Legislature of New-York.


Monday, Feb. 12.
Petitions, Memorials, &c. […]
Of sundry inhabitants of the county of Rensselaer, remonstrating against erecting a dam across the Hudson river—referred to the select committee to whom other petitions on the same subject had been referred.
Balance [Albany, NY]. February 16, 1810: 2.

Improvement of the Hudson River.—A Troy correspondent informs us, that the canal commissioners, under a law of the last session of the legislature, have obtained a grant from the commissioners heretofore appointed to improve the navigation of Hudson’s river between the city of Troy and the villages of Lansingburgh & Waterford, of all their [text lost in fold on microfilmed newspaper] already contracted for depending such parts of the bed of the river, as may require it, so that vessels navigating to Troy, may, by passing a single lock, proceed to Lansingburgh and Waterford—thus connecting the Champlain canal with the sloop navigation of Hudson’s river.
We also understand, that the contractor, Mr. Kimball, has already commenced operations at the dam near the city of Troy, and where the lock is to be constructed.—Albany D. Adv.
The American (For the Country) [NY]. August 29, 1821: 1 col 4.

THE CANALS—TROY, WATERFORD, &c.—[…] the trustees of the village of Lansingburgh and Waterford, in a memorial and remonstrance presented to the legislature on the 15th inst. offer their objections to the report of the committee, and to the third route recommended by it. They state that the alleged difficulty in the way of a passage of the Mohawk, will apply equally to the dam across the Schoharie creek, on the Erie canal, and the Hudson at Saratoga, on the Champlain canal—that the probable sufficiency of the dam and lock between Troy and Lansingburgh, has been tested by the fact, that the dam was erected two-thirds across the river in 1811, and with the exception of the unfinished part which was swept away last fall by a sudden rise of the water, had withstood the ice and floods until this time—that the expense of completing the lock, and the unfinished works at Waterford, will not exceed $30,000; for which sum, the inhabitants of the two villages will guarantee their completion to the satisfaction of the canal commissioners—and they urge the hope that the canal commissioners may be permitted to proceed with their original plan of united the Champlain and Erie canals, and of continuing them on the west side of the river to Albany, with a side cut at Waterford, and another into the Hudson opposite Troy; thus offering the choice of the several market towns situated at the head of sloop navigation.
Albany Argus Extra. March 18, 1823: 4 col col 2.


