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Title: Draining for Profit, and Draining for Health
Author: Waring, George E. (George Edwin), 1833-1898
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Draining for Profit, and Draining for Health" ***

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Draining for Profit, and Draining for Health

by George E. Waring

Edition 1, (October 4, 2006)

                                New York
                              245 Broadway.

       Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, by

At the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States for this
                      Southern District of New-York.

                             Lovejoy & Son,
                     Electrotypers and Stereotypers.
                        15 Vandewater street N.Y.

In presenting this book to the public the writer desires to say that,
having in view the great importance of thorough work in land draining, and
believing it advisable to avoid every thing which might be construed into
an approval of half-way measures, he has purposely taken the most radical
view of the whole subject, and has endeavored to emphasize the necessity
for the utmost thoroughness in all draining operations, from the first
staking of the lines to the final filling-in of the ditches.

That it is sometimes necessary, because of limited means, or limited time,
or for other good reasons, to drain partially or imperfectly, or with a
view only to temporary results, is freely acknowledged. In these cases the
occasion for less completeness in the work must determine the extent to
which the directions herein laid down are to be disregarded; but it is
believed that, even in such cases, the principles on which those
directions are founded should be always borne in mind.

NEWPORT, R.I., 1867.


Fig. 1 - A DRY SOIL.
Fig. 2 - A WET SOIL.
Fig. 14 - SOLE TILE.
Fig. 22 - SET OF TOOLS.
Fig. 29 - BONING ROD.
Fig. 41 - FOOT PICK.
Fig. 42 - PUG-MILL.
Fig. 43 - PLATE OF DIES.
Fig. 46 - CLAY-KILN.




Land which requires draining hangs out a sign of its condition, more or
less clear, according to its circumstances, but always unmistakable to the
practiced eye. Sometimes it is the broad banner of standing water, or
dark, wet streaks in plowed land, when all should be dry and of even
color; sometimes only a fluttering rag of distress in curling corn, or
wide-cracking clay, or feeble, spindling, shivering grain, which has
survived a precarious winter, on the ice-stilts that have stretched its
crown above a wet soil; sometimes the quarantine flag of rank growth and
dank miasmatic fogs.

To recognize these indications is the first office of the drainer; the
second, to remove the causes from which they arise.

If a rule could be adopted which would cover the varied circumstances of
different soils, it would be somewhat as follows: All lands, of whatever
texture or kind, in which _the spaces between the particles of soil_ are
filled with water, (whether from rain or from springs,) within less than
four feet of the surface of the ground, except during and _immediately_
after heavy rains, require draining.

Of course, the _particles_ of the soil cannot be made dry, nor should they
be; but, although they should be moist themselves, they should be
surrounded with air, not with water. To illustrate this: suppose that
water be poured into a barrel filled with chips of wood until it runs over
at the top. The spaces between the chips will be filled with water, and
the chips themselves will absorb enough to become thoroughly wet;—this
represents the worst condition of a wet soil. If an opening be made at the
bottom of the barrel, the water which fills the spaces between the chips
will be drawn off, and its place will be taken by air, while the chips
themselves will remain wet from the water which they hold by absorption. A
drain at the bottom of a wet field draws away the water from the free
spaces between its particles, and its place is taken by air, while the
particles hold, by attraction, the moisture necessary to a healthy
condition of the soil.

There are vast areas of land in this country which do not need draining.
The whole range of sands, gravels, light loams and moulds allow water to
pass freely through them, and are sufficiently drained by nature,
_provided_, they are as open at the bottom as throughout the mass. A sieve
filled with gravel will drain perfectly; a basin filled with the same
gravel will not drain at all. More than this, a sieve filled with the
stiffest clay, if not "puddled,"(1) will drain completely, and so will
heavy clay soils on porous and well drained subsoils. Money expended in
draining such lands as do not require the operation is, of course, wasted;
and when there is doubt as to the requirement, tests should be made before
the outlay for so costly work is encountered.

There is, on the other hand, much land which only by thorough-draining can
be rendered profitable for cultivation, or healthful for residence, and
very much more, described as "ordinarily dry land," which draining would
greatly improve in both productive value and salubrity.

*The Surface Indications* of the necessity for draining are various. Those
of actual swamps need no description; those of land in cultivation are
more or less evident at different seasons, and require more or less care
in their examination, according to the circumstances under which they are

If a plowed field show, over a part or the whole of its surface, a
constant appearance of dampness, indicating that, as fast as water is
dried out from its upper parts, more is forced up from below, so that
after a rain it is much longer than other lands in assuming the light
color of dry earth, it unmistakably needs draining.

A pit, sunk to the depth of three or four feet in the earth, may collect
water at its bottom, shortly after a rain;—this is a sure sign of the need
of draining.

All tests of the condition of land as to water,—such as trial pits,
etc.,—should be made, when practicable, during the wet spring weather, or
at a time when the springs and brooks are running full. If there be much
water in the soil, even at such times, it needs draining.

If the water of heavy rains stands for some time on the surface, or if
water collects in the furrow while plowing, draining is necessary to bring
the land to its full fertility.

Other indications may be observed in dry weather;—wide cracks in the soil
are caused by the drying of clays, which, by previous soaking, have been
pasted together; the curling of corn often indicates that in its early
growth it has been prevented, by a wet subsoil, from sending down its
roots below the reach of the sun’s heat, where it would find, even in the
dryest weather, sufficient moisture for a healthy growth; any _severe_
effect of drought, except on poor sands and gravels, may be presumed to
result from the same cause; and a certain wiryness of grass, together with
a mossy or mouldy appearance of the ground, also indicate excessive
moisture during some period of growth. The effects of drought are, of
course, sometimes manifested on soils which do not require draining,—such
as those poor gravels, which, from sheer poverty, do not enable plants to
form vigorous and penetrating roots; but any soil of ordinary richness,
which contains a fair amount of clay, will withstand even a severe
drought, without great injury to its crop, if it is thoroughly drained,
and is kept loose at its surface.

Poor crops are, when the cultivation of the soil is reasonably good,
caused either by inherent poverty of the land, or by too great moisture
during the season of early growth. Which of these causes has operated in a
particular case may be easily known. Manure will correct the difficulty in
the former case, but in the latter there is no real remedy short of such a
system of drainage as will thoroughly relieve the soil of its surplus

*The Sources of the Water* in the soil are various. Either it falls
directly upon the land as rain; rises into it from underlying springs; or
reaches it through, or over, adjacent land.

The _rain water_ belongs to the field on which it falls, and it would be
an advantage if it could all be made to pass down through the first three
or four feet of the soil, and be removed from below. Every drop of it is
freighted with fertilizing matters washed out from the air, and in its
descent through the ground, these are given up for the use of plants; and
it performs other important work among the vegetable and mineral parts of
the soil.

The _spring water_ does not belong to the field,—not a drop of it,—and it
ought not to be allowed to show itself within the reach of the roots of
ordinary plants. It has fallen on other land, and, presumably, has there
done its appointed work, and ought not to be allowed to convert our soil
into a mere outlet passage for its removal.

The _ooze water_,—that which soaks out from adjoining land,—is subject to
all the objections which hold against spring water, and should be rigidly

But the _surface water_ which comes over the surface of higher ground in
the vicinity, should be allowed every opportunity, which is consistent
with good husbandry, to work its slow course over our soil,—not to run in
such streams as will cut away the surface, nor in such quantities as to
make the ground inconveniently wet, but to spread itself in beneficent
irrigation, and to deposit the fertilizing matters which it contains, then
to descend through a well-drained subsoil, to a free outlet.

From whatever source the water comes, it cannot remain stagnant in any
soil without permanent injury to its fertility.

*The Objection to too much Water in the Soil* will be understood from the
following explanation of the process of germination, (sprouting,) and
growth. Other grave reasons why it is injurious will be treated in their
proper order.

The first growth of the embryo plant, (in the seed,) is merely a change of
form and position of the material which the seed itself contains. It
requires none of the elements of the soil, and would, under the same
conditions, take place as well in moist saw-dust as in the richest mold.
The conditions required are, the exclusion of light; a certain degree of
heat; and the presence of atmospheric air, and moisture. Any material
which, without entirely excluding the air, will shade the seed from the
light, yield the necessary amount of moisture, and allow the accumulation
of the requisite heat, will favor the chemical changes which, under these
circumstances, take place in the living seed. In proportion as the heat is
reduced by the chilling effect of evaporation, and as atmospheric air is
excluded, will the germination of the seed be retarded; and, in case of
complete saturation for a long time, absolute decay will ensue, and the
germ will die.

The accompanying illustrations, (Figures 1, 2 and 3,) from the "Minutes of
Information" on Drainage, submitted by the General Board of Health to the
British Parliament in 1852, represent the different conditions of the soil
as to moisture, and the effect of these conditions on the germination of
seeds. The figures are thus explained by Dr. Madden, from whose lecture
they are taken:

    "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.

                 [Illustration: Fig. 1 - A DRY SOIL.]

                         Fig. 1 - A DRY SOIL.

    "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. 1, 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. 1 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, 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

                     [Illustration: Fig. 2 - A WET SOIL.]

                             Fig. 2 - A WET SOIL.

    "Let us turn our attention now to Fig. 2. 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. 2 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. 3 - A DRAINED SOIL.]

                           Fig. 3 - A DRAINED SOIL.

    "We pass on now to Fig. 3. 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 the 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."

As plants grow under the same conditions, as to soil, that are necessary
for the germination of seeds, the foregoing explanation of the relation of
water to the particles of the soil is perfectly applicable to the whole
period of vegetable growth. The soil, to the entire depth occupied by
roots, which, with most cultivated plants is, in drained land, from two to
four feet, or even more, should be maintained, as nearly as possible, in
the condition represented in Fig. 3,—that is, the particles of soil should
hold water by attraction, (absorption,) and the spaces between the
particles should be filled with air. Soils which require drainage are not
in this condition. When they are not saturated with water, they are
generally dried into lumps and clods, which are almost as impenetrable by
roots as so many stones. The moisture which these clods contain is not
available to plants, and their surfaces are liable to be dried by the too
free circulation of air among the wide fissures between them. It is also
worthy of incidental remark, that the cracking of heavy soils, shrinking
by drought, is attended by the tearing asunder of the smaller roots which
may have penetrated them.

*The Injurious Effects of Standing Water in the Subsoil* may be best
explained in connection with the description of a soil which needs
under-draining. It would be tedious, and superfluous, to attempt to detail
the various geological formations and conditions which make the soil
unprofitably wet, and render draining necessary. Nor,—as this work is
intended as a hand-book for practical use,—is it deemed advisable to
introduce the geological charts and sections, which are so often employed
to illustrate the various sources of under-ground water; interesting as
they are to students of the theories of agriculture, and important as the
study is, their consideration here would consume space, which it is
desired to devote only to the reasons for, and the practice of,

To one writing in advocacy of improvements, of any kind, there is always a
temptation to throw a tub to the popular whale, and to suggest some
make-shift, by which a certain advantage may be obtained at half-price. It
is proposed in this essay to resist that temptation, and to adhere to the
rule that "whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well," in the belief
that this rule applies in no other department of industry with more force
than in the draining of land, whether for agricultural or for sanitary
improvement. Therefore, it will not be recommended that draining be ever
confined to the wettest lands only; that, in the pursuance of a
penny-wisdom, drains be constructed with stones, or brush, or boards; that
the antiquated horse-shoe tiles be used, because they cost less money; or
that it will, in any case, be economical to make only such drains as are
necessary to remove the water of large springs. The doctrine herein
advanced is, that, so far as draining is applied at all, it should be done
in the most thorough and complete manner, and that it is better that, in
commencing this improvement, a single field be really well drained, than
that the whole farm be half drained.

Of course, there are some farms which suffer from too much water, which
are not worth draining at present; many more which, at the present price
of frontier lands, are only worth relieving of the water which stands on
the surface; and not a few on which the quantity of stone to be removed
suggests the propriety of making wide ditches, in which to hide them,
(using the ditches, incidentally, as drains). A hand-book of draining is
not needed by the owners of these farms; their operations are simple, and
they require no especial instruction for their performance. This work is
addressed especially to those who occupy lands of sufficient value, from
their proximity to market, to make it cheaper to cultivate well, than to
buy more land for the sake of getting a larger return from poor
cultivation. Wherever Indian corn is worth fifty cents a bushel, on the
farm, it will pay to thoroughly drain every acre of land which needs
draining. If, from want of capital, this cannot be done at once, it is
best to first drain a portion of the farm, doing the work thoroughly well,
and to apply the return from the improvement to its extension over other
portions afterward.

In pursuance of the foregoing declaration of principles, it is left to the
sagacity of the individual operator, to decide when the full effect
desired can be obtained, on particular lands, without applying the regular
system of depth and distance, which has been found sufficient for the
worst cases. The directions of this book will be confined to the treatment
of land which demands thorough work.

Such land is that which, at some time during the period of vegetation,
contains stagnant water, at least in its sub-soil, within the reach of the
roots of ordinary crops; in which there is not a free outlet _at the
bottom_ for all the water which it receives from the heavens, from
adjoining land, or from springs; and which is more or less in the
condition of standing in a great, water-tight box, with openings to let
water in, but with no means for its escape, except by evaporation at the
surface; or, having larger inlets than outlets, and being at times
"water-logged," at least in its lower parts. The subsoil, to a great
extent, consists of clay or other compact material, which is not
_impervious_, in the sense in which india-rubber is impervious, (else it
could not have become wet,) but which is sufficiently so to prevent the
free escape of water. The surface soil is of a lighter or more open
character, in consequence of the cultivation which it has received, or of
the decayed vegetable matter and the roots which it contains.

In such land the subsoil is wet,—almost constantly wet,—and the falling
rain, finding only the surface soil in a condition to receive it, soon
fills this, and often more than fills it, and stands on the surface. After
the rain, come wind and sun, to dry off the standing water,—to dry out the
free water in the surface soil, and to drink up the water of the subsoil,
which is slowly drawn from below. If no spring, or ooze, keep up the
supply, and if no more rain fall, the subsoil may be dried to a
considerable depth, cracking and gaping open, in wide fissures, as the
clay loses its water of absorption, and shrinks. After the surface soil
has become sufficiently dry, the land may be plowed, seeds will germinate,
and plants will grow. If there be not too much rain during the season, nor
too little, the crop may be a fair one,—if the land be rich, a very good
one. It is not impossible, nor even very uncommon, for such soils to
produce largely, but they are always precarious. To the labor and expense
of cultivation, which fairly earn a secure return, there is added the
anxiety of chance; success is greatly dependent on the weather, and the
weather may be bad: Heavy rains, after planting, may cause the seed to rot
in the ground, or to germinate imperfectly; heavy rains during early
growth may give an unnatural development, or a feeble character to the
plants; later in the season, the want of sufficient rain may cause the
crop to be parched by drought, for its roots, disliking the clammy subsoil
below, will have extended within only a few inches of the surface, and are
subject, almost, to the direct action of the sun’s heat; in harvest time,
bad weather may delay the gathering until the crop is greatly injured, and
fall and spring work must often be put off because of wet.

The above is no fancy sketch. Every farmer who cultivates a retentive soil
will confess, that all of these inconveniences conspire, in the same
season, to lessen his returns, with very damaging frequency; and nothing
is more common than for him to qualify his calculations with the proviso,
"if I have a good season." He prepares his ground, plants his seed,
cultivates the crop, "does his best,"—thinks he does his best, that
is,—and trusts to Providence to send him good weather. Such farming is
attended with too much uncertainty,—with too much _luck_,—to be
satisfactory; yet, so long as the soil remains in its undrained condition,
the element of luck will continue to play a very important part in its
cultivation, and bad luck will often play sad havoc with the year’s

Land of this character is usually kept in grass, as long as it will bring
paying crops, and is, not unfrequently, only available for pasture; but,
both for hay and for pasture, it is still subject to the drawback of the
uncertainty of the seasons, and in the best seasons it produces far less
than it might if well drained.

The effect of this condition of the soil on the health of animals living
on it, and on the health of persons living near it, is extremely
unfavorable; the discussion of this branch of the question, however, is
postponed to a later chapter.

Thus far, there have been considered only the _effects_ of the undue
moisture in the soil. The manner in which these effects are produced will
be examined, in connection with the manner in which draining overcomes
them,—reducing to the lowest possible proportion, that uncertainty which
always attaches to human enterprises, and which is falsely supposed to
belong especially to the cultivation of the soil.

Why is it that the farmer believes, why should any one believe, in these
modern days, when the advancement of science has so simplified the
industrial processes of the world, and thrown its light into so many
corners, that the word "mystery" is hardly to be applied to any operation
of nature, save to that which depends on the always mysterious Principle
of Life,—when the effect of any combination of physical circumstances may
be foretold, with almost unerring certainty,—why should we believe that
the success of farming must, after all, depend mainly on chance? That an
intelligent man should submit the success of his own patient efforts to
the operation of "luck;" that he should deliberately _bet_ his capital,
his toil, and his experience on having a good season, or a bad one,—this
is not the least of the remaining mysteries. Some chance there must be in
all things,—more in farming than in mechanics, no doubt; but it should be
made to take the smallest possible place in our calculations, by a careful
avoidance of every condition which may place our crops at the mercy of
that most uncertain of all things—the weather; and especially should this
be the case, when the very means for lessening the element of chance in
our calculations are the best means for increasing our crops, even in the
most favorable weather.


For reasons which will appear, in the course of this work, the only sort
of drain to which reference is here made is that which consists of a
conduit of burned clay, (tile,) placed at a considerable depth in the
subsoil, and enclosed in a compacted bed of the stiffest earth which can
conveniently be found. Stone-drains, brush-drains, sod-drains, mole-plow
tracks, and the various other devices for forming a conduit for the
conveying away of the soakage-water of the land, are not without the
support of such arguments as are based on the expediency of make-shifts,
and are, perhaps, in rare cases, advisable to be used; but, for the
purposes of permanent improvement, they are neither so good nor so
economical as tile-drains. The arguments of this book have reference to
the latter, (as the most perfect of all drains thus far invented,) though
they will apply, in a modified degree, to all underground conduits, so
long as they remain free from obstructions. Concerning stone-drains,
attention may properly be called to the fact that, (contrary to the
general opinion of farmers,) they are very much more expensive than
tile-drains. So great is the cost of cutting the ditches to the much
greater size required for stone than for tiles, of handling the stones, of
placing them properly in the ditches, and of covering them, after they are
laid, with a suitable barrier to the rattling down of loose earth among
them, that, as a mere question of first cost, it is far cheaper to buy
tiles than to use stones, although these may lie on the surface of the
field, and only require to be placed in the trenches. In addition to this,
the great liability of stone-drains to become obstructed in a few years,
and the certainty that tile-drains will, practically, last forever, are
conclusive arguments in favor of the use of the latter. If the land is
stony, it must be cleared; this is a proposition by itself, but if the
sole object is to make drains, the best material should be used, and this
material is not stone.

A well laid tile-drain has the following essential characteristics:—1. It
has a free outlet for the discharge of all water which may run through it.
2. It has openings, at its joints, sufficient for the admission of all the
water which may rise to the level of its floor. 3. Its floor is laid on a
well regulated line of descent, so that its current may maintain a flow of
uniform, or, at least, never decreasing rapidity, throughout its entire

Land which requires draining, is that which, at some time during the year,
(either from an accumulation of the rains which fall upon it, from the
lateral flow, or soakage, from adjoining land, from springs which open
within it, or from a combination of two or all of these sources,) becomes
filled with water, that does not readily find a natural outlet, but
remains until removed by evaporation. Every considerable addition to its
water wells up, and soaks its very surface; and that which is added after
it is already brim full, must flow off over the surface, or lie in puddles
upon it. Evaporation is a slow process, and it becomes more and more slow
as the level of the water recedes from the surface, and is sheltered, by
the overlying earth, from the action of sun and wind. Therefore, at least
during the periods of spring and fall preparation of the land, during the
early growth of plants, and often even in midsummer, the
_water-table_,—the top of the water of saturation,—is within a few inches
of the surface, preventing the natural descent of roots, and, by reason of
the small space to receive fresh rains, causing an interruption of work
for some days after each storm.

If such land is properly furnished with tile-drains, (having a clear and
sufficient outfall, offering sufficient means of entrance to the water
which reaches them, and carrying it, by a uniform or increasing descent,
to the outlet,) its water will be removed to nearly, or quite, the level
of the floor of the drains, and its water-table will be at the distance of
some feet from the surface, leaving the spaces between the particles of
all of the soil above it filled with air instead of water. The water below
the drains stands at a level, like any other water that is dammed up. Rain
water falling on the soil will descend by its own weight to this level,
and the water will rise into the drains, as it would flow over a dam,
until the proper level is again attained. Spring water entering from
below, and water oozing from the adjoining land, will be removed in like
manner, and the usual condition of the soil, above the water-table, will
be that represented in Fig. 3, the condition which is best adapted to the
growth of useful plants.

In the heaviest storms, some water will flow over the surface of even the
dryest beach-sand; but, in a well drained soil the water of ordinary rains
will be at once absorbed, will slowly descend toward the water-table, and
will be removed by the drains, so rapidly, even in heavy clays, as to
leave the ground fit for cultivation, and in a condition for steady
growth, within a short time after the rain ceases. It has been estimated
that a drained soil has room between its particles for about one quarter
of its bulk of water;—that is, four inches of drained soil contains free
space enough to receive a rain-fall one inch in depth, and, by the same
token, four feet of drained soil can receive twelve inches of rain,—-more
than is known to have ever fallen in twenty-four hours, since the deluge,
and more than one quarter of the _annual_ rain-fall in the United States.

As was stated in the previous chapter, the water which reaches the soil
may be considered under two heads:

1st—That which reaches its surface, whether directly by rain, or by the
surface flow of adjoining land.

2d—That which reaches it below the surface, by springs and by soakage from
the lower portions of adjoining land.

The first of these is beneficial, because it contains fresh air, carbonic
acid, ammonia, nitric acid, and heat, obtained from the atmosphere; and
the flowage water contains, in addition, some of the finer or more soluble
parts of the land over which it has passed. The second, is only so much
dead water, which has already given up, to other soil, all that ours could
absorb from it, and its effect is chilling and hurtful. This being the
case, the only interest we can have in it, is to keep it down from the
surface, and remove it as rapidly as possible.

The water of the first sort, on the other hand, should be arrested by
every device within our reach. If the land is steep, the furrows in
plowing should be run horizontally along the hill, to prevent the escape
of the water over the surface, and to allow it to descend readily into the
ground. Steep grass lands may have frequent, small, horizontal ditches for
the same purpose. If the soil is at all heavy, it should not, when wet, be
trampled by animals, lest it be puddled, and thus made less absorptive. If
in cultivation, the surface should be kept loose and open, ready to
receive all of the rain and irrigation water that reaches it.

In descending through the soil, this water, in summer, gives up heat which
it received from the air and from the heated surface of the ground, and
thus raises the temperature of the lower soil. The fertilizing matters
which it has obtained from the air,—carbonic acid, ammonia and nitric
acid,—are extracted from it, and held for the use of growing plants. Its
fresh air, and the air which follows the descent of the water-table,
carries oxygen to the organic and mineral parts of the soil, and hastens
the rust and decay by which these are prepared for the uses of vegetation.
The water itself supplies, by means of their power of absorption, the
moisture which is needed by the particles of the soil; and, having
performed its work, it goes down to the level of the water below, and,
swelling the tide above the brink of the dam, sets the drains running,
until it is all removed. In its descent through the ground, this water
clears the passages through which it flows, leaving a better channel for
the water of future rains, so that, in time, the heaviest clays, which
will drain but imperfectly during the first one or two years, will pass
water, to a depth of four or five feet, almost as readily as the lighter

Now, imagine the drains to be closed up, leaving no outlet for the water,
save at the surface. This amounts to a raising of the dam to that height,
and additions to the water will bring the water-table even with the top of
the soil. No provision being made for the removal of spring and soakage
water, this causes serious inconvenience, and even the rain-fall, finding
no room in the soil for its reception, can only lie upon, or flow over,
the surface,—not yielding to the soil the fertilizing matters which it
contains, but, on the contrary, washing away some of its finer and looser
parts. The particles of the soil, instead of being furnished, by
absorption, with a healthful amount of moisture, are made unduly wet; and
the spaces between them, being filled with water, no air can enter,
whereby the chemical processes by which the inert minerals, and the roots
and manure, in the soil are prepared for the use of vegetation, are
greatly retarded.

Instead of carrying the heat of the air, and of the surface of the ground,
to the subsoil, the rain only adds so much to the amount of water to be
evaporated, and increases, by so much, the chilling effect of evaporation.

Instead of opening the spaces of the soil for the more free passage of
water and air, as is done by descending water, that which ascends by
evaporation at the surface brings up soluble matters, which it leaves at
the point where it becomes a vapor, forming a crust that prevents the free
entrance of air at those times when the soil is dry enough to afford it
space for circulation.

Instead of crumbling to the fine condition of a loam, as it does, when
well drained, by the descent of water through it, heavy clay soil, being
rapidly dried by evaporation, shrinks into hard masses, separated by wide

In short, in wet seasons, on such land, the crops will be greatly
lessened, or entirely destroyed, and in dry seasons, cultivation will
always be much more laborious, more hurried, and less complete, than if it
were well drained.

The foregoing general statements, concerning the action of water in
drained, and in undrained land, and of the effects of its removal, by
gravitation, and by evaporation, are based on facts which have been
developed by long practice, and on a rational application of well know
principles of science. These facts and principles are worthy of
examination, and they are set forth below, somewhat at length, especially
with reference to _Absorption_ and _Filtration_; _Evaporation_;
_Temperature_; _Drought_; _Porosity_ or _Mellowness;_ and _Chemical

ABSORPTION AND FILTRATION.—The process of under-draining is a process of
absorption and filtration, as distinguished from surface-flow and
evaporation. The completeness with which the latter are prevented, and the
former promoted, is the measure of the completeness of the improvement. If
water lie on the surface of the ground until evaporated, or if it flow off
over the surface, it will do harm; if it soak away through the soil, it
will do good. The rapidity and ease with which it is absorbed, and,
therefore, the extent to which under-draining is successful, depend on the
physical condition of the soil, and on the manner in which its texture is
affected by the drying action of sun and wind, and by the downward passage
of water through it.

In drying, all soils, except pure sands, shrink, and occupy less space
than when they are saturated with water. They shrink more or less,
according to their composition, as will be seen by the following table of
results obtained in the experiments of Schuebler:

1,000 Parts of   Will Contract   1,000 Parts of   Will Contract
                 Parts.                           Parts.
Strong Limey     50.             Pure Clay        183.
Heavy Loam       60.             Peat             200.
Brick Maker’s    85.

Professor Johnson estimates that peat and heavy clay shrink one-fifth of
their bulk.

If soil be dried suddenly, from a condition of extreme wetness, it will be
divided into large masses, or clods, separated by wide cracks. A
subsequent wetting of the clods, which is not sufficient to expand it to
its former condition, will not entirely obliterate the cracks, and the
next drying will be followed by new fissures within the clods themselves;
and a frequent repetition of this process will make the network of
fissures finer and finer, until the whole mass of the soil is divided to a
pulverulent condition. This is the process which follows the complete
draining of such lands as contain large proportions of clay or of peat. It
is retarded, in proportion to the amount of the free water in the soil
which is evaporated from the surface, and in proportion to the trampling
of the ground, when very wet. It is greatly facilitated by frost, and
especially by deep frost.

The fissures which are formed by this process are, in time, occupied by
the roots of plants, which remain and decay, when the crop has been
removed, and which prevent the soil from ever again closing on itself so
completely as before their penetration; and each season’s crop adds new
roots to make the separation more complete and more universal; but it is
only after the water of saturation, which occupies the lower soil for so
large a part of the year, has been removed by draining, that roots can
penetrate to any considerable depth, and, in fact, the cracking of
undrained soils, in drying, never extends beyond the separation into large
masses, because each heavy rain, by saturating the soil and expanding it
to its full capacity, entirely obliterates the cracks and forms a solid
mass, in which the operation has to be commenced anew with the next

Mr. Gisborne, in his capital essay on "Agricultural Drainage," which
appeared in the _Quarterly Review_, No. CLXXI, says: "We really thought
that no one was so ignorant as not to be aware that clay lands always
shrink and crack with drought, and the stiffer the clay the greater the
shrinking, as brickmakers well know. In the great drought, 36 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 what Mr. Parkes, not inappropriately, calls a
network of cracks. When heavy rain comes upon a soil in this state, of
course the cracks fill, the clay imbibes the water, expands, and the
cracks are abolished. But if there are four or five feet parallel drains
in the land, the water passes at once into them and is carried off. In
fact, when heavy rain falls upon clay lands in this cracked state, it
passes off too quickly, without adequate filtration. Into the fissures of
the undrained soil the roots only penetrate to be perished by the cold and
wet of the succeeding winter; but in the drained soil the roots follow the
threads of vegetable mold which have been washed into the cracks, and get
an abiding tenure. Earth worms follow either the roots or the mold.
Permanent schisms are established in the clay, and its whole character is
changed. An old farmer in a midland county began with 20-inch drains
across the hill, and, without ever reading a word, or, we believe,
conversing with any one on the subject, poked his way, step by step, to
four or five feet drains, in the line of steepest descent. Showing us his
drains this spring, he said: ’They do better year by year; the water gets
a habit of coming to them ’—a very correct statement of fact, though not a
very philosophical explanation."

Alderman Mechi, of Tiptree Hall, says: "Filtration may be too sudden, as
is well enough shown by our hot sands and gravels; but I apprehend no one
will ever fear rendering strong clays too porous and manageable. The
object of draining is to impart to such soils the mellowness and dark
color of self drained, rich and friable soil. That perfect drainage and
cultivation will do this, is a well known fact. I know it in the case of
my own garden. How it does so I am not chemist enough to explain in
detail; but it is evident the effect is produced by the fibers of the
growing crop intersecting every particle of the soil, which they never
could do before draining; these, with their excretions, decompose on
removal of the crop, and are acted on by the alternating air and water,
which also decompose and change, in a degree, the inorganic substances of
the soil. Thereby drained land, which was, before, impervious to air and
water, and consequently unavailable to air and roots, to worms, or to
vegetable or animal life, becomes, by drainage, populated by both, and is
a great chemical laboratory, as our own atmosphere is subject to all the
changes produced by animated nature."

Experience proves that the descent of water through the soil renders it
more porous, so that it is easier for the water falling afterward to pass
down to the drains, but no very satisfactory reason for this has been
presented, beyond that which is connected with the cracking of the soil.
The fact is well stated in the following extract from a letter to the
_Country Gentleman_:

"A simple experiment will convince any farmer that the best means of
permanently deepening and mellowing the soil is by thorough drainage, to
afford a ready exit for all surplus moisture. Let him take in spring,
while wet, a quantity of his hardest soil,—such as it is almost impossible
to plow in summer,—such as presents a baked and brick-like character under
the influence of drought,—and place it in a box or barrel, open at the
bottom, and frequently during the season let him saturate it with water.
He will find it gradually becoming more and more porous and
friable,—holding water less and less perfectly as the experiment proceeds,
and in the end it will attain a state best suited to the growth of plants
from its deep and mellow character."

It is equally a fact that the ascent of water in the soil, together with
its evaporation at the surface, has the effect of making the soil
impervious to rains, and of covering the land with a crust of hard, dry
earth, which forms a barrier to the free entrance of air. So far as the
formation of crust is concerned, it is doubtless due to the fact that the
water in the soil holds in solution certain mineral matters, which it
deposits at the point of evaporation, the collection of these finely
divided matters serving to completely fill the spaces between the
particles of soil at the surface,—pasting them together, as it were. How
far below the surface this direct action extends, cannot be definitely
determined; but the process being carried on for successive years,
accumulating a quantity of these fine particles, each season, they are, by
cultivation, and by the action of heavy showers falling at a time when the
soil is more or less dry, distributed through a certain depth, and
ordinarily, in all probability, are most largely deposited at the top of
the subsoil. It is found in practice that the first foot in depth of
retentive soils is more retentive than that which lies below. If this
opinion as to the cause of this greater imperviousness is correct, it will
be readily seen how water, descending to the drains, by carrying these
soluble and finer parts downward and distributing them more equally
through the whole, should render the soil more porous.

Another cause of the retention of water by the surface soil, often a very
serious one, is the puddling which clayey lands undergo by working them,
or feeding cattle upon them, when they are wet. This is always injurious.
By draining, land is made fit for working much earlier in the spring, and
is sooner ready for pasturing after a rain, but, no matter how thoroughly
the draining has been done, if there is much clay in the soil, the effect
of the improvement will be destroyed by plowing or trampling, while very
wet; this impervious condition will be removed in time, of course, but
while it lasts, it places us as completely at the mercy of the weather as
we were before a ditch was dug.

In connection with the use of the word _impervious_, it should be
understood that it is not used in its strict sense, for no substance which
can be wetted by water is really impervious and the most retentive soil
will become wet. Gisborne states the case clearly when he says: "Is your
subsoil moister after the rains of mid-winter, than it is after the
drought of mid-summer? If it is, it will drain."

The proportion of the rain-fall which will filtrate through the soil to
the level of the drains, varies with the composition of the soil, and with
the effect that the draining has had upon them.

In a very loose, gravelly, or sandy soil, which has a perfect outlet for
water below, all but the heaviest falls of rain will sink at once, while
on a heavy clay, no matter how well it is drained, the process of
filtration will be much more slow, and if the land be steeply inclined,
some of the water of ordinarily heavy rains must flow off over the
surface, unless, by horizontal plowing, or catch drains on the surface,
its flow be retarded until it has time to enter the soil.

The power of drained soils to hold water, by absorption, is very great. A
cubic foot of very dry soil, of favorable character, has been estimated to
absorb within its particles,—holding no free water, or water of
drainage,—about one-half its bulk of water; if this is true, the amount
required to _moisten_ a dry soil, four feet deep, giving no excess to be
drained away, would amount to a rain fall of from 20 to 30 inches in
depth. If we consider, in addition to this, the amount of water drained
away, we shall see that the soil has sufficient capacity for the reception
of all the rain water that falls upon it.

In connection with the question of absorption and filtration, it is
interesting to investigate the movements of water in the ground. The
natural tendency of water, in the soil as well as out of it, is to descend
perpendicularly toward the center of the earth. If it meet a flat layer of
gravel lying upon clay, and having a free outlet, it will follow the
course of the gravel,—laterally,—and find the outlet; if it meet water
which is dammed up in the soil, and which has an outlet at a certain
elevation, as at the floor of a drain, it will raise the general level of
the water, and force it out through the drain; if it meet water which has
no outlet, it will raise its level until the soil is filled, or until it
accumulates sufficient pressure, (head,) to force its way through the
adjoining lands, or until it finds an outlet at the surface.

The first two cases named represent the condition which it is desirable to
obtain, by either natural or artificial drainage; the third case is the
only one which makes drainage necessary. It is a fixed rule that water,
descending in the soil, will find the _lowest_ outlet to which there
exists a channel through which it can flow, and that if, after heavy
rains, it rise too near the surface of the ground, the proper remedy is to
tap it at a lower level, and thus remove the water table to the proper
distance from the surface. This subject will be more fully treated in a
future chapter, in considering the question of the depth, and the
intervals, at which drains should be placed.

*Evaporation.*—By evaporation is meant the process by which a liquid
assumes the form of a gas or vapor, or "dries up." Water, exposed to the
air, is constantly undergoing this change. It is changed from the liquid
form, and becomes a vapor in the air. Water in the form of vapor occupies
nearly 2000 times the space that it filled as a liquid. As the vapor at
the time of its formation is of the same temperature with the water, and,
from its highly expanded condition, requires a great _amount_ of heat to
maintain it as vapor, it follows that a given quantity of water contains,
in the vapory form, many times as much heat as in the liquid form. This
heat is taken from surrounding substances,—from the ground and from the
air,—which are thereby made much cooler. For instance, if a shower moisten
the ground, on a hot summer day, the drying up of the water will cool both
the ground and the air. If we place a wet cloth on the head, and hasten
the evaporation of the water by fanning, we cool the head; if we wrap a
wet napkin around a pitcher of water, and place it in a current of air,
the water in the pitcher is made cooler, by giving up its heat to the
evaporating water of the napkin; when we sprinkle water on the floor of a
room, its evaporation cools the air of the room.

So great is the effect of evaporation, on the temperature of the soil,
that Dr. Madden found that the soil of a drained field, in which most of
the water was removed from below, was 6-1/2° Far. warmer than a similar
soil undrained, from which the water had to be removed by evaporation.
This difference of 6-1/2° is equal to a difference of elevation of 1,950

It has been found, by experiments made in England, that the average
evaporation of water from wet soils is equal to a depth of _two inches per
month_, from May to August, inclusive; in America it must be very much
greater than this in the summer months, but this is surely enough for the
purposes of illustration, as two inches of water, over an acre of land,
would weigh about _two hundred tons_. The amount of heat required to
evaporate this is immense, and a very large part of it is taken from the
soil, which, thereby, becomes cooler, and less favorable for a rapid
growth. It is usual to speak of heavy, wet lands as being "cold," and it
is now seen why they are so.

