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To the Honorable the General Assembly of the State of Rhode Island,


The Board of Harbor Commissioners respectfully submit their Seventh Annual Report:


At the May Session of this General Assembly, His Excellency, the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, reappointed J. Herbert Shedd, whose term of service as Harbor Commissioner erpired in June, for a further term of three years.


By act of Congress of August 2, 1882, the Secretary of War was directed at his discretion to cause a survey of the Pawtucket river and estimates of the cost of the improvement proper to be made. The U.S. Engineer Department has long been opposed, apparently, to the expenditure of public funds for the improvement of this river while the present bridge obstructions remain at its outlet. In his report of the year 1874, General Warren made the following statement. “I deem it, therefore, a matter of importance that some

eps should be taken—what ones, exactly, I do not know—to control the bridging of the Pawtucket river in the interest of navigation; and unless such control is acquired by the general government, it seems to me out of place to further regard the improvement of the Pawtucket river as a public one, or that that estuary is longer a navigable water of the United States." It might naturally be assumed by the government that if the navigation of the river is worth preserving the State of Rhode Island would interfere for the removal of the obstructions and the simplest plan for the United States would be to withhold appropriations until this is done. Whatever has been the cause the fact is that no appropriations have been made for this river since 1873. The survey and estimates authorized August 2, 1882, have not yet been ordered. The number of vessels passing through the Washington Bridge at India Point, according to the City Engineer of the city of Providence, was two thousand six hundred and seventy-five during the year 1882. The navigation would undoubtedly be much larger than this if the obstructions were removed.

The improvement of Providence river and Narragansett Bay under the appropriation of 1881, was prosecuted up to April 26, 1882, when the available funds were exhausted. The total number of yarıls removed under contract dated July 8, 1881, was 322,255.2.

By resolution of the Senate of the United States the Secretary of War was directed to transmit to the Senate estimates of the cost of increasing the depth of the main ship-channel of Providence river and harbor to 25 feet, with 300 feet in width, at mean low water. General Warren estimated the cost over and above that of making a channel with a depth in the centre of 23 feet, gradually shoaling to a depth of 6 feet as provided for in the adopted project of 1878, at $175,000. Congress appropriated $125,000 August 2, 1882, presumably in furtherance of the amended project, which was estimated at $445,000 including the uncompleted project of 1878. A contract has been made for dredging a channel 25 feet deep at mean low water, at 16 cents per cubic yard. Up to January 1 about 200,000 cubic yards had been removed under this contract. It is expected that the funds available will secure a channel 200 feet wide and 25 feet deep from Fox Point to the sea, and that it will be completed by December 1, 1883.

The report of Gen. G. K. Warren, Lieutenant-Colonel of Engineers in charge of the improvement of harbors and rivers on this section of the coast, to the Chief of Engineers, U. S. A., is largely quoted in the appendix to this report.

The Commissioners feel that the State, as well as the nation, has suffered great loss in the death of General Warren, so long in charge of government work here, who was a member of the Advisory Council appointed by the President of the United States to aid this Board.

By courtesy of George H. Elliot, Lieutenant-Colonel of Engineers, successor to General Warren, the Board has been furnished with a full statement of the progress in his department since June 30, 1882, which may be found in the appendix.


The general dumping ground continues to be in deep water near Half-Way Rock, east of Conanicut Island. Assent has been given to the Bridge Mill Paper Company of Pawtucket, to dump, under restrictions, upon the flats above Hemlock Point. Unauthorized dumping on the flats below the Wilkesbarre Pier in Providence Harbor, was stopped by action of the Board. Assent has been given to Samuel A. Hammond to dump a limited amount, under restrictions, on the flats above Harbor Junction Pier on the west side of Providence Harbor.


A petition was received by the Board praying for the establishment of a harbor line on the west side of Narragansett Bay near to and including Wickford Harbor. This being in Washington county, the Commissioners took no action in the matter.

Upon petition of nearly all the riparian owners between Bensley's Point on the west side of Pawtucket river, and the Red Bridge, a harbor line was designed along that shore and the plans and descriptions thereof will be submitted for approval as required by law.

Applications have been made for changes in harbor lines in two locations. No steps towards such changes have been taken by the Board. It is believed that harbor lines once established should be permanent except where grave reasons arise calling for a change.

The harbor line on the west side of Providence river from Point Street Bridge to opposite Henderson street is under consideration by the Board. Every wharf owner along this shore encroaches beyond the ancient line, though the structures were probably placed within the line when built.


Licenses have been issued as follows:

1. February 18. To Smith Grant & Company, to construct a wall and make improvements on their wharf property on the westerly side of Pawtucket river in the town of Pawtucket.

2. April 5. To the Pawtucket Gas Company to build a wall and wharf on their estate on the westerly side of Pawtucket river in the town of Pawtucket.

3. May 8 To Henry C. Clark, to make alterations in the Dorrance street wharf, so called, in the city of Providence.

4. May 18. To the Pawtucket Coal Company, to build a bridge wharf on the Joseph Wood's Heirs estate on the easterly side of Pawtucket river in the town of Pawtucket.

5. June 28. To Allen Greene, to erect a small building opposite his estate, on the westerly side of Providence river, near Pawtuxet Neck, in the town of Cranston.

6. September 27. To the Providence Gas Company to drive piles and make repairs at their South Station on the westerly side of Providence Harbor in the city of Providence.

7. November 29. To the East Providence Land Company, to place dolphins opposite their estate and near the Marine Railway in East Providence.

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