ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES
The Illinois and Michigan Canal, 1827–1911
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
LETTER FROM EDWARD B. TALCOTT TO WILLIAM H. SWIFT CONCERNING RAFTING TIMBER ON THE CANAL
May 11, 1849
The following transcripts were taken from the "Rules, By-Laws, and Regulations of the Illinois and Michigan Canal" as adopted by the trustees on April 26, 1848.
Sec. 135. The rafting of timber on the canal is hereby prohibited, unless specially permitted by the general superintendant; and such special permission, when given, shall be communicated in writing to the collectors of tolls on said canal. Any person violating the provisions of this order, shall for every such offence, forfeit and pay ten dollars.
Sec. 38. Every person who shall wilfully, or through gross negligence, obstruct the navigation of the canal, by sinking any vessel, timber, stone, earth or other thing in any part thereof, or by placing any obstruction on the towing path thereof, or on the bank opposite the towing path, shall forfeit the sum of twenty dollars.
Sec. 39. Every person who shall incur a penalty under either of the three next preceding sections, by committing any offence therein specified, shall, moreover, be liable to every person injured thereby, for the payment of all damage which shall occur in consequence of such offence.
Sec. 40. It shall be the duty of every engineer, collector, superintendant or agent employed on the canal, to seize all boats, rafts, logs, and every floating and sunken thing which may be found in said canal, and all articles found on the towing path thereof, not under the charge of any person, and to sell the same at public vendue, after giving ten days previous notice thereof, in writing, posted up in two public places near the place where such boat or other articles may be found.
All three trustees agreed to do as Mr. Talcott requested when they passed a resolution to that effect on May 16.
Points to Consider
What was Edward B. Talcott asking William H. Swift to do?
How could a canal official have judged a man's timber rafting skills?
Where would rafted timber have originated?
Where did Hiram Norton get the timber he used at his sawmill in Lockport (see document 26)?