Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XXI.: INTERCOMMUNICATION. - Society, Manners and Politics in the United States
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LETTER XXI.: INTERCOMMUNICATION. - Michel Chevalier, Society, Manners and Politics in the United States 
Society, Manners and Politics in the United States: Being a Series of Letters on North America, translated from the third Paris edition (Boston: Weeks, Jordan & Co., 1839).
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Buffalo, (N. Y.) July 9, 1835.
The territory of the United States consists; 1. of the two great inland basins of the Mississippi and the St. Lawrence, which run, the former from north to south towards the Gulf of Mexico, the latter from south to north toward the gulf to which it gives its own name: 2. on the eastern side, of a group of smaller basins, which empty their waters into the Atlantic ocean, and of which the principal are those of the rivers Connecticut, Hudson, Delaware, Susquehanna, Potomac, James, Roanoke. Santee, Savannah, and Alatamaha. The Alleghany Mountains, which, from their lying in the direction of the length of the continent, are called the back-bone of the United States, form a natural water-shed, dividing the great inland basins from the eastern group of small basins. On the west, the valleys of the St. Lawrence and Mississippi are bounded by the Mexican Cordilleras, which here take the name of Rocky Mountains. At the foot of this chain spreads out a wide desert, bare of vegetation, and which, excepting some oases, can never, it is said, be peopled by man.
Almost the whole English-American population is as yet on the left of the Mississippi. On the right bank there is only one State, and that one of the least important of the confederacy, and one Territory, that of Arkansas, which will soon become one of the members of the Union.* The Alleghany chain does not reach a great height; being hardly as lofty as the Vosges, while the Rocky Mountains exceed in elevation the Pyrenees and even the Alps.
The Alleghany system, although of no great height, rises from a very wide base, of which the breadth is nearly 150 miles by an air-line. Viewed as a whole, it consists of a number of cavities separated by as many ridges or crests, and stretching with great uniformity, nearly from one end of the chain to the other, from the shores of New England, where the mountains are washed by the sea, to the Gulf of Mexico, in the neighbourhood of which they gradually sink down. These alternations of the ridges and cavities form a series of parallel furrows, which may be traced on the surface, with some breaks, through a distance of 1200 or 1500 miles. The geological formations are arranged very nearly in conformity with these furrows, through great distances; there are, however, exceptions from this rule, for sometimes the same layer is seen to pass from one furrow to another, always cutting the former at a very acute angle.
Notwithstanding this general character of regularity, these cavities are not hydrographical basins or river valleys. But the rivers, instead of hollowing out beds between two successive ridges, and thus passing off to the sea, frequently pass from one furrow to another, breaking through the weak points of the ridges. These openings or gaps, as they are here called, are highly useful as routes for roads, canals, and railroads, enabling the engineer, by following the course of the rivers, to flank heights, which it would have been almost impossible to top. Of all these openings the most interesting is that made by the Potomac through the Blue Ridge, at Harper’s Ferry, which Jefferson, in his Virginian enthusiasm, said was worth a voyage across the Atlantic.
The United States may then be divided hydrographically into two distinct regions, the one to the east, the other to the west, of the Alleghanies; or into three, as under: 1. the Mississippi valley: 2. the valley of the St. Lawrence with the great lakes: 3. the Atlantic coast. This vast country may also be divided into the North and the South, and it has two commercial capitals, New York and New Orleans, which are, as it were, the two lungs of this great body, the two galvanic poles of the system. Between these two divisions, the North and the South, there are radical differences, both in a political and an industrial point of view. The social frame in the South is founded on slavery; in the North, on universal suffrage. The South is a great cotton-plantation, yielding also some subsidiary articles, such as tobacco, sugar, and rice. The North acts as factor or agent for the South, selling the productions of the latter, and furnishing her in return with those of Europe; as a sailor, carrying her cotton beyond sea; as an artisan, making all her household utensils and farming tools, her cotton-gins, her sugar-mills, her furniture, wearing apparel, and all other articles of daily use, and finding her also in corn and salted provisions.
From these views it appears that the great public works in the United States must have the following objects: 1. To connect the Atlantic coast-region with the region beyond the Alleghanies; that is, to unite the rivers of the former, such as the Hudson, the Susquehanna, the Potomac, the James, or its bays, such as the Delaware and the Chesapeake, either with the Mississippi or its tributary the Ohio, or with the St. Lawrence, or the great lakes Erie and Ontario, whose waters are carried by the St. Lawrence to the Ocean: 2. To form communications between the Mississippi Valley and that of the St. Lawrence, that is, between one of the great tributaries of the Mississippi, such as the Ohio, the Illinois, or the Wabash, and Lake Erie or Lake Michigan, which, of all the great lakes of the St. Lawrence basin, reach the furthest southwards. 3. To connect together the northern and southern poles of the Union, New York and New Orleans.
Independently of these three new systems of public works, which are in fact, in progress, and even in part completed, there are numerous secondary lines, intended to make the access to the centres of consumption more easy, or to open outlets from certain centres of production, whence arise two new classes of works; the one including the various canals and railroads, which, starting from the great cities as centres, radiate from them in all directions, and the other, comprising the similar works executed for the transportation of coal from the coal-regions.
Lines Extending Across the Alleghanies.
The works which have hitherto almost wholly occupied, and still chiefly occupy, the attention of statesmen and business men in the United States, are those designed to form communications between the East and the West. There are on the Atlantic coast four principal towns, which long strove with each other for the supremacy; namely, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. All four aimed to secure the command of the commerce of the new States which are springing up in the fertile regions of the West; and they have sustained the struggle with different degrees of success, but always with a rare spirit of intelligence. They have not, however, been equally favoured in respect to natural advantages. Boston is too far north; she has no river which permits her to stretch her arms far toward the West, and she is surrounded by a hilly country, which throws great obstacles in the way of rapid communication, and makes all works designed to promote it expensive. Philadelphia and Baltimore are shut up by ice almost every winter, and this obstruction is, on the part of the latter,* a drawback from the other advantages of her position, her greater nearness to the Ohio, her more central latitude, and the beauty of her bay, which is above 250 miles in length, and receives numberless streams, as the Susquehanna. Potomac, Patuxent, Rappahannock, &c. Philadelphia is badly placed; Penn was led astray by the beauty of the Schuylkill and the Delaware; he thought that the broad plain spread out between their waters to the width of nearly three miles, would afford an admirable site for a city, whose streets should be run with regularity, and whose warehouses, easy of access, would permit thousands of vessels to load and unload at once. He forgot to secure for his city a great hydrographical basin, capable of consuming the merchandise which it should import, and of sending it in return the products of its own labour, and he neglected to make an examination of the Delaware, which he took for a great river, but which, unluckily is not so. If he had founded the city of Brotherly Love on the banks of the Susquehanna, it might have maintained a long struggle against New York.
New York is, then, the queen of the Atlantic coast. This city stands on a long, narrow island, between two rivers (the North River and the East River); ships of any burden and in any numbers may lie at the wharves; the harbour is very rarely closed by ice; it can be entered by small vessels with all winds, and by the largest ships at all times except when the wind is from the northwest. New York has beside the invaluable advantage of standing upon a river for which some great flood has dug out a bed through the primitive mountains, uniformly deep, without rocks, without rapids, almost without a slope, and cutting through the most solid mass of the Alleghanies at right angles. The tide, slight as it is on this coast, flows up the Hudson to Troy, 160 miles from its mouth; and such is the nature of its bed, that whale-ships are fitted out at Poughkeepsie and Hudson, of which the former is 75 and the latter 116 miles above New York, and that, except in the lowest stage of the water, vessels of 9 feet draft can go up to Albany and Troy, in any tide.
New York possesses in addition great advantages in respect to the character of its population. Originally a Dutch colony, conquered by the English, and lying in the neighborhood of New England, she presents a mixture of the solid qualities of the Saxon race, of the Dutch phlegm, and the enterprising shrewdness of the Puritans. This mixed breed understands admirably how to turn to account all the advantages which nature has bestowed on the city.
Hardly was the war of independence at an end, when the great men whose patriotism and courage had brought it to a happy close, filled with ideas of the wealth yet buried in the bosom of the then uninhabited West, began to form plans for rendering it accessible by canals. If it is true, that Prussia, in the time of Voltaire, resembled two garters stretched out over Germany, the United States in the time of Washington and Franklin, and it is only fifty years since, might be likened to a narrow riband thrown upon the sandy shore of the Atlantic. Washington at that time projected the canal which has since been begun according to the plans of Gen. Bernard, and which seeks the West by following up the Potomac; but from want of capital and experienced engineers, what in our day has become a long and fine canal, was then merely a series of side-cuts around the Little Falls and Great Falls of the Potomac. At the same time, the Pennsylvanians made some unsuccessful efforts and spent considerable sums, in ineffectual attempts to render the Schuylkill navigable, and to connect it with the Susquehanna. In the State of New York, some short cuts, some locks and sluices, were then the only prelude to greater schemes.* The works undertaken at that time and during the fifteen first years of the present century could not be completed, or failed in the expected results. One work only was successfully executed, the Middlesex Canal, which extends from Boston to the River Merrimack at Chelmsford, a distance of 27 miles.†
The war of 1812 found the United States without canals, and almost without good roads; their only means of intercourse were the sea, their bays, and the rivers that flow into them. Once blockaded by the English fleets, not only could they hold no communication with Europe and India, but they could not keep up an intercourse among themselves, between State and State, and between city and city, between New York and Philadelphia for instance. Their commerce was annihilated, and the sources of their capital dried up. Bankruptcy smote them like a destroying angel, sparing not a family.
First Line. Erie Canal.
