3d Session. SENATE 115
To be allowed to improve the navigation of the
of slack water, &c.
January 21, 1839.
Referred to the Committee on Roads and Canals, and ordered to be printed
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the
in Congress assembled:
The memorial of Lysander Spooner, a citizen of the
That the Maumee is a navigable river within the States of Ohio and Indiana; that it also has navigable branches in both of these States; that the head of the rapids, so called, in Ohio, is the virtual termination, in its eastern direction, of its navigableness, but that the extent of continuous navigation in the river and its several branches above that point westward, is about 200 miles; that this navigation is now imperfect, by reason of rapids in some parts of its course, which make the ascending navigation laborious, and, also, by reason of low water in summer; hat he believes that by the creation of slack-water these defects may be so far supplied as to give a constant navigation for steamboats of severty-five to an hundred tons burthen; that both the improved navigation, and the hydraulic power that would be created thereby, would be of great value to the country bordering these streams; that for hydraulic and other purposes, suggested by the wants or necessities of the people, illegal encroachments are being gradually made upon the navigation of some of these rivers, by dams without locks; that, in the opinion of your memorialist, all occasion for these encroachments would be superceded, and the greatest benefits capable of being derived from the rivers to be secured to the public, by a permission from Congress to the riparian owners to improve the navigation by slack-water; that, from various laws of Congress applicable to this river, and from the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, he supposes that Congress is the only power capable of granting this permission.
He further represents that the natural ascent in the river, within the first thirty miles from the said head of the rapids upward, is about eighteen and a half feet; that, as a riparian owner at the head of the rapids, and otherwise, we is deeply interested in the navigation of the river, in its improvement, and, especially, in its preservation from destruction; that he believes that if he and his associates should be permitted to improve the navigation by slack-water within the first thirty miles above said head of the rapids, other owners above that point will be encouraged to make the same improvements, if permitted by Congress to do so; and that, ultimately, 300 miles of free, constant, and valuable navigation will be given, without cost, to the public, and the wants of the country for hydraulic power be also supplied.
He therefore prays that he and such other persons as he may associate with him may be permitted to improve the navigation of said river within the thirty miles above mentioned, on the terms contained in the annexed draft of a bill, (which would give all the privilege he desires,) or on such other terms as the wisdom of Congress may suggest.
AN ACT to authorize Lysander Spooner and his associates to improve the navigation of the
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Lysander Spooner, and such other persons as he may associate with him, their successors, heirs, and assigns, be, and they hereby are, authorized, at their own cost, to erect and forever maintain in the Maumee river, such dams as may be necessary for making slack water, of the greatest depth of which the banks of said river are capable, throughout the distance of thirty miles from and above the head of the rapids, so called, which is in the counties of Wood and Lucas, in the State of Ohio.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That in the dam that shall be erected at the said head of the rapids there shall be constructed a shute, or slope, that shall be of equal safety and convenience with the present channel of the river, for the passage of any logs, rafts, or other things which the public may wish to transport down said rapids; and there shall also be constructed, in a proper position in connexion with each dam that shall be built above said head of the rapids, a lock of suitable form and size for the safe and convenient passage of all craft that may hereafter be navigated on said river, which locks shall ever be free for the use of such craft and the public.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That the proprietors of each of said dams and locks shall forever be jointly and severally liable, in triple damages, with costs, for any injury not exceeding twenty dollars, and in full damages, with costs, for any injury exceeding twenty dollars, which may be sustained by any person or persons navigating said river, by reason of any fault in the construction of such dam or lock, or any negligence in keeping the same in repair, or by reason of any other fault in relation thereto on the part of the owners thereof; which damages and costs may be sued for and recovered by the injured party, in the courts and according to the laws of the State of Ohio.
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That if either of said dams or locks shall ever, from any cause whatever, be in a condition to work a practical nuisance in said river, and shall be suffered to remain so for an unreasonable length of time, it may be abated as such nuisance according to law.
Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That nothing in this act shall be understood to grant to the said Spooner, or his associates, any right to overflow, or to abut their dams against, any lands bounding upon said river, without the consent of the owners thereof.
Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That if the said dams shall not be completed in five years from the passage of this act, then the privilege granted hereby shall be void as to any dam that may then remain unfinished.
Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That nothing in this act shall be construed to prejudice any right of jurisdiction which the State of Ohio may have in or over said river, or to grant to the said Spooner or his associates any privilege which shall be in conflict with any rights of property or otherwise, which any individual has in said river.
[Journal of the Senate, 1839, 3rd Session of the 25 Congress.]
Jan. 21, p. 142
Mr. Davis presented the memorial of Lysander Spooner, praying to be allowed the privilege, in conjunction with others, of improving the navigation of the
Jan. 25, p. 159
On motion by Mr. Tipton,
Ordered, That the Committee on Roads and Canals be discharged from the further consideration of the memorial of Lysander Spooner; and from the further consideration of the memorial of Edward D. Tippett.