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COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN THE ATLANTIC AND WESTERN WATERS. - Albert Gallatin, Report of the Secretary of the Treasury; on the Subject of Public Roads and Canals 
Report of the Secretary of the Treasury; on the Subject of Public Roads and Canals; made in pursuance of a Resolution of the Senate, of March 2, 1807 (Washington: R.C. Weightman, 1808).
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COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN THE ATLANTIC AND WESTERN WATERS.
The Apalachian mountains, to use an ancient generic denomination, extend in a direction west of south, from the 42d to the 34th degree of north latititude, approaching the sea, and even washed by the tide in the state of New York, and thence in their southerly course, gradually receding from the sea shore. Viewed as a whole, their breadth may be estimated at 110 miles, and they consist of a succession of parallel ridges, following nearly the direction of the sea coast, irregularly intersected by rivers, and divided by narrow vallies. The ridge, which divides the Atlantic rivers from the western waters, generally known by the name of Allegheny, preserves throughout a nearly equal distance of 250 miles from the Atlantic ocean, and a nearly uniform elevation of 3,000 feet above the level of the sea.
Those mountains may, however, be perhaps considered as consisting of two principal chains: between these lies the fertile lime-stone valley, which, although occasionally interrupted by transversal ridges, and in one place, by the dividing or Allegheny ridge, may be traced from Newburgh and Esopus, on the Hudson river, to Knoxville on the Tennessee.
The eastern and narrowest chain is the Blue Ridge of Virginia, which in its north east course traverses under various names, the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, forms the high lands broken at West point by the tide of the Hudson, and then uniting with the Green mountains, assumes a northerly direction, and divides the waters of the Hudson, and of lake Champlain, from those of Connecticut river. On the borders of Virginia and North Carolina, the Blue Ridge is united by an inferior mountain, with the great western chain, and thence to its southern extremity, becomes the principal or dividing mountain, discharging eastwardly the rivers Roanoke, Pedee, Santee, and Savannah, into the Atlantic ocean; southwardly the Chatahouchee, and the Alabama into the gulph of Mexico, and westwardly the New river and the Tennessee. The New river, taking a northwardly course, breaks through all the ridges of the great western chain, and at a short distance beyond it, unites under the name of Kanhawa, with the Ohio. The Tennessee pursues, at first, a south west direction between the two chains, until having reached, and in a westwardly course turned the southern extremity of the great western chain, it assumes a northwardly direction, and joins its waters with those of the Ohio, a few miles above the confluence of that river with the Mississippi.
The western chain, much broader, and generally more elevated, is known under the names of Cumberland and Gauley mountains, from its southern extremity, near the great bend of the Tennessee river, until it becomes in Virginia, the principal or dividing mountain. Thence in its northerly course, towards the state of New York, it discharges westwardly the Green Briar river, which, by its junction with the New river, forms the Kanhawa, and the rivers Monongahela and Allegheny, which, from their confluence at Pittsburgh, assume the name of Ohio. Eastwardly it pours into the Atlantic ocean, James river, the Potomac, and the Susquehannah. From the northernmost and less elevated spurs of the chain, the Genessee flows into the lake Ontario; and in that quarter the northerly branches of the Susquehanna seem to take their source, from amongst inferior ridges, and in their course to the Chesapeake, to break through all the mountains. From the Susquehannah, the principal chain assumes a more eastwardly direction, and washed on the north by the lateral valley of the river Mowhawk, whilst it gives rise southwardly to the Delaware, it terminates under the name of Catskill mountain, in view of the tide water of the Hudson.
This description has been introduced for the double purpose of pointing out all the rivers which can afford the means of communication, and of shewing the impracticability, in the present state of science, of effecting a canal navigation across the mountains.
