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two hundred feet wide and seven and a half feet deep, at mean low water, along the north shore of the bay, by dredging and by removing such rocks as may be found in the way.
The original estimate for the work was $51,000, deducting $5,000 already appropriated, leaves $46,000 still required to complete the work. One-half of this amount could be advantageously expended during the next fiscal year, and would probably suffice to open a channel one hundred feet wide, and thus utilize the improvement of Pawcatuck river, which was completed last year.
We wish to express our high appreciation of the value to this State of the services of the distinguished men who compose the United States Advisory Council: Rear-Admiral Daniel Ammen, U. S. N., Brevet-Major-Gen. G. K. Warren, U. S. A., and Prof. Henry Mitchell, U. S. C. S.
J. HERBERT SHEDD,
PETITION TO CONGRESS.
To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled:
The petition of the undersigned, Harbor Commissioners of the State of Rhode Island, etc.,-acting under the authority and on behalf of the said State, respectfully represents
That the port of Providence is situated at the northern limit of coast wise navigation for vessels that cannot safely pass the dangerous coast of Cape Cod, and has long been an important commercial station. It has good railroad facilities connecting with all parts of New England and the northern States.
The United States has, from time to time, expended money for the improvement of navigation to this port; but, for several years, the sums so expended have been of trifling amount.
The business of the port demands vessels of deeper draught than can pass over a long bar which is in the unimproved part of the harbor, having a least depth of about fourteen feet at mean low water, along the pathway of vessels.
By the excavation of a channel of suitable width and depth through this bar, and the straightening and widening of the channel at minor points, ocean vessels of deep draught may pass from the sea to the harbor, by the eastern passage, a distance of about thirty miles.
In order to furnish a convenient course for vessels of equal draught through the western passage, it would be necessary to cut a channel through a short bar about eight miles below Providence harbor. As there are two safe and commodious entrances to Narragansett Bay, one or the other of which can be made by vessels in a storm from any
quarter, it is very desirable that vessels driven to enter by the western passage, should be able to continue, without interruption, on their way to Providence harbor. The western passage is the most important to commerce.
The material of which these bars are composed is believed to be sand and mud, easy of excavation. The city of Providence has expended or appropriated about a hundred thousand dollars for dredging in the harbor since 1870, and the average price per cubic yard, for the last three years, has been less than twelve cents.
The character of the tidal basin is such that channels would probably be permanently maintained at small cost.
Your petitioners, therefore, pray your honorable bodies to make an appropriation for the removal of obstructions, so that vessels of the larger class may find convenient and safe passage to this important harbor.
To Gen. G. K. Warren, Major of Engineers, Newport, R. I.:
SIR: We have received from you a communication enclosing a resolution of the House of Representatives, of which the following are copies:
ENGINEER'S OFFICE UNITED STATES ARMY,
Mr. J. Herbert Shedd, Civil Engineer, President Rhode Island Harbor Commission,
SIR: I have just received the resolution of the House of Representatives, of which the enclosed is a copy.
The subject has been referred to me by the Chief of Engineers United States Army for a report, with directions to confer with parties representing the interests involved. The matter, you know, has already been considered by us, so that
its points are familiar. I wish therefore you would forward to me such report from your honorable board as will represent the question in the light you regard it, to aid me in making my report, and to be transmitted with it to the Chief of Engineers. In its regular course it will probably be transmitted to Congress and printed for the use of the members in passing upon the subject itself.
G. K. WARREN,
Major Engineer, Brevet-Major-General United States Army.
On motion of Mr. Eames:
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Resolved, That the Secretary of War be and he is hereby directed to communicate to this House as soon as practicable what improvements, if any, are demanded by the interests of commerce for the improvement of navigation to the port of Providence, R. I., based on examinations and surveys already made by the Coast Survey or other departments of the Government, together with the estimated cost of such improvements.
In response to your request we respectfully submit the following:
The improvement of the navigation of this port, for which we ask and which we consider to be urgently demanded by the interests and for the safety of commerce would be accomplished:
First By widening and deepening the main channel from Fox Point, above and east of which (on the Providence and Seekonk rivers) are our present wharves, to Field's Point, which is at the entrance to the inner harbor from Narragansett Bay. The distance between the two points by the thread of the channel is about one and one-sixth nautical miles. There is deep water at both the upper and lower ends of this distance, but in the middle a bar exists having at points only fourteen feet depth of water at low tide. A channel suited to this position should be about 1,060 feet in width between its outer banks, 150 feet of which width, in the centre, should be 23 feet in depth at low water, and then of decreasing depths on each side, to the outer banks, where the depth should be 6 feet at low water. This form of channel would meet all the requirements of the case. It would afford good anchorage ground on each side of the central pathway, leaving a free course for the manoeuvering or passage of vessels under sail.
Second-Below Field's Point, within the bay, a continuous channel should be secured at least 800 feet in width with a central pathway 23 feet in depth. This part of the work would necessitate the deepening of the natural channel at three points, to wit: Opposite Rocky Point; about half the distance between Gaspee Point and the Pawtuxet beacon, and opposite the village of Pawtuxet. The channel should also. be widened between a point nearly opposite Pawtuxet village and Field's Point.
We should then have an unobstructed passage-way from the open sea to our docks for such heavy draught foreign and coast-wise vessels and for such numbers of all draughts as would certainly seek our harbor if so improved.
As the streams emptying into the harbor are not of such size or character as to bring down any considerable amount of silt, it is quite probable that if the channel is once properly improved only a small annual outlay will be required to preserve its condition. The estimated volume of material to be removed between Fox Point and Field's Point, to secure the desired channel, is about 2,250,000 cubic yards, measured in bank; for the work in the bay the amount would be about 1,204,510 cubic yards.
As will hereafter appear by the contract prices for similar work for the city, there are few or no harbors where dredging can be more cheaply done; and, as the proposed improvement consists mainly of that kind of work, it follows that, at comparatively small cost, the chief obstacle to our advancement in commercial prosperity may be removed.
We feel assured that the contemplated dredging can be done at the rate of seven cubic yards for $1.00.
If this work is done, a continuous channel of about thirty miles in length, of twenty-three feet depth of water, from the sea to this port, may be secured.
The city of Providence has peculiar advantages of location as an importing and exporting center. Its outer harbor is Narragansett Bay, through one of the two unobstructed passages to which it can be entered by the largest vessels that float, in any wind, at any time, without a pilot; and it is never obstructed by ice to prevent making a good harbor. It is completely land-locked, and has about seventy square miles of anchorage, where the entire shipping of all the ports of the United States could ride out any storm in safety.
The harbor proper is an interior basin at the head of the bay, hav