Leon George Kranz.

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saying that, if for any cause commerce had deserted these once
uHoful waten^'ays with no rational hope of returning, the ques-
tion of a proper policy was forced upon the State, which must
be met.*^

In 1S72 the Ix^^islature gave Hinghamton the right (chap-
ter 787) to use as a s(n»et that portion of the Chenango canal
lying iM^twccn the north end of I'rospect avenue and the south
side of Susquehanna street.

During 1873 and 1874 expenditures, being confined to the
absolutely necessary' repairs of breaches and patching of locks
and bridges, were much less than for preceding years, despite
the serious damage of a flood in 1873, which the auditor had
asserted would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair.
In line with this economy, the canal was placed in charge of one
sui)erintendent instead of three, by rosointion of the canal board
on January 21, 1874.

At the election of 1874 the people approved the constitutional
amendment, which permitted the sale, lease or other disposition

^AmmwiMy Dfaom mon tn^ 1872, Nt>. fiG, pp. 06-96.

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The Chenango Canal. 693

of the canals of the state, except the Erie, Oswego, Champlain
and the Cayuga and Seneca. As another chapter is devoted to
the study of the various steps in abandoning the lateral canals,
together with the causes which led to this action, nothing need
be mentioned h^re, except the conclusions arrived at concerning
this particular canal by the people appointed to consider the

The Legislature of 1875 directed the canal board to investigate
and report upon the disposition to be made of the lateral canals.
The report to this request, rendered in February, 1876, was so
unsatisfactory and inconclusive as to necessitate the appoint-
ment of a special commission by the Legislature of this year.
This report,*^ however, although favoring the abandonment of
laterals in general, declared the necessity of retaining the reser-
voirs and a portion of the Chenango canal as a source of water-
supply for the Erie.

The commissioners appointed by the Legislature of 1876 (chap-
ter 382) made a thorough investigation of conditions along the
lateral canals, visiting the localities and taking testimony
from people concerned in the traflSc as well as from those having
charge of the maintenance. Their report" declared that the
business of the Chenango canal was gone and that the structures
were so dilapidated as to be able to last but a few years longer,
with a possibility of failure at any time, which only a vast
expenditure could repair. Accordingly they recommended that
the whole canal — both the existing channel between Utiea and
Binghamton and the uncompleted extension to the state line — be
abandoned, excepting a portion in I'tica for the accommodation
of the insane asylum and the part needed to supply water to the
Erie. Speaking of this water-supply, the commissioners said:

"All the engineers connected with the canals insist upon re-
taining the various reservoirs supplying the Chenango canal,
whose waters flow north as feeders for the Erie.

" Your commission fully concur in this view of their necessity,
and hereby recommend that all thait portion of the summit level
of the Chenango canal which extends between Solsville and the
point at which the waters from the reservoirs are received,

^Aasemhly Documents, 1876, No. 46.
^Amombly Dwnifivents, 1877, No. 30.

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History of Nbw York Canals.

shall be retained as a conduit for the water; that at Solsville
a jjermanent bulk-head shall be constructed, and the water be
discharged through it into Ooiskanj creek, and thence conducted
into the Rome level of the Erie.""

Chapter 404, Laws of 1877, provided for the ctbandonment of
the canal, including the extension, south of the stone culvert
in the village of Hamilton, after May 1, 1878, and for the sale of
this portion after the close of navigation in 1878, but stipulated
that no reservoir, feeder or property of the State north of that
culvert should be sold, nor Madison brook reservoir, Kingslej
brook reservoir. Woodman's pond and Leland's pond and the
feeders from them, and that the waters necessary to feed the Erie
canal should not be diverted, but a supply for the Utica asylum
should be maintained.

In 1877 the canal conunissioner, whose office also was on the
eve of abolition, added a final wail of complaint to the long
series of forebodings conceraing this canal, saying: "This
rather 'worthless ditch' has been a source of much perplexity,
and an expense of nearly f4,000 for about six weeks' navigation,
in October and November, 1876, and maintenance of bridges
and other work necessary during the fiscal year of 1877,
. . . There was no navigation upon thi» canal during the
calendar year of 1877, for the reason that no dependence could
be placed on the various dilapidated structures holding out for
a week without exi»ending an amount of money in its preparation
unwarranted by its business of previous years, or prospects of
the future. . . .

