Loammi Baldwin.

Report on the Brunswick canal and rail road, Glynn County, Georgia. With an appendix containing the charter and commissioners's report online

. (page 2 of 5)
Online LibraryLoammi BaldwinReport on the Brunswick canal and rail road, Glynn County, Georgia. With an appendix containing the charter and commissioners's report → online text (page 2 of 5)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

at the foot of the sandy bluff.

From E to F through open fields and woods to the left bank
of Gibson's creek below the bridge, the distance is 1.1941 miles,
having a depth of cutting about 8 feet to high water mark in
Brunswick harbor.

From F to G, a distance of 2.0312 miles, the line is along the
creek and crossing it several times, with a depth of about 6 feet
to high water.

From G to J on the Altamaha, the distance is 6.3733 miles
with a mean depth of 12 feet to high water through the swamp,
and through the deep cutting at the north end, the depth, for
about 1.14113 miles is 22 feet. From the deep cut through the
rice fields to the Altamaha, is 0.5445 miles, and one foot above
high water in Brunswick harbor.

Form, depth, and dimensions of Canal.

Before any calculation can be made as to the cost, the kind of
navigation and the general uses of the canal must first be deter-
mined. The object of the canal is to open the trade of the
Altamaha with the harbor of Brunswick, where no trade or boat
at present is ever seen, and seldom any kind of vessels but the
smallest coasting craft. The boats in use on the river are 21 feet
wide, and 80 or 90 long, and some, I am told, are 115 in length.
These boats carry down the river to Darien from various parts
of the Altamaha and its branches, from 500 to 700 bales of cot-
ton in bags of about 300 pounds each. Two kinds of steam-
boats are also employed ; one 35 feet wide between the outside
of the wheels which are used for towing two boats loaded with
cotton, one on each side, but seldom take other loading up or
down the river except passengers. They often proceed below


Darien wiih ihcir cotton to ships which load at Doby Island 12
miles below, and sometimes even proceed to Savannah. The
other kind of steamboats have a wheel in the stern, and are about
20 feet wide. These carry cotton on board and sometimes take
a boat in tow. Cotton is the descending freight principally, but
gram, rice, and other produce is occasionlly added. Tiie as-
cending freight is equal or superior to that which descends, con-
sisting of iron, West India and European goods, manufactures
and other articles, carried up for distribution in various directions
through an extensive country. There are about 130,000 bales
of cotton brouglit down the river annually, and it is increasing.

Besides these agricultural products there is a quantity of tim-
ber, plank and scantling, brought down the river on rafts from the
interior of Georgia, which will greatly increase when it can be
carried by the canal to foreign ships in Brunswick harbor, where
it may be immediately shipped.

I propose, therefore, to make the canal six feet deep below
ordinary high water in Brunswick harbor, and depend upon the
tide for a constant supply, and admit none from the Altamaha,
which is always fresh. During floods it is very turbid, will have
a tendency to render the inmiediate country unhealthy, and will,
in process of time, fill the canal with silt. In winter, when the
water in the swamp will naturally be most abundant, it may all be
turned into the canal, and even in the dryest season the canal may
thus effectually become a drain for a small part, instead of Gib-
son's creek, and the health of this part of the country be secured
from the sickness and fevers which prevail near these fresh water
swamps. The level of the canal may be raised one or two feet
in the spring tides, above common high w'ater, which will facili-
tate the navigation.

Giving a depth of 6 feet, making the bottom 35 feet wide, and
the slopes 1.5 feet base to 1 foot rise, leaves the breadth at the
surface of the water 53 feet, which is sufficient for the boats now
in use on the river to pass each other. A boat 80 feet long and
21 feet wide, drawing 2i feet, displaces 113 tons of salt water at
(53 lbs. the cubic foot, and with a load of 600 bales of cotton at
300 lbs. each, it will weigh a little over SO tons, thus leaving 33
tons for the weight of the boat and other loading. At the depth
of 2^ feet, two such boats with perpendicular sides will pass
each other with a space of 3.5 feet to spare. This kind of boat


has not upright sides, but they are rounded inwards, and perhaps
draw a httle more than 2| feet of water, but may pass easily.

The tow path to be 12 feet wide, which in common inland
navigation is generally made a foot above the water of the canal
and sometimes more, but here I would wish it sufficiently below
the surface of the ground to make a clear and smooth path, leav-
ing it three or even five feet above the surface of the canal. The
tow path should be on the east side, that it may be extended on
the bank of Academy creek quite to the town of Brunswick.


