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PEACE RIVER, FLA.
THE SECRETARY OF WAR,
WITH A LETTER FROM THE CHIEF OF ENGINEERS, REPORT ON
PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION OF PEACE RIVER, FLA.
JUNE 2, 1919.-Referred to the Committee on Rivers and Harbors and ordered to be
printed, with illustration,
The SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
Washington, May 29, 1919. SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith a letter from the Chief of Engineers, United States Army, of 9th ultimo, with report by Mr. J. M. Braxton, assistant engineer in charge, dated February 10, 1919, with map, on a preliminary examination of Peace River, Fla., made by him in compliance with the provisions of the river and harbor act approved August 8, 1917. Very respectfully,
NEWTON D. BAKER,
Secretary of War.
Washington, April 9, 1919.
1. There is submitted herewith for transmission to Congress report dated February 10, 1919, with map, by Mr. J. M. Braxton, assistant engineer in charge, on preliminary examination of Peace River, Fla., authorized by the river and harbor act approved August 8, 1917.
2. Peace River rises in Polk County, Fla., near the central portion of the State and flows in a generally southwesterly direction into Charlotte Harbor, near Punta Gorda, Fla. The upper portion of the river is narrow, tortuous, and steep. The lower section is crooked but has reaches of considerable width, and the lower 10 miles forms an estuary connecting with Charlotte Harbor. From Charlotte Harbor to Punta Gorda, a distance of 5 miles, there is a depth of 10 feet at low tide; thence to Fort Ogden, about 18 miles above the mouth, the controlling depth is about 3 feet, and above this place the river is not now navigable, except for veryshallow draft launches. The improvement apparently desired is the extension of navigation to the towns of Arcadia and Wauchula, 30 and 55 miles, respectively, above the mouth. Other interests along the upper reaches of the river desire improvement with a view to reduction of flood heights. There is at present practically no commerce on the river above Punta Gorda, and while there was considerable traffic as far up as Fort Ogden prior to the construction of railroads into this section, there is little or no prospect of its being revived. The district engineer expresses the opinion, in which the division engineer concurs, that this river is not worthy of improvement by the United States at the present time.
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 March 11, 1919, concurring in the unfavorable views of the district and division engineers.
4. After due consideration of the above-mentioned reports, I concur in the views of the district engineer, the division engineer, and the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors, and therefore report that the improvement by the United States of Peace River, Fla., is not deemed advisable at the present time.
W. M. BLACK,
REPORT OF THE BOARD OF ENGINEERS FOR RIVERS AND HARBORS.
BOARD OF ENGINEERS FOR RIVERS AND HARBORS,
March 11, 1919. To 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 Peace River, Fla.
2. Peace River rises in Polk County, Fla., and flows in a southwesterly direction into Charlotte Harbor, which it enters a short distance below Punta Gorda, Fla._In its upper reaches the river is narrow, tortuous, and shallow. Except for very small launches, it is not navigable above Fort Ogden, 18 miles above the mouth. The available depth to Fort Ogden is about 3 feet. The lower 10 miles of the river is an estuary having depths of from 3 to 14 feet. From Charlotte Harbor to Punta Gorda the depth at low tide is 10 feet.
3. Local interests at Arcadia, a town having a population of about 4,000, 30 miles above the mouth, desire a channel 3 feet deep, although some persons ask for 12 feet. The interests at Wauchula, a small town about 55 miles above the mouth of the river, desire a channel suitable for the shipment of fruits and vegetables. The district engineer states that such a channel should be 6 feet deep. Other interests along the upper
reaches of the river desire improvement with a view to reduction of flood heights.
4. There is at present practically no commerce on the river above Punta Gorda. On the section below Punta Gorda the commerce amounts to about 20,000 tons, but this is local harbor commerce that does not pertain to the river proper. Before the advent of railroads into this section there was considerable traffic on the river as far up as Fort Ogden, but with the completion of the road to Punta Gorda, about 1890, and the road to Boca Grande, in 1907, river traffic practically ceased, and there is little or no prospect of its being revived. The district engineer expresses the opinion, in which the division engineer concurs, that Peace River, Fla., is not worthy of improvement at the present time.
5. Interested parties were informed of the tenor of the district engineer's report and given an opportunity of submitting their views, but no communications on the subject have been received.
