Virginia. Board of Public Works.

Annual report of the Board of Public Works to the General Assembly ..., Volume 4 online

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the General Assembly, at their next session.''

^t the session of 1818, the third annual report of the Board
of Public Works was made to the General Assembly; but the
report of the surveys made pursuant to the resolution of the
preceding session, not being then prepared^ that subject was J^^



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reserved for a supplemental report. This supplemental repcMt,
was made the 19tti of January, 1819, accompanied with a re-
port of the Engineer, (Moore,) containing his surveys, plans
and estimates, with a view to alternative methods of improving
the navigation of James and Jackson's rivers, to the mouth of
Dunlap's creek: one plan embracing a navigation by means of
dams, canals and locks, and partly by the natural bed of the
river improved, aflTording at all times three feet depth of wa-
ter, estimated to cost 01,512,926 86, with one kind of locks,
and 101,108,475 80, with another; the other, a sluice naviga^
tion on the best principles, giving two feet water, at all times,
to the mouth of the Cow Pasture riv^, and thence 18 inches
to Dunlap's creek, estimated to cost $ 190,421. The report of
the board was also accompanied by a document from the James
River Company, the result of conferences with the board, con-
taining terms and conditions on which that company would
consent to a modification of their charter, by an augmentation
of their capital, to the amount of H 1,500,000, for the object of
further improving the navigation of James and Jackson's riv-
ers, according to the plan estimated by the Engineer; (Moore,)
to cost $1,108,475 80; of improving Kanawha river, from the
Great falls to the Ohio, according to the plan of the Engineer,
(Baldwin,) estimated to cost {045,000; and of connecting the
eastern and western Waters, by a road from the mouth of Dun-
lap's creek to the falls of Kanawha river. By the terms pro-
posed for a modification of the charter of the James River Com-
pany, the shares of old stock, of S200 each, held by the com-
pany, were to be rated and stand on the books, at four shares
of $ 100 each, in the new company; the Board of Public Works
were to subscribe two-fifths of the whole stock of the company,
that is say, |i71,200; the company were to receive, during the
progress of the improvements, dividends of six per centum
per annum, payable half yearly; and after the completion of the
improvements, nett dividends from tolls, not less than ten, nor
more than fifteen per centum per annum: to enable the com-
pany to pay which dividends, the Ihen tariff* of tolls on the
James river, was to be forthwith revised and increased, so as
to yield double the then produce: when the improvements
reached Lynchburg, the rates of tolls were to be gradually aug-
mented on sections below that place ^and as the improvements
advanced to the highest navigation of tn^\waters of James river,
a further augmentation of toUs to be madevatnd as the improve-
ments advanced by certain sections, on the rNidue of the route,
by the road and the Kanawha river, certain^M$fis were to be



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imposed. The Board of Public Works^ in this supplemental
report, after adverting to the important political and commer-
cial effect of the proposed improvement, refer to the resources
proposed for its accomplishment, and conclude with a recom-
mendation of the scheme proposed by the James River Com-
pany. They say, '* the tolls now paid upon the James river,
amount to H 35,000 per annum, and are gradually increasing:
the toll proposed upon the salt passing down the Kanawha, to-»
gether with a reasonable toll on other articles which are brought
up that river, for the supply of those engaged in salt manufac-
ture, the inhabitants of Gharlestown, and the adjacent popula-
tion, would yield a revenue of $ 30,000 per annum: This, to-
gether with the tolls of the James river, increased as proposed,
would present resources for carrying into effect the whole
improvements proposed by the James River Company,'^ &c.
" The Board of Public Works are-not possessed of sufiicient
informatibn, to enable them to form a decisive opinion, as to
the most judicious method of improving the navigation of the
James river: that object, however, in connection with the pro-
posed communication with, and improvement of the Oreat Ka-
nawha, is believed to be well worth any expense which can be
necessary to procure the best navigation of which the river^is
susceptible; they therefore recommend it to the patronage of
the Legislature, by passing a law to the effect proposed by the
James River Company."

