Indiana. General Assembly.

Documentary journal of Indiana 1839 (Volume yr.1839) online

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or THE











Report of Fund Commissioners, . 1

14 Board of Internal Improvements, . 13

Fund Commissioners relative to state bonds sold, 127

" Commissioners of Michigan road, . . 132

Fund Commissioners relative to D. Burr's defalcation, 139

sale of state bonds, 141
Mr. Ewing of Allen, from a select committee, relative to

Wabash and Erie Canal, . . f 149

Treasurer of State relative to interest on state bonds sold , 153

" Branches State Bank of Indiana, 157

Fund Commissioners relative to Dr. Coe, 189

Minority of committee on canal fund, . . 190
Majority ... .192
Fund Commissioners relative to expenses of the Board

of Internal Improvement . _ 199
Fund Commissioners relative to interest on State Bonds 207
Chief Engineer, cost of repair on M. & I. R. R. 220
" Com. on Roads and Canals . . 223
Chief Engineer in relation to surveys on the Erie & Mi-
chigan Canal ... 231
Fund Commissioners relative to sale of State Bonds 250

interest on " 253

" J. H. Cravens ... 255
Fund Commissioners relative to debts due Indiana from

Morris Canal &c. . . 267

Mr. Chamberlain, Com. on Corporations . 271

" . Mr. Cathcart . . 276

" .' President of State Bank . ' '. 284

Fund Commissioners in relation to companies indebted

to the State for bonds sold . 291

Fund Commissioners, showing expense of F. C, 295


or THE


05" THE






To the General Assembly of the State of Indiana:

The supervision of the public works of the state, being placed in the
hands of the new Board, created by the late modification act, the pre-
paration of the 4th annual report devolves upon them; and in confor-
mity with usage, and in obedience to law, the Board beg leave to sub-
mit for the examination of the General Assembly, a summary, yet some-
what detailed account of their proceedings.

On the 4th of March last, the day appointed by law for the organi-
zation of the new Board, the members met at the seat of government,
and having each given the requisite bond, and taken the oath of office,
they organized and proceeded to business.

Noah Noble was elected President of the Board, and James Morri-
son was appointed Secretary, with a salary of six hundred dollars per

The reorganization of the several corps of Engineers was commen-
ced, by the nominations made by the Chief Engineer, in the grade of
Residents, in which grade there has been a reduction of four — diminish-
ing that branch of the expense at the rate of $6,000 per year. To af-
ford the Chief Engineer time to fill up the corps on as cheap a basis as
the public service would permit, the nominations below the grade of
Resident, were deferred until the June meeting of the Board, at which
time the organization was completed.

The euperintenHpnrp nf lhp. various works was apportioned among
the several members ef the Board, as follows:

To Samuel Lewis, the work on the Erie and Michigan canal; the
Wabash and Erie canal, including all the work on that line to Coving-
ton; the work on the Indianapolis and Lafayette M'Adamized road
from Crawfordsville to Lafayette; and the duties pertaining to the sales
and collections on canal lands.

To John A. Graham, the Southern Division of the Central canal;
the New Albany and Vincennes road; the improvements at the Rap-
ids of the Wabash; and the work on that part of the Jeffersonville and
Crawfordsville road, between Salem and New Albany.

To Noah Noble, the Cross-cut canal; the JefFersonville and Craw-
fordsville road north of the National road ; the Northern Division of the
Central canal ; the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad ; and the White-
Water canal.

On referring to the law^under which the new Board was created,
for a specification oi the duties imposed upon them, the authority
^ iven for their execution, and the objects to be attained by its enact-
ment, the Board found them of a highly responsible, difficult and
delicate character; and more so, as many of the provisions of the act


are so obscure and ambiguous, as to mislead especially those unacquain-
ted with the condition and the amount of work under contract- and
thereby create expectations not to be realized. Taking the sections
of the act separately, the object would appear to be that expressed in
the title— "to modify" the system so far as to have finished at once, a
portion of the works; and in looking for the powers and means to be
employed for the accomplishment of so desirable a purpose, they would
seemto be given, in the discretion to be exercised in the.application of
the public funds to the more prominent works, and in the privilege of
compounding, cancelling, and transferring contracts already enteredtnto;
but when those seemingly ample powers are examined, in connection
with each other,they will be seen to be so incumbered with conditions
and prohibitory clauses, as to render them almost inoperative, and in
some instances altogether so.

