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1st Session.

No. 136.

NAVIGATION THROUGH BRIDGES OVER THE UPPER MIS

SISSIPPI RIVER.

LETTER

FROM

THE SECRETARY OF WAR,

TRANSMITTING

A report relatire to the facilitation of navigation through the various bridges

orer the Upper Mississippi River.

MARCH 27, 1882.-Referred to the Committee on Commerce and ordered to be printed.

WAR DEPARTMENT,

Washington City, March 24, 1882. The Secretary of War bas the honor to transmit to the House of Representatives, for the information of the Committee on Commerce, a communication from the Chief of Engineers of yesterday's date and the accompanying special report from Captain A. Mackenzie, Corps of Engineers, relative to the importance of action by Congress tending to the facilitation of navigation through the various bridges over the Upper Mississippi River, and especially through those which have been constructed under laws prior to that of June 1, 1872.

ROBERT T. LINCOLN,

Secretary of War. The SPEAKER

of the House of Representatives.

OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF ENGINEERS,

UNITED STATES ARMY,

Washington, D. C., March 23, 1882. Sir: I have the honor to submit the inclosed copies of a special report to this office from Capt. A. Mackenzie, Corps of Engineers, in reference to the importance of action by Congress tending to the facilitation of navigation through the various bridges over the Upper Mississippi River, and especially through those which have been constructed under laws prior to that of June 1, 1872.

The question of bridging navigable rivers of the United States is one of great and growing importance, and demands most careful consideration

in order that the vast interests of coinmerce and navigation may receive their proper meed of protection.

The report of Captain Mackenzie shows clearly the necessity for legislation in regard to the bridges over the upper Mississippi River; is en titled to careful consideration, aud is commended accordingly.

I beg to recommend that copies be sent the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives for the information of the Committees on Commerce of those bodies respectively. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. G. WRIGHT,

Chief of Engineers, Brig. and But. Maj. Gen. Hon. ROBERT T. LINCOLN,

Secretary of War.

UNITED STATES ENGINEER OFFICE,

Rock Island, I., Jarch 9, 1882. GENERAL: I have this day forwarded a special report showing the great importance of some action which may lead to facilitating navigation through the various bridges on the Upper Mississippi, and especially those which were built under laws framed prior to the act of June 1, 1872.

As regards the bridges indicated, neither Congress nor the Secretary of War have, except on general principles, the power to compel ad ditional securities to be provided by the bridge or railroad companies.

The report gives information that may assist those who are now agi. tating the subject with a view of obtaining the relief to which they are undoubtedly entitled, and it is presented with a knowledge that such information as it contains will probably be called for by Congress.

I have endeavored to avoid any expression of opinion as to how or by whom the work should be done. While the report may, to a greater extent than is ordinarily desirable, touch upon the policy of the work, it appears to me that with a personal knowledge of the facts it would be more proper to give it weight by furnishing the information officially through the Engineer Department than to leave those interested in navi. gation to present the same. Time being of importance, I have forwarded my report in advance of any call for information. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. MACKENZIE,

Captain of Engineers. To the CHIEF OF ENGINEERS, U. S. A.

BRIDGE OBSTRUCTION TO NAVIGATION OF UPPER MISSISSIPPI RIVER.

UNITED STATES ENGINEER OFFICE,

Rock Island, M., March 9, 1882. GENERAL: I have the honor to present for your information a special report on the subject of obstruction to navigation caused by the Upper Mississippi Bridges. With a view to showing the great damage and loss to which the steamboat and lumber interests are continually subjected

from delays and accidents due to want of proper structures, floating or fixed, by means of which the approach to, and passage of, the numerous bridges now spanning the river might be rendered reasonably safe for life and property, and by which the frequent and vexatious delays now necessary at night or in windy weather might be in great measure avoided. On March 3, 1875, Congress called for an inquiry into the expediency of establishing sheer-booms at bridges, and the report of a Board of Engineers, appointed for the purpose of considering the matter, submitted to the honorable, the Secretary of War, February 19, 1877, recognizes the necessity of works for protection to navigation, and presents plans for the various bridges. Since the report was made the river business and injurious effects of bridges built prior to April 1, 1872, have vastly increased and the subject of protection has been continually agitated. It seems, therefore, proper for me to again present this matter to your notice owing to the immense importance of it to all interested in navigation. My belief, which I am sure is shared by all familiar with the wants of the Upper Mississippi, is that no more useful work could be done than that by which the passage of the bridges may be improved.

