Book Cover















Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Facilities











The Age is teeming with schemes and projects for the profitable investment and rapid accumulation of capital. The uncertainty of selecting the best from among such a multitude of very good, simply indifferent and decidedly worthless projects naturally excites a prejudice against any new scheme. But as opportunities for such investments are still eagerly sought after, it is hoped that the following candid statement of a few leading and prominent facts connected with a new western enterprize, will amply suffice to show that it is worthy the attentive consideration of any one seeking a new and remunerating field of operations. The wonderful progress and magic-like growth of the State of Iowa are attracting very general observation. An unprecedented and annually increasing immigration is rapidly filling her rich and fertile borders with an active, thrifty, and energetic population. It is obvious that such an immigration must far out-strip the progress of local manufactures, and at the same time that such a population, on a soil so recently occupied, furnishes a necessary and immense demand for manufactured articles of every kind. It is also obvious that the transportation of manufactures to so great a distance must greatly enhance their price, and that, if the requisite facilities for producing them-- such as abundant water-power, cheap and easy supply of raw material, &c.-- can be furnished on the soil, manufacturing as a business, in its various branches, must ensure a profitable return to capital and labor.






Views like these, carried out in their details, have led to the foundation of the town of Lawrence, in Van Buren County, Iowa, on the Des Moines River, some thirty miles above Keokuk which lies at the confluence of the Des Moines with the Mississippi some two hundred miles above St. Louis, and is itself the Commercial Metropolis of Iowa. It is designed that this new Lawrence shall measurably be to Keokuk, what Lowell and Lawrence of Massachusetts are to Boston, and it is believed that the natural advantages are such as to relieve this design of even the appearanee of extravagance.



The location of Lawrence, considered with reference to the adjoining country, the supply of water-power, coal and other minerals and raw materials of various kinds, and the facility of access to unlimited markets, can scarcely be surpassed. The site of the town is a beautiful level plain, sufficiently elevated above the River to secure the highest sanitary advantages, and extending back from the River a convenient distance to a gently ascending bluff (the termination of the high prairie land), undulating and irregular in its outline, and furnishing many eligible and beautiful sites for dwellings.



The first great requisite for building up a manufacturing town is, of course, the abundand supply of water power. This will be furnished at Lawrence by the completion, during the coming season, of an extensive Dam and Lock, built in the most solid and substantial manner, under the direction of the State as a part of that great work known as the Des Moines River Improvement, and referred to in the note below. This Dam will be fifteen feet

* The munificent donation to the State, by Congress, of over 1,300,000 acres of the best land in the world, lying on both sides of the Des Moines River, for the pur-





high, and will furnish full ten feet liead of water. That this will give a power sufficient for all desirable purposes, and that the supply of water from the River will be at all times abundant and unfailing, is asserted upon the authority of a number of the best practical Engineers in the United States. All the Dams on the Improve- ment are to be kept in good repair by the Des Moines Company, and the rents for water-power will be reasonable,-- probably not to exceed on the average $100 per year for each power, i. e. a sufficiency to propel a run of 4 1/2 feet Burr mill stones. The lease oE the water-power at the Lawrence Dam has been applied for and will doubtless be secured by the Lawrence Company.



At the present time (spring of 1856) the only mode of access to Lawrence is by excellent wagon roads, (for the uncertain navigation of the Des Moines, in its natural state, is not worth speaking of.) But nature has given it the peculiar advantage of being the converging point of the great natural Divides (so called) which are the main thoroughfares of travel from northern Missouri, through the southern tier of counties in Iowa and down the east bank of the Des Moines-- all which, after meeting here, pursue a single track down the River to Keokuk on the Mississippi. Thus by nature it is the central point of a great scope of country, and can easily be made the distributing point for unlimited markets diverging in these various directions.

Besides this, the slack water Improvement of the Des Moines is to be completed in 1858 at farthest, and as the Locks are to be 200 feet in length, Lawrence will be, during the whole season of navigation on the Mississippi, accessible to a class of boats next to the


[transciber's note: The following paragraph is a continuation of the footnote found first on page 4.]


pose of improving its navigation by slack water, has enabled the State to contract with a responsible New York Company for the completion of the Improvement, which requires, in all, the construction of thirty Locks and Dams, and several pieces of Canal; in consideration of which great work, the Company is to receive about one million acres of the land, as well as to have the use of the works, and the revenue collected for the tolls and water-rents thereon, for the period of seventy five years. Considerable progress has already been made in the work, and the whole is to be completed to fort Des Moines, some two hundred miles above the mouth of the River, by July 1, 1858.