This supplemental report of the Board of Public Works, be-
ing referred to the committee of Roads and Internal Naviga-
tion, <* with leave to report thereupon by bill or otherwise,'* a
bill was reported to the House of Delegates in conformity with
the recommendation of the Board. This bill fairly submitted
to the representatives of the James river section of country, the
proposition of throwing upon the trade of that section the bur-
then of an improvement of the James river, below the Blue
Ridge, upon a scale not called for by the nature and extent of
that trade alone, but which had reference to more extensive
commercial and political objects in which they had only an
interest in common with the whole community. By this bill,^
their views and wishes were tested. Though willing to unite
with their fellow citi2sens in the prosecution of a great national
scheme, which bad been long regarded as of such general
utility, as to foe worthy of the attention of the General Oov-
emment; yet they were unwilling to submit to an impost, to
be levied upon their industry exclusively, for an object in
which they had only a common interest. The consequence

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waSy that this bill did notobtaia the sanction of a law, and the
mode which it proposed, for accomplishing this great work,
seemed to be abandoned. The intention, however, of prose-
(aiting the scheme, upon some just and equitable principle, was
still preserved by the Legislature; and with a view to that ob-
ject, the Legislature adopted a resolution, on the 26th of Fe-
bruary, 1819, directing new surveys, plans, estimates, &c to
be prepared by two Engineers separately, or in conjunction,
under the direction of the Board of Public Works, for the in-
formation of the next General Assembly. This resolution was
adopted at the instance of the delegate from the city of Rich-
mond; it has a preamble in these words: ^^The General As-
sembly of Virginia, deeply impressed with the importance, (as
well in a politicalj as a commercial view,) of connecting the
eastern and western' waters of the State,* by means of the James
and Kanawha rivers; and anxious to extend to an enterprise
of such magnitude and interest^ their legislative patron-
age; and believing that any scheme calculated to effect this pur-
pose, must necessarily involve a considerable expense, which
cannot be reduced to any precise estimate, without the aid of
preliminary trials, and skilful Engineers; and deeming it pro-
per, that the next Legislature, as well as the individuals who
may be disposed to embark in this great work, may be able to
judge with more certainty, as to its practicability and probable
expense: Be it therefore resolved^^^ &c.

At the session of 1819, the resolution of the Greneral As-
sembly, of the 26th of February, 1819, having been complied
with; the Board of Public Works, in a supplemental report,
laid before the Legislature the reports of the principal engi-
neer, Mr. Moore, and assistant engineer, Mr. Bri»s, con-
taining the new surveys, plans and estimates. The Governor
accompanied these reports by a communication, from which
the following extracts are taken:

*^ The skill and industry of two able engineers, successively
employed, with the science of a geometrician of the first order
in our country, have at length demonstrated this grand con-
ception of the Legislature to be practicable, by means entirely
within their power; and the report now made, shews that the
execution will be unattended with any derangement of Jthe es-
tablished course of finance, or the least pressure upon any
part of the community. All minds seem at last to have cast
off the prejudice derived from countries differently governed,
and to have settled in the belief that improvements qfsuch
magnitude can properly be undertaken (^ the General As-



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sembly alone. The competition with other States of the Union,
so honorable and useful when confined to such objects, is en-
couraged and supported, by the consideration of the peculiarly
advantageous circumstances which a more happy climate, and
more favourable approach A*om the sea, manifestly afford to
Virginia. The inland navigation contemplated, will be sus-
pended by ice, the only possible obstruction, not every year;
and then, one-fourth of the time only which must be experi-
enced by our less fortunate rival; besides the sea-risk upon the
tempestuous lakes which her commerce must pass, before it
can meet ours in the markets of the western States* The
subject is now mature for the decision of the Legislature; and
upon that depends what Virginia shall be twenty years hence:
whether as now; or with a great and flourishing commerce;
populous and wealthy cities; re-occupied plains on the east, and
peopled mountains on the west; a connexion founded on^mu"
tual interests with the great population of the western
States, for the most part driver! originally by the want of pro- "
fitable employment from her own territory; and the mighty
influence such advantages cannot fail to create, for the pre-
servation of order, free principles, and union in the con-
federacy,*^

