Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal Company.

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Canal Oumpitg*






SUbcmadc antr (Lbcsapcahc Canal (£0.


CAPITAL, $1,500,000,





The Board of Direction of the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal
Company respectfully submit the following as their Third Annual

During the past year, the contractors have prosecuted the
work with great energy and perseverance, having kept their force at
work, night and day, at the most difficult points, in the hope of get-
ting the whole line open by the present time. But the unforeseen
difficulties arising from sunken logs and stumps, which from the first
have so retarded the work, have not only continued undiminished,
but in some places have been more formidable than ever ; so that
there still remains a small quantity of excavation to be done to com-
plete the connection between the Albemarle and the Chesapeake. It
is, however, expected that this connection will be made by the 1st of
January next.

The length of the Company's line of navigation is about sixty-
five miles.

Commencing in North Carolina, at the mouth of North River, a
wide and deep tributary of Albemarle Sound, the line extends up
that river to the canal ; thence through die canal to Currituck
Sound ; thence northerly through Currituck Sound, and up the North
Landing River to the Virginia section of canal ; and thence westerly
through said canal to the South-west Branch of Elizabeth River in
the vicinity of Norfolk.

Of this line, the length of independent canal, exclusive of improve-
ments of natural water courses, is 14.10 miles, divided into two sec-
tions as follows :

In N. C, from North River to Currituck Sound . . . .5. Go miles.
" Va., through Great Bridge Swamp 8.45 "

All the residue of the line consists of natural water courses, vary-
ing in width from 200 feet to several miles.

The distance yet to be excavated to complete the connection be


tween the Albemarle and the Chesapeake, is 3,600 feet, or less than
two thirds of a mile ;* of which 1,000 feet are on the North Carolina
section, and 2,000 feet on the Virginia section.

The work on the Lock is so far advanced that it will undoubtedly
be completed by the end of February next.

The location of this, the only lock on the line, is at the junction
of the canal with the Elizabeth River. It is the largest on the Atlan-
tic coast, and the largest but two in the United States, being 220 feet
long by 40 feet wide in the clear. It is of solid cut stone masonry,
from the granite quarries of Maryland, constructed in the most sub-
stantial manner, with double sets of gates, and all the improvements
known to modern engineering. Its foundation is placed sufficiently low
to give a draft of eight feet water at lowest tides. Its capacity is suf-
ficient to pass steam propellers carrying five hundred tons, and,
being merely a tide lock, its lift is only half the rise or fall of the
tide ; usually not exceeding two feet.

On the completion of the lock there will be a continuous channel
through the entire line, and, if thought advisable, the line can be
opened for smaller class vessels by the 1st of March next. And
within the next twelve or fifteen months, the canal can be fully com-
pleted, and all the necessary improvement of the rivers and sounds
accomplished ; so that there shall be a complete navigation with a
depth of eight feet water, from the Albemarle to the Chesapeake.

In compliance with an application of the Company to the
Treasury Department of the United States, an order has been issued
to the officer in charge of the Fifth Lighthouse District, directing an
examination and survey with reference to the placing of the neces-
sary lights and buoys in the North River and in Currituck Sound. The
Superintendent of the Coast Survey, also, has detailed a party to fin-
ish the survey of the upper part of Currituck Sound, and of the
North Landing River ; which work, it is expected, will be completed
in about sixty days.

The financial condition of the Company, at the close of the last
fiscal year, was as follows :

* This was the distance on the 1st Not. inst




For Amount as $ Charter $1,500,000 00

Subscribed by State of N. C $250,000 00

" " Currituck Co 44,000 00

" " Individuals 515,400 00

Balance undisposed of 690,000 00 . . 1,500,000 00


From State of North Carolina $250,000 00

" County of Currituck 44,000 00

" Individuals 327,207 00

For Interest 7,331 00

Included in Expenditure, but not yet paid 2,074 20.. 630,612 20


Paid for Construction of Canal to date,
including Engineering Department

and Salaries of Officers $569,382 41

Paid Contingent and Office Expenses.. 10,724 20

" for Land and Land Damages 16,183 65

" Taxes 41 46

" for Steamer Calypso 1,1 99 84

" difference on Currituck Co. Bonds
received at par and sold at mar-
ket price 2,000 00. . 599,531 56

Balance of Receipts, viz : $ 31,080 64

Currituck Co. Bonds ... . 31.00000
Cash 80 64

$ 31,080 64
E. <fe O. E.

