[Printed in House Ex. Doc. No. 118, Fifty-second Congress, second session.]
Office Of The Chief Of Engineers,
United States Army,
Washington, D. C, December 5, 1892.
Captain Kingman reports that it is his opinion that the value of such a harbor is, to a certain extent, measured by the value of all the commerce on Lake Ontario, but that the question as to whether or not it ought to be built depends largely upon its cost. To make a reliable estimate of the cost to secure a proper harbor of refuge would be impossible without an accurate and detailed survey, and he estimates that the expense of such a survey would be $1,000.
The Division Engineer, Col. H. L. Abbot, Corps of Engineers, states that he does not regard this improvement as worthy of being undertaken by the General Government, in view of the present restrictions upon American commerce on Lake Ontario and the probable cost of any construction suitable for the object in view. I concur in the opinion of the division engineer. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Thos. Lincoln Casey,
Brig. Gen., Chief of Engineers.
Hon. S. B. Elkins,
Secretary of War.
Report Of Capt. Dan C. Kingman, Corps Of Engineers.
United States Engineer Office,
Oswego, N. Y., November 11, 1892.General: I have the honor to submit the following report of a preliminary examination for a harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay, on Lake Ontario.
Mexico Bay, as indicated upon the chart and as known and recognized by those engaged in navigating the lake, comprises that portion of Lake Ontario which lies to the east of a straight line joining Stony Point with Nine Mile Point east of Oswego. Its shore line has a developed length of about 31 miles, the length of the chord being about 21 miles and the depth of the bay being about 13 miles.
From Oswego the general direction of the shore of Lake Ontario toward the east is northeast for about 18 miles, thence north for about 18 miles, thence northwest for about 4 miles to Stony Point. From Stony Point the shore line falls off toward the northeast for about 10 miles to the entrance "of Henderson Bay. Between Oswego and Henderson Bay, a distance in a straight line of about 40 miles, or about 50 miles along the shore, there is no harbor or place of refuge for a vessel. The prevailing high winds and storms on Lake Ontario come almost invariably from the west or northwest, and it is therefore evident that any vessel which finds itself in the time of a storm eastward of the line joining Oswego Harbor with Stony Point will be forced to make headway against the storm in order to attain a harbor of refuge or to avoid being carried ashore.
Lake Ontario from its position is swept throughout its length by a westerly gale, and the waves near the eastern end of the lake in the time of storms attain a size and force that would scarcely be credited by one who has not actually seen them.
And vessels therefore in the position which I have described, that is to say, to the eastward of the line joining Oswego with Stony Point must in the time of storm have their steering gear and motive power in the best and most efficient condition in order to escape disaster. It would seem, therefore, that the value and importance of a harbor of refuge near the center of Mexico Bay would be measured only by the number and value of vessels that navigate the lake. Before making an examination of the locality, however, I endeavored to obtain an expression of opinion as to the value and importance of this harbor of refuge from those who are expected to use it and be benefited by it. Accordingly, I prepared a circular letter addressed to the masters and owners of vessels engaged in navigation on Lake Ontario. The letter was as follows:
United States Engineer Office,
Oswego, N. Y.,.August 15,1892
To the masters and owners of vessels engaged in the navigation of Lake Ontario:
Sirs: Congress of the United States, by an act approved July 13,1892, has directed a preliminary examination to be made for a harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay on Lake Ontario, and the honorable Secretary of War has directed me to make such an examination. The questions which naturally present themselves in connection with this subject are three:
(1) Is a harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay desirable or necessary?
(2) If so, what would be the most convenient and suitable location for it?
(3) What works are necessary for the construction of such a harbor and how much would they cost?
The first two questions particularly concern the owners and masters of vessels engaged in the navigation of the lake, and they could give me most important and valuable information on this subject. I should therefore esteem it an especial favor if you would, at your earliest convenience, give me in writing answers to the following questions:
(1) What vessels do you own, control, or command on Lake Ontario?
(2) What is their character and tonnage?
