September 7, 1833


Report of the Engineer in Chief to the Stockholders of the Ithaca and Owego Railroad Company.


The President and Directors of the Ithaca and Owego Railroad Company have the pleasure of submitting to the stockholders the subjoined report of the Engineer in Chief.


We deem it unnecessary to enter into a detail of the location and progress of the work, as that will appear in the full and ample development (sic) of the Engineer in his report herewith submitted, in which we have entire confidence; but will confine ourselves to a few observations on the present and future prospects of the road, to which the stockholders look for a remuneration of their investments in the stock of the company. On this subject we have full confidence in the assurance, that if the calculations for the future can be regulated by the experience of the past, they are flattering.


The importance of a communication by canal or railroad by this route, from the waters and country of the north and west, with the Susquehanna on the south, has been a subject of much calculation and speculation for several years past, and efforts for its completion have engaged the attention of the commercial portion of our community.


This communication will be effected in the completion of your railroad, and defies all competition by any other route, it being the most direct, least expensive, and shortest portage between the navigable waters of New-York and Pennsylvania.


The head of the inclined planes is 517 feet above the Cayuga Lake; thence running to Owego with an undulation of 21.12 feet per mile, considered equivalent to a level, through the Beaver Meadow, where the waters divide and flow north to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and south to the Chesapeake Bay. On the streams thus formed along the line are 33 mills, and the immediate vicinity furnishes an abundant supply of timber.


From accurate calculations by the best informed merchants and carriers in the villages of Ithaca and Owego, we have derived the following statement:


The transportation from Ithaca for the year 1828 was, in exports, 10,678 tons; imports, 7,929 do.; total, 18,607 tons. For the year 1831, exports, 31,631 tons; imports, 11,525 do.; total, 43,156 tons.


Should we take the ratio of those years for the year 1834, when your road will be completed and in full operation, we could safely calculate the amount at 76,800 tons, equal to 320 tons a day. We have, however, after a moderate and careful review, concluded to present the following as a fair estimate of the amount of tonnage that will pass the railroad in the year 1834: Merchandise, 2,000 tons; wheat and four, 5,000; pork, butter, and whiskey, 2,000; ashes, 1,000; plaster, 10,000; salt, 5,000; lime and stone, 1,000; lumber, 7,500; miscellaneous; 1,000; total, 34,500 tons.


In this estimate, of tonnage, the article of coal has not been included. The rapid extirpation of wood in the improvement of the country, particularly along the line of the canal, has already enhanced its price, and could coal be obtained at a fair and reasonable rate, it would supercede (sic) the use of wood altogether, and enable the farmer to turn his reserved wood-land into arable, and thus increase his crops for market. The salt works alone would consume an immense amount; wood is now sold there for $2 per cord; and coal could be afforded there for $5 per ton, one ton of coal being equal to four cords of wood; thus making a saving of $3 in every four cords of wood. We might, therefore, rate the tonnage of coal higher, but shall estimate it at 8,000 tons.


When the Chenango Canal shall have been finished, we must expect a competition in the article of anthracite coal; but in the bituminous, from Towanda, a few miles below Tioga Point, there, can be none. The distance from Carbondale, in the region of the anthracite coal beds, by the way of the Chenango canal, through Utica, to the salt works at Syracuse, will be 214 miles, with the canal duty from Chenango Point, heavy lockage and slow progress: the summit near Oriskany or Utica being 730 feet above the canal, and 320 above the Susquehannah (sic) at Chenango Point, giving 950 of lockage, and will require 119 locks of 8 feet lift, which at ten minutes' time (including delay) in passage, will be 1190 minutes. This being converted into distance at the rate of three miles per hour, or 20 minutes per mile, will, so far as time and wages are concerned, be equivalent to an extension of the canal a distance of 59½ miles.


From the same point, (Carbondale,) by the way of the Ithaca and Owego Railroad, Cayuga Lake and Canal, to Syracuse, it is 193 miles; the passage made from Owego to the Cayuga Bridge in eight hours.


Bituminous coal will always be in great demand: for cupola furnaces, however, anthracite is chosen; but for reverberatory (sic) furnaces, forges, smithies, family use, and the boiling of salt, the bituminous will be preferred, as it, makes a more brilliant fire, the flame spreading its heat more readily around.