According to their uuderstanding of its leading requirements, and
the powers conferred, the Board consider that the act contemplates,

First — The reduction and restriction of the annual expenditure to
one and a half million of dollars, including superintendence and all oth-
er expenses connected with internal improvement.

Secondly— On deciding what works shall be urged forward, the
Board is directed to apply or concentrate the public money upon such
as will best promote the agricultural and commercial interest, and
yield a revenue to the stale the earliest day, so as to relieve the public
irom taxation; but the Board are at the same time prohibited from
taking any step that would jeopardize the final completion of the pub-
lic works provided for by the Internal Improvement act of 1 S36. And,

Thirdly— As a part of the means, and in fnrtherance of the object-
that of completing a portion of the works— the Board are authorized
to compound, cancel, or transfer the existing contracts from one work
to another, upon tho condign tW tho oo„!. u ,i„, a nxJU i d conS ent to
it; but no transfer is allowed that will either diminish or enlarge the
appropriations made for each work in 1 836.

With this view of its conflicting provisions, and with a knowledge of
the obstacles to be surmounted, the Board entered upon the execu-
tion of the trusts confided to them, and from convictions of duty as
well from a concurrence generally in the design of the Legislature
determined as far as practicable to carry out, what appeared to them
a leading principle, that of finishing the more important and profitable
works, as early as the means placed within their power would permit-
but it was not without apprehensions as to the result, knowing that the
act to be taken for the guidance of the Board, with its lame and con-
dieting provisions, was the offspring of conflicting views and feelmes
in the Legislature after a failure by that body to specify the works to
be nrst completed.

*u T of ? fS r thing t0 be ascertain ed, was the amount of the liabilities of
the Mate for outstanding contracts -upon what works, and at what
points; and the following is the result of the inquiry, ns furnished bv
previous reports, viz: * * ' - ,cu u -'


Amount of Contracts on Wabash and Erie Canal —

East of Fort Wayne - - $136,542

Above Fafayette - - - 272,178

On old line - - - 17,781

Lock in Delphi Darn - - - 39,167

Letting at Covington - - - 141,005
fVhite-zvater Canal —

Below Brookville - - - 34,422

Letting above same to Cambridge - - 520,258
Central Canal —

Above Evansville - - - 51,31)5

Last year's letting, deeo cuts &c. - 443,744

Below Bluffs .-.- 101,010

Due on 1st lettings at Indianapolis - 13,728

North of Indianapolis - - * 3 if 0,188
Cross-cut Canal —

At Terre-Haute - - - 228,308

Erie and Michigan Canal - ' - - 270,523

Madison and Indianapolis Rail Road - - 86,921

JYew Albany and Vincennes road - - 335,098

Jeffersonville and Crawfordsville road - - 155,834

Above Greencastle ... 77,562

Road north of Crawfordsville - - 77,970

New Albany to Jeffersonville * - 27,411

Making in all $3,414,121
With this large amount of unfinished contracts standing in the way,
scattered over seven distinct lines, and at some eighteen different
points — one-third of them unconnected with others, the question sug-
gesting itself to the Board was, how can they pay off these contracts
with one million and a half per year, (absorbing the whole amount
appropriated for more than two years to come, if applied to existing
contracts,) and at the same time execute the other great object con-
templated, that of lessening taxation by finishing the most profitable