" It will be a good riddance fot* the State when the time arrives
for the sale of what is left of the old Chenango canal.""

In 1878 (chapter 391) Binghamton was authorized to take
possession of that portion of the canal lying within the city limits
and to fill in and grade this for the pur{)ose of forming a public
street, to be known as State street. The city was also empow-
ered to remove all encroachments upon the canal lands, bringing
legal action for recovering possession. In 1880 this law was
amended by chapter 190, which gave to the city the power of
removing summarily and witliout legal ]jrocH»ss these encroach-

^^Asaembly Documents, 1877, No. 30, p. 6.
**A8semhly Documents, 1878, No, 12, p. 101.

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The Chenango Canal. 696

ments, and by which the act of obstructing this removal was
made a misdemeanor.

At the close of 1878, the division engineer reported that the
summit level had been converted into a reservoir by building a
permanent dam at its southern end, and turning all waters from
the reservoirs into the Erie canal at Oriskany and Utica. He said
that upon the portion not abandoned the locks were already so
badly decayed that boats could not pass, and that this section
was in fact as much abandoned as the southern part. There were
194 structures on this stretch of thirty -one miles, as follows: 82
locks, 4 aqueducts, 20 culverts, 9 waste-weirs and 79 bridges. As
the canal could never be used for anything but a feeder, he
recommended lowering bridge abutments and approaches to the
level of the towing-path and building new bridges of only fifteen
feet span, also constructing bulkheads to control the water, when
lock-gates should fail. This work was gradually performed. On
May 6, 1882, the materials in lock walls (excepting lock No. 1,
at Utica, and Nos. 76 and 77, at the ends of the summit level)
were sold at public auction, the State reserving the lower six feet
of the walls.

The State found no purchasers for any great extent of the
abandoned canal. The law authorizing its sale was amended
in 1879 by chapter 522, which fixed another date of sale — ^as soon
after January 1, 1880, as the canal board deemed best. Pinal
disposition was made in 1880, by chapter 551, which granted
titles to owners of adjoining lands, except portions in Norwich,
Oxford and Greene, which were given to those villages for
public uses.

The only parts of the canal now remaining open are a short
piece in Utica between the Erie canal and Fayette street and
the old summit level, extending for about five miles from a dam
across the canal at Sollsville to another dam at lock No. 77, the
remainder having been released to villages, railroads or adjoin-
ing owners. The open sections are now counted as a part of the
Erie canal system.

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From the first survey in 1838, through the work of partial construction, to
the final abandonment of the whole Chenango route.

For the purpoae of making connection with the Pennsylvania
canal system, and thus to complete a route to the vast coal fields
in that state, the New York Legislature, on April 18, 1838, passed
an act (chapter 292) directing the canal commissioners to cause
a survey to be made from the termination of the Chenango canal
at Binghamton, along the valley of the Susquehanna, to the State
line near Tioga Point, at the termination of the North Branch
canal of Pennsylvania, and to cause an estimate of the cost of
this continuation to be made.

Accordingly the canal commissioners appointed Joseph D.
Allen, a civil engineer, who had had considerable experience in
the service of the State, to superintend the survey. He made a
report of his work to the canal commissioners on December 5,
18.38, which was embodied in a report of the canal commissioners
submitted to the I^egislature, January 26, 1839.

Surveys wore made by Mr. Allen on both sides of the Susque-
hanna river and throe estimates were prepared, two on the north-
ern route and one on the southern. The termination of the
Chenango canal in Binghamton was at the junction of the Che-
nango and Susquehanna rivers. By a lock of twelve feet lift,
the canal entered the oast side of the Chenango at its mouth, as
it flows from the north into the Susquehanna. To continue the
canal along the north side of the Susquehanna, the crossing of
the Chenango booanio necessary and two plans were devised to
accomplish this; one by carrying the canal over on an aqueduct^
the other by building a dam across the river to afford sufficient
depth for floating boats. On the route along the south side ol
the Susquehanna river, the plans provided for carrying the canal
across the Susquehanna on an aqueduct. The act called fop a