(3) In what trade are they engaged?
(4) How many trips do they make?
(5) Would a harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay be of value to you?
(6) How often have you had occasion to use such a harbor?
(7) How often have your vessels been exposed to loss or injury in consequence of the lack of such a harbor of refuge?
(8) At what particular point in the bay would a harbor of refuge be most likely to subserve the needs of commerce?
(9) Any remarks or suggestions which may occur to you as pertaining to the subject.
Very respectfully, yours,
Dan C. Kingman,
Captain of Engineer.
I caused some 50 or 60 copies of this letter to be placed in the hands of the persons to whom it was addressed and I received 10 letters in reply. Copies of these replies are transmitted herewith. Neither the number of replies nor their subject-matter seem to indicate a very lively interest on the part of the owners and masters of vessels engaged in navigating Lake Ontario in the subject of a harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay.
George Hall & Co., forwarders and coal dealers, Ogdensburg, N. Y., acknowledge the receipt of the circular and say that they have been engaged in the forwarding business for twenty-five years and do not look upon the subject with any great amount of favor; they think it possible that if there was a harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay they might take advantage of it, but doubt if the advantage would justify the expenditure of any considerable amount of money.
William A. Russell, commander of the steam tug William L. Proctor, engaged in towing on the lake, states that he makes about seventy trips a season between the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario ports, and does not recall any case within the last five years in which he has needed a harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay. He thinks that a fog signal on Galloo Island would be better for him than a harbor of refuge.
O. Johnson, of Ogdensburg, master of the schooner Bolivia, makes between 35 and 40 round trips during the season between Ogdensburg and Charlotte, has never had occasion to use a harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay, and never suffered any loss or injury in consequence of the lack of such a harbor. He thinks that deep water in the channel at the entrance of Great Sodus Bay* would be more valuable to him.
C. W. Howard, master of the barge Walter A. Sherman, of Ogdensburg, has made 93 trips this season between Charlotte and St. Lawrence River points, has never had any occasion in his long experience as master of a sailing vessel to use a harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay; would rather have a fog whistle at Galloo Island.
Patrick Fleming, master of the steamer Geo. D. Seymour, of Ogdensburg, for seventeen years trading between ports of Oswego, Fair Haven, Charlotte, and St. Lawrence River ports, states that he has never in his long experience thought a harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay would be a good thing for him; and further, now that one is suggested to him, he would be afraid to go there for shelter with a tow on account of the shallow water extending so far out into the lake; would rather have deep water in the channel at Great Sodus Bay, and a steam fog signal at Oswego and Galloo Island.
George Goble, of Oswego, N. Y., who owns and controls three schooners engaged in lake navigation, states that he has never had occasion to use a harbor of refuge at the foot of Lake Ontario, and never been exposed to loss or injury in consequence of the lack of such a harbor. He thinks, however, that a harbor of refuge would be of great value to tugs and barges that trade between Oswego and St. Lawrence River.
E. W. Rathbun & Co., of Oswego, N.Y., owns three steamboats and two tow barges engaged in navigating Lake Ontario, which vessels make about 100 trips each annually between American and Canadian ports; thinks that a harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay would be of very great value, states that his vessels have several times been exposed to loss or injury in consequence of the lack of such a harbor, and thinks that a mile east of Nine Mile Point would be the best place for it.
Wm. Gilbert, master of the steamer Wm. Gilbert, has owned vessels and been engaged in the navigation of the lake since 1848, now makes 30 or 40 trips a year, and says that a harbor of refuge would be very desirable and that he would use it very often.
W. D. Allen, of Oswego, N. Y., is interested in one schooner and one steam tug engaged in navigating Lake Ontario; thinks such a harbor might be of value to him; can recall but one occasion when he has suffered loss or injury in consequence of the lack of such a harbor, and thinks that Port Ontario, at the mouth of Salmon River, would be the best place for it.