If none of the water which falls on a field is removed by drainage,
(natural or artificial,) and if none runs off from the surface, the whole
rain-fall of a year must be removed by evaporation, and the cooling of the
soil will be proportionately great. The more completely we withdraw this
water from the surface, and carry it off in underground drains, the more
do we reduce the amount to be removed by evaporation. In land which is
well drained, the amount evaporated, even in summer, will not be
sufficient to so lower the temperature of the soil as to retard the growth
of plants; the small amount dried out of the particles of the soil, (water
of absorption,) will only keep it from being raised to too great a heat by
the mid-summer sun.

An idea of the amount of heat lost to the soil, in the evaporation of
water, may be formed from the fact that to evaporate, by artificial heat,
the amount of water contained in a rain-fall of two inches on an acre,
(200 tons,) would require over 20 tons of coal. Of course a
considerable—probably by far the larger,—part of the heat taken up in the
process of evaporation is furnished by the air; but the amount abstracted
from the soil is great, and is in direct proportion to the amount of water
removed by this process; hence, the more we remove by draining, the more
heat we retain in the ground.

The season of growth is lengthened by draining, because, by avoiding the
cooling effects of evaporation, germination is more rapid, and the young
plant grows steadily from the start, instead of struggling against the
retarding influence of a cold soil.

*Temperature.*—The temperature of the soil has great effect on the
germination of seeds, the growth of plants, and the ripening of the crops.

Gisborne says: "The evaporation of 1 lb. of water lowers the temperature
of 100 lbs. of soil 10°,—that is to say, that, if to 100 lbs. of soil,
holding all the water it can by attraction, but containing no water of
drainage, is added 1 lb. of water which it has no means of discharging,
except by evaporation, it will, by the time that it has so discharged it,
be 60° colder than it would have been, if it had the power of discharging
this 1 lb. by filtration; or, more practically, that, if rain, entering in
the proportion of 1 lb. to 100 lbs. into a retentive soil, which is
saturated with water of attraction, is discharged by evaporation, it
lowers the temperature of that soil 10°. If the soil has the means of
discharging that 1 lb. of water by filtration, no effect is produced
beyond what is due to the relative temperatures of the rain and of the

It has been established by experiment that four times as much heat is
required to evaporate a certain quantity of water, as to raise the same
quantity from the freezing to the boiling point.

It is, probably, in consequence of this cooling effect of evaporation,
that wet lands are warmest when shaded, because, under this condition,
evaporation is less active. Such lands, in cloudy weather, form an
unnatural growth, such as results in the "lodging" of grain crops, from
the deficient strength of the straw which this growth produces.

In hot weather, the temperature of the lower soil is, of course, much
lower than that of the air, and lower than that of the water of warm
rains. If the soil is saturated with water, the water will, of course, be
of an even temperature with the soil in which it lies, but if this be
drained off, warm air will enter from above, and give its heat to the
soil, while each rain, as it falls, will also carry its heat with it.
Furthermore, the surface of the ground is sometimes excessively heated by
the summer sun, and the heat thus contained is carried down to the lower
soil by the descending water of rains, which thus cool the surface and
warm the subsoil, both beneficial.

Mr. Josiah Parkes, one of the leading draining engineers of England, has
made some experiments to test the extent to which draining affects the
temperature of the soil. The results of his observations are thus stated
by Gisborne: "Mr. Parkes gives the temperature on a Lancashire flat moss,
but they only commence 7 inches below the surface, and do not extend to
mid-summer. At that period of the year the temperature, at 7 inches, never
exceeded 66°, and was generally from 10° to 15° below the temperature of
the air in the shade, at 4 feet above the earth. Mr. Parkes’ experiments
were made simultaneously, on a drained, and on an undrained portion of the
moss; and the result was, that, on a mean of 35 observations, the drained
soil at 7 inches in depth was 10° warmer than the undrained, at the same
depth. The undrained soil never exceeded 47°, whereas, after a thunder
storm, the drained reached 66° at 7 inches, and 48° at 31 inches. Such
were the effects, at an early period of the year, on a black bog. They
suggest some idea of what they were, when, in July or August, thunder rain
at 60° or 70° falls on a surface heated to 130°, and carries down with it,
into the greedy fissures of the earth, its augmented temperature. These
advantages, porous soils possess by nature, and retentive ones only
acquire them by drainage."

Drained land, being more open to atmospheric circulation, and having lost
the water which prevented the temperature of its lower portions from being
so readily affected by the temperature of the air as it is when dry, will
freeze to a greater depth in winter and thaw out earlier in the spring.
The deep freezing has the effect to greatly pulverize the lower soil, thus
better fitting it for the support of vegetation; and the earlier thawing
makes it earlier ready for spring work.

*Drought.*—At first thought, it is not unnatural to suppose that draining
will increase the ill effect of too dry seasons, by removing water which
might keep the soil moist. Experience has proven, however, that the result
is exactly the opposite of this. Lands which suffer most from drought are
most benefited by draining,—more in their greater ability to withstand
drought than in any other particular.

The reasons for this action of draining become obvious, when its effects
on the character of the soil are examined. There is always the same amount
of water in, and about, the surface of the earth. In winter there is more
in the soil than in summer, while in summer, that which has been dried out
of the soil exists in the atmosphere in the form of a _vapor_. It is held
in the vapory form by _heat_, which may be regarded as _braces_ to keep it
distended. When vapor comes in contact with substances sufficiently colder
than itself, it gives up its heat,—thus losing its braces,—contracts,
becomes liquid water, and is deposited as dew.

Many instances of this operation are familiar to all.

For instance, a cold pitcher in the summer robs the vapor in the air of
its heat, and causes it to be deposited on its own surface,—of course the
water comes from the atmosphere, not through the wall of the pitcher; if
we breathe on a knife blade, it condenses, in the same manner, the
moisture of the breath, and becomes covered with a film of-water;
stone-houses are damp in summer, because the inner surface of their walls,
being cooler than the atmosphere, causes its moisture to be deposited in
the manner described;(2) nearly every night, in summer, the cold earth
receives moisture from the atmosphere in the form of dew; a single large
head of cabbage, which at night is very cold, often condenses water to the
amount of a gill or more.

The same operation takes place in the soil. When the air is allowed to
circulate among its lower and cooler, (because more shaded,) particles,
they receive moisture by the same process of condensation. Therefore,
when, by the aid of under-drains, the lower soil becomes sufficiently
loose and open, to allow a circulation of air, the deposit of atmospheric
moisture will keep it supplied with water, at a point easily accessible to
the roots of plants.

If we wish to satisfy ourselves that this is practically correct, we have
only to prepare two boxes of finely pulverized soil,—one three or four
inches deep,—and the other fifteen or twenty inches deep, and place them
in the sun, at midday, in summer. The thinner soil will soon be completely
dried, while the deeper one, though it may have been previously dried in
an oven, will soon accumulate a large amount of water on those particles
which, being lower and better sheltered from the sun’s heat than the
particles of the thin soil, are made cooler.

We have seen that even the most retentive soil,—the stiffest clay,—is made
porous by the repeated passage of water from the surface to the level of
the drains, and that the ability to admit air, which plowing gives it, is
maintained for a much longer time than if it were usually saturated with
water which has no other means of escape than by evaporation at the
surface. The power of dry soils to absorb moisture from the air may be
seen by an examination of the following table of results obtained by
Schuebler, who exposed 1,000 grains of dried soil of the various kinds
named to the action of the air:

Kind of Soil.       Amount of Water Absorbed
                    in 24 Hours.
Common Soil         22 grains.
Loamy Clay          26 grains.
Garden Soil         45 grains.
Brickmakers’ Clay   30 grains.

The effect of draining in overcoming drought, by admitting atmospheric
vapor will, of course, be very much increased if the land be thoroughly
loosened by cultivation, and especially if the surface be kept in an open
and mellow condition.

In addition to the moisture received from the air, as above described,
water is, in a porous soil, drawn up from the wetter subsoil below, by the
same attractive force which acts to wet the whole of a sponge of which
only the lower part touches the water;—as a hard, dry, compact sponge will
absorb water much less readily than one which is loose and open, so the
hard clods, into which undrained clay is dried, drink up water much less
freely than they will do after draining shall have made them more friable.

The source of this underground moisture is the "water table,"—the level of
the soil below the influence of the drains,—and this should be so placed
that, while its water will easily rise to a point occupied by the feeding
roots of the crop, it should yield as little as possible for evaporation
at the surface.

Another source of moisture, in summer, is the deposit of dew on the
surface of the ground. The amount of this is very difficult to determine,
and accurate American experiments on the subject are wanting. Of course
the amount of dew is greater here than in England, where Dr. Dalton, a
skillful examiner of atmospheric phenomena, estimates the annual deposit
of dew to equal a depth of five inches, or about one-fifth of the
rain-fall. Water thus deposited on the soil is absorbed more or less
completely, in proportion to the porosity of the ground.

The extent to which plants will be affected by drought depends, other
things being equal, on the depth to which they send their roots. If these
lie near the surface, they will be parched by the heat of the sun. If they
strike deeply into the damper subsoil, the sun will have less effect on
the source from which they obtain their moisture. Nothing tends so much to
deep rooting, as the thorough draining of the soil. If the _free_ water be
withdrawn to a considerable distance from the surface, plants,—even
without the valuable aid of deep and subsoil plowing,—will send their
roots to great depths. Writers on this subject cite many instances in
which the roots of ordinary crops "not mere hairs, but strong fibres, as
large as pack-thread," sink to the depth of 4, 6, and in some instances 12
or 14 feet. Certain it is that, in a healthy, well aerated soil, any of
the plants ordinarily cultivated in the garden or field will send their
roots far below the parched surface soil; but if the subsoil is wet, cold,
and soggy, at the time when the young crop is laying out its plan of
future action, it will perforce accommodate its roots to the limited space
which the comparatively dry surface soil affords.

It is well known among those who attend the meetings of the Farmers’ Club
of the American Institute, in New York, that the farm of Professor Mapes,
near Newark, N.J., which maintains its wonderful fertility, year after
year, without reference to wet or dry weather, has been rendered almost
absolutely indifferent to the severest drought, by a course of cultivation
which has been rendered possible only by under-draining. The lawns of the
Central Park, which are a marvel of freshness, when the lands about the
Park are burned brown, owe their vigor mainly to the complete drainage of
the soil. What is true of these thoroughly cultivated lands, it is
practicable to attain on all soils, which, from their compact condition,
are now almost denuded of vegetation in dry seasons.

*Porosity or Mellowness.*—An open and mellow condition of the soil is
always favorable for the growth of plants. They require heat, fresh air
and moisture, to enable them to take up the materials on which they live,
and by which they grow. We have seen that the heat of retentive soils is
almost directly proportionate to the completeness with which their free
water is removed by underground draining, and that, by reason of the
increased facility with which air and water circulate within them, their
heat is more evenly distributed among all those parts of the soil which
are occupied by roots. The word _moisture_, in this connection, is used in
contradistinction to _wetness_, and implies a condition of freshness and
dampness,—not at all of saturation. In a saturated, a soaking-wet soil,
every space between the particles is filled with water to the entire
exclusion of the atmosphere, and in such a soil only aquatic plants will
grow. In a _dry_ soil, on the other hand, when the earth is contracted
into clods and baked, almost as in an oven,—one of the most important
conditions for growth being wanting,—nothing can thrive, save those plants
which ask of the earth only an anchoring place, and seek their nourishment
from the air. Both air plants and water plants have their wisely assigned
places in the economy of nature, and nature provides them with ample space
for growth. Agriculture, however, is directed to the production of a class
of plants very different from either of these,—to those which can only
grow to their greatest perfection in a soil combining, not one or two
only, but all three of the conditions named above. While they require
heat, they cannot dispense with the moisture which too great heat removes;
while they require moisture, they cannot abide the entire exclusion of
air, nor the dissipation of heat which too much water causes. The interior
part of the pellets of a well pulverized soil should contain all the water
that they can hold by their own absorptive power, just as the finer walls
of a damp sponge hold it; while the spaces between these pellets, like the
pores of the sponge, should be filled with air.

In such a soil, roots can extend in any direction, and to considerable
depth, without being parched with thirst, or drowned in stagnant water,
and, other things being equal, plants will grow to their greatest possible
size, and all their tissues will be of the best possible texture. On rich
land, which is maintained in this condition of porosity and mellowness,
agriculture will produce its best results, and will encounter the fewest
possible chances of failure. Of course, there are not many such soils to
be found, and such absolute balance between warmth and moisture in the
soil cannot be maintained at all times, and under all circumstances, but
the more nearly it is maintained, the more nearly perfect will be the
results of cultivation.

*Chemical Action in the Soil.*—Plants receive certain of their
constituents from the soil, through their roots. The raw materials from
which these constituents are obtained are the minerals of the soil, the
manures which are artificially applied, water, and certain substances
which are taken from the air by the absorptive action of the soil, or are
brought to it by rains, or by water flowing over the surface from other

The mineral matters, which constitute the ashes of plants, when burned,
are not mere accidental impurities which happen to be carried into their
roots in solution in the water which supplies the sap, although they vary
in character and proportion with each change in the mineral composition of
the soil. It is proven by chemical analysis, that the composition of the
ashes, not only of different species of plants, but of different parts of
the same plant, have distinctive characters,—some being rich in
phosphates, and others in silex; some in potash, and others in lime,—and
that these characters are in a measure the same, in the same plants or
parts of plants, without especial reference to the soil on which they
grow. The minerals which form the ashes of plants, constitute but a very
small part of the soil, and they are very sparsely distributed throughout
the mass; existing in the interior of its particles, as well as upon their
surfaces. As roots cannot penetrate to the interior of pebbles and compact
particles of earth, in search of the food which they require, but can only
take that which is exposed on their surfaces, and, as the oxydizing effect
of atmospheric air is useful in preparing the crude minerals for
assimilation, as well as in decomposing the particles in which they are
bound up,—a process which is allied to the _rusting_ of metals,—the more
freely atmospheric air is allowed, or induced, to circulate among the
inner portions of the soil, the more readily are its fertilizing parts
made available for the use of roots. By no other process, is air made to
enter so deeply, nor to circulate so readily in the soil, as by
under-draining, and the deep cultivation which under-draining facilitates.

Of the manures which are applied to the land, those of a mineral character
are affected by draining, in the same manner as the minerals which are
native to the soil; while organic, or animal and vegetable, manures,
(especially when applied, as is usual, in an incompletely fermented
condition,) absolutely require fresh supplies of atmospheric air, to
continue the decomposition which alone can prepare them for their proper
effect on vegetation.

If kept saturated with water, so that the air is excluded, animal manures
lie nearly inert, and vegetable matters decompose but
incompletely,—yielding acids which are injurious to vegetation, and which
would not be formed in the presence of a sufficient supply of air. An
instance is cited by H. Wauer where sheep dung was preserved, for five
years, by excessive moisture, which kept it from the air. If the soil be
saturated with water in the spring, and, in summer, (by the compacting of
its surface, which is caused by evaporation,) be closed against the
entrance of air, manures will be but slowly decomposed, and will act but
imperfectly on the crop,—if, on the other hand, a complete system of
drainage be adopted, manures, (and the roots which have been left in the
ground by the previous crop,) will be readily decomposed, and will
exercise their full influence on the soil, and on the plants growing in

Again, manures are more or less effective, in proportion as they are more
or less thoroughly mixed with the soil. In an undrained, retentive soil,
it is not often possible to attain that perfect _tilth_, which is best
suited for a proper admixture, and which is easily given after thorough

The soil must be regarded as the laboratory in which nature, during the
season of growth, is carrying on those hidden, but indispensable chemical
separations, combinations, and re-combinations, by which the earth is made
to bear its fruits, and to sustain its myriad life. The chief demand of
this laboratory is for free ventilation. The raw material for the work is
at hand,—as well in the wet soil as in the dry; but the door is sealed,
the damper is closed, and only a stray whiff of air can, now and then,
gain entrance,—only enough to commence an analysis, or a combination,
which is choked off when half complete, leaving food for sorrel, but
making none for grass. We must throw open door and window, draw away the
water in which all is immersed, let in the air, with its all destroying,
and, therefore, all re-creating oxygen, and leave the forces of nature’s
beneficent chemistry free play, deep down in the ground. Then may we hope
for the full benefit of the fertilizing matters which our good soil
contains, and for the full effect of the manures which we add.

With our land thoroughly improved, as has been described, we may carry on
the operations of farming with as much certainty of success, and with as
great immunity from the ill effects of unfavorable weather, as can be
expected in any business, whose results depend on such a variety of
circumstances. We shall have substituted certainty for chance, as far as
it is in our power to do so, and shall have made farming an art, rather
than a venture.


How to lay out the drains; where to place the outlet; where to locate the
main collecting lines; how to arrange the laterals which are to take the
water from the soil and deliver it at the mains; how deep to go; at what
intervals; what fall to give; and what sizes of tile to use,—these are all
questions of great importance to one who is about to drain land.

On the proper adjustment of these points, depend the _economy_ and
_effectiveness_ of the work. Time and attention given to them, before
commencing actual operations, will prevent waste and avoid failure. Any
person of ordinary intelligence may qualify himself to lay out
under-drains and to superintend their construction,—but the knowledge
which is required does not come by nature. Those who have not the time for
the necessary study and practice to make a plan for draining their land,
will find it economical to employ an engineer for the purpose. In this era
of railroad building, there is hardly a county in America which has not a
practical surveyor, who may easily qualify himself, by a study of the
principles and directions herein set forth, to lay out an economical plan
for draining any ordinary agricultural land, to stake the lines, and to
determine the grade of the drains, and the sizes of tile with which they
should be furnished.

On this subject Mr. Gisborne says: "If we should give a stimulus to
amateur draining, we shall do a great deal of harm. We wish we could
publish a list of the moneys which have been squandered in the last 40
years in amateur draining, either ineffectually or with very imperfect
efficiency. Our own name would be inscribed in the list for a very
respectable sum. Every thoughtless squire supposes that, with the aid of
his ignorant bailiff, he can effect a perfect drainage of his estate; but
there is a worse man behind the squire and the bailiff,—the draining
conjuror. * * * * * * These fellows never go direct about their work. If
they attack a spring, they try to circumvent it by some circuitous route.
They never can learn that nature shows you the weakest point, and that you
should assist her,—that _hit him straight in the eye_ is as good a maxim
in draining as in pugilism. * * * * * * If you wish to drain, we recommend
you to take advice. We have disposed of the quack, but there is a faculty,
not numerous but extending, and whose extension appears to us to be
indispensable to the satisfactory progress of improvements by draining,—a
faculty of draining engineers. If we wanted a profession for a lad who
showed any congenial talent, we would bring him up to be a draining
engineer." He then proceeds to speak of his own experience in the matter,
and shows that, after more than thirty years of intelligent practice, he
employed Mr. Josiah Parkes to lay out and superintend his work, and thus
effected a saving, (after paying all professional charges,) of fully
twelve per cent. on the cost of the draining, which was, at the same time,
better executed than any that he had previously done.

It is probable that, in nearly all amateur draining, the unnecessary
frequency of the lateral drains; the extravagant size of the pipes used;
and the number of useless angles which result from an unskillful
arrangement, would amount to an expense equal to ten times the cost of the
proper superintendence, to say nothing of the imperfect manner in which
the work is executed. A common impression seems to prevail, that if a
2-inch pipe is good, a 3-inch pipe must be better, and that, generally, if
draining is worth doing at all, it is worth overdoing; while the great
importance of having perfectly fitting connections is not readily
perceived. The general result is, that most of the tile-draining in this
country has been too expensive for economy, and too careless for lasting

It is proposed to give, in this chapter, as complete a description of the
preliminary engineering of draining as can be concentrated within a few
pages, and a hope is entertained, that it will, at least, convey an idea
of the importance of giving a full measure of thought and ingenuity to the
maturing of the _plan_, before the execution of the work is commenced.
"Farming upon paper" has never been held in high repute, but draining upon
paper is less a subject for objection. With a good map of the farm,
showing the comparative levels of outlet, hill, dale, and plain, and the
sizes and boundaries of the different in closures, a profitable winter may
be passed,—with pencil and rubber,—in deciding on a plan which will do the
required work with the least possible length of drain, and which will
require the least possible extra deep cutting; and in so arranging the
main drains as to require the smallest possible amount of the larger and
more costly pipes; or, if only a part of the farm is to be drained during
the coming season, in so arranging the work that it will dovetail nicely
with future operations. A mistake in actual work is costly, and, (being
buried under the ground,) is not easily detected, while errors in drawing
upon paper are always obvious, and are remedied without cost.

For the purpose of illustrating the various processes connected with the
laying out of a system of drainage, the mode of operating on a field of
ten acres will be detailed, in connection with a series of diagrams
showing the progress of the work.

*A Map of the Land* is first made, from a careful survey. This should be
plotted to a scale of 50 or 100 feet to the inch,(3) and should exhibit
the location of obstacles which may interfere with the regularity of the
drains,—such as large trees, rocks, etc., and the existing swamps, water
courses, springs, and open drains. (Fig. 4.)

The next step is to locate the contour lines of the land, or the lines of
equal elevation,—also called the _horizontal lines_,—which serve to show
the shape of the surface. To do this, stake off the field into squares of
50 feet, by first running a base line through the center of the greatest
length of the field, marking it with stakes at intervals of 50 feet, then
stake other lines, also at intervals of 50 feet, perpendicular to the base
line, and then note the position of the stakes on the maps; next, by the
aid of an engineer’s level and staff, ascertain the height, (above an
imaginary plain below the lowest part of the field,) of the surface of the
ground at each stake, and note this elevation at its proper point on the
map. This gives a plot like Fig. 5. The best instrument with which to take
these levels, is the ordinary telescope-level used by railroad engineers,
shown in Fig. 6, which has a telescope with cross hairs intersecting each
other in the center of the line of sight, and a "bubble" placed exactly
parallel to this line. The instrument, fixed on a tripod, and so adjusted
that it will turn to any point of the compass without disturbing the
position of the bubble, will, (as will its "line of sight,") revolve in a
perfectly horizontal plane. It is so placed as to command a view of a
considerable stretch of the field, and its height above the imaginary
plane is measured, an attendant places next to one of the stakes a
levelling rod, (Fig. 7,) which is divided into feet and fractions of a
foot, and is furnished with a movable target, so painted that its center
point may be plainly seen. The attendant raises and lowers the target,
until it comes exactly in the line of sight; its height on the rod denotes
the height of the instrument above the level of the ground at that stake,
and, as the height of the instrument above the imaginary plane has been
reached, by subtracting one elevation from the other, the operator
determines the height of the ground at that stake above the imaginary
plane,—which is called the "_datum line_."



  [Illustration: Fig. 5 - MAP WITH 50-FOOT SQUARES, AND CONTOUR LINES.]


  [Illustration: Fig. 5 - MAP WITH 50-FOOT SQUARES, AND CONTOUR LINES.]

                    Fig. 6 - LEVELLING INSTRUMENT.(4)

                   [Illustration: Fig. 7 - LEVELLING ROD.]

                           Fig. 7 - LEVELLING ROD.

The next operation is to trace, on the plan, lines following the same
level, wherever the land is of the proper height for its surface to meet
them. For the purpose of illustrating this operation, lines at intervals
of elevation of one foot are traced on the plan in Fig. 8. And these lines
show, with sufficient accuracy for practical purposes, the elevation and
rate of inclination of all parts of the field,—where it is level or nearly
so, where its rise is rapid, and where slight. As the land rises one foot
from the position of one line to the position of the line next above it,
where the distance from one line to the next is great, the land is more
nearly level, and when it is short the inclination is steeper. For
instance, in the southwest corner of the plan, the land is nearly level to
the 2-foot line; it rises slowly to the center of the field, and to the
eastern side about one-fourth of the distance from the southern boundary,
while an elevation coming down between these two valleys, and others
skirting the west side of the former one and the southern side of the
latter, are indicated by the greater nearness of the lines. The points at
which the contour lines cross the section lines are found in the following
manner: On the second line from the west side of the field we find the
elevations of the 4th, 5th and 6th stakes from the southern boundary to be
1.9, 3.3, and 5.1. The contour lines, representing points of elevation of
2, 3, 4, and 5 feet above the _datum line_, will cross the 50-foot lines
at their intersections, only where these intersections are marked in even
feet. When they are marked with fractions of a foot, the lines must be
made to cross at points between two intersections,—nearer to one or the
other, according to their elevations,—thus between 1.9 and 3.3, the 2-foot
and 3-foot contour lines must cross. The total difference of elevation,
between the two points is 3.3—1.9=1.4; 10/14 of the space must be given to
the even foot between the lines, and the 2-foot line should be 1/14 of the
space above the point 1.9;—the 3-foot line will then come 3/14 below the
point 3.3. In the same manner, the line from 3.3 to 5.1 is divided into 18
parts, of which 10 go to the space between the 4. and 5. lines, 7 are
between 3.3 and the 4-foot line, and 1 between the 5-foot line and 5.1.

             [Illustration: Fig. 8 - MAP WITH CONTOUR LINES.]

                     Fig. 8 - MAP WITH CONTOUR LINES.

With these maps, made from observations taken in the field, we are
prepared to lay down, on paper, our system of drainage, and to mature a
plan which shall do the necessary work with the least expenditure of labor
and material. The more thoroughly this plan is considered, the more
economical and effective will be the work. Having already obtained the
needed information, and having it all before us, we can determine exactly
the location and size of each drain, and arrange, before hand, for a rapid
and satisfactory execution of the work. The only thing that may interfere
with the perfect application of the plan, is the presence of masses of
underground rock, within the depth to which the drains are to be laid.(5)
Where these are supposed to exist, soundings should be made, by driving a
3/4-inch pointed iron rod to the rock, or to a depth of _five_ feet where
the rock falls away. By this means, measuring the distance from the
soundings to the ranges of the stakes, we can denote on the map the shape
and depth of sunken rocks. The shaded spot on the east side of the map,
(Fig. 8,) indicates a rock three feet from the surface, which will be
assumed to have been explored by sounding.

In most cases, it will be sufficient to have contour lines taken only at
intervals of two feet, and, owing to the smallness of the scale on which
these maps are engraved, and to avoid complication in the finished plan,
where so much else must be shown, each alternate line is omitted. Of
course, where drains are at once staked out on the land, by a practiced
engineer, no contour lines are taken, as by the aid of the level and rod
for the flatter portions, and by the eye alone for the steeper slopes, he
will be able at once to strike the proper locations and directions; but
for one of less experience, who desires to thoroughly mature his plan
before commencing, they are indispensable; and their introduction here
will enable the novice to understand, more clearly than would otherwise be
possible, the principles on which the plan should be made.

               [Illustration: Fig. 9 - WELL’S CLINOMETER.]

                       Fig. 9 - WELL’S CLINOMETER.

For preliminary examinations, and for all purposes in which great accuracy
is not required, the little instrument shown in Fig. 9,—"Wells’
Clinometer,"—is exceedingly simple and convenient. Its essential parts are
a flat side, or base, on which it stands, and a hollow disk just half
filled with some heavy liquid. The glass face of the disk is surrounded by
a graduated scale that marks the angle at which the surface of the liquid
stands, with reference to the flat base. The line 0.——0. being parallel to
the base, when the liquid stands on that line, the flat side is
horizontal; the line 90.——90. being perpendicular to the base, when the
liquid stands on that line, the flat side is perpendicular or _plumb_. In
like manner, the intervening angles are marked, and, by the aid of the
following tables, the instrument indicates the rate of fall per hundred
feet of horizontal measurement, and per hundred feet measured upon the
sloping line.(6)

Table No. 1 shows the rise of the slope for 100 feet of the horizontal
measurement. Example: If the horizontal distance is 100 feet, and the
slope is at an angle of 15°, the rise will be 17-633/1000 feet.

Table No. 2 shows the rise of the slope for 100 feet of its own length. If
the sloping line, (at an angle of 15°,) is 100 feet long, it rises 25.882

 TABLE No. 1.
5      8.749
10     17.663
15     26.795
20     36.397
25     46.631
30     57.735
35     70.021
40     83.910
45     100.—
50     119.175
55     142.815
60     173.205
65     214.451
70     274.748
75     373.205
80     567.128
85     1143.01

 TABLE No. 2
5      8.716
10     17.365
15     25.882
20     34.202
25     42.262
30     50.—
35     57.358
40     64.279
45     70.711
50     76.604
55     81.915
60     86.602
65     90.631
70     93.969
75     96.593
80     98.481
85     99.619

With the maps before him, showing the surface features of the field, and
the position of the under-ground rock, the drainer will have to consider
the following points:

1. Where, and at what depth, shall the outlet be placed?

2. What shall be the location, the length and the depth of the main drain?

3. What subsidiary mains,—or collecting drains,—shall connect the minor
valleys with the main?

4. What may best be done to collect the water of large springs and carry
it away?

5. What provision is necessary to collect the water that flows over the
surface of out-cropping rock, or along springy lines on side hills or
under banks?

6. What should be the depth, the distance apart, the direction, and the
rate of _fall_, of the lateral drains?

7. What kind and sizes of tile should be used to form the conduits?

8. What provision should be made to prevent the obstruction of the drains,
by an accumulation of silt or sand, which may enter the tiles immediately
after they are laid, and before the earth becomes compacted about them;
and from the entrance of vermin?

1. The outlet should be at the lowest point of the boundary, unless, (for
some especial reason which does not exist in the case under consideration,
nor in any usual case,) it is necessary to seek some other than the
natural outfall; and it should be deep enough to take the water of the
main drain, and laid on a sufficient inclination for a free flow of the
water. It should, where sufficient fall can be obtained without too great
cost, deliver this water over a step of at least a few inches in height,
so that the action of the drain may be seen, and so that it may not be
liable to be clogged by the accumulation of silt, (or mud,) in the open
ditch into which it flows.

2. The main drain should, usually, be run as nearly in the lowest part of
the principal valley as is consistent with tolerable straightness. It is
better to cut across the point of a hill, to the extent of increasing the
depth for a few rods, than to go a long distance out of the direct course
to keep in the valley, both because of the cost of the large tile used in
the main, and of the loss of fall occasioned by the lengthening of the
line. The main should be continued from the outlet to the point at which
it is most convenient to collect the more remote sub-mains, which bring
together the water of several sets of laterals. As is the case in the
tract under consideration, the depth of the main is often restricted, in
nearly level land, toward the upper end of the flat which lies next to the
outlet, by the necessity for a fall and the difficulty which often exists
in securing a sufficiently low outlet. In such case, the only rule is to
make it as deep as possible. When the fall is sufficient, it should be
placed at such depth as will allow the laterals and sub-mains which
discharge into it to enter at its top, and discharge above the level of
the water which flows through it.



3. Subsidiary mains, or _sub-mains_, connecting with the main drains,
should be run up the minor valleys of the land, skirting the bases of the
hills. Where the valley is a flat one, with rising ground at each side,
there should be a sub-main, to receive the laterals from _each_ hill side.
As a general rule, it may be stated, that the collecting drain at the foot
of a slope should be placed on the line which is first reached by the
water flowing directly down over its surface, before it commences its
lateral movement down the valley; and it should, if possible, be so
arranged that it shall have a uniform descent for its whole distance. The
proper arrangement of these collecting drains requires more skill and
experience than any other branch of the work, for on their disposition
depends, in a great measure, the economy and success of the undertaking.

4. Where springs exist, there should be some provision made for collecting
their water in pits filled with loose stone, gravel, brush or other
rubbish, or furnished with several lengths of tile set on end, one above
the other, or with a barrel or other vessel; and a line of tile of proper
size should be run directly to a main, or sub-main drain. The manner of
doing this by means of a pit filled with stone is shown in Fig. 10. The
collection of spring water in a vertical tile basin is shown in Fig. 11.



5. Where a ledge of shelving rock, of considerable size, occurs on land to
be drained, it is best to make some provision for collecting, at its base,
the water flowing over its surface, and taking it at once into the drains,
so that it may not make the land near it unduly wet. To effect this, a
ditch should be dug along the base of the rock, and _quite down to it_,
considerably deeper than the level of the proposed drainage; and this
should be filled with small stones to that level, with a line of tile laid
on top of the stones, a uniform bottom for the tile to rest upon being
formed of cheap strips of board. The tile and stone should then be covered
with inverted sods, with wood shavings, or with other suitable material,
which will prevent the entrance of earth, (from the covering of the
drain,) to choke them. The water, following down the surface of the rock,
will rise through the stone work and, entering the tile, will flow off.
This method may be used for springy hill sides.

6. The points previously considered relate only to the collection of
unusual quantities of water, (from springs and from rock surfaces,) and to
the removal from the land of what is thus collected, and of that which
flows from the minor or lateral drains.

The _lateral drains_ themselves constitute the real drainage of the field,
for, although main lines take water from the land on each side, their
action in this regard is not usually considered, in determining either
their depth or their location, and they play an exceedingly small part in
the more simple form of drainage,—that in which a large tract of land, of
perfectly uniform slope, is drained by parallel lines of equal length, all
discharging into a single main, running across the foot of the field. The
land would be equally well drained, if the parallel lines were continued
to an open ditch beyond its boundary,—the main tile drain is only adopted
for greater convenience and security. It will simplify the question if, in
treating the _theory_ of lateral drains, it be assumed that our field is
of this uniform inclination, and admits of the use of long lines of
parallel drains. In fact, it is best in practice to approximate as nearly
as possible to this arrangement, because deviations from it, though always
necessary in broken land, are always more expensive, and present more
complicated engineering problems. If all the land to be drained had a
uniform fall, in a single direction, there would be but little need of
engineering skill, beyond that which is required to establish the depth,
fall, and distance apart, at which the drains should be laid. It is
chiefly when the land pitches in different directions, and with varying
inclination, that only a person skilled in the arrangement of drains, or
one who will give much consideration to the subject, can effect the
greatest economy by avoiding unnecessary complication, and secure the
greatest efficiency by adjusting the drains to the requirements of the

Assuming the land to have an unbroken inclination, so as to require only
parallel drains, it becomes important to know how these parallel drains,
(corresponding to the _lateral drains_ of an irregular system,) should be

The history of land draining is a history of the gradual progress of an
improvement, from the accomplishment of a single purpose, to the
accomplishment of several purposes, and most of the instruction which
modern agricultural writers have given concerning it, has shown too great
dependence upon the teachings of their predecessors, who considered well
the single object which they sought to attain, but who had no conception
that draining was to be so generally valuable as it has become. The
effort, (probably an unconscious one,) to make the theories of modern
thorough-draining conform to those advanced by the early practitioners,
seems to have diverted attention from some more recently developed
principles, which are of much importance. For example, about a hundred
years ago, Joseph Elkington, of Warwickshire, discovered that, where land
is made too wet by under-ground springs, a skillful tapping of
these,—drawing off their water through suitable conduits,—would greatly
relieve the land, and for many years the Elkington System of drainage,
being a great improvement on every thing theretofore practiced, naturally
occupied the attention of the agricultural world, and the Board of
Agriculture appointed a Mr. Johnstone to study the process, and write a
treatise on the subject.

Catch-water drains, made so as to intercept a flow of surface water, have
been in use from immemorial time, and are described by the earliest
writers. Before the advent of the Draining Tile, covered drains were
furnished with stones, boards, brush, weeds, and various other rubbish,
and their good effect, very properly, claimed the attention of all
improvers of wet land. When the tile first made its appearance in general
practice, it was of what is called the "horse-shoe" form, and,—imperfect
though it was,—it was better than anything that had preceded it, and was
received with high approval, wherever it became known. The general use of
all these materials for making drains was confined to a system of
_partial_ drainage, until the publication of a pamphlet, in 1833, by Mr.
Smith, of Deanston, who advocated the drainage of the whole field, without
reference to springs. From this plan, but with important modifications in
matters of detail, the modern system of tile draining has grown. Many able
men have aided its progress, and have helped to disseminate a knowledge of
its processes and its effects, yet there are few books on draining, even
the most modern ones, which do not devote much attention to Elkington’s
discovery; to the various sorts of stone and brush drains; and to the
manufacture and use of horse-shoe tile;—not treating them as matters of
antiquarian interest, but repeating the instructions for their
application, and allowing the reasoning on which their early use was
based, to influence, often to a damaging extent, their general
consideration of the modern practice of tile draining.