The most elevated lock canal of which a correct description has been given, is that of Languedoc, and the highest ground over which it is carried, is only six hundred feet above the sea. It is not believed that any canal has been undertaken, or at least completed in England, of an elevation exceeding 430 feet above the waters united by it. The Allegheny mountain is generally, and from observations made in several places, about 3,000 feet above the level of the sea. The precise height of the dividing ridge was ascertained by the commissioners, who laid out the United States road from Cumberland on the Potomac to Brownsville on the Monongahela, at 2260 above the first, and at 2150 feet above the last river. Cumberland, from the levels taken by the Potomac company, is itself 735 feet above tide water. Although some more advantageous and less elevated places may be found, particularly amongst the ridges which divide some of the upper branches of the Susquehannah from the corresponding streams emptying into the river Allegheny, there is none which is not of an elevation much beyond what has ever been overcome by canals in any other country. The impracticability arises from the principle of lock navigation, which in order to effect the ascent, requires a greater supply of water in proportion to the height to be ascended, whilst the supply of water becomes less in the same proportion. Nor does the chain of mountains through the whole extent, where it divides the Atlantic from the western rivers, afford a single pond, lake or natural reservoir. It may be added as a general feature of American geography, that except in the swamps along the southern sea coast, no lake is to be found in the United States, south of 41 degrees north latitude; and that almost every river, north of 42 degrees, issues from a lake or pond.
The works necessary in order to facilitate the communications from the sea ports across the mountains to the western waters, must therefore consist either of artificial roads extending the whole way from tide water, to the nearest and most convenient navigable western waters; or of improvements in the navigation of the leading Atlantic rivers, to the highest practicable points, connected by artificial roads across the mountains, with the nearest points from which a permanent navigation can be relied on, down the western rivers.
The principal considerations in selecting proper directions for those communications, are, the distance from the navigable western waters, both to tide water, and to the nearest navigable Atlantic river, and the extent of navigation, either natural or susceptible of improvement, which may be afforded by the rivers. Distance alone is mentioned, so far as relates to roads, because the mountains however insuperable for canals, offer no important impediment to land communications. So far from being an insurmountable barrier to commercial intercourse, between the two great sections of the union, it is now ascertained that those mountains may almost in every direction be crossed by artificial roads, as permanent, as easy, and less expensive, than similar works in the lower country. For congress having, contrary to current opinion, directed that the road from Cumberland to Brownsville should be laid out so that its ascent should not in any place exceed an angle of five degrees with the horizon; no difficulty has been experienced in effecting the object without cutting through hills, and although the road thus laid out, be in a distance of 72 miles, two or three miles shorter than that heretofore in use.
Although the distance from the sea to the principal dividing mountain through its whole length, between the western sources of the Susquehannah, and those of the Savannah, be nearly the same, yet the Atlantic bays, penetrating the coast at different depths, and in different directions, the distances from the sea ports to the nearest western navigable waters, vary considerably. Taken in straight lines from each port to the nearest branch, beyond all the mountains, of each of the four great western rivers, they may be stated as follows:
The distance from the same western points, to the upper navigation of the corresponding Atlantic rivers, cannot be stated with precision, as the upper points to which the navigation of those rivers may be improved, is not yet ascertained. The shortest portage between the waters of the Potomac, and those of the Monongahela, in their natural state, from West Port on the Potomac, to Cheat river below the falls, is about fifty miles in a straight line. But in order to secure a tolerable navigation, particularly on the Potomac, the route from Cumberland to Brownsville, (Red Stone old fort) has been preferred, and the distance by the road lately laid out is 72 miles. The portage between the North fork of the Juniata, a branch of the Susquehanna, and the corresponding waters of the river Allegheny, is somewhat shorter. That between Pattonborough, on James river, and the falls of the Kanhawa, exceeds one hundred miles.
