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For the details of our field-work, description of the river, and number and character of the obstructions to the navigation of the river, reference is made to the report of Mr. A. De Man, whrich is appended and marked “B.” Three charts of this survey are also submitted herewith. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. M. ADAMS,
Lieutenant of Engineers. Capt. C. W. HOWELL,
United States Engineers.
CUSTOM-HOUSE, GALVESTON, TEXAS,
Collector's Office, February 17, 1873. Sir: I submit herewith a statement of the commerce of the port of Sabine Pass for the years 1871 and 1872.
It may be well to observe that Sabine Pass is a port of delivery only, and hence all imports are indirect, having been first entered at New Orleans or this port as foreign merchandise. All exports are made coastwise only. I am, sir, very respectfully,
E. L. STONE,
Deputy Collector. H. M. ADAMS,
Lieut. U. S. Engineers.
Report of deputy collector of Sabine Pass relative to the commerce of that port for the years 1871 and 1872, ending December 31.
1872. Entered, steam
51 Eutered, sail
689 Cleared, steam
51 Cleared, sail
STATISTICS OBTAINED FROM MR. F. P, HARRIS, MERCHANT, AT SABINE PASS. Imports from September 1, 1871, to September 1, 1972, for Sabine Pass : 31,800 barrels of miscellaneous merchandise.
For places on the Neches and Sabine Rivers : 16,000 barrels miscellaneous merchandise.
Exports: 12,446 balts cotton; 275 bales sea-island cotton ; 12,750 hides; 115 barrels tallow; 18 barrels beeswax; 33 hogsheads tobacco; 70 bundles deer-skins; 50 bags wool; 2,600,000 feet (board-ineasure) lumber; 26,000,000 shingles ; 300 head cattle.
Report of Mr. A. De Man, Assistant Engineer.
Galveston, Texas, July 26, 1873. DEAR SIR: On the 21st of October, 1872, I received orders from you, assigning me to the duty of making a survey of the Angelina and Neches Rivers, including the bar of the latter in Sabine Lake. The order read as follows:
“You will proceed from Galveston to Crockett, in Houston County, and from there across the country to Platonia, on the Angelina River. The survey is to extend from Platonia down the river to its junction with the Neches; then up the Neches to Boonville, or Boon's Ferry; then, commencing at the junction of the Neches and Angelina Rivers, the survey will be continued down the Neches to its mouth in Sabine Lake, including the bar at the mouth of the river. “At Platonia you will procure two small boats and hire two laborers.
“ The rivers are to be meandered on one side with the transit and stadia, locating frequent points, by triangulation or stadia, on the other side ; this will require yourself following down one bank with transit, and two men, one on each bank, with stadia.
“In going from point to point, channel-soundings can be taken from the boats and approximately located ; cross-sections should also be made, noting at the same time the height of high and low water.
“ Where bars are found, their general characteristics are to be noted. Approximate heights and character of banks are to be observed, and clearings on bauks to be located. All snags, leaning trees that would obstruct navigation, and all rafts are to be located and described sufficiently to permit of an estimate of the probable trouble and cost of renuoving them.
“All information to be obtained from people residing on the banks of the river regarding the productions of the country, low-water and flood marks, and other general information of possible value in deciding how the country may be benefited by improving the navigation of the river, shonld be collected. County maps may be made use of to expedite your work, provided you prove them by frequent checks.
“ The entire amount of money available for this survey and for the office-work is $2,400. Your expenses must be regulated accordingly. You will take duplicate receipts in the proper form for all expenditures, and will let me know by letter of your proyress as often as possible.
"After finishing your work at the mouth of the Neches you will return to Galveston, by way of Sabine Pass, with as little delay as possible."
In accordance with the above instructions I started immediately. At Platonia I found but one plantation, which had been recently abandoned. I was, therefore, obliged to go to Marion, where I arrived October 25. Some difficulty in completing my outfit and obtaining the necessary help detained me there till November 7, when I started for Platonia, and commenced the work November 9. From the amount of money appropriated and the extent of the work, I concluded that merely a compasssurvey was expected.
My method of proceeding was as follows : Each one of my two men had charge of a skiff and a stadia-rod. I stationed skiff A at station 0, and went down the river with skiff B to station I, where I set up the instrument, sending skiff
' B to statiou II, and taking the stadia-reading and magnetic course to station 0, after which I flagged him down. By this time skitf B had reached its position, and while skitf A was coming down I took the stadia-reading and magnetic course to station Il; then I stepped into skitf A, which took me down to station III, where I repeated the operations as at station I, and so continued.
