1882 Improvement: Osage River in MO & KS

   The river and harbor act of March 3, 1879, appropriated $20,000 for this work, which was employed in continuing the method of improvement followed during previous years. The latter consists of contracting the width of the river at certain shoals by means of cross-dams and training-walls, dredging the channel by means of teams and scrapers, and the removal of rocks and snags from the channel and of leaning timber from the banks, the object being to obtain a 2-foot channel at the lowest stages of the river. All the works were carried on by hired labor and purchase of material in open market.
(40 miles from the mouth.)
      Work was begun at Moore’s Flats on the 10th of July. The dam built last was strengthened by being loaded with stone, and the training wall was repaired and extended upstream a distance of200 feet. Sixteen snags were removed from the channel at the lower end of the shoal. Later in the season the training wall was extended 900 feet farther upstream, contracting the channel to a width of 80 feet.
   The total length of the training wall is now 1,750 feet, of which 1,100 feet was built this year. It was constructed of riprap on a brush foundation.
   The locality is shown in the adjoining sketch, in which the works are indicated by the heavy full lines. The upstream portion, from A to B, was built this year.

(43¾ miles from the mouth.)
   This locality is shown in the adjoining sketch. The river was divided into three chutes by Hoskins’ Island, and a smaller island to the westward. The chute between the latter island and the main shore had been closed in former years by an old State dam, extending from a to b. It was decided to extend this dam across the small island, and then changing its direction to push it across the stream and connect it with a training wall, c d, thus contracting the channel to a width of 89 feet (see sketch). A dam 743 feet long and a training wall 430 feet long were constructed of riprap on a brush foundation. Forty snags were removed from the channel.

(45½ miles from the mouth.)
   The work at this shoal consisted of the removal by blasting of some rocks from the channel, amounting in all to about 300 cubic yards; of cutting from the bank eighty-eight overhanging trees, and of removing forty snags from the channel. The dam at Hoskins’ Shoal, 2 miles below this, serves to increase the depth of water on this shoal, so that there is now a depth of 2 feet or more at the lowest stages.

(47¾ miles from the mouth.)
   This locality is shown upon the adjoining sketch. Several dikes, a b, c d, e f, had been built in former years by the State of Missouri, but the shoal remained one of the worst upon this portion of the river. The plan adopted for improving it was to build a dam, g h, from the right bank out into the river, a distance of 250 feet, connecting it with a training wall, i k, 1,320 feet long. The peculiar shape of the opposite bank made it necessary to supplement the latter by a second training wall. f l, 630 feet long.
   For this wall the State clam was used as a foundation for a length of 00 feet. All these works were built of riprap upon a foundation of brush. At the foot of the artificial chute thus formed a channel was dredged out, the quantity of material removed being 840 cubic yards.

(49 miles from the mouth.)
   This was a narrow chute which was difficult to navigate on account of the rapidity of the current and the crookedness of the channel, which was partly obstructed by snags and overhanging trees. Fourteen snags were taken from the channel and eighty-five trees cut from the banks. The darn at Kirkman’s Shoal, 1¼ miles below, has backed the water up to this shoal, deepening it somewhat and diminishing the velocity of the current.

(50 miles from the mouth.)
   The work at this place consisted of dredging a channel 350 feet long and 75 feet wide, involving the removal of 455 cubic yards of gravel.
   The work at Kirkman’s and Pack’s Shoals was finished October 14.
   There being some repairs and extensions required upon the works previously constructed which would occupy the force during the remainder of the working season, it was not deemed advisable to begin any work above those points. The force was accordingly ordered back to Moore’s Flats, where the training wall was extended as above reported. On the way down an obstruction to navigation was found to exist in

(41¾ miles from the mouth.)
   A channel 80 feet wide and 400 feet long was dredged through this shoal, involving the removal of 782 cubic yards of gravel.

(21¾ miles from the mouth.)
   A steamboat had grounded at the head of this shoal in August, and in getting her off the gravel had become so flattened out as to leave but about 6 inches depth of water in the channel. Temporary relief was given at the time by dredging. It was decided to diminish the chances of accidents of that kind by further contracting the width of the chute. The locality is shown in the adjoining sketch.
   The full heavy lines a b c show the old work. A dam, d e, 195 feet long, was run out from the left bank and connected with a training wall, g h, parallel to the old training wall, and 90 feet from it.
   The new training wall had been built to a length of 450 feet when the approach of winter rendered it imprudent to keep the equipment any longer so far from its winter quarters, and the work was accordingly suspended. It is proposed to extend it about 600 feet during the coming year.
   These works were built of riprap upon a foundation of brush. During the month of January the recently constructed dam was broken at its shore end, and a considerable current passed through forming a bar at the foot of the chute, and endangering the dam. A force was set at work as soon as practicable to repair the damage. The break, 82 feet in length, was repaired and the bank was graded and revetted above and below the darn for a length of 206 feet, the whole being completed on the 9th of February.

