to and from the neighboring States, then it is now posible for the government of England to divide and form again into seven kingdoms.
But it is necessary to bind the States together by the people's interests, one of which is to enable every man to sell the produce of his labor at the best market and purchase at the cheapest. This accords with the idea of Hume, "That the government of a wise people would be little more than a system of civil police; for the best interest of man is industry, and a free exchange of the produce of his labor for the things which he may require."
On this humane principle, what stronger bonds of union can be invented than those which enable each individual to transport the produce of his industry 1,200 miles for 60 cents the hundred weight? Here then is a certain method of securing the union of the States, and of rendering it as lasting as the continent we inhabit.
It is now eleven years that I have had this plan in contemplation for the good of our country. At the conclusion of my work on small canals there is a letter to Thomas Mifflin, then governor of the State of Pennsylvania, on a system of canals for America. In it I contemplated the time when "canals should pass through every vale, wind round each hill, and bind the whole country together in the bonds of social intercourse;" and I am now happy to find, that, through the good management of a wise administration, a period has arrived when an overflowing treasury exhibits abundant resources and points the mind to works of such immense importance. Hoping speedily to see them become favorite objects with the whole American people.
I have the honor to be,
Your most obedient,
To Albert Gallatin, Esq.
Secretary of the Treasury.
Washington, December the 8th, 1807.
4 In my work on small canals, published in 1796, page 140, there is a table showing anode of regulating the boating and tonnage, in such a manner that a ton may be transported one thousand three hundred miles for five dollars; yet by this method canal companies would gain more toll than by any other means yet practised.
5 Animals are now driven to market 300 or more miles at a considerable expense and loss of flesh, for two principal reasons: first, the expense of transporting the salt to the interior, and second, the expense of carrying the salted meats to market.