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of Engineers by resolution of the Fifty-fifth Congress, third session, which passed the Senate, May 28, 1898, requesting "the Secretary of War to prepare and submit plans, specifications and estimates for the improvement of the harbor at Aransas Pass, Texas.''
Two members of the former Board composed the one appointed under this resolution. They reported on December 17, 1898, but the report and estimate were not submitted until the hour of the hearing before the River and Harbor Committee, and then was not read in full. It states that the Board is of the opinion that to secure a 20 foot channel of a width of 150 feet at bottom "it will be advisable to build two parallel jetties and to have recourse to dredging.” . . . . Also that "a portion of the old Government jetty and the outer 1000 feet of foundation of the Aransas Pass Harbor Company's jetty must be removed in any case." (See Fig. 1.)
The estimate accompanying this carefully matured plan places the cost of the works at $1,525,000, without provision for maintenance. Had this plan been adopted it would have destroyed the efficacy of the reaction breakwater almost entirely and would have involved the Government in useless annual expense for maintenance. It was therefore met on the spot by a counter-proposition to complete the existing work as designed, guarantee a twenty-foot channel within two years and secure the Government from loss by filing a large bond of indemnity, conditioned on the payment by the United States of a sum less than one-half the above estimate of the Government's engineers, on the completion of the work. The proposition also included the use of the invention at this place gratis. The committee held it under advisement to be put in legal form, which was subsequently done, but before acting upon it the Government engineers offered to dredge a channel (without guarantees, however, of any kind) for the sum of $100,000. The committee therefore requested my presence when in executive session, and after a brief discussion as to the probable cost of the several parts of the work and the results to be expected therefrom it decided to insert the following item in its bill:
"Improving Aransas Pass, Texas: For dredging and other improvement of Aransas Pass Harbor, sixty thousand dollars: Provided, That the Secretary of War is hereby authorized to contract for the removal of that portion of the old Government jetty in said harbor from the end nearest the curved jetty constructed by the Aransas Pass Harbor Company to the wreck 'Mary,' in such manner as to in no wise interfere with
the curved jetty now wcated in said harbor: And provided further, That said contract shall not be let by the Secretary of War, nor said work done, until the said Aransas Pass Harbor Company shall have
properly released and surrendered all rights and privileges heretofore
granted to it in said harbor by Congress, also the jetty constructed in said harbor."
THE PLAN SAVED FROM DESTRUCTION. Thus the integrity of the invention was preserved for the time being from emasculation, and the Government was saved over $1,000,000 by securing the work done by the Harbor Company, without consideration and by avoiding the unnecessary additional work proposed, the effect of which would have been to obstruct the tidal influx and destroy the natural scour. It should be added that during the consideration of this important subject by both Boards, the Consulting Engineers were given no opportunity to be heard, and did not receive a copy of the reports for months after their presentation to the department.
RESULTS OFFICIALLY REPORTED BY THE COAST SURVEY.-Whilst these matters were pending in Congress last winter the Superintendent of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, Dr. Henry S. Pritchett, detailed the survey steamer, "Bache," during January and February to make a detailed hydrographic survey of the bar, but the report thereof showing the remarkable results was not available until the end of June, too late to be of service before Congress.
In this report the assistant in charge of the "Bache," Capt. Welker, stated that the weather was so bad as to prevent work on the bar for more than about one day out of each week and also that
"In 1895 the Aransas Pass Harbor Company constructed a jetty in the shape of the letter S,' on the north side of the entrance, which is still in existence, and ever since its construction there has been a marked increase in the depth of water on the bar. The present channel crossed the Mansfield jetty, portions of which are still in existence. An attempt was made to remove this by explosion of dynamite, with the result that the rocks scattered over considerable area and without doubt they prevented the current from scouring the bottom to its full capacity." "It is my opinion that by the completion of the present jetty and the clearing away of the rock in the entrance that a channel of at least twenty feet in depth would soon be secured."
This rapid and progressive deepening of the channel was known in the neighborhood by report of pilots and by the draft of vessels entering the Pass, but does not seem to have merited the attention of the Board in the preparation of its recent plans and estimates. In fact the deepening was so remarkable that many persons were very skeptical as to the facts, and it was therefore necessary to have the official confirmation of the Coast Survey as stated above to verify them.
CONDITION OF BAR AFTER SUSPENSION OF WORK BY THE ARANSAS PASS HARBOR CO.
U. S. COAST SURVEY, FEB., 1899, SHOWING HALF-COMPLETED BREAKWATER AND OBSTRUCTING, SUBMERGED JETTY.