A lock will be necessary at each end. They should be 23
feet wide and 100 long in the clear, with counter guard gates to
prevent the river at one end, and the tide at the other, ever en-
tering the canal, whenever either rises above its level. When I
was there in February, 1836, there was but a few inches differ-
ence between the level of the Altamaha and high water in Bruns-
wick harbor. But sometimes in freshes the river rises three or
four feet above the tide in the harbor, and if not prevented by
guard gates, the water will have admission into the canal, which
it is important to prevent.

A similar lock will be necessary at the south end. This
should have counter guard gates also, but for reasons a little dif-
ferent from those which require them at the Altamaha. They
are, that during the spring tides, when they flow over the marsh-
es, the tide rushing in through the locks will produce such a cur-
rent as to injure the banks and impede very much the navigation
to the south ; but there is no objection to this water entering
the canal as it is salt. When the current prevails from the river,
the same takes place, and boats going to the north are obstruct-
ed, besides the fresh water of the river will always tend to ren-
der that of the canal more brackish. For which reasons I would
prevent a current from the river, at all times, especially in the
last months of summer, and any strong current from the Bruns-
wick end.

I would recommend a sluice for supplying the canal, to be
constructed at the head of Gibson's creek, near the road,
which will be about 4 miles from the south end, and 8 from the
north, and lead the drain of the swamp nearly all through the


Six-mile creek. At Gibson's creek is a favorable point for form-
ing it with gates tliat shall open when the tide rises above the
sin-faco of the canal, and shut when the tides fall below. The
ciUTcnt may be here regulated at will, and it will distribute itself
in either direction much better than if adniitied at the end.

The depth of the lock must depend upon the height of the
tides. The ordinary neap tides in Brunswick harbor are about
8 feet. During spring tides it rises probably 3 feet higher, and
falls feet 3 lower, making 14 feet, and adding 1 foot to the
height and 1 to the depth, makes 16 feet for the depth of the
lock. At the Altamaha the freshes rise 2 or 3 feet above the
tide at Brunswick, and the river falls in dry seasons about 6 feet
below, which gives a depth of 14 feet for the lock. The depth
of the lock at the river will be therefore 14 and at Brunswick 16

Estimate of Cost.

The 1st section is 1.1524 miles from D to V of 7 feet deep
below the surface of the marsh, which, on the dimensions and
slopes before given, produces a cross section of 318.5 square feet;

. r •^ • 318.5X5230 -_^._ , . , ,.

and for a mue IS = — ^ — = 626o5 cubic yards, at 15 cents
per yard, makes ^9,398 25, and per 1.1524 miles is = $10.-
830 00.

The 2d section is from V to E 2.0833 miles. This section
may be carried along the creek, cutting oft' the angles and straight-
ening the bends, and making a towing path next the bluff", and
forming a dike on the sea side, as well as on the first section, to
defend the canal at all times against the tide. It will cost proba-
bly $4000 a mile, and will be preferable on account of economy,
to the forming a canal along the line as surveyed — 2.0833 miles
at $4000 a mile, is $8333,20.

The 3d section is 1.1941 miles from E to F with an excava-
tion 14 feet deep, and a tow path 12 wide, and 4 feet deep at 15
cents the cubic yard, = $24,405 50,

and for 1.1941 miles is, . . - . $29,142 36
a bridge at $500, 500 00

$29,642 36
This survey was carried along the ground which appeared


the lowest, but before it is adopted, I would recommend a trial
on the dotted line, as represented on the plan, which will be
shorter and make the navigation more direct and convenient.
The4lh section from F to G is 2.0312 miles, at an average depth

of 12 feet, and with a path 12 wide and two deep = " G^"" =
129066 yds. at 15 cts., is $19359 90, and for 2'.0312 miles,

$39,323 82
a bridge at $800 800 00

$40,123 82

The 5th section from G to S through the swamps has the mean
depth of 18 feet for 4.4165 miles, which = ""'y^"= 218,240
cubic yards, at 15 cents, is $32,736 a mile, and 4.4165 miles,

$144,578 54
a tow path to be 6 feet below the surface of the swamp,

and 12 wide, is 1?><^^ = 1408O yards, at 15
cents, is $2,112 a mile, and for 4.4165 miles, 9,327 64
two accomodation bridges on this section at $300, 600 00

