Pursuant to the call issued by the committee of citizens of Williamsport appointed for the purpose some time ago, a convention to take action with reference to the preservation of the Chesapeake and Ohio canal as a waterway was held in the court hall in Hagerstown on Tuesday. Dr. Edward Wootton and D. J. Williard, both of Montgomery county; Fred Mertens, of Allegany county; L. W. Poffenberger, W. J. Knott, George Knott, and John Flanagan, of West Virginia, and delegates from Sharpsburg, Downsville, Williamsport, Wilson’s and Indian Spring districts, in Washington county, composed the convention. Victor Cushwa was made temporary chairman and Dr. C. F. Russell secretary. The permanent officers were R. D. Johnson, of Cumberland, president, Dr. E. Wootton and Upton Darby, vice-presidents, and George W. McCardell and Wm. H. Boyer, secretaries. In the absence of Mr. Johnson Dr. Wootton presided. The following committee on resolutions was appointed: Victor Cushwa, John Flanagan, William Coulehan, Jacob Marker and F. T. Goddard.
The resolutions adopted set forth the great loss to business, property and labor along the canal caused by the present condition of the canal, and urge the necessity of having it restored. They ask that the State authorities be urged to allow the people, or such of them as are willing, to repair, manage, and operate the canal, and to reimburse themselves out of the revenues of the canal, and that such action be taken before other legal or legislative disposition be made of the canal. They also ask for the privilege of leasing the canal for a period of ten years or more, and thus save the State some of the money it has invested in it. The resolutions further favor a good, economic business management of the canal and set forth the theory that under proper management the canal could be made to pay expenses. They provide for the appointment of a committee of five from each county along the canal, and from Jefferson county, W. Va., to meet the Governor and the board of public works to present the resolutions and to urge them to adopt measures for the restoration of the canal, and also to appeal to them to allow the people to repair the canal and to take it out of the hands of the present management.
Dr. Wootton proposed a substitute to the resolutions asking that the board of public works be urged to assist in having the canal put into the hands of a receiver. This was, after discussion, withdrawn. The convention was not largely attended, but a number of persons not delegates were present and addressed the convention. Dr. Wootton argued that the board of public works was not in a condition to carry out the provisions of the resolution, and that the canal could not be repaired without money, and if the people asked the board of public works to appoint a president and board of directors they would have to stand behind their backs and assist them. He condemned the president and past management of the canal and thought the bull ought to be taken by the horns and a receiver asked for.
State Senator Stake said that the directors at a meeting in June before the flood virtually admitted their inability to manage the canal successfully, and he thought it child’s play to expect the present management, under those circumstances, to do anything for the canal. He thought the convention ought to produce data showing that the canal could be made to pay, that its tonnage was sufficient to make it pay, and then to put these facts before the board of public works before they could ask for action.
Hon. L. E. McComas thought the days for canals were not past, as some people argued, and claimed that rail roads had not supplanted canals for the transportation of heavy freight. He showed how they were used in England, France, and Belgium, and thought there should be here a revival in favor of water-ways. He argued that the canal had not received proper attention in the past and was not properly managed, and said if railroads and telegraphs had not received more attention than canals they, too, would be wrecks. He thought bankruptcy was no reason why the canal should be abandoned, because many railroads now in operation are in the same condition.
H. H. Keedy condemned the political management of the canal, and said if it was properly managed it could be made to pay. Victor Cushwa and Col. Buchanan Schley also condemned the past management of the canal. Col. Schley thought that little help could be gotten from the board of public works, and advised that some plan be mapped out and submitted to them, and if they refused to act, then the people should act. The committee appointed to wait on the Governor and the board of public works is as follows: Victor Cushwa, Jacob Marker, Wm. T. Hassett, Edw. Stake and H. H. Keedy, of Washington county; H.A. Garrett, Philip Stone, W. A. West, E. E. Jorbae and Upton Darby, of Montgomery county; Chas. Rice, Jacob Rohrback, E. W. Mercier, Outerbridge Horsey, and Mr. Thomas of Frederick county; W. J. Knott, G. S. Knott and Jno. Flanagan, of West Virginia, and R. D. Johnson, Wm. Coulehan, Wm. M. McKaig, Thomas Callan and F. T. Goddard, of Allegany. The committee will go to Annapolis on the 24th, and Dr. Wootton was especially requested to accompany them.
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