United States. Inland Waterways Commission.

Preliminary report of the Inland Waterways Commission. Message from the President transmitting a preliminary report online

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considered as approximate, since complete official records are not avail-
able. Sections of rivers that might be rendered navigable are not
included, nor streams that are practicallv abandoned for navigation
])urposes. No rivers tributary to the Oreat Lakes have been in-
cluded. The rivers in the lake region are of commercial importance
only as connecting links for lake traffic or as harbors, and not for
strictly river traffic. Some tidal rivers are also used mainly as the
harbors of seaports or as channels to the open sea, and the com-
merce of such streams is largely maritime; these have been included
because there is some movement of river commerce on them, although
under present methods of compiling statistics it is often impossible
to separate the coastwise commerce. In addition to the streams
included, there are many others navigable for small boats and for
logging which are not enumerated.



Seetion.



Tributary to Atlantic Ocean

Tributary to Gulf of Mexico, exclusive of Mississippi River and tributaries . .

Mississippi River and tributaries

Flowing into Canada '

Tributary to Pacific Ocean | 38 1 , 605

Total ' 287 26, 226



Number

of
streams. «

V 142



Total
mileage.



5,311

52 ; 5,261

54 13,869

1 180



a In arriving at the number of streams in each section the following method was used: When a river
had two or more names applied to different sections of river it was counted as one river. When a river
and one or more of its tributaries were considered as one improvement they were counted as separate
rivers.

DESCRIPTION OF THE TABLES

The tables which follow distribute the navigable streams of our
country geographically into the following groups, namely:

Rivers tributary to Atlantic Ocean.

Rivers tributary to Gulf of Mexico, exclusive of the Mississippi and
its tributaries.

Mississippi River and its tributaries.

Rivers flowing into Canada.

Rivers tributary to Pacific Ocean.

These tables are divided into eight columns, showing the following
facts: Reading from left to right, in the first column appears the
name of the stream under consideration, together wath that of the
State or States in which it is situated. Where regarded as important,
and to show the varying depth and commerce of different portions of

"Shown on accompanying maps (in pocket), of which the larger was prepared in
the Bureau of Corporations to ilhistrate the tables

35



36 REPORT OF THE INLAND WATERWAYS COMMISSION

a stream, such stream has been divided into sections. In tlie second
cohimn is given the distance between the terminals of such sections,
the names of the points so connected appearing in cohimn 3. In
the fourth cohimn appears the total navigable length of the stream
so far as could be learned from official soul'ces. In the fifth column
is given the depth at low water, in feet, of the stream under consid-
eration. In case such depth varies between different points the
variation is shown in connection with data appearing in columns 2
and 3. Column 6 of the table gives the freight tonnage of each
stream by periods as reported by the Government engineers. Wliere
such commerce over different sections of the stream possesses special
characteristics, these are indicated in connection with data appearing
in columns 2 and 3. Column 7 contains the names of transporta-
tion companies operating on a given stream, but not, as a rule, the
names of individual vessel owners. Finally, in the eighth column,
under the head of "Remarks" appear striking facts connected mth a
given stream, wliich have been largely compiled from the reports of
the United States Chief of Engineers.

GENERAL PHYSICAL CHARACTEBISTICS OF NAVIGABLE

STREAMS

The physical characteristics of the more important members of the
several great natural groups of rivers are as follows :

A. Tributaries to the Atlantic. — Streams draining the Atlantic slope
descend from the highlands and mountains of the great Appalachian
system (the Green and Wliite mountains, Adirondacks, Alleghenies,
etc.) and flow into the ocean after traversing the plains and valleys
intervening between the mountainous regions and the sea. Few of
these streams connect with one another, being isolated by the topog-
raphy of the country. Of the Atlantic tributaries only one, the
Hudson River, possesses much national importance. In their geo-
graphical sequence, proceeding from north to south, the important
streams of this system are as follows: In New England may be
mentioned the Penobscot, Kennebec, Saco, Piscataqua, Merrimac,
Comiecticut, and Housatonic. Of these the most important is the
Connecticut, which in connection with Long Island Sound proA'ides a
water route between New York City, Hartford, and other points in
the State of Comiecticut. Farther south is the Hudson, wliich has
already been mentioned. Tliis river, wliich the Erie Canal unites at
Buffalo with the Great Lakes, forms a link in the vast system of
inland navigation whose extreme points are Duluth and Chicago in
the West and New York City in the East. The Hudson River, in
connection \vdth the Champlain Canal and Lake Champlain, also
affords a water route between New York City and various points in
Canada reached bv the Richelieu River and the Canadian Chambly
Canal."

