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Title: Farm drainage - The Principles, Processes, and Effects of Draining Land - with Stones, Wood, Plows, and Open Ditches, and Especially - with Tiles
Author: French, Henry Flagg
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Farm drainage - The Principles, Processes, and Effects of Draining Land - with Stones, Wood, Plows, and Open Ditches, and Especially - with Tiles" ***

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Historical Literature in Agriculture (CHLA), Cornell

Transcriber's Note:

The spelling in this text has been preserved as in the original.
Obvious printer's errors have been corrected. You can find a list
of the corrections made at the end of this e-text.

       *       *       *       *       *








     "READ, not to contradict and to confute, nor to believe and take
     for granted, but to weigh and consider."--BACON.

     "The first Farmer was the first man, and all nobility rests on the
     possession and use of land."--EMERSON.


ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1859,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States in and
for the Southern District of New York.

The Honorable Simon Brown,


The Agriculture of America has seemed to me to demand some light upon
the subject of Drainage; some work, which, with an exposition of the
various theories, should give the simplest details of the practice, of
draining land. This treatise is an attempt to answer that demand, and to
give to the farmers of our country, at the same time, enough of
scientific principles to satisfy intelligent inquiry, and plain and full
directions for executing work in the field, according to the best known
rules. It has been my endeavor to show what lands in America require
drainage, and how to drain them best, at least expense; to explain how
the theories and the practice of the Old World require modification for
the cheaper lands, the dearer labor, and the various climate of the New;
and, finally, to suggest how, through improved implements and processes,
the inventive genius of our country may make the brain assist and
relieve the labor of the hand.

With some hope that my humble labors, in a field so broad, may not have
entirely failed of their object, this work is offered to the attention
of American farmers.

                                                          H. F. F.

     THE PINES, EXETER, N. H., March, 1859.



     Elkington's Mode                                              32, 33
     Ditch and Bore-hole                                               35
     Keythorpe System                                                  42
     Theory of Springs                                              80-84
     Plug Drainage                                               106, 107
     Mole Plow                                                        108
     Wedge Drains                                                     111
     Shoulder Drains                                                  111
     Larch Tube                                                       112
     Pole Drain                                                       113
     Peat Tiles and Tool                                              113
     Stone Drains                                                 115-117
     Draining Bricks                                                  121
     Round Pipes                                                      122
     Horse-shoe Tile                                                  124
     Sole-Tile                                                        125
     Pipes and Collar                                                 126
     Flat-bottomed Pipe-Tile                                          129
     Drains across Slope                                              150
     Draining Irregular Strata                                        162
     Relief Drains                                                    162
     Small Outlet                                                     178
     Large Outlet                                                179, 180
     Outlet, with Flap                                                181
     Well, with Silt Basin                                            186
     Peep-hole                                                        188
     Spring in Drained Field                                          189
     Main of Two Tiles                                                194
     Main of Several Tiles                                            194
     Plan of Drained Field                                            195
     Junction of Drains                                               196
     Branch Pipe                                                      197
     Daines' Tile Machine                                             209
     Pratt's Tile Machine                                             210
     Tiles, laid well and ill                                         229
     Square and Plumb-Level                                           229
     Spirit Level                                                     230
     Staff and Target                                                 231
     Span, or A Level                                                 232
     Grading Trenches by Lines                                        233
     Challoner's Level                                                235
     Drain Spades                                                     235
     Spade with Spur                                                  236
     Common Shovel and Spade                                          236
     Long-handled Round Shovel                                        237
     Shovel Scoop                                                     237
     Irish Spade                                                      238
     Birmingham Spades                                                240
     Narrow Spades                                                    242
     English Bottoming Tools                                          243
     Drawing and Pushing Scoops                                       244
     Pipe-Layer                                                       244
     Pipe-Laying                                                      245
     Pick-axes                                                        245
     Drain Gauge                                                      246
     Elkington's Auger                                                246
     Fowler's Drain Plow                                              247
     Pratt's Ditcher                                                  249
     Paul's Ditcher                                                   250
     Germination                                                 277, 278
     Land before Drainage and After                                   286
     Heat in Wet Land                                                 288
     Cracking of Clays                                                325
     Drainage of Cellar                                               355
     Drainage of Barn Cellar                                          359
     Plan of Rand's Drainage                                          372
        "    H. F. French's Drainage                                  376




     Why this Treatise does not contain all Knowledge.--Attention of
     Scientific Men attracted to Drainage.--Lieutenant Maury's
     Suggestions.--Ralph Waldo Emerson's Views.--Opinions of J. H.
     Klippart, Esq.; of Professor Mapes; B. P. Johnson, Esq.; Governor
     Wright, Mr. Custis, &c.--Prejudice against what is
     English.--Acknowledgements to our Friends at Home and Abroad.--The
     Wants of our Farmers.



     Draining as old as the Deluge.--Roman Authors.--Walter Bligh in
     1650.--No thorough drainage till Smith, of Deanston.--No mention of
     Tiles in the "Compleat Body of Husbandry," 1758.--Tiles found 100
     years old.--Elkington's System.--Johnstone's Puns and
     Peripatetics.--Draining Springs.--Bletonism, or the Faculty of
     Perceiving Subterranean Water.--Deanston System.--Views of Mr.
     Parkes.--Keythorpe System.--Wharncliffe System.--Introduction of
     Tiles into America.--John Johnston, and Mr. Delafield, of New York.



     Fertilizing Substances in Rain Water.--Amount of Rain Fall in
     United States; in England.--Tables of Rain Fall.--Number of Rainy
     Days, and Quantity of Rain each Month.--Snow, how Computed as
     Water.--Proportion of Rain Evaporated.--What Quantity of Water Dry
     Soil will Hold.--Dew Point.--How Evaporation Cools
     Bodies.--Artificial Heat Underground.--Tables of Filtration and



     What is High Land?--Accidents to Crops from Water.--Do Lands need
     Drainage in America?--Springs.--Theory of Moisture, with
     Illustrations.--Water of Pressure.--Legal Rights as to Draining our
     Neighbor's Wells and Land.--What Lands require Drainage?--Horace
     Greeley's Opinion.--Drainage more Necessary in America than in
     England; Indications of too much Moisture.--Will Drainage Pay?



     Open Ditches.--Slope of Banks.--Brush Drains.--Ridge and
     Furrow.--Plug-Draining.--Mole-Draining.--Mole-Plow.--Wedge and
     Shoulder Drains.--Larch Tubes.--Drains of Fence Rails, and
     Poles.--Peat Tiles.--Stone Drains Injured by Moles.--Downing's
     Giraffes.--Illustrations of Various Kinds of Stone Drains.



     What are Drain-Tiles?--Forms of Tiles.--Pipes.--Horse-shoe
     Tiles.--Sole-Tiles.--Form of Water-Passage.--Collars and their
     Use.--Size of Pipes.--Velocity.--Friction.--Discharge of Water
     through Pipes.--Tables of Capacity.--How Water enters Tiles.--Deep
     Drains run soonest and longest.--Pressure of Water on
     Pipes.--Durability of Tile Drains.--Drain-Bricks 100 years old.



     DIRECTION OF DRAINS.--Whence comes the Water?--Inclination of
     Strata.--Drains across the Slope let Water out as well as Receive
     it.--Defence against Water from Higher Land.--Open

     DISTANCE OF DRAINS.--Depends on Soil, Depth, Climate, Prices,
     System.--Conclusions as to Distance.

     DEPTH OF DRAINS.--Greatly Increases Cost.--Shallow Drains first
     tried in England.--10,000 Miles of Shallow Drains laid in Scotland
     by way of Education.--Drains must be below Subsoil plow, and
     Frost.--Effect of Frost on Tiles and Aqueducts.



     Necessity of System.--What Fall is Necessary.--American
     Examples.--Outlets.--Wells and Relief-Pipes.--Peep-holes.--How to
     secure Outlets.--Gate to Exclude Back-Water.--Gratings and Screens
     to keep out Frogs, Snakes, Moles, &c.--Mains, Submains, and Minors,
     how placed.--Capacity of Pipes.--Mains of Two Tiles.--Junction of
     Drains.--Effect of Curves and Angles on Currents.--Branch
     Pipes.--Draining into Wells or Swallow Holes.--Letter from Mr.



     Prices far too high; Albany prices.--Length of Tiles.--Cost in
     Suffolk Co., England.--Waller's Machine.--Williams' Machine.--Cost
     of Tiles compared with Bricks.--Mr. Denton's Estimate of
     Cost.--Other Estimates.--Two-inch Tiles can be Made as Cheaply as
     Bricks.--Process of Rolling Tiles.--Tile Machines.--Descriptions of
     Daines'.--Pratt & Bro.'s.



     Draining no more expensive than Fencing.--Engineering.--Guessing
     not accurate enough.--Slight Fall sufficient.--Instances.--Two
     Inches to One-Thousand Feet.--Cost of Excavation and
     Filling.--Narrow Tools required.--Tables of Cubic contents of
     Drains.--Cost of Drains on our own Farm.--Cost of Tiles.--Weight
     and Freight of Tiles.--Cost of Outlets.--Cost of Collars.--Smaller
     Tiles used with Collars.--Number of Tiles to the Acre, with
     Tables.--Length of Tiles varies.--Number of Rods to the Acre at
     different Distances.--Final Estimate of Cost.--Comparative Cost of
     Tile-Drains and Stone-Drains.



     Unreasonable Expectations about Draining Tools.--Levelling
     Instruments.--Guessing not Accurate.--Level by a Square.--Spirit
     Level.--Span, or A Level.--Grading by
     Lines.--Boning-rod.--Challoner's Drain Level.--Spades and
     Shovels.--Long-handled Shovel.--Irish Spade, description and
     cut.--Bottoming Tools.--Narrow Spades.--English Bottoming
     Tools.--Pipe-layer.--Pipe-laying Illustrated.--Pick-axes.--Drain
     Gauge.--Drain Plows, and Ditch-Diggers.--Fowler's Drain
     Plow.--Pratt's Ditch-Digger.--McEwan's Drain Plow.--Routt's Drain



     Begin at the Outlet.--Use of Plows.--Leveling the Bottom.--Where to
     begin to lay Pipes.--Mode of Procedure.--Covering Pipes.--Securing
     Joints.--Filling.--Securing Outlets.--Plans.



     Drainage deepens the Soil, and gives the roots a larger
     pasture.--Cobbett's Lucerne 30 feet deep.--Mechi's Parsnips 13 feet
     long!--Drainage promotes Pulverization.--Prevents
     Surface-Washing.--Lengthens the Season.--Prevents Freezing
     out.--Dispenses with Open Ditches.--Saves 25 per cent. of
     Labor.--Promotes absorption of Fertilizing Substances from the
     Air.--Supplies Air to the Roots.--Drains run before Rain; so do
     some Springs.--Drainage warms the Soil.--Corn sprouts at 55°; Rye
     on Ice.--Cold from Evaporation.--Heat will not pass downward in
     Water.--Count Rumford's Experiments with Hot Water on
     Ice.--Aeration of Soil by Drains.



     Process of Germination.--Two Classes of Pores in Soils, illustrated
     by cuts.--Too much Water excludes Air, reduces Temperature.--How
     much Air the Soil Contains.--Drainage Improves the Quality of
     Crops.--Drainage prevents Drought.--Drained Soils hold most
     Water.--Allow Roots to go Deep.--Various Facts.



     Drainage Warms the Soil in Spring.--Heat cannot go down in Wet
     Land.--Drainage causes greater Deposit of Dew in Summer.--Dew warms
     Plants in Night, Cools them in the Morning Sun.--Drainage varies
     Temperature by Lessening Evaporation.--What is Evaporation.--How it
     produces Cold.--Drained Land Freezes Deepest, but Thaws Soonest,
     and the Reasons.



     Why does not Drainage make the Land too Dry?--Adhesive
     Attraction.--The Finest Soils exert most Attraction.--How much
     Water different Soils hold by Attraction.--Capillary Attraction,
     illustrated.--Power to Imbibe Moisture from the Air.--Weight
     Absorbed by 1,000 lbs. in 12 Hours.--Dew, Cause of.--Dew
     Point.--Cause of Frost.--Why Covering Plants Protects from
     Frost.--Dew Imparts Warmth.--Idea that the Moon Promotes
     Putrefaction.--Quantity of Dew.



     Most Land cannot be Over-drained.--Nature a Deep
     drainer.--Over-draining of Peaty Soils.--Lincolnshire Fens. Visit
     to them in 1857.--56 Bushels of Wheat to the Acre.--Wet Meadows
     Subside by Drainage.--Conclusions.



     Tiles will fill up, unless well laid.--Obstruction by Sand or
     Silt.--Obstructions at the Outlet from Frogs, Moles, Action of
     Frost, and Cattle.--Obstruction by Roots.--Willow, Ash, &c., Trees
     capricious.--Roots enter Perennial Streams.--Obstruction by
     Mangold Wurtzel.--Obstruction by Per-Oxide of Iron.--How
     Prevented.--Obstructions by the Joints Filling.--No Danger with
     Two-Inch Pipes.--Water through the Pores.--Collars.--How to Detect



     Clay not impervious, or it could not be wet and dried.--Puddling,
     what is.--Water will stand over Drains on Puddled Soil.--Cracking
     of Clays by Drying.--Drained Clays improve by time.--Passage of
     Water through Clay makes it permeable.--Experiment by Mr.
     Pettibone, of Vermont.--Pressure of Water in Saturated Soil.



     Drainage Hastens the Supply to the Streams, and thus creates
     Freshets.--Effect of Drainage on Meadows below; on Water
     Privileges.--Conflict of Manufacturing and Agricultural
     Interests.--English Opinions and Facts.--Uses of Drainage
     Water.--Irrigation.--Drainage Water for Stock.--How used by Mr.



     England protects her Farmers.--Meadows ruined by Corporation
     dams.--Old Mills often Nuisances.--Factory Reservoirs.--Flowage
     extends above level of Dam.--Rye and Derwent Drainage.--Give Steam
     for Water-Power.--Right to Drain through land of others.--Right to
     natural flow of Water.--Laws of Mass.--Right to Flow; why not to
     Drain?--Land-drainage Companies in England.--Lincolnshire
     Fens.--Government Loans for Drainage.



     Wet Cellars Unhealthful.--Importance of Cellars in New England.--A
     Glance at the Garret, by way of Contrast.--Necessity of
     Drains.--Sketch of an Inundated Cellar.--Tiles best for
     Drains.--Best Plan of Cellar Drain; Illustration.--Cementing will
     not do.--Drainage of Barn Cellars.--Uses of them.--Actual Drainage
     of a very Bad Cellar described.--Drains Outside and Inside;



     Vast Extent of Swamp Lands in the United States.--Their
     Soil.--Sources of their Moisture.--How to Drain them.--The Soil
     Subsides by Draining.--Catch-water Drains.--Springs.--Mr. Ruffin's
     Drainage in Virginia.--Is there Danger of Over-draining?



     Statement of B. F. Nourse, of Maine.--Statement of Shedd and Edson,
     of Mass.--Statement of H. F. French, of New Hampshire.--Letter of
     Wm. Boyle, Albert Model Farm, Glasnevin, Ireland.





     Why this Treatise does not contain all Knowledge.--Attention of
     Scientific Men attracted to Drainage.--Lieutenant Maury's
     Suggestions.--Ralph Waldo Emerson's Views.--Opinions of J. H.
     Klippart, Esq.; of Professor Mapes; B. P. Johnston, Esq.; Governor
     Wright, Mr. Custis, &c.--Prejudice against what is
     English.--Acknowledgements to our Friends at Home and Abroad.--The
     Wants of our Farmers.

A Book upon Farm Drainage! What can a person find on such a subject to
write a book about? A friend suggests, that in order to treat any one
subject fully, it is necessary to know everything and speak of
everything, because all knowledge is in some measure connected.

With an earnest endeavor to clip the wings of imagination, and to keep
not only on the earth, but to burrow, like a mole or a sub-soiler, _in_
it, with a painful apprehension lest some technical term in Chemistry or
Philosophy should falsely indicate that we make pretensions to the
character of a scientific farmer, or some old phrase of law-Latin should
betray that we know something besides agriculture, and so, are not
worthy of the confidence of practical men, we have, nevertheless, by
some means, got together more than a bookfull of matter upon our

Our publisher says our book must be so large, and no larger--and we all
know that an author is but as a grasshopper in the hands of his
publisher, and ought to be very thankful to be allowed to publish his
book at all. So we have only to say, that if there is any chapter in
this book not sufficiently elaborate, or any subject akin to that of
drainage, that ought to have been embraced in our plan and is not, it is
because we have not space for further expansion. The reader has our
heartfelt sympathy, if it should happen that the very topic which most
interests him, is entirely omitted, or imperfectly treated; and we can
only advise him to write a book himself, by way of showing proper
resentment, and put into it everything that everybody desires most to

A book that shall contain all that we do _not_ know on the subject of
drainage, would be a valuable acquisition to agricultural literature,
and we bespeak an early copy of it when published.

IRRIGATION is a subject closely connected with drainage, and, although
it would require a volume of equal size with this to lay it properly
before the American public, who know so little of water-meadows and
liquid-manuring, and even of the artificial application of water to land
in any way, we feel called upon for an apology for its omission.

Lieutenant Maury, whose name does honor to his nation over all the
civilized world, and on whom the blessings of every navigator upon the
great waters, are constantly showered, in a letter which we had the
honor recently to receive from him, thus speaks of this subject:

"I was writing to a friend some months ago upon the subject of drainage
in this country, and I am pleased to infer from your letter, that our
opinions are somewhat similar. The climate of England is much more moist
than this, though the amount of rain in many parts of this country, is
much greater than the amount of rain there. It drizzles there more than
it does here. Owing to the high dew point in England, but a small
portion only--that is, comparatively small--of the rain that falls can
be evaporated again; consequently, it remains in the soil until it is
drained off. Here, on the other hand, the clouds pour it down, and the
sun sucks it up right away, so that the perfection of drainage for this
country would be the very reverse, almost, of the drainage in England.
If, instead of leading the water off into the water-veins and streams of
the country, as is there done, we could collect it in pools on the farm,
so as to be used in time of drought for irrigation, then your system of
drainage would be worth untold wealth. Of course, in low grounds, and
all places where the atmosphere does not afford sufficient drainage by
evaporation, the English plan will do very well, and much good may be
done by a treatise which shall enable owners to reclaim or improve such

Indeed, the importance of this subject of drainage, seems all at once to
have found universal acknowledgement throughout our country, not only
from agriculturists, but from philosophers and men of general science.

Emerson, whose eagle glance, piercing beyond the sight of other men,
recognizes in so-called accidental heroes the "Representative men" of
the ages, and in what to others seem but caprices and conventionalisms,
the "Traits" of a nation, yet never overlooks the practical and
every-day wants of man, in a recent address at Concord, Mass., the place
of his residence, thus characteristically alludes to our subject:

"Concord is one of the oldest towns in the country--far on now in its
third century. The Select-men have once in five years perambulated its
bounds, and yet, in this year, a very large quantity of land has been
discovered and added to the agricultural land, and without a murmur of
complaint from any neighbor. By drainage, we have gone to the subsoil,
and we have a Concord under Concord, a Middlesex under Middlesex, and a
basement-story of Massachusetts more valuable than all the
superstructure. Tiles are political economists. They are so many
Young-Americans announcing a better era, and a day of fat things."

John H. Klippart, Esq., the learned Secretary of the Ohio Board of
Agriculture, expresses his opinion upon the importance of our subject in
his own State, in this emphatic language:

"The agriculture of Ohio can make no farther marked progress until a
good system of under-drainage has been adopted."

A writer in the _Country Gentleman_, from Ashtabula County, Ohio,
says:--"One of two things must be done by us here. Clay predominates in
our soil, and we must under-drain our land, or sell and move west."

Professor Mapes, of New York, under date of January 17, 1859, says of

"I do not believe that farming can be pursued with full profit without
it. It would seem to be no longer a question. The experience of England,
in the absence of all other proof, would be sufficient to show that
capital may be invested more safely in under-draining, than in any other
way; for, after the expenditure of many millions by English farmers in
this way, it has been clearly proved that their increased profit,
arising from this cause alone, is sufficient to pay the total expense in
full, with interest, within twenty years, thus leaving their farms
increased permanently to the amount of the total cost, while the income
is augmented in a still greater ratio. It is quite doubtful whether
England could at this time sustain her increased population, if it were
not for her system of thorough-drainage. In my own practice, the result
has been such as to convince me of its advantages, and I should be
unwilling to enter into any new cultivation without thorough drainage."

B. P. Johnson, Secretary of the New York Board of Agriculture, in answer
to some inquiries upon the subject of drainage with tiles, writes us,
under date of December, 1858, as follows:

"I have given much time and attention to the subject of drainage, having
deemed it all-important to the improvement of the farms of our State. I
am well satisfied, from a careful examination in England, as well as
from my observation in this country, that tiles are far preferable to
any other material that I know of for drains, and this is the opinion of
all those who have engaged extensively in the work in this State, so far
as I have information. It is gratifying to be assured, that during the
year past, there has been probably more land-draining than during any
previous year, showing the deep interest which is taken in this
all-important work, so indispensable to the success of the farmer."

It is ascertained, by inquiry at the Land Office, that more than
52,000,000 acres of swamp and overflowed lands have been selected under
the Acts of March 2d, 1849, and September 28th, 1850, from the dates of
those grants to September, 1856; and it is estimated that, when the
grants shall have been entirely adjusted, they will amount to 60,000,000

Grants of these lands have been made by Congress, from the public
domain, gratuitously, to the States in which they lie, upon the idea
that they were not only worthless to the Government, but dangerous to
the health of the neighboring inhabitants, with the hope that the State
governments might take measures to reclaim them for cultivation, or, at
least, render them harmless, by the removal of their surplus water.

Governor Wright, of Indiana, in a public address, estimated the marshy
lands of that State at 3,000,000 acres. "These lands," he says, "were
generally avoided by early settlers, as being comparatively worthless;
but, when drained, they become eminently fertile." He further says: "I
know a farm of 160 acres, which was sold five years ago for $500, that
by an expenditure of less than $200, in draining and ditching, has been
so improved, that the owner has refused for it an offer of $3,000."

At the meeting of the United States Agricultural Society, at Washington,
in January, 1857, Mr. G. W. P. Custis spoke in connection with the great
importance of this subject, of the vast quantity of soil--the richest
conceivable--now lying waste, to the extent of 100,000 acres, along the
banks of the Lower Potomac, and which he denominates by the old Virginia
title of _pocoson_. The fertility of this reclaimable swamp he reports
to be astonishing; and he has corroborated the opinion by experiments
which confounded every beholder. "These lands on our time-honored
river," he says, "if brought into use, would supply provisions at half
the present cost, and would in other respects prove of the greatest

The drainage of highways and walks, was noted as a topic kindred to our
subject, although belonging more properly perhaps, to the drainage of
towns and to landscape-gardening, than to farm drainage. This, too, was
found to be beyond the scope of our proposed treatise, and has been left
to some abler hand.

So, too, the whole subject of reclaiming lands from the sea, and from
rivers, by embankment, and the drainage of lakes and ponds, which at a
future day must attract great attention in this country, has proved
quite too extensive to be treated here. The day will soon come, when on
our Atlantic coast, the ocean waves will be stayed, and all along our
great rivers, the Spring floods, and the Summer freshets, will be held
within artificial barriers, and the enclosed lands be kept dry by
engines propelled by steam, or some more efficient or economical agent.

The half million acres of fen-land in Lincolnshire, producing the
heaviest wheat crops in England; and Harlaem Lake, in Holland, with its
40,000 acres of fertile land, far below the tides, and once covered with
many feet of water, are examples of what science and well-directed labor
may accomplish. But this department of drainage demands the skill of
scientific engineers, and the employment of combined capital and effort,
beyond the means of American farmers; and had we ability to treat it
properly, would afford matter rather of pleasing speculation, than of
practical utility to agricultural readers.

With a reckless expenditure of paper and ink, we had already prepared
chapters upon several topics, which, though not essential to
farm-drainage, were as near to our subject as the minister usually is
limited in preaching, or the lawyer in argument; but conformity to the
Procrustean bed, in whose sheets we had in advance stipulated to
_sleep_, cost us the amputation of a few of our least important heads.

"Don't be too English," suggests a very wise and politic friend. We are
fully aware of the prejudice which still exists in many minds in our
country, against what is peculiarly English. Because, forsooth, our good
Mother England, towards a century ago, like most fond mothers, thought
her transatlantic daughter quite too young and inexperienced to set up
an establishment and manage it for herself, and drove her into wasteful
experiments of wholesale tea-making in Boston harbor, by way of
illustrating her capacity of entertaining company from beyond seas; and
because, near half a century ago, we had some sharp words, spoken not
through the mouths of prophets and sages, but through the mouths of
great guns, touching the right of our venerated parent to examine the
internal economy of our merchant-ships on the sea--because of
reminiscences like these, we are to forswear all that is English! And so
we may claim no kindred in literature with Shakspeare and Milton, in
jurisprudence, with Bacon and Mansfield, in statesmanship, with Pitt and

Whence came the spirit of independence, the fearless love of liberty of
which we boast, but from our English blood? Whence came our love of
territorial extension, our national ambition, exhibited under the
affectionate name of annexation? Does not this velvet paw with which we
softly play with our neighbors' heads, conceal some long, crooked
talons, which tell of the ancestral blood of the British Lion?

The legislature of a New England State, not many years ago, appointed a
committee to revise its statutes. This committee had a pious horror of
all dead languages, and a patriotic fear of paying too high a compliment
to England, and so reported that all proceedings in courts of law should
be in the American language! An inquiry by a waggish member, whether the
committee intended to allow proceedings to be in any one of the three
hundred Indian dialects, restored to the English language its
appropriate name.

Though from some of our national traits, we might possibly be supposed
to have sprung from the sowing of the dragon's teeth by Cadmus, yet the
uniform record of all American families which goes back to the "three
brothers who came over from England," contradicts this theory, and
connects us by blood and lineage with that country.

Indeed, we can hardly consent to sell our birthright for so poor a mess
of pottage as this petty jealousy offers. A teachable spirit in matters
of which we are ignorant, is usually as profitable and respectable as
abundant self-conceit, and rendering to Cæsar the things that are
Cæsar's, quite as honest as to pocket the coin as our own,
notwithstanding the "image and superscription."

We make frequent reference to English writers and to English opinions
upon our subject, because drainage is understood and practiced better in
England than anywhere else in the world, and because by personal
inspection of drainage-works there, and personal acquaintance and
correspondence with some of the most successful drainers in that
country, we feel some confidence of ability to apply English principles
to American soil and climate.

To J. Bailey Denton, Engineer of the General Land Drainage Company, and
one of the most distinguished practical and scientific drainers in
England, we wish publicly to acknowledge our obligations for personal
favors shown us in the preparation of our work.

We claim no great praise of originality in what is here offered to the
public. Wherever we have found a person of whom we could learn anything,
in this or other countries, we have endeavored to profit by his
teachings, and whenever the language of another, in book or journal, has
been found to express forcibly an idea which we deemed worthy of
adoption, we have given full credit for both thought and words.

Our friends, Messrs. Shedd and Edson, of Boston, whose experience as
draining engineers entitles them to a high rank among American
authorities, have been in constant communication with us, throughout our
labors. The chapter upon Evaporation, Rain fall, &c., which we deem of
great value as a contribution to science in general, will be seen to be
in part credited to them, as are also the tables showing the discharge
of water through pipes of various capacity.

Drainage is a new subject in America, not well understood, and we have
no man, it is believed, peculiarly fitted to teach its theory and
practice; yet the farmers everywhere are awake to its importance, and
are eagerly seeking for information on the subject. Many are already
engaged in the endeavor to drain their lands, conscious of their want of
the requisite knowledge to effect their object in a profitable manner,
while others are going resolutely forward, in violation of all correct
principles, wasting their labor, unconscious even of their ignorance.

In New England, we have determined to dry the springy hill sides, and so
lengthen our seasons for labor; we have found, too, in the valleys and
swamps, the soil which has been washed from our mountains, and intend to
avail ourselves of its fertility in the best manner practicable. On the
prairies of the great West, large tracts are found just a little too wet
for the best crops of corn and wheat, and the inquiry is anxiously made,
how can we be rid of this surplus water.

There is no treatise, English or American, which meets the wants of our
people. In England, it is true, land drainage is already reduced to a
science; but their system has grown up by degrees, the first principles
being now too familiar to be at all discussed, and the points now in
controversy there, quite beyond the comprehension of beginners. America
wants a treatise which shall be elementary, as well as thorough--that
shall teach the alphabet, as well as the transcendentalism, of draining
land--that shall tell the man who never saw a drain-tile what thorough
drainage is, and shall also suggest to those who have studied the
subject in English books only, the differences in climate and soil, in
the prices of labor and of products, which must modify our operations.

With some practical experience on his own land, with careful observation
in Europe and in America of the details of drainage operations, with a
somewhat critical examination of published books and papers on all
topics connected with the general subject, the author has endeavored to
turn the leisure hours of a laborious professional life to some account
for the farmer. Although, as the lawyers say, the "presumptions" are,
perhaps, strongly against the idea, yet a professional man _may_
understand practical farming. The profession of the law has made some
valuable contributions to agricultural literature. Sir Anthony
Fitzherbert, author of the "Boke of Husbandrie," published in 1523, was
Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and, as he says, an "_experyenced
farmer_ of more than 40 years." The author of that charming little book,
"Talpa," it is said, is also a lawyer, and there is such wisdom in the
idea, so well expressed by Emerson as a fact, that we commend it by way
of consolation to men of all the learned professions: "All of us keep
the farm in reserve, as an asylum where to hide our poverty and our
solitude, if we do not succeed in society."

Besides the prejudice against what is foreign, we meet everywhere the
prejudice against what is new, though far less in this country than in
England. "No longer ago than 1835," says the _Quarterly Review_, "Sir
Robert Peel presented a Farmers' Club, at Tamworth, with two iron plows
of the best construction. On his next visit, the old plows, with the
wooden mould-boards, were again at work. 'Sir,' said a member of the
club, 'we tried the iron, and we be all of one mind, that they make the
weeds grow!'"

American farmers have no such ignorant prejudice as this. They err
rather by having too much faith in themselves, than by having too little
in the idea of progress, and will be more likely to "go ahead" in the
wrong direction, than to remain quiet in their old position.



     Draining as Old as the Deluge.--Roman Authors.--Walter Bligh in
     1650.--No thorough drainage till Smith of Deanston.--No mention of
     tiles in the "Compleat Body of Husbandry," 1758.--Tiles found 100
     years old.--Elkington's System.--Johnstone's Puns and
     Peripatetics.--Draining Springs.--Bletonism, or the Faculty of
     Perceiving Subterranean Water.--Deanston System.--Views of Mr.
     Parkes.--Keythorpe System.--Wharncliffe System.--Introduction of
     tiles into America.--John Johnston, and Mr. Delafield, of New York.

The art of removing superfluous water from land, must be as ancient as
the art of cultivation; and from the time when Noah and his family
anxiously watched the subsiding of the waters into their appropriate
channels, to the present, men must have felt the ill effects of too much
water, and adopted means more or less effective, to remove it.

The Roman writers upon agriculture, Cato, Columella, and Pliny, all
mention draining, and some of them give minute directions for forming
drains with stones, branches of trees, and straw. Palladius, in his _De
Aquæ Ductibus_, mentions earthen-ware tubes, used however for aqueducts,
rather for conveying water from place to place, than for draining lands
for agriculture.

Nothing, however, like the systematic drainage of the present day, seems
to have been conceived of in England, until about 1650, when Captain
Walter Bligh published a work, which is interesting, as embodying and
boldly advocating the theory of deep-drainage as applied by him to
water-meadows and swamps, and as applicable to the drainage of all other
moist lands.

We give from the 7th volume of the Journal of the Royal Agricultural
Society, in the language of that eminent advocate of deep-drainage,
Josiah Parkes, an account of this rare book, and of the principles which
it advocates, as a fitting introduction to the more modern and more
perfect system of thorough drainage:

     "The author of this work was a Captain Walter Bligh, signing
     himself, 'A Lover of Ingenuity.' It is quaintly entitled, 'The
     English Improver Improved; or, the Survey of Husbandry Surveyed;'
     with several prefaces, but specially addressed to 'The Right
     Honorable the Lord General Cromwell, and the Right Honorable the
     Lord President, and the rest of the Honorable Society of the
     Council of State.' In his instructions for forming the flooding and
     draining trenches of water-meadows, the author says of the
     latter:--'And for thy drayning-trench, it must be made so deep,
     that it goe to the bottom of the cold spewing moyst water, that
     feeds the flagg and the rush; for the widenesse of it, use thine
     own liberty, but be sure to make it so wide as thou mayest goe to
     the bottom of it, which must be so low as any moysture lyeth, which
     moysture usually lyeth under the over and second swarth of the
     earth, in some gravel or sand, or else, where some greater stones
     are mixt with clay, under which thou must goe half one spade's
     graft deep at least. Yea, suppose this corruption that feeds and
     nourisheth the rush or flagg, should lie a yard or four-foot deepe;
     to the bottom of it thou must goe, if ever thou wilt drayn it to
     purpose, or make the utmost advantage of either floating or
     drayning, without which the water cannot have its kindly operation;
     for though the water fatten naturally, yet still this coldnesse and
     moysture lies gnawing within, and not being taken clean away, it
     eates out what the water fattens; and so the goodnesse of the water
     is, as it were, riddled, screened, and strained out into the land,
     leaving the richnesse and the leanesse sliding away from it.' In
     another place, he replies to the objectors of floating, that it
     will breed the rush, the flagg, and mare-blab; 'only make thy
     drayning-trenches deep enough, and not too far off thy floating
     course, and I'le warrant it they drayn away that under-moysture,
     fylth, and venom as aforesaid, that maintains them; and then
     believe me, or deny Scripture, which I hope thou doust not, as
     Bildad said unto Job, "Can the rush grow without mire, or the flagg
     without water?" Job viii. 12. That interrogation plainly showes
     that the rush cannot grow, the water being taken from the root; for
     it is not the moystnesse upon the surface of the land, for then
     every shower should increase the rush, but it is that which lieth
     at the root, which, drayned away at the bottom, leaves it naked and
     barren of relief.'

     "The author frequently returns to this charge, explaining over and
     over again the necessity of removing what we call bottom-water, and
     which he well designates as 'filth and venom.'

     "In the course of my operations as a drainer, I have met with, or
     heard of, so many instances of swamp-drainage, executed precisely
     according to the plans of this author, and sometimes in a superior
     manner--the conduits being formed of walling stone, at a period
     long antecedent to the memory of the living--that I am disposed to
     consider the practice of deep drainage to have originated with
     Captain Bligh, and to have been preserved by imitators in various
     parts of the country; since a book, which passed through three
     editions in the time of the Commonwealth, must necessarily have had
     an extensive circulation, and enjoyed a high renown. Several
     complimentary autograph verses, written by some imitators and
     admirers of the ingenious Bligh, are bound up with the volume. I
     find also, not unfrequently, very ancient deep drains in arable
     fields, and some of them still in good condition; and in a case or
     two, I have met with several ancient drains six feet deep, placed
     parallel with each other, but at so great a distance asunder, as
     not to have commanded a perfect drainage of the intermediate space.
     The author from whom I have so largely quoted, is the earliest
     known to me, who has had the sagacity to distinguish between the
     transient effect of rain, and the constant action of stagnant
     bottom-water in maintaining land in a wet condition."

Dr. Shier, editor of "Davy's Agricultural Chemistry," says, "The history
of drainage in Britain may be briefly told. Till the time of Smith, of
Deanston, draining was generally regarded as the means of freeing the
land from springs, oozes, and under-water, and it was applied only to
lands palpably wet, and producing rushes and other aquatic plants."

He then proceeds to give the principles of Elkington, Smith, Parkes, and
other modern writers, of which we shall speak more at large.

The work published in England, not far from Captain Bligh's time, under
the title "A Complete Body of Husbandry," undertakes to give directions
for all sorts of farming processes. A Second Edition, in four octavo
volumes, of which we have a copy, was published in 1758. It professes to
treat of "Draining in General," and then of the draining of boggy land
and of fens, but gives no intimation that any other lands require

Directions are given for filling drains with "rough stones," to be
covered with refuse wood, and over that, some of the earth that was
thrown out in digging. "By this means," says the writer, "a passage will
be left free for all the water the springs yield, and there will be none
of these great openings upon the surface."

He thus describes a method practiced in Oxfordshire of draining with

     "Let the trenches be cut deeper than otherwise, suppose three foot
     deep, and two foot over. As soon as they are made, let the bottoms
     of them be covered with fresh-cut blackthorn bushes. Upon these,
     throw in a quantity of large refuse stones; over these let there be
     another covering of straw, and upon this, some of the earth, so as
     to make the surface level with the rest. These trenches will always
     keep open."

No mention whatever is made in this elaborate treatise of tiles of any
kind, which affords very strong evidence that they were not in use for
drainage at that time. In a note, however, to Stephen's "Draining and
Irrigation," we find the following statement and opinion:

     "In draining the park at Grimsthorpe, Lincolnshire, about three
     years ago, some drains, made with tiles, were found eight feet
     below the surface of the ground. The tiles were similar to what are
     now used, and in as good a state of preservation as when first
     laid, although they must have remained there above one hundred


It appears, that, in 1795, the British Parliament, at the request of the
Board of Agriculture, voted to Joseph Elkington a reward of £1000, for
his valuable discoveries in the drainage of land. Joseph Elkington was a
Warwickshire farmer, and Mr. Gisborne says he was a man of considerable
genius, but he had the misfortune to be illiterate. His discovery had
created such a sensation in the agricultural world, that it was thought
important to record its details; and, as Elkington's health was
extremely precarious, the Board resolved to send Mr. John Johnstone to
visit, in company with him, his principal works of drainage, and to
transmit to posterity the benefits of his knowledge.

Accordingly, Mr. John Johnstone, having carefully studied Elkington's
system, under its author, in the peripatetic method, undertook, like
Plato, to record the sayings of his master in science, and produced a
work, entitled, "An Account of the Most Approved Mode of Draining Land,
According to the System Practised by Mr. Joseph Elkington." It was
published at Edinburgh, in 1797. Mr. Gisborne says, that Elkington found
in Johnstone "a very inefficient exponent of his opinions, and of the
principles on which he conducted his works."

     "Every one," says he, "who reads the work, which is popularly
     called 'Elkington on Draining,' should be aware, that it is not
     Joseph who thinks and speaks therein, but John, who tells his
     readers what, according to his ideas, Joseph would have thought and


     "Johnstone, measured by general capacity, is a very shallow
     drainer! He delights in exceptional cases, of which he may have met
     with some, but of which, we suspect the great majority to be
     products of his own ingenuity, and to be put forward, with a view
     to display the ability with which he could encounter them."

Johnstone's report seems to have undergone several revisions, and to
have been enlarged and reproduced in other forms than the original, for
we find, that, in 1838, it was published in the United States, at
Petersburg, Virginia, as a supplement to the _Farmer's Register_, by
Edmund Ruffin, Esq., editor, a reprint "from the third British Edition,
revised and enlarged," under the following title:

     "A Systematic Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Draining Land,
     &c., according to the most approved methods, and adapted to the
     various situations and soils of England and Scotland; also on sea,
     river, and lake embankments, formation of ponds and artificial
     pieces of water, with an appendix, containing hints and directions
     for the culture and improvement of bog, morass, moor, and other
     unproductive ground, after being drained; the whole illustrated by
     plans and sections applicable to the various situations and forms
     of construction. Inscribed to the Highland and Agricultural Society
     of Scotland, by John Johnstone, Land Surveyor."

Mr. Ruffin certainly deserves great credit for his enterprise in
republishing in America, at so early a day, a work of which an English
copy could not be purchased for less than six dollars, as well as for
his zealous labors ever since in the cause of agriculture.

There is, in this work of Johnstone, a quaintness which he, probably,
did not learn from Elkington, and which illustrates the character of his
mind as one not peculiarly adapted to a plain and practical history of
another man's system and labors. For instance, in speaking of the
arrangement of his subject into parts, he says, in a note, "The subject
being closely connected with _cutting_, _section_ is held as a better
_division_ than chapter!"

Again, he speaks of embanking, and says he has some experience on that
head. Then he adds the following note, lest a possible pun should be
lost: "An embankment is often termed a 'head,' as it makes head, or
resistance, against the encroachment of high tide or river floods."

There is some danger that a mind which scents a whimsical analogy of
meaning like this, may entirely lose the main track of pursuit; but
Johnstone's special mission was to ascertain Elkington's method, and
his account of it is, therefore, the best authority we have on the

He gives the following statement of Elkington's discovery:

     "In the year 1763, Elkington was left by his father in the
     possession of a farm called Prince-Thorp, in the parish of
     Stretton-upon-Dunsmore, and county of Warwick. The soil of this
     farm was so poor, and, in many places, so extremely wet, that it
     was the cause of rotting several hundreds of his sheep, which first
     induced him, if possible, to drain it. This he begun to do, in
     1764, in a field of wet clay soil, rendered almost a swamp, or
     _shaking_ bog, by the springs which issued from an adjoining bank
     of gravel and sand, and overflowed the surface of the ground below.
     To drain this field, which was of considerable extent, he cut a
     trench about four or five feet deep, a little below the upper side
     of the bog, where the wetness began to make its appearance; and,
     after proceeding with it in this direction and at this depth, he
     found it did not reach the _principal body of subjacent water_ from
     which the evil arose. On perceiving this, he was at a loss how to
     proceed, when one of his servants came to the field with an _iron
     crow_, or bar, for the purpose of making holes for fixing sheep
     hurdles in an adjoining part of the farm, as represented on the
     plan. Having a suspicion that his drain was not deep enough, and
     desirous to know what strata lay under it, he took the iron bar,
     and having forced it down about four feet below the bottom of the
     trench, on pulling it out, to his astonishment, a great quantity of
     water burst up through the hole he had thus made, and ran along the
     drain. This led him to the knowledge, that wetness may be often
     produced by water confined farther below the surface of the ground
     than it was possible for the usual depth of drains to reach, and
     that an _auger_ would be a useful instrument to apply in such
     cases. Thus, chance was the parent of this discovery, as she often
     is of other useful arts; and fortunate it is for society, when such
     accidents happen to those who have sense and judgment to avail
     themselves of hints thus fortuitously given. In this manner he soon
     accomplished the drainage of his whole farm, and rendered it so
     perfectly dry and sound, that none of his flock was ever after
     affected with disease.

     "By the success of this experiment, Mr. Elkington's fame, as a
     drainer, was quickly and widely extended; and, after having
     successfully drained several farms in his neighborhood, he was, at
     last, very generally employed for that purpose in various parts of
     the kingdom, till about thirty years ago, when the country had the
     melancholy cause to regret his loss. From his long practice and
     experience, he became so successful in the works he undertook, and
     so skillful in judging of the internal strata of the earth and the
     nature of springs, that, with remarkable precision, he could
     ascertain where to find water, and trace the course of springs that
     made no appearance on the surface of the ground. During his
     practice of more than thirty years, he drained in various parts of
     England, particularly in the midland counties, many thousand acres
     of land, which, from being originally of little or no value, soon
     became as useful as any in the kingdom, by producing the most
     valuable kinds of grain and feeding the best and healthiest species
     of stock.

     "Many have erroneously entertained an idea that Elkington's skill
     lay solely in applying the auger for the _tapping of springs_,
     without attaching any merit to his method of conducting the drains.
     The accidental circumstance above stated gave him the first notion
     of using an auger, and directed his attention to the profession and
     practice of draining, in the course of which he made various useful
     discoveries, as will be afterwards explained. With regard to the
     use of the auger, though there is every reason to believe that he
     was led to employ that instrument from the circumstance already
     stated, and did not derive it from any other source of
     intelligence, yet there is no doubt that others might have hit upon
     the same idea without being indebted for it to him. It has
     happened, that, in attempts to discover mines by boring, springs
     have been tapped, and ground thereby drained, either by letting the
     water down, or by giving it vent to the surface; and that the auger
     has been likewise used in bringing up water in wells, to save the
     expense of deeper digging; but that it had been _used in draining
     land, before Mr. Elkington made that discovery, no one has ventured
     to assert_."

Begging pardon of the shade of John Johnstone for the liberty, we will
copy from Mr. Gisborne, as being more clearly expressed, a summary
explanation of Elkington's system, as Mr. Gisborne has deduced it from
Johnstone's report, with two simple and excellent plans:

     "A slight modification of Johnstone's best and simplest plan, with
     a few sentences of explanation, will sufficiently elucidate
     Elkington's mystery, and will comprehend the case of all simple
     superficial springs. Perhaps in Agricultural Britain, no formation
     is more common than moderate elevations of pervious material, such
     as chalk, gravel, and imperfect stone or rock of various kinds,
     resting upon more horizontal beds of clay, or other material less
     pervious than themselves, and at their inferior edge overlapped by
     it. For this overlap geological reasons are given, into which we
     cannot now enter. In order to make our explanation simple, we use
     the words, gravel and clay, as generic for pervious and impervious

     [Illustration: Fig. 1.]

     "Our drawing is an attempt to combine plan and section, which will
     probably be sufficiently illustrative. From A to T is the overlap,
     which is, in fact, a dam holding up the water in the gravel. In
     this dam there is a weak place at S, through which water issues
     permanently (a superficial spring), and runs over the surface from
     S to O. This issue has a tendency to lower the water in the gravel
     to the line M _m_. But when continued rains overpower this issue,
     the water in the gravel rises to the line A _a_, and meeting with
     no impediment at the point A, it flows over the surface between A
     and S. In addition to these more decided outlets, the water is
     probably constantly squeezing, in a slow way, through the whole
     dam. Elkington undertakes to drain the surface from A to O. He cuts
     a drain from O to B, and then he puts down a bore-hole, an Artesian
     well, from B to Z. His hole enters the tail of the gravel; the
     water contained therein rises up it: and the tendency of this new
     outlet is to lower the water to the line B _b_. If so lowered that
     it can no longer overflow at A or at S, and the surface from A to O
     is drained, so far as the springs are concerned, though our section
     can only represent one spring, and one summit-overflow, it is
     manifest that, however long the horizontal line of junction between
     the gravel and clay may be, however numerous the weak places
     (springs) in the overlap, or dam, and the summit-overflows, they
     will all be stopped, provided they lie at a higher level than the
     line B _b_. If Elkington had driven his drain forward from B to
     _n_, he would, at least, equally have attained his object; but the
     bore-hole was less expensive. He escapes the deepest and most
     costly portion of his drain. At _x_, he might have bored to the
     centre of the earth without ever realizing the water in this
     gravel. His whole success, therefore, depended upon his sagacity in
     hitting the point Z. Another simple and very common case, first
     successfully treated by Elkington, is illustrated by our second

     [Illustration: Fig. 2.]

     "Between gravel hills lies a dish-shaped bed of clay, the gravel
     being continuous under the dish. Springs overflow at A and B, and
     wet the surface from A to O, and from B to O. O D is a drain four
     or five feet deep, and having an adequate outlet; D Z a bore-hole.
     The water in the gravel rises from Z to D, and is lowered to the
     level D _m_ and D _n_. Of course it ceases to flow over at A and B.
     If Elkington's heart had failed him when he reached X, he would
     have done no good. All his success depends on his reaching Z,
     however deep it may lie. Elkington was a discoverer. We do not at
     all believe that his discoveries hinged on the accident that the
     shepherd walked across the field with a crow-bar in his hand. When
     he forced down that crow-bar, he had more in his head than was ever
     dreamed of in Johnstone's philosophy. Such accidents do not happen
     to ordinary men. Elkington's subsequent use of his discovery, in
     which no one has yet excelled him, warrants our supposition that
     the discovery was not accidental. He was not one of those prophets
     who are without honor in their own country: he created an immense
     sensation, and received a parliamentary grant of one thousand
     pounds. One writer compares his auger to Moses' rod, and Arthur
     Young speculates, whether though worthy to be rewarded by millers
     on one side of the hill for increasing their stream, he was not
     liable to an action by those on the other for diminishing theirs."

Johnstone sums up this system as follows:

     "Draining according to Elkington's principles depends chiefly upon
     three things:

     "1. Upon discovering the main spring, or source of the evil.

     "2. Upon taking the subterraneous bearings: and,

     "3dly. By making use of the auger to reach and _tap_ the springs,
     when the depth of the drain is not sufficient for that purpose.

     "The first thing, therefore, to be observed is, by examining the
     adjoining high grounds, to discover what strata they are composed
     of; and then to ascertain, as nearly as possible, the inclination
     of these strata, and their connection with the ground to be
     drained, and thereby to judge at what place the level of the spring
     comes nearest to where the water can be cut off, and most readily
     discharged. The surest way of ascertaining the lay, or inclination,
     of the different strata, is, by examining the bed of the nearest
     streams, and the edges of the banks that are cut through by the
     water; and any pits, wells, or quarries that may be in the
     neighborhood. After the _main spring_ has been thus discovered, the
     next thing is, to ascertain a line on the same level, to one or
     both sides of it, in which the drain may be conducted, which is one
     of the most important parts of the operation, and one on which the
     art of draining in a scientific manner essentially depends.

     "Lastly, the use of the auger, which, in many cases, is the _sine
     qua non_ of the business, is to reach and tap the spring when the
     depth of the drain does not reach it: where the level of the outlet
     will not admit of its being cut to a greater depth; and where the
     expense of such cutting would be great, and the execution of it

     "According to these principles, this system of draining has been
     attended with extraordinary consequences, not only in laying the
     land dry in the vicinity of the drain, but also springs, wells, and
     wet ground, at a considerable distance, with which there was no
     apparent connection."


Wherever, from any cause, water bursts out from a hill's side, or from
below, in a well defined spring, in any considerable quantity, the
Elkington method of cutting a deep drain directly into the seat of the
evil, and so lowering the water that it may be carried away below the
surface, is obviously the true and common-sense remedy. There may be
cases where, in addition to the drain, it may be expedient to bore with
an auger in the course of the drain. This, however, would be useful only
where, from the peculiar formation, water is pent up upon a retentive
subsoil in the manner already indicated. Elkington's method of draining
by boring is illustrated in the following cut.

In studying the history of Elkington's discovery, and especially of his
own application of it, it would seem that he must have possessed some
peculiar faculty of ascertaining the subterranean currents of water, not
possessed or even claimed by modern engineers.

Indeed, Mr. Denton, who may rightly claim as much skill as a draining
engineer, perhaps, as any man in England, expressly says, "It does not
appear that any person now will undertake to do what Elkington did sixty
years back."

[Illustration: Fig. 3.]

In the Patent Office Report for 1851, at page 14, may be found an
article entitled, "Well-digging," in which it is gravely contended, and
not without a fair show of evidence, that certain persons possess the
power of indicating, by means of a sort of divining rod of hazel or
willow, subterraneous currents or springs of water. This power has been
called Bletonism, which is defined by Webster to be, "the faculty of
perceiving and indicating subterraneous springs and currents by
sensation--so called from one Bleton, of France, who possessed this

Under the authority of Webster, and of Mr. Ewbank, the Commissioner of
Patents, in whose report the article in question was published by the
Government of the United States, it will not be considered, perhaps, as
putting faith in "water-witchery," to suggest that, possibly, Elkington
did really possess a faculty, not common to all mankind, of detecting
running water or springs, even far below the surface. We have the high
authority of Tam o' Shanter for the opinion, that witches cannot cross a
stream of water; for, when pursued by the "hellish legion" from
Kirk-Alloway, he put his "gude mare Meg" to do her "speedy utmost" for
the bridge of Doon, knowing that,

    "A running stream they darena cross."

If witches are thus affected by flowing water, there is no reason to
doubt that others, of peculiar organization, may possess some
sensitiveness at its presence.

It would not, probably, be useful to pursue more into detail the method
of Mr. Elkington. The general principles upon which he wrought have been
sufficiently explained. The miracles performed under his system seem to
have ceased with his life, and, until we receive some new revelation as
to the mode of finding the springs hidden in the earth, we must be
content with the moderate results of a careful application of ordinary
science, and not be discouraged in our attempts to leave the earth the
better for our having lived on it, if we do not, like Elkington, succeed
in draining, by a single ditch and a few auger holes, sixty statute
acres of land.


James Smith, Esq., of Deanston, Sterlingshire, in Scotland, next after
Elkington, in point of time, is the prominent leader of drainage
operations in Great Britain. His peculiar views came into general notice
about 1832, and, in 1844, we find published a seventh edition of his
"Remarks on Thorough Draining." Smith was a man of education, and seems
to be, in fact, the first advocate of any system worthy the name of
thorough drainage.

Instead of the few very deep drains, cut with reference to particular
springs or sources of wetness, adopted by Elkington, Smith advocated and
practiced a systematic operation over the whole field, at regular
distances and shallow depths. Smith states, that in Scotland, much more
injury arises from the retention of rain water, than from springs; while
Elkington's attention seems to have been especially directed to springs,
as the source of the evil.

The characteristic views of Smith, of Deanston, as stated by Mr. Denton,

     "1st. _Frequent_ drains at intervals of from ten to twenty-four

     "2nd. _Shallow_ depth--not exceeding thirty inches--designed for
     the single purpose of freeing that depth of soil from stagnant and
     injurious water.

     "3rd. '_Parallel drains at regular distances_ carried throughout
     the whole field, without reference to the wet and dry appearance of
     portions of the field,' in order 'to provide frequent opportunities
     for the water, _rising from_ below and falling on the surface, to
     pass freely and completely off.

     "4th. _Direction of the minor drains_ 'down the steep,' and that of
     the mains along the bottom of the chief hollow; tributary mains
     being provided for the lesser hollows.

     "The reason assigned for the minor drains following the line of
     steepest descent, was, that 'the stratification generally lies in
     sheets at an angle to the surface.'

     "5th. _As to material_--Stones preferred to tiles and pipes."

Mr. Smith somewhat modified his views during the last years of his life,
especially as to the depth of drains, and, instead of shallow drains,
recommended a depth of three feet, and even more in some cases; but
continued, to the time of his death, which occurred about 1854, to
oppose any increased intervals between the drains, and the extreme depth
of four feet and more advocated by others. The peculiar points insisted
on by Smith were, that drains should be near and parallel. His own words

     "The drains should be parallel with each other and at regular
     distances, and should be carried throughout the whole field,
     without regard to the wet and dry appearance of portions of the
     field--the principle of this system being the providing of frequent
     opportunities for the water rising from below, or falling on the
     surface, to pass freely and completely off."

Mr. Smith called it the "frequent drain system," and Mr. Denton says,
that, "for distinction sake, I have ventured to christen this ready-made
practice, the _gridiron system_," a name, by the way, which will,
probably, seem to most readers more distinctive than respectful.
Whatever may be the improvements on the Deanston method of draining, the
name of Mr. Smith deserves, and, indeed, has already obtained, a high
place among the improvers of agriculture.


About the year 1846, when the first Act of the British Parliament
authorizing "the advance of public money to promote the improvement of
land by works of drainage" was passed, a careful investigation of the
whole subject was made by a Committee of the House of Lords, and it was
found that the best recorded opinions, if we except the peculiar views
of Elkington, were represented by, if not merged into, those of Smith,
of Deanston, which have already been stated, or those of Josiah Parkes.
Mr. Parkes is the author of "Essays on the Philosophy and Art of Land
Drainage," and of many valuable papers on the same subject, published in
the journal of the Royal Agricultural Society, of which he was
consulting engineer. He is spoken of by Mr. Denton as "one whose
philosophical publications on the same subject gave a scientific bearing
to it, quite irreconcilable with the more mechanical rules laid down by
Mr. Smith."

The characteristic views of Mr. Parkes, as set forth at that time, as
compared with those of Mr. Smith, are--

     "1st. _Less frequent drains_, at intervals varying from twenty-one
     to fifty feet, _with preference for wide intervals_.

     "2nd. _Deeper drains at a minimum depth of four feet_, designed
     with the two-fold object of not only freeing the active soil from
     stagnant and injurious water, but of converting the water falling
     on the surface into an agent for fertilizing; no drainage being
     deemed efficient that did not both remove the water failing on the
     surface, and 'keep down the subterranean water at a depth exceeding
     the power of capillary attraction to elevate it to near the

     "3rd. _Parallel arrangement of drains_, as advocated by Smith, of

     "4th. _The advantage of increased depth_, as compensating for
     increased width between the drains.

     "5th. _Pipes of an inch bore, the 'best known conduit'_ for the
     parallel drains. (See Evidence before Lords' Committee on Entailed
     Estates, 1845, Q. 67.)

     "6th. _The cost of draining uniform clays should not exceed £3 per

The most material differences between the views of these two leaders of
what have been deemed rival systems of drainage, will be seen to be the
following. Smith advocates drains of two to three feet in depth, at from
ten to twenty-four feet distances; while Parkes contends for a depth of
not less than four feet, with a width between of from twenty-one to
fifty feet, the depth in some measure compensating for the increased

Mr. Parkes advocated the use of pipes of _one_ inch bore, which Mr.
Smith contemptuously denominated "pencil-cases," and which subsequent
experience has shown to be quite too small for prudent use.

The estimate of Mr. Parkes, based, in part, upon his wide distances and
small pipes, that drainage might be effected generally in England at a
cost of about fifteen dollars per acre, was soon found to be far below
the average expense, which is now estimated at nearly double that sum.

The Enclosure Commissioners, after the most careful inquiry, adopted
fully the views of Mr. Parkes as to the _depth_ of drains. Mr. Parkes
himself, saw occasion to modify his ideas, as to the cost of drainage,
upon further investigation of the subject, and fixed his estimates as
ranging from $15 to $30 per acre, according to soil and other local

It has been well said by a recent English writer, of Mr. Parkes:

     "That gentleman's services in the cause of drainage, have been
     inestimable, and his high reputation will not be affected by any
     remarks which experience may suggest with reference to details, so
     long as the philosophical principles he first advanced in support
     of deep drainage are acknowledged by thinking men. Mr. Parkes'
     practice in 1854, will be found to differ very considerably from
     his anticipations of 1845, but the influence of his earlier
     writings and sayings continues to this day."


Lord Berners having adopted a method of drainage on his estate at
_Keythorpe_, differing somewhat from any of the regular and more uniform
modes which have been considered, a sharp controversy as to its merits
has arisen, and still continues in England, which, like most
controversies, may be of more advantage to others than to the parties
immediately concerned.

The theory of the Keythorpe system seems to have been invented by Mr.
Joshua Trimmer, a distinguished geologist of England, who, about 1854,
produced a paper, which was published in the journal of the Royal
Agricultural Society, on the "Keythorpe System." He states that his own
theory was based entirely on his knowledge of the geological structure
of the earth, which will be presently given in his own language, and
that he afterwards ascertained that Lord Berners, who had no special
theory to vindicate, had, by the "tentative process," or in plain
English, by trying experiments, hit upon substantially the same system,
and found it to work admirably.

Most people in the United States have no idea of what it is to be
patronized by a lord. In England, it is thought by many to be the thing
needful to the chance, even, of success of any new theory, and
accordingly, Mr. Trimmer, without hesitation, availed himself of the
privilege of being patronized by Lord Berners; and the latter, before he
was aware of how much the agricultural world was indebted to him for his
valuable discoveries, suddenly found himself at the head of the
"Keythorpe System of Drainage."

His lordship was probably as much surprised to ascertain that he had
been working out a new system, as some man of whom we have heard, was,
to learn that he had been speaking _prose_ all his life! At the call of
the public, however, his lordship at once gave to the world the facts in
his possession, making no claim to any great discovery, and leaving Mr.
Trimmer to defend the new system as best he might. The latter, in one of
his pamphlets published in defence of the Keythorpe system, states its
claims as follows:

     "The peculiarities of the Keythorpe system of draining consist in
     this--that the parallel drains are not equidistant, and that they
     cross the line of the greatest descent. The usual depth is three
     and a half feet, but some are as deep as five and six feet. The
     depth and width of interval are determined by digging trial-holes,
     in order to ascertain not only the depth at which the bottom water
     is reached, but the height to which the water rises in the holes,
     and the distance at which a drain will lay the hole dry. In sinking
     these holes, clay-banks are found with hollows or furrows between
     them, which are filled with a more porous soil, as represented in
     the annexed sectional diagram.

     [Illustration: Fig. 4.

     _a_ _a_ Trial-holes.
         _b_ Clay-banks of lias or of boulder-clay.
         _c_ A more porous warp-drift filling furrows between the

     "The next object is to connect these furrows by drains laid across
     them. The result is, that as the furrows and ridges here run along
     the fall of the ground, which I have observed to be the case
     generally elsewhere, the sub-mains follow the fall, and the
     parallel drains cross it obliquely.

     "The intervals between the parallel drains are irregular, varying,
     in the same field, from 14 to 21, 31, and 59 feet. The distances
     are determined by opening the diagonal drains at the greatest
     distance from the trial-holes at which experience has taught the
     practicability of its draining the hole. If it does not succeed in
     accomplishing the object, another drain is opened in the interval.
     It has been found, in many cases, that a drain crossing the
     clay-banks and furrows takes the water from holes lying lower down
     the hill; that is to say, it intercepts the water flowing to them
     through these subterranean channels. The parallel drains, however,
     are not invariably laid across the fall. The exceptions are on
     ground where the fall is very slight, in which case they are laid
     along the line of greatest descent. On such grounds there are few
     or no clay-banks and furrows."

It would seem highly probable that the mode of drainage adopted at
Keythorpe, is indebted for its success at that place, to a geological
formation not often met with. At a public discussion in England, Mr. T.
Scott, a gentleman of large experience in draining, stated that "he
never, in his practice, had met with such a geological formation as was
said to exist at Keythorpe, except in such large areas as to admit of
their being drained in the usual _gridiron_ or parallel fashion."

It is claimed for this system by its advocates, that it is far cheaper
than any other, because drains are only laid in the places where, by
careful examination beforehand, by opening pits, they are found to be
necessary; and that is a great saving of expense, when compared with the
system of laying the drains at equal distances and depths over the

Against what is urged as the Keythorpe system, several allegations are

In the first place, that it is in fact _no system_. Mr. Denton, having
carefully examined the Keythorpe estate, and the published statements of
its owner, asserts, that the drains there laid have _no uniformity of
depth_--part of the tiles being laid but eighteen inches deep, and
others four feet and more, in the same field.

Secondly, that there is _no uniformity as to direction_--part of the
drains being laid across the fall, and part with the fall, in the same
fields--with no obvious reason for the difference of direction.

Thirdly, that there is _no uniformity as to materials_--a part of the
drains being wood, and a part tiles, in the same field.

Finally, it is contended that there is no saving of expense in the
Keythorpe draining, over the ordinary mode, when all points are
considered, because the pretended saving is made by the use of wood,
where true economy would require tiles, and shallow drains are used
where deeper ones would in the end be cheaper.

In speaking of this controversy, it is due to Lord Berners to say, that
he expressly disclaims any invention or novelty in his operations at

On the whole, although a work at the present day which should pass
over, without consideration, the claims of the Keythorpe system, would
be quite incomplete in its history of the subject, yet the facts
elicited with regard to it are perhaps chiefly valuable, as tending to
show the danger of basing a general principle upon an isolated case.

The discussion of the claims of that system--if such it may be
called--may be valuable in America, where novelty is sure to attract, by
showing that one more form of error has already been tried and "found
wanting;" and so save us the trouble of proving its inutility by


Lord Wharncliffe, with a view to effect adequate drainage at less
expense than is usual in thorough drainage, has adopted upon his estate
a sort of compromise system, which he has brought to the notice of the
public in the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society.

Upon Fontenelle's idea, that "mankind only settle into the right course
after passing through and exhausting all the varieties of error," it is
well to advise our readers of this particular form of error also--to
show that it has already been tried--so that no patent of invention can
be claimed upon it by those perverse persons who are not satisfied
without constant change, and who seem to imagine that the ten
commandments might be improved by a new edition.

Lord Wharncliffe states his principles as follows, and calls his method
the combined system of deep and shallow drainage:

     "In order to secure the full effect of thorough drainage in clays,
     it is necessary that there should be not only well-laid conduits
     for the water which reaches them, but also subsidiary passages
     opened through the substance of the close subsoil, by means of
     atmospheric heat, and the contraction which ensues from it. The
     cracks and fissures which result from this action, are reckoned
     upon as a certain and essential part of the process.

     "To give efficiency, therefore, to a system of deep drains beneath
     a stiff clay, these natural channels are required. To produce them,
     there must be a continued action of heat and evaporation. If we
     draw off effectually and constantly the bottom water from beneath
     the clay and from its substance, as far as it admits of
     percolation, and by some other means provide a vent for the upper
     water, which needs no more than this facility to run freely, there
     seems good reason to suppose that the object may be completely
     attained, and that we shall remove the moisture from both portions
     as effectually as its quantity and the substance will permit.
     Acting upon this view, then, after due consideration, I determined
     to combine with the fundamental four-feet drains a system of
     auxiliary ones of much less depth, which should do their work
     above, and contribute their share to the wholesome discharge, while
     the under-current from their more subterranean neighbors should be
     steadily performing their more difficult duty.

     "I accomplished this, by placing my four-feet drains at a distance
     of from eighteen to twenty yards apart, and then leading others
     into them, sunk only to about two feet beneath the surface (which
     appeared, upon consideration, to be sufficiently below any
     conceivable depth of cultivation), and laying these at a distance
     from each other of eight yards. These latter are laid at an acute
     angle with the main-drains, and at their mouths are either
     gradually sloped downwards to the lower level, or have a few loose
     stones placed in the same intervals between the two, sufficient to
     ensure the perpendicular descent of the upper stream through that
     space, which can never exceed, or, indeed, strictly equal, the
     additional two feet."

There are two reasons why this mode of drainage cannot be adopted in the
northern part of the United States.

First: The two-foot drains would be liable to be frozen up solid, every

Secondly: The subsoil plow, now coming into use among our best
cultivators, runs to so great a depth as to be likely to entirely
destroy two-foot drains at the first operation, even if it were not
intended to run the sub-soiler to a greater general depth than eighteen
inches. Any one who has had experience in holding a subsoil-plow, must
know that it is an implement somewhat unmanageable, and liable to plunge
deep into soft spots like the covering over drains; so that no skill or
care could render its use safe over two-foot drains.

The history of drainage in America, is soon given. It begins here, as it
must begin everywhere, when practiced as a general system, with the
introduction of tiles.

In 1835, Mr. John Johnston, of Seneca County, New York, a Scotchman by
birth, imported from Scotland patterns of drain-tiles, and caused them
to be made by hand-labor, and set the example of their use on his own
farm. The effects of Mr. Johnston's operations were so striking, that in
1848, John Delafield, Esq., for a long time President of the Seneca
County Agricultural Society, imported from England one of Scragg's
Patent Tile machines. From that time, tile-draining in that county, and
in the neighboring counties, has been diligently and profitably pursued.
Several interesting statements of successful experiments by Mr.
Johnston, Mr. Delafield, Mr. Theron G. Yeomans of Wayne County, and
others, have been published, from time to time, in the "New York
Transactions." Indeed, most of our information of experimental draining
in this country, has come from that quarter.

Mr. Johnston, for more than twenty years, has made himself useful to the
country, and at the same time gained a wide reputation for himself, by
occasional publications on the subject of drainage.

In addition to this, his practical knowledge of agriculture, and
especially of the subject of drainage, has gained for him a competence
for his declining years. In this we rejoice; and trust that in these,
his latter years, he may be made ever to feel, that even they among us
of the friends of agriculture who have not known him personally, are not
unmindful of their obligations to him as the leader of a
most beneficent enterprise.

Tile-works have since been established at various places in New York, at
several places in Massachusetts, Ohio, Michigan, and many other States.
The first drain-tiles used in New-Hampshire, were brought from Albany,
in 1854, by Mr. William Conner, and used on his farm in Exeter, that
year; and the following year, the writer brought some from Albany, and
laid them on his farm, in the same town.

In 1857, tile-works were put in operation at Exeter; and some 40,000
tiles were made that year.

The horse-shoe tiles, we understand, have been generally used in New
York. At Albany, and in Massachusetts, the sole-tile has been of late
years preferred. We cannot learn that cylindrical pipes have ever been
manufactured in this country until the Summer of 1858 when the engineers
of the New York Central Park procured them to be made, and laid them,
with collars, in their drainage-works there. This is believed to be the
first practical introduction into this country of round pipes and
collars, which are regarded in England as the most perfect means of

Experiments all over the country, in reclaiming bog-meadows, and in
draining wet lands with drains of stone and wood, have been attempted,
with various success.

Those attempts we regard as merely efforts in the right direction, and
rather as evidence of a general conviction of the want, by the American
farmer, of a cheap and efficient mode of drainage, than as an
introduction of a system of thorough drainage; for--as we think will
appear in the course of this work--no system of drainage can be made
sufficiently cheap and efficient for general adoption, with other
materials than drain-tiles.



     Fertilizing Substances in Rain Water.--Amount of Rain Fall in
     United States--in England.--Tables of Rain Fall.--Number of Rainy
     Days, and Quantity of Rain each Month.--Snow, how Computed as
     Water.--Proportion of Rain Evaporated.--What Quantity of Water Dry
     Soil will Hold.--Dew Point.--How Evaporation Cools
     Bodies.--Artificial Heat Underground.--Tables of Filtration and

Although we usually regard drainage as a means of rendering land
sufficiently dry for cultivation, that is by no means a comprehensive
view of the objects of the operation.

Rain is the principal source of moisture, and a surplus of moisture is
the evil against which we contend in draining. But rain is also a
principal source of fertility, not only because it affords the necessary
moisture to dissolve the elements of fertility already in the soil, but
also because it contains in itself, or brings with it from the
atmosphere, valuable fertilizing substances. In a learned article by Mr.
Caird, in the Cyclopedia of Agriculture, on the Rotation of Crops, he

     "The surprising effects of a fallow, even when unaided by any
     manure, has received some explanation by the recent discovery of
     Mr. Barral, that rain-water contains within itself, and conveys
     into the soil, fertilizing substances of the utmost importance,
     equivalent, in a fall of rain of 24 inches per annum, to the
     quantity of ammonia contained in 2 cwt. of Peruvian guano, with 150
     lbs. of nitrogeneous matter besides, all suited to the nutrition of
     our crops."

About 42 inches of rain may be taken as a fair general average of the
rain-fall in the United States. If this supplies as much ammonia to the
soil as 3 cwt. of Peruvian guano to the acre, which is considered a
liberal manuring, and which is valuable principally for its ammonia, we
at once see the importance of retaining the rain-water long enough upon
our fields, at least, to rob it of its treasures. But rain-water has a
farther value than has yet been suggested:

     "Rain-water always contains in solution, air, carbonic acid, and
     ammonia. The two first ingredients are among the most powerful
     disintegrators of a soil. The oxygen of the air, and the carbonic
     acid being both in a highly condensed form, by being dissolved,
     possess very powerful affinities for the ingredients of the soil.
     The oxygen attacks and oxydizes the iron; the carbonic acid seizing
     the lime and potash and other alkaline ingredients of the soil,
     produces a further disintegration, and renders available the
     locked-up ingredients of this magazine of nutriment. Before these
     can be used by plants, they must be rendered soluble; and this is
     only affected by the free and renewed access of rain and air. The
     ready passage of both of these, therefore, enables the soil to
     yield up its concealed nutriment."

We see, then, that the rains of heaven bring us not only water, but food
for our plants, and that, while we would remove by proper drainage the
surplus moisture, we should take care to first conduct it through the
soil far enough to fulfill its mission of fertility. We cannot suppose
that all rain-water brings to our fields precisely the same proportion
of the elements of fertility, because the foreign properties with which
it is charged, must continually vary with the condition of the
atmosphere through which it falls, whether it be the thick and murky
cloud which overhangs the coal-burning city, or the transparent ether of
the mountain tops. We may see, too, by the tables, that the quantity of
rain that falls, varies much, not only with the varying seasons of the
year, and with the different seasons of different years, but with the
distance from the equator, the diversity of mountain and river, and
lake and wood, and especially with locality as to the ocean. Yet the
average results of nature's operations through a series of years, are
startlingly constant and uniform, and we may deduce from tables of
rain-falls, as from bills of mortality and tables of longevity,
conclusions almost as reliable as from mathematical premises.

The quantity of rain is generally increased by the locality of mountain
ranges. "Thus, at the Edinburgh Water Company's works, on the Pentland
Hills, there fell in 1849, nearly twice as much rain as at Edinburgh,
although the distance between the two places is only seven miles."

Although a much greater quantity of rain falls in mountainous districts
(within certain limits of elevation) than in the plains, yet a greater
quantity of rain falls at the surface of the ground than at an elevation
of a few hundred feet. Thus, from experiments which were carefully made
at York, it was ascertained that there fell eight and a half inches more
rain at the surface of the ground, in the course of twelve months, than
at the top of the Minster, which is 212 feet high. Similar results have
been obtained in many other places.

Some observations upon this point may also be found in the Report of the
Smithsonian Institution for 1855, at p. 210, given by Professor C. W.
Morris, of New York.

Again, the evaporation from the surface of water being much greater than
from the land, clouds that are wafted by the winds from the sea to the
land, condense their vapor upon the colder hills and mountain sides, and
yield rain, so that high lands near the sea or other large bodies of
water, from which the winds generally blow, have a greater proportion of
rainy days and a greater fall of rain than lands more remote from water.
The annual rain-fall in the lake districts in Cumberland County, in
England, sometimes amounts to more than 150 inches.

With a desire to contribute as much as possible to the stock of accurate
knowledge on this subject, we availed ourselves of the kindly offered
services of our friends, Shedd and Edson, in preparing a carefully
considered article upon a part of our general subject, which has much
engaged their attention. Neither the article itself, nor the
observations of Dr. Hobbs, which form a part of its basis, has ever
before been published, and we believe our pages cannot be better
occupied than by giving them in the language of our friends:

"All vegetables, in the various stages of growth, require warmth, air,
and moisture, to support life and health.