The two bridges last built, viz, those at La Crosse and Sabula were constructed, subject to the excellent provisions of the act of April 1, 1872, which gives to the Secretary of War full powers in regard to location, plans, &c., and these bridges provided with suitable draws adjacent to the shore, and with long and substantial guard fences, present obstacles to navigation diminished, according to the opinion of experts, fully 70 per cent., as compared with those formerly built. This very fact, demonstrating as it does the practicability of making all bridges reasonably safe, is a strong argument in favor of so doing. The plans presented by the Board of Engineers in their report of February 19, 1877, wonld, in the light of more recent experience, require some modifications, and without desiring to express an opinion as to whom the work should be done by, I would say that if it were to be performed by the government, it would be desirable to revise the plans, after consultation on the ground with the most experienced raft, boat, and packet pilots. Until such new plans are prepared, it is impracticable to give the cost of the work, but an approximate estimate for furnishing a certain amount of relief at all the bridges would be $100,000.

The bridges at which the most trouble is experienced are nine in number, viz:

1. Winona, built under act of July 25, 1866. 2. Dubuque, built under act of July 25, 1866.

3. Clinton, built without authority from Congress, but legalized in 1867.

4. Rock Island, built under act of July 25, 1866, by United States. 5. Burlington, built under act of July 25, 1866. 6. Keokuk, built under act of July 25, 1866. 7. Quincy, built under act of July 25, 1866. 8. Hannibal, built under act of July 25, 1866. 9. Lonisiana, built under acts of March 3, 1871, and June 4, 1872.

During the past few months I have received many letters from promident lumber firms, raftmen, and steamboatmen, and I desire by giving extracts from these, and by calculations based upon information contained inthem, and upon data otherwise in possession of this office, to show approximately the inoney value of the annual damage resulting from bridge obstructions, 70 per cent. of which could probably be saved if adequate protection were afforded.

(Extract from letter of Joseph Reynolds, president and proprietor of the Diamond Jo Line of packets

and towboats, which line carried in 1881 197,931 tons of freight and 16,579 passengers.]

*

age,

DUBUQUE, Iowa, December 23, 100l. SIR:

In regard to the amount of damage the Diamond Jo Line sustained in 1881, I cau inform you about as follows: One barge struck Rock Island bridge in May-dam

$10,000; one barge struck Hannibal bridge in June-damage, $:3,000; one barge struck above Rock Island bridge, in consequence of the bridge, in November-damage, $2,000; total, $15,000. But all this is light compared to the damage we sustain in waiting for wind to go down or daylight to conie, so that we may dare venture through the bridges. I was just talking to the captain of the Mary Morton, and he estimates the damage at $2,500 to that boat's business just from this delay alone, and says it is still more to my other boats, from the fact that he did not tow so many barges and could go through when the others could not venture.

My own opinion is that, without any accidents whatever, the delay on account of darkness, wind, and breaking of tows cost my boats an average of $600 a trip to each, running between Saint Paul and Saint Louis, more than if there were no railroad bridge abutments in the river. I think there is no one improvement to the river where so little money can do the lumbermen and boatnie so much good as in building sheer-looms, dikes, &c., at these bridges. Yours, truly,

JO, REYNOLDS. Capt. A. MACKENZIE.

In another communication Mr. Reynolds says:

But I think amidst of all our wants and needs that the greatest need at present is dikes and booms at the various bridges along the river to protect our boats in jia:sing the draws. It may be, and undoubtedly is, the business of the railroad corporations to erect these protections, but they never will do it, and the sooner the govern ent takes hold of the matter the sooner our boats will be beiter proiected liom these accidents.

(Extract from letter of F. L. Jolinston, secretary Saint Louis and Saint l'aul Packet Line, which car.

ried in 1881 182,075 tons freight and 37,200 passengers.)

SAINT Louis, December 28, 1881. SIR: In reply to yours of the 12th instant to W. F. Davidson, president, will say ibe Saint Louis and Saint Paul Packet Company have sustained losses as follows by collision of their steamboats with bridges, namely : September 30, steamer Minneapolis collided with Hannibal bridge, damage to to boat..

$1,000 November 13, steamer Minneapolis collided with Louisiana bridge, damage to boat

500 November 4, steaner War Eagle collided with Keoklik bridge, damage to boat and cargo (estimated)

40,000

Total

41,500

Yours, respectfully,

F. L. JOHNSTOX, Secretary.

Capt. A. MACKENZIE.

I give below extracts from letters of prominent lumber firms, whose interests are far greater than even those of the packet and towboat companies.

[From W.J. Young & Co., of Clinton, Iowa.}

CLINTON, Iowa, December 15, 1991. DEAR SIR:

Will say that the only serious accident which occurred, or greatest loss, was from towboat Abuer Giles' log-raft which broke upon Clinton bridge, loss 3808. Our other smaller losses at this bridge we would estimate at $500, and at bridges above here through which our boats have to pass, viz, Sabula, Dubnque, La Crosse, and Winona, we estimate our loss by detention at not less than 8,000 for year 1881. Our three boats inade through trips as follows: Sterling, 27; Mills, 31;

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