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t^\ ^- SEPTEMBER 2, 1850. V . «* 


Col. S. H. LONG, Corps Topographical Engineers, 

Superintendent Western River Improvements, &c. 



Louisville, Sept. 4tli, 1850. 
Gentlemen : 

I herewith submit the Report ofCapt. H. C. Long, Chief Engineer in the employ 
of your Company, containing ample details in relation to the duties performed by 
him at and near Cairo, together with a concise and satisfactory expression of his 
views in reference to the best method of securing that position against the for- 
midable and overwhelming inundations of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. I 
have carefully and attentively perused this document, and examined the drawings 
therein referred to, and do not hesitate to signify my unqualified approval of the 
representations therein made. 

The views of Capt. L., with respect to the method of protecting the site of 
Cairo against ovei-flows, as set forth and recommended in the Report, appear 
consistent and proper, and I fully concur in the opinion, that it is better adapted 
to the exigencies of the case, and more likely to produce the beneficial results 
for which it is intended, than any other method that has been proposed, and 
probably the very best that can be devised for the same purposes. 

With respect to the future importance and magnitude of Cairo as a great com. 
mercial mart and depot, the views contained in the Report seem fully sustained 
by the nature of the position and its relations to the vast regions situated between 
the Gulf of Mexico and the Northern boundary of the United States. 

His projected plot of the City, and of its connections with the contemplated 
Western Railroad, and with the proposed City landings, are of a character to 
ensure the greatest possible convenience, and the most ample accommodations, 
for the transaction of business of all kinds, and are obviously well adapted to the 
nature and aspect of the site. 

From extensive personal examinations, my convictions with respect to the 
utility, feasibility, and efficacy of the method and plans contemplated in the Re- 
port, are so firmly established, that I do not hesitate to recommend their adop- 
tion, with full confidence in their sufficiency, if duly executed, to answer all the 
ends for which they have been designed. 

Very respectfully. Gentlemen, 

Your most ob't-serv't, 

S. H. LONG, Corps Top'l Eng's, 
Messrs. Davis & Taylor, Sup't W. R. Imp'ts, &c., &c. 

Trustees Cairo City Property, 



Louisville, Sept. 2d, 1850. 

Agreeably to instructions from the Trustees of the 
Cairo City Property, I have been directed to report, 
through you, my proceedings in reference to examina- 
tions and surveys made in conformity to your directions, 
at and near the city of Cairo. Accordingly, the nature and 
character of my operations, and the results obtained there- 
from, together with a brief exposition of ray views in rela- 
tion to the condition and prospects of Cairo, will form the 
subject of the following Report : 

My first visit to Cairo in behalf of the Company, was in 
March last, but by reason of the high stages of water then 
prevailing, my stay was restricted to a few days, and my 
examinations necessarily very limited in extent. It was, 
however, deemed of practical importance, to observe the 
influences and effects of the prevailing currents during high 
floods, occurring simultaneously in the Ohio and Mississippi 
rivers. An excellent opportunity for making these observa- 
tions, happened at the time alluded to — the results of which, 


I endeavored to present to the Trustees, in a preliminary 
report, under date of April 30, 1850. 

On the 13th of June succeeding, I again landed at Cairo, 
accompanied by a competent Field party, and immediately 
commenced the active prosecution of surveys, which are of 
the following import : 

A careful survey was made of the existing levees, to 
ascertain their relative positions, extent, present condition, 
and nature of repairs, &c., required. Commencing at the 
lower extremity of Cairo, the line was extended along the 
centre of the Missisippi Levee, in a north-westerly direction, 
to its intersection with the Mississippi river — the distance 
from place of beginning to this point, being 12,320 feet, or 
two and one-third miles. At this locality, a break or cre- 
vasse, occurs in the Mississippi Levee — the currents of the 
river having abraded the banks, and severed the connection 
between the " Mississippi Levee " and " Cross Levee " 
extending from the Ohio, which made continuous the chain 
of levees, and served for a while effectually to protect a por- 
tion of the site of Cairo from overflow. The entire extent 
of the crevasse, from the commencement of the breach to 
the Cross Levee, is 1675 feet, a Utile less than one-third of 
a mile — requiring for the renewal of the levee, on suitable 
ground, within its original locality, and of a similar construc- 
tion, a comparatively trifling expense, (as will be shown 
hereafter.) Lines were similarly extended northerly, along 
the Ohio Levee, to its connection with the Cross Levee, 
and thence, in the same manner, along and coincident with 
the Cross Levee, westerly, to the Mississippi river, or where 
its connection with the Mississippi line has been severed by 
the crevasse. From these surveys, the respec^'"^ length** 
of the levees, result as follows, viz. : 

Length of Mississippi Levee, 12,320 feet. 
« ^ " Ohio " 4,789 

" Cross " 8,670 

Extent on line of crevasse, 1,675 

Total, 27,454=5.18 miles. 