largest usually running in the Keokuk and St. Louis trade, thus allowing the importation of Cotton, &c., and the exportation of the manufactures and produce of the country, without breaking bulk Boats can then load with Cotton, &c., in Memphis, in four days' time discharge the cargo at LAWENCE, reload with the products of the country, and in three days more return to Memphis. The marked advantages of such rapid exchanges, low freights, &c., will be obvious on the slightest reflection. In addition to this, the "Keokuk, Ft. Des Moines, and Minnesota Railroad Company" is now constructing a railroad from Keokuk to Ft. Des Moines, which there is no doubt will be opened and in operation to Lawrence during the coming fall, and which, by its connection with other railroads, will furnish access to all southern and eastern markets. It is the intention of the Company to push the road on to Ft. Des Moines with all possible energy and dispatch. A depot at Lawrence, and the necessary side-tracks running down to the River, will furnish every facility required for freight or passengers.



In addition to the abundant water-power found here, Bituminous coal in inexhaustible quantities. Potter's Clay and Fire Clay of the finest quality, Quarries of Limestone yielding a very superior article of Lime, Timber in great abundance, including different varieties of Oak, Black Walnut, Sycamore, Hickory, &c., and a soil of exuberant fertility, constitute the principal natural resources of this locality. The eastern extremity of the great coal bed of the Des Moines Valley is precisely at this point, Prof. Owen having discovered five distinct veins cropping out in the neighboring bluffs. It is the nearest feasible mining point to Keokuk and the Mississippi. The coal is of good quality, the veins can be easily worked, are but a short distance from the railroad track and the River, and a constantly increasing demand is furnished by the Mississippi boats, the city of Keokuk, and, in short, by every accessible point in the Valley,-- a demand which is even now greatly increased at Keokuk by the scarcity and exorbitant price of fire-wood. The "Lawrence




Coal Company"-- comprising in its organization a number of the wealthy and substantial citizens of Keokuk,-- has been formed for the purpose of working these mines. It is obvious that each and all of these resources are of the highest importance as affecting the interest of a manufacturing town.



It is estimated that the business of nearly one third of the State of Iowa is already tributary to the Des Moines River, and more than one third of the State, besides a large region in Minnesota, will become tributary to the River, directly upon the completion of the Improvement. Several rapidly improving counties of northern Missouri are also large contributors to this business. The country itself, furnishing this trade, and adjacent to the River, as high up as fort Des Moines, was settled soon after the lands lying along the eastern border of the State, near the Mississippi, and are now in an advanced condition of cultivation. Indeed it is a remarkable fact, as stated by the Mayor of Keokuk, in his Inaugural address, April 1855, "that there are to-day a greater number of acres of land in cultivation between Keokuk and Ft. Des Moines than can be found on any road of the same length leading out of any city in the entire Valley of the Mississippi."

The Des Moines Valley has long been known as the "Garden of the West," and its soil is more fertile than the best portions of Indiana and Illinois. The land is beautifully situated, "with no low or waste pastures, but rolling and undulating throughout, and well supplied with fine streams of pure, clear, and quick running water. The prairies are long but narrow, and farms will be adjacent to, or in no case exceeding four or five miles from timber; while coal, lime and stone, each of the best quality, are abundantly and conveniently distributed over the lands of the whole district, which will, when the Improvement is completed, be in direct water communication through the Mississippi to the New-Orleans market, and through the Ohio and Illinois rivers and the chain of Western Lakes with the New-York. Philadelphia, and other Atlantic markets." [Report De Moine N. & R. R. Co. p. 13.]



8 .


Professor Owen, in his Geological Report to Congress in 1851, speaking of this Valley says:

"The carboniferous rocks of Iowa occupy a region of country, which, taken as a whole, is one of the most fertile in the United States.

"No country can present to the farmer greater facilities for subduing, in a short time, wild land. Its native prairies are fields almost ready made to his hands. Its rich, black soil returns him reward for his labor a hundred fold.

"The rural beauty of this portion of Iowa can hardly be surpassed. Undulating prairies, interspersed with open groves of timber, and watered with pebbly or rocky bedded streams, pure and transparent; hills of moderate height and gentle slope; here and there, especially towards the heads of the streams, small lakes, as dear as the rivers, some skirted with timber, some with banks formed by the green-sward of the open prairie; these are the ordinary features of the pastoral landscape.

"For centuries, the successive natural crops of grass, untouched by the scythe, and but very partially kept down by the pasturage of buffalo, and other herbivorous animals, have accumulated organic matter on the surface soil, to such an extent, that a long succession, even of exhausting crops, will not materially impoverish the land. The prairie sod, matted and deep rooted, usually requires from six to eight yoke of oxen, effectually to break it up.

