63D CONGRESS, ) HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. DOCUMENT
1st Session, No. 121.
CHARLOTTE HARBOR, FLA.
THE SECRETARY OF WAR,
WITH A LETTER FROM THE CHIEF OF ENGINEERS, REPORT ON
PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION OF CHARLOTTE HARBOR, FLA.,
FROM THE 24-FOOT CONTOUR INSIDE BOCA GRANDE PASS TO THE
16j-FOOT CONTOTLR WEST OF PUNTA GORDA POINT, THENCE TO
THE TOWN OF PUNTA GORDA, WITH A VIEW TO OBTAINING A
CHANNEL 20 FEET IN DEPTH WITH SUITABLE WIDTH.
JUNE 28, 1913.-Referred to the Committee on Rivers and Harbors and ordered
to be printed, with illustration.
Washington, June 26, 1913.
Smi: I have the honor to transmit herewith a letter from the Chief
of Engineers, United States Army, dated 25th instant, together with
copy of report from Capt. J. R. Slattery, Corps of Engineers, dated
December 18, 1912, with map, on preliminary examination of Char-
lotte Harbor, Fla., made by him in compliance with the provisions
of the river and harbor act approved July 25, 1912.
LINDLEY M. GARRISON,
Secretary of War.
The SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF ENGINEERS,
Washington, June 25,1913.
From: The Chief of Engineers, United States Army.
To: The Secretary of War.
Subject: Preliminary examination of Charlotte Harbor, Fla.
1. There is submitted herewith, for transmission to Congress, report
dated December 18, 1912, with map, by Capt. J. R. Slattery, Corps
2 CHARLOTTE HARBOR, FLA.
of Engineers, on preliminary examination of Charlotte Harbor, Fla.,
from the 24-foot contour inside Boca Grande Pass to the 16-foot
contour west of Punta Gorda Point, thence to the town of Punta
Gorda, with a view to obtaining a channel 20 feet in depth with
suitable width, called for by the river and harbor act approved July
2. Charlotte Harbor is a large bay on the west coast of Florida,
70 miles south of Tampa Bay. The entrance is through Boca Grande
Pass, in which natural depths of 19 feet or more are available at low
water. The act of July 25, 1912, adopted a project to secure an
available channel depth of 24 feet and width of 300 feet from the
Gulf to Boca Grande, in cooperation with local interests. In the bay
channels have been dredged affording a depth of 12 feet to Punta
Gorda. The district officer reports that there is at present no water-
borne commerce in Charlotte Harbor originating at or destined for
Punta Gorda, with the exception of fish carried to that point for
rail shipment; and although the tributary country has many possi-
bilities, it is only sparsely settled and little development has taken
place. A deep-water channel to Punta Gorda is desired for the pur-
pose of permitting shipments by ocean vessels direct from that point
to Mobile and New Orleans. The rail commerce in the vicinity is
reported at 97,200 tons, consisting principally of naval stores, lumber,
fruits, and cattle. The district officer expresses the opinion that the
locality is worthy of improvement to the extent of providing a 20-
foot channel to Punta Gorda under certain conditions of local co-
operation if the survey, which he recommends, does not indicate a
prohibitive amount of rock or unduly hard material to be excavated.
The division engineer concurs in recommending the authorization of
3. This report has been referred, as required by law, to the Board
of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors, and attention is invited to the
board's accompanying report of May 12, 1913. Not being convinced
of the advisability of the United States entering upon this improve-
ment, the board gave interested parties an opportunity of presenting
their views, and on April 10, 1913, through a committee of its mem-
bers, made a personal inspection of the locality and held a public
hearing on the ground. The board states that there is now a channel
at the entrance to Charlotte Harbor about 24 feet in depth with a
good anchorage just inside where ocean vessels could load and unload
by means of lighters, but although there is a good channel from this
point to Punta Gorda 11 feet in depth, there is no commerce carried
on with these facilities. The commerce that would use the channel
is deemed by the board insufficient to justify the expenditure involved,
and it therefore expresses the opinion that it is not advisable for the
United States to undertake the improvement.
