[Rep. No. 88]
No. of Reps
CANAL - DAYTON TO LAKE ERIE
JANUARY 18, 1828
Mr. Woods , of Ohio, from the Committee on Roads and Canals, to which the subject has been referred, made the following
The Committee on Roads and Canals, who were instructed by a resolution of the House of Representatives, to inquire into the expediency of granting the State of Ohio a tract of land to aid in extending the Miami Canal to Lake Erie, and of enabling the State of Indiana to continue the canal from Wabash, through Ohio, to meet the Miami canal report:
That they have examined the subject submitted to them. The committee find that by the act passed at the last Session of Congress, granting a tract of land to the State of Indiana to aid in opening a canal to unite, at navigable points, the waters of the Wabash with those of Lake Erie, a quantity of land equal to one half of five sections in width on each side of said canal, extending from one end thereof to the other, is granted to the State of Indiana; and that the line of the Indiana canal from the Wabash, as located upon the only practicable route, passes a distance of more than seventy miles through the State of Ohio.
The committee will not undertake to decide whether the State of Indiana can construct that part of her line of canal which passes through the State of Ohio, or what control and power she could exercise over it when completed. These are questions presenting difficulties which may be altogether obviated. This part of the Wabash canal may be executed by the agreement and joint efforts of Indiana and Ohio. The committee believe it proper that it should be made in that manner. Ohio may become deeply interested in the execution of this part of the Wabash canal. One of her own great canal routes from the Ohio river to Lake Erie, more than sixty-five miles of which will soon be completed, will be connected with the Wabash canal, about fifty miles above the head of the Maumee Bay. The great interest of Ohio, which is perfectly in accordance with that of Indiana, is to make the section of the Wabash canal, which passes through her territory, a part of her own line of canal, which extends from her commercial emporium to the Ohio river, through the most populous and productive section of the State.
Unless the State of Ohio is enabled to continue the Miami canal to meet the one from the Wabash river, she can have but little, if any, interest in the execution of the work by Indiana. It would hardly be reasonable and just, that another State should derive revenue and wealth from a work executed within the State of Ohio, which would drain the water from the channel of one of her largest rivers, and command the entrance to Lake Erie by the Maumee Bay, from which Ohio would almost be excluded. By authorizing the State of Indiana to relinquish to Ohio the right to the land within this State, which has been granted to Indiana by the act above referred to, upon such terms as may be made for the mutual interest of both States, and at the same time awarding to Ohio a degree of the liberality which has been already extended to Indiana and Illinois, the active co-operation and exertion of the State of Ohio, in the advancement and completion of the work, will be secured. The importance of a navigable communication between the Wabash river and Lake Erie to Indiana and to the United States might easily be proved. The opinion which Congress has entertained of it, is fully shown by the liberal grant which has been made to aid in its construction. The committee therefore believe that it will be only carrying the views and objects of the Government more fully into effect, to give additional facilities for the accomplishment of the work by those States immediately interested. They believe the interests of Ohio in this work should not be overlooked.
The proposed communication between the Ohio river and Lake Erie, by the Miami Canal, is of equal national importance with any other which can be effected. It passes through a district of country not exceeding in fertility by any portion of the United States; and supporting, at this moment, on a considerable portion of the route, a population as great, perhaps, as any other section of equal extent in the United States. This canal empties into the Ohio river at Cincinnati, a point to which that steam is navigable for the largest class of steam boats, during almost the whole year. The whole extent of the canal, as located by the Commissioners and Engineers of Ohio, aided in their labors and surveys by several of the most experienced and scientific Engineers in the United States, is two hundred and sixty-five miles, and is estimated to cost nearly three millions of dollars.
The State of Ohio has already executed a considerable portion of this canal. More than forty-four miles, commencing at Cincinnati and extending up the valley of the Great Miami, has been completed and is now navigated. The remainder of the line to Dayton, a distance of sixty-six miles from Cincinnati, is under contract to be finished in June next, and no doubt is entertained but the whole line of canal from Dayton to Cincinnati will be finished and in active operation next Summer. From Dayton to the Maumee river, at the mouth of the Auglazie river, where this canal will meet the one from Indiana, is by the line of the canal, as located by the State of Ohio, about one hundred and forty-nine; and from thence to the head of the Maumee Bay fifty miles. Nearly eighty miles of the line between Dayton and the Maumee river passes through public lands, no part of which has been sold. On the residue of the route the greater part of the land has been sold by the Government. The land granted to the State of Indiana for more than one third of the distance which the Miami canal will pass through the public land; and the State of Ohio solicits, as an act of equal liberality, that aid which will enable her at once to execute that part of the line of the canal common to both States, in connexion with her own work. The interest of the State of Indiana will be greatly promoted by this arrangement, and the more speedy completion of the work ensured.
The United states yet own in the State of Ohio a greater quantity of land than has been sold to individuals since the establishment of the present land system; the quantity of land sold in Ohio being little more than seven millions six hundred thousand acres. The United States still own in the State more than seven millions six hundred and twenty thousand acres of rich, fertile land, which is now surveyed, and in market. If it is the interest of the State of Ohio to expend millions of dollars in the execution of this work, ( and no enlightened citizen can doubt it,) does it not become the General Government, owning more than half the land in the territory through which the canal will pass, to bear at least a proportion of the cost of executing this work? No argument need be urged to prove the increased value which this work, when finished, will give to the public lands, or to show the importance of this communication in relation to the great national interests and operations of our Government. To any man who looks at the relative situation of this country, and counts the increasing population of more than two hundred thousand citizens, already to be found residing, within thirty miles of this canal, in less that one third of its length, and who still doubts the policy of executing the work, other arguments would probably be useless.
The committee have, by the bill which they submit to the House with this report, provided that the land reserved to the United States along the canal line, shall not be sold for less than 82.50 per acre. This will enable the State more readily to sell the lands granted to it, and, at the same time, it cannot fail, in the end, fully to realize to the United States more than the minimum price of the whole land now owned by the General Government in the vicinity.
The State of Ohio is now directing her principal efforts and resources to the execution of a more circuitous canal route, between the Ohio river and Lake Erie, which passes through the middle of the State. She has, however, devoted a portion of her funds to the commencement of the Western or Miami canal; but when it is finished as far as her citizens own the soil, it cannot be expected that she can that she can carry it through the public lands at her own expense, while the General Government will derive a full moiety of the profit, without any contribution for its construction.
Entertaining these views, the committee believe it will be expedient to enable the States of Ohio and Indiana to make an arrangement, mutually satisfactory, for the execution of that part of the Wabash canal which will pass through Ohio, and to grant the aid to the State of Ohio which is asked. For these purposes the committee report a bill.