A. M. Burt, Treasurer.
Norfolk, October 1st, 1858.


Although the Canal, when completed, will be much larger than
at first contemplated, and tlic difficulties encountered in its construc-
tion have been of the most formidable character, it is now fully
demonstrated that the cost, when completed and fully equipped for
the large contemplated trade, will fall short of the authorized capital
(* 1,500,000) at least a quarter of a million of dollars.*

The Company has no debt either funded or floating^ and conse-
quently no interest accruing against it for any purpose; all the funds
for the construction of the Canal having been derived from Stock
subscriptions at par.

Respectfully submitted,

By order of the Board,

Marshall Parks, President.
A. M. Burt, Secretary.

Dated November \3th, 1858.

* The coM. of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, fourteen miles long,
was $ 3,5?6,854 38. [See Reports of that Company.]

The cost of the Dismal Swamp Canal (which required not half no much
lation as the AJbemarle and Chesapeake), was §1,152,505 23. [See Rc-
orts of the D. S. Canal Company.]


As an appendix to the foregoing Report, the Board submit the
following facts for the purpose of showing :

1st. The importance of this work as a public improvement, and

2nd. Its probable profits to the Stockholders.

This improvement completes a chain of inland navigation from
New York, southward a distance of about GOO miles. By reference
to the smaller of the accompanying maps, it will be seen that a con-
tinuous inland navigation from New York to Newbern in North


Carolina is completed by means of only 1 1 miles of canal, viz :

Delaware and Raritan Canal in New Jersey 43 miles.

Chesapeake and Delaware Canal in Delaware 14 "

Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal in Virginia and N. C. 14 "

The Canal of this company, forming the southern link in the
chain, opens an avenue, free from the dangers of Cape Hatteras, for
the large and increasing trade of that fertile region lying upon
Albemarle, Pamlico and Currituck Sounds and their tributary

This region embraces about 12,500 square miles, or 8,000,000
acres of territory ; being larger than either of the States of Maryland,
New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, or Ver-
mont, and larger than the combined area of Connecticut and
.M;i sachusetts, or of New Jersey and Delaware.

Albemarle, Pamlico and Currituck Sounds receive the watcrs^of
twenty-one rivers, and a great number of smaller navigable streams,
altogether, watering upwards of twenty fertile counties, and affording
about 1,800 miles of navigation.


The coasting tonnage of North Carolina exceeds two-thirds of her
whole commerce; and nearly three quarters, or ahout 4,500 tons, of
her whole coasting tonnage helong in this Albemarle and Pamlico
county.* This is the tonnage of vessels belonging in the territory.
The amount employed is much greater, as will be hereafter shown by
the official returns of the light house keepers.

The waters of Eastern North Carolina are shut in from the ocean
by a long narrow strip of land consisting of banks of sand thrown
up by the waves ; and for nearly two hundred miles, the only open-
ings for sea-going vessels are two intricate and changing channels,
known as Ocracoke and Hatteras Inlets. Their navigation is ex-
ceedingly dangerous, uncertain and expensive. The channels are so
shallow that most of the vessels have to discharge cargo into lighters
before they can pass the bars, and the weather must be very favorable
to enable them to get to sea at all. The usual detention is from three
to fifteen days ; not unfrequently it is twenty to twenty-five days ;
and in some instances vessels have been detained there so long that
they were obliged to return to port for a new supply of provisions.

The extra expenses caused by this detention, together with the
necessary lighterage are estimated by those engaged in the trade, to
amount to one dollar per ton of each cargo.

