1880 Survey: Forsyth, MO, to Buffalo Shoals, AR

1432 - 1434

Report of Mr. J. D. M'Kown,
Assistant engineer.
Samm's Shoals, Arkansas,
August 4, 1880.

   As no work had heretofore been done upon this section of White River, and as but little was known of the character of the obstructions and the nature and extent of the improvements desired, I directed an examination of the river to be made, with a view to presenting a project for the expenditure of the funds. This examination was started at for Forsyth, Mo., and extended to Buffalo Shoals, Arkansas, and was under the charge of Mr. J. D. McKown, whose report will be found annexed.
   The work showed that improvements were needed at a number of shoal places, which, with the work being carried on below, would, when completed, give navigation to the upper stretches of White River for a considerably longer period of the year. The estimated cost of the work was $32,600. The project approved contemplated starting at the shoals immediately above Buffalo and continuing work up stream to the extent of the available funds.
   The lateness of the season after the examination prevented the work being carried into execution.
On the 7th of February, 1881, the work was transferred to Capt. Thomas H. Handbury, Corps of Engineers.

Report of Mr. J. D. M'Kown, Assistant Engineer.
   Major: I have the honor to make the following report of my examination of White River from Forsyth, Mo., and Buffalo Shoals, Arkansas.
    Leaving Forsyth on the 15th of July, with the river about 1 foot above low-water and falling, it gave a good opportunity for making the examination.
   Although there are a number of gravel shoals on the river, they may all be considered of minor importance, as when the boats can pass the bad shoals after improving them, there will always be water enough to pass the gravel shoals.
   The first place of any importance is Conner's Shoal, 6 miles below Forsyth. It is caused by loose rock and bowlders in the bed of the stream, none of which are very large; very little blasting will be necessary. The shoal is about 500 feet long, and will require $800 to improve it.
   The next is a similar shoal at the mouth of Big Beaver Creek, 8 miles below Forsyth. The rock can be rolled out by hand at a cost of $500. I have called it No. 2.
   Two miles below is a shoal of the same character, but not of so much importance. About $500 will improve it. I have called it No. 3.
   At about 11 miles below Forsyth is a long shoal, with a rough, solid rock bottom (No. 4). It will take $2,500 to put it in passable order.
   About 1 mile below is a place where the river is divided by an island (No. 5). A short dam should be built at the head of the left-hand chute. At the foot of the island the channel is obstructed by logs and rocks, which should be taken out. The cost would be about $1,000.
   At about 15 miles from Forsyth is quite a bad shoal (No. 6). The channel is badly obstructed by loose rock. They could be taken out at a cost of $800.
   After this comes a piece of river which, although generally bad, has no shoal of the kind at present taken into consideration.
   Then, at 40 miles below Forsyth, there is a very bad place, known as the Toe of Horseshoe Bend. Nearly all the water runs to the left, making a very sharp turn, having a rapid current running close to the banks, and is obstructed by large bowlders. This could be remedied by throwing the water into the center, or rather to the right of the island, cutting the overhanging timber, and taking out the rock below. The estimated cost is $1,500.
   The next bad place is 47 miles below Forsyth, Elbow Shoal. Therein river makes a sharp bend to the left; but some years ago the State of Missouri cut a channel through the bar on the left and threw a dam across the river at the head of the shoal. The top of the dam has washed off so as to allow the greater part of the water to pass over it, and forms a very bad obstruction. The shoal needs improvement, but whether it is advisable to take the dam out altogether, or build it up again, can only be settled by a careful survey of the locality. My opinion is that raising the dam would be advisable, but there are many points to be taken into consideration. The improvement would cost about $2,000.
   Tumbling Shoal, 55 miles below Forsyth, is a troublesome place for boats. The river is divided by an island. The main channel is shallow and obstructed by small bowlders. By closing the right-hand chute and clearing the rock from the channel, great help will be given. The estimated cost is $1,000.
   Log Chute, 58 miles from Forsyth, is next. The river is divided by an island, the best channel being on the left. A dam of 400 feet will be required to close it, at a cost of $1,000. Just below the foot of this island, where the river comes together, is another one, which requires a dam on the right, at a cost of $600. Some logs and a few rocks to be taken out, with some leaning trees to be cut, will complete the work at a total cost of $2,000.
