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Sunday, September 1st 2013, 5:22pm

1855: A New Mouth on the Black Sea - A Canal from Rassova to Kustandje, Thomas Wilson, rasova, Kustendje, Constanta, canal Dunare MN

Quoted from "Low-Lands.."

1855: Low-Lands of the Danube

their reclamation by / A Canal from Rassova to Kustandje / forming / A new Mouth on the Black Sea

Author: Thomas Wilson
Impressum: London, Effingham Wilson, 11, Royal Exchange, 1855

The line of communication between Vienna and the mouth of the Danube is now kept up by a chain of 20 steam-boats, besides 7 sea steamers navigating the Black Sea, and Hellespont to Constantinople, Trebizond, and Smyrna; and tug boats which tow up 30,000 or 40,000 Servian seamen annually.

The portion of the river between Drenkova and Skela Gladova being impracticable for steamers on account of the rapidity of the current, passengers are conveyed from the one point to the other in boats, launching at Arsova by the way the Danube rises, in consequence of the melting of the snows, from the beginning of June to the middle of July, and does not begin to sink until the middle of August.

These “freshets" are highly favorable to the navigation, as the water then covers many of the impediments existing at low water. The captains and pilots have extended greatly their knowledge of the river; but, notwithstanding, it is still not an uncommon thing for the vessels, to run aground in August and September.*

*The total distance from Vienna to Constantinople by Galatz is about 1,574 English miles. The fare, first cabin, is 125 florins; 2nd. is 85 fl. It is much less in returning up the river.

Two or three other inconveniences must be mentioned. The mosquitoes, gnats, etc., are excruciating, especially in the lower part of the river; and to escape this plague it may be prudent to take a mosquitoe net.

The marshy land at the mouth of the Danube is most unhealthy, at certain seasons teeming with fever and ague, which those even who merely pass up and down without stopping do not always escape.

The greatest risk is avoided by those who cross from Czernavoda to Kustandje by land.

It is very desirable to catch the steamer which stops at Czernavoda, and there deposits its passengers, who are conveyed overland to Kustandje on the Black Sea, instead of going round by Galatz; as two or three days are saved on the voyage, and the portion of the course of the Danube, which is most monotonous and most dangerous, from the marsh fever prevalent near the mouth of the river, is avoided.

Kustandje occupies the site, and retains, with slight
alteration, the name of the Roman town Constantina, founded by Trajan. The modern town can scarcely be said to exist at present, having been demolished by the Russians, and contains only about forty inhabitants. It is finely situated upon a projecting promontory.

The Steam Company have fitted up a company here, but most scanty accommodation for passengers. The divans are generally preferred to the beds for sleeping, on account of the insects.

The spot exhibits extensive remains of Roman constructions, marble blocks, columns, carved friezes, etc.; and the ground is strewn with prepared masonry for a considerable distance. Two massive moles, still partly uninjured, stretch into the sea, and must have formed a safe harbor when perfect.

At Rassova, a Bulgarian village. anciently Axiopolis, about thirty miles below Silistria, the Danube, turned by the approximating chain of the Balkan mountains, makes a sudden bend from E. to N.; and when within forty miles of the Black Sea, in a direct line, lengthens out its course to at least 180 miles before it disembogues itself.

Hirsova, anciently Carsium, is situated at the mouth of a defile between two eminences, one of which bears the ruins of a Turkish castle. The town was destroyed, along with the fort, by the Russians, and is now. only a collection of thirty mud huts.

Beyond Karakerman, low and sandy grounds indicate the approach
to the Danube. Between the Portitsa branch and the mouth of St. George, the shore of the island of Dranov runs towards the N. and sometimes offers, at two or three miles from land, with a depth of six fathoms, a shelter against the N. winds.

The mouth of the St.George's branch is 38 miles from that of Portitsa; it is from 350 to 400 yards broad; two small islands lie at its entrance, as well as an accumulation of sand, which extends for 21/2 miles in front of it; 30 feet of water is found at about three miles from land, and beyond that from 15 to 20 fathoms.

