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ing an area of about 700 acres, with a channel leading up to the wharves. This channel is obstructed by a bar, having only fourteen feet depth in places at low water, as already stated.
The city of Providence is the second in size in New England, and the sixteenth in the United States. It now contains a population of about 100,000, having made a very rapid growth in the last ten years. It is the most northerly important terminus of safe and convenient navigation from southern ports, lying, as it does, about thirty miles into the interior of New England, and having direct railroad communication with all parts of those States and the Canadas, and, by tapping the roads leading west, with the grain producing States.
It is the radiating center of supplies of raw material, as also the market for an immense aggregate of manufacturing industries located immediately around it and mainly developed and sustained by the water power of three streams. The leading manufactures are cotton and woolen goods, machinery, arms, etc., in which there are about fifty million dollars invested capital.
Of print cloths, there were reported sold here in 1877, a year of great depression in business, and, therefore, not a fair showing, 2,742,330 pieces. The average annual sales during the previous ten years amounts to 4,614,733 pieces.
The total reported receipts of cotton in this market, by all routes, during the year 1877, were 234,532 bales, which is 18,746 bales less than the average during the previous six years.
The total reported receipts of wool of all grades, by all routes, during the year, were 65,333 bales and sacks; the average during the previous six years being 93,983 bales and sacks per annum.
By the last census of Rhode Island, it appears that our bleacheries and print works consumed about 6,000 tons of supplies of foreign growth or manufacture; but there was difficulty in obtaining the facts, and the general belief is that these figures should be largely increased. Providence is also the chief coal port of New England. The total reported tonnage of coal during the year 1877 was 642,480 tons, of which 4,960 tons were foreign; the average per annum during the previous six years was 580,587 tons, the foreign average being 5,768 tons.
The total reported receipts of flour during 1877 were 324,539 barrels, which is 38,477 barrels more than the average annual receipts of the previous six years.
This, therefore, to the extent of our present transportation facili
ties, is an important receiving and distributing point for direct importations and productions for export. For coastwise traffic it is already the leading port in New England, and with our harbor so improved that ocean steamers and coastwise vessels of the heaviest draught could reach our wharves, we should have unsurpassed facilities for becoming a commercial, as we already are a manufacturing center.
More coastwise vessels now enter this bay and port than any other port in New England. Some of these of large draught of water, like the Philadelphia, Norfolk and Baltimore (freight) steamers, are at times compelled to wait hours for the full tide to enable them to cross the bar and reach the inner harbor.
Many others are effectually barred from entering the port at all on account of the insufficient depth of water in some parts of the channel; the inconvenient and expensive result of which is that a considerable part of the freight consigned to our merchants and manufacturers, besides that which would naturally come to this port in transit to interior points, must first be delivered in New York or Boston and then reshipped by rail to this port. One of the onerous features of this process is that the port charges elsewhere are about twice as much as they are here; and this is one considerable item which counts with ship owners in favor of this as a port of entry.
A pressing need of our present commerce is more anchorage room, already large, to allow the channel to be kept free for the passage of As many as seventy to seventy-five vessels have come into the harbor in an afternoon, for all of which, with those already at anchor, there is not sufficient room. The result is a frequent blockading of the channel against the safe passage of vessels in and out of the harbor. Regular lines of passenger and freight steamers run daily between this and other ports, and in their passage through the channel much delay and danger sometimes result from the encroachments of anchored vessels lapping out over their course. This trouble is increased during the summer months, when excursion steamers, loaded with passengers, are passing in and out almost hourly.
The State does not ask that its maritime facilities shall be developed entirely at the expense of the United States Government. Its appreciation of the importance of preserving and improving the advantages it already possesses, is shown by the expenditures which have been made to that end. The government of the city of Providence annually appropriates from $10,000 to $15,000 for the improvement of the harbor. A large amount of dredging has already been done in and
about the upper part of the channel with the money thus appropriated, and sums paid by individuals; and now there is much more water in the harbor proper, and around the docks, than on the bars below.
