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acter. In the call issued by your committee.I find suggestions of these difficulties, and I believe the question before you is how to meet and overcome them. I cannot understand why, after the abundant liberality of the people of this Valley toward enterprises other than those directed to the improvements of its waterways there should be the opposition that has been displayed in this matter.
To me it appears to be indifferent whether the internal commerce of this Valley amounts to one-half or to the total of that of the whole country; whether the amount of money expended by the national government on improving the waterways of the Valley is equal to onehalf, to one-fourth, or to any portion of that to which they are entitled; whether this is the granary of the world or whether it is a desert; that opposition which springs from a well-defined interest sets its face against these improvements as a rock against a storm. I 6ay that it is this interest you have to meet and to do battle with, and to overcome. [Applause.]
I do not believe that the people of this great Valley use their political power as they should use it. I do not believe that they hold to responsibility the men who should be devoted to their interests. It seems to me that every man, no matter for whatever cause, who finds it is necessary to antagonize those interests should see above his head, erect and frowning, the tutelary genins of the Mississippi Valley with her hand upon the wheel of his political fortune, until she has succeeded in terrifying him into submission. [Applause.]
Gentlemen, the problem which confronts us is one which, in my jndgment, can be solved by unity of action, and that regards only the attention and consideration and support of the 30,000,000 of people of this valley to be bronght to a successful solution. It seems to me that the army of Representatives and Senators whom you send to the capital have this within their power. I have seen or read of instances where the political entities of Europe have been able from time to time to preserve the pca.ee of the continent and to exercise the balance of power. I have seen instances where a few men, actuated by the spirit of Hampden and Sydney, extended declarations of rights and magna chartas from the tyrants who would have oppressed them. I have seen the great questions of revolution determined in England by a majority of two or three votes; and I must say that the idea that this great body of people, possessing not only the balance of power but almost the majority of votes in the national legislature, cannot accomplish what they desire, whether it be a question of tactics or of principle, is to abolish the past and to refute all history; [Applause.]
I remember a curious fable that applies in its moral to this matter of the improvement of the waterways of the Mississippi Valley. An aged woman came before the authorities of Rome and offered to sell them nine books of prophecy at a stated price. They drove her away, unheeding her offer. Soon afterward, following immediately upon a disaster that had threatened the destruction of the city, she appeared again, this time with but six books, which she offered for sale at the same price at which she had originally offered the nine. The authorities again refused to purchase. Once more disaster fell upon the city, and again the sybil appeared with her mystic books, now reduced to three, for which she asked a sum higher than that originally asked for the -nine, and the third time the authorities were compelled to buy them.
Now, gentlemen, that fable demonstrates the necessity of immediate action on this great problem. If the Government will not buy the nine books to-day, they must buy the six books at the same price in the near future, or some twenty years hence the people of this valley and of the world will force them to buy the three books at a far higher price. [Applause.]
I believe, gentlemen, that there is no difference of opinion among the friends of this movement; the only difference is as to details, and these may well be left to the officers, the engineers and Congressmen.
The people of every portion of this great valley should unite in demanding from their representatives in the national legislature that justice be meted out to those who are endeavoring so earnestly and so sincerely to work out this great scheme for the improvement of the great waterways of the Mississippi Valley. [Applause.]
Gentlemen of the Convention, I thank you for the patience with which •you have listened to me. [Renewed applause.]
In response to an invitation to address the Convention, and upon being introduced by the President, Jndge R. S. Taylor, of Indiana, member of the Mississippi River Commission, spoke as follows:
ADDRESS OP JUDGE TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman and Genthmen of the Convention—Pour years ago I stood before a convention like this, assembled at the heart, as we are at the foot, of the Mississippi Valley, to consider the great subject of the improvement of the Western Waterways. Our worK then lay all before us; we meet to-day with' four years of it behind us. It is the misfortune of a body like the Mississippi River Commission that while its plans and proceedings are freely discussed, as they should be, in the public press and elsewhere, it has itself no means of communication with the people except through its official reports to Congress. And of all means of keeping information from the public I know of none more effective than that. [Laughter.] Gentlemen, there is one of our reports, clothed in the regulation black of a Government document, I have no doubt it looks dry at a hundred feet range, [laughter] and, in fact, it is not a book which you couldn't lay down without finishing. Four years ago I thought I would contribute to the spread of intelligence by a generous distribution of these documents, and I sent a number around to my friends ; several of those people died within a year. [Laughter.]
There is a part of the work which was by law intrusted to the commission, of which little public notice is taken, but of which I wish to speak a moment. It comprises the surveys, observations and examinations necessary to the complete stndy of the physical facts pertaining to the life and flow of the river. For five years that work has been in progress, aud as-part of the results of it I am gratified to exhibit to you the first complete map of the lower Mississippi, made from actual surveys, which you ever saw. Upon this map, eleven feet long as you see it, is presented upon a scale of five miles to the inch, the entire river from Cairo to the Gulf, with the lands adjacent, and subject to overflow. The surveys from which this map has been made have been most painstaking and thorough. And in these reports have been preserved the recorded data of those surveys with such minuteness and care, that at any time in the future, be it a hundred years hence, an engineer can compare the river of that time with the river here outlined with snch exactness as to disclose every rod of its shifting, and every foot of its deepening, or shoaling. And to this I may add, that in these uninviting reports are preserved all measurements, gaugings, and observations of every kind made by the Commission. If that body shall misinterpret the laws of the river, and err in its plans, here are the facts by which its blunders will be shown, and its errors corrected.
