River Navigation

River Navigation

The office of the Government engineer in control of the Government improvement along the Mississippi, from the mouth of the Missouri River to St. Paul, together with a number of adjacent natural artificial water-ways, is located in Rock Island. Through its annual appropriations, about $800,000 are spent in the interests of improved navigation in the district indicated. The first Government engineer’s office established for the improvement of the upper river was located in Davenport, in 1866, and was in charge of General James H. Wilson. The office was originally intended to control only the improvement of the Rock Island rapids. General Wilson was transferred to Keokuk, and the work of building the canal around the rapids there was placed in his charge. The Davenport office was left under Major C. J. Allen, who, about two years after it was originally established, removed it to Rock Island, quarters being taken in the Skinner Block over the People’s National bank. In 1870 Colonel John Macomb was placed at the head of the offices, and under him they were removed to the building at the north-east corner of Second Avenue and Nineteenth Street. Colonel F. V. Farquhar took charge in 1877, and under his direction, the year following, the general survey of the river made from the mouth of the Missouri to St. Paul was begun, from which a general line of improvement for the whole distance was later mapped out. Colonel A. Mackenzie came on in 1879 and the office was under his management for a period of fifteen years. In 1891 quarters were taken on the fourth floor of the new Mitchell and Lynde Building. Major Mackenzie continued in charge until his promotion to assistant chief engineer at Washington. Colonel W. R. King, his successor, died after a year’s residence in the city, and Major C. McD. Townsend took charge in May, 1898. The present quarters, on the second and third floors of the federal building, at the corner of Second Avenue and Sixteenth Street, were taken possession of January 9, 1896. Colonel James L. Lusk assumed charge in April, 1903, and was succeeded by Colonel Charles S. Riche in April, 1905, and who is still in general charge. Colonel Charles W. Durham, first assistant engineer since 1871; James D. DuShane, assistant engineer; W. A. Thompson, assistant engineer; Samuel Ed-wards, assistant engineer; James McElherne, assistant engineer; Montgomery Meigs, assistant engineer; A. L. Richards, assistant engineer; C. P. Comegys, auditor. The working plants consist of two boats, dredges, snag boats, barges, dump boats, quarter boats, office boats, employing over one thousand men during the working season.


Early Settlements of Rock Island County 


Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908

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