Page images

Until a few years ago scarcely any of this power was utilized.

Since 1900, with an increase in population of about 2,400,000, or something more than 10 per cent, the South has increased the value of its farm products by $728,000,000, or 57 per cent, and the value of its manufactures $761,000,000, or 52 per cent. It has added 3,493,000 spindles to its cotton-mill outfit, an increase of 55 per cent, and its mills used in 1906 about 2,375,000 bales of American cotton, or 48 per cent more than in 1900. In the six years the South's annual pig-iron production has increased by 896,000 tons, or 34 per cent; its coal production by 34,202,000 tons, or 69 per cent: the value of exports at its ports $177,000,000, or 38 per cent. In that time its railroad mileage has increased by 11,441 miles, or nearly 22 per cent, and the assessed value of property by $2,490,000,000, or nearly 48 per cent. (Manufacturer's Record.]

This showing is not made by the South alone. It represents the results of capital from all parts of the country applied to the development of the resources of the South. It is therefore national, not local, development.

Coincidental with this industrial advance has come about a strong demand for electricity generated by water power. Electric development plants have sprung up on nearly all streams, and in great numbers on those flowing through the Piedmont Plateau. While relatively little of the nearly 5,000,000 horsepower is as yet utilized, its utilization is increasing at a marvelous rate.

Ready power to the value of $38,000,000 will give the country tremendous advantage, not alone in manufacturing, but in transportation, in lighting, and' in every kind of development. Water power is especially valuable to those sections which have no deposits of coal, and its advantages will steadily enhance in the future as the supply of coal grows scarcer and the price correspondingly higher.

On the great watersheds forming the White Mountain region the four most important streams of New England have their rise.

Upon them are located the great cotton, woolen, and paper mills of New England. They abound in fine water power, only a part of which is now utilized. It has been estimated that the capital invested in the manufacturing enterprises which utilize the power of these streams amounts to $250,000,000. Important and flourishing cities have grown up in consequence of these industries. Bellows Falls, in Vermont; Manchester and Berlin, in New Hampshire; IIolyoke, Lowell, and Lawrence, in Massachusetts; and Biddeford, Brunswick, and Lewiston, in Maine, are representatives of such cities, ranging in population from 10,000 to 150,000.

The Connecticut River, the largest of New England streams, rises in the Connecticut Lakes of northern New Hampshire. It forms the boundary between Vermont and New Hampshire for 180 miles and flows across Vassachusetts and Connecticut for 120 miles. Its drainage basin includes 10,924 square miles, of which nearly one-fourth lies in New Hampshire and one-tenth in the White Mountains. The White Mountains portion of its watershed averages nearly 4,000 feet in clevation, including portions of the great Presidential and Franconia ranges. Their slopes are steep and rocky, without large lakes or swamps, and with only the forest to retard the run-off. Water power in the upper stream is developed chiefly at Fifteen Mile Falls and McIndoe Falls on the main river and at Littleton and Lisbon on the Ammonoosuc. Below McIndoe Falls are long reaches of smooth water broken at Bellows Falls, Turners Falls, Holyoke, Windsor Locks, and three other points by falls having an average aggregate during ten months of the year of 120,000 horsepower. Less than half is utilized.

In very low water the power is reduced nearly one-half, so that but a small margin remains over the amount required for daily use. At Holyoke, Mass., the margin is frequently so small as to require the most careful use of water to make the supply meet the needs. The census of 1880 reported for the Connecticut and all of its tributaries 2,298 mills using 118,026 horsepower developed from the streams. It is estimated that these figures have since been increased by about 20 per cent, making the present total over 140,000 horsepower.

The Merrimac River is undoubtedly the most notable water-power stream for its length in the United States. Between Franklin and Newburyport, a distance of 110 miles, it has a fall of 269 feet, of which 185 feet is developed, representing approximately 50,000 net horsepower. Of the remaining 84 feet, it is believed that less than half can be utilized. Probably the total development in the main stream will not exceed 60,000 horsepower. Its great water powers are at Manchester, N. H., and Lowell and Lawrence, Mass. On the tributaries of the Merrimac valuable powers also exist. Those at Franklin on the Winnepesaukee are equal in value to some on the main stream. The Merrimac is formed by the Pemigewasset and Winnepesaukee rivers. The latter has its source in the lake of the same name, while the former rises in the Franconia Notch of the White Mountains and drains a large area of high, mountainous country. Since the Pemigewasset has no lakes or swamps to conserve its waters, it depends upon the forest cover alone for its regularity of flow.