The field-notes were kept in the following manner:
On the left page, in a central column, were recorded the stadia-readings, occnpying the place of corresponding stations, and between them the magnetic course of the live of sight. From each position of the instrument there was a back-sight and a foresight. The fore-sight, being directed down the river, was recorded as it read on the compass; the back-sight was reversed, so as to obtain in the field-book the magnetic bearings of all the lines in one direction. In two other columns, to the left, were recorded the angles of elevation or depression of the line of sight corresponding to each stadia-reading.
Between the numbers of the succeeding stadia-readings and on each side of the central column were sketched the shore-lines, representing them for each sight, as the column would have been formed by the splitting of the line of sight.
In all cases where the curvature of the river was too complicated to be represented by this system, additional sketches were taken on the right-hand page.
Cross-sections were taken by setting the instrument at the most convenient bank and locating from there a line of cross-section at right angles with the stream, noting the distances to the several points of the slopes by stadia-readings.
Soundings were taken ou the same line. These notes were recorded on the right
hand page in four columns, one for the stadia-distances, two for the corresponding elevation or depression, and one for the soundings.
In surveying down the river, the position of succeeding stations was sometimes on the same bank, sometimes on opposite banks, according to the direction of curvature of the river, or the obstructions of the line of sight by overhanging trees.
This gives, in plotting, a series of points on the right and the left bank between which the stream can be sketched.
SURVEY OF THE ANGELINA RIVER.
The stage of the water during the survey of the river from Platonia to Bevilport was from 2 to 4 feet above low-water. Even with that rise I found a great many places where the river was so obstructed by logs and fallen trees that it was impossible to get through, even with my small skiffs. We were thus compelled to unload them and lift them over the obstacles. This occurred several times each day, and was a serious detention in the progress of the work.
At Bevilport, several days of rain produced a rise in the river of abont 13 feet above low-water, as shown by the map and cross-sections.
The distances run each day are as follows:
1872. November 9..
30.. December 1..
2.. 3.. 4.5.. 6.. 7.. 8.. 9.. 10.. 11.. 12.. 13.. 14. 15.. 16., 17. 18.. 19.. 20. 21..
6, 729 17, 229 13, 95:3 17,070 21, 335 22, 316
Passed Worden's Ferry.
Number of days coming from Platonia, 43; number of days actually at work during that time, 31; distance from Platonia to the juuction, 103.82 miles; average run for each day's work, 3.34 miles.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THE RIVER.
The river winds its way tortuously through a valley varying in width from one to five miles. These bottom-lands are very rich, owing to the alluvion deposited by yearly overflows; but the irregularity and duration of these overflows prevent their use for agricultural purposes.
They are merely used for pasturing the different kinds of stock, which find here an abundant growth of cane, and, during the season, plenty of mast. They are also covered with several varieties of oak, gum, elm, ash, beech, magnolia, sycamore, and cypress trees.
The river often reaches the limits of the valley, and there the higher lands are covered with pine timber, which is generally the growth on the rolling lands on either side of the valley.
There are but few settlements on the river, and from the fact that several of them have been abandoned and a great many fields not being in cultivation, it would appear that in this part of the country there has been, for the last few years, a lack of agricultural activity, or, at least, a want of labor.
I could not obtain sufficient information in regard to the productions of the surrounding country.
The most important product supporting the navigation is cotton, which used to be mostly shipped by flat-boats or steamboats, but since the completion of the Great Northern Railroad a great many people prefer this surer way to send their products to market, on account of the river being navigable only during high water.
The season of the freshet is very irregular, and it has been known to fail to such an extent as not to permit navigation. There are large forests of pine and cypress timber, for which the river is a cheap and the only way by which it can be tloated to the saw-mills on the lower part of the river.
The river at low-water is but a large creek, and is entirely unfit for navigation of any kind. The yearly freshet produces a rise of water from 10 to 24 feet; then the stream has a width varying with the height of the water, from 80 to 100 feet at the head of navigation to 200 or 250 at the junction, but is obstructed by overhauging trees, logs, and snags. Distances to the several landings.
Feet. Miles. From Platonia to Marion..