6. Like many small streams in this country, Peace River was used to a considerable extent as a transportation route so long as it offered the best facilities for that purpose. This condition ceased with the coming of the railroads, and the water route was soon abandoned. There is at present no commerce on the section of the river where improvement is desired, and it is not probable that traffic would be revived if the river were improved to the extent requested. A deep channel might be used to a small extent, but it is clear that the cost of such an improvement would be out of all reasonable proportion to resulting benefits. The board therefore concurs in the opinion of the district and division engineers that it is not advisable for the United States to undertake the improvement of Peace River, Fla., at this
7. 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 PEACE RIVER, FLA.
Jacksonville, Fla., February 10, 1919.
(Through the Division Engineer). Subject: Preliminary examination of Peace River, Fla.
1. In compliance with instructions in letter of September 1, 1917, report is submitted of a preliminary examination of Peace River,
Fla., authorized by the item of the river and harbor act approved August 8, 1917, reading as follows:
The Secretary of War is hereby authorized and directed to cause preliminary examination and survey to be made at the following-named localities, Peace River, Fla.
2. Peace River rises in Polk County, Fla., near the central portion of the State, and flows in a generally southern and western direction into Charlotte Harbor, near Punta Gorda, Fla., Charlotte Harbor being a large bay connecting with the Gulf of Mexico. The Peace River drains about 2,000 square miles of territory, which is developed in agricultural pursuits, except for area in Polk County, and the area immediately contiguous to the river, in which pebble phosphate is found. Small lakes are located near the river, and drain into the river, and the river is also fed by springs near Bartow, and near Buchanan. Several rivers and creeks flow into the river, among the largest being Little Charley Apopka, Big Charley or Tsala Apopka, Josh or Joshua, Prairie, Whitten, Chilocohatchee, and Saddle. The river in the upper portion is narrow and tortuous with very heavy gradient, in the lower portion the river is crooked, but has reaches of considerable width, and with much less slope, and the lower 10 miles of the river forms an estuary connecting with Charlotte Harbor. From Charlotte Harbor to Punta Gorda the river has 10 feet of water at low tide; from Punta Gorda to the head of the estuary, a distance of about 5 miles, the depths vary from 3 to 14 feet; from the estuary to Fort Ogden about 18 miles above the mouth, the general average depth is about 5 feet, but some soundings of 3 feet are found; above Fort Ogden the river is not now navigable, except for the very shallowest draft launches, owing to the shoals, rapids, and obstructions.
3. The following table gives reference to previous reports on the improvement of Peace River:
1 Favorable for limited navigation to Fort Ogden during 9 months in the year at an estimated cost of $17,000. • Favorable for completion of project at estimated cost of $25,000. 8 Favorable only for that portion below Fort Ogden. Includes Peace River only from Punta Gorda to its mouth.
4. In 1881 and 1882, from funds appropriated, survey of the river was made, and some snagging and removal of overhanging trees between the mouth of the river and Fort Meade, with minor rock excavation at certain shoals, was executed in order to offer a navigable channel to vessels drawing 14 to 24 inches of water during a portion of the year. The river was cleared for a distance of about 64 miles from mouth, but no regular navigation was established on the river, and the stream shoaled up rapidly and became obstructed with fallen trees. In 1890 Congress appropriated funds for improving Charlotte Harbor and Pease Creek, Fla., to the pier at Punta Gorda, Fla., the terminus of the Florida Southern Railroad (now the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad). Under this appropriation, a channel 12 feet deep and 200 feet wide was completed. At the present time, from Charlotte Harbor to Punta Gorda, there is a channel 10 feet deep; from Punta Gorda to Fort Ogden, 13 miles above Punta Gorda, there is a channel 3 feet deep. Above Fort Ogden the river is navigable for boats of draft of only a few inches, the river being obstructed by shoals and rapids. The upper portion of the river is very crooked, with numerous rapids and shoals, and at low-water stages the shoals are nearly bare. The water surface at Fort Meade, à distance of 69 miles from the mouth, is about 79 feet above low water at the mouth, and at Bartow, about 80 miles above Fort Meade, the elevation of water surface is about 100 feet above the same plane. In the report of the survey of 1897 the following description is given of the upper section of the river, which describes the condition of the river at the present time.
At its lowest stage the stream in the channels around the bends contracts to a mere thread of water, while on the few rock and sand shoals that extend across the channel from bank to bank the water covers the entire river bed, but is too shallow to carry a skiff drawing over 6 inches.
Low-water conditions exist on the river from January to July. During the rainy season, in July and August, the river becomes flooded and rises of as much as 17 feet have been recorded at Fort Meade. The following is a list of bridges built across the river: