WESTERN WATERWAYS ASSOCIATION
(Specially reported for FIRS AND WATKR.)
MEMPHIS, TENN., November 17, 1899.
AFTER a successful convention here, at which about 600 delegates were present the Western Waterways association has adjourned. The convention is composed of representative men who are bent on equipping the Western waters so that transportation may be made easy, and freight rates will thereby be cheapened. The delegates represent prominent citizens from almost every walk of life. It is a thoroughly representative gathering, composed of intelligent, thinking citizens.
The convention, which assembled in the Auditorium, was opened with prayer by Kev. Dr. Davenport, of this city, and E. J. Carrington was temporary chairman. The address of welcome was delivered by Senator Thomas B. Turley, who laid great stress on the necessity for preserving and developing the great waterways of the West. Congressman E. W. Carmack briefly followed with a few more words of welcome
Senator Money,of Mississippi,in a shortspeech said he felt, a renewed assurance of the success of this great work. Twenty-two years ago he spoke in favor of the Government building the levees along the Mississippi river. He showed how the lands adjacent to the Mississippi had been flooded by overflows, and that private citizens were no longer able to cope with the floods. He said that the river and harbor bill was paramount in importance in the prosperity of the country.
Hon. T. C. Catchings, of Mississippi, concluded a speech, in which he showed that these waterways cheapened rates, by pointing out that it was often said that the people of Holland had made their State out of the ocean; but our people have done more. Holland’s work was the work of centuries; OUTH was the work of a few years. I believe (said he) that the Government should own and control these levees. We are about to sink under this burden. Should it not be the duty of the Government to come to our assistance? I hope there will be no dissensions among us on this point. It has been argued that this work would bankrupt the Treasury. It has been proved by engineers that an expcndituie of $20,000,000 would be sufficient. Without levees there can be no commerce upon this great waterway. With my colleagues, we will have tins question put to a test at the next session of Congress.
At the evening session the committee on permanent organization reported for officers of the convention as follows: President. Hon. Charles Scott, of Hosedale, Miss.; secretary, George Skene, of Memphis; assistant secretary, Frank T. Tomkins, of Washington; honorary secretary, Capt. John W. Bryant, of New Orleans; sergeant-at-arms, Jerome E Richards, of Memphis. The report further recommended that each State delegation select one of its members to be chosen vice-president of the association, which was done.
Mr George A. Anderson, of Pittsburg, after adverting to the existing prosperous doings of capital, added:
The great Mississippi valley is not only the workshop of the United States,but it is also the great producing centre. With all this production it is necessary to equip the waterways and thereby secure cheap rates of transportation. If we go on with the improvements of our waterways, we cannot begin to tell the benefit that will result to the people of the country.
Mr. Frank Wenter held that an outlet from the lakes was a necessity.
Resolutions on the absolute need of improving the Tennesse river, the Alabama rivers, and the harbor of Mobile were adopted. With respect to the last, it was shown that the lack of proper facilities for the entrance of large ships anywhere on the gulf of Mexico was painfully felt during the recent war with Spain,while it was also pointed out that by improvements on the Alabama and Tennessee rivers the greatcoaltields of these States could be opened up and coaling stations on the gulf established whereby the Government would save both time and money in supplying its warships.
On the second day of the convention the chief address was that, of L. E. Cooley, engineer in charge of the Chicago drainage canal. On that subject he said in part:
In 1820 a great engineer came to Chicago and predicted that that city would become a great metropolis His idea was to connect Chicago and New York by a canal, and Chicago and the Mississippi river by a canal. Heeven thought that by this means the trade of New York would extend along this route to the Gulf. In 1887 a convention was held at Peoria to further the canal project. Other conventions indorsed the idea Chicago is now contributing to a canal which will eventually be the property of the Government—an enterprise which now represents an investment of $35,000,000 and which, when completed. will represent $50,000,000. The canal at Chicago is 136 feet wide and thirty-six feet deep in the rock. The amount we have expended in seven years represents the amount that has already been expended by the Mississippi river commission. The general idea is to build a canal through the Chicago divide to the Illinois river that will carry 10,000 feet of water per second, and make the Illinois river navignble a distance of 227 miles to a point fortythree miles above St. Louis, The exports from tiie great lakes amount to 50,000,000 tons per year. Gentlemen, you want this commerce There will be held in Chicago a congress which will consider a logical deep waterways system The idea is to have a canal from the Atlantic to the great lakes at Chicago, and from Chicago to the Mississippi river, which will open up a waterway from the Atlantic to the Gulf.
Hon. M. J. Sanders, of New Orleans, in speaking of the Mississippi river, said that a larger channel should be made through he southwest pass to accommodate vessels that were anxious to enter and carry goods to foreign ports. He hoped the next Congress would make an appropriation for this purpose. He believed that the time would come when the products of the great Northwest would be shipped down the Mississippi river to the Gulf.
Congressman A. S. Berry, of Kentucky, said that in the United States people were but in the infancy of river improvement and should follow the policy of France, where the Government looked after all waterways.
A series of resolutions dealing with these subjects and favoring the construction by the Government of an isthmus canal connecting the waters of the gulf of Mexico with the Pacific, and the establishment of an additional department of Government, to be called tiie “ Departinentof Commerceand Industries” was adopted.
Towards the close of the session Gov. McMillin delivered an address and Cairo, Ill., was chosen as the next place of meeting, after which the convention adjourned.