30, 303 5.73 Brown's Ferry
159, 324 30.17 Worden's Ferry
237,619 45. 00 Taylor's Ferry
308,516 56, 37 Townsend's Landing.
335, 885 63, 61 Mayer's Ferry.
401,589 76. 05 Lewis Morris's Ferry
441,932 83. 69 Bobler's Ferry
469,614 88.94 Bevilport
509, 289 96, 45 Junction..
548, 208 103. 82
The statements I collected from people living on the river with regard to low and high water stage were very contradictory: I have, therefore, been obliged to take the mark left by the water on thie timber, which is the most reliable, but not always very well defined. It is to these heights that I refer in the cross-section shown on the map as the average of high-water.
the low-water mark is the nearest that I could estimate from the contradictory statements.
It will be noticed that the difference between high and low water is not the same in all the cross-sections. These differences can be accounted for by the fact that in parts of the river where high banks confine the greater portion of the water to the channel it will rise higher than in places where the low banks permit it to overflow more freely into the bottom-lands. The height of the banks is from 15 to 25 feet above low-water.
Tho bends of the river are generally very short, having a very abrupt bank on the outside and a sloping bank on the inside. At the time of freshets, the water sweeping along the outside wears away the bank and washes in large trees which often entirely obstruct the river; these are sawed or chopped off by raftsmen, flat boat-men or steamboat-men, whó generally do the work with the least expense possible, but most of the time to the disadvantage of the river; the trunk with all its liinbs, being dropped, forms afterward a bad obstruction, the stump and roots soon wash into the channel and form a dangerous snag.
The inside of the bend is generally covered with a dense growth of willows leaning toward the stream. They increase very much the difficulty of passing the sharp bends.
There are a few rocky shoals located on the map, but the river being only navigable at high-water they are not material obstacles at that stage.
The time of high river is very irregular, but from January to May may be taken as an average for the navigable season.
The snags and other obstructions to the navigation were too numerous to be located on the map. In the following columns are given the number of obstructions in two sections of the river:
The river being unfit for low-water navigation, it will only be necessary to remove the obstructions above low-water, so as to make the navigation safe with a rise of six teet of water, this being the least rise with which the steamboats can go up the river, owing to occasional falls in the water, by which the boats are sometimes left on shoals for weeks.
The limited business of the country would not justify the heavy expense of removing the snage and logs from the bottom of the river; therefore I wonld suggest that daungerous snags and logs above low-water should be cut up into short pieces, which would then be carried away by the next freshet, or sink to the bottom out of the way.
The overhanging willows should all be cut down and chopped into pieces small enough to float without obstructing the river. This improvement cannot be expected to be a permanent one, because a new growth of willows will start on the same place, and would have to be cut down after some years. Large overhanging trees, generally on the outside of the bends of the river, should be treated in the same way.
All of this tiinber, if properly cut up, will float down the river to some place where it overflows, and there drift into the bottom-lands, where the trees and brush will retain it.
It is plain that these improvements should be niade gradually ; that is to say, to divide the work into four or five years, for if all the timber were to be cut in one year it might seriously injure the navigation of the river.
A great many large trees are standing close to the edge of the banks, and their slow vibration from the action of the winds, combined with the wearing of the banks by the current, causes large cavings, forming serious obstructions. Such trees should be dealt with differently from what was done some years ago by parties under a contract with the State of Texas for improving the river.
In this case all such trees were girdled; some of them are standing yet and are a serious danger to the navigation ; steamboats and flat-boats are often driven by the current against the banks in proximity to such dead trees, which have been known to fall on the decks, endangering the lives of passengers and crews, besides causing great damage.
In my opinion the better way of dealing with sıfth trees would be to ent them down, leaving a stump tall enough to keep the trunk horizontal, in case the stump should afterward be washed into the river, and thus prevent its making a sawyer, but in most cases the force of the winds acting only on the top of the tree would be done away with, and the roots would strengthen the banks and thus prevent some of the cavings.
In case any work should be done on the river, special attention should be given to the places marked on the map as cut-offs, which are channels of recent formation and could generally be made good passages by cutting trees and taking out stumps which obstruct them.
Several other places where two bends of the river come close together, and where the water at high stage runs across the banks, could be made good cut-off's by makivg a judicious choice in the cutting of the trees. The water then would soon wash its way through.
These cut-offs, besides shortening the distance, would generally avoid bad bends of the river.
According to the statements of the people living on the river, the previous improve