Bygones of Monroe:
RIVER RAISIN HARBOR-SHIP CANAL
Since the last annual Report of this important work, the operations have advance steadily and satisfactorily, although, in certain instances, unfavorably interfered with by causes beyond the control of those engaged. The operations have been directed to,
1 st -Constructing a permanent dam on both sides of the canal, which will, at the same time, prevent the sliding of the heavy embankments, and secure them hereafter from suffering injury by the action of the water, whether from currents or the wash of steamboats in passing.-Piles have been driven, in pursuance of this plan, on both sides of the work, at then feet apart in a distance of about 3000 feet-the whole length of the canal being 3960 feet. Caps are framed and secured on these piles, along a distance of 2020 feet, and sheet-piling driven behind the caps; and the dams entirely finished along 1880 feet of the work. The unusual, and continued high water, and severe storms, have prevented the entire completion of this portion of the labor during the season, but it will be done during the winter.
2d-The Excavation.-The water with which the canal was filled last fall was pumped out, and the canal, during the winter, and early part of the season, completed to the length of 1880 feet, excepting only the remains of the dams across it, two in number, and a small portion of the bottom of the work not quite finished when the laborers were driven from their work by an unprecedented rise in the water at the west end of the Lake, and the forcing in of one of the cross-dams. To explain this second occurrence of the accident, I beg leave to state the fact, that an accurate observation has shown the mean height of Lake Erie at the western extremity to have been two feet eight inches higher during the whole season, from April to September, than last year, even, at which time it was considered unusually high. A highly respectable gentleman informs me that he has resided on the waters of the Lake forty-four years, and that he has never known the waters so high, through any previous season, by a difference of two feet. The water at this height interfered somewhat with the progress of the work; but when raised some feet in addition, by a violent storm of wind from the north east, the pressure became so unexpectedly great, that the cross-dam the farthest away from the Lake (not the dam that gave way last season) was crushed in, and the work filled.
The amount remaining of the appropriation for 1836 was so small that it was deemed preferable to apply it in the construction of the Piers, and machinery necessary to complete the work next season, rather than to remove the water again, until the available amount should be sufficient to complete the excavation. If the water, the coming season, be at its ordinary level, it is still thought that economy will be consulted in completing the work with the spade. But if, on the contrary, the Lake should continue its present extraordinary height, it is recommended to complete the excavation by dredging. An offer has been submitted (by the contractors for the steam dredging machine) to execute the whole work of excavation at 20 cents per cubic yard; they using for the purpose, the machine now being constructed, and the government completing the pile-dam.
3d. Piers.-These are well in progress on each side of the mouth of the canal, to the distance of 450 feet into the lake, that being about half the requisite length. It has been found impossible to make a reasonable contract for timber or stone, and both are purchased in market. In addition to this, a quarry has been opened by laborers employed, and the stone is now being procured to fill the piers principally in that manner.
4 th . Mechanics have been employed in constructing an excellent pile-boat, stone and crane scows, for this and the coming season, and in repairing the old machinery.
It is greatly to be regretted, particularly in the case of this work, that the appropriation for the year had not been earlier made, and of sufficient amount to complete the work.
The number of hands may be increased without increasing the expense, except in proportion to the additional work done, and the excavation completed in one season. The winter is decidedly the season most favorable to this work-the excavation, as well as the piers. There is not a shadow of doubt of the perfect and complete accomplishment of the work. An estimate for its completion (marked M.) is submitted; and the appropriation of the whole amount respectfully and earnestly recommended.
As requested by several of our subscribers, and others, we give the foregoing extract from the Lake Erie Superintendant's Report another insertion, as the means of giving more general and extended information on a subject of so much interest, not only to this community and the State, but also to friends abroad, and to the public.
We now add a brief statement of the expenses as estimated for the completion of the work. The Dredging Machine, which is contracted for, and to be finished in June next, is to cost the sum of $15,500.
This machine, though intended for the use of the various harbors of Lake Erie, as it may be required, is first to be tried, and its utility tested at the River Raisin Harbor.
The expense of completing the excavation is estimated at $16,725,40.
The additional Pier work, at $18,700,20.
The cost of Piles, square timber, Planks, Carpentry, the placing of the cribs and cap-pieces, filling the cribs, compensation to superintendent and commissioner, and other smaller items and incidental expenses, are computed at $10,626,00.
Making, in all $61,561,00.
This presents only a condensed view of the expenses, all which, as set forth in this Report, are particularly specified, and every item separately stated.
In view of this subject, it seems not improper to invite both individual and public attention to this village, as it now is, a wealthy, flourishing, prosperous, and thoroughly business-driving place, situated upon a fine stream affording abundant water-power for all the hydraulic purposes that ever may be necessary to meet all the wants, and to furnish all the accommodation and facilities which the surrounding fertile and productive country, even when fully populated, can require. Nay, more: the water-power if fully improved, is adequate to carry all the machinery, of various kinds, operated by water power, necessary to supply one half of the state of Michigan; and yet it lies unimproved, neglected, and useless. This, however, cannot long be said. The time will now soon come when the worth and importance of these privileges will be more justly estimated. When our Ship Canal, now in so prosperous and promising a condition, shall be completed, or whenever its speedy completion shall no longer be doubted-and that time is now-our capitalists, or others from the East, or elsewhere, will eagerly invest their surplus funds in hydraulic, and other improvements, in this place.
Again it may be well remarked, that Monroe, possessing an intermediate location between Detroit and Toledo, and in the direct line of travelling and commercial intercourse between Buffalo and Chicago, presents the most natural point for the concentration of business for the accommodation of many of the more wealthy and rapidly growing towns and settlements in the interior of this state, as well as for continued communication and intercourse between the Lakes Erie and Michigan.
Besides, with our harbor completed, and our Rail-Roads in operation, as they soon will be, and even now, in the winter season, Monroe is the most eligible point for the location of a Distributing Post Office for an important portion of Michigan.
Monroe Times, Dec. 29, 1836 p2