But it is in the practical work of improvement, gentlemen, that yon are most directly and deeply interested, and it is to a brief statement of what has been done and is proposed in that work that I invite your attention. The Mississippi river has three great faults; it tears down its own banks; then with the material taken from them, it builds great bars across its own path; then having blocked up its channel with them, it overflows its banks and spreads over the adjacent country. It is a self-willed and headstrong stream, and must be managed as a woman manages her husband,—never offering to contradict him, and letting him think all the while that he is doing as he pleases. [Laughter.]
A reach of bad navigation presents ordinarily an abnormal width, numerous dividing channels and shifting bars. The first step in the improvement of such a reach is to lay out a track for the regulated channel through it—a task requiring the greatest skill and good jndgment, as upon its wise execution the success of all subsequent work may depend'. The next step is to induce the river to flow in the path thus prepared for it, which is accomplished by the closure of all other channels, and the narrowing of the space on the bar where necessary, by deposits of earth secured by means of permeable dikes, as open as a fence, through which the water flows freely, but which check its velocity below them sufficiently to cause it to make deposits of sediment. These structures are called "contraction works." They are in progress at Plum Point and Lake Providence reaches, and in those places have been entirely successful in execution and result. I do not believe that any greater obstacles can be found anywhere in the execution of this kind of work than those which have been met and overcome in Bullerton and Stack Island chutes, and on Baleshed andJElmot bars. In their effects they have answered every expectation of their construction. Three years ago an experienced river pilot said to a member of the Commission,—speaking of the work laid off at Lake Providence,— "You've staked her out right where she ought to run; the thing is to make her go there." Well, "she" is going there now, and with a channel depth at low water double that which she had be/ore. [Applause.] The like is true at Plum Point. The practicability of narrowing the channel by contraction works, and the certainty of increased depth from the scour thereby induced, have been demonstrated by actual success. And it is a success at which I have never ceased to marvel. The deposits which fill these chutes and build banks on these bars are mere specks of earth. A teaspoon would hold thousands of them. As the water bearing them slackens its speed after passing the permeable dikes, they quietly drop to the bottom like microscopic flakes of snow. And yet the space which has been filled with solid earth by this process in the reaches under improvement measures thousands of acres in area, and from a few indies to fifty feet, and upward, in depth, and well on to three hundred million cubic yards in contents. The works by which these deposits have been secured have been costly,—more so than like workH would be now,—and yet I think it safe to say that the cost of the earth filling has been little, if any, above a cent a cubic yard.
If the river would stay in the improved channel thus prepared for it* the work of improvement would be completed. But this it will not do until some means are employed to check the violent caving of banks in
and about the reaches to be improved. Indeed, it will require but a moment's attention to perceive that the caving of the banks is really the prime cause of all the ills that afflict the river. As it cuts into the earth on one side and deepens the curve of its channel in that bend, it necessarily alters the direction by which its current swings into the bend next below, and so that bend, in its turn, is cut and carved in a new outline to fit the new curve of the channel. By the same process these changes are transmitted to the second bead below, and so on, from bend to bend, as the undulations travel down the back of a snake. And, indeed, you have but to look at the map before you, and mark the crescent-shaped lakes—fragments of old river bed—that line its course on either side, to see how literally true it is that the Mississippi has writhed like a serpent in its broad, black nest through all the centuries that have measured its life.
As the river washes away its bank on one side it commonly adds to the opposite shore by deposit; so that one bank advances as the other recedes. Rut where the caving is violent it is impossible for the river to build the convex side up to full bank height as rapidly as it cuts away the concave side: so that the net result of the process is au increase of width. And finally the coarser parts of the earth taken from the caving bank are carried only a short distance, and go to build up flu? bars below, and as the caving is more active their growth more rapid.
So that we have three distinct consequences — instability of channel location, increase of channel width, and an acceleration, at least, of bar formation, each directly traceable to the caving of the banks. But these are the very things that impair the channel. If we could be rid of them our task would be done. It is necessary, therefore, to employ some means to fix and hold the banks—not everywhere, but wherever the location and rapidity of the caving are such as to endanger the other works of improvement about or below them. The devices used for this purpose—mainly brush mattresses, I cannot take time to describe. They constitute a distinct class of work known as "revetment" or "bank protection."
The third kind of work employed is levees. The place which these structures hold in the general work of improvement has been defined repeatedly in the reports of the Commission and elsewhere. In brief it is this: The ordinary flood is the period of the river's greatest energy; confined within the banks of uniform grade that energy is made useful in scouring and deepening the channel; allowed to escape through Varying and uneven depressions, not only is its energy lost, but there is caused an irregularity of flow in the channel which tends to produce increased deposit of sediment.