A History and Biographical Cyclopaedia of Butler County, Ohio
The Miami Canal
Pages 141 - 146
Next page | Butler County Ohio | Cyclopeadia index page | Previous page
After Governor CLINTON had been entertained at Cincinnati, he visited the falls of the Ohio; then returning to Hamilton, which he reached on the 18th of July. The next day he proceeded to Middletown. One of the local papers thus speaks of the day:

"On Thursday last the people of the Miami country were gratified with one of the most interesting spectacles that ever was, or perhaps ever will be, witnessed by them. It was the ceremony of commencing that great work of internal navigation which is destined to raise their character as an enterprising people, promote their happiness, both in a political and moral point of view, and increase their wealth as individuals and as a community. They saw the first sod raised by the great father and patron of internal improvement; and, notwithstanding it will be a matter of much exultation to see the completion of the work, yet it will not detract from, or even equal, the ground--the first step to the daring and stupendous undertaking."

"Although notice had been given but three days previous, thousands of freemen, drawn by the interest and novelty of the scene from different parts of the country, were on the ground; and never, perhaps, was observed a greater degree of harmony in a like assemblage than what prevailed on this occasion. Unanimity in the object for which they had assembled to view the commencement seemed to be the prevailing sentiment, and was strikingly expressed in almost every countenance; and all appeared to be animated by the importance of the matter, and to take a deep interest in the ceremonies of the day."

"The appearance of several independent companies, attended by an excellent band of music, from Cincinnati, added greatly to the occasion. A fine troop of cavalry, commanded by Captain MORSELL, escorted Governor CLINTON from Cincinnati; the other companies, three in number, were the Cincinnati Guards, commanded by Captain EMERSON, Captain AVERY's company of light infantry, and the Lafayette Greys, commanded by Lieutenant BURLEY. They deserve the unbounded thanks of our citizens, and are most certainly entitled to the highest commendation for the patriotism displayed in marching so great a distance, and for the good discipline and soldier-like conduct evinced during their stay in this place and in Middletown; and we sincerely hope that their reception and entertainment was fully equal to their expectations of the hospitality and patriotism of our citizens."

"Captain CRANE's company of Jacksonburg artillery and a troop of horse belonging to Middletown were likewise observed among the military."

"Among the distinguished guests, in addition to Governor CLINTON and Governor MORROW (the latter of whom arrived about 11 o'clock, A.M.), we observed our late governor, E. A. BROWN, General HARRISON, General BEASLY, Judge BATES; Dr. DRAKE, of Lexington, Ky.; Mr. M. T. WILLIAMS, acting commissioner, and Mr. FORRER, principal engineer, together with many others, whom our memory does not sufficiently serve us to particularize at this time."

"The ceremony was commenced by an appropriate and impressive prayer to the Throne of Grace by the Rev. Mr. VICKARS, chaplain of the day; after which Judge CRANE, of Dayton, rose, and, in a commanding strain of eloquence, delivered an excellent address. Nothing we could say by way of commendation would add to its excellence; for it amply speaks its own superior merit, and attaches great credit to its intelligent and classical author. It is sufficient to say that it was received by the audience with loud and repeated acclamations."

"Governor CLINTON and Governor MORROW then descended from the rostrum, which had been prepared for the occasion, followed by the commissioners, contractors, and other persons of distinction who felt an interest or were to assist in the enterprise. The governors each raised a sod, as the commencement of the work; after which the other gentlemen assisted. The latter part of the ceremony was greatly enlivened by the continued volleys of musketry and by the many appropriate airs performed by the band of music."

"After partaking of an excellent dinner, prepared by Mr. J. P. REYNOLDS, a number of toasts were drunk. The one given by Mr. CLINTON was received with loud cheers. He responded with the following toast:
'The Miami Canal like the Nile, will enrich and aggrandize the region of its transit--not by fertilizing a soil exuberantly rich, but by opening lucrative markets for its production.'

The company separated at an early hour. Governors CLINTON and MORROW, with their respective suits, departed the same evening for Lebanon."

The place at which these ceremonies took place was in a field about a mile south of town, at the place where the first lock is now constructed. The land was then owned by Daniel DOTY, and is in section 28.