To this an answer might seem to be at hand, in the grant of power
to transfer and cancel contracts; but upon that, from a knowledge of
the then condition and past progress of the works, the Board could not
rely. The contracts upon the detached lettings and elsewhere, in
many instances, were in the hands of citizens of the immediate vicini-
ty of the works, who, instead of assenting to a postponement or trans-
fer, would oppose any relaxation of operations on their fovorite work;
and in addition to that feeling, the Board saw that the restrictions pla-
ced upon them in those provisions of the act that forbid the taking oi
any step that would interfere with the original appropriations made to
each work, or any thing calculated to "jeopardize" the completion of
ail the works named in the act of 1836, would prevent any valuable
result from the proposition to "cancel and transfer," when not only the
assent of the contractor was first necessary, but the terms and rate of


compensation were in his power. Bat whilst the board entertained
these doubts, their judgment approved the object of the law, their duty
prompted them, and an order was accordingly made for transfers from
the Cross-cut canal to the main Wabash line; from the work at Cov-
ington to the same point; from the letting north of Greencastle; from
the Jet t ting below Indianapolis to the main line of the Central Canal
fiorth'ofthe same place; and from the lock contract north of the Cum-
berland Road on the White-water canal, to the main line below. The
success of the efforts made in this matter, will be found in the annex-
ed reports from the commissioners whose duty it was to execute the
order of the Board.

The Board next proceeded to the designation of the objects, and to
the apportionment of the annual allowance of 1,500,000 dollars, and
in the performance of that duty, they encountered perplexities like
those before alluded to. With that sum, unincumbered with other
claims upon its application, three prominent works could have been
finished in two years; but whilst there existed so large an amount of
liabilities for previous contracts, such a disposition could not be made,
without a disregard of the rights of contractors, so cautiously guarded
by the late act; and on the other hand, it applied to the payment of
existing contracts, the whole amount would be exhausted for more
than two years, and the other great object, the completion of a part of
the work*, would be defeated. Under such circumstances, taking the
middle ground, the Board made the following apportionment of the
annual allowance of a million and a half, giving preference to the more
important works, keeping in view, as near as could be, the unfinished
contracts on each, viz:

"Resolved, That the acting commissioners be severally restricted in
their expenditures for the current year, to the sums and on the works
hereafter named, including every expense whatever, to wit:
Wabash and E. Canal E. of Ft. Wayne . #yo,UUU

« « North of Tippecanoe 103,000

" « North of Lafayette . 55,000

Lock at Delphi . 4,000

Other purposes . 22,000

u a

White-water Canal below Brookville . 34,000

« " Above Brookville . 240,000

Central Canal — Indianapolis . . 13,500

" » Andersontown . . 125,000

« « Noblesville . . 35,000

« « Martinsville . . 25,000

Evansville Div. . . 51,000

Petersburg!! . . 140,000



Cross-cut Canal .... 70,000

Erie and Michigan Canal . . . 100,000

Madison and Indianapolis Rail Road . . 65,000


Vincennes Road
Jeflersonville to New Albany

North ofCrawfordsville
Covington (canal)











Finding the work going on at the eighteen different points, wilh un-
finished contracts to the amount of the $3,414,000 to be paid for as
the work progressed, without driving the contractors from the lines by
withholding the money, the foregoing application was the nearest ap-
proach to modification and the early completion of a part of the works,
that the new Board could make. Had the act authorized the Board
to discontinue the operations upon the less valuable works for a while,
and to pay the contractors for their disappointment and losses, upon
those equitable principles that would apply to contracts between neigh-
bors, the Board would have made a more profitable disposition of at
least $700,000 of this year's allowance; and as it turns out it would
have been much better for the contractors; but having no such autho-
rity delegated by the act, and the transfers being entirely at the option
of the contractors, a more profitable disposition could not be made of
the funds.

With this communication the Board will lay before the Legislature
the annual report of the Chief Engineer, and it will be found to con-
tain much useful information at so important a crisis in the affairs of the
state. For all those matters of valuable detail belonging to, and to be
derived from the files of his department, and from his experience and
knowledge of the condition of the lines, reference may he had to that
document; and particularly as regards the cost of the various works
from one point to another, the total cost, and the sum yet required to
render them available.