The most prominent, though not perhaps the most insuperable obstacle in the navigation of the Atlantic rivers, consists in their lower falls, which are ascribed to a presumed continuous granite ridge, rising about 130 feet above tide water. That ridge, from New York to James river inclusively, arrests the ascent of the tide; the falls of every river within that space being precisely at the head of the tide. Pursuing thence southwardly a direction nearly parallel to the mountains, it recedes from the sea, leaving in each southern river, an extent of good navigation between the tide and the falls. Other falls of less magnitude are found at the gaps of the Blue Ridge, through which the rivers have forced their passage. Higher up the rapidity of the northern rivers, which penetrate through the inferior ridges of the great western chain, encreases as they approach, the dividing or Allegheny mountain; and their sources being nearly at the same elevation, their rapidity encreases in proportion to the shortness of their course. For that reason the navigation of the Susquehannah above the Blue Ridge is better than that of the Potomac, which affords as has been stated, the shortest commun cation from tide water to the nearest western river. The levels of the last mentioned river having been taken by the Potomac company, the general result is annexed, as giving a more correct idea of the navigation of the Atlantic rivers, than could be conveyed in any other manner.
The papers marked (C.) contain the information which has been collected respecting the works executed or contemplated on the great rivers already enumerated. It has not been understood that any improvements of importance had been yet attempted on the Savannah and Pedee, nor on any of the tributary streams of the Ohio; and the communications received under this head, relate only to the Santee, Roanoke, James river, Potomac, Susquehannah, and Ohio.
The Santee or Catawba, is said to be occasionally navigable for near 300 miles, as high up as Morgantown, in North Carolina. Two companies have been incorporated by that state, and that of South Carolina, for the purpose of improving its navigation. The lower falls are above Camden and not far from the arsenal of the United States, at Mount Rock. A canal had been commenced there, but either from want of success in the commencement, or from want of funds, the work appears to be suspended. The market for the produce brought down that river is Charleston; and the river boats were obliged at the mouth of the river to enter the sea, and to reach that port by a navigation along the sea shore, for which they were not calculated. To remedy that inconvenience, and to insure a permanent navigation, a canal has been opened by another company, uniting the Santee with Cooper river, which empties into the harbor of Charleston.
The distance between the points united, is 22 miles: the highest intervening ground was 52 feet above Santee, and 85 feet above the river Cooper; but it has been reduced 17 feet by digging; the descent to Santee being 35 feet, effected by four locks, and that to Cooper 68 feet, effected by nine locks.
The principal supply of water is afforded by springs arising from the marshy ground at the bottom of the canal, and by several drains which collect and bring from an adjacent swamp the sources of the river Cooper. The quantity is said to be seldom deficient; yet a steam engine has been contemplated as perhaps necessary in order to raise from the Santee an adequate supply.
The canal was carried over some small streams by means of aqueducts; inconsiderable ravines have been filled, and the ground was dug in some places to the depth of sixteen feet, in order to preserve the level. But it appears that the roots of trees were the greatest obstacle encountered in digging the canal. Its breadth is 20 feet at the bottom, and 35 feet at top: the depth of water is 4 feet; and it admits boats of 20 tons. The locks made of brick, faced with marble, are 60 feet long, and 10 feet wide.
The capital expended is stated at 650,667 dollars, including sixty negroes and some tracts of land belonging to the company. The canal has been completed six years; the annual tolls had never exceeded 13,000 dollars before the year 1807, and the annual expenses are stated at 7,000 dollars. The want of success in this undertaking, which though completed is very unprofitable, may be ascribed to several causes. The expense compared with the work is much greater than might have been expected, and probably than was necessary. The locks are too small for large boats, which are therefore obliged to pursue the former route down the Santee, and by sea to Charleston; and want of water is alledged as a sufficient reason for the size of the locks. But a canal in that situation cannot in America be profitable unless the navigation of the main river with which it communicates, is rendered safe and permanent; and whenever that of the Santee itself shall have been improved, the utility and profits of the canal will be considerably encreased.
The Lower or Great Falls of Roanoke.
