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dition until 1838, when some slight damage river directly north of House Island to the was done, and since that time no repairs of any lake; he proposed to protect the entrance into kind have been made. The improvement of the lake by parallel piers 726 feet long and 20 the present harbor of Monroe having been feet wide, running out to a depth of ten feet; commenced, rendering La Plaisance Harbor no where the canal crossed Sandy Creek he prolonger necessary, the breakwater has gradually posed to close the south side and to turn the been destroyed.
creek into the canal. The estimated cost of
the whole work exclusive of the dredging maMONROE HARBOR.
chine was $55,885..
The first appropriation of $30,000 was made It was seen at an early day, after work had by the act of February 24, 1835, and the work been commenced on La Plaisance breakwater, was commenced early in May of that year, that the navigable waters of the River Raisin under the direction of the chief of engineers, should be connected with those of the lake Captain H. Smith being in immediate charge. and made available for all vessels then navi- About June 1st a large force of laborers was gating Lake Erie. Captain Maurice several employed, and operations were pushed with so times referred to this subject in his reports, much vigor tbat during the season nearly oneand in 1828 by direction of the chief of engi- half of the entire length of the canal was exneers he presented a plan and estimate for cavated. making direct connection between the river The officer superintending the work asked and La Plaisance Bay Captain Henry Smith, for $60,660 to complete it, giving as a reason of the United States Army, who succeeded for the excess over the original estimate, the Captain Maurice, did not agree with him on this high price of labor and the cost of the dredg. subject, and in November, 1834, submitted to ing machine. the chief of engineers a plan for straightening An appropriation of $1,500 was made by the the River Raisin and making direct connection act of July 2, 1836. During this year the with the lake.
operations advanced satisfactorily, and were Captain Smith in his report explained the directed as follows: To constructing permadisadvantage of La Plaisance Harbor, showed nent dains on both sides of the canal to prehow entirely it failed to carry out the end in vent sliding and to secure them from the action view and the great necessity for a direct con- of the currents, wash of steamboats, etc. – this nection between the lake and the river.
work was finished along 1,880 feet of the canal The River Rajsin has its source in Hillsdale and partially completed upon the remainder; county, Michigan, and flows for about one the excavation, which, with the exception of hundred and twenty-five miles, measured by a few minor details, was completed upon 1,880 its channel, on a course generally easterly, feet of the canal. The construction of the through a very fertile and productive country. piers on each side of the mouth of the canal At the time the improvement of the river was was completed to the distance of 450 feet into inaugurated it was considered one of the most the lake. These were built by hired labor and important streams in Michigan, not only on purchase in the open market. The officer in account of its geographical position, but also charge stated that it would require $61,351.50 for its water power; it had contributed largely to complete the work, in addition to former towards the prosperity of many enterprising appropriations. An appropriation of $30,000 towns along its banks. Monroe, which lies was made by the act of March 3, 1837. The about forty miles southwest of Detroit and revetment of the sides of the canal was nearly three and a half miles from the mouth of the finished and the excavation was continued, so Raisin River, was at that time a place of some that by the close of the season 3,387 feet of prominence, with 3,000 inhabitants.
the canal was completed; the piers were carThe plan of improvement proposed by Cap- ried out to a depth of 10 feet, the south pier tain Smith was to make a direct connection being 597 feet and the north pier 515 feet in with the lake by cutting a canal about 4,000 length. It was, however, deemed necessary to feet long and 100 feet wide through the penin- continue them out to a depth of 12 feet. sula called “River Raisin Point," from the An appropriation of $1,500 was made by the act of July 7, 1838. Operations were con- unfinished work, prolonging the north pier, tinued upon the canal and piers; 27,278 cubic and putting in a pier head. yards of earth were excavated from the canal No appropriations were made nor any work prism and from between the piers in the lake, done between the years 1844 and 1852. and about 19,000 yards yet remained to be re- By the act of August 30, 1852, $14,000 was moved. The north pier was prolonged 60 feet appropriated, and the money disbursed in 1853 and the south pier 30 feet. It was also found by a local agent in the repairs of the piers. necessary to protect the lake shore on the Captain Howard Stansbury, of the topographnorth side of the canal, where it was rapidly ical engineers, who assumed charge in 1854, wearing away, by six cribs filled with stone, reported that the appropriation had been exand to raise the walls of the canal to prerent pended by the agent before he took charge, in sand from being washed into the channel. completing 400 feet of the south pier and par
The officer in charge asked for $54,920 to tially rebuilding 700 feet of the north pier. complete the whole work. Up to the close of The latter was left in an unfinished condition, this year the entire appropriations made up to the style of workmanship being rough and de. date, amounting to $90,000, bad been expended. fective. He asked for an appropriation of
It will be observed from the foregoing his- $19,537.77 to put the barbor in order. tory that the improvement of this barbor was In 1857 Lieutenant-Colonel Grabam recommenced in 1827 at La Plaisance Bay, aban- ported that the works were rapidly deteridoned there in 1835, and begun in that year on orating, and asked for $23,857 to put them in the present harbor.