The depth of its channel is 41/2 feet; further up the river there is from 25 to 30 feet. All along the island of St. George there was formerly a depth of 30 feet, at a mile from the shore.

The Sulina branch, 17 miles from that of St.George, is the only one available to commerce, on account of the greater depth at its mouth. It is fifty miles in length, all its windings included, from the point of Tchetali to the sea, and from 200 to 300 yards broad.

Its shores are in some places more than seven feet high, and nowhere are they lower than four. The numerous sinuosities which it describes are called Tavla (boards) by the Turks, who have given them different denominations. The depth varies from 19 to 50 feet, which at its mouth is reduced to 12, and at times to 81/2.

The lighthouse of Sulina, on the right bank of the river,
that is the left on entering, was finished in 1842; but the want of solidity in the ground on which it has been built threatens it with speedy ruin. Its base is at two feet above the ordinary level of the water, and its light is at 60 feet; it is a fixed light and is seen at the distance of 131/2 miles from the N.N.W. as far as S. by W. passing by the E.

The village of Sulina is the quarantine station; and in time of war a guard-ship is moored there. A captain who has never been to Sulina should adopt as a starting-point the island of Fidonisi, which is 24 miles from it; thence bearing W. by S., he will, if the weather is clear, first perceive the remarkable mountain of Bechetepé, or Five Hills, in Bulgaria, near the Danube.

The lighthouse next appears, and successively the buildings on the two shores of the river. It is necessary to bring the lighthouse to the S.W. and bear down upon it, in order to steer over the greatest depth; this varies in places from 30 to 20, 16 to 14, 15, 16, and 19 feet, directing the course also by the situation of the buoys, before reaching which, it is ordered that a pilot shall meet the vessels. Steer to the W. when 19 feet water is found.

The depths just given are to be found only during the high tides, and particularly in the spring. They at times diminish 31/2 feet.

In consequence of the diminished depth of water, vessels which cannot clear the passage with their cargoes have recourse to lighters both on entering and leaving. Latitude of the lighthouse of Sulina, 45° 9‘ 38”; longitude, 29° 42‘ 24“.

When the wind is contrary in the Sulina branch, vessels must be towed, care being taken to keep the center of the stream. All low sands must be avoided; but there is generally deeper water near the higher and bolder shores.

Vessels must not anchor in the Danube, but a kedge lowered beneath the bowsprit should be kept in reserve, to hold the vessel if it is delayed too long in mooring her to stakes four or five feet long, which must be fixed on the shore, and with which it is necessary ships should be provided.

Beyond Tchetali, in ascending the Danube, towing is of no further use, the right shore on the larboard side having no tracks, and the left on the starboard side is infested with Cossacks, who object to it. The current varies according to the depth of water in the river. Extra hands are taken aboard at Constantinople for towing.

The E.N.E. is the only wind which, in spite of all the windings of the river, will help a vessel from Sulina as far as Ismail or Galatz without towing. It sometimes happens that the river freshet or contrary winds make this a month's passage or more.

All these delays might be avoided by the ship canal before mentioned. A sandbank of about two miles in length forms two channels in the middle of that part of the river called Lodostavlassi, beyond the mouths of the Chonda.

On the point of the island of St. George, which separates the branch of this name from that of Sulina, there is another shallow, which must be placed to the S. There is one more to the W. of the last western point of Tchatal, to which it has only been united within a few years, and a fourth between Isaktcha and Reni, facing the little mouth of the Venaté. New shoals form here, as in all rivers.

The greatest danger which the Danube presents in going down, and the only serious one from Sulina to Galatz and Ibrail, is the rock of the eastern cape of the town of Toultcha, 58 above the Sulina mouth. The current flows in its direction; and it is absolutely necessary to have a boat ready to fix a hawser at the point of Tchatal.

From Toultcha to Ismail is 12 miles. The passage is less dangerous for those vessels which ascend the river, because whether they do so by towing or by sailing, they always approach nearer the left shore, that is the right in ascending. The river, however, is deep and rocky, and gives no hold for the anchor.

