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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running waters, the substantial value of wliich has not
been adequately appreciated. It is clearly practicable,
without undue expense or interference with current use,
G : I. to carry out broad plans for the complete development
of the resources of the country, and thus assure to the
greatest number of people the neatest good for both the
present and the future ; while if tliis is not done the tem-
porary or partial development of these resources will
prevent their full utilization for the general benefit.
Steps should be taken without delay to outline and
initiate the more pressing projects of conservation, and
to apply practically the principle of conservation before
it is too late.

Regulation 24. Our unsurpasscd natural wealth and the eagerness

of our people for immediate results regardless of future
needs have led to a policy of extravagant consumption of
national resources and to an encouragement of monopoly,
whereby an excessive share of such resources has been
diverted to the enrichment of the few rather than pre-
G. I : I. served for the equitable benefit of the many. Monopo-
listic tendencies nave appeared (a) in the extensive con-
trol of mineral fuels on public lands, whereby large values



essential to the development of the country have passed
beyond public regulation ; (6) in the acquisition and need-
less destruction of forests, whose preservation is a public
necessity for stream control, for timber supply, and for
other purposes; (c) in the acquisition of controlling sites
on waterways and the appropriation of valuable water-
powers with their segregatfon from public use without
adequate compensation, whereby indispensable utilities
escape public regulation in the interests of the people;
(d) in the segregation of lands, especially in the semi arid
regions, wherel3y development is retarded so that the
lands remain without benefit to commerce or advantage
to the growth of the country; (e) in the control of prod-
ucts and of transportation to disturb the normal values
and natural channels of trade, thereby imposing undue
burdens on producers and consumers; and (/) in various
interferences with the production and commerce of the
country, whereby prosperity is curtailed and progress
impeded. While such monopolistic tendencies have been
conspicuous in connection with the agencies of transporta-
tion, they are now in many cases opposing the best utili-
zation of streams by diverting their control from State
and Federal jurisdiction in the public interests to personal
and corporate means of excessive and burdensome profit.
Since transportation is a primary factor in the existence
and development of any people, and is increasingly impor-
tant with the growth of population, it is essential that its
means should be regulated in the public interests; and
an^ plans for relieving congestion of transportation in the
United States should be so framed as to employ all proper
State, Federal, and municipal agencies in protecting from
monopolistic control not only the agencies and avenues
but also the materials of interstate commerce.


A. We recommend that hereafter plans for the improve-
ment of navigation in inland waterways, or for any use
of these waterways in connection with interstate com-
merce, shall take account of the purification of the waters,
the development of power, the control of floods, the
reclamation of lands by irrigation and drainage, and all
other uses of the waters or benefits to be derived from
their control.

B. We recommend that hereafter both local and gen-
eral benefits to the people shall be fully considered in any
such plans for the improvement of navigation in inland
waterways, or for any use of these waterways in connec-
tion with interstate commerce; and that whereever prac-
ticable Federal agencies shall cooperate with States,
municipalities, communities, corporations, and individ-
uals with a view to an equitable distribution of costs and

C. We recommend that hereafter any plans for the
navigation or other use of inland waterways in connec-

31673— S. Doc. 325, 60-1 8


1-24: 1.


21: I, II.



tion with interstate commerce shall take full account of
^~^' transfer facilities and sites, and of the location of tracks,
grades, bridges, dams, depots, and other works on navi-
gable and source streams with a view to equitable coop-
eration between waterway and railway facilities for the
promotion of commerce and. the benefit of the people.
Railways: wa- D. Wc rccommend that any plans for improving the in-

terways. jg^j^^j waterways shall take account of the present and

prospective relation of rail lines to such waterways, and
shall ascertain so far as may be whether such waterways
when improved will be effectively used in the face of
railway competition; and that the relations between
5. railways and waterways be further examined with the

purpose of devising means of rendering the two systems
complementary and harmonious and making such fair
division of traffic that rates and management may be
coordinated economically and with benefit to the country.