Enclosed area, 33,919,840 sq. ft., or 778.69 acres. 

These results having been obtained, a careful survey was 
made of the river shores of the Ohio and Mississippi. Along 
the Ohio, the line was extended northerly, on the Illinois 
side, as far as the town of " Trinity," mouth of Cash river ; 
the opposite, or Kentucky shore, being connected with the 
survey by a careful system of triangulations, at suitable points. 
The distance from the lower extremity of Cairo, or com- 
mencement of survey, to Cash river, was found to be 5.57 
miles. — Along the Mississippi, a similar survey was made, 
including the island opposite, till a connection was formed 
with the Mississippi Levee, at the crevasse. Another line 
was commenced on the Missouri shore, about one mile be- 
low " Ohio City," and extended upward, along the river 
bank, a distance of eight miles,, being as above, connected 
with the Illinois shore and islands of the Mississippi, by 
means of frequent and careful triangulations. These surveys 
are deemed sufficient for all present practical purposes, and 
will be better understood by reference to the accompanying 
Charts, Plans, &c. 

Drawing No. 1. — "Chart of Cairo and its Environs." 

This drawing is intended to give a general view of the 
position and configuration of the shores, islands, &C.5 at the 
confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers ; it also repre- 


sents the true geographical position of the city of Cairo ; a 
general plan of its interior arrangement with reference to 
streets, public squares, levees, railroads, &c. ; the relative 
distance and localities of '' Ohio City," the town of " Tri- 
nity," mouth of '« Cash" river, &c. The scale is 1000 
feet to one inch. The lines of survey, triangulation, &c., are 
traced in faint dotted lines, and are sufficiently apparent on 
the drawing, without a more minute description. 

Drawing JSTo 1, Fig. 2, represents on a scale often feet 
to one inch, a cross section of proposed levee, with its 
stone escarpment, &c., a full description of which will be 
given in an after part of this report. 

Drawing No. 2. — " Topographical Sketch of Cairo." 

This drawing is constructed on double the scale of No. I, 
being 500 feet to one inch ; it is consequently more minute 
in its details, representing accurately the appearance of Cairo 
at the time of the survey. The foundries, work shops, hotels, 
houses, &c., are assigned their true positions ; the proportion 
of cultivated, cleared, and timber land is accurately given ; 
the length, position, and general appearance of the levees 
are clearly defined, and in connection therewith, the true 
position and extent of the three natural ridges, extending 
across the city site. All of the topography, is the result of 
actual survey — no attempt being made at mere embellish- 
ment, and no lines or marks introduced which a careful 
attention to the natural features of the ground would not 

The line marked Crevasse, is the one to which I would 
call your particular attention, as requiring immediate consi- 
deration. At this locality the abrasion is taking place. The 



levee at this place should be repaired, or rather reconstruct- 
ed with all possible dispatch, — the distance marked is 1675 
feet, but as it is recommended to locate the new levee fur- 
ther from the river bank, (in the position given in Drawing 
No. I,) this distance will be somewhat increased — but the 
entire cost of the work is trifling, as shown in the subjoined 
estimates, and its necessity urgent. 

It may be pertinent to state in this connection, that this 
crevasse is said to have commenced in the spring of 1847, 
and has been suffered to increase since that time without any 
attempt at repairs. From 1843, the time of first completion 
of the chain of levees, to 1847, the enclosed portion of 
Cairo was secure from overfloods. The levees with all their 
imperfections having up to that time served as a complete 

Drawing Ao. 2, Fig. 2. '^ Section on Crevasse ;" scale 
vertical, 20 feet to one inch. Horizontal, 200 feet to one 
inch ; constructed from levels taken over natural surfaces, 
showing the amount of embankment necessary to bring the 
repairs of crevasse to level of Mississippi Levee; also show- 
ing the height of Mississippi and cross levee above water sur- 
face at time of surveys. 

Drawing No. 3. — Plot of the City op Cairo, 

Scale 500 feet to 1 inch. 