The several members in their character as Acting Commissioners,
having prepared a report of what has been done on the several works
in their respective districts, with all the minutiae of their proceedings,
the Board will annex them to this communication. That plan will
relieve the Board from making farther comments, and from a repeti-
tion of the particulars in reference to each work; and they beg leave
also to refer the Legislature to these documents for any information in
addition to that acquired from the report of the Chief Engineer, and
for such as has reference to accounts, and which may not not be found
in this report.

As will be perceived, the Wabash and Erie Canal from Lafayette on
the Wabash, to the Ohio line, is nearly completed, requiring only labor
to the value of ,$163,000, to prepare it for navigation between
those points, a distance of 144 miles, which if the means can be pro-
^idedy may be accomplished by June next. The time for the comple-


lion of the woik on this line expiring this fall, and that being the
more prominent line, it was not laid under the same restrictions as
other works, in the distribution of the limited expenditure for the
year. There is now however some reason for the apprehension,
that we are to experience a most unexpected delay in the use of this
work, and from an alleged cause, which at this late hour cannot but ex-
cite surprise and regret. It will be recollected that in the location of
the Hue from Fort Wayne to the Ohio state line, two levels or lines pre-
sented themselves; the lower onp, on the plan of taking in the Mau-
mee river as a feeder, which would supply the line with water beyond
the Ohio line; and the upper level, relying upon the St. Josephs as a
feeder, which would barely afford a supply in the dry season to the
state line. With a full knowledge of all this, the Engineer of Ohio,
Mr. Ferrer, a highly competent officer, selected the upper level, having
formed his plan for a reservoir to feed with, to a point in Ohio where
the supply was sufficient. Upon this plan Ohio proceeded in her en-
gagement with this state to construct her division of the canal, and the
work was accordingly put under contract. Having assurances from
the proper officers, that her part of the canal should be ready during
the next year, we have expended money freely and largely, and have
our pa rt of the line nearly complete. It is said however, that the plan
of Mr. Forrer has been changed since the work was let, and that a
different line is to be adopted for a distance of some twelve miles, and
that the work is to be let anew; and if so, it will require some time for
its performance. The consequence of such a step, would be that our
commerce would be locked up for some time to come, and that the state
will sustain a loss of no little importance, after paying out so
large a sum to constrnct our part of the work. For a better under-
standing of the s tfl/Jecf j tbc Legislature is reierred to tne correspond-
ence of the Chief Engineer, to be found connected with his report.

The last and the present seasons being so dry that the water of the
streams was reduced much below the measurements before made;
and the Northern Canal being dependent upon reservoirs for sup-
port, some doubts were excited of the sufficiency of such a supply; and
it was deemed best to send a party to ascertain the quantity before the
farther prosecution of the work, the results of which, not being yet
known, will be communicated to the legislature, when received. For
what has been done on the other lines in Mr. Lewis' district, his report
will shew. The other branch of the public interest placed in his care,
that relating to the canal lands, will be found exhibited in such form as
to famish a proper understanding of the subject.

The Board has to acknowledge, with a mixture of regret and mor-
tification, that another year has passed, without any valuable progress
in the improvements at the rapids of the Wabash; and what heightens
the feeling of disappointment, is the consideration that the change in
matters of finance has shorn us of the means for renewed efforts. That
work is not under the control of the Board of this state nor of Illinois,
but of the joint Commission of the two states, acting upon their own
responsibility, and not bound by an order from either Board withou*


\he concurrence of the other. Being an improvement interesting to
an extensive and productive district of each state, and holding in check
a heavy and valuable commerce, this Board would gladly have seen
the work go on. The Commissioner Mr. Graham, on our part, has re-
cited the causes of delay, in his report.

The New Albany and Vincennes road being metalled to Paoli, gates
will be put up for the receipt of tolls; but as there is no law imposing
penalties for evading their payment the Board will need the aid of fur-
ther legislation. Mr. Graham's report will detail what has been done
on the balance of this and the other lines in his district.

In extinguishing the contracts on the Cross-cut Canal, and directing
the application cf the funds allotted to it, the Board aimed at an early
use of the water power, dispensing with the locks. To attain that ob-
ject additional work will be required to the amount of $91,000.