The lesson was hard, but it was not lost. The Americans, to do them justice, know how to profit by the teachings of Providence, especially if they pay dear for them. The project of a canal between New York and Lake Erie, which had already been discussed before the war, was eagerly taken up again after the peace. De Witt Clinton, a statesman whose memory will be ever hallowed in the United States, succeeded in inspiring his countrymen with his own noble confidence in his country’s great destiny, and the first stroke of the spade was made on the 4th of July, 1817. In spite of the evil forebodings of men distinguished for their sagacity and public services; in spite of the opinion of the venerated patriarch of democracy, of Jefferson himself, who declared it necessary to wait a century longer before undertaking such a work; in spite of the remonstrances of the illustrious Madison, who wrote that it would be an act of folly on the part of the State of New York to attempt, with its own resources only, the execution of a work for which all the wealth of the Union would be insufficient: notwithstanding all opposition, this State, which did not then contain a population of 1,300,000 inhabitants, began a canal 428 miles in length, and in eight years it had completed it at a cost of 8,400,000 dollars. Since that time it has continued to add numerous branches, covering almost every part of the State, as with net-work. In 1836, the State had completed 656 miles of canal including slack-water navigation, at the expense of 11,962,712 dollars, or 18,235 dollars per mile.*
The results of this work have surpassed all expectations; it opened an outlet for the fertile districts of the western part of the State, which had before been cut off from a communication with the sea and the rest of the world. The shores of Lake Erie and Ontario were at once covered with fine farms and flourishing towns. The stillness of the old forest was broken by the axe of New York and New England settlers, to the head of Lake Michigan. The State of Ohio, which is washed by Lake Erie, and which had hitherto had no connection with the sea except by the long southern route down the Mississippi, had now a short and easy communication with the Atlantic by way of New York. The territory of Michigan was peopled, and it now contains 100,000 inhabitants, and will soon take its rank among the States.* The transportation on the Erie Canal exceeded 400,000 tons in 1834, and it must nearly reach 500,000 tons in 1835. The annual amount of tolls from the canals, and at moderate rates, is about one million and a half dollars. The population of the city of New York increased in the ten years, from 1820 to 1830, 80,000 souls.† New York is become the third, if not the second port in the world, and the most populous city of the western hemisphere. The illustrious Clinton lived long enough to see the success of his plans, but not to receive the brilliant reward which the gratitude of his countrymen intended for him. He died, February 11, 1828, at the age of 59 years, and but for this premature death, he would probably have been chosen President of the United States.
The Erie Canal is no longer sufficient for the commerce which throngs it. In vain do the lock-masters attend night and day to the signal horn of the boatmen, and perform the process of locking with a quickness that puts to shame the slowness of our own; there is no longer room enough in the canal, whose dimensions however are rather limited.* The impatience of commerce, with whom time is money, is not satisfied with a rate of speed about fourfold that which is common on our canals. Merchandise of all sorts, as well as travellers, flows in at every point in such quantities, that railroads have been constructed along the borders of the canal, to rival the packet-boats in the transportation of passengers only. There is one from Albany to Schenectady, 15 miles in length, which, though not well built, cost about 550,000 dollars. A second, which will be finished in 1836, runs from Schenectady to Utica, and is 78 miles in length.† A third railroad is in progress from Rochester to Buffalo by way of Batavia and Attica, about 80 miles in length, and it is probable that before long the line will be completed from one end of the canal to the other.‡
A still greater undertaking is already in train; a company was chartered in 1832, which will begin next spring the construction of a railroad from New York city to Lake Erie, through the southern counties of the State; on account of the circuitous route made necessary by the uneven nature of the ground, the length of this road will be about 340 miles.* Meanwhile the Canal Commissioners have not slept; in July, the Canal Board, in compliance with an act of the Legislature, directed the construction of a double set of lift locks on the whole line, in order that there may be as little delay as possible in the passage of boats, and the enlargement of the canal so that the width shall be 70 feet and the depth 6 feet, with a corresponding increase in the dimension of the locks; larger boats may then be used the speed may be increased, and perhaps it will be practicable to use steam tow-boats. The cost of this work is estimated at about 12,500,000 dollars.
Finally, to make herself more entirely mistress of the commerce of the West, and to penetrate her own territory more completely, the State of New York is about to commence a new branch of the Erie canal (if we may call a work of which the entire length will be 120 miles, a branch), which will form an immediate connection with the River Ohio. This canal is to run from Rochester, the flourishing city of millers, following up the course of the Genesee, with a rise of 979 feet to the summit level, and a fall of 78 feet thence to Olean, on the River Alleghany, 270 miles from its junction with the Monongahela at Pittsburg. The main canal from Rochester to Olean is only 107 miles in length, but there is a branch to Danville. The Alleghany, in its natural state, is navigable only during a few months in the year; the total distance from New York to Pittsburg by this route is 800 miles.
When there could no longer be a doubt of the speedy completion of the Erie Canal, Philadelphia and Baltimore felt that New York was going to become the capital of the Union. The spirit of competition aroused in them a spirit of enterprise. They wished also to have their routes to the West; but both had great natural obstacles to overcome. By means of the Hudson, which had forced a passage through the heart of the mountains, New York was freed from the greatest difficulty in the way of effecting a communication between the East and the West, that of topping the crest of the Alleghanies. Between Albany, where the Erie canal begins, and Buffalo, where it meets the lake, there are no high mountains. Baltimore could not look for a similar service to the Patapsco, nor Philadelphia to the Delaware: neither of these cities can approach the west by the basin of the great lakes, unless by a very circuitous route; they are too far off. It became necessary for them, therefore, to climb the loftiest heights, and thence to descend to the level of the Ohio with their works.
Second Line. Pennsylvania Canal.
What is called the Pennsylvania canal is a long line of 400 miles, starting from Philadelphia, and ending at Pittsburg on the Ohio. It was begun simultaneously with several other works, at the expense of the state of Pennsylvania, in 1826. It is not entirely a canal; from Philadelphia a railroad 81 miles in length, extends to the Susquehanna at Columbia. To the Columbia railroad, succeeds a canal, 172 miles in length, which ascends the Susquehanna and the Juniata to the foot of the mountains at Holidaysburg. Thence the Portage railroad passes over the mountain to Johnstown, a distance of 37 miles, by means of several inclined planes constructed on a grand scale, with an inclination sometimes exceeding one tenth, which does not, however, deter travellers from going over them.* From Johnstown a second canal goes to Pittsburg, 104 miles. This route is subject to the inconvenience of three transhipments, one at Columbia at the end of the railroad from Philadelphia, and the others at the ends of the Portage railroad, one of these may be avoided by means of two canals constructed by incorporated companies, namely, the Schuylkill canal, which extends up the river of that name, and the Union canal, which forms a junction between the upper Schuylkill and the Susquehanna. The distance from Philadelphia to Pittsburg by this route is 435 miles, or 35 miles more than by the other route.
The Pennsylvania canal, begun in 1826, was finished in 1834. The State has connected with this work a general system of canalization, which embraces all the principal rivers, and especially the Susquehanna, with its two great branches (the North Branch and the West Branch), and also works preparatory to a canal connecting Pittsburg with Lake Erie, at Erie, a town founded by our Canadian countrymen, and by them called Presqu’île. Pennsylvania has executed, then, in all about 820 miles of canals and railroads, of which 118 are railroads, at a cost of about 25,000,000 dollars, exclusive of sums paid for interest. Average cost per mile, 35,000 dollars: average cost per mile, of canals, 32,500; average cost per mile of railroads, 48,000.
This is much more than the cost of the New York works, although the dimensions of the works are the same, and the natural difficulties were not greater in one case than in the other; it is owing to bad management in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvanians had no Clinton to guide them. An unwise economy, forced upon the Canal Commissioners by the legislature, prevented them from securing the services of able engineers, and for the sake of saving some thousands of dollars in salaries, they have been obliged to spend millions in repairing what was badly done, or in doing badly what more able hands would have executed well at less cost.
Third Line. Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
Still less than Philadelphia, could Baltimore think of a continuous canal to the Ohio. Wishing to avoid the transhipments which are necessary on the Pennsylvania line, the Baltimoreans decided on the construction of a railroad extending from their city to Pittsburg or Wheeling, the whole length of which would be about 360 miles. It is now finished as far as Harper’s Ferry on the Potomac, a distance of 80 miles, and the company seem to have given up the design of carrying it further. It will here be connected with the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, of which I shall speak below, as the Columbia railroad is connected with the Pennsylvania canal. It is probable, that, on approaching the crest of the Alleghanies, the canal will in turn give away to a railroad across the moun tains, and thus the Maryland works will be similar to the Pennsylvania line.*
Fourth Line. Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.
The plan, which had been cherished by Washington, of making a lateral canal along the Potomac which should one day be extended across the mountains to the Ohio, was resumed when New York had taught the country that it was now ripe for the boldest enterprises of this kind. John Quincy Adams, then President of the United States, favoured the project with all his might. At that time it was not a settled principle, that the Federal government had no right to engage in internal improvements. The old idea, which Washington had cherished, of making the political capital of the Union a great city, was not less to the taste of Mr Adams and his friends. It was, therefore, resolved to undertake the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and a company was incorporated for this purpose. Congress voted a subscription of 1,000,000 dollars; the city of Washington without commerce, without manufactures, with its population of 16,000 souls, subscribed the same sum; the other little cities of the Federal District, Georgetown and Alexandria, having both together a population of about 10,000, furnished a half million: Virginia contributed 250,000, and Maryland 500,000 dollars: and 600,000 dollars were raised by individual subscriptions. The work was begun July 4, 1828. Next year, by aid of a loan of 3,000,000 from Maryland, this great work will be carried to the coal-beds of Cumberland at the foot of the mountains; the length of this division is 185 miles, the estimated cost 8,500,000 dollars, or 46.000 dollars per mile. The execution is on a bold scale, and superior to that of the works before-mentioned; its dimensions exceed those generally adopted in the proportion of 3 to 2, which gives a larger section in the ratio of 9 to 4.