This drawing gives a plan of the city on a larger scale and 
more in detail than represented on Chart No. 1. The blocks 
generally are 420 feet square, inclusive of two 20-feet alleys 
intersecting each block at right angles. The streets are 60 
feet in width, with the exception of the avenues, which are 
120 feet wide. From a careful study of the nature of the 



city site, and a comparison of most approved plans, tiiis is 
considered the best arrangement that can be offered in point 
of economy of room, convenience for business purposes, 
perfect ventilation and drainage. From the direction given 
to the principal streets and avenues, they will generally com- 
mand a fine breeze, which, during a great proportion of the 
year prevails from the south and west. The blocks desig- 
nated by circles, are recommended as suitable positions for 
public squares. A commodious park may be obtained at the 
point, marked on the Plot " Crescent Park," by extending 
the line as shown on the drawing, and reclaiming a valuable 
portion of land, now entirely useless. 

It is contemplated to introduce along the line of Com- 
mercial Avenue, a railroad track, which will pass north- 
erly from the lower extremity of Cairo to a connection 
with the Great Western Railroad of Illinois — the depot being 
located at the intersection of this avenue with "Adams 
Avenue" on the triangular block marked on the Plot *' Main 
Railroad Depot." Other connections can be made with the 
Western Railroad, as distinctly shown in Chart No. 1, giving 
to this city incalculable facilities of communication with the 
interior of the State of Illinois. 

The works required in order to prevent the recurrence of 
the evils occasioned by the crevasse, and to afford a more 
perfect protection against overflows than they have heretofore 
imparted, are as follows, viz. : 

First, An increased elevation of the Ohio Le- 
vee, by which its summit will be raised to the ave- 
rage height of about 18 inches above its present 
level. Estimate — 6,000 cubic yards, at 15 cts. $900 00 

Four Culverts or Sewers of Masonry, leading 
through the Ohio Levee, and respectively fur- 


nished with self-acting stop gates of cast iron, for 

draining the site. Probable Cost, g 1 50 each, $600 00 

1500 00 

N. B. The culverts should be large enough to admit 
gales at least 2 feet square, hung in frames of cast iron, and 
adjusted in such a manner as to act spontaneously in dis- 
charging water from the site, and preventing the ingress of 
flood water. Their position in the levee should be low 
enough to effect a drainage from the lowest portions of the 
site, and their extent such as would be needful to convey the 
water from the inside of the levee entirely through the em- 
bankment, quite to the margin of the Ohio. 

The subject of drainage will be discussed in a future re- 
port, in connection with which, plans, profiles, specifications, 
&c., will be given in detail. 

Second. An elevation of the Mississippi Levee, 
similar to that of the Ohio Levee. Estimate — 7,500 
cubic yards, at 15 cents, - - $1,125 00 

Third. The formation of a new levee, connecting the 
Mississippi Levee with the Cross Levee, at points about one 
hundred and fifty yards from the present margin of the Mis- 
sissippi river, and parallel thereto. This work being in- 
tended to prevent the ingress of high water across the line 
of Crevasse. Estimate, 21,000 cubic yards, 
at 15 cents, - - - - §3,150 00 

Clearing and grubbing 300 square rods, at 50 c. 150 00 

$3,300 00 

Fourth, An enlargement and increased elevation of the 
Cross Levee, by which its summit will be increased to the 


width of ten feet, and its height to an average of 2 feet above 

its present elevation. Estimate, — 20,500 cubic 

yards, at 15 c. - - - - $3,075 00 



Estimate No. 1, - - - $1,500 00 

'< «' 2, ... 1,125 00 

'« «' 3, - - - 3,300 00 

" '' 4, - - - 3,075 00 

Superintending, Contingencies, &.c. - 1,000 00 

Amount, - - 10,000 00 

It should be distinctly understood, that the above esti- 
mates apply merely to repairs of the Crevasse and existing 
levees, these repairs are deemed of vital importance, and re- 
quire immediate attention. It is believed that the expendi- 
tures above contemplated, will place Cairo in comparative 
security, and may serve as an efficient protection from inun- 
dation for many years, at any rate, till works on a more ex- 
tended and permanent scale shall have been commenced and 

We proceed now to take a more general view of the sub- 
ject under consideration, and treat of improvements on an 
enlarged scale, the execution of which, the commercial 
centrality and great natural advantages of Cairo will cer- 
tainly warrant. 