order. No action was taken upon this recomThe policy of the General Government in mendation, and nothing more was done until regard to internal improvements was changed 1866. four years after the work was commenced, and In February, 1866, Colonel and Brevet Majorwith the exception of the appropriations in General T. J. Crain, of the Corps of Engineers, 1841 and 1852, which were devoted to repairs made a survey of the harbor, and submitted a and dredging, no further funds were available report with an estimate of the cost of the imuntil the year 1866.
provement. General Crain made a careful exAn appropriation of $20,000 was made by amination of the piers and reported them to be the act of June 11, 1844, and the work placed in a dilapidated condition. He recommended in charge of Captain A. Canfield, of the Corps that the north pier should be repaired for a of Topographical Engineers. An examination length of 665 feet, and the south pier for a of the harbor showed the piers to be in bad length of 180 feet. The heavy ice in the canal condition, and that the lake was making in and lake prevented any examination as to roads at the angles where the piers joined the depth. shores. Materials were collected for making Although the revetment of the banks of the the necessary repairs, and in the following canal was decayed and broken, General Crain summer the old piers were thoroughly re- did not think it necessary to rebuild it, as the paired; 162 linear fect of the old sheet pile banks had now become quite solid. He esti pier was replaced by new cribwork; the north mated that the cost of the work would be pier was extended 300 linear feet into the lake, $10,423.66. An appropriation of $31,015.27 and the south pier 90 feet, but the superstruc- was made by the act of June 23, 1866. ture upon this portion was not completed; the Operations were carried on during the winter lake shore at the angles where the piers joined of 1866 and 1867, and the piers were put in Il was protected by a strong cribwork to pre- complete order. A survey of the channel in vent breaching; repairs were made to the re- the spring of 1868 showed a sufficient depth of vetment of the United States canal where Sand water for the requirements of the commerce of Creek emptied into it; the artificial channel Monroe. The total expenditure in repairs up was dredged wherever trouble occurred; 11,684 to June 30, 1868, was $20,425. cubic yards of mud, sand, etc., were removed, In April, 1869, Major Walter Mcfarland, of and a depth of nine feet obtained up to a point the Corps of Engineers, was assigned to the just below the docks at Monroe. An estimate charge of this harbor, and be recommended of $13.303,95 was submitted for completing the that the bar at the entrance to the nato
cubic yards of sand were removed from the act of June 18, 1878. A survey of the channel channel, and a depth of 12 feet obtained over was made between the lake and the docks at the bar and through the United States canal Monroe, which showed that it had shoaled into the river. The shore of the lake at the very much, and that a depth of 8 feet could not inner end of the north pier was protected by a be carried up to the docks. General Michler revetment to prevent the waters of the lake was relieved by Major and Brevet Colonel John from breaking through into the canal.
M. Wilson, of the Corps of Engineers, in DecemIn April, 1871, Major McFarland was relieved ber, 1878. by Captain and Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel G. Operations were commenced in March, 1879, L. Gillespie, of the Corps of Engineers. An and by June both piers had been repaired and elaborate survey of the harbor was made in 612 linear feet of the canal revetment renewed. September, and Colonel Gillespie presented a An appropriation of $2,000 was made by the plan for obtaining a depth of 11 feet up to the act of March 3, 1879. It was determined to docks at Monroe at a cost of $15,600.
apply it to dredging and to endeavor to make a An appropriation of $10,000 was made by clear channel 100 feet wide and 94 feet deep up the act of June 10, 1872, and in August the to the docks at Monroe. A contract was made work of dredging was commenced; 31,029 at 11 cents per cubic yard, and the work carcubic yards of mud, etc., were removed, and a ried on in August and September; in the depth of 11 feet up obtained, except in the progress of operations 12,370 cubic yards of vicinity of the docks at Monroe, where rock mud, sand, etc., 33 logs, 3 snags and 10 stumps was found. At Cooley's Bar stiff clay was en were removed, a depth of 11 feet gained up to countered.
the inner end of the piers and of 10 feet from Colonel Gillespie was relieved by Major and thence up to the upper end of Willow Island, a Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Harwood in April, short distance below the docks at Monroe. 1873. An appropriation of $15,000 was made Early in September the dredge was moved by the act of March 3, 1873. The piers were up near the docks at Monroe in order to excaput in complete order and the renewal of the vate to a depth of 10 feet within 50 feet of them, canal revetment was commenced. Colonel but encountered rock, and after removing 472 Harwood asked for $50,000 for completing the yards the work was found to be impracticable revetment.
without blasting.* An appropriation of $10,000 was made by the Major Wilson continued in charge of the act of June 23, 1874. Operations were con- work until 1882, and from 1882 to the present tinued upon the canal revetment, and 2,710 time the work has been in charge of L. Cooper linear feet of it was rebuilt.