Fifth Line. James River and Kanawha Communication.
Virginia, formerly the first State in the confederacy, but now fallen to the fourth in rank, and already outstripped by Ohio, which was not in being during the war of Independence, is at length roused to action, and has determined to profit by the lessons, which have come to her from the North. A company, whose means consist of little more than the subscriptions of the State and of the capital, Richmond, is about to open a canal from the East to the West. James River, which flows into Chesapeake Bay, is navigable for vessels of 200 tons to the foot of the table-land, on which Richmond stands in so charming a situation. On the east of the mountains, the canal, starting from Richmond, will follow the course of James River, and on the West it will descend the Kanawha, one of the tributaries of the Ohio, to Charleston, at the head of steamboat navigation. The Alleghany crest will be passed by a railroad, 150 miles in length; the canal itself will be about 250 miles long.
South Carolina, stirred up by the example of Virginia, is engaged in a great railroad from Charleston to Cincinnati on the Ohio; and the surveys are at present actively going on. The people of Cincinnati are enthusiastically interested in this scheme.* Georgia is also dreaming of a great railroad from the Savannah to the Mississippi, at Memphis; but this project has not assumed a substantial shape. North Carolina does nothing, and projects nothing. If she ever becomes rich, it will not be because she has seized fortune by the forelock, but because fortune has come to her bedside.*
Sixth Line. Richelieu Canal.
The Canadians are constructing a canal which will form another communication between the East and the West, that is, between the Hudson and the St. Lawrence, between New York and Quebec. The great fissure, which forms so fine a bed for the Hudson between New York and Troy, does not end here, but stretches on towards the north to the St. Lawrence, constituting the basin of Lake Champlain, which is a long and narrow cavity in the midst of the mountains, and the bed of the River Richelieu. Between Lake Champlain and the Hudson, there is only a ridge 54 feet above the level of the former, and 134 above that of the latter. The River Richelieu, which issues from the northern end of the lake and flows into the St Lawrence, is broken by rapids, and a lateral canal, 12 miles in length, and of sufficient dimensions to receive the lake-craft, will be opened here in the course of a year; the cost will be 350,000 dollars; the distance from New York to Quebec by the canals, rivers, and lakes, is 540 miles. The railroad from St. John, where the rapids of the Richelieu begin, to Laprairie, on the St. Lawrence, opposite to Montreal, a distance of 16 miles, effects for Montreal what the canal does for Quebec; it cost about 160,000 dollars, or 10,500 dollars per mile. The distance from Montreal to New York is 360 miles.
Lines of Communication between the Mississippi Valley and that of the St. Lawrence.
There is no mountain chain between these two valleys; the basin of the great lakes, whose united waters form the St. Lawrence, is separated from the valley of the Mississippi only by a spur of the Alleghany system, not exceeding 450 feet in height, and sinking rapidly down toward the west, so as to be elevated but a few feet above the surface of Lake Michigan. During the rainy season, when the streams are swollen and the marshes of the water-shed are flooded, our Canadian countrymen were wont to pass in boats from Lake Michigan into the Illinois, by the Des Plaines. The breadth of this dividing spur is more considerable than its height. It is not a ridge or crest, but rather a table-land, which imperceptibly merges by gentle slopes into the plains that surround it. Its level summit is filled with marshes, and therefore offers great facilities for feeding the canals which traverse it; further west, where it is scarcely higher than the rest of the country, it is often as dry as the surrounding prairies.
First Line. Ohio Canal.
Only one work connecting the two valleys is as yet completed, this is the Ohio canal, which traverses that State from North to South, extending from Portsmouth, on the Ohio, to the little city of Cleaveland, which has sprung up on the shore of the lake since the canal was made. It is 334 miles in length, and cost nearly 4,500,000 dollars, or about 13,500 dollars per mile. This is low, yet the locks are all of hewn stone; the ground, however, was very favorable. The work was executed at the expense of the State, and was undertaken at the same time that Pennsylvania and Baltimore, on the traces of New York, started in the course of internal improvements. This young State, with a population of farmers, not having a single engineer within her limits, and none of whose citizens had ever seen any other canal than those of New York, has thus, with the aid of some second rate engineers borrowed from that State, constructed a canal longer than any in France, with more skill and intelligence than was displayed by Pennsylvania, in spite of the scientific lights of Philadelphia. This farming population of Ohio, almost wholly of New England origin, has a business instinct, a practical shrewdness, and a readiness to exercise all trades without having learned them, that would be sought in vain in the Anglo-German population of Pennsylvania. The legislators, under whose direction the public works were executed in both States, were, as is usual in the United States, a perfect copy of the mass of their constituents, with all its good and bad qualities. The Ohio canal commissioners added to a noble disinterestedness an admirable good sense, and to them is due the greater part of the glory of having planned and executed it. They were farmers and lawyers, who set themselves about making canals, naturally, easily, and without even a suspicion that in Europe no one dares to undertake such a work without long preparation and scientific studies. Now it is no longer an art in that State to plan and construct canals, but a mere trade; the science of canalling is there become quite an affair of the common people. The first-comer in a bar-room will explain to you, over his glass of whiskey, how to feed the summit level and how to construct a lock. All our mysteries in civil engineering are here fallen into the hands of the public, very much as the methods of descriptive geometry are to be found in the workshops, where they had been handed down by tradition, ages before Monge gave them the sanction of theory.
I have before said that Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois form a great triangle, wholly comprised within the Mississippi valley, with the exception of a narrow strip along the lakes, belonging, of course, to the St. Lawrence basin. The general slope of the surface is from north to south; the streams run mostly in that direction; this is especially true of the great tributaries of the Ohio. This arrangement of the secondary valleys is no less favourable to the construction of canals between the lakes, on the one side, and the Ohio and Mississippi on the other, than the configuration and humidity of the dividing table-land.
Second Line. Miami Canal.
Ohio has constructed another canal, which, starting from Cincinnati on the Ohio, runs north to Dayton, and is called the Miami canal. It is 65 miles in length, and cost nearly 1,000,000 dollars, or 15,400 dollars a mile. By the aid of a grant of land from Congress, and the State’s resources, its prolongation is now in progress to Defiance, on the river Maumee, the site of a fortress of that name built by Gen. Wayne after his celebrated victory over the Indians. The Maumee, which was called by the French the Miami of the Lakes, is one of the principal tributaries of Lake Erie, and is to be canalled by the State. The distance from Dayton to Defiance is 125 miles; estimated cost 2,750,000 dollars, or 22,000 dollars per mile.
Third Line. Wabash and Erie Canal.
Ohio and Indiana, with the aid of a grant of land* from Congress, have undertaken in concert a canal, which will connect the Wabash, one of the tributaries of the Ohio, with the Maumee. The greater part of the canal will be parallel to the two rivers, or in their beds; the length of the whole work will be 382 miles, of which 195 are in Indiana, and 87 in Ohio. The greater portion of the Indiana section lateral to the Wabash has been completed, but Ohio has not yet been able to commence her portion, because, owing to an absurd system of establishing boundaries, the mouth of the Maumee, whose whole course is in Ohio, will fall within Michigan.† Ohio protests against this arrangement, Michigan stands firm to her claims; both sides have voted the sums needful for war, and both have taken arms; hostilities have even been begun, but the interference of the Federal government has led the parties to consent to an armistice. In this quarrel, Ohio has reason on her side, but Michigan appeals to the letter of the laws as favourable to her. It is probable that in creating Michigan a State, Congress will attach this strip to Ohio, to whom it is so important.‡ In this unsettled state of things, Ohio has suspended the execution of her part of a work, which will give new importance to the mouth of the Maumee.
Fourth Line. Illinois and Michigan Canal.
The project of a canal from the Chicago, at the southern end of Lake Michigan, to the head of steam navigation, that is, to the foot of the falls, in the River Illinois, has long been discussed. It is said to be of very easy construction; and that by means of a cut of the maximum depth of 26 feet, the summit level can be reduced to the level of Lake Michigan, so that the lake can be used as a feeder. It will be 96 miles in length, and will traverse a level or slightly undulating country, bare of trees, and still known by the name given it by the French Canadians, Prairie. It is proposed to construct this canal of larger dimensions than is common in the United States, so as to make it navigable by the lake-craft and steamboats. It is one of the most useful works ever undertaken in the world.*
Fifth Line. Western Pennsylvania Canal.
The canal which has been commenced by Pennsylvania between the Ohio and the town of Erie, 112 miles in length, and for feeding which extensive works have already been constructed around Lake Conneaut, will make another and a short line of water communication between the basins of the Mississippi and the St. Lawrence.
Lastly, two canals are about to be undertaken, which will connect the Pennsylvania works with those of Ohio, and of consequence, form new connections between the Mississippi and the St. Lawrence. One of these is the Sandy and Beaver canal, which, beginning at the confluence of the Big Beaver with the Ohio, follows the latter to the mouth of the Little Beaver, ascends the valley of this stream, and passes down that of the Sandy River to the Ohio canal at Bolivar; the length will be 90 miles. From Bolivar to New York by the Ohio canal, Lake Erie, Erie canal, and the Hudson, the distance is 785 miles; by the new canal the distance from Bolivar to Philadelphia, that is, to the ocean, is only 512. The Mahoning canal leaves the Ohio canal at Akron, following the valleys of the Little Cuyahoga, the Mahoning, a tributary of the Big Beaver, and the Big Beaver, to the Ohio; it is about 90 miles in length; the distance from Akron to the river Ohio is 115 miles.