The geographical position of Cairo, its relations to the 
extensive and fertile regions drained by the Mississippi, its 
wide-spreading tributaries, and its centrality, eligiblity and 
importance as the future emporium of the " Great West," 
have been ably set forth and described in a variety of me- 


moirs, geographical reports, and other descriptive represent- 
ations published by and in behalf of the Cairo City and Canal 

The publications alluded to, so far as they relate to the 
general character, condition, and prospects of Cairo, and to 
the physical resources of a large extent of surrounding coun- 
try, appear well authenticated, and are highly interesting and 
instructive ; — but with respect to the particular features of 
Cairo ; the peculiarities of its substratum, structure, and sur- 
face ; the depth of its inundations ; the means of protecting 
it against the encroachments of floods ; the characters of the 
mighty rivers by which it is peninsulated ; — the changes and 
abrasions of the formidable Mississippi ; the positions of the 
shores, islands, bars and channels of this river, in the vicinity 
of Cairo. The information furnished as above is to be re- 
garded as inadequate and defective in many respects. 

Leaving the deficiencies just intimated to be inferred from 
the representations already made and hereafter to be set forth 
in this report, T shall proceed at once to a consideration of 
the locality selected as the site of Cairo, — of the circumstan- 
ces affecting its eligibity as a town site ; and of the means 
required to secure it against the devastations to which it is 
exposed from excessive floods of the Ohio and Mississippi 

The entire peninsula and isthmus constituting the site of 
Cairo, are composed of alluvial deposits of gravel, sand and 
soil, in successive layers, one above another, the entire space 
occupied by them having once been tenanted by the united 
volumes of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. 

Since no alluvial deposites could ever be made at points 
more elevated than the surface of the highest flood, it is 


manifest, that all parts, even the highest, of the Cairo Delta, 
have at some period more or less remote, been covered by 
water, and that such an event might have occurred on the 
occasion of equally excessive freshets prevailing in both rivers 
at the same time, and that a siniilar occurrence may again 
take place. 

In substance and consistency the ground of Cairo is pre- 
cisely similar to the alluvium composing the bottom lands of 
the Lower Mississippi, the entire masses in both cases hav- 
ing been conveyed to their present localities by the agency 
of water currents, and in both cases being alike exposed to 
displacement and removal, by a similar agency. Hence 
doubts may fairly be entertained with respect to the stability 
and permanency of the site on which Cairo has been found- 

Having been duly and deeply impressed with the import- 
ance of this question, my attention and enquiries have been 
anxiously and earnestly directed to a solution favorable to the 
cause in which the Company have embarked. The results 
at which I have been able to arrive, are conclusive and satis- 
factory to myself, and I trust will prove equally so to the 

Of these results I shall attempt a very brief recital, in con- 
nection with a description, which I shall endeavor to make 

* Cairo, in many respects, cannot but be considered a far more eligible and 
•afe point for the expenditure of capital than New Orleans, — its natural security 
and advantages against the encroachments of high water are unquestionably 
greater. At New Orleans, the levees must extend and be preserved for hundreds 
of miles ; at Cairo, their utmost limit cannot exceed about fifteen miles on the 
Ohio shore, and about twenty miles on the Mississippi shore — being terminated 
at those distances by abrupt barriers of rock rising many feet above the highest 
floods — while for all present practical purposes, a levee of four miles on the 
Miasissippi river and three on the Ohio, will prove amply sufficient. 


as clear and intelligible as practicable, of the method I pro- 
pose to adopt for the attainment of the object in view, viz. : 
the protection of Cairo from abrasions, encroachments, and 
overflows of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. 

The method in question contemplates the formation of a 
levee, dike or embankment, (see Drawing No. I, fig. 2,) 
stretching along the shore of the Mississippi, at the distance of 
100 or 150 yards therefrom, and as nearly as practicable and 
convenient, parallel to the same. The summit width pro- 
posed for the embankment, is 20 feet, and its basal width, 
such as would result from outward slopes on both sides, de- 
clining at the rate of 1 to 1^. The height of the embank- 
m.ent above the natural surface of the ground, will vary from 
I to I 2 feet, its average height being about 8 feet. An ave- 
rage transverse section of the embankment will contain 256 
square feet. Hence each foot of its length will contain 256 
cubic feet, lOj perches, or 9^ cubic yards, nearly. The 
cost of the embankment, estimated at 15 cents per cubic 
yard, will be ^^1.42 for every lineal foot of its length. 

