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Holmes River is an affluent of the Choctawhatchee River. It is a wide and deep stream, but was much obstructed by snags, logs, and` overhanging trees. No work was done on it until last winter.
During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1891, the sum of $3,000 was expended in removing these obstructions. For this purpose the logboat belonging to the Choctawhatchee River was used.
The river is now in good navigable condition, but there is very little trade carried on. The improvement made will probably render the navigation of the river safe for several years to come, and no further appropriation is therefore recommended at present.
July 1, 1890, balance unexpended............
Amount appropriated by act approved September 19, 1830.
June 30, 1891, amount expended during fiscal year
July 1, 1891, balance unexpended
(See Appendix P 5.)
6. Choctawhatchee River, Florida and Alabama.-When work on the improvement was first commenced in 1874, the river, although having an average width of 300 feet, was almost totally obstructed, only admitting narrow barges and flats of light draft to be navigated, and the channel-if a channel existed at all-was such as to be exceedingly dangerous to navigation, particularly during low-water stages.
The project for improvement adopted in 1880 contemplated the improvement of the river to obtain a low-water navigable channel from its mouth to Geneva, Ala., an estimated distance of 125 miles, and a navigable high-water channel from Geneva to Newton, Ala., an estimated distance of 37 miles.
In accordance with the act of August 11, 1888, an examination and partial survey were made for the purpose of estimating the cost of providing low water navigation from Geneva to Newton. The cost of this improvement was estimated at $57,125.
The act of September 19, 1890, provided for continuing the improvement under the existing projects, and to secure low-water navigation between Geneva and Newton, "provided that no part of the money appropriated should be expended above Hollis Bridge until a draw ap proved by the Secretary of War was put in said bridge." The present project therefore provides for obtaining a low-water navigable channel from its mouth to Newton, Ala., an estimated distance of 162 miles, by removing logs and snags from the channel and overhanging trees from the banks, and by excavating sand bars, and by works of contraction and shore protection.
The expenditure up to June 30, 1890, of $96, 126.23 has resulted in giving a fairly navigable channel, except at extreme low water, from the crossing of the Pensacola and Atlantic Railroad at Caryville, Fla., to Geneva, Ala., a distance of 25 miles, and a partially improved channel from Geneva to Pates Landing, a distance of 25 miles. As a consequence steamboats now run with considerable regularity between Geneva, Ala., and Caryville, Fla., and the population of the country is increasing rapidly. The river is the only outlet for their products, and its improvement is therefore of the greatest importance to the development of this region.
During the year ending June 30, 1891, $1,303.37 has been expended in the care and preservation of plant, and in snagging operations between Geneva and Caryville.
The Alabama Midland Railroad, recently completed from Montgomery, Ala., to Bainbridge, Ga., passes through Newton, Ala., and it is doubtful if that portion of the river between Geneva and Newton would now be much used even if the improvement were completed.
On account of the great importance of that portion of the river between Geneva and Caryville, the greater part of the funds now available will be expended during the coming year in work upon it, although, if practicable, the snag-boat will proceed as far as Pates Landing. On account of the changes which have taken place since the estimate submitted in 1880, it is not now possible to submit an accurate estimate of the cost of completing the existing project. The ultimate cost will be very much reduced if sufficiently large appropriations were made to enable works of contraction and shore protection to be built where needed. This has not hitherto been practicable, and the work has been confined almost entirely to snagging operations.
July 1, 1890, balance unexpended
Amount appropriated by act approved September 19, 1890..
Amount that can be profitably expended in fiscal year ending June 30, 1893 Submitted in compliance with requirements of sections 2 of river and harbor acts of 1866 and 1867.
(See Appendix P 6.)
13, 373.77 1, 303.37
12, 070.40 1,440. 01
10, 630. 39
7. Harbor at Pensacola, Florida.-In 1878 the channel was much obstructed by wrecks, and a survey made in 1879 showed that the inner bar had shoaled to a depth of 19 feet at mean low water. This depth was not sufficient to accommodate a large number of vessels seeking entrance to the port. The western shore of the entrance to the harbor, which is the site of old Fort McRee was fast washing away, and a large portion of the fort had disappeared. Corresponding changes in the directions of the channel and of the tidal currents had occurred, and to this was partly attributed the shoaling of the inner bar. The removal of the wrecks was began in 1878.