The Board of Public Works recommended that the improve-
ment be made on a ^cale commensurate with the design of for
cilitating the extensive commercial intercourse with the wes-
tern States, which had at all times given to the scheme its chief
importance; and proposed a plan for effecting the improvement
by sections, the whole estimated cost of which, including 25
per cent, for contingencies, they stated at iS 2,3839 736. They
proposed an expenditure of $ 120,000 per annum, and a com-
pletion of the work in twenty years. From two ^ourc^s, the
Coal and Salt trade, a considerable revenue was anticipated
in the early progres3 of the work, which, with that object, it
was proposed should be first accomodated in the order of exe-
cuting tie work. Having given the estimates, on which they
found their recommendation. of the plan proposed, they say-r-
^^ All these considerations being weighed, it seems to be a rea-
sonable conjecture, that the present rate of tolls on James
river need never be raised. It is believed, that upon a pledge,
(for the payment of interest,) of 2 cents per bushel upon Salt
on the Kanawha, with other tolls on the same river according
to the tariff reported to the General Assembly, in the supple-
mental report of the last year; and of 2 cents per bushel on
Coal on the James river; and of the present James river tolls.



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after setting apart a sufficient fund thereout, to pay the ordina-
ty expenses of collection and repairs, and for compensating;'
the present stockholders; with a power reserved to the Legis-
lature, to impose additional tolls on the James river as thB
works may progress and become useful; and of the tolls on
the road; together with a provision, that any deficiency in the
payment of the interest, from the funds so pledged, shall be
made good out of the income of the fund for internal improve*
ment; the sums necessary for carrying the foregoing plan inta
execution, may, from time to time, be borrowed as they may
be wanted. It is understood that the James river canal com-
pany are disposed, for the sake of promoting this important
object, to come into any terms which shall effect it, whilst the
valqe of their existing rights shall be secured to them."

This report of the Board of PubKc Works was laid before
the General Assembly on the 25th of January, 1820, and on the
17th of February, 1820, the Legislature, in accordance with
the recommendation of the Board, passed the act, ^' to amend
the act J entitled^ ^ an act^ for clearing and improving the
navigation of James river/ and for uniting the eastern and
western waters by the James and Kanawha rivers. " This act
was made subject to the ratification of the James River Com-
pany, on or before the 15th of March, 1820; was to take effect
immediately on such ratification, and be thereafter considered
a COMPACT between the Commonwealth and the Company;
subject, however, to be changed or modified by the Legisla-
ture, provided that such change or modification should not
afieot the right of the company to the dividends allowed them
by the act, or impair the security pledged to them for the pay-
ment of interest on loans to be obtained by them under the faith
of the act. By the terms of the act, the company became an
agent, holding »n trust for the benefit of the Commonwealth^
with authority to borrow 8200,000 per annum for the purpose
of effecting the proposed improvements. They were first to
render the Kanawha river navigable, at all seasons, for boats
drawing at least three feet water^ from the Great falls to its
junction with the Ohio; secondly^ to improve the navigation of
James river, from tide water to Pleasants's island, by locks and
wgable canals, affording at all seasons, three feet depth of
iter, and so as to navigate conveniently, boats carrying 1000
shels of coal; thirdly^ to make the best practicable road from
3 mouth of Dunlap's creek to the falls of the Kanawha river^
cording to the suggestions of the report of the Principal En-
^neer; /ottr/Wy, to make navigable" canals and locks from