A communication from the Canal Commissioners, was read, in the words following, to wit: In answer to the resolutions of the Assembly, of the 18th and of the 20th of March ult, requesting information on the subject embraced by the memorial of the mayor, aldermen, and commonalty of the city of Troy, and also on the subject of the lock and dam in the Hudson river, above the city of Troy, the Canal Commissioners respectfully submit the following statement: The first report of the present Canal Commissioners, dated the 18th of February, 1817, recommends such a location of the canals, as that the cities of AlAlbany and Troy, and the villages of Waterford and Lansingburgh, by side cuts, connecting with the Hudson, “may be placed on grounds of fair competition, not less advantageous to the growth of those cities and villages, than beneficial to the general interests of the state.” The same report also states, that “ the termination of the northern canal, in the Hudson, at Waterford, will afford the cities of Albany and Troy, and the villages of Lansingburgh and Waterford, a full participation of its benefits.” This report has received the tacit approbation of five successive legislatures: the works have been located in conformity to its suggestions, with this improvement upon the original plan, that the Champlain canal has been continued southerly past the village of Waterford, and across the Mohawk, so as to form a junction with the Erie canal, about three quarters of a mile south of the Cohoes bridge. The canal passes the Mohawk through a pond, raised by a dam of seven feet and thirty-eight hundredths average height. The water of this pond will flow through the canal north to Waterford, to supply the locks connecting with the river at that place, and south to supply the lockage of the side cut opposite the city of Troy, and also to the city of Albany, where it will supply the communication with the river, or the contemplated basin. This arrangement affords an abundance of water for the purposes of lockage, at the several places before mentioned, as : all the water of the Mohawk may thus be put in requisition, should the exigencies of trade require it: it affords also a communication between the north and the west, nearly five miles shorter than the original plan; because, by the original plan, the nearest point of communication between the north and the west would have been by the side cut, opposite the city of Troy; and it also furnish es to the citizens of Troy, an additional facility in their intercourse with the north, as the trade of the north may reach Troy, either by dropping into the Hudson at Waterford, and using the river for about three miles, or by passing Waterford, and using the canal to the side cut opposite to the city of Troy.
The length of the dam above mentioned, over which the water will flow, is sixteen hundred feet; and the length of the pond, which is made by the dam, according to a measurement lately made by Col. Prescott, as appears, by his written statement, is more than fifty rods. In the great freshet of last fall, which was at least equal in magnitude to an ordinary spring freshet, the column of water upon the great dam at Fort Edward, was about four feet in depth, and nine hundred feet long. It is believed that the Hudson, at Fort Edward, is considerably larger than the Mohawk, at the Cohoes. If then, the Hudson will give four feet water on a dam of nine hundred feet, what will the Mohawk give on a dam of sixteen hundred feet? It requires no great science to arrive at a tolerably correct answer to this question; and the opinion of an ordinary man, on such a subject, would probably be as good as the speculations of an engineer. And whether a pond of the dimensions above mentioned, would, in high water, be thrown into such a state of agitation and rapidity as to preclude its being navigated with safety, can be as well determined by the judgment of each individual member of the legislature, as by the canal commissioners, or their engineers. The canal commissioners have not anticipated such a result. They do not suppose that it would often happen in the spring or fall freshets, that a loaded boat, drawing only three feet water, put afloat in the pond, without any one on board, would be carried over the dam. It is possible, however, that for a few days in the spring and fall, during the highest water, some inconvenience will attend the navigation through the pond. Experience will shew whether it is so or not; and the inconvenience, if any, and the best mode of avoiding it, will be better understood, after the canal is put into operation. If we suppose the worst that can happen, it will be no more than this, that for eight or ten days in the spring, and as many in the fall, the intercourse between the north and the west, through this pond, will be interrupted, and must be carried on, if at all, by a route five miles longer, by the city of Troy. For four months, during the last season, and for as long a time during the season previous to the last, if the Mohawk dam had been finished, and made as tight as p. it is not believed that a column of water, of the average depth of our inches, would have passed over it. It might sometimes have amounted to five or six, but it would in general have been less than three. From the last of August, until the fall rains commenced, the great dam at Fort Edward, did not discharge a column of water to exceed six inches in depth; and this is much the tightest dam on the Hudson river.
If the intercourse between the west and the north was confined to the summer months alone, there is no doubt but that the salt and plaster of the west, and the iron and other articles of trade from the north, would be exchanged and transported in sufficient quantities to supply the respective markets.
It ought to be remarked, that the navigation between Waterford and Whitehall, is for about the distance of ten miles in the Hudson river, and six miles in Wood-creek; and that all rafts, boats and other craft which can safely navigate between White-Hall and Waterford, can with equal safety traverse the river betweenWaterford and Troy, and between Troy and Albany, because the Hudson is not materially more wide or boisterous between the latter places, than between Saratoga and Fort Edward. Many boats are used upon the Erie canal which navigate the Seneca and Cayuga lakes; and these lakes are about forty miles long, and generally nine or ten times as wide as the Hudson, and in some places they are extended to the width of four or five miles. Whenever the amount of transportation will warrant it, steam tow-boats, or tow-boats with a horse power, may be used upon such parts of the Hudson as enter into the communication between Troy and White-Hall; or should the successful operation of the canals and the receipts of toll hereafter justify the improvement, some future legislature will doubtless provide for the construction of a canal separate from the river and from Wood-creek, and thereby furnish a more perfect and unbroken communication between Lake Champlain and the tide waters of the Hudson. At present, while the main works are unfinished, and while the state is charged with an accumulating debt for their completion, the canal commissioners would not deem it wise and prudent to incur any considerable additional expense, by making alterations on one part of the line, while similar alterations are equally called for on others. It was known from the beginning, that the plan would not afford a perfect canal navigation; nor was it believed that the exigencies of the trade from the north, or the interests of the state, would justify the expenditure of an additional half million of dollars, which it would