The waters of the Danube rarely freeze at Sulina, and then but very late even during severe winters. On the Danube are the trading towns of Galatz, in Moldavia; of Brailov or Ibrail, in Wallachia; and of Ismail and Reni, in the Russian possessions. They ship corn, wine, butter, wool, tallow, skins, leather, etc. Ismail is the - Russian capital.

Since the acquisition by the Russians, in 1829, of the mouths of the Danube, this St. George or Sulina mouth has been allowed to fill up, and the decreased depth of the water, and the sunken vessels which lie within its channel, render the navigation of it extremely dangerous. In 1853, the depth of water had decreased to six feet. On account of these changes and the shifting of the shoals, no vessel should go in without a pilot. The buoys are badly moored and shift, and the Russians occasionally remove them; the bed being of soft sand, like that of the Mississippi and some other large rivers; there is, however, less danger in crossing it.

The small island of Fidonisi (in Greek, Serpent Island; called
Ylan Adassy in Turkish, and Zmeinoi Ostrow in Russian), is situated at 241/2 miles E. by N. of Sulina.

Its aspect is that of a hillock placed on a vertical base. It is 700 yards in its greatest length. An ascent has lately been cut in the rock to the S.W.

On the northern side of this island, at 64 yards from the shore, there is from 21/2 to 3 fathoms of water; on the western, 51/2, and 8; on the south, 61/2 to 111/2; and finally, on the east, 41/2 to 91/2. The bottom is bad.

Latitude, S 45° I5‘ 31"; longitude, 30° 15' 6". Shoals project into the Black Sea some distance from the mouths of the Danube.

In forming the Danubian canal from Rassova to Kustandje, the engineering difficulties appear to be inconsiderable, from a description of the country and map by Mr. Wilde, except in the high lands near the Black Sea, extending about five miles.

The whole distance to be occupied by a complete new canal from Rassova to the new town Alberta, to the south of Kustandje, appears to be about 40 miles.

There is one consideration of moment - whether it would not be
advisable to make this canal from Alberta [Dan: the new place to be built at the Black Sea end] to join the Lake Garasa [Karasu], which is three or four miles broad, and runs from Baraso, the half- way town to Carnavara on the Danube, in which case the new canal would only be 21 miles.

The Danube is intersected with sand-banks, which are well laid down in the map; and it will be perceived, that the river is freer from obstructions at the point beginning at Rassova, than at any part of the Turkish course, this being the most convenient part for making wharfs and buildings without hindrance to the course or the force of the stream at time of floods and inundations.

There is also an important advantage in making the canal at this station, which is lower down the waters of the Danube, so as to lessen the overflow of water into the Wallachian flats opposite Rassova, which are in extent 50 miles long by 30 miles wide, of rich soil, capable of growing the best Dutch madder, upon alluvial land, like the residue of the rivers Rhine and Mass, rivers which have so far deposited earthy matter on the flats so as to form extended tracts of rich. land, called Polders, which spread like a fan from the Rhine, at Cologne, and Mastricht on Maas, and embrace within their influence the whole of the Netherlands.

We will imagine, then, the wold or beds of the Danube, which have deposited the rich soil of many thousand years, the residue of the waters of fifteen hundred miles, and which are now in keeping of cormorants, pelicans, and wild fowl; yet the ground costs nothing and labor is nominal.


If the wheat that was exported from Odessa in 1847 were transported through this canal, at the above rate, 8,008,903lbs., at, 60lbs. to the bushel, it would pay £10 per cent upon the cost of making the canal, without reckoning the amount to be received for transit goods down the Danube, and of oil, seeds, madder, timber, hemp, and flax.

The canal, if it is completed as pointed out, to form a new mouth of the Danube at Kustandje, will serve not only for the immense traffic gathered from station to station, of a progress of 1,500 miles of the productions of the continental countries of France, Germany, and Switzerland, to be spread round the present numerous. and other yet unopened markets of the East, but its waters may be made useful for irrigating the land in the environs, in the dry weather of summer, as well as draining the land of overflow in winter.