These inlets being south of Cape Hatteras, all vessels bound to
the north, even if so fortunate as to get safely over the bars, are yet
subjected to the perils of the most dangerous promontory on the coast
of America. There is no place of refuge for vessels, between Ocracoke
and the capes of Virginia, a distance of nearly 200 miles. And as
these inlets are about 75 miles south of Albemarle Sound, all vessels
from that sound, bound to northern ports, have to perform a voyage
of 150 miles to get at sea upon the same parallel with their starting
point, besides lightering over the bars of an intricate channel, and
encountering the dangers of Cape Hatteras, where there are un-
doubtedly more shipwrecks than upon any other part of the American

The extra insurance upon Ocracoke and Hatteras risks amounts to
about three per cent., over and above the ordinary rates.

The amount annually lost in this trade, by reason of this extra

* U. S. Treasury Reports on Commerce and Navigation.


insurance, lighterage and detention is estimated at about half a million
of dollars.

That these extra charges enhance the rate of freight and the cost
of conveyance to market, is shown by the fact that freights from
Wilmington, N. C, 120 miles south of Ocracoke, are considerably
lower than from the towns of the Albemarle.

If this enhanced freight be estimated as a tax upon produce of
six per cent, only, the actual positive loss directly chargeable to the
defects of this navigation, amounts every year to more than three-
quarters of a million of dollars, a sum only two-fifths less than the
entire cost of the construction and equipment of the new canal.

These heavy burdens have long demanded a more suitable outlet
for this trade ; and for the last forty years, efforts have been made to
induce the General or State Government to reopen Roanoke inlet
near Nag's Head. At this point, and also at another near Crow
Island in Currituck Sound, where now lie high drifted banks of sand,
were once navigable inlets ; and it has been thought by many that
these could be reopened. Within the last three years the experiment
has been tried.

Congress made an appropriation, and the reopening of Roanoke
Inlet was undertaken under the direction of the War Department.
After four-fifths of the appropriation had been expended, there was
"scarcely a trace to be seen of what had been done, the drifting sand
filling in the trench as fast as it was excavated by the dredging
machine. In fact the machine was verv near being imbed. led in the
sand, it filling in so rapidly behind it.* Under these circumstances
the able officers in charge of the work, (Lieut. Whiting, and sub-
sequently Brevet Col. Turnbull, U. S. Engineers), pronounced the
scheme impracticable, "short of an enormous expenditure altogether
disproportionate to the object," * and advised its abandonement as a
wanton waste of the public money. Col. Turnbull further reported
as an additional reason for abandoning it, that the work was no
longer even desirable, inasmuch as the Albemarle and Chesapeake
Canal would " obviate all necessity of a communication with the sea
throuyh Nay's Heady *

The scheme of reopening the closed inlets, was therefore abandon"
ed as impracticable and unnecessary. Even were it practicable, the

* Report of Secretary of War for 1857, p. 347.


cost would he enormous, at least §5,000,000, according to Col. Turn-
bull's estimate,* and after all, tliere would be no certainty of its
remaining permanent. On the contrary it is highly probable that as
the same causes continue in force, the inlets would in time he a .rain
filled up. A similar fate nndonbtcdly awaits Ocracoke and Sal
at no distant day, since it is notorious that their channels have
gradually shoaling for several years; and they must in time be
wholly closed up, or at all events become impassable for \ while

the waters of the sounds will force their way to the ocean through
the sands still further to the south.

The foregoing facts, we think, sufficiently demonstrate the
importance of this work as a public improvement.


The profits to the Stockholders will depend first on the amount
of traffic, and secondly upon the expenses of maintenance and

As to the first, the Board confidently expect the entire northward
trade of the three Soidh/s and their tributaries.

On this point there seems to be no room for doubt ; for it is
inconceivable that a navigator should be willing to encounter the
dangers, the vexatious delays, and the extra expenses of Ocracoke
and llattcras, going 150 miles out of his way, and losing from three
days to three weeks time, when a perfectly safe and far cheaper and
speedier way is open to him. The canal being specially designed for
steam towing, a vessel by this line can reach Chesapeake Bay, and
the ocean through the Capes of Virginia, in twenty-four hours from
the Albemarle; and may make her voyage to a northern port and
back home again in the same time that she would be detained at the
Inlets getting over the bars.