As we have elsewhere said, the northern portion of the route, that part going from Dayton to Lake Erie, had been partly located in 1824, and the next year it was regularly surveyed. This section of the work was not done till some time after the other, and, indeed, was for a period in danger of not being done at all. But the general government, in response to a petition from some of the best men in Ohio, made a grant of land equal to one-half of five sections in width on each side of the proposed route, between Dayton and the Maumee, so far as the same should be located through the government lands. In return it was simply provided that all persons or property of the United States should forever pass through or over the canals free of tolls. The amount of this grant, as afterwards ascertained, was three hundred and eighty-four thousand acres. Its market value could not have been very far from a million of dollars. The same act granted the State half a million dollars more, in aid of its canals. This grant was conditioned upon the completion within five years of the canals already begun at the time of the passage of the act, and the grant for the Miami extension upon the commencement of the work within five and its completion within twenty years, on penalty of payment by the State to the federal government of the value of the lands. The Legislature accepted the former, but declined the latter grant, as it was feared that it might be impossible to fulfill the conditions. These were the initial grants by the general government in aid of internal improvements, and were the forerunner of those to the Illinois Central, Northern Pacific, and Union Pacific railroads, as well as to a hundred others of less length. When Judge Jacob BURNET, of Ohio, was sent to the United States Senate in 1830, he succeeded in getting a bill through which repealed the forfeiture clauses and made the great equivalent to five sections for every mile of canal located on land previously sold, as well as that unsold, by the general government. The land so given was located by the governor, and by it, undoubtedly, the extension was effected.

Work was speedily begun above Middletown, taking the water from Enoch's dam, and running to the head of Mill Creek, a distance of twenty miles. The Advertiser of August 23d says:
"It will be remembered that twenty miles of the Miami Canal was put under contract on the 20th of July last. It was divided into forty-three sections. On the 28th of July the sod was first broken on section No. 8, a part of a contract taken by Seymore SCOVEL, Esq., of the State of New York. On the 23d the whole of the section was taken by a sub-contractor, who commenced active operations on it on the 24th, and has now, August 23d, completed thirty rods ready for inspection. No less than thirty-nine parties, or near five hundred workmen, under original and sub-contractors, are now engaged on twenty-seven sections. Many of these sections are in a rapid state of forwardness, and present a scene more like the effect of magic than reality, and can only be accounted for by the number of workmen so suddenly thrown upon them, and the determined perseverance of the undertakers. A little more time will be necessary for farmers to remove their corn from the ground occupied by a part of the canal line, when all the sections will speedily be commenced; and, from the number of persons continually flocking in for employment, and the character of the contractors, there can be no doubt that the whole twenty miles will be completed with the stipulated time. We understand that the resident engineer will set out in a few days to prepare the south end of the line for contract, which has been delayed in consequence of the great press of business occasioned by the immediate commencement of labor by so many of the contractors on the part of the line already let, and that the acting commissioner intends to dispose of fifteen miles more on or about the 15th of September next."

In their next report the canal commissioners give an account of what work had been done, and of the actual beginning of labor. They state: "Towards the latter part of June, the commissioners were enabled to commence the preparation of a part of the Miami Canal for contract; and on the 20th of July, in pursuance o public notice previously given, contracts were made for the construction of twenty miles of that canal, including six locks, extending from a point of the Miami River near Middletown to the head of Mill Creek. These contracts were, as in the former cases, effected at prices in all cases as low, and in most lower, than the original estimates. On the day following, the work was commenced on this canal in the presence of the distinguished chief magistrates of Ohio and New York and an immense concourse of deeply interested citizens; since which it has progressed with spirit and effect, and is now in a flattering state of progression.