Below the surface of the ground there is a body of stagnant water,
sometimes at a great depth, but in retentive soils usually within a foot
or two of the surface. This stagnant water not only excludes the air,
but renders the soil much colder, and, being in itself of no benefit,
without warmth and air, its removal to a greater depth is very

A knowledge of the depth to which this water-table should be removed,
and of the means of removing it, constitutes the science of draining,
and in its discussion, a knowledge of the rain-fall, humidity of the
atmosphere, and amount of evaporation, is very important.

The amount of rain-fall, as shown by the hyetal, or rain-chart, of North
America, by Lorin Blodget, is thirty inches vertical depth in the basin
of the great lakes; thirty-two inches on Lake Erie and Lake Champlain;
thirty-six inches in the valley of the Hudson, on the head waters of the
Ohio, through the middle portions of Pennsylvania and Virginia, and
western portion of North Carolina; forty inches in the extreme eastern
and the northern portion of Maine, northern portions of New Hampshire
and Vermont, south-eastern counties of Massachusetts, Central New York,
north-east portion of Pennsylvania, south-east portion of New Jersey and
Delaware; also, on a narrow belt running down from the western portion
of Maryland, through Virginia and North Carolina, to the north-western
portion of South Carolina; thence, up through the western portion of
Virginia, north-east portion of Ohio, Northern Indiana and Illinois, to
Prairie du Chien; forty-two inches on the east coast of Maine, Eastern
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, and middle portion of
Maryland; thence, on a narrow belt to South Carolina; thence, up through
Eastern Tennessee, through Central Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, to Iowa;
thence, down through Western Missouri and Texas to the Gulf of Mexico;
forty-five inches from Concord, New Hampshire, through Worcester, Mass.,
Western Connecticut, and the City of New York, to the Susquehanna River,
just north of Maryland; also, at Richmond, Va., Raleigh, N. C., Augusta,
Geo., Knoxville, Tenn., Indianopolis, Ind., Springfield, Ill., St.
Louis, Mo.; thence, through Western Arkansas, across Red River to the
Gulf of Mexico. From the belt just described, the rain-fall increases
inland and southward, until at Mobile, Ala., the rain-fall is
sixty-three inches. The same amount also falls in the extreme southern
portion of Florida.

In England, the average rain-fall in the eastern portion is represented
at twenty inches; in the middle portion, twenty-two inches; in the
southern and western, thirty inches; in the extreme south-western,
forty-five inches; and in Wales, fifty inches. In the eastern portion of
Ireland, it is twenty-five inches; and in the western, forty inches.

Observations at London for forty years, by Dalton, gave average fall of
20.69 inches. Observations at New Bedford, Mass., for forty-three years,
by S. Rodman, gave average fall of 41.03 inches--about double the amount
in London. The mean quantity for each month, at both places, is as

                _New Bedford._        _London._

    January         3.36                1.46
    February        3.32                1.25
    March           3.44                1.17
    April           3.60                1.28
    May             3.63                1.64
    June            2.71                1.74
    July            2.86                2.45
    August          3.61                1.81
    September       3.33                1.84
    October         3.46                2.09
    November        3.97                2.22
    December        3.74                1.74
                   -----                ----
    Spring         10.67                4.09
    Summer          9.18                6.00
    Autumn         10.76                6.15
    Winter         10.42                4.45
                   -----               -----
    Year           41.03               20.69

Another very striking difference between the two countries is shown by a
comparison of the quantity of water falling in single days. The
following table, given in the Radcliffe Observatory Reports, Oxford,
England, 15th volume, shows the proportion of very light rains there.
The observation was in the year 1854. Rain fell on 156 days:

    73  days gave less than         .05  inch.
    30      "     between that and  .10    "
    27      "     between .10   "   .20    "
     9      "        "    .20   "   .30    "
     9      "        "    .30   "   .40    "
     4      "        "    .40   "   .50    "
     1       gave                   .60    "
     2        "                     .80    "
     1        "                    1.00    "

Nearly half the number gave less fall than five-hundredths of an inch,
and more than four-fifths the number gave less than one-fifth of an
inch, and none gave over an inch.

There is more rain in the United States, by a large measure, than there;
but the amount falls in less time, and the average of saturation is
certainly much less here. From manuscript records, furnished us by Dr.
Hobbs, of Waltham, Mass., we find, that the quantity falling in the year
1854, was equal to the average quantity for thirty years, and that rain
fell on fifty-four days, in the proportion as follows:

Number of rainy days, 54; total rain-fall, 41.29.

    0 days gave less than            .05 inch.
    2     "     between that and     .10  "
    8     "     between .10   "      .20  "
    7     "       "     .20   "      .30  "
    5     "       "     .30   "      .40  "
    4     "       "     .40   "      .50  "
    2     "       "     .50   "      .60  "
    4     "       "     .60   "      .70  "
    4     "       "     .70   "      .80  "
    3     "       "     .80   "      .90  "
    0     "       "     .90   "     1.00  "
    0     "       "    1.00   "     1.10  "
    2     "       "    1.10   "     1.20  "
    1     "       "    1.20   "     1.30  "
    1     "       "    1.30   "     1.40  "
    3     "       "    1.40   "     1.50  "
    2     "       "    1.50   "     1.60  "
    1     "       "    1.60   "     1.70  "
    2     "       "    1.80   "     1.90  "
    1     "       "    2.30   "     2.40  "
    1     "       "    2.50   "     2.60  "
    1     "       "    3.20   "     3.30  "

No rain-fall gave less than five-hundredths of an inch; and more than
one-fourth the number of days gave more than one inch. In 1850, four
years earlier, the rain-fall for the year, in Waltham, was 62.13 inches,
the greatest recorded by observations kept since 1824. It fell as shown
in the table:

Number of rainy days, 58; total rain-fall, 62.13.

    3 days gave between .05 and     .10 inches.
    4         "         .10  "      .20   "
    6         "         .20  "      .30   "
    3         "         .30  "      .40   "
    5         "         .40  "      .50   "
    3         "         .50  "      .60   "
    3         "         .60  "      .70   "
    3         "         .70  "      .80   "
    2         "         .80  "      .90   "
    1         "         .90  "     1.00   "
    3         "        1.00  "     1.10   "
    7         "        1.20  "     1.30   "
    2         "        1.80  "     1.90   "
    2         "        1.90  "     2.00   "
    3         "        2.00  "     2.10   "
    2         "        2.10  "     2.20   "
    1         "        2.30  "     2.40   "
    1         "        2.50  "     2.60   "
    1         "        2.60  "     2.70   "
    1         "        2.80  "     2.90   "
    1         "        3.60  "     3.70   "
    1         "        4.50  "     4.60   "

Sept. 7th and 8th, in 24 hours, 6.88 inches of rain fell, the greatest
quantity recorded in one day.

In 1846--still earlier by four years--the rain-fall in Waltham was 26.90
inches--the least recorded by the same observations. It fell, as shown
in the table: Number of rainy days, 49; total rain-fall, 26.90.

     3 days gave between .05 and     .10 inches.
     7       "           .10  "      .20   "
    10       "           .20  "      .30   "
     6       "           .30  "      .40   "
     4       "           .40  "      .50   "
     3       "           .50  "      .60   "
     2       "           .70  "      .80   "
     3       "           .80  "      .90   "
     1       "           .90  "     1.00   "
     3       "          1.00  "     1.10   "
     2       "          1.10  "     1.20   "
     1       "          1.20  "     1.30   "
     2       "          1.40  "     1.50   "
     1       "          1.50  "     1.60   "
     1       "          2.40  "     2.50   "

The rain-fall in 1852 was very near the average for thirty years; and
the quantity falling in single storms, on sixty-three different
occasions, as registered by Dr. Hobbs, was as follows: Number of storms,
63; total rain-fall, 42.24.

     7 storms gave less than           .10 inches.
    11      "      between   .10 and   .20   "
     9      "         "      .20  "    .30   "
     5      "         "      .30  "    .40   "
     6      "         "      .40  "    .50   "
     5      "         "      .50  "    .60   "
     1      "         "      .60  "    .70   "
     1      "         "      .70  "    .80   "
     3      "         "      .80  "    .90   "
     1      "         "      .90  "   1.00   "
     5      "         "     1.00  "   1.10   "
     1      "         "     1.10  "   1.20   "
     1      "         "     1.20  "   1.30   "
     1      "         "     1.40  "   1.50   "
     3      "         "     1.60  "   1.70   "
     1      "      in 5 days          3.16   "
     1      "      "  4   "           4.38   "
     1      "      "  6   "           5.35   "

These tables are sufficient to show that provision must be made to carry
off much greater quantities of water from lands in this country than in
England. We add a table of the greatest fall of rain in any one day, for
each month, and for the year, from April, 1824, to 1st January, 1859.
It also was abstracted from the manuscript of observations by Dr. Hobbs,
and will be, we think, quite useful:

 YEARS          |March         |June          |September     |December
      |         |              |              |              |    |Greatest
      |    |February      |May |         |August        |November |  Fall
      |    |    |         |    |         |    |         |    |    | in the
      |January  |    |April    |    |July|    |    |October  |    |  Year
  1824|    |    |    |0.76|0.67|0.53|0.44|1.90|2.54|0.81|0.76|1.80| 2.54
  1825|2.16|    |2.61|0.27|1.23|1.37|0.91|2.51|0.89|1.32|0.71|2.40| 2.61
  1826|1.80|0.56|1.67|0.89|0.39|1.78|0.87|1.80|1.57|1.37|1.22|1.41| 1.87
  1827|    |    |3.81|1.55|2.42|0.66|1.36|3.16|4.93|2.22|3.85|1.39| 4.93
  1828|0.60|1.48|1.82|2.06|2.01|1.44|1.52|0.14|1.82|1.52|1.90|0.29| 2.06
  1829|3.86|1.98|4.12|2.35|1.15|0.97|1.92|0.97|1.39|1.00|1.25|1.58| 4.12
  1830|1.31|    |1.17|2.68|2.28|0.78|1.84|2.45|2.40|1.20|2.64|2.44| 2.68
  1831|0.64|1.48|2.32|2.12|1.79|1.87|2.27|1.00|1.00|2.82|1.24|0.15| 2.82
  1832|2.68|1.59|2.00|4.48|2.52|1.24|    |2.13|0.80|1.50|2.60|1.34| 4.48
  1833|0.83|    |    |2.57|0.98|2.03|1.42|0.64|2.75|2.32|3.12|1.27| 3.12
  1834|    |0.64|1.31|0.94|2.35|1.87|2.12|0.73|1.25|1.89|2.42|0.92| 2.42
  1835|1.44|0.88|2.48|2.48|1.18|1.52|4.72|1.32|1.57|3.28|0.74|2.32| 4.72
  1836|2.72|3.04|2.26|1.86|1.29|2.24|1.04|0.72|0.36|2.04|1.50|1.68| 3.04
  1837|3.62|1.50|1.14|1.68|1.46|1.30|0.72|0.78|0.66|1.46|0.81|1.68| 3.62
  1838|1.64|0.75|0.76|1.32|1.40|1.67|0.82|1.40|3.84|1.10|2.46|1.00| 3.84
  1839|0.70|0.80|0.58|4.06|2.98|0.94|1.08|3.54|0.70|1.60|0.80|1.92| 4.06
  1840|1.68|2.20|1.54|2.12|1.16|1.08|1.40|2.72|1.28|1.04|3.72|1.12| 3.72
  1841|1.44|1.12|1.32|1.64|0.90|0.75|0.64|2.82|2.78|2.66|1.05|1.70| 2.82
  1842|0.54|1.22|1.16|0.64|0.47|2.10|0.68|1.44|0.96|0.34|1.10|2.02| 2.10
  1843|1.60|1.64|2.50|1.34|0.34|1.04|1.98|2.58|0.52|1.94|1.28|    | 2.58
  1844|4.14|    |2.06|0.24|0.58|0.78|0.86|1.34|1.76|2.30|1.86|1.28| 4.14
  1845|2.42|1.70|1.14|0.70|1.02|1.03|1.20|1.66|0.88|1.16|3.32|1.46| 3.32
  1846|1.54|    |2.46|1.16|1.18|0.82|1.46|0.49|0.56|0.55|0.54|1.02| 2.46
  1847|1.18|2.74|1.66|1.12|0.84|1.28|0.56|1.86|2.16|0.64|2.74|3.02| 3.02
  1848|1.44|1.56|2.68|0.68|2.28|1.00|0.72|1.24|1.48|2.96|0.88|1.00| 2.96
  1849|1.36|0.40|2.30|0.92|1.28|0.72|1.52|2.08|1.12|2.60|2.48|1.76| 2.60
  1850|2.56|1.92|1.84|2.68|2.80|1.20|1.20|3.68|6.88|1.04|2.16|1.92| 6.88
  1851|0.80|1.84|0.56|3.60|1.92|1.12|0.96|0.32|1.15|1.47|2.25|0.89| 3.60
  1852|1.06|0.88|1.15|4.38|1.47|1.69|0.66|4.16|1.19|1.61|1.59|0.89| 4.38
  1853|0.92|1.33|1.03|1.12|2.39|0.42|1.03|2.36|2.14|1.95|1.67|1.35| 2.39
  1854|0.83|1.60|1.25|1.88|2.57|1.50|1.58|0.48|2.33|1.82|3.25|1.43| 3.25
  1855|3.37|3.08|0.80|1.33|0.39|1.23|1.93|0.75|0.70|1.77|2.22|1.24| 3.37
  1856|    |1.30|0.63|1.97|2.93|0.66|1.30|4.23|2.42|0.87|0.88|1.20| 4.23
  1857|1.50|0.54|1.55|3.68|1.28|0.96|2.43|2.00|0.87|3.54|0.67|1.28| 3.68
  1858|1.12|1.18|0.35|1.28|1.00|3.86|1.35|2.21|1.64|1.22|1.36|1.40| 3.86

The following table shows the record of rain-fall, as kept for one year;
it was selected as a representative year, the total quantity falling
being equal to the average. For the year 1840: Number of rainy days, 50;
total rain-fall, 42.00.

 DAYS |         |March         |June          |September     |December
      |         |              |              |              |
      |    |February      |May |         |August        |November
      |    |    |         |    |         |    |         |    |
      |January 1840  |April    |    |July|    |    |October  |
    1 |    |    |    |0.55|0.14|    |    |2.72|    |0.64|    |
    2 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |0.08|    |0.05|    |
    3 |    |    |0.32|    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
    4 |    |    |    |    |    |1.08|0.10|    |    |    |    |
    5 |    |    |    |    |1.16|    |    |    |0.63|    |    |
    6 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |0.50|    |    |    |
    7 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
    8 |    |    |    |    |    |0.20|    |    |    |    |    |
    9 |    |    |    |    |    |    |0.25|    |    |    |3.72|
   10 |    |2.20|    |    |    |    |    |    |1.28|    |    |
   11 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |0.10|    |    |    |
   12 |    |    |    |2.12|    |    |    |    |    |    |0.54|
   13 |    |    |    |    |    |0.14|    |    |    |    |    |1.12
   14 |    |0.58|    |    |    |    |    |0.70|    |    |    |
   15 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |0.36|
   16 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
   17 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
   18 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
   19 |    |    |    |    |    |0.82|0.24|    |0.68|    |    |1.04
   20 |    |    |1.54|    |    |    |    |    |    |0.44|    |
   21 |    |    |    |    |0.98|    |    |    |    |1.04|    |
   22 |    |    |    |0.52|    |    |    |    |    |    |2.20|
   23 |1.68|    |    |    |    |    |    |0.96|    |    |0.18|
   24 |    |    |    |    |    |    |1.40|    |    |    |    |
   25 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |0.16|    |    |0.35|
   26 |    |    |    |0.18|    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
   27 |    |    |    |    |    |0.17|    |    |0.30|    |    |
   28 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
   29 |    |    |    |1.80|    |    |0.10|    |    |1.40|    |
   30 |    |    |1.42|    |    |    |    |    |    |0.08|    |1.04
   31 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |

The average quantity of rain which has fallen in Waltham, during the
important months of vegetation, from 1824 to 1858 inclusive--a period of
thirty-five years--is for--

    _April._    _May._    _June._   _July._   _Aug._   _Sept._
     3.96        3.71      3.18      3.38      4.50     3.52

Average for the six months, 22.25.

It will be noticed, that the average for the month of August is about 33
per cent. larger than for June and July. The quantity of rain falling in
each month, as registered at the Cambridge Observatory, is as follows:


    _Jan._  _Feb._  _Mar._  _Apr._  _May._  _June._
     2.39    3.19    3.47    3.64    3.74    3.13

    _July._ _Aug._  _Sept._ _Oct._  _Nov._  _Dec._
     2.57    5.47    4.27    3.73    4.57    4.31

    _Spring._     _Summer._     _Autumn._     _Winter._
      10.85         11.17         12.57         9.89

    Average quantity per year, 44.48.

The quantity falling from January to July, is much less than falls from
July to January.

The great quantity of snow which falls in New England during the Winter
months, and is carried off mainly in the Spring, usually floods the low
lands, and should be taken into account in establishing the size of pipe
to be used in a system of drainage. The following observations of the
average depth of snow, have been made at the places cited, and are
copied, by Blodget, from various published notices:

    Oxford Co., Me.      12 years     90   inches per year.
    Dover, N. H.         10   "       68.6   "       "
    Montreal             10   "       67     "       "
    Burlington, Vt.      10   "       85     "       "
    Worcester, Mass.     12   "       55     "       "
    Amherst,   "          7   "       54     "       "
    Hartford, Conn.      24   "       43     "       "
    Lambertville, N. J.   8   "       25.5   "       "
    Cincinnati           16   "       19     "       "
    Burlington, Iowa      4   "       15.5   "       "
    Beloit, Wisconsin     3   "       25     "       "

One-tenth the depth of snow is taken as its equivalent in water, for
general purposes, though it gives too small a quantity of water in
southern latitudes, and in extreme latitudes too great a quantity. The
rule of reduction of snow to water, in cold climates, is one inch of
water to twelve of snow.

The proportion of the annual downfall of rain which is collectable into
reservoirs--or, in other words, the per-centage of the rain-fall which
drains off--is well shown in a table used by Ellwood Morris, Esq., C. E.,
in an article on "The Proposed Improvement of the Ohio River" (Jour.
Frank. Inst., Jan., 1858), in which we find, that, in eighteen series of
observations in Great Britain, the ratio, or per cent. of the rain-fall
which drains off is 65-1/2, or nearly two-thirds the rain-fall.

Seven series of observations in America are cited as follows:

    |Name           |Annual    |Drainage|Ratio, or  |
    |of             |rain-fall,|flowing |per ct. of |
 No.|Drainage Area. |in inches.|away, in|the rain   |  Authorities.
    |               |          |inches. |which      |
    |               |          |        |drains off.|
  1 |Schuylkill     |          |        |           |
    |  Navigation   |          |        |           |
    |  Reservoirs   |    36    |   18   |      50   |  Morris and Smith.
  2 |Eaton Brook    |    34    |   23   |      66   | }
  3 |Madison Brook  |    35    |   18   |      50   | }McAlpine.
  4 |Patroon's Brook|    46    |   25   |      55   | }
  5 |   "        "  |    42    |   18   |      42   | }
  6 |Long Pond      |    40    |   18   |      44   |  Boston Water Com'rs.
  7 |West Fork      |          |        |           |
    |  Reservoir    |    36    |   14   |      40   |  W. Milnor Roberts.
    | Totals        |   269    |  134   |     347   |
    | Averages      |    38    |   19   |      50   |

These examples show an average rain-fall of thirty-eight vertical
inches, and an annual amount, collectable in reservoirs, of nineteen
inches, or fifty per cent.

The per-centage of water of drainage from land under-drained with tile,
would be greater than that which is collectable in reservoirs from
ordinary gathering-grounds.

If a soil were perfectly saturated with water, that is, held as much
water in suspension as possible to hold without draining off, and drains
were laid at a proper depth from the surface, and in sufficient number
to take off all surplus water, then the entire rain-fall upon the
surface would be water of drainage--presuming, of course, the land to be
level, and the air at saturation, so as to prevent evaporation. The
water coming upon the surface, would force out an equal quantity of
water at the bottom, through the drains--the time occupied by the
process, varying according to the porous or retentive nature of the
soil; but in ordinary circumstances, it would be, perhaps, about
forty-eight hours. Drains usually run much longer than this after a
heavy rain, and, in fact, many run constantly through the year, but they
are supplied from lands at a higher level, either near by or at a

If, on the other hand, the soil were perfectly dry, holding no water in
suspension, then there would be no water of drainage until the soil had
become saturated.

Evaporation is constantly carrying off great quantities of water during
the warm months, so that under-drained soil is seldom in the condition
of saturation, and, on account of the supply by capillary attraction and
by dew, is never thoroughly dry; but the same soil will, at different
times, be at various points between saturation and dryness, and the
water of drainage will be consequently a greater or less per centage of
the rain-fall.

An experiment made by the writer, to ascertain what quantity of water a
dry soil would hold in suspension, resulted as follows: A soil was
selected of about average porosity, so that the result might be, as
nearly as possible, a mean for the various kinds of soil, and dried by
several days' baking. The quantity of soil then being carefully
measured, a measured quantity of water was supplied slowly, until it
began to escape at the bottom. The quantity draining away was measured
and deducted from the total quantity supplied. It was thus ascertained
that one cubic foot of earth held 0.4826+ cubic feet of water, which is
a little more than three and one-half gallons. A dry soil, four feet
deep, would hold a body of water equal to a rain-fall of 23.17 inches,
vertical depth, which is more than would fall in six months.

The quantity which is not drained away is used for vegetation or
evaporated; and the fact, that the water of drainage is so much greater
in proportion to the rain-fall in England than in this country, is owing
to the humidity of that climate, in which the evaporation is only about
half what it is in this country.

The evaporation from a reservoir surface at Baltimore, during the Summer
months, was assumed by Colonel Abert to be to the quantity of rain as
two to one.

Dr. Holyoke assigns the annual quantity evaporated at Salem, Mass., at
fifty-six inches; and Colonel Abert quotes several authorities at
Cambridge, Mass., stating the quantity at fifty-six inches. These facts
are given by Mr. Blodget, and also the table below.


            | Whitehaven, |             |
            |   England,  | Ogdensburg, | Syracuse,
            |   mean of   |   N. Y.,    |   N. Y.,
            |   6 years   |   1 yr.     |   1 year
    _Jan._  |    0.88     |    1.65     |    0.67
    _Feb._  |    1.04     |    0.82     |    1.48
    _Mar._  |    1.77     |    2.07     |    2.24
    _Apr._  |    2.54     |    1.63     |    3.42
    _May._  |    4.15     |    7.10     |    7.31
    _June._ |    4.54     |    6.74     |    7.60
    _July._ |    4.20     |    7.79     |    9.08
    _Aug._  |    3.40     |    5.41     |    6.85
    _Sept._ |    3.12     |    7.40     |    5.33
    _Oct._  |    1.93     |    3.95     |    3.02
    _Nov._  |    1.32     |    3.66     |    1.33
    _Dec._  |    1.09     |    1.15     |    1.86
    _Year._ |   30.03     |   49.37     |   50.20

The quantity for Whitehaven, England, is reported by J. F. Miller. It
was very carefully observed, from 1843 to 1848--the evaporation being
from a copper vessel, protected from rain. The district is one of the
wettest of England--the mean quantity of rain, for the same time, having
been 45.25 inches.

This shows a great difference in the capacity of the air to absorb
moisture in England and the United States; and as evaporation is a
cooling process, there is greater necessity for under-draining in this
country than in England, supposing circumstances in other respects to be

Evaporation takes place at any point of temperature from 32°, or lower,
to 212°--at which water boils. It is increased by heat, but is not
caused solely by it--for a north-west wind in New-England evaporates
water, and dries the earth more rapidly than the heat alone of a
Summer's day; and when, under ordinary circumstances, evaporation from a
water-surface is slow, it becomes quite active when brought in close
proximity to sulphuric acid, or other vapor-absorbing bodies.

The cold which follows evaporation is caused by a loss of the heat which
is required for evaporation, and which passes off with the vapor, as a
solution, in the atmosphere; and as heat leaves the body to aid
evaporation, it is evident that that body cannot be cooled by the
process, below the dew-point at which evaporation ceases. The popular
notion that a body may be cooled almost to the freezing-point, in a hot
Summer day, by the action of heat alone, is, then, erroneous. But still,
the amount of heat which is used up in evaporating stagnant water from
undrained land, that might otherwise go towards warming the land and the
roots of crops, is a very serious loss.

The difference in the temperature of a body, resulting from evaporation,
may reach 25° in the desert interior of the American continent; but, in
the Eastern States, it is not often more than 15°.

The temperature of evaporation is the reading of a wet-bulb-thermometer
(the bulb being covered with moistened gauze) exposed to the natural
evaporation; and the difference between that reading and the reading of
a dry-thermometer, is the expression of the cold resulting from

When the air is nearly saturated, the temperature of the air rarely goes
above 74°; but, if so, the moisture in the air prevents the passing away
of insensible perspiration, and the joint action of heat and humidity
exhausts the vital powers, causing sun-stroke, as it is called. At New
York city, August 12th to 14th, 1853, the wet-thermometer stood at 80°
to 84°; the air, at 90° to 94°. The mortality, from this joint effect,
was very great--over two hundred persons losing their lives in the two
days, in that city.

From very careful observations, made by Lorin Blodget, in 1853, at
Washington, it was found that the difference between the wet and dry
thermometer was 18-1/2° at 4 P. M., June 30th, and 16° at 2 P. M. on
July 1st--the temperature of the air being 98° on the first day, and 95°
on the second; but such excesses are unusual.

The following table has been compiled from Mr. Blodget's notice of the
peculiarities of the Summer of 1853:

The dates are such as were selected to illustrate the extreme
temperatures of the month, and the degrees represent the differences
between the wet and dry thermometer. The observations were made at 3 P. M.:

    _Locality._            _Dates._                   _Differences._

                         JUNE, 1853.

    Burlington, Vt.     14th to 30th    ranged from    8°   to   17°
    Montreal            14th to 30th         "         6    to   17
    Poultney, Iowa      10th to 30th         "         9    to   16
    Washington          20th to 30th         "         8.5  to   16
    Baltimore           13th to 30th         "         7.4  to   20.2
    Savannah            13th to 30th         "         5.2  to   17.3
    Austin, Texas       10th to 30th         "         4    to   24
    Clarkesville, Tenn.  4th to 30th         "        10.3  to   20.5


    Bloomfield, N. J.    9th to 14th         "         5    to   15
    Austin, Texas        6th to 12th         "         0    to   19
    Philadelphia        10th to 15th         "         8    to   14
    Jacksonville, Fla.  10th to 15th         "         6    to    8

Observations by Lieut. Gillis, at Washington, give mean differences
between wet and dry thermometers, from March, 1841, to June, 1842, as

    Observations at 3 P. M.:

    _Jan._  _Feb._  _Mar._  _Apr._  _May._  _June._
    3°.08   4°.40   6°.47   5°.37   7°.05   8°.03

    _July._ _Aug._  _Sept._ _Oct._  _Nov._  _Dec._
    8°.89   5°.29   5°.63   4°.61   4°.77   2°.03

A mean of observations for twenty-five years at the Radcliffe
Observatory, Oxford, England, gives a difference between the wet and dry
thermometer equal to about two-thirds the difference, as observed by
Lieutenant Gillis, at Washington.

On the 12th day of August, 1853, in Austin, Texas, the air was perfectly
saturated at a temperature of 76°, which was the dew-point, or point of
the thermometer at which dew began to form. The dew-point varies
according to the temperature and the humidity of the atmosphere; it is
usually a few degrees lower than the temperature of evaporation--never

From observations made at Girard College, by Prof. A. D. Bache, in the
years 1840 to 1845, we find, that for April, 1844, the dew-point ranged
from 4° to 16° lower than the temperature of the air; in May, from 4° to
14° lower; in June, from 6° to 20° lower; in July, from 4° to 17°; in
August, from 6° to 15° lower; and in September, from 6° to 21° lower.
The dew-point is, then, during the important months of vegetation,
within about 20° of the temperature of the air. The temperature of the
dew-point, as observed by Prof. Bache, was highest in August, 1843,
being 66°, and lowest in January, 1844, being 18°; in July, 1844, it was
64°, and in February, 1845, it was 25°. Its hourly changes during each
day are quite marked, and follow, with some degree of regularity, the
changes in the temperature of the air; their greatest departure from
each other being at the hottest hour of the day, which is two or three
hours after noon, and the least at the coldest hour which is four or
five hours after midnight. The average temperature of the dew-point in
April, May, and June, 1844, was, at midnight, 50-1/2°, air, 57°; five
hours after midnight, dew-point, 49°, air 54°; three hours after noon,
dew-point, 54°, air, 63-1/2°. The average temperature for July, August
and September, was, at midnight, dew-point, 58-1/2°, air, 65°; five
hours after midnight, dew-point, 58°, air, 62°; three hours after noon,
dew-point, 60-1/2°, air, 78°. The average temperature for the year was,
at midnight, dew-point, 42°, air, 48°; five hours after midnight,
dew-point, 41°, air, 46°; three hours after noon, dew-point, 44-1/2°,
air, 59°.

The relative humidity of the atmosphere, or the amount of vapor held in
suspension in the air, in proportion to the amount which it might hold,
was, in the year 1858, as given in the journal of the Franklin
Institute, for

                _Philadelphia._    _Somerset Co._
    April              49   per cent.  --   2 P. M.
    May                59      "       72     "
    June               55      "       63     "
    July               50      "       61     "
    August             55      "       58     "
    September          50      "       57     "

The saturation often falls to 30 per cent., but with great variability.
Evaporation goes on most rapidly when the per centage of saturation is
lowest; and, as before observed, the cause of the excess of evaporation
in this country over that of England is the excessive humidity of that
climate and the dryness of this. It has also been said that there is
greater need for drainage in the United States on this account; and, as
the warmth induced by draining is somewhat, in its effect, a
merchantable product, it may be well to consider it for a moment in that

First: The drained land comes into condition for working, a week or ten
days earlier in the Spring than other lands.

Secondly: The growth of the crops is quickened all through the Summer by
an increase of several degrees in the temperature of the soil.

Thirdly: The injurious effects of frost are kept off several days later
in the Fall.

Of the value of these conditions, the farmer, who has lost his crops for
lack of a few more warm days, may make his own estimates. In Roxbury,
Mr. I. P. Rand heats up a portion of his land, for the purpose of
raising early plants for the market, by means of hot water carried by
iron pipes under the surface of the ground. In this manner he heats an
area equal to 100 feet by 12 feet, by burning about one ton of coal a
month. The increase of temperature which, in this case, is caused by
that amount of coal, can, in the absence of direct measurement, only be
estimated; but it, probably, will average about 30°, day and night,
throughout the month. In an acre the area is 36.4 times as great as that
heated by one ton of coal; the cost being in direct proportion to the
area, 36.4 tons of coal would be required to heat an acre; which, at $6
per ton, would cost $217.40. To heat an acre through 10°, would cost,
then, $72.47. It may be of interest to consider how much coal would be
required to evaporate from an undrained field that amount of water which
might be carried off by under-drains, but which, without them, is
evaporated from the surface. It may be taken as an approximate estimate,
that the evaporation from the surface of an undrained retentive field,
is equal to two inches vertical depth of water for each of the months of
May, June, July, and August; which is equal to fifty-four thousand three
hundred and five gallons, or eight hundred and sixty-two hogsheads per
acre for each month. If this quantity of water were evaporated by means
of a coal fire, about 22-2/3 tons of coal would be consumed, which, at
$6 a ton, would cost $136. The cost of evaporating the amount of water
which would pass off in one day from an acre would be about $4.53. It is
probable that about half as much water would be evaporated from
thorough-drained land, though, by some experiments, the proportion has
been made greater--in which case the loss of heat resulting from an
excess of moisture evaporated from undrained retentive land, over that
which would be evaporated from drained land, would be equal to that
gained by 11-1/3 tons of coal, which would cost $68; and this for each
acre, in each of the three months. At whatever temperature a liquid
vaporizes, it absorbs the same total quantity of heat.

The latent heat of watery vapor at 212° is 972°; that is, when water at
212° is converted into vapor at the same temperature, the amount of heat
expended in the process is 972°. This heat becomes latent, or insensible
to the thermometer. The heat rendered latent by converting ice into
water is about 140°. There are 7.4805 gallons in a cubic foot of water
which weighs 62.38 lbs."

We have seen that a sea of water, more than three feet deep over the
whole face of the land, falls annually from the clouds, equal to 4,000
tons in weight to every acre. We would use enough of this water to
dissolve the elements of fertility in the soil, and fit them for the
food of plants. We would retain it all in our fields, long enough to
take from it its stores of fertilizing substances, brought from reeking
marshes and steaming cities on cloud-wings to our farms. We would, after
taking enough of its moisture to cool the parched earth, and to fit the
soil for germination and vegetable growth, discharge the surplus, which
must otherwise stagnate in the subsoil, by rapid drainage into the
natural streams and rivers.

Evaporation proceeds more rapidly from a surface of water, than from a
surface of land, unless it be a saturated surface. It proceeds more
rapidly in the sun than in the shade, and it proceeds again more rapidly
in warm than in cold weather. It varies much with the culture of the
field, whether in grass, or tillage, or fallow, and with its condition,
as to being dry or wet, and with its formation, whether level or hilly.
Yet, with all these variations, very great reliance may be placed upon
the ascertained results of the observations already at our command.

We have seen that evaporation from a water surface is, in general,
greater than from land, and here we may observe one of those grand
compensating designs of Providence which exist through all nature.

If the same quantity of water fell upon the sea and the land, and the
evaporation were the same from both, then all the rivers running into
the sea would soon convey to it all the water, and the sea would be
full. But though nearly as much water falls on the sea as on the land,
yet evaporation is much greater from the water than from land.

About three feet of rain falls upon the _water_, while the evaporation
from a water surface far exceeds that amount. In the neighborhood of
Boston, evaporation from water surface is said to be 56 inches in the
year, and in the State of New York, about 50 inches; while, in England,
it is put by Mr. Dalton at 44.43 inches, and, by others, much lower.

Again, about three feet of water annually falls upon the _land_, while
the evaporation from the land is but little more than 20 inches. If this
water fell upon a flat surface of soil, with an impervious subsoil of
rock or clay, we should have some sixteen inches of water in the course
of the year more than evaporates from the land. If a given field be
dish-shaped, so as to retain it all, it must become a pond, and so
remain, except in Summer, when greater evaporation from a water surface
may reduce it to a swamp or marsh.

With 16 or 18 inches more water falling annually on all our cultivated
fields than goes off by evaporation, is it not wise to inquire by what
process of Nature or art this vast surplus shall escape?

Experiments have been made with a view to determine the proportion of
evaporation and filtration, upon well-drained land, in different months.
From an able article in the N. Y. Agricultural Society for 1854, by
George Geddes, we copy the following statement of valuable observations
upon these points.

It will be observed that, in the different observations collected in
this chapter, results are somewhat various. They have been brought
together for comparison, and will be found sufficiently uniform for all
practical purposes in the matter of drainage.

     "The experiments upon evaporation and drainage, made on Mr.
     Dalton's plan, were in vessels three feet deep, filled with soil
     just in the condition to secure perfect freedom from excess of
     water, and the drainage was determined by the amount of water that
     passed out of the tube at the bottom. These experiments have been
     most perfectly made in England by Mr. John Dickinson. The following
     table exhibits the mean of eight years:

    YEAR.| October to March.  || April to September.|| Total each year.
         |Rain.|Filtra-|  [%] ||Rain.|Filtra-|  [%] ||Rain.|Filtra-|  [%]
         |     | tion. |      ||     | tion. |      ||     | tion. |
    1836 |18.80| 15.55 | 82.7 ||12.20| 2.10  | 17.3 ||31.00| 17.65 | 56.9
    1837 |11.30|  6.85 | 60.6 || 9.80| 0.10  |  1.0 ||21.10|  6.95 | 32.9
    1838 |12.32|  8.45 | 68.8 ||10.81| 0.12  |  1.2 ||23.13|  8.57 | 37.0
    1839 |13.87| 12.31 | 88.2 ||17.41| 2.60  | 15.0 ||31.28| 14.91 | 47.6
    1840 |11.76|  8.19 | 69.6 || 9.68| 0.00  |  0.0 ||21.44|  8.19 | 38.2
    1841 |16.84| 14.19 | 84.2 ||15.26| 0.00  |  0.0 ||32.10| 14.19 | 44.2
    1842 |14.28| 10.46 | 73.2 ||12.15| 1.30  | 10.7 ||26.43| 11.76 | 44.4
    1843 |12.43|  7.11 | 57.2 ||14.04| 0.99  |  7.1 ||26.47|  8.10 | 36.0
    Mean |13.95| 10.39 | 74.5 ||12.67| 0.90  |  7.1 ||26.61| 11.29 | 42.4
         Legend: [%] = Per cent filtered.

     "A soil that holds no water for the use of plants below six inches,
     will suffer from drouth in ten days in June, July, or August. If
     the soil is in suitable condition to hold water to the depth of
     three feet, it would supply sufficient moisture for the whole
     months of June, July, and August.

     "M. de la Hire has shown that, at Paris, a vessel, sixteen inches
     deep, filled with sand and loam, discharged water through the pipe
     at the bottom until the 'herbs' were somewhat grown, when the
     discharge ceased, and the rains were insufficient, and it was
     necessary to water them. The fall of water at Paris is stated, in
     this account, at twenty inches in the year, which is less than the
     average, and the experiment must have been made in a very dry
     season; but the important point proved by it is, that the plants,
     when grown up, draw largely from the ground, and thereby much
     increase the evaporation from a given surface of earth. The result
     of the experiment is entirely in accordance with what would have
     been expected by a person conversant with the laws of vegetation.

     "The mean of each month for the eight years is:

                  |         |           |Per cent
        MONTHS.   |  Rain.  |Filtration.|
                  |         |           |filtered.
                  |_Inches._| _Inches._ |
                  |         |           |
       January    |  1.84   |   1.30    |  70.7
       February   |  1.79   |   1.54    |  78.4
       March      |  1.61   |   1.08    |  66.6
       April      |  1.45   |   0.30    |  21.0
       May        |  1.85   |   0.11    |   5.8
       June       |  2.21   |   0.04    |   1.7
       July       |  2.28   |   0.04    |   1.8
       August     |  2.42   |   0.03    |   1.4
       September  |  2.64   |   0.37    |  13.9
       October    |  2.82   |   1.40    |  49.5
       November   |  3.83   |   3.26    |  84.9
       December   |  1.64   |   1.80    | 110.0

     "The filtration from April to September is very small--practically
     nothing; but during those months we have 12.67 inches of rain--that
     is, we have two inches a month for evaporation besides the quantity
     in the earth on the first day of April. From October to March we
     have 10.39 inches filtered out of 13.95 inches, the whole fall. 'Of
     this Winter portion of 10.39, we must allow at least six inches for
     floods running away at the time of the rain, and then we have only
     4.39 inches left for the supply of rivers and wells.' (Breadmore,
     p. 34.)

     "It is calculated in England that the ordinary Summer run of
     streams does not exceed ten cubic feet per minute per square mile,
     and that the average for the whole year, due to springs and
     ordinary rains, is twenty feet per minute per square mile,
     exclusive of floods--and assuming no very wet or high mountain
     districts (Breadmore, p. 34)--which is equal to about four inches
     over the whole surface. If we add to this the six inches that are
     supposed to run off in freshets, we have ten inches discharged in
     the course of the year by the streams. The whole filtration was
     11.29 inches--10.39 in the Winter, and .90 in the Summer. The
     remainder, 1.29 inches, is supposed to be consumed by wells and
     excessive evaporation from marshes and pools, from which the
     discharge is obstructed, by animals, and in various other ways.
     These calculations were made from experiments running through eight
     years, in which the average fall of water was only 26.61 inches per
     annum. When the results derived from them are applied to our
     average fall of 35.28 inches, we have for the water that
     constitutes the Summer flow of our streams 13.25 cubic feet per
     minute per mile of the country drained, and for the average annual
     flow, exclusive of freshets, 26.50 cubic feet per mile per minute.
     That is to say, of the 35.28 inches of water that fall in the
     course of the year, 5.30 run away in the streams as the average
     annual flow, 7.95 run away in the freshets, and 20.47 evaporate
     from the earth's surface, leaving 1.56 for consumption in various
     ways. In the whole year the drainage is nearly equal to one cubic
     foot per second per square mile (.976), no allowance being made for
     the 1.56 inches which is lost as before stated. These calculations
     are based upon English experiments. Mr. McAlpine, late State
     engineer and surveyor, in making his calculations for supplying the
     city of Albany with water (page 22 of his Report to the Water
     Commissioners), takes 45 per cent of the fall as available for the
     use of the city. Mr. Henry Tracy, in his Report to the Canal Board
     of 1849 (page 17), gives the results of the investigations in the
     valleys of Madison Brook, in Madison County, and of Long Pond, near
     Boston, Mass., as follows:

       |  Name   | Fall of rain | Water ran off |  Evaporation |   Ratio
 YEAR. |   of    |  and snow    |     in        | from surface |    of
       | valley. | in valley.   |   inches.     |   of ground. | drainage.
 1835  | Madison |              |               |              |
       |  Brook  |   35.26      |   15.83       |    19.43     |  0.449
 1837  |  Long   |              |               |              |
       |  Pond   |   26.65      |   11.70       |    14.95     |  0.439
 1838  |   Do    |   38.11      |   16.62       |    21.49     |  0.436
 Mean  |         |              |               |              |  0.441

     "Madison Brook drains 6,000 acres, and Long Pond 11,400 acres. Mr.
     Tracy makes the following comment on this table: 'It appears that
     the evaporation from the surface of the ground in the valley of
     Long Pond was about 44 per cent more in 1838 than it was in 1837,
     while the ratio of the drainage differed less than one per cent the
     same years.'

     "Dr. Hale states the evaporation from water-surface at Boston to be
     56 inches in a year. (Senate Doc., No. 70, for 1853.)

     "The following table contains the results arrived at by Mr. Coffin,
     at Ogdensburgh, and Mr. Conkey, at Syracuse, in regard to the
     evaporation from water-surface:

                | COFFIN, at Ogdensburgh,|| CONKEY, at Syracuse,
                |        in 1838.        ||         in 1852.
      MONTHS.   +--------+---------------++--------+--------------
                |  Rain. | Evaporation.  ||  Rain. | Evaporation.
     January    |  2.36  |    1.652      ||  3.673 |   0.665
     February   |  0.97  |    0.817      ||  1.307 |   1.489
     March      |  1.18  |    2.067      ||  3.234 |   2.239
     April      |  0.40  |    1.625      ||  3.524 |   3.421
     May        |  4.81  |    7.100      ||  4.491 |   7.309
     June       |  3.57  |    6.745      ||  3.773 |   7.600
     July       |  1.88  |    7.788      ||  2.887 |   9.079
     August     |  2.55  |    5.415      ||  2.724 |   6.854
     September  |  1.01  |    7.400      ||  2.774 |   5.334
     October    |  2.73  |    3.948      ||  4.620 |   3.022
     November   |  2.07  |    3.659      ||  4.354 |   1.325
     December   |  1.08  |    1.146      ||  4.112 |   1.863
       TOTAL    | 24.61  |   49.362      || 41.473 |  50.200

     "The annual fall of water in England, is stated, by Mr. Dalton, to
     be 32 inches. In this State, it is 35.28 inches. The evaporation
     from water-surface in England, is put, by Mr. Dalton, at 44.43
     inches. The fall is less, and the evaporation is less, in England
     than here; and the fall, in each case, bears the same proportion to
     the evaporation, very nearly; and it appears that the experiments
     made on the two sides of the ocean, result in giving very nearly
     the same per centage of drainage. In England, it is 42.4 per cent.;
     in this State, it is 44.1. In England, the experiments were made on
     a limited scale compared with ours; but the results agree so well,
     that great confidence may safely be placed in them."

In reviewing the whole subject of rain, and of evaporation and
filtration, we seem to have evidence to justify the opinion, that with
considerable more rain in this country than in England, and with a
greater evaporation, because of a clearer sky and greater heat, we have
a larger quantity of surplus water to be disposed of by drainage.

The occasion for thorough-drainage, however, is greater in the Northern
part of the United States than in England, upon land of the same
character; because, as we have already seen, rain falls far more
regularly there than here, and never in such quantities in a single day;
and because there the land is open to be worked by the plough nearly
every day in the year, while here for several months our fields are
locked up in frost, and our labor for the Spring crowded into a few
days. There, the water which falls in Winter passes into the soil, and
is drained off as it falls; while here, the snow accumulates to a great
depth, and in thawing floods the land at once.

Both here and in England, much of the land requires no under-draining,
as it has already a subsoil porous enough to allow free passage for all
the surplus water; and it is no small part of the utility of
understanding the principles of drainage, that it will enable farmers to
discriminate--at a time when draining is somewhat of a fashionable
operation with amateurs--between land that does and land that does _not_
require so expensive an operation.



     What is High Land?--Accidents to Crops from Water.--Do Lands need
     Drainage in America?--Springs.--Theory of Moisture, with
     Illustrations.--Water of Pressure.--Legal Rights as to Draining our
     Neighbor's Wells and Land.--What Lands require Drainage?--Horace
     Greeley's Opinion.--Drainage more Necessary in America than in
     England; Indications of too much Moisture.--Will Drainage Pay?

By "high land," is meant land, the surface of which is not overflowed,
as distinguished from swamps, marshes, and the like low lands. How great
a proportion of such lands would be benefitted by draining, it is
impossible to estimate.

The Committee on Draining, in their Report to the State Agricultural
Society of New York, in 1848, assert that, "There is not one farm out of
every seventy-five in this State, but needs draining--yes, much
draining--to bring it into high cultivation. Nay, we may venture to say,
that every wheat-field would produce a larger and finer crop if properly
drained." The committee further say: "It will be conceded, that no
farmer ever raised a good crop of grain on wet ground, or on a field
where pools of water become masses of ice in the Winter. In such cases,
the grain plants are generally frozen out and perish; or, if any
survive, they never arrive at maturity, nor produce a well-developed
seed. In fact, every observing farmer knows that stagnant water, whether
on the surface of his soil, or within reach of the roots of his plants,
always does them injury."

The late Mr. Delafield, one of the most distinguished agriculturists of
New York, said in a public address:

     "We all well know that wheat and other grains, as well as grasses,
     are never fully developed, and never produce good seed, when the
     roots are soaked in moisture. No man ever raised good wheat from a
     wet or moist subsoil. Now, the farms of this country, though at
     times during the Summer they appear dry, and crack open on the
     surface, are not, in fact, dry farms, for reasons already named. On
     the contrary, for nine months out of twelve, they are moist or wet;
     and we need no better evidence of the fact, than the annual
     freezing out of the plants, and consequent poverty of many crops."

If we listen to the answers of farmers, when asked as to the success of
their labors, we shall be surprised, perhaps, to observe how much of
their want of success is attributed to _accidents_, and how uniformly
these accidents result from causes which thorough draining would remove.
The wheat-crop of one would have been abundant, had it not been badly
frozen out in the Fall; while another has lost nearly the whole of his,
by a season too wet for his land. A farmer at the West has planted his
corn early, and late rains have rotted the seed in the ground; while one
at the East has been compelled, by the same rains, to wait so long
before planting, that the season has been too short. Another has worked
his _clayey_ farm so wet, because he had not time to wait for it to dry,
that it could not be properly tilled. And so their crops have wholly or
partially failed, and all because of too much cold water in the soil. It
would seem, by the remarks of those who till the earth, as if there were
never a season just right--as if Providence had bidden us labor for
bread, and yet sent down the rains of heaven so plentifully as always to
blight our harvests. It is rare that we do not have a most remarkable
season, with respect to moisture, especially. Our potatoes are rotted by
the Summer showers, or cut off by a Summer drought; and when, as in the
season of 1856, in New England, they are neither seriously diseased nor
dried up, we find at harvest-time that the promise has belied the
fulfillment; that, after all the fine show above ground, the season has
been too wet, and the crop is light. We frequently hear complaint that
the season was too _cold_ for Indian corn, and that the ears did not
fill; or that a sharp drought, following a wet Spring, has cut short the
crop. We hear no man say, that he lacked skill to cultivate his crop.
Seldom does a farmer attribute his failure to the poverty of his soil.
He has planted and cultivated in such a way, that, in a _favorable
season_, he would have reaped a fair reward for his toil; but the season
has been too wet or too dry; and, with full faith that farming will pay
in the long run, he resolves to plant the same land in the same manner,
hoping in future for better luck.

_Too much cold water_ is at the bottom of most of these complaints of
unpropitious seasons, as well as of most of our soils; and it is in our
power to remove the cause of these complaints and of our want of

    "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves."

We must underdrain all the land we cultivate, that Nature has not
already underdrained, and we shall cease complaints of the seasons. The
advice of Cromwell to his soldiers: "Trust God, and keep your powder
dry," affords a good lesson of faith and works to the farmer. We shall
seldom have a season, upon properly drained land, that is too wet, or
too cold, or even too dry; for thorough draining is almost as sure a
remedy for a drought, as for a flood.

_Do lands need under draining in America?_ It is a common error to
suppose that, because the sun shines more brightly upon this country
than upon England, and because almost every Summer brings such a drought
here as is unknown there, her system of thorough drainage can have no
place in agriculture on this side of the Atlantic. It is true that we
have a clearer sky and a drier climate than are experienced in England;
but it is also true that, although we have a far less number of showers
and of rainy days, we have a greater quantity of rain in the year.

The necessity of drainage, however, does not depend so much upon the
quantity of water which falls or flows upon land, nor upon the power of
the sun to carry it off by evaporation, as upon _the character of the
subsoil_. The vast quantity of water which Nature pours upon every acre
of soil annually, were it all to be removed by evaporation alone, would
render the whole country barren; but Nature herself has kindly done the
work of draining upon a large proportion of our land, so that only a
healthful proportion of the water which falls on the earth, passes off
at the surface by the influence of the sun.

If the subsoil is of sand or gravel, or of other porous earth, that
portion of the water not evaporated, passes off below by natural
drainage. If the subsoil be of clay, rock, or other impervious
substances, the downward course of the water is checked, and it remains
stagnant, or bursts out upon the surface in the form of springs.

As the primary object of drainage is to remove surplus water, it may be
well to consider with some care


_Springs._--These are, as has been suggested, merely the water of rain
and snow, impeded in its downward percolation, and collected and poured
forth in a perennial flow at a lower level.

The water which falls in the form of rain and snow upon the soil of the
whole territory of the United States, east of the Rocky Mountains, each
year, is sufficient to cover it to the depth of more than 3 feet. It
comes upon the earth, not daily in gentle dews to water the plants, but
at long, unequal intervals, often in storms, tempests, and showers,
pouring out, sometimes, in a single day, more than usually falls in a
whole month.

What becomes of all this moisture, is an inquiry especially interesting
to the agriculturist, upon whose fruitful fields this flood of water
annually descends, and whose labor in seed-time would be destroyed by a
single Summer shower, were not Nature more thoughtful than he, of his
welfare. Of the water which thus falls upon cultivated fields, a part
runs away into the streams, either upon the surface, or by percolation
through the soil; a part is taken up into the air by evaporation, while
a very small proportion enters into the constitution of vegetation. The
proportion which passes off by percolation varies according to the
nature of the soil in the locality where it falls.

Usually, we find the crust of the earth in our cultivated fields, in
strata, or layers: first, a surface-soil of a few inches of a loamy
nature, in which clay or sand predominates; and then, it may be, a layer
of sand or gravel, freely admitting the passage of water; and, perhaps,
next, and within two or three feet of the surface, a stratum of clay, or
of sand or gravel cemented with some oxyd of iron, through which water
passes very slowly, or not at all. These strata are sometimes regular,
extending at an equal depth over large tracts, and having a uniform dip,
or inclination. Oftener, however, in hilly regions especially, they are
quite irregular--the impervious stratum frequently having depressions of
greater or less extent, and holding water, like a bowl. Not
unfrequently, as we cut a ditch upon a declivity, we find that the dip
of the strata below has no correspondence with the visible surface of
the field, but that the different strata lie nearly level, or are much
broken, while the surface has a regular inclination.

Underlying all soils, at greater or less depth, is found some bed of
rock, or clay, impervious to water, usually at but few feet below the
surface--the descending water meeting with obstacles to its regular
descent. The tendency of the rain-water which falls upon the earth, is
to sink directly downward by gravitation. Turned aside, however, by the
many obstacles referred to, it often passes obliquely, or almost
horizontally, through the soil. The drop which falls upon the hill-top
sinks, perhaps, a few inches, meets with a bed of clay, glides along
upon it for many days, and is at last borne out to be drunk up by the
sun on some far-off slope; another, falling upon the sand-plain, sinks
at once to the "water-line," or line of level water, which rests on clay
beneath, and, slowly creeping along, helps to form a swamp or bog in the

Sometimes, the rain which falls upon the high land is collected together
by fissures in the rocks, or by seams or ruptures in the impervious
strata below the surface, and finds vent in a gushing spring on the

We feel confident that no better illustration of the theory of springs,
as connected with our subject, can be found, than that of Mr. Girdwood,
in the Cyclopedia of Agriculture--a work from which we quote the more
liberally, because it is very expensive and rare in America:

     "When rain falls on a tract of country, part of it flows over the
     surface, and makes its escape by the numerous natural and
     artificial courses which may exist, while another portion is
     absorbed by the soil and the porous strata which lie under it.

     "Let the following diagram represent such a tract of country, and
     let the dark portions represent clay or other impervious strata,
     while the lighter portions represent layers of gravel, sand, or
     chalk, permitting a free passage to water.

     [Illustration: Fig. 5.]

     "When rain falls in such a district, after sinking through the
     surface-layer (represented in the diagram by a narrow band), it
     reaches the stratified layers beneath. Through these it still
     further sinks, if they are porous, until it reaches some impervious
     stratum, which arrests its directly-downward course, and compels it
     to find its way along its upper surface. Thus, the rain which falls
     on the space represented between B and D, is compelled, by the
     impervious strata, to flow towards C. Here it is at once absorbed,
     but is again immediately arrested by the impervious layer E; it is,
     therefore, compelled to pass through the porous stratum C, along
     the surface of E to A, where it pours forth in a fountain, or forms
     a morass or swamp, proportionate in size or extent to the tract of
     country between B and D, or the quantity of rain which falls upon
     it. In such a case as is here represented, it will be obvious that
     the spring may often be at a great distance from the district from
     which it derives its supplies; and this accounts for the fact, that
     drainage-works on a large scale sometimes materially lessen the
     supply of water at places remote from the scene of operations.

     "In the instance given above, the water forming the spring is
     represented as gaining access to the porous stratum, at a point
     where it crops out from beneath an impervious one, and as passing
     along to its point of discharge at a considerable depth, and under
     several layers of various characters. Sometimes, in an undulating
     country, large tracts may rest immediately upon some highly-porous
     stratum--as from B to C, in the following diagram--rendering the
     necessity for draining less apparent; while the country from A to
     B, and from C to D, may be full of springs and marshes--arising,
     partly, from the rain itself, which falls in these latter
     districts, being unable to find a way of escape, and partly from
     the natural drainage of the more porous soils adjoining being
     discharged upon it.

     [Illustration: Fig. 6.]

     "Again: the rocks lying under the surface are sometimes so full of
     fissures, that, although they themselves are impervious to water,
     yet, so completely do these fissures carry off rain, that, in some
     parts of the county of Durham, they render the sinking of wells
     useless, and make it necessary for the farmers to drive their
     cattle many miles for water. It sometimes happens that these
     fissures, or cracks, penetrate to enormous depths, and are of great
     width, and filled with sand or clay. These are termed _faults_ by
     miners; and some, which we lately examined, at distances of from
     three to four hundred yards from the surface, were from five to
     fifteen yards in width. These faults, when of clay, are generally
     the cause of springs appearing at the surface: they arrest the
     progress of the water in some of the porous strata, and compel it
     to find an exit, by passing to the surface between the clay and the
     faces of the ruptured strata. When the fault is of sand or gravel,
     the opposite effect takes place, if it communicates with any porous
     stratum; and water, which may have been flowing over the surface,
     on reaching it, is at once absorbed. In the following diagram, let
     us suppose that B represents such a clay-fault as has been
     described, and that A represents a sandy one, and that C and D
     represent porous strata charged with water. On the water reaching
     the fault at B, it will be compelled to find its way to the
     surface--there forming a spring, and rendering the retentive soil,
     from B to A, wet; but, as soon as it reaches the sandy-fault at A,
     it is immediately absorbed, and again reaches the porous strata,
     along which it had traveled before being forced to the surface at
     B. It will be observed, that the strata at the points of
     dislocation are not represented as in a line with the portions from
     which they have been dissevered. This is termed the upthrow of the
     fault, as at B; and the downthrow, as at A. For the sake of the
     illustration, the displacement is here shown as very slight; but,
     in some cases, these elevations and depressions of the strata
     extend to many hundreds of feet--as, for instance, at the mines of
     the British Iron Company, at Cefn-Mawre, in North Wales, where the
     downthrow of the fault is 360 feet.

     [Illustration: Fig. 7.]

     "Sometimes the strata are disposed in the form of a basin. In this
     case, the water percolating through the more elevated ground--near
     what may be called the rim--collects in the lower parts of the
     strata towards the centre, there forcing its way to the surface, if
     the upper impervious beds be thin; or, if otherwise, remaining a
     concealed reservoir, ready to yield its supplies to the shaft or
     boring-rod of the well-sinker, and sometimes forming a living
     fountain capable of rising many feet above the surface. It is in
     this way that what are called Artesian wells are formed. The
     following diagram represents such a disposition of the strata as
     has just been referred to. The rain which falls on the tracts of
     country at A and B, gradually percolates towards the centre of the
     basin, where it may be made to give rise to an Artesian well, as at
     C, by boring through the superincumbent mass of clay; or it may
     force itself to the surface through the thinner part of the layer
     of clay, as at D--there forming a spring, or swamp.

     [Illustration: Fig. 8.]

     "Again: the higher parts of hilly ground are sometimes composed of
     very porous and absorbent strata, while the lower portions are more
     impervious--the soil and subsoil being of a very stiff and
     retentive description. In this case, the water collected by the
     porous layers is prevented from finding a ready exit, when it
     reaches the impervious layers, by the stiff surface-soil. The water
     is by this means dammed up in some measure, and acquires a
     considerable degree of pressure; and, forcing itself to the day at
     various places, it forms those extensive "weeping"-banks which have
     such an injurious effect upon many of our mountain-pastures. This
     was the form of spring, or swamp, to the removal of which Elkington
     principally turned his attention; and the following diagram, taken
     from a description of his system of draining, will explain the
     stratification and springs referred to, more clearly.

     [Illustration: Fig. 9.]

     "In some districts, where clay forms the staple of the soil, a bed
     of sand or gravel, completely saturated with water, occurs at the
     depth of a few feet from the surface, following all the undulations
     of the country, and maintaining its position, in relation to the
     surface, over considerable tracts, here and there pouring forth its
     waters in a spring, or denoting its proximity, by the subaquatic
     nature of the herbage. Such a configuration is represented in the
     following diagram, where A represents the surface-soil; B, the
     impervious subsoil of clay; C, the bed of sandy-clay or gravel; and
     D, the lower bed of clay, resting upon the rocky strata beneath.

     [Illustration: Fig. 10.]

     "Springs sometimes communicate with lakes or pools, at higher
     levels. In such cases, the quantity of water discharged is
     generally so great, as to form at once a brook or stream of some
     magnitude. These, therefore, hardly come under the ordinary
     cognizance of the land-drainer, and are, therefore, here merely
     referred to."


Water that issues from the land, either constantly, periodically, or
even intermittently, may, perhaps, be properly termed a _spring_. But
there is often much water in the soil which did not fall in rain upon
that particular field, and which does not issue from it in any defined
stream, but which is slowly passing through it by percolation from a
higher source, to ooze out into some stream, or to pass off by
evaporation; or, perhaps, farther on, to fall into crevices in the soil,
and eventually form springs. As we find it in our field, it is neither
rain-water, which has there fallen, nor spring-water, in any sense. It
has been appropriately termed the _water of pressure_, to distinguish it
from both rain and spring-water; and the recognition of this term will
certainly be found convenient to all who are engaged in the discussion
of drainage.

The distinction is important in a legal point of view, as relating to
the right of the land-owner to divert the sources of supply to
mill-streams, or to adjacent lower lands. It often happens that an owner
of land on a slope may desire to drain his field, while the adjacent
owner below, may not only refuse to join in the drainage, but may
believe that he derives an advantage from the surface-washing or the
percolation from his higher neighbor. He may believe that, by deep
drainage above, his land will be dried up and rendered worthless; or, he
may desire to collect the water which thus percolates, into his land,
and use it for irrigation, or for a water-ram, or for the supply of his
barn-yard. May the upper owner legally proceed with the drainage of his
own land, if he thus interfere with the interests of the man below?

Again: wherever drains have been opened, we already hear complaints of
their effects upon wells. In our good town of Exeter, there seems to be
a general impression on one street, that the drainage of a swamp,
formerly owned by the author, has drawn down the wells on that street,
situated many rods distant from the drains. Those wells are upon a sandy
plain, with underlying clay, and the drains are cut down upon the clay,
and into it, and may possibly draw off the water a foot or two lower
through the whole village--if we can regard the water line running
through it as the surface of a pond, and the swamp as a dam across its

The rights of land-owners, as to running water over their premises, have
been fruitful of litigation, but are now well defined. In general, in
the language of Judge Story,

     "Every proprietor upon each bank of a river, is entitled to the
     land covered with water in front of his bank to the middle thread
     of the stream, &c. In virtue of this ownership, he has a right to
     the use of the water flowing over it in its natural current,
     without diminution or obstruction. The consequence of this
     principle is, that no proprietor has a right to use the water to
     the prejudice of another. It is wholly immaterial whether the party
     be a proprietor above or below, in the course of the river, the
     right being common to all the proprietors _on_ the river. No one
     has a right to diminish the quantity which will, according to the
     natural current, flow to the proprietor below, or to throw it back
     upon a proprietor above."

Chief Justice Richardson, of New Hampshire, thus briefly states the same

     "In general, every man has a right to the use of the water flowing
     in a stream through his land, and if any one divert the water from
     its natural channel, or throw it back, so as to deprive him of the
     use of it, the law will give him redress. But one man may acquire,
     by grant, a right to throw the water back upon the land of another,
     and long usage may be evidence of such a grant. It is, however,
     well settled that a man acquires no such right by merely being the
     first to make use of the water."

We are not aware that it has ever been held by any court of law, or even
asserted, that a land-owner may not intercept the percolating water in
his soil for any purpose and at his pleasure; nor have we in mind any
case in which the draining out of water from a well, by drainage for
agricultural purposes, has subjected the owner of the land to

It is believed that a land-owner has the right to follow the rules of
good husbandry in the drainage of his land, so far as the water of
pressure is concerned, without responsibility for remote consequences to
adjacent owners, to the owners of distant wells or springs that may be
affected, or to mill-owners.

In considering the effect of drainage on streams and rivers, it appears
that the results of such operations, so far as they can be appreciated,
are, to lessen the value of water powers, by increasing the flow of
water in times of freshets, and lessening it in times of drought. It is
supposed in this country, that clearing the land of timber has sensibly
affected the value of "mill privileges," by increasing evaporation, and
diminishing the streams. No mill-owner has been hardy enough to contend
that a land-owner may not legally cut down his own timber, whatever the
effect on the streams. So, we trust, no court will ever be found, which
will restrict the land-owner in the highest culture of his soil, because
his drainage may affect the capacity of a mill-stream to turn the

To return from our digression. It is necessary, in order to a correct
apprehension of the work which our drains have to perform, to form a
correct opinion as to how much of the surplus moisture in our field is
due to each of the three causes to which we have referred--to wit,
rain-water, which falls upon it; springs, which burst up from below; and
water of pressure, stagnant in, or slowly percolating through it. The
rain-tables will give us information as to the first; but as to the
others, we must form our opinion from the structure of the earth around
us, and observation upon the field itself, by its natural phenomena and
by opening test-holes and experimental ditches. Having gained accurate
knowledge of the sources of moisture, we may then be able to form a
correct opinion whether our land requires drainage, and of the aid which
Nature requires to carry off the surplus water.


The more one studies the subject of drainage, the less inclined will he
be to deal in general statements. "Do you think it is profitable to
underdrain land?" is a question a thousand times asked, and yet is a
question that admits of no direct general answer. Is it profitable to
fence land? is it profitable to plow land? are questions of much the
same character. The answers to them all depend upon circumstances.
There is land that may be profitably drained, and fenced, and plowed,
and there is a great deal that had better be let alone. Whether draining
is profitable or not, depends on the value and character of the land in
question, as well as on its condition as to water. Where good land is
worth one hundred dollars an acre, it might be profitably drained; when,
if the same land were worth but the Government price of $1.25 an acre,
it might be better to make a new purchase in the neighborhood, than to
expend ten times its value on a tract that cannot be worth the cost of
the operation. Drainage is an expensive operation, requiring much labor
and capital, and not to be thought of in a pioneer settlement by
individual emigrants. It comes after clearing, after the building of
log-houses and mills, and schoolhouses, and churches, and roads, when
capital and labor are abundant, and when the good lands, nature-drained,
have been all taken up.

And, again, whether drainage is profitable, depends not only on the
value, but on the character of the soil as to productiveness when
drained. There is much land that would be improved by drainage, that
cannot be profitably drained. It would improve almost any land in New
England to apply to it a hundred loads of stable manure to the acre; but
whether such application would be profitable, must depend upon the
returns to be derived from it. Horace Greeley, who has his perceptions
of common affairs, and especially of all that relates to progress, wide
awake, said, in an address at Peekskill, N. Y.:

     "My deliberate judgment is, that all lands which are worth plowing,
     which is not the case with all lands that are plowed, would _be
     improved_ by draining; but I know that our farmers are neither able
     nor ready to drain to that extent, nor do I insist that it would
     pay while land is so cheap, and labor and tile so dear as at
     present. Ultimately, I believe, we shall tile-drain nearly all our
     level, or moderately sloping lands, that are worth cultivation."

Whether land would be _improved_ by drainage, is one question, and
whether the operation will _pay_, is quite another. The question whether
it will pay, depends on the value of the land before drainage, the cost
of the operation, and the value of the land when completed. And the cost
of the operation includes always, not only the money and labor expended
in it, but also the loss to other land of the owner, by diverting from
it the capital which would otherwise be applied to it. Where labor and
capital are limited so closely as they are in all our new States, it is
a question not only how can they be profitably applied, but how can they
be _most_ profitably applied. A proprietor, who has money to loan at six
per cent. interest, may well invest it in draining his land; when a
working man, who is paying twelve per cent. interest for all the capital
he employs, might ruin himself by making the same improvement.


Our opinion is, that a great deal of land does not in any sense require
drainage, and we should differ with Mr. Greeley, in the opinion that
_all_ lands worth ploughing, would be improved by drainage. Nature has
herself thoroughly drained a large proportion of the soil. There is a
great deal of finely-cultivated land in England, renting at from five to
ten dollars per acre, that is thought there to require no drainage.

In a published table of estimates by Mr. Denton, made in 1855, it is
supposed that Great Britain, including England, Scotland, and Wales,
contain 43,958,000 acres of land, cultivated and capable of cultivation;
of which he sets down as "wet land," or land requiring drainage,
22,890,004 acres, or about one half the whole quantity. His estimate is,
that only about 1,365,000 acres had then been permanently drained, and
that it would cost about 107 millions of pounds to complete the
operation, estimating the cost at about twenty shillings, or five
dollars per acre.

These estimates are valuable in various views of our subject. They
answer with some definiteness the question so often asked, whether all
lands require drainage, and they tend to correct the impression, which
is prevalent in this country, that there is something in the climate of
Great Britain that makes drainage there essential to good cultivation on
any land. The fact is not so. There, as in America, it depends upon the
condition and character of the soil, more than upon the quantity of
rain, or any condition of climate, whether drainage is required or not.
Generally, it will be found on investigation, that so far as climate,
including of course the quantity and regularity of the rain-fall, is
concerned, drainage is more necessary in America than in Great
Britain--the quantity of rain being in general greater in America, and
far less regular in its fall. This subject, however, will receive a more
careful consideration in another place.

If in America, as in Great Britain, one half the cultivable land require
drainage, or even if but a tenth of that half require it, the subject is
of vast importance, and it is no less important for us to apprehend
clearly what part of our land does _not_ require this expenditure, than
to learn how to treat properly that which does require it.

To resume the inquiry, what lands require drainage? it may be answered--


Lands overflowed by the regular tides of the ocean require drainage,
whether they lie upon the sea-shore, or upon rivers or bays. But this
drainage involves embankments, and a peculiar mode of procedure, of
which it is not now proposed to treat.

Again, all lands overflowed by Summer freshets, as upon rivers and
smaller streams, require drainage. These, too, usually require
embankments, and excavations of channels or outlets, not within the
usual scope of what is termed thorough drainage. For a further answer to
the question--what lands require drainage? the reader is referred to the
chapters which treat of the effect of drainage upon the soil.


No argument is necessary to convince rational men that the very
extensive tracts of land, which are usually known as swamps and bogs,
must, in some way, be relieved of their surplus water, before they can
be rendered fit for cultivation. The treatment of this class of wet
lands is so different from that applied to what we term upland, that it
will be found more convenient to pass the subject by with this allusion,
at present, and consider it more systematically under a separate head.


Draining has been defined, "The art of rendering land not only so free
of moisture as that no superfluous water shall remain in it, but that no
water shall remain in it so long as to injure, or even retard the
healthy growth of plants required for the use of man and beast."

Some plants grow in water. Some even spring from the bottom of ponds,
and have no other life than such a position affords. But most plants,
useful to man, are drowned by being overflowed even for a short time,
and are injured by any stagnant water about their roots. Why this is so,
it is not easy to explain. Most of our knowledge on these points, is
derived from observation. We know that fishes live in water, and if we
would propagate them, we prepare ponds and streams for the purpose. Our
domestic animals live on land, and we do not put them into fish-ponds to
pasture. There are useful plants which thrive best in water. Such is the
cranberry, notwithstanding all that has been said of its cultivation on
upland. And there are domestic fowls, such as ducks and geese, that
require pools of water; but we do not hence infer that our hens and
chickens would be better for daily immersion. All lands, then, require
drainage, that contain too much water, at any season _for the intended

This will be found to be an important element in our rule. Land may
require drainage for Indian corn, that may not require it for grass.
Most of the cultivated grasses are improved in quality, and not lessened
in quantity, by the removal of stagnant water in Summer; but there are
reasons for drainage for hoed crops, which do not apply to our mowing
fields. In New England, we have for a few weeks a perfect race with
Nature, to get our seeds into the ground before it is too late. Drained
land may be plowed and planted several weeks earlier than land
undrained, and this additional time for preparation is of great value to
the farmer. Much of this same land would be, by the first of June, by
the time the ordinary planting season is past, sufficiently drained by
Nature, and a grass crop upon it would be, perhaps, not at all
benefitted by thorough-drainage; so that it is often an important
consideration with reference to this operation, whether a given portion
of our farm may not be most profitably kept in permanent grass, and
maintained in fertility by top-dressing, or by occasional plowing and
reseeding in Autumn. It is certainly convenient to have all our fields
adapted to our usual rotation, and it is for each man to balance for
himself this convenience against the cost of drainage in each particular

What particular crops are most injured by stagnant water in the soil,
or by the too tardy percolation of rain-water, may be determined by
observation. How stagnant water injures plants, is not, as has been
suggested, easily understood in all its relations. It doubtless retards
the decomposition of the substances which supply their nutriment, and it
reduces the temperature of the soil. It has been suggested, that it
prevents or checks perspiration and introsusception, and it excludes the
air which is essential to the vegetation of most plants. Whatever the
theory, the fact is acknowledged, that stagnant water _in_ as well as
_on_ the soil, impedes the growth of all our valuable crops, and that
drainage soon cures the evil, by removing the effect with its cause. And
the remedy seems to be almost instantaneous; for, on most upland, it is
found that by the removal of stagnant water, the soil is in a single
season rendered fit for the growth of cultivated crops. In low meadows,
composed of peat and swamp mud, in many cases, exposure to the air for a
year or two after drainage, is often found to enhance the fertility of
the soil, which contains, frequently, acids which need correction.


It has already been suggested, that motives of convenience may induce us
to drain our lands--that we may have a longer season in which to work
them; and that there may be cases where the crop would flourish if
planted at precisely the right time, where yet we cannot well, without
drainage, seasonably prepare for the crop. Generally, however, lands too
wet seasonably to plant, will give indications, throughout the season,
of hidden water producing its ill effects.

If the land be in grass, we find that aquatic plants, like rushes or
water grasses, spring up with the seeds we have sown, and, in a few
years, have possession of the field, and we are soon compelled to plow
up the sod, and lay it again to grass. If it be in wheat or other
grain, we see the field spotted and uneven; here a portion on some
slight elevation, tall and dark colored, and healthy; and there a little
depression, sparsely covered with a low and sickly growth. An American
traveling in England in the growing season, will always be struck with
the perfect _evenness_ of the fields of grain upon the well-drained
soil. Journeying through a considerable portion of England and Wales
with intelligent English farmers, we were struck with their nice
perception on this point.

The slightest variation in the color of the wheat in the same or
different fields, attracted their instant attention.