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Pleasants^s Isjopid to the mouth of Dunlap's creek^ according
to the same report, as nearly as may be, afibrdins three feet
depth of water at all seasons; and fifthly^ to ma^e safe and
convenient communications from tlie river, at such points,
as would afford ample accommodation to the trade on the
river. A tariff of tolls was prescribed for the use of the
improvements, when made, on the Kanawha river and road;
and, as soon as the canal and other works were completed,
from tide water to the highest point on James river^ where
coal is raised, a toll of two cents per bushel was imposed on
all coal passing the same, or any part thereof. The improve-
ment on James river, from tide water to Pleasants's island
alone, being calculated to facilitate the coal trade ^nly, (inas-
much as the old improvement was already sufficient for the
other trade of that section,) a toll was imposed, on the com-
pletion of that section only, upon no other a^tide than coal.
The just rights and interests of that section of country imme-
diately connected with the navigation of the James river, seem
to have been carefully guarded by this act. That the faci)i«*
ties afforded by the old improvements in the navigation of the
river, (to which they had a right, because they had paid for
them,) should be preserved to them until better were provi-
ded; it is declared in the 11th section of the act, tt^at the James
River Company ^< sha% at all times hereafter, keep the bed di
the river, above the point to which any new improvement con-
templated by this act shall be completed for use and connected
with the river, and below Crow's ferry, as good and conve-
nient for navigation as it now is,'' and that additional tolls
should not be imposed, 'till some new and equivalent facility
to transportation was afforded, the ninth section of the act, by
which a pledge is made, that as the works progress, and con^
tribute to reduce the expense of transportation on the James
river, the Legislature will authorise tolls to be collected thereon
in convenient sections, &c. contains a proviso in these words:
<< That such additional tolls shall not exceed one third oj
the saving" in transportation^ up and down the said rivers,
Uthich unll accrue thereby to those who use the said improve-
ment^f taking the average price of transportation for three
years last past as the basis of the estimates;" and provision
is made for ascertaining this average price of transportation,
through a commissioner in each of the counties on James river,
from Botetourt to the city of Richmond, and n(iaking the same
a matter of record. By this act, the stockholders of the James
River Company were to receive, oulpof the tolls and other in-



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come pf the company, for twelve years next^ii(|a^ the 1st of
January, 1820, a dividend of 12 per centum per annum, in
semi-annual payments; and forever thereafter, a^^vidend in
like manner, of 15 per centum per annum. FeflChe payment
of the dividends secured to the compaay, and of the interest
on loans to be obtained for carrying on the improvements, the'
nett produce of the tolls authorised by the act, and of all other
income of the company, was pledged; and the surplus of such
tolls and income was to be paid into the treasury to the credit
of the fund for internal improvement Any deficiency which
should happen at any time, in the nett produce of said tolls and
other income, for the payment of such dividends and interest,
was to be made up out of the income of the fund for Internal
Improvement, to the extent of 1^12,000 per annum.

Jit the session of 1820, an act was passed to amend the act
of 1819. The first section of this act, authorised the James
River Company, until otherwise directed by law, from time
to time as might seem expedient, to graduate the tolls on Salt
on the Kanawha river; and on Coal on the James river, so
that the same be not less than one^ nor more than two cents
per bushel; the General Assembly being of opinion, ^Hhat
the Coal trade on the James river, and the Salt trade on the
Great Kanawha river, ought to be fostered and encouraged.'^
The 8th section restrains the James River Company from bor-
rowing money under the act of 1819, "except so far as they
'Shall be expressly authorised by act of Assembly, fixing the
amount so to be borrowed.'' The 9th and 10th sections,
set apart and appropriate % 18,000 per annum of the income
of the fund for internal improvement, for the payment of in-
terest and purchase of the principal of loans for carrying on
the improvements. The 11th section authorises the compa-
ny to borrow {0300,000, exclusive of jS 50,000 already bor-
rowed from the Literary Fund.

Jit the session q/* 1821, an act was passed, directing the
transfer of 210 shares of the stock of the Bank of the United
States, " to the credit of the fund set apart for the payment of
the interest and the purchase of tlie certificates of the James
river loan," to be in satisfaction of t2i 23,370 59, then dUe to
that fund for arrearages of the annual appropriatfon thereto,
out of the fund for internal improvement; and also directing
the future unexpended balances of that annual appropriation,
to be invested in some productive fund, till wanted for the ob-
ject of its appropriatibn, and then to be converted into money.



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M the session qf 1822, an act was passed, ^^ makine more
effectual provisions for carrying into effect/^ the act; oflSlQ-
The 5th section authorises a further sum, not exceeding eighty
thousand dollars, to be borrowed, if found necessary, " to the
completionqf the three first sections of the worky^ described
in the second section of the act of 1S19. By the siame section
the nett produce of the tolls and other income of the James
River Company, together with the annual sum of % 18,000,
to be paid out of the revenue of the fund for internal improve-
ment, are pledged as a fund for payment of the dividends to
the stockholders of that company, and of the interest on loans
made, and to be made to said company pursuant to law: and
the General Assembly moreover pledge themselves, that they
will provide such other revenues, as shall be necessary to pay
the interest on any loan authorised by law to carry Into effect
the improvements mentioned in the act.