It would also receive the water from draining mills, which might be introduced advantageously, as in Holland, where there are 1,000 polders from Flushing to Friesland, or tracts of land kept dry by these wind-mills. The smallest kind, called sail-mills,with fixed sails, capable of turning with every wind, cost 300 florins, or £25. The larger mills, mostly employed in North Holland, cost £2,160, doing an immense duty of lifting 30 cubic yards of water per minute, at a cost of £35 for attendance per annum. As the Delta of the Danube is similar to the land in Holland, the cost of constructing a canal would be similar; but as the price of land and the wages of labor are considerably less, so would be the expense of a canal on the Delta.

The following comparative estimate of a Dutch and English canal will convey an idea of the difference in the cost of canals in the different countries:

The distance of twenty miles of a barge canal in £ England, at £6,000 per mile, would cost: ........................................................ £120,000
Such canal, of twenty miles long, in Holland, forty yards wide, by three yards deep, would cost per mile: ......................................... £3,938 - - - - - £78,760

As to the salubrity of the new town at Kustandje, there is little to be feared, as it will have fewer currents of air from marshes than many towns of Europe, North or South America, or even of the East Indies. Great towns are mostly at or on the mouths of the largest rivers.

- That the Western Powers should obtain a firman for the establishment of a Danubian Bank, under limited liability, with a certain capital, say £2,000,000, the shares to be negotiated half English and half French.
- That this Bank should engage to open a canal between Kustandje and Rassova, which, without docks, is calculated to cost £500,000.
- That England and France, or the Western Powers together, should guarantee the interest of this £500,000 at 5 per cent;
- That the half of the profits of the canal shall be put aside as a sinking fund, to extinguish the debt of £500,000;
- That the canal shall become the property of the Company at the expiration of the period granted for the Banks;
- Tthat a firman be granted to the Bank to dyke in and drain the alluvian and wastelands, for cultivation, to be afterwards let to natives.
- That a firman be obtained for opening mines, and building water-mills for grinding corn and other purposes, and also for the construction of branch railways, coal and other mines, and accomplishing improvements of a like nature.

The other operations of trade and commerce which will bring large profits to the Bank, are too numerous to mention; but they will be superior to the banking operation of the United States, since they will be within a circle of the most civilized nations in the world, whose wants are many, and whose articles of exchange are too numerous to be recapitulated.

If this can be carried out, Turkey will be supplied with these formidable facilities of offensive and defensive operations, which she so greatly lacks at present, and the principalities will assume an entirely new position with regard to the rest of Europe, and a few days, instead of many months, will then suffice to concentrate her armies for her own protection, while Europe may repose, although Petersburg, Moscow, Odessa, and Warsaw, be connected, and it is to be hoped they will ultimately act as useful neighbors.

The cultivation of the low-lands of the Danube will be followed by other more important advantages than conducing to the natural salubrity of the country. Besides adding strength to the defensive positions of the existing fortresses, it will afford the means of executing a very effectual operation against an invading force; for sluices will be opened on the upper lands for the purposes of irrigation, canals, or other works.

In the event of war, these sluices will be found more serviceable than fortified walls, and the parts of the country, which are invaded or besieged, may be easily converted into an aggressive power far more formidable than the strongest fortresses, since the pastures may be inundated to the depth of the dykes.

In the completion of the plan of the new canal, we contemplate the erection of a new Fort Louis [Dan: similar to the one vis-a-vis Fort Elisabeth, on the Danube / Orsova], near Rassova, the other outlet into the Black Sea, and also a new town, to be called Alberta, under the protection of the fortress of Kustanji; thus joining in one of the greatest improvements of the Principalities the name of Louis Napoleon for France, under its energetic Emperor, and of Albert for England, enjoying the benefit of an active and distinguished promoter of arts and science - and may those ties of friendship, which now bind together those two great and powerful nations, for ever hereafter continue unbroken.

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Friday, May 9th 2014, 1:02pm

Ottoman Empire

My grand grandfather ,sergeant ligthouse in (1850~~1877) occupied at Snake İsland.So ,I curiosity island.According to his story everywhere snake and the weather everytime so misty that the sign most of times ; big fire on the island.