These processes are all of occasional use, even at this day, but they are
based on no fixed rules, and are so much a matter of traditional
knowledge, with all farmers, that instruction concerning them is not
needed. The kind of draining which is now under consideration, has for its
object the complete removal of all of the surplus water that reaches the
soil, from whatever source, and the assimilation of all wet soils to a
somewhat uniform condition, as to the ease with which water passes through

There are instances, as has been shown, where a large spring, overflowing
a considerable area, or supplying the water of an annoying brook, ought to
be directly connected with the under-ground drainage, and its flow neatly
carried away; and, in other cases, the surface flow over large masses of
rock should be given easy entrance into the tile; but, in all ordinary
lands, whether swamps, springy hill sides, heavy clays, or light soils
lying on retentive subsoil, all ground, in fact, which needs
under-draining at all, should be laid dry above the level to which it is
deemed best to place the drains;—not only secured against the wetting of
springs and soakage water, but rapidly relieved of the water of heavy
rains. The water table, in short, should be lowered to the proper depth,
and, by permanent outlets at that depth, be prevented from ever rising,
for any considerable time, to a higher level. This being accomplished, it
is of no consequence to know whence the water comes, and Elkington’s
system need have no place in our calculations. As round pipes, with
collars, are far superior to the "horse-shoe" tiles, and are equally easy
to obtain, it is not necessary to consider the manner in which these
latter should be used,—only to say that they ought not to be used at all.

The water which falls upon the surface is at once absorbed, settles
through the ground, until it reaches a point where the soil is completely
saturated, and raises the general water level. When this level reaches the
floor of the drains, the water enters at the joints and is carried off.
That which passes down through the land lying between the drains, bears
down upon that which has already accumulated in the soil, and forces it to
seek an outlet by rising into the drains.(7) For example, if a barrel,
standing on end, be filled with earth which is saturated with water, and
its bung be removed, the water of saturation, (that is, all which is not
held by attraction _in_ the particles of earth,) will be removed from so
much of the mass as lies above the bottom of the bung-hole. If a bucket of
water be now poured upon the top, it will not all run diagonally toward
the opening; it will trickle down to the level of the water remaining in
the barrel, and this level will rise and water will run off at the bottom
of the orifice. In this manner, the water, even below the drainage level,
is changed with each addition at the surface. In a barrel filled with
coarse pebbles, the water of saturation would maintain a nearly level
surface; if the material were more compact and retentive, a true level
would be attained only after a considerable time. Toward the end of the
flow, the water would stand highest at the points furthest distant from
the outlet. So, in the land, after a drenching rain, the water is first
removed to the full depth, near the line of the drain, and that midway
between two drains settles much more slowly, meeting more resistance from
below, and, for a long time, will remain some inches higher than the floor
of the drain. The usual condition of the soil, (except in very dry
weather,) would be somewhat as represented in the accompanying cut, (Fig.

       [Illustration: Fig. 12 - LINE OF SATURATION BETWEEN DRAINS.]


 _YY are the draings. The curved line b is the line of saturation, which
               has descended from a, and is approaching c._

To provide for this deviation of the line of saturation, in practice,
drains are placed deeper than would be necessary if the water sunk at once
to the level of the drain floor, the depth of the drains being increased
with the increasing distance between them.

Theoretically, every drop of water which falls on a field should sink
straight down to the level of the drains, and force a drop of water below
that level to rise into the drain and flow off. How exactly this is true
in nature cannot be known, and is not material. Drains made in pursuance
of this theory will be effective for any actual condition.

The _depth_ to which the water table should be withdrawn depends, not at
all on the character of the soil, but on the requirements of the crops
which are to be grown upon it, and these requirements are the same in all
soils,—consequently the depth should be the same in all.

What, then, shall that depth be? The usual practice of the most
experienced drainers seems to have fixed four feet as about the proper
depth, and the arguments against anything less than this, as well as some
reasons for supposing that to be sufficient, are so clearly stated by Mr.
Gisborne that it has been deemed best to quote his own words on the

"Take a flower-pot a foot deep, filled with dry soil. Place it in a saucer
containing three inches of water. The first effect will be, that the water
will rise through the hole in the bottom of the pot till the water which
fills the interstices between the soil is on a level with the water in the
saucer. This effect is by gravity. The upper surface of this water is our
water-table. From it water will ascend by attraction through the whole
body of soil till moisture is apparent at the surface. Put in your soil at
60°, a reasonable summer heat for nine inches in depth, your water at 47°,
the seven inches’ temperature of Mr. Parke’s undrained bog; the attracted
water will ascend at 47°, and will diligently occupy itself in attempting
to reduce the 60° soil to its own temperature. Moreover, no sooner will
the soil hold water of attraction, than evaporation will begin to carry it
off, and will produce the cold consequent thereon. This evaporated water
will be replaced by water of attraction at 47°, and this double cooling
process will go on till all the water in the water-table is exhausted.
Supply water to the saucer as fast as it disappears, and then the process
will be perpetual. The system of saucer-watering is reprobated by every
intelligent gardener; it is found by experience to chill vegetation;
besides which, scarcely any cultivated plant can dip its roots into
stagnant water with impunity. Exactly the process which we have described
in the flower-pot is constantly in operation on an undrained retentive
soil; the water-table may not be within nine inches of the surface, but in
very many instances it is within a foot or eighteen inches, at which level
the cold surplus oozes into some ditch or other superficial outlet. At
eighteen inches, attraction will, on the average of soils, act with
considerable power. Here, then, you have two obnoxious principles at work,
both producing cold, and the one administering to the other. The obvious
remedy is, to destroy their _united_ action; to break through their line
of communication. Remove your water of attraction to such a depth that
evaporation cannot act upon it, or but feebly. What is that depth? In
ascertaining this point we are not altogether without data. No doubt depth
diminishes the power of evaporation rapidly. Still, as water taken from a
30-inch drain is almost invariably two or three degrees colder than water
taken from four feet, and as this latter is generally one or two degrees
colder than water from a contiguous well several feet below, we can hardly
avoid drawing the conclusion that the cold of evaporation has considerable
influence at 30 inches, a much-diminished influence at four feet, and
little or none below that depth. If the water-table is removed to the
depth of four feet, when we have allowed 18 inches of attraction, we shall
still have 30 inches of defence against evaporation; and we are inclined
to believe that any prejudicial combined action of attraction and
evaporation is thereby well guarded against. The facts stated seem to
prove that less will not suffice.

"So much on the score of temperature; but this is not all. Do the roots of
esculents wish to penetrate into the earth—at least, to the depth of some
feet? We believe that they do. We are sure of the brassica tribe, of
grass, and clover. All our experience and observation deny the doctrine
that roots only ramble when they are stinted of food; that six inches well
manured is quite enough, better than more. Ask the Jerseyman; he will show
you a parsnip as thick as your thigh, and as long as your leg, and will
tell you of the advantages of 14 feet of dry soil. You will hear of
parsnips whose roots descend to unsearchable depths. We will not appeal to
the Kentucky carrot, which was drawn out by its roots at the antipodes;
but Mr. Mechi’s, if we remember right, was a dozen feet or more. Three
years ago, in a midland county, a field of good land, in good cultivation,
and richly manured, produced a heavy crop of cabbages. In November of that
year we saw that field broken into in several places, and at the depth of
four feet the soil (a tenacious marl, fully stiff enough for brick-earth)
was occupied by the roots of cabbage, not sparingly—not mere capillæ—but
fibres of the size of small pack-thread. A farmer manures a field of four
or five inches of free soil reposing on a retentive clay, and sows it with
wheat. It comes up, and between the kernel and the manure, it looks well
for a time, but anon it sickens. An Irish child looks well for five or six
years, but after that time potato-feeding, and filth, and hardship, begin
to tell. You ask what is amiss with the wheat, and you are told that when
its roots reach the clay, they are poisoned. This field is then
thorough-drained, deep, at least four feet. It receives again from the
cultivator the previous treatment; the wheat comes up well, maintains
throughout a healthy aspect, and gives a good return. What has become of
the poison? We have been told that the rain water filtered through the
soil has taken it into solution or suspension, and has carried it off
through the drains; and men who assume to be of authority put forward this
as one of the advantages of draining. If we believed it, we could not
advocate draining. We really should not have the face to tell our readers
that water, passing through soils containing elements prejudicial to
vegetation, would carry them off, but would leave those which are
beneficial behind. We cannot make our water so discriminating; the general
merit of water of deep drainage is, that it contains very little. Its
perfection would be that it should contain nothing. We understand that
experiments are in progress which have ascertained that water, charged
with matters which are known to stimulate vegetation, when filtered
through four feet of retentive soil, comes out pure. But to return to our
wheat. In the first case, it shrinks before the cold of evaporation and
the cold of water of attraction, and it sickens because its feet are never
dry; it suffers the usual maladies of cold and wet. In the second case,
the excess of cold by evaporation is withdrawn; the cold water of
attraction is removed out of its way; the warm air from the surface,
rushing in to supply the place of the water which the drains remove, and
the warm summer rains, bearing down with them the temperature which they
have acquired from the upper soil, carry a genial heat to its lowest
roots. Health, vigorous growth, and early maturity are the natural
consequences. * * * * * * * * *

"The practice so derided and maligned referring to deep draining has
advanced with wonderful strides. We remember the days of 15 inches; then a
step to 20; a stride to 30; and the last (and probably final) jump to 50,
a few inches under or over. We have dabbled in them all, generally
belonging to the deep section of the day. We have used the words ’probably
final,’ because the first advances were experimental, and, though they
were justified by the results obtained, no one attempted to explain the
principle on which benefit was derived from them. The principles on which
the now prevailing depth is founded, and which we believe to be true, go
far to show that we have attained all the advantages which can be derived
from the removal of water in ordinary agriculture. We do not mean that,
even in the most retentive soil, water would not get into drains which
were laid somewhat deeper; but to this there must be a not very distant
limit, because pure clay, lying below the depth at which wet and drought
applied at surface would expand and contract it, would certainly part with
its water very slowly. We find that, in coal mines and in deep quarries, a
stratum of clay of only a few inches thick interposed between two strata
of pervious stone will form an effectual bar to the passage of water;
whereas, if it lay within a few feet of the surface, it would, in a season
of heat and drought become as pervious as a cullender. But when we have
got rid of the cold arising from the evaporation of free water, have given
a range of several feet to the roots of grass and cereals, and have
enabled retentive land to filter through itself all the rain which falls
upon its surface, we are not, in our present state of knowledge, aware of
any advantage which would arise from further lowering the surface of water
in agricultural land. Smith, of Deanston, first called prominent attention
to the fertilizing effects of rain filtered through land, and to evils
produced by allowing it to flow off the surface. Any one will see how much
more effectually this benefit will be attained, and this evil avoided, by
a 4-foot than a 2-foot drainage. The latter can only prepare two feet of
soil for the reception and retention of rain, which two feet, being
saturated, will reject more, and the surplus must run off the surface,
carrying whatever it can find with it. A 4-foot drainage will be
constantly tending to have four feet of soil ready for the reception of
rain, and it will take much more rain to saturate four feet than two.
Moreover, as a gimlet-hole bored four feet from the surface of a barrel
filled with water will discharge much more in a given time than a similar
hole bored at the depth of two feet, so will a 4-foot drain discharge in a
given time much more water than a drain of two feet. One is acted on by a
4-foot, and the other by a 2-foot pressure."

If any single fact connected with tile-drainage is established, beyond all
possible doubt, it is that in the stiffest clay soils ever cultivated,
drains four feet deep will act effectually; the water will find its way to
them, more and more freely and completely, as the drying of successive
years, and the penetration and decay of the roots of successive crops,
modify the character of the land, and they will eventually be practically
so porous that,—so far as the ease of drainage is concerned,—no
distinction need, in practice, be made between them and the less retentive
loams. For a few years, the line of saturation between the drains, as
shown in Fig. 11, may stand at all seasons considerably above the level of
the bottom of the tile, but it will recede year by year, until it will be
practically level, except immediately after rains.

Mr. Josiah Parkes recommends drains to be laid

    "_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 falling on the
    surface, and ’keep down the subterranean water at a depth
    exceeding the power of capillary attraction to elevate it near the

Alderman Mechi says:

    "Ask nineteen farmers out of twenty, who hold strong clay land,
    and they will tell you it is of no use placing deep four-foot
    drains in such soils—the water cannot get in; a horse’s foot-hole
    (without an opening under it) will hold water like a basin; and so
    on. Well, five minutes after, you tell the same farmers you
    propose digging a cellar, well bricked, six or eight feet deep;
    what is their remark? ’Oh! it’s of no use your making an
    underground cellar in our soil, you _can’t keep the water_ OUT!’
    Was there ever such an illustration of prejudice as this? What is
    a drain pipe but a small cellar full of air? Then, again, common
    sense tells us, you can’t keep a light fluid under a heavy one.
    You might as well try to keep a cork under water, as to try and
    keep air under water. ’Oh! but then our soil isn’t porous.’ If
    not, how can it hold water so readily? I am led to these
    observations by the strong controversy I am having with some Essex
    folks, who protest that I am mad, or foolish, for placing 1-inch
    pipes, at four-foot depth, in strong clays. It is in vain I refer
    to the numerous proofs of my soundness, brought forward by Mr.
    Parkes, engineer to the Royal Agricultural Society, and confirmed
    by Mr. Pusey. They still dispute it. It is in vain I tell them _I
    cannot keep the rainwater out of_ socketed pipes, twelve feet
    deep, that convey a spring to my farm yard. Let us try and
    convince this large class of doubters; for it is of _national_
    importance. Four feet of good porous clay would afford a far
    better meal to some strong bean, or other tap roots, than the
    usual six inches; and a saving of $4 to $5 per acre, in drainage,
    is no trifle.

    "The shallow, or non-drainers, assume that tenacious subsoils are
    impervious or non-absorbent. This is entirely an erroneous
    assumption. If soils were impervious, how could they get wet?

    "I assert, and pledge my agricultural reputation for the fact,
    that there are no earths or clays in this kingdom, be they ever so
    tenacious, that will not readily receive, filter, and transmit
    rain water to drains placed five or more feet deep.

    "A neighbor of mine drained twenty inches deep in strong clay; the
    ground cracked widely; the contraction destroyed the tiles, and
    the rains washed the surface soils into the cracks and choked the
    drains. He has since abandoned shallow draining.

    "When I first began draining, I allowed myself to be overruled by
    my obstinate man, Pearson, who insisted that, for top water, two
    feet was a sufficient depth in a veiny soil. I allowed him to try
    the experiment on two small fields; the result was, that nothing
    prospered; and I am redraining those fields at _one-half_ the
    cost, five and six feet deep, at intervals of 70 and 80 feet.

    "I found iron-sand rocks, strong clay, silt, iron, etc., and an
    enormous quantity of water, all _below_ the 2-foot drains. This
    accounted at once for the sudden check the crops always met with
    in May, when they wanted to send their roots down, but could not,
    without going into stagnant water."

    "There can be no doubt that it is the _depth_ of the drain which
    regulates the escape of the surface water in a given time; regard
    being had, as respects extreme distances, to the nature of the
    soil, and a due capacity of the pipe. _The deeper the drain, even
    in the strongest soils, the quicker the water escapes._ This is an
    astounding but certain fact.

    "That deep and distant drains, where a sufficient fall can be
    obtained, are by far the most profitable, by affording to the
    roots of the plants a greater range for food."

Of course, where the soil is underlaid by rock, less than four feet from
the surface; and where an outlet at that depth cannot be obtained, we
must, per force, drain less deeply, but where there exists no such
obstacle, drains should be laid at a _general_ depth of
four-feet,—general, not uniform, because the drain should have a uniform
inclination, which the surface of the land rarely has.

*The Distance between the Drains.*—Concerning this, there is less
unanimity of opinion among engineers, than prevails with regard to the
question of depth.

In tolerably porous soils, it is generally conceded that 40 or even 50
feet is sufficiently near for 4-foot drains, but, for the more retentive
clays, all distances from 18 feet to 50 feet are recommended, though those
who belong to the more narrow school are, as a rule, extending the limit,
as they see, in practice, the complete manner in which drains at wider
intervals perform their work. A careful consideration of the experience of
the past twenty years, and of the arguments of writers on drainage, leads
to the belief that there are few soils, which need draining at all, on
which it will be safe to place 4-foot drains at much wider intervals than
40 feet. In the lighter loams there are many instances of the successful
application of Professor Mapes’ rule, that "3-foot drains should be placed
20 feet apart, and for each additional foot in depth the distance may be
doubled; for instance, 4-foot drains should be 40 feet apart, and 5-foot
drains 80 feet apart." But, with reference to the greater distance, (80
feet,) it is not to be recommended in stiff clays, for any depth of drain.
Where it is necessary, by reason of insufficient fall, or of underground
rock, to go only three feet deep, the drains should be as near together as
20 feet.

At first thought, it may seem akin to quackery to recommend a uniform
depth and distance, without reference to the character of the land to be
drained; and it is unquestionably true that an exact adaptation of the
work to the varying requirements of different soils would be beneficial,
though no system can be adopted which will make clay drain as freely as
sand. The fact is, that the adjustment of the distances between drains is
very far from partaking of the nature of an exact science, and there is
really very little known, by any one, of the principles on which it should
be based, or of the manner in which the bearing of those principles, in
any particular case, is affected by several circumstances which vary with
each change of soil, inclination and exposure.

In the essays on drainage which have been thus far published, there is a
vagueness in the arguments on this branch of the subject, which betrays a
want of definite conviction in the minds of the writers; and which tends
quite as much to muddle as to enlighten the ideas of the reader. In so far
as the directions are given, whether fortified by argument or not, they
are clearly empirical, and are usually very much qualified by
considerations which weigh with unequal force in different cases.

In laying out work, any skillful drainer will be guided, in deciding the
distance between the lines, by a judgment which has grown out of his
former experience; and which will enable him to adapt the work,
measurably, to the requirements of the particular soil under
consideration; but he would probably find it impossible to so state the
reasons for his decision, that they would be of any general value to

Probably it will be a long time before rules on this subject, based on
well sustained _theory_, can be laid down with distinctness, and, in the
mean time, we must be guided by the results of practice, and must confine
ourselves to a distance which repeated trial, in various soils, has proven
to be safe for all agricultural land. In the drainage of the Central Park,
after a mature consideration of all that had been published on the
subject, and of a considerable previous observation and experience, it was
decided to adopt a general depth of four feet, and to adhere as closely as
possible to a uniform distance of forty feet. No instance was known of a
failure to produce good results by draining at that distance, and several
cases were recalled where drains at fifty and sixty feet had proved so
inefficient that intermediate lines became necessary. After from seven to
ten years’ trial, the Central Park drainage, by its results, has shown
that,—although some of the land is of a very retentive character,—this
distance is not too great; and it is adopted here for recommendation to
all who have no especial reason for supposing that greater distances will
be fully effective in their more porous soils.

As has been before stated, drains at that distance, (or at any distance,)
will not remove all of the water of saturation from heavy clays so rapidly
as from more porous soil; but, although, in some cases, the drainage may
be insufficient during the first year, and not absolutely perfect during
the second and third years, the increased porosity which drainage causes,
(as the summer droughts make fissures in the earth, as decayed roots and
other organic deposits make these fissures permanent, and as chemical
action in the aërated soil changes its character,) will finally bring clay
soils to as perfect a condition as they are capable of attaining, and will
invariably render them excellent for cultivation.

*The Direction of the Laterals* should be _right up and down the slope of
the land_, in the line of steepest descent. For a long time after the
general adoption of thorough-draining, there was much discussion of this
subject, and much variation in practice. The influence of the old rules
for making surface or "catch-water" drains lasted for a long time, and
there was a general tendency to make tile drains follow the same
directions. An important requirement of these was that they should not
take so steep an inclination as to have their bottoms cut out and their
banks undermined by the rapid flow of water, and that they should arrest
and carry away the water flowing down over the surface of hill sides. The
arguments for the line of steepest descent were, however, so clear, and
drains laid on that line were so universally successful in practice, that
it was long ago adopted by all,—save those novices who preferred to gain
their education in draining in the expensive school of their own

The more important reasons why this direction is the best are the
following: First, it is the quickest way to get the water off. Its natural
tendency is to run straight down the hill, and nothing is gained by
diverting it from this course. Second, if the drain runs obliquely down
the hill, the water will be likely to run out at the joints of the tile
and wet the ground below it; even if it do not, mainly, run past the drain
from above into the land below, instead of being forced into the tile.
Third, a drain lying obliquely across a hillside will not be able to draw
the water from below up the hill toward it, and the water of nearly the
whole interval will have to seek its outlet through the drain below it.
Fourth, drains running directly down the hill will tap any porous water
bearing strata, which may crop out, at regular intervals, and will thus
prevent the spewing out of the water at the surface, as it might do if
only oblique drains ran for a long distance just above or just below them.
Very steep, and very springy hill sides, sometimes require very frequent
drains to catch the water which has a tendency to flow to the surface;
this, however, rarely occurs.

In laying out a plan for draining land of a broken surface, which inclines
in different directions, it is impossible to make the drains follow the
line of steepest descent, and at the same time to have them all parallel,
and at uniform distances. In all such cases a compromise must be made
between the two requirements. The more nearly the parallel arrangement can
be preserved, the less costly will the work be, while the more nearly we
follow the steepest slope of the ground, the more efficient will each
drain be. No rule for this adjustment can be given, but a careful study of
the plan of the ground, and of its contour lines, will aid in its
determination. On all irregular ground it requires great skill to secure
the greatest efficiency consistent with economy.

The _fall_ required in well made tile drains is very much less than would
be supposed, by an inexperienced person, to be necessary. Wherever
practicable, without too great cost, it is desirable to have a fall of one
foot in one hundred feet, but more than this in ordinary work is not
especially to be sought, although there is, of course, no objection to
very much greater inclination.

One half of that amount of fall, or six inches in one hundred feet, is
quite sufficient, if the execution of the work is carefully attended to.

The least rate of fall which it is prudent to give to a drain, in using
ordinary tiles, is 2.5 in 1,000, or three inches in one hundred feet, and
even this requires very careful work.(8) A fall of six inches in one
hundred feet is recommended whenever it can be easily obtained—not as
being more effective, but as requiring less precision, and consequently
less expense.

*Kinds and Sizes of Tiles.*—Agricultural drain-tiles are made of clay
similar to that which is used for brick. When burned, they are from twelve
inches to fourteen inches long, with an interior diameter of from one to
eight inches, and with a thickness of wall, (depending on the strength of
the clay, and the size of the bore,) of from one-quarter of an inch to
more than an inch. They are porous, to the extent of absorbing a certain
amount of water, but their porosity has nothing to do with their use for
drainage,—for this purpose they might as well be of glass. The water
enters them, not through their walls, but at their joints, which cannot be
made so tight that they will not admit the very small amount of water that
will need to enter at each space. Gisborne says:

"If an acre of land be intersected with parallel drains twelve yards
apart, and if on that acre should fall the very unusual quantity of one
inch of rain in twelve hours, in order that every drop of this rain may be
discharged by the drains in forty-eight hours from the commencement of the
rain—(and in a less period that quantity neither will, not is it desirable
that it should, filter through an agricultural soil)—the interval between
two pipes will be called upon to pass two-thirds of a tablespoonful of
water per minute, and no more. Inch pipes, lying at a small inclination,
and running only half-full, will discharge more than double this quantity
of water in forty-eight hours."

Tiles may be made of any desired form of section,—the usual forms are the
"horse-shoe," the "sole," the "double-sole," and the "round." The latter
may be used with collars, and they constitute the "pipes and collars,"
frequently referred to in English books on drainage.

              [Illustration: Fig. 13 - HORSE-SHOE TILE.]

                      Fig. 13 - HORSE-SHOE TILE.

_Horse-shoe tiles_, Fig. 13, are condemned by all modern engineers. Mr.
Gisborne disposes of them by an argument of some length, the quotation of
which in these pages is probably advisable, because they form so much
better conduits than stones, and to that extent have been so successfully
employed, that they are still largely used in this country by "amateurs."

    "We shall shock some 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 doggrel
    song, quite destitute of humor, informs us that tiles of this sort
    were used in 1760 at Grandesburg Hall, in Suffolk, by Mr. Charles
    Lawrence, the owner of the estate. The earliest of which we had
    experience were of large area and of weak form. Constant failures
    resulted from their use, and the cause was investigated; many of
    the tiles were found to be choked up with clay, and many to be
    broken longitudinally through the crown. For the first evil, two
    remedies were adopted; a sole of slate, of wood, or of its own
    material, was sometimes placed under the tile, but the more usual
    practice was to form them with club-feet. To meet the case of
    longitudinal fracture, the tiles were reduced in size, and very
    much thickened in proportion to their area. The first of these
    remedies was founded on an entirely mistaken, and the second on no
    conception at all of the cause of the evil to which they were
    respectively applied. The idea was, that this tile, standing on
    narrow feet, and pressed by the weight of the refilled soil, sank
    into the floor of the drain; whereas, in fact, the floor of the
    drain rose into the tile. Any one at all conversant with
    collieries is aware that when a _strait_ work (which is a small
    subterranean tunnel six feet high and four feet wide or
    thereabouts) is driven in coal, the rising of the floor is a more
    usual and far more inconvenient occurrence than the falling of the
    roof: the weight of the two sides squeezes up the floor. We have
    seen it formed into a very decided arch without fracture. Exactly
    a similar operation takes place in the drain. No one had till
    recently dreamed of forming a tile drain, the bottom of which a
    man was not to approach personally within twenty inches or two
    feet. To no one had it then occurred that width at the bottom of
    the drain was a great evil. For the convenience of the operator
    the drain was formed with nearly perpendicular sides, of a width
    in which he could stand and work conveniently, shovel the bottom
    level with his ordinary spade, and lay the tiles by his hand; the
    result was a drain with nearly perpendicular sides, and a wide
    bottom. No sort of clay, particularly when softened by water
    standing on it or running over it, could fail to rise under such
    circumstances; and the deeper the drain the greater the pressure
    and the more certain the rising. A horse-shoe tile, which may be a
    tolerable secure conduit in a drain of two feet, in one of four
    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. Consider the case of a drain formed in clay when dry, the
    conduit a horse-shoe tile. When the clay expands with moisture, it
    necessarily presses on the tile and breaks it through the crown,
    its weakest part.(9) 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. Next came the D form, tile and
    sole in one, and much reduced in size—a great advance; and when
    some skillful operator had laid this tile bottom upwards we were
    evidently on the eve of pipes. For the D tile a round pipe moulded
    with a flat-bottomed solid sole is now generally substituted, and
    is an improvement; but is not equal to pipes and collars, nor
    generally cheaper than they are."

                 [Illustration: Fig. 14 - SOLE TILE.]

                         Fig. 14 - SOLE TILE.

One chief objection to the _Sole-tiles_ is, that, in the drying which they
undergo, preparatory to the burning, the upper side is contracted, by the
more rapid drying, and they often require to be trimmed off with a hatchet
before they will form even tolerable joints; another is, that they cannot
be laid with collars, which form a joint so perfect and so secure, that
their use, in the smaller drains, should be considered indispensable.

                 [Illustration: Fig. 15 - DOUBLE-SOLE TILE.]

                         Fig. 15 - DOUBLE-SOLE TILE.

The _double-sole tiles_, which can be laid either side up give a much
better joint, but they are so heavy as to make the cost of transporation
considerably greater. They are also open to the grave objection that they
cannot be fitted with collars.

Experience, in both public and private works in this country, and the
cumulative testimony of English and French engineers, have demonstrated
that the only tile which it is economical to use, is the _best_ that can
be found, and that the best,—much the best—thus far invented, is the
"pipe, or round tile, and collar,"—and these are unhesitatingly
recommended for use in all cases. Round tiles of small sizes should not be
laid without collars, as the ability to use these constitutes their chief
advantage; holding them perfectly in place, preventing the rattling in of
loose dirt in laying, and giving twice the space for the entrance of water
at the joints. A chief advantage of the larger sizes is, that they may be
laid on any side and thus made to fit closely. The usual sizes of these
tiles are 1-1/4 inches, 2-1/4 inches, and 3-1/2 inches in interior
diameter. Sections of the 2-1/4 inch make collars for the 1-1/4 inch, and
sections of the 3-1/2 inch make collars for the 2-1/4 inch. The 3-1/2 inch
size does not need collars, as it is easily secured in place, and is only
used where the flow of water would be sufficient to wash out the slight
quantity of foreign matters that might enter at the joints.

    [Illustration: Fig. 16 - ROUND TILE AND COLLAR, AND THE SAME AS LAID.]


*The size of tile* to be used is a question of consequence. In England,
1-inch pipes are frequently used, but 1-1/4 inch(10) are recommended for
the smallest drains. Beyond this limit, the proper size to select is, _the
smallest that can convey the water which will ordinarily reach it after a
heavy rain_. The smaller the pipe, the more concentrated the flow, and,
consequently, the more thoroughly obstructions will be removed, and the
occasional flushing of the pipe, when it is taxed, for a few hours, to its
utmost capacity, will insure a thorough cleansing. No inconvenience can
result from the fact that, on rare occasions, the drain is unable, for a
short time, to discharge all the water that reaches it, and if collars are
used, or if the clay be well packed about the pipes, there need be no fear
of the tile being displaced by the pressure. An idea of the drying
capacity of a 1-1/4-inch tile may be gained from observing its _wetting_
capacity, by connecting a pipe of this size with a sufficient body of
water, at its surface, and discharging, over a level dry field, all the
water which it will carry. A 1-1/4-inch pipe will remove all the water
which would fall on an acre of land in a very heavy rain, in 24
hours,—much less time than the water would occupy in getting to the tile,
in any soil which required draining; and tiles of this size are ample for
the draining of two acres. In like manner, 2-1/2-inch tile will suffice
for eight, and 3-1/2-inch tile for twenty acres. The foregoing estimates
are, of course, made on the supposition that only the water which falls on
the land, (storm water,) is to be removed. For main drains, when greater
capacity is required, two tiles may be laid, (side by side,) or in such
cases the larger sizes of sole tiles may be used, being somewhat cheaper.
Where the drains are laid 40 feet apart, about 1,000 tiles per acre will
be required, and, in estimating the quantity of tiles of the different
sizes to be purchased, reference should be had to the following figures;
the first 2,000 feet of drains require a collecting drain of 2-1/4-inch
tile, which will take the water from 7,000 feet; and for the outlet of
from 7,000 to 20,000 feet 3-1/2-inch tile may be used. Collars, being more
subject to breakage, should be ordered in somewhat larger quantities.

Of course, such guessing at what is required, which is especially
uncertain if the surface of the ground is so irregular as to require much
deviation from regular parallel lines, is obviated by the careful
preparation of a plan of the work, which enables us to measure,
beforehand, the length of drain requiring the different sizes of conduit,
and, as tiles are usually made one or two inches more than a foot long, a
thousand of them will lay a thousand feet,—leaving a sufficient allowance
for breakage, and for such slight deviations of the lines as may be
necessary to pass around those stones which are too large to remove. In
very stony ground, the length of lines is often materially increased, but
in such ground, there is usually rock enough or such accumulations of
boulders in some parts, to reduce the length of drain which it is possible
to lay, at least as much as the deviations will increase it.

It is always best to make a contract for tile considerably in advance. The
prices which are given in the advertisements of the makers, are those at
which a single thousand,—or even a few hundred,—can be purchased, and very
considerable reductions of price may be secured on large orders.
Especially is this the case if the land is so situated that the tile may
be purchased at either one of two tile works,—for the prices of all are
extravagantly high, and manufacturers will submit to large discounts
rather than lose an important order.

It is especially recommended, in making the contract, to stipulate that
every tile shall be hard-burned, and that those which will not give a
_clear ring_ when struck with a metallic instrument, shall be rejected,
and the cost of their transportation borne by the maker. The tiles used in
the Central Park drainage were all tested with the aid of a bit of steel
which had, at one end, a cutting edge. With this instrument each tile was
"sounded," and its hardness was tested by scraping the square edge of the
bore. If it did not "ring" when struck, or if the edge was easily cut, it
was rejected. From the first cargo there were many thrown out, but as soon
as the maker saw that they were really inspected, he sent tile of good
quality only. Care should also be taken that no _over-burned_ tile,—such
as have been melted and warped, or very much contracted in size by too
great heat,—be smuggled into the count.

A little practice will enable an ordinary workman to throw out those which
are imperfect, and, as a single tile which is so underdone that it will
not last, or which, from over-burning, has too small an orifice, may
destroy a long drain, or a whole system of drains, the inspection should
be thorough.

The collars should be examined with equal care. Concerning the use of
these, Gisborne says:

"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 1-1/2-inch pipe has a
circumference of three 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 reopen 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."

The cost of collars should not be considered an objection to their use;
because, without collars it would not be safe, (as it is difficult to make
the orifices of two pieces come exactly opposite to each other,) to use
less than 2-inch tiles, while, with collars, 1-1/4-inch are sufficient for
the same use, and, including the cost of collars, are hardly more

It is usual, in all works on agricultural drainage, to insert tables and
formulæ for the guidance of those who are to determine the size of tile
required to discharge the water of a certain area. The practice is not
adopted here, for the reason that all such tables are without practical
value. The smoothness and uniformity of the bore; the rate of fall; the
depth of the drain, and consequent "head," or pressure, of the water; the
different effects of different soils in retarding the flow of the water to
the drain; the different degrees to which angles in the line of tile
affect the flow; the degree of acceleration of the flow which is caused by
greater or less additions to the stream at the junction of branch drains;
and other considerations, arising at every step of the calculation, render
it impossible to apply delicate mathematical rules to work which is, at
best, rude and unmathematical in the extreme. In sewerage, and the water
supply of towns, such tables are useful,—though, even in the most perfect
of these operations, engineers always make large allowances for
circumstances whose influence cannot be exactly measured,—but in land
drainage, the ordinary rules of hydraulics have to be considered in so
many different bearings, that the computations of the books are not at all
reliable. For instance, Messrs. Shedd & Edson, of Boston, have prepared a
series of tables, based on Smeaton’s experiments, for the different sizes
of tile, laid at different inclinations, in which they state that
1-1/2-inch tile, laid with a fall of one foot in a length of one hundred
feet, will discharge 12,054.81 gallons of water in 24 hours. This is equal
to a rain-fall of over 350 inches per year on an acre of land. As the
average annual rain-fall in the United States is about 40 inches, at least
one-half of which is removed by evaporation, it would follow, from this
table, that a 1-1/2-inch pipe, with the above named fall, would serve for
the drainage of about 17 acres. But the calculation is again disturbed by
the fact that the rain-fall is not evenly distributed over all the days of
the year,—as much as six inches having been known to fall in a single 24
hours, (amounting to about 150,000 gallons per acre,) and the removal of
this water in a single day would require a tile nearly five inches in
diameter, laid at the given fall, or a 3-inch tile laid at a fall of more
than 7-1/2 feet in 100 feet. But, again, so much water could not reach a
drain four feet from the surface, in so short a time, and the time
required would depend very much on the character of the soil. Obviously,
then, these tables are worthless for our purpose. Experience has fully
shown that the sizes which are recommended below are ample for practical
purposes, and probably the areas to be drained by the given sizes might be
greatly increased, especially with reference to such soils as do not allow
water to percolate very freely through them.

In connection with this subject, attention is called to the following
extract from the Author’s Report on the Drainage, which accompanies the
"Third Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park:"

"In order to test the efficiency of the system of drainage employed on the
Park, I have caused daily observations to be taken of the amount of water
discharged from the principal drain of ’the Green,’ and have compared it
with the amount of rain-fall. A portion of the record of those
observations is herewith presented.

"In the column headed ’Rain-Fall,’ the amount of water falling on one acre
during the entire storm, is given in gallons. This is computed from the
record of a rain-gauge kept on the Park.

