Monroe County Library System,  Monroe, MI 48162


Bygones of Monroe:


Nearly $255,000 Spent on it Since 1834. About $6,000 the Past Year.

The annual report of Capt. W. L. Marshall, chief of engineers, war department U.S. Army, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1908, has just been made public. Among other thing it contains interesting historical facts and financial statistics concerning Monroe harbor. It will be something of a surprise for many to learn that nearly $255,000 has been expended on this harbor from its construction in 1834 until the date of Capt. Marshall's report. The report says:

The harbor of Monroe, Mich., is within the mouth of the Raisin River at the western extremity of Lake Erie. In its natural condition the river flowed into the lake through several ponds and winding creeks. The depth of water at the deepest mouth of the river in its natural condition did not exceed 5 feet.

The original project for the improvement of Monroe Harbor was adopted in 1834. It had for its object to dredge a new and direct channel 100 feet wide an 10 feet deep from the lake across the marsh, a distance of 4,000 feet, to the portion of the river ordinarily used as a harbor, the protection of the entrance into the lake by parallel piers, 720 feet long and 20 feet wide, extending outward to a depth of 10 feet in the lake, and the protection of the sides of the canal by a revetment. The estimated cost of the work, exclusive of dredging machine, was $55,885. The work was practically completed in 1845, a depth of 9 feet being obtained to a point just below the docks at Monroe. Subsequently the city of Monroe further improved the river channel by cutting a canal about 1,300 feet long, 100 feet wide, and with a depth of from 13 to 16 feet, across a bend of the river. Subsequent operations consisted in repairing the canal revetment, and in dredging, by which a channel 200 feet wide and 13 feet deep, extending to deep water in the lake, was obtained.

In 1905, a double line of piling was driven connecting the south pier to the shore, to prevent the lake from breaking through into the canal, and some work was done in replacing rotten deck timbers.

The total amount expended on this work up to the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 1908, is $254,839.19, of which 110,000 was applied under the original project. It is impossible to separate the portion of this total which has been applied to maintenance. During recent years practically all expenditures have been made for that purpose.

The available balance will be expended on the repair of the decking of the piers and the replacing of a portion of the shore arm of the north pier by a pile pier about 120 feet long. This work began June 1, 1908, and is about 50 per cent completed at the close of the fiscal year.

The channel beginning at the outer end consists of the United States canal, 4,000 feet long, with an available depth of about 14 feet. Three thousand feet farther up the river the Monroe City ship canal begins. This has a length of 1,600 feet and a depth of 12 to 16 feet. The stream is navigable from the lake to the docks only, a distance of 2 miles.

This harbor can not accommodate the larger class of vessels used upon the lakes, and its commerce is not large, amounting in the year 1907 to 6,857 tons, valued at $50,000. Of this amount 6,250 tons was sand, the major portion of the balance consisting of fish.

The commerce of this stream is too small to have any effect whatever upon freight rates.

July 1, 1907, balance unexpended ........$6,209.92

June 30, 1908, amount expended during fiscal year

for maintenance of improvement........33.84

July 1, 1908, balance unexpended.........6,176.08

July 1, 1908, outstanding liabilities.......400.00

July 1, 1908, balance available........5,776.08

July 1, 1908, amount covered

by uncompleted contracts..........1,479.14

For the district including Monroe Harbor, River Rouge and the mouth of Black River there are unexpended balances amounting to about $7,500. In addition to this, Capt. Marshall recommends that $15,000.00 be expended in the district.

(Monroe Democrat, December 11 th , 1908.)

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