The Future of American Waterways

February 13, 1926

Report Outline
Rise and Decline of Waterway Transportation
Past Expenditures and Present Facilities
Waterways, Highways and Railways
Consolidated Waterway Systems

Expenditures by the Federal Government upon rivers and harbors since 1802, when the first appropriation for waterway improvements was made, have approximated $1,300,000,000.1 One third of this sum, by rough estimate, has been devoted to the construction and maintenance of harbor works and connecting channels on the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts. About one half has been expended upon navigable rivers and canals, and the remainder has been devoted to improvements on the Great Lakes.

Federal expenditure for navigation works on the seaboard and the Great Lakes have proved highly productive investments, but inland waterway developments, with a few notable exceptions, have failed to date to yield the full benefits expected by the country. This failure has been attributed in the past principally to the hostile attitude of the railroads and to their efforts at suppression of this cheaper form of transportation.

During the last ten years highway transportation of freight has shown a notable increase, and waterway transportation also has given definite signs of revival. Provision for its rapid expansion during the next ten years, in the opinion of Secretary of Commerce Hoover, is a matter of “supreme national importance.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Regional Planning and Urbanization
Waterways and Harbors