at least require to make the navigation complete by a continuous canal. More than nine tenths of the tonnage of all the northern trade will for years to come be composed of timber, lumber of all sorts, fuel and other articles of wood, the transportation of which tomarket is not obstructed by the strong current and high floods of the river; and as to the other tenth of the tonnage, it will select for its principal period of transportation the summer months, and times of low water, when the river is tranquil; and it will adapt to its use such boats and other craft, as will be most safe and economical. The subject of the lock and dam which are located about one mile above the centre of the city of Troy, will be better understood by a reference to the act of the 11th of April, 1817, entitled “an act relative to the navigation of the Hudson river between Troy and Waterford.” By this act, commissioners were appointed to examine the river at that place, and the erections which had been made to improve the navigation; to ascertain whether the river could be improved above Troy, and if so, the best mode of effecting it; to determine whether the improvement of the navigation above, would injure the navigation below, and generally to examine the whole subject, and to give such directions thereon as to them should seem proper. These commissioners consisted of three of the engineers and one of the acting commissioners, who had the year before been employed in exploring the route of the canals, together with Mr. Roswell Weston, who however, did not attend to the discharge of the duties enjoined in the act. The other commissioners, to wit: Benjamin Wright, James Geddes, Charles C. Broadhead, and Samuel Young, attended to the duties enjoined by the act, and after the necessary examinations, made a report on the subject, dated the 10th February, 1818, a copy of which is hereunto annexed. This report was signed by all the attending commissioners, except Mr. Wright, (who it is understood was then and still is opposed to the extension of sloop navigation above the city of Troy.) This report, among other things, directs the mode in which the main dam (extending from the west shore to a point in the river opposite the head of Adams’ Island, about three hundred feet from the east shore, and which has stood since 1811) should be strengthened and secured. It directs also the extension of the main dam to the east shore, and the construction of a sloop lock, not less than twenty-six feet in width and ninety in length. By a reference to the jourmals of the Senate, 44th session, page 158, it will be seen, in a report made by the canal commissioners, that they estimated the cost of finishing the lock and dam, from the information they then possessed, at from $20,000 to $30,000. After the passing of the act of the 9th of March, 1821, entitled “an act respecting the navigation of the Hudson river, between Troy and Waterford,” James Geddes, the principal engineer, examined the proposed site of the lock and dam, and the adjoining parts of the river, to ascertain what was the situation of the works, and whether any change had taken place in the bed of the stream, since the examinations of 1817. After taking the levels and making the examinations, it was the opinion of the engineer, that the lock and dam might be completed within the estimate contained in said report. He was induced to believe, by an examination of the surface of the schistous rock, in which the lock was to be located, that it might be excavated in such a manner as to form a lock principally with natural instead of artificial walls, by which more than half the expense of the lock would be saved. It was ascertained that the bed of the river, between the site of the lock and Waterford, would not afford sufficient water, through an ordinary dry summer, for the navigation of canal boats; and the canal commissioners had no other choice but to assume the completion of the lock and dam, or entirely to abandon their original plan of connecting the canal with the Hudson, at the village of Waterford, which plan, it was believed, had received the general approbation of the public. They adopted the former alternative, and on the 3d day of March, 1822, they made a contract with Rensselaer Schuyler and Philip Roche, to build the lock and to finish the dam.
For the dam, the contractors were to receive, for raising the part already built, two dollars per foot, running measure, across the river, and for constructing the remainder of the dam, to the east shore, ten dollars per foot, running measure, and for building the lock, they were to receive such sum as the engineers should adjudge the same to be worth. After commencing the work on the dam, the contractors discovered that i would cost much more than the contract price. They sunk a few cribs adjoining to the east shore, the work progressed slowly, and on the 3d day of July, they abandoned that part of the contract which embraced the construction of the dam. It was then re-let, by the acting commissioner, to John Cramer, Jonathan H. Douglass, John Wibbard, Guert Wan Schoonhoven, Eli M. Todd, Joshua Mandeville, Moses Scott, and Thomas Van Derkar. For the sake of brevity, the business was done in the names of the three first above mentioned, as will be seen by the vouchers on file in the office of the comptroller. The contractors were to receive, for completing the dam, such sum as the engineers should adjudge it to be worth. It is understood that the above named contractors, on the same day, transferred their contract to William M’Donald, to be performed by him, on the same terms, and for the same compensation. From this time, the work progressed with as much rapidity as was practicable, and had the low water continued for twenty days longer in the fall, it would, in all probability, have been placed beyond the reach of injury, by floods. The sums receipted by Cramer, Wibbard, and Douglass, are the monies paid on the contract for the dam, and the sums receipted by R. Schuyler, are the monies paid on the contract for the lock, embracing also the work done to the dam, before that part of the original contract was abandoned, and also for excavating slate rock below the lock. Canvass. White, engineer, planned and directed the building of the lock, until the 8th day of August, when William Jerome, engineer, took charge of it, and the latter also had the superintendance of the construction of the dam. Messrs. Wright and White were, several times, requested to give a plan for the construction of the dam, which they declined to do; and Mr. Wright assigned as his reason, that he had not signed the report of the 18th of February, 1818. The canal commissioners have, in all cases of any difficulty or doubt, endeavored to procure the advice of the engineers, who sometimes differ among themselves; and after receiving such advice, to exercise their own judgment on the subject. The plan pursued in building the dam, is the same as described in the report of the commissioners appointed by the law of the 11th of April, 1817: Cribs of timber, of an oblong form, with cross-ties, are filled with stone and sunk upon a bed of brush, which rests on the gravel, at the bottom of the river. The cribs are so disposed as to form a rolling dam, with a horizontal apron below, and the whole above and below, after being filled with stone, is covered with thick plank or flatted timber. It is then graveled on the upper side. No part of the dam that was finished, has been injured by the floods of the river, and the main dam from the west shore to within about three hundred feet of the east shore, has stood since 1811. It was, however, very much strengthened under the provisions of the act