Consist in a succession of rapids, which in a distance of fifteen miles have a fall of ninety three feet. This obstruction is such that almost all the tobacco of that river is transported by land to Petersburgh, on the Appomatox branch of James river. A canal has been contemplated from the upper end of the falls to Murfreesborough, situated on the tide water of a branch of Chowan river, 25 miles above the mouth of Bennet’s creek, which has been before mentioned as one of the lines of communication between Albemarle sound and the Chesapeake. The level is said to be favorable, without any obstructions or vallies in the way. The distance is 38 miles, and the expense of a small canal for boats, drawing 2 feet and a half of water, may be estimated as followeth:
The capital for this canal has never been subscribed, and it has been suggested that it would be practicable to open one to Petersburgh. It is not believed that any hills intervene in that course; and the greatest obstacle will be found in crossing the branches of Chowan river.
A Company incorporated by the state of Virginia, for the improvement of the navigation of the river generally, has removed some obstructions in the upper part of the river, and is bound by the charter to render it so far navigable that there may never be less than 12 inches of water over any of the shoals or rapids, from the upper end of the lower or great falls to Pattonborough, a distance of 220 miles. The natural navigation of the river through that extent is considered as better than that of any other Atlantic river above the falls.
A communication has been opened by the company from Westham, at the upper end of the great falls, to Shockoe hill in the city of Richmond, in the following manner: The water is drawn at Westham from the river into a canal 200 yards in length, at the end of which, boats descending 34 feet through three locks re-enter the river, and after using its natural navigation three miles, are brought by a canal 3 miles and a half in length to a bason on Shockoe hill, where the navigation terminates.
That bason is about 80 feet above tide water, and one mile and a half from Rockets, the port of Richmond. The whole fall from the upper end of the canal at Westham to the bason, may be stated at 48 feet, and the distance at six miles and a half. The canal is 25 feet wide, and admits boats of eight tons drawing three feet of water. The locks 80 feet long, and 16 feet wide, are of solid masonry; but the cement is defective. Three aqueducts have been thrown across valleys intervening in the course of the canal; and some difficult digging was necessary on the side of hills, and through ledges of rocks.
The canal, according to the charter, was intended to have been brought down to tide water. The performance of that condition is now suspended by an act of the legislature of Virginia, and there seems to be a considerable diversity of opinion on that subject. In a national point of view, the plan which will at the least expense put coals on board vessels lying at Rockets, deserves the preference. For coal is in no other part of the United States found in abundance in the vicinity of tide water. At present the expense of transportation by the canal is already reduced to one third of the land carriage.
The original capital of the company amounted to 140,000 dollars, of which the state of Virginia owns fifty thousand; and 91,000 dollars arising from the proceeds of tolls, had before the 1st January, 1805, been applied to the work, making together an expenditure of 231,000 dollars. The annual tolls raised on fourteen thousand tons of country produce, and on two thousand coal boats, have amounted to 16,750 dollars: and the annual repairs and expenses are estimated at 5000 dollars. But as the company draw also a revenue from the rent of water, applied to mills and other water works erected along the canal, they have been able in some years to make dividends of 16,800 dollars, being at the rate of 12 per cent. on the original capital, but of only about 7 per cent. if calculated on the sum of 244,000 dollars, the amount of capital expended, and interest accrued before any dividend was made.
The company incorporated by the states of Maryland and Virginia, for improving the navigation of that river, has executed the following works.
1. At a distance of 12 miles above the head of the tide, which ascends about 3 miles above the city of Washington, the river is 143 feet higher than tide water. At that place designated by the name of Great falls, the boats passing through a canal one mile in length, six feet deep, and twenty five feet wide, descend 76 feet by five locks, 100 feet long, and 12 feet wide each, and re-entering the river, follow its natural bed, eight miles and a half. Another canal of the same dimensions, and two miles and a half in length, brings them then through three locks and by a descent of 37 feet to tide water. This last fall is distinguished by the name of Little falls. The two lower locks of the Great falls, excavated out of the solid rock, have each a lift of 18 feet: the three upper locks of solid masonary are of unequal height, and have together a lift of forty feet. The three locks of the Little falls, are each one hundred feet in length and eighteen feet wide. That breadth is unnecessary, and consumes two much water, a defect which will be remedied, when stone locks will be substituted to those now in use, which being of wood, will soon be decayed.