"Under the head of ’Discharge,’ the number of gallons of water drained
from one acre during 24 hours is given. This is computed from observations
taken, once a day or oftener, and supposes the discharge during the entire
day to be the same as at the time of taking the observations. It is,
consequently, but approximately correct:

Date.       Hour.         Rain-fall.   Discharge.   Remarks.
July 13.    10     a.m.   49,916       184 galls.   Ground dry.
                          galls.                    No rain
                                                    since 3d
                                                    inst.; 2
                                                    inches rain
                                                    fell between
                                                    5.15 and
                                                    5.45 p.m.
                                                    and 1-5th of
                                                    an inch
                                                    between 5.45
                                                    and 7.15.
July  14.   6-1/2  "                   4,968   "
July  15.   6-1/2  "                   1,325   "
July  16.   8      "                   1,104   "
July  16.   6     p.m.    33,398   "   7,764   "    Ground
                                                    saturated at
                                                    a depth of 2
                                                    feet when
                                                    this rain
July  17.                              4,319   "
July  18.   9     a.m.                 2,208   "
July  19.   7      "                   1,325   "
July  20.   6-1/2  "                   993   "
July  21.   11      "                  662   "
July  22.   6-1/2  "                   560   "
July  23.   10      "     1,698   "    515   "      This slight
                                                    rain only
                                                    affected the
                                                    ratio of
July  24.   7      "                   442   "
                                                    worthy of
                                                    note until
                                                    Aug. 3.
Aug. 3.     6-1/2  "      8,490   "    191   "      Rain from 3
                                                    p.m. to 3.30
Aug. 4.     6-1/2  "      13,018   "   184   "      "     4.45
                                                    p.m. to 12
Aug. 5.     6-1/2  "      45,288   "   368   "      "     12 m.
                                                    to 6 p.m.
Aug. 5.     6     p.m.                 8,280   "
Aug. 6.     9     a.m.                 3,954   "
Aug. 7.     9      "                   2,208   "
Aug. 8.     6-1/2  "                   828   "
Aug. 9.     6-1/2  "                   662   "
Aug. 12.    6-1/2  "                   368   "      Rain 12 m.
                                                    Aug. 12 to 7
                                                    a.m. Aug.
Aug. 13.    7      "      19,244   "   1,104   "
Aug. 14.    9      "                   736   "
Aug. 24.    9      "      1,132   "    191   "      "   3 a.m.
                                                    to 4.15 a.m.
Aug. 25.    9      "      5,547   "    9,936   "    "   3.30
                                                    p.m. 24th,
                                                    to 7 a.m.
Aug. 25.    7     p.m.    566   "      7,740   "    "   7 a.m.
                                                    to 12 m.
Aug. 26.    6-1/2 a.m.                 3,974   "
Aug. 26.    6     p.m.                 2,208   "
Aug. 27.    6-1/2 a.m.    566   "      1,529   "    "   4 p.m.
                                                    to 6 p.m.
Aug. 28.    7      "                   993   "
Sep. 11.    7      "      566   "      165   "      "   12 m.n.
                                                    (10th) to 7
                                                    a.m. (11th.)
Sep. 12.    9      "      5,094   "    147   "      "   12 m.
                                                    (11th) to 7
                                                    a.m. (12th.)
Sep. 13.    9      "      566   "      132   "      "   4 p.m.
                                                    to 6 p.m.
Sep. 16.    9      "      15,848   "   110   "      "   12 m. to
                                                    12 m.n.
Sep. 17.    7      "      27,552   "   1,104   "    Rain
                                                    until 12 m.
Sep. 17.    5     p.m.                 6,624   "
Sep. 18.    8     a.m.    566   "      4,968   "
Sep. 19.    6-1/2  "                   2,208   "
Sep. 19.    4     p.m.                 1,805   "
Sep. 20.    9     a.m.    566   "      1,324   "    Rain f’m 12
                                                    m. (19th) to
                                                    7 a.m.
Sep. 21.    9      "      5,094   "    945   "      "     3.20
                                                    p.m. (20th)
                                                    to 6 a.m.
Sep. 22.    9      "      10,185   "   1,656   "    "     12 m.
                                                    (21st) to 7
                                                    a.m. (22d.)
Sep. 23.    9      "      40,756   "   7,948   "    Rain
                                                    until 7 a.m.
Sep. 24.    9      "                   4,968   "
Sep. 25.    9      "      566   "      2,984   "
Sep. 26.    9      "                   2,484   "
Oct. 1.     9      "                   828   "      There was
                                                    not enough
                                                    rain during
                                                    this period
                                                    affect the
                                                    flow of
Nov. 18.    9      "                   83   "
Nov. 19.    9      "      1,132   "    184   "      Rain 4.50
                                                    p.m. (18th)
                                                    to 8 a.m.
Nov. 20.    9      "                   119   "
Nov. 22.    9      "      29,336   "   6,624   "    Rain all of
                                                    the previous
Nov. 22.    2     p.m.                 6,624   "
Nov. 23.    9     a.m.                 4,968   "
Nov. 24.    9      "                   1,711   "
Nov. 24.    2     p.m.                 1,417   "
Dec. 17.    9     a.m.                 552   "
Dec. 18.    9      "                   4,968   "    Rain during
                                                    the previous
Dec. 30.    10      "                  581   "

"The tract drained by this system, though very swampy, before being
drained, is now dry enough to walk upon, almost immediately after a storm,
except when underlaid by a stratum of frozen ground."

The area drained by the main at which these gaugings were made, is about
ten acres, and, in deference to the prevailing mania for large conduits,
it had been laid with 6-inch sole-tile. The greatest recorded discharge in
24 hours was (August 25th,) less than 100,000 gallons from the ten
acres,—an amount of water which did not half fill the tile, but which,
according to the tables referred to, would have entirely filled it.

In view of all the information that can be gathered on the subject, the
following directions are given as perfectly reliable for drains four feet
or more in depth, laid on a well regulated fall of even three inches in a
hundred feet:

For   2 acres   1-1/4 inch pipes (with collars.)

For   8 acres   2-1/4 inch pipes (with collars.)

For  20 acres   3-1/2 inch pipes

For  40 acres 2 3-1/2 inch pipes or one 5-inch sole-tile.

For  50 acres       6 inch pipes sole-tile.

For 100 acres       8 inch pipes or two 6-inch sole-tiles.

It is not pretended that these drains will immediately remove all the
water of the heaviest storms, but they will always remove it fast enough
for all practical purposes, and, if the pipes are securely laid, the
drains will only be benefited by the occasional cleansing they will
receive when running "more than full." In illustration of this statement,
the following is quoted from a paper communicated by Mr. Parkes to the
Royal Agricultural Society of England in 1843:

"Mr. Thomas Hammond, of Penshurst, (Kent,) now uses no other size for the
parallel drains than the inch tile in the table, (No. 5,) having commenced
with No. 4,(11) and it may be here stated, that the opinion of all the
farmers who have used them in the Weald, is that a bore of an inch area is
abundantly large. A piece of 9 acres, now sown with wheat, was observed by
the writer, 36 hours after the termination of a rain which fell heavily
and incessantly during 12 hours on the 7th of November. This field was
drained in March, 1842, to the depth of 30 to 36 inches, at a distance of
24 feet asunder, the length of each drain being 235 yards.

"Each, drain emptied itself through a fence bank into a running stream in
a road below it; the discharge therefore was distinctly observable. Two or
three of the pipes had now ceased running; and, with the exception of one
which tapped a small spring and gave a stream about the size of a tobacco
pipe, the run from the others did not exceed the size of a wheat straw.
The greatest flow had been observed by Mr. Hammond at no time to exceed
half the bore of the pipes. The fall in this field is very great, and the
drains are laid in the direction of the fall, which has always been the
practice in this district. The issuing water was transparently clear; and
Mr. Hammond states that he has never observed cloudiness, except for a
short time after very heavy flushes of rain, when the drains are quickly
cleared of all sediment, in consequence of the velocity and force of the
water passing through so small a channel. Infiltration through the soil
and into the pipes, must, in this case, be considered to have been
perfect; and their observed action is the more determinate and valuable as
regards time and effect, as the land was saturated with moisture previous
to this particular fall of rain, and the pipes had ceased to run when it
commenced. This piece had, previous to its drainage, necessarily been
cultivated in narrow stretches, with an open water furrow between them;
but it was now laid quite plain, by which one-eighth of the continuation
of acreage has been saved. Not, however, being confident as to the soil
having already become so porous as to dispense entirely with surface
drains, Mr. Hammond had drawn two long water furrows diagonally across the
field. On examining these, it appeared that very little water had flowed
along any part of them during these 12 hours of rain,—no water had escaped
at their outfall; the entire body of rain had permeated the mass of the
bed, and passed off through the inch pipes; no water perceptible on the
surface, which used to carry it throughout. The subsoil is a brick clay,
but it appears to crack very rapidly by shrinkage consequent to drainage."

*Obstructions.*—The danger that drains will become obstructed, if not
properly laid out and properly made, is very great, and the cost of
removing the obstructions, (often requiring whole lines to be taken up,
washed, and relaid with the extra care that is required in working in old
and soft lines,) is often greater than the original cost of the
improvement. Consequently, the possibility of tile drains becoming stopped
up should be fully considered at the outset, and every precaution should
be taken to prevent so disastrous a result.

The principal causes of obstruction are _silt, vermin_, and _roots_.

_Silt_ is earth which is washed into the tile with the water of the soil,
and which, though it may be carried along in suspension in the water, when
the fall is good, will be deposited in the eddies and slack-water, which
occur whenever there is a break in the fall, or a defect in the laying of
the tile.

_Whenever it is possible to avoid it, no drain should have a decreasing
rate of fall as it approaches its outlet._

If the first hundred feet from the upper end of the drain has a fall of
three inches, the next hundred feet should not have less than three
inches, lest the diminished velocity cause silt, which required the speed
which that fall gives for its removal, to be deposited and to choke the
tile. This defect of grade is shown in Fig. 17. If the second hundred feet
has an inclination of _more_ than three inches, (Fig. 18,) the removal of
silt will be even better secured than if the fall continued at the
original rate. Some silt will enter newly made drains, in spite of our
utmost care, but the amount should be very slight, and if it is evenly
deposited throughout the whole length of the drain, (as it sometimes is
when the rate of fall is very low,) it will do no especial harm; but it
becomes dangerous when it is accumulated within a short distance, by a
decreasing fall, or by a single badly laid tile, or imperfect joint,
which, by arresting the flow, may cause as much mischief as a defective

Owing to the general conformation of the ground, it is sometimes
absolutely necessary to adopt such a grade as is shown in Fig. 19,—even to
the extent of bringing the drain down a rapid slope, and continuing it
with the least possible fall through level ground. When such changes must
be made, they should be effected by angles, and not by curves. In
_increasing_ the fall, curves in the grade are always advisable, in
_decreasing_ it they are always objectionable, except when the decreased
fall is still considerable,—say, at least 2 feet in 100 feet. The reason
for making an absolute angle at the point of depression is, that it
enables us to catch the silt at that point in a silt basin, from which it
may be removed as occasion requires.



_A Silt Basin_ is a chamber, below the grade of the drain, into which the
water flows, becomes comparatively quiet, and deposits its silt, instead
of carrying it into the tile beyond. It may be large or small, in
proportion to the amount of drain above, which it has to accommodate. For
a few hundred feet of the smallest tile, it may be only a 6-inch tile
placed on end and sunk so as to receive and discharge the water at its
top. For a large main, it may be a brick reservoir with a capacity of 2 or
3 cubic feet. The position of a silt basin is shown in Fig. 19.

The quantity of silt which enters the drain depends very much on the soil.
Compact clays yield very little, and wet, running sands, (quicksands,) a
great deal. In a soil of the latter sort, or one having a layer of running
sand at the level of the drain, the ditch should be excavated a little
below the grade of the drain, and then filled to that level with a
retentive clay, and rammed hard. In all cases when the tile is well laid,
(especially if collars are used,) and a stiff earth is well packed around
the tile, silt will not enter the drain to an injurious extent, after a
few months’ operation shall have removed the loose particles about the
joints, and especially after a few very heavy rains, which, if the tiles
are small, will sometimes wash them perfectly clean, although they may
have been half filled with dirt.

_Vermin_,—field mice, moles, etc.,—sometimes make their nests in the tile
and thus choke them, or, dying in them, stop them up with their carcases.
Their entrance should be prevented by placing a coarse wire cloth or
grating in front of the outlets, which afford the only openings for their

_Roots._—The roots of many water-loving trees,—especially willows,—will
often force their entrance into the joints of the tile and fill the whole
bore with masses of fibre which entirely prevent the flow of water.
Collars make it more difficult for them to enter, but even these are not a
sure preventive. Gisborne 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 cannot 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. These remarks apply solely to my own
observation, and may of course be much extended by that of other
agriculturists. I know an instance in which a perennial spring of very
pure and (I believe) soft water is conveyed in socket pipes to a paper
mill. Every junction of two pipes is carefully fortified with cement. The
only object of cover being protection from superficial injury and from
frost, the pipes are laid not far below the sod. Year by year these pipes
are stopped by roots. Trees are very capricious in this matter. I was told
by the late Sir R. Peel that he sacrificed two young elm trees in the park
at Drayton Manor to a drain which had been repeatedly stopped by roots.
The stoppage was nevertheless repeated, and was then traced to an elm tree
far more distant than those which had been sacrificed. Early in the autumn
of 1850 I completed the drainage of the upper part of a boggy valley,
lying, with ramifications, at the foot of marly banks. The main drains
converge to a common outlet, to which are brought one 3-inch pipe and
three of 4 inches each. They lie side by side, and water flows perennially
through each of them. Near to this outlet did grow a red willow. In
February, 1852, I found the water breaking out to the surface of the
ground about 10 yards above the outlet, and was at no loss for the cause,
as the roots of the red willow showed themselves at the orifice of the
3-inch and of two of the 4-inch pipes. On examination I found that a root
had entered a joint between two 3-inch pipes, and had traveled 5 yards to
the mouth of the drain, and 9 yards up the stream, forming a continuous
length of 14 yards. The root which first entered had attained about the
size of a lady’s little finger; and its ramifications consisted of very
fine and almost silky fibres, and would have cut up into half a dozen
comfortable boas. The drain was completely stopped. The pipes were not in
any degree displaced. Roots from the same willow had passed over the
3-inch pipes, and had entered and entirely stopped the first 4-inch drain,
and had partially stopped the second. At a distance of about 50 yards a
black Italian poplar, which stood on a bank over a 4-inch drain, had
completely stopped it with a bunch of roots. The whole of this had been
the work of less than 18 months, including the depth of two winters. A
3-inch branch of the same system runs through a little group of black
poplars. This drain conveys a full stream in plashes of wet, and some
water generally through the winter months, but has not a perennial flow. I
have perceived no indication that roots have interfered with this drain. I
draw no general conclusions from these few facts, but they may assist
those who have more extensive experience in drawing some, which may be of
use to drainers."

Having considered some of the principles on which our work should be
based, let us now return to the map of the field, and apply those
principles in planning the work to be done to make it dry.

*The Outlet* should evidently be placed at the present point of exit of
the brook which runs from the springs, collects the water of the open
ditches, and spreads over the flat in the southwest corner of the tract,
converting it into a swamp. Suppose that, by going some distance into the
next field, we can secure an outlet of 3 feet and 9 inches (3.75) below
the level of the swamp, and that we decide to allow 3 inches drop between
the bottom of the tile at that point, and the reduced level of the brook
to secure the drain against the accumulation of sand, which might result
from back water in time of heavy rain. This fixes the depth of drain at
the outlet at 3-1/2 (3.50) feet.

At that side of the swamp which lies nearest to the main depression of the
up-land, (See Fig. 21,) is the proper place at which to collect the water
from so much of the field as is now drained by the main brook, and at that
point it will be well to place a _silt basin_ or well, built up to the
surface, which may, at any time, be uncovered for an observation of the
working of the drains. The land between this point and the outlet is
absolutely level, requiring the necessary fall in the drain which connects
the two, to be gained by raising the upper end of it. As the distance is
nearly 200 feet, and as it is advisable to give a fall at least
five-tenths of a foot per hundred feet to so important an outlet as this,
the drain at the silt basin may be fixed at only 2-1/2 feet. The basin
being at the foot of a considerable rise in the ground, it will be easy,
within a short distance above, to carry the drains which come to it to a
depth of 4 feet,—were this not the case, the fall between the basin and
the outlet would have to be very much reduced.

*Main Drains.*—The valley through which the brook now runs is about 80
feet wide, with a decided rise in the land at each side. If one main drain
were laid in the center of it, all of the laterals coming to the main
would first run down a steep hillside, and then across a stretch of more
level land, requiring the grade of each lateral to be broken at the foot
of the hill, and provided with a silt basin to collect matters which might
be deposited when the fall becomes less rapid. Consequently, it is best to
provide two mains, or collecting drains, (_A_ and _C_,) one lying at the
foot of each hill, when they will receive the laterals at their greatest
fall; but, as these are too far apart to completely drain the valley
between them, and are located on land higher than the center of the
valley, a drain, (_B_,) should be run up, midway between them.

The collecting drain, _A_, will receive the laterals from the hill to the
west of it, as far up as the 10-foot contour line, and, above that
point,—running up a branch of the valley,—it will receive laterals from
both sides. The drain, _B_, may be continued above the dividing point of
the valley, and will act as one of the series of laterals. The drain, _C_,
will receive the laterals and sub-mains from the rising ground to the east
of it, and from both sides of the minor valley which extends in that

Most of the valley which runs up from the easterly side of the swamp must
be drained independently by the drain _E_, which might be carried to the
silt basin, did not its continuation directly to the outlet offer a
shorter course for the removal of its water. This drain will receive
laterals from the hill bordering the southeasterly side of the swamp, and,
higher up, from both sides of the valley in which it runs.

In laying out these main drains, more attention should be given to placing
them where they will best receive the water of the laterals, and on lines
which offer a good and tolerably uniform descent, than to their use for
the immediate drainage of the land through which they pass. Afterward, in
laying out the laterals, the use of these lines as local drains should, of
course, be duly considered.

*The Lateral Drains* should next receive attention, and in their location
and arrangement the following rules should be observed:

1st. They should run down the steepest descent of the land.

2d. They should be placed at intervals proportionate to their depth;—if 4
feet deep, at 40 feet intervals; if 3 feet deep, at 20 feet intervals.

       [Illustration: Fig. 20 - MAP WITH DRAINS AND CONTOUR LINES.]

               Fig. 20 - MAP WITH DRAINS AND CONTOUR LINES.

3d. They should, as nearly as possible, run parallel to each other.

On land of perfectly uniform character, (all sloping in the same
direction,) all of these requirements may be complied with, but on
irregular land it becomes constantly necessary to make a compromise
between them. Drains running down the line of steepest descent cannot be
parallel,—and, consequently, the intervals between them cannot be always
the same; those which are farther apart at one end than at the other
cannot be always of a depth exactly proportionate to their intervals.

In the adjustment of the lines, so as to conform as nearly to these
requirements as the shape of the ground will allow, there is room for the
exercise of much skill, and on such adjustment depend, in a great degree,
the success and economy of the work. Remembering that on the map, the line
of steepest descent is exactly perpendicular to the contour lines of the
land, it will be profitable to study carefully the system of drains first
laid out, erasing and making alterations wherever it is found possible to
simplify the arrangement.

Strictly speaking, all _angles_ are, to a certain extent, wasteful,
because, if two parallel drains will suffice to drain the land between
them, no better drainage will be effected by a third drain running across
that land. Furthermore, the angles are practically supplied with drains at
less intervals than are required,—for instance, at _C 7 a_ on the map the
triangles included within the dotted line _x_, _y_, will be doubly
drained. So, also, if any point of a 4-foot drain will drain the land
within 20 feet of it, the land included within the dotted line forming a
semi-circle about the point _C 14_, might drain into the end of the
lateral, and it no more needs the action of the main drain than does that
which lies between the laterals. Of course, angles and connecting lines
are indispensable, except where the laterals can run independently across
the entire field, and discharge beyond it. The longer the laterals can be
made, and the more angles can be avoided, the more economical will the
arrangement be; and, until the arrangement of the lines has been made as
nearly perfect as possible, the time of the drainer can be in no way so
profitably spent as in amending his plan.

The series of laterals which discharge through the mains _A_, _C_, _D_ and
_E_, on the accompanying map, have been very carefully considered, and are
submitted to the consideration of the reader, in illustration of what has
been said above.

At one point, just above the middle of the east side of the field, the
laterals are placed at a general distance of 20 feet, because, as will be
seen by reference to Fig. 4, a ledge of rock, underground, will prevent
their being made more than 3 feet deep.

The line from _H_ to _I_, (Fig. 20,) at the north side of the field,
connecting the heads of the laterals, is to be a stone and tile drain,
such as is described on page 60, intended to collect the water which
follows the surface of the rock. (See Fig. 4.)

The swamp is to be drained by itself, by means of two series of laterals
discharging into the main lines _F_ and _G_, which discharge at the
outlet, by the side of the main drain from the silt-basin. By this
arrangement, these laterals, especially at the north side of the swamp,
being accurately laid, with very slight inclinations, can be placed more
deeply than if they ran in an east and west direction, and discharged into
the main, which has a greater inclination, and is only two and a half feet
deep at the basin. Being 3-1/2 (3.50) feet deep at the outlet, they may be
made fully 3 feet deep at their upper ends, and, being only 20 feet apart,
they will drain the land as well as is possible. The drains being now laid
out, over the whole field, the next thing to be attended to is

*The Ordering of the Tile.*—The main line from the outlet up to the
silt-basin, should be of 3-1/2-inch tiles, of which about 190 feet will be
required. The main drain _A_ should be laid with 2-1/4-inch tiles to the
point marked _m_, near its upper end, as the lateral entering there
carries the water of a spring, which is supposed to fill a 1-1/4-inch
tile. The length of this drain, from the silt-basin to that point is 575
feet. The main drain _C_ will require 2-1/4 inch tiles from the silt-basin
to the junction with the lateral, which is marked _C_ 10, above which
point there is about 1,700 feet of drain discharging into it, a portion of
which, being a stone-and-tile drain at the foot of a rock, may be supposed
to receive more water than that which lies under the rest of the
land;—distance 450 feet. The main drain _E_ requires 2-1/4-inch tiles from
the outlet to the point marked _o_, a distance of 380 feet. This tile
will, in addition to its other work, carry as much water from the spring,
on the line of its fourth lateral, as would fill a 1-1/4-inch pipe.(12)

The length of the main drains above the points indicated, and of all the
laterals, amounts to about 12,250 feet. These all require 1-1/4-inch

Allowing about five per cent. for breakage, the order in round numbers,
will be as follows:(13)

3-1/2-inch round tiles      200 feet.

2-1/4-inch round tiles    1,500 feet.

1-1/4-inch round tiles   13,000 feet.

3-1/2-inch round tiles    1,600

2-1/4-inch round tiles   13,250

Order, also, 25 6-inch sole-tiles, to be used in making small silt-basins.

It should be arranged to have the tiles all on the ground before the work
of ditching commences, so that there may be no delay and consequent danger
to the stability of the banks of the ditches, while waiting for them to
arrive. As has been before stated, it should be especially agreed with the
tile-maker, at the time of making the contract, that every tile should be
perfect;—of uniform shape, and neither too much nor too little burned.

*Staking Out.*—Due consideration having been given to such preliminaries
as are connected with the mapping of the ground, and the arrangement, on
paper, of the drains to be made, the drainer may now return to his field,
and, while awaiting the arrival of his tiles, make the necessary
preparation for the work to be done. The first step is to fix certain
prominent points, which will serve to connect the map with the field, by
actual measurements, and this will very easily be done by the aid of the
stakes which are still standing at the intersections of the 50-foot lines,
which were used in the preliminary levelling.

Commencing at the southwest corner of the field, and measuring toward the
east a distance of 34 feet, set a pole to indicate the position of the
outlet. Next, mark the center of the silt-basin at the proper point, which
will be found by measuring 184 feet up the western boundary, and thence
toward the east 96 feet, on a line parallel with the nearest row of
50-foot stakes. Then, in like manner, fix the points _C1_, _C6_, _C9_,
_C10_, and _C17_, and the angles of the other main lines, marking the
stakes, when placed, to correspond with the same points on the map. Then
stake the angles and the upper ends of the laterals, and mark these stakes
to correspond with the map.

It will greatly facilitate this operation, if the plan of the drains which
is used in the field, from which the horizontal lines should be omitted,
have the intersecting 50-foot lines drawn upon it, so that the
measurements may be made from the nearest points of intersection.(14)

Having staked these guiding points of the drains, it is advisable to
remove all of the 50-foot stakes, as these are of no further use, and
would only cause confusion. It will now be easy to set the remaining
stakes,—placing one at every 50 feet of the laterals, and at the
intersections of all the lines.

A system for marking the stakes is indicated on the map, (in the _C_
series of drains,) which, to avoid the confusion which would result from
too much detail on such a small scale, has been carried only to the extent
necessary for illustration. The stakes of the line _C_ are marked _C1_,
_C2_, _C3_, etc. The stakes of the sub-main _C7_, are marked _C7a_, _C7b_,
_C7c_, etc. The stakes of the lateral which enters this drain at _C7a_,
are marked _C7a/1_, _C7a/2_, _C7a/3,_ etc. etc. This system, which
connects the lettering of each lateral with its own sub-main and main, is
perfectly simple, and avoids the possibility of confusion. The position of
the stakes should all be lettered on the map, at the original drawing, and
the same designating marks put on the stakes in the field, as soon as set.

_Grade Stakes_, (pegs about 8 or 10 inches long,) should be placed close
at the sides of the marked stakes, and driven nearly their full length
into the ground. The tops of these stakes furnish fixed points of
elevation from which to take the measurements, and to make the
computations necessary to fix the depth of the drain at each stake. If the
measurements were taken from the surface of the ground, a slight change of
position in placing the instrument, would often make a difference of some
inches in the depth of the drain.

*Taking the Levels.*—For accurate work, it is necessary to ascertain the
comparative levels of the tops of all of the grade stakes; or the distance
of each one of them below an imaginary horizontal plane. This plane, (in
which we use only such lines as are directly above the drains,) may be
called the "Datum Line." Its elevation should be such that it will be
above the highest part of the land, and, for convenience, it is fixed at
the elevation of the levelling instrument when it is so placed as to look
over the highest part of the field.

_Levelling Instruments_ are of various kinds. The best for the work in
hand, is the common railroad level, which is shown in Fig. 6. This is
supported on three legs, which bring it to about the level of the eye. Its
essential parts are a telescope, which has two cross-hairs intersecting
each other in the line of sight, and which may be turned on its pivot
toward any point of the horizon; a bubble glass placed exactly parallel to
the line of sight, and firmly secured in its position so as to turn with
the telescope; and an apparatus for raising or depressing any side of the
instrument by means of set-screws. The instrument is firmly screwed to the
tripod, and placed at a point convenient for looking over a considerable
part of the highest land. By the use of the set-screws, the plane in which
the instrument revolves is brought to a level, so that in whatever
direction the instrument is pointed, the bubble will be in the center of
the glass. The line of sight, whichever way it is turned, is now in our
imaginary plane. A convenient position for the instrument in the field
under consideration, would be at the point, east of the center, marked
_K_, which is about 3 feet below the level of the highest part of the
ground. The telescope should stand about 5 feet above the surface of the
ground directly under it.

_The Levelling-Rod_, (See Fig. 7,) is usually 12 feet long, is divided
into feet and hundredths of a foot, and has a movable target which may be
placed at any part of its entire length. This is carried by an attendant,
who holds it perpendicularly on the top of the grade-stake, while the
operator, looking through the telescope, directs him to move the target up
and down until its center is exactly in the line of sight. The attendant
then reads the elevation, and the operator records it as the distance
below the _datum-line_ of the top of the grade-stake. For convenience, the
letterings of the stakes should be systematically entered in a small field
book, before the work commences, and this should be accompanied by such a
sketch of the plan as will serve as a guide to the location of the lines
on the ground.

The following is the form of the field book for the main drain _C_, with
the levels recorded:

Silt Basin                18.20
C  1                      15.44
C  2                      14.36
C  3                      12.85
C  4                      12.18
C  5                      11.79
C  6                      11.69
C  7                      11.55
C  8                      11.37
C  9                      11.06
C 10                      8.94
C 11                      8.52
C 12                      7.86
C 13                      7.70
C 14                      7.39
C 15                      7.06
C 16                      6.73

The levelling should be continued in this manner, until the grades of all
the points are recorded in the field book.

              [Illustration: Fig. 21 - PROFILE OF DRAIN C.]

                      Fig. 21 - PROFILE OF DRAIN C.

                  Horizontal Scale, 66 ft. to the inch.
                   Vertical Scale, 15 ft. to the inch.

                       1 to 17. Numbers of Stakes.
                   (82) etc. Distances between Stakes.
             18.20 etc. Depths from _datum-line_ to surface.
                       2.50 etc. Depths of ditch.
              20.70 etc. Depths from _datum-line_ to drain.

If, from too great depression of the lower parts of the field, or too
great distances for observation, it becomes necessary to take up a new
position with the instrument, the new level should be connected, by
measurement, with the old one, and the new observations should be computed
to the original plane.

It is not necessary that these levels should be noted on the map,—they are
needed only for computing the depth of cutting, and if entered on the map,
might be mistaken for the figures indicating the depth, which it is more
important to have recorded in their proper positions, for convenience of
reference during the work.

*The Depth and Grade of the Drains.*—Having now staked out the lines upon
the land, and ascertained and recorded the elevations at the different
stakes, it becomes necessary to determine at what depth the tile shall be
placed at each point, so as to give the proper fall to each line, and to
bring all of the lines of the system into accord. As the simplest means of
illustrating the principle on which this work should be done, it will be
convenient to go through with the process with reference to the main drain
_C_, of the plan under consideration. A profile of this line is shown in
Fig. 21, where the line is broken at stake No. 7, and continued in the
lower section of the diagram. The topmost line, from "Silt Basin" to "17,"
is the horizontal datum-line. The numbers above the vertical lines
indicate the stakes; the figures in brackets between these, the number of
feet between the stakes; and the heavy figures at the left of the vertical
lines, the recorded measurements of depth from the datum-line to the
surface of the ground, which is indicated by the irregular line next below
the datum-line. The vertical measurements are, of course, very much
exaggerated, to make the profile more marked, but they are in the proper
relation to each other.

The depth at the silt-basin is fixed at 2-1/2 feet (2.50.) The rise is
rapid to stake 3, very slight from there to stake 7, very rapid from there
to stake 10, a little less rapid from there to stake 11, and still less
rapid from there to stake 17.

To establish the grade by the profile alone, the proper course would be to
fix the depth at the stakes at which the inclination is to be changed, to
draw straight lines between the points thus found, and then to measure the
vertical distance from these lines to the line indicating the surface of
the ground at the different stakes; thus, fixing the depth at stake 3, at
4 feet and 13 hundredths,(15) the line drawn from that point to the depth
of 2.50, at the silt-basin, will be 3 feet and 62 hundredths (3.62) below
stake 1, and 3 feet and 92 hundredths (3.92) below stake 2. At stake 7 it
is necessary to go sufficiently deep to pass from 7 to 10, without coming
too near the surface at 9, which is at the foot of a steep ascent. A line
drawn straight from 4.59 feet below stake 10 to 4.17 feet at stake 17,
would be unnecessarily deep at 11, 12, 13, and 14; and, consequently it is
better to rise to 4.19 feet at 11. So far as this part of the drain is
concerned, it would be well to continue the same rise to 12, but, in doing
so, we would come too near the surface at 13, 14, and 15; or must
considerably depress the line at 16, which would either make a bad break
in the fall at that point, or carry the drain too deep at 17.

By the arrangement adopted, the grade is broken at 3, 7, 10, and 11.
Between these points, it is a straight line, with the rate of fall
indicated in the following table, which commences at the upper end of the
drain and proceeds toward its outlet:

DEPTH.        DEPTH.                                FALL. PER
                                                    100 FT.
No.           No.         246 ft.     2.46 ft.      1.09 ft.
17...4.17     11...4.19
ft.           ft.
No.           No.         41  ft.     82  ft.       2.00  ft.
11...4.19     10...4.59
ft.           ft.
No.           No.         91  ft.     2.49  ft.     2.83  ft.
10...4.59     7...4.47
ft.           ft.
No.           No.         173  ft.    96  ft.       56  ft.
7...4.47      3...4.13
ft.           ft.
No.           S. Basin    186  ft.    3.47  ft.     1.87  ft.
3...4.13      2.25  ft.

It will be seen that the fall becomes more rapid as we ascend from stake
7, but below this point it is very much reduced, so much as to make it
very likely that silt will be deposited, (see page 91), and the drain,
thereby, obstructed. To provide against this, a silt-basin must be placed
at this point which will collect the silt and prevent its entrance into
the more nearly level tile below. The construction of this silt-basin is
more particularly described in the next chapter. From stake 7 to the main
silt-basin the fall is such that the drain will clear itself.

The drawing of regular profiles, for the more important drains, will be
useful for the purpose of making the beginner familiar with the method of
grading, and with the principles on which the grade and depth are
computed; and sometimes, in passing over very irregular surfaces, this
method will enable even a skilled drainer to hit upon the best adjustment
in less time than by computation. Ordinarily, however, the form of
computation given in the following table, which refers to the same drain,
(_C_,) will be more expeditious, and its results are mathematically more

                    Fall.                  Depth
                    Feet and               from
                    Decimals.              Datum
No. of   Distance   Per 100     Between    To        To         Depth of   Remarks.
Stake.   Between    Feet.       Stakes.    Drain.    Surface.   Drain.
Silt                                       20.70     18.20      2.50 ft
Basin.                                     ft.       ft.
C. 1.    82 ft.     2 ft.       1.64 ft.   19.06 "   15.44 "    3.48  ft
C. 2.    39 ft.     do.         .78  ft.   18.28 "   14.36 "    3.83  ft
C. 3.    65 ft.     do.         1.30       16.98 "   12.85 "    4.13  ft
C. 4.    51 ft.     .56         .28  ft.   16.70 "   12.18 "    4.52  ft
C. 5.    43 ft.     do.         .24  ft.   16.46 "   11.79 "    4.67  ft
C. 6.    47 ft.     do.         .26  ft.   16.20 "   11.69 "    4.51  ft
C. 7.    32 ft.     do.         .18  ft.   16.02 "   11.55 "    4.47  ft   Silt-Basin
                                                                           deep at
                                                                           Nos. 7
                                                                           and 10
                                                                           to pass
                                                                           of the
                                                                           at No.
C. 8.    41 ft.     2.83        1.16       14.86 "   11.37 "    3.49  ft
C. 9.    12 ft.     do.         .34  ft.   14.52 "   11.06 "    3.46  ft
C.10.    38 ft.     do.         .99  ft.   13.53 "   8.94 "     4.59  ft
C.11.    41 ft.     2.00        .82  ft.   12.61 "   8.52 "     4.19  ft
C.12.    41 ft.     1.09        .44  ft.   12.27 "   7.86 "     4.41  ft
C.13.    41 ft.     do.         .44  ft.   11.83 "   7.70 "     4.13  ft
C.14.    41 ft.     do.         .44  ft.   11.39 "   7.39 "     4.00  ft
C.15.    41 ft.     do.         .44  ft.   10.95 "   7.06 "     3.89  ft
C.16.    41 ft.     do.         .44  ft.   10.51 "   6.73 "     3.88  ft
C.17.    41 ft.     do.         .44  ft.   10.07 "   5.90 "     4.17  ft

NOTE.—The method of making the foregoing computation is this:

    1st. Enter the lettering of the stakes in the first column,
    commencing at the lower end of the drain.

    2d. Enter the distances between each two stakes in the second
    column, placing the measurement on the line with the number of the
    _upper_ stake of the two.

    3d. In the next to the last column enter, on the line with each
    stake, its depth below the datum-line, as recorded in the field
    book of levels, (See page 105.)

    4th. On the first line of the last column, place the depth of the
    lower end of the drain, (this is established by the grade of the
    main or other outlet at which it discharges.)

    5th. Add this depth to the first number of the line next preceding
    it, and enter the sum obtained on the first line of the fifth
    column, as the depth of the _drain_ below the datum-line.

    6th. Having reference to the grade of the surface, (as shown by
    the figures in the sixth column,) as well as to any necessity for
    placing the drain at certain depths at certain places, enter the
    desired depth, _in pencil,_ in the last column, opposite the
    stakes marking those places. Then add together this depth and the
    corresponding surface measurement in the column next preceding,
    and enter the sum, _in pencil_, in the fifth column, as the depth
    from the datum-line to the desired position of the drain. (In the
    example in hand, these points are at Nos. 3, 7, 10, 11, and 17.)

    7th. Subtract the second amount in the fifth column from the first
    amount for the total fall between the two points—in the example,
    "3" from "Silt-Basin." Divide this total fall, (in feet and
    hundredths,) by one hundredth of the total number of feet between
    them. The result will be the rate of fall per 100 feet, and this
    should be entered, in the third column, opposite each of the
    intermediate distances between the points.


    Depth of the Drain at   20.45 feet.
    the Silt-Basin
    Depth of the Drain at   16.98 feet.
    the Stake No. 3
    Difference              3.47  feet.
    Distance between the    186.— feet.

    1.86)3.47(1.865 or 1.87

                                                                 1 86
                                                                1 610
                                                                1 488
                                                                1 220
                                                                1 116
                                                                1 040

    8th. Multiply the numbers of the second column by those of the
    third and divide the product by 100. The result will be the amount
    of fall between the stakes, (fourth column.)—Example:

    9th. Subtract the first number of the fourth column from the first
    number of the fifth column, (on the line above it,) and place the
    remainder on the next line of the fifth column.—Example:
    20.70-1.64= 19.06.

    Then, from this new amount, subtract the second number of the
    fourth column, for the next number of the fifth, and so on, until,
    in place of the entry in pencil, (Stake 3,) we place the exact
    result of the computation.

    Proceed in like manner with the next interval,—3 to 7.

