Saturday, May 20, 2017



Communication of Assistant Engineer, Adam Steel, of the office of United States Engineer, General William F. Smith, in an effort to give a professional view of the inland waterway through the Peninsula, with special reference to the Chincoteague route, which route the War Department has accepted.

Engineer Adam Steel, under direction of General W. T. Smith, herewith gives valuable comparative data. Since 1885, $143,750 have been approated and expended when a connection was made in 1892 between the head of Little Assaawaman Bay and Indan River Bay, through Whites Creek, by the excavation across a neck of land, 20 feet wide on the bottom to the depth of 4 feet below the bays level. This gves the lower bays a northern outlet at Indian River Inlet, however, there are sand shoals in the Assaawaman and Isle of Wright Bays that prevent vessels drawing more that 3 feet of water to pass. Since the summer of 1893 operations are in progress to open to navigation the upper shore of of Rehoboth Bay to Delaware Bay. A cut 20 foot wide and 6 feet deep crossing Rehoboth Neck, but due to very heavy cutting and small appropriations it may be several years before the waters of Rehoboth Bay flow northward to the Delaware Bay. That outlet is now at Indian River Inlet which is bad obstructed by shoals, but could be put in a condition to make this outlet available to all vessels of light draft coming from below, as far south as Chincoteague Bay.

It has been found that since Indian River Bay and Assawaman Bay have been connected, that the prevailing current is from Indian River Bay into the Assawamen Bay and only during exceptional storms is that reversed. This means that the pent up waters of Indian River Bay coming in through Indian River Inlet, at high tide, seek an outlet in another direction , the cross section of the of the Inlet being too small to let out the same amount of waters that came in during the preceding high tide. So some salt waters is forced through the new canal into Assawamen Bay which will gradually produce a change in the vegetation and animal life of its waters. It is supposed, that when the outlet into the Delaware Bay is completed, the surface of Rehoboth Bay and Indian River Bay, which are now two feet above mean low water in the ocean , will be lowered much by these new ducts st the extreme and opposite end of the bays, and Indian River Inlet , will close after the natural scouring force which now keeps it open is drawn in another direction.

The advantage of this waterway lies in the benefits that will accrue to the cultivators of the land bordering along these bays , and in the facility with which the markets may be reached by water, once the canal is opened. There are thousands of acres of land laying idle, along this route , now unavailable but should be under cultivation. It has been thought that the whole Delmarva Peninsula
will become is destined to become the great garden spot of North American States, supplying early vegetables, fruits, flowers, &c., to te same extent and same fine quality as its surrounding waters are now doing with oysters, terrapin, crabs and fish.

To some extent this has already become true and need not to be pointed out. As the cities and populations of the adjacent states continues to grow at the present rate, the demand for garden products, the truckpatch and orchards, will increase and all the tillable land of the Peninsula will be needed to furnish the demand. It is important that the waterways should be put in order now and not wait for the developments of the future.

The railroads have already shown more foresight in this respect and new branches of tracks are being planned down the Peninsula. It is generally assumed the interest of railroads are opposed to waterway improvements, which run parallel with them and tap into their territory. Statistics of both Europe and America prove this to be not true and railroads are destined to supplement and not supplant each other.

To the railroads go the least burdensome traffic needing regularity and quick transit, to the waterways go heavy freight which need low rates. Waterway also restrain and moderate freight charges of the railroad.

There has been much agitation the past several years for extending the a waterway between Chincoteague and Delaware Bays. One plan, to continue its present the general direction along the
coast toward Cape Charles, Virginia through the many inland bays below the Chincoteague Inlet and orders for survey are now in Congress. The other plan, to connect Pocomoke River to Synepuxent Bay by a canal above Snow Hill, Maryland. Surveys and cost estimates are to be sent to Congress next winter. Such a waterway would be of benefit to traffic of small coastal vessels and bring the whole of Chesapeake Bay to our shores, and Baltimore, a major port, to the market place.


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