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correspondence on this subject, on file in the office here, I find that Lieut. Whiting, of the corps of engineers, previously in charge of the work-a young gentleman of a high order of talent, sound judgment, and discrimination-had frequently reported to his department, expressing “his want of faith in the plan adopted to make a communication between Albemarle Sound and the ocean,” and also his doubts as to its practicability at all, short of an enormous expenditure altogether disproportionate to the object. In his letter to General Totten, dated March 31, 1857, after referring to the fact of the excavation having filled, he remarks:

“By referring to my letter to you of September 3, 1856, you will see that the result was fully predicted and explained by me. Never having had any faith at all in the success of the plan, with the means at hand, these appearances decided me to stop the work until I should hear from you. Any further prosecution with a single dredge boat and the force available I cannot but consider an unwarrantable waste of public money.”

The products of eastern North Carolina mostly find a market through the Dismal Swamp Canal, which is too limited in its capacity; but the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal are now engaged in excavating a canal of large dimensions, connecting Chesapeake bay and Currituck, Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds and their tributary streams, which they anticipate completing within next year, and when accomplished will obviate all necessity of a communication with the sea through Nag's Head.


The works for the improvement were suggested and recommended by a commission, at the head of which was Professor Bache, of the coast survey. They first proposed the protection of Bald Head from further abrasion by jettys like that at Fort Caswell.” The second is the "filling up of the two small openings near New Inlet, about 400 yards over and four feet deep in the middle at low water; the other, about 200 yards over and two feet deep at low water.” This portion of the work has been accomplished. It was commenced under the direction of Lieut. Woodbury, who used stone thrown loosely in in the construction of the dyke or dam across the inlet, with jettys of stone projecting into the sea at intervals, for the purpose of intercepting the travelling beach. This it has partially accomplished, but not so rapidly as was anticipated. In places the sea still washes through the stone, and but for a row of sheet piling inside would wash into the river; but I have no doubt the sand will eventually accumulate in front, particularly if the jettys are extended further into the sea. They are now too short.

The work was completed under the direction of Lieutenant Whiting, of the corps of engineers, who used sand bags for the purpose of closing the beach, which has proved much more effectual than the stone. front of this work a beach of several yards in width has accumulated.

3d. A jetty from Zeke’s island, to prevent New Inlet from making south.

4th. Closing up New Inlet.

The commission enter into an elaborating course of reasoning to show the effects to be produced by these works, and the great result to be anticipated from them, even to the restoration of the former regime of the river, with 20 feet of water on the western bar. Should these anticipations be realized, it would involve the necessity of deepening the river up to the city of Wilmington before that city could reap the benefits of the work, as but 12 feet draught, at high water, can be carried up to the city. In my opinion—and I have conversed with several intelligent gentlemen of the city who agree with me that it would be far more beneficial to the commerce of Wilmington that New Inlet should be kept open ; its bar is equally good as the Western bar, and is far more accessible in certain winds than the western bar. Vessels bound to the north, and those coming from the north, which are by far the greater number which trade with this city, by entering and departing by the New Inlet save a great distance, and avoid the dangerous navigation of passing around the Frying-pan shoals. Again, the small coasters, which come to this port for a market with corn and naval stores from the eastern part of the State, if debarred an entrance by the New Inlet, and compelled to pass around the Frying-pan shoals, would, in all probability, run for Charleston.

In the event of New Inlet being preserved, it would be necessary to fortify it, which could be done at a far less expense than stopping it.

The estimate of the commission for closing New Inlet and the jetty at Zeke's island is $399,000, which, considering the many vicissitudes to be encountered in a work exposed as it would be, I consider quite inadequate to the object.

The estimate of the commission for closing the two small inlets between Zeke’s island and Smith's island with timber was $8,400, and if stone was used, $49,800. There has already been expended in closing these two small inlets $134,000, and the work cannot be said to be thoroughly accomplished yet.

I respectfully recommend an appropriation of $25,000 to maintain and extend the works between Zeke's and Smith's islands. Respectfully submitted by your obedient servant,


Brevet Colonel. Colonel J. J. ABERT,

Chief Corps Top. Eng’rs, Washington, D. C.