"That field is not well-drained; the corn is too light-colored." "There
is cold water at the bottom there; the corn cannot grow;" were the
constant criticisms, as we passed across the country. Inequalities that,
in our more careless cultivation, we should pass by without observation,
were at once explained by reference to the condition of the land, as to

The drill-sowing of wheat, and the careful weeding it with the horse-hoe
and by hand, are additional reasons why the English fields should
present a uniform appearance, and why any inequalities should be fairly
referable to the condition of the soil.

Upon a crop of Indian corn, the cold water lurking below soon places its
unmistakable mark. The blade comes up yellow and feeble. It takes
courage in a few days of bright sunshine in June, and tries to look
hopeful, but a shower or an east wind again checks it. It had already
more trouble than it could bear, and turns pale again. Tropical July and
August induce it to throw up a feeble stalk, and to attempt to spindle
and silk, like other corn. It goes through all the forms of vegetation,
and yields at last a single nubbin for the pig. Indian corn must have
land that is dry in Summer, or it cannot repay the labor of cultivation.

Careful attention to the subject will soon teach any farmer what parts
of his land are injured by too much water; and having determined that,
the next question should be, whether the improvement of it by drainage
will justify the cost of the operation.


Drainage is a permanent investment. It is not an operation like the
application of manure, which we should expect to see returned in the
form of salable crops in one or two years, or ten at most, nor like the
labor applied in cultivating an annual crop. The question is not whether
drainage will pay in one or two years, but will it pay in the long run?
Will it, when completed, return to the farmer a fair rate of interest
for the money expended? Will it be more profitable, on the whole, than
an investment in bank or railway shares, or the purchase of Western
lands? Or, to put the question in the form in which an English
land-owner would put it, will the rent of the land improved by drainage,
be permanently increased enough to pay a fair interest on the cost of
the improvement?

Let us bring out this idea clearly to the American farmer by a familiar
illustration. Your field is worth to you now one hundred dollars an
acre. It pays you, in a series of years, through a rotation of planting,
sowing, and grass, a nett profit of six dollars an acre, above all
expenses of cultivation and care.

Suppose, now, it will cost one-third of a hundred dollars an acre to
drain it, and you expend on each three acres one hundred dollars, what
must the increase of your crops be, to make this a fair investment? Had
you expended the hundred dollars in _labor_, to produce a crop of
cabbages, you ought to get your money all back, with a fair profit, the
first year. Had you expended it in guano or other special manures, whose
beneficial properties are exhausted in some two or three years, your
expenditure should be returned within that period. But the improvement
by drainage is permanent; it is done for all time to come. If,
therefore, your drained land shall pay you a fair rate of interest on
the cost of drainage, it is a good investment. Six per cent. is the most
common rate of interest, and if, therefore, each three acres of your
drained land shall pay you an increased annual income of six dollars,
your money is fairly invested. This is at the rate of two dollars an
acre. How much increase of crop will pay this two dollars? In the common
rotation of Indian corn, potatoes, oats, wheat, or barley, and grass,
two or three bushels of corn, five or six bushels of potatoes, as many
bushels of oats, a bushel or two of wheat, two or three bushels of
barley, will pay the two dollars. Who, that has been kept back in his
Spring's work by the wetness of his land, or has been compelled to
re-plant because his seed has rotted in the ground, or has experienced
any of the troubles incident to cold wet seasons, will not admit at
once, that any land which Nature has not herself thoroughly drained,
will, in this view, pay for such improvement?

But far more than this is claimed for drainage. In England, where such
operations have been reduced to a system, careful estimates have been
made, not only of the cost of drainage, but of the increase of crops by
reason of the operation.

In answer to questions proposed by a Board of Commissioners, in 1848, to
persons of the highest reputation for knowledge on this point, the
increase of crops by drainage was variously stated, but in no case at
less than a paying rate. One gentleman says: "A sixth of increase in
produce of grain crops may be taken as the very lowest estimate, and, in
actual result, it is seldom less than one-fourth. In very many cases,
after some following cultivation, the produce is doubled, whilst the
expense of working the land is much lessened." Another says: "In many
instances, a return of fully 25 per cent. on the expenditure is
realized, and in some even more." A third remarks, "My experience and
observation have chiefly been in heavy clay soils, where the result of
drainage is eminently beneficial, and where I should estimate the
increased crop at six to ten bushels (wheat) per statute acre."

These are estimates made upon lands that had already been under
cultivation. In addition to such lands as are merely rendered less
productive by surplus water, we have, even on our hard New England
farms--on side hills, where springs burst out, or at the foot of
declivities, where the land is flat, or in runs, which receive the
natural drainage of higher lands--many places which are absolutely unfit
for cultivation, and worse than useless, because they separate those
parts of the farm which can be cultivated. If, of these wet portions, we
make by draining, good, warm, arable land, it is not a mere question of
per centage or profit; it is simply the question whether the land, when
drained, is worth more than the cost of drainage. If it be, how much
more satisfactory, and how much more profitable it is, to expend money
in thus reclaiming the waste places of our farms, and so uniting the
detached fields into a compact, systematic whole, than to follow the
natural bent of American minds, and "annex" our neighbor's fields by

Any number of instances could be given of the increased value of lands
in England by drainage, but they are of little practical value. The
facts, that the Government has made large loans in aid of the process,
that private drainage companies are executing extensive works all over
the kingdom, and that large land-holders are draining at their own cost,
are conclusive evidence to any rational mind, that drainage in Great
Britain, at least, well repays the cost of the operation.

In another chapter may be found accurate statements of American farmers
of their drainage operations, in different States, from which the reader
will be able to form a correct opinion, whether draining in this country
is likely to prove a profitable operation.



     Open Ditches.--Slope of Banks.--Brush Drains.--Ridge and
     Furrow.--Plug-Draining.--Mole-Draining.--Mole-Plow.--Wedge and
     Shoulder Drains.--Larch Tubes.--Drains of Fence Rails, and
     Poles.--Peat Tiles.--Stone Drains Injured by Moles.--Downing's
     Giraffes.--Illustrations of Various Kinds of Stone Drains.


The most obvious mode of getting rid of surface-water is, to cut a ditch
on the surface to a lower place, and let it run. So, if the only object
were to drain a piece of land merely for a temporary purpose--as, where
land is too wet to ditch properly in the first instance, and it is
necessary to draw off part of the surplus water before systematic
operations are commenced--an open ditch is, perhaps, the cheapest method
to be adopted.

Again: where land to be drained is part of a large sloping tract, and
water runs down, at certain seasons, in large quantities upon the
surface, an open catch-water-ditch may be absolutely necessary. This
condition of circumstances is very common in mountainous districts,
where the rain which falls on the hills flows down, either on the
visible surface or on the rock-formation under the soil, and breaks out
at the foot, causing swamps, often high up on the hill-sides. Often,
too, in clay districts, where sand or loam two or three feet deep rests
on tough clay, we see broad sloping tracts, which form our best

If we are attempting to drain the lower part of such a slope, we shall
find that the water from the upper part flows down in large quantities
upon us, and an open ditch may be most economical as a header, to cut
off the down-flowing water; though, in most cases, a covered drain may
be as efficient.

At the outlets, too, of our tile or stone drains, when we come down
nearly to the level of the stream which receives our drainage-water, we
find it convenient, often, and indeed necessary, to use open
ditches--perhaps only a foot or two deep--to carry off the water
discharged. These ditches are of great importance, and should be
finished with care, because, if they become obstructed, they cause
back-water in the drains, and may ruin the whole work.

Open drains are thus essential auxiliaries to the best plans of thorough
drainage; and, whatever opinion may be entertained of their economy,
many farmers are so situated that they feel obliged to resort to them
for the present, or abandon all idea of draining their wet lands. We
will, therefore, give some hints as to the best manner of constructing
open drains; and then suggest, in the form of objections to them, such
considerations as shall lead the proprietor who adopts this mode to
consider carefully his plan of operations in the outset, with a view to
obviate, as much as possible, the manifest embarrassments occasioned by

As to the location of drains in swamps and peculiarly wet places,
directions may be found in another chapter. We here propose only to
treat of the mode of forming open drains, after their location is fixed.

The worst of all drains is an open ditch, of equal width from top to
bottom. It cannot stand a single season, in any climate or soil, without
being seriously impaired by the frosts or the heavy rains. All open
drains should be sloping; and it is ascertained, by experiment, what is
the best, or, as it is sometimes expressed, the natural slope, on
different kinds of soil. If earth be tipped from a cart down a bank, and
be left exposed to the action of the weather, it will rest, and finally
remain, at a regular angle or inclination, varying from 21° to 55° with
the horizon, according to the nature of the soil. The natural slope of
common earth is found to be about 33° 42'; and this is the inclination
usually adopted by railroad engineers for their embankments.

If the banks of the open ditch are thus sloped, they will have the least
possible tendency to wash away, or break down by frost.

Again: where open ditches are adopted in mowing fields, they may, if not
very deep, be sloped still lower than the natural slope, and seeded down
to the bottom; so that no land will be lost, and so that teams may pass
across them.

This amounts, in fact, to the old ridge and furrow system, which was
almost universal in England before tiles were used, and is sometimes
seen practiced in this country. The land, by that system, is
back-furrowed in narrow lands, till it is laid up into beds, sloping
from the tops, or backs, to the furrows which constitute the drains.
This mode of culture is very ancient, and is probably referred to in the
language of the Psalmist, in the Scriptures: "Thou waterest the ridges
thereof abundantly, thou settlest the furrows thereof, thou makest it
soft with showers."

The objections to open ditches, as compared with under-drains, may be
briefly stated thus:

1. _They are expensive._ The excavation of a sloping drain is much
greater than that of an upright drain. An open drain must have a width
of one or two feet at the bottom, to receive the earth that always must,
to some extent, wash into it. An open drain requires to be cleaned out
once a year, to keep it in good order. There is a large quantity of
earth from an open drain to be disposed of, either by spreading or
hauling away. Thus, a drain of this kind is costly at the outset, and
requires constant labor and care to preserve it in working condition.

2. _They are not permanent._ A properly laid underdrain will last half a
century or more, but an open drain, especially if deep, has a constant
tendency to fill up. Besides, the action of frost and water and
vegetation has a continual operation to obstruct open ditches. Rushes
and water-grasses spring up luxuriantly in the wet and slimy bottom, and
often, in a single season, retard the flow of water, so that it will
stand many inches deep where the fall is slight. The slightest accident,
as the treading of cattle, the track of a loaded cart, the burrowing of
animals, dams up the water and lessens the effect of the drain. Hence,
we so often see meadows which have been drained in this way going back,
in a few years, into wild grass and rushes.

3. _They obstruct good husbandry._ In the chapter upon the effects of
drainage on the condition of the soil, we suggest, in detail, the
hindrances which open ditches present to the convenient cultivation of
the land, and, especially, how they obstruct the farmer in his plowing,
his mowing, his raking, and the general laying out of his land for
convenient culture.

4. _They occupy too much land._ If a ditch have an upright bank, it is
so soft that cattle will not step within several feet of it in plowing,
and thus a strip is lost for culture, or must be broken up by hand. If,
indeed, we can get the plow near it, there being no land to rest
against, the last furrow cannot be turned from the ditch, and if it be
turned into it, must be thrown out by hand. If the banks be sloped to
the bottom, and the land be thus laid into beds or ridges, the
appearance of the field may, indeed, be improved, but there is still a
loss of soil; for the soil is all removed from the furrow, which will
always produce rushes and water-grass, and carried to the ridge, where
it doubles the depth of the natural soil. Thus, instead of a field of
uniform condition, as to moisture and temperature and fertility, we have
strips of wet, cold, and poor soil, alternating with dry, warm, and rich
soil, establishing a sort of gridiron system, neither beautiful,
convenient, nor profitable.

5. _The manure washes off and is lost._ The three or four feet of water
which the clouds annually give us in rain and snow, must either go off
by evaporation, or by filtration, or run off upon the surface. Under the
title of Rain and Evaporation, it will be seen that not much more than
half this quantity goes off by evaporation, leaving a vast quantity to
pass off through or upon the soil. If lands are ridged up, the manure
and finer portions of the soil are, to a great extent, washed away into
the open ditches and lost. Of the water which filters downwards, a large
portion enters open ditches near the surface, before the fertilizing
elements have been strained out; whereas, in covered drains of proper
depth, the water is filtered through a mass of soil sufficiently deep to
take from it the fertilizing substances, and discharge it, comparatively
pure, from the field. In a paper by Prof. Way (11th Jour. Roy. Ag.
Soc.), on "The Power of Soils to retain Manure," will be found
interesting illustrations of the filtering qualities of different kinds
of soil.

In addition to the above reasons for preferring covered drains, it has
been asserted by one of the most skillful drainers in the world (Mr.
Parkes), "that a proper covered drain of the same depth as an open
ditch, will drain a greater breadth of land than the ditch can effect.
The sides of the ditch," he says, "become dried and plastered, and
covered with vegetation; and even while they are free from vegetation,
their absorptive power is inferior to the covered drain."

Of the depth, direction, and distance of drains, our views will be found
under the appropriate heads. They apply alike to open and covered


Having a farm destitute of stones, before tiles were known among us, we
made several experiments with covered drains filled with brush. Some of
those drains operated well for eight or ten years; others caved in and
became useless in three or four years, according to the condition of the

In a wet swamp a brush drain endures much longer than in sandy land,
which is dry a part of the year, because the brush decays in dry land,
but will prove nearly imperishable in land constantly wet. In a peat or
muck swamp, we should expect that such drains, if carefully constructed,
might last twenty years, but that in a sandy loam they would be quite
unreliable for a single year.

Our failure on upland with brush drains, has resulted, not from the
decay of the wood, but from the entrance of sand, which obstructed the
channel. Moles and field-mice find these drains the very day they are
laid, and occupy them as permanent homes ever after.

Those little animals live partly upon earth-worms, which they find by
burrowing after them in the ground, and partly upon insects, and
vegetation above ground. They have a great deal of business, which
requires convenient passages leading from their burrows to the
day-light, and drains in which they live will always be found perforated
with holes from the surface. In the Spring, or in heavy showers, the
water runs in streams into these holes, breaks down the soft soil as it
goes, and finally the top begins to fall in, and the channel is choked
up, and the work ruined. We have tried many precautions against this
kind of accident, but none that was effectual on light land.

The general mode of construction is this: Open the trench to the depth
required, and about 12 inches wide at the bottom. Lay into this poles of
four or five inches diameter at the butt, leaving an open passage
between. Then lay in brush of any size, the coarsest at the bottom,
filling the drain to within a foot of the surface, and covering with
pine, or hemlock, or spruce boughs. Upon these lay turf, carefully cut,
as close as possible. The brush should be laid but-end up stream, as it
obstructs the water less in this way. Fill up with soil a foot above the
surface, and tread it in as hard as possible. The weight of earth will
compress the brush, and the surface will settle very much. We have tried
placing boards at the sides, and upon the top of the brash, to prevent
the caving in, but with no great success. Although our drains thus laid,
have generally continued to discharge some water, yet they have, upon
upland, been dangerous traps and pitfalls for our horses and cattle, and
have cost much labor to fill up the holes, where they have fallen
through by washing away below.

In clay, brush drains might be more durable. In the English books, we
have descriptions of drains filled with thorn cuttings from hedges and
with gorse. When well laid in clay, they are said to last about 15
years. When the thorns decay, the clay will still retain its form, and
leave a passage for the water.

A writer in the Cyclopedia sums up the matter as to this kind of drains,

     "Although in some districts they are still employed, they can only
     be looked upon as a clumsy, and superficial plan of doing that
     which can be executed in a permanent and satisfactory manner, at a
     very small additional expense, now that draining-tiles are so cheap
     and plentiful."

Draining-tiles are not yet either cheap or plentiful in this country;
but we have full faith that they will become so very soon. In the mean
time it may be profitable for us to use such of the substitutes for them
as may lie within our reach, selecting one or another according as
material is convenient.


has never been, that we are aware, practiced in America. Our knowledge
of it is limited to what we learn from English books. We, therefore,
content ourselves with giving from Morton's Cyclopedia the following
description and illustrations.

     "_Plug-draining_, like mole-draining, does not require the use of
     any foreign material--the channel for the water being wholly formed
     of clay, to which this kind of drain, like that last mentioned is
     alone suited.

     "This method of draining requires a particular set of tools for its
     execution, consisting of, first, a common spade, by means of which
     the first spit is removed, and laid on one side; second, a
     smaller-sized spade, by means of which the second spit is taken
     out, and laid on the opposite side of the trench thus formed;
     third, a peculiar instrument called a bitting iron (Fig. 11),
     consisting of a narrow spade, three and a half feet in length, and
     one and a half inches wide at the mouth and sharpened like a
     chisel; the mouth, or blade, being half an inch in thickness in
     order to give the necessary strength to so slender an implement.
     From the mouth, _a_, on the right-hand side, a ring of steel, _b_,
     six inches long and two and a half broad, projects at right angles;
     and on the left, at fourteen inches from the mouth, a tread, _c_,
     three inches long, is fitted.

     [Illustration: Fig. 11.]

     "A number of blocks of wood, each one foot long, six inches high,
     and two inches thick at the bottom, and two and a half at the top,
     are next required. From four to six of these are joined together by
     pieces of hoop-iron let into their sides by a saw-draught, a small
     space being left between their ends, so that when completed, the
     whole forms a somewhat flexible bar, as shown in the cut, to one
     end of which a stout chain is attached. These blocks are wetted,
     and placed with the narrow end undermost, in the bottom of the
     trench, which should be cut so as to fit them closely; the clay
     which has been dug out is then to be returned, by degrees, upon the
     blocks, and rammed down with a wooden rammer three inches wide. As
     soon as the portion of the trench above the blocks, or plugs, has
     been filled, they are drawn forward, by means of a lever thrust
     through a link of the chain, and into the bottom of the drain for a
     fulcrum, until they are all again exposed, except the last one. The
     further portion of the trench, above the blocks, is now filled in
     and rammed, and so on the operations proceed until the whole drain
     is finished."

[Illustration: Fig. 12.--PLUG DRAINAGE.]


We hear of an implement, in use in Illinois and other Western States,
called the Gopher Plow, worked by a capstan, which drains wet land by
merely drawing through it an iron shoe, at about two and a half feet in
depth, without the use of any foreign substance.

We hear reports of a mole plow, in use in the same State, known by the
name of Marcus and Emerson's Patent Subsoiler, with which, an informant
says, drains are made also in the manner above named. This machine is
worked by a windlass power, by a horse or yoke of oxen, and the price
charged is twenty-eight cents a rod for the work. These machines are,
from description, modifications of the English Mole Plow, an implement
long ago known and used in Great Britain.

[Illustration: Fig. 13.--MOLE PLOW.]

The following description is from Morton's Cyclopedia:

     "_Mole-Drains_ are the simplest of all the forms of the covered
     drains. They are formed by means of a machine called the mole plow.
     This machine consists of a long wooden beam and stilts, somewhat in
     the form of the subsoil plow; but instead of the apparatus for
     breaking up the subsoil in the latter, a short cylindrical and
     pointed bar of iron is attached, horizontally, to the lower end of
     the broad coulter, which can be raised or lowered by means of a
     slot in the beam. The beam itself is sheathed with iron on the
     under side, and moves close to the ground; thus keeping the bar at
     the end of the coulter at one uniform depth. This machine is
     dragged through the soft clay, which is the only kind of land on
     which it can be used with propriety, by means of a chain and
     capstan, worked by horses, and produces a hollow channel very
     similar to a mole-run, from which it derives its name."

A correspondent of the _New York Tribune_ thus describes the operation
and utility of a mole plow, which he saw on the farm of Major A. B.
Dickinson, of Hornby, Steuben County, New York:

     "I believe there is not a rod of tile laid on this farm, and not a
     dozen rods of covered stone drain. But the major has a home-made,
     or, at least, home-devised, 'bull plow,' consisting of a
     sharp-pointed iron wedge, or roller, surmounted by a broad, sharp
     shank nearly four feet high, with a still sharper cutter in front,
     and with a beam and handles above all. With five yoke of oxen
     attached, this plow is put down through the soil and subsoil to an
     average depth of three feet--in the course which the superfluous
     water is expected and desired to take--and the field thus plowed
     through and through, at intervals of two rods, down to three feet,
     as the ground is more or less springy and saturated with water. The
     cut made by the shank closes after the plow and is soon
     obliterated, while that made by the roller, or wedge, at the
     bottom, becomes the channel of a stream of water whenever there is
     any excess of moisture above its level, which stream tends to clear
     itself and rather enlarge its channel. From ten to twenty acres a
     day are thus drained, and Major D. has such drains of fifteen to
     twenty years' standing, which still do good service. In rocky
     soils, this mode of draining is impracticable: in sandy tracts it
     would not endure; but here it does very well, and, even though it
     should hold good in the average but ten years, it would many times
     repay its cost."

Major Dickinson himself in a recent address, thus speaks of what he
calls his


     "I will take the poorest acre of stubble ground, and if too wet for
     corn in the first place, I will thoroughly drain it with a Shanghae
     plow and four yoke of oxen in three hours.

     "I will suppose the acre to be twenty rods long and eight rods
     wide. To thoroughly drain the worst of your clay subsoil, it may
     require a drain once in eight feet, and they can be made so cheaply
     that I can afford to make them at that distance. To do so, will
     require the team to travel sixteen times over the twenty rods
     lengthwise, or one mile in three hours; two men to drive, one to
     hold the plow, one to ride the beam, and one to carry the crow-bar,
     pick up any large stones thrown out by going to the right or left,
     and to help to carry around the plow, which is too heavy for the
     other two to do quickly.

     "The plow is quite simple in its construction, consisting of a
     round piece of iron three and a half or four inches in diameter,
     drawn down to a point, with a furrow cut in the top one and a half
     inches deep; a plate, eighteen inches wide and three feet long,
     with one end welded into the furrow of the round bar, while the
     other is fastened to the beam. The coulter is six inches in width,
     and is fastened to the beam at one end, and at the other to the
     point of the round bar. The coulter and plate are each
     three-fourths of an inch thick, which is the entire width of the
     plow above the round iron at the bottom.

     "It would require much more team to draw this plow on some soils
     than on yours. The strength of team depends entirely on the
     character of the subsoil. Cast-iron, with the exception of the
     coulter, for an easy soil would be equally good; and from eighteen
     to twenty-four inches is sufficiently deep to run the plow. I can
     as thoroughly drain an acre of ground in this way as any that can
     be found in Seneca County."

From the best information we can gather, it would seem, that on certain
soils with a clay subsoil, the mole plow, as a sort of pioneer
implement, may be very useful. The above account certainly indicates
that on the farm in question it is very cheap, rapid, and effectual in
its operation.

Stephens gives a minute description of the mole plow figured above, in
his Book of the Farm. Its general structure and principle of operation
may be easily understood by what has been already said, and any person
desirous of constructing one may find in that work exact directions.


These, like the last-mentioned kind of drains, are mere channels formed
in the subsoil. They have, therefore, the same fault of want of
durability, and are totally unfitted for land under the plow. In forming
_wedge-drains_, the first spit, with the turf attached, is laid on one
side, and the earth removed from the remainder of the trench is laid on
the other. The last spade used is very narrow, and tapers rapidly, so as
to form a narrow wedge-shaped cavity for the bottom of the trench. The
turf first removed is then cut into a wedge, so much larger than the
size of the lower part of the drain, that when rammed into it with the
grassy side undermost, it leaves a vacant space in the bottom six or
eight inches in depth, as in Fig. 14.

The _shoulder-drain_ does not differ very materially from the
wedge-drain. Instead of the whole trench forming a gradually tapering
wedge, the upper portion of the shoulder-drain has the sides of the
trench nearly perpendicular, and of considerable width, the last spit
only being taken out with a narrow, tapering spade, by which means a
shoulder is left on either side, from which it takes its name. After the
trench has been finished, the first spit, having the grassy side
undermost as in the former case, is placed in the trench, and pushed
down till it rests upon the shoulders already mentioned; so that a
narrow wedge-shaped channel is again left for the water, as shown in
Fig. 15.

[Illustration: Fig. 14.--WEDGE-DRAIN.]

[Illustration: Fig. 15.--SHOULDER-DRAIN.]

These drains may be formed in almost any kind of land which is not a
loose gravel or sand. They are a very cheap kind of drain; for neither
the cost of cutting nor filling in, much exceeds that of the ordinary
tile drain, while the expense of tiles or other materials is altogether
saved. Still, such drains cannot be recommended, for they are very
liable to injury, and, even under the most favorable circumstances, can
only last a very limited time.


These have been used in Scotland, in mossy or swampy soils, it is said,
with economy and good results. The tube represented below presents a
square of 4 inches outside, with a clear water-way of 2 inches. Any
other durable wood will, of course, answer the same purpose. The tube is
pierced with holes to admit the water. In wet meadows, these tubes laid
deep would be durable and efficient, and far more reliable than brush or
even stones, because they may be better protected from the admission of
sand and the ruinous working of vermin. Their economy depends upon the
price of the wood and the cost of tiles--which are far better if they
can be reasonably obtained.

[Illustration: Fig. 16.--LARCH TUBE-DRAIN.]

Near Washington, D. C., we know of drainage tolerably well performed by
the use of common fence-rails. A trench is opened about three inches
wider at bottom than two rails. Two rails are then laid in the bottom,
leaving a space of two or three inches between them. A third rail is
then laid on for a cover, and the whole carefully covered with turf or
straw, and then filled up with earth. Poles of any kind may be used
instead of rails, if more convenient.

In clay, these drains would be efficient and durable; in sand, they
would be likely to be filled up and become useless. This is an
extravagant waste of timber, except in the new districts where it is of
no value.

Mr. J. F. Anderson, of Windham, Maine, has adopted a mode of draining
with poles, which, in regions where wood is cheap and tiles are dear,
may be adopted with advantage.

Two poles, of from 3 to 6 inches diameter, are laid at the bottom of the
ditch, with a water-way of half their diameter between them. Upon these,
a third pole is laid, thus forming a duct of the desired dimensions.
The security of this drain will depend upon the care with which it is
protected by a covering of turf and the like, to prevent the admission
of earth, and its permanency will depend much upon its being placed low
enough to be constantly wet, as such materials are short-lived when
frequently wet and dried, and nearly imperishable if constantly wet. It
is unnecessary to place brush or stones over such drains to make them
draw, as it is called. The water will find admission fast enough to
destroy the work, unless great care is used.

[Illustration: Fig. 17.--POLE-DRAIN.]

In Ireland, and in some parts of England and Scotland, peat-tiles are
sometimes used in draining bogs. They are cheap and very durable in such
localities, but, probably, will not be used in this country. They are
formed somewhat like pipes, of two pieces of peat. Two halves are formed
with a peculiar tool, with a half circle in each. When well dried, they
are placed together, thus making a round opening.

[Illustration: Fig. 18.--TOOL FOR PEAT-TILES.]

[Illustration: Fig. 19.--PEAT-TILES.]

In draining, the object being merely to form a durable opening in the
soil, at suitable depth, which will receive and conduct away the water
which filters through the soil, it is obvious that a thousand expedients
may be resorted to, to suit the peculiar circumstances of persons. In
general, the danger to be apprehended is from obstruction of the
water-way. Nothing, except a tight tube of metal or wood, will be likely
to prevent the admission of water.

Economy and durability are, perhaps, the main considerations. Tiles, at
fair prices, combine these qualities better than anything else. Stones,
however, are both cheap and durable, so far as the material is
concerned; but the durability of the material, and the durability of the
drains, are quite different matters.


Providence has so liberally supplied the greater part of New England
with stones, that it seems to most inexperienced persons to be a work of
supererogation, almost, to manufacture tiles or any other draining
material for our farms.

We would by no means discourage the use of stones, where tiles cannot be
used with greater economy. Stone drains are, doubtless, as efficient as
any, so long as the water-way can be kept open. The material is often
close at hand, lying on the field and to be removed as a nuisance, if
not used in drainage. In such cases, true economy may dictate the use of
them, even where tiles can be procured; though, we believe, tiles will
be found generally cheaper, all things considered, where made in the

In treating of the cost of drainage, we have undertaken to give fair
estimates of the comparative cost of different materials.

Every farmer is capable of making estimates for himself, and of testing
those made by us, and so of determining what is true economy in his
particular case.

The various modes of constructing drains of stones, may be readily shown
by simple illustrations:

[Illustration: Fig. 20.]

[Illustration: Fig. 21.]

[Illustration: Fig. 22.]

[Illustration: Fig. 23.]

If stone-drains are decided upon, the mode of constructing them will
depend upon the kind of stone at hand. In some localities, round
pebble-stones are found scattered over the surface, or piled in heaps
upon our farms; in others, flat, slaty stones abound, and in others,
broken stones from quarries may be more convenient. Of these, probably,
the least reliable is the drain filled with pebble-stones, or broken
stones of small size. They are peculiarly liable to be obstructed,
because there is no regular water-way, and the flow of the water must,
of course, be very slow, impeded as it is by friction at all points with
the irregular surfaces.

Sand, and other obstructing substances, which find their way, more or
less, into all drains, are deposited among the stones--the water having
no force of current sufficient to carry them forward--and the drain is
soon filled up at some point, and ruined.

Miles of such drains have been laid on many New England farms, at shoal
depths, of two or two and a half feet, and have in a few years failed.
For a time, their effect, to those unaccustomed to under-drainage, seems
almost miraculous. The wet field becomes dry, the wild grass gives place
to clover and herds-grass, and the experiment is pronounced successful.
After a few years, however, the wild grass re-appears, the water again
stands on the surface, and it is ascertained, on examination, that the
drain is in some place packed solid with earth, and is filled with
stagnant water.

The fault is by no means wholly in the material. In clay or hard pan,
such a drain may be made durable, with proper care, but it must be laid
deep enough to be beyond the effect of the treading of cattle and of
loaded teams, and the common action of frost. They can hardly be laid
low enough to be beyond the reach of our great enemy, the mole, which
follows relentlessly all our operations.

We recollect the remarks of Mr. Downing about the complaints in New
England, of injury to fruit-trees by the gnawing of field-mice.

He said he should as soon think of danger from injury by giraffes as
field-mice, in his own neighborhood, though he had no doubt of their
depredations elsewhere!

It may seem to many, that we lay too much stress on this point, of
danger from moles and mice. We know whereof we do testify in this
matter. We verily believe that we never finished a drain of brush or
stones, on our farm, ten rods long, that there was not a colony of these
_varmint_ in the one end of it, before we had finished the other. If
these drains, however, are made three or four feet deep, and the solid
earth rammed hard over the turf, which covers the stones, they will be
comparatively safe.

The figures 24 and 25 below, represent a mode of laying stone drains,
practiced in Ireland, which will be found probably more convenient and
secure than any other method, for common small drains. A flat stone is
set upright against one side of the ditch, which should be near the
bottom, perpendicular. Another stone is set leaning against the first,
with its foot resting against the opposite bank. If the soil be soft
clay, a flat stone may be placed first on the bottom of the ditch, for
the water to flow upon; but this will be found a great addition to the
labor, unless flat stones of peculiarly uniform shape and thickness are
at hand. A board laid at the bottom will be usually far cheaper, and
less liable to cause obstructions.

[Illustration: Figs. 24, 25.--STONE DRAINS.]

Figure 25 represents the ditch without the small stones above the duct.
These small stones are, in nine cases in ten, worse than useless, for
they are not only unnecessary to admit the water, but furnish a harbor
for mice and other vermin.

Drawings, representing a filling of small stones above the duct, have
been copied from one work to another for generations, and it seems never
to have occurred, even to modern writers, that the small stones might be
omitted. Any one, who knows anything of the present system of draining
with tiles, must perceive at once that, if we have the open triangular
duct or the square culvert, the water cannot be kept from finding it, by
any filling over it with such earth as is usually found in ditching.
Formerly, when tiles were used, the ditch was filled above the tiles, to
the height of a foot or more, with broken stones; but this practice has
been everywhere abandoned as expensive and useless.

An opening of any form, equal to a circle of two or three inches
diameter, will be sufficient in most cases, though the necessary size of
the duct must, of course, depend on the quantity of water which may be
expected to flow in it at the time of the greatest flood.

Whatever the form of the stone drain, care should be taken to make the
joints as close as possible, and turf, shavings, straw, tan, or some
other material, should be carefully placed over the joints, to prevent
the washing in of sand, which is the worst enemy of all drains.

It is not deemed necessary to remark particularly upon the mode of
laying large drains for water-courses, with abutments and covering
stones, forming a square duct, because it is the mode universally known
and practiced. For small drains, in thorough-draining lands, it may,
however, be remarked, that this is, perhaps, the most expensive of all
modes, because a much greater width of excavation is necessary in order
to place in position the two side stones and leave the requisite space
between them. That mode of drainage which requires the least excavation
and the least carriage of materials, and consequently the least filling
up and levelling, is usually the cheapest.

Our conclusion as to stone drains is, that, at present, they may be, in
many cases, found useful and economical; and even where tiles are to be
procured at present prices stones may well be used, where materials are
at hand, for the largest drains.



     What are Drain-Tiles?--Forms of Tiles.--Pipes.--Horse-shoe
     Tiles.--Sole-Tiles--Form of Water-Passage.--Collars and their
     Use.--Size of Pipes.--Velocity.--Friction.--Discharge of Water
     through Pipes.--Tables of Capacity.--How Water enters Tiles.--Deep
     Drains run soonest and longest.--Pressure of Water on
     Pipes.--Durability of Tile Drains.--Drain-Bricks 100 years old.


This would be an absurd question to place at the head of a division in a
work intended for the English public, for tiles are as common in England
as bricks, and their forms and uses as familiar to all. But in America,
though tiles are used to a considerable extent in some localities,
probably not one farmer in one hundred in the whole country ever saw

The author has recently received letters of inquiry about the use and
cost of tiles, from which it is manifest that the writers have in their
mind as tiles, the square bricks with which our grandfathers used to lay
their hearths.

In Johnstone's _Report to the Board of Agriculture on Elkington's System
of Draining_, published in England in 1797, the only kind of tiles or
clay conduits described or alluded to by him, are what he calls
"draining-bricks," of which he gives drawings, which we transfer to our
pages precisely as found in the American edition. It will be seen to be
as clumsy a contrivance as could well be devised.

[Illustration: Fig. 26.--DRAINING-BRICKS.]

So lately as 1856, tiles were brought from Albany, N. Y., to Exeter, N. H.,
nearly 300 miles, by railway, at a cost, including freight, of $25 a
thousand for two-inch pipes, and it is believed that no tiles were ever
made in New Hampshire till the year 1857. These facts will soon become
curiosities in agricultural literature, and so are worth preserving.
They furnish excuse, too, for what may appear to learned agriculturists
an unnecessary particularity in what might seem the well-known facts
relative to tile-drainage.

Drain-tiles are made of clay of almost any quality that will make
bricks, moulded by a machine into tubes, or into half-tube or horse-shoe
forms, usually fourteen inches long before drying, and burnt in a
furnace or kiln to be about as hard as what are called hard-burnt
bricks. They are usually moulded about half an inch in thickness,
varying with the size and form of the tile. The sizes vary from one inch
to six inches, and sometimes larger, in the diameter of the bore. The
forms are also very various; and as this is one of the most essential
matters, as affecting the efficiency, the cost, and the durability of
tile-drainage, it will be well to give it critical attention.


The simplest, cheapest, and best form of drain-tile is the cylinder, or
merely a tube, round outside and with a round bore.

[Illustration: Figs. 27, 28, 29.--ROUND PIPES.]

Tiles of this form, and all others which are tubular, are called
_pipes_, in distinction from those with open bottoms, like those of
horse-shoe form.

About forty years ago, as Mr. Gisborne informs us, small pipes for
land-drainage were used, concurrently, by persons residing in the
counties of Lincoln, Oxford, and Kent, who had, probably, no knowledge
of each other's operations. Most of those pipes were made with
eyelet-holes, to admit the water. Pipes for thorough-draining excited no
general attention till they were exhibited by John Read at the show at
Derby, in the year 1843. A medal was awarded to the exhibitor. Mr.
Parkes was one of the judges, and brought the pipes to the special
notice of the council. From this time, inventions and improvements were
rapid, and soon, collars were introduced, and the use of improved
machines to mould the pipes; and drainage, under the fostering
influence of the Royal Agricultural Society, became a subject of general
attention throughout the kingdom. The round pipe, or _the pipe_, as it
seems, _par excellence_, to be termed by English drainers, though one of
the latest, if not the last form of tiles introduced in England, has
become altogether the most popular among scientific men, and is
generally used in all works conducted under the charge of the Land
Drainage Companies. This ought to settle the question for us, when we
consider that the immense sum of twenty millions of dollars of public
funds has been expended by them, in addition to vast amounts of private
funds, and that the highest practical talent of the nation is engaged in
the work.

After giving some idea of the various forms of tiles in use, it is,
however, proposed to examine the question upon its merits, so that each
may judge for himself which is best.

The earliest form of tiles introduced for the purpose of
thorough-drainage, was the horse-shoe tile, so called from its shape.
The horse-shoe tile has been sometimes used without any sole to form the
bottom of the drain, thus leaving the water to run on the ground. There
can hardly be a question of the false economy of this mode, for the
hardest and most impervious soil softens under the constant action of
running water, and then the edges of the tiles must sink, or the bottom
of the drain rise, and thus destroy the work.

Various devices have been tried to save the expense of soles, such as
providing the edges of the tiles with flanges or using pieces of soles
on which to rest the ends of the tiles. They all leave the bottom of the
drain unprotected against the wearing action of the water.

HORSE-SHOE TILES, or "tops and bottoms" as they are called in some
counties, are still much used in England; and in personal conversation
with farmers there, the writer found a strong opinion expressed in their
favor. The advantages claimed for the "tops and bottoms" are, that they
lie firmly in place, and that they admit the water more freely than

The objections to them are, that they are more expensive than round
pipes, and are not so strong, and are not so easily laid, and that they
do not discharge water so well as tiles with a round bore. In laying
them, they should be made to rest partly upon two adjoining soles, or to
break bond, as it is called. The soles are made separate from the tiles,
and are merely flat pieces, of sufficient width to support firmly both
edges of the tiles. The soles are usually an inch wider than the tiles.

[Illustration: Fig. 30--HORSE-SHOE TILES AND SOLES.]

The above figure represents the horse-shoe tiles and soles properly

As this form of tile has been generally used by the most successful
drainers in New York, it may be well to cite the high authority of Mr.
Gisborne for the objections which have been suggested. It should be
recollected in this connection, that the drainage in this country has
been what in England would be called shallow, and that it is too recent
to have borne the test of time.

Mr. Gisborne says:

     "We shall shock and surprise many of our readers, when we state
     confidently that, in average soils, and still more in those which
     are inclined to be tender, horse-shoe tiles form the weakest and
     most failing conduit which has ever been used for a deep drain. It
     is so, however; and a little thought, even if we had no experience,
     will tell us that it must be so.

     "A horse-shoe tile, which may be a tolerably secure conduit in a
     drain of 2 feet, in one of 4 feet becomes an almost certain
     failure. As to the longitudinal fracture, not only is the tile
     subject to be broken by one of those slips which are so troublesome
     in deep draining, and to which the lightly-filled material, even
     when the drain is completed, offers an imperfect resistance, but
     the constant pressure together of the sides, even when it does not
     produce a fracture of the soil, catches hold of the feet of the
     tile, and breaks it through the crown. When the Regent's Park was
     first drained, large conduits were in fashion, and they were made
     circular by placing one horse-shoe tile upon another. It would be
     difficult to invent a weaker conduit. On re-drainage, innumerable
     instances were found in which the upper tile was broken through the
     crown and had dropped into the lower."

Another form of tiles, called _sole-tiles_, or _sole-pipes_, is much
used in America, more indeed than any other, except perhaps the
horse-shoe tile; probably, because the first manufacturers fancied them
the best, and offered no others in the market.

In this form, the sole is solid with the tile. The bottom is flat, but
the bore is round, or oval, or egg-shaped, with the small end of the
orifice downward.

[Illustration: Fig. 31--SOLE-TILE.]

The sole-pipe has considerable advantages theoretically. The opening or
bore is of the right shape, the bottom lies fair and firm in place, and
the drain, indeed, is perfect, if carefully and properly laid.

The objections to the sole-pipes are, that they are somewhat more
expensive than round pipes, and that they require great care in placing
them, so as to make the passage even from one pipe to another.

A slight depression of one side of a pipe of this kind, especially if
the bore be oval or egg-shaped, throws the water passage out of line. In
laying them, the author has taken the precaution to place under each
joint a thin piece of wood, such as our honest shoe manufacturers use
for stiffening in shoes, to keep the bottoms of the pipes even, at
least until the ground has settled compactly, and as much longer as they
may escape "decay's effacing finger."

COLLARS for tiles are used wherever a sudden descent occurs in the
course of a drain, or where there is a loose sand or a boggy place, and
by many persons they are used in all drains through sandy or gravelly

[Illustration: Fig. 32.--PIPES AND COLLAR.]

The above figure represents pipe-tiles fitted with collars. Collars are
merely short sections of pipes of such size as to fit upon the smaller
ones loosely, covering the joint, and holding the ends in place, so that
they cannot slip past each other. In very bad places, small pipes may be
entirely sheathed in larger ones; and this is advisable in steep
descents or flowing sands.

A great advantage in round pipes is, that there is no wrong-side-up to
them, and they are, therefore, more readily placed in position than
tiles of any other form.

Again: all tiles are more or less warped in drying and burning; and,
where it is desired to make perfect work, round pipes may be turned so
as to make better joints and a straighter run for the water--which is
very important.

If collars are used, there is still less difficulty in adjusting the
pipes so as to make the lines straight, and far less danger of
obstruction by sand or roots. Indeed, it is believed that no drain can
be made more perfect than with round pipes and collars.

As it is believed that few collars have ever yet been used in this
country, and the best drainers in England are not agreed as to the
necessity of using them, we give the opinions of two or three
distinguished gentlemen, in their own language. Mr. Gisborne says:

     "We were astounded to find, at the conclusion of Mr. Parkes'
     Newcastle Lecture, this sentence: 'It may be advisable for me to
     say, that in clays, and other clean-cutting and firm-bottomed
     soils, I do not find the collars to be indispensably necessary,
     although I always prefer their use.' This is a barefaced treachery
     to pipes, an abandonment of the strongest point in their case--the
     assured continuity of the conduit. Every one may see how very small
     a disturbance at their point of junction would dissociate two pipes
     of one inch diameter. One finds a soft place in the bottom of the
     drain and dips his nose into it one inch deep, and cocks up his
     other end. By this simple operation, the continuity of the conduit
     is twice broken. An inch of lateral motion produces the same
     effect. Pipes of a larger diameter than two inches are generally
     laid without collars. This is a practice on which we do not look
     with much complacency; it is the compromise between cost and
     security, to which the affairs of men are so often compelled. No
     doubt, a conduit from three to six inches in diameter is much less
     subject to a breach in its continuity than one which is smaller;
     but, when no collars are used, the pipes should be laid with
     extreme care, and the bed which is prepared for them at the bottom
     of the drain should be worked to their size and shape with great

     "To one advantage which is derived from the use of collars we have
     not yet adverted--the increased facility with which free water
     existing in the soil can find entrance into the conduit.

     "The collar for a one and a half inch pipe has a circumference of
     nine inches. The whole space between the collar and the pipe, on
     each side of the collar, is open, and affords no resistance to the
     entrance of water: while, at the same time, the superincumbent arch
     of the collar protects the junction of two pipes from the intrusion
     of particles of soil. We confess to some original misgivings, that
     a pipe resting only on an inch at each end, and lying hollow, might
     prove weak, and liable to fracture by weight pressing on it from
     above; but the fear was illusory. Small particles of soil trickle
     down the sides of every drain, and the first flow of water will
     deposit them in the vacant space between the two collars. The
     bottom, if at all soft, will also swell up into any vacancy.
     Practically, if you re-open a drain well laid with pipes and
     collars, you will find them reposing in a beautiful nidus, which,
     when they are carefully removed, looks exactly as if it had been
     moulded for them."

As to the danger of breaking the pipes, which might well be apprehended,
we found by actual experiment, at the New York Central Park, that a
one-inch Albany pipe resting on collars upon a floor, with a bearing at
each end of but one inch, would support the weight of a man weighing 160
pounds, standing on one foot on the middle of the pipe.

Mr. Parkes sums up his opinion upon the subject of collars, in these

     "It may be advisable for me to say, that in clays, and other
     clean-cutting and firm-bottomed soils, I do not find collars to be
     at all necessary; but that they are essential in all sandy, loose,
     and soft strata."

In draining in the neighborhood of trees, collars are also supposed to
be of great use in preventing the intrusion of roots into the pipes,
although it may be impossible, even in this way, to exclude the roots of
water-loving trees.

From the most careful inquiry that the writer was able to make, as to
the practice in England, he is satisfied that collars are not generally
used there in the drainage of clays, but that the pipes are laid in
openings shaped for them at the bottom of the drains, with a tool which
forms a groove into which the pipes fall readily into line, and very
little seems to be said of collars in the published estimates of the
cost of drainage.

On this subject, we have the opinion of Mr. Denton, thus expressed:

     "The use of collars is by no means general, although those who have
     used them speak highly of their advantages. Except in sandy soils,
     and in those that are subject to sudden alteration of character, in
     some of the deposits of red sand-stones, and in the clayey subsoils
     of the Bagshot sand district, for instance, collars are not found
     to be essential to good drainage. In the north of England they are
     used but seldom, and, in my opinion, much less than they ought to
     be; but this opinion, it is right to state, is opposed, in numerous
     instances of successful drainage, by men of extensive practice; and
     as every cause of increased outlay is to be avoided, the value of
     collars, as general appliances, remains an open question. In all
     the more porous subsoils in which collars have not been used, the
     more successful drainers increase the size of the pipes in the
     minor drains to a minimum size of two inches bore."

_The form of the bore, or water passage_, in tiles, is a point of more
importance than at first appears. At one of our colleges, certain plank
sewers, in the ordinary square form, were often obstructed by the
sediment from the dirty water. "Turn them cornerwise," suggested the
professor of Natural Philosophy. It was done, and ever after they kept
in order. The pressure of water depends on its height, or head.
Everybody knows that six feet of water carries a mill-wheel better than
one foot. The same principle operates on a small scale. An inch head of
water presses harder than a half inch. The _velocity_ of water, again,
depends much on its height. Whether there be much or little water
passing through a drain, it has manifestly a greater power to make its
way, to drive before it sand or other obstructions, when it is heaped up
in a round passage, than when wandering over the flat surface of a tile
sole. Any one who has observed the discharge of water from flat-bottomed
and round tiles, will be satisfied that the quantity of water which is
sufficient to run in a rapid stream of a half or quarter inch diameter
from a round tile, will lazily creep along the flat bottom of a sole
tile, with hardly force sufficient to turn aside a grain of sand, or to
bring back to light an enterprising cricket that may have entered on an
exploration. On the whole, solid tiles, with flat-bottomed passages, may
be set down among the inventions of the adversary. They have not the
claims even of the horse-shoe form to respect, because they do not admit
water better than round pipes, and are not united by a sole on which the
ends of the adjoining tiles rest. They combine the faults of all other
forms, with the peculiar virtues of none.

[Illustration: Fig. 33--FLAT-BOTTOMED PIPE-TILE.]

From an English report on the drainage of towns, the following, which
illustrates this point, is taken:

     "It was found that a large proportion of sewers were constructed
     with flat bottoms, which, when there was a small discharge, spread
     the water, increased the friction, retarded the flow, and
     accumulated deposit. It was ascertained, that by the substitution
     of circular sewers of the same width, with the same inclination and
     the same run of water, the amount of deposit was reduced more than


Is a matter of much importance, whether we regard the efficiency and
durability of our work, or economy in completing it. The cost of tiles,
and the freight of them, increase rapidly with their size, and it is,
therefore, well to use the smallest that will effect the object in view.
Tiles should be large enough, as a first proposition, to carry off, in a
reasonable time, all the surplus water that may fall upon the land.
Here, the English rules will not be safe for us; for, although England
has many more rainy days than we have, yet we have, in general, a
greater fall of rain--more inches of water from the clouds in the year.
Instead of their eternal drizzle, we have thunder showers in Summer, and
in Spring and Autumn north-east storms, when the windows of heaven are
opened, and a deluge, except in duration, bursts upon us. Then, at the
North, the Winter snows cover the fields until April, when they suddenly
dissolve, often under heavy showers of rain, and planting time is at
once upon us. It is desirable that all the snow and rain-water should
pass through the soil into the drains, instead of overflowing the
surface, so as to save the elements of fertility with which such water
abounds, and also to prevent the washing of the soil. We require, then,
a greater capacity of drainage, larger tiles, than do the English, for
our drains must do a greater work than theirs, and in less time.

There are several other general considerations that should be noticed,
before we attempt to define the particular size for any location.
Several small drains are usually discharged into one main drain. This
main should have sufficient capacity to conduct all the water that may
be expected to enter it, and no more. If the small drains overflow it,
the main will be liable to be burst, or the land about it filled with
water, gushing from it at the joints; especially, if the small drains
come down a hill side, so as to give a great pressure, or head of water.
On the other hand, if the main be larger than is necessary, there is the
useless expense of larger tiles than were required. The capacity of
pipes to convey water, depends, other things being equal, upon their
size; but here the word size has a meaning which should be kept clearly
in mind.

The capacity of round water-pipes is in proportion to the squares of
their diameters.

A one-inch pipe carries one inch (circular, not square) of water, but a
two-inch pipe carries not two inches only, but twice two, or four inches
of water; a three-inch pipe carries three times three, or nine inches;
and a four-inch pipe, sixteen inches. Thus we see, that under the same
conditions as to fall, directness, smoothness, and the like, a four-inch
pipe carries just four times as much water as a two-inch pipe. In fact,
it will carry more than this proportion, because _friction_, which is an
important element in all such calculations, is greater in proportion to
the smaller size of the pipe.

VELOCITY is another essential element to be noticed in determining the
amount of water which may be discharged through a pipe of given
diameter. Velocity, again, depends on several conditions. Water runs
faster down a steep hill than down a gentle declivity. This is due to
the weight of the water, or, in other words, to gravitation, and
operates whether the water be at large on the ground, or confined in a
pipe, and it operates alike whether the water in a pipe fill its bore or

But, again, the velocity of water in a pipe depends on the pressure, or
head of water, behind it, and there is, perhaps, no definite limit to
the quantity of water that may be forced through a given orifice. More
water, for instance, is often forced through the pipe of a fire-engine
in full play, in ten minutes, than would run through a pipe of the same
diameter, lying nearly level in the ground, in ten hours.

In ordinary aqueducts, for supplying water, and not for drainage, it is
desirable to have a high pressure upon the pipes to ensure a rapid flow;
but in drainage, a careful distinction must be made between velocity
induced by gravitation, and velocity induced by pressure. If induced by
the former merely, the pipe through which the water is swiftly running,
if not quite full, may still receive water at every joint, while, if the
velocity be induced by pressure, the pipe must be already full. It can
then receive no more, and must lose water at the joints, and wet the
land through which it passes, instead of draining it.

So that although we should find that the mains might carry a vast
quantity of water admitted by minor drains from high elevations, yet we
should bear in mind, that drains when full can perform no ordinary
office of drainage. If there is more than the pressure of four feet head
of water behind; the pipes, if they passed through a pond of water, at
four feet deep, must lose and not receive water at the joints.

The capacity of a pipe to convey water depends, then, not only on its
size, but on its inclination or fall--a pipe running down a considerable
descent having much greater capacity than one of the same size lying
nearly level. This fact should be borne in mind even in laying single
drains; for it is obvious that if the drain lie along a sandy plain,
for instance, extending down a springy hill-side, and then, as is
usually the case, along a lower plain again, to its outlet at some
stream, it may collect as much water as will fill it before it reaches
the lower level. Its stream rushes swiftly down the descent, and when it
reaches the plain, there is not sufficient fall to carry it away by its
natural gravitation. It will still rush onward to its outlet, urged by
the pressure from behind; but, with such pressure, it will, as we have
seen, instead of draining the land, suffuse it with water.


as has already been suggested, is an element that much interferes with
exact calculations as to the relative capacity of water-pipes of various
dimensions, and this depends upon several circumstances, such as
smoothness, and exactness of form, and directness. The smoother, the
more regular in form, and the straighter the drain, the more water will
it convey. Thus, in some recent English experiments,

     "it was found that, with pipes of the same diameter, exactitude of
     form was of more importance than smoothness of surface; that glass
     pipes, which had a wavy surface, discharged less water, at the same
     inclinations, than Staffordshire stone-ware clay pipes, which were
     of perfectly exact construction. By passing pipes of the same
     clay--the common red clay--under a second pressure, obtained by a
     machine at an extra expense of about eighteen pence per thousand,
     whilst the pipe was half dry, very superior exactitude of form was
     obtained, and by means of this exactitude, and with nearly the same
     diameters, an increased discharge of water of one-fourth was
     effected within the same time."

So all sudden turns or angles increase friction and retard velocity, and
thus lessen the capacity of the drain--a topic which may be more
properly considered under the head of the junction of drains.

     "On a large scale, it was found that when equal quantities of water
     were running direct, at a rate of 90 seconds, with a turn at
     right-angles, the discharge was only effected in 140 seconds;
     whilst, with a turn or junction with a gentle curve, the discharge
     was effected in 100 seconds."

We are indebted to Messrs. Shedd & Edson for the following valuable
tables showing the capacity of water-pipes, with the accompanying


     "The following tables of discharge are founded on the experiments
     made by Mr. Smeaton, and have been compared with those by Henry
     Law, and with the rules of Weisbach and D'Aubuisson. The conditions
     under which such experiments are made may be so essentially
     different in each case, that few experiments give results
     coincident with each other, or with the deductions of theory: and
     in applying these tables to practice, it is quite likely that the
     discharge of a pipe of a certain area, at a certain inclination,
     may be quite unlike the discharge found to be due to those
     conditions by this table, and that difference may be owing partly
     to greater or less roughness on the inside of the pipe, unequal
     flow of water through the joints into the pipe, crookedness of the
     pipes, want of accuracy in their being placed, so that the fall may
     not be uniform throughout, or the ends of the pipes may be shoved a
     little to one side, so that the continuity of the channel is
     partially broken; and, indeed, from various other causes, all of
     which may occur in any practical case, unless great care is taken
     to avoid it, and some of which may occur in almost any case.

     "We have endeavored to so construct the tables that, in the
     ordinary practice of draining, the discharge given may approximate
     to the truth for a well laid drain, subject even to considerable
     friction. The experiments of Mr. Smeaton, which we have adopted as
     the basis of these tables, gave a less quantity discharged, under
     certain conditions, than given under similar conditions by other
     tables. This result is probably due to a greater amount of friction
     in the pipes used by Smeaton. The curves of friction resemble, very
     nearly, parabolic curves, but are not quite so sharp near the

     "We propose, during the coming season, to institute some careful
     experiments, to ascertain the friction due to our own drain-pipe.
     Water can get into the drain-pipe very freely at the joints, as may
     be seen by a simple calculation. It is impossible to place the ends
     so closely together, in laying, as to make a tight joint on account
     of roughness in the clay, twisting in burning, &c.; and the opening
     thus made will usually average about one-tenth of an inch on the
     whole circumference, which is, on the inside of a two-inch pipe,
     six inches--making six-tenths of a square inch opening for the
     entrance of water at each joint.

     "In a lateral drain 200 feet long, the pipes being thirteen inches
     long, there will be 184 joints, each joint having an opening of
     six-tenth square inch area; in 184 joints there is an aggregate
     area of 110 square inches; the area of the opening at the end of a
     two-inch pipe is about three inches; 110 square inches inlet to
     three inches outlet; thirty-seven times as much water can flow in
     as can flow out. There is, then, no need for the water to go
     through the pores of the pipe; and the fact is, we think, quite
     fortunate, for the passage of water through the pores would in no
     case be sufficient to benefit the land to much extent. We tried an
     experiment, by stopping one end of an ordinary drain-pipe and
     filling it with water. At the end of sixty-five hours, water still
     stood in the pipe three-fourths of an inch deep. About half the
     water first put into the pipe had run out at the end of twenty-four
     hours. If the pipe was stopped at both ends and plunged four feet
     deep in water, it would undoubtedly fill in a short time; but such
     a test is an unfair one, for no drain could be doing service, over
     which water could collect to the depth of four feet."

                          1-1/2-INCH  DRAIN-PIPE.
                           Area: 1.76709 inches.
        in   |per second| in gallons ||   in    |per second| in gallons
    100 feet.| in feet. |in 24 hours.||100 feet.| in feet. |in 24 hours.
     ft. in. |          |            || ft. in. |          |
       0.3   |   0.71   |   5630.87  ||   5.3   |   3.75   |  29704.51
       0.6   |   1.04   |   8248.03  ||   5.6   |   3.84   |  30454.28
       0.9   |   1.29   |  10230.73  ||   5.9   |   3.93   |  31168.06
       1.0   |   1.52   |  12054.81  ||   6.0   |   4.00   |  31723.21
       1.3   |   1.74   |  13799.59  ||   6.3   |   4.10   |  32516.36
       1.6   |   1.91   |  15147.83  ||   6.6   |   4.18   |  33150.76
       1.9   |   2.10   |  16654.68  ||   6.9   |   4.25   |  33705.91
       2.0   |   2.26   |  17923.61  ||   7.0   |   4.33   |  34340.38
       2.3   |   2.41   |  19113.23  ||   7.3   |   4.41   |  34974.85
       2.6   |   2.56   |  20302.86  ||   7.6   |   4.49   |  35609.30
       2.9   |   2.69   |  21333.86  ||   7.9   |   4.56   |  36154.45
       3.0   |   2.83   |  22444.17  ||   8.0   |   4.65   |  36878.23
       3.3   |   2.94   |  23150.71  ||   8.3   |   4.71   |  37354.08
       3.6   |   3.06   |  24268.25  ||   8.6   |   4.79   |  37988.55
       3.9   |   3.16   |  25061.34  ||   8.9   |   4.85   |  38464.40
       4.0   |   3.28   |  26013.03  ||   9.0   |   4.91   |  38940.25
       4.3   |   3.38   |  26806.11  ||   9.3   |   4.98   |  39495.39
       4.6   |   3.46   |  27440.58  ||   9.6   |   5.04   |  39971.24
       4.9   |   3.56   |  28233.66  ||   9.9   |   5.10   |  40447.10
       5.0   |   3.65   |  28947.43  ||  10.0   |   5.16   |  40922.93

           2-INCH DRAIN-PIPE.        ||       3-INCH DRAIN-PIPE.
       in    |per second| in gallons ||   in    |per second| in gallons
    100 feet.| in feet. |in 24 hours.||100 feet.| in feet. |in 24 hours.
     ft. in. |          |            || ft. in. |          |
       0.3   |   0.79   |   10575.4  ||   0.3   |   0.90   |   24687.2
       0.6   |   1.16   |   15528.4  ||   0.6   |   1.33   |   36482.2
       0.9   |   1.50   |   20079.9  ||   0.9   |   1.66   |   45534.2
       1.0   |   1.71   |   22891.1  ||   1.0   |   1.94   |   53214.7
       1.3   |   1.94   |   25970.0  ||   1.3   |   2.19   |   60072.2
       1.6   |   2.16   |   28915.1  ||   1.6   |   2.43   |   66655.5
       1.9   |   2.35   |   31458.5  ||   1.9   |   2.63   |   72141.5
       2.0   |   2.53   |   33868.1  ||   2.0   |   2.83   |   77627.6
       2.3   |   2.69   |   36009.9  ||   2.3   |   3.00   |   82290.7
       2.6   |   2.83   |   37884.0  ||   2.6   |   3.16   |   86679.6
       2.9   |   2.97   |   39758.2  ||   2.9   |   3.31   |   90794.1
       3.0   |   3.11   |   41632.4  ||   3.0   |   3.47   |   95182.9
       3.3   |   3.24   |   43372.6  ||   3.3   |   3.60   |   98748.9
       3.6   |   3.36   |   44979.0  ||   3.6   |   3.74   |  102589.1
       3.9   |   3.48   |   46585.4  ||   3.9   |   3.87   |  106155.0
       4.0   |   3.59   |   48057.9  ||   4.0   |   3.99   |  109446.7
       4.3   |   3.70   |   49530.5  ||   4.3   |   4.11   |  112738.3
       4.6   |   3.80   |   50869.1  ||   4.6   |   4.23   |  116029.9
       4.9   |   3.91   |   52341.6  ||   4.9   |   4.34   |  119047.3
       5.0   |   4.02   |   53814.1  ||   5.0   |   4.46   |  122338.9
       5.3   |   4.11   |   55018.9  ||   5.3   |   4.57   |  125356.2
       5.6   |   4.22   |   56491.5  ||   5.6   |   4.68   |  128373.5
       5.9   |   4.31   |   57696.3  ||   5.9   |   4.78   |  131116.6
       6.0   |   4.40   |   58901.1  ||   6.0   |   4.89   |  134133.9
       6.3   |   4.49   |   60105.9  ||   6.3   |   4.98   |  136602.6
       6.6   |   4.58   |   61309.7  ||   6.6   |   5.08   |  139345.6
       6.9   |   4.66   |   62381.6  ||   6.9   |   5.18   |  142088.7
       7.0   |   4.74   |   63452.5  ||   7.0   |   5.27   |  144557.4
       7.3   |   4.83   |   64667.3  ||   7.3   |   5.37   |  147306.4
       7.6   |   4.91   |   65728.3  ||   7.6   |   5.46   |  150069.1
       7.9   |   4.99   |   66799.2  ||   7.9   |   5.55   |  152237.8
       8.0   |   5.07   |   67870.1  ||   8.0   |   5.64   |  154706.6
       8.3   |   5.15   |   68941.0  ||   8.3   |   5.73   |  157175.3
       8.6   |   5.23   |   70011.9  ||   8.6   |   5.82   |  159644.0
       8.9   |   5.31   |   71082.8  ||   8.9   |   5.91   |  162112.7
       9.0   |   5.38   |   72019.9  ||   9.0   |   5.99   |  164313.2
       9.3   |   5.46   |   73090.9  ||   9.3   |   6.07   |  166501.6
       9.6   |   5.53   |   74027.9  ||   9.6   |   6.16   |  168970.3
       9.9   |   5.60   |   74965.0  ||   9.9   |   6.24   |  171164.7
      10.0   |   5.67   |   75902.0  ||  10.0   |   6.32   |  173359.1

           4-INCH DRAIN-PIPE.        ||       5-INCH DRAIN-PIPE.
       in    |per second|in gallons  ||   in    |per second| in gallons
    100 feet.| in feet. |in 24 hours.||100 feet.| in feet. |in 24 hours.
     ft. in. |          |            || ft. in. |          |
       0.3   |   1.08   |   43697.6  ||   0.3   |   1.13   |   99584.2
       0.6   |   1.50   |   60691.2  ||   0.6   |   1.57   |  138362.4
       0.9   |   1.83   |   74043.2  ||   0.9   |   1.90   |  167442.6
       1.0   |   2.13   |   86181.4  ||   1.0   |   2.20   |  193881.0
       1.3   |   2.38   |   96296.6  ||   1.3   |   2.45   |  215912.9
       1.6   |   2.61   |  105602.6  ||   1.6   |   2.70   |  237944.9
       1.9   |   2.81   |  113694.8  ||   1.9   |   2.90   |  255569.5
       2.0   |   3.00   |  121382.3  ||   2.0   |   3.10   |  273195.9
       2.3   |   3.19   |  129089.9  ||   2.3   |   3.29   |  289940.1
       2.6   |   3.36   |  135948.2  ||   2.6   |   3.46   |  304921.9
       2.9   |   3.53   |  142826.5  ||   2.9   |   3.64   |  320784.9
       3.0   |   3.68   |  148895.7  ||   3.0   |   3.80   |  334885.4
       3.3   |   3.82   |  154560.2  ||   3.3   |   3.96   |  348974.8
       3.6   |   3.96   |  160224.7  ||   3.6   |   4.11   |  362204.9
       3.9   |   4.10   |  165889.2  ||   3.9   |   4.26   |  375424.1
       4.0   |   4.24   |  171553.7  ||   4.0   |   4.40   |  387762.1
       4.3   |   4.37   |  176813.6  ||   4.3   |   4.52   |  398337.5
       4.6   |   4.50   |  182073.5  ||   4.6   |   4.66   |  410675.3
       4.9   |   4.62   |  186928.3  ||   4.9   |   4.78   |  421250.6
       5.0   |   4.75   |  192188.7  ||   5.0   |   4.90   |  430825.0
       5.3   |   4.86   |  196639.4  ||   5.3   |   5.02   |  442401.3
       5.6   |   4.97   |  201090.1  ||   5.6   |   5.14   |  452976.6
       5.9   |   5.09   |  205945.3  ||   5.9   |   5.25   |  462670.6
       6.0   |   5.20   |  210396.0  ||   6.0   |   5.37   |  473246.0
       6.3   |   5.30   |  214442.1  ||   6.3   |   5.49   |  483820.4
       6.6   |   5.41   |  218892.8  ||   6.6   |   5.60   |  493514.6
       6.9   |   5.51   |  222938.8  ||   6.9   |   5.70   |  502327.4
       7.0   |   5.61   |  226984.9  ||   7.0   |   5.80   |  511140.2
       7.3   |   5.71   |  231031.0  ||   7.3   |   5.90   |  520052.0
       7.6   |   5.81   |  235077.1  ||   7.6   |   6.00   |  528766.5
       7.9   |   5.91   |  239123.2  ||   7.9   |   6.10   |  537578.7
       8.0   |   6.01   |  243169.2  ||   8.0   |   6.20   |  546391.5
       8.3   |   6.10   |  246810.7  ||   8.3   |   6.30   |  555204.5
       8.6   |   6.19   |  250452.2  ||   8.6   |   6.40   |  564017.0
       8.9   |   6.28   |  255493.7  ||   8.9   |   6.49   |  571948.0
       9.0   |   6.37   |  257735.2  ||   9.0   |   6.58   |  579880.0
       9.3   |   6.45   |  260971.9  ||   9.3   |   6.66   |  586930.2
       9.6   |   6.54   |  264603.1  ||   9.6   |   6.75   |  594861.4
       9.9   |   6.63   |  268254.9  ||   9.9   |   6.84   |  602793.2
      10.0   |   6.71   |  271491.8  ||  10.0   |   6.93   |  610723.8

                           8-INCH DRAIN-PIPE.
                          Area: 50.2640 inches.
       in    |per second|in gallons  ||   in    |per second| in gallons
    100 feet.| in feet. |in 24 hours.||100 feet.| in feet. |in 24 hours.
     ft. in. |          |            || ft. in. |          |
       0.3   |   1.23   |  277487.7  ||    5.3  |   5.35   | 1206959.3
       0.6   |   1.65   |  372239.7  ||    5.6  |   5.47   | 1234031.3
       0.9   |   2.01   |  453455.7  ||    5.9  |   5.59   | 1261103.3
       1.0   |   2.33   |  525647.7  ||    6.0  |   5.71   | 1288175.3
       1.3   |   2.60   |  586559.7  ||    6.3  |   5.83   | 1315247.3
       1.6   |   2.85   |  642959.6  ||    6.6  |   5.95   | 1343838.9
       1.9   |   3.08   |  694847.6  ||    6.9  |   6.07   | 1369391.3
       2.0   |   3.30   |  744479.7  ||    7.0  |   6.17   | 1391951.2
       2.3   |   3.50   |  789599.6  ||    7.3  |   6.27   | 1414531.1
       2.6   |   3.70   |  844719.7  ||    7.6  |   6.39   | 1441583.2
       2.9   |   3.89   |  877583.5  ||    7.9  |   6.50   | 1466399.3
       3.0   |   4.05   |  913679.5  ||    8.0  |   6.60   | 1488959.2
       3.3   |   4.21   |  949775.6  ||    8.3  |   6.70   | 1511539.1
       3.6   |   4.37   |  971658.7  ||    8.6  |   6.80   | 1534099.0
       3.9   |   4.53   |  920447.4  ||    8.9  |   6.90   | 1556658.9
       4.0   |   4.67   | 1055551.4  ||    9.0  |   7.00   | 1579199.3
       4.3   |   4.81   | 1086135.4  ||    9.3  |   7.10   | 1601759.2
       4.6   |   4.95   | 1116718.7  ||    9.6  |   7.20   | 1624319.1
       4.9   |   5.08   | 1146047.4  ||    9.9  |   7.29   | 1644622.1
       5.0   |   5.22   | 1177631.3  ||   10.0  |   7.38   | 1664927.1


How water enters the tiles, is a question which all persons unaccustomed
to the operation of tile-draining usually ask at the outset. In brief,
it may be answered, that it enters both at the joints and through the
pores of the burnt clay, but mostly at the joints.

Mr. Parkes expresses the opinion, based upon careful observation, that
five hundred times as much water enters at the crevices as through the
pores of the tiles! If this be so, we may as well, for all practical
purposes, regard the water as all entering at the joints. In several
experiments which we have attempted, we have found the quantity of water
that enters through the pores to be quite too small to be of much
practical account.

Tiles differ so much in porosity, that it is difficult to make
experiments that can be satisfactory--soft-burnt tiles being, like pale
bricks, quite pervious, and hard-burnt tiles being nearly or quite
impervious. The amount of pressure upon the clay in moulding also
affects the density and porosity of tiles.

Water should enter at the bottom of the tiles, and not at the top. It is
a well-known fact in draining, that the deepest drain flows first and
longest. A familiar illustration will make this point evident. If a cask
or deep box be filled with sand, with one hole near the bottom and
another half way to the top, these holes will represent the tiles in a
drain. If water be poured into the sand, it will pass downward to the
bottom of the vessel, and will not flow out of either hole till the sand
be saturated up to the lower hole, and then it will flow out there. If,
now, water be poured in faster than the lower hole can discharge it, the
vessel will be filled higher, till it will run out at both holes. It is
manifest, however, that it will first cease to flow from the upper
orifice. There is in the soil a line of water, called the "water-line,"
or "water-table;" and this, in drained land, is at about the level of
the bottom of the tiles. As the rain falls it descends, as in the
vessel; and as the water rises, it enters the tiles at the bottom, and
never at the top, unless there is more than can pass out of the soil by
the lower openings (the crevices and pores) into the tiles. It is well
always to interrupt the direct descent of water by percolation from the
surface to the top of the tiles, because, in passing so short a distance
in the soil, the water is not sufficiently filtered, especially in soil
so recently disturbed, but is likely to carry with it not only valuable
elements of fertility, but also particles of sand, which may obstruct
the drain. This is prevented by placing above the tiles (after they are
covered a few inches with gravel, sand, or other porous soil) compact
clay, if convenient. If not, a furrow each side of the drain, or a
heaping-up of the soil over the drain, when finished, will turn aside
the surface-water, and prevent such injury.

In the estimates as to the area of the openings between pipes, it should
be considered that the spaces between the pipes are not, in fact, clean
openings of one-tenth of an inch, but are partially closed by earthy
particles, and that water enters them by no means as rapidly as it would
enter the clean pipes before they are covered. Although the rain-fall in
England is much less in quantity and much more regular than in this
country, yet it is believed that the use of two-inch pipes will be found
abundantly sufficient for the admission and conveyance of any quantity
of water that it may be necessary to carry off by drainage in common
soils. In extraordinary cases, as where the land drained is a swamp, or
reservoir for water which falls on the hills around, larger pipes must
be used.

In many places in England "tops and bottoms," or horse-shoe tiles, are
still preferred by farmers, upon the idea that they admit the water more
readily; but their use is continued only by those who have never made
trial of pipes. No scientific drainer uses any but pipes in England, and
the million of acres well drained with them, is pretty good evidence of
their sufficiency. In this country, horse-shoe tiles have been much used
in Western New York, and have been found to answer a good purpose; and
so it may be said of the sole-pipes. Indeed, it is believed that no
instance is to be found on record in America of the failure of tile
drains, from the inability of the water to gain admission at the joints.

It may be interesting in this connection to state, that water is 815
times heavier than air. Here is a drain at four feet depth in the
ground, filled only with air, and open at the end so that the air can go
out. Above this open space is four feet of earth saturated with water.
What is the pressure of the water upon the tiles?

Mr. Thomas Arkell, in a communication to the Society of Arts, in
England, says--

     "The pressure due to a head of water four or five feet, may be
     imagined from the force with which water will come through the
     crevices of a hatch with that depth of water above it. Now, there
     is the same pressure of water to enter the vacuum in the pipe-drain
     as there is against the hatches, supposing the land to be full of
     water to the surface."

It is difficult to demonstrate the truth of this theory; but the same
opinion has been expressed to the writer by persons of learning and of
practical skill, based upon observations as to the entrance of water
into gas pipes, from which it is almost, if not quite, impossible to
exclude it by the most perfect joints in iron pipes. Whatever be the
theory as to pressure, or the difficulties as to the water percolating
through compact soils to the tiles, there will be no doubt left on the
mind of any one, after one experiment tried in the field, that, in
common cases, all the surplus water that reaches the tiles is freely
admitted. A gentleman, who has commenced draining his farm, recently, in
New Hampshire, expressed to the author his opinion, that tiles in his
land admitted the water as freely as a hole of a similar size to the
bore of the tile would admit it, if it could be kept open through the
soil without the tile.


How long will they last? This is the first and most important question.
Men, who have commenced with open ditches, and, having become disgusted
with the deformity, the inconvenience, and the inefficiency of them,
have then tried bushes, and boards, and turf, and found them, too,
perishable; and again have used stones, and after a time seen them fail,
through obstructions caused by moles or frost--these men have the right
to a well-considered answer to this question.