Wm. A. Jenkins, master of the schooner Fiat, engaged in navigating
"Dredging is now in progress to secure deep water in the channel at Great Sodus Bay.
t Lake Ontario, says that he makes from 25 to 40 trips a year; would have used such a harbor from three to five times annually for the last twenty-five years; has lost two vessels in Mexico Bay, and has been on the rocks there and met with much loss. He states further that there have been about fifty vessels lost in Mexico Bay in that number of years; gives the names of about 30 vessels that were lost there; thinks that the best place for a harbor would be at the mouth of Big Sandy Creek.
Taken altogether, this does not seem to be a very strong demand for a harbor of refuge; nevertheless it must be borne in mind that a circular letter is not the most successful way to secure a full and satisfactory reply. Many persons who received these letters were busy men or were men not in the habit of writing. If they could have been gotten together for an oral hearing the general weight of the testimony might have been different.
My own opinion is, as I have already stated, that the value of such a harbor is, to a certain extent, measured by the value of all the commerce on the lake. Hardly a storm occurs during the season of navigation that vessels bound for the St. Lawrence River do not take refuge in the harbor at Oswego, and they sometimes are obliged to remain there for two or three days.
Vessels are very often held in the harbor of Oswego when their masters are in doubt about the weather, often remaining a day or two at a time when they might have ventured out if there had been a harbor to the east of Oswego which they could reach in case the wind should increase after they left port.
The lack of such a harbor might, and doubtless does, cause the loss of several trips every season to each vessel trading from American ports on Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence River. This is a loss not easily measured, but it is evident that such a harbor would be valuable to commerce, even if the vessels seldom entered it.
The actual number of vessels lost each year is not so very great. Masters are now well acquainted with the dangers of this bay, and generally manage to avoid them at the cost of delay and lost trips.
Capt. Jenkins, of the schooner Fiat, states in his letter that the actual wrecks have averaged about one a year for the last fifty years. This corresponds with my own observation.
On the 26th of September of the present year the schooner John Burt, of Detroit, Mich., 348 tons burdened, bound for Oswego and loaded with corn, was carried past the entrance to Oswego Harbor in a gale which prevailed at the time and, being unable to return to the harbor or to make Stony Point, was carried ashore in Mexico Bay and totally destroyed; two lives were reported to have been lost.
At an earlier date, sometime during the summer, I remember of three barges breaking loose in a storm from the tug that was towing them when near the harbor of Oswego, and being carried ashore some four or five miles to the eastward. These barges, however, were afterward floated. "Such barges are generally provided with small sails and when they break away from the tow can, if the wind favors, make their way to a harbor. A harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay would doubtless have been of value to them.
As to the best location for such a harbor, I am of the opinion, after a personal examination of the locality, that the mouth of Salmon River at what is known as Port Ontario offers more advantages than any other point in the bay. Some work has been done at this locality in the past with a view of making a commercial harbor here. But the amount of work done was small, and as it was not maintained it has long since gone to ruin and but little trace of it is now visible.
Like all the streams that flow into this portion of Lake Ontario the mouth of Salmon River is obstructed by a sand bar. The current of the river in order to maintain its channel wages an unequal war with the storm waves of the lake. The resultant effect of this action has been to cause the mouth of the river to move northward and the stream to flow for perhaps a half mile parallel to and near the shore of the lake. Inside the bar the river has a depth of 14 to 15 feet, which would serve to indicate the size of channel that the current is able to maintain when undisturbed by wave action.
I am inclined to think that the current of this river could be utilized by means of parallel jetties so as to maintain a channel of navigable depth and width from the deep water in the lake to the deep water in the river, or that at least the current could be made to afford very material aid in the creation and maintenance of such a channel. Port Ontario is very near the middle point of the shore line of the bay, and for that reason would be most easily reached by the vessels needing shelter.
Westward, towards Nine Mile Point? the locality mentioned by some of those who wrote about a harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay, the lake has a rocky bottom, and, seen from the boat when the water is clear, the whole bottom seems to be covered with large bowlders of several tons in weight. It is possible that these bowlders might be gathered up by a suitable derrick boat and deposited in the proper depth of water in such a way as to form a riprap breakwater, which would afford all the shelter needed or*desired in the bay. And this might be the cheapest way to form a harbor.
