1850s - 1870s ARCHIVE OF NOTEBOOKS AND JOURNALS DETAILING THE ACCOMPLISHED AND SCIENTIFIC LIFE OF NOTED CIVIL ENGINEER, GEOGRAPHER AND CANAL BUILDER IN THE MID-19TH CENTURY SOUTH

By: JOHN [AND CHARLES] BYERS

Price: $6,455.99

Quantity: 1 available

Book Condition: Good-


On offer is a large and exhaustive archive of nine [9] diaries, journals, field notebooks, etc. dated 1835 through 1850s relating to the career and workings of John A. Byers, noted Civil Engineer known for his ground-breaking work on internal improvements in 1850s Virginia. Byers was born in 1806 in Lewes, Delaware, and died in 1872. He was for many years Chief Engineer of the Western Division of the James River and Kanawha Canal Company in Charleston, West Virginia. He was also engaged as civil engineer on the North Branch of the Susquehanna River, and was one of the constructors of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. He would eventually become Chief Engineer and Superintendent of the entire company. His brother Joseph Byers, also a noted civil engineer, was Assistant Engineer, 1836-1840, on the James River at Warminster, Virginia, and Superintendent of the work on that section. The two brothers were engaged as early as 1826 in the most important inland navigation works in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. The last work of importance performed by John A. Byers were the surveys of the James River and Kanawha Canal. The books which contained his surveys of this improvement were so accurate that they were purchased after his death by the U. S. Government from his widow for the continuation of the work. Joseph Byers continued as civil engineers and gained considerable repute in their field, Charles Byers, son of Joseph, was for many years the Chief Engineer of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, John M. Byers was instrumental in constructing the Pennsylvania Railroad, [Joseph Byers (son) was engineer of the Pennsylvania Railroad and later in charge of the coastal defenses of Brazil] and considering Byers' roles in this, this group fills in gaps in the story of this expansion westward. The contents of the archive are as follows: 1. The volume dates from 1835. It contains many tables of various measurements as well as some formulae and notes: Approximate Rule To determine the weight of a beam by the weight of a person - let a= the length of one end of the beam when balanced and b= the other, also x the weight of the beam - & c & d the length of each end when balanced with the weight of the person on one end and e = weight of the person. This volume also contains receipts and estimates detailing materials quoted on or purchased for construction. 2. The volume dates from 1856. The opening page is entitled: Book of Measurements, Notes and Memoranda of work and facts connected with the North River [ ] Beginning February 1st, 1856 In addition to extensive notes, it contains tables and charts such as a table titled: Continuation of Towing Path Line Met the Board at J W Hamilton's and reviewed the lines in front and rear of his house. After the Board left in the evening went over a proposed line in front of Mr. H's with him in order to attempt a compromise with him for which the Board required him to meet them in Lexington the next day. Then I crossed the river and staid all night at A.M. Lusk's. [Mar 19, 1856] 3. Manuscript Diary headed: "Book of Measurements, notes and measurements of work and facts connected with the North River Impt. Beginning January 1, 1856." The first entry is in February 4 and continues till March 21st. Some of the entries are just text, but most of the entries contain some sort of calculation or table detailing "Levels on River side," "width of the bottom of the river," "height bank" and others. After the entries there are four pages of recipes for gun cotton, photographic emulsion formulas, silver balls for plain paper, and others. The book is bound in cloth backed boards. The binding is slightly worn and a portion of spine is missing. There is some damp-staining. The text is inscribed in both pencil and ink, in generally good legible condition, however some of the penciled pages are light. The book is 36 pages long. The entries run from February 18th-March 18, 1856. It contains brief description of work done, problems encountered plus measurements and survey notes for various, locks, dams, etc., along the line of the canal. He notes the progress on the line of the James River & Kanawha Canal, attendance in court at Lexington as witness in a lawsuit against the canal company brought by a man whose land the canal