The generally level character of the surface of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois is not less favourable to the construction of railroads than to that of canals. But as capital is scarce in this new country, which is as yet but imperfectly brought under cultivation, but few enterprises of much importance have hitherto been undertaken. The financial companies and institutions, which have always preceded the introduction of canals and railroads, have, however, been already established and are prosperous, and their success is the omen of the approach of the latter. In the absence of companies, the States are ready to adopt the most extensive schemes of public works; for the American of the West is not a whit behind the American of the East in enterprise. At present, I know of but a single railroad actually in process of construction beyond the Ohio, and that does not seem to be pushed forward with much activity; it is the Mad River railroad, which is to extend from Dayton, on the Miami canal, to Sandusky, on the bay of that name in Lake Erie; the length will be 153 miles. Many others have been projected in this region, and Indiana has caused surveys to be made for a railroad extending across the State from north to south, or from New Albany on the Ohio to some point on Lake Michigan.*
Works for Improving the Navigation of the Ohio, Mississippi, and St. Lawrence.
To this head belong the works executed in the beds of the rivers themselves. The Mississippi is the beau idéal of rivers in regard to navigable facilities. From St. Louis to New Orleans, a distance of nearly 1200 miles, there is water enough for steamers of 300 tons throughout the year. Its yellow and muddy waters flow in a deep, although very circuitous channel, and its general breadth is from 800 to 1,000 yards, in places where it is not expanded to a much greater width by low, flat islands, thickly covered with trees. There are no sand-banks in this part of the channel, yet there are formidable dangers in the way of the inexperienced navigator; these are the trunks of trees, that have been carried away from the banks, as has been before mentioned, and in the removal of which the Federal government keeps steam snag-boats, the Heliopolis and Archimedes, employed; these boats are provided with a peculiar machinery by means of which they drag the trees up from the bed, and saw them into pieces of an inconsiderable length.
Captain Shreves, who has the command of these boats, and who invented the machinery, is also employed in constructing sunk dams of loose stones in the Ohio, which have the effect of increasing the depth of water in the dry season. He is at present engaged with a flotilla of steamboats in opening the bed of Red River, one of the great tributaries of the Mississippi, which the drift timber has choaked up and covered over through a distance of 165 miles.* At Louisville, the Ohio, whose bed has generally a very slight inclination, has a descent of 22 feet in the distance of two miles, so as to be impassable for steamboats, except during the season of high water. The Louisville and Portland canal has been constructed by a company to avoid this obstruction; it is nearly one mile and three fourths in length, and cost 750,000 dollars.* It receives the largest boats at a rate of toll which for the Henry Clay amounts to 175 dollars, and for the Uncle Sam 190 dollars. It has been proposed that Congress should buy this canal, and make the passage toll-free; and the importance of the navigation of the Ohio would justify the measure.
The St. Lawrence differs essentially from the Mississippi; instead of an expanse of muddy waters, it presents to the eye a clear blue surface. The Mississippi traverses a low, uninhabited, and uninhabitable region, of which the soil consists entirely of sand, or rather of mud deposited by the river-floods; not a stone as large as the fist is to be found, and only a few bluff points are met with which are above the reach of high water, and on which the pale inhabitants struggle unsuccessfully with the pestilential emanations of the surrounding swamps. The St. Lawrence flows through a broken, hilly, and sometimes rugged country, with a fertile soil, everywhere healthful, sprinkled with flourishing villages, which attract the eye of the traveller from a distance by their houses newly whitewashed every year, and their churches built in the French style with their spires covered with tin. The Mississippi, like the Nile, has its annual overflow, or rather it has two in each year, but the spring-floods are much the most considerable. The St. Lawrence, owing to the vast extent of the lakes which serve as a reservoir and feeder to it, always preserves the same level, the extreme range of its rise and fall being only about 20 inches. The St. Lawrence, from the beauty of its waters, from their prodigious volume, from the country which it waters, and from the groups of isles scattered over it, would be one of the first rivers in the world in the eyes of the artist, but in those of the merchant, it is of quite a secondary importance. Its transparent waters hardly hide the numerous rocks; the navigation is interrupted first by the Falls of Niagara, and after it leaves Lake Ontario by numerous rapids, cataracts, or rocks between that lake and Montreal, and none but an Indian or a French Canadian, would dare to descend these points in that portion of the river in a canoe; at several points, the most powerful steamer would be unable to make head against the current.
The spirit of emulation which has prevailed among the States of the Union, has extended to the British Provinces, to the English population, which, leaving the lower part of the river to the French, has occupied Upper Canada. The inhabitants of this Province have embraced the opinion, that if the chain of communication which is broken by the cataracts and rapids, could be made whole, much of the produce, which now finds its way to the Mississippi, or to the Pennsylvania and New York canals, would seek a more convement vent by the St. Lawrence, and that the British manufactures would take the same route up the river, through the ports of Quebec and Montreal, to the Western States. One canal has, therefore, already been executed around the falls of the Niagara, which forms a communication between Lakes Erie and Ontario; the Welland canal is 28 miles in length, exclusive of 20 miles of slack-water navigation. It is navigable by lake-craft of 120 tons, and has cost 2,000,000 dollars, nearly the whole of which was furnished by the upper Province, Lower Canada and the mother country having contributed a very trifling sum.
Since that work has been completed, the river below Lake Ontario has been surveyed, and it has been found that the aggregate length of the points not passable by steamboats of ten feet draft is only 30 miles, pretty equally divided between the two provinces. Upper Canada, which contains hardly 250,000 inhabitants, with no large towns and with little capital, has begun her portion of the work along the rapids within her limits. This work will be large enough to admit the passage of steamboats drawing nine feet water, and of the burden of 500 tons. I saw the labourers at work along the Long Saut Rapids at Cornwall, where there will be a cut of 13 miles in length; the estimated cost of this section is 1,250,000 dollars. The French population of Lower Canada, swallowed up in political quarrels, the result of which cannot be foreseen, neglects its essential interests in pursuit of the imaginary interests of national pride. It has done nothing towards continuing, within its limits, the great work, which has been begun by the poorer province of Upper Canada.
Lines of Communication along the Atlantic.
First Line. Inland Channels by the Sounds and Bays along the Atlantic.
Upon examining the coast of the United States from Boston to Florida, it will be seen that there is almost a continuous line of inland navigation, extending from northeast to southwest in a direction parallel to that of the coast, formed, in the north by a series of bays and rivers, and in the south, by a number of long sounds, or by the narrow passes between the mainland and the chain of low islands that lie in front of the former. The necks of land that separate these bays, rivers, and lagoons, are all flat and of inconsiderable breadth. From Providence (42 miles south of Boston) to New York are Narragansett Bay and Long Island Sound, together 180 miles in length. Thence to reach to the Delaware you go to New Brunswick at the head of the Raritan Bay, where you encounter the New Jersey isthmus, a level tract, not more than 40 feet above the level of the sea, or than 35 to 40 miles in width. This neck is now cut across by the Raritan and Delaware Canal, a fine work, navigable by the small coasting craft, and 43 miles in length, exclusive of a navigable feeder 24 miles, all lately executed by a company, in less than three years, at a cost of about 2,500,000 dollars.*
This canal terminates at Bordentown, on the Delaware. Hence the navigation is continued to Delaware City, 70 miles below Bordentown, and 40 below Philadelphia. There, the isthmus which divides the Delaware from the Chesapeake, is cut through by a canal, of which the summit level is only 12 feet above the surface of the sea; this is the Chesapeake and Delaware canal, like the last mentioned of dimensions suited to coasting vessels. The cost was very great, about 2,600,000 dollars; length 13 1-2 miles. Having entered the Chesapeake, the voyage may be continued to Norfolk about 200 miles. Thence, to the series of sounds and inland channels on the coast of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, extends the Dismal Swamp Canal, whose length is 20 miles, and whose summit level is only 10 feet above the level of the sea; this is also adapted for coasting vessels. The works intended to continue the navigation beyond the sounds connected with the Dismal Swamp canal, have not been completed, and to the south of the Chesapeake the line is, therefore, imperfect; but steamboats run from Charleston to Savannah, by the channels and lagoons between the mainland and the low islands which yield the famous long-staple cotton.
Second Line. Communication between the North and South by the Maritime Capitals.
Parallel to the preceding line which is designed for the transportation of bulky articles, is another further inland for the use of travellers, and the lighter and more valuable merchandise, on which steam is becoming the only motive power, both by land and by water; by land on railways, and by water in steamboats. You go from Boston to Providence by a railroad, 42 miles in length, which cost 1,500,000 dollars, or 33,000 dollars a mile. From Providence to New York, passengers are carried by the steamboats in from 14 to 18 hours; some boats have made the passage in 12 hours. In passing from Narragansett Bay to the Sound, it is necessary to double Point Judith, where there is commonly a rough sea, to avoid which a railway is now in progress from Providence to Stomngton, a distance of 47 miles. A third railroad, of which the utility seems questionable (since the boats in the Sound move at the rate of 15 miles an hour), is projected from a point on Long Island opposite Stonington to Brooklyn, a distance of 88 miles.