    10th. Subtract the numbers in the sixth column from those in the
    fifth, and the remainders will be the depths to be entered in the

    Under the head of "Remarks," note any peculiarity of the drain
    which may require attention in the field.

The main lines _A_, _D_, and _E_, and the drain _B_, should next be graded
on the plan set forth for _C_, and their laterals, all of which have
considerable fall, and being all so steep as not to require silt-basins at
any point,—can, by a very simple application of the foregoing principles,
be adjusted at the proper depths. In grading the stone and tile drain,
(_H, I_,) it is only necessary to adopt the depth of the last stakes of
the laterals, with which it is connected, as it is immaterial in which
direction the water flows. The ends of this drain,—from H to the head of
the drain _C10_, and from _I_ to the head of _C17_,—should, of course,
have a decided fall toward the drains.

The laterals which are placed at intervals of 20 feet, over the
underground rock on the east side of the field, should be continued at a
depth of about 3 feet for nearly their whole length, dropping in a
distance of 8 or 10 feet at their lower ends to the top of the tile of the
main. The intervals between the lower ends of _C7c_, _C7d_, and _C7e_,
being considerably more than 20 feet, the drains may be gradually
deepened, throughout their whole length from 3 feet at the upper ends to
the depth of the top of the main at the lower ends.

The main drains _F_ and _G_, being laid in flat land, their outlets being
fixed at a depth of 3.50, (the floor of the main outlet,) and it being
necessary to have them as deep as possible throughout their entire length,
should be graded with great care on the least admissible fall. This, in
ordinary agricultural drainage, may be fixed at .25, or 3 inches, per 100
feet. Their laterals should commence with the top of their 1/4 tile even
with the top of the 2-1/2 collar of the main,—or .15 higher than the grade
of the main,—and rise, at a uniform inclination of .25, to the upper end.

Having now computed the depth at which the tile is to lie, at each stake,
and entered it on the map, we are ready to mark these depths on their
respective stakes in the field, when the preliminary engineering of the
work will be completed.

It has been deemed advisable in this chapter to consider the smallest
details of the work of the draining engineer. Those who intend to drain in
the best manner will find such details important. Those who propose to do
their work less thoroughly, may still be guided by the principles on which
they are based. Any person who will take the pains to mature the plans of
his work as closely as has been here recommended, will as a consequence
commence his operations in the field much more understandingly. The
advantage of having everything decided beforehand,—so that the workmen
need not be delayed for want of sufficient directions, and of making, on
the map, such alterations as would have appeared necessary in the field,
thus saving the cost of cutting ditches in the wrong places, will well
repay the work of the evenings of a whole winter.


Knowing, now, precisely what is to be done; having the lines all staked
out, and the stakes so marked as to be clearly designated; knowing the
precise depth at which the drain is to be laid, at every point; having the
requisite tiles on the ground, and thoroughly inspected, the operator is
prepared to commence actual work.

He should determine how many men he will employ, and what tools they will
require to work to advantage. It may be best that the work be done by two
or three men, or it may be advisable to employ as many as can work without
interfering with each other. In most cases,—especially where there is much
water to contend with,—the latter course will be the most economical, as
the ditches will not be so liable to be injured by the softening of their
bottoms, and the caving in of their sides.

*The Tools Required* are a subsoil plow, two garden lines, spades,
shovels, and picks; narrow finishing spades, a finishing scoop, a tile
pick, a scraper for filling the ditches, a heavy wooden maul for
compacting the bottom filling, half a dozen boning-rods, a measuring rod,
and a plumb rod. These should all be on hand at the outset, so that no
delay in the work may result from the want of them.

                 [Illustration: Fig. 22 - SET OF TOOLS.]

                         Fig. 22 - SET OF TOOLS.

   Flat Spades of various lengths and widths, Bill-necked Scoop (_A_);
     Tile-layer (_B_); Pick-axe (_C_); and Scoop Spades, and Shovel.

Writers on drainage, almost without exception, recommend the use of
elaborate sets of tools which are intended for cutting very narrow
ditches,—only wide enough at the bottom to admit the tile, and not
allowing the workmen to stand in the bottom of the ditch. A set of these
tools is shown in Fig. 22.

Possibly there may be soils in which these implements, in the hands of men
skilled in their use, could be employed with economy, but they are very
rare, and it is not believed to be possible, under any circumstances, to
regulate the bottom of the ditch so accurately as is advisable, unless the
workman can stand directly upon it, cutting it more smoothly than he could
if the point of his tool were a foot or more below the level on which he

On this subject, Mr. J. Bailey Denton, one of the first draining engineers
of Great Britain, in a letter to Judge French, 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 4 feet with a 12-inch opening, _ordinarily_; if he wishes to
_show off_, he will sacrifice his own comfort to appearance, and will do
it with a 10-inch opening."

In the Central Park work, sets of these tools were procured, at
considerable expense, and every effort was made to compel the men to use
them, but it was soon found that, even in the easiest digging, there was a
real economy in using, for the first 3 feet of the ditch, the common
spade, pick, and shovel,—finishing the bottoms with the narrow spade and
scoop hereafter described, and it is probable that the experience of that
work will be sustained by that of the country at large.

*Marking the Lines.*—To lay a drain directly under the position of its
stakes, would require that enough earth be left at each point to hold the
stake, and that the ditch be tunneled under it. This is expensive and
unnecessary. It is better to dig the ditches at one side of the lines of
stakes, far enough away for the earth to hold them firmly in their places,
but near enough to allow measurements to be taken from the grade pegs. If
the ditch be placed always to the right, or always to the left, of the
line, and at a uniform distance, the general plan will remain the same,
and the lines will be near enough to those marked on the map to be easily
found at any future time. In fact, if it be known that the line of tiles
is two feet to the right of the position indicated, it will only be
necessary, at any time, should it be desired to open an old drain, to
measure two feet to the right of the surveyed position to strike the line
at once.

In soils of ordinary tenacity, ditches 4 feet deep need not be more than
twenty (20) inches wide at the surface, and four (4) inches wide at the
bottom. This will allow, in each side, a slope of eight (8) inches, which
is sufficient except in very loose soils, and even these may be braced up,
if inclined to cave in. There are cases where the soil contains so much
running sand, and is so saturated with water, that no precautions will
avail to keep up the banks. Ditches in such ground will sometimes fall in,
until the excavation reaches a width of 8 or 10 feet. Such instances,
however, are very rare, and must be treated as the occasion suggests.

One of the garden lines should be set at a distance of about 6 inches from
the row of stakes, and the other at a further distance of 20 inches. If
the land is in grass, the position of these lines may be marked with a
spade, and they may be removed at once; but, if it is arable land, it will
be best to leave the lines in position until the ditch is excavated to a
sufficient depth to mark it clearly. Indeed, it will be well to at once
remove all of the sod and surface soil, say to a depth of 6 inches,
(throwing this on the same side with the stakes, and back of them.) The
whole force can be profitably employed in this work, until all of the
ditches to be dug are scored to this depth over the entire tract to be
drained, except in swamps which are still too wet for this work.

*Water Courses.*—The brooks which carry the water from the springs should
be "jumped" in marking out the lines, as it is desirable that their water
be kept in separate channels, so far as possible, until the tiles are
ready to receive it, as, if allowed to run in the open ditches, it would
undermine the banks and keep the bottom too soft for sound work.

With this object, commence at the southern boundary of our example tract,
10 or 15 feet east of the point of outlet, and drive a straight,
temporary, shallow ditch to a point a little west of the intersection of
the main line _D_ with its first lateral; then carry it in a northwesterly
direction, crossing _C_ midway between the silt-basin and stake _C 1_, and
thence into the present line of the brook, turning all of the water into
the ditch. A branch of this ditch may be run up between the lines _F_ and
_G_ to receive the water from the spring which lies in that direction.
This arrangement will keep the water out of the way until the drains are
ready to take it.

*The Outlet.*—The water being all discharged through the new temporary
ditch, the old brook, beyond the boundary, should be cleared out to the
final level (3.75,) and an excavation made, just within the boundary,
sufficient to receive the masonry which is to protect the outlet. A good
form of outlet is shown in Fig. 23. It may be cheaply made by any farmer,
especially if he have good stone at hand;—if not, brick may be used, laid
on a solid foundation of stout planks, which, (being protected from the
air and always saturated with water,) will last a very long time.



If made of stone, a solid floor, at least 2 feet square, should be placed
at, or below, the level of the brook. If this consist of a single stone,
it will be better than if of several smaller pieces. On this, place
another layer extending the whole width of the first, but reaching only
from its inner edge to its center line, so as to leave a foot in width of
the bottom stone to receive the fall of the water. This second layer
should reach exactly the grade of the outlet (3.50) or a height of 3
inches from the brook level. On the floor thus made, there should be laid
the tiles which are to constitute the outlets of the several drains;
_i.e._, one 3-1/2-inch tile for the line from the silt-basin, two
1-1/4-inch for the lines _F_ and _G_, and one 2-1/4-inch for the main line
_E_. These tiles should lie close to each other and be firmly cemented
together, so that no water can pass outside of them, and a rubble-work of
stone may with advantage be carried up a foot above them. Stone work,
which may be rough and uncemented, but should always be solid, may then be
built up at the sides, and covered with a secure coping of stone. A floor
and sloping sides of stone work, jointed with the previously described
work, and well cemented, or laid in strong clay or mortar, may, with
benefit, be carried a few feet beyond the outlet. This will effectually
prevent the undermining of the structure. After the entire drainage of the
field is finished, the earth above these sloping sides, and that back of
the coping, should be neatly sloped, and protected by sods. An iron
grating, fine enough to prevent the entrance of vermin, placed in front of
the tile, at a little distance from them,—and secured by a flat stone set
on edge and hollowed out, so as merely to allow the water to flow freely
from the drains,—the stone being cemented in its place so as to allow no
water to pass under it,—will give a substantial and permanent finish to
the structure.

An outlet finished in this way, at an extra cost of a few dollars, will be
most satisfactory, as a lasting means of securing the weakest and most
important part of the system of drains. When no precaution of this sort is
taken, the water frequently forces a passage under the tile for some
distance up the drains, undermining and displacing them, and so softening
the bottom that it will be difficult, in making repairs, to secure a solid
foundation for the work. Usually, repairs of this sort, aside from the
annoyance attending them, will cost more than the amount required to make
the permanent outlet described above. As well constructed outlets are
necessarily rather expensive, as much of the land as possible should be
drained to each one that it is necessary to make, by laying main lines
which will collect all of the water which can be brought to it.

*The Main Silt-Basin.*—The silt-basin, at which the drains are collected,
may best be built before any drains are brought to it, and the work may
proceed simultaneously with that at the outlet. It should be so placed
that its center will lie exactly under the stake which marks its position,
because it will constitute one of the leading landmarks for the survey of
the drains.(17)

Before removing the stake and grade stake, mark their position by four
stakes, set at a distance from it of 4 or 5 feet, in such positions that
two lines, drawn from those which are opposite to each other, will
intersect at the point indicated; and place near one of them a grade
stake, driven to the exact level of the one to be removed. This being
done, dig a well, 4 feet in diameter, to a depth of 2-1/2 feet below the
grade of the outlet drain, (in the example under consideration this would
be 5 feet below the grade stake.) If much water collects in the hole,
widen it, in the direction of the outlet drain, sufficiently to give room
for baling out the water. Now build, in this well, a structure 2 feet in
interior diameter, such as is shown in Fig. 24, having its bottom 2 feet,
in the clear, below the grade of the outlet, and carry its wall a little
higher than the general surface of the ground. At the proper height
insert, in the brick work, the necessary for tiles all incoming and
outgoing drains; in this case, a 3-1/2-inch tile for the outlet,
2-1/4-inch for the mains _A_ and _C_, and 1-1/4-inch for _B_ and _D_.

       [Illustration: Fig. 24 - SILT-BASIN, BUILT TO THE SURFACE.]

               Fig. 24 - SILT-BASIN, BUILT TO THE SURFACE.

This basin being finished and covered with a flat stone or other suitable
material, connect it with the outlet by an open ditch, unless the bottom
of the ditch, when laid open to the proper depth, be found to be of muck
or quicksand. In such case, it will be best to lay the tile at once, and
cover it in for the whole distance, as, on a soft bottom, it would be
difficult to lay it well when the full drainage of the field is flowing
through the ditch. The tiles should be laid with all care, on a perfectly
regulated fall,—using strips of board under them if the bottom is shaky or
soft,—as on this line depends the success of all the drains above it,
which might be rendered useless by a single badly laid tile at this point,
or by any other cause of obstruction to the flow.

While the work is progressing in the field above, there will be a great
deal of muddy water and some sticks, grass, and other rubbish, running
from the ditches above the basin, and care must be taken to prevent this
drain from becoming choked. A piece of wire cloth, or basket work, placed
over the outlet in the basin, will keep out the coarser matters, and the
mud which would accumulate in the tile may be removed by occasional
flushing. This is done by crowding a tuft of grass,—or a bit of sod,—into
the lower end of the tile (at the outlet,) securing it there until the
water rises in the basin, and then removing it. The rush of water will be
sufficient to wash the tile clean.

This plan is not without objections, and, as a rule, it is never well to
lay any tiles at the lower end of a drain until all above it is finished;
but when a considerable outlet must be secured through soft land, which is
inclined to cave in, and to get soft at the bottom, it will save labor to
secure the tile in place before much water reaches it, even though it
require a daily flushing to keep it clean.

*Opening the Ditches.*—Thus far it has been sought to secure a permanent
outlet, and to connect it by a secure channel, with the silt-basin, which
is to collect the water of the different series of drains. The next step
is to lay open the ditches for these. It will be best to commence with the
main line _A_ and its laterals, as they will take most of the water which
now flows through the open brook, and prevent its interference with the
rest of the work.

The first work is the opening of the ditches to a depth of about 3 feet,
which may be best done with the common spade, pick, and shovel, except
that in ground which is tolerably free from stones, a subsoil plow will
often take the place of the pick, with much saving of labor. It _may_ be
drawn by oxen working in a long yoke, which will allow them to walk one on
each side of the ditch, but this is dangerous, as they are liable to
disturb the stakes, (especially the grade stakes,) and to break down the
edges of the ditches. The best plan is to use a small subsoil plow, drawn
by a single horse, or strong mule, trained to walk in the ditch. The beast
will soon learn to accommodate himself to his narrow quarters, and will
work easily in a ditch 2-1/2 feet deep, having a width of less than afoot
at the bottom; of course there must be a way provided for him to come out
at each end. Deeper than this there is no economy in using horse power,
and even for this depth it will be necessary to use a plow having only one

              [Illustration: Fig. 25 - FINISHING SPADE.]

                      Fig. 25 - FINISHING SPADE.

Before the main line is cut into the open brook, this should be furnished
with a wooden trough, which will carry the water across it, so that the
ditch shall receive only the filtration from the ground. Those laterals
west of the main line, which are crossed by the brook, had better not be
opened at present,—not until the water of the spring is admitted to and
removed by the drain.

                  [Illustration: Fig. 26 - FINISHING SCOOP.]

                          Fig. 26 - FINISHING SCOOP.

The other laterals and the whole of the main line, having been cut to a
depth of 3 feet, take a finishing spade, (Fig. 25,) which is only 4 inches
wide at its point, and dig to within 2 or 3 inches of the depth marked on
the stakes, making the bottom tolerably smooth, with the aid of the
finishing scoop, (Fig. 26,) and giving it as regular an inclination as can
be obtained by the eye alone.

      [Illustration: Fig. 27 - BRACING THE SIDES IN SOFT LAND.]

              Fig. 27 - BRACING THE SIDES IN SOFT LAND.

If the ground is "rotten," and the banks of the ditches incline to cave
in, as is often the case in passing wet places, the earth which is thrown
out in digging must be thrown back sufficiently far from the edge to
prevent its weight from increasing the tendency; and the sides of the
ditch may be supported by bits of board braced apart as is shown in Fig.

              [Illustration: Fig. 28 - MEASURING STAFF.]

                      Fig. 28 - MEASURING STAFF.

The manner of opening the ditches, which is described above, for the main
_A_ and its laterals, will apply to the drains of the whole field and to
all similar work.

*Grading the Bottoms.*—The next step in the work is to grade the bottoms
of the ditches, so as to afford a bed for the tiles on the exact lines
which are indicated by the figures marked on the different stakes.

The manner in which this is to be done may be illustrated by describing
the work required for the line from *C10* to *C17*, (Fig. 20,) after it
has been opened, as described above, to within 2 or 3 inches of the final

A measuring rod, or square, such as is shown in Fig. 28,(18) is set at
*C10*, so that the lower side of its arm is at the mark 4.59 on the staff,
(or at a little less than 4.6 if it is divided only into feet and tenths,)
and is held upright in the ditch, with its arm directly over the grade
stake. The earth below it is removed, little by little, until it will
touch the top of the stake and the bottom of the ditch at the same time.
If the ground is soft, it should be cut out until a flat stone, a block of
wood, or a piece of tile, or of brick, sunk in the bottom, will have its
surface at the exact point of measurement. This point is the bottom of the
ditch on which the collar of the tile is to lie at that stake. In the same
manner the depth is fixed at _C11_ (4.19,) and _C12_ (4.41,) as the rate
of fall changes at each of these points, and at _C15_ (3.89,) and _C17_
(4.17,) because (although the fall is uniform from _C12_ to _C17_,) the
distance is too great for accurate sighting.

                    [Illustration: Fig. 29 - BONING ROD.]

                            Fig. 29 - BONING ROD.

Having provided _boning-rods_, which are strips of board 7 feet long,
having horizontal cross pieces at their upper ends, (see Fig. 29,) set
these perpendicularly on the spots which have been found by measurement to
be at the correct depth opposite stakes 10, 11, 12, 15, and 17, and fasten
each in its place by wedging it between two strips of board laid across
the ditch, so as to clasp it, securing these in their places by laying
stones or earth upon their ends.

As these boning-rods are all exactly 7 feet long, of course, a line
sighted across their tops will be exactly 7 feet higher, at all points,
than the required grade of the ditch directly beneath it, and if a plumb
rod, (similar to the boning-rod, but provided with a line and plummet,) be
set perpendicularly on any point of the bottom of the drain, the relation
of its cross piece to the line of sight across the tops of the boning-rods
will show whether the bottom of the ditch at that point is too high, or
too low, or just right. The manner of sighting over two boning-rods and an
intermediate plumb-rod, is shown in Fig. 31.



Three persons are required to finish the bottom of the ditch; one to sight
across the tops of the boning-rods, one to hold the plumb-rod at different
points as the finishing progresses, and one in the ditch, (see Fig. 30,)
provided with the finishing spade and scoop,—and, in hard ground, with a
pick,—to cut down or fill up as the first man calls "too high," or, "too
low." An inch or two of filling maybe beaten sufficiently hard with the
back of the scoop, but if several inches should be required, it should be
well rammed with the top of a pick, or other suitable instrument, as any
subsequent settling would disarrange the fall.

          [Illustration: Fig. 31 - SIGHTING BY THE BONING-RODS.]

                  Fig. 31 - SIGHTING BY THE BONING-RODS.

As the lateral drains are to be laid first, they should be the first
graded, and as they are arranged to discharge into the tops of the mains,
their water will still flow off, although the main ditches are not yet
reduced to their final depth. After the laterals are laid and filled in,
the main should be graded, commencing at the upper end; the tiles being
laid and covered as fast as the bottom is made ready, so that it may not
be disturbed by the water of which the main carries so much more than the

*Tile-Laying.*—Gisborne says: "It would be scarcely more absurd to set a
common blacksmith to eye needles than to employ a common laborer to lay
pipes and collars." The work comes under the head of _skilled labor,_ and,
while no very great exercise of judgment is required in its performance,
the little that is required is imperatively necessary, and the details of
the work should be deftly done. The whole previous outlay,—the survey and
staking of the field, the purchase of the tiles, the digging and grading
of the ditches—has been undertaken that we may make the conduit of
earthenware pipes which is now to be laid, and the whole may be rendered
useless by a want of care and completeness in the performance of this
chief operation. This subject, (in connection with that of finishing the
bottoms of the ditches,) is very clearly treated in Mr. Hoskyns’ charming
essay,(19) as follows:

"It was urged by Mr. Brunel, as a justification for more attention and
expense in the laying of the rails of the Great Western, than had been
ever thought of upon previously constructed lines, that all the
embankments and cuttings, and earthworks and stations, and law and
parliamentary expenses—in fact, the whole of the outlay encountered in the
formation of a railway, had for its main and ultimate object _a perfectly
smooth and level line of rail_; that to turn stingy at this point, just
when you had arrived at the great ultimatum of the whole proceedings, viz:
the iron wheel-track, was a sort of saving which evinced a want of true
preception of the great object of all the labor that had preceded it. It
may seem curious to our experiences, in these days, that such a doctrine
could ever have needed to be enforced by argument; yet no one will deem it
wonderful who has personally witnessed the unaccountable and ever new
difficulty of getting proper attention paid to the leveling of the bottom
of a drain, and the laying of the tiles in that continuous line, where one
single depression or irregularity, by collecting the water at that spot,
year after year, tends toward the eventual stoppage of the whole drain,
through two distinct causes, the softening of the foundation underneath
the sole, or tile flange, and the deposit of soil inside the tile from the
water collected at the spot, and standing there after the rest had run
off. Every depression, however slight, is constantly doing this mischief
in every drain where the fall is but trifling; and if to the two
consequences above mentioned, we may add the decomposition of the tile
itself by the action of water long stagnant within it, we may deduce that
every tile-drain laid with these imperfections in the finishing of the
bottom, has a tendency toward obliteration, out of all reasonable
proportion with that of a well-burnt tile laid on a perfectly even
inclination, which, humanly speaking, may be called a permanent thing. An
open ditch cut by the most skillful workman, in the summer, affords the
best illustration of this underground mischief. Nothing can look smoother
and more even than the bottom, until that uncompromising test of accurate
levels, the water, makes its appearance: all on a sudden the whole scene
is changed, the eye-accredited level vanishes as if some earthquake had
taken place: here, there is a gravelly _scour_, along which the stream
rushes in a thousand little angry-looking ripples; there, it hangs and
looks as dull and heavy as if it had given up running at all, as a useless
waste of energy; in another place, a few dead leaves or sticks, or a
morsel of soil broken from the side, dams back the water for a
considerable distance, occasioning a deposit of soil along the whole
reach, greater in proportion to the quantity and the muddiness of the
water detained. All this shows the paramount importance of perfect
evenness in the bed on which the tiles are laid. _The worst laid tile is
the measure of the goodness and permanence of the whole drain_, just as
the weakest link of a chain is the measure of its strength."

The simple laying of the smaller sizes of pipes and collars in the lateral
drains, is an easy matter. It requires care and precision in placing the
collar equally under the end of each pipe, (having the joint at the middle
of the collar,) in having the ends of the pipes actually touch each other
within the collars, and in brushing away any loose dirt which may have
fallen on the spot on which the collar is to rest. The connection of the
laterals with the mains, the laying of the larger sizes of tiles so as to
form a close joint, the wedging of these larger tiles firmly into their
places, and the trimming which is necessary in going around sharp curves,
and in putting in the shorter pieces which are needed to fill out the
exact length of the drain, demand more skill and judgment than are often
found in the common ditcher. Still, any clever workman, who has a careful
habit, may easily be taught all that is necessary; and until he is
thoroughly taught,—and not only knows how to do the work well, but, also,
understands the importance of doing it well,—the proprietor should
carefully watch the laying of every piece.

_Never have tiles laid by the rod, but always by the day._ "The more
haste, the less speed," is a maxim which applies especially to

If the proprietor or the engineer does not overlook the laying of each
tile as it is done, and probably he will not, he should carefully inspect
every piece before it is covered. It is well to walk along the ditches and
touch each tile with the end of a light rod, in such a way as to see
whether it is firm enough in its position not to be displaced by the earth
which will fall upon it in filling the ditches.

Preparatory to laying, the tiles should be placed along one side of the
ditch, near enough to be easily reached by a man standing in it. When
collars are to be used, one of these should be slipped over one end of
each tile. The workman stands in the ditch, with his face toward its upper
end. The first tile is laid with a collar on its lower end, and the collar
is drawn one-half of its length forward, so as to receive the end of the
next tile. The upper end of the first tile is closed with a stone, or a
bit of broken tile placed firmly against it. The next tile has its nose
placed into the projecting half of the collar of the first one, and its
own collar is drawn forward to receive the end of the third, and thus to
the end of the drain, the workman walking backward as the work progresses.
By and by, when he comes to connect the lateral with the main, he may find
that a short piece of tile is needed to complete the length; this should
not be placed next to the tile of the main, where it is raised above the
bottom of the ditch, but two or three lengths back, leaving the connection
with the main to be made with a tile of full length. If the piece to be
inserted is only two or three inches long, it may be omitted, and the
space covered by using a whole 2½-inch tile in place of the collar. In
turning corners or sharp curves, the end of the tile may be chipped off,
so as to be a little thinner on one side, which will allow it to be turned
at a greater angle in the collar.

If the drain turns a right angle, it will be better to dig out the bottom
of the ditch to a depth of about eight inches, and to set a 6-inch tile on
end in the hole, perforating its sides, so as to admit the ends of the
pipes at the proper level. This 6-inch tile, (which acts as a small
silt-basin,) should stand on a board or on a flat stone, and its top
should be covered with a stone or with a couple of bricks. Wood will last
almost forever below the level of the drain, where it will always be
saturated with water, but in the drier earth above the tile, it is much
more liable to decay.



The trimming and perforating of the tile is done with a "tile-pick," (Fig.
32,) the hatchet end, tolerably sharp, being used for the trimming, and
the point, for making the holes. This is done by striking lightly around
the circumference of the hole until the center piece falls in, or can be
easily knocked in. If the hole is irregular, and does not fit the tile
nicely, the open space should be covered with bits of broken tile, to keep
the earth out.

As fast as the laterals are laid and inspected, they should be filled in
to the depth of at least a foot, to protect the tiles from being broken by
the falling of stones or lumps of earth from the top, and from being
displaced by water flowing in the ditch. Two or three feet of the lower
end may be left uncovered until the connection with the main is finished.

In the main drains, when the tiles are of the size with which collars are
used, the laying is done in the same manner. If it is necessary to use
3-1/2-inch tiles, or any larger size, much more care must be given to the
closing of the joints. All tiles, in manufacture, dry more rapidly at the
top, which is more exposed to the air, than at the bottom, and they are,
therefore, contracted and made shorter at the top. This difference is most
apparent in the larger sizes. The large _round_ tiles, which can be laid
on any side, can easily be made to form a close joint, and they should be
secured in their proper position by stones or lumps of earth, wedged in
between them and the sides of the ditch. The sole tiles must lie with the
shortest sides up, and, usually, the space between two tiles, at the top,
will be from one-quarter to one-half of an inch. To remedy this defect,
and form a joint which may he protected against the entrance of earth, the
bottom should he trimmed off, so as to allow the tops to come closer
together. Any opening, of less than a quarter of an inch, can he
satisfactorily covered,—more than that should not be allowed. In turning
corners, or in passing around curves, with large tiles, their ends must he
beveled off with the pick, so as to fit nicely in this position.

The best covering for the joints of tiles which are laid without collars,
is a scrap of tin, bent so as to fit their shape,—scraps of leather, or
bits of strong wood shavings, answer a very good purpose, though both of
these latter require to be held in place by putting a little earth over
their ends as soon as laid on the tile. _Very small_ grass ropes drawn
over the joints, (the ends being held down with stones or earth,) form a
satisfactory covering, but care should be taken that they be not too
thick. A small handful of wood shavings, thrown over the joints, also
answers a good purpose. Care, however, should always be taken, in using
any material which will decay readily, to have no more than is necessary
to keep the earth out, lest, in its decay, it furnish material to be
carried into the tile and obstruct the flow. This precaution becomes less
necessary in the case of drains which always carry considerable streams of
water, but if they are at times sluggish in their flow, too much care
cannot be given to keep them free of all possible causes of obstruction.
As nothing is gained by increasing the quantity of loose covering beyond
what is needed to close the joints, and as such covering is only procured
with some trouble, there is no reason for its extravagant use.

There seems to remain in the minds of many writers on drainage a
glimmering of the old fallacy that underdrains, like open drains, receive
their water from above, and it is too commonly recommended that porous
substances be placed above the tile. If, as is universally conceded, the
water rises into the tile from below, this is unnecessary. The practice of
covering the joints, and even covering the whole tile, (often to the depth
of a foot,) with tan-bark, turf, coarse gravel, etc., is in no wise to be
commended; and, while the objections to it are not necessarily very grave
in all cases, it always introduces an element of insecurity, and it is a
waste of money, if nothing worse.

The tile layer need not concern himself with the question, of affording
entrance room for the water. Let him, so far as the rude materials at hand
will allow, make the joints perfectly tight, and when the water comes, it
will find ample flaws in his work, and he will have been a good workman if
it do not find room to flow in a current, carrying particles of dirt with

In ditches in which water is running at the time of laying the tiles, the
process should follow closely after the grading, and the stream may even
be dammed back, section after section, (a plugged tile being placed under
the dam, to be afterwards replaced by a free one,) and graded, laid and
covered before the water breaks in. There is one satisfaction in this kind
of work,—that, while it is difficult to lay the drain so thoroughly well
as in a dry ditch, the amount of water is sufficient to overcome any
slight tendency to obstruction.

*Connections.*—As has been before stated, lateral drains should always
enter at the top of the main. Even in the most shallow work, the slightly
decreased depth of the lateral, which this arrangement requires, is well
compensated for by the free outlet which it secures.

After the tile of the main, which is to receive a side drain, has been
fitted to its place, and the point of junction marked, it should be taken
up and perforated; then the end of the tile of the lateral should be so
trimmed as to fit the hole as accurately as may be, the large tile
replaced in its position, and the small one laid on it,—reaching over to
the floor of the lateral ditch. Then connect it with the lateral as
previously laid, fill up solidly the space under the tile which reaches
over to the top of the main, (so that it cannot become disturbed in
filling,) and lay bits of tile, or other suitable covering, around the
connecting joint.(20)

           [Illustration: Fig. 33 - LATERAL DRAIN ENTERING AT TOP.]

                   Fig. 33 - LATERAL DRAIN ENTERING AT TOP.

When the main drain is laid with collars, it should be so arranged that,
by substituting a full tile in the place of the collar,—leaving, within
it, a space between the smaller pipes,—a connection can be made with this
larger tile, as is represented in Figures 33 and 34.

          [Illustration: Fig. 34 - SECTIONAL VIEW OF JOINT.]

                  Fig. 34 - SECTIONAL VIEW OF JOINT.

*Silt-Basins* should be used at all points where a drain, after running
for any considerable distance at a certain rate of fall, changes to a less
rapid fall,—unless, indeed, the diminished fall be still sufficiently
great for the removal of silty matters, (say two feet or more in a
hundred). They may be made in any manner which will secure a stoppage of
the direct current, and afford room below the floor of the tile for the
deposit of the silt which the water has carried in suspension; and they
may be of any suitable material;—even a sound flour barrel will serve a
pretty good purpose for many years. The most complete form of basin is
that represented in Figure 24.

              [Illustration: Fig. 35 - SQUARE BRICK SILT-BASIN.]

                      Fig. 35 - SQUARE BRICK SILT-BASIN.

When the object is only to afford room for the collection of the silt of a
considerable length of drain, and it is not thought worth while to keep
open a communication with the surface, for purposes of inspection, a
square box of brick work, (Fig. 35,) having a depth of one and a half or
two feet below the floor of the drain,—tiles for the drains being built in
the walls, and the top covered with a broad stone,—will answer very well.

           [Illustration: Fig. 36 - SILT-BASIN OF VITRIFIED PIPE.]

                   Fig. 36 - SILT-BASIN OF VITRIFIED PIPE.

A good sort of basin, to reach to the surface of the ground, may be made
of large, vitrified drain pipes,—such as are used for town
sewerage,—having a diameter of from six to twelve inches, according to the
requirements of the work. This basin is shown in Figure 36.

Figure 37 represents a basin made of a 6-inch tile,—similar to that
described on page 130, for turning a short corner. A larger basin of the
same size, cheaper than if built of brick, may be made by using a large
vitrified drain pipe in the place of the one shown in the cut. These
vitrified pipes may be perforated in the manner described for the common

              [Illustration: Fig. 37 - TILE SILT-BASIN.]

                      Fig. 37 - TILE SILT-BASIN.

In laying the main line _C_, (Fig. 21,) an underground basin of brick
work, (Fig. 35,) or its equivalent, should be placed at stake 7, because
at that point the water, which has been flowing on an inclination of 1.09,
2.00 and 2.83 per 100, continues its course over the much less fall of
only 0.56 per 100.

If, among the tiles which have passed the inspection, there are some
which, from over burning, are smaller than the average, they should be
laid at the upper ends of the laterals. The cardinal rule of the tile
layer should be _never to have a single tile in the finished drain of
smaller size, of more irregular shape, or less perfectly laid, than any
tile above it_. If there is to be any difference in the quality of the
drain, at different points, let it grow better as it approaches the outlet
and has a greater length above depending upon its action.

*Covering the Tiles, and Filling-in the Ditches.*—The best material for
covering the tiles is that which will the most completely surround them,
so as to hold them in their places; will be the least likely to have
passages for the flow of _streams_ of water into the joints, and will
afford the least silt to obstruct the drain. Clay is the best of all
available materials, because it is of the most uniform character
throughout its mass, and may be most perfectly compacted around the tiles.
As has been before stated, all matters which are subject to decay are
objectionable, because they will furnish fine matters to enter the joints,
and by their decrease of bulk, may leave openings in the earth through
which streams of muddy water may find their way into the tiles. Gravel is
bad, and will remain bad until its spaces are filled with fine dirt
deposited by water, which, leaving only a part of its impurities here,
carries the rest into the drain. A gravelly loam, free from roots or other
organic matter, if it is strong enough to be worked into a ball when wet,
will answer a very good purpose.

Ordinarily, the earth which was thrown out from the bottom of the ditch,
and which now lies at the top of the dirt heap, is the best to be returned
about the tiles, being first freed from any stones it may contain which
are large enough to break or disturb the tiles in falling on to them.

If the bottom of the ditch consists of quicksand or other silty matters,
clay or some other suitable earth should be sought in that which was
excavated from a less depth, or should be brought from another place. A
thin layer of this having been placed in the bottom of the ditch when
grading, a slight covering of the same about the tiles will so encase them
as to prevent the entrance of the more "slippy" soil.

The first covering of fine earth, free from stones and clods, should be
sprinkled gently over the tiles, no full shovelfuls being thrown on to
them until they are covered at least six inches deep. When the filling has
reached a height of from fifteen to twenty inches, the men may jump into
the ditch and tramp it down evenly and regularly, not treading too hard in
any one place at first. When thus lightly compacted about the tile, so
that any further pressure cannot displace them, the filling should be
repeatedly rammed, (the more the better,) by two men standing astride the
ditch, facing each other, and working a maul, such as is shown in Figure
38, and which may weigh from 80 to 100 pounds.

             [Illustration: Fig. 38 - MAUL FOR RAMMING.]

                     Fig. 38 - MAUL FOR RAMMING.

Those to whom this recommendation is new, will, doubtless, think it
unwise. The only reply to their objection must be that others who shared
their opinion, have, by long observation and experience, been convinced of
its correctness. They may practically convince themselves of the value of
this sort of covering by a simple and inexpensive experiment: Take two
large, water-tight hogsheads, bore through the side of each, a few inches
from the bottom, a hole just large enough to admit a 1-1/4-inch tile;
cover the bottom to the hight of the lower edge of the hole with strong,
wet clay, beaten to a hard paste; on this, lay a line of pipes and
collars,—the inner end sealed with putty, and the tile which passes
through the hole so wedged about with putty, that no water could pass out
between it and the outside of the hole. Cover the tile in one hogshead
with loose gravel, and then fill it to the top with loose earth. Cover the
tile in the other, twenty inches deep, with ordinary stiff clay, (not wet
enough to _puddle_, but sufficiently moist to pack well,) and ram it
thoroughly, so as to make sure that the tiles are completely clasped, and
that there is no crack nor crevice through which water can trickle, and
then fill this hogshead to the top with earth, of the same character with
that used in the other case. These hogsheads should stand where the water
of a small roof, (as that of a hog-pen,) may be led into them, by an
arrangement which shall give an equal quantity to each;—this will give
them rather more than the simple rain-fall, but will leave them exposed to
the usual climatic changes of the season. A vessel, of a capacity of a
quart or more, should be connected with each outlet, and covered from the
dust,— these will act as silt-basins. During the first few storms the
water will flow off much more freely from the first barrel; but, little by
little, the second one, as the water finds its way through the clay, and
as the occasional drying, and repeated filtration make it more porous,
will increase in its flow until it will, by the end of the season, or, at
latest, by the end of the second season, drain as well as the first, if,
indeed, that be not by this time somewhat obstructed with silt. The amount
of accumulation in the vessels at the outlet will show which process has
best kept back the silt, and the character of the deposit will show which
would most probably be carried off by the gentle flow of water in a nearly
level drain.