$154,506 18

The 6th section is through the deep excavation from S to T,
1.4110 miles, and the average depth is 28 feet = ''"'^'''^' =421-
618 yards, at 15 cents a yard, = $63,242 per mile, and 1.4110
miles, $89,234 46

a tow path 12 wide and 8 feet deep = ~^ =
18,773 cubic yards, at 15 cents a yard, is $2,815,
and for 1.4110 miles, 3,971 96

two accommodation bridges at the roads at $1000, 2,000 00

$95,206 42

The 7th section is from the deep cut at T, across the swamp
and rice field to the river Altamaha at J, 0.5445 miles, and with
an average depth of 7 feet = '^^^^^~^ = 33,914 cubic yards, at
15 cents a yard, $5,087 14

The locks to be of brick or stone, but in that climate, good,
hard burned bricks are very well, and will make better work than
stone, as it is commonly laid. The best way of laying brick for


this purpose is, in the chamber of the lock, to build up from the
bottom a pier of stone work every 10 or 12 feet, rounded and
projecting a little in front of the bricks, to protect them from
injury, and in the wing walls at both ends, to lay a horizontal
course about 2 or 3 feet above each other, to secure the bricks
from violence when the boats ajjproach in either direction. This
process is often adopted in England and Holland where stones
are difficult to procure. The gate quoins and coping should also
be stone.

The four walls of the locks will be about 640 feet long, on a
mean height of 14 feet, and about 6 feet average thickness. A

thousand of bricks will lay 40 cubic feet, and ^— j^j '= 1343

thousand, which, at $15 a thousand, laid in cement, is $20,145
for both locks. The mitre sills, coping and gate quoins to be
of stone, and the gates may be of iron, nearly or quite as cheap
as of wood. The floor to be of timber and plank, under the
whole lock with sheet piling, and with a reversed arch of two
two courses of brick in the chamber of each. These may all
make $10,000, or 15,000 for each.


1st Section

1.1524 mil

es, from D to V,

$10,830 00

2d "


V toE,

8,333 20



E to F,

29,642 36

4th "


F toG,

40,123 82

5th "


G to S,

154,506 18

6th "


S to T,

95,206 42

7th "


T to J,

5,087 14

Two locks,


$30,000 00

$373,729 12
Contingencies, 20 per cent., 74,745 82

12.8330 miles, $448,474 94

In the above estimate I have added 20 per cent, for contin-
gencies, which is much more than is usually allowed in such
cases, but I have included nothing for Engineer's services. I
have supposed the whole canal to have slopes of one foot and a
half base, to one rise, upon the condition that the excavation was


sand, and that it would not stand upon a less slope. But in many
parts the soil is compact clay, or hard earth, that most of it will
stand on a much less slope, and in others, the banks may be laid
with timber cut in the line of canal and hewed on two sides, so
as to make firm work with sufficient ties laying back into the
bank. A defence may thus be made 6 or 8 feet high, and even
higher on the side opposite the path, which will save a great deal
in excavation alone. Various expedients may thus be used to
lessen the cost.

Some indications of quick sand appear at the edge of the up-
land by Messrs. Grants, and even in the margin of their fields
adjoining. It appears about level with the river, but how deep
is not yet ascertained. There is no difficulty in founding the
locks, and piling seems unnecessary.

With great respect,

Your ob't servant,


To Thomas Butler King, Esq.,

Treasurer of the Brunswick Canal

and Rail-Road Company^ Georgia,


Aulhorizing the Governor to appoint tJiree Commissioners from
the middle counties of the State, to examine the Port and Rail-
road of Brunswick, ^-c.

Whereas it is of the first importance to ilie people, that all the
commercial advantages of the State should be developed and
brought into action with agriculture ; — And whereas, it has
long been represented that the port of Brunswick is calculated,
by nature, to promote the best interest of one-third of the pop-
ulation of Georgia ; — And whereas, for the purpose of procur-
ing more official data and information upon a subject of such
(vital) importance, for the use of the Legislature :
Be it resolved, That His Excellency the Governor be, and he
is hereby authorized and required to appoint three fit and proj^er
persons for the middle counties of this State, whose duty shall be
to go and examine the commercial advantages of the port of
Brunswick, and the Rail-road avenue to the Altamaha, and re-
port thereon, upon oath, whether or not it would be advisable
for the State to render any aid in opening Brunswick to the in-
terior ; and that the Governor do communicate the said report
to the next Legislature, together with his views upon the subject.
Resolved further, That the aforesaid Commissioners be allowed
a reasonable compensation for their time and expenses, for a trip
to Brunswick and back, and that the Governor pay the same out
of the contingent fund.