4. After due consideration of the above-mentioned reports, I con-
cur in general with the views of the Board of Engineers for Rivers
and Harbors, and therefore, in carrying out the instructions of Con-
gress, I report that the improvement by the United States of Char-
lotte Harbor, Fla., from the 24-foot contour inside Boca Grande
Pass to the 16k-foot contour west of Punta Gorda Point, thence to
the town of Punta Gorda, with a view to obtaining a channel 20 feet
in depth with suitable width, in the manner apparently desired by
CHARLOTTE HARBOR, FLA. 3
the interests concerned as described in the reports herewith, is not
deemed advisable at the present time.
W. H. BIXBY,
Chief of Engineers, United States Army.
REPORT OF THE BOARD OF ENGINEERS FOR RIVERS AND HARBORS.
BOARD OF ENGINEERS FOR RIVERS AND HARBORS,
May 12, 1913.
To the CHIEF OF ENGINEERS, UNITED STATES ARMY:
1. Under a project adopted in 1891, a channel 12 feet deep from the
entrance to Charlotte Harbor to Punta Gorda, a distance of about 20
miles, was practically completed in 1899, and the district officer states
that at the present time 11 feet can be carried through this channel at
low water. The average range of tide is 1.4 feet.
2. The improvement now contemplated, as specified in the act, is
a channel 20 feet in depth and of suitable width over this reach. The
district officer states that the country tributary has many possibilities,
but at present is only sparsely settled and little development has taken
place. There are large tracts of land reported to be suited to the
growth of citrus fruits, pineapples, and vegetables. There are also
prospects for the establishment of a large land and lumber company,
which contemplates securing the turpentine, then cutting and manu-
facturing the timber, after which the land is to be sold for agricul-
3. There is at present no water-borne commerce in Charlotte Har-
bor originating or destined for Punta Gorda, except that carried on
by fishing boats, the amount of which is not stated. The rail-borne
commerce in this vicinity is reported at 97,200 tons, consisting of
naval stores, lumber, fruits, cattle, and miscellaneous.
4. The object of the contemplated improvement is to create active
competition with the railroad by having ocean vessels land at the
wharves at Punta Gorda. It is thought that a considerable portion
of the present and future rail commerce would be handled by water
at considerably reduced rates. It is stated that the natural market
for the produce of this country is St. Louis, Kansas City, and
Chicago, and it is the desire to have water shipments made from
Punta Gorda to Mobile and New Orleans. The district officer ex-
presses the opinion that the locality is worthy of improvement to the
extent of providing a 20-foot channel up to the town of Punta Gorda,
unless there is a prohibitive amount of rock or unduly hard material
to be excavated, conditional upon certain cooperative steps being
taken by the locality. He recommends that a survey be authorized
to determine the question of cost, in which the division engineer
5. Not being convinced of the advisability of the United States
entering upon this improvement, the board gave interested parties
an opportunity of presenting their views, and on April 10, 1913,
visited the locality by committee, held a public hearing, and made an
inspection of the adjacent country.
4 CHARLOTTE HARBOR, FLA.
6. There is now a channel at the entrance to Charlotte Harbor
about 24 feet in depth with a good anchorage ground just inside
where ocean vessels could road and unload by means of lighters, but
although there is a good channel from this point to Punta Gorda 11
feet in depth, there is no commerce carried on in this manner, indicat-
ing a preference for the use of the railroads rather than to lighter to
7. An examination of the map will show that in order to secure a
channel 20 feet deep excavation would have to be carried on over
practically the entire 20 miles between Punta Gorda and the entrance
to the hatrbor, involving a very large expenditure even if no hard
material were encountered. While no survey or accurate estimate has
been made, information in hand indicates that the minimum cost at
which this improvement could be made under the most favorable
circumstances would exceed one-half million dollars. If the entire
commerce handled by rail and water were to make use of the im-
proved waterway, it would be insufficient to justify the expenditure
involved in the proposed improvement.