above mentioned. The plan of the lock is the same as that of an ordinary boat lock, except that its size is adapted to the passage of sloops; and except that instead of side culverts, it is filled over the breast by paddle gates fixed in the main gates. The payments to the contractors for the lock and for the dam, were made from time to time in the ordinary way, upon written statements of the engineer, who had charge of the work, certifying how much the work had advanced, and what sum it would be proper to pay. When the lock was finished, the sums paid amounted to $34,000, and Mr. Jerome declined giving any further certificates. Messrs. White, Wright and Jerome were requested to meet and make an estimate of the fair value of building the lock, according to the contract. They had a meeting but did not agree to any award. The canal commissioners afterwards, by a resolution, referred the subject to Messrs. Hooker, Warner and Judson, who made an award which is hereto annexed, giving $45,100 to the contractors. There has also been paid to William B. Van Benthuysen, the sum of $3,172, for contructing a mound to protect the lock from ice and floods. This work not being susceptible of an accurate previous estimate, was performed under the direction and appraisement of the engineer. The sums paid towards the construction of the dam amount to $21,395 01, and the contractors have lately given information, that during the pastwinter, contracts have been made for timber, to the amount of between $4,000 and $5,000. In the summer of 1821, when the canal commissioners assumed the completion of the lock and dam, the locks at the village of Waterford, had not been precisely located. It was supposed that it would be proper to add one foot to the height of the main dam, and to make the sloop lock of the list of seven feet. On this plan the lockage at Waterford would have been thirty-five feet and seventy hundredths of a foot, and would have required four locks of eight feet and ninety two hundredths of a foot lift each. From the examinations taken in the fall of 1821, and the spring of 1822, preparatory to the location of the locks and side cut, at Waterford, it was perceived that by adding two feet more to the lock and dam above Troy, one of the locks which had been contemplated at Waterford, might be saved ; that the excavation of the side cut might be shortened about forty rods, by dropping into a ravine, connecting with the north branch of the Mohawk, before its junction with the Hudson; and that the expense of constructing the side cut forty rods through the village, and the damage to be encountered by destroying buildings, and injuring village lots on this distance, might be prevented. These facts will be better understood by an inspection of one of the maps which accompany this report. More than thirty thousand dollars was paid for damages in the village of White Hall, including appraisment for hydraulic privileges; and it was thought better to encounter an additional expense at the lock and dam, than to subject the state to a like contingency in the village of Waterford. On excavating the rock, for the location of the sloop lock, it was found not to possess such a degree of solidity and compactness, as to render it entirely safe for the chamber of the lock. Artificial walls have therefore been raised, from the foundation on both sides. At a meeting of the canal commissioners in June last, at Buffalo, the acting commissioner who had the charge of the lock, was directed by the board to make it sufficiently large to admit the sloops which navigate the Hudson. Under this direction, Mr. White, the engineer, enlarged the plan, and the lock has been constructed thirty feet wide, and one hundred and fourteen feet long.
The above variations from the original plan have contributed very seriously to enlarge the expense; but a considerable part of this increase has been saved at Waterford, and capacity and durability have been added to the work.
Besides, it must be admitted that the labour of preparing,transporting and handling the ponderous materials which enter into a sloop lock, augment its cost beyond that of a boat lock, considerably more than has been anticipated.
When the dam is finished, a navigation for boats between Troy and Lansingburgh, and between Lansingburgh and the canal at Waterford, will be secured. And as it is not probable, from present appearances, that the dam has sustained, or will sustain, this spring, any serious additional injury, it is the opinion of the board that it ought to be finished. … A proposition has recently been made, by responsible individuals, residing in the villages of Lansingburgh and Waterford, to complete the work for $25,000; and this proposition will be accepted, unless the legislature shall otherwise direct.
Without completing these works, all that has been done upon them will be lost; and the locks at Waterford, as well as the sloop lock and dam, will remain a perpetual memento, of the impropriety of their construction, or the folly of their abandonment. By the soundings which were taken by Mr. Jerome, during the past winter, when the water was as low as it is ordinarily in the summer, and which soundings are marked on one of the maps accompanying this report, it appears that there is five feet and one inch of water on the shallowest part of the gravel bar, called Hedges and Wicks’ shoal, which is situated about thirty-five chains below the lock. This bar, therefore, will furnish no impediment to boat navigation; and the villages of Lansingburgh and Waterford, were informed last summer that they must remove this bar, if they wished sloops to pass up in low water.
The removal of this bar, so as to give a sufficient depth of water, at all times, for sloops, may cost from two to four thousand dollars; and it is not believed that after it is once removed, it will again be formed; because the rapidity and continuity of the current will be destroyed by the dam : and the pond above it will constitute a receptacle for the alluvion, which might otherwise be swept along, and deposited in the sloop channel below.
In making this report, the canal board wish to be understood, that they interpose no objections against any collateral or additional improvements, which the wisdom or bounty of the legislature may in future prescribe, for the purposes of local accommodation; but they think it their duty to remonstrate against the appropriation of funds, or the adoption of measures, which may interfere with the prompt completion of the great work, or interrupt in any degree its continuity.
While prosecuting with unparalleled rapidity the important works committed to their charge, the canal commissioners are conscious that mistakes may have occurred. In addition to the natural obstacles to be surmounted, they have constantly had to encounter the difficulties arising from local interests, and the disappointments of individual cupidity. With a firm determination to promote the momentous interests under their superintendance, they have persevered in the performance of their duties, regardless of all improper excitements; and they have had the satisfaction to receive the support of the legislature, and to experience the confidence of the community. And whenever the period shall arrive, in which a different course shall be adopted, in relation to them, they will willingly retire, with a sincere wish, that under abler direction and more favorable auspices, the important improvements now in a train of Prosecution, may be successfully completed.
All which is respectfully submitted,
Dated 3d April, 1823.
Journal of the Senate of the State of New-York at their Forty-Sixth Session. Albany, NY: Cantine & Leake, 1823. 816-821.