During the last eight years, $89,380.10 have been expended by the city for dredging alone, and for surveys, plats, etc., $2,474.00 more. This work has been done under very favorable conditions; the contract of last year for dredging about 168,000 cubic yards having been made at nine cents per cubic yard. The amount appropriated by the city for the current year is $15,000, and a contract for the dredging has been executed at thirteen cents per cubic yard, requiring the material to be carried on trestle-work to fill flats belonging to the city.
The city has also nearly completed the removal, at a cost of $60,000, of about 260,000 cubic yards of mud from the "Cove Basin," so called, at the head of Providence river.
The chairman of the Harbor Committee of the City Council has submitted a statement relative to the city's operations in the harbor, of which the following is a copy:
PROVIDENCE, January 22, 1878.
J. Herbert Shedd, Esq., Chairman of the State Board of Harbor Commissioners: SIR: In reply to yours of the 10th instant, I would say that for many years the city has expended considerable sums upon dredging in the harbor, as will appear in the enclosed tabular statement. Our citizens and our City Government fully realize the imperative necessity of increasing our harbor facilities, and a judicious and comprehensive plan for harbor improvement will assuredly receive cordial support.
If only work could be done in the river and bay, below the point where the city could be asked to expend money, we might hope that our harbor would receive and our wharves accommodate the largest vessels.
The following statement of money paid and work done on the harbor since 1870 is submitted and made a part of this communication:
In 1876 the appropriation for dredging the harbor was $11,500. for dredging was given to S. H. Hammond at thirteen cents per cubic yard. In 1877 the appropriation was $12,500. The contract for dredging was awarded to "Providence Dredging Company" at nine cents per cubic yard. For 1878 the appropriation is $15,000, and contract for dredging awarded to Thomas Potter at thirteen cents per cubic yard.
These low prices have been obtained notwithstanding the fact that there has been extra trouble to the contractor in disposing of the material. Last year about half the mud was towed sixteen miles to a dumping ground, and for the year to come the price includes the transferring the material by cars on trestle to ground too high to be reached in scows. This is required in order to develop wharf property.
Very respectfully yours,
ARTHUR F. DEXTER, Chairman for Committee on Harbor.
We insert a copy of preamble and resolutions passed by the Providence Board of Trade.
The following preamble and resolutions were read and unanimously adopted at the annual meeting of the Providence Board of Trade of the city of Providence, R. I., held January 9, 1878.
WHEREAS, This city is situated at the head of Providence river, affording a broad, safe and natural approach to a point about thirty miles inland, from which a large portion of the New England States may be commercially reached; and
WHEREAS, Much shipping is prevented from coming to this port, on account of the shoal channels leading to the harbor, notwithstanding our City Government has already expended considerable sums of money in widening and deepening the channels of the harbor; therefore
Resolved, That in the opinion of this Board it is desirable and necessary that steps be taken to procure aid from the United States Government to enable the improvement to be made so that the natural facilities of this harbor may be properly developed and increased.
Resolved, That the President of this Board be and he is hereby appointed a committee to confer with the State Board of Harbor Commissioners and is requested to cooperate with said Board in urging upon the United States Government the importance of the work and procuring the necessary aid therefor.
PROVIDENCE, January 29, 1878.
I hereby certify the foregoing to be a true copy and record.
F. P. LITTLE,
In response to another resolution passed by the Board of Trade, the following report of a committee was presented to that body.
Resolved, That the President of this Board be authorized to appoint a committee to ascertain the amount of foreign and domestic goods annually brought into this district.
Your Committee were notified of their appointment on the 22d ult. They were called together immediately, and have held several meetings to consider the business confided to them.
The difficulties in the way of obtaining such information as is desired are many. The want of time precludes the possibility of issuing circulars to our merchants and manufacturers, requesting such information as would enable us to estimate accurately the amount of material required in their business, and had the time been sufficient, the reluctance of many of our manufacturers to give such information, would have rendered a report thus obtained inaccurate.
The last census of Rhode Island, taken under the charge of a most faithful and efficient superintendent, gives the capital employed in manufactures, i. e., value of real estate and machinery, as $49,942,871; of raw material used, $76,715,970; of products, $126,659,875.
Under the head of special manufactures, we find that there were reported to have been used in print works and bleacheries, about 6,000 tons of materials of foreign growth or manufacture. From information received from other sources, the last item is believed to be much too small, and the same discrepancy may exist in other figures.