8. The board therefore reports that, in its opinion, it is not ad-
visable for the United States to undertake the construction of a
channel 20 feet deep and of suitable width from the 24-foot contour
west of Punta Gorda, thence to the town of Punta Gorda."
9. In compliance with law, the board report's that there are no ques-
tions of terminal facilities, water power, or other related subjects
which could be coordinated with the suggested improvement in such
manner as to render the work advisable in the interests of commerce
For the board:
WM. T. ROSSELL,
Colonel, Corps of Engineers,
Senior Member of the Board.
PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION OF CHARLOTTE HARBOR, FLA.
UNITED STATES ENGINEER OFFICE,
Jacksonville, Fla., December 18, 1912.
From: The District Engineer Officer.
To: The Chief of Engineers, United States Army
(Through the Division Engineer).
Subject: Preliminary examination of Charlotte Harbor.
1. In compliance with department letter, dated August 3, 1912, I
submit herewith report on the preliminary examination authorized
by the river and harbor act of July 25, 1912, of Charlotte Harbor,
Fla., with a view to obtaining a channel 20 feet in depth and of suit-
able width from the 24-foot contour inside Boca Grande Pass to the
16-foot contour west of Punta Gorda, and thence to the town of
2. Charlotte Harbor is a large bay on the west coast of Florida.
The entrance to the bay is through Boca Grande Pass, in which nat-
ural depths of 19 feet or more are available at low water. From the
CHARLOTTE HARBOR, FLA. 5
entrance it extends eastward about 11 miles, thence northward about
11 miles. The width of the harbor is about 5- miles; the total area
is 111 square miles. In the bay proper limiting depths of 10 feet
were originally encountered between Punta Gorda and Boca Grande.
Channels have been dredged, so that there now exists at 12-foot chan-
nel to Punta Gorda, and the maximum draft that can be carried at
the present time at low water is 11 feet. The average range of the
tide is 1.4 feet. Punta Gorda is located on the Peace River near the
point where it empties into Charlotte Harbor.
3. Reports of previous examination and surveys may be found as
follows: Annual Reports of the Chief of Engineers for 1891, pages
1646-1651; 1900, pages 2048-2054; 1904, pages 1714-1718; House
Document No. 1, Sixtieth Congress, first session.
4. There is at present no water-borne commerce in Charlotte Har-
bor originating at or destined for Punta Gorda, except that carried
on by fishing boats, which carry great quantities of fish to Punta
Gorda for shipment by express to the north. The rail-borne com-
merce at the present time is given by the Punta Gorda Board of
Trade as follows:
Product. Unit. Tons. Value.
Naval stores .............................................................. ......... 11,250 $550,000
Lumber .............................................................. 46,950 469,500
Citrus fruits.... ...................... *.. .... .................. 750,000 30,000 800,000
Cattle.................................... ... ............ 10,000 3,000 200,000
Miscellaneous............. ............. ..... ........... .......... 6,000 350,000
Total............................................ .......................... 97,200 2,369,500
5. The country tributary to Punta Gorda has many possibilities.
At the present time it is only sparsely settled and little or no develop-
ment has taken place. There is a great leal of land well suited to
citrus fruits, and even more land suited for pineapples and vegetables.
Much of this land is still in forest.
6. Recently the Punta Gorda Land & Lumber Co., a corporation
with a capital of $1,000,000, purchased 130,000 acres of timber land
in this vicinity. It is proposed by this company to first sell the
turpentine, then cut the timber and manufacture it into lumber at
a mill which they propose to build at Punta Gorda, and then sell the
land for agricultural purposes. The representatives of this corpora-
tion state that they will cut 30,000,000 feet of lumber per year. The
corporation has already planned for such drainage as will be neces-
sary in order to make the land available for agricultural purposes,
and also proposes to construct a railroad from Punta Gorda through
their holdings, probably extending the same south to the Caloosa-
hatchee River, and then farther south to other timber districts. The
holdings of this company are indicated on print submitted herewith.