It is no argument against this experiment that its results cannot be
determined even in a year, for it is not pretended that drains laid in
compact clay will dry land so completely during the first month as those
which give more free access to the water; only that they will do so in a
comparatively short time; and that, as drainage is a work for all time,
(practically as lasting as the farm itself,) the importance of permanence
and good working for long years to come, is out of all proportion to that
of the temporary good results of one or two seasons, accompanied with
doubtful durability.

It has been argued that _surface water_ will be more readily removed by
drains having porous filling. Even if this were true to any important
degree,—which it is not,—it would be an argument against the plan, for the
remedy would be worse than the disease. If the water flow from the surface
down into the drain, it will not fail to carry dirt with it, and instead
of the clear water, which alone should rise into the tiles from below, we
should have a trickling flow from above, muddy with wasted manure and
silty earth.

_The remaining filling of the ditch_ is a matter of simple labor, and may
be done in whatever way may be most economical under the circumstances of
the work. If the amount to be filled is considerable, so that it is
desirable to use horse-power, the best way will be to use a scraper, such
as is represented in Figure 39, which is a strongly ironed plank, 6 feet
long and 18 inches wide, sharp shod at one side, and supplied with handles
at the other. It is propelled by means of the curved rods, which are
attached to its under side by flexible joints. These rods are connected by
a chain which has links large enough to receive the hook of an ox-chain.
This scraper may be used for any straight-forward work by attaching the
power to the middle of the chain. By moving the hook a few links to the
right or left, it will act somewhat after the manner of the mould-board of
a plow, and will, if skillfully handled, shoot the filling rapidly into
the ditch.

       [Illustration: Fig. 39 - BOARD SCRAPER FOR FILLING DITCHES.]


If the work is done by hand, mix the surface soil and turf with the
subsoil filling for the whole depth. If with a scraper, put the surface
soil at the bottom of the loose filling, and the subsoil at the top, as
this will be an imitation, for the limited area of the drains, of the
process of "trenching," which is used in garden cultivation.

When the ditches are filled, they will be higher than the adjoining land,
and it will be well to make them still more so by digging or plowing out a
small trench at each side of the drain, throwing the earth against the
mound, which will prevent surface water, (during heavy rains,) from
running into the loose filling before it is sufficiently settled. A cross
section of a filled drain provided with these ditches is shown in Figure

                                AT EACH SIDE.]


In order that the silt-basins may be examined, and their accumulations of
earth removed, during the early action of the drains, those parts of the
ditches which are above them may be left open, care being taken, by
cutting surface ditches around them, to prevent the entrance of water from
above. During this time the covers of the basins should be kept on, and
should be covered with inverted sods to keep loose dirt from getting into

*Collecting the Water ©f Springs.*—The lateral which connects with the
main drain, _A_, (Fig. 21,) at the point _m_, and which is to take the
water of the spring at the head of the brook, should not be opened until
the main has been completed and filled into the silt-basin,—the brook
having, meantime, been carried over the other ditches in wooden troughs.
This lateral may now be made in the following way: Dig down to the tile of
the main, and carry the lateral ditch back, a distance of ten feet. In the
bottom of this, place a wooden trough, at least six feet long, laid at
such depth that its channel shall be on the exact grade required for
laying the tiles, and lay long straw, (held down by weights,) lengthwise
within it. Make an opening in the tile of the main and connect the trough
with it. The straw will prevent any coarse particles of earth from being
carried into the tile, and the flow of the water will be sufficient to
carry on to the silt-basin any finer matters. Now open the ditch to and
beyond the spring, digging at least a foot below the grade in its
immediate vicinity, and filling to the exact grade with small stones,
broken bricks, or other suitable material. Lay the tiles from the upper
end of the ditch across the stone work, and down to the wooden trough. Now
spread a sufficient layer of wood shavings over the stone work to keep the
earth from entering it, cover the tiles and fill in the ditch, as before
directed, and then remove the straw from the wooden trough and lay tiles
in its place. In this way, the water of even a strong spring may be
carried into a finished drain without danger. In laying the tile which
crosses the stone work, it is well to use full 2-1/2-inch tiles in the
place of collars, leaving the joints of these, and of the 1-1/4-inch
tiles, (which should join near the middle of the collar tile,) about a
quarter of an inch open, to give free entrance to the water.

The stone and tile drain, _H, I_, is simply dug out to the surface of the
rock, if this is not more than two feet below the grade of the upper ends
of the laterals with which it connects, and then filled up with loose
stones to the line of grade. If the stones are small, so as to form a good
bottom for the tiles, they may be laid directly upon it; if not, a bottom
for them may be made of narrow strips of cheap boards. Before filling, the
tiles and stone work should be covered with shavings, and the filling
above these should consist of a strong clay, which will remain in place
after the shavings rot away.

*Amending the Map.*—When the tiles are laid, and before they are covered,
all deviations of the lines, as in passing around large stones and other
obstructions, which may have prevented the exact execution of the original
plan, and the location and kind of each underground silt-basin should also
be carefully noted, so that they may be transferred to the map, for future
reference, in the event of repairs becoming necessary. In a short time
after the work is finished, the surface of the field will show no trace of
the lines of drain, and it should be possible, in case of need, to find
any point of the drains with precision, so that no labor will be lost in
digging for it. It is much cheaper to measure over the surface than to dig
four feet trenches through the ground.


So far as tile drains are concerned, if they are once well laid, and if
the silt-basins have been emptied of silt until the water has ceased to
deposit it, they need no care nor attention, beyond an occasional cleaning
of the outlet brook. Now and then, from the proximity of willows, or
thrifty, young, water-loving trees, a drain will be obstructed by roots;
or, during the first few years after the work is finished, some weak
point,—a badly laid tile, a loosely fitted connection between the lateral
and a main, or an accumulation of silt coming from an undetected and
persistent vein of quicksand,—will be developed, and repairs will have to
be made. Except for the slight danger from roots, which must always be
guarded against to the extent of allowing no young trees of the dangerous
class to grow near a drain through which a _constant_ stream of water
flows, it may be fairly assumed that drains which have been kept in order
for four or five years have passed the danger of interruption from any
cause, and they may be considered entirely safe.

A drain will often, for some months after it is laid, run muddy water
after rains. Sometimes the early deposit of silt will nearly fill the
tile, and it will take the water of several storms to wash it out. If the
tiles have been laid in packed clay, they cannot long receive silt from
without, and that which makes the flow turbid, may be assumed to come from
the original deposit in the conduit. Examinations of newly laid drains
have developed many instances where tiles were at first half filled with
silt, and three months later were entirely clean. The muddiness of the
flow indicates what the doctors call "an effort of nature to relieve
herself," and nature may be trusted to succeed, at least, until she
abandons the effort. If we are sure that a drain has been well laid, we
need feel no anxiety because it fails to take the water from the ground so
completely as it should do, until it settles into a flow of clear water
after the heaviest storms.

In the case of art actual stoppage, which will generally be indicated by
the "bursting out" of the drain, i.e., the wetting of the land as though
there were a spring under it, or as though its water had no underground
outlet, (which is the fact,) it will be necessary to lay open the drain
until the obstruction is found.

In this work, the real value of the map will be shown, by the facility
which it offers for finding any point of any line of drains, and the exact
locality of the junctions with the mains, and of the silt-basins. In
laying out the plan on the ground, and in making his map, the surveyor
will have had recourse to two or more fixed points; one of them, in our
example, (fig. 21,) would probably be the center of the main silt-basin,
and one, a drilled hole or other mark on the rock at the north side of the
field. By staking out on the ground the straight line connecting these two
points, and drawing a corresponding line on the map; we shall have a
_base-line_, from which it will be easy, by perpendicular offsets, to
determine on the ground any point upon the map. By laying a small square
on the map, with one of its edges coinciding with the base-line, and
moving it on this line until the other edge meets the desired point, we
fix, at the angle of the square, the point on the base-line from which we
are to measure the length of the offset. The next step is to find, (by the
scale,) the distance of this point from the nearest end of the base-line,
and from the point sought. Then measure off, in the field, the
corresponding distance on the base-line, and, from the point thus found,
measure on a line perpendicular to the base line, the length of the
offset; the point thus indicated will be the locality sought. In the same
manner, find another point on the same drain, to give the range on which
to stake it out. From this line, the drains which run parallel to it, can
easily be found, or it may be used as a base-line, from which to find, by
measuring offsets, other points near it.

The object of this staking is, to find, in an inexpensive and easy way,
the precise position of the drains, for which it would be otherwise
necessary to grope in the dark, verifying our guesses by digging four-foot
trenches, at random.

If there is a silt-basin, or a junction a short distance below the point
where the water shows itself, this will be the best place to dig. If it is
a silt-basin, we shall probably find that this has filled up with dirt,
and has stopped the flow. In this case it should be cleaned out, and a
point of the drain ten feet below it examined. If this is found to be
clear, a long slender stick may be pushed up as far as the basin and
worked back and forth until the passage is cleared. Then replace the tile
below, and try with the stick to clean the tiles above the basin, so as to
tap the water above the obstruction. If this cannot be done, or if the
drain ten feet below is clogged, it will be necessary to uncover the tiles
in both directions until an opening is found, and to take up and relay the
whole. If the wetting of the ground is sufficient to indicate that there
is much water in the drain, only five or six tiles should be taken up at a
time, cleaned and relaid,—commencing at the lower end,—in order that, when
the water commences to flow, it may not disturb the bottom of the ditch
for the whole distance.

If the point opened is at a junction with the main, examine both the main
and the lateral, to see which is stopped, and proceed with one or the
other, as directed above. In doing this work, care should be taken to send
as little muddy water as possible into the drain below, and to allow the
least possible disturbance of the bottom.

If silt-basins have been placed at those points at which the fall
diminishes, the obstruction will usually be found to occur at the outlets
of these, from a piling up of the silt in front of them, and to extend
only a short distance below and above. It is not necessary to take up the
tiles until they are found to be entirely clean, for, if they are only
one-half or one-third full, they will probably be washed clean by the rush
of water, when that which is accumulated above is tapped. The work should
be done in settled fair weather, and the ditches should remain open until
the effect of the flow has been observed. If the tiles are made thoroughly
clean by the time that the accumulated water has run off, say in 24 hours,
they may be covered up; if not, it may be necessary to remove them again,
and clean them by hand. When the work is undertaken it should be
thoroughly done, so that the expense of a new opening need not be again

It is worse than useless to substitute larger sizes of tiles for those
which are taken up. The obstruction, if by silt, is the result of a too
sluggish flow, and to enlarge the area of the conduit would only increase
the difficulty. If the tiles are too small to carry the full flow which
follows a heavy rain, they will be very unlikely to become choked, for the
water will then have sufficient force to wash them clean, while if they
are much larger than necessary, a deposit of silt to one half of their
height will make a broad, flat bed for the stream, which will run with
much less force, and will be more likely to increase the deposit.

If the drains are obstructed by the roots of willows, or other trees, the
proprietor must decide whether he will sacrifice the trees or the drains;
both he cannot keep, unless he chooses to go to the expense of laying in
cement all of the drains which carry constant streams, for a distance of
at least 50 feet from the dangerous trees. The trouble from trees is
occasionally very great, but its occurrence is too rare for general
consideration, and must be met in each case with such remedies as
circumstances suggest as the best.

The gratings over the outlets of silt-basins which open at the surface of
the ground, are sometimes, during the first year of the drainage,
obstructed by a fungoid growth which collects on the cross bars. This
should be occasionally rubbed off. Its character is not very well
understood, and it is rarely observed in old drains. The decomposition of
the grass bands which are used to cover the joints of the larger tiles may
encourage its formation.

If the surface soil have a good proportion of sand, gravel, or organic
matter, so as to give it the consistency which is known as "loamy," it
will bear any treatment which it may chance to receive in cultivation, or
as pasture land; but if it be a decided clay soil, no amount of draining
will enable us to work it, or to turn cattle upon it when it is wet with
recent rains. It will much sooner become dry, because of the drainage, and
may much sooner be trodden upon without injury; but wet clay cannot be
worked or walked over without being more or less _puddled_, and, thereby,
injured for a long time.

No matter how thoroughly heavy clay pasture lands may be under-drained,
the cattle should be removed from them when it rains, and kept off until
they are comparatively dry. Neglect of this precaution has probably led to
more disappointment as to the effects of drainage than any other
circumstances connected with it. The injury from this cause does not
extend to a great depth, and in the Northern States it would always be
overcome by the frosts of a single winter; as has been before stated, it
is confined to stiff clay soils, but as these are the soils which most
need draining, the warning given is important.


Draining is expensive work. This fact must be accepted as a very stubborn
one, by every man who proposes to undertake the improvement. There is no
royal road to tile-laying, and the beginner should count the cost at the
outset. A good many acres of virgin land at the West might be bought for
what must be paid to get an efficient system of drains laid under a single
acre at home. Any man who stops at this point of the argument will
probably move West,—or do nothing.

Yet, it is susceptible of demonstration that, even at the West, in those
localities where Indian Corn is worth as much as fifty cents per bushel at
the farm, it will pay to drain, in the best manner, all such land as is
described in the first chapter of this book as in need of draining.
Arguments to prove this need not be based at all on cheapness of the work;
only on its effects and its permanence.

In fact, so far as draining with tiles is concerned, cheapness is a
delusion and a snare, for the reason that it implies something less than
the best work, a compromise between excellence and inferiority. The moment
that we come down from the best standard, we introduce a new element into
the calculation. The sort of tile draining which it is the purpose of this
work to advocate is a system so complete in every particular, that it may
be considered as an absolutely permanent improvement. During the first
years of the working of the drains, they will require more or less
attention, and some expense for repairs; but, in well constructed work,
these will be very slight, and will soon cease altogether. In proportion
as we resort to cheap devices, which imply a neglect of important parts of
the work, and a want of thoroughness in the whole, the expense for repairs
will increase, and the duration of the usefulness of the drains will

Drains which are permanently well made, and which will, practically, last
for all time, may be regarded as a good investment, the increased crop of
each year, paying a good interest on the money that they cost, and the
money being still represented by the undiminished value of the
improvement. In such a case the draining of the land may be said to cost,
not $50 per acre,—but the interest on $50 each year. The original amount
is well invested, and brings its yearly dividend as surely as though it
were represented by a five-twenty bond.

With badly constructed drains, on the other hand, the case is quite
different. In buying land which is subject to no loss in quantity or
quality, the farmer considers, not so much the actual cost, as the
relation between the yearly interest on the cost, and the yearly profit on
the crop,—knowing that, a hundred years hence, the land will still be
worth his money.

But if the land were bounded on one side by a river which yearly
encroached some feet on its bank, leaving the field a little smaller after
each freshet; or if, every spring, some rods square of its surface were
sure to be covered three feet deep with stones and sand, so that the
actual value of the property became every year less, the purchaser would
compare the yearly value of the crops, not only with the interest on the
price, but, in addition to this, with so much of the prime value as yearly
disappears with the destruction of the land.

It is exactly so with the question of the cost of drainage. If the work is
insecurely done, and is liable, in five years or in fifty, to become
worthless; the increase of the crops resulting from it, must not only
cover the yearly interest on the cost, but the yearly depreciation as
well. Therefore what may seem at the time of doing the work to be
cheapness, is really the greatest extravagance. It is like building a
brick wall with clay for mortar. The bricks and the workmanship cost full
price, and the small saving on the mortar will topple the wall over in a
few years, while, if well cemented, it would have lasted for centuries.
The cutting and filling of the ditches, and the purchase and
transportation of the tiles, will cost the same in every case, and these
constitute the chief cost; if the proper care in grading, tile-laying and
covering, and in making outlets be stingily withheld,—saving, perhaps,
one-tenth of the expense,—what might have been a permanent improvement to
the land, may disappear, and the whole outlay be lost in ten years. A
saving of ten per cent. in the cost will have lost us the other ninety in
a short time.

But, while cheapness is to be shunned, economy is to be sought in every
item of the work of draining, and should be studied, by proprietor and
engineer, from the first examination of the land, to the throwing of the
last shovelful of earth on to the filling of the ditch. There are few
operations connected with the cultivation of the soil in which so much may
be imperceptibly lost through neglect, and carelessness about little
details, as in tile-draining. In the original levelling of the ground, the
adjustment of the lines, the establishing of the most judicious depth and
inclination at each point of the drains, the disposition of surface
streams during the prosecution of the work, and in the width of the
excavation, the line which divides economy and wastefulness is extremely
narrow and the most constant vigilance, together with the best judgment
and foresight, are needed to avoid unnecessary cost. In the laying and
covering of the tile, on the other hand, it is best to disregard a little
slowness and unnecessary care on the part of the workmen, for the sake of
the most perfect security of the work.

*Details of Cost.*—The items of the work of drainage may be classified as

1. Engineering and Superintendence.

2. Digging the ditches.

3. Grading the bottoms.

4. Tile and tile-laying.

5. Covering the tile and filling the ditches.

6. Outlets and silt-basins.

1. _Engineering and Superintendence._—It is not easy to say what would be
the proper charge for this item of the work. In England, the Commissioners
under the Drainage Acts of Parliament, and the Boards of Public Works, fix
the charge for engineering at $1.25 per acre. That is in a country when
the extent of lands undergoing the process of draining is very great,
enabling one person to superintend large tracts in the same neighborhood
at the same time, and with little or no outlay for travelling expenses. In
this country, where the improvement is, thus far, confined to small areas,
widely separated; and where there are comparatively few engineers who make
a specialty of the work, the charge for services is necessarily much
higher, and the amount expended in travelling much greater. In most cases,
the proprietor of the land must qualify himself to superintend his own
operations, (with the aid of a country surveyor, or a railroad engineer in
the necessary instrumental work.) As draining becomes more general, the
demand for professional assistance will, without doubt, cause local
engineers to turn their attention to the subject, and their services may
be more cheaply obtained. At present, it would probably not be prudent to
estimate the cost of engineering and superintendence, including the time
and skill of the proprietor, at less than $5 per acre, even where from 20
to 50 acres are to be drained at once.

2. _Digging the Ditches._—The labor required for the various operations
constitutes the principal item of cost in draining, and the price of labor
is now so different in different localities, and so unsettled in all, that
it is difficult to determine a rate which would be generally fair. It will
be assumed that the average wages of day laborers of the class employed in
digging ditches, is $1.50 per day, and the calculation will have to be
changed for different districts, in proportion to the deviation of the
actual rate of wages from this amount. There is a considerable advantage
in having the work done at some season, (as after the summer harvest, or
late in the fall,) when wages are comparatively low.

The cutting of the ditches should always be let by the rod. When working
at day’s work, the men will invariably open them wider than is necessary,
for the sake of the greater convenience of working, and the extra width
causes a corresponding waste of labor.

A 4-foot ditch, in most soils, need be only 20 inches wide at the surface,
and 4 inches at the bottom. This gives a mean width of 12 inches, and
requires the removal of nearly 2-1/2 cubic yards of earth for each rod of
ditch; but an increase to a mean width of 16 inches, (which day workmen
will usually reach, while piece workmen almost never will,) requires the
removal of 3-1/4 cubic yards to the rod. As the increased width is usually
below the middle of the drain, the extra earth will all have to be raised
from 2 to 4 feet, and the extra 3/4 yards will cost as much as a full yard
taken evenly from the whole side, from top to bottom.

In clay soils, free from stones or "hard pan," but so stiff as to require
considerable picking, ordinary workmen, after a little practice, will be
able to dig 3-1/2 rods of ditch per day, to an average depth of
3.80,—leaving from 2 to 3 inches of the bottom of 4-foot ditches to be
finished by the graders. This makes the cost of digging about 43 cents per
rod. In loamy soil the cost will be a little less than this, and in very
hard ground, a little more. In sandy and peaty soils, the cost will not be
more than 30 cents. Probably 43 cents would be a fair average for soils
requiring drainage, throughout the country.

This is about 17 cents for each yard of earth removed.

In soft ground, the caving in of the banks will require a much greater
mean width than 12 inches to be thrown out, and, if the accident could not
have been prevented by ordinary care on the part of the workman, (using
the bracing boards shown in Fig. 28,) he should receive extra pay for the
extra work. In passing around large stones it may also be necessary to
increase the width.

The following table will facilitate the calculations for such extra work:

_Length of   12 _Inches   18 _Inches   24 _Inches   30 _Inches   36 _Inches
Ditch._      Wide._       Wide._       Wide._       Wide._       Wide._
             Yds. Feet.   Yds. Feet.   Yds. Feet.   Yds. Feet.   Yds. Feet.
1 Yard.      0 12         0 18         0 24         1 3          1 9
1 Rod.       2 12         3 18         4 24         6 3          7 9

Men will, in most soils, work best in couples,—one shovelling out the
earth, and working forward, and the other, (moving backward,) loosening
the earth with a spade or foot-pick, (Fig. 41.) In stony land, the men
should be required to keep their work well closed up,—excavating to the
full depth as they go. Then, if they strike a stone too large to be taken
out within the terms of their contract, they can skip a sufficient
distance to pass it, and the digging of the omitted part may be done by a
faithful day workman. This will usually be cheaper and more satisfactory
than to pay the contractors for extra work.

                     [Illustration: Fig. 41 - FOOT PICK.]

                             Fig. 41 - FOOT PICK.

Concerning the amount of work that one man can do in a day, in different
soils, digging ditches 4 feet deep, French says: "In the writer’s own
field, where the 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 3 rods in length. The
excavated earth of such a drain measures not quite 3 cubic yards,
(exactly, 2.85.)" In a subsequent work, in a sandy soil, two men opened,
_laid_, and _refilled_ 14 rods in one day;—the mean width being 12

"In the same season, the same men opened, _laid_, and _filled_ 70 rods of
4-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." Or, under
the foregoing calculation of $1.50 per day, 75 cents per rod. These
estimates, in common with nearly all that are published, are for the
entire work of digging, grading, tile-laying, and refilling. Deducting the
time required for the other work, the result will be about as above
estimated; for the rough excavation, 3 1/2-rods to the day’s work,
costing, at $1.50 per day, 43 cents to the rod.

_Grading_ is the removal of 2 or 3 inches in depth, and about 4 inches in
width, of the soil at the bottom of the ditch. It is chiefly done with the
finishing scoop, which, (being made of two thin plates, one of iron and
one of steel, welded together, the iron wearing away and leaving the sharp
steel edge always prominent,) will work in a very hard clay without the
aid of the pick. Three men,—the one in the ditch being a skillful workman,
and the others helping him when not sighting the rods,—will grade about
100 rods per day, making the cost about 6 cents per rod. Until they
acquire the skill to work thus rapidly, they should not be urged beyond
what they can readily do in the best manner, as this operation, (which is
the preparing of the foundation for the tiles,) is probably the most
important of the whole work of draining.

_Tiles and Tile-Laying._—After allowing for breakage, it will take about
16 tiles and 16 collars to lay a rod in length of drain. The cost of these
will, of course, be very much affected by the considerations of the
nearness of the tile-kiln and the cost of transportation. They should, in
no ordinary case, cost, delivered on the ground, more than $8 per thousand
for 1-1/4-inch tiles, and $4 per thousand for the collars, making a total
of $12 for both, equal to about 19 cents per rod. The laying of the tiles,
may be set down at 2 cents per rod,—based on a skilled man laying 100 rods
daily, and receiving $2 per day.

_Covering and filling_ will probably cost 10 cents per rod, (if the
scraper, Fig. 39, can be successfully used for the rough filling, the cost
will be reduced considerably below this.)

The four items of the cost of making one rod of lateral drain are as

Digging the ditches    - - - .43
Grading                - - - .06
Tiles and laying       - - - .21
Covering and filling   - - - .10
- - -.80 cts.

If the drains are placed at intervals of 40 feet, there are required 64
rods to the acre,—this at 80 cents per rod will make the cost per
acre,—for the above items,—$51.20.

How much should be allowed for main drains, outlets, and silt-basins, it
is impossible to say, as, on irregular ground, no two fields will require
the same amount of this sort of work. On very even land, where the whole
surface, for hundreds of acres, slopes gradually in one or two directions,
the outlay for mains need not be more than two per cent. of the cost of
the laterals. This would allow laterals of a uniform length of 800 feet to
discharge into the main line, at intervals of 40 feet, if we do not
consider the trifling extra cost of the larger tiles. On less regular
ground, the cost of mains will often be considerably more than two per
cent. of the cost of the laterals; but in some instances the increase of
main lines will be fully compensated for by the reduction in the length of
the laterals, which, owing to rocks, hills too steep to need drains at
regular intervals, and porous, (gravelly,) streaks in the land, cannot be
profitably made to occupy the whole area so thoroughly.(22)

Probably 7-1/2 per cent. of the cost of the laterals for mains, outlets,
and silt-basins will be a fair average allowance.

This will bring the total cost of the work to about $60 per acre, made up
as follows:

Cost of the finished drains per acre  - - -  $51.20

7-1/2 per cent. added for mains, etc. - - -    3.83

Engineering and Superintendence       - - -    5.00

Of course this is an arbitrary calculation, an estimate without a single
ascertained fact to go upon,—but it is as close as it can be made to what
would probably be the cost of the best work, on average ground, at the
present high prices of labor and material. Five years ago the same work
could have been done for from $40 to $45 per acre, and it will be again
cheaper when wages fall, and when a greater demand for draining tiles
shall have caused more competition in their manufacture. With a large
general demand, such as has existed in England for the last 20 years, they
would now be sold for one-half of their present price here, and the
manufacture would be more profitable.

There are many light lands on retentive subsoils, which could be drained,
at present prices, for $50 or less per acre, and there are others, which
are very hard to dig, on which thorough-draining could not now be done for

The cost and the promise of the operation in each instance, must guide the
land owner in deciding whether or not to undertake the improvement.

In doubtful cases, there is one compromise which may be safely made,—that
is, to omit each alternate drain, and defer its construction until labor
is cheaper.

This is doing half the work,—a very different thing from half-doing the
work. In such cases, the lines should be laid out as though they were to
be all done at once, and, finally, when the omitted drains are made, it
should be in pursuance of the original plan. Probably the drains which are
laid will produce more than one-half of the benefit that would result if
they were all laid, but they will rarely be satisfactory, except as a
temporary expedient, and the saving will be less than would at first seem
likely, for when the second drains are laid; the cultivation of the land
must be again interrupted; the draining force must be again brought
together; the levels of the new lines must be taken, and connected with
those of the old ones; and great care must be taken, selecting the dryest
weather for the work,—to admit very little, if any, muddy water into the
old mains.

This practice of draining by installments is not recommended; it is only
suggested as an allowable expedient, when the cost of the complete work
could not be borne with out inconvenience.

If any staid and economical farmer is disposed to be alarmed at the cost
of draining, he is respectfully reminded of the miles of expensive stone
walls and other fences, in New England and many other parts of the
country, which often are a real detriment to the farms, occupying, with
their accompanying bramble bushes and head lands, acres of valuable land,
and causing great waste of time in turning at the ends of short furrows in
plowing;—while they produce no benefit at all adequate to their cost and

It should also be considered that, just as the cost of fences is scarcely
felt by the farmer, being made when his teams and hands could not be
profitably employed in ordinary farming operations, so the cost of
draining will be reduced in proportion to the amount of the work which he
can "do within himself,"—without hiring men expressly for it. The estimate
herein given is based on the supposition that men are hired for the work,
at wages equal to $1.50 per day,—while draining would often furnish a
great advantage to the farmer in giving employment to farm hands who are
paid and subsisted by the year.


Starting with the basis of $60, as the cost of draining an acre of
ordinary farm land;—what is the prospect that the work will prove

In all of the older States, farmers are glad to lend their surplus funds,
on bond and mortgage on their neighbors’ farms, with interest at the rate
of 7, and often 6 per cent.

In view of the fact that a little attention must be given each year to the
outlets, and, to the silt-basins, as well, for the first few years, it
will be just to charge for the use of the capital 8-1/3 per cent.

This will make a yearly charge on the land, for the benefits resulting
from such a system of draining as has been described, OF FIVE DOLLARS PER

_Will it Pay?_—Will the benefits accruing, year after year,—in wet seasons
and in dry,—with root crops and with grain,—with hay and with fruit,—in
rotations of crops and in pasture,—be worth $5 an acre?

On this question depends the value of tile-draining as a _practical_
improvement, for if there is a self-evident proposition in agriculture, it
is that what is not profitable, one year with another, is _not_ practical.

To counterbalance the charge of $5, as the yearly cost of the draining,
each acre must produce, in addition to what it would have yielded without
the improvement:

10    bushels of Corn    at   .50 per bushel.

3     bushels of Wheat   at $1.66 per bushel.

5     bushels of Rye     at  1.00  per bushel.

12-1/2 bushels of Oats    at   .40 per bushel.

10    bushels of  Potatoes at   .50 per bushel.

6-2/3 bushels of  Barley   at   .75 per bushel.

1,000 pounds  of  Hay      at 10.00 per  ton.

50   pounds  of Cotton   at   .10  per pound.

20   pounds  of  Tobacco  at   .25  per pound.

Surely this is not a large increase,—not in a single case,—and the prices
are generally less than may be expected for years to come.

The United States Census Report places the average crop of Indian Corn, in
Indiana and Illinois, at 33 bushels per acre. In New York it was but 27
bushels, and in Pennsylvania but 20 bushels. It would certainly be
accounted extremely liberal to fix the average yield of such soils as need
draining, at 30 bushels per acre. It is extremely unlikely that they would
yield this, in the average of seasons, with the constantly recurring
injury from backward springs, summer droughts, and early autumn frosts.

Heavy, retentive soils, which are cold and late in the spring, subject to
hard baking in midsummer, and to become cold and wet in the early fall,
are the very ones which are best suited, when drained, to the growth of
Indian Corn. They are "strong" and fertile,—and should be able to absorb,
and to prepare for the use of plants, the manure which is applied to them,
and the fertilizing matters which are brought to them by each storm;—but
they cannot properly exercise the functions of fertile soils, for the
reason that they are strangled with water, chilled by evaporation, or
baked to almost brick-like hardness, during nearly the whole period of the
growth and ripening of the crop. The manure which has been added to them,
as well as their own chemical constituents, are prevented from undergoing
those changes which are necessary to prepare them for the uses of
vegetation. The water of rains, finding the spaces in the soil already
occupied by the water of previous rains, cannot enter to deposit the gases
which it contains,—or, if the soil has been dried by evaporation under the
influence of sun and wind, the surface is almost hermetically sealed, and
the water is only slowly soaked up, much of it running off over the
surface, or lying to be removed by the slow and chilling process of
evaporation. In wet times and in dry, the air, with its heat, its oxygen,
and its carbonic acid, (its universal solvent,) is forbidden to enter and
do its beneficent work. The benefit resulting from cultivating the surface
of the ground is counteracted by the first unfavorable change of the
weather; a single heavy rain, by saturating the soil, returning it to
nearly its original condition of clammy compactness. In favorable seasons,
these difficulties are lessened, but man has no control over the seasons,
and to-morrow may be as foul as to-day has been fair. A crop of corn on
undrained, retentive ground, is subject to injury from disastrous changes
of the weather, from planting until harvest. Even supposing that, in the
most favorable seasons, it would yield as largely as though the ground
were drained, it would lose enough in unfavorable seasons to reduce the
average more than ten (10) bushels per acre.

The average crop, on such land, has been assumed to be 30 bushels per
acre; it would be an estimate as moderate as this one is generous, to say
that, with the same cultivation and the same manure, the average crop,
after draining, would be 50 bushels, or an increase equal to twice as much
as is needed to pay the draining charge. If the method of cultivation is
improved, by deep plowing, ample manuring, and thorough working,—all of
which may be more profitably applied to drained than to undrained
land,—the _average_ crop,—of a series of years,—will not be less than 60

The cost of extra harvesting will be more than repaid by the value of the
extra fodder, and the increased cultivation and manuring are lasting
benefits, which can be charged, only in small part, to the current crop.
Therefore, if it will pay to plow, plant, hoe and harvest for 30 bushels
of corn, it will surely pay much better to double the crop at a yearly
extra cost of $5, and, practically, it amounts to this;—the extra crop is
nearly all clear gain.

The quantity of Wheat required to repay the annual charge for drainage is
so small, that no argument is needed to show that any process which will
simply prevent "throwing out" in winter, and the failure of the plant in
the wetter parts of the field, will increase the product more than that
amount,—to say nothing of the general importance to this crop of having
the land in the most perfect condition, (in winter as well as in summer.)

It is stated that, since the general introduction of drainage in England,
(within the past 25 years,) the wheat crop of that country has been more
than doubled. Of course, it does not necessarily follow that the amount
_per acre_ has been doubled, large areas which were originally unfit for
the growth of this crop, having been, by draining, excellently fitted for
its cultivation;—but there can be no doubt that its yield has been greatly
increased on all drained lands, nor that large areas, which, before being
drained, were able to produce fair crops only in the best seasons, are now
made very nearly independent of the weather.

It is not susceptible of demonstration, but it is undoubtedly true, that
those clay or other heavy soils, which are devoted to the growth of wheat
in this country, would, if they were thoroughly under-drained, produce, on
the average of years, at least double their present crop.

Mr. John Johnston, a venerable Scotch farmer, who has long been a
successful cultivator in the Wheat region of Western New York,—and who was
almost the pioneer of tile-draining in America,—has laid over 50 miles of
drains within the last 30 years. His practice is described in Klippart’s
Land Drainage, from which work we quote the following:

"Mr. Johnston says he never saw 100 acres in any one farm, but a portion
of it would pay for draining. Mr. Johnston is no rich man who has carried
a favorite hobby without regard to cost or profit. He is a hardworking
Scotch farmer, who commenced a poor man, borrowed money to drain his land,
has gradually extended his operations, and is now reaping the benefits, in
having crops of 40 bushels of wheat to the acre. He is a gray-haired
Nestor, who, after accumulating the experience of a long life, is now, at
68 years of age, written to by strangers in every State of the Union for
information, not only in drainage matters, but all cognate branches of
farming. He sits in his homestead, a veritable Humboldt in his way,
dispensing information cheerfully through our agricultural papers and to
private correspondents, of whom he has recorded 164 who applied to him
last year. His opinions are, therefore, worth more than those of a host of
theoretical men, who write without practice." * * * * *

"Although his farm is mainly devoted to wheat, yet a considerable area of
meadow and some pasture has been retained. He now owns about 300 acres of
land. The yield of wheat has been 40 bushels this year, and in former
seasons, when his neighbors were reaping 8, 10, or 15 bushels, he has had
30 and 40." * * * * *

"Mr. Johnston says tile-draining pays for itself in two seasons, sometimes
in one. Thus, in 1847, he bought a piece of 10 acres to get an outlet for
his drains. It was a perfect quagmire, covered with coarse aquatic
grasses, and so unfruitful that it would not give back the seed sown upon
it. In 1848 a crop of corn was taken from it, which was measured and found
to be _eighty bushels_ per acre, and as, because of the Irish famine, corn
was worth $1 per bushel that year, this crop paid not only all the expense
of drainage, but the first cost of the land as well.

"Another piece of 20 acres, adjoining the farm of the late John Delafield,
was wet, and would never bring more than 10 bushels of corn per acre. This
was drained at a great cost, nearly $30 per acre. The first crop after
this was 83 bushels and some odd pounds per acre. It was weighed and
measured by Mr. Delafield, and the County Society awarded a premium to Mr.
Johnston. Eight acres and some rods of this land, at one side, averaged 94
bushels, or the trifling increase of 84 bushels per acre over what it
would bear before those insignificant clay tiles were buried in the
ground. But this increase of crop is not the only profit of drainage; for
Mr. Johnston says that, on drained land, one half the usual quantity of
manure suffices to give maximum crops. It is not difficult to find a
reason for this. When the soil is sodden with water, air can not enter to
any extent, and hence oxygen can not eat off the surfaces of
soil-particles and prepare food for plants; thus the plant must in great
measure depend on the manure for sustenance, and, of course, the more this
is the case, the more manure must be applied to get good crops. This is
one reason, but there are others which we might adduce if one good one
were not sufficient.

"Mr. Johnston says he never made money until he drained, and so convinced
is he of the benefits accruing from the practice, that he would not
hesitate,—as he did not when the result was much more uncertain than at
present,—to borrow money to drain. Drains well laid, endure, but unless a
farmer intends doing the job well, he had best leave it alone and grow
poor, and move out West, and all that sort of thing. Occupiers of
apparently dry land are not safe in concluding that they need not go to
the expense of draining, for if they will but dig a three-foot ditch in
even the driest soil, water will be found in the bottom at the end of
eight hours, and if it does come, then draining will pay for itself

Some years ago, the Rural New Yorker published a letter from one of its
correspondents from which the following is extracted:—

    "I recollect calling upon a gentleman in the harvest field, when
    something like the following conversation occurred:

    ’Your wheat, sir, looks very fine; how many acres have you in this

    ’In the neighborhood of eight, I judge.’