The Towanda iron ore and coal beds are 36 miles south of Owego, thence to Ithaca 29½  miles, from Ithaca to Cayuga Bridge 36 miles, (lake navigation free of toll,) thence to Syracuse, canal navigation by Montezuma, 42 miles; in the whole 143 miles.


The transportation from Towanda to Owego will be on the navigable waters of the Susquehanna. Steamboats of a light draught of water, such as are at present navigating the Connecticut river, can be successfully used, and some gentlemen at Owego have made the necessary investigations, and contemplate putting on one or more boats in the coal trade. This would immediately give us a direct, easy, and cheap communication between those coal beds and the Erie Canal. The coal beds are inexhaustible, extending for miles westerly.


The bituminous coal beds lie south-west of Newtown, at Peter's Camp, at the head of the Tioga river, probably part of the same vein existing at Towanda, and are 40 miles from the head of the feeder of the Chemung canal, and about the same distance westwardly (sic) from Towanda, accessible through a broken and mountainous country. The route from the head of the feeder of the Chemung Canal to the head of the Seneca Lake is 36 miles long, thence including the length of the lake 40 miles, thence on the Seneca and Erie Canals to Syracuse, 57 miles, making in the whole 173 miles, and passing 61 locks. This lockage being converted into distance, as on the Chenango Canal, will give an extension equal to 30½ miles. The time required on our railroad to ascend the whole elevation will take but twenty minutes, equal to an extension of one mile.


Thus it will be perceived that, as far east as Syracuse, we can transport anthracite coal cheaper than they can by the way of the Chenango Canal; and bituminous, than can be done by the way of the Chemung, as much cheaper as we gain in time and distance. About 80 tons of Carbondale and Towanda coal have been sold in this village during a few days' sleighing, at the price of from $8 to $12 per ton, and ground plaster carried back as the return load. By railroad and steamboats it could be afforded at $4 per ton.


The three furnaces at this place, although not on a large scale, would consume 244 tons annually. We have confidence, therefore, in making the following statement of revenue for the year 1834: Merchandise, 34,500 tons; coal, 8,000 do.; total, 42,500 tons.


Admitting we transport half of this amount, at the rate of $2 per ton, which is from one to two dollars less than the usual price, $42,500; the other half by carriers paying toll only, $21,250; passengers that will concentrate and pass our road from north and south, 50 a day, at $1, 365 days, $18,250; country travel along the line of the road, 50 per day, at 50 cents, 365 days, $9,125.


Amount of revenue as per preceding statement        -           -           -           -


The annual expenses of the road, at a liberal calculation        -           -           -


Leaving a revenue of   -           -           -



The cost of the road will not exceed its capital, $300,000.


Although the above result is great, yet we must have confidence in its reasonableness, from our knowledge of facts and facilities upon which it is founded.


The salt manufactured at the Montezuma works can be reduced in price for the southern market, to the difference in the cost of distance of transportation between Syracuse and Montezuma, being 35 miles.


The plaster beds on the east bank of the Cayuga Lake, but thirty miles from Ithaca, are abundant.


Limestone, making the first quality of white lime, is inexhaustible on both sides of the lake, and there is a market for it south as far as Wilkesbarre (sic), on the Susquehanna, 150 miles; none of good quality being found in the intermediate region. There are also at Springport, on the east bank of the Cayuga Lake, inexhaustible beds of water limestone of the best quality, the lime from which we are now using in the construction of our culverts.


Lime, therefore, will be an important source of revenue, as well as coal, salt, and plaster. The sum, of $71,125, which is a fraction over 23 per cent. n tt on the capital, would therefore be the immediate amount of revenue on the completion of the road: and it is an important consideration, that the amount of revenue which the company may receive is not limited by the charter. But in extending our views to the future business of the road, we must calculate upon its increase from Lake Ontario, 70 miles north of Ithaca, by a channel or route crossing the canal at Montezuma, which is 18 miles from Sodus Bay, through a country abounding with iron ore. Besides, our road must be considered as an important link in the great connexion (sic) between Buffalo, the mart of the western states, and Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New-York. This presents its value in a most interesting light.


We found the above calculation also on the fact that simultaneously, and without concert, a line of communication with New-York is in preparation. A charter has been granted for a railroad from the termination of our road on the north to Geneva, and one from Geneva to Canandaigua, leaving but 90 miles to connect us with Buffalo, and thus unite the navigable waters of the Susquehanna with Lake Erie.


