MANISTEE HARBOR
HISTORY OF MANISTEE COUNTY, MICHIGAN

With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches
of Some of Its Men and Pioneers.
Published 1882 by H.R. Page & Co., Chicago

The work is located in the Michigan collection district, Michigan. The nearest port of entry is Grand Haven, Mich. The nearest lighthouse is the Manistee light (discontinued October 15, 1876). A light is shown near the head of the south pier.

A history of the work upon the harbor appears in the annual report to the Chief of Engineers for 1879, and from that most excellent authority we gather the following:

The survey of 1861 shows the harbor to be barred about 600 feet out from the outer end of south slab pier, the water on this bar (250 feet in width), being from five to eight feet. From the bar to the entrance, the water varied from seven to nine feet; between the piers from the entrance inward, a distance of 800 feet, was an available channel of ten feet. The survey of September, 1866, fails to show the existence of this bar above-mentioned, and indicates three twelve-foot curves, the first 960 feet out from the lake-end of south slab pier, the second beyond this 190 feet, and the third ninety feet still further out. Beyond this last-mentioned curve 140 feet ran the general eighteen foot water line.

After the survey of 1866, 180 feet of north pier was washed away. This caused a slight change in the plans, the north pier being thrown twenty feet further to the north, and the work upon it commenced at the end of the old pier.

In 1867, (September), the bar in front of the entrance had eight and a half feet of water on it, and between the piers, the channel had a depth of from nine and a half to ten feet, and in the river above the piers from seven and a half to eight feet.

The first appropriation was made by act of March 2, 1867, of $60,000.

Work began in July, 1867, under the supervision of Mr. John Canfield, harbor inspector.

Original cost of work 1866, amended 1875, $234,000.

Whole amount appropriated from 1866 to 1882, inclusive, $218,000.

Amount expended, $201,000.

The amount of the appropriation of 1882 is $15,000.

Available water-way between the piers, nine and a half feet in October, 1875.

In 1875-'76 each pier was extended 150 feet, (six cribs, each fifty feet by twenty-four feet).

Soundings May 12, and 13, 1876, show an available channel between the piers of ten feet, with a strong current running in the river. North pier rested in fifteen feet, and south pier end in thirteen feet of water.

In 1876-'77 the south pier was raised an additional course of timber for a length of 450 feet, and slight repairs were made, as required.

Also, an obstruction of sand at the bend of the river was removed, affording temporary relief for navigation. Soundings of May 3, 1877, showed an available channel-way of ten feet between the piers.

In 1877-'78 the point of sand in the bend of the river on north side was dredged away, and the exposed bank faced with a pile revetment for a length of 420 feet, and thirty-two cords of stone were put into the pier as ballast.

December 13, 1877, the channel soundings showed not less than nine feet of water available, and this depth only at one point about 450 feet inward from the end of north pier.

In the Spring of 1878 a bar with but eight feet of water over it obstructed the entrance to the harbor. With the small balance of funds on hand, a channel was dredged through it, leaving a channel of good width and with a depth of fourteen feet.

Since 1878 about $30,000 has been expended in dredging the channel and sinking new piers.

In his report of 1881 the chief of engineers says:
"To complete the projects for this season, curtailed by rise in prices, I shall require next for 1882-'83:

For dredging.....$3,000
To complete unfinished superstructure.....$6,000
And it only remains under the existing project to add for two hundred feet pier extension...$25,000
Total.....$34,000

"Or, taking into consideration all contingencies of engineering, repair, and protection, I shall require to continue the improvement during the years 1882-'83, $40,000."

The highest number of vessels entered and cleared during any one year from July 1, 1868 to June 30, 1881, 3,488, between June 30, 1874, and June 30, 1875. The lowest number was 2,382, between July 1, 1868, and June 30, 1869.

Capt. W.R. Laird, United States harbor inspector, has had charge of the work since 1869. In May of that year he came to Manistee from Milwaukee, and has resided here since that time. Capt. Laird was born in England and is of Scotch extraction. He was brought up a mechanical engineer, and in 1858 went to Canada, where he studied civil engineering. In 1863 he came to the States. He has been in the service of the Government since 1866, and has earned the reputation of being a reliable and efficient officer.

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1882 History of Manistee County

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