traversed, efforts to reach a settlement, and much more. He also notes difficulties brought on by the weather, heavy snow and ice on the western side of the Blue Ridge, etc. 4. The fourth book is a slim notebook that contains both pages of data and line drawings. The line drawings illustrate various elevations and structural elements of the canal locks for which he was responsible. Dam No. 2 At Upper Falls of Coal *(The Coal River is a tributary of the Kanawha River in southern West Virginia. The Coal River Canal was constructed in 1851 consisting of a 34-mile lock and dam system. The Coal River Navigation Company was formed and invested approximately $208,000 to complete the system. The lock and dam system was repeatedly washed out by floods but continued to be rebuilt by investors. The system operated successfully from 1855 through 1861.) The lock itself is founded on rock and is not terribly injured. The gate irons in the lower sides can turn from the fastenings and part are lost - that is the anchor. The lower side of the crib is damaged. Say in all about $200.00. 5. Manuscript Notebook, inscribed on front free endpaper, "Notes of Work. N. R. Nav. Impt. 1856. J. A. Byers." The book contains extensive measurements and survey notes and occasional topographical sketches. The text is in pencil, bound in original cloth backed board. The binding is fairly worn. The text is very clean and legible. The book also contains the signatures of Johnston and Tyler Shoul, Kanawha County, Virginia, most probably employees of the company. There is a pencil folk art sketch of a steamboat and man at the end of the volume presumably executed by one of these gentlemen. The book is octavo format, 178 pp. 6. A Manuscript Notebook containing extensive survey and field notes, the first page bears the signature of "Joseph Byers, Sharpsburg, Maryland". The book is in octavo format and is roughly, 60 pages of writing and many pages of blanks. The book is written in pencil, sometimes worn, but mostly easily readable and understandable. The year 1835 is written in the book next to the name "H. Hancock" but this book probably dates to c.1860s, just like the other ones in the archive. It contains survey notes for sections of what is the C & O canal, it notes extensive measurements for locations on the Virginia shore. 7. Manuscript Notebook containing "Measurements, Specifications and drawings for repairing Locks and Dams" The notebook contains detailed measurements, damage assessments, and cost estimates for repairing various dams, locks and other fixtures along the route of the canal, presumably the Coal River Canal. Each dam is numbered and then described. The text is accompanied by detailed pencil sketches of the dams and locks. The book contains 16 pages of writing. Most of the book is blank. The text is in very good clean, legible condition. 8. A small black diary, almost entirely blank, presumably. It is entitled "Martinsburg March 16, 1871." There is a small sketch of a man with in a hat, of which "Household Theology by J. H. Blunt" is written. There are also a few rudimentary calculations and mathematics accompanied by drawings of presumably dam-related shapes. The very last page contains a bit of writing that begins, "James D. Byers son of Charlotte (?) & John A. Byers. Color Sergeant in (?) 8th Regiment of confederate cavalry of the Northern Army of Va. Was killed instantly November 12th 1864 by ambush of Federals while bravely leading a charge of his regiment." This little book may have been owned by James' brother Charles, as the handwriting does not match John A. Byers' but It is unclear. The collection also includes some miscellaneous material, letters, letter fragments, etc, similar to the types of calculations and assessments in the other notebooks. 9. The volume contains tables of work carried out on a list of numbered sections. These are accompanied by brief comments: solid rock along the shore from this stake; wing dam extending about 200 feet out into the river; no soundings taken in morning on account of rain.

Title: 1850s - 1870s ARCHIVE OF NOTEBOOKS AND JOURNALS DETAILING THE ACCOMPLISHED AND SCIENTIFIC LIFE OF NOTED CIVIL ENGINEER, GEOGRAPHER AND CANAL BUILDER IN THE MID-19TH CENTURY SOUTH

Author Name: JOHN [AND CHARLES] BYERS

Categories: 19th Century Diary, Books and Manuscripts General Overview, 19th Century Manuscript,

Publisher: CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINA WV, WARMINSTER VIRGINIA, 1855

Book Condition: Good-

Type: Manuscript

Size: 4to - over 9¾" - 12" tall

Seller ID: 0009046

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