The Saco River rises in Crawford Notch, in the heart of the White Mountains, and drains a larger proportion of the principal ranges than any other stream. None of its tributary streams from the mountains have lakes to restrain their waters, though, like the Merrimac at its lower levels, it is the outlet of important lakes. Toward its headwaters the Saco is variable in its flow and has no important water powers, but on its lower reaches in Maine its flow is broken at six places by falls, affording water power of a high value. At Saco and Biddeford, at Union and Salmon Falls, and at Bar Mills fine water power exists, a large part of which is utilized. At Hiram, 45 miles from the sea, is found the most extensive power on the river. The Saco, while its possibilities are great, is more dependent upon the forest cover for the evenness of its flow than any other river having its source in the White Mountains.

The Androscoggin River has a drainage basin with a higher general elevation and a larger lake system than any other New England stream. It is formed by the union of Magalloway River and the outlet of Umbayog Lake, at Errol, N. H. At its headwaters is the magnificent system of Rangeley Lakes, the outlet of which is controlled by dams. The flow of the upper river is therefore very uniform.

Farther down its course the Androscoggin receives the drainage of the northern part of the principal ranges of the White Mountains through Peabody and Moose rivers. On this part of its drainage there are no lakes of importance. The water powers of the Androscoggin are centered at Berlin, M. H., and Rumford Falls, Livermore Falls, Lewiston, and Brunswick, Me. In the 167 miles between tide water and Umbagog Lake there is a fall of 1,235 feet, of which 610 feet is used, corresponding to about 120,000 net horsepower. Of the remaining 625 feet, possibly two-thirds can be utilized, corresponding to 60,000 net horsepower, and bringing the total to about 180,000 horsepower, or approximately three times that of the Merrimac without its tributaries.

The streams of the White Mountains, therefore, furnish power for great industries, and are the basis of development for many prosperous cities in all the New England States but one. These streams are all influenced vitally in flow by the forest which covers the slopes of the White Mountains.


Timber supply and water power are not the only factors which make the Appalachian Mountains commercially important. All the water gathered by the Southern Appalachian and White Mountains flows to the sea through navigable rivers. With greater elevation than other parts of the watersheds the mountains receive much more rainfall, and with their cooler climate the evaporation is less; hence there is more water to be discharged. Because of the precipitous slopes of the mountains the run-off is far more rapid than in other sections. To this must be added the fact that in the Southern Appalachians there are no natural lakes to gather the flood waters and equalize the flow of streams. There are thus two powerful influences contributing to an extremely heavy discharge from these mountains, and two more contributing to an extremely rapid run-off. Combined, these tend to produce great variability in the flow of all streams which have a large part of their watersheds in the mountains.

A large regular discharge coming from springs is desirable, a variable surface run-off is bad from every point of view, and so far as possible should be remedied. The variability of the present flow of Southern Appalachian streams is so great that though the average volume would make the streams constantly navigable, they are at extreme flood during a few weeks of the year and at extreme low water during a much longer period. Their low-water stage causes interference and loss to business through the cessation of navigation; their highwater stage often entails damage and loss from floods.

There is but one natural factor which tends to equalize the flow of Southern Appalachian streams--the forest. In one continuous mantle, covering ridges, slopes, and coves, it has for untold ages been nature's sole reliance for the proper distribution of rainfall. If storm and deluge came, the downpour fell upon a foot-deep layer of humus, which readily received many times its own weight of water before it allowed any to escape. When filled, it passed on the excess to a soil made porous by myriads of penetrating roots and countless tons of vegetable mold. If drought came, it found the humus and soil filled as a reservoir with water for the steady supply of springs and streams through weeks or months of rainless weather.

The original forest, then, with its characteristic conditions of shade, undergrowth, humus, and soil, was an effectual distributer of moisture. It was as efficient as would have been a system of lakes. It had power to hold back the water on a steep mountain side almost as though the ground were level. Thus, in a great measure, it equalized all influences which contributed to the variability of the run-off.

This balance of conditions began to be disturbed when the forest was cleared from great areas of foothill land. It has become strongly disarranged since the clearing has extended far up the mountains and since the forest has been opened by cutting and the humus consumed by fire over almost the entire area.