No argument can be necessary to prove that trade' will prefi r a
route, at once dine/, certain, cheap, and safe, to others that are in all
nspects the very opposite, — indirect, uncertain, expensive, and danger-

Another important consideration is that northward bound vessels
arriving by this line in the < 'hesapeake, have here a choice whether

* Report of Secretary of War for 1857, p. 347.


to go up the Hay and through the Canals, or to go by sea from the
Capes of Virginia ; either route being free from clanger, and from all
expenses arising from lighterage, detention, or extra insurance.

These considerations, we think, fully warrant us in counting upon
the whole of the Albemarle and Pamlico northward trade, together
with all the increase naturally consequent upon new and increased
facilities. Let us therefore inquire into the probable amount of this
trade, and of its profits to the company.

The soil, of this region is of very great fertility, yielding abundant
crops of corn, wheat, potatoes, peas, and the various other agricultural
products. Cotton is grown to a considerable extent, and its produc-
tion is every year increasing. The crop, for the present year is
estimated 50,000 bales. And it is well known that a very large pro-
portion of the naval stores used in the United States are produced in
this region. The quantity of lumber, timber and staves is very large;
and the number of shingles produced here, is immense. The fisheries
also are the most productive in the Union.

Of the amount of shipping employed in this trade an approximate
idea may be formed from the official returns of the light keepers;
who are required to keep daily accounts and to make quarterly
returns of the number and class of vessels passing their respective

Till within the last two or three years, the principal opening to
the ocean was Ocracoke Inlet. For instance, during the year 1855,
there were upwards of 5,250 passages through Ocracoke,'* wdiile the
estimated number at Hatteras was only about 1750; but lately
Ocracoke channel has become so difficult that a large majority of the
vessels now use Hatteras Inlet in preference. There being no Light
at this inlet, we are without official information as to the number of
passages through it; but we are assured by a Government officer,f on
the authority of the Pilots in these sounds, that fully three-fourths of
the sea-going vessels now pass via Hatteras.

As to the number of these vessels, we can get a sufficiently correct
idea by aggregating the returns from the Lights at Croatan and N.
W. Royal Shout, since all vessels from the Albemarle, whether for
Ocracoke or Hatteras, must pass the former, while most of those from a

* Lighthouse returns for 1 855.

f Capt. Crawley, overseer of Buoys in North Carolina.


southerly direction, pass the latter. Wc are, however, informed by
the same officer that a considerable number of vessels from Hyde
county, going to Hatteras, do not pass sufficiently near any Light to
be recorded.

The returns from the two above mentioned stations for the present
year (1858), foot up as follows:

First Quarter 1,229

Second " : 1,342 .

Third " 1,298

Total for three quarters. . . .3,869

To these returns it is safe to add 25 per cent, for vessels passing
in the night, or otherwise unseen by the light keepers. Add 25 per
cent, to the above, and we have 4,836 vessels for the first three quar-
ters of the year ; and assuming that the fourth quarter will average
with the other thiee, we can add 1,612 more, making a total of 6,448
for the year. Supposing them to average 125 tons each, the result
is a total of 806,000 tons. The proportion of this that goes north-
ward is estimated to be fully three quarters, or 604,500 tuns.

This is more than double the tonnage of the Delaware and Rari-
tan Canal, other than its coal tonnage, upon which that Company
received for the year 1857 tolls amounting to $128,586 25.*

It is more than two thirds the tonnage of the Welland Canal for
1857; upon which the tolls amounted to $232,437 18 ;f and it is
more than two thirds the tonnage, other than coal, of the Chesa-
peake and Delaware Canal, where the tolls for the year 1857 were
$229,081 33.J

If, therefore, our tolls be fixed at the same rates as those of the
Delaware and Raritan Canal Company, they should amount to up-
wards of $257,000 per year.

At the rates charged upon the Welland Canal, the amoun' would

• Information obtained at the Delaware and Raritan Canal Office, Prince-
ton, N. J.

f Information obtained from the Welland Canal Office, St. Catharines.
Canada West.