Immediately at the foot of the exterior slope of the em- 
bankment, and between the same and the river, it is proposed 
to form a broad ditch or fosse, its bottom slope declining 
from the foot of the embankment slope at a rate not less than 
1 in l^, and terminated outwardly by an abrupt breast cut 
from the natural surface downward till it meets the bottom 
slope, thus forming a transverse section of the ditch in the 
shape of a right angled triangle. The cubic contents of the 
ditch which are expected to be employed in forming the 
embankment, will of course be equal to those of the latter, 
viz., 9J cubic yards to the lineal foot in the length of the 
ditch. Hence the quantities of excavation and embankment 
will be respectively equal, the one to the other. 


The method moreover contemplates the replenishing of 
the ditch with fragments of stone, to the full size and ex- 
tent of the excavation, and in addition thereto, the formation 
of a stone dike or escarpment, rising from the natural surface 
to a level with the summit of the embankment, and reclining 
against the exterior slope of the latter. The quantity of stone 
thus added, should be equal at least to that filling the ditch, 
making the total quantity of stone accumulated equal to twice 
the solid contents of the embankment, viz. 19 cubic yards, 
or about 20h perches of 25 cubic feet each, for every foot 
in length of the stone dike. The stone required for this 
purpose, may probably be procured and deposited in the 
ditch at a cost not exceeding $1 per perch, or $20.50 per 
lineal foot. Hence, the aggregate cost of the embankment, 
ditch, and stone dike, all things included, will not be likely to 
exceed $22 per foot, for every foot of their length, which is 
even less than the price per foot front, of out lots, or of the 
paving of a single street in some parts of New York, Boston, 
Philadelphia, and other cities of the United States. 

It is proposed that these several works, viz. the embank- 
ment, the ditch, and the stone dike, be extended along the 
shore ol the Mississippi^ from the point of junction of that 
river with the Ohio, to the most northerly limit of Cairo, the 
distance being about six and a half miles (see drawing No. 1 ,) 
and thence in a direction to, and on the route of the pro- 
jected Western Railroad, 9 or 10 miles farther to the base 
of the river hills on the northerly side of Cash river, thus 
forming a broad levee rising above the reach of the highest 
flood, and a barrier impervious and insurmountable to the 
highest freshet, and protecting the entire peninsula and isth- 
mus against the overflows and encroachments of the Missis- 


With respect to the progress and extent of the stone work, 
however, it should be observed, that they may be regulated 
and limited in conformity to the distances maintained between 
the shore of the Mississippi and the line of the stone dike, 
and in such a manner, that this part of the works shall be 
fully completed and ready to impart the protection for which 
it is intended, whenever and wherever those distances shall 
have been reduced to an extent less than 100 yards. Never- 
theless, the prosecution of the stone work may with propriety 
be kept constantly in progress towards a full and final com- 
pletion, throughout the entire length of the embankment ; for 
there certainly exists a possibility, if not a probability, 
that every part of its line, will, sooner or later, be assailed by 
the force and fury of Mississippi floods, as formidable as the 
greatest and most violent as ever occurred in that river. 

' The utility and propriety of so large an accumulation of 
stone disposed of in the manner above contemplated, may 
readily be inferred from the following brief considerations : 

It is well known, that a river flowing between alluvial 
banks and over an alluvial bottom, which is true of the 
Mississippi, has a tendency to assume and pursue a serpen- 
tine course, which becomes more and more devious and 
crooked, in proportion to the force of its currents and the 
yielding character of its banks. 

The stronger currents flow in the vicinity of the concave 
shores, and produce abrasions thereat, the abraded mate- 
rials being conveyed downward and deposited on the convex 
shore next below each sinuosity. The deposites thus made, 
serve to check the flow of water along the convex shores, 
and at the same time contribute to throw the currents more 
directly across the general course of the river, more forcibly 

against the concave shore on the other side of the river, and 



in a direction to strike the latter at points higher upward. 
Hence it results that the sinuosities and the abrasions thereat 
are never stationary for any considerable time, but are con- 
stantly travelling upwards as well as outward. 