Between New York and Philadelphia, you go by steamboat to South Amboy on Raritan Bay, 28 miles, whence a railroad extends across the peninsula to Bordentown, and down along the Delaware to Camden, opposite Philadelphia. In summer a steamboat is taken at Bordentown, but in winter the Delaware is frozen over, and the railway is then used through the whole distance to transport the crowd that is always going and coming between the commercial and financial capitals of the United States, between the great mart and the exchange of the Union, between the North and the South. An ice-boat lands the traveller in Philadelphia, a few minutes after he has left the cars at Camden. This railroad is 61 miles in length, and cost 2,300,000 dollars, or 38,000 dollars a mile. It has but one track most of the way. I met many persons at Philadelphia, who remembered having been two, and sometimes three long days on the road to New York; it is now an affair of seven hours, which will soon be reduced to six. Two railroads belonging to a different group, of which one is completed, and the other nearly so, will form, with the exception of an interval of several miles, a second line across the peninsula, from New York to Philadelphia. The one extends from Philadelphia to Trenton, 26 miles; the other from Jersey City, opposite New York to New Brunswick, 30 miles; if, therefore, rails were laid between New Brunswick and Trenton, a distance of 28 miles, over a perfectly level plain, the land communication between New York and Philadelphia would be complete; but the State of New Jersey has hitherto refused to authorise this connection, because it received a considerable sum from the Camden and Amboy company for the monopoly of the travel.*
From Philadelphia to Baltimore, the route is continued by a steamboat to Newcastle, and a railroad from thence to Frenchtown, across the peninsula, 16 1-4 miles long, whence another steamboat takes the traveller to Baltimore. in 8 or 9 hours after starting from Philadelphia. The Newcastle and Frenchtown railroad cost 400,000 dollars, or 24,500 dollars a mile. The navigation of the Chesapeake and Delaware is sometimes interrupted by ice, and it has, therefore, been thought that it would be useful to have a continuous railroad from Philadelphia; there would also be a saving of time, for the present route is somewhat circuitous. Different companies have undertaken different portions of this work, which will pass by Wilmington and Havre de Grace, at the mouth of the Susquehanna. The whole distance by this route is only 93 miles, instead of 118, the distance by the present line, and the passage will occupy five or six hours, instead of eight or nine. From Baltimore southwardly two routes offer themselves; you may take the steamboat to Norfolk, a distance of 200 miles, which is accomplished in 18 or 20 hours, whence another boat ascends the James River to Richmond still more rapidly, the distance of about 135 miles being passed over in 10 hours; or you may go from Norfolk to Weldon on the Roanoke by a railroad 77 miles in length, of which two thirds are completed.*
From Baltimore you may also go to Washington, by a branch of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, and thence by steamboat down the Potomac to a little village, 15 miles from Fredericksburg, from which a railroad is now in progress to Richmond. It will be 58 miles in length, and will cost but 12,000 dollars a mile, including the engines, cars, and depots. From Petersburg, 20 miles from Richmond, a railroad extends to Blakely on the Roanoke, 60 miles, and the interval between Petersburg and Richmond will soon be filled up. The Petersburg and Roanoke railroad, which is shorter than the post-road, follows with very little deviation an old Indian trail, a remarkable fact, which was told me by the able engineer Mr Moncure Robinson. It extends, almost entirely on the surface of the ground and without embankments, through the sandy, uncultivated plains, intersected by pools of stagnant water, which uniformly border the sea from the Chesapeake to Cape Florida, and are annually infested by the fever of the country. The whole region is most admirably adapted for railroads, which are constructed almost wholly of wood. The surface is graded by nature, and the sandy soil offers an excellent foundation for the wooden frame on which the rails are placed. The still virgin forests, consisting of pine and oak, afford an inexhaustible supply of timber for the construction of the railways, free to whoever wishes to use it. But if the nature of the country is well suited to this object, the condition of the population is far from being so. In this sterile tract, the inhabitants are thinly scattered over the surface, and there are only a few villages here and there on the rivers. Large towns, in which alone the necessary capital would be found, do not exist, and the aid of Northern capitalists has been necessarily resorted to. Philadelphia capital has been largely employed in the construction of the Petersburg and Richmond railroads, and without it, the great line between the South and the North, will not be continued across North Carolina, one of the poorest States in the confederacy, and connected with the works completed or in progress in Georgia and South Carolina.
There is, therefore, a great void of 325 miles, between the Roanoke and Charleston, the chief city of South Carolina, or rather of 275 miles between the Roanoke and Columbia, the capital of that State.* From Charleston, a railroad 136 miles in length, extends through the uncultivated and feverish zone of sand and pine-barrens to the cotton-region; it terminates at Hamburg, on the River Savannah, opposite Augusta, which is the principal interior cotton-market; the cost of this work was only about 9,500 dollars a mile including some cars, &c. Its construction is peculiar in this respect, that where its level is above that of the surface, recourse has been had to piles instead of embankments; the railway, thus perched upon stilts from 15 to 25 feet high, certainly leaves something to be desired in regard to the safety of travellers, but it was necessary to construct it, and to do so with a very small capital, and in this respect it has been successful. The receipts have already been sufficiently large to permit the company gradually to substitute embankments of earth for the frail props on which it formerly rested. Another singular circumstance about it is, that it was constructed almost entirely by slaves. This road was undertaken with the purpose of diverting the cotton, which descended the river Savannah to the town of the same name, from that place to Charleston, and it has fully answered the expectatations of its projectors.
From Augusta, the Georgia railroad has lately been begun, and will traverse some of the most fertile cotton districts in the State; it will extend to Athens, a distance of 115 miles. To continue the line from North to South, or from Boston to New Orleans, it would be necessary that this railroad should be prolonged in the direction of Montgomery, Alabama, whence a steamer takes the traveller to Mobile, on the River Alabama.* Between Mobile and New Orleans, there are regular lines of steamboats running through Mobile Bay, Pascagoula Sound, and Lakes Borgne and Pontchartain. The four last miles, between the latter lake and New Orleans, are passed over in a quarter of an hour on a railroad, which the Louisiana legislature calls in its bad French chemin à coulisses. Such is the line between the North and South, of which the execution is the most advanced; it will not be the only one, but as civilisation establishes itself further west and capital multiplies, several new routes will be formed, receding more and more from the coast.
The Baltimore and Ohio railroad is connected at Harper’s Ferry with the Winchester railroad, 30 miles in length, which runs up the bed of one of those long valleys that separate the successive ridges of the Alleghany Mountains from each other. That in which Winchester stands, is one of the most regular and fertile of these great basins, and is celebrated under the name of the Virginia Valley. Although, therefore, the Winchester railroad was constructed only for the purpose of giving the produce of Winchester and its vicinity an easy access to the market of Baltimore, yet it may one day become a link in the great chain of communication extending through the Valley from north to south. A company has already been chartered for continuing the work to Staunton, a distance of 96 miles. Another line from the South to the North, which will, perhaps, be connected with that of the great Valley, has been projected at New Orleans, and authorised by the legislatures of Louisiana and the other States through which it will pass; it is a railroad from New Orleans to Nashville, the capital of Tennessee, and I am assured that the work will soon be commenced. This line aspires to nothing less than a competition with the magnificent river lines of the Ohio and the Mississippi, in the transportation of passengers and cotton.
Lines Radiating around the Large Towns.
First Centre. Boston.
Three railroads extend from Boston in different directions; the first, 26 miles in length, to the manufacturing city of Lowell, which is thus become a suburb of Boston, and the second, 44 miles in length, to Worcester, the centre of an important agricultural district. The former cost 60,000 dollars a miles, the latter 32,000. The third road is the Providence railroad, already mentioned above as one of the links in the great chain from north to south. The Lowell railroad enters into competition with the Middlesex canal; the Worcester road is to be continued to the River Hudson, where it will terminate opposite Albany. It will also be connected with the city of Hudson, 30 miles below Albany, by a railroad extending from West Stockbridge. It will thus become to Boston a Western Railroad, which name it has in fact received. A company has been authorised to execute the portion between Worcester and Springfield, a distance of 54 miles, the whole distance from Boston to Albany being 160 miles.* The Eastern railroad, a fourth work is about to be undertaken, passing through Lynn, famous for its boots and shoes, Salem, a little city which carries on an extensive trade with China, Ipswich, Beverly, and Newburyport towards Portland, the principal town in the northern extremity of the Union.
Second Centre. New York.
Radiating from New York are, 1. The railroad to Paterson, an important manufacturing town at the falls of the Passaic, 16 miles in length; 2. The New Brunswick railroad already mentioned, which serves as a route of communication with several important points, especially Newark, and for the transportation of provisions for the New-York market from a portion of New Jersey; 3. The Harlæm railroad, almost exclusively for passengers; and 4. The Brooklyn and Jamaica railroad, on Long Island, 12 miles in length, and designed both for pleasure excursions, and for transporting articles of consumption to the markets of New York.*
Third Centre. Philadelphia.
Around Philadelphia, in addition to the great works extending to Columbia, Amboy, and Baltimore, already mentioned, are 1. The Trenton railroad; 2. The Norris-town and Germantown road, designed for passengers and for the accommodation of some manufacturing villages, such as Manayunk, 16 miles in length; and 3. That of West Chester, a branch of the Columbia railroad, 9 miles in length, designed for the supply of the markets of the city. There are also several railroads running through the city, of which the rails are laid on the level of the street, and on which horse-cars only are used.
Fourth Centre. Baltimore.
Beside the Baltimore and Ohio railroad with its Washington branch, Baltimore is also about to have a railroad through York, to the Susquehanna, opposite to Columbia, the length of which will be 73 miles. The object of this road is to contest with Philadelphia the commerce of the valley of the Susquehanna. The Pennsylvania canal with its various branches forms a canalisation of this river and its tributaries above Columbia. But below Columbia, there are several rapids and shoals which interrupt the navigation of the river, except for downward-bound boats in the highest stages of the water. The Philadelphia merchants, fearing that all the works executed at a great expense by Pennsylvania, would turn out much less advantageously for them than for the Baltimoreans, as these last have, indeed, openly boasted, opposed for a long time both the canalisation of the Susquehanna from Columbia to its mouth, and the permission to construct that section of a railroad from Baltimore to Columbia, which would he within the limits of Pennsylvania. Their opposition has, however, been at last overcome, and charters have been granted authorising the construction of both works. The railroad company, to which Maryland has just made a loan of 1,000,000 dollars, is pushing on the railway with great activity.
Fifth Centre. Charleston.
Some short canals have been cut to facilitate the access to Charleston from the interior, but they are in a bad state, and are of little importance.