(9 miles from the mouth.)
A further extension of the training wall at this shoal had become necessary. The improvement of this locality is more temporary than at the other shoals because of the backwater from the Missouri River. This meeting the barrier formed by Shipley’s Shoal drops the sediment which it carries and builds up a new bar at the foot of the chute with much more rapidity that the Osage itself could do with its gravel. The remedy for this has been for the last two seasons to extend the training wall downstream until the foot of it reached a point where the water was from 3 to 5 feet in depth. During a part of the months of November and December the wall was extended a length of 1,050 feet. On the 18th of December the weather became very cold, causing ice to form, and it was not considered safe to keep the steamer and barges any longer at work. During the winter a break 82 feet long and from 9 to 15 deep occurred in the cross-dam at the shore end. Work was resumed on the 9th of March. The breach in the darn was repaired, the bank was revetted for a length of 50 feet above and 120 feet below the dam, and some weak portions of the dam were strengthened. Work upon the training wall was then resumed and continued until the 10th of April, when the river became so high that it was necessary to again suspend operations. The wall had been extended 375 feet, making a total extension for the year of 1,425 feet. It has now reached a long flat bar known as Brennecke’s Shoal. It is proposed to extend it across this shoal during the coining year, which will require an addition of 2,600 feet. This will carry it into water about 8 feet deep.
   The adjoining sketch shows the position of the works already executed and that of the proposed extension, the latter being indicated by a broken and dotted line. There is now a 2-foot channel at the lowest stage from the mouth of the river to the foot of Berry’s Shoal, a distance of 51 miles, with the exception of about 2,600 feet at Shipley’s Shoal and 600 feet at Burd’s Shoal. Of this distance, 40 miles from the mouth, or as high up as Moore’s Flats, had been the subject of improvement in previous years.
   The result of the year’s work is, therefore, 11 miles of river opened to low-water navigation, and the maintenance of the previously obtained channel for a distance of 40 miles with the exceptions above given. It may be necessary to build dams and training walls at some of the shoals where as yet only dredging has been done, but with these, since the Osage River is a stream of perfectly clear water flowing over a bed of gravel, with substantial banks, I see no reason why the beneficial results will not be reasonably permanent.

   The river and harbor act of June 14, 1880, appropriates $30,000 for the continuation of this improvement. Of this sum $5,200 have been allotted to the extension of the training wall at Shipley’s Shoal and $1,200 to similar work at Burd’s Shoal. At Berry’s Shoal (51½ miles from, the month) a depth of only 6 inches is sometimes found at low- water. It is proposed to contract the river to a width of 80 feet, by means of a dam and training wall like those used at the other shoals, with a view to securing a depth of 2 feet at the lowest stage. The adjoining sketch shows the location of the proposed works. The sum of $7,590 has been allotted to this work.
    There are four shoals, viz, Music’s, Saline, Burdsong’s, and Town’s, upon which the work will consist principally in removing snags from the channel, cutting leaning timber from the banks, and in one or two places scraping gravel. The sum of $3,800 has been allotted to the works at these four shoals.
   When the works above mentioned shall have been completed, there will exist at low-water a channel of 2 feet in depth from Tuscumbia to the mouth, a distance of 60 miles. Above Tuscumbia as far as the mouth of Rainey Creek, a distance of 90 miles, there has been no survey made. The sum of $2,500 has been allotted for the purpose of surveying that portion of the river, with a view to preparing plans for its improvement. There will then be a continuous map from Ottawa, Kans., to the mouth. The balance of the funds available is held in reserve for works above Tuscumbia, after the completion of the survey.

Shipley's Shoal………………………………………..$5,200
Burd's Shoal…………………………………………….1,200
Berry Shoal……………………………………………..7,500
Music's, Saline, Burdsong's, and Town's Shoals……….3,800
Survey above Tuscumbia……………………………….2,500
Reserved for works above Tuscumbia………………….9,800
   It is proposed to carry on the greater part of these works by contract. That system can be applied to the works at Shipley’s, Burd’s, and Berry’s Shoals. In the case of those shoals where the work will consist of re¬ moving snags and overhanging trees and scraping gravel—viz, Music’s, Saline, Burdsong’s, and Town’s—the indefinite amount of the work renders it impracticable to prepare accurate specifications in advance. The work at these shoals will be carried on by hired labor.

   The sum of $50,000 can be expended to advantage during the year ending June 30, 1882. It is intended to employ it in removing obstructions to navigation above Tuscumbia, the exact position of which can¬ not be given until after the completion of the survey to be undertaken this year. The intention is to create a continuously good navigation ascending the river each year as far as the means available will permit. There is no definite project for the improvement, and it is therefore impracticable to fill out that part of the money statement which gives the amount required to complete.
Money statement.
 July 1, 1879, amount available………………...………..$20,791.10
Amount received for fuel sold to officers……………………124.50
Amount appropriated by act approved June 14, 1880……30,000 00
      $50,915 60
July 1, 1880, amount expended during fiscal year:
By Col. J. H. Simpson, Corps of Engineers……………$17,815.21
By Capt. O. H. Ernst, Corps of Engineers………………..2,305.40  
July 1, 1880, amount available………….....................…30,794.99
Amount that can he profitably expended in fiscal year 
   ending June 30, 1882...................................................$50,000.00

      Chief’s Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers to the Secretary of War for the Year 1882. Page 362 – 364. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16021coll6/id/1832. Accessed 07 July, 2019.

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