Little Sandy Pond, a body of water of considerable size, about 5 or 6 miles north of Port Ontario and separated from the lake by a narrow spit, that is to say, by a sand spit which is narrow above water, has been mentioned as being the best place for a harbor of refuge, provided parallel jetties were used to form and maintain the channel across the sand spit from deep water in the lake to deep water in the pond. I am inclined to the opinion that the advantages that this locality might offer over Port Ontario would be more than offset by the increased cost necessary to secure and maintain the Channel, since there would be no river current that could be utilized.
It is impossible without an accurate and somewhat detailed survey at these different localities to give a reliable estimate of the cost of works necessary to secure a proper harbor of refuge. The question as to whether a harbor of refuge ought or ought not to be built in Mexico Bay depends largely upon its cost. If its cost would not be too great it would be desirable and proper to build it. If its cost would be great, for example, if it would cost a million dollars, then this would be out of proportion to value of the service that it would be likely to render, and it ought not to be built.
I would therefore recommend that a survey be made in Mexico Bay with a view to determining the best locality for a harbor of refuge suitable for the largest vessels engaged in navigating Lake Ontario, and its probable cost. I estimate that such a survey would cost $1,000.
Dan O. Kingman,
Captain of Engineers.
Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Casey,
Chief of Engineers, U. S. A. (Through Col. H. L. Abbot, Corps of Engineers, Division Engineer, Northeast Division.)
Northeast Division, Engineer Office,
New York, November 12,1892.
Respectfully forwarded to the Chief of Engineers, U. S. Army. In view of the restrictions now existing upon American commerce on Lake Ontario, and of the lack of lively interest on the part of the owners and masters of vessels engaged in navigating the lake, as set forth by the accompanying papers, and of the large cost which an examination of the lake survey charts indicates must be incurred by any construction suitable for the object in view, I do not regard this harbor of refuge as worthy of being undertaken by the General Government.
Henry L. Abbot,
Colonel of Engineers, Bvt. Brig. Gen., U. S. A.,
Engineer, Northeast Division.
LETTER OF MR. PATRICK FLEMING.
Ogdensburg, N. Y., September 19, 1892.
Sir: Answering your circular letter 15th ultimo, I have to say I am master of the steam tug Geo. D. Seymour, of Ogdensburg, N. Y., and have been in command of her seventeen years, trading between the ports of Oswego, Fair Haven, Sodus Point, and Charlotte, and Brockviille, Ogdensburg, Montreal, and other points on St. Lawrence River and have been in this trade, all told, twenty-eight years, making about two trips a week during the season of navigation.
During this period of my sailing career I have generally had in tow four or five barges aggregating 3,000 tons or more capacity, to wit: Barges R. B., 1,000 tons; Buckley, 1,000 tons; England, Ireland, Scotland, and Aid, 800 tons each; Kent, 600 tons; and Argo, 350 tons, besides others.
On many occasions I have been caught outside with a tow on Lake Ontario in very severe gales of wind with heavy seas rolling, compelling me to run for shelter, but at no time has the thought suggested itself to me that a harbor of refuge established in Mexico Bay would be a good thing for me, but now that one is suggested, I am free to say, so far as I am concerned, I should be afraid to go there for shelter, especially with a tow, as I would consider it a very dangerous point to make owing to the shallow water extending so far out in the lake.
Many times when caught out between Oswego and Cape Vincent I would run either to Oswego or Stony Point, and consider these points so far as I am concerned more desirable than would a harbor at Mexico Bay. If you will permit me to offer a few suggestions which in my judgment would prove of more material benefit to lake commerce than this project of Mexico Bay, I would suggest a light-house at foot of Stony Island, as we have nothing to guide us in making this passage in stormy or thick weather.
