from the Watertown Daily Times:
(presented online with permission)
-- 8 September 1930
City Fills Old Camp's Ditch -- 4 February 1933
Section of Old Camp's Ditch Uncovered -- 15 July 1971
TO CITY CANAL
IDEA OF ST. LAWRENCE CANAL BRINGS PROPOSAL
OLD CAMP DITCH IS RECALLED
Claim City Should Be Linked With Lake By Canal In Order to Reap Benefits of River Canal
The approaching canalization of the St. Lawrence river recalls again the century old discussion of a ship canal connecting Watertown with the lakes and the feasibility of such a project is again being brought forth with considerable vigor here.
The present rapidly materializing sentiment for the St. Lawrence ship canal and the again recurring proposals that a canal be constructed from this city to Sackets Harbor in anticipation of the completion of the former canal brings to mind that in the early 19th century when canalization plans swept the country. It also recalls the construction of what was known as Camp's Ditch from Huntington's Mills to Sackets Harbor in 1830. The wavering banks of thsi ditch still remain to show the course it took.
This early canal was 20 feet wide at the top and 12 at the bottom, being four feet deep. Elisha Camp was appointed a commander and in 1832 it was finished, supplying water power to the village of Sackets Harbor. The greatest difficulty, however, encountered was in maintaining the first half mile of the ditch which was constructed along the margin of Black River where it was liable to be washed away on one side and filled by slides of clay and sand on the other. These difficulties finally led the work to be abandoned after having been in use about ten years.
| One school
of thought holds that in view of the probable completion of the St. Lawrence
ship canal in the near future, Watertown should anticipate its effect
and begin to consider a ship canal connecting the city with the lakes
in order that the city may not be left out of this program.
This school maintains that the route between the city and Sackets Harbor paralleling the state highway is ideal for such a canal and that it is at lake level. There are two possible bases or harbors which would furnish the terminal of the canal in the city.
The first would be in the lower Arsenal street section and on the west side of the railroad tracks in Haney street. The other site for a basin would be in Black river near the Van Duzee street bridge and would permit ships to come into the center of the city. This would necessitate the purchase of power rights by the city which would be advantageous in view of the benefits to be derived from such a canal.
The canal could either be built by the state or by private capital and it is estimated that it could be constructed for in the neighborhood of $50,000 a mile in view of the sand bottom along the proposed route. At Sackets Harbor the basin would be near the Standard Oil docks in that village. The distance would be about 12 miles.
The canal, according to this school of thought, would be closely patterned after the Welland canal with the difference that it would not be necessary to cut through rock. Those actively urging this project point out that the completion of the St. Lawrence ship canal will bring no particular benefit to this city which could not hope to expand through this circumstance. Rather, they maintain, Ogdensburg, Massena and other points along the river will be those upon which an era of prosperity will descend.
|City Fills Old
WELFARE PROJECT RECALLS HISTORIC PROJECT
CANAL BISECTED THE CITY
Connected Black River at Huntingtonville With Lake Ontario at Black River Bay--Named From Col. Elisha Camp
Making an earth fill, between the river bank and Huntington street about a 100 feet east of the city filtration plant, as a city work relief project last month, recalls the history of Camp's ditch of a little more than a century ago.
Camp's ditch, so named for Colonel Elisha Camp, Sackets Harbor pioneer, early Jefferson County industrialist and North Country promoter, was one of the first water power projects in this part of the state.
In January a gang of about 25 city residents operating under local relief work, was engaged under public works department supervision in filling in and grading a stretch of the old ditch just north of the Huntington street road. Stone and earth dumped there during the past year or two was used for the purpose. Some of the brush and scrub cedars about the site have been cut and a general effort made to give the location a more tidy appearance. The fill is on the site where the old tubercolosis summer camp was 15 or 20 years ago.
It was in 1832, 101 years ago, that Camp's ditch, costing in the neighborhood of $150,000 to $200,000 was constructed to supply water power for miles at Camp's Mills, a few miles southeast of the village of Sackets Harbor and at Jewettsville, a small but thriving community east of the present Madison Barracks.
The Route of the Canal
Much of the definite history
of the ditch or power canal has been lost, but information obtained
from Joseph P. Burns, engineer, member of the construction firm of Burns,
Brothers & Haley, from Leonard L. Allen, Assistant City Engineer
Leonard G. Murray and Engineer Arthur H. Emerson of W.T. Field Engineers,
Inc., quite accurately establishes the route.
|From that region onward, however,
it is mostly obliterated as the result of fills and erosions of the past
90 years, for at the end of ten years' utilization the ditch was abandoned
as a power project. because of yearly earth slides caused by spring freshets
at the Huntingtonville end, and a fire which devastated several of the
mills at Jewettsville.
Mr. Burns, whose brother, Louis Burns, was engaged several years ago in making a survey and plans for the Carthage-to-the-Lake navigation canal much sponsored at that time, is authority for the statement that after following through the fields of the city's eastern quarter, the ditch crossed State street near Pleasant street.
Peter Anderson, city water department employee now in charge of the city pumphouse, said today that in 1922 he excavated into the ditch at Riggs avenue, a short narrow street running parallel to Academy street just south of it between Hamilton and Arlington. Mr. Anderson was excavating for a water line at the time, and after digging down to a depth of six feet uncovered some two-inch planks of the canal, which were in excellent state of preservation from their long protection from the air.