   At the mouth of Big Creek, 68 miles from Forsyth, a bar of loose rock extends across the river, quartering down stream. The shoal is very short, but shallow; the rocks are small enough to be easily handled. A channel could be worked through for about $500.
   Bull Bottom Shoal, 71 miles from Forsyth, is about ½ mile long and very rapid. The bed of the stream is covered with loose rock and bowlders; $1,000 will open a channel through it.
   Pot Shoal, 76 miles below Forsyth, is a bad obstruction. The water is divided into three chutes, the main opening being to the left, with a gravel bottom, and has only 4 or 5 inches of water on it. The other chutes should be closed, which could be done at an expense of $1,000.
   Magar Shoal, at the mouth of Little North Fork, 80 miles from Forsyth, is a long shoal, reaching fully 3,000 feet. It commences at the mouth of Little North Fork, where the river is divided by a small island. The left-hand chute should be closed. The bed of the stream below is covered with loose rock, which should be taken out wide enough to give a good channel. The material taken out should be used to form low, short wing-dams to concentrate the water, as the river is about 800 feet wide; $2,000 will be necessary for this work.
   Ninety miles below Forsyth, at Hall’s Narrows, the river is divided into three channels. The two outside ones should be closed, and rocks, which are small, should be taken out of the middle one. The shoal is about 800 feet long and will need $1,000 to improve it.
   One mile below, commence Bull Shoals, which are about 4,000 feet long. Like Magar Shoal, the river is wide. The obstructions are bowlders. A channel should be cleared, and the rocks taken out be used to concentrate the water; $2,500 will probably be sufficient.
   Wild Cat Shoal, 104 miles from Forsyth, is a very bad place, extending for about 1,500 feet. The principal obstructions are two ledges that run across the river, which are from 6 inches to 2 feet out of water, with the exception of small openings here and there where the water passes through. A channel will have to be blasted through them. The ledges are narrow, not over 6 feet wide. Below the ledges there are some scattering knobs to come off and some loose rock to be taken out. It is a very bad shoal and will cost at least $3,000 to improve.
   Three miles below Wild Cat is Summer Shoal. An island in the river divides the water and the main or left-hand channel is somewhat obstructed by small bowlders, which should be taken out, and the right-hand channel be closed. The river below, to Magnus Landing, nearly a mile, and may be considered part of the same shoal, is obstructed by some loose rock and bowlders which are very much in the way and should be taken out. The whole cost would not exceed $2,000.
   The next shoal below is Redbud, about 4 miles below Summer Shoal. Here again are two channels. The main or left-hand channel has a sharp, narrow ledge running across the head, which is out of water, and which will have to be blasted off. Some loose rock are also to be taken out below. The opening on the right should be closed. After this is done there will be an excellent channel. The cost will be about $2,500.
   Crooked Creek Shoal commences about 7 miles below, and continues as a series of shoals for about 2 miles. The river here is in very bad condition, and I consider it one of the worst on the river. In places the stream is l,000 feet wide, and tilled with knobs of the ledge, and loose rock. There is nothing that can be called a channel, and one will have to be made. Considerable blasting will have to be done, using all the material taken out of the bed of the stream to build low, flat wing-dams to throw the water together. Where Crooked Creek comes in, the water is deep, but the channel is obstructed by large bowlders, some of them now out of water. These, I think, can be blasted: the pieces dropped in the deep water surrounding them. I think that $5,000 will be sufficient to place it on a level with Buffalo Shoals; perhaps less money will do it.
   The above estimates are made on a very hurried examination, and of course are only approximate. The plans are liable to some changes, but they give a very good idea of the work to be done.
   The shoals spoken of are only the worst ones, and the estimates given with the idea of making them passable for a few months in the year by using boats of light draught.
   I would respectfully suggest that the improvement commence on the lower part of the river for which the appropriation is made, viz, Crooked Creek Shoal. By doing so it would allow a great deal of cotton to be sent by river which now has to be transported by wagon.
   I will respectfully state that I have hurried this report as much as possible, but having so much other work to attend to has delayed it somewhat. I have inclosed (sic) herewith sketches of all the places mentioned in the report. ,

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. D. McKown,
Assistant Engineer.
Maj. W. H. H. Benyaurd,
Corps of Engineers, U. S. A.

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