St. Paul, M. T., September 5, 1857. COLONEL: I have the honor to present the following report of the operations for the past year on the several roads under my superintendence; also of their present condition, and an estimate of the amounts required for their completion. Under the appropriations last made by

Congress the funds were not available for the construction of the roads until the 16th of July, which has necessarily delayed the operations to a late period of the season for this northern latitude. Much progress, however, can be made before its close.

The several works now under my charge are as follows, viz:
1. Road from Point Douglas to the mouth of St Louis river.
2. Road from Point Douglas to Fort Ripley.
3. Road from Mendota to Wabashaw.
4. Road from Mendota to the mouth of Big Sioux river.
5. Road from the Falls of St. Anthony to Fort Ridgely.

6. Road from Fort Ripley, via Crow Wing river, to intersect the main road leading to the Red River of the North.

7. Road from Swan river to Long Prairie.

The authorized surveys and location of the above roads not having been completed, I beg leave to respectfully refer you to the general map of the roads accompanying the annual report of my predecessor in 1855 as approximately indicating their locations. So soon as the surveys now in progress shall be completed, an accurate map will be made and submitted.

1. Road from Point Douglas to the mouth of St. Louis river.

This road extends from Point Douglas, at the confluence of the river St. Croix with the Mississippi river, to the mouth of St. Louis river, at Superior, Wisconsin, being a distance of about 181 miles.

At the date of my last annual report the appropriations previously made for this road were exhausted and arrearages incurred amounting to $3,433 67. Under the appropriation of $31,425 50, made since then, the arrearages have been paid and some portions of the road between the 163d mile station and Superior have been constructed, including a bridge of 56 feet span over Pokegoma river, (near 185th mile station,) besides several culverts, side ditches, and other work most required on that section of the road. An examination of the road from Superior to Snake river has been recently made by Mr. P. E. Bradshaw, the assistant engineer in charge of that division, who reports, under date of the 4th ultimo, that “the road from Superior to Pokegoma river (distance 41 miles) is good, well graded, &c.; from Pokegoma river to Clear creek (distance about 12 miles) the road passes through an almost continuous tanarack swamp, between which points there are 6,100 feet of corduroying not covered with earth, and much of the swamp that is not even corduroyed or ditched. This part of the road (from Pokegoma river to Clear creek) is practically impassable, even at this the driest season of the year, excepting for foot or lorseback passengers. A loaded wagon could not easily be drawn over the road. To render this part of the road passavle, it should be ditched, corduroyed, and covered with earth nearly its entire length, (which has not been done, except in a very slight degree ;) by these means a good road could be obtained. The tamarack swamps through the country vary in depth from one and a half to three feet, and have a good sand or clay bottom. On the distance above mentioned the timber is cut out tull width and partly grubbed. From Clear creek to Twin lakes (distance 41 miles) the road passes over a higher land, with but little swamp. Not much grading has been done here. The bridges are all in, and the timber is cut out fulwidth and grubbed. Three miles out from Superior a bridge 80 feet long, with bents twelve feet high, has been burnt. It will have to be reconstructed, in order to render the road passable for teams. From Twin lakes (169th mile station) to the 163d mile station the road has been cut out full width and partially grubbed.”

The work required in the construction of the road from the 163 mile station to a point one mile south of Deer creek (distance about 46 miles) the assistant engineer reports to be as follows: A bridge of about 60 or 70 feet span over Black Hoof river, (near 163d mile station ;) from 1630 mile station to Portage river, about three miles of corduroying ; also a bridge of 70 feet span over Portage river; between Portage and Willow rivers about three miles require to be corduroyed and ditched; between Willow and Kettle rivers about 1} mile of the road requires to be corduroyed and ditched; the rest of this portion passes through high and dry pine barrens. The bridge over Kettle river (near 132d mile station) is defective in one of its lower chords, and needs repairs. Between Kettle river and Deer creek about one mile of the road requires to be corduroyed and ditched. Deer creek requires a bridge of 40 to 50 feet span. From Deer creek to Grindstone creek (distance four miles) the road has been cut out full width, with the exception of about of a mile south of Deer creek; on this part of the road there is a little corduroying which requires covering with earth. Grindstone cieek requires a bridge of 75 feet span, at least. From Grindstone creek to Snake river (distance 13 miles) the road has been cut out full width, grubbed, corduroyed, and ditched, so as to be in pretty good condition. The bridge over Snake river is broken into two parts, nearly at its middle; one part of it now rests one end on its abutment and the other end on the bottom of the river ; the other part has floated about 30 rods down stream, and lodged on the head of an island. This bridge has a span of 174 feet in the clear, and was finished in January, 1856, under the superintendency of my predecessor.