    ’Did you sow upon fallow?’

    ’No sir. We turned over green sward—sowed immediately upon the
    sod, and dragged it thoroughly—and you see the yield will probably
    be 25 bushels to the acre, where it is not too wet.’

    ’Yes sir, it is mostly very fine. I observed a thin strip through
    it, but did not notice that it was wet.’

    ’Well, it is not _very_ wet. Sometimes after a rain, the water
    runs across it, and in spring and fall it is just wet enough to
    heave the wheat and kill it.’

    I inquired whether a couple of good drains across the lot would
    not render it dry.

    ’Perhaps so—but there is not over an acre that is killed out.’

    ’Have you made an estimate of the loss you annually sustain from
    this wet place?’

    ’No, I had not thought much about it.’

    ’Would $30 be too high?’

    ’O yes, double.’

    ’Well, let’s see; it cost you $3 to turn over the sward? Two
    bushels of seed, $2; harrowing in, 75 cents; interest, taxes, and
    fences, $5.25; 25 bushels of wheat lost, $25.’

    ’Deduct for harvesting—--’

    ’No; the straw would pay for that.’

    ’Very well, all footed $36.’

    ’What will the wheat and straw on this acre be worth this year?’

    ’Nothing, as I shall not cut the ground over.’

    ’Then it appears that you have lost, in what you have actually
    expended, and the wheat you would have harvested, had the ground
    been dry, $36, a pretty large sum for one acre.’

    ’Yes I see,’ said the farmer."

While Rye may be grown, with tolerable advantage, on lands which are less
perfectly drained than is necessary for Wheat, there can be no doubt that
an increase of more than the six and two-thirds bushels needed to make up
the drainage charge will be the result of the improvement.

While Oats will thrive in soils which are too wet for many other crops,
the ability to plant early, which is secured by an early removal from the
soil of its surplus water, will ensure, one year with another, more than
twelve and a half bushels of increased product.

In the case of Potatoes, also, the early planting will be a great
advantage; and, while the cause of the potato-rot is not yet clearly
discovered, it is generally conceded that, even if it does not result
directly from too great wetness of the soil, its development is favored by
this condition, either from a direct action on the tubers, or from the
effect in the air immediately about the plants, of the exhalations of a
humid soil.

An increase of from five to ten per cent. on a very ordinary crop of
potatoes, will cover the drainage charge, and with facilities for
marketing, the higher price of the earlier yield is of much greater

Barley will not thrive in wet soil, and there is no question that drainage
would give it much more than the increased yield prescribed above.

As to hay, there are many wet, rich soils which produce very large crops
of grass, and it is possible that drainage might not always cause them to
yield a thousand pounds more of hay to the acre, but the _quality_ of the
hay from the drained soil, would, of itself, more than compensate for the
drainage charge. The great benefit of the improvement, with reference to
this crop, however, lies in the fact that, although wet, grass lands,—and
by "wet" is meant the condition of undrained, retentive clays, and heavy
loams, or other soils requiring drainage,—in a very few years "run out,"
or become occupied by semi-aquatic and other objectionable plants, to the
exclusion of the proper grasses; the same lands, thoroughly drained, may
be kept in full yield of the finest hay plants, as long as the ground is
properly managed. It must, of course, be manured, from time to time, and
care should be taken to prevent the puddling of its surface, by men or
animals, while it is too wet from recent rain. With proper attention to
these points, it need not be broken up in a lifetime, and it may be relied
on to produce uniformly good crops, always equal to the best obtained
before drainage.

So far as Cotton and Tobacco are concerned, there are not many instances
recorded of the systematic drainage of lands appropriated to their
cultivation, but there is every reason to suppose that they will both be
benefitted by any operation which will have the effect of placing the soil
in a better condition for the uses of all cultivated plants. The average
crop of tobacco is about 700 lbs., and that of cotton probably 250 lbs. An
addition of one-fifth to the cotton crop, and of only one thirty-fifth to
the tobacco crop, would make the required increase.

The failure of the cotton crop, during the past season, (1866,) might have
been entirely prevented, in many districts, by the thorough draining of
the land.

The advantages claimed for drainage with reference to the above-named
staple crops, will apply with equal, if not greater force, to all garden
and orchard culture. In fact, with the exception of osier willows, and
cranberries, there is scarcely a cultivated plant which will not yield
larger and better crops on drained than on undrained land,—enough better,
and enough larger, to pay much more than the interest on the cost of the

Yet, this advantage of draining, is, by no means, the only one which is
worthy of consideration. Since the object of cultivation is to produce
remunerative crops, of course, the larger and better the crops, the more
completely is the object attained;—and to this extent the greatest benefit
resulting from draining, lies in the increased yield. But there is another
advantage,—a material and moral advantage,—which is equally to be

Instances of the profit resulting from under-draining, (coupled, as it
almost always is, with improved cultivation,) are frequently published,
and it would be easy to fortify this chapter with hundreds of well
authenticated cases. It is, however, deemed sufficient to quote the
following, from an old number of one of the New York dailies:—

    "Some years ago, the son of an English farmer came to the United
    States, and let himself as a farm laborer, in New York State, on
    the following conditions: Commencing work at the first of
    September, he was to work ten hours a day for three years, and to
    receive in payment a deed of a field containing twelve
    acres—securing himself by an agreement, by which his employer was
    put under bonds of $2,000 to fulfill his part of the contract;
    also, during these three years, he was to have the control of the
    field; to work it at his own expense, and to give his employer
    one-half the proceeds. The field lay under the south side of a
    hill, was of dark, heavy clay resting on a bluish-colored, solid
    clay subsoil, and for many years previous, had not been known to
    yield anything but a yellowish, hard, stunted vegetation.

    "The farmer thought the young man was a simpleton, and that he,
    himself, was most wise and fortunate; but the former, nothing
    daunted by this opinion, which he was not unconscious that the
    latter entertained of him, immediately hired a set of laborers,
    and set them to work in the field trenching, as earnestly as it
    was well possible for men to labor. In the morning and evening,
    before and after having worked his ten hours, as per agreement, he
    worked with them, and continued to work in this way until, about
    the middle of the following November, he had finished the laying
    of nearly 5,000 yards of good tile under-drains. He then had the
    field plowed deep and thoroughly, and the earth thrown up as much
    as possible into ridges, and thus let it remain during the winter.
    Next spring he had the field again plowed as before, then
    cross-plowed and thoroughly pulverized with a heavy harrow, then
    sowed it with oats and clover. The yield was excellent—nothing to
    be compared to it had ever before been seen upon that field. Next
    year it gave two crops of clover, of a rich dark green, and
    enormously heavy and luxuriant; and the year following, after
    being manured at an expense of some $7 an acre, nine acres of the
    field yielded 936 bushels of corn, and 25 wagon loads of pumpkins;
    while from the remaining three acres were taken 100 bushels of
    potatoes—the return of this crop being upwards of $1,200. The time
    had now come for the field to fall into the young man’s
    possession, and the farmer unhesitatingly offered him $1,500 to
    relinquish his title to it; and when this was unhesitatingly
    refused, he offered $2,000, which was accepted.

    "The young man’s account stood thus

    Half proceeds of oats     $165 00
    and straw, first year
    Half value of sheep       25 00
    pasturage, first year
    Half of first crops of    112 50
    clover, first year
    Half of second crops of   135 00
    clover, including seed,
    second year
    Half of sheep             15 00
    pasturage, second year
    Half of crops of corn,    690 00
    pumpkins and potatoes,
    third year
    Received from farmer,     2,000 00
    for relinquishment of
    Account Dr.               $3,142 50
    To under-draining,        $325 00
    labor and tiles
    To labor and manure,      475 00
    three seasons
    To labor given to         576 00—1,376 00
    farmer, $16 per month,
    36 months
    Balance in his favor      $1,766 50

Draining makes the farmer, to a great extent, the master of his vocation.
With a sloppy, drenched, cold, uncongenial soil, which is saturated with
every rain, and takes days, and even weeks, to become sufficiently dry to
work upon, his efforts are constantly baffled by unfavorable weather, at
those times when it is most important that his work proceed without
interruption. Weeks are lost, at a season when they are all too short for
the work to be done. The ground must be hurriedly, and imperfectly
prepared, and the seed is put in too late, often to rot in the over-soaked
soil, requiring the field to be planted again at a time which makes it
extremely doubtful whether the crop will ripen before the frost destroys

The necessary summer cultivation, between the rows, has to be done as the
weather permits; and much more of it is required because of the baking of
the ground. The whole life of the farmer, in fact, becomes a constant
struggle with nature, and he fights always at a disadvantage. What he does
by the work of days, is mainly undone by a single night’s storm. Weeds
grow apace, and the land is too wet to admit of their being exterminated.
By the time that it is dry enough, other pressing work occupies the time;
and if, finally, a day comes when they may be attacked, they offer ten
times the resistance that they would have done a week earlier. The
operations of the farm are carried on more expensively than if the ability
to work constantly allowed a smaller force to be employed. The crops which
give such doubtful promise, require the same cultivation as though they
were certain to be remunerative, and the work can be done only with
increased labor, because of the bad condition of the soil.

From force of tradition and of habit, the farmer accepts his fate and
plods through his hard life, piously ascribing to the especial
interference of an inscrutable Providence, the trials which come of his
own neglect to use the means of relief which Providence has placed within
his reach.

Trouble enough he must have, at any rate, but not necessarily all that he
now has. It is not within the scope of the best laid drains to control
storm or sunshine,—but it is within their power to remove the water of the
storm, rapidly and sufficiently, and to allow the heat of the sunshine to
penetrate the soil and do its hidden work. No human improvement can change
any of the so-called "phenomena" of nature, or prevent the action of the
least of her laws; but their effects upon the soil and its crops may be
greatly modified, and that which, under certain circumstances, would have
caused inconvenience or loss, may, by a change of circumstances, be made
positively beneficial.

In the practice of agriculture, which is pre-eminently an economic art,
draining will be prosecuted because of the pecuniary profit which it
promises, and,—very properly,—it will not be pursued, to any considerable
extent, where the money, which it costs, will not bring money in return.
Yet, in a larger view of the case, its collateral advantages are of even
greater moment than its mere profits. It is the foundation and the
commencement of the most intelligent farming. It opens the way for other
improvements, which, without it, would produce only doubtful or temporary
benefits; and it enables the farmer so to extend and enlarge his
operations, with fair promise of success, as to raise his occupation from
a mere waiting upon the uncertain favors of nature, to an intelligent
handling of her forces, for the attainment of almost certain results.

The rude work of an unthinking farmer, who scratches the surface soil with
his plow, plants his seed, and trusts to the chances of a greater or less
return, is unmitigated drudgery,—unworthy of an intelligent man; but he
who investigates all of the causes of success and failure in farming, and
adapts every operation to the requirements of the circumstances under
which he works; doing everything in his power that may tend to the
production of the results which he desires, and, so far as possible,
avoiding everything that may interfere with his success,—leaving nothing
to chance that can be secured, and securing all that chance may offer,—is
engaged in the most ennobling, the most intelligent and the most
progressive of all industrial avocations.

In the cultivation of retentive soils, drainage is the key to all
improvement, and its advantage is to be measured not simply by the effect
which it directly produces in increasing production, but, in still greater
degree, by the extent to which it prepares the way for the successful
application of improved processes, makes the farmer independent of weather
and season, and offers freer scope to intelligence in the direction of his


Draining tiles are made of burnt clay, like bricks and earthen-ware.

In general terms, the process is as follows:—The clay is mixed with sand,
or other substances which give it the proper consistency, and is so wetted
as to form a plastic mass, to which may be given any desired form, and
which is sufficiently stiff to retain its shape. Properly prepared clay is
forced through the aperture of a die of the shape of the outside of the
tile, while a plug,—held by a support in the rear of the die,—projects
through the aperture, and gives the form to the bore of the tile. The
shape of the material of the tile, as it comes from the die, corresponds
to the open space, between the plug and the edge of the aperture. The clay
is forced out in a continuous pipe, which is cut to the desired length by
a wire, which is so thin as to pass through the mass without altering the
shape of the pipe. The short lengths of pipe are dried in the air as
thoroughly as they can be, and are then burned in a kiln, similar to that
used for pottery.

*Materials.*—The range of earths which may be used in the manufacture of
tiles is considerable, though clay is the basis of all of them. The best
is, probably, the clay which is almost invariably found at the bottom of
muck beds, as this is finer and more compact than that which is dug from
dry land, and requires but little preparation. There is, also, a peculiar
clay, found in some localities, which is almost like quick-sand in its
nature, and which is excellent for tile-making,—requiring no freezing, or
washing to prepare it for the machine. As a general rule, any clay which
will make _good_ bricks will make tiles. When first taken from the ground,
these clays are not usually adhesive, but become so on being moistened and

It is especially important that no limestone _pebbles_ be mixed with the
clay, as the burning would change these to quicklime, which, in slaking,
would destroy the tiles. The presence of a limey earth, however, mixed
through the mass, is a positive advantage, as in this intimate admixture,
the lime forms, under the heat of the kiln, a chemical combination with
the other ingredients; and, as it melts more readily than some of them, it
hastens the burning and makes it more complete. What is known as _plastic
clay_, (one of the purest of the native clays,) is too strong for
tile-making, and must be "tempered," by having other substances mixed with
it, to give it a stiffer quality.

The clay which is best for brick-making, contains Silica, and Alumina in
about the following proportions:

Silica ... 55 to 75 per cent.

Alumina ... 35 to  25 per cent.

Variable quantities of other materials are usually found in connection
with the clay, in its native condition. The most common of these are the

Magnesia     1 to 5 per cent.—sometimes 20 to 30 per cent.

Lime         0 to 19 per cent.

Potash       0 to  5 per cent.

Oxyd of iron 0 to 19 per cent.

"These necessary elements give fusibility to earthenware, and, therefore,
allow its constituent substances to combine in such a manner as to form a
resisting body; and thus is performed with a temperature lower in
proportion as the necessary elements are more abundant."(23)

When the earth of the locality where tiles are to be made is not
sufficiently strong for the purpose, and plastic clay can be cheaply
obtained from a distance, a small quantity of this may be used to give
strength and tenacity to the native material.

The compound must always contain a proper proportion of clay and sand. If
too little _clay_ is used, the mass will not be sufficiently tough to
retain its compactness as it passes through the die of the tile machine;
if too little _sand_, the moulded tiles will not be strong enough to bear
handling, and they will crack and warp in drying and burning. Within the
proper limits, the richer earths may be moulded much thinner, and tiles
made from them may, consequently, be made lighter for transportation,
without being too weak. The best materials for tempering stiff clays are
sand, pounded brick or tile, or _scoria_, from smelting furnaces.

*Preparation Of Earths.*—The clay from which tiles are to be made, should
be thrown out in the fall, (the upper and lower parts of the beds being
well mixed in the operation,) and made into heaps on the surface, not more
than about 3 feet square and 3 feet high. In this form, it is left exposed
to the freezing and thawing of winter, which will aid very much in
modifying its character,—making it less lumpy and more easily workable.
Any stones which may appear in the digging, should, of course, be removed,
and most earths will be improved by being passed through a pair of heavy
iron rollers, before they are piled up for the winter. The rollers should
be made of cast iron, about 15 inches in diameter, and 30 inches long, and
set as close together as they can be, and still be revolved by the power
of two horses. The grinding, by means of these rollers, may add 50 cents
per thousand to the cost of the tiles, but it will greatly improve their

In the spring, the clay should be prepared for tempering, by the removal
of such pebbles as it may still contain. The best way to do this is by
"washing," though, if there be only a few coarse pebbles, they may be
removed by building the clay into a solid cone 2 or 3 feet high, and then
paring it off into thin slices with a long knife having a handle at each
end. This paring will discover any pebbles larger than a pea that may have
remained in the clay.

_Washing_ is the process of mixing the clay with a considerable quantity
of water, so as to form a thin paste, in which all stones and gravel will
sink to the bottom; the liquid portion is then drawn off into shallow pits
or vats, and allowed to settle, the clear water being finally removed by
pumping or by evaporation, according to the need for haste. For washing
small quantities of clay, a common mortar bed, such as is used by masons,
will answer, if it be supplied with a gate for draining off the muddy
water after the gravel has settled; but, if the work is at all extensive,
a washing mill will be required. It may be made in the form of a circular
trough, with scrapers for mixing the clay and water attached to a circular

"Another convenient mixing machine may be constructed in the following
manner: Take a large hollow log, of suitable length, say five or six feet;
hew out the inequalities with an adz, and close up the ends with pieces of
strong plank, into which bearing have been cut to support a revolving
shaft. This shaft should be sufficiently thick to permit being transfixed
with wooden pins long enough to reach within an inch or two of the sides
of the log or trough, and they should be so beveled as to form in their
aggregate shape an interrupted screw, having a direction toward that end
of the box where the mixed clay is designed to pass out. In order to
effect the mixing more thoroughly, these pins may be placed sufficiently
far apart to permit the interior of the box to be armed with other pins
extending toward the center, between which they can easily move. The whole
is placed either horizontally or vertically, and supplied with clay and
water in proper quantities, while the shaft is made to revolve by means of
a sweep, with horse power, running water or steam, as the case may be. The
clay is put into the end farthest from the outlet, and is carried forward
to it and mixed by the motion, and mutual action and re-action of the pins
in the shaft and in the sides of the box. Iron pins may, of course, be
substituted for the wooden ones, and have the advantage of greater
durability and of greater strength in proportion to their size, and the
number may therefore be greater in a machine of any given length. The
fluid mass of clay and water may be permitted to fall upon a sieve or
riddle, of heavy wire, and afterward be received in a settling vat, of
suitable size and construction, to drain off the water and let the clay
dry out sufficiently by subsequent evaporation. A machine of this
construction may be made of such a size that it may be put in motion by
hand, by means of a crank, and yet be capable of mixing, if properly
supplied, clay enough to mold 800 or 1000 pieces of drain pipe per

Mr. Parkes, in a report to the Royal Agricultural Society of England, in
1843, says:

"It is requisite that the clay be well washed and sieved before pugging,
for the manufacture of these tiles, or the operation of drawing them would
be greatly impeded, by having to remove stones from the small space
surrounding the die, which determines the thickness of the pipe. But it
results from this necessary washing, that the substance of the pipe is
uniformly and extremely dense, which, consequently, gives it immense
strength, and ensures a durability which cannot belong to a more porous,
though thicker, tile.

"The clay is brought from the pug-mill so dry that, when squeezed through
the machine, not a drop of water exudes,—moisture is, indeed, scarcely
apparent on the surface of the raw pipe. Hence, the tiles undergo little
or no change of figure while drying, which takes place very rapidly,
because of their firm and slight substance."

                     [Illustration: Fig. 42 - PUG-MILL.]

                             Fig. 42 - PUG-MILL.

_Tempering._—After the fine clay is relieved of the water with which it
was washed, and has become tolerably dry, it should be mixed with the
sand, or other tempering material, and passed through the _Pug-Mill_,
(Fig. 42,) which will thoroughly mix its various ingredients, and work the
whole into a homogeneous mass, ready for the tile machine. The _pug-mill_
is similar to that used in brick-yards, only, as the clay is worked much
stiffer for tiles than for bricks, iron knives must be substituted for the
wooden pins. These knives are so arranged as to cut the clay in every
part, and, by being set at an angle, they force it downward toward the
outlet gate at the bottom. The clay should be kept at the proper degree of
moisture from the time of tempering, and after passing through the
pug-mill it should be thoroughly beaten to drive out the air, and the
beaten mass should be kept covered with wet cloths to prevent drying.

*Moulding the Tiles.*—Machines for moulding tiles are of various styles,
with much variation in the details of their construction, but they all act
on the same general principle;—that of forcing the clay through a
ring-shaped aperture in an iron plate, forming a continuous pipe, which is
carried off on an endless apron, or on rollers, and cut by wires into the
desired lengths. The plates with the ring-shaped apertures are called
_dies_; the openings are of any desired form, corresponding to the
external shape of the tiles; and the size and shape of the bore, is
determined by the core or plug, which is held in the centers of the
apertures. The construction of the die plates, and the manner of fastening
the plugs, which determine the bore of the tiles, is shown in Fig. 43. The
view taken is of the inside of the plate.

                   [Illustration: Fig. 43 - PLATE OF DIES.]

                           Fig. 43 - PLATE OF DIES.

The machine consists usually of a strong iron chest, with a hinged cover,
into which the clay is placed, having a piston moving in it, connected by
a rod or bar, having cog-teeth, with a cog-wheel, which is moved by horse
or hand power, and drives the piston forward with steadiness, forcing the
clay through the openings in the die-plate. The clay issues in continuous
lines of pipe. The machines most in use in this country are connected
directly with the pug-mill, and as the clay is pugged, it at once passes
into the box, and is pressed out as tiles. These machines are usually run
by horse-power.

Mr. Barral, in his voluminous work on drainage,(25) describes, as follows,
a cheap hand machine which can be made by any country wheelwright, and
which has a capacity of 3,000 tiles per day (Fig. 44):

"Imagine a simple, wooden box, divided into two compartments. In the rear
compartment there stands a vertical post, fastened with two iron bolts,
having heads at one end, and nuts and screws at the other. The box is thus
fixed to its support. We simply place this support on the ground and bind
its upper part with a rope to a tree, a stake, or a post. The front
compartment is the reservoir for the clay, presenting at its front an
orifice, in which we fix the desired die with a simple bolt. A wooden
piston, of which the rod is jointed with a lever, which works in a bolt at
the top of the supporting post, gives the necessary pressure. When the
chest is full of clay, we bear down on the end of the lever, and the
moulded tiles run out on a table supplied with rollers. Raising the
piston, it comes out of the box, which is again packed with clay. The
piston is replaced in the box; pressure is again applied to the lever, and
so on. When the line of tiles reaches the end of the table, we lower a
frame on which brass wires are stretched, and cut it into the usual

                    [Fig. 44 - CHEAP WOODEN MACHINE.]

                     Fig. 44 - CHEAP WOODEN MACHINE.

The workmen must attend well to the degree of moisture of the clay which
is put into the machine. It should be dry enough to show no undue moisture
on its surface as it comes out of the die-plate, and sufficiently moist
not to be crumbled in passing the edge of the mould. The clay for small
(thin) tiles must, necessarily, be more moist than that which is to pass
through a wider aperture; and for the latter there may, with advantage, be
more sand in the paste than would be practicable with the former.

After the tiles are cut into lengths, they are removed by a set of
mandrils, small enough to pass easily into them, such as are shown in Fig.
45, (the number of fingers corresponding with  the number of rows of tiles
made by the machine,) and are placed on shelves made of narrow strips sawn
from one-inch boards, laid with spaces between them to allow a free
circulation of air.



*Drying and Rolling.*—Care must be taken that freshly made tiles be not
dried too rapidly. They should be sheltered from the sun and from strong
winds. Too rapid drying has the effect of warping them out of shape, and,
sometimes, of cracking the clay. To provide against this injury, the
drying is done under sheds or other covering, and the side which is
exposed to the prevailing winds is sometimes boarded up.

For the first drying, the tiles are placed in single layers on the
shelves. When about half dried,—at which time they are usually warped more
or less from their true shape,—it is well to _roll_ them. This is done by
passing through them a smooth, round stick, (sufficiently smaller than the
bore to enter it easily, and long enough to project five or six inches
beyond each end of the tile,) and,—holding one end of the stick in each
hand,—rolling them carefully on a table. This operation should be
performed when the tiles are still moist enough not to be broken by the
slight bending required to make them straight. After rolling, the tiles
may be piled up in close layers, some four or five feet high, (which will
secure them against further warping,) and left until they are dry enough
for burning,—that is, as dry as they can be made by exposure to the air.

*Burning.*—Tiles are burned in kilns in which, by the effect of flame
acting directly upon them, they are raised to a heat sufficient to melt
some of their more easily fusible ingredients, and give to them a
stone-like hardness.

Kilns are of various construction and of various sizes. As this book is
not intended for the instruction of those who are engaged in the general
manufacture of tiles, only for those who may find it necessary to
establish local works, it will be sufficient to describe a temporary
earthen kiln which may be cheaply built, and which will answer an
excellent purpose, where only 100,000 or 200,000 tiles per season will be

Directions for its construction are set forth in a letter from Mr. T. Law
Hodges, of England, to the late Earl Spencer, published in the Journal of
the Royal Agricultural Society for the year 1843, as follows:

"The form of the clay-kiln is circular, 11 feet in diameter, and 7 feet
high. It is wholly built of damp, clayey earth, rammed firmly together,
and plastered, inside and out, with loam (clay?). The earth to form the
walls is dug out around the base, leaving a circular trench about four
feet wide and as many deep, into which the fire-holes of the kiln open. If
wood be the fuel used, three fire-holes will be sufficient; if coal, four
will be needed. About 1,200 common brick will be wanted to build these
fire-holes and flues; if coal is used, rather fewer bricks will be wanted,
but, then, some iron bars are necessary,—six bars to each fire-hole.

"The earthen walls are four feet thick at the floor of the kiln, seven
feet high, and tapering to a thickness of two feet at the top; this will
determine the slope of the exterior face of the kiln. The inside of the
wall is carried up perpendicularly, and the loam plastering inside
becomes, after the first burning, like a brick wall. The kiln may be
safely erected in March, or whenever the danger of injury from frost is
over. After the summer use of it, it must be protected, by faggots or
litter, against the wet and frost of winter. A kiln of these dimensions
will contain 32,500 1-1/4-inch tiles, * * * or 12,000 2-1/4-inch tiles. *
* *

"In good weather, this kiln can be filled, burnt, and discharged once in
every fortnight, and fifteen kilns may be obtained in a good season,
producing 487,500 1-1/4-inch tiles, and in proportion for the other sizes.

"It requires 2 tons 5 cwt. of good coals to burn the above kiln, full of

                          [Fig. 46 - CLAY-KILN.]

                           Fig. 46 - CLAY-KILN.

A sectional view of this kiln is shown in Fig. 46, in which _C, C_
represent sections of the outer trench; _A_, one of the three fire-holes;
and _B, B_, sections of a circular passage inside of the wall, connected
with the fire-holes, and serving as a flue for the flames, which, at
suitable intervals, pass through openings into the floor of the kiln. The
whole structure should be covered with a roof of rough boards, placed high
enough to be out of the reach of the fire. A door in the side of the kiln
serves for putting in and removing the tiles, and is built up,
temporarily, with bricks or clay, during the burning. Mr. Hodges estimates
the cost of this kiln, all complete, at less than $25. Concerning its
value, he wrote another letter in 1848, from which the following is

"The experience of four years that have elapsed since my letter to the
late Earl Spencer, published in the 5th volume of the proceedings of the
Royal Agricultural Society, page 57, has thoroughly tested the merits of
the temporary clay-kilns for the burning of draining-pipes described in
that letter.

"I am well aware that there were persons, even among those who came to see
it, who pronounced at once upon the construction and duration of the kiln
as unworthy of attention. How far their expectations have been realized,
and what value belongs to their judgment, the following short statement
will exhibit:

"The kiln, in question, was constructed, in 1844, at a cost of £5.

"It was used four times in that year, burning each time between 18,000 and
19,000 draining pipes, of 1-3/4 inches in diameter.

"In 1845, it was used nine times, or about once a fortnight, burning each
time the same quantity of nearly 19,000 pipes.

"In 1846, the same result.

"In 1847, it has been used twelve times, always burning the same quantity.
In the course of the last year a trifling repair in the bottom of the
kiln, costing rather less than 10 shillings, was necessary, and this is
the only cost for repair since its erection. It is now as good as ever,
and might be worked at least once a fortnight through the ensuing season.

"The result of this experiment of four years shows not only the practical
value of this cheap kiln, but Mr. Hatcher, who superintends the brick and
tile-yard at Benenden, where this kiln stands, expresses himself strongly
in favor of this kiln, as always producing better and more evenly burned
pipes than either of his larger and better built brick-kilns can do."

The floor of the kiln is first covered with bricks, placed on end, at a
little distance from each other, so as to allow the fire to pass between
them, and the tiles are placed _on end_ on these. This position will
afford the best draft for the flames. After the kiln is packed full, the
door-way is built up, and a slow fire is started,—only enough at first to
complete the drying of the tiles, and to do this so slowly as not to warp
them out of shape. They will be thoroughly dry when the smoke from the top
of the kiln loses its dark color and becomes transparent. When the fires
are well started, the mouths of the fire-holes may be built up so as to
leave only sufficient room to put in fresh fuel, and if the wind is high,
the fire-holes, on the side against which it blows, should be sheltered by
some sort of screen which will counteract its influence, and keep up an
even heat on all sides.

The time required for burning will be from two days and a night to four
days and four nights, according to the dryness of the tiles, the state of
the weather, and the character of the fuel. The fires should be drawn when
the tiles in the hottest part of the kiln are burned to a "ringing"
hardness. By leaving two or three holes in the door-way, which can be
stopped with loose brick, a rod may be run in, from time to time, to take
out specimen tiles from the hottest part of the kiln, which shall have
been so placed as to be easily removed. The best plan, however,—the only
prudent plan, in fact,—will be to employ an intelligent man who is
thoroughly experienced in the burning of brick and pottery, and whose
judgment in the management of the fires, and in the cooling off of the
kiln, will save much of the waste that would result from inexperienced
management. After the burning is completed, from 40 to 60 hours must be
allowed for the cooling of the kiln before it is opened. If the cold air
is admitted while it is still very hot, the unequal contraction of the
material will cause the tiles to crack, and a large portion of them may be

If any of the tiles are too much burned, they will be melted, and may
stick together, or, at least, have their shape destroyed. Those which are
not sufficiently burned would not withstand the action of the water in the
soil, and should not be used. For the first of these accidents there is no
remedy; for the latter, reburning will be necessary, and under-done tiles
may be left, (or replaced,) in the kiln in the position which they
occupied at the first burning, and the second heat will probably prove
sufficient. There is less danger of unequal burning in circular than in
square kilns. Soft wood is better than hard, as making a better flame. It
should be split fine, and well seasoned.

*Arrangement of the Tilery.*—Such a tilery as is described above should
have a drying shed from 60 to 80 feet long, and from 12 to 18 feet wide.
This shed may be built in the cheapest and roughest manner, the roof being
covered with felting, thatch, or hemlock boards, as economy may suggest.
It should have a tier of drying shelves, (made of slats rather than of
boards,) running the whole length of each side. A narrow, wooden tram-way,
down the middle, to carry a car, by which the green tiles may be taken
from the machine to the shelves, and the dry ones from the shelves to the
kiln, will greatly lessen the cost of handling.

The pug-mill and tile-machine, as well as the clay pit and the
washing-mill, should be at one end of the shed, and the kiln at the other,
so that, even in rainy weather, the work may proceed without interruption.
A shed of the size named will be sufficient to dry as many tiles of
assorted sizes as can be burned in the clay-kiln described above.

*The Cost of Tiles.*—It would be impossible, at any time, to say what
should be the precise cost of tiles in a given locality, without knowing
the prices of labor and fuel; and in the present unsettled condition of
the currency, any estimate would necessarily be of little value. Mr.
Parker’s estimated the cost of inch pipes in England at 6_s._, (about
$1.50,) per thousand, when made on the estate where they were to be used,
by a process similar to that described herein. Probably they could at no
time have been made for less than twice that cost in the United
States,—and they would now cost much more; though if the clay is dug out
in the fall, when the regularly employed farm hands are short of work, and
if the same men can cut and haul the wood during the winter, the hands
hired especially for the tile making, during the summer season, (two men
and two or three boys,) cannot, even at present rates of wages, bring the
cost of the tiles to nearly the market prices. If there be only temporary
use for the machinery, it may be sold, when no longer needed, for a good
percentage of its original cost, as, from the slow movement to which it is
subjected, it is not much worn by its work.

There is no reason why tiles should cost more to make than bricks. A
common brick contains clay enough to make four or five 1-1/4-inch tiles,
and it will require about the same amount of fuel to burn this clay in one
form as in the other. This advantage in favor of tiles is in a measure
offset by the greater cost of handling them, and the greater liability to

The foregoing description of the different processes of the manufacture of
draining tiles has been given, in order that those who find it necessary,
or desirable, to establish works to supply the needs of their immediate
localities may commence their operations understandingly, and form an
approximate opinion of the promise of success in the undertaking.

Probably the most positive effect of the foregoing description, on the
mind of any man who contemplates establishing a tilery, will be to cause
him to visit some successful manufactory, during the busy season, and
examine for himself the mode of operation. Certainly it would be unwise,
when such a personal examination of the process is practicable, to rely
entirely upon the aid of written descriptions; for, in any work like
tile-making, where the selection, combination and preparation of the
materials, the means of drying, and the economy and success of the burning
must depend on a variety of conditions and circumstances, which change
with every change of locality, it is impossible that written directions,
however minute, should be a sufficient guide. Still, in the light of such
directions, one can form a much better idea of the bearing of the
different operations which he may witness, than he could possibly do if
the whole process were new to him.

If a personal examination of a successful tilery is impracticable, it will
be necessary to employ a practical brick-maker, or potter, to direct the
construction and operation of the works, and in any case, this course is

In any neighborhood where two or three hundred acres of land are to be
drained, if suitable earths can be readily obtained, it will be cheaper to
establish a tile-yard, than to haul the necessary tiles, in wagons, a
distance of ten or twenty miles. Then again, the prices demanded by the
few manufacturers, who now have almost a monopoly of the business, are
exorbitantly high,—at least twice what it will cost to make the tiles at
home, with the cheap works described above, so that if the cost of
transportation on the quantity desired would be equal to the cost of
establishing the works, there will be a decided profit in the home
manufacture. Probably, also, a tile-yard, in a neighborhood where the
general character of the soil is such as to require drainage, will be of
value after the object for which it was made has been accomplished.

While setting forth the advantage to the farmer of everything which may
protect him against monopolies, whether in the matter of draining-tile, or
of any other needful accessory of his business, or which will enable him
to procure supplies without a ruinous outlay for transportation, it is by
no means intended that every man shall become his own tile-maker.

In this branch of manufacture, as in every other, organized industry will
accomplish results to which individual labor can never attain. A hundred
years ago, when our mill-made cloths came from England, and cost more than
farmers could afford to pay, they wore home-spun, which was neither so
handsome nor so good as the imported article; but, since that time, the
growing population and the greater demand have caused cloth mills to be
built here, greater commercial facilities have placed foreign goods within
easy reach, and the house loom has fallen into general disuse.

At present, the manufacture of draining tiles is confined to a few, widely
separated localities, and each manufacturer has, thus far, been able to
fix his own scale of charges. These, and the cost of transportation to
distant points, make it difficult, if not impossible, for many farmers to
procure tiles at a cost low enough to justify their use. In such cases,
small works, to supply local demand, may enable many persons to drain with
tiles, who, otherwise, would find it impossible to procure them cheaply
enough for economical use; and the extension of under-draining, causing a
more general acquaintance with its advantages, would create a sufficient
demand to induce an increase of the manufacture of tiles, and a consequent
reduction of price.


    "Adjoining to it is Middle Moor, containing about 2,500 acres,
    spoken of by Arthur Young as ’a watery desert,’ growing sedge and
    rushes, and inhabited by frogs and bitterns;—it is now fertile,
    well cultivated, and profitable land."

The foregoing extract, from an account of the Drainage of the Fens on the
eastern coast of England, is a text from which might be preached a sermon
worthy of the attention of all who are interested in the vast areas of
salt marsh which form so large a part of our Atlantic coast, from Maine to

Hundreds of thousands of acres that might be cheaply reclaimed, and made
our most valuable and most salubrious lands, are abandoned to the inroads
of the sea;—fruitful only in malaria and musquitoes,—always a dreary
waste, and often a grave annoyance.

A single tract, over 20,000 acres in extent, the center of which is not
seven miles from the heart of New York City, skirts the Hackensack River,
in New Jersey, serving as a barrier to intercourse between the town and
the country which lies beyond it, adding miles to the daily travel of the
thousands whose business and pleasure require them to cross it, and
constituting a nuisance and an eyesore to all who see it, or come near it.
How long it will continue in this condition it is impossible to say, but
the experience of other countries has proved that, for an expense of not
more than fifty dollars per acre, this tract might be made better, for all
purposes of cultivation, than the lands adjoining it, (many of which are
worth, for market gardening, over one thousand dollars per acre,) and that
it might afford profitable employment, and give homes, to all of the
industrious poor of the city. The work of reclaiming it would be child’s
play, compared with the draining of the Harlaem Lake in Holland, where
over 40,000 acres, submerged to an average depth of thirteen feet, have
been pumped dry, and made to do their part toward the support of a dense

The Hackensack meadows are only a conspicuous example of what exists over
a great extent of our whole seaboard;—virgin lands, replete with every
element of fertility, capable of producing enough food for the support of
millions of human beings, better located, for residence and for
convenience to markets, than the prairies of the Western States,—all
allowed to remain worse than useless; while the poorer uplands near them
are, in many places, teeming with a population whose lives are endangered,
and whose comfort is sadly interfered with by the insects and the miasma
which the marsh produces.