The Delaware River, on which is situated Philadelphia, the Susque-
hanna, the Potomac, flo\ving past Washington, and the James,
whose head of navigation is at Richmond, 104 miles from the mouth,
are not navigable above tidewater for the reason that the four streams
cross what is known as the "fall line."'' The Potomac and James
are navigable for ocean-going vessels through improvements made

«V6tillart. La Navigation aiix Etats Unis, pp. 78-81.

6 Johnson, Ocean and Inland Water Transportation, 1906, p. 327.



NAVIGABLE STREAMS OF THE UNITED STATES 37

by the Government . Of the other numerous tributaries to Chesapeake
Bay from Maryland and Virginia those of sufficient commercial
importance to warrant mention are the Patapsco, on whose northern
bank, 11 miles from the mouth of the river, Baltimore is situated; the
York, and the Rappahannock, at the head of whose navigation, 106
miles from the mouth of the river, lies Fredericksburg, Va'

In the South Atlantic States so abundant are the small navigable
streams that for many jea,Ts they have had an appreciable effect in
influencing freight rates throughout that section. Between the mouth
of the James River in Virginia and the St. Johns River in Florida a
series of such streams are encountered, many of wliicli the Government
has more or less improved by dredging. In former years these
streams were of even greater value to commerce than now. Their
diminished importance is attributed primarily to —

the poor character of service upon them, and this both as regards their speed and
regularity; and it is also due in some measure to the fact that the railways either own
the local steamboat lines, or have agreed with the steamboat companies to di\"ide the
field of traffic by leaving to them the low-grade fi'eights.a

B. Tributaries to the Gulf. — The Gulf affluents of primary impor-
tance are different in character from the Atlantic tributaries. Devel-
oped in the vast plains and valleys of the interior, they connect wit h
one another better than the Atlantic tributaries and form together
a sj^stem of navigation of much greater importance. What may be
called the Alabama system of rivers, for example, as distinguished
from those constituting the Mississippi and its tributaries, reaches
the Gulf through Mobile Bay, and is composed of the Mobile,
Alabama, Coosa, Tombigbee, and Warrior rivers. These streams
form a navigable system of more than 1,200 miles. A more impor-
tant system of navigable rivers belonging to the Gulf group is that
fonned by the Mississippi and Ohio and their more than 40 tribu-
taries. These form a network of inland waterways of about 16,000
miles and drain the rich Mississippi Valley. Notwithstanding the
decline which of late years has taken place in certain classes of river
commerce, the Mississippi and its tributaries are now, as in the past, a
potent factor in diminishing competing railroad rates. As shown more
fully in a subsequent portion of this appendix their influence in this
respect is not confined to the traffic which moves between the trade
centers situated on the river. Important testimony on this point
was furnished by M. C. Markham, assistant traffic manager of the
Illinois Central Railroad, before the Industrial Commission. Mr.
Markham testified that the "complexities and necessities which
surround the railroads in rate making are such as to make this river
influence almost coterminous with the Rocky Mountains on the one
side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other."

Mr. Markham further declared in this connection that the Great
Lakes, the St. Lawrence, and the Erie Canal virtually dominate the
rail carriers' rates on traffic interchanged between Eastern and West-
ern States in a somewhat similar manner as the Mississippi does
traffic north and south.''

C, The Mississippi and its tributaries. — The main river is nearly
2,000 miles in length between New Orleans and St. Paid. This river
is usually divided into two sections — the upper Mississippi, stretch-

oBruce, Rise of the New South, pp. 293, 294.

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Online LibraryUnited States. Inland Waterways CommissionPreliminary report of the Inland Waterways Commission. Message from the President transmitting a preliminary report → online text (page 5 of 83)