Some twelve or fifteen years years ago, the configuration 
of the Mississippi shores at and above Cairo, was such, that 
the main high water currents set strongly against the westerly 
margin of the town site, and produced deep and extensive 
abrasions thereat ; a small island situated near the shore was 
entirely demolished ; a portion of the point two or three hun- 
dred yards wide was swept away, and a deep channel com- 
municating with the Ohio, was opened in the immediate vi- 
cinity of the point. Subsequently, changes have occurred 
in the configuration of the shores and in the directions of the 
currents, to such an extent, and of such varieties, that the 
channel at the point has been blocked up by deposites, the 
abrasions thereat have ceased, and instead of a concave, a 
convex shore has been substituted. The abrasions have tra- 
velled upward along the Cairo shore, through a distance of 
about three miles, and are now in progress at that distance 
above the point. Through an equal distance above the po- 
sition last indicated, 'the shore is concave, and liable to abra- 
sions in all high water stages. These abrasions if not sea- 
sonably arrested, threaten deep and extensive encroach- 
ments upon the site of Cairo, which may be carried to such 
an extent, that the isthmus joining the peninsula to the 
main land, may sooner or lately be entirely demolished, and 
the Ohio and Mississippi have their junction at or near the 
mouth of Cash river, leaving the town site a mere island of 
sand and clay. 

The object of the stone work, is to prevent a catastrophe 
so baneful to the prospects of Cairo, and to protect the 


fentire town site against the devastation and ruin to which 
every part of it may sooner or later be exposed. The 
benefits expected to result from this work, relate not merely 
to a temporary, but to a perpetual protection of the entire 
site ; while its utility and efficacy are expected to be deve- 
loped in the following manner. 

In case the abrasions should approach and undermine the 
ditch at any point (see drawing, No. 1, tig. No. 2,) the stone 
deposited therein would spontaneously and immediately be 
precipitated into the eroded cavities, and serve to check and 
intercept the progress of the abrasions. Should the stone, 
thus precipitated, prove inadequate to produce the desired 
effect, the deficiency may readily be supplied by fresh de- 
positions to the full extent required, not only to fill the cavi- 
ties however frequent or capacious, and form an indestruct- 
able rampart, but to repair the breaches made in the dike by 
the subsidence of the stone of which it is composed. 

It has been satisfactorily proved at St. Louis, and other 
points, both on the Mississippi and Ohio, that fragments of 
stone unmixed with other substances, form the most stable, 
efficient and permanent barriers to resist the encroachments 
and undermining influences of river currents, that can be 
employed for such purposes. Hence stone work of the de- 
scription herein contemplated, which is precisely similar in 
structure to the works just referred to, is confidently recom- 
mended, not only as the surest and most effectual, but as the 
most expeditious and economical means that can be adopted 
and applied for the attainment of the end in view. 

Stone work of a similar character and construction has 
been found adequate to withstand, and effectually resist, 
even the surges of the ocean billows, as has been repeatedly 
exemphfied by sea walls, break waters, &.c., on the coasts of 


uie United States, Great Britain, and other countries. Of 
course, the ability of such a structure to withstand the abra- 
sions of the Mississippi currents, cannot admit of a reason- 
able doubt. 

The shore of the Mississippi contiguous to Cairo, and for 
thirty miles above, on the same side of the river, presents no 
favorable, and but very few practicable landings, at any stage 
of the river. Such facilities are every where prevented, 
either by the undermining and falling of the banks, and trees 
growing thereon, or by the accumulation of sand and other 
substances brought down from above and deposited near the 
shore. No expectation is entertained that these evils will 
ever be so far remedied by the stone work herein proposed, 
that commodious landings may ever be rendered practicable 
by its construction. 

The method, thus far discussed, has for its main object 
the protection of Cairo against the abrasions and overflows 
of the Mississippi, a similar protection with reference to the 
overflows of the Ohio (the abrasive powers of this river being 
too slight, and inconsiderable to deserve particular attention) 
remains to be considered. 

An earthen embankment of a height and magnitude equal 
to those of the Mississippi embankment already described, 
is proposed to be reared and extended along the shore of the 
Ohio, to any extent hereafter to be determined upon, as the 
length of the river front on the Ohio side of the town. From 
the summit of this embankment, downward to the low water 
margin of the river, it is proposed to form an escarpment 
paved with stone after the manner of city landings on the 
Western rivers, declining from the summit in a slope of 1 to 
6, and serving as landings for the entire site. The shore of 
the Ohio is remarkably favorable for this purpose, while the 


channel ot the river in the vicinity of the shore is sufficiently 
deep and commodious, in all respects, for the accommoda- 
tion of steamers of all classes. 

The contents and cost of the embankment, will be esti- 
mated as before, viz., 9J cubic yards, at 15 cents per yard, 
giving Jl.42 for every lineal foot of its length. 

The pavement of the escarpment will contain 9J perches 
for each foot of its length, which, at $1.25 per perch, when 
properly laid, will give per foot of its length, $12.20 nearly, 
making the entire cost of the embankment and its pavement 
complete, $13.62 for every foot of their length. 

The Illinois shore of the Ohio from Cairo upward through 
a distance of six or seven miles, presents a curvature con- 
cave to the river, and remarkable for its regularity, with a 
flexture corresponding to the radius of about four miles. — 
Through the whole extent of the curve, the shore is abrupt 
and bold, and boats of considerable draft may pass in its im- 
mediate vicinity. The current along the shore is quite mo- 
derate, and no where produces any considerable abrasions. 
No part of the river affords better opportunities for landing, 
especially in low water, than those presented, through the 
whole extent of this concave shore. 

A question here arises as to the source whence the vast 
quantity of stone required for the stone dike, the stone pave- 
ment and building stone required for other city purposes, 
can be obtained, and to the means of carrying the same to 
the site ? A satisfactory answer to this question may be 
readily found, and rendered as follows. 

In the Ohio river, 17 miles above its mouth, is a rocky 
bar, extending entirely across the bed of the river. This 
bar is called the Grand Chain of the Ohio. This ledge or 


reef of rocks trends westerly across the entire pointer tongue 
of land situated between the Ohio and Mississippi, and pre- 
sents itself again on the latter river at Commerce, 28 miles 
by the river above Cairo, where it is denominated the Big 
and Little Chain of the Mississippi. These rocks belong to 
the lower, if not the lowest order of carblniferous sand stones. 
The rock is firm, compact and substantial, and weighs about 
150 lbs. to the cubic foot. It constitutes the body and basis 
of the river hills, which present themselves along the line of 
its course, as before designated, and are continued indefinitely 
in the same direction eastward of the Ohio, and westvyard 
of the Mississippi. This rock has been extensively employ- 
ed in the erection of buildings, and found well adapted for 
that use. 

The distance from Cairo to the Grand Chain of the Ohio 
in a right line, is about 16 miles ! from Cairo to the Big 
Chain of the Mississippi about 18 miles ; and from Cairo to 
Unity, in Illinois, and other intermediate points at the foot 
of the river hills, about 15 miles. The point at which the 
contemplated Western Railroad reaches the river hills, a 
little eastward of Unity, is about the same distance from 
Cairo. In the vicinity of the place last mentioned, building 
stone of a good quality is said to be abundant. 

The most certain, expeditious, and economical mode of 
conveying the stone from these localities to Cairo, is undoubt- 
edly that afforded by means of a railroad, with suitable 
branches connecting it with the quarries at one end, and 
with the points at which the stone is to be deposited at the 
other end. The apparatus for the transportation of the stone 
on those railways, should consist of a locomotive and tender 
of 10 or 12 tons weight, and two trains of dumping cars of the 
most approved construction, and of a capacity and strength 


adequate to the conveyance of four or five perches in each 

The Western Railroad, which is expected to cross the 
line or range of rocks above considered, may be employed 
with convenience and to great advantage for the conveyance 
of stone through most of the distance, from the quarries to 
the places where it is to be deposited ; on arriving at the north- 
erly margin of Cairo, the main stem of the road should be 
deflected (see drawing. No. I,) and pursue a direction coin- 
cident with that of the Ohio embankment, quite to the lower 
extremity of Cairo. From the point of deflection just men- 
tioned, a branch railway may be conducted along the summit 
of the Mississippi embankment, and unite again with the main 
stem at the lower extremity of the town site — other branches, 
leading from the main stem, or from the branch last men- 
tioned, in any direction, and to any point where stone, or 
other materials, are required for building or other purposes, 
may readily be formed, as occasion may require. With such 
facilities for the conveyance of stone, the locomotive and 
trains may readily perform two or three double trips daily, 
from Cairo to the quarries, and return, travelling outward 
with an empty train, and returning with a train loaded with 
100 perches of stone for every return trip. 

The expense of quarrying and loading the stone, would 
not exceed 75 cents per perch, while that of conveying and 
depositing the same, all things included, may be done for 25 
cents per perch; making the entire cost of quarrying and de- 
livering the stone one dollar per perch only. 

