/ - The Navigation of the Northv/ast Branch of the Anacostia Kiver The source of the North." est branch is one half ir.il e southeast of Bnrnt Mills, rt -f lore in a ;-outhaasterly direction for about three and one half miles, passes about one eighth of a nil a soutirv^st of Biggs Mill, then turns south for about ona half mile pacing one mil a to the wast of the ITnivarRit-/- of Maryland, it then turns and flows southwest for a mile and a half, where it is joined by the Sligo branch one mile southeast of Chillum. At this po«nt It turns southeast again in v/hich diraction it flows for a distance of two miles. It crosses the Baltimore and Ohio railroad between h'/atts villa and Mt. Rainier, and flows on until it joins the Anacostia river at a point about midway between Ryattsville and Sladensburg. The Anacostia then flows on in a ganeral wo.ithaasterly direction, crosses the Washington Baltimore boulevard b^twean Bladensburer and Cottage City, flows on do-n, passing beneath the Bennings bridge, the Pennsylvania railroad bridge, and the Anacostia bridge, flows past? the Navy Yard and than Joins the Potomac river dov:n by Gieeboro Point. Besides tue Northwest branch* the Anacostia river is fad by the Beaver nam branch* and the Easter ns or as it is sometimes cull ad. tha Nortneastern branch. Tn 1791 the channel of 'the Anacostia river was 2- suparior to that of the Potomac, in fact the Anacostia was the only- body of water on which vessels of large draft could reach trie snores of the proposed city of Washington close enough to land goods on temporary wharves. Thus we sea that at this early date the Anacostia river, or Eastern V. ranch ■x it was than called, was considered of vary ;:raat importance. En a 1 attar written to George Washington in l79l t f, f Enf antfthe engineer who laid out the city of Washington), said; "T^e harbor of the Anacostia river is in every respect to b3 preferred to that of the Potomae, Vain?; less impeded with ice, and never so swelled by freshets* He said; "The channel if deeper and will admit any vessel that may pass over the shallows down below! and vessels may be moored to wharves, while they must remain a half mile off from the bant of the Potomac, because the main channel b^ars from the entrance to the Anacostia immediately over to the Virginia shore, and continues up on that side until it reaches Georgetown; where the good navigation endsT it In a report entitled, A Survey of the Eastern Branch of the Potomac, f AnaooHtia Klverj written in 1891. addressed to General flaseyf Chief of Engineers, from Colonel Hains, the conditions ware set forth as follows. From the mouth of the river' to the Navy Yard* the stream was wide and the 3hannel though eighteen fact deep, was narrow and orooiced; 3.- so crooked in fact tliat a vessel one hundred and fifty to t" r o hnndrad faet Inns, and. drawing fifteen feet of water could scarcely navigate it. On the Bonth side of the deep channel, there were larra areas of shoal water or flats. Above the Navy Yard, the river narrow ad until the average . width was about twelve hundred feet, witn a ehannel depth of thirteen feat. .This continued up as far as the Pennsylvania railroad bridge, prom this point up to the gainings bridge, the channel was not lees than six faet deep and aueh of the way it was nine or ten feet at low tide, Between the farmings bridge and Eladensburg, the stream benar.e very narrow, with a depth of less than six feet, and T.ost of it lass than three feet. Accordingly to the Geological Survey of Prince Georges county in 1911. the river had shoaled considerably, and navigation was restricted at that time to very sho ft distances from the junction of the anacostla river with th» Potornao. It stated that the rivar was not navigable above the bridge between the Navy Yard and Anacostia. Til a Coast Pilot issued by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1916, said that from the mouth of the river up to the wavy Yard, there was a twenty foot channel, from the Navy Yard to the Pennsylvania railroad bridge there was a fourteen foot channel, and tnat the rivar up as far as Bladensburg was navigable for small boatN and lighters. All of these ftt at arrant s seem to contradict each other, for first one savs it 1b navigable up to a certain point* and then another says it is navirahle up to a different point t and yet another one comes in and says something else. [t am at "be remembered however, that the river bed is continually changing. tt is baing constantly being filled in by the deposits of silt, and then again it is being improved all the time, xn fact, hardly a Congress oonvenes but some bill is introduced providing for tne improvement of the Anaeostia river. Colonel Hains, in his first report which T have mentioned above, advocated considerable improvement of the river. The principal reason ha gave for its improvement, v/as that there might be an easy access to the Navy Yard for warships in time of war. He also advocated improving tne flats, or snoale, on the soutn side of the river, in order to increase the wharfage ares of the city, and at the same time as a sanitary precaution; i'or the flats, partially covered as they were with fermenting sewage, and a ranic growth of marsh grass, wer^ great br ceding placet* for the malarial mosquito. Lionel Allen's armimants for the improvement of the river In 189a, were praotioally the same as thosd of Colonel Hains in 1891. However, although the river was navigable at that time up as far ai> gladem/burs:. his proposed project was only for improving that part of the river which was below the Pi st riot Line. J- Then attain in 1911 a "bill was brought up* for tha p rotation of the interests of tha United States In lands and waters comprising an/ part of tha Anacostia river and lands n adjacent tharato. This bill provided for tha imp ro vacant of the channel, and the betterment of the sanitary conditions of tha flats* but to do this the government would have had to obtain all the land adjoining tha river and flats. This ■ would have bean a hard thing to do t as in a good man/ oases tha titles wara in ouch a ohaotio condition that it was praotloallv impossible to trace tham out. Cons-enuently the bill was defeated. As to whether tha Northwest branch was ever navigable or not. I a™ unable to say. I was unable to find any infor- mation on this point in the Congressional Library, nor was I able to find ©lit fro™ the United Stater- Coast and Geodetio Survey, a history of Prince Georges county states* that at the time the county was founded; there were settlements ale rig the Anacostia river in the vicinity of Hyattsville and sladensburg, and at< far up the Northwest branch as the present Montgomery oountv line. This might be taKen as an indication that^the Northwest branch was navigable. This history states also that tha river bed is gradually being filled in with material brought down by its headwaters, and since the a alt lament of this ration tha river has shown an appreciable amount of shoal- ing. This may readily be appreciated, when it is known that the Northwest branch alone carries down relatively twenty times as much silt as the. Potomac* and that <*// the tributaries of the Anacostia together, deposit thrae hundred and forty three tons of silt per day. At this rate then, it would not take v^ry lon^ foer a navigable rtraam to fiV up, if it were not dredged out, and the river, as far as [ have been able to find out, has never, in reoent years at anv rate, been improved above the District i.ine. Thus wa see, although it may never have bean navigable, it was at one time very much deeper than it is at present.