Agreed to December ]7ih, 1832.

In Senate, concurred in, Dec. 20th, 1S32.


L L. HARRIS, Secretary.
Approved, Dec. 21st, 1832.



Of John G. Polhill, Hugh Lawson, and Moses Fort,
Commissioners appointed to examine the Port and Rail-road
of Brunswick, &c.


To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the
State of Georgia.

Gentlemen : — The Commissioners appointed by his Excel-
lency the Governor, in conformity with a Resolution of your
body of the 17th of December, " To go and examine the com-
mercial advantages of the Port of Brunswick and the Rail-road
avenue to the Altamaha, and report thereon upon oath, whether
or not it would be advisable for the State to render any aid in
opening Brunswick to the interior," proceeded early in the month
of June last to execute the duties of their commission, and beg
leave to submit the following Report.

The town of Brunswick is situated on the north branch or arm
of Turtle river, near the centre of our sea coast, about eight
miles from St. Simons light house, just above the 31st degree of
north latitude, in the county of Glynn, about 13 miles from St.
Simons bar. The site of the town is a beautiful bluff of close
sand, the soil is perfectly dry and very eligible for a large city,
being elevated from S to 12 feet above high water, and extending
itself up and down the river for upwards of two miles, affording
a delightful situation for a town of the largest extent. The beau-
ty of its location — its splendid river, and circumjacent islands,
make it altogether the handsomest site we have seen on our coast
for the erection of a commercial emporium and naval depot.
Though this splendid sheet of water is called Turtle river, yet,
from its width, its great depth and its length, it may more prop-
erly be called an inlet or arm of the sea, which extends about 20


or 25 miles into the interior. The entrance from the ocean is
between St. Simons Island on the north, and Jekyl Island on
the south. This inlet between the islands is about a mile in
width. The bar over which ships enter it from the ocean, is
about five miles from the light-house on the south of St. Simons,
and is, from all that we can learn, the best and the safest on the
southern coast, with the exception perhaps of Norfolk in Vir-
ginia. Besides having had access to the report of a survey made
by Lieut, Stockton, under the authority of the United States,
we took soundings ourselves under the pilotage of experienced
men who had been many years well acquainted with the coast,
and especially with St. Simons bar. The experienced officer
who made the survey alluded to, has set down the average depth
of the bar at IG feet at dead low water, and ascertained the rise
of the tide to be, on an average, about 6 feet, giving 22 feet at
high water ; stating at the same time that he was not satisfied that
he had found the best water.

The object of Congress in ordering this survey having been
the establishment of a naval depot on Turtle river, it is to be pre-
sumed that the officer made this report with a view to the strict
safety of our ships of war, and therefore preferred being rather
under than over the depth of water. We draw this conclusion
from the fact, that we found the sounding on the bar to be gener-
ally about IS feet at as near low water as we could judge ; our
shallowest sounding was 17 feet, but we found more water on the
same track. As we found Stockton's report very accurate in
every respect, and as he had spent some time in the survey, we
conclude that the water on the bar may be set down at from 16
to 17 feet at low water, and 22 to 23 at high water — striking at
a medium between his survey and our soundings. The pilots
and coasting captains on board the vessel we employed in this
service seemed to be of opinion that there was still deeper water,
as they stated that they would risk their nautical skill and reputa-
tion, in undertaking to bring the largest class of merchant ships,
trading to the south, across this bar at any time of tide. An ex-
perienced pilot, whose services we had engaged, assured us that
he had been intimately acquainted with this bar for about twenty-
three years, and that its breadth and depth had not varied the least
in that time. We judge the extent of the bar, across it, to be
about a quarter of a mile, and from half to three quarters in


width, between the north and the south breakers, to be navigable
for large vessels. One of the great excellencies of the bar is,
that ships can pass over it in a direct course with a favorable
wind, and if the wind should be ahead, she has a plenty of room
for beating up. Mr. King, the intelligent and enlightened Sen-
ator of Glynn, who lives immediately on St. Simons sound, as-
sured us, that it was by no means a rare occurrence for ships of
heavy burden, entirely unacquainted with the bar, and without a
pilot, to put into the sound in stress of weather for safety, and
that this is done at night as well as in the day. This we con-
sider as the most conclusive evidence of the superior excellence
and perfect safety of this bar, and the protection afforded to
ships that run into the sound in bad weather. Of the entire safe-
ty and excellence of this bar for the navigation of ships, drawing
from 20 to 21 feet of water, we can therefore speak in terms of
the highest approbation.