^^commerciai jj ^q rccommcnd the adoption of means for ascer-
taining regularly all facts related to traffic on the inland
^" waterways, and for publishing the same in a form suitable

for general use.
Physical data. ^ ^^ recommcnd the adoption of means for ascer-
taining and rendering available, at such rate as to meet
20- public necessities, all requisite data related to the physical

character and general utility of the navigable and source
streams of the country.

a n d^re^iiati'o"" G. We rccommend that hereafter any plans for the
use of inland waterways in connection with interstate
commerce shall regard the streams of the country as an
asset of the people, shall take full account of the con-
23, 24 : 1, II. servation of all resources connected with running waters,
and shall look to the protection of these resources from
monopoly and to their administration in the interests of
the people.

geftion. ^^ '^°"' H. We recommend that the Congress be asked to make
suitable provision for improving the inland waterways of
the United States at a rate commensurate with the needs
of the people as determined by competent authority; and
we suggest that such proA'^ision meet these requisites, viz:
1-5,17,22: III. expert framing of a definite policy; certainty of continuity
and coordination of plan and work; expert initiative in
the choice of projects and the succession of works; free-
dom in selection of projects in accordance with terms of
cooperation; and the widest opportunity for applying
modern business methods.
Legislation. J. "VV^e recommend that the Congress be asked to au-
thorize the coordination and proper development of exist-
ing public services connected with waterways; and we
suggest that such enactment might provide that the
President of the United States be authorized, with the
advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint and organize
1-24: A-H. a National Waterways Commission to bring into coordina-
tion the Corps of Engineers of the Army, the Bureau of
Soils, the Forest Service, the Bureau of Corporations,
the Reclamation Service, and other branches of the pub-


lie service in so far as their work relates to inland water-
ways, and that he be authorized to make such details
antl require such duties from these branches of the public
service in connection with navigable and source streams
as are not inconsistent with law; the said Commission to
continue the investigation of all questions relatino; to
the development and improvement and utilization of the
inland waterways of the country and the conservation of
its natural resources relatetl thereto, and to consider and
coordinate therewith all matters of irrigation, swamp and
overflow land reclamation, clarification and purification
of streams, prevention of soil waste, utilization of water
power, preservation and extension of forests, regulation
of flow and control of floods, transfer facilities and sites
and the regulation and control thereof, and the relations
between waterways and railways; and that the Commis-
sion be empowered to frame and recommend plans for
developing the waterways and utilizing the w^aters, and
as authorized by Congress to carry out the same, through
established agencies when such are available, in coopera-
tion with States, municipalities, communities, corpora-
tions, and individuals, in such manner as to secure an
equitable distribution of costs and benefits.


I. Those clauses in the instrument creating the Com-
mission advising that "our streams should be considered
and conserved as great natural resources," and that the
Commission shoidd '' consider the relations of the streams
to the use of all the great })ermanent natural resources
and their conservation," have received attention and conservation,
have resulted in action thus far incomplete. The prin-
ciples so affirmed are fundamental and far-reaching, and
demand comprehensive and mature consideration; and
it was thought needfid to ascertain and adjust the needs
of all sections of the country, and to invoke the joint
judgment of officials of the several States. At the fif-
teenth session (May 21) it was decided to propose a Con-
ference on the C^onservation of Resources, to be held in
Washington early in 1908, and a special committee was
appointed to present the matter to the President of the
United States. At the twenty-third session (October 3) ,
at which the President presided, it was decided to call
such a conference in conformity with the desire of the
Commission as thus expressed: •

On IJoARu Steamek Col. A. Mackenzie,

October S, 1907.
The President,

0?) Board U. S. Steamer Mississippi.
Sir: In tbo course oi' inquiries made under your direction "that
the Inland Waterways Commission shall consider the relations of the
streams to the use of all the great permanent natmal resources and
their conservation for the making and maintenance of prosperous
homes," the members of the Commission have been led to feel that it
would be desiral)le to hold a conference on tho genei-al subject of the
conservation of the natural resources of the nation.


Among the reasons for such a conference are the following:

1. Hitherto our national policy has been one of almost unrestricted
disposal of natural resources, and this in more lavish measure than in
any other nation in the world's history; and this policy of the Federal
Government has been shared in by the constituent States. Three
consequences have ensued: First, unprecedented consumptionof natural
resources; second, exhaustion of these resources, to the extent that a
large part of our available public lands have passed into gi-eat estates
or corporate interests, our forests are so far depleted as to multiply the
cost of forest products, and our supplies of coal and iron ore are so far
reduced as to enhance prices; and third, unequaled opportunity
for private monopoly, to the extent that both the Federal and State
sovereignties have been compelled to enact laws for the protection
of the people.

2. We are of opinion that the time has come for considering the policy
of conserving these material resources on which the permanent pros-
pei'ity of our country and the equal opportunity of all our people must
depend; we are also of opinion that the policy of conservation is so
marked an advance on that policy adopted at tlie outset of our national
career as to demand the consideration of both Federal and State spon-
sors for the welfare of the people.

3. We are of opinion that the conference may best be held in the
national capital next winter, and that the conferees should comprise
the governors of all our States and Territories, a limited number of
delegates to be appointed by each governor, and representatives from
leading organizations of both State and national scope engaged in deal-
ing with natural resources or with practical questions relating thereto.