In view of the fact that over large areas of the upper watersheds of the Southern Appalachian streams the forest can never be restored, the possibilities of artificial storage become important. In the report of the Geological Survey on Relation of Southern Appalachian Mountains to Inland Water Navigation data are presented for each navigable stream to show the available reservoir sites, the amount of water which can be stored, and the effect of such stored water on the minimum river stage for specified periods. The data for some streams show that remarkable results can be accomplished. As a striking example one may consider the Savannah, which during the greater part of the year is navigable for steamboats drawing from 4 to 5 feet of water, but during low-water seasons there are various shoals in the upper part of the river with a depth of not over 3 feet. In pursuance of the plan of improvement outlined by the Chief of Engineers, United States Army, the United States had expended in the improvement of this river up to June 30, 1905, the sum of $517,643, of which $58,935 was expended above Augusta. The estimate of cost to complete the project is $645,045. Expenditures on the upper portion of the river have now been suspended on the ground that the permanent improvement of this portion would involve an expenditure out of proportion to the prospective commercial benefits.

Considering this condition, it is of interest to note what can be done by means of a storage system on this river. Topographic surveys have located 14 reservoir sites, which, if developed,

would have a capacity equal to the annual run-off of 1,670 square miles of drainage area, or 23 per cent of the drainage area above Augusta. With these reservoirs developed and filled, the amount of water which could be stored would be sufficient to maintain an added depth of 9 feet at Augusta for a period of 118 days, or practically four months. Even with the reservoirs half full at the beginning of the low-water season there would still be water enough to add 5 feet to the depth of the river for 130 days. The Savannah, already a river of great commercial importance, would have its commerce increased many fold if only a good navigable depth could be maintained at all seasons.

It is not pertinent here to consider whether at a future time it may be desirable to plan a general system of such reservoirs. It is important to point out that every reservoir developed for water power in the mountains or foothills helps conditions in the navigable courses of the streams. Owing to the great water-power development which is taking place, this aid is likely to be of considerable value in the future. When in addition to seeking improved conditions of navigation it is of equal or greater importance to control the floods, as in the Monongahela River, such work may become entirely feasible.



The Weather Bureau carefully investigated the damage along the Ohio River from the floods of January and March, 1907, and found that the property loss, not including damage to soil and river channel, amounted to $9,900,000, most of which was sustained by the city of Pittsburg. The report of the Geological Survey shows that the flow of 1,950 square miles, or 35 per cent of the drainage area of the Monongahela, can be stored for a full year, and that by such storage the low-water stage in the Monongahela can be increased by 6 feet throughout the longest dry-season period ever known in the history of the river. The measurements show that by the storage of this water in the Monongahela an increase of stage of 3 feet can be effected in the Ohio River at Wheeling for a period considerably longer than four months. This means a distinct improvement for both navigation and flood conditions. With 35 per cent of the Monongahela water subject to storage, the flood damage at Pittsburg and Wheeling would be almost eliminated. With the minimum stage of the Ohio at Wheeling increased by 3 feet, the coveted 9-foot stage between Pittsburg and Cincinnati would all but be secured.

The streams which drain the White Mountain region are all navigable in their lower courses. The Connecticut River is the most important for its commerce. Commerce in considerable volume is carried on from the mouth to Hartford, 30 miles, and small boats by way of the Windsor Locks may ascend as far as IIolyoke, Mass. The Androscoggin, Kennebec, and Saco in their upper courses are used to a large extent for the driving of logs. The lower Kennebec supports an extensive ice trallic.



The forest bears a vital relation to successful utilization of water power and effectual artificial storage. No matter what its purpose or design, any reservoir system developed in the Southern Appalachians is foredoomed to failure unless the watersheds which feed it are kept under forest. The present torrential discharge of the streams is due to the extent to which the forest has been cut away or damaged. The more this sole equalizing factor is lessened, the more extreme will be the floods on the one hand and low-water stages on the other. A mountain watershed denuded of its forest, with its surface hardened and baked by exposure, will discharge its fallen rain into the streams so quickly that overwhelming floods will descend in wet seasons. In discharging in this torrential way the water carries along great portions of the land itself. Deep gullies are washed in the fields, and the soil, sand, gravel, and stone are carried down the streams to points where the current slackens. The stone and gravel are likely to be dropped in the upper channel of the stream, to be rolled along by subsequent floods, but the sand and silt are carried down to the still water of the first reservoir, where they are deposited. It is this silting up that makes uncertain any reservoir system outside the limits of a forested watershed.

Since the extensive removal of the forest on the upper watersheds there has been a vast accumulation of silt, sand, and gravel in the upper stream courses. Examples of reservoirs completely filled are already to be seen on almost every stream. Removal of the silt is


« PreviousContinue »