Three other canals without locks have been opened around three distinct falls: the principal at the Shenandoe falls below Harper’s ferry, and at the place where the Potomac breaks through the Blue Ridge, is one mile in length around a fall of fifteen feet. Between this and the Great falls another canal three quarters of a mile in length, is opened around the Seneca falls. The third, fifty yards in length, has been cut around Houre’s falls, five miles above the Shenandoe falls. Above this place, the navigation has been improved by deepening occasionally the channel, raising the water in shallow places by small dams, and opening sluices along the shore. It is believed that by multiplying the number of those low dams, by throwing the channel along the shore, and when necessary opening canals with or without locks around the principal rapids, the navigation may be improved, perhaps as high up as Cumberland, 188 miles above tide water, to such a degree as to render the river passable for boats the greater part of the year. And if this be found practicable on the Potomac, which is the most rapid of the great Atlantic rivers, the same improvements may with greater facility be effected on any of the others. It will be indispensable, in order to attain that object on the Potomac, that additional canals with locks, should be opened at the Shenandoe or Blue Ridge falls, which as has already been stated, fall 43 feet, in the distance of five miles.
2. The Shenandoe, a river nearly as large as the Potomac itself, after a course of 250 miles through the Great Lime-stone valley, unites its waters with those of the Potomac at Harper’s ferry, just above the Blue Ridge. From Port Republic till within eight miles of the Potomac, a distance of near 200 miles, it affords a good navigation, the fall of the river being at the rate of less than two feet a mile. In the last eight miles it falls eighty feet, and was impassable before the improvements completed last year by the Potomac company. Six different canals, 20 feet wide, four feet and a half deep, and extending altogether 2400 yards, have been opened round the most difficult falls. Through those, and five stone locks, 100 feet long and 12 feet wide each, and effecting together a descent of near fifty feet, the communication is now opened, and will render the undertaking much more productive than heretofore. The water in all those canals and locks, as well as in those executed on the Potomac, is uniformly supplied by the river itself.
The capital originally subscribed amounted to 311,560 dollars, divided into 701 shares; of which the state of Maryland owns 220, and the state of Virginia seventy. The total amount expended, including an additional payment received from late subscribers, 38,000 dollars arising from tolls, which have been applied to the work, and a debt of about 67,000 dollars contracted by the company, amounts to 444,652 dollars. The annual tolls raised on eight thousand tons of sundry articles, valued at more than half a million of dollars, have not before the opening of the Shenandoe, exceeded 15,000 dollars; and the annual expenses and repairs are stated at 5,000 dollars.
One hundred shares of £. 145 sterling each, remain open for subscription.
This river has no perpendicular or altogether impassable falls: but from the head of the tide up to the Pennsylvania line, a distance of ten miles, the navigation is impeded by a succession of dangerous rapids; and these, though occasionally separated by sheets of smooth water, continue 40 miles higher up, at least as far as Columbia; the whole fall from this place, to the head of the tide, being estimated at about 140 feet. The navigation through that distance, at all times dangerous, is practicable only during the high freshets, when rafts and flat bottomed boats, 80 feet long and 17 feet wide, may descend from the several widely extended upper branches of the river. Less dangerous falls are found at the place where it breaks through the Blue Ridge; above which the natural navigation from Middletown upwards, whether up the Juniata, the West branch, or the East branch, is much better than that of the Potomac, and has been improved in several places at the expense of the state of Pennsvlvania. A canal one mile long, and 4 feet deep, with two brick locks, has also been opened around the Conewago falls, in the gap of the Blue Ridge, fourteen thousand dollars having been paid for that object by the same state. Its entrance is difficult, and it is used for water works, being free for navigation, though private property. From Columbia down to the Maryland line, considerable improvements in the bed of the river have also been made at the expense of the two states, and the descending navigation has on the whole been improved: but few boats ever attempt to ascend. Nor is it believed that the natural advantages of the most considerable Atlantic river will ever be fully enjoyed, until a canal shall have been opened the whole way from Columbia, either to tide water, or to the Delaware and Chesapeake canal.
