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From causes, however, which it is not proper here to discuss, this company have been obliged to discontinue their operations. They succeeded in constructing a canal along the valley of the James River, from Richmond to Lynchburg, a distance of about one hundred and forty-seven miles, and in making improvements in the rapids and shoals of the Great Kanawha River in the West. - The failure of this company to complete the work with which they were charged has been greatly prejudicial to the cause of internal improvement in Virginia." Their operations subjected the State as well as private stockholders to heavy losses, and occasioned so much dissatisfaction that further aid from the Legislature, in the prosecution of this great central improvement, under the auspices of the James River and Kanawha Company, cannot be expected, except perhaps to enable them to extend the canal from Lynchburg to Buchanan, in the Valley of Virginia, a distance of forty-five miles. The extension of the canal thus far would undoubtedly advance the best interests of the State, and render the whole capital expended upon it much more productive ; and yet so strong was the prejudice against this company, that an application to the Legislature at its last session for aid for this purpose, was unsuccessful. The mode of executing this great work by means of a canal, a railroad, and the slack-water navigation of the Great Kanawha, which was adopted by the company in 1835, was undoubtedly unfortunate for the Commonwealth, and will never be consummated. The experience of the last fifteen years has settled the question that such a mixed mode of communication could not compete with a continuous railroad through the whole line, and would never enable Virginia to contend successfully with the powerful competition of the Northern States, for the trade and travel of the great valley world of the West. It is, however, the obvious good policy of the State to extend the James River Canal as far as Buchanan, or to some point in the great valley of Virginia. The time is not far distant, when the Winchester road will be extended up the valley of the Shenandoah to this point; and besides, from Lynchburg or Buchanan, the great Southwestern railroad will be constructed, thus pouring into this central channel the immense iron, lumber and coal trade of middle Virginia; which, from this point to the tide waters, would afford profitable business for the canal, while the railroad from this point eastward, would be mainly employed in the conveyance of passengers and light and valuable merchandise. The third mode of prosecuting this great work, by means of a continuous railroad, was never favorably entertained by the said company, although it is unquestionably the best and only one which will restore Virginia to her former prosperity. This important measure was brought before the public last year, and a bill for a charter, authorizing the construction of a railroad from the city of Richmond to the Ohio River, was introduced into the Legislature of Virginia, at the last session of the General Assembly. After able and elaborate debates upon the bill, in its passage through both branches of the Legislature, an act was finally passed on the 3d of February, 1846, entitled, “An act to incorporate the Richmond and Ohio Railroad Company.” This company is charged with the duty of constructing “a railroad from the city of Richmond on the south side of James River, to some point on the Ohio River, at or below the mouth of the Great Kanawha River, by the most eligible route, other than the immediate valley of the James River below Lynchburg, said route to be hereafter determined by actual survey, under the direction of the said company.” The company have thus an open charter for locating their road, subject to the single restriction, of laying the route on the south side of James River, below Lynchburg. This restriction was imposed, to avoid conflict with the canal on the north side of the river. It is, however, no objection in the charter, since the route from Richmond to Lynchburg, as prescribed in the act, is some forty miles nearer, and more feasible for the road than it would be along the immediate valley of the James River. The charter thus obtained is extremely liberal in its provisions, and of. fers great inducements to capitalists to invest their funds, independent of the main consideration, that this great work will yield a large dividend upon the capital expended in its construction. Among the provisions may be mentioned, the ample manufacturing privileges secured by the charter; the right of constructing lateral roads, twenty miles in length on each side; the exemption of the capital stock from taxation, and the dividends also, unless they exceed 6 per cent per annum; the right of the company to control its dividends; its freedom from legislative interference with the charter for thirty years from the time allowed for the completion of the work, and the right of the company to purchase and hold real estate to a large amount, for purposes other than such as may be necessary for the construction and preservation of the road. These provisions were engrafted upon the charter, to render it acceptable to non-resident capitalists, and it is believed that no charter with grants more liberal, was ever given in the United States. Having thus presented an outline of the origin, progress, and character of this grand project, it is designed to present some further considerations going to show its great importance, not only as a grand national work, but also as one indispensable to the happiness and prosperity of Virginia. In the article already alluded to, several general views were given, illustrating its national character, and among them was its importance to the Union, as a great military road, in the event of a war with any maritime power. This view has been sanctioned by the opinions of the first military men of the country. No other line of intercommunication could be so secure and central between the Atlantic cities and the Mississippi valley. Lying wholly within our own territory, and passing through the geographical centre of the States east of the Mississippi, its eastern terminus would connect with the Chesapeake, the safest and best harbor for our fleets. Its western terminus would open into the great agricultural regions of the West, whence abundant naval and military stores could be obtained at all seasons of the year, and our armies and munitions of war transported each way with perfect security. It would facilitate intercourse with the Federal Capital from all parts of the Union, south and southwest of Washington, more than any other similar work projected, and band together the Atlantic and trans-Alleghany States, like an adamantine chain. In this view all the great works of internal improvement, crossing the Apalachian chain of mountains, have an important national bearing. In spite of the virulence of party spirit, and the corruption of unprincipled demagogues, these iron bands will do much to maintain the integrity of the Union. The interests of the States on the eastern