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Work has been begin on the preparation for publication of the data of borings made in the Missouri River Valley under various auspices.

Tabulations were made of all high-water records on file for all gauges and bridges along the river; also of all known dates of ice closings and openings of the Missouri River and of the Mississippi River at Saint Louis. (Hereto appended.)

Yearly gauge sheets for 1886 for twenty regular gauges, with their histories, etc., have been compiled. Gauge records at Blair, Nebr., for 1832–1887, and at Rulo, Nebr., for 1883-1887 have been added to our files.

Current gauge hydrographs have been kept up to date.


The following gauge relations were plotted: Sioux City-Omaha..

1880 Omaha-Plattsmouth..

1880 Plattsmouth-Plattsmouth Bridge

.1886, 1887 Glasgow-Boonville.

1879-1885 Boonville-Jefferson City

1884–1886 Boonville-Cedar City..

.1881, 1882 Jefferson City.Hermann..

.1884, 1885 llermann-Saint Charles

1885 The study showed that mean discharge curves could not be relied on to determine discharge without more information as to the shifting of these curves on the gauge scale. So attention has been directed to a comprehensive collection of such data from various sources.

An extended study of river profiles is in progress. By a combination of gauge-readings and slope data it is proposed to fill out profiles of mean high and mean low water, and to show profiles of extreme high waters and of bank elevations; also to show duration and height of high waters above mean high water. Such profiles will be needed in determining the high-water plane called for by letter from Chief of Engineers dated Washington, D. C., April 25, 1888.

Mr. Jas. A. Seddon and Mr. R. F. Grady have rendered faithful and efficient service in this department during the year.

For further details reference is respectfully made to Mr. Seddon's report, hereto appended (marked Appendix A 3).


The following table shows the extent of gauge records at present kept up by the Commission:


| No.from mouth.


Character of gauge.

Continuous record.

1 Saint Charles, Mo Bridge..

Standard wire

Aug., 1878, to date. kailroad culvert; high. Vertical

Do. 2 Jefferson City, Mo

water gauge.
Front of Pork House; low. Inclined

water gauge. 3 Boonville, Mo. Bridge.

Standard wire

Nov., 1873, to date. 4 Glasgow, Mo.



Aug., 1878, to date. 5 Dewitt, Mo Railroad depot..

Inclined masonry Jan., 1883, to date. 6 Waverly, Mo 100 feet above old brick

Do, foundry. 7 Lexington, Mo At ferry landing

Inclined wooden Apr., 1873, to date. 8 Kansas City, Mo Bridge..

Standard wire

Do. 9 Atcbison, Kans.

Sept., 1878, to date. 10 Saint Joseph, Mo..

June, 1872, to Apr.,

1888. 11 White Cloud, Kans Old ferry landing

Vertical pile... Apr., 1881, to date. 12 Rulo, Nebr Bridge.

Standard wire

Sept., 1883, to date. 13 Brownville, Nebr Foot of levee

Vertical pile

Aug., 1880, to date. 14 Nebraska City, Nebr. 2.700 feet below bridge Inclined masonry

Aug., 1878, to date. 15 Plattsmouth, Nebr Bridge..

Standard wire

May, 1886, to date. 500 ft. above foot of Main st. Vertical pile.

Apr., 1873, to date. 16 Omaha, Nebr.... Bridge


Standard wire

Apr., 1872, to date. 17 Sioux City, Iowa Mouth of Perry Creek.

Vertical pile..

Sept., 1878, to date. 18 Bismarck, Dak B:idge..

Railroaul vertical May, 1836, to date.

gauge on pier.

* Also August, 1878, to September, 1879.

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We also keep copies of the following gauge records :

Cbaracter of gauge.

Continuous record.



Hermann, Mo
Leavenworth, Kaps

Saint Joseph, Mo
Blair, Nebi...

300 feet abore ferry landing. Inclined signal servic. Apr., 1873, to date.
Foot of Delaware street


May, 1873, to date.

Standard wire

Jan., 1872, to date.

Vertical pile.

Jan., 1882, to date.


* Railroad company's gauge. As soon as funds are available it is the intention to put standard wire gauges on the following bridges: Sions City (when completed), Nebraska City (when completed), Blair, Randolph, and Sibley.

Owing to decrease in funds all the gauge observers were in March, 1828, put on balf-pay, which was a hardship for them, as they are but poorly paid at best ($10 per month); the observer at the Saint Joseph bridge had to be discharged, and if a new appropriation is not available by August 1 all will have to be discharged.

It is not necessary for me to call your attention to the real calamity to all interests connected with the Missouri River which such a cessation of gauge-readings would be. I respectfully urge upon the Commission that the appropriations for preservation and observation of gauges should be continuous, and not dependent each year on the uncertain fate of a river and harbor bill. The importance of this system has been appreciated for the Mississippi River and should be extended to the Missouri River.