The plan of improvement adopted in 1881, in accordance with the report of the Board of Engineers, contemplates dredging a channel 300 feet wide and 24 feet deep at mean low water across the inner bar, for the temporary relief of the navigation of the harbor, and protecting the shore line near Fort McRee from further abrasion by the construction of jetties and works of shore protection, with a view to retaining this position for defensive purposes, and preventing further injurious changes in the tidal currents.
The expenditure up to June 30, 1890, of $241,844.89 has resulted in obtaining, temporarily, a channel across the inner bar reported to be 120 feet wide and 24 feet deep, at mean low water, at the conclusion of dredging operations in 1886. Since then no dredging has been done and the channel has gradually shoaled until it now has a least depth of 19 feet at mean low water.
Between 1881 and 1887, the further abrasion of the western shore line, near Fort McRee, was stopped by the construction of two jetties north of the fort, and nearly at right angles to the shore, having lengths, respectively, of 360 and 220 feet. The jetties were originally of a ten
tative character, and were built of two parallel rows of close piling, filled with alternate layers of brush and stone, with side slopes of similar construction. They were exposed to the attacks of the teredo and to the destructive action of severe storms.
Previous to 1888, notwithstanding that much repair and auxiliary work had been done to preserve them, not more than 25 per cent, of the jetties remained. Their usefulness in preserving the shore line having been demonstrated, it was then decided to rebuild them in a substantial manner by covering them with a coping and side slopes of heavy stone and concrete blocks.
This work was completed in April, 1890, and, although this coast has been visited by unusually heavy storms since then, the reconstructed jetties have stood perfectly, without settlement, or derangement.
During the year ending June 30, 1891, $7,585.15 has been expended in the care and preservation of the property belonging to the improvement; in testing cements used in the construction of the jetties; in completing the survey of the entrance to the harbor, and in making a relief map thereof; in defraying the expenses of the Board of Engineers on the further improvement of the harbor, and in obtaining the data required by the Board.
On January 7, 1891, the officer in charge submitted his report of the survey of the previous summer. The subject of the further improvement of the harbor was then referred to a Board of Engineers, and its report is printed in Appendix P 7.
In June, 1891, the continued shoaling of the inner bar was causing such serious detriment to the commercial interests of the port, many loaded vessels being unable to leave the harbor, that the hiring of the suction dredge Bayley from the Mississippi River Jetty Company was authorized.
This dredge commenced work on June 29, 1891, and it is expected, with the favorable weather to be expected at this season of the year, that a channel across the inner bar 150 feet wide and sufficiently deep to admit the passage of vessels drawing 23 feet of water will be completed within 45 days with the available funds.
July 1, 1890, balance unexpended....
Amount appropriated by act approved September 19, 1890.
June 30, 1891, amount expended during fiscal year
$8, 155. 11 25,000.00
33, 155. 11 7,585.15
Amount that can be profitably expended in fiscal year ending June 30, 1893 500, 000. 00 Submitted in compliance with requirements of sections 2 of river and
harbor acts of 1866 and 1867.
(See Appendix P 7.)
8. Escambia and Conecuh rivers, Florida and Alabama.-These rivers are really one river; that portion of the river from its headwaters in South Alabama to the Florida and Alabama State line being called the Conecuh River, and the portion in Florida being called the Escambia River. It empties into the Escambia Bay, which is itself an indentation from Pensacola Bay. Fully 50 per cent. of the immense quantity of timber shipped from Pensacola Harbor is cut on lands tributary to this river, and floated down in rafts to Pensacola Harbor.
The river originally was much obstructed by snags, sunken logs, and rock shoals, and by a very shoal bar at the mouth. Steamboat navigation was not attempted, and rafts had much difficulty in passing down the river.
The plan of improvement for this river, adopted pursuant to examinations and surveys made in 1878 and 1879, contemplates the removal of snags, sunken logs, and other obstructions from the channel, cutting through rock shoals and deepening sand-bars, by works of contraction and shore protection, from the mouth of the river, in Pensacola Bay, to the mouth of Indian Creek, an estimated distance of 293 miles, for the purpose of facilitating the movement of timber down the river, affording at the same time facilities for steamboat navigation.
The amount expended to June 30, 1890, $57,230.92, has resulted in twice dredging the channel through the bar at the mouth of the river, and the removal of obstructions to navigation, so that at that time the river was navigable at ordinary stages, for steamboats drawing 5 feet of water, from Ferry Pass to Skinners Landing, a distance of 17 miles; and for boats drawing 3 feet to the Alabama State line, and the river had been so far cleared of logs, snags, and overhanging trees that the lower 133 miles was in a fair navigable condition for all stages of water higher than 23 feet above low water.
