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excavation of another foot in the same basin, it does not follow that the filling of a cubic foot on South Boston flats equally entitles the harbor to the excavation of another cubic foot in the Charles or Mystic River basins; and this for the very obvious reason that while filling in Charles or Mystic Rivers may injure the harbor, filling on South Boston flats may not only injure, but benefit the harbor."
That indicates that the committee were in doubt whether this filling would injure the basin or not. You understand this was not a subject which they were discussing, but simply that was their mode of stating it. That is only one clause.
Then they also admit that the channels of the upper harbor have been narrowed, and therefore deepened; while the channels of the lower harbor, which have not been narrowed at all, have been correspondingly shoaled. This is on page eighty. They state, I do not say argue, they simply state that, "The only difficulty has been, that the channels in the upper part of the harbor have been deepened; and in the lower part have been correspondingly shoaled."
The body of water never will keep the channel there. If the depth is widened, then it becomes shallow and if narrow then it becomes deeper, if the same body of water is running through it.
Then here is another statement on page eighty: "We do not profess to have discovered the formula which preserves the necessary proportion between the tidal reservoirs, and the volume of the harbor, but it is entirely clear that the scour of the main channel between Boston and East Boston needs to be increased."
The CHAIRMAN. Read the next sentence.
Mr. SHATTUCK. "Our plan does this:" that is, to reduce the channel. But if you reduce the channel, that increases the speed. You can increase the speed in two ways: in the first place, reduce the channel; in the second place, increase the volume.
This is admitted in various places in this report.
Then again they say something as to the alluvial silt. This is on page eighty-one: "The alluvial contributions to the harbor are very slight. They have been going on ever since the configuration of the coast was established, and have not affected the main channel. Nearly the whole of this alluvial silt is deposited on the marshes, and in the shoal water of the river mouths before reaching the harbor."
That is the reason why we have forty feet of mud in the Charles River, and none in the channel. It is peculiarly fortunate for the harbor of Boston that the rivers that come into it have this wide space on which all the alluvial silt for centuries has been deposited, so that none of it has come into the harbor; and this water moves more rapidly through the upper channels of the harbor, and has scoured them out. But the moment you reduce the channel, you reduce the volume; and it will run more slowly, and will fill up the channel and make it smaller.
Mr. NELSON (of the Committee). The next reason is, that the salt water being more dense than fresh water this material will not be deposited, but remain on the surface and pass off.
Mr. SHATTUCK. The water in the bay is all salt. These rivers generally flow pretty rapidly where there is no tide; and then where they come first to the tide water, they spread out into the bay, and the water is almost still. Then this deposit is made. I had occasion to look into that question some years ago in connection with the Mystic River flats, where the water spread out over these flats, and somebody contended that the deposit was washed from those flats and injured the harbor; but on examination it proved that the water moved very slowly when it spread out over these flats, and that it makes a deposit. And that is the way the marshes have been filled up by the spreading out of the water, so that it operates as a catch basin, and then it comes down rapidly and sweeps through the channels. Nature has provided every means for keeping the chan
nel of the harbor open for commerce, and the harbor will not fill up unless you reduce it in size.
Mr. NELSON. Is the water salt in these basins?
Mr. SHATTUCK. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. You do not mean that the water in Charles River is salt?
Mr. SHATTUCK. No, sir; I mean the tide that runs up as far as Watertown. Every river is bringing more or less silt; and there is always a deposit at the mouth of every river.
The CHAIRMAN. The position of the committee is very briefly stated on page twenty-two. But your whole argument is against the theory that the harbor is injured, and that the scour ought to be increased. Your whole argument is against that. The committee take the ground that the deposits, except from the streets, are almost infinitesimal.
Mr. SHATTUCK. That is so; but you state very distinctly that the reason why there is so little carried into the harbor is, that it is deposited in the basins above.
The CHAIRMAN. That is one of the reasons. But we say that the amount is in itself an unappreciable amount.
Mr. SHATTUCK. The amount is enough to fill up the harbor to an injurious extent, if the amount is to be larger than the amount that flows through it.
Mr. NELSON. If you diminish the current.
Mr. SHATTUCK. Let me illustrate. When the Charles River between Charlestown and Boston was filled up in part, by extending the wharves and extending these piers, the first effect of it was, before there was any reduction of the tidal basin, to increase the speed of the current; and of course the amount of water must go through, and the effect of it was to dig out at the bottom. That was the first effect of it, and the This same water must go through. they had made the channel wider, and allowed the same amount
natural effect of it.
of water to go through, the effect would have been that it would have filled up. But if you reduce the width of the channel and not the amount of water, the effect is to increase the rate of its speed, and to gouge out at the bottom.
Now, Boston harbor is simply an outlet of these rivers and these tidal reservoirs. It flows out by East Boston and South Boston down to the Atlantic Ocean. Now, if you reduce the amount of tidal water that comes down through the channel, the effect of it will be to fill up. There is silt enough in any water, however pure, to make a deposit, if it flows slowly enough. On the other hand, nature has adjusted these two things to each other, and as long as the tidal reservoirs are kept as they were, the harbor would have retained the depth that it had previously. When you reduce these tidal basins, you fill up the harbor, unless you narrow. And that was the effect. And wherever they have narrowed it to an amount more than sufficient to correspond with the reduction of the tidal basins, it has increased it in depth, as it is by the bridges in Charles River. I have been able to find nothing in this report contrary to that, and every suggestion thrown out is in favor of that course; and every suggestion that I have seen in any report of any commission is in favor of this same theory. If there is a syllable anywhere in this report, and I know the gentlemen who composed that committee knew how to express their sentiments, if there is a sentiment in this report that is inconsistent with what I have stated, I will thank any gentleman to point it out.
The CHAIRMAN. I think if Mr. Shattuck will read carefully from the seventy-seventh to the eightieth page, he will find that he is entirely mistaken as to that.
Mr. SHATTUCK. Well, sir, I have read that; and I should like to have anything pointed out where there is anything in the theory, different from what I have stated, advocated anywhere.
The CHAIRMAN. In brief, the reports there taken from the United States Commission, and comparative surveys of Boston
harbor are, that notwithstanding the encroachments made upon the tidal basins by the filling up of the Back Bay, and all other fillings, the actual amount of foreign matter in Boston harbor had not increased, mathematically, one yard in thirty years. That is a pretty strong point against the theory that the tidal basins have been filling up the harbor.
That is not so stated here.
The CHAIRMAN. I beg pardon, perhaps not thirty years; from 1835 to 1861, I think.
Mr. SHATTUCK. The fact is just this: there is no question about these facts. It is a matter of mathematical statement. It is a matter that has been surveyed, and the figures are open to everybody. The fact is this, and it is stated in this report and other reports: the upper harbor has been narrowed as much as the tidal basin has been reduced, and therefore it is just as deep, and a little deeper in some places than it was before. The upper harbor has not been filled up, and the lower harbor, has been filled up. That is the whole story. And that is stated here in different places. I do not know what the inferences may be.
The CHAIRMAN. You are entirely mistakentaken.
Mr. SHATTUCK. Let me just read this statement. I do not quite understand the statement, but the statement which is true, in one respect certainly, is precisely what I have been stating here.
The CHAIRMAN. You can state your opinion, and what you think in regard to that report; but I think I know what the committee state.
Mr. SHATTUCK. "The only difficulty," this is copied from the report, and there can be no doubt about its meaning "the only difficulty has been that the channels in the upper part of the harbor have been correspondingly shoaled." That is stated in this report.