MISCELLANEOUS. Complying with letter from the Chief of Engineers, U. S. Army, of February 15, 1808, a map was made showing the location of all bridges across the Missouri River, with outline cross-sections of river and bridges (hereto appended). A table was also compiled giving the important dimensions and data relative to the bridges. Copies were furnished the Chief of Engineers and members of this Commission,

In April, 1888, a 100-foot steel tape was compared with our 300-foot standard for Lieutenant Carter, Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army, Savannah, Ga., his office bearing the expense, viz, about $25.

In June a comparison under similar conditions was made of a 300-foot steel tape at the request of Captain Quinn, Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army, Duluth, Minn.

A reference map of the Missouri River from Sioux City to the mouth, on a scale Tooduto, with all information on file in this office, has been nearly completed. The intention is to lithograph this as soon as funds are available. The cost will be small, viz, about $50 for 500 copies.

Under orders from the president of the Commission an inspection was made January 24, 1883, of location, plans, progress, etc., of the Omaha and Council Bluffs Railroad Company's bridge at Omaha. Report was subinitted January 26, 1883. The report of the president of the Commission is given in Senate Ex. Doc. No. 83, Fiftieth Congress, first session.

An inspection was also made under orders from the president of the Commission of protection works on left bank of Missouri River at Winthrop, Mo., opposite Atchison, constructed by the railroads whose property was there endangered. Report was submitted April 23, 1888.


Office and traveling erpenses and salaries of Commission. Salaries of Commission..

$5,000 Mileage....

2,500 Office rent

1, 200 Telephone

100 Fuel, gas, water, repairs, etc

810 Salaries of clerical force.

7,140 Stationery and sundries

750 Publications of records




Additional surreys and permanent level bench-marks.
500 miles secondary triangulation, at $90 per mile
500 miles topography, at $90 per mile
500 miles permanent level bench-marks, at $50 per mile.


$15,000 45,000 2:1, 000


Physical data.

Printing and paper.
Eighteen gauge observers
Repairs to gauges

Total ....



260 3, 240 1,000



Drawings of steamers, barges, other plant specifications, etc...


Office and traveling expenses and salaries of Commission....
Additional surveys

and permanent level bench-marks
Physical data....

$20,000 115,000 10,000 5,000

Total ....



The boating trade on the Missouri River is at present very small. It is practically confined to the distance Fort Yates to Fort Benton for the upper river, and Saint Louis to Glasgow for the lower. But these or any other facts as to the small actual amount of boating done on the river now have nothing to do with the question of the improvement of navigation on the Missouri River in its broad moaning and national bearing. For the General Government to foster local interests is supposed to be “foreign to our institutions," and will be clearly a source of political rivalry and intrigue, resulting in unevenly distributed favors from the national purse. But a national system of internal water-ways improvement should result in large gains of national wealth. Reduction in cost of transportation of supplies to market is a business-like method of increasing profits. Here is the Missouri Valley draining an immense grain-bearing (for one thing) district. Large quantities of surplus grain are ready to be put in the world's markets if it can be done for less than the selling price. No proof is needed of the statement that water transportation is cheaper than rail, especially for long distances. Moreover, facts given in my report on this subject to the Commission in 1886 (Annual Report 1886, page 318) show that the river has 600 times greater carrying capacity than a single track railroad.

To improve the river, even between Kansas City and Saint Louis, to a low-water depth of 12 feet is deemed perfectly practicable, and at a cost per mile ($30,000) not exceeding that of a first-class single-track railroad.

Even with the present unimproved channels of the Missouri and Mississippi it is not less than 6 cents cheaper per bushel to transport grain from Saint Louis to Liverpool by way of New Orleans than by way of rail to New York. The saving thus made in one year would more than pay the estimated cost of improving the Missouri River to Kansas City.

The river once improved and insurance on Missouri River barges being then a profitable business (it does not and can not exist at present), the saving per bushel would probably be even greater than it is now.

All these possibilities, which are safe predictions, only receive greater weight from their present non-realization.

The failure by Congress to make appropriations for the continued improvement of the Mississippi River and its principal tributaries has cost the people of these val. leys enormous amounts of money by higher freights, larger risks and increased insurance, wrecks and delays of transportation; and, if continued, will dishearten our river men, if not destroy the business, and thus leave the commerce of the Mississippi Valley to a single method of transportation and practically at its mercy. The result in such a case is not difficult to foresee. The permanent improvement of our waterways is imperatively demanded in the interest of cheaper transportation to the sea and intercommunication between points on these water-courses.

“Mr. Fink, in bis testimony before the select committee on interstate commerce of the United States Senate, admitted the effect of the Mississippi River, the lakes, and the Erie Canal in the regulation of rates to the sea-board, in competition with railroads; and the Interstate Commerce Commission, in their report to Congress this year, refer to the value of water navigation in the regulation of freight rates to all competing points on or near the water-ways. The permanent improvement of the

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