Overman, Major of Engineers, United States Colonel Harwood was relieved in June, 1874, Army. Appropriations have been made since by Lieutenant-Colonel and Brevet Colonel 1879 as follows: Blunt, of the Corps of Engineers. An appro
Appropriated by act of June 14, 1880 -----$2,000 priation of $10,000 was made by the act of Appropriated by act of March 3, 1881 ----- 1,000 March 3, 1875. During this year work was Appropriated by act of August 2, 1882 ---- 1,000 continued renewing the canal revetment, and a
Appropriated by act of August 5, 1886 ---- 2,000 channel was dredged through the outer bar; These appropriations were expended in 1,669 linear feet of revetment was renewed, and minor repairs on the piers and canal revet18,676 cubic yards of sand removed from the ment. channel at the entrance to the piers.
. The commerce at Monroe harbor by reason An appropriation of $5,000 was made by the of the competition of the railroads had become act of August 14, 1876. Lieutenant-Colonel so small that an appropriation was not strongly and Brevet Brigadier-General Michler relieved advocated by the United States Gorernment Colonel Blunt of the charge of the harbor in Engineer in charge, and he seems to have December, 1876. Operations were continued been in doubt as to the best policy to be purduring the season of 1877, renewing the canal
*The foregoing accounts of Monroe and La Plairevetment, and 1,905 linear feet were rebuilt.
sance Harbor improvements are taken from the Gove Some minor repairs were made to the piers. ernment Report of 1880.
sued by the Government: To let the Govern. ment to the city charter entitled “An act to ment works here go to decay and ruin, or keep amend an act to incorporate the city of Monthem in repair for some future development at roe,” approved April 6, A. D. 1838: this point. The returns of the customs collec
“The common council of the city of Monroe
are authorized to finish and complete the canal port showed that the amount of commerce to be
and piers already commenced by the Governbenefited was very small and certainly justified the United States Engineer's position. But in
waters of the River Raisin with Lake Erie, 1887 the commerce at Monroe harbor suddenly
together with proper piers and basins for said largely increased, the Western Union Tele
canal within the limits of said city, and also to graph Company having make this port the
improve the navigation of said river within the distributing point for telegraph poles for the
limits of said city by cutting tbrough the greater part of the United States, and F. S.
bends of said river, and for that purpose are
authorized to raise a sum not exceeding fifty business of the same character at the docks.
thousand dollars by a direct tax upon the real Vessels arriving with cargoes of poles fre
estate situate within the limits of said city, or quently stranded on the bars in the river, and
by a loan for that purpose to be effected, or by a survey showed that bars had formed at sev
both or either of said ways. The moneys so eral points, and that Monroe harbor was fast
raised to be expended by five commissioners. coming into disrepute with lake captains. The
The said commissioners to be assessors and citizens and common council, recognizing the
sworn to assess the real estate in proportion as importance of having the obstruction in the
in their opinion the same will be benefited by harbor removed to accommodate the new and
the expenditure of said money, who shall be increasing business, sent General George
chosen by the freemen of said city in legal Spalding, Hon. Harry A. Conant and Major
meeting assembled, provided that no such tax George R. Hurd, as a committee to Washington,
be levied or loan effected unless a majority of D. C., to procure an appropriation for the im
the taxable inhabitants of said city owning provement of the harbor, and to have the same
lands in fee simple therein shall vote for or inserted in the river and harbor bill then
assent to the levying of such tax or for effectpending. The committee, with the assistance
ing such loan at a special meeting to be called of Mr. J. C. Sterling, who accompanied them,
for such purpose by the clerk of said city, by were successful in their efforts, and an appro.
giving sixty days' previous notice of the time priation of $5,000 was made by the act of
and place of holding such meeting in the public August 11, 1888. The total amount appropriated by the Gen- "
newspaper printed in said city.” eral Government for the Monroe barbor and On the 29th day of August, 1838, a poll of United States ship canal (including the $5,000 the taxable inhabitants owning real estate in appropriation obtained by the committee) is fee simple in the city was taken at a public $222,515.27.
