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these commissioners estimated the saving in transportation from Chicago to Liverpool by this route, as compared with the route though the city and State of New York, at thirty cents a bushel on grain. The canals connecting Lake Erie with Montreal are insuffi. cient in size.for steamers suitable for the ocean. It is estimated that it will require $10,000,000 to make them so. The Canadian gov. ernment, in the year 1858, caused a.survey to be made of the Ottawa and French rivers, with the view of making a ship navigation through that way to Lake Huron. This survey was completed, with maps and plans of the route, with an approximate estimate of the cost of the work. Another survey, more full and minute in its character, was subsequently ordered. This was made by Thomas C. Clark, and by him submitted to the government on the 2d of January, 1860; a copy thereof is hereto annexed, with the maps of the previous survey. These surveys show that from Montreal outward to the ocean, the St. Lawrence is navigable fully seven months in the year, with at least twenty feet of water over the shoalest places, and that for eleven years past in succession, the upper Ottawa has opened on the 27th day of April, on the average, and closed on the 27th of November. That from Montreal to Lake Huron is 430 miles, 351 miles of which is now good ship navigation, and by the construction of a few dams there will be 401 miles, requiring only 29 miles of canal, with 64 locks, to complete the route; 83 miles of which canal, with five locks, is already completed of nearly the required size. The estimated cost of the improvement is $12,058,680. The distance from Chicago to Buffalo is 1,000 miles. From Chicago to Montreal, via Ottawa river, one authority states at 930, another at 980 miles. From Chicago to Liverpool, via Ottawa river, 3,720; from Chicago to Liverpool, via Erie canal, 4,480. Average freight and transfer charges at Buffalo, during the past fall, from Chicago via Erie canal to the city of New York, 30 cents per bushel; from New York to Liverpool, including charges for transfers, &c., at New York, say 11 pence sterling or 30 cents, making, without insurance, in our currency, 60 cents per bushel from Chicago to Liverpool. If this wheat had been transported by the proposed railway, it would have cost, in addition to the above, 18 cents per bushel, in such case making 78 cents per bushel.
If any stimulus were needed to basten the completion of the work in question, what one can possibly be greater than such exorbitant rates
of freight upon property from Lake Michigan, passing through this State, destined to a foreign market? An average of full 60 cents per bushel for three months, and for the month of October 70 to 74 cents per bushel; and this, too, accompanied with the fact that the receipts of corn this season at tide water has been some six or seven millions bushels less than last year. Wbat may we reasonably ex. pect would have been the state of things in this regard, with these millions of bushels added this fall to the trade we have had ? A good steamer, suitable for the lake and the ocean, within the limits of the locks on the proposed Ottawa route would easily carry fifty thousand bushels of wheat, and make the round trip, Chicago to Liverpool and return, with a proper dispatch in port, in forty days. With such extravagant rates outward and only a
in return, her net profits could scarcely fail to pay out of the proceeds of one trip fifteen per cent upon ber cost. Not only would this route be formidable, quick and cheap for the foreign trade, it would also be quicker and cheaper for the New England ports than through this State in its present condition.
ADVANTAGES OF THIS ROUTE. First, Mainly to the States bordering on Lake Michigan, by fur. nishing a cheaper and quicker avenue of transit for their exports and imports with foreign countries not only, but to the New England States as well; opening up all the ports on that lake at once and likewise on Lake Superior, with only slight improvement in the outlet, to the shipping of the world for seven months in the year.
Second, To Canada generally, by the inducements it would offer to the settlement of an extensive portion of that country, now a wilderness; the better market it would insure for their inexbaustible supplies of lumber, and the vast water power along the route at all the locks for its manufacture, as well as the very superior advantages there afforded for the manufacture of flour; by the closer practical proximity to the producer in the west and the consumer abroad, and in the eastern states. Like advantages, but less in degree, would extend to the states west of the Mississippi river, and perhaps even along the Ohio, and south to Memphis. Boston and Portland could scarcely fail to profit and thrive under the enlivening influence of a large direct trade with Lake Michigan and Superior.
SOME OF THE DISADVANTAGES. First, The State of New York at large, by the loss of revenue from her canals.
Second, The owners of lake craft unfit for the ocean, and the own: ers of canal boats, by the withdrawal of the business from which they derive their support; the great surplus of this property must necessarily go rapidly to decay at the docks as valueless.
Third, Varied and important interests in the cities of New York, Oswego and Buffalo, would keenly feel the damaging effects of this great change of route, for the exports and imports of the country. Chicago and Milwaukee, for all practical purposes seven months of the year, would find substantially the ocean at their doors, and hence, become powerful rivals of the city of New York.
Fourth, Many other interests in this State would soon feel the blighting influence of this northern competitor. The milling interests in particular, at Black Rock, Lockport, Rochester and Oswego, would find rivals on the Ottawa, powerful and lasting, competing for the eastern and foreign trade upon most advantageous terms, by the cheaper freights and greater celerity to market afforded by that route.
Fifth, The great railways would come in for a share of the loss of trade through this State.
For these reasons the Board is of the opinion that there is great danger of a diversion of trade out of the State, without further improvement of the Erie canal.
ALBANY, December 2012, 1867.