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Letter of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey to the Secretary of the

Treasury, communicating a report of Lieutenant Commanding j. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant in the coast survey, on the necessity for a light-house on the upper jeltee, Cape Fcar river, N. C.


Near Bath, Maine, October, 15, 1851. Sir: I have the honor to report, that in conformity with the act approved March 3, 1851, making appropriations for light-houses, buoys, &c., and the instructions of the department, the question of the necessity for a light-house on the upper jettee of Cape Fear river has been examined, and that I recommend the construction of the same, for the reason assigned in the report of Lieutenant Commanding J. N. Maffitt, United States navy, assistant in the coast survey.

The report of Lieutenant Maffitt is herewith transmitted, with the "eye-sketch” which accompanied it. Very respectfully, yours,


Superintendent U. S. Coast Surrey. Hon. THOMAS Corwin,

Secretary of the Treasury.

eper eastering vessels bhich they can opened

SMITHVILLE, N. C., September 12, 1851. DEAR SIR: I have visited the “upper jettees of Cape Fear river," and herewith enclose to you an "eye-sketch” of that section, where some improvements are requisite for the benefit of navigation.

On the upper eastern jettee (No. 2) a light is certainly required, that steamers and sailing-vessels bound down at night may be enabled to keep the "fair channel way,” which they cannot always do at present, from the fact, that as the field of view is opened from just above Graham's island, jettee No. 2 trenches entirely athwart the apparent channel, and there is no guide which will enable a mariner to calculate how to steer, in order to clear this jettee, and keep in the best water, which is close to its end. The same holds good (from the sudden bend of the river) in sailing up.

It is not an uncommon circumstance at night for vessels to misjudge their distance, and run into jettee No. 2. The upper western jettee is out of the channel way; a light there would be useless.

The “reaches" over "Wreck shoal” are not long enough to warrant the erection of "range lights."

I consider it necessary that the present buoys be replaced by larger ones; and as the forest on each side gives a dark back-ground, they should be painted white; they would then always be seen on a starlight night.

I also propose that "tripods," painted white, be erected on jettees Nos. 3, 4, and 6. They would materially assist the navigator in

avoiding the shoals, and jettees themselves, which are low in the water, dilapidated, and more dangerous to vessels than beneficial to the river.

A requisite light-house for the upper eastern jettee should not cost over four thousand dollars. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieut. Com. and Assistant Coast Survey. Prof. A. D. BACHE,

Superintendent U. S. Coast Survey, Washington.

APPENDIX No. 30, bis.

Letter from the President of the Chamber of Commerce of Charleston, s. C.,

to the Superintendent of the U. S. Coast Survey, requesting a tracing of the chart of Charleston harbor.

CHARLESTON, June 18, 1851. Dear SIR : At an extra meeting of the Chamber of Commerce of Charleston, held this day, the enclosed resolution was unanimously adopted, and I was instructed to transmit you a copy, and express the hope that you may be able conveniently to comply with our request.

We desired a copy of this chart to assist us in forming some opinion of the best method of improving the entrance to our harbor. Public attention has long been attracted to the “Sullivan's island” channel, as offering strong inducements to attempt some improvements there, and the developments made by the Coast Survey tend strongly to encourage this feeling. If you have had your attention attracted to this subject, and adopted any definite views in relation to it, you would be doing essen

tial aid to a subject of vast public importance and profound interest to · our community by making your opinions known.

Yours, with great respect,


President Charleston Chamber of Commerce. Prof. Bache, Washington.

Resolved, That Professor Bache be respectfully requested to furnish the Chamber of Commerce, for the use of the mercantile and navigating interests of Charleston, a tracing of the chart of Charleston harbor, recently constructed under the direction of the Coast Survey.

APPENDIX No. 30, tris. Report of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey to the Secretary of the

Treasury, communicating sailing directions for the entrance into North Edisto harbor, by Lieutenant Commanding J. N. Maffitt, United States navy, assistant in the coast survey.

Coast SURVEY OFFICE, April 28, 1851. Sir: I have the honor to communicate the following information, supplied by Lieutenant Commanding J. N. Maffitt, United States navy, assistant in the coast survey, in relation to North Edisto harbor, and to request authority to publish it for the benefit of navigators:

“This harbor of refuge is about sixteen miles to the southward and westward of Charleston light-house. It is easy of access-one course over the bar taking the vessel to a safe anchorage.

“In four fathoms water, (with the point of Seabrook island, on the north side of the harbor, bearing northwest,) you will be close up to the bar.

“Bring Bare bluff (a remarkable clump of trees which stands back from the entrance about ten miles, and can be easily recognised by four tall trees rising above the others) about four hand-spikes to the left of Seabrook point, and run in on that range.

“When almost off the starboard sand-spit, keep in mid-channel, to avoid a sand-flat on that shore. By keeping near mid-channel, good water may be carried up to the anchorage, abreast of Mr. Legaré's, (the first house upon the port shore.)

"Atómean low-water' there are thirteen feet on the bar. The mean rise and fall is six feet. The ebb-tide on the bar tends to the southward and eastward—the flood north-northwest.

“The establishment of North Edisto, for two months' tidal, observations in 1851, is seven hours nine minutes." Very respectfully, yours, &c.,

A. 'D. BACHE, Superintendent. Hon. Wm. L. HODGE,

Acting Secretary of the Treasury.


Report of F. H. Gerdes, esq., assistant in the coast survey, to the Super

intendent, on the reconnaissance of the coast of Florida, from the Suwannce river to the St. Martin's reef.