Sixth Centre. New Orleans.
Independently of the short railway of five miles from Lake Pontchartain to New Orleans, there are several other works, such as the Carrolton railroad, which is a little longer, and two short canals extending from the city to the lake. Some cuts have also been made between the lagoons and marshes of the lower Mississippi. These canals, dug in a wet and muddy soil, have presented serious difficulties in their construction; but they are of no interest in regard to extent or importance.
Seventh Centre. Saratoga.
Saratoga Springs in New York are visited for two or three months in the summer, by crowds of persons who throng thither in shoals. There is not a master of a family of Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore, in easy circumstances, who does not feel obliged to pass 24 or 48 hours with his wife and daughters, amidst this crowd in their Sunday’s best, and to visit the field where the English army under General Burgoyne surrendered its arms. There are at present two railroads to Saratoga; one from Schenectady, 22 miles in length, a branch of the Albany and Schenectady road, and another from Troy on the Hudson, 25 miles in length. After the season is over they serve for the transportation of fuel and timber.
Works Connected with Coal-mines.
The bituminous coal-mines of Chesterfield, near Richmond, are connected with the river James by a short railway adapted only for horses, which is 12 miles long, and cost 15,000 dollars a mile, inclusive of the cars, depots, &c. Once delivered at the river, the coal is easily transported along the whole coast, where it comes into competition with the English and Nova Scotia coals.
The anthracite beds of Pennsylvania have caused the construction of a much more extensive series of works. At present hardly any other fuel is consumed on the coast for domestic and manufacturing purposes than the anthracite, which is found only in a small section of Pennsylvania, lying between the Susquehanna and the Delaware. It gives a more intense and sustained heat than wood, which had also become very dear, and is much better suited to the rigorous winters, which are experienced in the United States, under the latitude of Naples. It is also much preferable to the bituminous coal, which is the only sort of coal in use with us; it makes no smoke, and is much more cleanly, not soiling the carpets and drapery. The fire is very easily kept up, and a grate needs to be filled only two or three times during the whole twentyfour hours, to maintain a fire night and day. The servants, whom it spares a great deal of trouble, prefer it, and on this point, as on several others, their opinion is more important than that of their masters. The only inconvenience attending it is, that it sometimes diffuses a sulphurous smell. It is also beginning to take the place of wood in the steamboats. The anthracite trade has, therefore, become considerable, and several canals and railroads have been made or are making, to transport the fuel from the mines to the points of consumption.
The principal of these lines are the following: 1. The Schuylkill canal, which extends from Philadelphia to the vicinity of the mines about the head of the Schuylkill. Its length from Philadelphia to Port Carbon, is 108 miles; it cost, inclusive of the double locks, 3,000,000 dollars, or 28,000 dollars a mile, and yields a net income of 20 to 25 per cent.; 400,000 tons of coal are annually brought down upon it. 2. The Lehigh canal runs from the Delaware to the mines near the heads of the Lehigh; it is 46 miles long, and cost 1,560,000 dollars, or 34,000 dollars a mile. 3. The lateral canal along the Delaware starts from Easton, at the mouth of the Lehigh, and ends at Bristol, the head of navigation for sea-vessels. It transports to Philadelphia, the coal that is brought down the Lehigh canal; it is 60 miles long, and cost 1,238,000 dollars, or 20,600 dollars a mile. This work was executed by the State of Pennsylvania, and has been before enumerated among the State works. 4. The Morris canal starts from Easton, and ends at Jersey City, opposite New York. It serves to supply the New York market with coal. The change of level is here for the most part effected, not by locks, but by inclined planes, the operation of which is very simple; the length of this work is 102 miles, cost 2,650,000 dollars, or 25,000 dollars a mile. 5. The Delaware and Hudson canal extends from the Roundout creek on the Hudson, near Kingston, 90 miles above New York, to the anthracite mines near the upper Delaware. The coal is brought down to the canal, at Honesdale, from the mountains, at Carbondale, on a railroad 16 miles in length; the canal is 109 miles long, and cost 2,250,000 dollars or 20,000 dollars a mile; the railroad cost 300,000 dollars or 17,500 dollars a mile. 6. The Pottsville and Sunbury railroad is designed to bring down to the Schuylkill the products of the mines lying in the heart of the mountains between the Susquehanna and the heads of the Schuylkill. It is remarkable for the boldness of the inclined planes, some of which have an inclination of 25 and 33 per cent., and which are worked by very ingenious and economical contrivances. It is 45 miles in length, and cost 1,120,000 dollars, or 25,000 dollars a mile. 7. The Philadelphia and Reading railroad, now in progress, will enter into competition with the Schuylkill canal; it is 56 miles in length, and cost, including the necessary apparatus, 26,300 dollars a mile. It is proposed to continue it to Pottsville, 35 miles from Reading; there would then be a continuous railroad from Philadelphia to the centre of the Susquehanna valley.
Beside these seven great lines, several mining companies have constructed various railways of less importance, which branch from them in different directions. At the end of 1834, there were 165 miles of these smaller works, constructed at an expense of about 1,125,000 dollars, which, added to the 542 miles, and 13,280,000 of the seven works above enumerated, gives a total of 707 miles and 14,400,000 dollars, or deducting the Delaware canal, which has been before reckoned, of 647 miles and 13,162,000 dollars. The aggregate length of all the works which I have already enumerated, including only those that are finished or far advanced, is 3,025 miles of canal, and 1,825 miles of railroad, made at a cost of above 112 millions. If we add several detached works, such as the Ithaca and Owego, the Lexington and Louisville, the Tuscumbia and Decatur (Alabama) railroads, and various canals in New England, Pennsylvania, Georgia, &c., we shall have a total of 3,250 miles of canal, and 2,000 miles of railroad, constructed at an expense of upwards of 120 million dollars. (See Note 22 .) The impulse is, therefore, given, the movement goes on with increasing speed, the whole country is becoming covered with works in every direction. If I were to attempt to enumerate all the railroads, of which the routes are under survey, which have been or are on the point of being authorised by charters from the several legislatures, for which the subscription is about to be opened, or has already been filled up, I should be obliged to mention all the towns in the Union. A town of 10,000 inhabitants, which has not its railroad, looks upon itself with that feeling of shame, which our first parents experienced in the terrestrial paradise, when, after having eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, they saw that they were naked.
I have here spoken of the more perfect means of intercommunication, canals and railroads, and not of common roads. If I had undertaken to speak of these, I should have mentioned at their head, the great work called the National or Cumberland road, which, starting from Washington, or strictly speaking, from Cumberland, on the Potomac, strikes the Ohio at Wheeling, and extends westwards, across the centre of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, to the Mississippi; it has been constructed wholly at the expense of the Federal government, and up to the present time there have been expended upon it 5,400,000 dollars. It was begun in 1806, and is now nearly finished to Vandalia in Illinois. A dispute between Illinois and Missouri in respect to its termination, has delayed the completion of the last division. From Washington to Vandalia, the distance is 800 miles, and from Cumberland to Vandalia, 675 miles. The doctrine of the unconstitutionality of Congress engaging in internal improvements having prevailed since the accession of General Jackson to the presidency, Congress has offered the National Road to the States within which it lies, and they have accepted it on condition of its being first put in a state of perfect repair. Several of the States have also spent considerable sums in improving the condition of their roads; South Carolina, for instance, has devoted about a million and a half to this object.
The public works of the United States are generally managed with economy, as the statements above made testify; for the cost has been much less than that of similar works in Europe, although the wages of labour are two or three times higher than on the old continent. The canals constructed by the States are, nevertheless, pretty well finished; their dimensions are less that those of our canals, but greater than those of England; the locks are almost always of hewn stone.* The bridges, viaducts, and aqueducts are generally wooden superstructures resting on abutments and piers of common masonry. The river-dams are always of wood. The railroads constructed by the States, those of Pennsylvania in particular, have been built at a great expense; they have a double track with stone viaducts and some tunnels; the rails are wholly of iron, resting on stone blocks or sleepers. The Lowell railroad company also wished to have their road constructed in the most solid manner, and have displayed a luxury of granite, which, if not injurious, is certainly superfluous. The Baltimore and Ohio railroad has two tracks, but except for a short distance is on wood. In the Northern States and near the large towns most of the railroads have an iron edge rail and a roadway prepared for two tracks, but with only one track laid. Such are the Worcester, Providence, and Amboy railways, and such will be the Philadelphia and Reading road; but the rails rest upon wooden cross-pieces, which, independently of their cheapness, have some advantage over the stone sleepers, in regard to wear of the cars, superior ease of motion, and greater facility of repairs. Those railroads in the North on which there is less travel, and which are more remote from the large towns, and all those of the South, have but a single track, with no preparation for a second, and consist of an iron bar, about two inches wide and half an inch thick, resting on longitudinal sleepers.
On most of the American railroads, the inclinations are much greater than what in Europe are usually considered the maxima. A rise of 35 feet to the mile, for instance, seems moderate to American engineers, and even 50 feet does not frighten them. Experience has shown that these inclinations, the latter of which is double of the maximum established by our engineers, do not endanger the safety of travellers. They do, indeed, diminish the rate of speed, unless additional power is applied at certain points, to increase the force of traction; but the Americans think that these inconveniences are more than overborne by the reduction of the first cost of construction. The curves are also greater; on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, on which locomotives are used, there are several with a radius of 400 or 500 feet, but the consequence is, that on this road the mean rate of speed does not exceed 12 or 13 miles an hour, only half as great as that on the Liverpool railroad, but twice as great as that of a coach on an ordinary road. In general, however, the American engineers endeavour to avoid curves of less than 1000 feet radius. In France the Board of Public Works (Ponts et chaussées), in their surveys and plans, have fixed upon 2,700 feet as the minimum.