The foolish fellow in the Greek Reader, who, having heard that a crow
would live a hundred years, purchased one to verify the saying, probably
did not live long enough to ascertain that it was true. How long a
properly laid tile-drain of hard-burnt tiles will endure, has not been
definitely ascertained, but it is believed that it will outlast the life
of him who lays it.

No tiles have been long enough laid in the United States to test this
question by experience, and in England no further result seems to have
been arrived at, than that the work is a _permanent_ improvement.

In another part of this treatise, may be found some account of Land
Drainage Companies, and of Government loans in aid of improvements by
drainage in Great Britain. One of these acts provides for a charge on
the land for such improvements, to be paid in full in fifty years. That
is to say, the expense of the drainage is an incumbrance like a mortgage
on the land, at a certain rate of interest, and the tenant or occupant
of the land, each year pays the interest and enough more to discharge
the debt in just fifty years. Thus, it is assumed by the Government,
that the improvement will last fifty years in its full operation,
because the last year of the fifty pays precisely the same as every
other year.

It may therefore be considered as the settled conviction of all branches
of the British government, and of all the best-informed, practical
land-drainers in that country, that TILE-DRAINAGE WILL ENDURE FIFTY
YEARS AT LEAST, if properly executed.

This is long enough to satisfy any American; for the migratory habits of
our citizens, and the constant changes of cultivated fields into village
and city lots, prevent our imagination even conceiving the idea that we
or our posterity can remain for half a century upon the same farm.

It is much easier, however, to lay tile-drains so that they will not be
of use half of fifty years, than to make them permanent in their effect.
Tile-drainage, it cannot be too much enforced, is an operation requiring
great care and considerable skill--altogether more care and skill than
our common laborers, or even most of our farmers, are accustomed to
exercise in their farm operations.

A blunder in draining, like the blunder of a physician, may be soon
concealed by the grass that grows over it, but can never be corrected.
Drainage is a new art in this country, and tile-making is a new art.
Without good, hard-burnt tiles, no care or skill can make permanent

Tile-drainage will endure so long as the tiles last, if the work be
properly done.

There is no reason why a tile should not last in the ground as long as a
brick will last. Bricks will fall to pieces in the ground in a very
short time if not hard-burnt, while hard-burnt bricks of good clay will
last as long as granite.

Tiles must be hard-burnt in order to endure. But this is not all. Drains
fail from various other causes than the crumbling of the tiles. They are
frequently obstructed by mice, moles, frogs, and vermin of all kinds, if
not protected at the outlet. They are often destroyed by the treading of
cattle, and by the deposit of mud at the outlet, through insufficient
care. They are liable to be filled with sand, through want of care in
protecting the joints in laying, and through want of collars, and other
means of keeping them in line. They are liable, too, to fill up by
deposits of sand and the like, by being laid lower in some places than
the parts nearer the outlet, so that the slack places catch and retain
whatever is brought down, till the pipe is filled.

FROST is an enemy which in this country we have to contend with, more
than in any other, where tile-drainage has been much practiced.

Upon all these points, remarks will be found under the appropriate
heads; and these suggestions are repeated here, because we know that
haste and want of skill are likely to do much injury to the cause which
we advocate. Any work that requires only energy and progress, is safe in
American hands; but cautious and slow operations are by no means to
their taste.

Dickens says, that on railways and coaches, wherever in England they
say, "All right," the Americans use, instead, the phrase, "Go ahead." In
tile-drainage, the motto, "All right," will be found far more safe than
the motto, "Go ahead."

Instances are given in England of drains laid with handmade tiles, which
have operated well for thirty years, and have not yet failed.

Mr. Parkes informs us: "That, about 1804, pipe-tiles made tapering, with
one end entering the other, and two inches in the smallest point, were
laid down in the park now possessed by Sir Thomas Whichcote, Aswarby,
Lincolnshire, and that they still act well."

Stephens gives the following instance of the durability of bricks used
in draining:

     "Of the durability of common brick, when used in drains, there is a
     remarkable instance mentioned by Mr. George Guthrie, factor to the
     Earl of Stair or Calhoun, Wigtonshire. In the execution of modern
     draining on that estate, some brick-drains, on being intersected,
     emitted water very freely. According to documents which refer to
     these drains, it appears that they had been formed by the
     celebrated Marshal, Earl Stair, _upwards of a hundred years ago_.
     They were found between the vegetable mould and the clay upon which
     it rested, between the 'wet and the dry,' as the country phrase has
     it, and about thirty-one inches below the surface. They presented
     two forms--one consisting of two bricks set asunder on edge, and
     the other two laid lengthways across them, leaving between them an
     opening of four inches square for water, but having no soles. The
     bricks had not sunk in the least through the sandy clay bottom upon
     which they rested, as they were three inches broad. The other form
     was of two bricks laid side by side, as a sole, with two others
     built or laid on each other, at both sides, upon the solid ground,
     and covered with flat stones, the building being packed on each
     side of the drain with broken bricks."

In our chapter upon the "Obstruction of Drains," the various causes
which operate against the permanency of drains, are more fully



     DIRECTION OF DRAINS.--Whence comes the Water?--Inclination of
     Strata.--Drains across the Slope let Water out as well as Receive
     it.--Defence against Water from Higher Land.--Open

     DISTANCE OF DRAINS.--Depends on Soil, Depth, Climate, Prices,
     System.--Conclusions as to Distance.

     DEPTH OF DRAINS.--Greatly Increases Cost.--Shallow Drains first
     tried in England.--10,000 Miles of Shallow Drains laid in Scotland
     by way of Education.--Drains must be below Subsoil plow, and
     Frost.--Effect of Frost on Tiles and Aqueducts.


Whether drains should run up and down the slope of the hill, or directly
across it, or in a diagonal line as a compromise between the first two,
are questions which beginners in the art and mystery of drainage usually
discuss with great zeal. It seems so plain to one man, at the first
glance, that, in order to catch the water that is running down under the
soil upon the subsoil, from the top of the hill to the bottom, you must
cut a ditch across the current, that he sees no occasion to examine the
question farther. Another, whose idea is, to catch the water in his
drain before it rises to the surface, as it is passing up from below or
running along on the subsoil, and keep it from rising higher than the
bottom of his ditch, thinks it quite as obvious that the drains should
run up and down the slope, that the water, once entering, may remain in
the drain, going directly down hill to the outlet. A third hits on the
Keythorpe system, and regarding the water as flowing down the slope,
under the soil, in certain natural channels in the subsoil, fancies they
may best be cut off by drains, in the nature of mains, running
diagonally across the slope.

These different ideas of men, if examined, will be found to result
mainly from their different notions of the underground circulation of
water. In considering the Theory of Moisture, an attempt was made to
suggest the different causes of the wetness of land.

To drain land effectually, we must have a correct idea of the sources of
the water that makes the particular field too wet; whether it falls from
the clouds directly upon it; or whether it falls on land situated above
it and sloping towards it, so that the water runs down, as upon a roof,
from other fields or slopes to our own; or whether it gushes up in
springs which find vent in particular spots, and so is diffused through
the soil.

If we have only to take care of the water that falls on our own field,
from the clouds, that is quite a different matter from draining the
whole adjoining region, and requires a different mode of operation. If
your field is in the middle, or at the foot, of an undrained slope, from
which the water runs on the surface over your land, or soaks through it
toward some stream or swamp below, provision must be made not only for
drainage of your own field, but also for partial drainage of your
neighbor's above, or at least for defence against his surplus of water.

The first, and leading idea to be kept in mind, as governing this
question of the direction of drains, is the simple fact that _water runs
down hill_; or, to express the fact more scientifically, water
constantly seeks a lower level by the force of gravitation, and the
whole object of drains is to open lower and still lower passages, into
which the water may fall lower and lower until it is discharged from our
field at a safe depth.

Water goes down, then, by its own weight, unless there is something
through which it cannot readily pass, to bring it out at the surface. It
will go into the drains, only because they are lower than the land
drained. It will never go _upward_ to find a drain, and it will go
toward a drain the more readily, in proportion as the descent is more
steep toward it.

To decide properly what direction a drain should have, it is necessary,
then, to have a definite and a correct idea as to what office the drain
is to perform, what water is to fall into it, what land it is to drain.

Suppose the general plan to be, to lay drains forty feet apart, and four
feet deep over the field, and the question now to be determined, as to
the _direction_, whether across, or up and down the slope, there being
fall enough to render either course practicable. The first point of
inquiry is, what is expected of each drain? How much and what land
should it drain? The general answer must be, forty feet breadth, either
up and down the slope, or across it; according to the direction. But we
must be more definite in our inquiry than even this. From _what_ forty
feet of land will the water fall into the drain? Obviously, from some
land in which the water is higher than the bottom of the drain.

If, then, the drain run directly _across_ the slope, most of the water
that can fall into it, must come from the forty feet breadth of land
between the drain in question, and the drain next above it. If the water
were falling on an impervious surface, it would all run according to the
slope of the surface, in which case, by the way, no drains but those
across, could catch any of it except what fell upon the drains. But the
whole theory of drainage is otherwise, and is based on the idea that we
change the course of the underground flow, by drawing out the water at
given points by our drains; or, in other words, that "the water seeks
the lowest level in all directions."

Upon the best view the writer has been able to take of the two systems
as to the direction of drains, there is but a very small advantage in
theory in favor of either over the other, in soil which is homogeneous.
But it must be borne in mind that homogeneous soil is rather the
exception in nature than the rule.

Without undertaking to advance or defend any peculiar geological views
of the structure of the earth, or of the depositions or formations that
compose its surface, it may be said, that very often the first four feet
of subsoil is composed of strata, or layers of earth of varying

Beneath sand will be found a stratum of clay, or of compact or cemented
gravel, and frequently these strata are numerous and thin. Indeed, if
there be not some stratum below the soil, which impedes the passage of
water, it would pass downward, and the land would need no artificial
drainage. Quite often it will be found that the dip or inclination of
the various strata below the soil is different from that of the surface.

The surface may have a considerable slope, while the lower strata lie
nearly level, as if they had been cut through by artificial grading.

The following figure from the Cyclopedia of Agriculture, with the
explanation, fully illustrates this idea.

     "In many subsoils there are thin partings, or layers, of porous
     materials, interspersed between the strata, which, although not of
     sufficient capacity to give rise to actual springs, yet exude
     sufficient water to indicate their presence. These partings
     occasionally crop out, and give rise to those damp spots, which are
     to be seen diversifying the surface of fields, when the drying
     breezes of Spring have begun to act upon them. In the following
     cut, the light lines represent such partings.

     "Now, it will be evident, in draining such land, that if the drains
     be disposed in a direction transverse or oblique to the slope, it
     will often happen that the drains, no matter how skillfully
     planned, will not reach these partings at all, as at A. In this
     case, the water will continue to flow on in its accustomed channel,
     and discharge its waters at B.

     [Illustration: Fig. 34--DRAINS ACROSS THE SLOPE.]

     "But again, even though it does reach these partings, as at C, a
     considerable portion of water will escape from the drain itself,
     and flow to the _lower level_ of its old point of discharge at D.
     Whereas, a drain cut in the line of the slope, as from D to E,
     intersects all these partings, and furnishes an outlet to them at a
     lower level than their old ones."

These reasons are, it is true, applicable only to land of peculiar
structure; but there are reasons for selecting the line of greatest fall
for the direction of drains which are applicable to all lands alike.

"The line of the greatest fall is the only line in which a drain is
relatively lower than the land on either side of it." Whether we regard
the surplus water as having recently fallen upon the field, and as being
stopped near the surface by an impervious stratum, or as brought down on
these strata from above, we have it to be disposed of as it rests upon
this stratum, and is borne out by it to the surface.

If there is a decided dip, or inclination, of this stratum outward down
the slope, it is manifest that the water cannot pass backward to a cross
drain higher up the slope. The course of the water must be downward upon
the stratum on which it lies, and so all between two cross drains must
pass to the lower one. The upper drain could take very little, if any,
and the greater the inclination of this stratum, the less could flow

But in such case a drain down the slope gives to the water borne up by
these strata, an outlet of the depth of the drain. If the drain be four
feet deep, it cuts the water-bearing strata each at that depth, and
takes off the water.

In these cases, the different layers of clay or other impervious
"partings," are like the steps of a huge stairway, with the soil filling
them up to a regular grade. The ditch cuts through these steps, letting
the water that rests on them fall off at the ends, instead of running
over the edges. Drains across the slope have been significantly termed
"mere catch-waters."

If we wish to use water to irrigate lands, we carefully conduct it along
the surface across the slope, allowing it to flow over and to soak
through the soil. If we desire to carry the same water off the field as
speedily as possible, we should carry our surface ditch directly down
the slope.

Now, looking at the operation of drains across the slope, and supposing
that each drain is draining the breadth next above it, we will suppose
the drain to be running full of water. What is there to prevent the
water from passing out of that drain in its progress, at every point of
the tiles, and so saturating the breadth below it? Drainpipes afford the
same facility for water to soak out at the lower side, as to enter on
the upper, and there is the same law of gravitation to operate in each
case. Mr. Denton gives instances in which he has observed, where drains
were carried across the slope, in Warwickshire, lines of moisture at a
regular distance below the drains. He could ascertain, he says, the
depth of the drain itself, by taking the difference of height between
the line of the drain at the surface, and that of the line of moisture
beneath it. He says again:

     "I recently had an opportunity, in Scotland, of gauging the quantity
     of water traveling along an important drain carried obliquely across
     the fall, when I ascertained with certainty, that, although the land
     through which it passed was comparatively full of water, the drain
     actually lost more than it gained in a passage of several chains
     through it."

So far as authority goes, there seems, with the exception of some
advocates of the Keythorpe system, of which an account has been given,
to be very little difference of opinion. Mr. Denton says:

     "With respect to the direction of drains, I believe very little
     difference of opinion exists. All the most successful drainers
     concur in the line of the steepest descent, as essential to
     effective and economical drainage. Certain exceptions are
     recognized in the West of England, but I believe it will be found,
     as practice extends in that quarter, that the exceptions have been
     allowed in error."

In another place, he says:

     "The very general concurrence in the adoption of the line of
     greatest descent, as the proper course for the minor drains in
     soils free from rock, would almost lead me to declare this as an
     incontrovertible principle."

Allusion has been made to cases where we may have to defend ourselves
from the flow of water from higher undrained lands of our neighbor. To
arrest the flow of mere surface water, an open ditch, or catch-water, is
the most effectual, as well as the most obvious mode. There are many
instances in New England, where lands upon the lowest slopes of hills
are overflowed by water which fell high up upon the hill, and, after
passing downward till arrested by rock formation, is borne out again to
the surface, in such quantity as to produce, just at the foot of the
hill, almost a swamp. This land is usually rich from the wash of the
hills, but full of cold water.

To effect perfect drainage of a portion of this land, which we will
suppose to be a gentle slope, the first object must be to cut off the
flow of water upon or near the surface. An open ditch across the top
would most certainly effect this object, and it may be doubtful whether
any other drain would be sufficient. This would depend upon the quantity
of water flowing down. If the quantity be very great at times, a part of
it would be likely to flow across the top of an under-drain, from not
having time to percolate downward into it.

In all cases, it is advised, where our work stops upon a slope, to
introduce a cross-drain, connecting the tops of all the minor-drains.
This cross-drain is called a _header_. The object of it is to cut off
the water that may be passing along in the subsoil down the slope, and
which would otherwise be likely to pass downward between the system of
drains to a considerable distance before finding them. If we suppose the
ground saturated with water, and our drains running up the slope and
stopping at 4 feet depth, with no header connecting them, they, in
effect, stop against 4 feet head of water, and in order to drain the
land as far up as they go, must not only take their fair proportion of
water which lies between them, but must draw down this 4 feet head
beyond them. This they cannot do, because the water from a higher
source, with the aid of capillary attraction, and the friction or
resistance met with in percolation, will keep up this head of water far
above the drained level.

In railway cuttings, and the like, we often see a slope of this kind cut
through, without drying the land above the cutting; and if the slope be
disposed in alternate layers of sand or gravel, and clay, the water will
continue to flow out high up on the perpendicular bank. Even in porous
soils of homogeneous character, it will be found that the _head_ of
water, if we may use the expression, is affected but a short distance
by a drain across its flow. Indeed, the whole theory as to the distance
of drains apart, rests upon the idea, that the limit to which drains may
be expected effectually to operate, is at most but two or three rods.

Whether, in a particular case, a header alone will be sufficient to cut
off the flow of water from the higher land, or whether, in addition to
the header, an open catch-water may be required, must depend upon the
quantity of water likely to flow through or upon the land. An
under-drain might be expected to absorb any moderate quantity of what
may be termed drainage-water, but it cannot stop a river or mill-stream;
and if the earth above the tiles be compact, even water flowing through
the soil with rapidity, might pass across it. If there is reason to
apprehend this, an open ditch might be added to the header; or, if this
is not considered sufficiently scientific or in good taste, a tile-drain
of sufficient capacity may be laid, with the ditch above it carefully
packed with small stones to the top of the ground. Such a drain would be
likely to receive sand and other obstructing substances, as well as a
large amount of water, and should, for both reasons, be carried off
independently of the small drains, which would thus be left to discharge
their legitimate service.

Where it is thought best to connect an open, or surface drain, with a
covered drain, it will add much to its security against silt and other
obstructions, to interpose a trap or silt-basin at the junction, and
thus allow the water to pass off comparatively clean. Where, however,
there is a large flow of water into a basin, it will be kept so much in
motion as to carry along with it a large amount of earth, and thus
endanger the drain below, unless it be very large.


The reader, who has studied carefully the rival systems of "deep
drainage" and "thorough drainage," has seen that the distance of drains
apart, is closely connected with that controversy. The greatest variety
of opinion is expressed by different writers as to the proper distances,
ranging all the way from ten feet apart to seventy, or even more.

Many English writers have ranged themselves on one side or the other of
some sharp controversy as to the merits of some peculiar system. Some
distinguished geologist has discovered, or thinks he has, some new law
of creation by which he can trace the underground currents of water; or
some noble noble lord has "patronized" into notice some caprice of an
aspiring engineer, and straight-way the kingdom is convulsed with
contests to set up or cast down these idols. By careful observation, it
is said, we may find "sermons in stones, and good in everything;" and,
standing aloof from all exciting controversies, we may often profit, not
only by the science and wisdom of our brethren, but also by their errors
and excesses. If, by the help of the successes and failures of our
English neighbors, we shall succeed in attaining to their present
standard of perfection in agriculture, we shall certainly make great
advances upon our present position.

As the distances of drains apart, depend manifestly on many
circumstances, which may widely vary in the diversity of soil, climate,
and cost of labor and materials to be found in the United States, it
will be convenient to arrange our remarks on the subject under
appropriate heads.


Water runs readily through sand or gravel. In such soils it easily seeks
and finds its level. If it be drawn out at one point, it tends towards
that point from all directions. In a free, open sand, you may draw out
all the water at one opening, almost as readily as from an open pond.

Yet, even such sands may require draining. A body of sandy soil
frequently lies not only upon clay, but in a basin; so that, if the sand
were removed, a pond would remain. In such a case, a few deep
drains, rightly placed, might be sufficient. This, however, is a case
not often met with, though open, sandy soil upon clay is a common

Then there is the other extreme of compact clay, through which water
seems scarcely to percolate at all. Yet it has water in it, that may
probably soak out by the same process by which it soaked in. Very few
soils, of even such as are called clay, are impervious to water,
especially in the condition in which they are found in nature. To render
them impervious, it is necessary to wet and stir them up, or, as it is
termed, _puddle_ them. Any soil, so far as it has been weathered--that
is, exposed to air, water and frost--is permeable to water to a greater
or less degree; so that we may feel confident that the upper stratum of
any soil, not constantly under water, will readily allow the water to
pass through.

And in considering the "Drainage of Stiff Clays," we shall see that the
most obstinate clays are usually so affected by the operation of
drainage, that they crack, and so open passages for the water to the

All gravels, black mud of swamps, and loamy soils of any kind, are
readily drained.

Occasionally, however--even in tracts of easy drainage, as a
whole--deposits are found of some combinations with iron, so firmly
cemented together, as to be almost impenetrable with the pick-axe, and
apparently impervious to water. Exceptional cases of this nature must
be carefully sought for by the drainer.

Whenever a wet spot is observed, seek for the cause, and be satisfied
whether it is wet because a spring bursts up from the bottom; or because
the subsoil is impervious, and will not allow the surface-water to pass
downward. Ascertain carefully the cause of the evil, and then skillfully
doctor the disease, and not the symptoms merely. A careful attention to
the theory of moisture, will go far to enable us properly to determine
the requisite frequency of drains.


The relations of the depth and distance of drains will be more fully
considered, in treating of the depth of drains. The idea that depth will
compensate for frequency, in all cases, seems now to be abandoned. It is
conceded that clay-soils, which readily absorb moisture, and yet are
strongly retentive, cannot be drained with sufficient rapidity, or even
thoroughness, by drains at any depth, unless they are also within
certain distances.

In a porous soil, as a general rule, the deeper the drain, the further
it will draw. The tendency of water is to lie level in the soil; but
capillary attraction and mechanical obstructions offer constant
resistance to this tendency. The farther water has to pass in the soil,
the longer time, other things being equal, will be required for the
passage. Therefore, although a single deep drain might, in ten days
lower the water-line as much as two drains of the same depth, or, in
other words, might draw the water all down to its own level, yet, it is
quite evident that the two drains might do the work in less
time--possibly, in five days. We have seen already the necessity of
laying drains deep enough to be below the reach of the subsoil plow and
below frost, so that, in the Northern States, the question of shallow
drainage seems hardly debatable. Yet, if we adopt the conclusion that
four feet is the least allowable depth, where an outfall can be found,
there may be the question still, whether, in very open soils, a still
greater depth may not be expedient, to be compensated by increased


Climate includes the conditions of temperature and moisture, and so,
necessarily, the seasons. In the chapter which treats of _Rain_, it will
be seen that the quantity of rain which falls in the year is singularly
various in different places. Even, in England, "the annual average
rain-fall of the wettest place in Cumberland is stated to be 141 inches,
while 19-1/2 inches may be taken as the average fall in Essex. In
Cumberland, there are 210 days in the year in which rain falls, and in
Chiswick, near London, but 124."

A reference to the tables in another place, will show us an infinite
variety in the rain-fall at different points of our own country.

If we expect, therefore, to furnish passage for but two feet of water in
the year, our drains need not be so numerous as would be necessary to
accommodate twice that quantity, unless, indeed, the time for its
passage may be different; and this leads us to another point which
should ever be kept in mind in New England--the necessity of quick
drainage. The more violent storms and showers of our country, as
compared with England, have been spoken of when considering _The Size of
Tiles_. The sudden transition from Winter to Summer, from the breaking
up of deep snows with the heavy falls of rain, to our brief and hasty
planting time, requires that our system of drainage should be efficient,
not only to take off large quantities of water, but to take them off in
a very short time. How rapidly water may be expected to pass off by
drainage, is not made clear by writers on the subject.

"One inch in depth," says an English writer, "is a very heavy fall of
rain in a day, and it generally takes two days for the water to drain
fully from deep drained land." One inch of water over an acre is
calculated to be something more than one hundred tons. This seems, in
gross, to be a large amount, but we should expect that an inch, or even
two inches of water, spread evenly over a field, would soon disappear
from the surface; and if not prevented by some impervious obstruction,
it must continue downward.

It is said, on good authority, that, in England, the smallest sized
pipes, if the fall be good, will be sufficiently large, at ordinary
distances, to carry off all the surplus water. In the author's own
fields, where two-inch tiles are laid at four feet depth and fifty feet
apart, in an open soil, they seem amply sufficient to relieve the ground
of all surplus water from rain, in a very few days. Most of them have
never ceased to run every day in the year, but as they are carried up
into an undrained plain, they probably convey much more water than falls
upon the land in which they lie.

So far as our own observation goes, their flow increases almost as soon
as rain begins to fall, and subsides, after it ceases, about as soon as
the water in the little river into which they lead, sinks back into its
ordinary channel, the freshet in the drains and in the stream being
nearly simultaneous. Probably, two-inch pipes, at fifty feet distances,
will carry off, with all desirable rapidity, any quantity of water that
will ever fall, if the soil be such that the water can pass through it
to the distance necessary to find the drains; but it is equally probable
that, in a compact clay soil, fifty feet distance is quite too great for
sufficiently rapid drainage, because the water cannot get to the drains
with sufficient rapidity.


The fact, that the last foot of a four-foot drain costs as much labor as
the first three feet, is shown in another chapter, and the deeper we go,
the greater the comparative cost of the labor. With tiles at $10 per
thousand, the cost of opening and filling a four-foot ditch is, in,
round numbers, by the rod, equal to twice the cost of the tiles. In
porous soils, therefore, where depth may be made to compensate for
greater distance, it is always a matter for careful estimate, whether we
shall practice true economy by laying the tiles at great depths, or at
the smallest depth at which they will be safe from frost and the subsoil
plow, and at shorter distances. The rule is manifest that, where labor
is cheap and tiles are dear, it is true economy to dig deep and lay few
tiles; and, where tiles are cheap and labor is dear, it is economy to
make the number of drains, if possible, compensate for less depth.


While we would not lay down an arbitrary arrangement for any farm,
except upon a particular examination, and while we would by no means
advocate what has been called the gridiron system--of drains everywhere
at equal depths and distances--yet some system is absolutely essential,
in any operation that approaches to thorough drainage.

If it be only desired to cut off some particular springs, or to assist
Nature in some ravine or basin, a deep drain here and there may be
expedient; but when any considerable surface is to be drained, there can
be no good work without a connected plan of operations.

Mains must be laid from the outfall, through the lowest parts; and into
the mains the smaller drains must be conducted, upon such a system as
that there may be the proper fall or inclination throughout, and that
the whole field shall be embraced.

Again, a perfect _plan_ of the completed work, accurately drawn on
paper, should always be preserved for future reference. Now it is
manifest, that it is impossible to lay out a given field, with proper
mains and small drains, dividing the fall as equally as practicable
between the different parts of an undulating field, preserving a system
throughout, by which, with the aid of a plan, any drain may at any time
be traced, without making distances conform somewhat to the system of
the whole.

It is easily demonstrable, too, that drains at right angles with the
mains, and so parallel with each other, are the shortest possible drains
in land that needs uniform drainage. They take each a more uniform share
of the water, and serve a greater breadth of soil than when laid at
acute angles. While, therefore, it may be supposed that in particular
parts of the field, distances somewhat greater or less might be
advisable, considered independently, yet in practice, it will be found
best, usually, to pay becoming deference to order, "Heaven's first law,"
and sacrifice something of the individual good, to the leading idea of
the general welfare.

In the letter of Mr. Denton, in another chapter, some remarks will be
found upon the subject of which we are treating. The same gentleman has,
in a published paper, illustrated the impossibility of strict adherence
to any arbitrary rule in the distances or arrangement of drains, as

     "The wetness of land, which for distinction's sake, I have called
     'the water of pressure,' like the water of springs, to which it is
     nearly allied, can be effectually and cheaply removed only by
     drains devised for, and devoted to the object. Appropriate deep
     drains at B B B, for instance, as indicated in the dark vertical
     lines, are found to do the service of many parallel drains, which
     as frequently miss, as they hit, those furrows, or 'lips,' in the
     horizontal out-crop of water-bearing strata which continue to exude
     wetness after the higher portions are dry.

     [Illustration: Fig. 35.--The vertical dotted lines show the
     position of parallel drains.]

     "A consideration, too, of the varying inclinations of surface, of
     which instances will frequently occur in the same field,
     necessitates a departure from uniformity, not in direction only,
     but in intervals between drains. Take, for instance, the ordinary
     case of a field, in which a comparatively flat space will intervene
     between quickly rising ground and the outfall ditch. It is clear
     that the soak of the hill will pervade the soil of the lower
     ground, let the system of drainage adopted be what it may; and,
     therefore, supposing the soil of the hill and flat to be precisely
     alike, the existence of bottom water in a greater quantity in the
     lower lands than in the higher, will call for a greater number of
     drains. It is found, too, that an independent discharge or relief
     of the water coming from the hill, at B, should always be provided,
     in order to avoid any impediment by the slower flow of the flatter

     [Illustration: Fig. 36.]

     "Experience shows that, with few exceptions, hollows, or 'slacks,'
     observable on the surface, as at B B, have a corresponding
     undulation of subsoil and that any system which does not provide a
     direct release for water, which would otherwise collect in and
     draw towards these spots, is imperfect and unsatisfactory. It is
     found to be much more safe to depend on relief drains, than on the
     cutting of drains sufficiently deep through the banks, at A A, to
     gain a fall at a regular inclination.

     "Still, in spite of experience, we often observe a disregard of
     these facts, even in works which are otherwise well executed to a
     depth of four feet, but fettered by methodical rules, and I feel
     compelled to remark, that it has often occurred to me, when I have
     observed with what diligent examination the rules of depth and
     distance have been tested, that if more attention had been paid to
     the _source_ of injury, and to the mode of securing an effective
     and permanent _discharge_ of the injurious water, much greater
     service would be done."

In conclusion, as to distances, we should advise great caution on the
part of beginners in laying out their drains. Draining is too expensive
a work to be carelessly or unskillfully done. A mistake in locating
drains too far apart, brings a failure to accomplish the end in view. A
mistake in placing them too near, involves a great loss of labor and
money. Consult, then, those whose experience has given them knowledge,
and pay to a professional engineer, or some other skillful person, a
small amount for aid, which will probably save ten times as much in the
end. We have placed our own drains in porous, though very wet soil, at
fifty feet distances, which, in most soils, might be considered
extremely wide. We are fully satisfied that they would have drained the
land as well at sixty feet, except in a few low places, where they could
not be sunk four feet for want of fall.

In most New England lands that require drainage, we believe that from 40
to 50 feet distances, with four feet depth, will prove sufficient. Upon
stiff clays, we have no experience of our own of any value, although we
have a field of the stiffest clay, drained last season at 40 feet
distances and four feet depth. In England, this would, probably, prove
insufficient, and, perhaps, it will prove so here. One thing is
certain, that, at present, there is little land in this country that
will pay for drainage by hand labor, at the English distances in clay,
of 16 or 20 feet. If our powerful Summer's sun will not somehow
compensate in part for distance, we must, upon our clays, await the
coming of draining plows and steam.


Cheap and temporary expedients in agriculture are the characteristics of
us Americans, who have abundance of land, a whole continent to
cultivate, and comparatively few hands and small capital with which to
do the work. We erect temporary houses and barns and fences, hoping to
find time and means at a future day, to reconstruct them in a more
thorough manner. We half cultivate our new lands, because land is
cheaper than labor; and it pays best for the present, rather to rob our
mother earth, than to give her labor for bread.

The easy and cheap process in draining, is that into which we naturally
fall. It is far easier and cheaper to dig shallow than deep drains, and,
therefore, we shall not dig deep unless we see good reason to do so. If,
however, we carefully study the subject, it will be manifest that
superficial drainage is, in general, the result of superficial
knowledge of the subject.

Thorough-drainage does not belong to pioneer farming, nor to a cheap and
temporary system. It involves capital and labor, and demands skill and
system. It cannot be patched up, like a brush fence, to answer the
purpose, from year to year, but every tile must be placed where it will
best perform its office for a generation. In England, the rule and the
habit in all things, is thoroughness and permanency; yet the first and
greatest mistake there in drainage was shallowness, and it has required
years of experiments, and millions of money, to correct that mistake.
If we commit the same folly, as we are very likely to do, we cannot
claim even the originality of the blunder, and shall be guilty of the
folly of pursuing the crooked paths of their exploration, instead of the
straight highway which they have now established. To be sure, the
controversy as to the depth of drains has by no means ceased in England,
but the question is reduced to this, whether the least depth shall be
three feet or four; one party contending that for certain kinds of clay,
a three-foot drain is as effectual as a four-foot drain, and that the
least effectual depth should be used, because it is the cheapest; while
the general opinion of the best scientific and practical men in the
kingdom, has settled down upon four feet as the minimum depth, where the
fall and other circumstances render it practicable. At the same time,
all admit that, in many cases, a greater depth than four feet is
required by true economy. It may seem, at first, that a controversy, as
to one additional foot in a system of drainage, depends upon a very
small point; but a little reflection will show it to be worthy of
careful consideration. Without going here into a nice calculation, it
may be stated generally as an established fact, that the excavation of a
ditch four feet deep, costs twice as much as that of a ditch three feet
deep. Although this may not seem credible to one who has not considered
the point, yet it will become more probable on examination, and very
clear, when the actual digging is attempted. Ditches for tiles are
always opened widest at top, with a gradual narrowing to near the
bottom, where they should barely admit the tile. Now, the addition of a
foot to the depth, is not, as it would perhaps at first appear, merely
the addition of the lowest and narrowest foot, but rather of the topmost
and widest foot. In other words, a four-foot ditch is precisely a
three-foot ditch in size and form, with an additional foot on the top
of it, and not a three-foot ditch deepened an additional foot.

The lowest foot of a four-foot ditch is raised one foot higher, to get
it upon the surface, than if the ditch were but three feet deep. In
clays, and most other soils, the earth grows harder as we go deeper, and
this consideration, in practice, will be found important. Again: the
small amount of earth from a three-foot ditch, may lie conveniently on
one bank near its edge, while the additional mass from a deeper one must
be thrown further; and then is to be added the labor of replacing the
additional quantity in filling up.

On the whole, the point may be conceded, that the labor of opening and
finishing a four-foot drain is double that of a three-foot drain.

Without stopping here to estimate carefully the cost of excavation and
the cost of tiles, it may be remarked, that, upon almost any estimate,
the cost of labor, even in a three-foot drain in this country, yet far
exceeds the cost of tiles: but, if we call them equal, then, if the
additional foot of depth costs as much as the first three feet, we have
the cost of a four-foot tile-drain fifty per cent. more than that of a
three-foot drain. In other words, 200 rods of four-foot drain will cost
just as much as 300 rods of three-foot drain. This is, probably, as
nearly accurate as any general estimate that can be made at present. The
principles upon which the calculations depend, having been thus
suggested, it will not be difficult to vary them so as to apply them to
the varying prices of labor and tiles, and to the use of the plow or
other implements propelled by animals or steam, when applied to drainage
in our country.

The earliest experiments in thorough-drainage, in England, were at very
small depths, two feet being, for a time, considered very deep, and
large tracts were underlaid with tiles at a depth of eighteen, and even
twelve inches. It is said, that 10,000 miles of drains, two feet deep
and less, were laid in Scotland before it was found that this depth was
not sufficient. Of course, the land thus treated was relieved of much
water, and experimenters were often much gratified with their success;
but it may be safely said now, that there is no advocate known to the
public, in England, for a system of drainage of less than three feet
depth, and no one advocates a system of drainage of less than four feet
deep, except upon some peculiar clays.

The general principle seems well established, that depth will compensate
for width; or, in other words, that the deeper the drain, the farther it
will draw. This principle, generally correct, is questioned when applied
to peculiar clays only. As to them, all that is claimed is, that it is
more economical to make the drains but three feet, because they must,
even if deep, be near together--nobody doubting, that if four feet deep
or more, and near enough, they will drain the land.

In speaking of _clay_ soil, it should always be borne in mind, that clay
is merely a relative term in agriculture. "A clay in Scotland," says Mr.
Pusey, "would be a loam in the South of England." Professor Mapes, of
our own country, in the _Working Farmer_, says, "We are convinced, that,
with thorough subsoil plowing, no clay soil exists in this country which
might not be underdrained to a depth of four feet with advantage."

There can be no doubt, that, with four-foot drains at proper distances,
all soils, except some peculiar clays, may be drained, even without
reference to the changes produced in the mechanical structure of soil by
the operation. There is no doubt, however, that all soils are, by the
admission of air, which must always take the place of the water drawn
out, and by the percolation of water through them, rendered gradually
more porous. Added to this, the subsoil plow, which will be the
follower of drainage, will break up the soil to considerable depth, and
thus make it more permeable to moisture. But there is still another and
more effective aid which Nature affords to the land-drainer, upon what
might be otherwise impracticable clays.

This topic deserves a careful and distinct consideration, which it will
receive under the title of "Drainage of Stiff Clays."

In discussing the subject of the depth of drains, we are not unmindful
of the fact that, in this country, the leaders in the drainage movement,
especially Messrs. Delafield, Yeomans, and Johnston, of New York, have
achieved their truly striking results, by the use of tiles laid at from
two and a half to three feet depth. On the "Premium Farm" of R. J. Swan,
of Rose Hill, near Geneva, it is stated that there are sixty-one miles
of under-drains, laid from two and a half to three feet deep. That these
lands thus drained have been changed in their character, from cold, wet,
and unproductive wastes, in many cases, to fertile and productive fields
of corn and wheat, sufficiently appears. Indeed, we all know of fields
drained only with stone drains two feet deep, that have been reclaimed
from wild grasses and rushes into excellent mowing fields. In England
and in Scotland, as we have seen, thousands of miles of shallow drains
were laid, and were for years quite satisfactory. These facts speak
loudly in favor of drainage in general. The fact that shoal drains
produce results so striking, is a stumbling-block in the progress of a
more thorough system. It may seem like presumption to say to those to
whom we are so much indebted for their public spirit, as well as private
enterprise, that they have not drained deep enough for the greatest
advantage in the end. It would seem that they should know their own
farms and their own results better than others. We propose to state,
with all fairness, the results of their experiments, and to detract
nothing from the credit which is due to the pioneers in a great work.

We cannot, however, against the overwhelming weight of authority, and
against the reasons for deeper drainage, which, to us, seem so
satisfactory, conclude, that even three feet is, in general, deep enough
for under-drains. Three-foot drains will produce striking results on
almost any wet lands, but four-foot drains will be more secure and
durable, will give wider feeding-grounds to the roots, better filter the
percolating water, warm and dry the land earlier in Spring, furnish a
larger reservoir for heavy rains, and, indeed, more effectually perform
every office of drains.

In reviewing our somewhat minute discussion of this essential point--the
proper depth of drains--certain propositions may be laid down with
considerable assurance.


Let no man imagine that he shall never use the subsoil plow; for so
surely as he has become already so much alive to improvement, as to
thorough-drain, so surely will he next complete the work thus begun, by
subsoiling his land.

The subsoil plow follows in the furrow of another plow, and if the
forward plow turn a furrow one foot deep, the subsoil may be run two
feet more, making three feet in all. Ordinarily, the subsoil plow is run
only to the depth of 18 or 20 inches; but if the intention were to run
it no deeper than that, it would be liable to dip much deeper
occasionally, as it came suddenly upon the soft places above the drains.
The tiles should lie far enough below the deepest path of the subsoil
plow, not to be at all disturbed by its pressure in passing over the
drains. It is by no means improbable that fields that have already been
drained in this country, may be, in the lifetime of their present
occupants, plowed and subsoiled by means of steam-power, and stirred to
as great a depth as shall be found at all desirable. But, in the present
mode of using the subsoil plow on land free from stones, a depth less
than three and a half or four feet would hardly be safe for the depth of


This is a point upon which we must decide for our selves. There is no
country where drainage is practiced, where the thermometer sinks, as in
almost every Winter it does in New England, to 20° below zero

All writers seem to assume that tile-drains must be injured by frost.
What the effect of frost upon them is supposed to be, does not seem very
clear. If filled with water, and frozen, they must, of course, burst by
the expansion of the water in freezing; but it would probably rarely
happen, that drainage-water, running in cold weather, could come from
other than deep sources, and it must then be considerably above the
freezing point. Still; we know that aqueduct pipes do freeze at
considerable depths, though supplied from deep springs. Neither these
nor gas-pipes are, in our New England towns, safe below frost, unless
laid four feet below the surface; and instances occur where they freeze
at a much greater depth, usually, however, under the beaten paths of
streets, or in exposed positions, where the snow is blown away. In such
places, the earth sometimes freezes solid to the depth of even six feet.
It will be suggested at once that our fields, and especially our wet
lands, do not freeze so deep, and this is true; but it must be borne in
mind, that the very reason why our wet lands do not freeze deeper, may
be, that they are filled with the very spring-water which makes them
cold in Summer, indeed, but is warmer than the air in Winter, and so
keeps out the frost. Drained lands will freeze deeper than undrained
lands, and the farmer must be vigilant upon this point, or he may have
his work ruined in a single Winter.

We are aware, that upon this, as every other point, ascertained facts
may seem strangely to conflict. In the town of Lancaster, among the
mountains in the coldest part of New Hampshire, many of the houses and
barns of the village are supplied with water brought in aqueducts from
the hills. We observed that the logs which form the conduit are, in many
places, exposed to view on the surface of the ground, sometimes partly
covered with earth, but generally very little protected. There has not
been a Winter, perhaps in a half century, when the thermometer has not
at times been 10° below Zero, and often it is even lower than that. Upon
particular inquiry, we ascertained that very little inconvenience is
experienced there from the freezing of the pipes. The water is drawn
from deep springs in the mountains, and fills the pipes of from one to
two-inch bore, passing usually not more than one or two hundred rods
before it is discharged, and its warmth is sufficient, with the help of
its usual snow covering, to protect it from the frost.

We have upon our own premises an aqueduct, which supplies a cattle-yard,
which has never been covered more than two feet deep, and has never
frozen in the nine years of its use. We should not, therefore, apprehend
much danger from the freezing of pipes, even at shallow depths, if they
carry all the Winter a considerable stream of spring-water; but in pipes
which take merely the surface water that passes into them by
percolation, we should expect little or no aid from the water in
preventing frost. The water filtering downward in Winter must be nearly
at the freezing point; and the pipes may be filled with solid ice, by
the freezing of a very small quantity as it enters them.

Neither hard-burnt bricks nor hard-burnt tiles will crumble by mere
exposure to the Winter weather above ground, though soft bricks or tiles
will scarcely endure a single hard frost. Too much stress cannot be laid
upon the importance of using hard-burnt tiles only, as the failure of a
single tile may work extensive mischief. Writers seem to assume, that
the freezing of the ground about the drains will displace the tiles, and
so destroy their continuity, and this may be so; though we find no
evidence, perhaps, that at three or four feet, there is any disturbance
of the soil by freezing. We dig into clay, or into our strong subsoils,
and find the earth, at three feet deep, as solid and undisturbed as at
twice that depth, and no indication that the frost has touched it,
though it has felt the grip of his icy fingers every year since the
Flood. With these suggestions for warning and for encouragement, the
subject must be left to the sound judgment of the farmer or engineer
upon each farm, to make the matter so safe, that the owner need not have
an anxious thought, as he wakes in a howling Winter night, lest his
drains should be freezing.

Finally, in view of the various considerations that have been,
suggested, as well as of the almost uniform authority of the ablest
writers and practical men, it is safe to conclude, that, in general, in
this country, wherever sufficient outfall can be had, _four feet above
the top of the tiles should be the minimum depth of drains_.



     Necessity of System.--What Fall is Necessary.--American
     Examples.--Outlets.--Wells and Relief-Pipes.--Peep holes.--How to
     secure Outlets.--Gate to Exclude Back-Water.--Gratings and Screens
     to keep out Frogs, Snakes, Moles, &c.--Mains, Submains, and Minors,
     how placed.--Capacity of Pipes.--Mains of Two Tiles.--Junction of
     Drains.--Effect of Curves and Angles on Currents.--Branch
     Pipes.--Draining into Wells or Swallow Holes.--Letter from Mr.

As every act is, or should be, a part of a great plan of life, so every
stake that is set, and every line laid in the field, should have
relation not only to general principles, but also to some comprehensive
plan of operations.

Assuming, then, that the principles advocated in this treatise are
adopted as to the details, that the depth preferred is not less than
four feet--that the direction preferred is up and down the slope--that
the distance apart may range from fifteen to sixty feet, and more in
some cases, according to the depth of drains and the nature of the
soil--that no tiles smaller than one and a half inch bore will be used,
and none less than two inches except for the first one hundred yards,
there still remains the application of all these principles to the
particular work in hand. With the hope of assisting the deliberations of
the farmer on this point, some additional suggestions will be made under
appropriate heads.


The absolute necessity of some regularity of plan in our work, must be
manifest. Without system, we can never, in the outset, estimate the
cost of our operation; we can never proportion our tiles to the quantity
of water that will pass through them; we can never find the drains
afterwards, or form a correct opinion of the cause of any failure that
may await us.

We prefer, in general, where practicable, parallel lines for our minor
drains, at right angles with the mains, because this is the simplest and
most systematic arrangement; but the natural ravines or water-courses in
fields, seldom run parallel with each other, or at right angles with the
slope of the hills, so that regular work like this, can rarely be

If the earth were constructed of regular slopes, or plains of uniform
character, we could easily apply to it all our rules; but, broken as it
is into hills and valleys, filled with stones here, with a bank of clay
there, and a sand-pit close by, we are obliged to sacrifice to general
convenience, often, some special abstract rule.

We prefer to run drains up and down the slope; but if the field be
filled with undulations, or hills with various slopes, we may often find
it expedient, for the sake of system, to vary this course.

If the question were only as to one single drain, we could adjust it so
as to conform to our perfect ideal; but as each drain is, as it were, an
artery in a complicated system, which must run through and affect every
part of it, all must be located with reference to every other, and to
the general effect.

Keeping in mind, then, the importance of some regular system that shall
include the whole field of operation, the work should be laid out, with
as near a conformity to established principles as circumstances will


In considering what fall is necessary, and what is desirable, we have
seen, that although a very slight inclination may carry off water, yet
a proportionably larger drain is necessary as the fall decreases,
because the water runs slower.

     "It is surprising," says Stephens, "what a small descent is
     required for the flow of water in a well-constructed duct. People
     frequently complain that they cannot find sufficient fall to carry
     off the water from the drains. There are few situations where a
     sufficient fall cannot be found if due pains are exercised. It has
     been found in practice, that a water-course thirty feet wide and
     six feet deep, giving a transverse sectional area of one hundred
     and eighty square feet, will discharge three hundred cubic yards of
     water per minute, and will flow at the rate of one mile per hour,
     with a fall of no more than _six inches per mile_."

Messrs. Shedd and Edson, of Boston, have superintended some drainage
works in Milton, Mass., where, after obtaining permission to drain
through the land of an adjacent owner, not interested in the operation,
they could obtain but three inches fall in one hundred feet, or a half
inch to the rod, for three quarters of a mile, and this only by blasting
the ledges at the outlet. This fall, however, proves sufficient for
perfect drainage, and by their skill, a very unhealthful swamp has been
rendered fit for gardens and building-lots. In another instance, in
Dorchester, Mass., Mr. Shedd informs us that in one thousand feet, they
could obtain only a fall of two inches for their main, and this, by nice
adjustment, he expects to make sufficient. In another instance, he has
found a fall of two and a half inches in one hundred feet, in an open
paved drain to be effectual.

It is certainly advisable always to divide the fall as even as possible
throughout the drains, yet this will be found a difficult rule to
follow. Very often we have a space of nearly level ground to pass
through to our outfall; and, usually, the mains, in order that the minor
drains may be carried into them from both sides, must follow up the
natural valleys in the field, thus controlling, in a great measure, our
choice as to the fall. We are, in fact, often compelled to use the
natural fall nearly as we find it.

It is thought advisable to have the mains from three to six inches lower
than the drains discharging into them, so that there may be no
obstruction in the minor drains by the backing up of water, and the
consequent deposition of sand or other obstructing substances. Wherever
one stream flows into another, there must be more or less interruption
of the course of each. If the water from the minors enters the main with
a quick fall, the danger of obstruction in the minor, at least, is much
lessened. A frequent cause of partial failure of drains, is their not
having been laid with a regular inclination. If, instead of a gradual
and uniform fall, there should be a slight rising in the bed of a drain,
the descending water will be interrupted there till it accumulate so
high as to be above the level of the rising. At this point, therefore,
the water must have a tendency to press out of the drains, and will
deposit whatever particles of sand or other earthy matter it may bring

Drains must, therefore, be so arranged, that in cutting them, their beds
may be as nearly as possible, straight, or, at least, have a constant,
if not a regular and equal fall.


All agree that it is best to have but few general outlets. "In the whole
process of draining," says an engineer of experience, "there is nothing
so desirable as permanent and substantial work at the point of
discharge." The outlet is the place, of all others, where obstruction is
most likely to occur. Everywhere else the work is protected by the earth
above it, but here it is exposed to the action of frost, to cattle, to
mischievous boys, to reptiles, as well as to the obstructing deposits
which are discharged from the drains themselves. In regular work, under
the direction of engineers, iron pipes, with swing gratings set in
masonry, are used, to protect permanently this important part of the
system of drainage.

It may often be convenient to run parallel drains down a slope, bringing
each out into an open ditch, or at the bottom of some bank, thus making
a separate outlet for each. This practice, however, is strongly
deprecated. These numerous outlets cannot be well protected without
great cost; they will be forgotten, or, at least, neglected, and the
work will fail.

Regarding this point, of few and well-secured outlets, as of great
importance, the arrangement of all the drains must have reference to it.
When drains are brought down a slope, as just suggested, let them,
instead of discharging separately, be crossed, near the foot of the
slope, by a sub-main running a little diagonally so as to secure
sufficient fall, and so carried into a main, or discharged at a single

It may be objected, that by thus uniting the whole system, and
discharging the water at one point, there may be difficulty in
ascertaining by inspection, whether any of the drains are obstructed, or
whether all are performing their appropriate work. There is prudence and
good sense in this suggestion, and the objection may be obviated by
placing _wells_, or "peep-holes," at proper intervals, in which the flow
of the water at various points may be observed. On the subject of wells
and peep-holes, the reader will find in another chapter a more
particular description of their construction and usefulness.

The position of the outlet must, evidently, be at a point sufficiently
low to receive all the water of the field; or, in other words, it must
be the lowest point of the work. It will be fortunate, too, if the
outlet can be at the same time high enough to be at all times above the
back-water of the stream, or pond, or marsh, into which it empties; and
high enough, too, to be protected by solid earth about it. In any case,
great care should be taken to make the outlet secure and permanent. The
process of thorough-drainage is expensive, and will only repay cost,
upon the idea that it is permanent--that once well done, it is done
forever. The tiles may be expected to operate well, for a lifetime; and
the outlet, the only exposed portion of the work, should be constructed
to endure as long as the rest.

It is true that this portion of the work may be reached and repaired
more conveniently than the tiles themselves; but it must be remembered
that the decay of the outlet obstructs the flow of the water, produces a
general stagnation throughout the drains, and so may cause their
permanent obstruction at various points, hard to be ascertained, and
difficult to be reached. Considering our liability to neglect such
things as perish by a gradual decay, as well as the many accidental
injuries to which the outlet is exposed, there is no security but in a
solid and permanent structure at the first.

To illustrate the importance attached to this point in England, as well
as to indicate the best mode of securing the outlet, the drawings below
have been taken from a pamphlet by Mr. Denton. Fig. 37 represents the
mode of constructing the common small outlets of field drainage.

[Illustration: Fig. 37.--SMALL OUTLET.]

The distinguished engineer, of whose labors we have so freely availed
ourselves, remarks as follows upon the subject:

     "Too many outlets are objectionable, on account of the labor of
     their maintenance: too few are objectionable, because they can only
     exist where there are mains of excessive length. A limit of twenty
     acres to an outlet, resulting in an average of, perhaps, fourteen
     acres, will appear, by the practices of the best drainers, to be
     about the proper thing. If a shilling an acre is reserved for
     fixing the outlets, which should be _iron pipes, with swing
     gratings_, in masonry, very substantial work may be done."

Figures 38 and 39 represent the elevation and section of larger outlets,
used in more extensive works.

[Illustration: Fig. 38.--LARGE OUTLET.]

[Illustration: Fig. 39.--LARGE OUTLET.]

It is almost essential to the efficiency of drains, that there be fall
enough beyond the outlet to allow of the quick flow of the water
discharged. At the outlet, must be deposited whatever earth is brought
down by the drains; and, in many cases, the outlet must be at a swamp or
pond. If no decided fall can be obtained at the outlet, there must be
care to provide and keep an open ditch or passage, so that the
drainage-water may not be dammed back in the drains. It is advised,
even, to follow down the bank of a stream or river, so as to obtain
sufficient fall, rather than to have the outlet flooded, or _back-water_
in the drains. Still, there may be cases where it will be impossible to
have an outlet that shall be always above the level of the river or pond
which may receive the drainage water. If the outlet must be so situated
as to be at times overflowed, great care should be taken to excavate a
place at the outlet, into which any deposits brought down by the drain,
may fall. If the outlet be level with the ground beyond it, the smallest
quantity of earth will operate as a dam to keep back the water.
Therefore, at the outlet, in such cases, a small well of brick or
stonework should be constructed, into which the water should pour.
There, even if the water stand above the outlet, will be deposited the
earth brought along in the drain. This well must at times, when the
water is low, be cleared of its contents, and kept ready for its work.

The effect of back-water in drains cannot ordinarily be injurious,
except as it raises the water higher in the land, and occasions deposits
of earthy matter, and so obstructs the drains. We have in mind now, the
common case of water temporarily raised, by Winter flowage or by Summer

It should be remembered that even when the outlet is under water, if
there is any current in the stream into which the drain empties, there
must be some current in the drain also; and even if the drain discharge
into a still pond, there must be a current greater or less, as water
from a level higher than the surface of the pond, presses into the
drains. Generally, then, under the most unfavorable circumstances, we
may expect to have some flow of water through the pipes, and rarely an
utter stagnation. If, then, the tiles be carefully laid, so as to admit
only well-filtered water, there can be but little deposit in the drain;
and a temporary stagnation, even, will not injure them, and a trifling
flow will keep them clean. Much will depend, as to the obstruction of
drains, in this, and indeed in all cases, upon the internal smoothness,
and upon the nice adjustment of the pipes. In case of the drainage of
marshes, and other lands subject to sudden flood, a flap, or gate, is
used to exclude the water of flowage, until counterbalanced by the
drainage-water in the pipes.


We are quite sure that it is not in us a work of supererogation to urge
upon our farmers the importance of careful attention to this matter of
outlets. This is one of that class of things which will never be
attended to, if left to be daily watched. We Americans have so much work
to do, that we have no time to be careful and watchful. If a child fall
into the fire, we take time to snatch him out. If a sheep or ox get
mired in a ditch, we leave our other business, and fly to the rescue.
Even if the cows break into the corn, all hands of us, men and boys and
dogs, leave hoeing or haying, and drive them out. And, by the way, the
frequency with which most of us have had occasion to leave important
labors to drive back unruly cattle, rendered lawless by neglect of our
fences, well illustrates a national characteristic. We are earnest,
industrious, and intent on _doing_. We can look forward to accomplish
any labor, however difficult, but lack the conservatism which preserves
the fruit of our labors--the "old fogyism" which puts on its spectacles
with most careful adjustment, after wiping the glasses for a clear
sight, and at stated periods, revises its affairs to see if some screw
has not worked loose. A steward on a large estate, or a corporation
agent, paid for inspecting and superintending, may be relied upon to
examine his drainage works, and maintain them in repair; but no farmer
in this country, who labors with his own hands, has time even for this
most essential duty. His policy is, to do his work now, while he is
intent upon it, and not trust to future watchfulness.

We speak from personal experience in this matter of outfalls. Our first
drains ran down into a swamp, and the fall was so slight, that the mains
were laid as low as possible, so that at every freshet they are
overflowed. We have many times, each season, been compelled to go down,
with spade and hoe, and clear away the mud which has been trodden up by
cattle around the outlet. Although a small river flows through the
pasture, the cows find amusement, or better water, about these drains,
and keep us in constant apprehension of a total obstruction of our
works. We propose to relieve ourself of this care, by connecting the
drains together, and building one or more reliable outlets.


There are many species of "vermin," both "creeping things" and "slimy
things, that crawl with legs," which seem to imagine that drains are
constructed for their especial accommodations. In dry times, it is a
favorite amusement of moles and mice and snakes, to explore the devious
passages thus fitted up for them, and entering at the capacious open
front door, they never suspect that the spacious corridors lead to no
apartments, that their accommodations, as they progress, grow "fine by
degrees and beautifully less," and that these are houses with no back
doors, or even convenient places for turning about for a retreat. Unlike
the road to Hades, the descent to which is easy, here the ascent is
inviting; though, alike in both cases, "_revocare gradum, hoc opus hic
labor est_." They persevere upward and onward till they come, in more
senses than one, to "an untimely end." Perhaps stuck fast in a small
pipe tile, they die a nightmare death; or, perhaps overtaken by a
shower, of the effect of which, in their ignorance of the scientific
principles of drainage, they had no conception, they are drowned before
they have time for deliverance from the straight in which they find
themselves, and so are left, as the poet strikingly expresses it, "to
lie in cold _obstruction_ and to rot."

In cold weather, water from the drains is warmer than the open ditch,
and the poor frogs, reluctant to submit to the law of Nature which
requires them to seek refuge in mud and oblivious sleep, in Winter,
gather round the outfalls, as they do about springs, to bask in the
warmth of the running water. If the flow is small, they leap up into
the pipe, and follow its course upward. In Summer, the drains furnish
for them a cool and shady retreat from the mid-day sun, and they may be
seen in single file by scores, at the approach of an intruding footstep,
scrambling up the pipe. Dying in this way, affects these creatures, as
"sighing and grief" did Falstaff, "blows them up like a bladder;" and,
like Sampson, they do more mischief in their death, than in all their
life together. They swell up, and stop the water entirely, or partially
dam it, so that the effect of the work is impaired.

To prevent injuries from this source, there should be, at every outlet,
a grating or screen of cast iron, or of copper wire, to prevent the
intrusion of vermin. The screen should be movable, so that any
accumulation in the pipe may be removed. An arrangement of this kind is
shown in Fig. 40, as used in England. We know of nothing of the kind
used in this country. For ourself, we have made of coarse wire-netting,
a screen, which is attached to the pipe by hinges of wire. Holes may be
bored with a bit through even a hard tile, or a No. 9 wire may be
twisted firmly round the end of it, and the screen thus secured.

This has thus far, been our own poor and unsatisfactory mode of
protecting our drains. It is only better than none, but it is not
permanent, and we hope to see some successful invention that may supply
this want. So far as we have observed, no such precaution is used in
this country; and in England, farmers and others who take charge of
their own drainage works, often run their pipes into the mud in an open
ditch, and trust the water to force its own passage.


In draining large tracts of land of uniform surface, it is often
convenient to have single mains, or even minors, of great length.
Obstructions are liable to occur from various causes: and, moreover,
there is great satisfaction in being certain that all is going right,
and in watching the operation of our subterranean works. It is a common
practice, and to be commended, to so construct our drains, that they may
be inspected at suspicious points, and that so we may know their real

For this purpose, wells, or traps, are introduced at suitable points,
into which the drains discharge, and from which the water proceeds again
along its course.

These are made of iron, or of stone or brick work, of any size that may
be thought convenient, secured by covers that may be removed at

Where there is danger of obstruction below the wells, relief pipes may
be introduced, or the wells may overflow, and so discharge temporarily,
the drainage water. These wells, sometimes called silt basins, or traps,
are frequently used in road drainage, or in sewers where large deposits
are made by the drainage water. The sediment is carried along and
deposited in the traps, while the water flows past.

These traps are large enough for a man to enter, and are occasionally
cleared of their contents.

When good stone, or common brick, are at hand, occasional wells may be
easily constructed. Plank or timber might be used; and we have even seen
an oil cask made to serve the purpose temporarily. In most parts of New
England, solid iron castings would not be expensive.

The water of thorough-drainage is usually as pure as spring-water, and
such wells may often be conveniently used as places for procuring water
for both man and beast, a consideration well worth a place in
arrangements so permanent as those for drainage.

The following figures represent very perfect arrangements of this kind,
in actual use.

[Illustration: Figs. 41 & 42.--WELL WITH SILT BASIN, OR TRAP, AND

The flap attached to a chain at A, is designed to close the incoming
drain, so as to keep back the water, and thus flush the drain, as it is
termed, by filling it with water, and then suddenly releasing it. It is
found that by this process, obstructions by sand, and by per-oxide of
iron, may be brought down from the drains, when the flow is usually


By the significant, though not very elegant name of peep-holes, are
meant openings at junctions, or other convenient points, for watching
the pulsations of our subterranean arteries.

In addition to the large structures of wells and traps, such as have
been represented, we need small and cheap arrangements, by which we may
satisfy ourselves and our questioning friends and neighbors, that every
part of our buried treasure, is steadily earning its usury. It is really
gratifying to be able to allow those who "don't see how water can get
into the tiles," and who inquire so distrustfully whether you "don't
think that land on the hill would be just as dry without the drains," to
satisfy themselves, by actually seeing, that there is a liberal flow
through all the pipes, even in the now dry soil. And then, again,

    "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
        Gang aft agley."

and drains will get obstructed, by one or other of the various means
suggested in another place. It is then convenient to be able to
ascertain with certainty, and at once, the locality of the difficulty,
and this may be done by means of peep-holes.

These may be formed of cast iron, or of well-burnt clay, or what is
called stone-ware, of 4, 6, or 10 inches internal diameter, and long
enough to reach from the bottom of the drain to the surface, or a little
above it.

The drain or drains, coming into this little well, should enter a few
inches above the pipe which carries off the water, so that the incoming
stream may be plainly seen. A strong cover should be fitted to the top,
and secured so as not to cause injury to cattle at work or feeding on
the land. The arrangement will be at once seen by a sketch given on the
following page.

[Illustration: Figs. 43 & 44.--SMALL WELL, OR PEEP-HOLE, AND COVER.]

In our own fields, we have adopted several expedients to attain this
object of convenient inspection. In one case, where we have a sub-main,
which receives the small drains of an acre of orchard, laid at nearly
five feet depth, we sunk two 40-gallon oil casks, one upon the other, at
the junction of this sub-main with another, and fitted upon the top a
strong wooden cover. The objections to this contrivance are, that it is
temporary; that it occupies too much room; and that it is more expensive
than a well of cast iron or stone-ware of proper size.

In another part of the same field, we had a spring of excellent water,
where, "from the time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the
contrary," people had fancied they found better water to drink, than
anywhere else. It is near a ravine, through which a main drain is
located, and which is now graded up into convenient plow land.

To preserve this spring for use in the Summer time, we procured a
tin-worker to make a well, of galvanized iron, five feet long and ten
inches diameter, into which are conducted the drain and the spring. A
friendly hand has sketched it for us very accurately; thus:

[Illustration: Figs. 45 & 46.--HOW TO PRESERVE A SPRING IN A DRAINED

The spring is brought in at _a_ by a few tiles laid into the bank where
the water naturally bursts out. The pipe _b_ brings in the drain, which
always flows largely, and the pipe _c_ carries away the water. The small
dipper, marked _d_, hangs inside the well, and is used by every man,
woman, and boy, who passes that way. The spring enters six inches above
the drain, for convenience in catching its water to drink.

By careful observation the present Winter of 1858-9, the impression that
there is some peculiar quality in this water is confirmed, for it is
ascertained that it is six degrees warmer in cold weather than any other
water upon the farm. The spring preserves a temperature of about 47°,
while the drain running through the same well, and the other drains in
the field, and the well at the house, vary from 39° to 42°.

We confess to the weakness of taking great satisfaction in sipping this
water, cool in Summer and warm in Winter, and in watching the mingled
streams of spring and drainage water, and listening as we pass by, to
their tinkling sound, which, like the faithful watchman of the night,
proclaims that "all is well."


Having fixed on the proper position of the outlet, for the whole, or any
portion of our work, the next consideration is the location of the
drains that shall discharge at that point. It is convenient to speak of
the different drains as _mains_, _sub-mains_, and _minors_. By _mains_,
are understood the principal drains, of whatever material, the office of
which is, to receive and carry away water collected by other drains from
the soil. By _minors_, are intended the small drains which receive the
surplus water directly from the soil. By _sub-mains_, are meant such
intermediate drains as are frequently in large fields, interposed across
the line of the minors, to receive their discharge, and conduct their
water to the mains.

They are principally used, where there is a greater length of small
drains in one direction than it is thought expedient to use; or where,
from the unequal surface, it is necessary to lay out subordinate systems
of drains, to reach particular localities.

Whether after the outlet is located, the mains or minors should next be
laid out, is not perhaps very important. The natural course would seem
to be, to lay out the mains according to the surface formation of the
land, through the principal hollows of the field, although we have high
authority for commencing with the minors, and allowing their
appropriate direction to determine the location of the mains.

This is, however, rather a question of precedence and etiquette, than of
practical importance. The only safe mode of executing so important a
work as drainage, is by careful surveys by persons of sufficient skill,
to lay out the whole field of operations, before the ground is broken;
to take all the levels; to compare all the different slopes; consider
all the circumstances, and arrange the work as a systematic whole.
Generally, there will be no conflict of circumstances, as to where the
mains shall be located. They must be lower than the minors, because they
receive their water. They must ordinarily run across the direction of
the minors, either at right angles or diagonally, because otherwise they
cannot receive their discharge. If, then, in general, the minors, as we
assume, run down the slope, the mains must run at the foot of the slope
and across it.

It will be found in practice, that all the circumstances alluded to,
will combine to locate the mains across the foot of regular slopes; and
whether in straight or curved lines, along through the natural valleys
of the field.

In locating the mains, regard must always be had to the quantity of
water and to the fall. Where a field is of regular slope, and the
descent very slight, it will be necessary, in order to gain for the main
the requisite fall, to run it diagonally across the bottom of the slope,
thus taking into it a portion of the fall of the slope. If the fall
requires to be still more increased, often the main may be deepened
towards the outlet, so as to gain fall sufficient, even on level ground.

If the fall is very slight, the size of the main may be made to
compensate in part for want of fall, for it will not be forgotten, that
the capacity of a pipe to convey water depends much on the velocity of
the current, and the velocity increases in proportion to the fall. If
the fall and consequent velocity be small, the water will require a
larger drain to carry it freely along. The size of the mains should be
sufficient to convey, with such fall as is attainable, the greatest
quantity of water that may ever be expected to reach them. Beyond this,
an increase of size is rather a disadvantage than otherwise, because a
small flow of water runs with more velocity when compressed in a narrow
channel, than when broadly spread, and so has more power to force its
way, and carry before it obstructing substances.

We have seen, in considering the size of tiles, that in laying the minor
drains, their capacity to carry all the water that may reach them is not
the only limit of their size. A one-inch tile might in many cases be
sufficient to conduct the water; but the best drainers, after much
controversy on the point, now all agree that this is a size too small
for prudent use, because so small an opening is liable to be obstructed
by a very slight deposit from the water, or by a slight displacement,
and because the joints furnish small space for the admission of water.

Mains, however, being designed merely to carry off such water as they
may receive from other drains, may in general be limited to the size
sufficient to convey such water, at the greatest flow. It might seem a
natural course, to proportion the capacity of the main to the capacity
of the smaller drains that fall into it; and this would be the true
rule, were the small drains expected to run full.

If our smallest drain, however, be of two-inch, or even one and a half
inch bore, it can hardly be expected to fill at any time, unless of
great length, or in some peculiarly wet place. Considering, then, what
quantity of water will be likely to be conducted into the main,
proportion the main not to the capacity of all the smaller drains
leading into it, but to the probable maximum flow--not to what they
_might_ bring into it, but to what they _will_ bring.

If the mains be of three-inch pipes, other things being equal, their
capacity is nine times that of a one-inch pipe, and two and a quarter
times the capacity of a two-inch pipe.

A three-inch main may, then, with equal fall and directness, be safely
relied on to carry nine streams of water equal each to one inch
diameter, or two and a quarter streams, equal to a two-inch stream. The
three-inch main will, in fact, from the less amount of friction, carry
much more than this proportion.

The allowance to be made for a less fall in the mains, has already been
adverted to, and must not be overlooked. It is believed that the
capacity of a three or four-inch pipe to convey water, is in general
likely to be much under-estimated.

It is a common error, to imagine that some large stone water-course must
be necessary to carry off so large a flow as will be collected by a
system over a ten or twenty-acre field. Any one, however, who has
watched the full flow of even a three-inch pipe, and observed the water
after it has fallen into a nearly level ditch, will be aware, that what
seems in the ditch a large stream, impeded as it is by a rough, uneven
bottom, may pass through a three inch opening of smooth, well-jointed
pipes. When we consider that a four-inch pipe is four times as capacious
as a two-inch pipe, and sixteen times as large as a one-inch pipe, we
may see that we may accommodate any quantity of water that may be likely
anywhere to be collected by drainage, without recourse to other
materials than tiles.

When one three or four-inch pipe is not sufficient to convey the water,
mains may conveniently be formed of two or more tiles of any form. A
main drain is sometimes formed by combining two horse-shoe tiles, with a
tile sole or slate between them, to prevent slipping, as in fig. 47.

[Illustration: Fig. 47. Fig. 48.

Main Drain of two or more Horse-shoe Tiles.]

The combinations represented in the above figures, will furnish
sufficient suggestions to enable any one to select or arrange such forms
as may be deemed best suited to the case in hand. Where the largest
obtainable tile is not large enough, two or more lines of pipes may be
laid abreast.


Assuming that it is desirable to run the small drains, as far as
practicable, up and down the slope, the following directions, from the
Cyclopedia of Agriculture, are given:

     "There is a very simple mode of laying out these (the minor
     drains), which will apply to most cases, or, indeed, to all,
     although in some its application may be more difficult. The surface
     of each field must be regarded as being made up of one or more
     planes, as the case may be, for each of which the drains should be
     laid out separately. Level lines are to be set out, a little below
     the upper edge of each of these planes, and the drains must be then
     made to cross these lines at right angles. By this means, the
     drains will run in the line of the greatest slope, no matter how
     distorted the surface of the field may be."

Much is said, in the English books, about "furrows," and the
"direction of the furrows," in connection with the laying out of drains.
Much of the land in England, especially in moist places, was formerly
laid up by repeated plowings, into ridges varying in breadth from ten to
twenty feet, so as to throw off, readily, the water from the surface.

[Illustration: PART OF FIELD Thoroughly Drained BY B F. NOURSE

These ridges were sometimes so high, that two boys in opposite furrows,
between the ridges, could not see each other. In draining lands thus
ridged, it is found far more easy to cut the ditches in the furrows,
rather than across or upon the ridges. After thorough-drainage, in most
localities, these ridges and furrows are dispensed with. The fact is,
probably, only important here, as explaining the constant reference by
English writers to this mode of working the land.

Whether we shall drain "down the furrows," or "across the ridges," is
not likely to be inquired of, by Americans.

The accompanying diagram represents a field of about thirty acres, as
drained by the owner, B. F. Nourse, Esq., of Orrington, Me., a
particular description of which will be found in another place.

The curves of the ends of the minors, at their junction with the mains,
will indicate their course--the minors curving always so as to more
nearly coincide, in course, with the current of water in the mains.


Much difficulty arises in practice, as to connecting, in a secure and
satisfactory manner, the smaller with the larger drains. It has already
been suggested, that the streams should not meet at right angles, but
that a bend should be made in the smaller drain, a few feet before it
enters the main, so as to introduce the water of the small drain in the
direction of the current in the main. In another place, an instance is
given where it was found that a quantity of water was discharged with a
turn, or junction with a gentle curve, in 100 seconds, that required 140
seconds with a turn at right angles; and that while running direct, that
is, without any turn, it was discharged in 90 seconds. This is given as
a mere illustration of the principle, which is obvious enough. Different
experiments would vary with the velocity, quantity of water, and
smoothness of the pipe; but nothing is more certain, than that every
change of direction impedes velocity.

Thus we see that if we had but a single drain, the necessary turns
should be curved, to afford the least obstruction.

Where the drain enters into another current, there is yet a further
obstruction, by the meeting of the two streams. Two equal streams, of
similar velocity and size, thus meeting at right angles, would have a
tendency to move off diagonally, if not confined by the pipe; and,
confined as they are, must both be materially retarded in their flow. In
whatever manner united, there must be much obstruction, if the main is
nearly full, at the point of junction. The common mode of connecting
horse-shoe tile-drains is shown thus:

[Illustration: Fig. 50.--JUNCTION OF DRAINS.]

Having no tiles made for the purpose, we, at first, formed the union by
means of common hard bricks. Curving down the small drain toward the
direction of the main, we left a space between two tiles of the main, of
two or three inches, and brought down the last tile of the small drain
to this opening, placing under the whole a flat stone, slate, or bricks,
or a plank, to keep all firm at the bottom. Then we set bricks on edge
on all sides, and covered the space at the top with one or more, as
necessary, and secured carefully against sand and the like.

We have since procured branch-pipes to be made at the tile-works, such
as are in use in England, and find them much more satisfactory. The
branches may be made to join the mains at any angle, and it might be
advisable to make this part of both drains larger than the rest, to
allow room for the obstructed waters to unite peacefully.

[Illustration: Fig. 51. BRANCH PIPES.]

The mains should be from three to six inches deeper than the minors. The
fall from one to the other may usually be made most conveniently, by a
gradual descent of three or four feet to the point of junction; but with
branch-pipes, the fall may be nearly vertical, if desired, by turning
the branch upward, to meet the small pipe. It will be necessary, in
procuring branches for sole-tiles, to bear in mind that they are "rights
and lefts," and must be selected accordingly, as the branch comes in
upon the one or other side of the main.

The branch should enter the larger pipe not level with the bottom, but
as high as possible, to give an inch fall to the water passing out of
the branch into the main, to prevent possible obstruction at the


In various parts of our country, there are lands lying too flat for
convenient drainage in the ordinary methods, or too remote from any good
outlet, or perhaps enclosed by lands of others who will not consent to
an outfall through their domain, where the drainage water may be
discharged into wells.