Jit the session of 1823, an act was passed, authojising the
further sum of j2l 400,000, to be borrowed, for the purpose of
completing the works commencedyon the Kanawha road and
river, and the James and Jackson's river canal, to Maiden's
Adventure Falls, and making and constructing a canal
along the margin of James river, fr« m the lower end of Irish
falls, in the cbunty of Amherst, to the mouth of the North ri-
ver in the county of Rockbridge. The 2d section repeals the
pledge contained in the 5th section of the act of 1822, with a
provision, in case the funds so pledged should be inadequate,
in these words: '^ Until such other sufficient funds shall be pro-
vided by law, so much of the revenue of the fund for internal
impfovement, as may be necessary to supply the deficiency, is
hereby pledged for that purpose." The 4th section, " for the
purpose of ascertaining the best practicable, and most expe-
dient improvement in the navigation, from the Maiden's Ad-
, venture Falls to the mouth of Dunlap's creek, and the proba-
ble cost thereof," directs the Board of Public Works to cause
a new survey to be made by the civil engineer of the State,
aided by some able ,and experienced engineer of another State,
and by three commissioners the most experienced and judi-
cious that can be selected for the purpose; but in the mean
time, the engineer of the State to locate the canal between the
Irish falls and the mouth of the North river. The 8th sec-
tion, directs the Board of Public Works to report to the next
Legislature, ^* a proper tariff of tolls which ought to be paid
for the passage of a canal through the Blue Ridge, between
the Irish falls and the North river, if such canal were ms^de.



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and a proper tariff of tolh, to be paid on the lower naviga-
iion, wfun the improvement to the Maiden^s Adventure
Falls shall be completedJ^

- At the session of 1824, it appeared, that the canal through
the Blue Ridge had been located, and the executipn of the work
contracted for; but that the new survey directed, and other
duties devolved, by the act of 1823, upon the Engineers and
Commissioners, had been but partially executed, and resulted
in some conflict of opinion. . A further loan appeared to be
necessary for completing works commenced, which the com*
mittee of Roads and Internal Navigation recommended that
authority should be given to borrow. But the committee be-
ing of opinion, that the interest upon j2» 350,000, amount of the
new loan proposed, would create fbrther ^^ demands upon the
fund for fnternal improvement, unless other resources should
be found adequate to the payment of that interest;'' also re-
commended, that the 'UoHs on the lower section of the James
and Jackson's river canal," be increased ^Uo such an amount,
that an additional sum of H 20,000 in tolls, shall be received
therefrom." A few days after this committee had reported
on this subject, a report from the Board of Public Works, with
the tariffs prepared under the act of the preceding session, was
laid before the General Assembly. On the 10th of February,
1825, an act was passed, authorising the further sum of 200,000
dollars to be borrowed, ybr completing the works commenced^
and for extending the Kanawha road from the Great Falls to
the lower end of the Salt Works in Kanawha county, in lieu
of the improvement in the navigation of the river above the
town of Gharlestown. The second section of this act repeals
the pledge contained in the second section of the act of the
preceding session. The 20th section, enacts a tariff of tolls
for the use of the mountain section of the James river canal;
and the 19th section prescribes a new tariff greatly aug^
menting the tolls on the lower navigation of James river,
to go into operation as soon as the canal ^*from the basin
in the city of Richmond, to Pleasants^s island, should be
completed." Against the passage of this act, the representa-
tives of the counties between the Blue Ridge and tide water,
interested in the navigation of James river, strongly remon-
strated; because, for the purpose of remunerating an expendi-
ture, which afforded to them no peculiar benefits, and gave
to them no new facilities of transportation, it imposed upon
their trade, and particularly upon their agricultural products,
an enormous increase of tolls.



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Online LibraryVirginia. Board of Public WorksAnnual report of the Board of Public Works to the General Assembly ..., Volume 4 → online text (page 26 of 42)