From the Charlestown Free Press.
Mr. Editor — An article in the Winchester Virginian of the 3d December, proposing the organization of a company to construct a canal along the margin of the Shenandoah, “to intersect the Potomac at Harpers-Ferry,” having failed to arrest the attention of our citizens, and the time which has elapsed since its publication, having precluded all expectation of seeing the subject presented to your readers by another and more intelligent pea, I am prompted to offer my humble aid in furtherance of the scheme. The importance of the proposed canal to a vast number of our citizens, is great; the facility which would thereby be afforded of transporting flour and other produce is incalculable. The advantage of the contemplated canal, to our country, may be estimated by the following statement from the communication above referred to.
“By one of the provisions of the charter of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company, [if I recollect rightly] the company are permitted to charge only 2 cents per ton per mile toll, on all produce going to market. The distance from Harpers-Ferry to Georgetown, is sixty miles; and allowing 10 bbls. of flour, to the ton, the toll on each barrel would be about 12 1/2 cents; the freight, I am confident, would not exceed 12 1-2 cents more– making together 25 cents, as the cost of transporting a barrel of flour from Harpers-Ferry to Georgetown. From Berry’s Ferry to Harpers-Ferry, the distance is about 30 miles; and at the same rate of charging, the expense of taking a barrel of flour to that place, would 12 1-2 cents more, say 40 cents from Berry’s Ferry to Georgetown. Now, the hauling of flour to Alexandria, over turnpike roads, has never, in my neighborhood, been less than one dollar per barrel. Thus you see, if we had a canal, we should save at least 69 cents on every barrel sent to market, which would make every bushel of wheat worth twelve cents more than it is now. Nor is this the only advantage. We could then send our flour to market whenever we pleased; and all our other productions too– such as corn, potatoes, and many other heavy and bulky articles that will not now bear carriage.
“Besides this, we should get our plaster and salt fifteen or twenty cents cheaper per bushel, and these are heavy items with farmers.
“There are many gentlemen in this county, as you well know, who seldom or never make less than 4000 bushels of wheat a year; all such would save $500 on each crop, while those who make less, would share in the same proportion.
“Are farmers the only class of persons who would be benefitted? Certainly not,” &c.
From the above extract it is obvious that the interest of this county is not so great, nor so immediately involved in the consummation of this work, (our facilities for transporting to market being somewhat greater,) as the counties further west; but the advantages to us will be proportionably equal, and in some respects superior. It would not only be beneficial in a pecuniary view.– It would tend also to bind and connect more closely together the remote parts of our widely extended state; to multiply the facilities of communication between its different parts; to diminish time, distance, and expense, in the intercourse of its citizens with each other; to beget and to perpetuate by means of such intercourse, feelings of amity, kindness and friendship, instead of those sectional jealousies, local prejudices, and selfish partialities, which now exist, and are owing to a want of free and social intercourse; and generally to enhance the enjoyment and conduce to the prosperity and happiness of the people of the state. IT is no Utopian scheme. The formation of a canal along the Shenandoah, was pronounced by a distinguished engineer, not only practicable, but also that it could be constructed with less expense and more facility than any similar location with which he was acquainted. It requires not the spirit of prophecy to foretel the greatness of our happy Valley, when the Shenandoah canal shall completed from Staunton to Harpers-Ferry. Our little county will then constitute the foens, through which our hitherto comparatively benighted and frigid Valley will cast its light and heat, and be renewed and invigorated.– And this is the time to push our enterprise; a more auspicious time could not be desired; our legislature is ripe for affording any assistance for the promotion of such measures. There is no doubt of our receiving the ready and earnest cooperation of the citizens of Frederick, (a number of its most wealthy and influential farmers being already enlisted in its behalf,) and of all the other counties in the immediate vicinity of the Shenandoah, and those of the adjacent country.
There is no longer doubt of the successful prosecution of the Chesapeake and Ohio canal and the Baltimore and Ohio rail road Let us then move– let us not gaze in listless apathy and indifference, until the prize is entirely and irrevocably lost. We must perceive that not only our agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial interests would be greatly benefitted, but that our industry, population and resources, would increase beyond any thing that could justly be conceived. Let us then seek to cherish social, moral, commercial and political influence, (which in Russia is supplied by despotic power,) by gentle means. The most familiar principles of natural science demonstrate the superior economy of canals over almost every other means of internal communication. The spirit of internal improvement has already commenced its flight over the Old Dominion, ready to perch upon that part of it where the people are sufficiently energetic and enterprising to call in its aid. What Virginian, alive to the true interests of his state, can behold, without delight, the rapid march which every circumstance seems to betoken?
Trusting that these hasty and indigested remarks (which is their principal object,) may elicit from your or some of your readers, more intelligent and pertinent views on the subject, permit me in conclusion to suggest (if the plan of the canal be approved of)– as the eligible mode of attaining the object will be by the incorporation of a joint stock company– the expediency of those persons friendly to the object, meeting at the court house, some day during the session of the superior court, to devise a plan of operation to effect the purpose in question. If the necessary funds for our purpose, be supplied by private subscription, it is all that can be desired. If this shall fail, we will not abandon our enterprize– so long as there remains any other just expedient to promote its success. Let us never despair of accomplishing a purpose so beneficent. Let us not stop till we have united, by indissolubleties, the west with the east–fortified, enriched, and embellished our state– drawn together the remote extremes of its widely extended territory, and infused new vigor and activity into all its operations, for the common defence, general welfare, and lasting happiness of its members.
A friend to Internal Improvement.
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