"As early as the 27th of September twenty-two miles in addition, including six locks, extending to a point near Cincinnati, were prepared and placed under contract upon terms still more favorable to the State; making, in all, forty-two miles of this canal now under contract. Upon the whole of this line, with only two exceptions, the contractors have already commenced the work on their jobs, and are prosecuting it in a manner highly satisfactory. Thirty miles or more are now grubbed and cleared; the excavation already performed exceeds two hundred thousand cubic yards; three large culverts are built, and the other items of the work have progressed in the same proportion. The most serious difficulty which has been experienced or is anticipated in the prosecution of the work on this line arises from the scarcity of stone of a suitable character of the construction of the locks, and from the difficulty of procuring water-lime. It was, in the first instance, thought most advisable to construct the locks of timber, and contracts for the first eight locks were made accordingly. It was, however, soon ascertained that to obtain timber in sufficient quantities would be attended with difficulties, be more costly than was anticipated, and, in most cases, would inflict a serious and measurably irretrievable injury upon the adjacent country. It was determined, therefore, to suspend the construction with timber of most of the locks, and to make further efforts for the discovery of stone, which have so far been successful as to induce a belief that stone will be obtained within a reasonable distance for their construction. The cost of obtaining the stone will, however, be such as to forbid the hope of constructing the locks for a sum below the original estimates of their cost. If the saving in the cost of the locks could have been in the same proportion with that on the other items of the work under contract, this line would be constructed for a sum very considerably less than that at which it was estimated. From the best estimate which can be made from the other items of the work at contract prices, making a liberal allowance for all contingencies which will probably occur, and placing the cost of the locks at $4 per perch, the line under contract will be constructed for the sum of $358,984.14. This is less than the sum at which it was estimated in the last report of the board by $25,000, and makes an average cost per mile, including twelve locks, of $8,547.24.

"Abstract marked F will show the name of each contractor, the extent of contract, the contract price of each item of work, the average price of each kind of work, the total estimated amount of each contract, and of the whole line under contract at contract prices. The value of work performed on this line up to the 21st November is estimated at $31,994. The number of laborers engaged upon this line in the month of November amounted to nearly nine hundred. The contracts for the first thirty miles of this line require its completion by the first day of October next, and for the last ten miles by the 5th of May, 1827.

"In the last report of the board to the Legislature two points of termination at the Ohio River, near Cincinnati, were named. The one, by preserving with the line a high level from a point about ten miles up the valley of Mill Creek, as it descends, and passing the western margin of the city upon a low level, to unite with the river at a point immediately below it. Estimates of the cost of each of these lines were made, which showed a difference in favor of the line upon the low level of about $45,000; and the cost of the Miami Canal, as stated in the report, was estimated upon this line. Upon a full investigation of the question of the proper point to terminate the canal, which was made in August last, it was deemed advisable, with reference to all the interests connected with the canal, notwithstanding the estimated difference of cost, to adopt the line upon the high level, and terminate the canal at the mouth of Deer Creek. The superior value of the hydraulic privileges afforded by the high level, the favorable position which the mouth of Deer Creek affords, when compared with the other point of termination, for a safe harbor for steam and canal boats, both in low and high water, the great facility it affords over any other for the construction of dry and wet docks, which the increasing commerce of the Ohio River and the interests of the public will soon imperiously require, and the prominent and mutual advantage, both to the surrounding country and the city, which the level, uninterrupted by locks for a distance of ten miles back into the country will afford, -all conspired to produce the conviction upon the minds of the commissioners that the adoption of that line was required by the general interests connected with the work.

"It will be recollected that, in the last report of the board, calculations were made upon the extent and value of the surplus water which it was believed could be drawn from the Miami River to that point. With a view to this object, the capacity of the upper end of this section of the canal is enlarged, for the purpose of receiving and passing forward a greater supply of water. The first ten miles from the river are constructing with an increase of one foot in depth and three and a half in the width of the top water-line; and the next fifteen miles with an increase of half a foot in depth, and one foot and three-fourths in the width of the top water-line. The increase of the capacity of the canal must proportionately enhance its cost, and is another reason for the apparent disparity between the savings on this line at contract prices, compared with original estimates, and the other lines under contract. It is, however, believed that the cost of this increase of the capacity of a part of the line will be more than reimbursed to the state in the value of the surplus water which is anticipated from it. Propositions have already been made by responsible individuals to contract for the use of the whole amount of surplus water which can be delivered at Cincinnati, at the price placed upon it in the last report of the board.
The Kinds of work Amount of each Average price as contracted Total
Grubbing and clearing 42 miles $4.08 2/3 per chain, about $327 per M., $13, 735.38
Excavation 1,519,133 cubic yards Average cost per yard, $7.17 118,959.32
Embankment 688,628 cubic yards Average cost per yard, $10.04 69,159.50
Culverts(26) 8,083 perches Average cost per perch, $207 16,731.42
Culverys, pits, foundations, etc. . Estimated to cost 10,270.00
Locks(2), 100 feet lockage 18,910 perches or masonry
Average cost per perch, $4
Aqueducts 9,882 perches of masonry Average cost per perch, $1.88 3/4 18,559.00
Excavations of lock-pits 17,350 cubic yards Average cost per yard, $14.38 2,495.00
Wooden trunks478 feetAverage foot-run, 703,04,3,361.50
Excavations of pits and foundations.Estimated to cost4,020.00
Road-bridges, wood-workTwenty-twoAverage cost, $104 each2,295.00
Road-bridges, embankmentTwenty-twoAverage cost, nearly $68 each1,497.80
Wall of timber in the river1,200 feetAverage cost, .67 per foot804.00
Pavement or protection wall4,300 yardsAverage cost, 36 per yard1,554.00
Miscellaneous items, such as stone walls, channel of creeks, land-drains, etc1,810.22
Mucking the whole length of the forty-two miles, 246,000 cubic yards, at 8 cents19,680.00
Total Cost$358,680.14
Corrected 358,294.14
Average cost per mile of 42 miles, including 12 locks$ 8,547.24

"the locks in the above abstract are placed at $4 per perch. They were mostly contracted for to be built of timber, but have since been changed, and are to be built of stone, so far as it can be obtained at reasonable cost.
The line from the Ohio River to the Miami near
Middletown, on the low level, was estimated
In the last report to cost...
To which add the difference in the cost of the
High level, as estimated..
. $426,140.00
To which add ten per cent to cover contingencies
As stated in the report.
Total cost as estimated....$468,754.00
Amount of contracts as above shown, ..$358,984.14
Estimated amount of line not under
Contract to the Ohio.
Ten per cent, to cover contingencies
On the above items..
. 442,502.14
Balance in favor of contracts.$ 26,252.86

"It will be recollected, when examining this comparative statement, that on the locks in this line there is no saving from the estimates owing to the scarcity of stone, and that the first ten miles of the canal, below the feeder from the Miami, is constructing with an increased depth of one foot and an increased width of three and a half feet, and the next fifteen miles with an increase in depth of six inches and in width of one foot, nine inches. The estimates of last year were made for a canal of the usual dimensions."

The contractors on the Miami Canal, with their respective sections in this neighborhood, were:
John HEPBURN, 1, 2, 25, 34, 43;
Warren JARVIS, 4, 19, 28, 31, 32;
A. AMSDEN, 37, 41;
Thomas FREEMAN, 6;
G. PERRINE & Co., 14, 15, 17, 20, 22, 38, 39;
DEAN and others, 23, 24, 29;
S. SCOVILLE, 11, 12, 13, 27;
Sam'l WARD, 9;
William H. LYTLE, 3, 7, 35, 36, 40;
John BABCOX, 10;
BOWER, ADAMS & Co., 16, 18;
Barney SWEENEY, 42;
KAY & LYONS, 33;
James DRYER, 30;
Joseph EVANS, 21;
Peter CARNEY, 44;
William PATTON, 46;
EVERETT & Co., 47, 48, 81, 87, 89;
HEPBURN & JARVIS, 50, 74, 82, 83;
Otho CRAIG, 51;
MC GONIGLE & Co., 52, 56;
John LYTLE, 53;
Israel T. GIBSON, 54;
Thomas SINNARD, 55;
Richard FALLIS, 57;
Elias MURRAY, 61;
James GLENN, 62;
D. PERRINE & Co., 63, 68, 69, 70, 72, 79, 86, 90;
John A. HAYS, 64, 67, 71;
Jacob REINERSON, 65;
De KAY, 66;
SHETHER & THAYER, 80, 84, 85;
John WALDRON, 73;
Geo. HEPBURN, 75;
Thomas HECKWELDER, 76;
PRICE & BEARD, 77, 78;
E. FARRINGTON & Co., 88.