$ Information deduced from the Annual Report of the Chesapeake and
Delaware Canal Company, for the year ending June 1, 1857.


be about $155,000 per year; and at the Chesapeake and Delaware
rates, about $152,000.

To these estimates must be added the business that has heretofore
passed through the Dismal Swamp Canal ; inasmuch as that canal is
so notoriously insufficient for the wants of the trade that its entire
through business must inevitably be diverted to the new route. The
small capacity of that canal, its insufficient supply of water, the num-
ber and diminutive size of its locks, and, above all, its connection with
the dreaded " Moccasin Track," requiring sometimes eight to ten
days to make a trip of fifty miles, constitute objections to that route
too serious to admit of any doubt on this point.

The tolls received by that company for several years, have
amounted to upwards of £40,000 per year. *

The foregoing estimates, it will be observed, are based only upon
the northward trade of the Albemarle and Pamlico country; which
is estimated at three fourths of the whole. But we see no reason to
doubt that even southward bound vessels can ordinarily get to sea
through this line, and by the capes of Virginia, in less time than by
the Ocracoke or Hatteras route, to say nothing of diminished ex-
penses and entire freedom from danger. Should this expectation be
realized, it would increase the amount of tonnage to about the same
as that of the Welland Canal ; upon which, as we have seen, the tolls
for 1857 amounted to 8232,437 18. At Delaware and Karitan rates,
the amount would be upwards of $334,000 per year. This, it must
be remembered, is from tolls alone.

But in addition to tolls, this Company is authorized to derive reve-
nue from towage ; and the Canal having been constructed with sole
reference to steam towing, it is expected that the receipts from this
source will be nearly, if not quite, equal to those from tolls.

As to the expenses of maintaining and managing the canal,
when completed, this line will have vastly the advantage over any
other canal in the United States, or so far as we know, in the world.
The water surface being every where lower than the adjoining coun-
try, there are no embankments, and of course can be no breaks ; there
are no aqueducts, dams, waste weirs, culverts, nor guard gates ; no
towing path ; only three bridges ; and but one lock. The lock being

* Annual Reports of the Dismal Swamp Canal Company to the Board of
Public Works of Virginia.


built of soli.! masonry, in the most substantial manner throughout,
there is nothing about it that can ever fail or need repair but the
gates, and these being made of the best materials the country affords,
and in the best manner, will not probably require any repairs for
years. The location of the canal is such that no damages can ever
occur from freshets ; nor, on the oilier hand, can there ever be any
difficulty arising from want of water; for the canal is in fact a mere
extension of the natural water courses with which it connects, (its level
being fixed at mid tide), and it will have for feeders the Albemarle
and Pamlico Sounds at one end, the Elizabeth River and Chesapeake
Bay at the other, and through them, the Atlantic Ocean at both.
Under these circumstances, there can be no doubt that the necessary
expenses of maintaining this canal, in comparison with others of simi-
lar magnitude, will be unprecedentedly snvdl.

The Company also hold the tract of land, consisting of about 0,000
acres, traversed by the Virginia section of the canal ; the whole of
which is covered with valuable wood and timber. The quantity of
wood is estimated at 250,000 cords; worth, standing, one doll ir per
cord. And if the opening of the canal shall have the effect of drain-
ing this tract, as in all probability it will, the land when cleared will
be of the most valuable description for farming purposes.

Taking as a basis of calculation the estimated business done upon
the Ocracoke and Ilatteras routes, together with the known business
of the Dismal Swamp Canal, the following table exhibits a fair esti-
mate of the tolls that, may be expected to be received upon the new
route, when completed and in full operation.




Cotton, bales

Fish, barrels

Naval Stores, barrels

Corn, bushels

Wheat, do

Peas, do

Potatoes, do

Timber, cubic feet

Lumber, sup. do



Wood, cords

Fresh fish and vegetables .








Tolls on Exports .


Total tolls for year

Estimated expense of maintain ingcanal

Net revenue for year


. 810,000

. 5,000

. 6,000

. 25,000»

. 5,000


. 2,000

. 20,000

. 10,000

. 10,000

. 25,000

. 25,000

, . 2,500

. . 15,000



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