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The Chbnango Canal Extension. 697

survej to connect with the North Branch canal of Pennsylvania,
but as this canal was built only to a point four miles from the
State line, the surveys were carried to such points on the State
line as would aflford good connections with the North Branch

The dimensions of the canal and the character of the mechanical
structures were, in general, designed to be the same as those in
use on the Chenango canal. Composite locks were proposed,
having walls of rubble masonry laid in hydraulic cement through-
out, and lined in the chamber with timber and plank. In this
respect the plans varied from the locks used on the Chenango
canal; the walls of those locks being laid in hydraulic cement
only to a point eight feet below the upper gates, and the re-
mainder being dry. Liberal provision was made for lining and
puddling the banks and bottom of the prism, as much of the soil
appeared to be of a porous character.

The north line (passing the Chenango river with an aqueduct)
was 39iJ miles long, had seventy-seven feet of lockage and was
estimated to cost |788,149.G8.

The north line (passing the Chenango river with a dam) was
forty miles long, had sixty feet of lockage and was estimated to
cost 1765,683.09.

The south line was 38tjV miles long, had seventy-four feet of
lockage and was estimated to cost |770,467.35.

No recommendation accompanied the report.

During this session of the Legislature, 1839, several petitions
were received praying for this extension of the Chenango canal.
The Assembly committee, to which were referred these petitions,
reported in favor of the project, saying that not only the wishes
and necessities of the inhabitants of that particular section
through which the canal would pass, but the interests of the
whole State required that immediate steps be taken to form a
connection between the two greatest and most extended chains
of internal improvements in the world, a connection which would
unite the waters of the Hudson, St. Lawrence and the upper lakes
with the Susquehanna and Ohio rivers and the Delaware and
Chesapeake J^ays. The report also called attention to the fact
that the Chenango canal had been built with the view of ulti-
mately reaching the rich mineral fields of Pennsylvania.

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History of Nbw York Canals.

On April 9, 1839, Governor Seward informed the Legislature
that a committee of the Penni^lvania Senate, consisting of the
Speaker and two members of that body, was at Albanj to confer
in regard to completing water communications between the canal
systems of the two States by extending either the Chenango or
Chemung canals. Pennsylvania was about to complete the North
Branch canal to the State line and desired this 'connection with
New York canals that the interchange of those great staples,
coal, iron, plaster and salt, might be mutually beneficial.

This conference resulted in ihe passage of an act which ordered
the survey of a route from the terminus of the Chemung canal at
Elmira to the State line near Tioga Point. In later years the
Junction canal was built by a private company between these
points, the account of this enterprise being told in a chapter of
this volume devoted to that subject. However, no immediate,
tangible results along either line followed this conference.

In 1846, by an act (chaixter 259) the Chenango Junction CanaJ
Company was incorporated to build a canal of such dimensions
as the officers of the company should decide, from the termination
of the Chenango canal at Binghamton to the State line near
Athens, Pennsylvania. The capital stock was one million dollars.
This company, however, never accomplished anything.

Nothing more seemsi to have been done toward constructing the
canal till the Ix^slature of 1859 (chapter 88) required the State
Engineer and Surveyor ** to make a full examination of the sur-
vey of the Chenango canal from Binghamton to the State line
of Pennsylvania, near Athens, made in pursuance of the act of
April 18, 1838, and reported to the canal commissioners by
Joseph D. Allen, civil engineer, December 5, 1838, and if necessary
to cause a new survey to be made, and to estimate the cost of
constructing said canal, including land damages, and the prob-
able increase of business on the canals of this state from such
extension (from coal or other freight) and report the same to
the next legislature, at the opening of the session thereof."

Pursuant to this act, Van R. Bichmond, State Engineer and
Surveyor, appointed Orville \V. ( liilds to the general supervision
of the surveys, estimates and other duties involved. On January
10, 1800, the State Engineer sent to the Legislature the report of
his investigation.

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The Chbnango Canal Extension.