slope of the Alleghanies will become more and more assimilated, and merge more and more in commerce and manufactures, while the lead. ing interest of the great West will continue to be agriculture. Hence the importance to the whole country of uniting these great divisions by means of iron bands across the Alleghanies, as great cordons of national strength and union. Looking forward to the rapidly increasing intercourse between America and Europe, and to the establishment of new lines of steamships across the Atlantic, this great central thoroughfare, through the heart of the Republic, will become the most important channel of intercourse between the East and the West. The Portland and Montreal Railroad : the Vermont and Massachusetts Road: the Western Railroad, in conjunction with the Central Railroad, through New York: the New York and Erie Railroad : the Pennsylvania works, and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, all have the same great object in view, to secure the trade of the mighty West; and in this respect they have all a national character; but none so worthy to be regarded a great national work as the Richmond and Ohio Railroad. Extending three hundred or perhaps four hundred miles, through the centre of the Atlantic States, this magnificent railway would more than any other become the great outlet for the agricultural products of the Mis. sissippi Valley. The imagination labors in contemplation of the immense productiveness of this most fertile and extensive valley on the face of the earth, when it shall be filled, as it soon will be, with tens of millions of intelligent and industrious freemen. For the exportation of its productions and the importation of its merchandise, the great works already constructed and in contemplation, will be taxed to their utmost capacity. It is a noble spectacle, that should make an American feel proud of his country, to wit. ness the generous rivalry of the Atlantic cities, in pushing forward their great lines of intercommunication with this wonderful region ; and no man of soul capacious enough to contemplate the resources of this magnificent valley, can do otherwise than bid them all God speed in this noble enterprise. That portion of the immense plain lying between the gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Ocean, and the Rocky and Apalachian Mountains, which constitutes the valley proper of the “Father of Waters,” contains an area of something more than one million square miles of the most fertile land on the face of the globe, and is capable of containing an agricultural population of more than 100,000,000 inhabitants. In 1780 the whole population of this immense region did not exceed 20,000. At the present time it cannot fall short of 9,000,000. It is increasing in an accelerating ratio, and unless some great national calamity befall us, it will soon reach the amazing number of 30,000,000 of inhabitants. From the able report of Mr. Calhoun in the Senate, June 20th, on the subject of the Memphis convention, it appears that the increase of the commerce of this valley has exceeded that of its population. In 1817, the whole commerce of New Orleans with the upper country, was transacted upon twenty barges of one hundred tons each, making but one yearly trip; and that on the upper Ohio, not more than one hundred and fifty keel-boats of thirty tons each, were required to transact the business of that beautiful river. From the same report it also appears that, in 1817, the whole tonnage of the lower Mississippi and the Ohio was only 6,500, and that in
1843, the tonnage of the Mississippi and its branches was about 90,000.
most enlightened men of Virginia. The extension of the Virginia works southwesterly in this direction, would force a continuation of them to Memo crossing several great lines of communication between South Caroina and Georgia and the Ohio River, and thus pour into the lap of the Old Dominion an immense trade and travel from the whole southwestern section of the Union. The western terminus of the work under consideration, would be favorably situated to concentrate a large foreign trade. It would naturally draw the business of the State of Ohio, and through her great works already constructed and in contemplation, derive much of the trade of the Lakes, especially in the early and latter part of the business seasons. The Erie and Ohio Canal, the Xenia and Cincinnati Railroad, and the Mad River improvements, will all be feeders, to a greater or less extent, of the Richmond and Ohio Railroad. With one terminus at Guyandotte, and another at the mouth of the Great Kanawha, at Point Pleasant, this road would accommodate the business of the Ohio valley, from Cincinnati upwards, two hundred and fifty miles, better than any other route. While the more northern routes were obstructed with ice and snow, the great arteries of trade and commerce in Ohio could pour their wealth through no other channel. In this connection, it is proper to consider more fully the advantage of this route, by reason of its southern location, and its consequent exemption from the obstructions of ice and snow. In consequence of these difficulties on the great northern routes, and the dangers of lake navigation in the fall and winter seasons, the trade and travel between the East and the West are subjected not only to vexatious and uncertain interruptions, but to serious damage and pecuniary embarrassments. Many a merchant can trace his total failure to this single cause, and many a western farmer also is subjected to a ruinous depreciation in the price of his produce. These very serious evils would, to a great extent, be removed by the completion of this great central trunk through Virginia, and the products of the West would find through it an open passage to the Atlantic cities during all seasons of the year. Hence, late in the fall, through the winter, and early in the spring, immense quantities of merchandise and produce would be transported over this route, while its great rival thoroughfares would be obstructed. The chief cities of the West being south and west of the western termini of these great arteries of business, it is evident, from a moment's reflection, that there would be an accumulation of trade and travel upon the more southerly routes, from those more northerly. For instance, none of the Atlantic cities would trade with the West, through a channel more northerly than its own, while much of the business of each would flow through a more southerly line. Boston would carry on her rapidly increasing trade with the West, as much as possible through her own works; and yet, at those seasons of the year, when they were even liable to obstructions, she would transact much of her business through the New York and Virginia routes. The same remarks will apply, with greater or less force, to Philadelphia and Baltimore. But to none of the Atlantic cities does this view apply with so much force as to New York. Having through this great central railroad the most direct communication with the Queen City of the West, open at all seasons of the year, who does not see that the construction of this work will introduce a new