A company incorporated by the state of Maryland, for opening a canal around the falls, in that part of the river which extends from the Pennsylvania line, to tide water, has completed that part of the work, the utility of which is but very partially felt, whilst the bed of the river remains the only communication from its upper extremity up to Columbia.
The canal, 30 feet wide, 3 feet deep, and admitting boats of 20 tons, is nine miles in length, with a fall of 59 feet. The descent is effected by eight stone locks, each of which is 100 feet in length, and 12 feet wide. The water is supplied by the river itself; and in order to cross the rivers Conawingo and Octorara, these, by means of dams, have been raised ten and twelve feet to the level of the canal.
Its defects consist in the want of sufficient breadth of the locks, which do not admit the rafts and wide flat bottom boats, generally used in bringing down the country produce, and in want of water at the lower end of the canal. This last defect may be remedied by extending the canal 700 yards lower down along the edge of the river; and it is probable, that as timber will become more scarce and valuable in the upper branches of the Susquehannah, boats of a different construction will be used. In the mean while, the annual tolls have not yet amounted to one thousand, whilst the annual expenses are stated at twelve hundred dollars, and the capital expended at 250,000 dollars.
The attempts made to open a communication from Middletown, in the Lime stone valley, to Philadelphia, partly by canals, and partly by means of the Skuylkill, will be noticed under the head of “Interior Canals.”
The navigation of the Kanhawa, and of the eastern branches of the Tennessee, Monongahela, and Allegheny, in their course through the mountains, may at a future period be improved. But from the foot of the mountains, all those rivers, and particularly the Ohio, flow with a much gentler current than the Atlantic rivers: a circumstance easily accounted for, when it is recollected that Brownsville on the Monongahela, and at a distance of two thousand miles by water from the sea, is only 115 feet more elevated than Cumberland on the Potomac; whilst this river with all its meanders, reaches tide water, within less than two hundred miles. All those rivers at the annual melting of the snows rise to the height of more than forty feet, affording from the upper points to which they are navigable, a safe navigation to the sea for any ship that can pass over the bar at the mouth of the Mississippi. As early as the year 1793, a schooner built on the Monogahela, between Brownsville and Pittsburgh, reached New Orleans by that extraordinary inland navigation, and arrived safely at Philadelphia. This first essay, stimulated the spirit of enterprize so conspicuous in the American character; and numerous vessels from one hundred to three hundred and fifty tons burthen are now annually built at several ship yards on the Ohio, even as high up as Pittsburgh, and bringing down to New Orleans the produce of the upper country consumed there, carry to Europe, and to the Atlantic ports of the United States, the sugar, the cotton, and the tobacco of Louisiana, and of the states of Tennessee and Kentucky.
That branch of national industry gives value to the immense forests of the Ohio and of its numerous branches, will soon make a considerable and perhaps necessary accession to the shipping of the United States, and has a tendency to diminish the price of freights from New Orleans to the other American and to foreign ports. The importance of this last consideration will be duly felt, if the magnitude of the exports, of which New Orleans is destined to be the emporium, be contrasted with the probable amount of its importations. For such are the labor, time and expense necessary to ascend the rapid stream of the Mississippi; and the nature of its banks annually overflowed on a breadth of several miles, precludes the possibility of towing paths; that whilst the greater part of the produce of the immense country watered by that river and its tributary streams, must necessarily be exported through its channel, the importations of a considerable portion of that country will continue to be supplied from the Atlantic sea ports, by water and land communications, susceptible of considerable improvement. And thus unless another outlet be found for a portion of the exports, or unless the upper country can supply vessels, those exports must necessarily pay a double freight.
