State Highway Marker

State Highway Marker

Friday, July 15, 2016

Planning the York River Railroad - 1854

                                                  YORK RIVER RAILROAD
We have been furnished with a copy of the reports of Mr. DUDLEY, President of the York River Railroad, and of Mr. F.S. CLAXTON, Chief Engineer, on the subject of the location of the road, and the various lines that have been surveyed from Richmond to different points on the York River All the routes have not been fully surveyed, owing to sickness among the corps of Engineers and assistants employed upon them; but it is thought that the information obtained is quite sufficient for intelligent and proper conclusions as to the best route and the best terminus. The Engineer states that not only every member of the original party were obliged to succumb; but others who, from time to time, joined it, have been taken down, until the sick list amounted to fourteen. On one of the routes —that through King William—a party were engaged when the report was prepared, but the Engineer hoped their survey would be ready by the time of the assembling of the stockholders on the 9th instant—i.e., to-morrow.

The President, in his report, states that the Board of Directors have determined to establish their Depot immediately on the Ship Dock in this city, lying between 22d and 26th streets, fronting on Water street 924 feet (including cross streets,) and running back to Cary street. From the Depot, the road is to pass under Main street and in rear of Rocketts, around to Gillie's Creek; thence up the ravine of that Creek.

Without going into minute details, at present, we give below the results of the different surveys, and the merits of the different termini, as set forth in the Engineer's Report :

West Point
The best accommodation for shipping is at this point—i.e., the widest and most roomy harbour. The greatest draft to it at low tide is 18 feet. The distance from Richmond to West Point is 42.82 miles.
Cost of single track to W. Point. . $682,393.09
Grading for double . . . . . track 65,644.52
Cost of wharves . . . . .21,470.51 

The harbour from Parham's to Eltham is set down as "the most protected and safest," with 18 feet at low tide. Distance from Richmond 32.2 miles.
Cost of single track . . $606,134.55
Grading for double track . . 67,750.40
Cost of wharves . .18,999.60  

This landing is on the Pamunkey. West Point is in the fork of the junction of the Pamuukey and the Mattapony, which form the York.   

This is on York River; distant from Richmond 37.56 miles, with a draft at low tide of 22 feet.
Cost of single track . . $663,713.38
Grading for double track . .  63,714.15
Wharves and foundation for freight house . . 31,957.51  

Also on York River—46 miles from Richmond, with a minimum depth of 16 feet.
Cost of single track $748,404.00
Grading for double track 69,791.00.
Wharves and foundation for freight house 79,692.79

Stoney Point.*
This is very near Yorktown— distance from Richmond 58 miles, with any required depth of water, but harbour much exposed.
Cost of single track . . $749,930.36
Grading for double track . . .75,000.00
Cribbing and filling in for wharves . . .175 873.20  

It appears from this that Eltham or Parham's has the shortest route, cheapest road and safest harbor. West Point is the most spacious harbor of the two. The remaining three harbors have the advantage of deeper water; but are more exposed. Mr. Claxton publishes two letters, one from Mr. Blunt, Harbor Master of New York, and one from Lieut. Maury, in answer to letters from him. Mr. Blunt says if Mr. C. can get 18 feet water (which he says should be the minimum) a very large business will be done, as vessels trading to New Orleans can only carry 16 feet over the bar. He adds, not one vessel in fifty draws more than 18 feet.

Lieut. Maury advises that the depth be not loss than twenty-three feet, supposing the average draft of vessels in the York river trade will not be less than nineteen feet.

Mr. Claxton acknowledges his obligations to Assistant Engineers Atkinson, Myers, Mayo, Hendren and Lawson.

The President states that Mr. John Tabb, one of the State Directors of the road, having resigned, Major Wm. B. Taliaferro of Gloucester has been appointed in his place. The decision of the question of route is an important one and will attach much interest to the proceedings of the company.

-The Daily Dispatch, 8 August 1854

*Stoney Point Plantation apparently is now the site of the Marine barracks at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown.

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