The distance from the Erie Canal at Montezuma to Sodus Bay is 18 miles, which bay on Lake Ontario is 90 miles nearer the city of New-York by this route than any other. It has long been contemplated, and actual movements and reconnaisances (sic) are making, to connect Lake Ontario with the Erie Canal at Montezuma by a canal, which it is believed also will drain the Cayuga marshes (the fall from those marshes to that lake being 138 feet) more effectually than any other mode, which ought to be a great inducement with the state to contribute liberally towards its completion.


The distance from the city of New-York to Ithaca is 210 miles, 17 of which, through a part of New-Jersey, is already traversed by the Paterson Railroad, which would, without doubt, be carried up to the state line, leaving from the southern termination of our road about 150 miles to be completed by the great New-York and Erie Railroad Company, (our road now embracing one-seventh of the whole distance) to connect New-York with the Erie Canal navigation by the Cayuga Lake.


The distance from Owego, the southern termination of our railroad, to the northern termination of the contemplated Lackawanna and Susquehanna Railroad, is 35 miles; and if the Hudson and Delaware Company would construct the road through Pennsylvania, the distance above stated would soon be passed by a connected road, the stock for which would readily be subscribed, and the company would then have a greater market to the north by our railroad and the Chenango Canal, than they now possess by the Hudson.


In the present state of things, without reference to future improvements, the Ithaca and Owego Railroad must of necessity take a large portion of the trade along our lake and the Erie Canal, when repeated experiments shall show its advantages by the diminished expense of transportation.


The navigation of the Susquehanna is at least four weeks earlier in the spring than the eastern sections, and two weeks earlier than the western section of the Erie Canal. Advantage has been taken of this knowledge by some of our merchants, in getting to an early market, and produce has been sent from this village to Baltimore, there sold, goods have been purchased in New-York with the avails, shipped to Albany, and have been forwarded by the first boats on the opening of the canal.


The total cost and trans-
portation of Cayuga plas-
ter and salt, from Ithaca
to Harrisburgh, on the
Susquehanna and our rail‑
road, will be    -           -           -

per ton.

per ton.



The cost of foreign plaster
and salt at Philadelphia,
and transportation to Har‑
risburgh           -           -           -






The total expense of trans-
portation  of flour, pork,
and whiskey, from Ithaca,
passing Baltimore to New-
York or Boston, by  our
railroad and the Susque-
hanna river      -           -           -

Flour, per

Whiskey or
Pork, pr bb;.



Do. by way of Erie Canal
rom Ithaca to New-York.



Difference in favor of Railroad







So far as we have progressed in the construction of the road, we have been influenced by the limitation of our capital, and economical considerations, and have left the question as to the use of stone or wood to depend upon the convenience and cost of obtaining those materials, considering a durable and imperishable road at ten per cent. increase of cost the cheapest. In all works of this kind great prices are demanded and paid at the commencement, produced by the conviction that the work must progress, and that the article wanted is the only one that at the moment can be procured. Some purchases of timber were made from 12 to 14 dollars a thousand feet, board measure, which we can now obtain at 10 or 11 dollars.


Stone rails, which it was supposed we could only procure from the limestone ledges along the shore of the Cayuga Lake, at $3 per perch, (16½ cubic feet,) we can now procure along the line of road at 75 cents, in some of the quarries opened for the building of culverts and viaducts.


Some embarrassments occurred last summer in the financial concerns of the company, arising from misrepresentations and misconceptions, upon which a few stockholders in New-York were induced to refuse payment upon the calls of the company. The President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Engineer, repaired to New-York with the books, maps, and vouchers, and made a full and ample exposition of the concerns and affairs of the company, with which those stockholders were satisfied. The report of a committee expressing that satisfaction, and calculating large profits upon a basis of expense much greater than is now ascertained to be necessary to make the road, is herewith annexed. The work has not, however, stopped, and for the advance of that portion of stock due, we have been sustained by our Treasurer and friends in Albany.


At the last election of Directors held in February, those gentlemen in New-York, who held 542 shares of stock, were represented by their proxy, who also represented 411 shares held in Owego; and those gentlemen holding 1807 shares, residing in Albany, Utica, and Ithaca, were there in person or by proxy. All united in the election of the present Directors, thereby evincing a unity of action favorable to the advancement and prosperity of the work.


All of which is respectfully submitted. By order of the Board of Directors.


FRANCIS A. BLOODGOOD, President. Ithaca, March 14, 1833.

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