The company paid from $5.50 to $7 per acre for the land purchased
6 CHARLOTTE HARBOR, FLA.
by them. They claim that the land is spendidly adapted to agri-
cultural purposes. The Punta Gorda Land & Lumber Co. has ample
funds behind it for the development of this land, and with such a
concern back of it there is no doubt but what a very material de-
velopment will take place in this section within the next 10 years.
Already many persons are investigating this section, which is free
from floods and has only relatively small drainage problems to solve.
7. The country is served by only one railroad, the Atlantic Coast
Line, which according to local interests serves it most inadequately
and at very high rates. On a crate of oranges the railroad rate from
Punta Gorda and other points nearby, to High Springs, the basing
point 200 miles away, is 25 cents per crate or $75 per carload; the
rates from the basing point to St. Louis is 50 cents per crate, and to
Qhicago, 53 cents per crate, making a total of 75 and 78 cents per
crate to these points, respectively. The natural markets for the prod-
uce of this country seem to be St. Louis, Kansas City, and Chicago,
and it is claimed that materially lower rates would be obtained to
these points if it were possible to ship by water from Punta Gorda
to Mobile and New Orleans.
8. The existing rate on oranges from Arcadia, a point 24 miles
north of Punta Gorda, to Punta Gorda is $9 per car or 3 cents per
crate. The rate by steamship from Punta Gorda to Mobile or New
Orleans would probably be the same as the rate from Tampa to these
points, which is 25 cents per crate on oranges and 40 cents per 100
pounds on vegetables. The following table gives the present rates
in cents on oranges and vegetables per 100 pounds from Mobile and
New'Orleans to Chicago and St. Louis.
From Mobile, Ala., to-
Chicago, Ill. St. Louis, Mo.
Carloads. Less than Mini- Carloads Less than Mini-
carloads. mum. carloads, mum.
Cabbage................................ 50 62 25,000 35 37 20,000
Cucumbers............................. 57 69 20,000 40 44 20,000
Potatoes ................ ................ 47 54 30,000 32 37 30,000
Turnips............... .................. 52 62 20,000 35 37 20,000
Tomatoes................................. 61 95 20,000 44 70 20,000
Oranges................................ 47 1.53 24,000 40 1.42 24,000
From New Orleans, La., to-
Chicago, Ill. St. Louis, Mo.
Carloads ess than a Less than
Cucumbers.......... ............................. .. 47 60 40 47
Potatoes................................................ ............ 40 52 35 40
Turnips........................................ ............. 44 52 38 40
Tomatoes......................................... 76.5 85 67.5 75
Oranges..................................... .................... 47 90 40 75
Minimum weight same as from Mobile, Ala.
CHARLOTTE HARBOR, FLA. 7
On oranges and citrus fruits, therefore, the rate via either New
Orleans or Mobile would be, assuming the 3-cent rate from Arcadia
to Punta Gorda as the average cost of delivering citrus fruits to
Punta Gorda from points tributary to it, and assuming the average
weight of a crae of citrus fruit to be 80 pounds-
About 3 cents plus 25 cents plus 32 cents equals 60 cents to St. Louis.
About 3 cents plus 25 cents plus 38 cents equals 66 cents to Chicago.
On citrus fruits alone this would mean a saving of 15 cents per
crate on shipments to St. Louis and 12 cents per crate on shipments
to Chicago. If shipments could be made in this manner, a saving
of 10 cents per crate on citrus fruit alone would result in a total
saving of $75,000 per year. Such a saving alone would represent a
handsome return on the probable cost of constructing a 20-foot chan-
nel, the channel desired by local interests, and would make it very
much worth while for citrus-fruit growers to do the work involved
in securing a 20-foot channel at their own expense if the construction
of such a channel would insure the possibility of shipping by water
to New Orleans and Mobile, and thence by rail to northern markets.