A steam fog whistle at Oswego, Galloo Island, and Cape Vincent, and a complete dredging out of Great Sodus Bay Channel and an extension of a few hundred feet of west pier, would make that place the very best harbor of refuge to all vessels coming down or going up the lake, as the bay affords ample room for all sizes of vessels to move in after piers are entered, and many a vessel would make this place, owing to the easy access, it being protected on the west by Pultneyville Point breaking force of seas by time piers are reached.
In its present condition vessels fear to make it and run by and are therefore often at the mercy of the elements and go ashore, being unable to make Oswego and unable to haul up and reach Stony Passage.
Your letter was thrown aboard tug and did not come to my notice until a few days ago, hence delay in answering, lam, respectfully, yours,
Capt. Dan C. Kingman,
United States Corps Engineer Office.
LETTER OF MR. C. W. HOWARD.
Charlotte, September 27, 1892.
Dear Sir: I am master of barge Walter A. Sherman, Ogdensburg; net, 493.58 tons; trade, carrying coal from Charlotte to Brockville, Ogdensburg, and Prescott. I have made ninety-three trips so far this season, and I have made like number seasons before. I have never had any occasion in my long experience as master of a sailing vessel to use or want to use a harbor in Mexico Bay.
I have traded a good many years from Toledo and Chicago to the foot of Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River, but I have had quite a number of occasions when a light on Six Town Point, the entrance to Henderson Bay, would be a great benefit to me, also fog whistle at Galloo Island and at Tibbitts Point. Yours, respectfully,
C. W. Howard.
Mr. Dan Kingman.
Letter Of Mr. Geo. Hall, President Geo. Hall Company.
Geo. Hall Company,
Ogdensburg, N.Y., September 14, 1892.
Dear Sir: I have your circular, dated August 15, requesting our views in reference to a harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay on Lake Ontario.
We have been extensively engaged in the forwarding business for twenty-five years, and do not look upon the project with any great amount of favor. It is possible if there was a harbor in Mexico Bay that we might take advantage of it.
Whether the advantage would justify the expenditure of any great amount of money, I feel very uncertain.
Capt. Dan C. Kingman,
United Slates Engineer.
LETTER OF MR. O. JOHNSON.
(1) I command schooner Bolivia.
(2) Towing vessels, tonnage 336.
3) In the coal trade between Ogdensburg and Charlotte
4) Between 35 and 40 round trips during the season.
(5) It might at some future time.
(6) Never have had occasion to use it.
(8) Impossible for me to state.
(9) I have been navigating Lake Ontario for the last twenty-five years and never as yet have had occasion to use a harbor in Mexico Bay, but on several different occasions I have had use for such a harbor between Charlotte and Oswego.
There are several vessels in this line which are too deep draft to get in Fair Haven, Sodus Point, or Charlotte when there is a big sea running, and I would recommend one between Charlotte and Oswego.
Capt. O. Johnson.
LETTER OF MR. W. A. RUSSELL.
In reply to your circular of August 15.
Question No. 1.—Command tug Wm. L. Proctor.
(2) Tug, 117 gross tons.
(3) Towing barges between Charlotte, Sodus, Oswego, and St. Lawrence River.
(4) About 70 trips per season.
(5) It might in extreme case, but such occasion has not occurred in the past five years.
(6) In the five years I have had charge of the tug Wm. L. Proctor can not remember of any time I had occasion to use such a harbor.
(7) At no time.
(8) Not well enough acquainted with the shore in Mexico Bay to express an opinion.
(9) Give us a fog signal at Galloo and Tibhitts in place of said harbor of refuge. Yours truly,
W. A. Russell.
Dan C. Kingman,
Captain of Engineer).
LETTER OF MR. WILLIAM GILBERT.
Oswego, N. Y., August 25, 1892.
Sirs: You ask me to give you my judgment as to a harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay, which I do with pleasure. As to the most proper place for the convenience of the commerce, Big Sandy Creek is quite convenient when there is water enough to get over the bar.