meeting to ascertain the will of the taxable inTHE CITY CANAL.
habitants as to making a loan of $25,000 for the
purpose of completing the Government harbor In 1838 considerable damage was done to the and canal, and improving the navigation of harbor at La Plaisance by a storm, and the the river by cutting a channel through the work commenced by the General Gorernment bend of the river. The whole number of votes at Monroe harbor and the United States ship cast was 157, with 142 votes in favor of a loan canal progressed slowly. The citizens, desir- and 15 rotes against it. It would appear from ing that the work should be pushed more vig. the returns that the real estate owners of the orously on the Government work, and that the citr were almost unanimous for the loan and channel of the River Raisin should be short- the canal. But the records show that the oppoened and straightened at what is called Fisher- sition was quite strong, and that the parties men's Bend, by the building of the city canal who were deeply interested in the project had across the bend, a distance of about 1,300 feet, to resort to the expedient of conveying small procured through the legislature an amend parcels of land to numerous persons who were in favor of the loan and wanted employment on to the credit of this city $25,000, to be drawn the canal, making them holders of real estate for as fast as the money should be needed for in fee simple, and so qualified them to vote, the progress of the work, allowing ten per cent. who otherwise would not have been entitled to interest on the balances from time to time pot a vote on the question.
drawn from the bank. The arrangement with In September, 1838, the common council this institution was upon the condition that appointed David A. Noble financial agent to go Austin E. Wing, Esq., for himself, and as to some of the Eastern cities for the purpose of trustee and agent for John P. Cushman, Jacob negotiating a loan of $25,000 on bonds to be D. Lansing, Lewis Cass, Job Pierson, Stephen issued by the city, with full power to negotiate Warren, Thomas W. Olcott, George R. Davis, the loan with any company, person or institu- William Porter and Edwin Croswell, should tion, in such manner as should appear to him enter into a guarantee to the Farmers and most for the advantage of the city. Mr. Noble Mechanics' Bank, of Albany, to make up to proceeded to the East immediately, and in Octo- that institution any deficiency that there might her reported to the council as follows:
be on the sale, within a reasonable time, of the
stock of the North American Trust and BankTo the Honorable the Common Council of the
ing Company below par, and those gentlemen, City of Monroe
with a promptness and public spirit which GENTLEMEN : In pursuance of the authority cannot be too highly appreciated, came forconferred on me by a resolution of your board ward and gave the bank assurances that such empowering me to negotiate a loan of $25,000 guarantee should be given, and immediately to complete the ship canal and improve the wrote to Austin E. Wing: Esq., who is jointly navigation of the River Raisin, I proceeded to interested with them in the purchase of lands Albany and New York for the purpose of near the contemplated basin of the ship canal, effecting a loan for the city, and after spending and their agent in reference to such lands, to several days in those cities in endeavoring to give on bebalf of themselves and their comaccomplish the object of my visit there, I pany the required guarantee, and Mr. Wing found that the situation of the money market has executed the proper papers to complete the was such that to effect a loan directly on any arrangement with the Farmers and Mechanics' Western securities was entirely impossible; Bank. Upon the basis above referred to, I that while for all the legitimate purposes of made an arrangement with those institutions, commercial business money was abundant and respectively, and all that remains now to be obtained with the greatest facility, yet that done to perfect the arrangement and to realize there was still an entire want of confidence in the money is to enclose the bonds of the city, a all securities of the Western country generally, form for which is hereunto submitted, with the and that money could not be raised upon them coupons thereto annexed, to Joseph D. Beirs, directly without the greatest and most ruinous Esq., the president of the North American sacrifices, even if at all. Under the circum- Trust and Banking Company, and that instistances, I deemed any further exertions to tution will issue stock to an equal amount, and effect a loan direct, as futile, and turned my this stock to the amount of $25,000 will be reefforts to making an exchange of stocks, onceived by assignment by the Farmers and such favorable terms as I thought would be Mechanics' Bank at Albany, and that instituacceptable to your board, and I found that I tion will place to the credit of this city that could exchange the bonds of this city for the amount of money to be drawn for. stock of the North American Trust and Bank
Respectfully, ing Company in the city of New York. The
D. A. NOBLE. stock of the institution, as stock, I knew this city did not wish, and before completing any I n pursuance of the plan presented, the city arrangement with that institution, I proceeded issued $25,000 in bonds, payable in twenty years, again to Albany and found that the Farmers with interest at seven per cent., payable semiand Mechanics' Bank, of the city of Albany, annually, and the city undertook to guarantee would take the stock of the North American Austin E. Wing and others from any loss on Trust and Banking Company at par, and place account of their guarantee in behalf of the city.