9. There are two docks at Punta Gorda, one belonging to the
Atlantic Coast Line Railway, which at the present time is free to all
boats desiring to use it. The railroad tracks extend out on this pier,
and numerous fish houses are built along it. There is also a pier
owned by the town of Punta Gorda, which is a public wharf free to
all boats desiring to use it. No connection exists between this wharf
and the railroad. There are no mechanical appliances for handling
freight on this wharf. On the Atlantic Coast Line Wharf they are
not necessary, since fish is delivered to the packing houses by small
boats, and are then packed in barrels and rolled from the packing
houses straight into the cars. If any further improvement of this
harbor is undertaken, it would be essential for the town of Punta
Gorda to construct and own tracks connecting the town wharf with
the tracks of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.
10. The citrus fruits and vegetables are about the only items of
commerce that would move to New Orleans and Mobile. Naval
stores will move toward Savannah, Fernandina, and Jacksonville.
Lumber will be principally consumed locally if much development
takes place. While the commerce tributary to this point would not
be sufficient to support a line running only between Punta Gorda and
Mobile or New Orleans, there is certainly enough to be obtained at
this point to make it worth while for steamers plying between
Tampa and New Orleans or Mobile and between Tampa and New
York to call in here, especially during the season of orange ship-
ments. If there were true and general competition between the
steamship lines and railroads serving Florida, the construction of a
20-foot channel would probably result in steamships calling here,
and this would enable fruit and vegetable growers to ship their pro-
duce by water and effect a very material saving on freight charges,
a saving amply sufficient to warrant the United States in constructing
the desired channel, provided the material that would have to be
dredged is not difficult to dredge.
11. I am of the.epinion that this locality is worthy of improvement
to the extent of providing a 20-foot channel up to the town of Punta
Gorda, providing surveys do not indicate a prohibitive amount of
8 CHARLOTTE HARBOR, FLA.
rock or unduly hard mateiial to be excavated, and provided fur-
First. That the town of Punta Gorda construct a terminal railroad
extending out over the public wharf and connecting with the tracks
of the Atlantic Coast Line Railway, said railroad to be owned by the
town and to be operated under such restrictions as to insure reason-
able and equal charges to all railroads carrying freight to or receiv-
ing freight from the public wharf, the funds to be raised for this
purpose and satisfactory assurances given that work will be duly
executed prior to the expenditure of any funds by the United States.
Second. That prior to the expenditure of any Government funds
local interests enter into contracts with a steamship line or with
steamship lines providing for steamship service to this point at least
once a week during the season of orange shipments for a period of
five years, the steamship companies to bind themselves by said con-
tract to receive freight for any and all points at specified reasonable
rates; local interests to bind themselves by said contracts to provide
specified amounts of freight for said ships-the terms of said contract
to become effective upon the completion of the 20-foot channel by
the United States; each party to the contract to furnish bond provid-
ing for the payment of liquidated damages in the sum of $100,000 to
the United States in case it (the party furnishing bond) fails to-live
up to what is required of it by the contract.
12. It is recommended that a survey be made to determine the best
location for a 20-foot channel and the cost of same.
13. No projects for development of water power nor for drainage
could be coordinated with the improvement of this bay in the interest
J. R. SLATTERY.
OFFICE OF DIVISION ENGINEER, SOUTHEAST DIVISION,
S December 24, 1912.
To the CHIEF OF ENGINEERS :
1. I am of the opinion that the commerce of this harbor makes a
showing that,would render the project worthy of a survey to deter-
mine the nature and extent of practicable improvement up to a depth
of 20 feet.
2. The question of what condition or conditions should be imposed
in the event of the United States undertaking the work I think may
properly be considered later on.
3. I would therefore recommend that an allotment sufficient for a
proper survey be made.
DAN C. KINGMAN,
Colonel, Corps of Engineers.
[For Report of Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors, see