In their next year's report the commissioners say: "A considerable portion of this line running through a dry and gravelly soil, the operations of the contractors were continued through the Winter and Spring with considerable success, and during the Summer and Autumn the work has progressed in a vigorous and efficient manner. Of the forty-three miels of this canal now under contract, thirty-four are completed, and the remaining twelve miles, consisting mostly of heavy work at the lower end of the line, are in such a state of forwardness as to afford strong assurances that the whole line will be finished by the 1st of July next. No apprehension of a failure of this desirable end is felt, except as to two or three heavy embankments on Mill Creek' and these, if the Winter should prove favorable for work, it is believed can be completed within that time. The finished work on this line, in addition to the excavations and embankments of the thirty-one miles, consists of nine locks, five aqueducts, twenty stone culverts, varying in size from three to twenty feet chord, numerous paved waste-weirs, road-bridges, etc. The aqueducts and culverts on the whole line are completed, excepting the planking of the aqueduct trunks, which was directed to be omitted until Spring. Of the three locks remaining unfinished, one is very nearly completed, the walls of the second are raised to the upper meter-sill, and of the third to the height of four feet. They will be completed at an early day in the ensuing season.

"On the 2d of June last a contract was made for the construction of a dam across the Great Miami River above Middletown, a guard-lock, and a feeder forty-three chains in length from the dam to the canal. The work under this contract has progressed so far as to afford an assurance that it can be accomplished in the next season as the stage of the river will admit. In the mean time the canal may be supplied with water through the mill-race of Abner ENOCH in sufficient quantity to answer all the purposes of navigation. It was found, by observation during the last Spring, that the ponds at the head of Mill Creek, in the county of Butler, through which the canal passes is leaving the valley of the Great Miami, would in that season of the year entirely overflow the banks of the canal, and for some months remain in that situation. To prevent this evil-which would not only at times interfere with the use of the canal, but would in a measure destroy it-it was found to be necessary to drain the ponds by making a cut one mile and seventy chains in length. A contract was, therefore, made for cutting this drain, the cost of which is estimated at one thousand dollars. It is probably by this time completed.

"Contracts have also been made since the date of the last preort of the board for the extension of the canal into tand through the city of Cincinnati, to a point near the head of the proposed locks, by which it is to be connected with the Ohio. These contracts, including those for the dam-feeder and pond-drain, have been made upon terms as favorable to the State as those heretofore made for the construction of other parts of the work. So far the work is now completed, and the final accounts of it made out. It is found that in plain line the original estimates of the work in each section correspond very nearly with the true result, and that the actual cost of such line will not exceed the estimated cost as stated in the last report of the board; in some cases it is found to fall considerably short; but on rough, uneven, and side-lying ground, where heavy embankments and steep bluffs are encountered, a heavy portion of which is on this line, the engineers' final accounts, so far as they are now perfected, show that the number of yards of excavation and embankment in each section, as then estimated, will fall considerably short of the true result. This deficiency in the estimates on the rough line is to be accounted for in the following manner: In making out an estimate of the amount of excavation and embankment for the accounts of last year, no other data could be had than a single line of levels divided into stations of three chains each, from which the average depth of cutting or height of the embankments was inferred. The result now shows that the number of yards then produced falls short, particularly on inclined grounds and steep bluffs. In addition to this, it has been found advisable on the heaviest parts of this line, with a veiwto greater security, to increase the base of the banks, and, where heavy bluffs are encountered, to throw the center line of the canal farther into the hill or bluff bank, which has necessarily added much to the number of yards of earth to be removed. It has also been found necessary to relet some of the heaviest of these embankments at higher prices. From the scarcity of stone on the line, it was found necessary, in making the contracts for the locks and other stonework, to stipulate a given distance within which it was then supposed stone could be obtained, and to agree to pay where the acting commissioner or engineer should be convinced of the necessity of going farther for stone for such extra hauling. It has been found impracticable to procure the necessary quantity of stone of a suitable quality within the distance assigned, and an extra allowance for hauling stone has been necessarily made to a considerable amount. Some lock excavation has been also unexpectedly encountered, and several paved waste-weirs, culverts, and some pavement of the banks, have been added to it. These items of increased cost and the unforeseen variations in the amount of work to be performed will add considerably to the final cost of this section of the Miami Canal when compared with the estimates of last year. The exact amount of the increase, which is chargeable principally to the stonework and the heavy embankments and bluffs, can not now be ascertained, as the heavy work on the line is not yet completed; nor is it in such situation as to permit accurate estimates of the cost to be made. On that part of the line between Middletown and the locks near Reading-thirty-one and a half miles-the excess of the actual cost over the estimates of the last year will be upwards of seventeen thousand dollars.