"The future farms of Iowa, large, level and unbroken, by stump or other obstruction, will afford an excellent field for the introduction of mowing and reaping machines, and other improved implements calculated to save the labor of the husbandman; and which, in new countries reclaimed from the forest, can scarcely be employed until the first generation shall have passed away."

So much for the Country. In regard to the population, it is safe to estimate the present number of inhabitants in the entire State at about six hundred thousand, or more than treble that of the last census,-- the simple increase during the last eighteen months alone being greater than the whole population in 1850. In the Des Moines Valley itself the population is more dense than along the Mississippi. Between the mouth and Fort Des Moines,




in a belt fifteen miles wide on each side of the river, there are forty villages, which contain an aggregate population of eighty thousand, while the present population of the country, the business of which may be considered tributary to the Des Moines river, is over two hundred thousand, and by the next census it is estimated that it will exceed three hundred and fifty thousand.



Allowing the foregoing statement to be true,-- and it is in fact even within the truth-- there can be no question that in such a country, with such a population, there must be an immense demand for manufactories of every kind. And this demand must be supplied from some quarter. At the present time, and from the very necessity of the case, there is a great scarcity of the heavier class of manufactories. Such establishments are not transported with a hurrying migration; nor are they built up in a day. Necessarily of slower growth than other elements of commercial and social progress, they generally await a settled and comparatively dense population, the slow accumulation of surplus capital, &c., while the demand for their products must in the meantime be supplied at a great expense and from a great distance.

Yet all the requisites for the successful operation of such establishments (except the surplus capital) now exist in this Valley directly to hand, and it would seem that the establishments which are first to occupy the field, if well stocked and equipped and judiciously managed, are certain to reap ample returns. Even now it is the subject of common remark, and is withal a notable fact, that all branches of manufacturing which have thus far been attempted in Keokuk, and other towns in this Valley, are proving highly successful and remunerative. In this regard a mistake can scarcely be made in the investment of either capital, skill, or labor, for all is new, and every thing is needed. And the great truth, that the nearer the Plow, the Loom, and the Anvil are brought together the greater the advantage to all departments of productive industry, could scarcely find a more promising field for its practical and triumphant illustration than in this favored locality.





It is designed to erect at Lawrence establishments for the manufacture of Cotton, Wool, Flour, Machinery, Cabinet-ware, Carriages, Agricultural Implements, &c. From the foregoing statement it will be seen that nearly all the requisites for their entire success are close at hand, or easily accessible. Ample and unfailing water-power, coal and timber in abundance, an annually increasing crop of wool, and all the products of an exuberant soil are in the immediate neighborhood, while the iron of Missouri and the cotton of Tennessee and other Southern States are much more accessible at a much less expense, than in many of the Northern States, where they are yet manufactured with profit. While the raw materials are thus convenient, an ample and ready market is furnished by the entire Des Moines Valley with its rapidly increasing multitudes, by the whole of Southern Iowa, and a large portion of Northern Missouri. Add to this that lands are cheap, provisions are cheap, and the climate is remarkably bracing and healthful. The only other requisite is the supply of skill and a sufficiency of capital-- or rather of the latter alone, for that will command the former.

It would seem that greater inducements could scarcely be offered for the safe investment of capital in enterprizes that ensure reasonable, legitimate and speedy returns. And these inducements are by no means visionary, although it may be almost impossible for the eastern man, who has never been West, to realize that the foregoing representations of the present and future prospects of the Des Moines Valley, in respect of population and the progress of all branches of industry, are even far within the truth. Yet such is the fact, and such being the fact, why should the Eastern capitalist hesitate to follow with his capital in the broad wake of that immense and wondrous tide of emigration with its unlimited demands for the numerous productions of civilized art?





This Company was organized on the 1st day of January, A. D. 1856, according to the provisions of the Code of Iowa, and is to continue twenty years, subject to renewal. Principal Office in Keokuk. Capital Stock Three Hundred Thousand Dollars, to be paid in as called for. The business of the Corporation is the mining and selling of coal, the purchase and sale of coal-lands, and such other business as may be properly connected therewith. The in-debtedness of the Company is limited to One Hundred Thousand Dollars; private property exempt from corporate debts. The affairs of the Corporation to be managed by a Board of five Directors, elected annually. The names of the present Directors, other Corporators, and Officers are as follows:


D. W. FORD Treasurer.   E. R. FORD President.
  JAS. C. PARROTT Secretary.  
Letters of inquiry in reference to the matters alluded to in this pamphlet may be addressed to E. R. FORD, Pres't. L. C. Co., Keokuk, Iowa.

Note: Alas, the town of Lawrence was never built as the proposed project never gained steam!

Return to
Van Buren County Web Site