From Snake river to Point Douglas (distance about 94 miles) the road has been constructed throughout, with the exception of that portion lying between Point Douglas and the 19th mile station, on which no work has yet been expended.

The authorized survey of this road is now being made, and its location has already been much improved between Deer creek and Kettle river bridge, and is likewise being improved between Kettle river bridge and the 163d mile station. No work whatever, except the bridge over Kettle river, has been expended on the road between Deer creek and mile station 163.

From mile station 103 to Superior the road is under contract for its construction with Mr. John D. Ludden, of Stillwater, from the 103d to the 144th mile station, and with Mr. Orrin W. Rice, of Superior, from the 144th mile station to Superior. The amount of the appropriation available for that portion of the road will be sufficient for and applied to cutting and grubbing it out to a width of 18 feet, and to the construction of culverts, side ditches, corduroying, bridges, and other work most required between Deer creek and mile station 163.

Proposals are invited for constructing the section lying between Point Douglas and the 19th mile station, which, together with the repairs of the bridge over Kettle river, will also be done under the existing appropriation.

It is therefore hoped that the road will be opened throughout its whole extent, and made available for winter travel the coming season. It will, however, require much additional labor to render it practicable in all weather and in all seasons of the year.

The importance of this road to Minnesota and Wisconsin, in facilitating the development of their resources and in hastening the occupation of the valuable government lands in the northwest, cannot be too strongly represented, connecting, as it does, by the shortest route, the head of navigation of the Mississippi river with Lake Superior at its nearest practicable harbor.

I have therefore to recommend that an additional appropriation be made for its immediate completion, the amount required being exhibited in the following estimate :

1. From Superior to Twin Lakes,” 21 miles. 1. Bridges, five; total length, 140 feet, including the rebuild

ing of the burnt trestle bridge, 80 feet in length, (3 miles out from Superior,) at $10 per lineal foot....

$1,400 00 2. Corduroying 1,600 rods, at $2 70 per rod..

4, 320 00 3. Earth work, (including side ditching, &c., &c.,) 25,560 cubic yards, at 26} cents per yard....

6, 773 40 Total....

$12,493 40

2. From Twin Lakes to Grindstone creek, 54 miles.

$4,875 00
2, 700 00

1,855 00

1. Bridges, five, (of spans from 55 to 75 feet ;) total length,

325 feet, at $ 15 per lineal foot. 2. Corduroying 1,000 rods, at $2 70 per rod.. 3. Earthwork, (including side ditching, &c., &c.,) 7,000 cubic

yards, at 26) cents per yard 4. Cutting down trees 24 feet each side of centre strip so as to

open the whole roadway to a width of 66 feet, being 270

acres, at $40 per acre
5. Rebuilding (on plan of Howe's patent truss) the bridge

across Snake river, 186 feet long, at $40 per lineal foot,
being contractor's price for same).
For enginering and office expenses and other contingencies,

add 10 per cent. of the above

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Total amount.

44, 179 74 44, 200 00

In my last annual report it was supposed that, from Superior out to Twin lakes, (a distance of 21 miles,) the road had been completed with the exception of a bridge required over Pokegoma river, as reported to me by my predecessor on turning over to me the charge of the work in June, 1856. The estimates therein: ubmitted were moreover based on the maps, reports, and estimates then on file in this office, whereas the above estimates are based on more reliable surveys and

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