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Title:[Letter] 1831 Sep. 19, Nashville, Tennessee [to] W[illia]m Carroll / T.A. Durmest : a machine readable transcription of an image
Author: Durmest, T.A.

This work is the property of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching, and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text. For all other use contact the Tennessee State Library and Archives, 403 Seventh Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243-0312. (615) 741-2764.

Date: September 19, 1831
Extent: 9p
Summary:This is a letter to Governor William Carroll dated September 19, 1831. It is from T.A. Durmest, an engineer. He is reporting on the natural obstructions in the Tennessee River. He also makes recommendations for overcoming them in order to improve travel on the river. He gives a list of the estimated costs of improvements.
Collection:Governor William Carroll Papers
Document: sl612

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[added: Report__
On the Survey and Examination of the Tumbling Shoals, Suck, and Boiling Pot, on the Tennessee River , within the limits of the State of Tennessee Sept [September] 19th 1831]

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Nashville Sept 19th 1831
To His Excellency Wm [William] Carroll Govr [Governor] of Tennessee

In conformity to your invitation of the 8th June, and your final instructions of the 18th August requesting me to make an examination and survey of the Suck, Boiling Pot, and tumbling Shoals in the Tennessee River within the limits of the state of Tennessee, with a view of ascertaining the probable expense of making those points navigable__ I have the honour [honor] of submitting the following report for your consideration__ The Tennessee River during the Summer has not been at low water mark by several feet, when I reached the suck, the River was at five feet above low water mark and, every Creek was at high water mark causd [caused] by the continued heavy Rains of several succeeding days, under the above circumstances I commenced the examinations named, and when I had nearly completed the survey of the suck, The River rose during the night twelve feet, which made its condition suitable for steam Boat navigation, under the above unfavourable [unfavorable] circumstances, I was compelled to make the examinations of the Boiling Pot & Tumbling Shoals However having had the aid of many intelligent Gentlemen added to that of the most experienced Pilots, I am in hopes that my data will be found sufficient to enable me to give a good description of the obstructions,

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The Tumbling Shoals are two miles and a half above the Suck, and the suck four miles above the boiling Pot__ I will proceed to describe them in the manner in which they stand, commencing with the tumbling Shoals__ This is an obstruction that vanishes during the Boating season on high stage of water at which time the Shoal is equal in its advantages to any part of the River_ it therefore may be called a low water obstruction, The Shoal at low water has a length of about 400 yards on which it falls near three feet with a depth of three and a half, and a width of nearly one hundred feet, its left shore is located within twenty yards of the main left Bank of the Tennessee, The obstructions that exist in this channel are eight Rocks of a large size which are exposd [exposed] from one to two feet in altitude during the dry season of the year, the removal of these Stones becomes indispensibly [indispensably] necessary to the safe navigation of this point during the low stage of water, and from the best information I can obtain as to their size and general character, I am inclined to value their removal at $500.00_ This improvement when done, will be all that this point can at any time require to make it answer all the useful purposes of Navigation__

The Suck
This obstruction is located in Hamilton Cty [County] and is bounded on the right by Waldons Ridge , and on the left by Racoon Mountain , it is by far the most formidable of all the points examined, The Suck is occasiond [occasioned] by the sudden inclination, or fall of the Bottom falling at the time of survey four feet six inches and seven tenths of an inch on a length of one hundred and

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fifty yards and [unclear: aided ] also by the pressure of water towards the channel which at low water does not exceed one hundred feet in width_ The flow of the Tennessee is at all times very great its large Body of water pressing over the sudden inclination of the Bottom, through a narrow channel with a depth of from fifteen to twenty feet causes it to pass with a broken surface in high [unclear: waves ] and a current of Six and three fourth miles pr [per] hour, it is the action of these high waves on the exposed surface of the ascending Boats that constitute the obstruction, The current of water is not so great but that steam power would be able to ascend were it not for the broken surface above spoken of_ we may therefore call this a water obstruction presenting the greatest obstruction at the dry season of the year and vanishing only at the highest freshets so that it may be considered a constant impediment to the navigation of the River. I found only six inches fall in the next five hundred and fifty two yards and indeed we may say that the obstruction does not exceed one hundred and fifty yards in length and is located between two eddies one above which has a depth of from fifteen to twenty feet at low water, and the one above below of from six to eight, I think it reasonable that the fall at the dry Season of the year may be from seven to eight feet, The width of the river at common high water is one hundred and sixty five yards From the above facts it becomes evident that the suck has at all times a sufficient channel well supplied with water for all purposes of navigation, and the only impediments is the great might of water beating on the exposed surface of the ascending Boats & limited to a length of lone hundred & fifty yards.