PASCAGOULA, December 20, 1850. Sir: In compliance with your orders, I left Pascagoula November 2d, for the Cedar keys, Florida.

The first section was the Cedar keys and the reefs to the eastward; then I examined Wacassassa bay, Suwannee reef, Withlacoochee bay, Crystal river, and St. Martin's reef.

Observations for latitude and time were made almost daily. A tidegauge was kept for about twelve days, and the necessary soundings to mark the several channels were taken. The heights of several hills were measured, and a special reconnaissance was made for a base to be used for a preliminary survey. A small base, upon which all the bearings and angles depend, was twice measured, and, on many important points, signals were left to designate them.

Description of the Coast.

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1. Suwannee river and bay.—The Suwannee, one of the principal rivers on the coast of Florida, is deep, and has very fertile lands on its borders. The country is flat and densely wooded-the forests consisting of pine and other kinds of timber. Sugar and cotton are cultivated in considerable quantities, and many acres are cleared yearly in the hammocks. The mouth of the river is shoal-bars obstructing both outlets. The lower or southeast outlet, however, is the best, and is now generally used. The northwest outlet, near Bradford's island, is entirely abandoned. An oyster reef runs, in a horse-shoe shape, before this river, and forms the Suwannee bay, which is equally shoal. More than five feet at high-ride cannot be carried either over the bar, into the bay, through the bay, or into the river itself. A steamboat plies on the river to Depot key, carrying passengers and produce (cotton and sugar) to the shipping places of the vicinity.

2. Cedar keys. The Cedar keys form a group of islands making out from a point of the main land, just below the Suwannee reef, to the southward. The greater portion of these keys is connected with the main, and only at high tides they are separated by small boat-channels. Several of the keys, however, extend for a few miles farther to the southward, and these, of course, are islands proper.

The Cedar keys consist of Way key, Scale key, Big key, Flat key, Black Point key, and numerous others, only divided by small passages; none of which, however-except old No. 4 channel-are fit even for boats. The keys are cut up into numberless patches of marsh sand, beach, mangroves, and wood; but as the surface was surveyed in detail by the corps of topographical engineers, I have only delineated the outlines. On Way key there is an elevation of about fifty feet; and other hills, of a minor class, are formed on Lime Point, Black Point key, Live-oak key, &c. The islands proper belonging to the Cedar keys are North key, Sea-horse key, Depot key, Snake key, Derrick's key, Dog island, and several minor ones.

North key is wooded_has two large ponds is billy in the middle, and has a house on it, though uninhabited.

Sea-horse key is the southern key-is forty-five feet high-has a long, billy ridge, an uninhabited house, and an excellent harbor close to the eastern point. In the war with the Indians, Sea-horse key was occupied by our troops.

Depot heey is the anchorage of the Cedar keys is inhabited by ten or twelve families, and affords quite a fine view. There are here hospitals and storehouses, and several cottages, overhung by tall palmetto trees. A handsome whart, and the appearance of business, enliven the sight. All the cotton and sugar of the neighboring rivers are taken by flats to this place, and shipped from here either to Mobile or to New York. From fifteen to eighteen vessels arrive here yearly for this purpose, and probably as many more transient ones.

Snake kcy forms a triangle with the Sea-horse and Depot keys, is hilly, but small, and affords some protection to the harbor of Depot key from southeast winds.

Derrick kcy, situated to the west of the main group, is small, and separated from the others by the steamboat channel to the Suwannee bay.

Doy island, northeast from the Depot, is small and low, and contains only mangroves and a few cabbage-trees.

Channel No. 14three channels. The principal channel to the anchorage at Depot key runs east of the Sea-horse, and fourteen feet have been carried in here, at a good tide. The channel is plain enough, when known and well staked out.

Channel No. 2-small channel just below the Sea-horse, across the reef-is little used; but I am assured that eight feet water may safely be carried. A survey of this channel would be useful for smaller vessels, as it would avoid the necessity of doubling the Sea-horse reef, (fifteen miles long.)

Channel No. 3.–Another channel comes in from the westward, between Sea-horse and North keys, just above (north of) Bird key. At a good tide, nine feet may be carried in. The channel is plain and well staked out.

Channel No. 4.—This channel, although it has the best water, is very little or not at all used, as it does not extend to the anchorage. It runs from the westward about half a mile above North key, and carries fourteen feet of water to the first and second Mangrove keys; then it suddenly stops, and the anchorage at the termination remains quite exposed to westerly winds. It might be used in good seasons, with the aid of lighters, but it would be unfit for the railroad terminus, for the above reason; and, besides, it would be very expensive to extend the track so far over very low, marshy ground, and partly over shoal water.

The reef of Sea-horse key runs from the Sea-horse for ten miles SW., and thence for five miles SSW., and has shallow spots of only a few feet of water. A moderately-sized coasting vessel touched lately on the southernmost point, not having Sea-horse key even in sight.

4. Wacassassa bay.—The coast of the main from Cedar keys runs for more than ten miles in nearly an eastern direction, viz: from Live Oak Point, and “old block-house No. 4,” (garrison fort of the Florida war,) to the Wacassassa river, from whence an angle to the south is formed. The coast is flat, and for one or two miles inland marshy, where the dense and uninhabited forest commences, and stretches for miles into the country. This whole shore is a complete oyster-bed; I never in my life saw such enormous quantities together. Many reefs formed of the same shell run across the bay, mostly in a parallel course with the coast.

One channel, between the western reefs, carries eight feet water in the bay; another, between the eastern reefs, has ten feet; but they stop suddenly. The Wacassassa river is similar to the Suwannee river; has very ferlile hammocks on the borders, and the plantations of sugar and

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