In the city of Washington, on Capitol Hill, it is a common practice to
drain cellars into what are termed "dry wells." The surface formation is
a close red clay, of a few feet thickness, and then comes a stratum of
coarse gravel; and the wells for water are sunk often as deep as sixty
feet, indicating that the water-table lies very low. The heavy storms
and showers fill the surface soil beyond saturation, and the water
gushes out, literally, into the cellars and other low places. A dry
well, sunk through the clay, conducts this water into the gravel bed,
and this carries it away. This idea is often applied to land drainage.
It is believed that there are immense tracts of fertile land at the
West, upon limestone, where the surface might readily be relieved of
surplus water, by conducting the mains into wells dug for the purpose.
In some places, there are openings called "sink-holes," caused by the
sinking of masses of earth, as in the neighborhood of the city of St.
Louis, which would afford outlets for all the water that could be poured
into them. In the Report of the Tioga County Agricultural Society for
1857, it is said in the _Country Gentleman_, that instances are given,
where swamps were drained through the clay bottom into the underlying
gravelly soil, by digging wells and filling them with stones.

In Fig. 7, at page 82, is shown a "fault" in the stratification of the
earth; which faults, it is said, so completely carry off water, that
wells cannot be sunk so as to reach it.

Mr. Denton says that in several parts of England, advantage is taken of
the natural drainage existing beneath wet clay soils, by concentrating
the drains to holes, called "swallow-holes." He says this practice is
open to the objection that those holes do not always absorb the water
with sufficient rapidity, and so render the drainage for a time,

These wells are liable, too, to be obstructed in their operation by
their bottoms being puddled with the clay carried into them by the
water, and so becoming impervious. This point would require occasional
attention, and the removal of such deposits.

This principle of drainage was alluded to at the American Institute,
February 14, 1859, by Professor Nash. He states, that there are large
tracts of land having clay soil, with sand or gravel beneath the clay,
which yet need drainage, and suggests that this may be effected by
merely boring frequent holes, and filling them with pebbles, without
ditches. In all such soils, if the mode suggested prove insufficient,
large wells of proper depth, stoned up, or otherwise protected, might
obviously serve as cheap and convenient outlets for a regular system of
pipe or stone drains.

Mr. Bergen, at the same meeting, stated that such clayey soil, based on
gravel, was the character of much of the land on Long Island; and we
cannot doubt that on the prairies of the West, where the wells are
frequently of great depth to obtain water for use, wells or
swallow-holes to receive it, may often be found useful. Whenever the
water-line is twenty or thirty feet below the surface, it is certain
that it will require a large amount of water poured in at the surface of
a well to keep it filled for any considerable length of time. The same
principle that forces water into wells, that is, pressure from a higher
source, will allow its passage out when admitted at the top.

We close this chapter with a letter from Mr. Denton. The extract
referred to, has been here omitted, because we have already, in the
chapter preceding this, given Mr. Denton's views, expressed more fully
upon the same subject, with his own illustrations.

It should be stated that the letter was in reply to inquiries upon
particular points, which, although disconnected, are all of interest,
when touched upon by one whose opinions are so valuable.

                      "LONDON, 52 Parliament Street, Westminster, S. W.

     "MY DEAR SIR:--I have received your letter of the 17th August, and
     hasten to reply to it.

     "I am gratified at the terms in which you speak of my
     roughly-written 'Essays on Land Drainage.' If you have not seen my
     published letter to Lord Berners, and my recent essay 'On the
     Advantages of a Daily Record of Rain-fall,' I should much like you
     to look over them, for my object in both has been to check the
     uniformity of treatment which too much prevails with those who are
     officially called upon to direct draining, and who still treat
     mixed soils and irregular surfaces pretty much in the same way as
     homogeneous clays and even surfaces, the only difference being,
     that the distance between the drains is increased. We have now,
     without doubt, arrived at that point in the practice of draining in
     this country, which necessitates a revision of all the principles
     and rules which have been called into force by the Drainage Acts,
     and the institution of the Drainage Commission, whose duty it is to
     administer those Acts, and to protect the interests of

     "This protection is, in a great measure, performed by the
     intervention of 'Inspectors of Drainage,' whose subordinate duty it
     is to see that the improvements provisionally sanctioned are
     carried out according to certain implied, if not fixed, rules. This
     is done by measuring depth and distance, which tends to a _parallel
     system (4 feet deep) in all soils_, which was Smith of Deanston's
     notion, only his drains were shallower, _i.e._, from 2 to 3 feet

     "Some rules were undoubtedly necessary when the Commissioners first
     commenced dispensing the public money, and I do not express my
     objection to the absurd position to which these rules are bringing
     us, from any disrespect to them, nor with an idea that any better
     course could have been followed by the Government, in the first
     instance, than the adoption of the '_Parkes--Smith frequent drain
     system_.' This system was correctly applied, and continues to be
     correctly applied, to absorbent and retentive soils requiring the
     aeration of frequent drains to counteract their retentive nature;
     but it is altogether misapplied when adopted in the outcropping
     surfaces of the free water-bearing strata, which, though equally
     wet, are frequently drained by a comparatively few drains, at less
     than half the cost.

     "The only circumstance that can excuse the indiscriminate adoption
     of a parallel system, is the fact, that all drains do some good,
     and the chances of a cure being greater in proportion to the number
     of drains, it was not necessary to insist upon that judgment which
     ten years' experience should now give.

     "My views on this point will perhaps be best understood by the
     following extract from an address I recently delivered. [Extract
     omitted, see p. 161].

     * * * "I use one and a half inch pipes for the upper end of drains
     (_though I prefer two-inch_), one half being usually one and a half
     and the other half two-inch. This for minor drains; the mains run
     up to 9 or 10 inches, and even 18 inches in size, according to
     their service.

     "There is no doubt sufficient capacity in one-inch pipes for minor
     drains; but, inasmuch as agricultural laborers are not mathematical
     scholars, and are apt to lay the pipes without precise junctions,
     it is best to have the pipes so large as to counteract that degree
     of carelessness which cannot be prevented. The ordinary price of
     pipes in this country will run thus: + meaning _above_,
     and-_below_, the prices named:

         1-1/2 inch      15s. +
         2       "       20s. -
         3       "       30s.
         4       "       40s. +
         5       "       50s. +
         6       "       60s. +

     "The price of cutting clays 4 feet deep, will vary from 1d. to
     1-1/2d. per yard, according to density and mixture with stone; and
     the price of cutting in mixed soils will vary from 1-1/2d. to 6d.,
     according to the quantity of pick-work and rock, and with respect,
     also, to the price of agricultural labor. (See my tabular table of
     cost in Land Drainage and Drainage Systems.)

     "I should have thought it would have been quite worth the while of
     the American Government to have had a farm of about 500 acres,
     drained by English hands, under an experienced engineer, as a
     practical sample of English work, for the study of American
     agriculturists, with every drain laid down on a plan, with the
     sizes of the pipes, and all details of soil, and prices of labor
     and material, set forth.

                   "I am, dear Sir,
                           "Yours very faithfully,
     "The HON. H. F. FRENCH, Exeter.                 "J. BAILEY DENTON."



     Prices far too high; Albany Prices.--Length of Tiles.--Cost in
     Suffolk Co., England.--Waller's Machine.--Williams' Machine.--Cost
     of Tiles compared with Bricks.--Mr. Denton's Estimate of
     Cost.--Other Estimates.--Two-inch Tiles can be Made as Cheaply as
     Bricks.--Process of Rolling Tiles.--Tile Machines.--Descriptions of
     Daines'.--Pratt & Bro.'s.

The prices at which tiles are sold is only, as the lawyers say, _primâ
facie_ evidence of their cost. It seems to us, that the prices at which
tiles have thus far been sold in this country, are very far above those
at which they may be profitably manufactured, when the business is well
understood, and pursued upon a scale large enough to justify the use of
the best machinery. The following is a copy of the published prices of
tiles at the Albany Tile Works, and the same prices prevail throughout
New England, so far as known:

      _Horse-shoe Tile--Pieces._

    2-1/2 inches rise  $12 per 1000.
    3-1/2   "      "    15    "
    4-1/2   "      "    18    "
    5-1/2   "      "    40    "
    6-1/2   "      "    60    "
    7-1/2   "      "    75    "


    2     inches rise  $12 per 1000.
    3       "      "    18    "
    4       "      "    40    "
    5       "      "    60    "
    6       "      "    80    "
    8       "      "   125    "

Few round pipe-tiles have yet been used in this country, although they
are the kind generally preferred by engineers in England. The prices of
round tiles would vary little from those of sole-tiles.

Tiles are usually cut fourteen inches long, and shorten, in drying and
burning, to about twelve and a half inches, so that, with breaking and
other casualties, they may be calculated to lay about one foot each;
that is to say, 1,000 tiles may be expected to lay 1,000 feet of drains.

To assist those who desire to manufacture tiles for sale, or for private
use, it is proposed to give such information as has been gathered from
various sources as to the cost of making, and the selling prices of
tiles, in England. The following is a memorandum made at the residence
of Mr. Thomas Crisp, at Butley Abbey, in Suffolk Co., Eng., from
information given the author on the 8th of July, 1857:

"Mr. Crisp makes his own tiles, and also supplies his neighbors who need
them. He sells one and a half inch pipes at 12s. ($3) per 1,000. He pays
5s. ($1.25) per 1,000 for having them made and burnt. His machine is
Waller's patent, No. 22, made by Garrett and Son, Leiston, Saxemundham,
Suffolk. It works by a lever, makes five one and a half inch pipes at
once, or three sole-tiles about two-inch. The man at work said, that he,
with a man to carry away, &c., could make 4,000 one and a half inch
pipes per day. They used no screen, but cut the clay with a wire. The
machine cost £25 (about $125). At the kiln, which is permanent, the
tiles are set on end, and bricks with them in the same kiln. They
require less heat than bricks, and _cost about half as much_ as bricks
here, which are moulded ten inches by five.

"Two girls were loading bricks into a horse-cart, and two women
receiving them, and setting them in the kiln. They made roof-tiles with
the same machine, and also moulded large ones by hand. The wages of the
women are about 8d. (sixteen cents) per day."

At the exhibition of the Royal Agricultural Society, in England, the
author saw Williams' Tile Machine in operation, and was there informed
by the exhibitor, who said he was a tile-maker, that it requires
_five-sevenths as much coal_ to burn 1,000 two-inch tiles, as 1,000
bricks--the size of bricks being 10 by 5; and he declared, that he, with
one boy, could make with the machine, 7,000 two-inch tiles per day,
after the clay is prepared. Of course, one other person, at least, must
be employed to carry off the tiles.

Mr. Denton gives his estimates of the prices at which pipe-tiles may be
procured in England, as follows--the prices, which he gives in English
currency, being translated into our own:

     "When ordinary agricultural labor is worth $2 50 per week, pipes
     half one and a half inch, and half two-inch, maybe taken at an
     average cost of $4 38 per 1,000. When labor is $3 00 per week, the
     pipes will average $5 00 per 1,000, and when labor is $3 50, they
     will rise to $5 62."

     He adds: "In giving the above average cost of materials, those
     districts are excluded from consideration, where clay suitable for
     pipes, exists in the immediate vicinity of coal-pits, which must
     necessarily reduce the cost of producing them very considerably."

Taking the averages of several careful estimates of the cost of tiles
and bricks, from the "Cyclopædia of Agriculture," we have the price of
tiles in England about $5 per 1,000, and the price of bricks $7.87, from
which the duty of 5s. 6d. should be deducted, leaving the average price
of bricks $6.50. Upon tiles there is no such duty. Bricks in the United
States are made of different sizes, varying from 8 × 4 in. to the
English standard 10 × 5 in. Perhaps a fair average price for bricks of
the latter size, would be not far from $5 per 1,000; certainly below
$6.50 per 1,000. There is no reason why tiles may not be manufactured in
the United States, as cheaply, compared with the prices of bricks, as in
England; and it is quite clear that tiles of the sizes named, are far
cheaper there than common bricks.

What is wanted in this country is, first, a demand sufficient to
authorize the establishment of works extensive enough to make tiles at
the best advantage; next, competent skill to direct and perform the
labor; and, finally, the best machinery and fixtures for the purpose. It
is confidently predicted, that, whenever the business of tile-making
becomes properly established, the ingenuity of American machinists will
render it easy to manufacture tiles at English prices, notwithstanding
the lower price of labor there; and that we shall be supplied with small
tiles in all parts of the country at about the current prices of bricks,
or at about one half the present Albany prices of tiles, as given at the
head of this chapter. It should be mentioned here, perhaps, that, in
England, it is common to burn tiles and bricks together in the same
kiln, placing the tiles away from the hottest parts of the furnace; as,
being but about half an inch in thickness, they require less heat to
burn them than bricks.

In the estimates of labor in making tiles in England, a small item is
usually included for "rolling." Round pipes are chiefly used in England.
When partly dried, they are taken up on a round stick, and rolled upon a
small table, to preserve their exact form. Tiles usually flatten
somewhat in drying, which is not of importance in any but round pipes,
but those ought to be uniform. By this process of rolling, great
exactness of shape, and a great degree of smoothness inside, are


Drainage with tiles is a new branch of husbandry in America. The cost of
tiles is now a great obstacle in prosecuting much work of this kind
which land-owners desire to accomplish. The cost of tiles, and so the
cost of drainage, depends very much--it may be said, chiefly--upon the
perfection of the machinery for tile-making; and here, as almost
everywhere else, agriculture and the mechanic arts go hand in hand.
Labor is much dearer in America than in Europe, and there is, therefore,
more occasion here than there, for applying mechanical power to
agriculture. We can have no cheap drainage until we have cheap tiles;
and we can have cheap tiles only by having them made with the most
perfect machinery, and at the lowest prices at which competing
manufacturers, who understand their business, can afford them.

In the preceding remarks on the _cost of tiles_, may be found estimates,
which will satisfy any thinking man that tiles have not yet been sold in
America at reasonably low prices.

To give those who may desire to establish tileries, either for public or
private supply, information, which cannot readily be obtained without
great expense of English books, as to the prices of tile machines, it is
now proposed to give some account of the best English machines, and of
such American inventions as have been brought to notice.

It is of importance that American machinists and inventors should be
apprised of the progress that has been made abroad in perfecting tile
machines; because, as the subject attracts attention, the ingenuity of
the universal Yankee nation will soon be directed toward the discovery
of improvements in all the processes of tile-making. Tiles were made by
hand long before tile machines were invented.

A Mr. Read, in the "Royal Agricultural Journal," claims to have used
_pipe_ tiles as early as 1795, made by hand, and formed on a round
stick. No machine for making tiles is described, before that of Mr.
Beart's, in 1840, by which "common tile and sole (not pipes or tubes)
were made." This machine, however, was of simple structure, and not
adapted to the varieties of tiles now used.

All tile machines seem to operate on the same general principle--that of
forcing wet clay, of the consistency of that used in brick-making,
through apertures of the desired shape and size. To make the mass thus
forced through the aperture, _hollow_, the hole must have a piece of
metal in the centre of it, around which the clay forms, as it is pushed
along. This centre piece is kept in position by one or two thin pieces
of iron, which of course divide the clay which passes over them, but it
unites again as it is forced through the die, and comes out sound, and
is then cut off, usually by hand, by means of a small wire, of the
required length, about fourteen inches.

Tile machines work either vertically or horizontally. The most primitive
machine which came to the author's notice abroad, was one which we saw
on our way from London to Mr. Mechi's place. It was a mere upright
cylinder, of some two feet height, and perhaps eight inches diameter, in
which worked a piston. The clay was thrown into the cylinder, and the
piston brought down by means of a brake, like an old-fashioned pump, and
a single round pipe-tile forced out at the bottom. The force employed
was one man and two boys. One boy screened the clay, by passing through
it a wire in various directions, holding the wire by the ends, and
cutting through the mass till he had found all the small stones
contained in it. The man threw the masses thus prepared, into the
cylinder, and put on the brake, and the other boy received the tiles
upon a round stick, as they came down through the die at the bottom, and
laid them away. The cylinder held clay enough to make several, perhaps
twenty, two-inch pipes. The work was going on in a shed without a floor,
and upon a liberal estimate, the whole establishment, including shed and
machine, could not cost more than fifty dollars. Yet, on this simple
plan, tiles were moulded much more rapidly than bricks were made in the
same yard, where they were moulded singly, as they usually are in
England. It was said that this force could thus mould about 1,800 small
tiles per day.

This little machine seems to be the same described by Mr. Parkes as in
general use in 1843, in Kent and Suffolk Counties.

Most of the tile machines now in use in England and America, are so
constructed, as to force out the tiles upon a horizontal frame-work,
about five two-inch, or three three-inch pipes abreast. The box to
contain the clay may be upright or horizontal, and the power may be
applied to a wheel, by a crank turned by a man, or by horse, steam, or
water power, according to the extent of the works.

We saw at the Exhibition of the Royal Agricultural Society, at
Salisbury, in England, in July, 1857, the "pipe and tile machine," of W.
Williams, of Bedford. It was in operation, for exhibition, and was
worked by one man, who said he was a tile maker, and that he and one boy
could make with the machine 7,000 two-inch tiles per day, after the clay
was prepared in the pug mill. Four tiles were formed at once, by clay
passed through four dies, and the box holds clay enough for thirty-two
two-inch tiles, so that thirty-two are formed as quickly as they can be
removed, and as many more, as soon as the box can be refilled.

The size, No. 3, of this machine, such as we then saw in operation, and
which is suitable for common use, costs at Bedford $88.50, with one set
of dies; and the extra dies, for making three, four, and six-inch pipes,
and other forms, if desired, with the _horses_, as they are called, for
removing the tiles, cost about five dollars each.

This, like most other tile machines, is adapted to making tiles for
roofs, much used in England instead of shingles or slates, as well as
for draining purposes.

There are several machines now in use in England namely: Etheridge's,
Clayton's, Scragg's, Whitehead's, and Garrett's--either of which would
be satisfactory, according to the amount of work desired.

We have in America several patented machines for making tiles, of the
comparative merits of which we are unable to give a satisfactory
judgment. We will, however, allude to two or three, advising those who
are desirous to purchase, to make personal examination for themselves.
We are obliged to rely chiefly on the statements of the manufacturers
for our opinions.


Daines' American Drain Tile Machine is manufactured at Birmingham,
Michigan, by John Daines. This machine is in use in Exeter, N. H., close
by the author's residence, and thus far proves satisfactory. The price
of it is about $100, and the weight, about five hundred pounds. It
occupies no more space than a common three-and-a-half foot table, and is
worked by a man at a crank. It is capable of turning out, by man power,
about two hundred and fifty two-inch tiles in an hour, after the clay is
prepared in a pug mill. Horse or water power can be readily attached to

We give a drawing of it, not because we are sure it is the best, but
because we are sure it is a good machine, and to illustrate the
principle upon which all these machines are constructed.

Pratt's Tile Machine is manufactured at Canandaigua, New York, by Pratt
& Brothers, and is in use in various places in that State as well as
elsewhere. This machine differs from Daines' in this essential matter,
that here the clay is _pugged_, or tempered, and formed into tiles at
one operation, while with Daines' machine, the clay is first passed
through a pug mill, as it is for making bricks in the common process.

Pratt's machine is worked by one or two horses, or by steam or water
power, as is convenient. The price of the smaller size, worked by one
horse, is $150, and the price of the larger size, worked by two horses,
$200. Professor Mapes says he saw this machine in operation and
considers it "perfect in all its parts." The patentees claim that they
can make, with the one-horse machine, 5,000 large tiles a day. They
state also that "two horses will make tiles about as cheap as bricks are
usually made, and as fast, with the large-sized machine."

[Illustration: Fig. 53.--PRATT'S TILE MACHINE.]

These somewhat indefinite statements are all that we can give, at
present, of the capacity of the machines. We should have no hesitation
in ordering a Pratt machine were we desirous of entering into an
extensive business of Tile-making, and we should feel quite safe with a
Daines' machine for a more limited manufacture.


S. C. Salisbury, at the Novelty Works, in the city of New York, is
manufacturing a machine for making tiles and bricks, which exhibits some
new and peculiar features, worthy of attention by those who propose to
purchase tile machines. Prof. Mapes expresses the confident opinion that
this machine excels all others, in its capacity to form tiles with
rapidity and economy. We have examined only a working model. It is
claimed that the large size, with horse-power, will make 20,000 two-inch
tiles per day, and the hand-power machine 3,000 per day. We advise tile
makers to examine all these machines in operation, before purchasing



     Draining no more expensive than Fencing.--Engineering.--Guessing
     not accurate enough.--Slight Fall sufficient.--Instances.--Two
     Inches to One Thousand Feet.--Cost of Excavation and
     Filling.--Narrow Tools required.--Tables of Cubic contents of
     Drains.--Cost of Drains on our own Farm.--Cost of Tiles.--Weight
     and Freight of Tiles.--Cost of Outlets.--Cost of Collars.--Smaller
     Tiles used with Collars.--Number of Tiles to the Acre, with
     Tables.--Length of Tiles varies.--Number of Rods to the Acre at
     different Distances.--Final Estimate of Cost.--Comparative Cost of
     Tile-Drains and Stone-Drains.

A prudent man, intending to execute a work, whether it be "to build a
tower," or drain a field, "sitteth down first and counteth the cost,
whether he hath sufficient to finish it." There is good sense and
discretion in the inquisitiveness which suggests so often the inquiry,
"How much does it cost to drain an acre?" or, "How much does it cost a
rod to lay drains?" These questions cannot be answered so briefly as
they are asked; yet much information can be given, which will aid one
who will investigate the subject.

The process of drainage is expensive, as compared with the price of land
in our new settlements; but its cost will not alarm those who have been
accustomed to see the improvements made in New England upon well
cultivated farms. Compared with the labor and cost of building and
maintaining FENCES upon the highways, and in the subdivisions of lots,
common in the Eastern States, the drainage of land is a small matter.
We see in many places long stretches of faced walls, on the line of our
roads near towns and villages, which cost from two to five dollars per
rod. Our common "stone walls" in these States cost about one dollar per
rod to build originally; and almost any kind of wooden fence costs as
much. Upon fences, there is occasion for annual repairs, while drains
properly laid, are permanent.

These suggestions are thrown out, that farmers may not be alarmed
without cause, at the high cash estimates of the cost of drainage
operations. Money comes slowly to farmers, and a cash estimate looks
larger to them than an estimate in labor. The cost of fencing seems no
great burden; though, estimated in cash, it would seem, as in fact it
is, a severe charge.

Drainage can be performed principally by the same kind of labor as
fencing, the cost of the tiles being a small item in the whole expense.
The estimates of labor will be made at one dollar per day, in
investigating this matter.

This would be the fair cash value of work by the day, perhaps; but it is
far more than farmers, who have work in hand on their own farms, which
may be executed in the leisure season after haying, and even into the
Winter, when convenient, will really expend for such labor. Few farm
operations would pay expenses, if every hour of superintendence, and
every hour of labor by man and boy and beast, were set down at this high

The cost of the tiles will, ordinarily, be a cash item, and the labor
may be performed like that of planting, hoeing, haying, and harvesting,
by such "help" hired by the mouth or day, or rendered by the family, as
may be found convenient.

The cost of drainage may be considered conveniently, to borrow a
clerical phrase, "under the following heads."

1. _Laying out, or Engineering._--In arranging our Spring's work, we
devote time and attention to laying it out, though this hardly forms an
item in the expense of the crop. Most farmers may think themselves
competent to lay out their drainage-works, without paying for the
scientific skill of an engineer, or even of a surveyor.

It is believed, however, that generally, it will be found true economy,
to procure the aid of an experienced engineer, if convenient, to lay out
the work at the outset. Certainly, in most cases, some skill in the use
of levelling instruments, at least, is absolutely essential to
systematic work. No man, however experienced, can, by the eye, form any
safe opinion of the fall of a given tract of land. Fields which appear
perfectly level to the eye, will be found frequently to give fall enough
for the deepest drainage. The writer recently had occasion to note this
fact on his own land.

A low wet spot had many times been looked at, as a place which should be
drained, both to improve its soil, and the appearance of the land about
it; but to the eye, it seemed doubtful whether it was not about as low
as the stream some forty rods off, into which it must be drained. Upon
testing the matter carefully with levelling instruments, it was found
that from the lowest spot in this little swamp, there was a fall of
seven and a half feet to the river, at its ordinary height! Again, there
are cases where it will be found upon accurate surveys, that the fall is
very slight, so that great care will be requisite, to lay the drains in
such a way that the descent may be continuous and uniform.

Without competent skill in laying out the work, land-owners will be
liable not only to errors in the fall of the drains, but to very
expensive mistakes in the location of them. A very few rods of drains,
more than are necessary, would cost more than any charge of a competent
person for laying them out properly.

Again, experience gives great facility in judging of the underground
flow of water, of the permeability of soil, of the probability of
finding ledges or other rock formation, and many other particulars which
might not suggest themselves to a novice in the business.

The laying out of drains is important, not only with reference to the
work in hand, but to additional work to be executed in future on
adjoining land, so that the whole may be eventually brought into one
cheap and efficient system with the smallest effective number of drains,
both minors and mains, and the fewest outlets possible; with such wells,
or other facilities for inspection, as may be necessary.

In the English tables of the cost of drainage by the Drainage Companies,
an estimate of $1.25 per acre is usually put down for "superintendence,"
which includes the engineering and the supervision of the whole process
of opening, laying and filling, securing outfalls, and every other
process till the work is completed. The general estimate of the cost of
drainage is about $25.00 per acre, and this item of $1.25 is but a small
per centage on that amount. The point has been dwelt upon here, more for
the purpose of impressing upon land-owners, the importance of employing
competent skill in the laying out of their drainage works, than because
the expense thus incurred, forms any considerable item of the cost of
the whole work.

2. _Excavation and Filling._ The principal expense of drainage is
incurred in the excavation of the ditch, whether it be for tiles or for
stones. The labor of excavation depends much upon the nature of the soil
to be moved.

     "Draining on a sound clay," says the writer of a prize essay,
     "free from stones, may be executed at a cheaper rate per rod, in
     length, than on almost any other kind of soil, as, from the
     firmness of the clay, the work may be done with narrow spades, and
     but a small quantity of soil requires to be removed. The draining
     of wet sands or grounds, or clays in which veins of sand abound, is
     more expensive than on sound clays, because a broader spade has to
     be used, and consequently a larger amount of soil removed; and
     draining stony or rocky soils is still more expensive, because the
     pick has to be used. This adds considerably to the expense."

Great stress is laid, by all experienced persons, upon using narrow
spades, and opening ditches as narrow as possible.

It is somewhat more convenient for unskillful laborers to work in a wide
ditch than in a narrow one, and although the laborers frequently protest
that they cannot work so rapidly in narrow ditches, yet it is found
that, in contract work, by the rod, they usually open the ditches very

Indeed, it will be found that, generally, the cost of excavation bears a
pretty constant proportion to the number of cubic feet of earth thrown

It will surprise those unaccustomed to these estimates, to observe how
rapidly the quantity excavated, increases with the increased width of
the ditch.

To enable the reader accurately to compute the measurement of drains of
any dimensions likely to be adopted, a table and explanations, found in
the Report of the Board of Health, already quoted, are given below. The
dimensions, or contents of any drain, are found by multiplying together
the length, depth, and _mean_ width of the drain.

     "Thus, if a drain is 300 yards long, and the cutting 3 feet deep,
     20 inches wide at the top, and 4 inches wide at the bottom, the
     mean width would be 12 inches (or the half of the sum of 20 and 4),
     and if we multiply 300, the length, by 1, the depth in yards, and
     by 1/3, the mean width in yards, and the product would be 100 cubic
     yards. The following table will serve to facilitate such

     _Table showing the number of Cubic Yards of Earth in each Rod (5-1/2
     Yards in length), in Drains or Ditches of various Dimensions._

     DEPTH. |            MEAN WIDTH.
     Inches.|7 In. |8 In. |9 In. |10 In.|11 In.|12 In.
       30   |0.89  |1.02  |1.146 |1.27  |1.40  |1.53
       33   |0.98  |1.12  |1.26  |1.40  |1.54  |1.68
       36   |1.07  |1.22  |1.375 |1.53  |1.68  |1.83
       39   |1.16  |1.324 |1.49  |1.655 |1.82  |1.986
       42   |1.25  |1.426 |1.604 |1.78  |1.96  |2.14
       45   |1.34  |1.53  |1.72  |1.91  |2.10  |2.29
       48   |1.426 |1.63  |1.833 |2.04  |2.24  |2.444
       51   |1.515 |1.73  |1.95  |2.164 |2.38  |2.60
       54   |1.604 |1.83  |2.06  |2.29  |2.52  |2.75
       57   |1.69  |1.935 |2.18  |2.42  |2.66  |2.90
       60   |1.78  |2.036 |2.29  |2.546 |2.80  |3.056

     DEPTH. |              MEAN WIDTH.
     Inches.|13 In.|14 In.|15 In.|16 In.|17 In.|18 In.
       30   |1.655 |1.78  |1.91  |2.04  |2.164 |2.29
       33   |1.82  |1.96  |2.10  |2.24  |2.38  |2.52
       36   |1.986 |2.14  |2.29  |2.244 |2.60  |2.75
       39   |2.15  |2.32  |2.48  |2.65  |2.81  |2.98
       42   |2.32  |2.495 |2.674 |2.85  |3.03  |3.21
       45   |2.48  |2.67  |2.865 |3.055 |3.246 |3.438
       48   |2.65  |2.85  |3.056 |3.26  |3.46  |3.667
       51   |2.81  |3.03  |3.25  |3.46  |3.68  |3.896
       54   |2.98  |3.20  |3.44  |3.666 |3.895 |4.125
       57   |3.14  |3.38  |3.63  |3.87  |4.11  |4.354
       60   |3.31  |3.564 |3.82  |4.074 |4.33  |4.584

     "Along the top of the table is placed the mean widths in inches,
     and on the left-hand side the depths of the drains, extending from
     30 inches to 5 feet. The numbers in the body of the table express
     cubic yards, and decimals of a yard. In making use of the table, it
     is necessary first to find the mean width of the drain, from the
     widths at the top and bottom. Thus, if a drain 3 feet deep were 16
     inches wide at the top, and 4 inches at the bottom, the mean width
     would be half of 16 added to 4, or 10; then, by looking in the
     table for the column under 10 (width), and opposite 36 (inches of
     depth), we find the number of cubic yards in each rod of such a
     drain to be 1.53, or somewhat more than one and a half. If we
     compare this with another drain 20 inches wide at the top, 4 inches
     at the bottom, and 4-1/2 feet deep, we have the mean width 12, and
     looking at the table under 12 and opposite 54, we find 2.75 cubic
     yards, or two and three-quarters to the rod. In this case, the
     quantity of earth to be removed is nearly twice as much as in the
     other, and hence, as far as regards the digging, the cost of the
     labor will be nearly double. But in the case of deep drains, the
     cost increases slightly for another reason, namely, the increased
     labor of lifting the earth to the surface from a greater depth."

Under the title of the "Depth of Drains," other reasons are suggested
why shallow drains are more easily wrought than deeper drains. The
widths given in English treatises, and found perfectly practicable
there, with proper drainage-tools, will seem to us exceedingly narrow.
Mr. Parkes gives the width of the top of a four-foot drain 18 inches,
of a three-and-a-half foot drain 16 inches, and of a three-foot drain 12
inches. He gives the width of drains for tiles, three inches at bottom,
and those for stones, eight inches. Of the cost of excavating a given
number of cubic yards of earth from drains, it is difficult to give
reliable estimates. In the writer's own field, where a pick was used to
loosen the lower two feet of earth, the labor of opening and filling
drains 4 feet deep, and of the mean width of 14 inches, all by hand
labor, has been, in a mile of drains, being our first experiments, about
one day's labor to three rods in length. The excavated earth of such a
drain, measures not quite three cubic yards. (Exactly, 2.85.)

In work subsequently executed, we have opened our drains of 4 foot
depth, but 20 inches at top, and 4 inches at bottom, giving a mean width
of 12 inches. In one instance, in the Summer of 1858, two men opened 14
rods of such drain in one day. In six days, the same two men opened,
laid, and filled 947 feet, or about 57-1/2 rods of such drain. Their
labor was worth $12.00, or 21 cents per rod. The actual cost of this job
was as follows:

    847 two-inch tiles, at $13 per 1,000      $11.01
    100 three-inch      "      "  for main      2.50
    70 bushels of tan, to protect the joints     .70
    Horse to haul tiles and tan                  .50
    Labor, 12 days, at $1                      12.00
              Total                           $26.71

This is 46-1/2 cents per rod, besides our own time and skill in laying out
and superintending the work. The work was principally done with Irish
spades, and was in a sandy soil. In the same season, the same men
opened, laid, and filled 70 rods of four-foot drain, of the same mean
width of 12 inches, in the worst kind of clay soil, where the pick was
constantly used. It cost 35 days' labor to complete the job, being 50
cents per rod for the labor alone. The least cost of the labor of
draining 4 feet deep, on our own land, is thus shown to be 21 cents per
rod, and the greatest cost 50 cents per rod, all the labor being by
hand. One-half these amounts would have completed the drains at 3 feet
depth, as has been already shown.

But the excavation here is much greater than is usual in England, Mr.
Parkes giving the mean width of a four-foot drain but 10-1/2 inches,
instead of 14 or 12, as just given. Mr. Denton gives estimates of the
cost, in England, of cutting and filling four-foot drains, which vary
from 12 cents per rod upwards, according to the prices of labor, and
other circumstances.

In New England, where labor may be fairly rated at one dollar per day,
the cost of excavating and filling four-foot drains by hand labor, must
vary from 20 to 50 cents per rod, according to the soil, and half those
amounts for drains of three-foot depth.

Of the aid which may be derived from the use of draining plows, or of
the common plow, or subsoil plow, our views may be found expressed under
the appropriate heads. That drains will long continue to be opened in
this vast country by hand labor, is not to be supposed, but we give our
estimates of the expenses, at this first stage of our education in

3. _Cost of the Tiles._ Under the title of "The Cost of Tiles," we have
given such information as can be at present procured, touching that
matter. It will be assumed, in these estimates, that no tiles of less
than 1-1/2 inch bore will be used for any purpose, and for mains, usually
those of three-inch bore are sufficient. The proportion of length of
mains to that of minors is small, and, considering the probable
reduction of prices, we will, for the present, assume $10 per 1,000 as
the prices of such mixed sizes as may be used.

Add to this, the freight of them to a reasonable distance, and we have
the cost of the tiles on the field. The weight of two-inch tiles is
usually rated at about 3 lbs. each, though they fall short of this
weight until wet.

4. _Outlets._ A small per-centage should be added to the items already
noticed, for the cost of the general outfall, which should be secured
with great care; although, from such examination as the writer has made
in this country, and in England also, in the large majority of cases,
drains are discharged with very little precaution to protect the
outlets. Works completed under the charge of regular engineers, form an
exception to this remark; and an item of 37 cents per acre, for iron
outlets and masonry, is usually included in the estimated cost per acre
of drainage.

5. _Collars._ It is not known to the author that collars have been at
all used in America, except at the New York Central Park, in 1858; round
pipes, upon which they are commonly used abroad, when used on any, not
being yet much in use here.

In the estimates of Mr. Denton, in his tables, collars are set down at
about half the cost of the mixed tiles. The bore of them being large
enough to receive the end of the tile, increases the price in proportion
to the increase in size. It is believed, however, that a smaller size of
tiles may prudently be used with collars than without, because the
collars keep the tiles perfectly in line, and freely admit water, while
they exclude roots, sand, and other obstructions. A drain laid with one
and a half inch tiles with collars is, no doubt, better in any soil than
two-inch tiles without collars. Some compensation for the cost of
collars may thus be found in the less price of the smaller tiles.

6. _Laying._ The cost of laying tiles is so trifling as hardly to be
worth estimating, except to show its insignificance. The estimate, by
English engineers, is two cents per rod for "pipe laying and finishing."
What is included in "finishing," does not appear. From the personal
observations of the writer, it is believed that an active man may lay
from 60 to 100 rods of tiles per day, in ditches well prepared. Indeed,
we have seen our man James, lay twelve rods of two-inch tiles, in a
four-foot ditch, in forty-five minutes, when he was not aware that he
was working against time. This is at the rate of sixteen rods an hour,
which would give just 160 rods, or a half-mile, in a day of ten hours.

7. _Number of Tiles to the Acre._ The number of tiles used depends, of
course, upon the distances apart of the drains, and upon the length of
the tiles used.

The following table gives the number of tiles of various length, per
acre, required at different intervals:

  Intervals between |Twelve inch|Thirteen inch|Fourteen inch|Fifteen inch
  the Drains,       |   Pipe.   |    Pipe.    |    Pipe.    |   Pipe.
  in feet.          |           |             |             |
          15        |   2904    |    2680     |     2489    |    2323
          18        |   2420    |    2234     |     2074    |    1936
          21        |   2074    |    1915     |     1778    |    1659
          24        |   1815    |    1676     |     1555    |    1452
          27        |   1613    |    1489     |     1383    |    1290
          30        |   1452    |    1340     |     1244    |    1161
          33        |   1320    |    1219     |     1131    |    1056
          36        |   1210    |    1117     |     1037    |     968
          39        |   1117    |    1031     |      957    |     893
          42        |   1037    |     958     |      888    |     829

The following table gives the number of rods per acre of drains at
different distances:

    Intervals between the Drains, in feet.  |      Rods per acre.
                       15                   |           176
                       18                   |           146-2/3
                       21                   |           125-5/7
                       24                   |           110
                       27                   |            97-7/9
                       30                   |            88
                       33                   |            80
                       36                   |            73-1/3
                       39                   |            67-9/13
                       42                   |            62-6/7

It may be remarked here, that tiles, moulded of the same length, vary
nearly two inches when burned, according to the severity of the heat. It
may be suggested, too, that the length of the tile, in the use of any
machine, is entirely at the option of the maker. It is not, perhaps, an
insult to our common humanity, to suggest to buyers the propriety of
measuring the length as well as calibre of tiles before purchasing. In
the estimates which will be made in this detail, it will be assumed that
tiles will lay one foot each, with allowance for imperfections and
breakage. This is as near as possible to accuracy, according to our best
observation; and, besides, there is convenience in this simple estimate
of one tile to one foot, which is important in practice.

We have now the data from which we may make some tolerably safe
estimates of the cost of drainage. With labor at one dollar per day, and
tiles at $10 per 1,000, or one cent each, or one cent a foot, and
ditches four feet deep, opened and filled at one-third of a day's labor
to the rod, we may set down the principal items of the cost of drainage
by the rod, as follows:

    Cutting and filling per rod      33-1/3 cts.
    Tiles                            16-2/3  "

This is putting the tiles at one cent a foot, and the labor at two cents
a foot, or just twice as much as the cost of tiles, and it brings a
total of half a dollar a rod, all of them numbers easily remembered, and
convenient for calculation.

By reference to the table giving the number of rods to the acre, the
cost of labor and tiles per acre may be at once found, by taking half
the number of rods in dollars. At 42 feet distance, the cost will be
$31.42 per acre; at 30 feet distance, $44; and at 60 feet, half that
amount, or $22 per acre.

Our views as to the frequency of drains, may be found under the
appropriate head.

Our estimate thus far, is of four-foot drains. We have shown, under the
head of the "Depth of Drains," that the cost of cutting and filling a
four-foot drain is double that of cutting and filling a three-foot
drain. There is no doubt, that, after all the good advice we have given
on this subject, many, who "grow wiser than their teachers are," will
set aside the teachings of the best draining engineers in the world, and
insist that three feet deep is enough, and persist in so laying their

This _shallowness_ will reduce the cost of labor about one half, so that
we shall have the cost of labor and tiles equal--one cent a foot, making
33? cents per rod, or one-third of a dollar, instead of one-half a
dollar per rod. To the cost of labor and tiles, we should add a fair
estimate of the cost of the other items of engineering and outlets.
These are trifling matters, which English tables, as has been shown,
estimate together, at about $1.67 per acre.

Briefly to recapitulate the elements of computation of the cost of
drainage, we find them to be these: the price of labor, the price of
tiles, and freight of them; the character of the soil, the depth of the
drains, and their distance apart, with the incidental expense of
engineering and of outfalls, and the large additional cost of _collars_,
where they are deemed necessary.


It is not possible to answer, with precision, the question so often
asked, as to the comparative cost of drainage with tiles and stones.

The estimates given of the cost of tile drains, are based upon the
writer's own experience, upon his own farm mainly; and the mean width
of four-foot tile drains, may be assumed to be 14 inches, instead of
10-1/2 inches, as actually practiced in England.

For a stone drain of almost any form, certainly for any regular
water-course laid with stones, our ditch must be at least 21 inches wide
from top to bottom. This is just 50 per cent, more than our own
estimate, and 100 per cent., or double the English estimate for tile

It will require at least two ox-cart loads of stones to the rod, to
construct any sort of a stone drain, costing, perhaps, 25 cents a load
for picking up and hauling. In most cases, where the stones are not on
the farm, it will cost twice that sum. We will say 25 cents per rod for
laying the stones, though this is a low estimate. We have, then, for
cutting and filling the ditch, 50 cents per rod, 50 cents for hauling
stone, and for laying, 25 cents per rod, making $1.25 a rod for a stone
drain, against 50 cents per rod for tile drains.

Then we have a large surplus of earth, two cartloads to the rod,
displaced by the two loads of stone, to be disposed of; and in case of
the tiles, we have just earth enough. There are many other
considerations in favor of tiles: such as the cutting up of the ground
by teaming heavy loads of stones; the greater permanency of tiles; and
the fact that they furnish no harbor for mice and other vermin, as the
English call such small beasts. In favor of stones, is the fact, that
often they are on the land, and must be moved, and it is convenient to
dispose of them in the ditches.

Again, there are many parts of the country where tiles are not to be
procured, without great cost of freight, and where labor is abundant at
certain seasons, and money scarce at all seasons, so that the question
is really between stone drains and no drains.

Stone drains, if laid very deep, are far more secure than when shallow;
because, if shallow, they are usually ruined by the breaking in of water
at the top, in the Spring time, by the action of frost, and by the
mining of mice and moles. If laid four feet deep, and the earth rammed
hard above the stones, and rounded on the surface to throw off surface
water, they may be found efficient and permanent.

The conclusion, however, is, that where it can be procured, at any
reasonable cost, drainage with tiles will generally cost less than
one-half the expense of drainage with stones, and be incomparably more
satisfactory in the end.



     Unreasonable Expectations about Draining Tools.--Levelling
     Instruments; Guessing not Accurate.--Level by a Square.--Spirit
     Level.--Span, or A Level.--Grading by
     Lines.--Boning-rod.--Challoner's Drain Level.--Spades and
     Shovels.--Long-handled Shovel.--Irish Spade, Description and
     Cut.--Bottoming Tools.--Narrow Spades.--English Bottoming
     Tools.--Pipe-layer.--Pipe-laying Illustrated.--Pick-axes.--Drain
     Gauge.--Drain Plows, and Ditch-Diggers.--Fowler's Drain
     Plow.--Pratt's Ditch-Digger.--McEwan's Drain Plow.--Routt's Drain

It seems to be a characteristic of Americans, to be dissatisfied with
every recent improvement in art or science, and the greater the step in
advance of former times, the more captious and critical do we become.
There is many a good lady, who cannot tolerate a sewing-machine,
although she knows it will do the work of ten seamstresses, because it
will not sew on buttons and work buttonholes! Most of us are very much
out of temper with the magnetic telegraph, just now, because it does not
bring us the Court news from England every morning before breakfast,
though we have hourly dispatches from Washington, New Orleans, and St.
Louis; and, returning to our _moutons_, everybody is finding fault with
us just now, because we cannot tell them of some universal,
all-penetrating, cheap, strong, simple, enduring little implement, by
means of which any kind of a laborer, Scotch, Irish, or Yankee, may
conveniently open all kinds of drains in all kinds of land, whether
sand, hard-pan, gravel, or clay.

Having personally inquired and examined, touching draining tools in
England, and having been solicited by an extensive agricultural
implement house in Boston, to furnish them a list and description of a
complete set of draining tools, and feeling the obligation which seemed
to be imposed on us, to know all about this matter, we wrote to Mr.
Denton, one of the first draining engineers in the world, to send us a
list, with drawings and descriptions of such implements as he finds most
useful, or, if more convenient the implements themselves.

Mr. Denton kindly replied to our inquiry, and his answer may be taken as
the best evidence upon this point. He says:

     "As to tools, it is the same with them as it is with the art of
     draining itself--too much rule and too much drawing upon paper; all
     very right to begin with, but very prejudicial to progress. I
     employ, as engineer to the General Land Drainage Company, and on my
     private account, during the drainage season, as many as 2,000 men,
     and it is an actual fact, that not one of them uses the set of
     tools figured in print. I have frequently purchased a number of
     sets of the Birmingham tools, and sent them down on extensive
     works. The laborers would purchase a few of the smaller tools, such
     as Nos. 290, 291, and 301, figured in Morton's excellent Cyclopædia
     of Agriculture, and would try them, and then order others of the
     country blacksmith, differing in several respects; less weighty and
     much less costly, and, moreover, much better as working tools. All
     I require of the cutters, is, that the bottom of the drain should
     be evenly cut, to fit the size of the pipe. The rest of the work
     takes care of itself; for a good workman will economize his labor
     for his own sake, by moving as little earth as practicable; thus,
     for instance, a first-class cutter, in clays, will get down four
     feet with a twelve-inch opening, _ordinarily_; if he wishes to
     _show off_, he will sacrifice his own comfort to appearance, and
     will do it with a ten-inch opening."

Having thus "freed our mind" by way of preliminary, we propose to take
up our subject, and pursue it as practically and quietly as possible to
the end. It may be well, perhaps, first to suggest by way of explanation
of Mr. Denton's letter, above quoted, that drains are usually opened in
England by the yard, or rod, the laborer finding his own tools.

As has been intimated, the implements convenient for draining, depend on
many circumstances. They depend upon the character of the earth to be
moved. A sharp, light spade, which may work rapidly and well in a light
loam or sand, may be entirely unfit to drive into a stiff clay; and the
fancy bottoming tools which may cut out a soft clay or sand in
nicely-measured slices, will be found quite too delicate for a hard-pan
or gravel, where the pick-axe alone can open a passage.

The implements again must be suited to the workman who handles it. Henry
Ward Beecher, in speaking of creeds, which he, on another occasion, had
said were "the skins of religion set up and stuffed," remarked, that it
was of more importance that a man should know how to make a practical
use of his faith, than that he should subscribe to many articles; for,
said he, "I have seen many a man who could do more at carpenter's work
with one old jack-knife, than another could do with a whole chest of

What can an Irishman do with a chopping ax, and what cannot a Yankee do
with it? Who ever saw a Scotchman or an Irishman who could not cut a
straight ditch with a spade, and who ever saw a Yankee who could or
would cut a ditch straight with any tool? One man works best with a
long-handled spade, another prefers a short handle; one drives it into
the earth with his right foot, another with his left. A laboring man, in
general, works most easily with such tools as he is accustomed to
handle; while theorizing implement-makers, working out their pattern by
the light of reason, may produce such a tool as a man _ought_ to work
with, without adapting it at all to the capacity or taste of the
laborer. A man should be measured for his tools, as much as for his
garment, and not be expected to fit himself to another's notions more
than to another's coat.

If the land-owner proposes to act as his own engineer, the first
instrument he will want to use is a SPIRIT LEVEL, or some other
contrivance by which he may ascertain the variations of the surface of
his field. The natural way for a Yankee to get at the grades is to
_guess_ at them, and this, practically, is what is usually done. Ditches
are opened where there appears to be a descent, and if there is water
running, the rise is estimated by its current; and if there is no water
rising in the drain, a bucketfull is occasionally poured in to guide the
laborer in his work. No one who has not tested the accuracy, or, rather,
inaccuracy, of his judgment, as to the levels of fields, can at all
appreciate the deceitfulness of appearances on this point. The human eye
will see straight; but it will not see level without a guide. It forms
conclusions by comparison; and the lines of upland, of forest tops and
of distant hills, all conspire to confuse the judgment, so that it is
quite common for a brook to appear to the eye to run up hill, even when
it has a quick current. A few trials with a spirit-level will cure any
man of his conceit on this subject.

And so it is as to the regular inclination of the bottom of drains. It
is desirable not only to have an inclination all the way, but a regular
inclination, as nearly as possible, especially if the descent be small.
Workmen are very apt to work at a uniform depth from the surface, and so
give the bottom of the drain the same variations as the surface line;
and thus at one point there may be a fall of one inch in a rod; at
another, twice that fall; and at another, a dead level, or even a
hollow. On our own farm, we have found, in twelve rods, a variation of a
foot in the bottom line of a drain opened by skillful workmen on a
nearly level field, where they had no water to guide them, and where
they had supposed their fall was regular throughout.

The following sketch shows the difference between lines of tiles laid
with and without instruments. Next to guessing at the fall in our field,
may be placed a little contrivance, of which we have made use
sufficiently to become satisfied of its want of practical accuracy. It
is thus figured and described in the excellent treatise of Thomas, on
Farm Implements.

[Illustration: Fig. 54.]

     "_A_ is a common square, placed in a slit in the top of the stake
     _B_. By means of a plumb-line the square is brought to a level,
     when a thumbscrew, at _C_, fixes it fast. If the square is two feet
     long, and is so carefully adjusted as not to vary more than the
     twentieth of an inch from a true level, which is easily
     accomplished, then a twentieth of an inch in two feet will be one
     inch in forty feet--a sufficient degree of accuracy for many

[Illustration: Fig. 55.--SQUARE AND PLUMB-LEVEL.]

We do not so much object to the principle of the above level, as to its
practical working. We find it difficult, without cross sights, to take
an accurate level with any instrument. However, those who are used to
rifle-shooting may hit tolerably near the mark with the square. Mr.
Thomas only claims that it is accurate enough "for many cases."

A proper spirit-level, such as is used by engineers of railroads and
canals, attached to a telescope, is the best of all instruments. "So
great is the perfection of this instrument," says the writer just
quoted, "that separate lines of levels have been run with it, for sixty
miles, without varying two-thirds of an inch for the whole distance." A
cheap and convenient spirit-level, for our purpose, is thus constructed.

     It is furnished with eye sights, _a b_, and, when in use, is placed
     into a framing of brass which operates as a spring to adjust it to
     the level position, _d_, by the action of the large-headed brass
     screw, _c_. A stud is affixed to the framing, and pushed firmly
     into a gimlet-hole in the top of the short rod, which is pushed or
     driven into the ground at the spot from whence the level is desired
     to be ascertained. It need scarcely be mentioned, that the height
     of the eye sight, from the guard, is to be deducted from the height
     of observation, which quantity is easily obtained by having the rod
     marked off in inches and feet; but it may be mentioned, that this
     instrument should be used in all cases of draining on level ground,
     even when one is confident that he knows the fall of the ground;
     for the eye is a very deceitful monitor for informing you of the
     levelness of ground. It is so light as to admit of being carried in
     the pocket, whilst its rod may be used as a staff or cane.

[Illustration: Fig. 56.--SPIRIT LEVEL.]

A staff of ten feet in length, graduated in feet and inches, and held by
an attendant at the various points of observation, is necessary in the
use of the spirit-level in the field. A painted target, arranged with a
slide to be moved up and down on this staff, and held by a thumbscrew,
will be found useful.

We have made for our own use a level like the above, and find it
sufficiently accurate for drainage purposes. Small spirit-levels set in
iron can be had at the hardware shops for twenty cents each, and can be
readily attached to wood by a screw, in constructing our implement; or a
spirit-level set in mahogany, of suitable size, may be procured for a
half dollar, and any person, handy with tools, can do the rest. The
sights should be arranged both ways, with a slit cut with a chisel
through the brass or tin, and an oblong opening at each end. The eye is
placed at the slit, and sight is taken by a hair or fine thread, drawn
across the opening at the other end. Then, by changing ends, and
sighting through the other end at a given object, any error in the
instrument may be detected. The hair or thread may be held in place by a
little wax, and moved up or down till it is carefully adjusted. The
instrument should turn upon the staff in all directions, so that the
level of a whole field, so far as it is within range, may be taken from
one position.

[Illustration: Fig. 57.


To maintain a uniform grade in the bottom of a drain so as to economize
the fall, and distribute it equally through the whole length, several
different instruments and means may be adopted. The first which we will
figure, is what is called the Span, or A Level. Such a level may be
easily constructed of common inch-board. If it be desired to note the
fall in feet, the span may conveniently be ten feet. If a notation in
rods be preferred, the span should be a rod, or half rod long.

The two feet being placed on a floor, and ascertained to be perfectly
level by a spirit-level, the plumb-line will hang in the centre, where a
distinct mark should be made on the cross-bar. Then place a block of
wood, exactly an inch thick, under one leg, and mark the place where the
line crosses the bar. Put another block an inch thick under the same
leg, and again mark where the line crosses the bar, and so on as far as
is thought necessary. Then put the blocks under the other leg in the
same manner, and mark the cross-bar. If the span be ten feet, the
plumb-line will indicate upon the bar, by the mark which it crosses, the
rise or fall in inches, in ten feet. If the span be a rod, the line will
indicate the number of inches per rod of the rise or fall.

[Illustration: Fig. 58.--SPAN, OR A LEVEL.]

This instrument is used thus: The fall of the ditch from end to end
being ascertained by the spirit-level, and the length also, the fall per
rod, or per one hundred feet, may be computed. The span is then placed
in the bottom of the drain, from time to time, to guide the workman, or
for accurate inspection of the finished cut. We have constructed and
used this level, and found it very convenient to test the accuracy of
the workmen, who had opened drains in our absence. A ten-foot span will
be found as large as can be conveniently carried about the farm.

For the accurate grading of the bottom of drains, as the work proceeds,
we have in practice found nothing so convenient and accurate as the
arrangement which we are about to illustrate.

The object is simply to draw a line parallel with the proposed bottom of
the drain, for the laborers to work under, so that they, as they
proceed, may measure down from it, as a guide to depth. Having with the
spirit-level, ascertained the fall from end to end of the drain, a short
stake is set at each end, and a line is drawn from one to the other at
the requisite height, and supported by the cross-pieces, at suitable
distances, to prevent the sagging of the line.

[Illustration: Fig. 59.--GRADING TRENCHES BY LINES.]

Suppose the drain to be ten rods long, and that it is intended to cut it
four feet deep, the natural fall being, from end to end, sufficient. We
drive a stake at each end of the drain, high enough to attach to it a
line three feet above the surface, which will be seven feet above the
bottom of the finished drain--high enough to be above the heads of the
cutters, when standing near the bottom.

Before drawing the line, the drain may be nearly completed. Then drive
the intermediate stakes, with the projecting arms, which we will call
squares, on one side of the drain, carefully sighting from one end of
the stake to the other, at the point fixed for the line, and driving the
squares till they are exactly even. Then attach a strong small cord, not
larger than a chalk line, to one of the stakes, and draw it as tight as
it will bear, and secure it at the other stake. The line is now
directly over the middle of the drain, seven feet from the bottom. Give
the cutters, then, a rod seven feet long, and let them cut just deep
enough for the rod to stand on the bottom and touch the line.
Practically, this has been found by the author, the most accurate and
satisfactory method of bringing drains to a regular grade.

Instead of a line, after the end stakes have been placed, a _boning
rod_, as it is called, may be used thus: A staff is used, with a
cross-piece at the top, and long enough, when resting on the proper
bottom of the drain, to reach to the level of the marks on the stakes,
three feet above the surface. Cross-pieces nailed to the stakes are the
most conspicuous marks. A person stands at one stake sighting along to
the other; a second person then holds the rod upright in the ditch, just
touching the bottom, and carries it thus along. If, while it is moved
along, its top is always in a line with the cross-bars on the end
stakes, the fall is uniform; if it rise above, the bottom of the drain
must be lowered; if it fall below, the bottom of the drain must be
raised. This may be convenient enough for mere inspection of works, but
it requires two persons besides the cutters, to finish the drain by this
mode; whereas, with the lines and squares, any laborer can complete the
work with exactness.

Another mode of levelling, by means of a mammoth mason's level, with an
improvement, was invented by Colonel Challoner, and published in the
Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society. It may appear to some persons
more simple than the span level. We give the cut and explanation.

     "I first ascertain what amount of fall I can obtain, from the head
     of every drain to my outfall. Suppose the length of the drain to be
     96 yards, and I find I have a fall of two feet, that gives me a
     fall of a quarter of an inch in every yard. I take a common
     bricklayer's level 12 feet long, to the bottom of which I attach,
     with screws, a piece of wood the whole length, _one inch wider_ at
     one end than at the other, thereby throwing the level one inch out
     of the true horizontal line. When the drain has got to its proper
     depth at the outfall, I apply the broadest end of the level to the
     mouth; and when the plumb-bob indicates the level to be correct,
     the one-inch fall has been gained in the four yards, and so on. I
     keep testing the drain as it is dug, quite up to the head, when an
     unbroken, even, and continuous fall of two feet in the whole 96
     yards has been obtained."

[Illustration: Fig. 60.--CHALLONER'S LEVEL.]


[Illustration: Fig. 61, 62, 63.--DRAIN SPADES.]

No peculiar tool is essential in opening that part of the drain which is
more than a foot in width. Shovels and spades, of the forms usually
found upon well-furnished farms, and adapted to its soil, will be found
sufficient. A Boston agricultural house, a year or two since, sent out
an order to London for a complete set of draining tools. In due season,
they received, in compliance with their order, three spades of different
width, like those represented in the cut.

These are understood to be the tools in common use in England and
Scotland, for sod-draining, and for any other drains, indeed, except
tiles. The widest is 12 inches wide, and is used to remove the first
spit, of about one foot depth. The second is 12 inches wide at top, and
8 at the point, and the third, eight at top, and four at the point. The
narrowest spade is usually made with a spur in front, or what the Irish
call a _treader_, on which to place the foot in driving it into the

[Illustration: Fig. 64. SPADE WITH SPUR.]

For wedge drains, these spades are made narrower than those above
represented, the finishing spade being but two and a half inches wide at
the point. It will be recollected that this kind of drainage is only
adapted to clay land. The shovels and spades which have been heretofore
in most common use in New England are made with short handles, thus--

[Illustration: Figs. 65, 66.--COMMON SHOVEL AND SPADE.]

They are of cast-steel, and combine great strength and lightness.
Long-handled shovels and spades are much preferred, usually, by Irish
laborers, whose fancy is worth consulting in matters with which they
have so much to do. We believe their notion is correct, that the
long-handled tool is the easier to work with, at almost any job.

In our own draining, we find the common spade, with long or short
handle, to be best in marking out the lines in turf; and either the
spade or common shovel, according to the nature of the soil, most
convenient in removing the first foot of earth.

After this, if the pick is used, a long-handled round-pointed shovel,
now in common use on our farms, is found convenient, until the ditch is
too narrow for its use. Then the same shovel, turned up at the sides so
as to form a narrow scoop, will be found better than any tool we yet
have to remove this loosened earth.

[Illustration: Figs. 67, 68.--LONG-HANDLED ROUND SHOVEL. SCOOP SHOVEL.]

Of all the tools that we have ever seen in the hands of an Irishman, in
ditching, nothing approximates to the true Irish spade. It is a very
clumsy, ungainly-looking implement used in the old country both for
ditching, and for ridging for potatoes, being varied somewhat in width,
according to the intended use. For stony soil, it is made narrower and
stronger, while for the bog it is broader and lighter. The Irish
blacksmiths in this country usually know how to make them, and we have
got up a pattern of them, which are manufactured by Laighton and Lufkin,
edge-tool makers, of Auburn, N. H., which have been tested, and found to
suit the ideas of the Irish workmen.

This is a correct portrait of an Irish spade of our own pattern, which
has done more in opening two miles of drains on our own farm, than any
other implement.

The spade of the Laighton and Lufkin pattern weighs 5 lbs., without the
handle, and is eighteen inches long. It is of iron, except about eight
inches of the blade, which is of cast steel, tempered and polished like
a chopping axe. It is considerably curved, and the workmen suit their
own taste as to the degree of curvature, by putting the tool under a
log or rock, and bending it to suit themselves. It is a powerful, strong
implement, and will cut off a root of an inch or two diameter as readily
as an axe. The handle is of tough ash, and held in place by a wedge
driven at the side of it, and can be knocked out readily when the spade
needs new steel, or any repair. The length of the handle is three feet
eight inches, and the diameter about one and one-fourth inches. The
wedge projects, and forms a "treader," broad and firm, on which the foot
comes down, to drive the spade into the ground.

[Illustration: Fig. 69.--IRISH SPADE.]

We have endeavored to have the market supplied with the Irish spades,
because, in the hands of such Irishmen as have used them "at home," we
find them a most effective tool. We are met with all sorts of reasonable
theoretical objections on the part of implement sellers, and of farmers,
who never saw an Irish spade in use. "Would not the tool be better if it
were wider and lighter," asks one. "I think it would be better if the
spur, or "treader," were movable and of iron, so as to be put on the
other side or in front," suggests another. "It seems as if it would work
better, if it were straight," adds a third. "Would it not hold the dirt
better if it were a little hollowing on the front," queries a fourth.
"No doubt," we reply, "there might be a very good implement made, wider
and lighter, without a wooden treader, and turned up at the sides, to
hold the earth better, but it would not be an Irish spade when finished.
Your theories may be all correct and demonstrable by the purest
mathematics, but the question is, with what tool will Patrick do the
most work? If he recognizes the Irish spade as an institution of his
country, as a part of 'home,' you might as well attempt to reason him
out of his faith in the Pope, as convince him that his spade is not
perfect." Our man, James, believes in the infallibility of both. There
is no digging on the farm that his spade is not adapted to. To mark out
a drain in the turf by a line, he mounts his spade with one foot, and
hops backward on the other, with a celerity surprising to behold. Then
he cuts the sod in squares, and, with a sleight of hand, which does not
come by nature, as Dogberry says reading and writing come, throws out
the first spit. When he comes on to the gravel or hard clay, where
another man would use a pick-axe, his heavy boot comes down upon the
treader, and drives the spade a foot or more deep; and if a root is
encountered, a blow or two easily severs it. The last foot at the bottom
of the four-foot drain, is cut out for the sole-tile only four and a
half inches wide, and the sides of the ditch are kept trimmed, even and
straight, with the sharp steel edge. And it is pleasant to hear James
express his satisfaction with his national implement. "And, sure, we
could do nothing at this job, sir, without the Irish spade!" "And, sure,
I should like to see a man that will spade this hard clay with anything
else, sir!" On the whole, though the Irish spade does wonders on our
farm, we recommend it only for Irishmen, who know how to handle it. In
our own hands, it is as awkward a thing as we ever took hold of, and we
never saw any man but an Irishman, who could use it gracefully and

_Bottoming Tools._--The only tools which are wanted of peculiar form in
draining, are such as are used in forming the narrow part of the
trenches at the bottom. We can get down two feet, or even three, with
the common spade and pick-axe, and in most kinds of drainage, except
with tiles, it is necessary to have the bottom as wide, at least, as a
spade. In tile-draining, the narrower the trench the better, and in
laying cylindrical pipes without collars, the bottom of the drain should
exactly fit the pipes, to hold them in line.

Although round pipes are generally used in England, we have known none
used in America until the past season--the sole-pipe taking their place.
As the sole-pipe has a flat bottom, a different tool is required to
finish its resting-place, from that adapted to the round pipe. As we
have not, however, arrived quite at the bottom, we will return to the
tools for removing the last foot of earth.

And first, we give from Morton, the Birmingham spades referred to by Mr.
Denton, in his letter, quoted in this chapter. They are the
theoretically perfect tools for removing the last eighteen or twenty
inches of soil in a four or five-foot drain. Mr. Gisborne says of the
drain properly formed:

     "It is wrought in the shape of a wedge, brought in the bottom to
     the narrowest limit which will admit the collar, by tools admirably
     adapted to that purpose. The foot of the operator is never within
     twenty inches of the floor of the drain; his tools are made of
     iron, plated on steel, and never lose their sharpness, even when
     worn to the stumps; because, as the softer material, the iron,
     wears away, the sharp steel edge is always prominent."

[Illustration: Fig. 70. Fig. 71. Fig. 72. BIRMINGHAM SPADES.]

This poetical view of digging drains, meets us at every turn, and we are
beset with inquiries for these wonderful implements. We do not intimate
that Mr. Gisborne, and those who so often quote the above language, are
not reliable. Mr. Gisborne "is an honorable man, so are they all
honorable men;" but we must reform our tiles, and our land too, most of
it, we fear, before we can open four-foot trenches, and lay pipes in
them, without putting a foot "within twenty inches of the floor of the

In the first place, we have great doubt whether pipes can be laid close
enough to make the joints secure without collars, unless carefully laid
by hand, or unless they are round pipes, rolled in the making, when half
dried, and so made straight and even at the ends. In laying such
sole-pipes as we have laid, it requires some care to adjust them, so as
to make the joints close. Most of them are warped in drying or burning,
so that spaces of half an inch will often be left at the top or side,
where two are laid end to end. Now, if the foot never goes to the bottom
of the drain, the pipes must be laid with a hook or pipe-layer, such as
will be presently described, which may do well for pipes and collars,
because the collar covers the joint, so that it is of no importance if
it be somewhat open.

Again, we know of no method of working with a pick-axe, except by
standing as low as the bottom of the work. No man can pick twenty
inches, or indeed any inches, lower than he stands, because he must move
forward in this work, and not backward. Each land-owner may judge for
himself, whether his land requires the pick in its excavation.

In soft clays, no doubt, with suitable tools, the trench may be cut a
foot, or more, lower than the feet of the workman. We have seen it done
in our land, in a sandy soil, with the Irish spade, though, as we used
sole-pipes, our "pipe-layer" was a live Irishman, who walked in the
trench backwards, putting down the pipes with his hand.

We are satisfied, that the instances in which trenches may be opened a
foot or two below the feet of the workmen, are the exceptions, and not
the rule, and that in laying sole-tiles, the hand of a careful workman
must adjust each tile in its position.

We have found a narrow spade, four inches wide, with a long handle, a
convenient tool for finishing drains for sole-tiles.

[Illustration: Fig. 73. Fig. 74. NARROW SPADES FOR TILES.]

We have thoroughly tested the matter; and in all kinds of soil, give a
decided preference to spades as broad at the point as at the heel. We
have used common long-handled spades, cut down with shears at a
machine-shop, into these shapes.

The spade of equal width, works much more easily in the bottom of a
trench, because its corners do not catch, as do those of the other. The
pointed spade is apparently nearer the shape of the sloping ditch, but
such tools cannot be used vertically, and when the heel of the pointed
spade is lowered, it catches in the side of the trench, before the point
reaches the bottom.

Very strong spades, of various width, from three to eight inches, and
thick at the heel, to operate as a wedge, will be found most suitable
for common use. The narrowest spades should have the spur, as shown in
Fig. 64, because there is not room for the foot by the side of the

The various tools for finishing the bottoms of drains, as figured in
Morton, are the following:

[Illustration: Fig. 75. Fig. 76. Fig. 77. Fig. 78. Fig. 79.


The last implement, which is a scoop for the bottom of trenches for
round pipes, is one of the tools mentioned in Mr. Denton's letter, as
not being found to the taste of his workmen. For scooping out our
flat-bottomed trenches, we use a tool like Fig. 77. For boggy land, soft
clay, or, indeed, any land where water is running at the time of the
excavation, scoops like the following will be found convenient for flat

[Illustration: Fig. 80. Fig. 81. Fig. 82.


The pushing scoop (Fig. 81), as it is called, may be made of a common
long-handled shovel, turned up at the sides by a blacksmith, leaving it
of the desired width.

The _pipe-layer_, of which mention has so often been made, is a little
implement invented by Mr. Parkes, for placing round pipes and collars in
narrow trenches, without stepping into them.

The following sketch, by our friend Mr. Shedd, shows the pipe-layer in
use. The cross section of the land, shown in front, represents it as
having had the advantage of draining, by which the water-table is
brought to a level with the bottom of the drain, as shown by the heavy
shading. An "Irish spade" and a pipe-layer are shown lying on the

[Illustration: Fig. 83.--PIPE-LAYING.]

The _pick-axes_ commonly used in excavation of trenches, are in the
following forms:

[Illustration: Fig. 84, 85.--PICK-AXES.]

Pick-axes may be light or heavy, according to the nature of the soil. A
chisel at one end, and point at the other, is found best in most cases.

A _Drain-gauge_ is usually mentioned in a list of draining tools. It is
used when ditches are designed for stone or other material than tiles,
and where the width is important. In tile-draining the width is entirely
immaterial. If opened by the rod, it is only important that they be of
proper depth and inclination, with the bottom wide enough for the tile.

[Illustration: Fig. 86.--DRAIN-GAUGE.]

The above figure shows the usual form of the drain-gauge. Below, we give
from Morton, drawings, and a description of Elkington's augers for
boring in the bottoms of ditches.

     "The cut annexed represents the auger employed by Elkington, where
     _a b_ and _c_ are different forms of the tool; _d_, a portion of
     the shaft: _e_, with the wedges, _h h_, the cross handle; and _f_
     and _g_ additional pieces for grasping the shaft, and so enabling
     more than one person to work at it." The auger-hole ought to be a
     little at one side of the drain, as in Fig. 3, at page 35, so that
     the water may not rise at right angles to the flow of water in it,
     and obstruct its current.

[Illustration: Fig. 87.--ELKINGTON'S DRAINING AUGER.]


     _a._ The plug, or point under ground, to which the string of pipes is
     _bb._ The coulter from the point up through the beam, regulated by
          wheel and screw midway.
     _c._ The beam connecting the two pairs of wheels.
     _e._ Drain opened by hand where pipes enter the ground.
     _a to e._ Pipes under ground.
     _e to f._ Pipes above ground.
     _g._ Windlass or capstan, worked by horses.
     _h._ Wire rope attached to plow, and wound round the windlass.
     _i._ Pulley round which the rope runs to keep the plow in the line of
          the ditch.]


The man who can invent and construct a machine that shall be capable of
cutting four-foot ditches for pipe-drains, with facility, will deserve
well of his country.

It is not essential that the drain be cut to its full depth at one
operation. If worked by oxen or horses, it may go several times over the
work, taking out a few inches at each time. If moved by a capstan, or
other slowly-operating power, it must work more thoroughly, so as not to
consume too much time.

With a lever, such as is used in Willis's Stump Puller, sufficient power
for any purpose may be applied. An implement like a subsoil plow,
constructed to run four feet deep, and merely doing the work of the
pick, would be of great assistance. Prof. Mapes says he has made use of
such an implement with great advantage. For tile-drains, the narrower
the ditch the better, if it be only wide enough to receive the tiles. A
mere slit, four inches wide, if straight and of even inclination at the
bottom, would be the best kind of ditch, the pipes being laid in with a
pipe-layer. But if the ditch is to be finished by the machine, it is
essential that it be so contrived that it will grade the bottom, and not
leave it undulating like the surface. Fowler's Drain Plow is said to be
so arranged, by improvements since its first trials, as to attain this

Having thus briefly suggested some of the points to be kept in mind by
inventors, we will proceed to give some account of such machines as come
nearest to the wants of the community. Fowler's Draining-Plow would meet
the largest wants of the public, were it cheap enough, and really
reliable to perform what it is said to perform. The author saw this
implement in England, but not in operation, and it seems impossible,
from inspection of it, as well as from the theory of its operation,
that it can succeed, if at all, in any but soft homogeneous clay. The
idea is, however, so bold, and so much is claimed for the implement,
that some description of it seems indispensable in a work like this.

The pipes, of common drain tiles, are strung on a rope, and this rope,
with the pipes, is drawn through the ground, following a plug like the
foot of a subsoil plow, leaving the pipes perfectly laid, and the drain
completed at a single operation. (See Fig. 88.)

The work is commenced by opening a short piece of ditch by hand, and
strings of pipes, each about 50 feet long, are added as the work
proceeds; and when the ditch is completed, the rope is withdrawn. When
the surface is uneven, the uniform slope is preserved by means of a
wheel and screw, which governs the plug, or coulter, raising or lowering
it at pleasure. A man upon the frame-work controls this wheel, guided by
a sight on the frame, and a cross-staff at the end of the field.

Drains, 40 rods long, are finished at one operation. This plow has been
carefully tested in England. Its work has been uncovered when completed,
and found perfect in every respect. The great expense of the machine,
and the fact that it is only adapted to clay land free from
obstructions, has prevented its general use. We cannot help believing
that, by the aid of steam, on our prairies, at least, some such machine
may be found practicable and economical.


Patented by Pratt & Bro., of Canandaigua, is attracting much attention.
We have not seen it in operation, nor have we seen statements which
satisfy us that it is just what is demanded. It is stated, in the
_Country Gentleman_, to be incapable of cutting a ditch more than two
and a half feet deep. A machine that will do so much is not to be
despised; but more than one half the digging remains of a four-foot
ditch, after two and a half feet are opened, and we want an implement to
do the lowest and worst half. It is stated that, in one instance, a
ditch, 60 rods long, about two feet deep, in hard clay, was cut with
this machine, worked by two horses, in five hours.

We trust that the enterprising inventors will perfect their implement,
so that it will open drains four feet deep, and thus meet the great want
of the public. It is not to be expected that any such implement can be
made to operate in ground full of stones and roots; and inventors should
not be discouraged by the continual croakings of those sinister birds,
which see nothing but obstacles, and prophecy only failure.

[Illustration: Fig. 89.--PRATT'S DITCH DIGGER.]

The drain plow was first introduced into Scotland by M'Ewan. The soil in
his district was mostly a strong unctuous clay, free from stones. He
constructed an immense plow, worked by 12 or 16 horses, by means of
which a furrow-slice, 16 inches in depth, was turned out; and, by a
modification of the plow, a second slice was removed, to the depth, in
all, of two feet. This plow is expensive and heavy, and incapable of
working to sufficient depth.

Mr. Paul, of Norfolk Co., England, has lately invented an ingenious
machine for cutting drains, of which we give an elevation.

[Illustration: Fig. 90.--PAUL'S DITCHING MACHINE.]