We have the honor to ask that in case you concur in our view you call
such a conference. •

Respectfully submitted.

Theodore E. Burton,

W J McGee,


In liis Memphis address on October 4 the President
announced the intention of caUing such a conference, and
on November 13 he issued invitations to the governors of
the States and Territories to meet at the White House
May 13-15, 1908; the conferees to comprise also three
assistants or advisors to be selected by each governor;
the Senators and Representatives in the Sixtieth Con-
gress; the members of the Inland Waterways Commis-
sion, and representatives of certain national organiza-
tions dealing with natural resources. The Commission
anticipates from the deliberations of this conference
results of the utmost value as regards both conditions
and policies.

Coordination. H. The clauscs iu the same instrument declaring that
"the time has come for merging local projects and uses of
the inland waters in a comprehensive plan designed for the
benefit of the ej^tire country," and that "such a plan
should consider and include all the uses to which streams
may be put," has received attention; and while the con-

15, 21, 22 A, I. sideration resulted in several of the foregoing findings
and recommendations, the time and means at the dis-
posal of the Commission have been wholl}'^ insufficient to
frame a comprehensive plan extending in detail to all the
waterways of the country. The task is large, and is af-
fected by projects for improving waterways and opening
canals for navigation and other purposes which are now


advocated by numerous associations of citizens in various
parts of the United States. These projects are so con-
nected with geographic conditions and with natural re-
sources as to fall into four great systems, viz, (1) the At-
lantic-Interior system, comprising the Atlantic water-
shed, the Mississippi Valle}^, the Gulf slope, and the Great
Lakes with their watershed; (2) the Golumbia-Puget sys-
tem, comprising the territory west of the Rocky Moun-
tains and north of the forty-second parallel of latitude;
(3) the California system, comprising the valley of Cali-
fornia, and (4) the Colorado system, comprising the water-
shed of Rio Colorado and the Great Basm of the interior.
In the Atlantic-Interior system there are projects for a
deep waterway from Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes; a
deep and continuous Atlantic inner passage from New
England to Florida; improving or canalizing Mississippi,
Missouri, and Ohio rivers with their leading tributaries
and connecting the Mississippi waters with the Great
Lakes by canals; improving the navigable rivers flowing
into Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean; connecting the
Mississippi with the Rio Grande and wdth the waters of
Florida by inner passages; and connecting the Atlantic
coast with the Great Lakes by canals. In the Columbia-
Puget system there are projects for improving the low^er
Columbia and the Williamette and Snake for navigation
and power development; opening the channels and lakes
of the upper Columbia and some of its tributaries to navi-
gation, and constructing feeder and connecting canals;
and also for extending reclamation through irrigation,
drainage, and the control of floods. In the California sj^s-
tem there are projects for improving and canalizing Sac-
ramento, San Joaquin, and Feather rivers and the coast-
wise bays in such manner as to open California Valley
to interstate and foreign commerce, and also for clarify-
ing the streams, preventing floods, and developing power;
and in the Colorado system there are projects chiefly thus
far for irrigation but prospectively for navigation and
power. In all these systems — indeed in every State and
Territory — the respective obligations of the State and
Federal governments to the people and the relations of
vested interests are of such complexity as to demand pro-
longed consideration not only by the Commission but by
State and Federal officials; and it would seem premature
to outline a general plan necessarily affecting so many and
so varied obligations and interests pending the confer-
ence on conservation, at which it ma}'' be anticipated that
the interests of all the people wdll be fully represented.

III. The intimation in the same instrument that ''any cooperation,
plan for utihzing our inland waterways * * * should
recognize the means for executing it already in existence,
both in the Federal Departments of War, Interior, Agri- le, 21: i.
culture, and Commerce and Labor and in the States and
their subdivisions, and it must not involve unduly bur-
densome expenditures from the National Treasury," has


received attention and lias resulted in the eighth and
ninth of the foregoing Recommendations; yet pending the
recommendation of the "comprehensive plan" alluded to
in the preceding paragraph, it woiild be premature to sub-
mit estimates of cost.

IV. The suggestion that "the reports of the Commis-
sion shall include both a general statement of the problem
and recommendations as to the manner and means of

Continuation, attacking it" has received consideration and has led to
the foregoing Findings and Recommendations. The
Commission is, however, fully aware of the incomplete-
ness of this report, and is desirous of continuing investiga-
tion and discussion with a view to further action.

V. It is to be understood that the inquiries and con-
clusions herein are of general character, and that the men-

Quaiiflcation. tion of any stream or project does not involve expression
of opinion as to the desirability or practicability of doing
work upon it.