Crossed Franklin Street
The canal then went across Franklin
street, continuing between Brainard and Cadwell to Gotham street, which
it crossed below Brainard. It intersected Myrtle avenue bewteen
Flower avenue East and Park avenue, touching Frank W. Allen's property
at 721 Myrtle avenue and formed the back boundaries of the lots on those
two streets, crossing Washington street back of Woodruff street, running
some distance in the rear of the House of the Good Samaritan.
Built for Water Power
Early in the 19th century when Sackets Harbor promised to be a more important community than Watertown because of its location on a good harbor, the need of water power made itself apparent.
| If Sackets Harbor
was to develop industries and become prosperous it must have power.
Accordingly a plan was visualized to divert the waters of Black River
at Huntington Mills, now known as Huntingtonville about two miles above
Watertown. To do this a plan or power canal much similar to the
power canals of the St. Regis Paper Company at Deferiet and the Northern
New York Utilities, Inc., at Black River, but vastly longer, was to be
The plan was given consideration in 1823, was presented to the state legislature which referred it to the attorney general on the question off right to take private property for a right of way.
Henry Coffeen and others whose lands were affected, together with residents of Brownville, who were stoutly opposed to the proposition brought about its defeat. Joseph Kimball, Amos Catlin and Daniel Hall, jr., however, secured the passage of an action April 20, 1825 giving them authority to make the water diversion, Egbert Ten Euck, Clark Allen and Joseph Hawkins being appointed a commission to place a valuation on the land to be taken, and provide for highway and farm bridges to be maintained. The act provided that the water was not to be taken from any then existing dam, and this is said to have killed the project.
Sackets Harbor residents continued insistent and would not discard their idea. They called a meeting Feb. 13, 1826 and passed resolutions strenuously opposed to the conditions imposed in the act of 1825 and urging the repeal of those restructions. Accordingly the act was amended April 17, 1826.
No action followed this and the advocates next gave thought to making the canal a navigation course as well as a power way, estimating the cost of the changed plans at $200,000, but figuring $16,000 a year tolls from it.
Incorporated in 1828
The Jefferson County Canal company
was incorporated April 15, 1828 at $300,000. Shares were to be
sold for $100. Vincent Le Ray, son of James De La Ray de Chaumont,
great Jefferson county promoter, Phillip Schuyler, Colonel Elisha Camp,
Egbert Ten Eyck, Jasan Fairbanks, Levi Beebee, Arthur Bronson, John
Felt and Joseph Kimbalt were the directors.
Section of Old Camp's Ditch Uncovered by Hospital Work
| A section of Camp's
Ditch, one of the first water power projects in this part of the state
was uncovered this week while excavating was being done for the addition
to the House of the Good Samaritan Hospital.
John F. Wilcox, assistant administrator of the hospital, said that the section of Camp's Ditch was discovered on the northwest corner of the hospital property where construction excavation was being done. The ditch was identifiable by the way it was filled in and the materials found in it.
Camp's Ditch was named for Col. Elisha Camp of Sackets Harbor, early Jefferson County industrialist and pioneer settler who was prominent in the War of 1812 action in this section.
Camp's Ditch was constructed in 1832, at the expense ranging between $150,000 and $200,000 to supply water power for mills at Camp's Mills, a few miles southeast of the village of
|Sackets Harbor, and at Jewettsville, a then
small but thriving community east of Madison Barracks. The ditch
was used as a power canal. It ran from the Sackets Harbor section
to Watertown and through parts of the present city to the Black River
Camp's Ditch was 20 feet wide on the top, 12 feet on the bottom and four feet in depth. The point of connection at Huntingtonville was just west of the New York Central railroad tracks which crossed the Huntingtonville highway above Dressor's Grove for many years a popular picnic site at Huntingtonville.
From Huntingtonville the ditch followed the river rather closely past the present Calvary Cemetery past the city pumphouse and filtration plant. Just west of the filtration plant, Camp's Ditch crossed the highway and swung off to the southwest.
|The ditch passed south of Huntington
Street Road and passed across the city.
Camp's Ditch was filled in by the city in 1933. Much of the routeof the ditch by that time had been obliterated by fills and eroisions of the 90 years that had passed since its use. Camp's Ditch was used as a power canal for 10 years but because of yearly earth slides at the Huntingtonville end and a fire which devastated the mills at Jewettsville it was abandoned as a power project.
From the House of the Good Samaritan section the canal went back of Woodruff St. crossing Washington St. and then intersected Myrtle Ave., between Flower Ave. and Park Ave. and then crossed Gotham St. below Brainard St. and went cross Cadwell St. to Franklin St. From there it went across Riggs Ave., and Academy St. continuing across State St. down to the Huntington Road St. section.
|The canal, which was to become known as Camp's Ditch, was first proposed in 1823. There were a number delays but in April 1828, the Jefferson County Canal Company was formed and shares were sold. Among the moving forces, besides Colonel Camp, were Vincent LeRay, son of James LeRay de Chaumont; Philip Schuyler, Egbert Ten Eyck, Jason Fairbanks, Levi Beebee, Arthur Bronson, John Felt and Joseph Kimball. Work began in the summer of 1830 and the canal was done in 1832 and began its operation.|