Wade, William, John Disturnell, and William Croome. Wade & Croome’s Panorama of the Hudson River from New York to Waterford. New York: J. Disturnell, 1847. https://archive.org/details/ldpd_11290386_000

Detail of Lansingburgh cropped from
Wade, William, John Disturnell, and William Croome. Wade & Croome’s Panorama of the Hudson River from New York to Waterford. New York: J. Disturnell, 1847. https://archive.org/details/ldpd_11290386_000

Propagation of Fish.

A number of the leading citizens of Lansingburgh and Waterford have united in a petition to the Legislature, asking the State to erect a fishway in the Troy dam, so that fish, making their annual visit from the ocean for propagation may pass that obstruction, and again populate the waters of the upper Hudson.
Albany Evening Times. January 15, 1870: 3 col 2.

The State Dam.

The Troy Whig says the State dam at North Troy is in a very dangerous condition, and unless the repairs are completed forthwith great trouble is anticipated. An appropriation of $20,000 is necessary to complete the needed repairs, and several Troy merchants have been in correspondence with Canal Commissioner Barkley, urging the necessity of a further and immediate appropriation. It is thought that the Canal Board will take favorable action at the next meeting.
Albany Morning Express. September 22, 1873: 3 col 1.

New York icemen are seeking the upper waters of the Hudson at present in nearly as large schools as herring did before the Troy dam was built. The whole surface of the river from the base of Putnam’s Island, at Fort Edward, to the Fort Miller Falls, has been pre-empted and staked out by parties this week, who design to cut and store it by the side of the canal.
Evening Telegram [NY]. February 24, 1880: 3 col 3.