It seems that a Committee, consisting of W. E. Bleecker and Lansing Pruyn, were ap pointed by the City of Albany, to inquire into the expediency of constructing a Ship Canal from Albany to New Baltimore, a village 14 miles below the Capital of the Empire State. Between these two places, during the dry months of summer, steamboats, sloops, &c often get aground, and at no time can ships get up past what is called the " Overslaugh," or mud banks. There are many shifting sand and mud banks between the two places, so that the channel not unfrequently changes during heavy freshets, when the ice is break ing up. A letter has been addressed to the Committee named, by Mr. McAlpine, our able State Engineer, who states that his public du ties have prevented him from giving the sub ject a complete personal investigation, but says that the duty was performed by Messrs. 0. Blanc, J. D. Coleman,and W. A. Perkins, who have made the necessary surveys, maps, &c. and have proposed the route of the canal. The report is favorable for a canal elevated above the reach of freshets, to be 12 miles long, 20 feet deep, 120 feet wide at top and 50 at the bottom, and to have locks at Albany, to pass vessels 215 feet long and 30 feet wide, and locks, at New Baltimore, to pass boats 300 feet long and 80 wide. In connection with this project, provision has been made in the plans and estimates for a large basin, covering 255 acres of land, and nearly one mile in length. The estimated cost of the canal, basin, locks, and works com plete, according to this report, is $2,450,000. The object proposed to be accomplished by the work in question, is to afford an uninter rupted navigation to the city of Albany for such classes ot vessels as are required to na vigate the ocean, and thus permit the trans fer of freight received by the canal to be made at Albany instead of New York. Instead of making this Ship Canal, Mellen Battel, of Albany, proposes making the Hud son River navigable for ships, by building two strong walls parallel with each other, at such a distance from the shores as to contract the current of the river to 1,056 feet. Or, to copy his own description, his plan is to com mence at the end of the present dock at the south end of the city, and opposite, at Green-bush, a pier on each side of the river, at least 15 feet above low-water mark, contracting the river to 1,056 feet, and carrying it down with one width as straight as possible, cutting off all intersecting branches and islands ; and where it crosses branches or runs in deep water, sinking cribs of timber, filled with stone, to low-water mark ; then commence a rough stone wall 8 feet wide at bottom and 4 feet at top, and at les-st 15 feet high, covering the top with stone the whole width—where it runs on the islands or near the shore, dri ving piles ai.d laying down cap timbers and cross-ties at low-water mark ; and then com mencing a stone wall. Where there is a land ing, says he, and a lower dock is desirable, I would build a bulk-head extending to the high ground, to prevent the currentfrom pass ing back of the wall. Where I passed the branches or into deep water, I would leave gateways, so that if it were necessary to ex cavate to get 15 or 20 feet of water, I would pass through these gates to dump the earth or stone behind the wall. The cost he estimates at $1,000,000: his plan strikes us as by far the best and most reasonable. A ship canal on the Hudson, for 14 miles, to get over sand banks, &c , is some thing strange, indeed, especially as it is con sidered that it will require $285,000 per an num to pay the interest on the money invest ed in the canal, furnishing a supply of water and tending the locks. Mr. Battel's plan is quite practicable, only the dredging machine must always be kept in operation. If the City of Albany would keep two good dredge boats going all the navigable season, they would keep the river channel, always open. Nature has given to Albany a river, which, at the driest period of the year contains as much water as would float a seventy-four gun-ship to her wharfs (it the river were well managed) ,—let not the people despise the gift by constructing a canal. A canal to New Balti more, in our opinion, would be a march back ward in engineering. Next week we shall publish some statements and facts respecting the improvement of the river Clyde, which, sixty years ago, contained two feet of water twenty miles below where the Arabia—a ship of 2,300 tons—got in her engines, and where ships of 1800 tons burthen now pass daily.
This article was originally published with the title "A Ship Canal to Albany" in Scientific American 8, 28, 224 (March 1853)