Respectfully submitted .

Theodore E. Burton,

Francis G. Newlands.
Wm. Warner.
J. H. Bankheai).
F. H. Newell.
Gifford Pinchot.
Herbert Knox Smith.


1. As a member of the Inland Waterways Commission, I am in
accord with the general principles enunciated as proper for consider-
ation in connection mth the preparation of plans for improvement
and control of inland waterways; and with recommendations which
advise suitable provision for continuing the improvement of inland
waterways at a rate commensurate with the requirements of com-
merce; and, so far as justifiable, with cooperation between Federal
agencies and States, municipalities, and communities with a view to
a distribution of costs and benefits; and I am in accord with a sug-
gestion that in the carrying out of examinations and surveys and in
the making of plans of improvement of inland waterways, such
consideration be given by the War Department to the subject of
water power, floods and low water, drainage, and such other related
subjects as may have a bearing upon the improvement of navigation
and such as Congress, in its wisdom, may provide for.

2. I am in the fullest accord with recommendations looking to the
protection to the greatest extent of the natural resources of the
country, both in their relation to the interests of navigation and in
the interest of multiplying prosperous homes; and I am in accord
with the thought of utilizing such resources in every legal and proper
way with a view to recompensing the Government for expenditures
made in carrying out improvements.


3. 1 am not fully in accord, however, with the thought that all
the related subjects mentioned, important and worthy of considera-
tion by the Government as they may be, are as clearly and necessa-
rily associated with the subject of channel improvement and mter-
state commerce as is assumed in the ^eport^ or that such assumptions
can properly be made in all cases without further investigation,
including, possibly, some legal questions.

4. I am in accord with the desire of this Commission to continue
its investigations and discussions w4th a view' to further considera-
tion of interior-waterway improvements after consultation with trans-
portation experts, and a more detailed consideration of the conserva-
tion of natural resources and coordination between the General Gov-
ernment and States after the conference on conservation to be held
in May.

5. I can not, however, agree with the recommendation for the
establishment at this time of a permanent inland-w^aterways com-
mission, vested with the authority indicated, in addition to or as a
substitute for the existing Commission. Until this Commission shall
have fully carried out the duties allotted to it and prepared a com-
prehensive plan for the improvement and control of the river sys-
tems of the United States, or at least until such work is more advanced
and results more thoroughly considered, I believe a recommendation
for so radical a departure in the methods of planning and executing
the improvement of waterways as that proposed is at least premature.

6. Moreover, it is my belief that further investigation will demon-
sirate that wdien this Commission shall have completed its labors
all necessary cooperation can be secured, and all work proposed for
the permanent commission can be equally well provided for by the
existing agencies of the Government, and that through such agencies,
without the interposition of a permanent commission, improvement
of waterways and attention to allied subjects will be more promptly
accomplished. While fully appreciating the importance of having^
general principles and schemes considered and recommended by a
commission, as is now being done and as wdll continue to be done, I
have grave fear that the scheme of operations recommended in con-
nection with the proposed permanent commission would be found
to be impracticable.

A. I^Iackenzie,
Brigadier-General, Chief of Engineers.



I concur in the report of the Commission, but desire to emphasize
my belief that it is of the highest importance that in dealing with
subjects relating to the respective powers, rights, and interests of
the Nation, States, municipalities, corporations, and individuals,
large powers and a comparatively free hand should be given to an
administrative body of experts in the full development of projects,
lest the complexity of the transactions, the time necessary to secure
Congressional approval, and difference of view as to purpose or
method, may result in indecision and delay, the worst enemies of
effective development.


An ample fund should be provided, to be reinforced from time to
time either by legislative appropriation or by bond issue, and the
administrative board or commission should be given the power, not
only to investigate projects, but also, when determined to be feasible,
to enter, with the approval of the President, upon their immediate
execution; but the power should be limited so as to prevent such
administrative body from entering into any contract unless there are
sufficient unappropriated moneys in the fund to meet the cost thereof.

Unless some method of construction and development, insuring
prompt decision and execution and continuous and consecutive work
by a body of experts is adopted, I fear that the best of projects may
be wrecked in the shoals and quicksands of legislation.

Francis G. Newlands.


The greater portion of the appended statistical and other papers
(including numbers 1 to 10, inclusive) were prepared in the office of
the Bureau of Corporations and were revised by Commissioner Smith.
The remaining papers were prepared either in accordance with the
desire of the Commission or at the request of individual Commis-
sioners by the experts under whose names they appear. .

It has been the purpose in the preparation of these papers to bring
together statistical and other information in a form convenient for

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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 4 of 83)