On some of the American railroads, however, even the rules of European science have been exceeded; on the Lowell railroad the minimum radius is 3,000 feet; on the Boston and Providence railroad there is no curve of a less radius than 6,000 feet. The rate of velocity on the American railroads is as various as the manner of their construction, and the amount of their inclinations and curvatures. On the Boston and Lowell road the rate is nearly 25 miles an hour, on the Boston and Providence and Worcester roads it is about 20 miles; on the Camden and Amboy railroad the mean velocity has been reduced to 15 miles; on the Charleston and Augusta road, it is only about 12, and it is still less on the Baltimore and Ohio railway.
One of the chief means of economy in the construction of these works in this country, is the use of wood for bridges. The Americans are unequalled in the art of constructing wooden bridges; those of Switzerland, about which so much as been said, are clumsy and heavy compared with theirs. The American bridges have arches of 100 and 200 feet span,* and they are not less remarkable for their cheapness, than for their boldness. The bridge over the Susquehanna at Columbia is 6,000 feet long and cost 130,000 dollars; it is roofed over, has two carriageways and two side-ways for foot passengers. In general the wooden superstructure of a covered bridge, with a double carriage way, may be built at the rate of 8,000 to 14,000 dollars, according to the locality and the character of the work, per 600 feet; a similar structure with us would be built of hewn stone, and would cost at least 200,000 to 300,000 dollars. The masonry is generally of uncut stone, or of undressed hewn stone, and is not, therefore, expensive. Three different plans are followed in the construction of bridges; one is that of a carpenter Burr, a second that of Col. Long, and the third, which is the newest, most interesting, and most suitable for railroads, on account of its firmness, is that of Mr Town; they are all remarkable for requiring scarcely any iron. There are, however, some bridges of hewn stone on the American railroads; such is the Thomas Viaduct over the Patapsco, on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, wholly of fine granite; it is 700 feet long, and cost only 120,000 dollars, although it has two road-ways, and is 60 feet high.
The greatest difficulty which the Americans encountered in the execution of their public works, was not to procure the necessary capital, but to find men capable of directing operations. In this respect also, New York has done the Union signal service; the engineers, who were formed by the construction of the Erie canal, have diffused the benefits of the experience acquired in that work, over the whole country. Mr Wright, the most eminent among them, and still the most active of American engineers, notwithstanding his advanced age, has been engaged in the superintendence of an inconceivable number of undertakings.* His name is associated with the construction of canals from the Chesapeake to the Ohio, from the Delaware to the Chesapeake, from the Hudson to the Delaware, from the James to the Kanawha, on the St. Lawrence, and even on the Welland, as well as with those of the railroads just mentioned. Within the last ten years the number of able engineers in the United States has become considerable, and they have written the records of their skill and science on the soil of their country. General Bernard contributed not a little to this result, by carrying with him into the New World the most improved processes of European art, and setting an example of their application. Mr Moncure Robinson, also a pupil of the French schools of science, who excels in the art of combining great economy with great solidity and neatness of execution, has constructed the inclined planes of the Portage Railroad over the Alleghany, and has built the Chesterfield, Petersburg and Roanoke, the Little Schuylkill, and the Winchester railroads; he is, at present, engaged on the Pottsville and Sunbury, the Philadelphia and Reading, and the Fredericksburg and Richmond roads. Major McNeil has just finished the Boston and Providence railway, and is engaged on the Stonington and the Baltimore and Susquehanna roads. Mr Douglass, after having completed the Morris canal, and the Brooklyn and Jamaica railroad, is preparing, for the coming season, the operations on the New York water-works. Mr Fessenden, who has executed the Worcester railroad, is now engaged on the Eastern and Western railroads on the right and left of Boston. Mr Knight, the principal engineer of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, is occupied in devising plans for topping the Alleghanies. The late Mr Canvass White assisted in the construction of the Louisville and Portland canal, and had finished the fine canal from the Raritan to the Delaware, not long before his death. Mr Allen has built the Charleston and Augusta railroad. Mr Jervis, who is now directing a part of the great works of canalisation in New York, constructed the Carbondale and Honesdale road.
To supply the want of men of science, demanded by the spirit of enterprise, the Federal government authorises the officers of the engineer corps and of the topographical engineers to enter into the service of the companies. It also employs them itself, in surveying routes and preparing plans, or constructing works on its own account. General Gratiot, the chief engineer, therefore, performs the duties of president of a board of public works (directeur-général des ponts et chaussées). Cols. Albert and Kearney of the topographical engineers, take an active part in the construction of the great canal from the Chesapeake to the Ohio, of which the Federal government is the principal shareholder. Capt. Turnbull superintends the canal from Georgetown to Alexandria; Capt. Delafield the works on the National Road, and Capt. Talcott the improvements of the navigation of the Hudson. Col. Long passes from route to route, and conducts at one time the surveys from Memphis to Savannah, at another those from Portland to Montreal and Quebec. On the other hand, architects become engineers, and Mr Strickland of Philadelphia, and Mr Latrobe of Baltimore, superintend the construction of the railroad between these two cities; and even simple merchants take upon themselves the responsibility of great works, as in the case of Mr Jackson of Boston, who is in fact, chief engineer of the Lowell railroad.
The spectacle of a young people, executing, in the short space of fifteen years, a series of works, which the most powerful States of Europe with a population three or four times as great, would have shrunk from undertaking, is in truth a noble sight. The advantages which result from these enterprises to the public prosperity are incalculable, and the political effects are not less important. These numerous routes, which are traversed with so much ease and speed, will contribute to the maintenance of the Union more than a regularly balanced national representation. When New York shall be only six or eight days from New Orleans, not merely for a class of the rich and privileged, but for every citizen, every labourer, a separation will be impossible. Distance will be annihilated, and this colossus, ten times greater than France, will preserve its unity without an effort.*
It is impossible not to turn back my thoughts to Europe, and to make a comparison by no means favorable to the great kingdoms which occupy it. The partisans of the monarchical principle maintain, that it is as powerful in promoting the greatness and welfare of peoples, and the progress of the human race, as the principle of independence and self-government, which prevails on this side the Atlantic. For myself, I believe them to be in the right; but it is necessary that some tangible proofs of the correctness of their opinion should be given, if we do not wish that the contrary doctrine should make proselytes. It is by the fruits that the tree must be judged. Now the European governments dispose of the property and the persons of more than 250 millions of men, that is, of a population twenty times more numerous than that of the United States at the time these great works were begun. The extent of territory which demands their care, is not quite four times as great as that at present occupied by the States and the organised Territories. The millions which the European nations raise so easily for war, that is to say, to destroy and slaughter each other, would not certainly be wanting to their princes for the execution of useful enterprises. The latter have only to will it, and all the peoples of Europe will be so completely blended together in interests, feelings, and opinions, that the whole continent would be like a single state, and a European war would be looked upon as no less sacrilegious than a civil war. By putting off the day of these useful works, do not the sovereigns give countenance to the reasonings of those, who assert that the cause of kings is irreconcileable with the cause of nations?
[* ] Arkansas became a State in 1836. [It is a strange oversight of the author to say, that Missouri is the only State west of the Mississippi, when nearly the whole of Louisiana is on its right bank. Neither is it correct to say, that Missouri is one of the least important States. In point of territorial extent, geographical position, agricultural resources, and mineral wealth, she is one of the most important, and even in point of population, which is increasing with great rapidity, is little behind many of her sisters. The Territory of Iowa, established in 1837, on the north of Missouri, has now about 30,000 inhabitants, and is rapidly filling with settlers.—Transl.]
[* ] This difficulty is almost wholly, if not quite, remedied by ice-boats.
[* ] In 1792 the New York legislature incorporated two companies, the Western and the Northern Inland Lock Navigation companies, which, however, did nothing of importance, the former with authority to connect the Hudson by the Mohawk with Seneca Lake and Lake Ontario, the latter to form a junction between the Hudson and Lake Champlain.
[† ] By Mr Baldwin, father of the late Loammi Baldwin, who constructed the dry docks at Charlestown and Gosport.
[* ] The official statements of the Canal Board, Feb. 23, 1837, are here given instead of those of M. Chevalier. The statement in the text does not include the Black River Canal and the Genesee Valley Canal, begun in 1837, with a total length of 168 miles, exclusive of 40 miles of improved navigation in the Black River, estimated cost, 3,000,000 dollars.—Transl.
[* ] Michigan became a State in 1837, at which time it had a population of 175,000 souls.—Transl.
[† ] The increase of the population has since been at a still more rapid rate; from 1830 to 1835, the number of inhabitants increased from 203,000 to 270,000, or including Brooklyn, from 218,000 to 294,000.—Transl.
[* ] It is 40 feet wide on the surface and 4 feet deep; the locks are 95 feet long and 15 wide. The Languedoc Canal is 90 feet wide, and 6 1-2 feet deep, with locks 115 feet long, 36 feet wide in the centre, and 18 at each end. The English Canals are generally of about the dimensions of the Erie Canal.
[† ] The legislature incorporated the company on the express condition that they should transport only travellers and then baggage. Notwithstanding this provision, when the books were opened, seven times the amount of capital needed was subscribed; the sum required was 2,000,000 dollars; the amount of subscriptions 14,000,000.
[‡ ] Several links in this chain between Auburn and Utica on one side, and Rochester on the other, are already completed.—Transl.
[* ] In the session of 1836, the legislature authorised a loan of the credit of the State for the sum of 3,000,000 dollars to the company; the estimated cost of the road is 6,000,000. This road terminates at Tappan Sloat on the Hudson.
[* ] The maximum of inclination allowed by our Administration des Ponts-et-Chaussées (board of public works) is , in the great lines executed at the expense of government, the inclination has generally been kept below , which is the maximum adopted in the fine railroad from London to Birmingham.