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From the foregoing data we are led to examine how we are to aid the power of the ascending Boats so as to overcome the resistance of the water, or secondly how we are to soften the power of the water, so as to leave the power of the water in favor of the ascending Boats, The plan suggests in favor of the first proposition which will be here recommended, is that a Pier be built and located at from one hundred to one hundred and fifty yards above the suck, and placed in a line with the [unclear: center of the Shoal ]built forty feet high and of the most massive stone and closely bound with heavy [unclear: Iron ] The Pier must be forty feet above low water mark. on account of the freshets that are not less than thirty five feet, and the height recommended will only keep its top above high water mark. On top of the Pier must be placed a chain cable attachd to a [unclear: capstan ], to afford means by which the ascending Boats may be able to pass by the rapid point of the obstacle, by using this stationary power in aid of the power of the ascending Boats, This Pier when completed will afford power enough to Keep[added: help]the navigation and cause but little delay to the Boats after arriving at the suck The second mode of making the improvement lends us to enquire how we are to soften the power of the water so as to leave the power in favor of the ascending Boats__ the plan suggested in favor of the proposition which will be here recommended is, that the two wing dams be built having an opening of one hundred feet for the passage of the trade of the River, and located about six hundred yards above[added: below] the head of the suck, these wing dams must be located at the most for favourable point immediately above the ware house built by the owners of the Steam Boat Knoxville at which plan the water is from six to eight feet

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at the dry seasons of the Year, These dams when built will throw the fall now existing on one hundred & fifty yds [yards] on an increased distance of six hundred yards thereby making it reasonable to anticipate that the obstacle will be sufficiently improved to enable the power of the Boats to pass without the aid of [unclear: works ]__ If it should be the determination of the state to appropriate a sum sufficient to build both of the works above recommended, the wing dams must first be built, which in all probability will suffice to destroy the power of the water enough to enable Boats to pass, Should we find after these dams are built that we have not realizd [realized] what was anticipated, then the building of the Pier becomes indispensibly necessary and which will supply all the remaining defects, If it should be the determination of the state to appropriate a sum sufficient to build only one of the above works, the Pier must then be first built, as we can with positive certainty calculate the good to be derived from such an improvement, it now remains with the authority of the state of Ten[added: n]essee to descide on this subject The probable cost of these works recommended for the improvement of the suck here follows

The Pier will contain 3420 cubic yds which at $1.35 is $4/117.00

Five [unclear: Tons ] wrought Iron put into the work 1400.00
Running 2 large Rocks in the left shore and
other small ones near the head of the obstruction
Iron Cables & Machinery 1450.00
add for contingencies [unclear: 20 p 61 ] [added: 100] /1/55/3.40
amt [amount] $ 1320.40
The wing dams below the head of the
Suck 2400 yds @ $2 50/100
add Contingencies [unclear: 20 p 61 ] 1200.00
amount $ 7200.00

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The Boiling Pot
This is an obstruction that presents impediments to the navigation only at high water, and is at its worst at high water mark The condition of this pass during the dry season of the year is equal in its advantage to any other part of the River. The flow of the River at low water is concentrated to a channel of one hundred feet in width, and has a depth of from Ten to Fifteen feet with little or no fall, This channel is in the middle of the River, on the left and right of which are many large rocks, which are wholy [wholly] [unclear: bare ] at low water. The Banks of the River are about two hundred yards apart above and below the obstruction, and at the obstruction is less than one hundred yards, It is the want of room for the heavy freshets of the River to pass through this narrow neck, and the sudden expansion of the River below it, that causes the fall to increase with the freshets, added to which the large Rocks against which the flow at high water [unclear: forces ] itself and produces at that depth a heavy motion or breaking of the water that [unclear: causes ] the boiling Pot, always increasing with the difficulty which the water finds in passing through this narrow pass and forcing its way by the Rock above named The fall at the time of survey was two feet two inches and the high water mark is forty feet. The River at the time of survey was seventeen feet above low water mark so that I have only my information as to the character of the Rocks spoken of from the intellegent [intelligent] Gentlemen that accompanied me The current at this pass does not exceed five and a half miles we [unclear: have ] a current that the ascending Boats could well pass, were it not for

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the boiling evidently produced by the Rocks that stand in the narrow pass that are out of water at the dry__ Season of the year, By removing these rocks we will [unclear: give ] space for the water to pass and also smooth the Bottom over which the freshets flow, It is anticipated that the removal of those Rocks will smooth the surface of the current, and annul the Boiling Pot, which does not exceed in length one hundred and fifty-yards, It is recommended as a first experiment that these Rocks be removd for which follows the estimate

Estimate for the Imprint of the Boiling Pot
The amt of Labor necessary to remove the obstruction
at this Point consisting of large detachd Rocks
will probability cost say____
If all the works recommended be necessary for the
improvements it will require a Gross sum of
If the wing dams should be adopted and should suffice without the Pier which is
quite probable, the whole of the improvement
will cost only
If the Pier should be adopted and the
wing dams omitted the whole of the im
provement will cost_____

I cannot close without expressing my regret that the River did not afford me a better opportunity of presenting a more perfect report, however I have done the best that circumstances would permit, believing that I have not underestimated the value of making the improvements all of which is most respectfully submitted by

your most respectful humble servant
[unclear: T A. Durmest ]
[added: Engineer]

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[added: NB [Nota Bene] A canal is practicable at the suck but the cost would far exceed the means that could be at command, and would cost much more than the improvements recommended____]

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