The feeder line of the Central Canal at Indianapolis was filled in the
spring, and now supplies power for hydraulic purposes at that point.
The first dam for the Muncietown feeder and the one at the Bluffs, will
be left secure with a few days' more labor.

In July the navigation of the While-water Canal was permanently
opened, and the line to Brookville is well prepared for the winters frosts
and floods. The exposed work at Lawrenceburgh will be placed be-
yond the reach of danger, if not arrested in a few days. The bridge
over the pool of the dam at Harrison is well advanced ; and the founda-
tions and abutments of the dams and aqueducts above Brookville are
left with strength sufficient to withstand the dangers to which they are

By an order of the Board the Railroad has been leased for one year
from the first week in June for 60 per cent, of the receipts, the contract-
ors being liable for the expenses of the officers, fuel, and other contin-
gencies. The distance from the depot at the top of the hill near Madi-
son to Vernon, 20 miles, is performed in une Iiuur c.uJ a quarter. One
trip is required each day, and when the business justifies it, two trips are
made per day, making 80 miles. No accident has yet occurred.

The June letting on this road covers a distance of 29 miles to Edin-
burgh, the contract prices being much below former prices, averaging
for grading and bridging, about $9,874 per mile. The whole length
of line now occupied, finished and unfinished, amounts to fifty-seven
miles and a half.

Upon the road north of Greencastle the structures and materials will
be left in an advanced and safe condition. For all other details per-
taining to the lines in Mr. Noble's district, the desired information may
be acquired by a reference to his report to the Board.

The following is a condensed view of the year's operations:
Amount of work done and paid for from 1st March

to 31st Oct. is $986,732 U

To this add amount expended by the old Board from

1st Dec. to 1st March 399,595 69



Amount of work done by contractors since the sus-
pension and for which the state is indebted $705,000''
Amount of unfinished contracts 1st Dec. last was 3,414,000
Unfinished contracts the 31st Oct. besides the R. R»

letting, a balance of 1,778,155

Letting on Railroad in June 285,000

The sums reported as paid out by the old and new Boards will not
agree with the charges of the Fund Commissioners against the Board
of Internal Improvement, because Messrs. Clendenin, Maxwell, and
Johnson have not settled, so as to include what they paid out from 30th
Nov. to 1st March, and because the disbursements and estimates made
Bincethe 31st Oct. the time of closing the accounts cf the new Board
by law, are not brought into the report now made, but will come in
under the next quarterly report.

For a farther, more specific, and satisfactory view of the subject the
table marked A. has been prepared by the Board, exhibiting the pay-
ments made by the old Board to 1st March; payments since made for
construction, superintendence and damages; the amount of debts due
contractors and others; the amount of old contracts unfinished to 31st
October; and the amount of contracts made this year.

From the amount of contractors' claims for work performed it will
be sean that, with the suspension of the works, we have another evil
brought upon us, of no trifling magnitude; that of being largely in
debt to contractors. To guard against or prevent its accumulation
by an authorized line of conduct towards them, would have been gra-
tifying; but being anxious to finish their jobs without breaking up their
force, hoping every month for some relief; having no means to pay
their hands if discharged, and in many instances being encouraged, as-
sisted and urged on by citizens of the vicinity, they were induced to

The Board has however, recently issued the annexed order, with
directions in an imperative shape, requiring the contractors on all the
lines to cease their operations with the exception of those engaged in
jobs that are yet to be preserved by additional work, and with the ex-
ception of the Wabash line above Lafayette:

"Ordered, That, with the exception of the Wabash Canal from La-
fayette to the state line, and the dams on other works yet to be pre-
served; the work at Lawrenceburgh and bridge at Harrison; the Pub-
He Works be immediately suspended; and that the Chief Engineer be
requested to give the necessary orders to the Engineers in charge of
the same.

And it is further ordered, That the Chief Engineer be requested to
take such steps as will by the first day of December, reduce the corps

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