[* ] In 1836 the Maryland legislature voted the sum of 8,000,000 dollars in aid of public works, of which 3,000,000 were appropriated to the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, and 3,000,000 to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and rest is divided between several works, one of which is intended to connect Annapolis, the capital, with the Potomac. Baltimore has also subscribed 3,000,000 dollars towards aiding the completion of the railroad. [Virginia and Wheeling have also subscribed 1,000,000 each for the same object, and so far from being come to a stand, the Baltimore and Ohio railroad is now pushed on with great vigour towards Cumberland—Transl.]
[* ] In 1836, the construction of this road has been authorised by the legislatures of Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The surveys have been completed, the route fixed upon, and a board organised for pushing the work with vigour. Mr Hayne, late a Senator in Congress, and since governor of South Carolina, and one of the most highly respected men in the country, is president. Including the two branches, one to Louisville, and one to Maysville, the whole length of the road will be 700 miles; the estimated cost is 11,870,000 dollars.
[* ] [Two great works are now actively pushed on in Georgia, which will form another connection between the Mississippi Valley and the Atlantic; these are the Central railroad from Savannah to Decatur, 285 miles, and the Georgia railroad from Augusta to the same place, 160 miles in length; the Main Trunk of the Atlantic and Western railroad is the common continuation of these two roads from Decatur to the Tennessee, a distance of 120 miles. These works are already in a state of forwardness, and a third, the Brunswick and Florida railroad, now under survey, will extend from Brunswick to the head of the Appalachicola, and connect the southernmost part of the western valley with the Atlantic. In North Carolina, beside the Raleigh and Gaston railroad, the railroad from the Roanoke to Wilmington is now nearly completed. As steam-packets run from Wilmington to Charleston, and the Chattahoochee is already connected with Montgomery, which stands at the head of steamboat navigation on the Alabama, the continuation of the Central railroad from Decatur to the Chattahoochee, a distance of 80 miles, is all that is wanted to complete the communication between Boston and New Orleans by railroads and steamboats.—Transl.]
[* ] These grants of land are generally made so that every other section (of six miles square) along the line of the work is retained by Congress, and the rest are given to the State or company constructing the canal. Sometimes, however, a certain number of acres in some other quarter is granted outright.
[† ] No one can look at a map of the United States without being struck by the appearance of the right lines, constituting the frontiers of most of the States, this method of bounding a territory by meridians and parallels of latitude is absurd, since it requires an infinite number of geodesic operations, which have not been executed, and cannot be so for a long time. Meridians and parallels do very well for the divisions of the heavens; but for the earth, there are no suitable boundaries but the beds of rivers, or water-sheds in the mountain chains.
[‡ ] By the act establishing the State of Michigan (1836), Congress has annexed this disputed belt to Ohio. [The whole line of this great work is now nearly completed.—Transl.]
[* ] The work was begun on the canal, July 4, 1836, it is six feet deep, and 60 feet wide at top, estimated cost 8,654,300 dollars. [The progress of population in that region within the last two years has given rise to new and very important projects. One of these is a canal connecting the Rock River with Lake Michigan, at Milwaukie, and the other is the junction of the Wisconsin with the Fox River of Green Bay, thus adding two links to the chain of communication between the Mississippi and St. Lawrence valleys.—Transl.]
[* ] In 1836, the legislature of Indiana adopted a general system of public works, for the execution of which it authorised a loan of 10,000,000 dollars. The system embraces the canalisation of the Wabash and White River, the connection of the Wabash with the Maumee, and of Lake Michigan with the same river by canals, and a canal across the centre of the State from Evansville by Indianapolis to the Wabash and Erie canal. Appropriations were made by the same law for railroads from Madison and Jeffersonville on the Ohio to the Wabash canal, and in aid of the Lawrenceburg and Indianapolis railroad which has been undertaken by a company. [The State of Illinois has also made provision for a series of public works on an equally liberal scale; an act of 1837 establishes a Board of Public Works and an Internal Improvement Fund, and provides for the construction of a railroad across the State from north to south, reaching from the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi by Vandaha and Peru to Galena, being about 460 miles in length, of four roads crossing the State from east to west, namely, from Shawneetown on the Ohio to Alton on the Mississippi, from Mt. Carmel on the Wabash to Alton, from Terre Haute on the Wabash to Alton, and from Covington on the Wabash to Quincy on the Mississippi, and of another cross road from Bloomington, in the centre of the State to Warsaw on the Mississippi. These works are now in active progress, as are also some works for improving the navigation of the Illinois, Rock River, Kaskaskia and Little Wabash. The youthful State of Michigan has followed the example of these elder sisters, by establishing a Board of Public Works, and directing the construction of three railroads across the peninsula, from Monroe, Detroit, and Huron to Lake Michigan, and a canal from the river Saginaw of Lake Huron to the Grand River of Lake Michigan. There are also several railroads executed by companies in Michigan.—Transl.]
[* ] [This work was completed in the spring of 1838, at which time several steamboats passed wholly through the place formerly occupied by the raft. The removal of that obstruction, has extended the navigation by steamboats 750 miles on the Red River, exclusive of 600 miles on several branches.—Transl.]
[* ] It is 50 feet wide at bottom and 200 feet at top, and has four locks, 170 feet long by 50 wide.
[* ] It is from 65 to 75 feet wide at top, and 7 feet deep. The locks are well constructed, and very expeditiously worked.
[* ] [The link between New Brunswick and Trenton has since been authorised by the State and constructed—Transl.]
[* ] [The Baltimore and Philadelphia, Fredericksburg and Roanoke, and Portsmouth and Roanoke railroads have since been completed.—Transl.]
[* ] It will be easy to construct a branch from the Charleston and Augusta railroad to Columbia, and the route has been surveyed. [This branch is now in progress, and as the Raleigh and Gaston railroad, from the Roanoke to Raleigh, is also nearly completed, there remains only the link between Raleigh and Columbia not yet undertaken.—Transl.]
[* ] [A prolongation of the Georgia railroad to Decatur, 160 miles from Augusta, is already in progress, and the Montgomery and Chattahoochee railroad, extending from West Point on the latter to the river Alabama, forms another link in the chain between Boston or rather Bangor and New Orleans.—Transl.]
[* ] During the session of 1836 the legislature of Massachusetts subscribed 1,000,000 in aid of the Western Railroad; this measure was the first step taken by the State in the promotion of public works, and indicates a complete revolution in its policy on this point. [This act was immediately followed by similar acts in aid of the several other railroads now in progress in the State, and in 1838, by a further grant of the credit of the State to the Western Railroad to the amount of 1,200,000 dollars. That work will be completed to Springfield in October (1839), and the section between Springfield and West Stockbridge is already far advanced towards its completion. The Lowell railroad has been extended to Nashua, and an eastern branch is now completed to Haverhill, of which a continuation towards Exeter is now in progress—Transl.]
[* ] [To these should be added the railroads from Newark to Morristown, and from Elizabethtown to Somerville, both intersecting the New Brunswick railroad, and extending into a fine farming country. The Brooklyn railroad has also been continued about 20 miles beyond Jamaica—Transl.]
[* ] On some of the canals the locks are partly of wood and partly of stone; these composite locks are economical and easily kept in repair, and deserve to be introduced in other countries. On many canals the locks are wholly of wood.
[* ] The bridge over the Schuylkill at Philadelphia consists of a single arch of 300 feet span. [This beautiful structure has lately been destroyed by fire.—Transl.]
[* ] At this very time, Mr Wright, in spite of his 60 years, is directing in person the Harlæm railroad, the great New York and Erie road, the great work of connecting the James and Kanawha, by a railroad and canal, the works going on along the St. Lawrence in Upper Canada, 750 miles further north, and the railway from Havana to Guines in the islands of Cuba. The aggregate length of all these works is 870 miles. The most eminent engineers have always several works under their direction at once, it is understood, of course, that they are aided by skilful and intelligent assistants’ who do most of the work.
[* ] The lowest rate of speed on a railroad can be hardly less than 15 miles an hour, or about three times greater than the ordinary speed of the stage-coaches in France and America. At this rate, a country with railroads, nine times larger than France, would be on the same footing in respect to intercommunication, as France without railroads; supposing a velocity of 25 miles an hour, or five times greater than that of the coaches, the proportion would then stand as one to twentyfive, and a territory four and a half times greater than western Europe, or five times greater than that included within the limits of the 27 States, would be as easily and as promptly administered as France is at present.
[Note 22—page 268.]Summary Statements of the Public Works in the United States.
The six tables which follow present a recapitulation of the statements given in Letter XXI., with the cost per league in francs. [Many of the statements in the Letter are slightly varied from the original, in conformity with official reports, and the cost and distances have there been reduced to English measures and Federal money. In these tables the author’s statements are given without change because sufficient materials for a total recasting of them are not accessible to the translator. In reducing federal money to francs, M. Chevalier assumes the dollar to be equal to 5.33 francs; the league is of 4,000 metres, and consequently equivalent to two and a half English statute miles.—Transl.]
If to these are added some unimportant works, about which I have not been able to obtain exact statements, the total length of the railroads and canals may be estimated at about 2,150 leagues, and the cost at 660 million francs. If we take into account a number of important works, which have been undertaken in the last part of 1835 and the beginning of 1836, it will be necessary to add 900 leagues and 300 million francs to the above totals, making an aggregate of 3,050 leagues (7,625 miles) and 960 million francs (180 million dollars). I do not include the Nashville and New Orleans and the Charleston and Cincinnati railroads, which, however, will probably be executed before long, and with their branches will make an addition of more than 500 leagues. The Americans have already surpassed in the extent of their works, and the rapidity of execution, the most active and wealthy European nations. Almost all the works above enumerated have been executed in fifteen years.
The following table gives a summary view of similar works in Europe: