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OLD RIVER. TEX.
THE SECRETARY OF WAR,
WITH A LETTER FROM THE CHIEF OF ENGINEERS, REPORT ON
PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION OF OLD RIVER, CHAMBERS COUNTY, TEX.
OCTOBER 27, 1919.-Referred to the Committee on Rivers and Harbors and
ordered to be printed, with illustration.
Washington, October 24, 1919. The SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith a letter from the Chief of Engineers, United States Army, of 22d instant, together with report of Col. Spencer Cosby, Corps of Engineers, dated May 27, 1919, with map, on a preliminary examination of Old River, Chambers County, Tex., authorized by the river and harbor act approved August 8, 1917. Very respectfully.
NEWTON D. BAKER,
Secretary of War.
Washington, October 22, 1919.
1. There is submitted herewith, for transmission to Congress, report dated May 27, 1919, with map, by Col. Spencer Cosby, Engineers, on preliminary examination of Old River, Chambers County, Tex., authorized by the river and harbor act approved August 8, 1917.
2. Old River rises in the southwest corner of Liberty County, Tex., and empties into the Trinity River about 2 miles above the head of its delta. The navigable length of the stream is about 21 miles, with a controlling depth of about 2 feet at mean low water. At a point
15 miles above the mouth the Old River Rice & Irrigation Co. has constructed a crude dam, provided with a small lock, for the purpose of impounding fresh water for use in connection with rice irrigation. The improvement apparently desired is a channel with a minimum depth of 5 feet at mean low tide across Old River Lake, through which the river flows, with a ruling depth of 2 feet. Below the lake the ruling depth is about 9 feet, while above the lake the ruling depth is about 3.8 feet. In the latter section the river is narrow and obstructed by numerous snags and overhanging trees. The commerce reported by local interests amounts to about 8,000 tons, much of which is now handled by way of Cedar Bayou, which is about 8 miles west of Old River. Little interest has been manifested in the improvement by those who apparently should be most concerned. The district engineer is of opinion that Old River, Tex., is not worthy of improvement at this time. The division engineer is in accord with this view.
3. This report has been referred, as required by law, to the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors, and attention is invited to its report herewith, dated August 12, 1919, concurring in the views of the district and division engineers.
4. After due consideration of the above-mentioned reports, I concur in the views of the district and division engineers and of the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors, and therefore report that the improvement by the United States of Old River, Chambers County, Tex., is not deemed advisable at the present time.
W. M. BLACK,
REPORT OF THE BOARD OF ENGINEERS FOR RIVERS AND HARBORS.
August 12, 1919. The CHIEF OF ENGINEERS, UNITED STATES ARMY:
1. The following is in review of the district engineer's report authorized by the river and harbor act of August 8, 1917, on preliminary examination of Old River, Chambers County, Tex.
2. Old River rises in Liberty County, Tex., flows in a general southerly direction and empties into the Trinity River about 2 miles above the delta. It has a navigable length of about 21 miles and a ruling depth of about 2 feet at mean low tide, this depth being in Old River Lake, which is about 34 miles long and three-fourths of a mile wide. The lower end of the lake is about 2 miles above the mouth of the river. Below the lake, the controlling depth is about 9 feet and above the lake about 3.8 feet with stretches having depths of from 6 to 11 feet. The lands through which the river flows are fertile, and are used for rice growing, general farming, cattle and hog raising. The only settlement of any importance on the stream is the village of Cove, with a population of 200, situated at the head of the lake. At a point 94 miles above the lake, the Old River Rice & Irrigation Co. has constructed a crude dam, provided with a small lock, for the purpose of impounding fresh water for use in connection with rice irrigation.
3. The only commercial statistics available were furnished by local interests and have not been verified. From these, it appears that the total commerce amounts to about 8,000 tons, having a value of $205,810, of which more that half is lumber. The improvement desired is a channel through the lake section having a depth of 5 feet at mean low water. Such a channel would require dredging for a distance of about 34 miles, and some work of snagging and cutting of overhanging trees would be required at other points. The district engineer reports that those apparently most interested in this improvement failed to show any concern when the matter was brought to their attention. In view of this lack of interest, of the small number of people near the stream, of the fact that Old River lies between and not a great distance from Trinity River and Cedar Bayou, both of which are navigable, the district engineer is of opinion, concurred in by the division engineer, that this stream is not worthy of improvement at this time.
4. Those thought to be interested in this subject were informed of the tenor of the district engineer's report and invited to submit statements and arguments to the board, but no communications on the subject have been received.
5. This is a small stream flowing through a rather sparsely settled country in close proximity to two navigable waterways which, in connection with land transportation, are now used in handling the greater part of the incoming and outgoing commerce of this section of the country. Little interest has been displayed in the improvenient and a study of the physical and commercial situation leads to the belief that if the river were improved, the amount of commerce would still be small and insufficient to justify the expense involved. The board, therefore, concurs with the district and division engineers in the opinion that it is not advisable for the United States to undertake the improvement of Old River, Tex., at this time.
6. In compliance with law, the board reports that there are no questions of terminal facilities, water power, or other related subjects which could be coordinated with the suggested improvement in such manner as to render the work advisable in the interests of commerce and navigation. For the board :
PETER C. HAINS,
Senior Member of the Board.
PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION OF OLD RIVER, TEX.
Galveston, Tex., May 27, 1919.
(Through the Division Engineer). Subject: Preliminary examination of Old River, Chambers County,
1. In accordance with instructions in letter from the Office of the Chief of Engineers, dated September 1, 1917, the following report is
submitted on the item contained in section 4 of the river and harbor act of August 8, 1917, as follows:
The Secretary of War is hereby authorized and directed to cause preliminary examinations and surveys to be made at the following-named localities.
Old River, Chambers County, Tex.
LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION.
2. Old River rises in the southwest corner of Liberty County, Tex. It flows in a general southerly direction and joins the Trinity River about 2 miles above the head of the delta, leading into the upper end of Galveston Bay. See U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey chart No. 204. The drainage area is about 175 square miles.
3. The total navigable length of the stream is about 21 miles with & ruling depth of about 2 feet at mean low tide; the shoal water is found in the upper end of what is known as Old River Lake, near the mouth. The ordinary fluctuation of the water surface is about seven-tenths of a foot, but a high storm tide, or an overflow in the Trinity River raises the level to as much as 3 feet above mean low water, while a strong "norther" in the winter sometimes lowers it almost as much.
4. The lands through which the river flows are fertile, being given up to rice growing and general farming; cattle, and hog raising. 5. The river may be divided into four natural sections as follows:
Section 1: This section extends from the junction of Old River with the Trinity to Old Rover Lake, a distance of some 2 miles. The ruling depth through this section is about 9 feet at mean low tide. The banks are low, standing from 2 to 3 feet above the water surface and there are numerous snags visible in the bed, which have been carried in by rises of the Trinity River. The surrounding country is given up to stock raising, no farming being done.
Section 2: This consists of Old River Lake about 31 miles long and of a mile wide. The lake is shallow, the ordinary depths ranging from 2 to 34 feet. The channel is narrow and has a ruling depth of 2 feet at mean low tide. No marks indicate the channel until just before Old River, itself, is reached, where a few brush stakes are used. The land along the southern shore is farmed, that along the northern shore is given up to grazing.
Section 3: Beginning at the head of Old River Lake, this section extends to the dam belonging to the Old River Rice & Irrigation Co., a distance of 94 miles. For the first 6 miles the river is free of snags and overhanging timber, and carries a ruling depth of about 3.8 feet at mean low tide with a soft mud bottom; the channel is tortous. The anks gradually increase in height, from about 4 feet until they reach 6 or 8 feet some 3 miles below the dam; from this point to the dam (at mile 15) the timber thickens, overhanging trees are encountered, some snags are found, and the ruling depth is about 6 feet at mean low tide. The width varies from 140 feet near the head of the lake to about 75 feet at the dam. This is a crude structure of sheet piling and earth and is provided with a small lock on the right bank. It was constructed (under a permit granted by the Secretary of War, dated June 29, 1918), for the purpose of impounding fresh water for the Old River Rice & Irrigation Co.'s plant, 5 miles above. The river is connected with the Trinity, just above the dam, by Pickett Bayou.
Section 4: This is the last section and extends from the dam to the head of navigation, a distance of 6 miles. The river is tortuous and its banks, heavily timbered, vary in height from 8 to 10 feet. The snags become of frequent occurrence and the branches of the trees almost meet over the stream. The ruling depth through this section is about 11 feet at mean low tide. The width gradually decreases until the stream is only 55 feet wide at the head of navigation at mile 21.
6. On the right bank of the river, about 5 miles above the dam, the Old River Rice & Irrigation Co. have installed an extensive pumping plant, valued at about $100,000, with a capacity of about 60,000 gallons per minute. The plant irrigates between 10,000 and 12,000 acres of land. One mile above the pumping plant there are the remains of an old saw mill, now dismantled and abandoned.
7. The towns nearest the mouth of Old River are Anahuac, located on the eastern shore of upper Galveston Bay, 3 miles away, and Wallisville, on the left bank of the Trinity River, a few miles upstream. At the head of Old River Lake is the settlement of Cove, containing about 200 people. There are three small stores on the river between Cove and the pumping plant, in addition to four warehouses about equidistant from each other, maintained by the Rice & Irrigation Co.
8. No bridges cross the river within the limits of this examination, but three small ferries are in use.
WHAT IS DESIRED.
9. The relief desired by the parties interested in the development of the country tributary to Old River is a channel across Old River Lake, from opposite the settlement of Cove to the head of section 1, with a minimum depth of 5 feet at mean low tide. No complaints of the depths in the river through section 3 were made, probably due to the very soft bottom existing through the shoal portion of the section. It is claimed that, owing to the present shoal water in Old River Lake, commerce on the river has practically been abandoned since the end of 1918. It is further stated that nearly all supplies are received overland from Cedar Bayou, about 8 miles west of the river. The exports are shipped over the same route and the stores and the rice industry have instituted automobile truck lines to meet the needs of commerce.
10. The only previous report on this stream resulted from an examination made October 4, 1910, and is printed as House Document No. 351, Sixty-third Congress, third session. It was unfavorable.
WORK PREVIOUSLY DONE.
11. No work has been done on Old River by the Government. It is reported that a cut 50 feet wide and about 8 feet deep was made some 12 years ago through the shallowest part of Old River Lake. Little