It is worked by a chain and capstan, by horses, and, of course, may be
operated by steam or lever power. It is drawn forward, and, as it moves,
it acts as a slotting machine on the land, the tools on the
circumference of the acting-wheel taking successive bites of the soil,
each lifting a portion from the full depth to which it is desired that
the trench should be cut, and laying the earth thus removed on the
surface at either side. There is a lifting apparatus at the end of the
machine, by which the cutting-wheel may be raised or lowered, according
to the unevenness of the surface, in order to secure a uniform fall in
the bottom of the drain. The whole process is carried on at the rate of
about four feet per minute, and it results, on suitable soils, in
cutting a drain from three to five feet deep, leaving it in a finished
state, with a level bottom for the tiles to rest upon. We give the cut
and statement from the Cyclopædia of Agriculture, and if the machine
shall prove what it is represented to be, we see but little more to be
desired in a ditching machine. The principle of this implement appears
to us to be the correct one, and we see no reason to doubt the
statement of its performance.

Routt's drain plow is designed for surface-draining merely. We give,
from the _New England Farmer_, a statement of its merits, as detailed by
a correspondent who saw it at the exhibition of the U. S. Agricultural
Society at Richmond, in 1858:

"One of the most attractive implements on the Fair ground, to the
farmer, was A. P. Routt's patent drain plow. This implement makes a
furrow a foot deep, two feet and a half wide at the top, and four inches
wide at the bottom, the sides sloping at such an angle as to insure the
drain from falling in by the frost, the whole being perfectly completed
at one operation by this plow, or tool. Those who have tried it say it
is the very thing for surface-draining, which, on wet lands, is
certainly very beneficial where under-draining has not been done. The
manufacturer resides in Somerset, Orange County, Va. The plow is so made
that it opens a deep furrow, turning both to the right and left, and is
followed by a heavy iron roller that hardens the earth, both on the
sides and the bottom of the surface-drain, thus doing very handsome
work. The price, as heretofore stated, is $25, and with it, a man can,
with a good pair of team horses, surface-drain 60 acres of land a day."



     Begin at the Outlet.--Use of Plows.--Levelling the Bottom.--Where
     to begin to lay Pipes.--Mode of Procedure.--Covering
     Pipes.--Securing Joints.--Filling.--Securing Outlets.--Plans.

In former chapters, we have spoken minutely of the arrangement, depth,
distance, and width of drains; and in treating of tools for drainage, we
have sufficiently described the use of levelling instruments and of the
various digging tools.

We assume here, that the engineering has been already done, and that the
whole system has been carefully staked out, so that every main,
sub-main, and minor is distinctly located, and the fall accurately
ascertained. Until so much has been accomplished, we are unprepared to
put the first spade into the ground.

We propose to give our own experience as to the convenient method of
procedure, with such suggestions as occur to us, for those who are
differently situated from ourselves.

The work of excavation must begin at the outlet, so that whatever water
is met with, may pass readily away; and the outlet must be kept always
low enough for this purpose. If there is considerable fall, it may not
be best to deepen the lower end of the main to its full extent, at
first, because the main, though first opened, must be the last in which
the pipes are laid, and may cave in, if unnecessarily deep at first. In
many cases there is fall enough, so that the upper minors may be laid
and find sufficient fall, before the lower end of the main is half

With a garden line drawn straight, mark out the drain, with a sharp
spade, on both sides, and remove the turf. If it is desired to use the
turf for covering the pipes, or to replace it over the drains, when
finished, it should at first be placed in heaps outside the line of the
earth to be thrown out.

A plow is used sometimes to turn out the sod and soil; but we have few
plowmen who can go straight enough; and in plowing, the soil is left too
near to the ditch for convenience, and the turf is torn in pieces and
buried, so as not to be fit for use. Usually, it will be found
convenient to remove the turf, if there be any, with a spade, by a line.
Then, a plow may be used for turning out the next spit, and the drain
may be kept straight, which is indispensable to good work. A good
ditching-machine is, of course, the thing needful; but we are
endeavoring in these directions to do our best without it. We have
opened our own trenches entirely by hand labor, finding laborers more
convenient than oxen or horses, and no more expensive.

Many have used the plow in the first foot or two of the cutting, but it
is not here "the first step which costs," but the later steps. After the
first foot is removed, if the ground be hard, a pick or subsoil plow
must be used. A subsoil plow, properly constructed, may be made very
useful in breaking up the subsoil, though there is a difficulty in
working cattle astride of a deep ditch, encumbered with banks of earth.
A friend of ours used, in opening drains, a large bull in single
harness, trained to walk in the ditch; but the width of a big bull is a
somewhat larger pattern for a drain, than will be found economical.

The ingenuity of farmers in the use of a pair of heavy wheels, with a
chain attached to the axle, so that the cattle may both walk on one side
of the ditch, or by the use of long double-trees, so that horses may go
outside the banks of earth, will generally be found sufficient to make
the most of their means.

It will be found convenient to place the soil at one side, and the
subsoil at the other, for convenience in returning both right side up to
their places.

Having worked down to the depth of two feet or more, the ditch should be
too narrow for the use of common spades, and the narrow tools already
described will be found useful. The Irish spade, on our own fields, is
in use from the first to the last of the excavation; and at three feet
depth, we have our trench but about six inches in width, and at the
bottom, at four feet depth, it is but four inches--just wide enough for
the laborer to stand in it, with one foot before the other.

Having excavated to nearly our depth, we use the lines, as described in
another place, for levelling, and the men working under them, grade the
bottom as accurately as possible. If flat-bottomed tiles are used, the
ditch is ready for them. If round pipes are used, a round bottoming tool
must be used to form a semi-circular groove in which the pipes are to

We have not forgotten that English drainers tell us of tools and their
use, whereby drains may be open twenty inches lower than the feet of the
workman; but we have never chanced to see that operation, and are
skeptical as to the fact that work can thus be performed economically,
except in very peculiar soils. That such a _crack_ may be thus opened,
is not doubted; but we conceive of no means by which earth, that
requires the pick, can be moved to advantage, without the workman
standing as low as his work.

Having opened the main, and finished, as we have described, the minor
which enters the main at its highest point, we are ready to lay the

By first laying the upper drain, it will be seen that we may finish and
secure our work to the junction of the first minor with its main.

Convey the pipes by wagon or otherwise, as is convenient, to the side of
the ditch where the soil lies, and where there is least earth, and lay
them close to the edge of the ditch, end to end the whole way,
discarding all imperfect pieces. If it is designed to use gravel, turf,
or other covering for the pipes, lay it also in heaps along the trench.
Then place the first pipe at the upper end of the ditch, with a brick or
stone against its upper end, to exclude earth. We have heretofore used
sole-tiles, with flat bottoms, and have found that a thin chip of wood,
not an eighth of an inch thick, and four by two inches in size, such as
may be found at shoe shops in New England, assists very much in securing
an even bearing for the tiles. It is placed so that the ends of two
tiles rest on it, and serves to keep them in line till secured by the
earth. A man walking backward in the ditch, takes the tiles from the
bank, carefully adjusting them in line and so as to make good joints,
and he can lay half a mile or more in a day, if the bottom is well
graded. Another should follow on the bank, throwing in a shovel full of
gravel or tan, if either is used, upon the joint.

If turf is to be used to secure the joint, pieces should be cut thin and
narrow, and laid along the bank, and the man in the ditch must secure
each joint as he proceeds. It will be found to cost twice the labor, at
least, to use turf, as it is to use gravel or tan, if they are at hand.

If the soil be clay, we do not believe it is best to return it directly
upon the tiles, because it is liable to puddle and stop the joint, and
then to crack and admit silt at the joint, while gravel is not thus
affected. We prefer to place the top soil of clay land, next the pipes,
rather than the clay in the condition in which it is usually found.

As to small stones above the pipes, we should decidedly object to them.
They are unnecessary to the operation of the drain, and they allow the
water to come in, in currents, on to the top of the pipes, in heavy
storms or showers, and so endanger their security. The practice of
placing stones above the tiles is abandoned by all scientific drainers.

We have, in England, seen straw placed over the joints of pipes, but it
seems an inconvenient and insecure practice. Long straw cannot be well
placed in such narrow openings, and it is likely to sustain the earth
enough, so that when thrown in, it will not settle equally around the
pipes; whereas a shovelfull of gravel or other earth sifted in
carefully, will at once fasten them in place.

Having laid and partially covered the first or upper drain, proceed with
the next in the same way, laying and securing the main or sub-main, at
the same time, to each intersection, thus carrying the work from the
highest point down towards the outlet. After sufficient earth has been
thrown in to make the work safe against accidents by rain, or caving in
of earth, the filling may be completed at leisure. Mr. Johnston, of
Geneva, uses for this purpose a plow, having a double-tree nine and a
half feet long, to enable a horse to go on each side of the ditch.

We suggest that a side-hill plow might well enough be used with horses
_tandem_, or with oxen and cart wheels and draughts.

The filling, however, will be found a small matter, compared with the
digging. In laying pipes in narrow trenches, a tool called a pipe-layer
is sometimes used, a cut of which, showing its mode of use, may be
found in another place.

In filling drains where the soil is partly clay, and partly sand or
gravel, we recommend that the clay be placed in the upper part of the
drain, so as to prevent water from passing directly down upon the pipes,
by which they are frequently displaced as soon as laid.

If the work is completed in Autumn, it is well to turn two or three
furrows from each side on to the drains, so as to raise the surface
there, and prevent water from cutting out the ditch, or standing above
it. If the land is plowed in Autumn, it is best to back-furrow on to the
drains, leaving dead furrows half way between them, the first season.

As to the importance of securing the outlets, and the manner of doing
it, we have spoken particularly elsewhere.

And here, again, we will remind the beginner, of the necessity of making
and preserving accurate plans of the work, so that every drain may be at
any time found by measurement. After a single rotation, it is frequently
utterly impossible to perceive upon the surface any indication of the
line of the drains.

In this connection, it may be well perhaps to remind the reader, that
whatever arrangements are made as to silt-basins, or peep-holes, must be
included in the general plan, and executed as the work proceeds.



     Drainage deepens the Soil, and gives the roots a larger
     pasture.--Cobbett's Lucerne 30 feet deep.--Mechi's Parsnips 13 feet
     long!--Drainage promotes Pulverization.--Prevents
     Surface-Washing.--Lengthens the Season.--Prevents Freezing
     out.--Dispenses with Open Ditches.--Saves 25 per cent. of
     Labor.--Promotes absorption of Fertilizing Substances from the
     Air.--Supplies Air to the Roots.--Drains run before Rain; so do
     some Springs.--Drainage warms the Soil.--Corn sprouts at 55°; Rye
     on Ice.--Cold from Evaporation.--Heat will not pass downward in
     Water.--Count Rumford's Experiments with Hot Water on
     Ice.--Aeration of Soil by Drains.

The benefits which high-lands, as we ordinarily call them, in
distinction from swamp or flowed lands, derive from drainage, may be
arranged in two classes, _mechanical_ and _chemical_; though it is not
easy, nor, indeed, is it important, to maintain this distinction in all
points. Among those which partake rather of the nature of mechanical
changes, are the following:

_Drainage deepens the soil._ Every one who has attempted to raise
deep-rooted vegetables upon half-drained swamp-land, has observed the
utter impossibility of inducing them to extend downward their usual
length. Parsnips and carrots, on such land, frequently grow large at the
top, but divide into numerous small fibres just below the surface, and
spread in all directions. No root, except those of aquatic plants, will
grow in stagnant water. If, therefore, it is of any advantage to have a
deep, rather than a shallow soil, it is manifestly necessary, from this
consideration alone, to lower the line of standing water, at least, to
the extent to which the roots of our cultivated crops descend. A deep
soil is better than a shallow one, because it furnishes a more extensive
feeding-ground for the roots. The elements of nutrition, which the plant
finds in the soil, are not all upon the surface. Many of them are washed
down by the rains into the subsoil, and some are found in the
decomposing rocks themselves. These, the plants, by a sort of instinct,
search out and find, as well in the depths of the earth as at its
surface, if no obstacle opposes. By striking deep roots again, the
plants stand more firmly in the earth, so that they are not so readily
drawn out, or shaken by the winds. Indeed, every one knows that a soil
two feet deep is better than one a foot deep; and market-gardeners and
nursery-men show, by their practice, that they know, if others do not,
that a trenched soil three feet deep is better than one of any less
depth. We all know that Indian corn, in a dry soil, sends down its
rootlets two feet or more, as well as most of the grasses. Cobbett says:
"The lucerne will send its roots thirty feet into a dry bottom!" The
Chinese yam, recently introduced, grows downward two or three feet. The
digging of an acre of such a crop, by the way, on New England soil
generally, would require a corps of sappers and miners, especially when
we consider that the yam grows largest end downward. However, the yam
may prove a valuable acquisition to the country. Every inch of
additional soil gives 100 tons of active soil per acre.

Says Mr. Denton:

     "I have evidence now before me, that the roots of the wheat plant,
     the mangold wurzel, the cabbage, and the white turnip, frequently
     descend into the soil to the depth of three feet. I have myself
     traced the roots of wheat nine feet deep. I have discovered the
     roots of perennial grasses in drains four feet deep; and I may
     refer to Mr. Mercer, of Newton, in Lancashire, who has traced the
     roots of rye grass running for many feet along a small pipe-drain,
     after descending four feet through the soil. Mr. Hetley, of Orton,
     assures me that he discovered the roots of the mangolds, in a
     recently made drain, five feet deep; and the late Sir John Conroy
     had many newly-made drains, four feet deep, stopped by the roots of
     the same plants."

Mr. Sheriff Mechi's parsnips, however, distance anything in the way of
deep rooting that has yet been recorded. The Sheriff is a very deep
drainer, and an enthusiast in agriculture, and Nature seems to delight
to humor his tastes, by performing a great many experiments at his
famous place called Tiptree Hall. He stated, at a public meeting, that,
in his neighborhood, where a crop of parsnips was growing on the edge of
a clay pit, the roots were observed to descend 13 feet 6 inches; in
fact, the whole depth to which this pit had once been filled up!

_Drainage assists pulverization._ It was Tull's theory that, by the
comminution, or minute division, of soils alone, without the application
of any manures, their fertility might be permanently maintained; and he
so far supported this theory as, by repeated plowings, to produce twelve
successive crops of wheat on the same land, without manure. The theory
has received support from the known fact, that most soils are benefitted
by Summer fallowing. The experiments instituted for the purpose of
establishing this theory, although they disproved it, showed the great
value of thorough pulverization. It is manifest that a wet soil can
never be pulverized. Plowing clayey, or even loamy soil, when wet, tends
rather to press it together, and render it less pervious to air and

The first effect of under-draining is to dry the surface-soil, to draw
out all the water that will run out of it, so that, in early Spring, or
in Autumn, it may be worked with the plow as advantageously as undrained
lands in mid-Summer.

Striking illustrations of the benefits of thorough pulverization will be
found in the excellent remarks of Dr. Madden, given in a subsequent

_Drainage prevents surface-washing._ All land which is not level, and is
not in grass, is liable to great loss by heavy rains in Spring and
Autumn. If the land is already filled with water, or has not sufficient
drainage, the rain cannot pass directly downward, but runs away upon the
surface, carrying with it much of the soil, and washing out of what
remains, of the valuable elements of fertility which have been applied
with such expense. If the land be properly drained, the water falling
from the clouds is at once absorbed, and passes downwards, saturating
the soil in its descent, and carrying the soluble substances with it to
the roots, and the surplus water runs away in the artificial channels
provided by the draining process. So great is the absorbent power of
drained land, that, after a protracted drought, all the water of a heavy
rainstorm will be drunk up and held by the soil, so that, for a day or
two, none will find its way to the drains, nor will it run upon the

_Drainage lengthens the season for labor and vegetation._ In the colder
latitudes of our country, where a long Winter is succeeded by a torrid
Summer, with very little ceremony by way of an intervening Spring,
farmers have need of all their energy to get their seed seasonably into
the ground. Snow often covers the fields in New England into April; and
the ground is so saturated with water, that the land designed for corn
and potatoes, frequently cannot be plowed till late in May. The manure
is to be hauled from the cellar or yard, over land lifted and softened
by frost, and all the processes of preparing and planting, are
necessarily hurried and imperfect. In the Annual Report of the Secretary
of the Board of Agriculture, of the State of Maine, for 1856, a good
illustration of this idea is given: "Mr. B. F. Nourse, of Orrington,
plowed and planted with corn a piece of his drained and subsoiled land,
in a drizzling rain, after a storm of two days. The corn came up and
grew well; yet this was a clayey loam, formerly as wet as the adjoining
grass-field, upon which oxen and carts could not pass, on the day of
this planting, without cutting through the turf and miring deeply. The
nearest neighbor said, if he had planted that day, it must have been
from a raft." Probably two weeks would be gained in New England, in
Spring, in which to prepare for planting, by thorough-drainage, a gain,
which no one can appreciate but a New England man, who has been obliged
often to plow his land when too wet, to cut it up and overwork his team,
in hauling on his manure over soft ground, and finally to plant as late
as the 6th of June, or leave his manure to waste, and lose the use of
his field till another season; and all because of a surplus of cold

Mr. Yeomans, of New York, in a published statement of his experience in
draining, says, that on his drained lands, "the ground becomes almost as
dry in two or three days after the frost comes out in Spring, or after a
heavy rain, as it would do in as many weeks, before draining." But the
gain of time for labor is not all. We gain time also for vegetation, by
thorough-drainage. Ten days, frequently, in New England, may be the
security of our corn-crop against frost. In less than that time, a whole
field passes from the milky stage, when a slight frost would ruin it, to
the glazed stage, when it is safe from cold; and twice ten days of warm
season are added by this removal of surplus water.

_Drainage prevents freezing out._ Mr. John Johnston, of Seneca County,
New York, in 1851, had already made sixteen miles of tile drains. He had
been experimenting with tiles from 1835, and had, on four acres of his
drained clayey land, raised the largest crop of Indian corn ever
produced in that county--eighty-three bushels of shelled corn to the

He states, that on this clayey soil, when laid down to grass, "not one
square foot of the clover froze out." Again he says, "Heretofore, many
acres of wheat were lost on the upland by freezing out, and none would
grow on the lowlands. Now there is no loss from that cause."

The growing of Winter wheat has been entirely abandoned in some
localities on account of freezing out, or Winter-killing; and one of the
worst obstacles in the way of getting our lands into grass, and keeping
them so, is this very difficulty of freezing out. The operation seems to
be merely this: The soil is pulverized only to the depth of the plow,
some six or eight inches. Below this is a stratum of clay, nearly
impervious to water. The Autumn rains saturate the surface soil, which
absorbs water like a sponge. The ground is suddenly frozen; the water
contained in it crystallizes into ice; and the soil is thrown up into
spicules, or honey-combs; and the poor clover roots, or wheat plants,
are drawn from their beds, and, by a few repetitions of the process,
left dead on the field in Spring. Draining, followed by subsoiling, lets
down the falling water at once through the soil, leaving the root bed of
the plants so free from moisture, that the earth is not "heaved," as the
term is, and the plants retain their natural position, and awaken
refreshed in the Spring by their Winter's repose.

_There are no open ditches on under-drained land._ An open ditch in a
tillage or mowing-field, is an abomination. It compels us, in plowing,
to stop, perhaps midway in our field; to make short lands; to leave
headlands inconvenient to cultivate; and so to waste our time and
strength in turning the team, and treading up the ground, instead of
profitably employing it in drawing a long and handsome furrow the whole
length of the field, as we might do were there no ditch. Open ditches,
as usually made, obstruct the movement of our teams as much as fences,
and a farm cut into squares by ditches, is nearly as objectionable as a
farm fenced off into half or quarter-acre fields.

In haying, we have the same inconvenience. We must turn the
mowing-machine and horse-rake at the ditch, and finish by hand-labor,
the work on its banks; we must construct bridges at frequent intervals,
and then go out of our way to cross them with loads, cutting up the
smooth fields with wheels and the feet of animals. Or, what is a
familiar scene, when a shower is coming up, and the load is ready,
Patrick concludes to drive straight to the barn, across the ditch, and
gets his team mired, upsets his load, and perhaps breaks the leg of an
animal, besides swearing more than half a mile of hard ditching will
expiate. Such accidents are a great temptation to profanity, and
under-draining might properly be reckoned a moral agent, to counteract
such traps and pitfalls of the great adversary.

A moment's thought will satisfy any farmer who has the means, that true
economy dictates a liberal expenditure of labor, at once, to obviate
these difficulties, rather than be subject for a lifetime to the
constant petty annoyances which have been named.

Open ditches, even when formed so skillfully that they may be
conveniently crossed, or water-furrows which remain where land is laid
into ridges by back-furrowing, as much of our flat land must be, if not
under-drained, are serious obstructions, at the best.

They render the soil unequal in depth, taking it from one point where it
is wanted, and heaping it upon another where it is not wanted, thus
giving the crops an uneven growth. They render the soil also unequal in
respect to moisture, because the back or top of the ridge must always be
drier than the furrow.

Thorough-drained land may be laid perfectly flat, giving us, thus, the
control of the whole field, to divide and cultivate according to
convenience, and making it of uniform texture and temperature.

Attempts have been made, to estimate the saving in the number of horses
and men by drainage, and it is thought to be a reasonable calculation to
fix it at one in four, or twenty-five per cent. It probably will strike
any farmer as a fair estimate, that, on land which needs drainage, it
will require four horses and four men to perform the same amount of
cultivation, that three men and three horses may perform on the same
land well drained.

_Drained land will not require re-planting._ There is hardly a farmer in
New England, who does not, each Spring, find himself compelled to
re-plant some portion of his crop. He is obliged to hurry his seed into
the ground, at the earliest day, because our season for planting is
short at the best. If, after this, a long cold storm comes, on wet land,
the seed rots in the ground, and he must plant again, often too late,
incurring thus the loss of the seed, the labor of twice doing the same
work, the interruption of his regular plan of business, and often the
partial failure of his crop.

Upon thorough-drained land, this cost and labor could rarely be
experienced, because nothing short of a small deluge could saturate well
drained land, so as to cause the seed to fail, if sowed or planted with
ordinary care and prudence, as to the season.

_Drained land is lighter to work._ It is often difficult to find a day
in the year, when a wet piece of land is in suitable condition to plow.
Usually, such tracts are unequal, some parts being much wetter than
others, because the water settles into the low places. In such fields,
we now drive our team knee deep into soft mud, and find a stream of
water following us in the furrow, and now we rise upon a knoll, baked
hard, and sun-cracked; and one half the surface when finished is shining
with the plastered mud, ready to dry into the consistency of bricks,
while the other is already in hard dry lumps, like paving stones, and
about as easily pulverized.

This is hard work for the team and men, hard in the plowing, and hard
through the whole rotation. The same field, well drained, is friable and
porous, and uniform in texture. It may be well plowed and readily
pulverized, if taken in hand at any reasonable season.

Land which has been puddled by the tread of cattle, or by wheels,
acquires a peculiar consistency, and a singular capacity to hold water.
Certain clays are wet and beaten up into this consistency, to form the
bottoms of ponds, and to tighten dams and reservoirs. A soil thus
puddled, requires careful treatment to again render it permeable to
water, and fit for cultivation. This puddling process is constantly
going on, under the feet of cattle, under the plow and the cart-wheels,
wherever land containing clay is worked upon in a wet state. Thus, by
performing a day's work on wet land, we often render necessary as much
additional labor as we perform, to cure the evil we have done.

_We may haul loads without injury on drained land._ On many farms, it is
difficult to select a season for hauling out manure, or carting stones
from place to place, when great injury is not done to some part of the
land by the operation. Many farmers haul out their manure in Winter, to
avoid cutting up their farms; admitting that the manure is wasted
somewhat by the exposure, but, on the whole, choosing this loss as the
lesser evil. In spreading manure in Spring, we are often obliged to
carry half loads, because the land is soft, not only to spare our
beasts, but also to spare our land the injury by treading it. Drained
land is comparatively solid, especially in Spring, and will bear up
heavy loads with little injury.

_Drained land is least injured by cattle in feeding._ Whether it is good
husbandry to feed our mowing fields at any time, is a question upon
which farmers have a right to differ. Without discussing the question,
it is enough for our purpose, that most farmers feed their fields late
in the Autumn. Whether we approve it, or not, when the pastures are bare
and burnt up, and the second crop in the home-field is so rich and
tempting, and the women are complaining that the cows give no milk, we
usually bow to the necessity of the time, and "turn in" the cows. The
great injury of "Fall-feeding" is not usually so much the loss of the
grass-covering from the field, as the poaching of the soil and
destruction of the roots by treading. A hard upland field is much less
injured by feeding, than a low meadow, and the latter less in a dry than
a wet season. By drainage, the surplus water is taken from the field.
None can stand upon its surface for a day after the rain ceases. The
soil is compact, and the hoofs of cattle make little impression upon it,
and the second or third crop may be fed off, with comparatively little

_Weeds are easily destroyed on drained land._ If a weed be dug or pulled
up from land that is wet and sticky, it is likely to strike root and
grow again, because earth adheres to its roots; whereas, a stroke of the
hoe entirely separates the weeds in friable soil from the earth, and
they die at once. Every farmer knows the different effect of hoeing, or
of cultivating with the horse-hoe or harrow, in a rain storm and in dry
weather. In one case, the weeds are rather refreshed by the stirring,
and, in the other, they are destroyed. The difference between the
surface of drained land and water-soaked land is much the same as that
between land in dry weather under good cultivation, and land just
saturated by rain.

Again, there are many noxious weeds, such as wild grasses, which thrive
only on wet land, and which are difficult to exterminate, and which
give us no trouble after the land is lightened and sweetened by
drainage. Among the effects of drainage, mainly of a chemical nature, on
the soil, are the following:

_Drainage promotes absorption of fertilizing substances from the air._
The atmosphere bears upon its bosom, not only the oxygen essential to
the vitality of plants, not only water in the form of vapor, to quench
their thirst in Summer droughts, but also various substances, which rise
in exhalations from the sea, from decomposing animals and vegetables,
from the breathing of all living creatures, from combustion, and a
thousand other causes. These would be sufficient to corrupt the very
air, and render it unfit for respiration, did not Nature, with her
wondrous laws of compensation, provide for its purification. It has
already been stated, how the atmosphere returns to the hills, in clouds
and vapor, condensed at last to rain, all the water which the rivers
carry to the sea; and how the well-drained soil derives moisture, in
severest time of need, from its contact with the vapor-loaded air. But
the rain and dew return not their waters to the earth without treasures
of fertility. Ammonia, which is one of the most valuable substances
found in farm-yard manures, and which is a constant result of
decomposition, is absorbed in almost incredible quantities by water.
About 780 times its own bulk of ammonia is readily absorbed by water at
the common temperature and pressure of the atmosphere; and, freighted
thus with treasures for the fields, the moisture of the atmosphere
descends upon the earth. The rain cleanses the air of its impurities,
and conveys them to the plants. The vapors of the marshes, and of the
exposed manure heaps of the thriftless farmer, are gently wafted to the
well-drained fields of his neighbor, and there, amidst the roots of the
well-tilled crops, deposit, at the same time, their moisture and
fertilizing wealth.

Of the wonderful power of the soil to absorb moisture, both from the
heavens above and the earth beneath--by the deposition of dew, as well
as by attraction--we shall treat more fully in another chapter. It will
be found to be intimately connected with the present topic.

_Thorough drainage supplies air to the roots._ Plants, if they do not
breathe like animals, require for their life almost the same constant
supply of air. "All plants," says Liebig, "die in soils and water
destitute of oxygen; absence of air acts exactly in the same manner as
an excess of carbonic acid. Stagnant water on a marshy soil excludes
air, but a renewal of water has the same effect as a renewal of air,
because water contains it in solution. When the water is withdrawn from
a marsh, free access is given to the air, and the marsh is changed into
a fruitful meadow." Animal and vegetable matter do not decay, or
decompose, so as to furnish food for plants, unless freely supplied with
oxygen, which they must obtain from air. A slight quantity of air,
however, is sufficient for putrefaction, which is a powerful deoxydizing
process that extracts oxygen even from the roots of plants.

We are accustomed to think of the earth as a compact body of matter,
vast and inert; subject, indeed, to be upheaved and rent by volcanoes
and earthquakes, but as quite insensible to slight influences which
operate upon living beings and upon vegetation. This, however, is a
great mistake; and it may be interesting to refer to one or two facts,
which illustrate the wonderful effect of changes of the atmosphere upon
the soil, and upon the subterranean currents of the earth. The following
is from remarks by Mr. Denton, in a public address:

     "But, as a proof of the sensibility of a soil drained four feet
     deep, to atmospheric changes, I may mention, that my attention has
     been, on more than one occasion, called to the circumstance that
     drains have been observed to run, after a discontinuance of that
     duty, without any fall of rain on the surface of the drained land;
     and, upon reference to the barometer, it has been found that the
     quicksilver has fallen whenever this has occurred. Mr. George
     Beaumont, jun., who first afforded tangible evidence of this
     extraordinary circumstance, has permitted me to read the following
     extracts of his letter:

     "'I can verify the case of the drains running without rain, during
     a falling barometer, beyond all doubt.

     "'The case I named to you last year of the barometer falling four
     days consecutively, and with rapidity, was a peculiarly favorable
     time for noticing it, as it occurred in a dry time, and the drains
     could be seen distinctly. My man, on being questioned and cautioned
     by me not to exaggerate, has declared the actual stream of water
     issuing from one particular drain to be as thick as a
     three-eighth-inch wire. All the drains ran--they did more than
     drop--and ditches, which were previously dry, became quite wet,
     with a perceptible stream of water; this gradually ceased with the
     change in the density of the atmosphere, as shown by the barometer.

     "'During last harvest, 1855, the men were cutting wheat, and on
     getting near to a drain outlet, the ditch from the outlet downwards
     was observed to be wet, and the drain was dripping. No rain fell in
     sufficient quantity to enter the ground. The men drank of the water
     while they were cutting the wheat. A few days after, it was dry
     again. I have seen and noticed this phenomenon myself.'

     "A correspondent of the _Agricultural Gazette_ has stated, that
     Professor Brocklesby, of Hartford, in America, had observed the
     same phenomena, in the case of two springs in that country; and
     explained, that the cause was 'the diminished atmospheric pressure
     which exists before a rain.'"

Dr. Lardner states many facts which support the ideas above suggested.
In his lectures on science, he says: "When storms are breaking in the
heavens, and sometimes long before their commencement, and when their
approach has not yet been manifested by any appearances in the
firmament, phenomena are observed, apparently sympathetic, proceeding
from the deep recesses of the earth, and exhibited under very various
forms at its surface." Dr. Lardner cites many instances of fountains
which, when a storm is approaching, burst forth with a violent flow of
water, before any rain has fallen.

The cases named by Prof. Brocklesby, referred to by Mr. Denton, are
those of a spring in Rutland, Vermont, and a brook in Concord,
Massachusetts. Prof. Brocklesby states, as the result of his personal
observation, that the spring referred to, supplies an aqueduct; that, in
several instances, when the spring had become so low, in a time of
drought, that no water ran in the aqueduct, it suddenly rose so as to
fill the pipes, and furnish a supply of water, before any rain had
fallen in the neighborhood. This occurrence, he says, was familiar to
the occupants of the premises, and they expected rain in a few days
after this mysterious flow of water; which expectations were usually, if
not always, realized.

The other instance is that of a brook in Concord, Mass., called Dodge's
brook, which Prof. B. says, he was informed, commenced frequently to
rise very perceptibly before a drop of rain had fallen.

We have inquired of our friends in Concord about this matter, and find
that this opinion is entertained by many of the people who live near
this brook, and it is probably well founded, though we cannot ascertain
that accurate observations have been made, so as to afford any definite

_Thorough drainage warms the soil._ It has been stated, on high
authority, that drainage raises the temperature of the soil, often as
much as 15° F. Indian corn vegetates at about 55°. At 45°, the seed
would rot in the ground, without vegetating. The writer, however, has
seen rye sprouted upon ice in an ice-house, with roots two inches long,
so grown to the ice that they could only be separated by thawing. Winter
rye, no doubt, makes considerable growth under snow. Cultivated plants,
in general, however, do not grow at all, unless the soil be raised above
45°. The sun has great power to warm dry soils, and, it is said, will
often raise their temperature to 90° or 100°, when the air in the shade
is only 60° or 70°. But the sun has no such power to warm a wet soil,
and for several reasons, which are as follows:

1. _The soil is rendered cold by evaporation._ If water cannot pass
through the land by drainage, either natural or artificial, it must
escape, if at all, at the surface, by evaporation. Now, it is a fact
well known, that the heat disappears, or becomes latent, by the
conversion of water into vapor. Every child knows this, practically, at
least, who, in Winter, has washed his hands and gone out without drying
them. The same evaporation which thus affects the hands, renders the
land cold, when filled with water, every gallon of which thus carried
off requires, and actually carries off, as much heat as would raise five
and a half gallons of water from the freezing to the boiling point.

Morton, in his "Encyclopædia of Agriculture," estimates that it would
require an expenditure of nearly 1,200 pounds of coal per day, to
evaporate artificially one half the rain which falls on an acre during
the year. In other words, about 219 tons of coals annually, would be
required for every acre of undrained land, so as to allow the free use
of the sun's rays for the legitimate purpose of growing and maturing the
crops cultivated upon it. It will not then be surprising that undrained
soils are, in the language of the farmer, "cold."

2. _Heat will not pass downward in water._ If, therefore, your soil be
saturated with water, the heat of the sun, in Spring, cannot warm it,
and your plowing and planting must be late, and your crop a failure.
Count Rumford tried many experiments to illustrate the mode of the
propagation of heat in fluids, and his conclusion, it is presumed, is
now held to be the true theory, that heat is transmitted in water only
by the motion of the particles of water; so that, if you could stop the
heated particles from rising, water could not be warmed except where it
touches the vessel containing it. Heat applied to the bottom of a vessel
of water warms the particles in contact with the vessel, and colder
particles descend, and so the whole is warmed.

Heat, applied to the surface of the water, can never warm it, except so
far as it is conducted downward by some other medium than the water
itself. Count Rumford confined cakes of ice in the bottom of glass jars,
and, covering it with one thickness of paper, poured boiling-hot water
on the top of it, and there it remained for hours without melting the
ice. The paper was placed over the ice, so that the hot water could not
be poured on it, which would have thawed it at once. Every man who has
poured hot water into a frozen pump, hoping to thaw out the ice by this
means, has arrived at the fact, if not at the theory, that ice will not
melt by hot water on the top of it. If, however, a piece of lead pipe be
placed in the pump, resting on the ice, and hot water be poured through
it, the ice will melt at once. In the first instance, the hot water in
contact with the ice becomes cold; and there it remains, because cold
water is heavier than warm, and there it will remain, though the top be
boiling. But when hot water is poured through the pipe, the downward
current drives away the cold water, and brings heated particles in
succession to the ice.

Heat is propagated in water, then, only by circulation; that is, by the
upward movement of the heated particles, and the downward movement of
the colder ones to take their place. Anything which obstructs
circulation, prevents the passage of heat. Chocolate retains heat longer
than tea, because it is thicker, and the hot particles cannot so readily
rise to be cooled at the surface. Count Rumford illustrated this fact
satisfactorily, by putting eider-down into water, which was found to
obstruct the circulation, and to prevent the rapid heating and cooling
of it. The same is true of all viscous substances, as starch and glue;
and so of oil. They retain heat much longer than water or spirits.

In a soil saturated with water, or even in water thickened with mud,
there could then be but little circulation of the particles, even were
the heat applied at the bottom instead of the top. Probably the soil,
though saturated with water, does, to some extent, transmit heat from
one particle of earth to another, but it must be but very slowly.

In the chapter upon Temperature as affected by Drainage, farther
illustrations of this point may be found.


Among the advantages of thorough-drainage, is reckoned by all, the
circulation of air through the soil. No drop of water can run from the
soil into a drain without its place being supplied by air, unless there
is more water to supply it; so that drainage, in this way, manifestly
promotes the permeation of air through the soil.

But it is claimed that drains may be made to promote circulation of air
in another way, and in dry times, when no water is flowing through them,
by connecting them together by means of a header at the upper ends, and
leaving an opening so that the air may pass freely through the whole
system. Our friend, Prof. Mapes, is an advocate for this practice, and
certainly the theory seems well supported. It is said that in dry, hot
weather, when the air is most highly charged with moisture, currents
thus passing constantly through the earth, must, by contact with the
cooler subsoil, part with large quantities of moisture, and tend to
moisten the soil from the drains to the surface, giving off also with
the moisture whatever of fertilizing elements the air may bear with it.

This point has not escaped the notice of English drainers. Mr. J. H.
Charnock, an assistant commissioner under the Drainage act, in 1843,
read a paper in favor of this practice, but in 1849 he published a
second article in which he suggests doubts of the advantages of such
arrangements, and says he has discontinued their application. He says
they add to the cost of the work, and tend to the decay of the pipes,
and to promote the growth into the pipes, of any roots that may approach

Mr. Parkes, in a published article in 1846, speaks of this idea, but
passes it by as of very little importance. Mr. Denton quotes the
authority of some of his correspondents strongly in favor of this
theory. After trying some experiments himself upon clay soil, he admits
the advantages of such an arrangement for such soil, in the following
not very enthusiastic terms:

"It will be readily understood that as clay will always contract rapidly
under the influence of a draught of air, in consequence of the rapid
evaporation of moisture from its surface, one of the benefits of
draining is thus very cheaply acquired; and for the denser clays it may
possibly be a desirable thing to do, but in the porous soils it would
appear that no advantage is gained by it."

Yet, notwithstanding this summary disposition of the question in
England, it is by no means clear, that in the tropical heat of American
summers, when the difference between the temperature of the air and the
subsoil is so much greater than it can ever be in England, and when we
suffer from severer droughts than are common there, we may not find
substantial practical advantage from the passage of these air currents
through the soil.

We are not aware of experiments in America, accurate enough to be quoted
as authority on the subject.



     Process of Germination.--Two Classes of Pores in Soils, illustrated
     by Cuts.--Too much Water excludes Air, reduces Temperature.--How
     much Air the Soil Contains.--Drainage Improves the Quality of
     Crops.--Drainage prevents Drought.--Drained Soils hold most
     Water.--Allow Roots to go Deep.--Various Facts.

No apology will be necessary for the long extract which we are about to
give, to any person who will read it with attention. It is from a
lecture on Agricultural Science, by Dr. Madden, and we confess ourselves
incompetent to condense or improve the language of the learned author.

We think we are safe in saying that it has never been before published
in America:

     "The first thing which occurs after the sowing of the seed is, of
     course, _germination_; and before we examine how this process may
     be influenced by the condition of the soil, we must necessarily
     obtain some correct idea of the process itself. The most careful
     examination has proved that the process of germination consists
     essentially of various chemical changes, which require for their
     development the presence of air, moisture, and a certain degree of
     warmth. Now it is obviously unnecessary for our present purpose
     that we should have the least idea of the nature of these
     processes: all we require to do, is to ascertain the conditions
     under which they take place; having detected these, we know at once
     what is required to make a seed grow. These, we have seen, are air,
     moisture, and a certain degree of warmth; and it consequently
     results, that wherever a seed is placed in these circumstances,
     germination will take place. Viewing matters in this light, it
     appears that soil does not act _chemically_ in the process of
     germination; that its sole action is confined to its being the
     vehicle, by means of which a supply of air and moisture and warmth
     can be continually kept up. With this simple statement in view, we
     are quite prepared to consider the various conditions of soil, for
     the purpose of determining how far these will influence the future
     prospects of the crop, and we shall accordingly at once proceed to
     examine carefully into the _mechanical relations of the soil_. This
     we propose doing by the aid of figures. Soil examined mechanically,
     is found to consist entirely of particles of all shapes and sizes,
     from stones and pebbles, down to the finest powder; and, on account
     of their extreme irregularity of shape, they cannot lie so close to
     one another as to prevent there being passages between them, owing
     to which circumstance soil in the mass is always more or less
     _porous_. If, however, we proceed to examine one of the smallest
     particles of which soil is made up, we shall find that even this is
     not always solid, but is much more frequently porous, like soil in
     the mass. A considerable proportion of this finely-divided part of
     soil, _the impalpable matter_ as it is generally called, is found,
     by the aid of the microscope, to consist of _broken-down vegetable
     tissue_, so that when a small portion of the finest dust from a
     garden or field is placed under the microscope, we have exhibited
     to us particles of every variety of shape and structure, of which a
     certain part is evidently of vegetable origin. In these figures I
     have given a very rude representation of these particles; and I
     must beg you particularly to remember that they are not meant to
     represent by any means accurately what the microscope exhibits, but
     are only designed to serve as a plan by which to illustrate the
     mechanical properties of the soil. On referring to Fig. 91, we
     perceive that there are two distinct classes of pores; first, the
     large ones, which exist _between_ the particles of soil, and
     second, the very minute ones, which occur in the particles
     themselves; and you will at the same time notice, that whereas all
     the larger pores--those between the particles of soil--communicate
     most freely with each other, so that they form canals, the small
     pores, however freely they may communicate with one another in the
     interior of the particle in which they occur, have no direct
     connection with the pores of the surrounding particles. Let us now,
     therefore, trace the effect of this arrangement. In Fig. 91, we
     perceive that these canals and pores are all empty, the soil being
     _perfectly dry_; and the canals communicating freely at the surface
     with the surrounding atmosphere, the whole will of course be filled
     with air. If in this condition, a seed be placed in the soil, as at
     _a_, you at once perceive that it is freely supplied with air, _but
     there is no moisture_; therefore, when soil is _perfectly dry_, a
     seed cannot grow.

     [Illustration: Fig. 91.]

     [Illustration: Fig. 92.]

     "Let us turn our attention now to Fig. 92. Here we perceive that
     both the pores and canals are no longer represented white, but
     black, this color being used to indicate water; in this instance,
     therefore, water has taken the place of air, or, in other words,
     the soil is _very wet_. If we observe our seed _a_ now, we find it
     abundantly supplied with water, but _no air_. Here again,
     therefore, germination cannot take place. It may be well to state
     here, that this can never occur _exactly_ in nature, because water
     having the power of dissolving air to a certain extent, the seed
     _a_ in Fig. 92 is, in fact, supplied with a _certain_ amount of
     this necessary substance; and, owing to this, germination does take
     place, although by no means under such advantageous circumstances
     as it would were the soil in a better condition.

     [Illustration: Fig. 93.]

     [Illustration: Fig. 94.]

     "We pass on now to Fig. 93. Here we find a different state of
     matters. The canals are open and freely supplied with air, while
     the pores are filled with water; and consequently you perceive
     that, while the seed _a_ has quite enough of air from the canals,
     it can never be without moisture, as every particle of soil which
     touches it, is well supplied with this necessary ingredient. This,
     then, is the proper condition of soil for germination, and in fact
     for every period of the plant's development; and this condition
     occurs when soil is _moist_ but not _wet_--that is to say, when it
     has the color and appearance of being well watered, but when it is
     still capable of being crumbled to pieces by the hands, without any
     of its particles adhering together in the familiar form of mud.

     "Turning our eyes to Fig. 94, we observe still another condition of
     soil. In this instance, as far as _water_ is concerned, the soil is
     in its healthy condition--it is moist, but not wet, the pores alone
     being filled with water. But where are the canals? We see them in a
     few places, but in by far the greater part of the soil none are to
     be perceived; this is owing to the particles of soil having adhered
     together, and thus so far obliterated the interstitial canals, that
     they appear only like pores. This is the state of matters in every
     _clod of earth_, _b_; and you will at once perceive, on comparing
     it with _c_, which represents a stone, that these two differ only
     in possessing a few pores, which latter, while they may form a
     reservoir for moisture, can never act as vehicles for the _food_ of
     plants, as the roots are not capable of extending their fibres into
     the interior of a clod, but are at all times confined to the
     interstitial canals.

     "With these four conditions before us, let us endeavor to apply
     them _practically_ to ascertain when they occur in our fields, and
     how those which are injurious may be obviated.

     "The first of them, we perceive, is a state of too great dryness,
     _a very rare_ condition, in this climate at least; in fact, the
     only case in which it is likely to occur is in very coarse sands,
     where the soil, being chiefly made up of pure sand and particles of
     flinty matter, contains comparatively much fewer pores; and, from
     the large size of the individual particles, assisted by their
     irregularity, the canals are wider, the circulation of air freer,
     and, consequently, the whole is much more easily dried. When this
     state of matters exists, the best treatment is to leave all the
     stones which occur on the surface of the field, as they cast
     shades, and thereby prevent or retard the evaporation of water.

     "We will not, however, make any further observations on this very
     rare case, but will rather proceed to Fig. 92, a much more
     frequent, and, in every respect, more important condition of soil:
     I refer to an _excess of water_.

     "When water is added to perfectly dry soil, it, of course, in the
     first instance, fills the interstitial canals, and from these
     enters the pores of each particle; and if the supply of water be
     not too great, the canals speedily become empty, so that the whole
     of the fluid is taken up by the pores: this, we have already seen,
     is the _healthy_ condition of the soil. If, however, the supply of
     water be too great, as is the case when a spring gains admission
     into the soil, or when the sinking of the fluid through the canals
     to a sufficient depth below the surface is prevented, it is clear
     that these also must get filled with water so soon as the pores
     have become saturated. This, then, is the condition of _undrained

     "Not only are the pores filled, but the interstitial canals are
     likewise full; and the consequence is, that the whole process of
     the germination and growth of vegetables is materially interfered
     with. We shall here, therefore briefly state the injurious effects
     of an excess of water, for the purpose of impressing more strongly
     on your minds the necessity of thorough-draining, as the first and
     most essential step towards the improvement of your soil.

     "The _first_ great effect of an excess of water is, that it
     produces a corresponding diminution of the amount of air beneath
     the surface, which air is of the greatest possible consequence in
     the nutrition of plants; in fact, if entirely excluded, germination
     could not take place, and the seed sown would, of course, either
     decay or lie dormant.

     "_Secondly_, an excess of water is most hurtful, by reducing
     considerably the _temperature_ of the soil: this I find, by careful
     experiment, to be to the extent of six and a-half degrees
     Fahrenheit in Summer, which amount is equivalent to an elevation
     above the level of the sea of 1,950 feet.

     "These are the two chief injuries of an excess of water in soil
     which affect the soil itself. There are very many others affecting
     the climate, &c.; but these not so connected with the subject in
     hand as to call for an explanation here.

     "Of course, all these injurious effects are at once overcome by
     thorough-draining, the result of which is, to establish a direct
     communication between the interstitial canals and the drains, by
     which means it follows, that no water can remain any length of time
     in these canals without, by its gravitation, finding its way into
     the drains.

     "The 4th Fig. indicates badly-cultivated soil, or soil in which
     large unbroken clods exist; which clods, as we have already seen,
     are very little better than stones, on account of their
     impermeability to air and the roots of plants.

     "Too much cannot be said in favor of pulverizing the soil; even
     thorough-draining itself will not supersede the necessity of
     performing this most necessary operation. The whole valuable
     effects of plowing, harrowing, grubbing, &c., may be reduced to
     this: and almost the whole superiority of _garden_ over _field_
     produce is referable to the greater perfection to which this
     pulverizing of the soil can be carried.

     "The whole success of the drill husbandry is owing, in a great
     measure, to its enabling you to stir up the soil well during the
     progress of your crop; which stirring up is of no value beyond its
     effects in more minutely pulverizing the soil, increasing, as far
     as possible, the size and number of the interstitial canals.

     "Lest any one should suppose that the contents of these
     interstitial canals must be so minute that their whole amount can
     be of but little consequence, I may here notice the fact, that, in
     moderately well pulverized soil, they amount to no less than
     one-fourth of the whole bulk of the soil itself; for example, 100
     cubic inches of _moist_ soil (that is, of soil in which the pores
     are filled with water while the canals are filled with air),
     contain no less than 25 cubic inches of air. According to this
     calculation, in a field pulverized to the depth of eight inches, a
     depth perfectly attainable on most soils by careful tillage, every
     imperial acre will retain beneath its surface no less than
     12,545,280 cubic inches of air. And, to take one more element into
     the calculation, supposing the soil were not properly drained, the
     sufficient pulverizing of an additional inch in depth would
     increase the escape of water from the surface by upwards of one
     hundred gallons a day."

_Drainage improves the quality of crops._ In a dry season, we frequently
hear the farmer boast of the quality of his products. His hay-crop, he
says, is light, but will "spend" much better than the crop of a wet
season; his potatoes are not large, but they are sound and mealy.
Indeed, this topic need not be enlarged upon. Every farmer knows that
his wheat and corn are heavier and more sound when grown upon land
sufficiently drained.

_Drainage prevents drought._ This proposition is somewhat startling at
first view. How can draining land make it more moist? One would as soon
think of watering land to make it dry. A drought is the enemy we all
dread. Professor Espy has a plan for producing rain, by lighting
extensive artificial fires. A great objection to his theory is, that he
cannot limit his showers to his own land, and all the public would never
be ready for a shower on the same day. If we can really protect our land
from drought, by under-draining it, everybody may at once engage in the
work without offence to his neighbor.

If we take up a handfull of rich soil of almost any kind, after a heavy
rain, we can squeeze it hard enough with the hand to press out drops of
water. If we should take of the same soil a large quantity, after it was
so dry that not a drop of water could be pressed out by hand, and
subject it to the pressure of machinery, we should force from it more
water. Any boy, who has watched the process of making cider with the
old-fashioned press, has seen the pomace, after it had been once pressed
apparently dry and cut down, and the screw applied anew to the "cheese,"
give out quantities of juice. These facts illustrate, first, how much
water may be held in the soil by attraction. They show, again, that more
water is held by a pulverized and open soil, than by a compact and close
one. Water is held in the soil between the minute particles of earth. If
these particles be pressed together compactly, there is no space left
between them for water. The same is true of soil naturally compact. This
compactness exists more or less in most subsoils, certainly in all
through which water does not readily pass. Hence, all these subsoils are
rendered more permeable to water by being broken up and divided; and
more retentive by having the particles of which they are composed
separated, one from another--in a word, by pulverization. This increased
capacity to contain moisture by attraction, is the greatest security
against drought. The plants, in a dry time send their rootlets
throughout the soil, and flourish in the moisture thus stored up for
their time of need. The pulverization of drained land may be produced,
partly by deep, or subsoil plowing, which is always necessary to perfect
the object of thorough-draining; but it is much aided, in stiff clays,
also, by the shrinkage of the soil by drying.

Drainage resists drought, again, by the very deepening of the soil of
which we have already spoken. The roots of plants, we have seen, will
not extend into stagnant water. If, then, as is frequently the case,
even on sandy plains, the water-line be, in early Spring, very near the
surface, the seed may be planted, may vegetate, and throw up a goodly
show of leaves and stalks, which may flourish as long as the early rains
continue; but, suddenly, the rains cease; the sun comes out in his June
brightness; the water-line lowers at once in the soil; the roots have no
depth to draw moisture from below, and the whole field of clover, or of
corn, in a single week, is past recovery. Now, if this light, sandy soil
be drained, so that, at the first start of the crop, there is a deep
seed-bed free from water, the roots strike downward, at once, and thus
prepare for a drought. The writer has seen upon deep-trenched land in
his own garden, parsnips, which, before midsummer, had extended downward
three feet, before they were as large as a common whiplash; and yet,
through the Summer drought, continued to thrive till they attained in
Autumn a length, including tops, of about seven feet, and an
extraordinary size. A moment's reflection will satisfy any one that, the
dryer the soil in Spring, the deeper will the roots strike, and the
better able will be the plant to endure the Summer's drought.

Again, drainage and consequent pulverization and deepening of the soils
increase their capacity to absorb moisture from the atmosphere, and thus
afford protection against drought. Watery vapor is constantly, in all
dry weather, rising from the surface of the earth; and plants, in the
day-time, are also, from their leaves and bark, giving off moisture
which they draw from the soil. But Nature has provided a wonderful law
of compensation for this waste, which would, without such provision,
parch the earth to barrenness in a single rainless month.

The capacity of the atmosphere to take up and convey water, furnishes
one of the grandest illustrations of the perfect work of the Author of
the Universe. "All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not
full;" and the sea is not full, because the numerous great rivers and
their millions of tributaries, ever flowing from age to age, convey to
the ocean only as much water as the atmosphere carries back in vapor,
and discharges upon the hills. The warmer the atmosphere, the greater
its capacity to hold moisture. The heated, thirsty air of the tropics
drinks up the water of the ocean, and bears it away to the colder
regions, where, through condensation by cold, it becomes visible as a
cloud; and as a huge sponge pressed by an invisible hand, the cloud,
condensed still further by cold, sends down its water to the earth in

The heated air over our fields and streams, in Summer, is loaded with
moisture as the sun declines. The earth has been cooled by radiation of
its heat, and by constant evaporation through the day. By contact with
the cooler soil, the air, borne by its thousand currents gently along
its surface, is condensed, and yields its moisture to the thirsty earth
again, in the form of dew.

At a Legislative Agricultural Meeting, held in Albany, New York, January
25th, 1855, "the great drought of 1854" being the subject, the secretary
stated that "the experience of the past season has abundantly proved
that thorough-drainage upon soils requiring it, has proved a very great
relief to the farmer;" that "the crops upon such lands have been far
better, generally, than those upon undrained lands, in the same
locality;" and that, "in many instances, the increased crop has been
sufficient to defray the expenses of the improvement in a single year."

Mr. Joseph Harris, at the same meeting, said: "An underdrained soil will
be found damper in dry weather, than an undrained one, and the
thermometer shows a drained soil warmer in cold weather, and cooler in
hot weather, than one which is undrained."

The secretary of the New York State Agricultural Society, in his Report
for 1855, says: "The testimony of farmers, in different sections of the
State, is almost unanimous, that drained lands have suffered far less
from drought than undrained." Alleghany county reports that "drained
lands have been less affected by the drought than undrained;" Chatauque
county, that "the drained lands have stood the drought better than the
undrained." The report from Clinton county says: "Drained lands have
been less affected by the drought than undrained." Montgomery county
reports: "We find that drained lands have a better crop in either wet or
dry seasons than undrained."

B. F. Nourse, of Orrington, Maine, states that, on his drained land, in
that State, "during the drought of 1854, there was at all times
sufficient dampness apparent on scraping the surface of the ground with
his foot in passing, and a crop of beans was planted, grown and gathered
therefrom, without as much rain as will usually fall in a shower of
fifteen minutes' duration, while vegetation on the next field was
parching for lack of moisture."

A committee of the New York Farmers' Club, which visited the farm of
Prof. Mapes, in New Jersey, in the time of a severe drought, in 1855,
reported that the Professor's fences were the boundaries of the drought,
all the lands outside being affected by it, while his remained free from
injury. This was attributed, both by the committee and by Prof. Mapes
himself, to thorough-drainage and deep tillage with the subsoil plow.

Mr. Shedd, in the _N. E. Farmer_, says:

     "A simple illustration will show the effect which stagnant water,
     within a foot or two of the surface, has on the roots of plants.

     "Perhaps it will aid the reader, who doubts the benefit of
     thorough-draining in case of drought, to see why it is beneficial.

     [Illustration: Fig. 95. Section of land before it is drained.]

     [Illustration: Fig. 96. Section of land after it is drained.]

     "In the first figure, 1 represents the surface soil, through which
     evaporation takes place, using up the heat which might otherwise go
     to the roots of plants; 2, represents the water table, or surface
     of stagnant water below which roots seldom go; 3, water of
     evaporation; 4, water of capillary attraction; 5, water of
     drainage, or stagnant water.

     "In the second figure, 1 represents the surface-soil warmed by the
     sun and Summer rains; 2, the water-table nearly four feet below the
     surface--roots of the wheat plant have been traced to a depth of
     more than four feet in a free mold; 3, water of capillary
     attraction; 4, water of drainage, or stagnant water."



     Drainage Warms the Soil in Spring.--Heat cannot go down in Wet
     Land.--Drainage causes greater Deposit of Dew in Summer.--Dew warms
     Plants in Night, Cools them in the Morning Sun.--Drainage varies
     Temperature by Lessening Evaporation.--What is Evaporation.--How it
     produces Cold.--Drained Land Freezes Deepest, but Thaws Soonest,
     and the Reasons.

_Drainage raises the temperature of the soil, by allowing the rain to
pass downwards._ In the growing season, especially in the Spring, the
rain is considerably warmer than the soil. If the soil be saturated with
the cold snow-water, the water which falls must, of course, run away
upon the surface. If the soil be drained, the rain-water finds ready
admission into it, carrying and imparting to it a portion of its heat.
The experiments of Count Rumford, showing that heat is not propagated
downward in fluids, may be found at page 273. This is a principle too
important to be overlooked, especially in New England, where we need
every aid from Nature and Art, to contend successfully against the
brevity of the planting season. Soil saturated with cold water, cannot
be warmed by any amount of heat applied to the surface. Warm water is
lighter than cold water, and stays at the surface. In boiling water in a
kettle, we apply fire at the bottom, and no amount of heat at the
surface of the vessel would produce the desired effect. So rapid is the
passage of heat upward in water, that the hand may without injury be
held upon the bottom of a kettle of boiling water one minute after it
has been removed from the fire.

The following experiments and illustrations, from the _Horticulturist_
of Nov. 1856, beautifully illustrate this point:


     "The reason why drained land gains heat, and water-logged land is
     always cold, consists in the well-known fact that heat cannot be
     transmitted _downwards_ through water. This may readily be seen by
     the following experiments:

     [Illustration: Fig. 97.]

     "_Experiment No. 1._--A square box was made, of the form
     represented by the annexed diagram, eighteen inches deep, eleven
     inches wide at top, and six inches wide at bottom. It was filled
     with peat, saturated with water to _c_, forming to that depth
     (twelve and a half inches) a sort of artificial bog. The box was
     then filled with water to _d_. A thermometer _a_, was plunged, so
     that its bulb was within one inch and a half of the bottom. The
     temperature of the whole mass of peat and water was found to be
     39-1/2° Fahr. A gallon of boiling water was then added; it raised
     the surface of the water to _e_. In five minutes, the thermometer,
     _a_, rose to 44°, owing to the conduction of heat by the
     thermometer and its guard tube; at ten minutes from the
     introduction of the hot water, the thermometer, _a_, rose to 46°,
     and it subsequently rose no higher. Another thermometer, _b_,
     dipping under the surface of the water at _e_, was then introduced,
     and the following are the indications of the two thermometers at
     the respective intervals, reckoning from the time the hot water was

                          _Thermometer b._   _Thermometer a._
              20 minutes        150°               46°
      1 hour  30    "           101°               45°
      2 hours 30    "            80-1/2°           42°
     12  "    40    "            45°               40°

     "The mean temperature of the external air to which the box was
     exposed during the above period, was 42°, the maximum being 47°,
     and the minimum 37°.

     "_Experiment No. 2._--With the same arrangement as in the preceding
     case, a gallon of boiling water was introduced above the peat and
     water, when the thermometer _a_, was at 36°; in ten minutes it rose
     to 40°. The cock was then turned for the purpose of drainage, which
     was but slowly effected; and, at the end of twenty minutes, the
     thermometer _a_, indicated 40°; at twenty-five minutes, 42°, whilst
     the thermometer _b_, was 142°. At thirty minutes, the cock was
     withdrawn from the box, and more free egress of water being thus
     afforded, at thirty-five minutes the flow was no longer continuous,
     and the thermometer _b_, indicated 48°. The mass was drained, and
     permeable to a fresh supply of water. Accordingly, another gallon
     of boiling water was poured over it; and, in

             3 minutes, the thermometer _a_, rose to      77°.
             5           "      "            fell to      76-1/2°.
            15           "      "              "          70-1/2°.
            20           "      "            remained at  71°.
     1 hour 50           "      "              "      "   70-1/2°.

     "In these two experiments, the thermometer at the bottom of the box
     suddenly rose a few degrees immediately after the hot water was
     added; and it might be inferred that the heat was carried downwards
     by the water. But, in reality, the rise was owing to the action of
     the hot water on the thermometer, and not to its action upon the
     cold water. To prove this, the perpendicular thermometers were
     removed. The box was filled with peat and water to within three
     inches of the top, a horizontal thermometer, _a f_, having been
     previously secured through a hole made in the side of the box, by
     means of a tight-fitting cork, in which the naked stem of the
     thermometer was grooved. A gallon of boiling water was then added.
     The thermometer, a very delicate one, was _not in the least
     affected_ by the boiling water in the top of the box.

     "In this experiment, the wooden box may be supposed to be a field;
     the peat and cold water represent the water-logged portion; rain
     falls on the surface, and becomes warmed by contact with the soil,
     and, thus heated, descends. But it is stopped by the cold water,
     and the heat will go no further. But, if the soil is drained, and
     not water-logged, the warm rain trickles through the crevices of
     the earth, carrying to the drain-level the high temperature it had
     gained on the surface, parts with it to the soil as it passes
     down, and thus produces that bottom heat which is so essential to
     plants, although so few suspect its existence."

Water, although it will not conduct heat downwards, is a ready vehicle
of cold from the surface towards the bottom. Water becomes heavier by
cooling till it is reduced to about 39°, at which point it attains its
greatest density, and has a tendency to go to the bottom until the whole
mass is reduced to this low temperature. Thus, the circulation of water
in the saturated soil, in some conditions of the temperature of the
surface and subsoil, may have a chilling effect which could not be
produced on drained soil.

After water is reduced to about 39°, instead of obeying the common law
of becoming heavier by cooling, it forms a remarkable exception to it,
and becomes lighter until it freezes. Were it not for this admirable
provision of Nature, all our ponds and rivers would, in the Winter,
become solid ice from the surface to the bottom. Now as the surface
water is chilled it goes to the bottom, and is replaced by warmer water,
which rises, until the whole is reduced to the point of greatest
density. Then the circulation ceases, and the water colder than 39°
remains at the surface, is converted into ice which becomes still
lighter, by crystallization, and floats upon the surface.

No experiments, showing the temperature of undrained soils at various
depths, in the United States, have come to our knowledge. Mr. Gisborne
says: "Many experiments have shown that, in retentive soils, the
temperature, at two or three feet below the surface of the water-table,
is, at no period of the year, higher than from 46° to 48° in
agricultural Britain." Prof. Henry states in the Patent Office Report
for 1857, that in the cellars of the observatory, at Paris, at the depth
of sixty-seven and a half feet, in fifty years, the temperature has
never varied a tenth of a degree from 53° 28', in all that period,
Summer or Winter.

Mr. Parkes gives the results of a valuable series of experiments, in
which he compared the temperature of drained and undrained portions of a
bog. He found the temperature of the undrained portion to remain
steadily at 46°, at all depths, from one to thirty feet; and at seven
inches from the surface, the temperature remained at 47° during the
experiments. During the same period, the temperature of the drained
portion was 48-1/4° at two feet seven inches below the surface, and at
seven inches, reached as high as 66° during a thunder-storm; while, on a
mean of thirty-five observations, the temperature at the latter
depth was 10° higher than at the same depth in the undrained portion of
the bog.

We find in the "Agriculture of New York," the results of observations
made at Albany and at Scott, in that State, in the year 1848, upon
temperature at different depths. The condition of the soil is not
described, but it is presumed that it was soil naturally drained in both
cases. A few of the results may give the reader some idea of the range
of underground temperature, as compared with that of the air.

    Temperature at Albany at two feet depth.
        "      "     "    highest August 17 and 18,          70°
        "      "     "    lowest February 28,                32-3/4°
        "      "     "      Range,                           37-1/4°
        "      "     "    at four feet depth.
        "      "     "    highest July 29,                   64-1/2°
        "      "     "    lowest February 25,                35-1/2°
        "      "     "      Range,                           29°
        "      "     "    of the air, February 12,           -3°
        "      "     "     "     "   August, 3, P. M.,       90°
        "      "     "      Range,                           93°

    Temperature at Scott at two feet depth.
        "      "     "    highest, August 17 and 18,         64°
        "      "     "    at four ft. depth, 17 days in Aug. 60°
        "      "     "    of the air, at 3, P. M., highest   90°

The temperature of falling rain, however, in the hot season, is many
degrees cooler than the lower stratum of the atmosphere, and the surface
of the earth upon which it falls. The effects of rain on drained soil,
in the heat of Summer, are, then, two-fold; to cool the burning surface,
which is, as we have seen, much warmer than the rain, and, at the same
time, to warm the subsoil which is cooler than the rain itself, as it
falls, and very much cooler than the rain-water, as it is warmed by its
passage through the hot surface soil. These are beautiful provisions of
Nature, by which the excesses of heat and cold are mitigated, and the
temperature of the soil rendered more uniform, upon land adapted, by
drainage, to her genial influences.

Upon the saturated and water-logged bog, as we have seen, the effect of
the greatest heat is insufficient to raise the temperature of the
subsoil a single degree, while the surface may be burned up and
"shrivelled like a parched scroll."

Drainage also raises the temperature of the soil by the admission of
warm air. This proposition is closely connected with that just
discussed. When the air is warmer than the soil, as it always is in the
Spring-time, the water from the melting snow, or from rain, upon drained
land, passes downward, and runs off by its gravitation. As "Nature
abhors a vacuum," the little spaces in the soil, from which the water
passes, must be filled with air, and this air can only be supplied from
the surface, and, being warmer than the ground, tends to raise its
temperature. No such effect can be produced in land not drained, because
no water runs out of it, and there are, consequently, no such spaces
opened for the warm air to enter.

Drainage equalizes the temperature of the soil in Summer by increasing
the deposit of dew. Of this we shall speak further, in a future

_Drainage raises the temperature in Spring by diminishing evaporation._
Evaporation may be defined to be the conversion of liquid and solid
bodies into elastic fluids, by the influence of caloric.

By heating water over a fire, bubbles rise from the bottom of the
vessel, adhere awhile to the sides of it, and then ascend to the
surface, and burst and go off in visible vapor, or, in other words, by
evaporation. Water is evaporated by the heat of the sun merely, and even
without this heat, in the open air. It is evaporated at very low
temperatures, when fully exposed to the air. Even ice evaporates in the
open air. We often observe in Winter, that a thin covering of ice or
snow disappears from our roads, although there has been no thawing

In another chapter, we have considered the subject of "Evaporation and
Filtration," and endeavored to give some general idea of the proportion
of the rain which escapes by evaporation. We have seen, that evaporation
proceeds much more rapidly from a surface of water, as a pond or river,
than from a land surface, unless it be fully saturated, and that
evaporation from the water exceeds the whole amount of rain, about as
much as evaporation from the land falls short of the amount of rain.
Thus, by this simple agency of evaporation, the vast quantities of water
that are constantly flowing, in all the rivers of the earth, into the
sea, are brought back again to the land, and so the great system of
circulation is maintained throughout the ages.

As evaporation is greatest from a water-surface, so it is greater, other
things being equal, according to the wetness of the surface of any given
field. If the field be covered with water, it becomes a water-surface
for the time, and the evaporation is like that from a pond. If, as is
often the case, the water stands on it in spots, over half its surface,
and the rest is saturated, the evaporation is scarcely less, and has
been said to be even more; while, if the surface be comparatively dry,
the evaporation is very little.

But what harm does evaporation do? and what has all this scientific talk
to do with drainage? These, my friend, are very practical questions, and
just the ones which it is proposed to answer; but we must bear in mind
that, as Nature conducts her grand affairs by systematic laws, the small
portion of her domain which for a brief space of time we occupy, is not
exempted from their operation. Some of these laws we may comprehend, and
turn our knowledge of them to practical account. Of others, we may note
the results, without apprehending the reasons of them; for it is true--

    "There are more things in Heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Discussions of this kind may seem dry, though the subject itself be
moisture. They belong, certainly, to the topic under consideration.

Evaporation does harm in the Spring-time, because it produces cold, just
when we most want heat. How it produces cold, is not so readily
explained. The fact may be made as evident as the existence of sin in
the world, and, possibly, the reason of it may be as unsatisfactory.

The books say, that heat always disappears when a solid body becomes a
liquid; and so it is, that the air always remains cool while the snow
and ice are melting in Spring. Again, it is said that heat always
disappears, when a fluid becomes vapor. These are said to be laws or
principles of nature, and are said to explain other phenomena. To a
practical mind, it is perhaps just as satisfactory to say that
evaporation produces cold, as to state the principle or law in the
language of science.

That the fact is so, may be proved by many illustrations. Stockhardt
gives the following experiment, which is strikingly appropriate:

     "Fill a tube half full of water, and fasten securely round the bulb
     of it, a piece of cloth. Saturate the cloth with cold water, and
     then twirl the tube rapidly between the hands; presently the water
     in the tube will become sensibly colder, and the degree of cold may
     be accurately determined by the thermometer. Moisten the cloth with
     ether, a very volatile liquid, and twirl it again in the same
     manner as before; by which means, its contents, even in Summer, may
     be converted into ice."

It is very fortunate for us, that our Spring showers are not of ether;
for then, instead of thawing, our land would freeze the harder! The heat
of the blood is about 98°; yet man can endure a heat of many degrees
more, and even labor under a Summer sun, which would raise the
thermometer to 130°, without the temperature of his blood being
materially affected, and it is because of perspiration, which absorbs
the surplus heat, or, in other words, creates cold. It is said, too,
that on the same principle, if two saucers, one filled with water warm
enough to give off visible vapor, the other filled with water just from
the well, are exposed in a sharp frosty morning, that filled with the
warm water will exhibit ice soonest. Wine is cooled by evaporation, by
wrapping the bottle in wet flannel, and exposing it to the air.

If, after all this, any one doubts the fact that evaporation tends to
produce cold, let him countenance his skepticism, by wetting his face
with warm water, and going into the air in a Winter's day, and his faith
will be greatly strengthened.

We have, in the northern part of America, most water in the soil in the
Spring of the year, just at the time when we most need a genial warmth
to promote germination. If land is well drained, this water sinks
downward, and runs away in the drains, instead of passing upward by

Drainage, therefore, diminishes evaporation simply by removing the
surplus snow and rain-water by filtration. It thus raises the
temperature of the soil in that part of the season, when water is
flowing from the drains; but, in the heat of Summer, the influence of
the showers which refresh without saturating the soil, and are retained
in it by attraction, is not lessened. As a good soil retains by
attraction about one-half its weight of water that cannot be drained
out, there can be no reasonable apprehension that the "gentle Summer
showers" will be wasted by filtration, even upon thorough-drained land,
while an avenue is open, by the drains, for the escape of drowning

To show the general effect of drainage, in raising the temperature of
wet lands in Summer, the following statement of Mr. Parkes is valuable.
An elevation of the temperature of the subsoil ten degrees, will be seen
to be very material, when we consider that Indian corn will not vegetate
at all at 53°, but will start at once at 63°, 55° being its lowest point
of germination:

     "As regards the temperature of the water derived from drainage at
     different seasons of the year, I am unacquainted with any published
     facts. This is a subject of the highest import, as thermometric
     observations may be rendered demonstrative, in the truest manner,
     of the effect of drainage on the climate of the soil. At present, I
     must limit myself to saying, that I have never known the water of
     drainage issue from land drained at Midsummer, to depths of four
     and five feet, at a higher temperature than 52° or 53° Fahrenheit:
     whereas, in the following year and subsequent years, the water
     discharged from the same drains, at the same period, will issue at
     a temperature of 60°, and even so high as 63°, thus exhibiting the
     increase of heat conferred during the Summer months on the
     terrestrial climate by drainage. This is the all-important fact
     connected with the art and science of land-drainage."

Besides affecting favorably the temperature of the particular field
which is drained, the general effect of the drainage of wet lands upon
the climate of the neighborhood has often been noticed. In the paper
already cited, emanating from the Board of Health, we find the
following remarks, which are in accordance with all observation in
districts where under-drainage has been generally practiced:

     "Every one must have remarked, on passing from a district with a
     retentive soil to one of an open porous nature--respectively
     characterized as cold and warm soils--that, often, whilst the air
     on the retentive soil is cold and raw, that on the drier soil is
     comparatively warm and genial. The same effect which is here caused
     naturally, may be produced artificially, by providing for the
     perfect escape of superfluous water by drainage, so as to leave
     less to cool down the air by evaporation. The reason of this
     difference is two-fold. In the first place, much heat is saved, as
     much heat being required for the vaporization of water, as would
     elevate the temperature of more than three million times its bulk
     of air one degree. It follows, therefore, that for every inch in
     depth of water carried off by drains, which must otherwise
     evaporate, as much heat is saved per acre as would elevate eleven
     thousand million cubic feet of air one degree in temperature. But
     that is not all. Not only is the temperature of the air reduced,
     but its dew point is raised, by water being evaporated which might
     be drained off; consequently, the want of drainage renders the air
     both colder and more liable to the formation of dew and mists, and
     its dampness affects comfort even more than its temperature. It is
     easy, then, to understand how local climate is so much affected by
     surplus moisture, and so remarkably improved by drainage. A farmer
     being asked the effect on temperature of some new drainage works;
     replied, that all he knew was, that before the drainage he could
     never go out at night without a great coat, and that now he could,
     so that he considered it made the difference of a great coat to

_Drainage increases the coldness of the subsoil in Winter._ Whether this
is a gain or loss to the agriculturist, is not for us to determine. The
object of our labor is, to lay the whole subject fairly before the
reader, and not to extol drainage as the grand panacea of bad husbandry.

Although water will not conduct heat downwards, yet it doubtless
prevents the deep freezing of the ground. It has already been seen, that
the temperature of the earth, a few feet below the surface, is above the
freezing point, at all times. The fact that the ground does not freeze,
usually, even in New England, where every Winter brings weather below
Zero, more than four or five feet deep, in the most exposed situations,
shows conclusively the comparatively even temperature of the subsoil.
The water which flows underground is of this subsoil temperature, and,
in Winter, warms the ground through which it flows. In land thoroughly
drained, this warm water cannot rise above the drains, and so cannot
defend the soil from frost.