Port Ontario is another place about the same as Sandy Creek. I have been in trade in both places. I would recommend opening a channel in Little Sandy Pond. There is a body of water 4 miles long, 1 1/2 miles wide, deep water in the most part of it, being in the center of Mexico Bay. It would accommodate the commerce trade as well as any other point. A harbor of refuge means deep water and plenty of room. Open a channel in Little Sandy Pond and you have plenty of water and all the room you want; it would cost no more to open a channel there than it would to the other places. It is sandy bottom.
Big Sandy Creek and Port Ontario are limited for room inside, and it would be a great expense to make what room it would be necessary to have.
I own and command the steamer Wm. Gilbert, 51 tons; do freighting and towing: from 30 to 40 trips across the lake. A harbor would be of value and desirable. I would use such a harbor very often, as I have had to get out up the bay the best I could, as these places could not be made only in fine weather and in the daytime. I never have had any loss, only being drove away. I have owned and been master of vessels since 1848, and navigated the foot of the lake most of the time. Yours respectfully,
Capt. William Gilbert.
LETTER OF MR. T. DOBBIE.
Oswego, N. Y., August 26, 1892.
Dear Sir: Your circular letter of August 15 was mislaid, but has just come to light.
Concerning first three questions, would answer (1) yes; (2) Port Ontario; (3) cribs and superstructure of the same general form as those at this port.
Of the next nine: (1) The schooner Comanche and tug Charley Ferris; (2) 306 and 27.05 net tons, respectively; (3) Comanche, grain, coal, and lumber; Ferris is engaged in towing; (4) Comanche comes here upper lake ports two or three times during season; Ferris tows across the lake about fifteen times during season; (5) it might be; (6) can think of but one; (8) at mouth Salmon River, Port Ontario. Yours,
Capt. Dan C. Kingman.
LETTER OF E. W. RATHBUN & CO.
E. W. Rathbun & Co.,
Manufacturers And Wholesale Lumber Dealers,
Oswego, N.Y., August 23, 1892.
Dear Sir: We have delayed yours of the 15th, awaiting a letter from our Capt. Gowan, of the steamer Resolute, who has been away from here some time. He thinks the best place for the harbor of refuge would be just around the point, east of what is known as Nine Mile Point, as it is most protected from west winds, and from the west and northwest is generally from where we get the most severe storms. Still, he says, a harbor at Mexico Point would be of much benefit, but that location would not be as desirable as the former place, as the west and northwesterly winds would create more of a sea in Mexico Bay than just east of Nine Mile Point.
Captain Dougherty, of the steamer Reliance, agreed with Captain Go wan as to location and necessity, and, in fact, all oar captains agree that a harbor at one of these points would be a most excellent thing. The Rathbun Company own several steamers and barges, which rarely ever navigate this lake, but the following steamers and barges do cross the lake:
Answering your question No. 1: Screw steamer Resolute, 325 tons; screw steamer Reliance, 225 tons; side-wheel passenger boat Rocket, 250 tons; tow-barge Puritan, 120 tons; tow-barge Osiris, 120 tons.
Answering question No. 3: The above boats are engaged in the lumber, grain, and coal trade, with the exception of the Rocket, which is solely a passenger boat; Resolute and Reliance carry passengers also.
Answering question No. 4: About one hundred trips each.
Answering question No. 5: A harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay, or east of Nine Mile Point, would be of great value; the latter place preferred.
Answering question No. 6: We can not give a definite answer to this, as most of our captains have been on these barges but a short time.
Answering question No. 7: Several times, but cannot tell the exact number.
Answering question No. 8: We think immediately east of Nine Mile Point; still, Mexico Bay would not be objectionable.
E. W. Rathbun & Co.
Capt. Dan Kingman.
LETTER OF MR. GEORGE COBLE.
Oswego, N. Y., August 19,189S.
Dear Sir: Your favor of the 15th ultimo at hand, and contents fully noted. I own in part and control the following-named vessels: M. J, Cummings, 314 tons; West Side, 308; and KateKelley, 267 tons.