As a railroad had been located on the north side of the Susque-
hanna since the survey of 1838, a line on the south side wa;5
adopted, similar in many respects to that proposed by Mr. Allen.
A new survey was made and the estimated cost of the canal,
including engineering, land, and land damages, and all other
contingencies, was |829,488.21. The length was 38.48 miles, and
the total lockage was seventy-one feet. The estimates were based
upon the same dimensions of prism and banks of canal, plan of
mechanical structures, and general character of work, as was
adopted in the construction of the Chenango canal.

The Susquehanna river was to be crossed at Binghamton in
the pool formed by a dam. Of the connection with the North
Branch canal, Mr. Ohilds says: —

" The termination of the line, as surveyed for this extension,
is directly at the south margin of the river, at a point on the
State line convenient for locking into the pond that may be
formed by constructing a dam across the Susquehanna, a little
above the northerly end of the village of Athens.

" The village is situated on a narrow strip of land, extending
down between the Susquehanna and Chemung rivers, which unite
about three-fourths of a mile below the village. The North Branch
canal is inland for several miles below and opposite the village,
and igp on the west side of the Chemung river. Proceeding north-
erly, it passes into the pond of a dam now extending across the
Chemung nearly opposite that proposed to be constructed across
the Susquehanna. A short cut across the flat, in a natural ravine
north of the village, would form the canal between the two rivers,
and with a towing-path bridge across the Susquehanna, or other
practicable means of crossing the pond of the dam, and the con-
struction of a towing-path along the southerly margin of the
river up to the State line, a good connection would be formed
between the Chenango canal extension and the North Branch
canal. This latter canal is understood to be the property of
incorporated companies, whose interest in the connection of the
two canals is supposed to be at least sufficient to induce them to
construct this connecting link, either by the mode above suggested,
or upon such other plan as they may deem best adapted to the
object in view.

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700 History op Nbw York Canals.

" The distance from the State lint to the north branch canal
is understood to be about (or something less than) four miles,
and upon the plan above suggested, of a towing path, dam, &c.,
and the cut about half a mile in length across the point between
the two rivers, the aggregate expense of constructing this portion
of the canal would be comparatively small, and that the work
will be prosecuted and the canal completed bj these companies,
at least as soon as that of the Chenango canal extension, very
strong assurances bj some of the principal oflScers and by the
most prominent and wealthy of the stockholders of the North
Branch canal, were voluntarily expressed. The importance of
this connecting link to the ultimate success of the Chenango
extension, will be readily appreciated, and cannot but be regarded
as indispensable."^

In studying the problem of probable increase of business on
the canals of the State, Mr. Childs first points out the importance
of the connections that would be made. At the northerly end,
the canal would connect, through the Chenango canal, with the
New York Central railroad and the Erie canal and its laterals,
the Chaniplain, Black River, Oneida Lake and Oswego canals.
At the southerly end, it would connect " with the North Branch
canal, extending in a southerly direction through the State of
Pennsylvania, thus forming a water communication with Haver
de Grace at the head of the Chesapeake bay, and a connection
with the West Branch canal, the Juniata and other canals, and
with the numerous railroads diverging from it in the valley of
the Susquehanna.''* Also it would connect with western New York
through the Junction and Chemung canals, Seneca lake, and the
Cayuga and Seneca and the Erie canals.

After a careful examination of existing and probable freight
traffic, Mr. Childs estimated that the increased business that
would result upon this and the other State canals would be
sufficient to produce an annual toll of |40,927.68. Coal, iron
ore, limestone, and lumber were considered the chief articles of
transportation, with coal forming more than half the total
amount. It was considered that the construction of this canal
would result in materially i^educing the price of coal throughout

^Senate DocumentB, 1860, No. 6, pp. 11-12.
•/d. p. 12.

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The Chenango Canal Extension. 701

middle, eastern and northern New York, as well as inrfhe vicinity
of the Chenango canal and its extension.