Drained land will, undoubtedly, freeze deeper than undrained land, and
this is a fact to be impressed upon all who lay tiles in a cold climate.
It is a strong argument for deep drainage. "Drain deep, or drain not,"
is a convenient paraphrase of a familiar quotation. How often do we hear
it said, "My meadow never freezes more than a foot deep; there will
never be any trouble from frost in that place, if the tiles are no more
than two feet deep." Be assured, brother farmer, that the frost will
follow the water-table downward, and, unless the warm water move in
sufficient quantity through your pipes to protect them in Winter, your
work may be ruined by frost. So long as much water is flowing in pipes,
especially if it be from deep springs, they will be safe from frost,
even at a slight depth.

Dr. Madden says, that it has been proved that one great source of health
and vigor in vegetation, is the great difference which exists between
the temperature of Summer and Winter, which, he says, in dry soils,
often amounts to between 30° and 40°; while, in very wet soils, it
seldom exceeds 10°. This idea may have value in a mild climate; but,
probably, in New England, we get cold enough for our good, without
artificial aids. In another view, drainage is known to be essential,
even in Winter.

Fruit trees are almost as surely destroyed by standing with their feet
in cold water all Winter, as any of us "unfeathered bipeds" would be;
while the solid freezing of the earth around their roots does not harm
them. Perhaps the same is true of most other vegetation.

The deep freezing of the ground is often mentioned as a mode of
pulverization--as a sort of natural subsoiling thrown in by a kind
Providence, by way of compensation for some of the evils of a cold
climate. Most of those, however, who have wielded the pick-axe in laying
four-foot drains, in clay or hard-pan, will have doubts whether Jack
Frost, though he can pull up our fence-posts, and throw out our Winter
grain, has much softened the earth two feet below its surface.

That the frost comes out of drained land earlier than undrained, in
Spring, we are satisfied, both by personal observation, and by the
statements of the few individuals who have practiced thorough-drainage
in our cold climate.

B. F. Nourse, Esq., whose valuable statement will be found in a later
chapter, says, that, in 1858, the frost came out a week, at least,
earlier from his drained land, in Maine, than from contiguous undrained
land; and that, usually, the drained land is in condition to be worked
as soon as the frost is out, quite two weeks earlier than any other land
in the vicinity. Our observations on our own land, fully corroborate the
opinion of Mr. Nourse.

The reasons why the frost should come out of drained land soonest, are,
that land that is dry does not freeze so solid as land that is wet, and
so spaces are left for the permeation of warm air. Again, ice, like
water, is almost a nonconductor of heat, and earth saturated with water
and frozen, is like unto it, so that neither the warmth of the subsoil
or surface-soil can be readily imparted to it. Dry earth, on the other
hand, although frozen, is still a good conductor, and readily dissolves
at the first warm breath of Spring above, or the pulsations of the great
heart of Nature beneath.



     Why does not Drainage make the Land too Dry?--Adhesive
     Attraction.--The Finest Soils exert most Attraction.--How much
     Water different Soils hold by Attraction.--Capillary Attraction,
     Illustrated.--Power to Imbibe Moisture from the Air.--Weight
     Absorbed by 1,000 lbs. in 12 Hours.--Dew, Cause of.--Dew
     Point.--Cause of Frost.--Why Covering Plants Protects from
     Frost.--Dew Imparts Warmth.--Idea that the Moon Promotes
     Putrefaction.--Quantity of Dew.

The first and most natural objection made, by those not practically
familiar with drainage operations, to the whole system is, that the
drains will draw out so much of the water from the soil, as to leave it
too dry for the crops.

If a cask be filled with round stones, or with musket balls, or with
large shot, and with water to the surface, and then an opening be made
at the bottom of the cask, all the water, except a thin film adhering to
the surface of the vessel and its contents, will immediately run out.

If now, the same cask be filled with the dried soil of any cultivated
field, and this soil be saturated with water, a part only of the water
can be drawn out at the bottom. The soil in the cask will remain moist,
retaining more or less of the water, according to the character of the

Why does not the water all run out of the soil, and leave it dry? An
answer may be found in the books, which is, in reality, but a
re-statement of the fact, by reference to a principle of nature, by no
means intelligible to finite minds, called attraction. If two substances
are placed in close contact with each other, they cannot be separated
without a certain amount of force.

     "If we wet the surfaces of two pieces of glass, and place them in
     contact, we shall find that they adhere to each other, and that,
     independently of the effect of the pressure of the air, they oppose
     considerable resistance to any attempt to separate them. Again, if
     we bring any substance, as the blade of a knife, in contact with
     water, the water adheres to the blade in a thin film, and remains,
     by what is termed _adhesive attraction_. This property resides in
     the surface of bodies, and is in proportion to the extent of its

     "Soils possess this property, in common with all other bodies, and
     possess it, in a greater or less degree, according to the aggregate
     surface which the particles of a given bulk present. Thus, clay
     may, by means of kneading, be made to contain so large a quantity
     of water, as that, at last, it may almost be supposed to be divided
     into infinitesimally thin layers, having each a film of water
     adhering to it on either side. Such soils, again, as sand or chalk,
     the particles of which are coarser exert a less degree of adhesive
     attraction for water."--_Cyc. of Ag._, 695.

Professor Schübler, of Tubingen, gives the results of experiments upon
this point. By dropping water upon dried soils of different kinds, until
it began to drop from the bottom, he found that 100 lbs. of soil held by
attraction, as follows:

     Sand          25 lbs. of water.
     Loamy Soil    40       "
     Clay Loam     50       "
     Pure Clay     70       "

Mr. Shedd, of Boston, gives the result of a recent experiment of his own
on this point. He writes thus:

     "I have made an experiment with a soil of ordinary tenacity, to
     ascertain how much water it would hold in suspension, with the
     following result: One cubic foot of earth held 0.4826434 cubic feet
     of water; three feet of dry soil of that character will receive
     1.44793 ft. vertical depth of water before any drains off, or
     seventeen and three-quarter inches, equal to nearly six month's
     rain-fall. One cubic foot of earth held 3.53713 gallons of water,
     or if drains are three feet deep, one square foot of surface would
     receive 10.61 gallons of water, before saturation. Other soils
     would sustain a greater or less quantity, according to their

Besides this power of retaining water, when brought into contact with
it, the soil has, in common with other porous bodies, the power of
drawing up moisture, or of absorbing it, independent of gravitation, or
of the weight of the water which aids to carry it down into the soil.
This power is called _capillary attraction_, from the hair-like tubes
used in early experiments. If very minute tubes, open at both ends, are
placed upright, partly immersed in a vessel of water, the water rises in
the tubes perceptibly higher than its general surface in the vessel. A
sponge, from which water has been pressed out, held over a basin of
water, so that its lower part touches the surface, draws up the water
till it is saturated. A common flower-pot, with a perforated bottom, and
filled with dry earth, placed in a saucer of water, best illustrates
this point. The water rises at once to a common level in the pot and
outside. This represents the water-table in the soil of our fields. But,
from this level, water will continue to rise in the earth in the pot,
till it is moistened to the surface, and this, too, is by capillary

The tendency of water to ascend, however, is not the same in all soils.
In coarse gravelly soils, the principle may not operate perfectly,
because the interstices are too large, the weight of the water
overcoming the power of attraction, as in the cask of stones or shot. In
very fine clay, on the other hand, although it be absorptive and
retentive of water, yet the particles are so fine, and the spaces
between them so small, that this attraction, though sure, would be slow
in operation. A loamy, light, well pulverized soil, again, would perhaps
furnish the best medium for the diffusion of water in this way.

It is impossible to set limits to so uncertain a power as this of
capillary attraction. We see that in minute glass tubes, it has power
to raise water a small fraction of an inch only. We see that, in the
sponge or flower-pot, it has power to raise water many inches; and we
know that, in the soil, moisture is thus attracted upwards several feet.
By observing a saturated sponge in a saucer, we shall see that, although
moist at the top, it holds more and more water to the bottom. So, in the
saturated earth in a flower-pot, the earth, merely moist at the surface,
is wet mud just above the water-table. So, in drained land, the
capillary force which retained the water in the soil to the height of a
few inches, is no longer able to sustain it, when the height is
increased to feet, and a portion descends into the drain, leaving the
surface comparatively dry.

Thus, it would seem, that draining may modify the force of capillary
attraction, while it cannot affect that of adhesive attraction. It may
drain off surplus water, but, unaided, can never render any arable land
too dry. If, however, the surplus water be speedily taken off by
drainage, and the capillary attraction be greatly impaired, so that
little water is drawn upwards by its force, will not the soil soon
become parched by the heat of the sun, or, in other words, by

Without stopping in this place, to speak of evaporation, we may answer,
that, in our burning Summer heat, the earth would be burnt up too dry
for any vegetation, were it not for a beneficent arrangement of
Providence, which counteracts the effect of the sun's rays, and of which
we will now make mention.

_Power to imbibe moisture from the air._--We have spoken, in another
place, of the absorption, by drained land, of fertilizing substances
from the atmosphere. Dry soil has, too, a wonderful power of deriving
moisture from the same source.

     "When a portion of soil," says Johnston, "is dried carefully over
     boiling water, or in an oven, and is then spread out upon a sheet
     of paper in the open air, it will gradually drink in watery vapor
     from the atmosphere, and will thus increase in weight.

     "In hot climates and in dry seasons, this property is of great
     importance, restoring as it does, to the thirsty soil, and bringing
     within the reach of plants, a portion of the moisture, which,
     during the day, they had so copiously exhaled."

Different soils possess this power in unequal degrees. During a night of
12 hours, and when the air is moist, according to Schübler, 1000 lbs. of
perfectly dry

     Quartz sand will gain     0 lbs.
     Calcareous sand           2  "
     Loamy soil               21  "
     Clay loam                25  "
     Pure agricultural clay   27  "

Sir Humphrey Davy found, that the power of attraction for water,
generally proved an index to the agricultural value of soils. It is,
however, but one means of judging of their value. Peaty soils and strong
clays are very absorbent of water, although not always the best for

Sir H. Davy gives the following results of his experiments. When made
perfectly dry, 1000 lbs. of a

     Very fertile soil from East Lothian, gained in an hour   18 lbs.
     Very fertile soil from Somersetshire                     16  "
     Soil, worth 45s., (rent) from Essex                      13  "
     Sandy soil, worth 28s., from Essex                       11  "
     Coarse sand, worth 15s.                                   8  "
     Soil of Bagshot Heath                                     3  "

     "This sort of attraction, however," suggests a writer in the
     Cyclopedia of Agriculture, "it may be believed, depends upon other
     causes besides the attraction of adhesion. The power of attraction,
     which certain substances exhibit for the _vapor_ of water, is more
     akin to the force which enables certain porous bodies to absorb and
     retain many times their volume of the different gases; as charcoal,
     of ammonia, of which it is said to absorb ninety times its own

Here again, we find in the soil, an inexplicable but beneficent power,
by which it supplies itself with moisture when it most needs it.

Warm air is capable of holding more vapor than cooler air, and the very
heat of Summer supplies it with moisture by evaporation from land and
water. As the air is cooled, at nightfall, it must somewhere deposit the
water, which the hand of the Unseen presses out of it by condensation.

The sun-dried surface of fertile, well drained soil, is in precisely the
condition best adapted to receive the refreshing draught, and convey it
to the thirsting plants.

We may form some estimate of the vast amount absorbed by an acre of land
in a dry season, by considering that the clay loam, in the above
statement, absorbed in 12 hours a fortieth part of its own weight.


Dew is one of the most ordinary forms in which moisture is deposited in
and upon the soil, in its natural conditions. The absorbent power of
artificially-dried soils, as has been seen, seems to depend much upon
their chemical constitution; and that topic has been considered, without
special reference to the comparative temperature of the soil and
atmosphere. The soil, as we have seen, absorbs moisture from the air,
when both are of the same temperature, the amount absorbed depending
also upon the physical condition of the soil, and upon the comparative
moisture of the soil and atmosphere.

The deposition of dew results from a different law. All bodies throw
off, at all times, heat, by radiation, as it is termed. In the day-time,
the sun's rays warm the earth, and the air is heated by it, and that
nearest the surface is heated most. Evaporation is constantly going on
from the earth and water, and loads the air with vapor, and the warmer
the air, the more vapor it will hold.

When the sun goes down, the earth still continues to throw off heat by
radiation, and soon becomes cooler than the air, unless the same amount
of heat be returned, by radiation from other surfaces. Becoming cooler
than the air, the soil or plants cool the air which comes in contact
with them; and thus cooled to a certain point, the air cannot hold all
the vapor which it absorbed while warmer, and part of it is deposited
upon the soil, plant, or other cool surface. This is dew; and the
temperature at which the air is saturated with vapor, is called the
dew-point. If saturated at a given temperature with vapor, the air, when
cooled below this point, must part with a portion of the vapor, in some
way; in the form of rain or mist, if in the air; in the form of dew, if
on the surface of the earth.

If, however, other surfaces, at night, radiate as much heat back to the
earth as it throws off, the surface of the earth is not thus cooled, and
there is no dew. Clouds radiate heat to the earth, and, therefore, there
is less dew in cloudy than in clear nights. If the temperature of the
earth sinks below the freezing-point, the aqueous vapor is frozen, and
is then called _frost_.

To radiate back a portion of the heat thus thrown off by the soil and
plants, gardeners cover their tender plants and vines with mats or
boards, or even with thin cloth, and thus protect them from frost. If
the covering touch the plants, they are often frozen, the heat being
conducted off, by contact, to the covering, and thence radiated. Dew
then is an effect, but not a cause, of cold. It imparts warmth, because
it can be deposited only on objects cooler than itself.

It has been supposed by many that the light of the moon promotes
putrefaction. Pliny and Plutarch both affirm this to be true. Dew, by
supplying moisture in the warm season, aids this process of decay. We
have seen that dew is most abundant in clear nights; and although all
clear nights are not moonlight nights, yet all moonlight nights are
clear nights; and this, perhaps, furnishes sufficient grounds for this
belief, as to the influence of the moon.

The quantity of dew deposited is not easily measured. It has, however,
been estimated by Dr. Dalton, to amount, in England, to five inches of
water in a year, or 500 tons to the acre, equal to about one quarter of
our rain-fall during the six summer months!

Deep and well-pulverized soils attract much more moisture, in every
form, from the atmosphere, than shallow and compact soils. They, in
fact, expose a much larger surface to the air. This is the reason why
stirring the ground, even in the Summer drought, refreshes our fields of
Indian corn.



     Most Land cannot be Over-drained.--Nature a Deep
     drainer.--Over-draining of Peaty Soils.--Lincolnshire Fens; Visit
     to them in 1857.--56 Bushels of Wheat to the Acre.--Wet Meadows
     subside by Drainage.--Conclusions.

Is there no danger of draining land too much? May not land be
over-drained? These are questions often and very naturally asked, and
which deserve careful consideration. The general answer would be that
there is no danger to be apprehended from over-draining; that no water
will run out of land that would be of advantage to our cultivated crops
by being retained. In other words, soils _generally_ hold, by capillary
attraction, all the moisture that is of any advantage to the crops
cultivated on them; and the water of drainage would, if retained for
want of outlets, be stagnant, and produce more evil than good.

We say this is generally true; but there are said to be exceptional
cases, which it is proposed to consider. If we bear in mind the
condition of most soils in Summer, we shall see that this apprehension
of over-draining is groundless. The fear is, that crops will suffer in
time of drought, if thoroughly drained. Now, we know that, in almost all
New England, the water-table is many feet below the surface. Our wells
indicate pretty accurately where the water-table is, and drains, unless
cut as low as the surface of the water in the wells, would not run a
drop of water in Summer.

Our farmers dig their wells twenty, and even fifty, feet deep, and
expect that, every Summer, the water will sink to nearly that depth; but
they have no apprehension that their crops will become dry, because the
water is not kept up to within three feet of the surface.

The fact is, that Nature drains thoroughly the greater portion of all
our lands; so that artificial drainage, though it may remove surplus
water from them more speedily in Spring, cannot make them more dry in
Summer. And what thus happens naturally, on most of the land, without
injury, cannot be a dangerous result to effect by drainage on lands of
similar character. By thorough-drainage, we endeavor to make lands which
have an impervious or very retentive subsoil near the surface,
sufficiently open to allow the surplus water to pass off, as it does
naturally on our most productive upland.


No instance has yet been made public in America, of the injury of peat
lands by over-drainage; but there is a general impression among English
writers, that peat soils are often injured in this way. The Lincolnshire
Fens are cited by them, as illustrations of the fact, that these lands
do not require deep drainage.

Mr. Pusey says, "Every one who is practically acquainted with moory
land, knows that such land may be easily over-drained, so that the soil
becomes dusty or _husky_, as it is called--that is, like a dry
sponge--the white crops flag, and the turnip leaves turn yellow in a
long drought."

These Fens contain an immense extent of land. The Great Level of the
Fens, it is said, contains 600,000 acres. Much of this was formerly
covered by the tides, and all of it, as the name indicates, was of a
marshy character. The water being excluded by embankments against the
sea and rivers, and pumped out by steam engines, and the land
under-drained generally with tiles, so that the height of the water is
under the control of the proprietors, grave disputes have arisen as to
the proper amount of drainage.

An impression has heretofore prevailed, that these lands would be too
dry if the water were pumped out, so as to reduce the water-table more
than a foot or two below the surface, but this idea is now controverted.

In July 1857, in company with three of the best farmers in Lincolnshire,
the writer visited the Fens, and carefully examined the crops and
drainage. We passed a day with one of the proprietors, who gave us some
information upon the point in question. He stated, that in general, the
occupants of this land entertain the opinion, that the crops would be
ruined by draining to the depth of four feet. So strongly was he
impressed with the belief that a deeper drainage was desirable, that he
had enclosed his own estate with separate embankments, and put up a
steam-engine, and pumped out the water to the depth of four feet, while
from the land all around him, it is pumped out only a foot and a half
below the surface, though in Summer it may sometimes fall somewhat

The crops on this land were astonishing. Our friends estimated that the
wheat then growing and nearly ripe, would yield fifty-six bushels to the
acre. Although this was considered a very dry season, the crops on the
land of our host were fully equal to the best upon the Fens.

The soil upon that part of the Fens is now a fine black loam of twelve
or eighteen inches depth, resting upon clay. Upon other portions, the
soil is of various depth and character, resting sometimes upon gravel.

Attention is called to these facts here, to show that the common
impression that these lands will not bear deep drainage, is controverted
among the occupants themselves, and may prove to be one of those errors
which becomes traditional, we hardly know how.

Most peat meadows, in New England, when first relieved of stagnant
water, are very light and spongy. The soil is filled with acids which
require to be neutralized by an application of lime, or what is cheaper
and equally effectual, by exposure to the atmosphere. These soils, when
the water is suddenly drawn out of them, retain their bulk for a time,
and are too porous and unsubstantial for cultivation. A season or two
will cure this evil, in many cases. The soil will become more compact,
and will often settle down many inches. It is necessary to bear this in
mind in adjusting the drains, because a four-foot drain, when laid, may,
by the mere subsidence of the land, become a three-foot drain.

A hasty judgment, in any case, that the land is over-drained, should be
suspended until the soil has acquired compactness by its own weight, and
by the ameliorating effect of culture and the elements.

Mr. Denton, alluding to the opinion of "many intelligent men, that low
meadow-land should be treated differently to upland pasture, and upland
pasture differently to arable land," says, "My own observations bring me
to the conclusion, that it is not possible to lay pasture-land too dry;
for I have invariably remarked, during the recent dry Summer and Autumn
particularly, that both in lowland meadows, and upland pastures, those
lands which have been most thoroughly drained by deep and frequent
drains, are those that have preserved the freshest and most profitable

While, therefore, we have much doubt whether any land, high or low, can
be over-drained for general cultivation, it is probable that a less
expensive mode of drainage may be sometimes expedient for grass alone.

While we believe that, in general, even peat soils may be safely drained
to the same depth with other soil, there seems to be a well-founded
opinion that they may frequently be rendered productive by a less
thorough system.

The only safety for us, is in careful experiment with our own lands,
which vary so much in character and location, that no precise rules can
be prescribed for their treatment.



     Tiles will fill up, unless well laid.--Obstruction by Sand or
     Silt.--Obstructions at the Outlet from Frogs, Moles, Action of
     Frost, and Cattle.--Obstruction by Roots.--Willow, Ash, &c., Trees
     capricious.--Roots enter Perennial Streams.--Obstruction by Mangold
     Wurtzel.--Obstruction by Per-Oxide of Iron.--How
     Prevented--Obstruction by the Joints Filling.--No Danger with
     Two-Inch Pipes.--Water through the Pores.--Collars.--How to Detect

But won't these tiles get filled up and stopped? asks almost every
inquirer on the subject of tile draining.

Certainly, they will, if not laid with great care, and with all proper
precautions against obstructions. It cannot be too often repeated, that
tile-drainage requires science, and knowledge, and skill, as well as
money; and no man should go into it blindfold, or with faith in his
innate perceptions of right. If he does, his education will be

It is proposed to mention all the various modes by which tiles have been
known to be obstructed, and to suggest how the danger of failure, by
means of them, may be obviated.

Let not enterprising readers be alarmed at such an array of
difficulties, for the more conspicuous they become, the less is the
danger from them.

_Obstruction by Sand or Silt._ Probably, more drains are rendered
worthless, by being filled up with earthy matter, which passes with
water through the joints of the tiles, than by every other cause.

Fine sand will pass through the smallest aperture, if there is a current
of water sufficient to move it, and silt, or the fine deposit of mud or
other earth, which is held almost in solution in running water, is even
more insinuating in its ways than sand.

Very often, drains are filled up and ruined by these deposits; and,
unless the fall be considerable, and the drain be laid with even
descent, if earth of any kind find entrance, it must endanger the
permanency of the work. To guard against the admission of everything but
water, lay drains deep enough to be beyond the danger of water bursting
in, in streamlets. Water should enter the drain at the bottom, by rising
to the level of the tiles, and not by sinking from the surface directly
to them. If the land is sandy, great care must be used. In draining
through flowing sand, especially if there be a quick descent, the
precaution of sheathing tiles is resorted to. That is done by putting
small tiles inside of larger ones, breaking joints inside, and thus
laying a double drain. This is only necessary, however, in spots of sand
full of spring-water. Next best to this mode, is the use of collars over
the joints, but these are not often used, though recommended for sandy

At least, in all land not perfectly sound, be careful to secure the
joints in some way. An inverted turf, carefully laid over the joint, is
oftenest used. Good, clean, fine gravel is, perhaps, best of all. Spent
tan bark, when it is to be conveniently procured, is excellent, because
it strains out the earth, while it freely admits water; and any
particles of tan that find entrance, are floated out upon the water. The
same may be said of sawdust.

To secure the exit of earth that may enter at the joints, there should
be care that the tiles be smooth inside, that they be laid exactly in
line, and that there be a continuous descent. If there be any place
where the water rises in the tiles, in that place, every particle of
sand, or other matter heavier than water, will be likely to stop, until
a barrier is formed, and the drain stopped.

In speaking of the forms of tiles, the superiority of rounded openings
over those with flat bottom has been shown. The greater head of water in
a round pipe, gives it force to drive before it all obstructions, and so
tends to keep the drain clear.

_Obstructions at the Outlet._ The water from deep drains is usually very
clear, and cattle find the outlet a convenient place to drink at, and
constantly tread up the soft ground there, and obstruct the flow of
water. All earthy matter, and chemical solutions of iron, and the like,
tend to accumulate by deposit at the outlet. Frogs and mice, and insects
of many kinds, collect about such places, and creep into the drains. The
action of frost in cold regions displaces the earth, and even masonry,
if not well laid; and back-water, by flowing into the drains, hinders
the free passage of water.

All these causes tend to obstruct drains at the outlet. If once stopped
there, the whole pipe becomes filled with stagnant water, which deposits
all its earthy matter, and soon becomes obstructed at other points, and
so becomes useless. The outlet must be rendered secure from all these
dangers, at all seasons, by some such means as are suggested in the
chapter on the Arrangement of Drains.

_Obstruction by roots._ On the author's farm in Exeter, a wooden drain,
to carry off waste water from a watering place, was laid, with a
triangular opening of about four inches. This was found to be obstructed
the second year after it was laid; and upon taking it up, it proved to
be entirely filled for several feet, with willow roots, which grew like
long, fine grass, thickly matted together, so as entirely to close the
drain. There was a row of large willows about thirty feet distant, and
as the drain was but about two feet deep, they found their way easily
to it, and entering between the rough joints of the boards, not very
carefully fitted, fattened on the spring water till they outgrew their
new house.

A neighbor says, he never wants a tree within ten rods of any land he
desires to plow; and it would be unsafe to undertake to set limits to
the extent of the roots of trees. "No crevice, however small," says a
writer, "is proof against the entrance of the roots of water-loving

The behavior of roots is, however, very capricious in this matter; for,
while occasional instances occur of drains being obstructed by them, it
is a very common thing for drains to operate perfectly for indefinite
periods, where they run through forests and orchards for long distances.
They, however, who lay drains near to willows and ashes, and the like
cold-water drinkers, must do it at the peril of which they are warned.

Laying the tiles deep and with collars will afford the best security
from all danger of this kind.

Thos. Gisborne, Esq., in a note to the edition of his Essay on Drainage
published in 1852, says:

     My own experience as to roots, in connection with deep pipe
     draining, is as follows:--I have never known roots to obstruct a
     pipe through which there was not a perennial stream. The flow of
     water in Summer and early Autumn appears to furnish the attraction.
     I have never discovered that the roots of any esculent vegetable
     have obstructed a pipe. The trees which, by my own personal
     observation, I have found to be most dangerous, have been red
     willow, black Italian poplar, alder, ash, and broad-leaved elm. I
     have many alders in close contiguity with important drains; and,
     though I have never convicted one, I can not doubt that they are
     dangerous. Oak, and black and white thorns, I have not detected,
     nor do I suspect them. The guilty trees have, in every instance,
     been young and free growing; I have never convicted an adult.

Mangold-wurzel, it is said by several writers, will sometimes grow down
into tile drains, even to the depth of four feet, and entirely obstruct
them; but those are cases of very rare occurrence. In thousands of
instances, mangolds have been cultivated on drained land, even where
tiles were but 2-1/2 feet deep, without causing any obstruction of the
drains. Any reader who is curious in such matters, may find in the
appendix to the 10th Vol. of the Journal of the Royal Ag. Soc., a
singular instance of obstruction of drains by the roots of the mangold,
as well as instances of obstructions by the roots of trees.

_Obstruction by Per-oxide of Iron._ In the author's barn-cellar is a
watering place, supplied by a half-inch lead pipe, from a spring some
eight rods distant. This pipe several times in a year, sometimes once a
week, in cold weather, is entirely stopped. The stream of water is never
much larger than a lead pencil. We usually start it with a sort of
syringe, by forcing into the outlet a quantity of water. It then runs
very thick, and of the color of iron rust, sometimes several pails full,
and will then run clear for weeks or months, perhaps. In the tub which
receives the water, there is always a large deposit of this same colored
substance; and along the street near by, where the water oozes out of
the bank, there is this same appearance of iron. This deposit is, in
common language, called per-oxide of iron, though this term is not, by
chemists of the present day, deemed sufficiently accurate, and the word
sesqui-oxide is preferred in scientific works.

Iron exists in all animal and vegetable matter, and in all soils, to
some extent. It exists as protoxide of iron, in which one atom of iron
always combines with one atom of oxygen, and it exists as sesqui-oxide
of iron, from the Latin _sesqui_, which means one and a half, in which
one and a half atoms of oxygen combine with one atom of iron. The less
accurate term, per-oxide, has been adopted here, because it is found in
general use by writers on drainage.

The theory is that the iron exists in the soil, and is held in solution
in water as a protoxide, and is converted into per-oxide by contact with
the air, either in the drains or at their outlets, and is then deposited
at the bottom of the water.

In a pipe running full there would be, upon this theory, no exposure to
the air, which should form the per-oxide. In the case stated, it is
probable that the per-oxide is formed at the exposed surface of a large
cask, at the spring, and is carried into the pipe, as it is
precipitated. Common drain pipes would be full of air, which might,
perhaps, in a feeble current, be sufficient to cause this deposit.

Occasionally, cases have occurred of obstruction from this cause, and
whenever the signs of this deposit are visible about the field to be
drained, care must be used to guard against it in draining.

To guard against obstruction from per-oxide of iron, tiles should be
laid deep, closely jointed or collared, with great care that the fall be
continuous, and especially that there be a quick fall at the junctions
of minor drains with mains, and a clear outlet.

Mr. Beattie, of Aberdeen, says: Before adopting 4 feet drains, I had
much difficulty in dealing with the iron ore which generally appeared at
two to three feet from the surface, but by the extra depth the water
filters off to the pipes free of ore. Occasionally, iron ore is found at
a greater depth, but the floating substance is then in most cases
lighter, and does not adhere to the pipes in the same way as that found
near the surface. Arrangements should also be made for examining the
drains by means of wells, and for flushing them by holding back the
water until the drains are filled, and then letting it suddenly off, or,
by occasionally admitting a stream of water at the upper end, when
practicable, and thus washing out the pipes. Mr. Denton says: "It is
found that the use of this contrivance for flushing, will get rid of
the per-oxide of iron, about which so much complaint is made."

_Obstruction by Filling at the Joints._ One would suppose that tiles
might frequently be prevented from receiving water, by the filling up of
the crevices between them. If water poured on to tiles in a stream, it
would be likely to carry into these openings enough earthy matter to
fill them; but the whole theory of thorough-drainage rests upon the idea
of slow percolation--of the passage of water in the form of fine dew, as
it were--through the motionless particles which compose the soil; and,
if drains are properly laid, there can be no motion of particles of
earth, either into or towards the tiles. The water should soak through
the ground precisely as it does through a wet cloth.

In an article in the Journal of the Society of Arts, published in 1855,
Mr. Thomas Arkell states that in 1846 he had drained a few acres with
1-1/4 inch pipes, about three feet deep, and 21 to 25 feet apart. The
drains acted well, and the land was tolerably dry and healthy for the
first few years; but afterwards, in wet seasons, it was very wet, and
appeared full of water, like undrained land, although at the time all
the drains were running, but very slowly. His conclusion was that mud
had entered the crevices, and stopped the water out. He says he has
known other persons, who had used small pipes, who had suffered in the
same way. There are many persons still in England, who are so
apprehensive on this point, that they continue to use horse-shoe tiles,
or, as they are sometimes called, "tops and bottoms," which admit water
more freely along the joints.

The most skillful engineers, however, decidedly prefer round pipes, but
recommend that none smaller than one-and-a-half-inch be used, and prefer
two-inch to any smaller size. The circumference of a two-inch pipe is
not far from nine inches, while that of a one-inch pipe, of common
thickness, is about half that, so that the opening is twice as extensive
in the two-inch, pipes as in the one-inch pipe.

The ascertained instances of the obstruction of pipes, by excluding the
water from the joints, are very few. No doubt that clay, puddled in upon
the tiles when laid, might have this effect; but they who have
experience in tile-drainage, will bear witness that there is far more
difficulty in excluding sand and mud, than there is in admitting water.

It is thought, by some persons, that sufficient water to drain land may
be admitted through the pores of the tiles. We have no such faith. The
opinion of Mr. Parkes, that about 500 times as much water enters at the
crevices between each pair of tiles, as is absorbed through the tiles
themselves, we think to be far nearer the truth.

Collars have a great tendency to prevent the closing up of the crevices
between tiles; but injuries to drains laid at proper depths, with
two-inch pipes, even without collars, must be very rare. Indeed, no
single case of a drain obstructed in this way, when laid four feet deep,
has yet come within our reading or observation, and it is rather as a
possible, than even a probable, cause of failure, that it has been


When a drain is entirely obstructed, if there is a considerable flow of
water, and the ground is much descending, the water will at once press
through the joints of the pipes, and show itself at the surface. By
thrusting down a bar along the course of the drain, the place of the
obstruction will be readily determined; for the water will, at the point
of greatest pressure, burst up in the hole made by the bar, like a
spring, while below the point of obstruction, there will be no upward
pressure of the water, and above it, the pressure will be less the
farther we go.

The point being determined, it is the work of but few minutes to dig
down upon the drain, remove carefully a few pipes, and take out the
frog, or mouse, or the broken tile, if such be the cause of the
difficulty. If silt or earth has caused the obstruction, it is probably
because of a depression in the line of the drain, or a defect in some
junction with other drains, and this may require the taking up of more
or less of the pipes.

If there be but little fall in the drains, the obstruction will not be
so readily found; but the effect of the water will soon be observed at
the surface, both in keeping the soil wet, and in chilling the
vegetation upon it. If proper peep-holes have been provided, the place
of any obstruction may readily be determined, at a glance into them.

Upon our own land, we have had two or three instances of obstruction by
sand, very soon after the tiles were laid, and always at the junction of
drains imperfectly secured with bricks, before we had procured proper
branch-pipes for the purpose.

A little experience will enable the proprietor at once to detect any
failure of his drains, and to apply the proper remedy. Obstructions from
silt and sand are much more likely to occur during the first season
after the drains are laid, than afterwards, because the earth is loose
about the pipes, and more liable to be washed into the joints, than
after it has become compact.

On the whole, we believe the danger to tile-drains, of obstruction, is
very little, provided good tiles are used, and proper care is exercised
in laying them.



     Clay not impervious, or it could not be wet and dried.--Puddling,
     what is.--Water will stand over Drains on Puddled Soil.--Cracking
     of Clays by Drying.--Drained Clays improve by time.--Passage of
     Water through Clay makes it permeable.--Experiment by Mr.
     Pettibone, of Vermont.--Pressure of Water in saturated Soil.

It is a common impression that clay is impervious to water, and that,
therefore, a clay soil cannot be drained, especially by deep
under-drains. A moment's reflection will satisfy any one that such land
is not absolutely impervious. We find such land is wet in Spring, at any
depth; and, in the latter part of Summer, we find it comparatively dry.
How comes it wet, at any time, if water does not go into it? And how
comes it dry, at any time, if water does not come out of it?

In treating of the power of the soil to absorb moisture, we have shown
that a clay soil will absorb more than half its weight and bulk of
water, and that it holds more water than any other soil, with, perhaps,
the single exception of peat.

The facts, however, that clay may be wet, and may be dried, and that it
readily absorbs large quantities of water, though they prove
conclusively that it is not impervious to water, yet do not prove that
water will pass through it with sufficient rapidity to answer the
practical purposes of drainage for agriculture. This point can only be
satisfactorily determined by experiment. It is not necessary, however,
that each farmer should try the experiment for himself; because,
although we are very apt to think our own case an exception to all
general rules, it is not really probable that any new kind of clay will
be discovered hereafter, that is so different from all other clay that
is known, that established principles will not apply to it. So far as
our own observation extends, owners of clay farms always over-estimate
the difficulty of draining their land. There are certain notorious facts
with regard to clay, which mislead the judgment of men on this point.
One of these facts is, that clay is used for stopping water, by the
process called _puddling_. Puddled clay is used for the bottom of ponds,
and of canals, and of reservoirs, and, for such purposes, is regarded as
nearly, or quite impervious.

We see that, on our clay fields, water stands upon the surface,
especially in the ruts of wheels, and on headlands much trodden, late in
the season, and when, in other places, it has disappeared. This is due,
also, to puddling.

Puddling is merely the working of wet clay, or other soil, by beating,
or treading, or stirring, until its particles are so finely divided that
water has an exceedingly slow passage between them, with ordinary
pressure. We see the effect of this operation on common highways, where
water often stands for many days in puddles, because the surface has
been ground so fine, and rendered so compact, by wheels and horses, that
the water cannot find passage. This, however, is not the natural
condition of any clay; nor can any clay be kept in this condition,
except by being constantly wet. If once dried, or subjected to the
action of frost, the soil resumes its natural condition of porosity, as
will be presently explained. They who object to deep drainage, or to the
possibility of draining stiff clays, point to the fact that water may be
seen standing directly over the drains, on thorough-drained fields. We
have seen this on our own fields. In one instance, we had, after laying
tiles through a field, at 50 feet intervals, in the same Autumn, when
the land was wet, teamed across it a large quantity of soil for compost,
with a heavy ox-team. The next Spring, the water stood for many days in
that track which passed across tile-drains, after it had disappeared
elsewhere in the field. A fine crop of Indian corn grew on the field
that year, but the effect of the puddling was visible the whole season.
"One inch of wet and worked clay," says a scientific writer, "will
prevent water from passing through, so long as it is kept wet, as
effectually as a yard will do."

     "If," says Gisborne, "you eat off turnips with sheep, if you plow
     the land, or cart on it, or in any way puddle it, when it is wet,
     of course the water will lie on the surface, and will not go to
     your drains. A four-foot drain may go very near a pit, or a
     water-course, without attracting water from either, because
     water-courses almost invariably puddle their beds; and the same
     effect is produced in pits by the treading of cattle, and even by
     the motion of the water produced by wind. A very thin film of
     puddle, always wet on one side, is impervious, _because it cannot

In those four words, we find an allusion to the whole mystery of the
drainage of clays--a key which unlocks the secret by which the toughest
of these soils may be converted, as by a fairy charm, to fields of
waving grain.


"In drying under the influence of the sun," says Prof. Johnston, "soils
shrink in, and thus diminish in bulk, in proportion to the quantity of
clay, or of peaty matter, they contain. Sand scarcely diminishes at all
in bulk by drying; but peat shrinks one-fifth in bulk, and strong
agricultural clay nearly as much." By laying drains in land, we take
from it that portion of the water that will run out at the bottom. The
sun, by evaporation, then takes out a portion at the top. The soil is
thus contracted, and, as the ends of the field cannot approach each
other, both soil and subsoil are torn apart, and divided by a network
of cracks and fissures. Every one who is familiar with clay land, or who
has observed the bottom of a ditch or frog pond by the roadside, must
have observed these cracks, thus caused by the contraction of the soil
in drying. The same contraction occurs in drier land, by cold, in
Winter; by which, in cold regions, deep rents are made in the earth, and
reports, like those of cannon, are often heard. The cracking by drying,
however, is more quiet in its effects, merely dividing the ground,
noiselessly, into smaller and smaller masses, as the process proceeds.
Were it not for this process, it may well be doubted whether clay lands
could be effectually drained at all. Nature, however, seems to second
our efforts here, for we have seen that the stiffer the clay, the
greater the contraction, and the more the soil is split up and rendered
permeable by this operation.

These cracks are found, by observation, to commence at the drains, and
extend further and further, in almost straight lines, into the subsoil,
forming so many minor drains, or feeders, all leading to the tiles.
These main fissures have numerous smaller ones diverging from them, so
that the whole mass is divided and subdivided into the most minute
portions. The main fissures gradually enlarge, as the dryness increases,
and, at the same time, lengthen out; so that, in a very dry season, they
may be traced the whole way between the drains. The following cut will
give some idea of these cracks, or fissures, as they exist in a dry

[Illustration: Fig. 98.--Cracking of Clays by Drainage.]

     Mr. Gisborne says: "Clay lands always shrink and crack with
     drought; and the stiffer the clay, the greater the shrinking, as
     brick-makers well know. In the great drought thirty-six years ago,
     we saw, in a very retentive soil in the Vale of Belvoir, cracks
     which it was not very pleasant to ride among. This very Summer, on
     land, which, with reference to this very subject, the owner stated
     to be impervious, we put a walking-stick three feet into a
     sun-crack without finding a bottom, and the whole surface was a
     network of cracks. In the drained soil, the roots follow the
     threads of vegetable mould which have been washed into the cracks,
     and get an abiding tenure. Earth-worms follow either the roots or
     the mould. Permanent schisms are established in the clay, and its
     whole character is changed."

In the United States, the supply of rain is far less uniform than in
England, and much severer droughts are experienced. Thus the
contraction, and consequent cracking of the soil, must be greater here
than in that country.

In laying drains more than four feet deep, in the stiffest clay which
the author has seen, in a neighborhood furnishing abundance of brick and
potter's clay, these cracks were seen to extend to the very bottoms of
the drains, not in single fissures from top to bottom, but in
innumerable seams running in all directions, so that the earth, moved
with the pick-axe, came up in little cubes and flakes, and could be
separated into pieces of an inch or less diameter. This was on a ridge
which received no water except from the clouds, having no springs in or
upon it, yet so nearly impervious to water, that it remained soft and
muddy till late in June. In Midsummer, however, under our burning sun,
it had, by evaporation, been so much dried as to produce the effect

     In England, we learn, that these cracks extend to the depth of four
     feet or more. Mr. Hewitt Davis stated in a public discussion, with
     reference to draining strong soils, that, "he gave four feet as the
     minimum depth of the drains in these soils, because he had always
     found that the cracks and fissures formed by the drought and
     changes of temperature, on the strongest clay, and which made these
     soils permeable, extended below this depth, and the water from the
     surface might be made to reach the drains at this distance."

In clay that has never been dried, as for instance, that found under wet
meadows from which the water has but recently been drawn, we should not,
of course, expect to find these cracks. Accordingly, we find sometimes
in clay pits, excavated below the permanent water-line, and in wells,
that the clay is in a compact mass, and tears apart without exhibiting
anything like these divisions.

We should not expect that, on such a clay, the full effect of drainage
would be at once apparent. The water falling on the surface would very
slowly find its way downward, at first. But after the heat of Summer,
aided by the drains underneath, had contracted and cracked the soil,
passages for the water would soon be found, and, after a few years, the
whole mass, to the depth of the drains, would become open and permeable.
As an old English farmer said of his drains, "They do better year by
year; the water gets a habit of coming to them." Although this be not
philosophical language, yet the fact is correctly stated. Water tends
towards the lowest openings. A deep well often diverts the underground
stream from a shallower well, and lays it dry. A single railroad cut
sometimes draws off the supply of water from a whole neighborhood.
Passages thus formed are enlarged by the pressure of the water, and new
ones are opened by the causes already suggested, till the drainage
becomes perfect for all practical purposes. So much is this cracking
process relied on to facilitate drainage, that skillful drainers
frequently leave their ditches partly open, after laying the tiles, that
the heat may produce the more effect during the first season.

As to the depth of drains in stiff clays, enough has already been said,
under the appropriate title. In England, the weight of authority is in
favor of four-foot drains. In this country, a less depth has thus far,
in general, been adopted in practice, but it is believed that this has
been because a greater depth has not been tried. It is understood, that
the most successful drainers in the State of New York, have been
satisfied with three-foot drains, not, as it is believed, because there
is any instance on record, in this country, of the failure of four-foot
drains, but because the effect of more shallow drains has been so
satisfactory, that it has been thought a useless expense to go deeper.
To Mr. Johnston and to Mr. Delafield, of Seneca County, the country is
greatly indebted for their enterprise and leadership in the matter of
drainage. Mr. Johnston gives it as his opinion, that "three feet is deep
enough, if the bottom is hard enough to lay tiles on; if not, go

Without intimating that any different mode of drainage than that
adopted, would have been better on Mr. Johnston's farm, we should be
unwilling to surrender, even to the opinion of Mr. Johnston and his
friends, our conviction that, in general, three-foot drains are too
shallow. Mr. Johnston expressly disclaims any experience in draining a
proper clay soil. In the _Country Gentleman_, of June 10th, 1848, he

     "In a subsoil that is impervious to water, either by being a red
     clay, blue clay, or hard-pan, within a foot of the surface, I would
     recommend farmers to feel their way very cautiously in draining. If
     tiles and labor were as low here as in Great Britain, we could
     afford to make drains sixteen feet apart in such land, and then, by
     loosening the soil, say twenty inches deep, by the subsoil plow, I
     think such land might be made perfectly dry; but I don't think the
     time is yet come, considering the cost of tiles and labor, to
     undertake such an outlay; but still it might pay _in the end_. I
     have found only a little of red clay subsoil in draining my farm. I
     never had any blue clay on my farm, or hard-pan, to trouble me; but
     I can readily perceive that it must be equally bad to drain as the
     tenacious red clay. If I were going to purchase another farm, I
     would look a great deal more to the subsoil than the surface soil.
     If the subsoil is right, the surface soil, I think, cannot be

In the same paper, under date of July 8th, Mr. Johnston says, "The only
experience I have had in digging into soils, to judge of draining out of
this county (Seneca), was in Niagara." He states the result of his
observations thus:

     "A few inches below the surface I found a stiff blue clay for about
     ten inches deep, and as impervious to water as so much iron.
     Underneath that blue clay, I found a red clay, apparently
     impervious to water; but, as water could not get through the blue,
     I could only guess at that; and, after spending the greater part of
     the day, with five men digging holes from four to five feet deep, I
     found I knew no more how such land could be drained, than a man who
     had never seen a drain dug. I advised the gentleman to try a few
     experiments, by digging a few ditches, as I laid them out, and
     plowing as deep as possible with a subsoil plow, but to get no tile
     until he saw if he could get a run of water. He paid my traveling
     expenses, treated me very kindly and I have heard nothing from him

     "Now, if your correspondent's soil and subsoil is similar to that
     soil I would advise him to feel his way cautiously in draining.
     Certainly, no man would be fool enough to dig ditches and lay tile,
     if there is no water to carry off."

In the _Country Gentleman_ of Nov. 18th, 1858, we find an interesting
statement, by John S. Pettibone, of Manchester, Vermont, partly in reply
to the statement of Mr. Johnston.

The experiment by Mr. Pettibone, showing the increased permeability of
clay, merely by the passage of water through it, is very interesting. He
says, in his letter to the editor:

     "When so experienced a drainer as Mr. Johnston expresses an opinion
     that some soils cannot be drained, it is important we should know
     what the soil is which cannot be drained. He uses the word _stiff
     blue_ clay, as descriptive of the soil which cannot be drained. * * *

     "I had taken a specimen of what I thought to be _stiff blue clay_.
     That clay, when wet, as taken out, would hold water about as well
     as iron: yet, from experiments I have made, I am confident that
     such clay soil can be drained, and at much less expense than a
     hard-pan soil. Water will pass through such clay, and the clay
     become dry; and after it becomes once dry, water will, I am
     convinced, readily pass down through such stiff blue clay. The
     specimen was taken about three feet below the surface, and on a
     level with a brook which runs through this clay soil. I filled a
     one hundred-pound nail-keg with clay taken from the same place. It
     was so wet, that by shaking, it came to a level, and water rose to
     the top of the clay. I had made holes in the bottom of the keg, and
     set it up on blocks. After twenty-four hours I came almost to the
     conclusion Mr. Johnston did, that water would not pass through this
     clay. This trial was during the hot, dry weather last Summer. After
     some ten or twelve days the clay appeared to be dry. I then made a
     basin-like excavation in the top of the clay, and put water in, and
     the water disappeared rather slowly. I filled the basin with water
     frequently, and the oftener I filled it, the more readily it passed
     off. I left it for more than a week, when we had a heavy shower.
     After the shower I examined the keg, and not a drop of water was to
     be seen. I then took a chisel and cut a hole six inches down. I
     took out a piece like the one I dried in the house, and laid that
     up till it was perfectly dry. There was a plain difference between
     the appearance of the two pieces. The texture, I should say, was
     quite different. That through which the water had passed, after it
     had been dried, was more open and porous. It did not possess so
     much of the blue cast. In less than one hour after the rain fell,
     the clay taken six inches from the top of the keg would crumble by
     rubbing in the hand."

When we observe the effect of heat in opening clays to water by
cracking, and the effect of the water itself, aided, as it doubtless is,
by the action of the air, in rendering the soil permeable, we hardly
need feel discouraged if the question rested entirely on this evidence;
but when we consider that thousands upon thousands of acres of the
stiffest clays have been, in England and Scotland, rescued from utter
barrenness by drainage, and made to yield the largest crops, we should
regard the question of practicability as settled. The only question left
for decision is whether, under all the circumstances of each
particular case, the operation of draining our clay lands will be
expedient--whether their increased value will pay the expense. It is
often objected to deep drains in clays, that it is so far down to the
drains that the water cannot readily pass through so large a mass. If
we think merely of a drop of rain falling on the surface, and obliged to
find its devious way through the mazes of cracks and particles till it
gains an outlet at the bottom of four feet of clay, it does seem a
discouraging journey for the poor little solitary thing; but there is a
more correct view of the matter, which somewhat relieves the difficulty.

All the water that will run out of the soil has departed; but the soil
holds a vast amount still, by attraction. The rain begins to fall; and
when the soil is saturated, a portion passes into the drain; but it is,
by no means, the water which last fell upon the surface, but that which
was next the drain before the rain fell. If you pour water into a tube
that is nearly full, the water which will first run from the other end
is manifestly not that which you pour in. So the ground is full of
little tubes, open at both ends, in which the water is held by
attraction. A drop upon the surface drives out a drop at the lower end,
into to the drain, and so the process goes on--the drains beginning to
run as soon as the rain commences, and ceasing to flow only when the
principle of attraction balances the power of gravitation.


In connection with the passage of water through clay soil, it may be
appropriate to advert to the question sometimes mooted, whether in a
soil filled with water, at four feet depth, there is the same pressure
as there would be, at the same depth, in a river or pond. The pressure
of fluids on a given area, is, ordinarily, in proportion to their
vertical height; and the pressure of a column of water, four feet high,
would be sufficient to drive the lower particles into an opening like a
drain, with considerable force, and the upper part of such a column
would essentially aid the lower part in its downward passage. Does this
pressure exist? Mr. Gisborne speaks undoubtingly on this point, thus:

     "We will assume the drain to be four feet deep, and the water-table
     to be at one foot below the surface of the earth. Every particle of
     water which lies at three feet below the water-table, has on it the
     pressure of a column of water three feet high. This pressure will
     drive the particle in any direction in which it finds no
     resistance, with a rapidity varying inversely to the friction of
     the medium through which the column acts. The bottom of our drains
     will offer no resistance, and into it particles of water will be
     pushed, in conformity with the rule we have stated; rapidly, if the
     medium opposes little friction; slowly, if it opposes much. The
     water so pushed in runs off by the drain, the column of pressure
     being diminished in proportion to the water which runs off."

Mr. Thomas Arkell, in a paper read before the Society of Arts, in 1855,
says, on this point:

     "The pressure due to a head of water of four or five feet, may be
     imagined from the force with which water will come through the
     crevices of a hatch, with that depth of water above it. Now, there
     is the same pressure of water to enter the vacuum in the
     pipe-drain, as there is against the hatches, supposing the land to
     be full to the surface."

We do not find any intimation that there is any error in the view
advanced by the learned gentleman quoted; and if there is none, we have
an explanation of the faculty which water seems to have, of finding its
way into drainpipes. Yet, we feel bound to confess, that, aside from
authority, we should have supposed that the pressure due to a column of
pure water, would be essentially lessened, by the interposition of solid
matter between its particles.



     Drainage Hastens the Supply to the Streams, and thus Creates
     Freshets.--Effect of Drainage on Meadows below; on Water
     Privileges.--Conflict of Manufacturing and Agricultural
     Interests.--English Opinions and Facts.--Uses of Drainage
     Water.--Irrigation.--Drainage Water for Stock.--How used by Mr.

The effect of drainage upon streams and rivers, has, perhaps, little to
interest merely practical men, in this country, at present; but the time
will soon arrive, when mill-owners and land-owners will be compelled to
investigate the subject. Men unaccustomed to minute investigation, are
slow to appreciate the great effects produced by apparently small
causes; and it may seem to many, that the operations of drainage for
agriculture, are too insignificant in their details, perceptibly to
affect the flow of mill-streams and rivers. A moment's thought will
convince the most skeptical, that the thorough-drainage of the wet
lands, even of a New England township, must produce sensible effects
upon the streams which convey its surplus water toward the sea.

In making investigations to ascertain what quantity of water may be
relied upon to supply a reservoir, whether natural or artificial, for
the use of a town or city, a survey is first taken of the district of
territory which naturally is drained into the reservoir, and thus the
number of square miles of surface is ascertained. Then the rain-tables
are consulted, and the fall of rain upon the surveyed district is
computed. The ascertained proportion of rain-fall, which usually goes
off by evaporation, is then deducted, which leaves with sufficient
accuracy, the amount of water which flows both upon the surface, and
through the soil, to the reservoir. With proper deductions for waste by
freshets, when the water will overflow the reservoir, and for other
known losses, a reliable estimate is readily made, in advance, of the
quantity of water supplied to the reservoir.

Now, these reservoirs Nature has placed in all our valleys, in the form
of lakes and ponds, and the drainage into them is by natural springs and
streams; and the annual amount of the water thus naturally flowing into
them may be readily computed, if the area within their head-waters be
known. If the earth's surface were, like iron, impervious to water, the
rain-water would come in torrents down the hill-sides, and along the
gentle declivities, into the streams, creating freshets and inundations
in a few hours. But instead of that, the soft showers fall, often on the
open, thirsty soil, and so are gradually absorbed. A part of the
rain-water is there held, until it returns by evaporation, to the
clouds, while a part slowly percolates downward, finding its way into
swamps and springy plains, and finally, after days or weeks of
wandering, slowly, but surely, finds its outlet in the stream or pond.

If now, this surplus of water, this part which cannot be evaporated, and
must therefore, sooner or later, enter the stream or pond, be, by
artificial channels, carried directly to its destination, without the
delay of filtration through swamps and clay-banks; the effect of rain to
raise the streams and ponds, must be more sudden and immediate.
Agricultural drains furnish those artificial channels. The flat and
mossy swamp, which before retained the water until the Midsummer
drought, and then slowly parted with it, by evaporation or gradual
filtration, now, by thorough-drainage, in two or three days at most,
sends all its surplus water onward to the natural stream. The stagnant
clay-beds, which formerly, by slow degrees, allowed the water to filter
through them to the wayside ditch, and then to the river, now, by
drainage, contribute their proportion, in a few hours, to swell the
stream. Thus, evaporation is lessened, and the amount of water which
enters the natural channels largely increased; and, what is of more
importance, the water which flows from the land is sent at once, after
its fall from the heavens, into the streams. This produces upon the
mill-streams a two-fold effect; first, to raise sudden freshets to
overflow the dams, and sweep away the mills; and, secondly, to dry up
their supply in dry seasons, and to diminish their water-power.

Upon the low meadows which border the streams, the effects of the
drainage of lands above them are various, according to their position.
In many cases, it must subject them to inundation by Summer freshets,
and must require for their protection, catch-waters and embankments, and
large facilities for drainage.

The effect of drainage upon "water privileges," must inevitably be, to
lessen their value, by giving them a sudden surplus, followed by
drought, instead of a regular supply of water. Water-power companies and
mill-owners are never careless of their interests. Through the patriotic
desire to foster home-manufactures, our State legislatures have granted
many peculiar privileges to manufacturing corporations. Indeed, all the
streams and rivers of New England are chained to labor at their wheels.

Agriculture has thus far taken care of herself, but is destined soon to
come in collision with the chartered privileges of manufactures. Many
questions, touching the right of land-owners to change the natural flow
of the water, to the injury of mill-owners; many questions touching the
right of mill-owners to obstruct the natural course of streams, to the
injury of the farmer, will inevitably arise in our Courts. Slowly, and
step by step, must the lesser interest of manufactures, recede before
the advance of the great fundamental interest of agriculture, until, in
process of time, steam, or some yet undiscovered giant power, shall put
its hand to the great wheel of the factory and the mill, and the pent-up
waters shall subside to their natural banks.

That these are not mere speculations of our own, may be seen from
extracts which will be given from answers returned by distinguished
observers of these matters in England and Scotland, to a question
proposed to them as to the actual effects produced by extensive
drainage. Some diversity of opinion is observable in the different
replies, which were made, independently in writing, and so are more

     _Mr. Smith._--"During dry periods, more particularly in Summer, the
     water in the streams is greatly lessened by thorough-draining; for
     there is so great a mass of comparatively dry and absorbent soil to
     receive the rain, that Summer showers, unless very heavy and
     continuous, will be entirely absorbed."

     _Mr. Parkes._--"The intention and effect of a complete and
     systematic under-drainage is the liberation of the water of rain
     more quickly from the land than if it were not drained; and
     therefore the natural vents, or rivers, very generally require
     enlargement or deepening, in order to pass off the drainage water
     in sufficiently quick time, and so as to avoid flooding lower

     "The sluggish rivers of the midland and southern counties of
     England especially, oppose great obstacles to land-drainage, being
     usually full to the banks, or nearly so, and converted into a
     series of ponds, by mill-dams erected at a few miles distance below
     each other; so that, frequently, no effectual drainage of the
     richest alluvial soil composing the meadows, can be made, without
     forming embankments, or by pumping, or by resort to other
     artificial and expensive means.

     "The greater number of the corn and other water-mills throughout
     England ought to be demolished, for the advantage of agriculture,
     and steam-power should to be provided for the millers. I believe
     that such an arrangement would, in most cases, prove to be
     economical both to the landholder and the miller.

     "Every old authority, and all modern writers on land drainage in
     England, have condemned water-mills and mill-dams: and if all the
     rivers of England were surveyed from the sea to their source, the
     mills upon them valued, the extent of land injured or benefitted by
     such mill-dams ascertained, and the whole question of advantage or
     injury done to the land-owner appreciated and appraised, I have
     little doubt but that the injury done, would be found so greatly to
     exceed the rental of the mills, deduction being made of the cost of
     maintaining them, that it would be a measure of national economy,
     to buy up the mills, and give the millers steam-power."

     _Mr. Spooner._--"The effect which extensive drainage produces on
     the main water-courses of districts, is that of increasing the
     height of their rise at flood times, and rendering the flow and
     subsidence more rapid than before. I have repeatedly heard the
     River Tweed adduced as a striking instance of this fact, and that
     the change has taken place within the observation of the present

     _Mr. Maccaw._--"It has been observed that, after extensive
     surface-drainage on the sheepwalks in the higher parts of the
     country, and when the lower lands were enclosed by ditches, and
     partially drained for the purposes of cultivation, all rivers
     flowing therefrom, rise more rapidly after heavy rains or falls of
     snow, and discharge their surplus waters more quickly, than under
     former circumstances."

     _Mr. Beattie._--"It renders them more speedily flooded, and to a
     greater height, and they fall sooner. Rivers are lower in Summer
     and higher in Winter."

     _Mr. Nielson._--"The immediate effect of the drainage of higher
     lands has often been to inundate the lower levels."

In a prize essay of John Algernon Clarke, speaking of the effect of
drainage along the course of the River Nene, in England, he says:

     "The upland farms are delivering their drain-water in much larger
     quantities, and more immediately after the downfall, than formerly,
     and swelling to the depth of three to six feet over the 20,000
     acres of open ground, which form one vast reservoir for it above
     and below Peterborough. The Nene used to overflow its banks, to the
     extreme height, about the third day after rain: the floods now
     reach the same height in about half that time. Twelve hours' rain
     will generally cause an overflow of the land, which all lies
     unembanked from the stream; and where it is already saturated,
     this takes place in six or even in two hours. Such a quick rise
     will cause one body of flood-water to extend for forty or fifty
     miles in succession, with a width varying from a quarter of a mile
     to a mile; but it stays sometimes for six weeks, or even two
     months, upon the ground. And those floods come down with an
     alarming power and velocity--bridges which have stood for a century
     are washed away, and districts where floods were previously unknown
     have became liable to their sudden periodical inundations. The land
     being wholly in meadow, suffers very heavily from the destruction
     of its hay. So sudden are the inundations, that it frequently
     happens that hay made in the day has, in the night been found
     swimming and gone. A public-house sign at Wansford commemorates the
     locally-famed circumstance of a man who, having fallen asleep on a
     hay-cock, was carried down the stream by a sudden flood: awakening
     just under the bridge of that town, and being informed where he
     was, he demanded, in astonishment, if this were 'Wansford in

The fact that the floods in that neighborhood now reach their height in
half their former time, in consequence of the drainage of the "upland
farms," is very significant.

Mr. Denton thus speaks upon the same point, though his immediate subject
was that of compulsory outfalls.

     "Although the quantity of land drained was small, in comparison to
     that which remained to be drained, the water which was discharged
     by the drainage already effected found its way so rapidly to the
     outfalls, that the consequences were becoming more and more
     injurious every day. The millers were now suffering from two
     causes. At times of excess, after a considerable fall of rain, and
     when the miller was injuriously overloaded, the excess was
     increased by the rapidity with which the under-drains discharged
     themselves; and as the quantity of water thus discharged, must
     necessarily lessen the subsequent supply, the period of drought was
     advanced in a corresponding degree. As the millers already saw
     this, and were anticipating increasing losses, they would join in
     finding a substitute for water-power upon fair terms."

It is not supposed, that any considerable practical effects of drainage,
upon the streams of this country, have been observed. A treatise,
however, upon the general subject of Drainage, which should omit a point
like this, which must, before many years, attract serious attention,
would be quite incomplete. Whether the effect of a system of
thorough-drainage make for or against the interest of mill and meadow
owners on the lower parts of streams, should have no influence over
those who design only to present the truth, in all its varied aspects.

As some compensation for the evils which may fall upon lands at a lower
level, by drainage of uplands, it may be interesting to notice briefly
in this place, some of the uses to which drainage-water has been
applied, for the advantage of lower lands. In many cases, in Great
Britain, the water of drainage has been preserved in reservoirs, or
artificial ponds, and applied for the irrigation of water meadows; and
as is suggested by Lieut. Maury, in a letter quoted in our introductory
chapter, the same may, in many localities, be done in this country, and
thus our crops of grass be often tripled, on our low meadows. In many
cases, water from deep drains, will furnish the most convenient supply
for barn yards and pastures. It is usually sufficiently pure and cool in
Summer, and is preferred by cattle to the water of running streams.

On Mr. Mechi's farm at Tiptree Hall, in England, we observed a large
cistern, in which all the manure necessary for the highest culture of
170 acres of land, is liquified, and from which it is pumped out by a
steam engine, over the farm. All the water, which supplies the cistern,
is collected from tile drains on the farm, where there had before been
no running water.



     England protects her Farmers.--Meadows ruined by Corporation
     dams.--Old Mills often Nuisances.--Factory Reservoirs.--Flowage
     extends above level of Dam.--Rye and Derwent Drainage.--Give Steam
     for Water-Power.--Right to Drain through land of others.--Right to
     natural flow of Water.--Laws of Mass.--Right to Flow; why not to
     Drain?--Land-drainage Companies in England.--Lincolnshire
     Fens.--Government Loans for Drainage.

Nothing more clearly shows the universal interest and confidence of the
people of Great Britain, in the operation of land-drainage, than the
acts of Parliament in relation to the subject. The conservatism of
England, in the view of an American, is striking. She never takes a step
till she is sure she is right. Justly proud of her position among the
nations, she deems change an unsafe experiment, and what has been, much
safer than what might be. Vested rights are sacred in England, and
especially rights in lands, which are emphatically real estate there.

Such are the sentiments of the people, and such the sentiments of their
representatives and exponents, the Lords and Commons.

Yet England has been so impressed with the importance of improving the
condition of the people, of increasing the wealth of the nation, of
enriching both tenant and landlord, by draining the land, that the
history of her legislation, in aid of such operations, affords a lesson
of progress even to fast Young America. Powers have been granted, by
which encumbered estates may be charged with the expenses of drainage,
so that remainder-men and reversioners, without their consent, shall be
compelled to contribute to present improvements; so that careless or
obstinate adjacent proprietors shall be compelled to keep open their
ditches for outfalls to their neighbor's drains; so that mill-dams, and
other obstructions to the natural flow of the water, may be removed for
the benefit of agriculture; and, finally, the Government has itself
furnished funds, by way of loans, of millions of pounds, in aid of
improvements of this character.

In America, where private individual right is usually compelled to yield
to the good of the whole, and where selfishness and obstinacy do not
long stand in the pathway of progress, obstructing manifest improvement
in the condition of the people; we are yet far behind England in legal
facilities for promoting the improvement of land culture. This is
because the attention of the public has not been particularly called to
the subject.

Manufacturing corporations are created by special acts of legislation.
In many States, rights to flow, and ruin, by inundation, most valuable
lands along the course of rivers, and by the banks of ponds and lakes,
to aid the water-power of mills, are granted to companies, and the
land-owner is compelled to part with his meadows for such compensation
as a committee or jury shall assess.

In almost every town in New England there are hundreds, and often
thousands, of acres of lands, that might be most productive to the
farmer; overflowed half the year with water, to drive some old saw-mill,
or grist-mill, or cotton-mill, which has not made a dividend, or paid
expenses, for a quarter of a century. The whole water-power, which,
perhaps, ruins for cultivation a thousand acres of fertile land, and
divides and breaks up farms, by creating little creeks and swamps
throughout all the neighboring valleys, is not worth, and would not be
assessed, by impartial men, at one thousand dollars. Yet, though there
is power to take the farmer's land for the benefit of manufacturers,
there is no power to take down the company's dam for the benefit of
agriculture. An old saw-mill, which can only run a few days in a Spring
freshet, often swamps a half-township of land, because somebody's
great-grandfather had a prescriptive right to flow, when lands were of
no value, and saw-mills were a public blessing.

There are numerous cases, within our own knowledge, where the very land
overflowed and ruined by some incorporated company, would, if allowed to
produce its natural growth of timber and wood, furnish ten times the
fuel necessary to supply steam-engines, to propel the machinery carried
by the water-power.

Not satisfied with obstructing the streams in their course, the larger
companies are, of late, making use of the interior lakes, fifty or a
hundred miles inland, as reservoirs, to keep back water for the use of
the mills in the summer droughts. Thus are thousands of acres of land
drowned, and rendered worse than useless; for the water is kept up till
Midsummer, and drawn off when a dog-day climate is just ready to
convert the rich and slimy sediment of the pond into pestilential
vapors. These waters, too, controlled by the mill-owners, are thus let
down in floods, in Midsummer, to overflow the meadows and corn-fields of
the farmer, or the intervals and bottom-lands below.

Now, while we would never advocate any attack upon the rights of
mill-owners, or ask them to sacrifice their interests to those of
agriculture, it surely is proper to call attention to the injury which
the productive capacity of the soil is suffering, by the flooding of our
best tracts, in sections of country where land is most valuable. Could
not mill-owners, in many instances, adopt steam instead of water-power,
and becoming land-_draining_ companies, instead of land-_drowning_
companies; at least, let Nature have free course with her gently-flowing
rivers, and allow the promise to be fulfilled, that the earth shall be
no more cursed with a flood.

We would ask for the land-owner, simply equality of rights with the
mill-owner. If a legislature may grant the right to flow lands, against
the will of the owner, to promote manufactures, the same legislature may
surely grant the right, upon proper occasion, to remove dams, and other
obstructions to our streams, to promote agriculture. The rights of
mill-owners are no more sacred than those of land-owners; and the
interests of manufactures are, surely, no more important than those of

We would not advocate much interference with private rights. In some of
the States, no special privileges have been conferred upon water-power
companies. They have been left to procure their rights of flowage, by
private contract with the land-owners; and in such States, probably, the
legislatures would be as slow to interfere with rights of flowage, as
with other rights. Yet, there are cases where, for the preservation of
the health of the community, and for the general convenience,
governments have everywhere exercised the power of interfering with
private property, and limiting the control of the owners. To preserve
the public health, we abate as nuisances, by process of law,
slaughter-houses, and other establishments offensive to health and
comfort, and we provide, by compulsory assessments upon land-owners, for
sewerage, for side-walks, and the like, in our cities.

Everywhere, for the public good, we take private property for highways,
upon just compensation, and the property of corporations is thus taken,
like that of individuals.

Again, we compel adjacent owners to fence their lands, and maintain
their proportion of division fences of the legal height, and we elect
fence viewers, with power to adjust equitably, the expenses of such
fences. We assess bachelors and maidens, in most States, for the
construction of schoolhouses, and the education of the children of
others, and, in various ways, compel each member of society to
contribute to the common welfare.

How far it may be competent, for a State legislature to provide for, or
assist in, the drainage of extensive and unhealthy marshes; or how far
individual owners should be compelled to contribute to a common
improvement of their lands; or how far, and in what cases, one
land-owner should be authorized to enter upon land of another, to secure
or maintain the best use of his own land--these are questions which it
is unnecessary for us to attempt to determine. It is well that they
should be suggested, because they will, at no distant day, engage much
attention. It is well, too, that the steps which conservative England
has thought it proper to take in this direction, should be understood,
that we may the better determine whether any, and if any, what course
our States may safely take, to aid the great and leading interest of our

The swamps and stagnant meadows along our small streams and our rivers,
which are taken from the farmer, by flowage, for the benefit of mills,
are often, in New England, the most fertile part of the townships--equal
to the bottom lands of the West; and they are right by the doors of
young men, who leave their homes with regret, because the rich land of
far-off new States offers temptations, which their native soil cannot

It is certainly of great importance to the old States, to inquire into
these matters, and set proper bounds to the use of streams for
water-powers. The associated wealth and influence of manufacturers, is
always more powerful than the individual efforts of the land-owners.

Reservoirs are always growing larger, and dams continually grow higher
and tighter. The water, by little and little, creeps insidiously on to,
and into, the meadows far above the obstruction, and the land-owner must
often elect between submission to this aggression, and a tedious
law-suit with a powerful adversary. The evil of obstructions to streams
and rivers, is by no means limited to the land visibly flowed, nor to
land at the level of the dam. Running water is never level, or it could
not flow; and in crooked streams, which flow through meadows, obstructed
by grass and bushes, the water raised by a dam, often stands many feet
higher, at a mile or two back, than at the dam. It is extremely
difficult to set limits to the effect of such a flowage. Water is flowed
into the subsoil, or rather is prevented from running out; the natural
drainage of the country is prevented; and land which might well be
drained artificially, were the stream not obstructed, is found to lie so
near the level, as to be deprived of the requisite fall by back water,
or the sluggish current occasioned by the dam.

These obstructions to drainage have become subjects of much attention,
and of legislative intervention in various forms in England, and some of
the facts elicited in their investigations are very instructive.

In a discussion before the Society of Arts, in 1855, in which many
gentlemen, experienced in drainage, took a part, this subject of
obstruction by mill-dams came up.

Mr. G. Donaldson said he had been much engaged in works of
land-drainage, and that, in many instances, great difficulties were
experienced in obtaining outfalls, owing to the water rights, on the
course of rivers for mill-power, &c.

Mr. R. Grantham spoke of the necessity of further legislation, "so as to
give power to lower bridges and culverts, under public roads, and
straighten and deepen rivers and streams." But, he said, authority was
wanting, above all, "for the removal of mills, dams, and other
obstructions in rivers, which, in many cases, did incalculable injury,
many times exceeding the value of the mills, by keeping up the level of
rivers, and rendering it totally impossible to drain the adjoining

Mr. R. F. Davis said, "If they were to go into the midland districts,
they would see great injury done, from damming the water for mills."

In Scotland, the same difficulty has arisen. "In many parts of this
country," says a Scottish writer, "small lochs (lakes) and dams are kept
up, for the sake of mills, under old tenures, which, if drained, the
land gained by that operation, would, in many instances, be worth ten
times the rent of such mills."

In the case of the Rye and Derwent Drainage, an account of which is
found in the 14th Vol. of the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society,
a plan of compensation was adopted, where it became necessary to remove
dams and other obstructions, which is worthy of attention. The
Commissioners under the Act of 1846, removed the mill-wheels, and
substituted steam-engines corresponding to the power actually used by
the mills, compensating, also, the proprietors for inconvenience, and
the future additional expensiveness of the new power.

"The claims of a short canal navigation, two fisheries, and tenants'
damages through derangement of business during the alterations, were
disposed of without much outlay; and the pecuniary advantages of the
work are apparent from the fact, that a single flood, such as
frequently overflowed the land, has been known to do more damage, if
fairly valued in money, than the whole sum expended under the act."

Under this act, it became necessary for the Commissioners to estimate
the comparative cost of steam and water-power, in order to carry out
their idea of giving to the mill-owners a steam-power equivalent to
their water-power.

"As the greater part of their water-power was employed on corn and
flour-mills, upon these the calculations were chiefly based. It was
generally admitted to be very near the truth, that to turn a pair of
flour-mill stones properly, requires a power equal to that of
two-and-a-half horses, or on an average, twenty horses' power, to turn
and work a mill of eight-pairs of stones, and that the total cost of a
twenty-horse steam-engine, with all its appliances, would be $5,000, or
$250 per horse power."

Calculations for the maintenance of the steam-power are also given; but
this depends so much on local circumstances, that English estimates
would be of little value to us.

The arrangements in this case with the mill-owners, were made by
contract, and not by force of any arbitrary power, and the success of
the enterprise, in the drainage of the lands, the prevention of damage
by floods, especially in hay and harvest-time, and in the improvement of
the health of vegetation, as well as of man and animals, is said to be
strikingly manifest.

This act provides for a "water-bailiff," whose duty it is to inspect the
rivers, streams, water-courses, &c., and enforce the due maintenance of
the banks, and the uninterrupted discharge of the waters at all times.


It often happens, especially in New England, where farms are small, and
the country is broken, that an owner of valuable lands overcharged with
water, perhaps a swamp or low meadow, or perhaps a field of upland,
lying nearly level, desires to drain his tract, but cannot find
sufficient fall, without going upon the land of owners below. These
adjacent owners may not appreciate the advantages of drainage; or their
lands may not require it; or, what is not unusual, they may from various
motives, good and evil, refuse to allow their lands to be meddled with.

Now, without desiring to be understood as speaking judicially, we know
of no authority of law by which a land-owner may enter upon the
territory of his neighbor for the purpose of draining his own land, and
perhaps no such power should ever be conferred. All owners upon streams,
great and small, have however, the right to the natural flow of the
water, both above and below. Their neighbors below cannot obstruct a
stream so as to flow back the water upon, or into, the land above; and
where artificial water-courses, as ditches and drains have long been
opened, the presumption would be that all persons benefitted by them,
have the right to have them kept open.