The only impediments to that navigation are, on the Tennessee, “the Muscle shoals,” of which no particular account has been received; and, on the Ohio, the falls of Louisville. Ordinary boats can with difficulty pass these in summer, and the navigation is even during the freshets, dangerous for the large vessels. The attention of the legislature of Kentucky, and of the inhabitants of the western country generally, has therefore been particularly drawn to the opening of a canal at that place. A company has been lately incorporated by the state of Kentucky for that purpose, with a capital which may amount to 500,000 dollars, but a small portion of which has yet been subscribed. The expense however is estimated at a sum less than the nominal capital.
The proposed canal would be near two miles in length, and must be dug, in some places to a depth of 27, but generally of about 16 feet; the breadth at the bottom being 20 feet with the necessary slope, would make it generally 68 feet wide at top, and in particular places not less than one hundred. The fall at low water is about 22 feet, and would require three locks of dimensions sufficient to pass ships of 400 tons, and drawing 14 feet of water. The greatest expense will be that of digging and removing the earth, which may be estimated at 400,000 cubic yards, and according to the representation made of the nature of the ground, will not probably cost more than 200,000 dollars. To this may be added 100,000 dollars for the locks and other necessary works, making altogether three hundred thousand dollars. The greatest difficulty seems to be the protection of the locks and canals against the rise of the river, which sometimes overflows the whole ground through which the canal must be opened.
THE expense of the improvements suggested in the communications between the Atlantic and western waters, may be stated as followeth:
Although a canal navigation, uniting the Atlantic and western waters in a direct course across the mountains appears impracticable, yet those mountains may be turned either on the north by means of the Mohawk valley and of lake Ontario, or on the south through Georgia, and the Mississippi territory. The first communication will be noticed under the head of “the river St. Laurence and great lakes.” Of the second it will be sufficient to observe, that the country lying between the sources of the rivers Chatahouchee and Mobile, and the gulph of Mexico, is an inclined plane, regularly descending towards the sea, and that by following the proper levels, it presents no natural obstacle to the opening of a canal, fed by the waters of the two last mentioned rivers, and extending from the tide water on the coast of Georgia, to the Mississippi. The distance in a direct line is about 550 miles, and to be overcome, requires only time, perseverance and labor. When it is recollected that such an undertaking would discharge the Mississippi into the Atlantic, the remarks already made on the trade of that river, and other obvious considerations, will sufficiently point out its immence importance. Nor should the plan, on account of its magnitude, be thought chimerical; for the elevation and other natural obstacles of intervening ground, or want of a sufficient suply of water, and not distance, are the only insuperable impediments to an artificial navigation.
This work, which is presented not as an immediate but as a distant object, worthy of consideration, would probably require ten millions of dollars, and thirty years for its completion. The annual sales of the public lands in the Mississippi territory, which are estimated at fifty millions of acres, would after paying the debt due to the state of Georgia, afford sufficient funds; and the encreased value of the residue, would alone more than compensate the expense.
It is proper to add, that an inland navigation, even for open boats, already exists from New Orleans by the canal Carondelet, to the lake Pontchartrain, thence between the coast and the adjacent islands to the bay of Mobile, and up its two principal rivers, the Alibama, and the Tombigbee to the head of the tide within the acknowledged boundaries of the United States. The current of these two rivers being much less rapid than that of the Mississippi, they have long been contemplated, particularly the Tombigbee, as affording a better communication to the ascending or returning trade from New Orleans to the waters of the Tennessee, from which they are separated by short portages.