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VI.: Ohio. - 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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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.
COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN THE ATLANTIC RIVERS, AND THE RIVER ST. LAURENCE AND GREAT LAKES.
Vessels ascend the river St. Laurence from the sea to Montreal. The river Sorel discharges at some distance below that town the waters of lake George and lake Champlain, which penetrate southwardly within the United States. From Montreal to lake Ontario, the ascent of the river St. Laurence is estimated at about 200 feet. From the eastern extremity of lake Ontario, an inland navigation for vessels of more than 100 tons burthen, is continued more than one thousand miles, through lakes Erie, St. Clair, and Huron, to the western and southern extremities of lake Michigan, without any other interruption than that of the falls and rapids of Niagara, between lake Erie and lake Ontario. The descent from fort Schlosser to Devil’s hole, a distance of four miles, which includes the perpendicular falls of Niagara, has by correct measurement been ascertained at 375 feet. The whole fall from lake Erie to lake Ontario, is estimated at 450 feet, making the elevation of lake Erie above tide water, six hundred and fifty feet.
Lake Superior, the largest of those inland seas, communicates with the northern extremity of lake Huron, by the river and rapids of St. Mary’s. The fall of these is not ascertained: but it is said that a small canal has been opened around the most difficult part, by the North West Fur company.
Five of the Atlantic rivers approach the waters of the St. Laurence; viz. The Penobscot, Kennebeck, Connecticut, the North, or Hudson river, and the Tioga branch of the Susquehannah. This last river will afford a useful communication with the rivers Seneca, and Genessee, which empty into lake Ontario. The length of the portage has not been precisely stated; and the general navigation of the Susquehannah has already been noticed. It may however be observed, that it is the only Atlantic river whose sources approach both the western waters, and those of the St. Laurence.
The three eastern rivers, afford convenient communications with the province of Lower Canada, but not with that extensive inland navigation, which penetrates through the United States, within two hundred miles of the Mississippi. No statement has been received of any improvement having yet been made on the Penobscot, or Kennebeck; and a very imperfect account has been obtained of some short canals opened around the several falls of the river Connecticut. One at Bellows’ falls, in the state of Vermont, has been particularly mentioned, and is the highest improvement on the river.
What is called the North river, is a narrow and long bay, which in its northwardly course from the harbor of New York, breaks through, or turns all the mountains, affording a tide navigation for vessels of 80 tons to Albany and Troy, 160 miles above New York. This peculiarity distinguishes the North river from all the other bays and rivers of the United States. The tide in no other ascends higher than the granite ridge, or comes within thirty miles of the Blue Ridge, or eastern chain of mountains. In the North river, it breaks through the Blue Ridge at West Point, and ascends above the eastern termination of the Catskill, or great western chain.
A few miles above Troy, and the head of the tide, the Hudson from the north, and the Mohawk from the west, unite their waters, and form the North river. The Hudson in its course upwards, approaches the waters of lake Champlain, and the Mohawk, those of lake Ontario.