The construction of this Chenango canal extension was author-
ized by chapter 115, Laws of 18G3, (passed April 9) which pro-
vided that the canal commissioners should extend the Chenango
canal as funds were appropriated and that the same width, depth
and size of structure should be used as on the Chenango canal,
except where improvements could be made without increased
expense. But this act failed to provide funds for prosecuting
the work, so nothing was done till the Legislature of 1864 (chap-,
ter 185) supplied funds by imposing a tax of three-«ixte€nths of
a mill for the fiscal years commencing October 1, 1864, and Octo-
ber 1, 1865, 1550,000 of this tax to be used for constructing the
canal. This act required that before work was begun the canal
commissioners should obtain a guarantee from parties authorized
to execute the same, that canal boats owned in New York State
should have a perfect and permanent right to navigate the canals
leading from the State line to the coal mines of Pennsylvania;
it also required that the size of the locks upon the extension should
not be less than those upon the Pennsylvania North Branch canal.
The Comptroller was authorized to make a temporary loan, in
anticipation of the tax collection, for the prosecution of the

As the Comptroller was prohibited by the State Constitution
from making a loan unless authorized to do so by popular vote
of the State, the canal commissioners could place no portion of
the work under contract till funds were realized from the tax
collection. In order to hasten the work, the canal board, on
September 23, 1864, set apart from the extraordinary repair
fund, |6,000 for the purpose of inaking surveys, estimates, plans,
etc., and a party under Mr. L. L. Nichols, first assistant engineer,
was immediately put in the field, that the plans might be ready
for letting contracts in the following spring.

" Immediately after the passage of the law (chapter 185, Laws
of 1864), the Commissioner opened a correspondence with the
North Branch Canal Company of Pennsylvania, which finally
resulted in a compliance by that company with a requisition of
the Board of Canal Commissioners, that boats from this State
^shall have a perfect and permanent right ' to navigate said canal

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702 History op New Yobk Canalb.

«jK>n the same teriiiR and condilionR as the boats of said com-

On June 20, 1SG4, a bond of |100,000 was executed by the offi-
cers of the North Branch Canal Company binding the company
to complete the connection between the North Branch canal and
the proposed Chenango extension. Chapter 115, Laws of 1863,
required the canal commissioners to obtain this bond before
beginning work.

The canal commissionef in charge expressed in his annual
report his views concerning the project in the following words:

" It is the opinion of the commissioner that the. great import-
ance of this work —not only to consumers of coal, but to the State
itself, in connection with the Chenango canal — would justify the
liCgislature in providing the requisite means for a more speedr
construction than the present law seems to contemplate. If it
be true, as those best advised on the subject claim, that this
extension of the canal directly to the immense coal fields of
Pennsylvania will asHure an increased amount of shipments of
at least two hundred thousand tons of coal i>er annum, seeking
a transportaticm to a market through its medium, the practica-
bility of a more speedy construction is apparent. If the fore-
going estimate approximates correctness, then it is evident that
what is paid by tax to construct this work will be repaid with
interest to all the consumers of coal, and their number is increas-
ing from year to year in rapid ratio."*

On May 5, 1805, plans for twenty-one miles of the canal were
adopted by the camil board, and on June 22, 1865, contracts for
the first ten miles were let. At that time the estimates for com-
pleting the whole canal amounted to 11,524,206. The resurvey
gave a length of 40.025 miles.

At the letting, held at Binghamton on June 22, a large niim.ber
of contractors were in attendance, an unprecedented number of
bids were received and the work was awarded at prices far below
the estimates of the engineers.

It was a matter of congratulation that during the year 1865,
when {)ric'es of labor and material of all kinds were excessively
high, the construction of this important work could be secured

^AnnucU Report of the Canal Commissioners, 1865, pp. 63-64.
«/d. p. 64.

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Thb Chenango Canal Extension. 703

at prices so nearly those of former times, and it seemed highly
probable that the remaining portion of the work would be let at
prices fully as advantageous to the State as the ten miles already
under contract.

Chapter 794, Laws of 1866, authorized the canal board to
appoint a resident engineer on the Chenango canal extension, and
on June 15, 1866, Byron M. Hanks assumed the duties of that

Prom the time of the first letting of contracts till September
1, 1867, the work of construction progressed steadily, and at that

Online LibraryLeon George KranzManual of kinesiology → online text (page 68 of 99)