Parliament is held to be omnipotent, and in the act of 1847, known as
Lord Lincoln's Act, its power is well illustrated, as is also the
determination of the British nation that no trifling impediments shall
hinder the progress of the great work of draining lands for agriculture.
The act, in effect, authorizes any person interested in draining his
lands, to clear a passage through all obstructions, wherever it would be
worth the expense of works and compensation.

Its general provisions may be found in the 15th Vol. of the Journal of
the Royal Agricultural Society.

It is not the province of the author, to decide what may properly be
done within the authority of different States, in aid of public or
private drainage enterprises. The State Legislatures are not, like
Parliament, omnipotent. They are limited by their written constitutions.
Perhaps no better criterion of power, with respect to compelling
contribution, by persons benefitted, to the cost of drainage, and with
interfering with individual rights, for public or private advantage, can
be found, than the exercise of power in the cases of fences and of

If we may lawfully compel a person to fence his land, to exclude the
cattle of other persons, or, if he neglect to fence, subject him to
their depredations, without indemnity, as is done in many States; or if
we may compel him to contribute to the erection of division fences, of a
given height, though he has no animal in the world to be shut in or out
of his field, there would seem to be equal reason, in compelling him to
dig half a division ditch for the benefit of himself and neighbor.

If, again, as we have already hinted, the Legislature may authorize a
corporation to flow and inundate the land of an unwilling citizen, to
raise a water-power for a cotton-mill, it must be a nice discrimination
of powers, that prohibits the same Legislature from authorizing the
entry into lands of a protesting mill-owner, or of an unknown or
cross-grained proprietor, to open an outlet for a valuable,
health-giving system of drainage.

In the valuable treatise of Dr. Warder, of Cincinnati, recently
published in New York, upon Hedges and Evergreens, an abstract is given
of the statutes of most of our States, upon the subject of fences, and
we know of no other book, in which so good an idea of the legislation on
this subject, can be so readily obtained.

By the statutes of Massachusetts, any person may erect and maintain a
water-mill, and dam to raise water for working it, upon and across any
stream that is not navigable, provided he does not interfere with
existing mills. Any person whose land is overflowed, may, on complaint,
have a trial and a verdict of a jury; which may fix the height of the
dam, decide whether it shall be left open any part of the year, and fix
compensation, either annual or in gross, for the injury. All other
remedies for such flowage are taken away, and thus the land of the owner
may be converted into a mill-pond against his consent.

We find nothing in the Massachusetts statutes which gives to
land-owners, desirous of improving their wet lands, any power to
interfere in any way with the rights of mill-owners, for the drainage of
lands. The statutes of the Commonwealth, however, make liberal and
stringent provisions, for compelling unwilling owners to contribute to
the drainage of wet lands.

For the convenience of those who may be desirous of procuring
legislation on this subject, we will give a brief abstract of the
leading statute of Massachusetts regulating this matter. It may be found
in Chapter 115 of the Revised Statutes, of 1836. The first Section
explains the general object.

When any meadow, swamp, marsh, beach, or other low land, shall be held
by several proprietors, and it shall be necessary or useful to drain or
flow the same, or to remove obstructions in rivers or streams leading
therefrom, such improvements may be effected, under the direction of
Commissioners, in the manner provided in this chapter.

The statute provides that the proprietors, or a greater part of them in
interest, may apply, by petition, to the Court of Common Pleas, setting
forth the proposed improvements, and for notice to the proprietors who
do not join in the petition, and for a hearing. The court may then
appoint three, five, or seven commissioners to cause the improvements to
be effected. The commissioners are authorized to cause dams or dikes to
be erected on the premises, at such places, and in such manner as they
shall direct; and may order the land to be flowed thereby, for such
periods of each year as they shall think most beneficial, and also cause
ditches to be opened on the premises, and obstructions in any rivers or
streams leading therefrom to be removed.

Provision is made for assessment of the expenses of the improvements,
upon all the proprietors, according to the benefit each will derive from
it, and for the collection of the amount assessed.

"When the commissioners shall find it necessary or expedient to reduce
or raise the waters, for the purpose of obtaining a view of the
premises, or for the more convenient or expeditious removal of
obstructions therein, they may open the flood-gates of any mill, or
make other needful passages through or round the dam thereof or erect a
temporary dam on the land of any person, who is not a party to the
proceedings, and may maintain such dam, or such passages for the water,
as long as shall be necessary for the purposes aforesaid."

Provision is made for previous notice to persons who are not parties,
and for compensation to them for injuries occasioned by the
interference, and for appeal to the courts.

This statute gives, by no means, the powers necessary to compel
contribution to all necessary drainage, because, first, it is limited in
its application to "meadow, swamp, marsh, beach, or other low land." The
word _meadow_, in New England, is used in its original sense of flat and
wet land. Secondly, the statute seems to give no authority to open
permanent ditches on the land of others than the owners of such low
land, although it provides for temporary passages for the purposes of
"obtaining a view of the premises, or for the more convenient or
expeditious removal of obstructions _therein_"--the word "therein"
referring to the "premises" under improvement, so that there is no
provision for outfalls, under this statute, except through natural

By a statute of March 28, 1855, the Legislature of Massachusetts has
exercised a _power_ as extensive as is desirable for all purposes of
drainage, although the provisions of the act referred to are not,
perhaps, so broad as may be found necessary, in order to open outfalls
and remove all obstructions to drainage. As this act is believed to be
peculiar, we give its substance:

"An Act to authorize the making of Roads and Drains in certain cases.

"SECT. 1. Any town or city, person or persons, company or body
corporate, having the ownership of low lands, lakes, swamps, quarries,
mines, or mineral deposits, that, by means of adjacent lands belonging
to other persons, or occupied as a highway, cannot be approached,
worked, drained, or used in the ordinary manner without crossing said
lands or highway, may be authorized to establish roads, drains, ditches,
tunnels, and railways to said places in the manner herein provided.

"SECT. 2. The party desiring to make such improvements shall file a
petition therefor with the commissioners of the county in which the
premises are situated, setting forth the names of the persons
interested, if known to the petitioner, and also, in detail, the nature
of the proposed improvement, and the situation of the adjoining lands."

SECT. 3 provides for notice to owners and town authorities.

SECT. 4 provides for a hearing, and laying out the improvement, and
assessment of damages upon the respective parties, "having strict regard
to the benefits which they will receive."

SECT. 5 provides for repairs by a majority of those benefitted; and
Sect. 6 for appeals, as in the case of highways.

By an act of 1857, this act was so far amended as to authorize the
application for the desired improvement, to be made to the Select-men of
the town, or the Mayor and Aldermen of the city, in case the lands over
which the improvement is desired are all situated in one town or city.

It is manifest certainly, that the State assumes power sufficient to
authorize any interference with private property that may be necessary
for the most extended and thorough drainage operations. The power which
may compel a man to improve his portion of a swamp, may apply as well to
his wet hill-sides; and the power which may open temporary passages
through lands or dams, without consent of the owner, may keep them open
permanently, if expedient.


Besides the charters which have at various times, for many centuries,
been granted to companies, for the drainage of fens and marshes, and
other lowlands, in modern times, great encouragement has been given by
the British Government for the drainage and other improvement of
high-lands. Not only have extensive powers been granted to companies, to
proceed with their own means, to effect the objects in view, but the
Government itself has advanced money, by way of loan, in aid of drainage
and like improvements.

By the provisions of two acts of Parliament, no less than $20,000,000
have been loaned in aid of such improvements. These acts are generally
known as PUBLIC MONEYS DRAINAGE ACTS. There are already four chartered
companies for the same general objects, doing an immense amount of
business, on _private_ funds.

It will be sufficient, perhaps, to state, in general terms, the mode of
operation under these several acts.

Most lands in England are held under incumbrances of some kind. Many are
entailed, as it is termed: that is to say, vested for life in certain
persons, and then to go to others, the tenant for life having no power
to sell the property. Often, the life estate is owned by one person, and
the remainder by a stranger, or remote branch of the family, whom the
life-tenant has no desire to benefit. In such cases, the tenant, or
occupant, would be unwilling to make expensive improvements at his own
cost, which might benefit himself but a few years, and then go into
other hands.

On the other hand, the remainder-man would have no right to meddle with
the property while the tenant-for-life was in possession; and it would
be rare, that all those interested could agree to unite in efforts to
increase the general value of the estate, by such improvements.

The great object in view was, then, to devise means, by which such
estates, suffering for want of systematic, and often expensive, drainage
operations, might be improved, and the cost of improvement be charged on
the estate, so as to do no injustice to any party interested.

The plan finally adopted, is, to allow the tenant or occupant to have
the improvement made, either by expending his private funds, or by
borrowing of the Government or the private companies, and having the
amount expended, made a charge on the land, to be paid, in annual
payments, by the person who shall be in occupation each year. Under one
of these acts, the term of payment is fixed at 22 years, and under a
later act, at 50 years.

Thus, if A own a life-estate in lands, and B the remainder, and the
estate needs draining, A may take such steps as to have the improvement
made, by borrowing the money, and repaying it by yearly payments, in
such sums as will pay the whole expenditure, with interest, in
twenty-two or fifty years: and if A die before the expiration of the
term, the succeeding occupants continue the payments until the whole is

A borrows, for instance, $1,000, and expends it in draining the lands.
It is made a charge, like a mortgage, on the land, to be paid in equal
annual payments for fifty years. At six per cent., the annual payment
will be but about $63.33, to pay the whole amount of debt and the
interest, in fifty years. A pays this sum annually as long as he lives,
and B then takes possession, and pays the annual installment.

If the tenant expend his own money, and die before the whole term
expire, he may leave the unpaid balance as a legacy, or part of his own
estate, to his heirs.

The whole proceeding is based upon the idea, that the rent or income of
the property is sufficiently increased, to make the operation
advantageous to all parties. It is assumed, that the operation of
drainage, under one of these statutes, will be effectual to increase the
rent of the land, to the amount of this annual payment, for at least
fifty years. The fact, that the British Government, after the most
thorough investigation, has thus pronounced the opinion, that drainage
works, properly conducted, will thus increase the rent of land, and
remain in full operation a half century at least, affords the best
evidence possible, both of the utility and the durability of tile



     Wet Cellars Unhealthful.--Importance of Cellars in New England.--A
     Glance at the Garret, by way of Contrast.--Necessity of
     Drains.--Sketch of an Inundated Cellar.--Tiles best for
     Drains.--Best Plan of Cellar Drain; Illustration.--Cementing will
     not do.--Drainage of Barn Cellars.--Uses of them.--Actual Drainage
     of a very Bad Cellar described.--Drains Outside and Inside;

No person needs to be informed that it is unhealthful, as well as
inconvenient, to have water, at any time of the year, in the cellar. In
New England, the cellar is an essential part of the house. All sorts of
vegetables, roots, and fruit, that can be injured by frost, are stored
in cellars; and milk, and wine, and cider, and a thousand "vessels of
honor," like tubs and buckets, churns and washing-machines, that are
liable to injury from heat or cold, or other vicissitude of climate,
find a safe retreat in the cellar. Excepting the garret, which is, as
Ariosto represents the moon to be, the receptacle of all things useless
on earth, the cellar is the greatest "curiosity shop" of the

The poet finds in the moon,

    "Whate'er was wasted in our earthly state,
    Here safely treasured--each neglected good,
    Time squandered, and occasion ill-bestowed;
    There sparkling chains he found, and knots of gold,
    The specious ties that ill-paired lovers hold;
    Each toil, each loss, each chance that men sustain,
    Save Folly, which alone pervades them all,
    For Folly never quits this earthly ball."

In the garret, are the old spinning wheel, the clock reel, the linen
wheel with its distaff, your grandfather's knapsack and cartridge-box
and Continental coat, your great-aunt's Leghorn bonnet and side-saddle,
or pillion, great files of the village newspapers--the "_Morning Cry_"
and "_Midnight Yell_," besides worn out trunks and boxes without number.
In the cellar, are the substantiate--barrels of beef, and pork, and
apples, "taters" and turnips; in short, the Winter stores of the family.

Many, perhaps most, of the cellars in New England are in some way
drained, usually by a stone culvert, laid a little lower than the bottom
of the cellar, into which the water is conducted, in the Spring, when it
bursts through the walls, or rises at the bottom, by means of little
ditches scooped out in the surface.

In some districts, people seem to have little idea of drains, even for
cellars; and on flat land, endeavor to set their houses high enough to
have their cellars above ground. This, besides being extremely
inconvenient for passage out of, and into the house, often fails to make
a dry cellar, for the water from the roof runs in, and causes a flood.
And such accidents, as they are mildly termed by the improvident
builders, often occur by the failure of drains imperfectly laid.

No child, who ever saw a cellar afloat, during one of these inundations,
will ever outgrow the impression. You stand on the cellar stairs, and
below is a dark waste of waters, of illimitable extent. By the dim
glimmer of the dip-candle, a scene is presented which furnishes a
tolerable picture of "chaos and old night," but defies all description.
Empty dry casks, with cider barrels, wash-tubs, and boxes, ride
triumphantly on the surface, while half filled vinegar and molasses
kegs, like water-logged ships, roll heavily below. Broken boards and
planks, old hoops, and staves, and barrel-heads innumerable, are
buoyant with this change of the elements; while floating turnips and
apples, with, here and there, a brilliant cabbage head, gleam in this
subterranean firmament, like twinkling stars, dimmed by the effulgence
of the moon at her full. Magnificent among the lesser vessels of the
fleet, "like some tall admiral," rides the enormous "mash-tub," while
the astonished rats and mice are splashing about at its base in the dark
waters, like sailors just washed, at midnight, from the deck, by a heavy

The lookers-on are filled with various emotions. The farmer sees his
thousand bushels of potatoes submerged, and devoted to speedy
decay; the good wife mourns for her diluted pickles, and apple sauce,
and her drowned firkins of butter; while the boys are anxious to embark
on a raft or in the tubs, on an excursion of pleasure and discovery.

To avoid such scenes as the above, every cellar which is not upon a dry
sandbank, should be provided with a drain of some kind, which will be at
all times, secure.

For a main drain from the cellar, four or six-inch tiles are abundantly
sufficient, and where they can be reasonably obtained, much cheaper than
stone. The expense of excavation, of hauling stone, and of laying them,
will make the expense of a stone drain far exceed that of a tile drain,
with tiles at fair prices. The tiles, if well secured at the inlet and
outlet of the drain, will entirely exclude rats and mice, which always
infest stone drains to cellars. Care must be taken, if the water is
conducted on the surface of the cellar into the drain, that nothing but
pure water be admitted. This may be effected by a fine strainer of wire
or plate; or by a cess-pool, which is better, because it will also
prevent any draft of air through the drain.

The very best method of draining a cellar is that adopted by the writer,
on his own premises. It is, in fact, a mere application of the ordinary
principles of field drainage. The cellar was dug in sand, which rests on
clay, a foot or two below the usual water-line in winter, and a drain of
chestnut plank laid from the cellar to low land, some 20 rods off. Tiles
were not then in use in the neighborhood, and were not thought of, when
the house was built.

In the Spring, water came up in the bottom of the cellar, and ran out in
little hollows made for the purpose, on the surface.

Not liking this inconvenient wetness, we next dug trenches a few inches
deep, put boards at the sides to exclude the sand, and packed the
trenches with small stones. This operated better, but the mice found
pleasant accommodations among the stones, and sand got in and choked the
passage. Lastly, tiles came to our relief, and a perfect preventive of
all inconvenient moisture was found, by adopting the following plan:

The drain from the cellar was taken up, and relaid 18 inches below the
cellar-bottom, at the outlet. Then a trench was cut in the
cellar-bottom, two feet from the wall, a foot deep at the farthest
corner from the outlet, and deepening towards it, round the whole
cellar, following the course of the walls. In this trench, two-inch pipe
tiles were laid, and carefully covered with tan-bark, and the trenches
filled with the earth. This tile drain was connected with the outlet
drain 18 inches under ground, and the earth levelled over the whole.
This was done two years ago, and no drop of water has ever been visible
in the cellar since it was completed. The water is caught by the drain
before it rises to the surface, and conducted away.

Vegetables of all kinds are now laid in heaps on the cellar-bottom,
which is just damp enough to pack solid, and preserves vegetables
better, in a dry cellar, than casks, or bins with floors.

A little sketch of this mode of draining cellars, representing the
cellar referred to, will, perhaps, present the matter more clearly.

[Illustration: Fig. 99--DRAINAGE OF CELLAR.]

Many persons have attempted to exclude water from their cellars by
cementing them on the bottom, and part way up on the sides. This might
succeed, if the cellar wall were laid very close, and in cement, and a
heavy coating of cement applied to the bottom. A moment's attention to
the subject will show that it is not likely to succeed, as experience
shows that it seldom, if ever, does.

The water which enters cellars, frequently runs from the surface behind
the cellar wall, where rats always keep open passages, and fills the
ground and these passages; especially when the earth is frozen, to the
surface, thus giving a column of water behind the wall six or eight feet
in height. The pressure of water is always in proportion to its height
or head, without reference to the extent of surface. The pressure, then,
of the water against the cemented wall, would be equal to the pressure
of a full mill-pond against its perpendicular dam of six or eight feet
height! No sane man would think of tightening a dam, with seven feet
head of water, by plastering a little cement on the down-stream side of
it, which might as well be done, as to exclude water from a cellar by
the process, and under the conditions, stated.


Most barns in New England are constructed with good substantial cellars,
from six to nine feet deep, with solid walls of stone. They serve a
three-fold purpose; of keeping manure, thrown down from the cattle and
horse stalls above; of preserving turnips, mangolds, and other
vegetables for the stock; and of storing carts, wagons, and other farm
implements. Usually, the cellar is divided by stone, brick, or wood
partitions, into apartments, devoted to each of the purposes named. The
cellar for manure should not be wet enough to have water flow away from
it, nor dry enough to have it leach. For the other purposes, a dry
cellar is desirable.

Perhaps the details of the drainage of a barn cellar on our own
premises, may give our views of the best mode of drainage, both for a
manure cellar, and for a root and implement cellar. The barn was built
in 1849, on a site sloping slightly to the south. In excavating for the
wall, at about seven feet below the height fixed for the sills, we came
upon a soft, blue clay, so nearly fluid that a ten-foot pole was easily
thrust down out of sight, perpendicularly, into it! Here was a dilemma!
How could a heavy wall and building stand on that foundation? A skillful
engineer was consulted, who had seen heavy brick blocks built in just
such places, and who pronounced this a very simple case to manage. "If,"
said he, "the mud cannot get up, the wall resting on it cannot settle
down." Upon this idea, by his advice, we laid our wall, on thick plank,
on the clay, so as to get an even bearing, and drove down, against the
face of the wall, edge to edge, two-inch plank to the depth of about
three feet, leaving them a foot above the bottom of the wall. Against
this, we rammed coarse gravel very hard, and left the bottom of the
cellar one foot above the bottom of the wall, so that the weight might
counterbalance the pressure of the wall and building. The building has
been in constant use, and appears not to have settled a single inch.

The cellar was first used only for manure, and for keeping swine. It was
quite wet, and grew more and more so every year, as the water found
passages into it, till it was found that its use must be abandoned, or
an amphibious race of pigs procured. It was known, that the most of the
water entered at the north corner of the building, borne up by the clay
which comes to within three feet of the natural surface; and, as it
would be ruinous to the manure to leach it, by drawing a large quantity
of water through it into drains, in the usual mode of draining, it was
concluded to cut off the water on the outside of the building, and
before it reached the cellar. Accordingly, a drain was started at the
river, some twenty rods below, and carried up to the barn, and then
eight feet deep around two sides of it, by the north corner, where most
water came in.

We cut through the sand, and four or five feet into the clay, and laid
one course only of two-inch pipe-tiles at the bottom. As this was
designed for a catch-water, and not merely to take in water at the
bottom, in the usual way, we filled the trench, after covering the tiles
with tan, with coarse sand above the level of the clay, and put clay
upon the top. We believe no water has ever crossed this drain, which
operates as perfectly as an open ditch, to catch all that flows upon it.
The manure cellar was then dry enough, but the other cellar was wanted
for roots and implements, and the water was constantly working up
through the soft clay bottom, keeping it of the consistency of mortar,
and making it difficult to haul out the manure, and everyway

One more effort was made to dry this part. A drain was opened from the
highway, which passes the barn, to the south corner; and about two and a
half feet below the bottom of the cellar, along inside the wall, at
about three feet distance from it, on two of the sides; and another in
the same way, across the middle of the cellar. These, laid with two-inch
tiles, and filled with gravel, were connected together, and led off to
the wayside. The waste water of two watering places, one in the cellar,
and another outside, supplied by an aqueduct, was conducted into the
tiles, and thus quietly disposed of. The reason why the drains are
filled with gravel is, that as the soft clay, in which the tiles were
laid, could never have the heat of the direct rays of the sun on its
surface, there might be no cracking of it, sufficient to afford passage
for the water, and so this was made a catch-water to stop any water that
might attempt to cross it.

The work was finished last Autumn, and we have had but the experience of
a single season with it; but we are satisfied that the object is
attained. The surface of the implement cellar, which before, had been
always soft and muddy, has ever since been as dry and solid as a highway
in Summer; and the root cellar, which has a cemented bottom, is as dry
as the barn floor. The manure can now be teamed out, without leaving a
rut, and we are free to confess, that the effect is greater than we had
deemed possible.

The following cut will show at a glance, how all the drains are laid,
the dotted lines representing the tile drains:

[Illustration: Fig. 100.]

The drain outside the barn, on the right, leads from a spring, some two
hundred feet off, into the cellar and into the yard, and supplies water
to the cattle, at the points indicated. The waste water is then
conducted into the drains, and passes off.



     Vast Extent of Swamp Lands in the United States.--Their
     Soil.--Sources of their Moisture.--How to Drain them.--The Soil
     Subsides by Draining.--Catch-water Drains.--Springs.--Mr. Ruffin's
     Drainage in Virginia.--Is there Danger of Over-draining?

In almost, if not quite every State, extensive tracts of swamp lands are
found, not only unfit, in their natural condition, for cultivation, but,
in many instances, by reason of obnoxious effluvia, arising from
stagnant water, dangerous to health.

Of the vast extent of such lands, some idea may be formed, by adverting
to the fact, that under the grants by Congress, of the public lands
given away to the States in which they lie, as of no value to the
Government and as nuisances to their neighborhood, in their natural
condition; sixty millions of acres, it is estimated, will be included.

These are only the public lands, and in the new States. In every
township in New England, there are hundreds of acres of swamp land, just
beginning to be brought to the notice of their owners, as of sufficient
value to authorize the expense of drainage.

To say that these swamps are the most fertile and the most valuable
lands in New England, is but to repeat the assertion of all who have
successfully tried the experiment of reclaiming them.

In their natural state, these swamps are usually covered with a heavy
growth of timber; but the greater portion of them have been partially
cleared, and many of them are mowed, producing a coarse, wild, and
nearly worthless grass.

The soil of these tracts is usually a black mud or peat, partly the
product of vegetable growth and decay on the spot, and partly the
deposit of the lighter portion of the upland soil, brought down by the
washing of showers, and by spring freshets. The leaves of the
surrounding forest, too, are naturally dropped by the Autumn winds into
the lowest places, and these swamps have received them, for ages.
Usually, these lands lie in basins among the hills, sometimes along the
banks of streams and rivers, always at the lowest level of the country,
and not, like Irish bogs, upon hill-tops, as well as elsewhere. Their
surface is, usually, level and even, as compared with other lands in the
old States. Their soil, or deposit, is of various depth, from one foot
to twenty, and is often almost afloat with water, so as to shake under
the feet, in walking over it.

The subsoil corresponds, in general, with that of the surrounding
country, but is oftener of sand than clay, and not unfrequently, is of
various thin strata, indicating an alluvial formation. Frogs and snakes
find in these swamps an agreeable residence, and wild beasts a safe
retreat from their common foe. Notoriously, such lands are unhealthful,
producing fevers and agues in their neighborhood, often traceable to
tracts no larger than a very few acres.

In considering how to drain such tracts, the first inquiry is as to the
source of the water. What makes the land too wet? Is it the direct fall
of rain upon it; the influx of water by visible streams, which have no
sufficient outlet; the downflow of rain and snow water from the
neighboring hills; or the bursting up of springs from below?

Examine and decide, which and how many, of these four sources of
moisture, contribute to flood the tract in question. We assume, that the
swamp is in a basin, or, at least, is the lowest land of the
neighborhood. The three or four feet of rain water annually falling upon
it, unless it have an outlet, must make it a swamp, for there can
usually be no natural drainage downward, because the swamp itself is the
lowest spot, and no adjacent land can draw off water from its bottom. Of
course, there is lower land towards the natural outlet, but usually this
is narrow, and quite insufficient to allow of drainage by lateral
percolation. Then, always, more or less water must run upon the surface,
or just below it, from the hills, and usually, a stream is found in the
swamp, if none pours into it from above.

The first step is a survey, to ascertain the fall over the whole, and
the next, to provide a deep and sufficient outlet. Here, we must bear in
mind a peculiarity of such lands. All land subsides, more or less, by
drainage, but the soils of which we are speaking, far more than any
other. Marsh and swamp lands often subside, or _settle_, one or two
feet, or even more. Their soil, of fibrous roots, decayed leaves, and
the like, almost floats; or, at least, expands like a sponge; and when
it is compacted, by removing the water, it occupies far less space than
before. This fact must be kept in mind in all the process. The outlet
must be made low enough, and the drains must be made deep enough, to
draw the water, after the subsidence of the soil to its lowest point.

If a natural stream flow through, or from, the tract, it will usually
indicate the lowest level; and the straightening and clearing out of
this natural drain, may usually be the first operation, after opening a
proper outlet. Then a catch-water open drain, just at the junction of
the high and low land, entirely round the swamp, will be necessary to
intercept the water flowing into the swamp. This water will usually be
found to flow in, both on the surface, and beneath it, and in greater or
less quantities, according to the formation of the adjacent land. This
catch-water is essential to success. The wettest spot in a swamp is
frequently, just at its edge, because there the surface-water is
received, and because there too, the water that has come down on an
impervious subsoil stratum, finds vent. It is in vain to attempt to lay
dry a swamp, by drains, however deep, through its centre. The water has
done its mischief, before it reaches the centre. It should be
intercepted, before it has entered the tract, to be reclaimed.

This drain must be deep, and therefore, must be wide and sloping, so
that it may be kept open; and it should be curved round, following the
line of the upland to the outlet. Often it has been found, in England,
that a single drain, six or eight feet deep, has completely drained a
tract of twenty or thirty acres, by cutting off all the sources of the
supply of water, except that from the clouds. This kind of land is very
porous and permeable, and readily parts with its water, and is easily
drained; so that the frequent drains necessary on uplands, are often
quite unnecessary. Many instances are given, of the effect of single
deep drains through such tracts, in lowering the water in wells, or
entirely drying them, at considerable distances from the field of

When the surface-water and shallow springs have thus been cut off, the
drainer will soon be able to determine, whether he has effected a cure
of his dropsical patient. Often it will be found, that deep seated
springs burst up in the middle of these low tracts, furnishing good and
pure water for use. These, being supplied by high and distant fountains,
run under our deepest drains, and find vent through some fracture of the
subsoil. They diffuse their ice-cold water through the soil, and prevent
the growth of all valuable vegetation. To these, we must apply
Elkington's system, and hit them _right in the eye_! by running a deep
drain from some side or central drain, straight to them, and drawing off
the water low enough beneath the surface to prevent injury. A small
covered drain with two-inch pipes, will usually be sufficient to afford
an outlet to any such spring.

When we have thus disposed of the water from the surface-flow, the
shallow springs and the deep springs, and given vent to the water
accumulated and ponded in the low places, we have then accomplished all
that is peculiar to this kind of drainage. We have still the water from
the clouds, which is twice as much as will evaporate from a
land-surface, to provide for. We assume that this cannot pass directly
down by percolation, because the subsoil is already saturated; and
therefore, even if all the other sources of wetness are cut off, we
shall still have a tract of land too wet for wheat and corn. If the
swamp be very small, these main ditches may sufficiently drain it; but
if it be extensive, they probably will not. We have seen that we have
some eighteen or twenty inches of water to be disposed of by drainage;
so much that evaporation cannot remove consistently with good
cultivation; and, although this amount might, in a very deep peaty soil,
percolate to a great distance laterally, to find a drain, yet in shallow
soil resting on a retentive subsoil, drains might be necessary at
distances similar to those adopted on wet upland fields. To this part of
the operation, we should, therefore, apply the ordinary principles of
drainage, putting in covered drains with tiles, if possible, at four
feet depth or more, ordinarily, and at distances of from forty to sixty
feet, although four-foot drains at even one hundred feet distance, in
peat and black mud, might often be found sufficient.

Through the kindness of Edmund Ruffin, Esq., of Virginia, we have been
furnished with three elaborate and valuable essays, on the drainage and
treatment of flat and wet lands in lower Virginia and North Carolina,
published in the Transactions of the Virginia State Agricultural
Society, for 1857. The principal feature of his system is based upon his
correct knowledge of the geological formation of that district; of the
fact in particular, that, underlying the whole of that low country,
there is a bed of pure sand lying nearly level, and filled with water,
which may be drawn down by a few large deep drains, thus relieving the
surface-soil of surplus water, by comprehensive but simple means.

We have before referred to Mr. Ruffin as the publisher, more than twenty
years ago, of "Elkington's Theory and Practice of Draining, &c., by
Johnstone;" and we find in his recent essays, evidence of how thoroughly
practical he has made the system of Elkington in his own State. Indeed,
we know of no other American writer who records any instance of marked
success in the use of Elkington's peculiar idea of releasing pent up
waters by boring. Mr. Ruffin, however, has applied, with great success,
this principle of operation, to the saturated sand-beds which underlie
the tracts of low land in his district of country. These water-beds in
the sand lie at depths varying usually from four to eight feet below the
surface. This surface stratum is comparatively compact, and very slowly
pervious to water before it is drained. The water from below, is
constantly pressing slowly up through it, of course preventing any
downward percolation of the rain-water. By running deep drains at wide
intervals, and boring down through this surface stratum with an auger,
the pent up water below finds vent and gushes up in copious springs
through the holes, and flows off without coming nearer to the surface
than the bottom of the drains; thus relieving the pressure upward, and
lowering the water-line in proportion to the depth of the drains.

Mr. Ruffin gives an instance of the drying up of a well half a mile
distant, by cutting a deep drain into this sand-bed, and thus lowering
its water-line.

No doubt in many localities in our country, a competent geological
knowledge may detect formations where this principle of drainage may be
applied with perfect success, and with great economy.

_Is there danger of over-draining swamp lands?_ In speaking of the
injury by drainage, we have treated of this question.

Our conclusions may be briefly stated here. There is an impression among
English writers, that light peaty soils may be too much drained; but
many distinguished drainers doubt the proposition. No doubt there are
soils too porous and light to be productive, when first drained. They
may require a season or two to become compact, and may require sand, or
clay, or gravel, to give them the requisite density; but these soils
would, we believe, be usually unproductive if shallow drained.

In short, our idea is, that, in general, a soil so constituted as to be
productive under any circumstances, will retain, by attraction, moisture
enough for the crops, though intersected by four-foot drains at usual
distances; and that cold water pumped up to the roots from a stagnant
pool at the bottom, is not, either in nature or art, a successful method
of irrigation.

Still we believe that peaty soils may be usually drained at greater
distances, or by shallower drains, than most uplands, because of their
more porous nature; and we should advise inexperienced persons not to
proceed with a lavish expenditure of labor to put in parallel drains at
short distances, till they have watched, for a season, the operation of
a cheaper system. They may thus attain the desired object, with the
smallest expense. If the first drains are judiciously placed, and are
found insufficient, others may be laid between the first, until the
drainage is complete.



     Statement of B. F. Nourse, of Maine.--Statement of Shedd and Edson,
     of Mass.--Statement of H. F. French, of New Hampshire.--Letter of
     Wm. Boyle, Albert Model Farm, Glasnevin, Ireland.

It was part of the original plan of this work, to give a large number of
statements from American farmers of their success in drainage; but,
although the instances are abundant, want of space limits us to a few.
These are given with such diagrams as will not only make them
intelligible, but, it is hoped, will also furnish good examples of the
arrangement and modes of executing drains, and of laying them down upon
plans for future reference. The mode adopted by Shedd and Edson, of
indicating the size of the pipes used, by the number of dots in the
lines of drains, is original and convenient. It will be seen by close
attention, that a two-inch pipe is denoted by dots in pairs, a
three-inch pipe by dots in threes, and so on.

It is believed that Mr. Nourse's experiment is one of the most thorough
and successful works of drainage yet executed in America. His plan is
upon page 195.


                                       GOODALES CORNER, ORRINGTON, ME.,
                                              Sept. 1st, 1858.

     MY DEAR SIR:--So much depends upon the preliminary surveys and
     "levels" for conducting works of thorough-draining and irrigation
     cheaply, yet to obtain the most beneficial results, that a
     competent person, such as an engineer or practiced land-drainer,
     should be employed to make them, if one can be obtained.
     Unfortunately for me, when I began this operation, some years ago,
     there were no such skilled persons in the country, or I could learn
     of none professionally such, and was forced to do my own
     engineering. Having thus practically acquired some knowledge of it,
     I use and enjoy a Summer vacation from other pursuits, in the
     prosecution of this; and this employment, for the last few weeks,
     has delayed my answer to your inquiries. Nor could I sooner arrive
     at the figures of cost, extent, &c., of this season's work.

     This is expected to be completed in ten days, and then I shall have
     laid, of

     Stone drains, including mains          702 rods
     Tile drains (two inches, or larger)   1043  "
     In all                                1745  "

     or, about five and one-half miles, laying dry, _satisfactorily_,
     about thirty-five acres. The character and extent of the work will
     better appear by reference to the plan of the farm which I send
     with this for your inspection.

     The earlier portion was fairly described by the Committee of the
     Bangor Hort. Soc.--(See Report, for 1856, of the Maine Board of
     Agriculture.) It was far too costly, as usual in works of a novel
     character conducted without practical knowledge. No part of my
     draining, even that of this season, has been done so cheaply as it
     ought to be done in Maine, and will be done when tiles can be
     bought at fair prices near at hand. I call your attention
     particularly to this, because the magnitude of the cost, as I
     represent it, ought not to be taken as a necessary average, or
     standard outlay per acre, by any one contemplating similar
     improvement, when almost any farmer can accomplish it equally well
     at far less cost. My unnecessary expenditures will not have been in
     vain, if they serve as a finger-post to point others in a
     profitable way.

     My land had upon its surface, and mingled in its super soil, a
     large quantity of stones, various in size, from the huge boulders,
     requiring several blasts of powder to reduce them to movable size,
     to the rubble stones which were shoveled from the cart into the
     drains. To make clean fields all these had to be removed, besides
     the many "heaps" which had been accumulated by the industry of my
     predecessors. A tile-drain needs no addition of stone above the
     pipe; indeed, the stone may be a positive injury, as harboring
     field vermin, or, if allowed to come within two feet of the
     surface, as obstructing deep tillage, and favoring the access of
     particles of soil upon or into the tile with the rapid access of
     water which they promote. Carefully placed to the depth of six or
     eight inches in a four-foot drain, quite small stones are, perhaps,
     useful, and they certainly facilitate the drawing of water from the
     surface. Such was, and still is, with many, the prescribed method
     of best drainage in Scotland, and some parts of England. The
     increased cost of adding the stone above the tile is obvious; and
     when the width of that drain is enlarged to receive them, the cost
     is materially enhanced. Yet such has been my practice, at first,
     under the impression of its necessity, and all the time from a
     desire to put to use, and out of sight, the small stones with which
     I was favored in such abundance. The entire cost of moving, and
     bringing more than 2,500 heavy loads of stone, is included in the
     cost of drains, as set down for the 1,745 rods.

     Including this part of expense, which is never _necessary_ with
     tile, and cannot be incurred in plain clay soils, or clay loams
     free of stones, the last 700 rods cost an average of 97 cents per
     rod completed. This includes the largest mains; of which, one of 73
     rods was opened four feet wide at bottom of the trench, of which
     the channel capacity is 18 × 18 = 324 square inches, and others 110
     rods of three and one-half and three feet width at bottom, all
     these mains being laid entirely with stone. The remainder of the
     700 rods was laid with two-inch tile, which cost at the farm
     eighteen dollars per 1,000. These last were opened four rods apart,
     and lay dry about seventeen acres, at a cost, including the mains,
     of $678, or $40 per acre. In this is included every day's labor of
     man and beast, and all the incidental expenses, nothing being
     contributed by the farm, which is under lease.

     I infer that an intelligent farmer, beginning aright, and availing
     himself of the use of team and farm labor, when they can best be
     spared from other work--as in the dry season, after haying--or
     paying fair prices for digging his ditches only, and doing the rest
     of the work from the farm, can drain thoroughly at a cost of $20
     per acre, drains four rods apart, and four feet deep; or at $25 per
     acre, forty feet apart, and three feet nine inches deep.

     My subsoil is very hard, requiring constant use of the pick, and
     sharpening of the picks every day, so that the labor of loosening
     the earth was one-third or one-half more than the throwing out with
     a shovel. The price paid per rod, for opening only, to the depth of
     three and a half feet (or, perhaps, three and three-quarters
     average,) of a width for laying tile, was 25 cents per rod. At this
     price, the industrious men, skillful with tools, earned $1.12 to
     $1.25 per day, besides board; and they threw out one-third more
     earth than was really necessary, for "room to work" as they said.
     _But they labored hard, 14 hours per day._ The same men, working in
     a soil free from stones, and an easier subsoil, would, in the same
     time, open from 50 to 100 per cent. more length of ditch.

     The greater part of these drains were laid four rods apart. When
     first trying this distance upon a field, of which the soil was
     called "springy and cold," and was always too wet in the Spring and
     early Summer for plowing, a partial, rather than "thorough"
     drainage was attempted, with the design, at some future day, to lay
     intermediate drains. The execution of that design may yet appear
     expedient, although the condition of soil already obtained, is
     satisfactory beyond expectation.

     Owing to the excess of water that saturated the soil in Spring and
     Fall, the former proprietors of the farm had not attempted the
     cultivation of the field alluded to, for many years. Originally
     producing heavy crops of hay, it had been mowed for thirty years or
     more, and was a good specimen of "exhausted land," yielding
     one-half or three-fourths of a ton of hay per acre. This field is
     designated in the plan, as the "barley field, 1858," lies
     south-west of the dwelling-house, and contains nearly six acres.
     Its northerly half, being the lower end of the field, was drained
     in 1855, having been Summer-plowed, and sowed with buckwheat, which
     was turned under, when in flower, as a fallow crop. The other half
     was drained in 1856; plowed and subsoiled the same Fall. In 1857,
     nearly the whole field was planted with roots--potatoes, rutabagas,
     mangolds, carrots, English turnips, &c.--and one acre in corn. For
     these crops, fair dressings of manure were applied--say ten or
     twelve cartloads of barn-manure plowed in, and one hundred pounds
     of either guano or bone-dust harrowed in, or strewed in the drill,
     for each acre; about fifteen loads per acre of seasoned muck or
     peat were also plowed in. There was a good yield of all the roots;
     for the corn, the season was unfavorable. Last Spring, a light
     dressing of manure, but all that we could afford, was applied, the
     whole well ploughed, harrowed, seeded to grass with barley,
     harrowed, and rolled. The barley was taken off last week; and, from
     the five and three-quarter acres, seventeen heavy loads were hauled
     into the barn, each estimated to exceed a ton in weight. The grain
     from a measured acre was put apart to be separately threshed, and I
     will advise of its yield when ascertained.[A] This was said, by the
     many farmers who saw it, including some from the Western States,
     to be the "handsomest field of grain" they had ever seen. The young
     grass looks well; and I hope, next Summer, to report a good cut of
     "hay from drained land."

     [Footnote A: This was threshed about the middle of November, and
     yielded "51 bushels, round measure." The entire field averaged 45
     bushels per acre.]

     Last Winter, there were no snows to cover the ground for sleighing
     until March; and, lying uncovered, our fields were all frozen to an
     unusual depth. But, _our drains did not cease to run through the
     Winter_. And Mr. O. W. Straw, who works the farm, and was requested
     to note the facts accurately, wrote to me this Spring, "the frost
     came out of the drained land about one week first" (that is,
     earlier than from the undrained land adjacent); and, "in regard to
     working condition, the drained land was in advance of the
     undrained, ten days, at least." The absence of snow permitting this
     unusual depth of frost, had caused a rare equality of condition the
     last Spring, because, until the frost was out, the drains would not
     draw surface-water. Usually, when early snows have fallen to
     protect the ground, and it remains covered through the Winter, the
     frost goes off with the snow, _or earlier_, and, within a few days,
     the land becomes in good condition for plowing--quite two weeks
     earlier than the driest of my undrained fields, or any others in
     the vicinity.

     These remarks apply to land in which the drains are four rods
     apart. The farm lies with an inclination northerly and easterly,
     the fall varying from 1 in 33 to 1 in 8; that in most of the drains
     laid four rods apart, being about 1 in 25. The drains in the
     "barley field" fall 1 in 27, average, all affording a rapid run of
     water, which, from the mode of construction, and subsequent
     subsoiling, finds ready access to the drain-channels. Hence, we
     never observe running water upon the surface of any of our drained
     lands, either during the heaviest rains, or when snows are melting,
     and the wasteful "washing" from the surface that formerly injured
     our plowed grounds, has ceased.

     It is fair to suppose that it is the considerable descent which
     renders the drains so effectual at four rods apart; and that where
     there is but slight fall, other circumstances being the same, it
     would be necessary to lay drains much nearer, for equal service.

     The results of one man's experiments, or practice, whether of
     success or failure, should not be conclusive to another, unless all
     the circumstances are identical. These are ever varying from one
     farm to another; and only a right understanding of the natural laws
     or principles brought into use, can determine what is best in each
     case. Therefore, a description of the methods I have used, or any
     detailed suggestions I may give, as the result of experience, would
     not be worth much, unless tested by the well-ascertained rules
     applicable to them, which men of science and skill have adopted
     and proved, by the immensely extended draining operations in Great
     Britain, and those begun in this country. These are now given in
     elaborate treatises, and quoted in agricultural journals. But they
     should be made familiar to every farmer, in all their practical
     details, and with methods suited to our country, where labor is
     dear and land cheap, as contrasted with the reversed conditions in
     England, where the practice of "thorough-draining" has so generally
     obtained, and has so largely improved the conditions of both
     landlord and tenant. Your book will do this, and thus do a great
     good; for draining will greatly enlarge the productive capacity of
     our land, and, consequently, its value, while it will render labor
     more effective and more remunerative to the employer and the

     The fact of increased production from a given quantity of land, by
     draining, being ascertained beyond question, and the measure of
     that increase, at its minimum, being more than the interest at six
     per cent. upon the sum required to effect it--even at $50 per
     acre--the question of expediency is answered. To the owner of
     tillage lands there is no other such safe, sure, and profitable
     investment for his money. He lodges it in a bank that will never
     suspend payments, and from which better than six per cent. dividend
     can be received annually.

                         Very truly, yours,                B. F. NOURSE.
     Hon. H. F. FRENCH, Exeter, N. H.


                                               BOSTON, February 1, 1859.

     DEAR SIR:--The plan for a system of thorough drainage, a copy of
     which we send you herewith, was executed for Mr. I. P. Rand, of

     An outfall was obtained, at the expense of considerable labor, by
     deepening the Roxbury and Dorchester Brook for a distance of nearly
     a quarter of a mile, about four hundred feet of which was through a
     rocky bottom, which required some blasting. The fall thus obtained
     was only about two inches in the whole distance.

     The fall which can be obtained for the main drain is less than two
     inches per hundred feet, but the lateral drains entering into the
     main, will have a fall varying from two inches to a foot per

     The contour lines, or lines traced along the ground, intersecting
     points on an equal level, are drawn on this plan, showing a fall of
     four-tenths of a foot, each line being in every part four-tenths of
     a foot lower than the line above it. Where the lines are near
     together, the fall is greater, as a less horizontal distance is
     passed over before reaching a point which is four-tenths lower than
     the line above.

     [Illustration: Thorough Drainage BY SHEDD & EDSON. AGR'L ENG'S
     BOSTON, 1859]

     It will be seen by the plan, that the fall in the line occupied by
     the main drain is very slight, while the side drains have a fall
     much greater.

     The lateral drains are run in the line of steepest descent, which
     is, of course, at right angles to the general direction of the
     contour lines.

     The water from the entire system is collected, and escapes at one
     outlet into the brook.

     A peep hole is placed at the intersection of the sub-main drain
     with the main, which commands about one-half the entire area--the
     other, half is commanded by the outlet.

     Two-inch tile will be laid in the lateral drains, and three, four,
     and five-inch in the sub-main and main.

     It is quite indispensable, to the successful execution of a plan of
     drainage on land so level as this, that careful measurements be
     made on the ground with an engineer's level, and such a
     representation of its surface projected as will show to the eye at
     a glance what all the natural inclinations are. The work can then
     be laid out with ease in the best position, and executed in a
     systematic manner. The time and labor which is devoted to such an
     examination of the ground is well spent, and, with the knowledge
     gained by it, the work can be carried on with such economy as to
     save the original cost of the examination many times over.

     Very truly, yours,
                                                        SHEDD & EDSON
     Hon. H. F. FRENCH, Exeter, N. H.


     The drained field represented in the plan (Fig. 102), contains
     about eight acres. I purchased it in 1846. The upper part of it is
     sand, with underlying clay at depths of from four to ten feet. The
     field slopes towards the river, and, on the slope, the clay strata
     coming out to the surface, naturally bring out the water, so that
     the side hill was so wet as to produce cranberries--quite too wet
     for any hoed crop. At the foot of the hill the soil is a stiff
     clay, with veins of sand and gravel. Through the centre was a wet
     ravine, which served as a natural outlet for the springs, and which
     was so full of black alders as to make an excellent cover for
     woodcock. Until the land was drained, this ravine was impassable in
     the hay season even, except by a bridge which I built across it.
     Now it may be crossed at any season and at any point.

     I first attempted to drain the wettest parts with brush drains,
     running them into the wet places merely, and succeeded in drying
     the land sufficiently to afford good crops of hay. I laid one
     brush-drain across the brow of the hill, five feet deep, hoping to
     cut off all the water, which I supposed ran along upon the surface
     of the clay. This dried the land for a few rods, but the water
     still ruined the lower parts of the field, and the drain produced
     very little effect upon the land above it. In 1856, finding my
     brush drains quite insufficient, I thorough-drained the side-hill
     on the lower part of the plan at the reader's left hand, at fifty
     feet distances, up and down the slope, at an average of about four
     feet depth, going five feet deep on the brow of the hill, to cut
     through the brush-drain. I used two-inch sole-tiles for minors, and
     three-inch for the main.

     The effect was instantaneous. The land which, in the Spring of
     1856, had been so wet that it could not, even though partially
     drained with brush-drains, be planted till the 5th of June, was, in
     1857, ready to work as soon as the snow was off. My farm journal
     says, under date of April 6th, "plowed drained land with double
     plow two days after a heavy storm--dry enough." I spent that Summer
     in Europe. The land was planted with corn, which produced a heavy
     crop. I find an entry in my journal, on my return, "My drained land
     has been in good condition--neither too wet nor too dry--all

     In the Fall of 1857, I laid about 170 rods in other parts of the
     field, at similar depths and distances, and in 1858 completed the
     upper part, on which is an orchard of apple trees. A part of this
     orchard was originally so wet as to kill the trees the first year,
     but by brush-drains I dried it enough to keep the next set alive.
     There was no water visible at the surface, and the land was dry
     enough for corn and potatoes; still the trees looked badly, and
     many were winter-killed. I had learned the formation of the earth
     about my premises, of which I had at first no adequate conception,
     and was satisfied that no fruit tree could flourish with its feet
     in cold water, even in Winter. All nursery-men and fruit-growers
     agree, that land must be well drained for fruit. I therefore laid
     four-foot tile drains between the rows of trees, in this apparently
     dry sand. We found abundance of water, in the driest season, at
     four feet, and it has never ceased to flow copiously.

     I measured accurately the discharge of water from the main which
     receives the drainage of about one and a half acres of the orchard,
     at a time when it gave, what seemed to me an average quantity for
     the Winter months, when the earth was frozen solid, and found it to
     be about 480 barrels per day! The estimate was made by holding a
     bucket, which contained ten quarts, under the outlet, when it was
     found that it would fill in fifteen seconds, equal to ten gallons
     per minute; and six hundred gallons, or twenty barrels per hour,
     and four hundred and eighty barrels per day.

     I have seen the same drain discharge at least four times that
     quantity, at some times! The peep-holes give opportunity for
     inspection, and I find the result to be, that the water-table is
     kept down four feet below the surface at all times, except for a
     day or two after severe rain-storms.

     There is an apparent want of system in this plan, partly to be
     attributed to my desire to conform somewhat to the line of the
     fences, and partly to the conformation of the land, which is quite
     uneven. At several points near the ravine, springs broke out,
     apparently from deep fountains, and short drains were run into
     them, to keep them below the surface.

     The general result has been, to convert wet land into early warm
     soil, fit for a garden, to render my place more dry and healthful,
     and to illustrate for the good of the community the entire
     efficiency of tile-drainage. The cost of this work throughout, I
     estimate at fifty cents per rod, reckoning labor at $1 per day, and
     tiles at $12 per thousand, and all the work by hand-tools. I think
     in a few years, we may do the same work at one-half this cost.
     Further views on this point are given in the chapter on the "Cost
     of Drainage."

After our work was in press, we received from Mr. William Boyle, Farmer
at the Albert Model Farm in Ireland, the paper which is given below,
kindly sent in reply to a series of questions proposed by the author.
The Albert Model Farm is one of the Government institutions for the
promotion of agriculture, by the education of young men in the science
and the practice of farming; and from what was apparent, by a single
day's examination of the establishment in our visit to it in August,
1857, we are satisfied of its entire success. The crops then growing
were equal, if not superior, to any we have seen in any country. Much of
the land covered by those crops is drained land; and having confidence
that the true principles of drainage for that country must be taught and
practiced at this institution, we thought it might be instructive, as
well as interesting to the farmers of America, to give them the means of
comparison between the system there approved, and those others which we
have described.

Had the paper been sooner received, we should have referred to it
earlier in our book; yet coming as it does, after our work was mostly in
type, we confess to some feeling of satisfaction, at the substantial
coincidence of views entertained at the Albert Model Farm, with our own
humble teachings. With many thanks to Mr. Boyle for his valuable letter,
which we commend to our readers as a reliable exposition of the most
approved principles of land-draining for Ireland, we give the paper

                                 ALBERT MODEL FARM, Glasnevin, Dublin,
                                                        January 31, 1859.

     To the Hon. HENRY F. FRENCH, Exeter, N. H.:

     SIR:--Your queries on land-drainage have been too long unanswered.
     I have now great pleasure in sending you, herewith, my views on the
     points noted. * * *

     Pray excuse me for the delay in writing. I am, sir,

                Your obliged and obedient servant,         WILLIAM BOYLE.


     _Introductory observations._ Ireland contains close on to
     twenty-one millions of acres, thirteen and a half millions of which
     were returned as "arable land," in 1841. By "Arterial" and
     thorough-drainage, &c., effected through loans granted by
     government, the extent of arable land has been increased to fifteen
     and a half millions of acres. The "Board of Works" has the
     management of the funds granted for drainage and land improvements
     generally, and competent inspectors are appointed to see that the
     works are properly executed. The proprietor, or farmer, who obtains
     a loan may, if competent, claim and obtain the appointment of
     overseer on his own property, and thus have an opportunity of
     economically expending the sum which he will have to repay
     (principal and interest) by twenty-two installments. The average
     cost of thorough-drainage, under the Board of Works, has been about
     £5 per statute acre. In 1847, when government granted the first
     loan for land-drainage, tiles were not so easily obtained as at
     present, nor was tile-drainage well understood in this country; and
     the greater part of the drains then made--and for some years
     after--were either sewered with stones, formed into a conduit of
     various dimensions, and covered over with finely-broken stones, or
     the latter were filled into the bottom of the drain, to about one
     foot in depth, as recommended by Smith, of Deanston. The
     dimensions for minor drains, sewered with stones, were, usually,
     three and a half feet deep, fifteen inches wide at top, and three
     to four inches wide at bottom (distance apart being twenty-one
     feet); and the overseer carried about with him a wooden gauge, of a
     size to correspond, so that the workmen could see at a glance what
     they had to do. These drains are reported to have given general
     satisfaction; and they were cheaply made, as the stones were to be
     had in great abundance in almost every field. On _new_ land,
     trenching was sometimes carried on simultaneously with the
     drainage; and it very often happened that the removal of the stones
     thus brought to the surface, was very expensive; but they were
     turned to profitable account in sewering drains and building
     substantial fences. In almost every case the drains were made in
     the direction of the greatest inclination, or fall of the land; and
     this is the practice followed throughout the country. Some
     exceptions occur on _hill-sides_, where I have seen the drains laid
     off at an acute angle with the line of inclination. It is not
     necessary that I should explain the scientific reasons for draining
     in the direction of the fall of the land, as that point has been
     fully treated of, and well illustrated, in your article already
     referred to. I shall now pass on to the Queries.

     [Illustration: Thorough Drainage BY HENRY F. FRENCH. EXETER N.H.]

     _Depth of drains, and distance apart._ There is still a great
     diversity of opinion on these points, and particularly in reference
     to the drainage of stiff clay soils; some of the most intelligent
     and practical farmers in this country hold to the opinion that, on
     such soils, the maximum depth should not exceed three feet, and the
     distance apart sixteen to twenty feet. On clay loams, having a
     subsoil more or less free, the general practice is, to make the
     drains three and a half to four feet deep, and at twenty-one to
     thirty feet apart. On lighter soils, having a free subsoil, four
     feet deep and forty feet apart are the usual limitations. This farm
     may be taken as a fair average of the land in Ireland, as a test
     for drainage; the soil is a deep clay loam; the subsoil a compact
     mixture of strong clay and calcareous gravel, almost free from
     stones. Thirty miles of drains have been made on the farm, the
     least distance apart being twenty-one feet, and the greatest
     distance thirty feet; the depth in every case, three and a half to
     four feet for minor drains. This drainage has given the greatest
     satisfaction; for although the greatest part of the work was
     performed by the Agricultural pupils, in training here, we have not
     had occasion to re-make a single drain, except in one instance,
     where the tiles got choked, and which I shall explain hereafter.

     _Tiles: Size, Shape, Draining, Capacity, &c._ We use circular pipe
     tiles, of inch and a half bore, for all parallel drains whose
     length does not exceed one hundred yards, and two-inch pipes for
     any additional length up to one hundred and fifty yards, the
     greatest length, in my opinion, a parallel drain should reach
     before discharging into a main or sub-main drain. We do not find it
     necessary to use collars on this farm, as we have _firm_ ground to
     place the tiles on, and we can cut the drain to fit the tiles
     exactly. As regards the size of tiles for main and sub-main drains,
     _that_ can only be regulated by the person in charge of the
     drainage at any particular place, after seeing the land opened up
     and the minor drains discharging. As a general rule, a circular
     pipe of three inches internal diameter will discharge the
     _ordinary_ drainage of five or six statute acres, and give
     sufficient space for the circulation of air. It should be observed,
     however, that this applies to a district where the annual rain-fall
     is from twenty-six to thirty inches, that of all Ireland being
     about thirty-five inches; besides, we have not the immense falls of
     rain in a _few hours_ that occur in other countries. All these
     points should be carefully considered in estimating the water-way
     for drainage. I have said that collars are not used with the tiles
     on this farm, as the bottom of the drains is quite firm and even;
     but, where the bed for the tile is soft, and the subsoil is of a
     _shifting_ nature, then collars should be used in every case.
     Collars cost about half the price of tiles, which they are made to
     connect, so that the use of them adds one-third to the expense of
     the sewering material; and, as I have already pointed out, I think
     it quite unnecessary to use them where the subsoil is _firm_, and
     where the drain can be bottomed to _fit the tile_. Where large
     pipes are not to be had conveniently for sewering main or
     sub-drains, I find a proportional number of pipes of lesser
     diameter to answer perfectly. It is very desirable to provide
     _branch pipes_ for connecting the minor with the main drains. The
     branch should be socketed to receive the end of the last tile in
     the minor drain, and the point of attachment to the main pipe may
     be on the top or on the side of the latter. If the branch be made
     to lead the water into the side of the main pipe, then it should
     join the latter at an acute angle, that both streams may meet with
     the least possible opposition of forces.

     _Fall necessary in Tile Drainage._ I consider one foot in one
     hundred yards the _least_ fall to work upon with safety.

     _Securing Outlets._ All the outlets from main-drains should be well
     secured against the intrusion of vermin, by a wrought-iron grating,
     built in mason-work. The water may flow into a stone trough
     provided with an overflow-pipe, by which the quantity discharged
     may be ascertained at any time, so as to compare the drainage
     before and after rain, &c.

     _Traps, or Silt Ponds._ Where extensive drainage is carried on in
     low-lying districts, and the principal outlet at a considerable
     distance, it may be found necessary to have traps at several points
     where the silt from the tiles will be kept. These traps may be of
     cast-iron, or mason-work, cemented; and provision should be made,
     by which they can be cleaned out and examined regularly--the
     drainage at these periods also undergoing inspection at the
     different traps.

     _Plow-Draining._ We have no draining-plows in use in Ireland, that
     I know of; the common plow is sometimes used for marking off the
     drains, cutting the sides, and throwing out the earth to a
     considerable depth, thereby lessening the manual labor
     considerably. Efforts have been made in England to produce an
     efficient implement of this description; but it would appear there
     is ample room for an inventive Jonathan to walk in for a profitable
     patent in this department, and thus add another to the many
     valuable ones brought out in your great country.

     _Case of Obstruction in Tiles._ Some years since, one of the
     principal main-drains on this farm was observed not discharging the
     water freely, as it hitherto had done, after a heavy fall of rain;
     and the land adjoining it showed unmistakable signs of wetness. The
     drain was opened, and traced to the point of obstruction, which was
     found to be convenient to a _small poplar tree_, the rootlets of
     which made their way into the tiles, at the depth of five and a
     half feet, and completely filled them, in the direction of the
     stream, for several yards. We have some of the tiles (horse-shoe)
     in our museum here, as they were then lifted from the drain,
     showing clearly the formidable nature of the obstruction. Another
     serious case of obstruction has come to my knowledge, occasioned by
     frogs or toads getting into the tiles of the main-drain in large
     numbers, on account of the outlet being insufficiently protected.
     In this case, a large expenditure had to be incurred, to repair the
     damage done.

     I have not observed any case of obstruction from the roots of our
     cultivated plants. It has been said by some that the rootlets of
     mangold will reach the drains under them; and, particularly, where
     the drains contain most water in rapid motion. I took up the tiles
     from a drain on this farm, in '54, which had been laid down (by a
     former occupier), about the year '44, at a depth not exceeding
     two-and-a-half feet, and not one of these was obstructed in the
     least degree, although parsnips, carrots, cabbages, mangolds, &c.,
     had been grown on this field. Obstructions may occur through the
     agency of _mineral_ springs; but very few cases of this nature are
     met with, at least in this country. I would anticipate this class
     of obstruction, if from the nature of the land there was reason to
     expect it, by increasing the fall in the drains and having _traps_
     more frequent, where the main outlets are at a distance to render
     them necessary. In my opinion, the roots of trees are the great
     intruders to be guarded against, and more particularly the
     _soft_-wooded sorts, such as poplars, willows, alders, &c. The
     distance of a drain from a tree ought always to be equal to the
     height of the latter.

     _Tiles flattening in the drying process._ With this subject, I am
     not practically familiar. In most tile-works, the tiles, after
     passing through the moulding-machine, are placed horizontally on
     shelves, which rise one above another to any convenient height, on
     which the tiles are dried by means of heated flues which traverse
     the sheds where the work is carried on; or they are allowed to dry
     without artificial heat. I prefer the tiles prepared by the latter
     method, as, if sufficient time be given them to be well dried, they
     will burn more equally, and be more durable. The tiles will flatten
     more or less for the first day or two on the shelves, after which
     they are _rolled_. This is done by boys (who are provided with
     pieces of wood of a diameter equal to the bore of the tile when
     made), who very soon learn to get over a large number daily. The
     "roller" should have a shouldered handle attached, the whole
     thickness of which should not be greater than that of the tile. The
     _shoulder_ is necessary to make the _ends_ of the tiles even, that
     there may be no _very open_ joints when they are placed in a drain.
     Once rolled, the tiles are not likely to flatten again, if the
     operation be performed at the proper time.

     As good tiles as I ever saw were dried in a different way, and not
     rolled at all. As they were taken from the machine--six at a
     time--each carrier passed off with his tray, and placed them _on
     end_ carefully, upon an _even floor_. When five or six rows of
     tiles were thus placed, the whole length of the drying-house, a
     board was set on edge to keep them from falling to one side; then
     followed five or six other rows of tiles, and so on, till the
     drying-ground was filled.

     This was the plan adopted in a tilery near Dublin, some years ago.
     It is only a few days since I examined some of the tiles made at
     these works, which had been taken from a drain, where they had been
     in use for nine years; and the _clear ringing sound_ produced by
     striking them against each other, showed what little effect that
     length of time produced upon them, and how well they had been

     _Cost of Tiles._ We have recently paid at the works--

     For 1-1/2 inch pipes   17s. 6d. per thousand.
      "  2         "        25s.           "
      "  3         "        45s.           "

     Each tile one foot in length, and the one and one-half-inch pipes
     weighing 16 cwt. per thousand.

     One of the great difficulties in connection with tile-making is, in
     many districts, to procure clay sufficiently free from lime. Tiles
     are very often sold by sample, sent a considerable distance, and it
     becomes necessary to test them, which we do (for
     lime) by placing them in water for a night; and, if lime is present
     in the tile, it will, of course, swell out, and break the latter,
     or leave it in a riddled state.

     I have now endeavored to answer the queries in your postscript, and
     I have carefully avoided enlarging on some points in them with
     which your readers are already familiar. If I shall have thrown a
     single ray of additional light on this subject across the Atlantic,
     I shall be amply repaid for any attention I have given to
     thorough-drainage during the past twelve years.

     I should here observe that I mislaid amongst my papers the portion
     of your letter containing the queries (it was a separate sheet),
     and it has not as yet turned up, so that I had to depend on a
     rather treacherous memory to keep the queries in my mind's eye. It
     is highly probable, therefore, that I have overlooked some of them.
     This circumstance was the chief cause of the delay in writing.

     You are quite at liberty to make any use you please of this



Absorption of moisture; 303, 304, 322
   "    Fertilizing substances; 268

Aeration; 269, 276

Albert Model Farm; 375

American experiments; 367

Anderson, J. F.; 112

Arrangement of drains; 173

Artesian Wells; 83

Attraction, adhesive; 301
     "      capillary; 302
     "      of soils for vapor; 304

Auger, Elkington's; 35, 246

Bache, Prof.; 65

Back water; 181

Barn cellar; 356-359

Bergen, Mr.; 199

Birmingham spades; 240

Bletonism; 36

Blodgett, Lorin; 51, 59

Bligh, Captain; 24, 27

Bogs; 91

Boning-rod; 234

Bore, form of; 129

Boring; 35, 365

Boring tools; 35, 346

Boyle, Wm.; 375

Branch pipes; 196, 378

Bricks, draining; 121, 144
        "         cost of; 204

Brush drains; 104, 105

Capacity of pipes; 131, 132, 134, 201

Capillary attraction; 302

Cellars, drainage of; 351-359

Challoner's Level; 235

Clay soil; 167, 329

Clays, drainage of; 322-332

Clays, cracking of; 275, 324-331

Collars; 47, 126, 127, 128, 219, 316, 320, 378

Cold from evaporation; 63, 272

Cost of drainage; 211-224, 309, 376
    "   tiles; 201-205, 381

Count Rumford; 272, 273, 287

_Country Gentleman_; 16, 198, 329

Crisp, Thomas; 203

Custis, G. W. P.; 18

Dams; 333, 347

Deanston system; 37

Delafield; 46, 76, 168

Denton, J. Bailey; 21, 161
    "   Letter from; 200

Depth of drains; 164-173, 326, 328, 377

Directions how to lay drains; 252-258

Dew, cause of; 305
 "   increased by drainage; 284, 306
 "   imparts warmth; 307

Dew-point; 65, 66, 306

Dickinson, A. B.; 108

Direction of drains; 146-155

Distance       "   ; 155-164, 377

Ditch diggers; 247-251

Drainage acts; 349
    "    companies; 333
    "    effects of; 258-276
    "    methods of; 99-120
    "    water of; 60, 61, 339

Drainage, will it pay? 95

Drain bricks; 121, 144

Drains of brush; 104
    "    larch tubes; 111
    "    plug; 106
    "    of poles; 113
    "    rails; 112
    "    stones; 114-119
    "    wedge; 110
    "    run before rain; 269, 270

Drought, drains prevent; 281-286, 300

Dry Wells; 197, 198

Durability of drains; 141-145

Elkington's system; 27, 33, 240, 365

Embankment; 18

Emerson, R. W.; 15, 23

Engineering; 163, 213

England; 19, 340
   "     wet land in; 89

English tools; 243

Evaporation; 48, 61, 62, 293-297
     "       cold from; 63, 272, 293-297
     "       from land; 62, 69, 72
     "         "  water; 62, 69, 73

Excavation; 165
     "      cost of; 165, 201, 214
     "      table of; 216

Experiments, American; 367, 376

Factory reservoirs; 341-343

Fall in drains; 174, 378

Fences; 211, 346

Filtration; 41, 60, 61

Filtration tables of; 70, 71

Fitzherbert; 23

Flat-bottomed tiles; 129

Flowage, effects of; 333, 341, 343, 346

Flushing drains; 186

Freezing out; 75, 262
   "     of pipes; 171

French's plan; 373

Friction of water; 131, 133

Frost; 67, 143, 170, 172, 297, 299

Fruit trees; 298, 374

Furrows; 195

Gauge; 246

Germination; 276-281

Gillis, Lieut.; 65

Gisborne; 122, 126

Gravitation; 131

Grading drains; 233

Gratings at outlets; 183

Great Britain; 89
      "        wet lands in; 89

Greeley, Horace; 88

Haarlaem, Lake; 19

Headers; 153, 154

Heat in wet land; 288-290
   "    water; 272, 273

Hobbs, Doctor; 51, 54, 56

Holyoke, Doctor; 62

Horse-shoe tiles; 124

Implements; 225, 252

Indications of moisture; 93

Injury by drainage; 308, 313

Ireland, drainage in; 376

Irrigation; 14

Irish spade; 238

Johnson, B. P.; 17

Johnston, John; 46, 168, 256, 262, 328, 329

Johnstone; 28, 31, 120

Joints, how covered; 255
   "    spaces at; 134, 140

Junction of drains; 195, 196

Keythorpe system; 40

Klippart, J. H.; 16

Land Drainage Companies; 349

Larch tubes; 111

Lardner, Dr.; 270

Laying out drains; 213, 253

Laying tiles; 219, 252-258

Legal rights to water; 85, 86, 346

Legislation; 340

Levelling instruments; 229-235

Lincolnshire fens; 19, 310

Lines, use of; 233, 253

Lord Lincoln's Act; 347

Madden, Doctor; 276

Mains, position and size of; 190-194

Mangolds, obstruction by; 316, 317, 379

Mapes, Prof.; 16, 167

Massachusetts, laws; 347

Mechi, Sheriff; 260, 339

Methods of drainage; 99

Mice; 104, 116, 315

Mill dams; 340-344

Mill streams; 89, 333

Minors; 194

Moisture, sources of; 78

Moles; 104, 116

Mole drains; 107

Mole Plow; 108

Moon, influence of; 306

Morris, Edward; 60

Nash, Prof.; 199

Nene River; 337

New York Park; 47, 219

Nourse, B. F.; 285, 299, 367
   "    statement and plan of; 195, 367, 372

Obstruction of drains; 313-320
     "      by sand; 313, 321
     "      by frogs, &c.; 183, 315, 379
     "      per-oxide of iron; 317
     "      roots; 315, 316, 379
     "      filling at joints; 319

Open ditches; 99, 263
     "        objections to; 101, 102

Opening ditches; 252

Outfalls; 345

Outlets; 176-183, 219, 252, 257, 315, 378

Over-draining peats; 309, 366

Parkes, Josiah; 25, 38, 40, 128

Paul's ditcher; 250

Peat tiles; 113

Peats, over-draining of; 309, 366

Peep-holes; 187, 188, 321, 373

Per-oxide of iron; 317

Pettibone, J. S.; 329

Picks; 245

Pipes; 47, 122, 123, 144
  "    capacity of; 131-138, 159, 191, 193
  "    cost in England; 201, 204
  "       "    United States; 202-205, 218
  "    position of; 190-194

Pipe layer; 244, 245

Plans of drains; 195, 372, 377
  "   importance of; 161

Plow, use of; 253, 379

Plow, Fowler's drain; 247, 248
  "   Shanghae; 109
  Paul's ditcher; 250
  Routt's; 251

Plug drains; 107

Pole drain; 113

Pratt's Ditch digger; 248, 249

Pressure of water; 131, 132, 331, 332, 356
    "    water of; 84

Process of draining; 252-258

Puddling; 198, 266, 323

Pulverization; 260, 282, 299

Rain; 48, 158, 159, 284

Rain-fall; 50, 158, 378

Rain-fall, tables of; 53-60, 70-73

Relief pipes; 184, 186

Reservoirs; 341, 343

Ridge and furrow; 195

Rolling pipes; 205, 380

Roots, length of; 258, 259, 283
  "    obstruction by; 315, 316, 379

Round pipes; 47, 122

Rumford, Count; 272, 273, 287

Ruffin, Edmund, Esq.; 29, 364

Rye and Derwent; 344

Saturation; 66

Scoops; 244

Screens at outlets; 183

Season lengthened; 261

Shallow drains; 168

Shanghae plow; 109

Shedd and Edson; 21, 51, 372

Shoulder drain; 110

Shovels; 236, 237

Silt basin; 186, 379

Sinkholes; 198

Size of tiles; 190, 201, 377

Smith, of Deanston; 26, 37

Snow, fall of; 59

Sole-tile; 125

Spades; 235, 236, 240-242

Spirit level; 230

Springs; 78-83
   "     drainage of; 34
   "     run before rain; 270-271
   "     how to preserve; 189

Staff and target; 231

Stagnant water; 93

Stone drains; 114-119, 377
      "       cost of; 114, 222

Stones above tiles; 118

Streams affected by drainage; 333-340

Subsoil plow; 169

Subsoiler, Marcus and Co.'s; 107

Surface washing prevented; 261

Swallow-holes; 197, 198

Swamps; 91, 360
  "     drainage of; 360-363

Swamp-lands; 17

Swan, R. J.; 168

System, importance of; 160, 173

Tables of evaporation; 72, 73
    "     excavation; 216
    "     filtration; 70, 71
    "     rain-fall; 53-59, 71-73
    "     of tiles to acre; 220
    "     number of rods; 220
    "     capacity of pipes; 135-138

Talpa; 23

Temperature; 67, 189, 280, 287-300
     "       underground; 187, 288, 291
     "       for vegetation; 271

Thermometer, wet and dry; 64, 65

Thomas, J. J.; 229

Tile-drainage; 120

Tiles, cost in England; 201, 212
  "       "    United States; 201-205
  "    forms of; 122-130
  "    length of; 221
  "    size of; 130-138
  "    weight of; 219
  "    number to the acre; 220

Tile machines; 46, 202-210

Tile-works; 47, 121

Tools; 225-246

Tops and bottoms; 140, 319, 379

Traps; 185, 186, 379, 380

Velocity of water; 131

Vermin; 104

Virginia; 18, 364

Warder, Doctor; 346

Water, how it enters; 138, 314, 320
  "    stagnant; 93
  "    of drainage, uses of; 189, 339
  "    velocity of;  131

Water passage; 129

Water-line; 51, 139

Water-powers; 333, 335, 341-345

Water of pressure; 84, 161

Water, pressure of; 84, 140, 141
  "    rights in; 85, 86

Wedge drain; 110, 236

Weight of tiles; 219, 381

Wells, drainage into; 197-199
  "    dried by drains; 85, 366

Well and relief-pipe; 184-186

Well with silt trap; 186

Wharncliffe system; 44

Width of ditches; 215-218, 226

Wright, Gov.; 17

Yeomans, T. G.; 46, 108

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

Summarized here are the corrections applied to the text.

List of Engravings:
  Drain Gauge
    "Gauge" was printed as "Guage"
  H. F. French's Drainage        376
    the page number was printed as "374"

unmindful of their obligations to him
    "unmindful" was printed as "unmindul"

of gauging
the quantity of water traveling along an important drain
    "gauging" was printed as "guaging"

were removed, a pond would remain
    "would" was unreadable in the Original

knowledge of the subject
    "knowledge" was printed as "knowlege"

That drains will long continue to be opened in
this vast country by hand labor
    "vast" was printed as "fast"

the greater permanency
of tiles
    "permanency" was printed as "permanancy"

have come to our knowledge
    "knowledge" was printed as "knowlege"

lay drains deep enough to be beyond the danger of water
bursting in
    "bursting" was printed as "brusting"

people of Great Britain
    "Britain" was printed as "Britian"

The farmer sees his
thousand bushels of potatoes submerged
    "potatoes" was printed as "potatos"

the temperature at the latter
    "the" was printed twice

representing the
cellar referred to
    "cellar" was printed as "celler"

and another outside
    "another" was printed as "auother"

becomes necessary to test them
    "to" was printed twice

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