We account for the unvarying depth of this bar, from the great
weight and depth of water which at every ebb tide sets out of
Turtle river to the ocean. In coming in from sea, immediately
after crossing the bar, the soundings gave us from five to ten
fathoms, and this depth was retained with but little variation,
till we reached within half or three quarters of a mile of Bruns-
wick. We are informed by navigators, that the river continues
unusually deep, almost to its very source. From these facts, we
conclude that the bar will always retain its present depth, for
there is no cause visible to us, or to be drawn by inference from
the character of the river, to produce any variations in the tide
or changes in the bar. In the most of our other rivers which
penetrate into the mountainous country of the interior, the great
inundations frequently happening carry dovi^n immense quantities
of sand and alluvial soil, which are continually shifting the chan-
nel, and affecting the depth and location of the navigable waters,
where they empty into the ocean. Hence it is, that there is so
much danger, delay and expense attending the ascent to our oth-
er sea ports. We think we may confidently say, that the boun-
tiful hand of nature has entirely exempted the port of Bruns-
wick and its noble stream, and will continue in all future lime to
exempt them, from these difficulties and obstructions to their

When you approach within half a mile of the town, there is a


small salt marsh island which divides (he river into the northern
and eastern hranchcs, the main chamicl rnnning sonthward of this
island, liotvveen IJrandy Point on this island, and Dennis's
Folly on the Biiinswick shore, there is an inner bar, upon which
there is about twelve feet at low water, and, as the tide rises ten
feet, it gives the same depth of water that we find on the outer
bar, with this advantage, that the bottom being soft mud creates
no damage to ships and may be very easily deepened if it were
necessary. But no such necessity exists, as any ship that cross-
es the outer bar can run over this at high water, and find the best
anchorage near the bluff along the whole extent of the town, in
from twenty to forty feet water at the lowest time of tide. This
we ascertained from careful soundings at low water, and after
having finished the soundings for ourselves, ascertained that
Stockton's report and diagrams confirmed our own survey.

From the fact that we crossed the outer bar thirteen miles from
town, and beat up against a very light breeze to Brunswick in
about three hours, we can state safely, that a vessel may pass in
or out, from the bar to the town, with the wind from any direc-
tion, and with a fair good breeze, can reach the vi^harves, and get
to sea from them, in less .than two hours. The width of the
river and the channel affords an opportunity for making long
tacks, which are very desirable in beating up or down a river
or strait. The vessel once in port, we consider her entirely
sheltered from any gale or storm, short of the most violent hur-
ricane or tornado, such as would be dangerous on land as well as
on the water. The harbor is completely land-locked by a beau-
tiful crescent or semicircle of islands stretching along the south-
ern branch of the river, and preventing the heavy swell of the
ocean from affecting the water in the harbor. In addition to this,
an extensive salt marsh stretches along to the east of Brunswick,
which also acts as a protection from heavy swells in the sound
and the ocean. The course of the river itself turning nearly
south immediately around the north point of Jekyl, with that
island on the south and the Brunswick promontory on the north,
acts as a protection to the port ; the river making a sudden turn
towards Brunswick at a point of high ground known as Dennis's
Folly. All this will be more apparent to your honorable body
by a reference to a map of Brunswick, its port, its environs, and
the position and course of the rail-road, which we have ordered


to be carefully drafted, after a very correct model, (with a (ew
alterations indicated by us) by the county surveyor, to be sub-
mitted as a part of this report.

In the southern and principal branch of the river is the outer
harbor. In this harbor, the whole navy of our country might
ride, with perfect safety, in seven fathoms water, and moor within
a mile of the town.

In regard to health, we consider Brunswick superior to any
sea port on the southern coast. Its high and dry bluff, the total
absence of lagunes, swamps of stagnant fresh water and rice fields

2 4 5

Online LibraryLoammi BaldwinReport on the Brunswick canal and rail road, Glynn County, Georgia. With an appendix containing the charter and commissioners's report → online text (page 2 of 5)