During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1891, $2,370.83 was expended upon this improvement, but on account of the late passage of the river and harbor act, no work other than repairs to the plant was undertaken until May, 1891; since which time the log boat has been employed in pulling snags and cutting overhanging trees from Molino up-stream.
It is not probable that for some time, at least, this river will be much used by steamboats for commercial purposes, but the most extensive timber lands of South Alabama and Florida are tributary to it, and millions of feet of lumber are annually rafted down it for export from Pensacola Harbor.
In order that this business may be carried on safely and profitably, the river should be kept free from snags and like obstructions by an efficient snag boat, and the bar at the mouth of the river should be dredged in order that the large tugs employed in Pensacola Harbor may ascend to Ferry Pass for the purpose of towing out rafts.
To keep the river free from obstructions the snag boat should be provided with its own motive power, the cost of which is estimated at $3,000. The cost of dredging the bar at the mouth of the river to a depth of 8 feet at mean low water is estimated at $12,000.
The annual cost of operating the snag-boat is estimated at $5,000, or $10,000 for 2 years.
July 1, 1-90, balance unexpended....
Amount appropriated by act approved September 19, 1890....
July 1, 1891, balance available......
Amount that can be profitably expended in fiscal year ending June 30, 1893 25, 000, 00 Submitted in compliance with requirements of sections 2 of river and harbor acts of 1866 and 1867.
(See Appendix P 8.)
9. Alabama River, Alabama.-Before improvements were begun in 1878, the river was so full of sunken logs and snags, and so obstructed
by bars, shoals, and reefs-on many of which the low-water depth was only 2 to 3 feet-that navigation was both difficult and dangerous, and many boats were destroyed. At low-water stages boats could only run by daylight, and long detentions at the bars and shoals were frequent. The normal width of the upper river is from 500 to 600 feet, and of the lower river from 700 to 800 feet. In the portions of the river having these widths the low-water depths vary from 8 to 15 feet; but where the river has been widened by the erosion of its banks, bars, shoals, and reefs are found. That portion below the Cut-off-20 miles in length-was absolutely inaccessible during low water, and all landings situated thereupon were deprived of steamboat service during that
The plan of improvement adopted, pursuant to an examination and partial survey of this river, made under act of Congress approved March 3, 1875, provided for obtaining a channel 200 feet in width and 4 feet in depth, at low water, from the mouth of the river, 44 miles above Mobile, to Wetumpka, Ala., a distance of 323 miles, by the removal of snags, logs, etc., from the channel; cutting overhanging trees from the banks; removing rock and gravel reefs by blasting and dredging; and deepening sand bars by works of contraction and shore protection.
The expenditure of $160,402.05 up to June 30, 1890, has resulted in clearing the river of dangerous snags and overhanging timber; in the improvement of eight of the worst bars, by works of contraction, which, however, are now in bad condition, and need extensive repair; in opening the 20 miles of the river below the Cut-off; in an increased safety to navigation; greater regularity and reduction in time of trips, and enabling boats to carry larger loads.
Boats now run by night as well as by day at all stages of water. During the year ending June 30, 1891, $7,042.17 were expended in maintaining the existing improvement.
The act of September 19, 1890, required an examination of the Alabama River, Alabama, to ascertain the cost of securing a 6-foot channel at low water from the mouth to Wetumpka, Ala. The report of the officer in charge was submitted on December 10, 1890, and is published in House Ex. Doc. No. 140, Fifty-first Congress, second session. (See Appendix P 15.)
For the reasons that the present large and growing commerce of the Alabama River will be greatly benefited by having a 6 foot channel, and that this river, with its tributaries, forms a natural route for the transportation to the Gulf of Mexico of the coal and iron products of a vast territory, and that a 6-foot channel will be required for the profitable development of this traffic, the officer in charge considered the river worthy of improvement as proposed, and estimated the cost of securing a 6-foot channel at $386,251, and the annual cost of maintaining the same at $10,000. The views of the officer in charge were concurred in by the Division Engineer.
It is estimated that $100,000 can be profitably expended during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1893.
July 1, 1890, balance unexpended
Amount appropriated by act approved September 19, 1890..
24, 597.95 7,042. 17
17, 555.78 1, 154, 05