The first-named vessel is a three-masted schooner and the last two are two-masted schooners. They are engaged, principally, in the grain trade on Lake Erie, Toledo to Buffalo, part of the time; iron ore, Lake Michigan to Lake Erie; and some grain, Lake Erie to Lake Ontario and River St. Lawrence. They usually make from 6 to 12 trips per season, depending very much if they are on the long or short trade. Toledo to Buffalo is considered the short trade.
From what trade we have had of late years to Lake Ontario and River St. Lawrence, I can't see how a harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay would be of much service to the vessels that I control. None of the above-named vessels have had occasion to use a harbor of refuge at foot of Lake Ontario. Never been exposed to loss or injury at foot of Lake Ontario through lack of harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay. I am not prepared to say which would be the best point to build a harbor of refuge, but think from what I know of the foot of the lake that Port Ontario would be the best point.
I think a harbor of refuge in Mexico Bay would be of great value to the tugs and tows of barges that trade between Oswego and the River St. Lawrence. I remain, yours, very truly,
Dan C. Kingman,
Captain of U. S. Corps of Engineers,
LETTER OF MR. WM. A. JENKINS.
Woodville, Jefferson County, N. Y., August 27,1892
Dear Sir: By the kindness of your agent at Sacketts Harbor I received one of your circulars of August 15, 1892. In answer to your first question I command and control the schooner Fiat; tonnage, Government register, is 36.36 tons; carries 70 net tons.
(3) Is employed in coasting trade and with Canada.
(4) When running the whole season makes 25 to 40 trips.
(5) Yes, sir; a harbor of refuge would help me.
(6) Average three to five times annually for twenty-five years.
(7) I have lost two at the mouth of Big Sandy Creek and have been on the rocks there and met with much loss.
(8) In the center of the bay at Big Sandy Creek.
(9) There has been about 50 vessels lost in Mexico Bay in about that number of years, and nearly one-half of them at or within 5 miles each way from the creek.
There has been two surveys of the mouth of Big Sandy Creek for a harbor of refuge, the last one about 1875, by Civil Engineer W. P. Judson, of Oswego, N. Y.,who can give you valuable information on the subject. I have a map and report of Mr. Judson's survey and a petition signed by many captains asking for a harbor of refuge at the mouth of Big Sandy Creek, saying that it is the proper place for a harbor in Mexico Bay. The petition was made to send to Congress, but our Member proved a cipher in the matter and I kept the petition for future use. I shall be glad to procure you any information on the subject that I can, if you wish. I am, sir, with respect, truly yours,
Wm. A. Jenkins,
Mailer Schooner Fiat.
Captain of Engineers.
The master of the Medora, with all who were lost 5 miles north of Big Sandy Creek, would have been saved with a harbor and light at Big Sandy Creek.
The Ann of Hamilton, Victory, Win. L. Marcy, Emery, Neptune, Huron, Pidgeon (Halifax brig), Oriental, with one or two canal boats; Sodus, Sampson, Christiana, Anna Morton, North Star, Sampson 2nd; Laurel, Wm. Elgin, Cortez, Nellie Theresa, Cherry Will, steamer E. A. Fan Horn, Ariadne, three men lost; Ocean Wave, Minnie Francis, barge, steamer Mary Stewart, Delaware, Bangor, Trade, as well as the lives of many sailors, would have been saved.
Commercially considered I have carried half a million Jefferson County money up to Oswego to pay for what was brought away, and as much more has been carried by others in business here. It is a competing port to railroad freight, coal, fuel, lumber, and grain.
I have been told personally by many captains they would never attempt to enter Oswego Harbor, and went ashore as they did, had there been a harbor at 8andy Creek.
The money dumped in the Mississippi River and other rivers and harbors foolishly would make a harbor in Mexico Bay that would save double the money that it cost, and, as many sailors expressed it, it is only a question of time when the party in power will become informed of the true state of the matter and will erect a harbor, etc., at the mouth of Big Sandy Creek.
Hoping you will accept this letter with my best intentions, I remain the friend of navigation.
Wm. A. Jenkins.