That portion of Cairo bounded, enclosed and protected by 
the proposed Mississippi embankment, the lower part of the 
Ohio embankment, and the embankment of the proposed 
Western Railroad, embraces pn arp^ r.^^Ko..,t i^nOaro-es, with 


facilities for landing about one mile in extent on the Ohio. 
The site may be expanded to any desirable magnitude. By 
prolonging the Mississippi embankment upward along ihe line 
of the railroad to the base of the fliver Hills, and fortifying 
it with stone-work in the manner heretofore proposed ; — by 
extending the Ohio embankment and its paved escarpment 
upward to Cash river, and by running a cross levee or em- 
bankment thence to the railroad, at right angles to the latter*, 
the area thus enclosed and protected, would contain 3,200 
acres, and the extent of the landings increased to about five 
and a half miles along the Ohio. 

The aggregate extent of steam navigation within the region 
drained by the Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, and their tribu- 
taries, is estimated at about 14,000 miles. The present po- 
pulation of the same region, is estimated at about 8,000,000 
of inhabitants. The number of steamers now employed in 
the commerce of the same is about 500. Of these there are 
no less than about 288 arrivals and departures at Cairo every 
month, or 3,456 annually. 

The same region is capable of subsisting more than a hun- 
dred millions of inhabitants, requiring not less than 5000 
steamers in the prosecution of their trade and commerce, 
and giving for the number of arrivals and departures at Cairo 
at least 28,000 monthly, or 336,000 annually. 

To the business thus centering at Cairo, must be added a 
vast and incalculable amount to be brought to the same point, 
by a system of Railroads now in progress, and soon to be 
connected at the same point. These consist of a main stem 
Railroad from Mobile, northward to Cairo, and to be con- 
tinued thence, in the same direction, connecting by cross 
Railroad with Springfield (the capitol of Illinois,) and Peru, 
(the termination of the Illinois and Michigan Canal,) to 
Chicago, Galena, &c. 


The Mobile and Cairo Railroad is to receive a branch 
from New Orleans, and to be connected with the Railroads 
already constructed, throughout the entire distance from 
Charleston and Savannah, *to the Tennessee river, and in 
progress thence in a direction to unite with the Railroad 
from Mobile, at or near Cairo. 

Hence, the destinies that await Cairo, are commanding 
and magnificent in a high degree, and are to be regarded as 
the strongest possible inducements to the adoption of the 
method most conducive to the effectual and permanent pro- 
tection of its site from the ravages and desolations of river 

With such prospects in vievV, and such powerful induce- 
ments to make ample provision for the growth, enlargement, 
and security of the great commercial depot demanded at 
Cairo by the future exigencies of commerce — it is obviously 
desirable and proper, that efforts should be used, and means 
applied, as speedily as practicable, for the accomplishment of 
the purposes, and the attainment of the ends herein contem- 
plated. In the achievement of these objects, Cairo may be 
expected to increase in population and wealth, unsurpassed, 
if not unequalled, by those of any other city in the world. 

With the requisite meaps duly and seasonably applied, on 
a comparatively moderate scale, the accomplishment of such 
results may reasonably be anticipated, and even verified, 
within the lapse of a few years, should our glorious Union 
be preserved, and our National enterprise continue to bud, 
blossom and bear fruit, as in times past. 

I have the honor to be, Sir, 
Very respectfully, 

Your most ob't serv't. 
Col. S. H. Long, HENRY C. LONG, 

U. S. Top' I Engineer, Chief Engineer. 

Sup't Western R. Improvements, &c., 


N. B. Since the date of this Report, Congress has donated Lands to aid 
in the completion of the Central Railroad from Cairo to the Illinois and Michi- 
gan Canal, with branches to Galena and Chicago. The Grant of Land is 
equal to six alternate sections in width on the whole length of the Road and 
branches, which secures the immediate commencement and rapid completion 
of the Road. 

Congress also donated in the same Bill an equal quantity of Land, to aid 
in the construction of a Railroad from Cairo to Mobile, a part of which is 
now under contract. When these two great Lines of Railroad are completed, 
with others now in progress, a direct Railroad connection will be effected, as 
follows, viz.:— 



Between Cairo and Mobile, 


Between Cairo 

and Buffalo, 33 



New Orleans, 26 



IndianapoUs, 12 







Columbus, 19 







Wheeling, 24 







Pittsburgh, 26 







Baltimore, 36 



St. Louis, 




Philadelphia, 38 







New York, 42 







Boston, 52 







Portland, 56 







Pensacola, 22 





Time estimated at the average 

rate of 2 

S miles 



H. C. L.