The inherent wealth of the land is locked up, and all of its bad effects
are produced, by the water with which it is constantly soaked or
overflowed. Let the waters of the sea be excluded, and a proper outlet for
the rain-fall and the upland wash be provided,—both of which objects may,
in a great majority of cases, be economically accomplished,—and this land
may become the garden of the continent. Its fertility will attract a
population, (especially in the vicinity of large towns,) which could no
where else live so well nor so easily.

The manner in which these salt marshes were formed may be understood from
the following account of the "Great Level of the Fens" of the eastern
coast of England, which is copied, (as is the paragraph at the head of
this chapter,) from the Prize Essay of Mr. John Algernon Clarke, written
for the Royal Agricultural Society in 1846.

The process is not, of course, always the same, nor are the exact
influences, which made the English Fens, generally, operating in precisely
the same manner here, but the main principle is the same, and the lesson
taught by the improvement of the Fens is perfectly applicable in our case.

"This great level extends itself into the six counties of Cambridge,
Lincoln, Huntington, Northampton, Suffolk and Norfolk, being bounded by
the highlands of each. It is about seventy miles in length, and varies
from twenty to forty miles in breadth, having an area of more than 680,000
acres. Through this vast extent of flat country, there flow six large
rivers, with their tributary streams; namely, the Ouse, the Cam, the Nene,
the Welland, the Glen, and the Witham.

"These were, originally, natural channels for conveying the upland waters
to the sea, and whenever a heavier downfall of rain than usual occurred,
and the swollen springs and rivulets caused the rivers to overflow, they
must necessarily have overflowed the land to a great extent.

"This, however, was not the principal cause of the inundation of the Fens:
these rivers were not allowed a free passage to the ocean, being thus made
incapable of carrying off even the ordinary amount of upland water which,
consequently, flowed over the land. The obstruction was two-fold; first,
the outfalls became blocked up by the deposits of silt from the sea
waters, which accumulated to an amazing thickness. The well known
instances of boats found in 1635 eight feet below the Wisbeck River, and
the smith’s forge and tools found at Skirbeck Shoals, near Boston, buried
with silt sixteen feet deep, show what an astonishing quantity of sediment
formerly choked up the mouths of these great rivers. But the chief
hindrance caused by the ocean, arose from the tide rushing twice every day
for a very great distance up these channels, driving back the fresh
waters, and overflowing with them, so that the whole level became deluged
with deep water, and was, in fact, one great bay.

"In considering the state of this region as it first attracted the
enterprise of man to its improvement, we are to conceive a vast, wild
morass, with only small, detached portions of cultivated soil, or islands,
raised above the general inundation; a most desolate picture when
contrasted with its present state of matchless fertility."

Salt marshes are formed of the silty deposits of rivers and of the sea.
The former bring down vegetable mould and fine earth from the uplands, and
the latter contribute sea weeds and grasses, sand and shells, and millions
of animalculæ which, born for life in salt water only, die, and are
deposited with the other matters, at those points where, from admixture
with the fresh flow of the rivers, the water ceases to be suitable for
their support. It is estimated that these animalculæ alone are the chief
cause of the obstructions at the mouths of the rivers of Holland, which
retard their flow, and cause them to spread over the flat country
adjoining their banks. It is less important, however, for the purposes of
this chapter, to consider the manner in which salt marshes are formed,
than to discuss the means by which they may be reclaimed and made
available for the uses of agriculture. The improvement may be conveniently
considered under three heads:—

First—The exclusion of the sea water.

Second—The removal of the causes of inundation from the upland.

Third—The removal of the rain-fall and water of filtration.

*The Exclusion of the Sea* is of the first importance, because not only
does it saturate the land with water,—but this water, being salt, renders
it unfertile for the plants of ordinary cultivation, and causes it to
produce others which are of little, or no value.

The only means by which the sea may be kept out is, by building such dykes
or embankments as shut out the highest tides, and, on shores which are
exposed to the action of the waves, will resist their force. Ordinarily,
the best, because the cheapest, material of which these embankments can be
made, is the soil of the marsh itself. This is rarely,—almost never,—a
pure peat, such as is found in upland swamps; it contains a large
proportion of sand, blue clay, muscle mud, or other earthy deposits, which
give it great weight and tenacity, and render it excellent for forming the
body of the dyke. On lands which are overflowed to a considerable extent
at each high tide, (twice a day,) it will be necessary to adopt more
expensive, and more effective measures, but on ordinary salt meadows,
which are deeply covered only at the spring tides, (occurring every
month,) the following plan will be found practical and economical.

_Locating the line of the embankment_ far enough back from the edge of the
meadow to leave an ample flat outside of it to break the force of the
waves, if on the open coast, or to resist the inroads of the current if on
the bank of an estuary or a river,—say from ten to one hundred yards,
according to the danger of encroachment,—set a row of stakes parallel to
the general direction of the shore, to mark the outside line of the base
of the dyke. Stake out the inside line at such distance as will give a
pitch or inclination to the slopes of one and a half to one on the
outside, and of one to one on the inside, and will allow the necessary
width at the top, which should be at least two feet higher than the level
of the highest tide that is known ever to have occurred at that place. The
width of the top should never be less than four feet, and in exposed
localities it should be more. If a road will be needed around the land, it
is best, if a heavy dyke is required, to make it wide enough to answer
this purpose, with still wider places, at intervals, to allow vehicles to
turn or to pass each other. Ordinarily, however, especially if there be a
good stretch of flat meadow in front, the top of the dyke need not be more
than four feet wide. Supposing such a dyke to be contemplated where the
water has been known to rise two feet above the level of the meadows,
requiring an embankment four feet high, it will be necessary to allow for
the base a width of fourteen feet;—four feet for the width of the top, six
feet for the reach of the front slope, (1-1/2 to 1,) and four feet for the
reach of the back slope, (1 to 1.)

Having staked out two parallel lines, fourteen feet apart, and erected, at
intervals of twenty or thirty feet, frames made of rough strips of board
of the exact shape of the section of the proposed embankment, the workmen
may remove the sod to a depth of six inches, laying it all on the outside
of the position of the proposed embankment. The sod from the line of the
ditch, from which the earth for the embankment is to be taken, should also
be removed and placed with the other. This ditch should be always _inside_
of the dyke, where it will never be exposed to the action of the sea. It
should be, at the surface, broader than the base of the dyke, and five
feet deep in the center, but its sides may slope from the surface of the
ground directly to the center line of the bottom. This is the best form to
give it, because, while it should be five feet deep, for future uses as a
drain, its bottom need have no width. The great width at the surface will
give such a pitch to the banks as to ensure their stability, and will
yield a large amount of sod for the facing of the dyke. The edge of this
ditch should be some feet away from the inner line of the embankment,
leaving it a firm support or shoulder at the original level of the ground,
the sod not being removed from the interval. The next step in the work
should be to throw, or wheel, the material from the ditch on to the place
which has been stripped for the dyke, building it up so as to conform
exactly to the profile frames, these remaining in their places, to
indicate the filling necessary to make up for the settling of the
material, as the water drains out of it.

                       [Fig. 47 - DYKE AND DITCH.]

                        Fig. 47 - DYKE AND DITCH.

As fast as a permanent shape can be given to the outer face of the dyke,
it should be finished by having the sod placed against it, being laid
flatwise, one on top of another, (like stone work,) in the most solid
manner possible. This should be continued to the top of the slope, and the
flat top of the dyke should also be sodded,—the sods on the top, and on
the slope, being firmly beaten to their places with the back of the spade
or other suitable implement. This will sufficiently protect the exposed
parts of the work against the action of any waves that may be formed on
the flat between the dyke and the deep water, while the inner slope and
the banks of the ditch, not being exposed to masses of moving water, will
retain their shape and will soon be covered with a new growth.(26) A
sectional view of the above described dyke and ditch is shown in the
accompanying diagram, (Fig. 47.)

In all work of this character, it is important to regulate the amount of
work laid out to be done between the spring tides, to the laboring force
employed, so that no unfinished work will remain to be submerged and
injured. When the flood comes, it should find everything finished up and
protected against its ravages, so that no part of it need be done over

If the land is crossed by creeks, the dyke should be finished off and
sodded, a little back from each bank, and when the time comes for closing
the channel, sufficient force should be employed to complete the dam at a
single tide, so that the returning flow shall not enter to wash away the
material which has been thrown in.

If, as is often the case, these creeks are not merely tidal estuaries, but
receive brooks or rivers from the upland, provision must be made, as will
be hereafter directed, for either diverting the upland flow, or for
allowing it to pass out at low water, through valve gates or sluices. When
the dam has been made, the water behind it should never be allowed to rise
to nearly the level of the full tide, and, as soon as possible, grass and
willows should be grown on the bank, to add to its strength by the binding
effect of their roots.

When the dyke is completed across the front of the whole flat,—from the
high land on one side to the high land on the other, the creeks should be
closed, one after the other, commencing with the smallest, so that the
experience gained in their treatment may enable the force to work more
advantageously on those which carry more water.

If the flow of water in the creek is considerable, a row of strong stakes,
or piles, should be firmly driven into the bottom mud, across the whole
width of the channel, at intervals of not more than one or two feet, and
_fascines_,—bundles of brush bound together,—should be made ready on the
banks, in sufficient quantity to close the spaces between the piles. These
will serve to prevent the washing away of the filling during construction.
The pile driving, and the preparation of the fascines may be done before
the closing of the channel with earth is commenced, and if upland clay or
gravel, to be mixed with the local material, can be economically brought
to the place by boats or wagons, it will be an advantage. Everything being
in readiness, a sufficient force of laborers to finish the dam in six
hours should commence the work a little before dead low-water, and, (with
the aid of wheelbarrows, if necessary,) throw the earth in rapidly
_behind_ the row of stakes and fascines, giving the dam sufficient width
to resist the pressure of the water from without, and keeping the work
always in advance of the rising of the tide, so that, during the whole
operation, none of the filling shall be washed away by water flowing over
its top.

If the creek has a sloping bottom, the work may be commenced earlier,—as
soon as the tide commences to recede,—and pushed out to the center of the
channel by the time the tide is out. When the dam is built, it will be
best to heavily sod, or otherwise protect its surface against the action
of heavy rains, which would tend to wash it away and weaken it; and the
bed of the creek should be filled in back of the dam for a distance of at
least fifty yards, to a height greater than that at which water will stand
in the interior drains,—say to within three feet of the surface,—so that
there shall never be a body of water standing within that distance of the

This is a necessary precaution against the attacks of muskrats, which are
the principal cause of the insecurity of all salt marsh embankments. It
should be a cardinal rule with all who are engaged in the construction of
such works, never to allow two bodies of water, one on each side of the
bank to be nearer than twenty-five yards of each other, and fifty yards
would be better. Muskrats do not bore through a bank, as is often
supposed, to make a passage from one body of water to another, (they would
find an easier road over the top); but they delight in any elevated mound
in which they can make their homes above the water level and have its
entrance beneath the surface, so that their land enemies cannot invade
them. When they enter for this purpose, only from one side of the dyke,
they will do no harm, but if another colony is, at the same time, boring
in from the other side, there is great danger that their burrows will
connect, and thus form a channel for the admission of water, and destroy
the work. A disregard of this requirement has caused thousands of acres of
salt marsh that had been enclosed by dykes having a ditch on each side,
(much the cheapest way to make them,) to be abandoned, and it has induced
the invention of various costly devices for the protection of embankments
against these attacks.(27)

When the creek or estuary to be cut off is very wide, the embankment may
be carried out, at leisure, from each side, until the channel is only wide
enough to allow the passage of the tide without too great a rush of water
against the unfinished ends of the work; but, even in these cases, there
will be economy in the use of fascines and piles from the first, or of
stones if these can be readily procured. In wide streams, partial
obstructions of the water course will sometimes induce the deposit of silt
in such quantities as will greatly assist the work. No written description
of a single process will suffice for the direction of those having charge
of this most delicate of all drainage operations. Much must be left to the
ingenuity of the director of the work, who will have to avail himself of
the assistance of such favorable circumstances as may, in the case in
hand, offer themselves.

If the barrier to be built will require a considerable outlay, it should
be placed in the hands of a competent engineer, and it will generally
demand the full measure of his skill and experience.

The work cannot be successful, unless the whole line of the water-front is
protected by a continuous bank, sufficiently high and strong in all of its
parts to resist the action of the highest tides and the strongest waves to
which it will be subjected. As it is always open to inspection, at each
ebb tide, and can always be approached for repair, it will be easy to keep
it in good condition; and, if properly attended to, it will become more
solid and effective with age.

*The removal of the causes of inundation from the upland* is often of
almost equal importance with the shutting out of the sea, since the amount
of water brought down by rivers, brooks, and hill-side wash, is often more
than can be removed by any practicable means, by sluice gates, or pumps.

It will be quite enough for the capacity of these means of drainage, to
remove the rain-water which falls on the flat land, and that which reaches
it by under-ground springs and by infiltration,—its proper drainage-water
in short,—without adding that which, coming from a higher level, may be
made to flow off by its own fall.

Catch-water drains, near the foot of the upland, may be so arranged as to
receive the surface water of the hills and carry it off, always on a level
above that of the top of the embankment, and these drains may often be,
with advantage, enlarged to a sufficient capacity to carry the streams as
well. If the marsh is divided by an actual river, it may be best to embank
it in two separate tracts; losing the margins, that have been recommended,
outside of the dykes, and building the necessary additional length of
these, rather than to contend with a large body of water. But, frequently,
a very large marsh is traversed by a tortuous stream which occupies a
large area, and which, although the tidal water which it contains gives it
the appearance of a river, is only the outlet of an insignificant stream,
which might be carried along the edge of the upland in an ordinary
mill-race. In such case it is better to divert the stream and reclaim the
whole area.

When a stream is enclosed between dykes, its winding course should be made
straight in order that its water may be carried off as rapidly as
possible, and the land which it occupies by its deviations, made available
for cultivation. In the loose, silty soil of a salt marsh, the stream may
be made to do most of the work of making its new bed, by constructing
temporary "jetties," or other obstructions to its accustomed flow, which
shall cause its current to deposit silt in its old channel, and to cut a
new one out of the opposite bank. In some instances it may be well to make
an elevated canal, straight across the tract, by constructing banks high
enough to confine the stream and deliver it over the top of the dyke; in
others it may be more expedient to carry the stream over, or through, the
hill which bounds the marsh, and cause it to discharge through an
adjoining valley. Improvements of this magnitude, which often affect the
interest of many owners, or of persons interested in the navigation of the
old channel, or in mill privileges below the point at which the water
course is to be diverted, will generally require legislative interference.
But they not seldom promise immense advantages for a comparatively small

The instance cited of the Hackensack Meadows, in New Jersey, is a case in
point. Its area is divided among many owners, and, while ninety-nine acres
in every hundred are given up to muskrats, mosquitoes, coarse rushes and
malaria, the other one acre may belong to the owner of an adjacent farm
who values the salt hay which it yields him, and the title to the whole is
vested in many individual proprietors, who could never be induced to unite
in an improvement for the common benefit. Then again, thanks to the tide
that sets back in the Hackensack River, it is able to float an occasional
vessel to the unimportant villages at the northern end of the meadows, and
the right of navigation can be interfered with only by governmental
action. If the Hackensack River proper, that part of it which only serves
as an outlet for the drainage of the high land north of the meadows, could
be diverted and carried through the hills to the Passaic; or confined
within straight elevated banks and made to discharge at high water mark at
the line of the Philadelphia Rail-road;—the wash of the highlands, east
and west of the meadows, being also carried off at this level,—the bridge
of the railroad might be replaced by an earth embankment, less than a
quarter of a mile in length, effecting a complete exclusion of the tidal
flow from the whole tract.

This being done, a steam-pump, far less formidable than many which are in
profitable use in Europe for the same purpose, would empty, and keep
empty, the present bed of the river, which would form a capital outlet for
the drainage of the whole area. Twenty thousand acres, of the most fertile
land, would thus be added to the available area of the State, greatly
increasing its wealth, and inducing the settlement of thousands of
industrious inhabitants.

As the circumstances under which upland water reaches lands of the class
under consideration vary with every locality, no specific directions for
the treatment of individual cases can be given within the limits of this
chapter; but the problem will rarely be a difficult one.

*The removal of the rain-fall and water of filtration* is the next point
to be considered.

So far as the drainage of the land, in detail, is concerned, it is only
necessary to say that it may be accomplished, as in the case of any other
level land which, from the slight fall that can be allowed the drains,
requires close attention and great care in the adjustment of the grades.

The main difficulty is in providing an outlet for the drains. This can
only be done by artificial means, as the water must be removed from a
level lower than high-water mark,—sometimes lower than low-water.

If it is only required that the outlet be at a point somewhat above the
level of ordinary low-water, it will be sufficient to provide a sufficient
reservoir, (usually a large open ditch,) to contain the drainage water
that is discharged while the tide stands above the floor of the outlet
sluice-way, and to provide for its outflow while the level of the tide
water is below the point of discharge. This is done by means of sluices
having self-acting valves, (or tide-gates,) opening outward, which will be
closed by the weight of the water when the tide rises against them, being
opened again by the pressure of the water from within, as soon the tide
falls below the level of the water inside of the bank.

The gates and sluices may be of wood or iron,—square or round. The best
would be galvanized iron pipes and valves; but a square wooden trunk,
closed with a heavy oak gate that fits closely against its outer end, and
moves freely on its hinges, will answer capitally well, if carefully and
strongly made. If the gate is of wood, it will be well to have it lie in a
slightly slanting position, so that its own weight will tend to keep it
closed when the tide first commences to rise above the floor, and might
trickle in, before it had acquired sufficient head to press the gate
against the end of the trunk.

As this outlet has to remove, in a short time, all of the water that is
delivered by the drains and ditches during several hours, it should, of
course, be considerably larger than would be required for a constantly
flowing drain from the same area; but the immense gates,—large enough for
a canal lock,—which are sometimes used for the drainage of a few acres of
marsh, are absurd. Not only are they useless, they are really
objectionable, inasmuch as the greater extent of their joints increases
the risk of leakage at the time of high water.

The channel for the outflow of the water may sometimes, with advantage, be
open to the top of the dyke or dam,—a canal instead of a trunk; but this
is rarely the better plan, and is only admissible where the discharge is
into a river or small bay, too small for the formation of high waves, as
these would be best received on the face of a well sodded, sloping bank.

The height, above absolute low water, at which the outlet should be
placed, will depend on the depth of the outlet of the land drain, and the
depth of storage room required to receive the drainage water during the
higher stages of the tide. Of course, it must not be higher than the floor
of the land drain outlet, and, except for the purpose of affording storage
room, it need not be lower, although all the drainage will discharge, not
only while the tide water is below the bottom of the gate, but as long as
it remains lower than the level of the water inside. It is well to place
the mouth of the trunk nearly as low as ordinary low-water mark. This will
frequently render it necessary to carry a covered drain, of wood or brick,
through the mud, out as far as the tide usually recedes,—connected with
the valve gate at the outlet of the trunk, by a covered box which will
keep rubbish from obstructing it, or interfering with its action.

_When the outlet of the land-drains is below low-water mark_, it is of
course necessary to pump out the drainage water. This is done by steam or
by wind, the latter being economical only for small tracts which will not
bear the cost of a steam pump. Formerly, this work was done entirely by
windmills, but these afford only an uncertain power, and often cause the
entire loss of crops which are ready for the harvest, by obstinately
refusing to work for days after a heavy rain has deluged the land. In
grass land they are tolerably reliable, and on _small_ tracts in
cultivation, it is easy, by having a good proportion of open ditches, to
afford storage room sufficient for general security; but in the reclaiming
of large areas, (and it is with these that the work is most economical,)
the steam pump may be regarded as indispensable. It is fast superseding
the windmills which, a few years ago, were the sole dependence in Holland
and on the English Fens. The magnitude of the pumping machinery on which
the agriculture of a large part of Holland depends, is astonishing.

There are such immense areas of salt marsh in the United States which may
be tolerably drained by the use of simple valve gates, discharging above
low-water mark, that it is not very important to consider the question of
pumping, except in cases where owners of small tracts, from which a
sufficient tidal outlet could not be secured, (without the concurrence of
adjoining proprietors who might refuse to unite in making the
improvement,) may find it advisable to erect small pumps for their own
use. In such cases, it would generally be most economical to use
wind-power, especially if an accessory steam pump be provided for
occasional use, in emergency. Certainly, the tidal drainage should first
be resorted to, for when the land has once been brought into cultivation,
the propriety of introducing steam pumps will become more apparent, and
the outlay will be made with more confidence of profitable return, and, in
all cases, the tidal outlet should be depended on for the outflow of all
water above its level. It would be folly to raise water by expensive
means, which can be removed, even periodically, by natural drainage.

When pumps are used, their discharge pipes should pass through the
embankment, and deliver the water at low-water mark, so that the engine
may have to operate only against the actual height of the tide water. If
it delivered above high-water mark, it would work, even at low tide,
against a constant head, equal to that of the highest tides.


So far as remote agricultural districts are concerned, it is not probable
that the mere question of health would induce the undertaking of costly
drainage operations, although this consideration may operate, in
connection with the need for an improved condition of soil, as a strong
argument in its favor. As a rule, "the chills" are accepted by farmers,
especially at the West, as one of the slight inconveniences attending
their residence on rich lands; and it is not proposed, in this work, to
urge the evils of this terrible disease, and of "sun pain," or "day
neuralgia," as a reason for draining the immense prairies over which they
prevail. The diseases exist,—to the incalculable detriment of the
people,—and thorough draining would remove them, and would doubtless bring
a large average return on the investment;—but the question is, after all,
one of capital; and the cost of such draining as would remove
fever-and-ague from the bottom lands and prairies of the West, and from
the infected agricultural districts at the East, would be more than the
agricultural capital of those districts could spare for the purpose.

In the vicinity of cities and towns, however, where more wealth has
accumulated, and where the number of persons subjected to the malarial
influence is greater, there can be no question as to the propriety of
draining, even if nothing but improved health be the object.

Then again, there are immense tracts near the large cities of this country
which would be most desirable for residence, were it not that their
occupancy, except with certain constant precautions, implies almost
inevitable suffering from fever-and-ague, or neuralgia.

Very few neighborhoods within thirty miles of the city of New York are
entirely free from these scourges, whose influence has greatly retarded
their occupation by those who are seeking country homes; while many, who
have braved the dangers of disease in these localities, have had sad cause
to regret their temerity.

Probably the most striking instance of the effect of malaria on the growth
and settlement of suburban districts, is to be found on Staten Island.
Within five miles of the Battery; accessible by the most agreeable and
best managed ferry from the city; practically, nearer to Wall street than
Murray Hill is; with most charming views of land and water; with a
beautifully diversified surface, and an excellent soil; and affording
capital opportunities for sea bathing, it should be, (were it not for its
sanitary reputation, it inevitably would be,) one vast residence-park.
Except on its extreme northern end, and along its higher ridges, it
has,—and, unfortunately, it deserves,—a most unenviable reputation for
insalubrity. Here and there, on the southern slope also, there are favored
places which are unaccountably free from the pest, but, as a rule, it is,
during the summer and autumn, unsafe to live there without having constant
recourse to preventive medication, or exercising unusual and inconvenient
precautions with regard to exposure to mid-day sun and evening dew. There
are always to be found attractive residences, which are deserted by their
owners, and are offered for sale at absurdly low prices. There are
isolated instances of very thorough and very costly draining, which has
failed of effect, because so extensive a malarial region cannot be
reclaimed by anything short of a systematic improvement of the whole.

It has been estimated that the thorough drainage of the low lands, valleys
and ponds of the eastern end of the island, including two miles of the
south shore, would at once add $5,000,000 to the market value of the real
estate of that section. There can be no question that any radical
improvement in this respect would remove the only obstacle to the rapid
settlement of the island by those who wish to live in the country, yet
need to be near to the business portion of the city. The hope of such
improvement being made, however, seems as remote as ever,—although any one
at all acquainted with the sources of miasm, in country neighborhoods, can
readily see the cause of the difficulty, and the means for its removal are
as plainly suggested.

Staten Island is, by no means, alone in this respect. All who know the
history of the settlement of the other suburbs of New York are very well
aware that those places which are free from fever-and-ague and malarial
neuralgia, are extremely rare.

The exact cause of fever-and-ague and other malarial diseases is unknown,
but it is demonstrated that, whatever the cause is, it is originated under
a combination of circumstances, one of which is undue moisture in the
soil. It is not necessary that land should be absolutely marshy to produce
the miasm, for this often arises on cold, springy uplands which are quite
free from deposits of muck. Thus far, the attention of scientific
investigators, given to the consideration of the origin of malarial
diseases, has failed to discover any well established facts concerning it;
but there have been developed certain theories, which seem to be sustained
by such knowledge as exists on the subject.

Dr. Bartlett, in his work on the Fevers of the United States, says:—"The
essential, efficient, producing cause of periodical fever,—the poison
whose action on the system gives rise to the disease,—is a substance or
agent which has received the names of _malaria_, or _marsh miasm_. The
nature and composition of this poison are wholly unknown to us. Like most
other analogous agents, like the contagious principle of small-pox and of
typhus, and like the epidemic poison of scarletina and cholera, they are
too subtle to be recognized by any of our senses, they are too fugitive to
be caught by any of our contrivances.

"As always happens in such cases and under similar circumstances, in the
absence of positive knowledge, we have been abundantly supplied with
conjecture and speculation; what observation has failed to discover,
hypothesis has endeavored and professed to supply. It is quite unnecessary
even to enumerate the different substances to which malaria has been
referred. Amongst them are all of the chemical products and compounds
possible in wet and marshy localities; moisture alone; the products of
animal and vegetable decomposition; and invisible living organisms. * * *
* Inscrutable, however, as the intimate nature of the substances or agents
may be, there are some few of its laws and relations which are very well
ascertained. One of these consists in its connection with low, or wet, or
marshy localities. This connection is not invariable and exclusive, that
is, there are marshy localities which are not malarious, and there are
malarious localities which are not marshy; but there is no doubt whatever
that it generally exists."

In a report to the United States Sanitary Commission, Dr. Metcalfe states,
that all hypotheses, even the most plausible, are entirely unsupported by
positive knowledge, and he says:—

"This confession of ignorance still leaves us in possession of certain
knowledge concerning malaria, from which much practical good may be

"1st. It affects, by preference, low and moist localities.

"2d. It is almost never developed at a lower temperature than 60°

"3d. Its evolution or active agency is checked by a temperature of 32°.

"4th. It is most abundant and most virulent as we approach the equator and
the sea-coast.

"5th. It has an affinity for dense foliage, which has the power of
accumulating it, when lying in the course of winds blowing from malarious

"6th. Forests, or even woods, have the power of obstructing and preventing
its transmission, under these circumstances.

"7th. By atmospheric currents it is capable of being transported to
considerable distances—probably as far as five miles.

"8th. It may be developed, in previously healthy places, by turning up the
soil; as in making excavations for foundations of houses, tracks for
railroads, and beds for canals.

"9th. In certain cases it seems to be attracted and absorbed by bodies of
water lying in the course of such winds as waft it from the miasmatic

"10th. Experience alone can enable us to decide as to the presence or
absence of malaria, in any given locality.

"11th. In proportion as countries, previously malarious, are cleared up
and thickly settled, periodical fevers disappear—in many instances to be
replaced by the typhoid or typhus."

La Roche, in a carefully prepared treatise on "Pneumonia; its Supposed
Connection with Autumnal Fevers," recites various theories concerning the
mode of action of marsh miasm, and finds them insufficient to account for
the phenomena which they produce. He continues as follows:—

"All the above hypotheses failing to account for the effects in question,
we are naturally led to the admission that they are produced by the
morbific influence of some special agent; and when we take into
consideration all the circumstances attending the appearance of febrile
diseases, the circumscribed sphere of their prevalence, the suddenness of
their attack, the character of their phenomena, etc., we may safely say
that there is nothing left but to attribute them to the action of some
poison dissolved or suspended in the air of the infected locality; which
poison, while doubtless requiring for its development and dissemination a
certain degree of heat, and terrestrial and atmospheric moisture, a
certain amount of nightly condensation after evaporation, and the presence
of fermenting or decomposing materials, cannot be produced by either of
these agencies alone, and though indicated by the chemist, betrays its
presence by producing on those exposed to its influence the peculiar
morbid changes characterizing fever."

He quotes the following from the Researches of Dr. Chadwick:—

"In considering the circumstances external to the residence, which affect
the sanitary condition of the population, the importance of a general
land-drainage is developed by the inquiries as to the cause of the
prevalent diseases, to be of a magnitude of which no conception had been
formed at the commencement of the investigation. Its importance is
manifested by the severe consequences of its neglect in every part of the
country, as well as by its advantages in the increasing salubrity and
productiveness wherever the drainage has been skillful and effectual."

La Roche calls attention to these facts:—That the acclimated residents of
a malarious locality, while they are less subject than strangers to active
fever, show, in their physical and even in their mental organization,
evident indications of the ill effects of living in a poisonous
atmosphere,—an evil which increases with successive generations, often
resulting in a positive deterioration of the race; that the lower animals
are affected, though in a less degree than man; that deposits of organic
matter which are entirely covered with water, (as at the bottom of a
pond,) are not productive of malaria; that this condition of saturation is
infinitely preferable to imperfect drainage; that swamps which are shaded
from the sun’s heat by trees, are not supposed to produce disease; and
that marshes which are exposed to constant winds are not especially
deleterious to persons living in their immediate vicinity,—while winds
frequently carry the emanations of miasmatic districts to points some
miles distant, where they produce their worst effects. This latter
statement is substantiated by the fact that houses situated some miles to
the leeward of low, wet lands, have been especially insalubrious until the
windows and doors on the side toward the source of the miasm were closed
up, and openings made on the other side,—and thenceforth remained free
from the disease, although other houses with openings on the exposed sides
continued unhealthy.

The literature relating to periodical fevers contains nothing else so
interesting as the very ingenious article of Dr. J. H. Salisbury, on the
"Cause of Malarious Fevers," contributed to the "American Journal of
Medical Science," for January, 1866. Unfortunately, while there is no
evidence to controvert the statements of this article, they do not seem to
be honored with the confidence of the profession,—not being regarded as
sufficiently authenticated to form a basis for scientific deductions. Dr.
Salisbury claims to have discovered the cause of malarial fever in the
spores of a very low order of plant, which spores he claims to have
invariably detected in the saliva, and in the urine, of fever patients,
and in those of no other persons, and which he collected on plates of
glass suspended over all marshes and other lands of a malarious character,
which he examined, and which he was never able to obtain from lands which
were not malarious. Starting from this point, he proceeds, (with
circumstantial statements that seem to the unprofessional mind to be
sufficient,) to show that the plant producing these spores is always
found, in the form of a whitish, green, or brick-colored incrustation, on
the surface of fever producing lands; that the spores, when detached from
the parent plant, are carried in suspension _only in the moist exhalations
of wet lands_, never rising higher, (usually from 35 to 60 feet,) nor
being carried farther, than the humid air itself; that they most
accumulate in the upper strata of the fogs, producing more disease on
lands slightly elevated above the level of the marsh than at its very
edge; that fever-and-ague are never to be found where this plant does not
grow; that it may be at once introduced into the healthiest locality by
transporting moist earth on which the incrustation is forming; that the
plant, being introduced into the human system through the lungs, continues
to grow there and causes disease; and that _quinia_ arrests its growth,
(as it checks the multiplication of yeast plants in fermentation,) and
thus suspends the action of the disease.

Probably it would be impossible to prove that the foregoing theory is
correct, though it is not improbable that it contains the germ from which
a fuller knowledge of the disease and its causes will be obtained. It is
sufficient for the purposes of this work to say that, so far as Dr.
Salisbury’s opinion is valuable, it is,—like the opinion of all other
writers on the subject,—fully in favor of perfect drainage as the one
great preventive of all malarial diseases.

_The evidence of the effect of drainage_ in removing the cause of malarial
diseases is complete and conclusive. Instances of such improvement in this
country are not rare, but they are much less numerous and less conspicuous
here than in England, where draining has been much more extensively
carried out, and where greater pains have been taken to collect testimony
as to its effects.

If there is any fact well established by satisfactory experience, it is
that thorough and judicious draining will entirely remove the local source
of the miasm which produces these diseases.

The voluminous reports of various Committees of the English Parliament,
appointed to investigate sanitary questions, are replete with information
concerning experience throughout the whole country, bearing directly on
this question.

Dr. Whitley, in his report to the Board of Health, (in 1864,) of an
extended tour of observation, says of one town that he examined:—

"Mr. Nicholls, who has been forty years in practice here, and whom I was
unable to see at the time of my visit, writes: Intermittent and remittent
are greatly on the decline since the improved state of drainage of the
town and surrounding district, and more particularly marked is this
alteration, since the introduction of the water-works in the place.
Although we have occasional outbreaks of intermittent and remittent, with
neuralgic attacks, they yield more speedily to remedies, and are not
attended by so much enlargement of the liver or spleen as formerly, and
dysentery is of rare occurrence."

Dr. Whitley sums up his case as follows:—

"It would appear from the foregoing inquiry, that intermittent and
remittent fevers, and their consequences, can no longer be regarded as
seriously affecting the health of the population, in many of the
districts, in which those diseases were formerly of a formidable
character. Thus, in Norfolk, Lincolnshire, and Cambridgeshire, counties in
which these diseases were both frequent and severe, all the evidence,
except that furnished by the Peterborough Infirmary, and, in a somewhat
less degree, in Spaulding, tends to show that they are at the present
time, comparatively rare and mild in form."

He mentions similar results from his investigations in other parts of the
kingdom, and says:—

"It may, therefore, be safely asserted as regards England generally,

"The diseases which have been made the subject of the present inquiry,
have been steadily decreasing, both in frequency and severity, for several
years, _and this decrease is attributed, in nearly every case, mainly to
one cause,—improved land drainage;_" again:

"The change of local circumstances, unanimously declared to be the most
immediate in influencing the prevalence of malarious diseases, is land
drainage;" and again:

"Except in a few cases in which medical men believed that these affections
began to decline previously to the improved drainage of the places
mentioned, the decrease in all of the districts where extensive drainage
has been carried out, was stated to have commenced about the same time,
and was unhesitatingly attributed to that cause."

A select Committee of the House of Commons, appointed to investigate the
condition and sanitary influence of the Thames marshes, reported their
minutes of evidence, and their deductions therefrom, in 1854, The
following is extracted from their report:

"It appears from the evidence of highly intelligent and eminent gentlemen
of the medical profession, residing in the neighborhood of the marshes on
both sides of the Thames below London Bridge, that the diseases prevalent
in these districts are highly indicative of malarious influences,
fever-and-ague being very prevalent; and that the sickness and mortality
are greatest in those localities which adjoin imperfectly drained lands,
and far exceed the usual average; and that ague and allied disorders
frequently extend to the high grounds in the vicinity. In those districts
where a partial drainage has been effected, a corresponding improvement in
the health of the inhabitants is perceptible."

In the evidence given before the committee, Dr. P. Bossey testified that
the malaria from salt marshes varied in intensity, being most active in
the morning and in the Summer season. The marshes are sometimes covered by
a little fog, usually not more than three feet thick, which is of a very
offensive odor, and detrimental to health. Away from the marshes, there is
a greater tendency to disease on the side toward which the prevailing
winds blow.

Dr. James Stewart testified that the effect of malaria was greatest when
very hot weather succeeds heavy rain or floods. He thought that malaria
could be carried _up_ a slope, but has never been known to descend, and
that, consequently, an intervening hill affords sufficient protection
against marsh malaria. He had known cases where the edges of a river were
healthy and the uplands malarious.

In Santa Maura and Zante, where he had been stationed with the army, he
had observed that the edge of a marsh would be comparatively healthy,
while the higher places in the vicinity were exceedingly unhealthy. He
thought that there were a great many mixed diseases which began like ague
and terminated very differently; those diseases would, no doubt, assume a
very different form if they were not produced by the marsh air; many
diseases are very difficult to treat, from being of a mixed character
beginning like marsh fevers and terminating like inflammatory fevers, or
diseases of the chest.

Dr. George Farr testified that rheumatism and tic-doloreux were very
common among the ladies who live at the Woolwich Arsenal, near the Thames
marshes. Some of these cases were quite incurable, until the patients
removed to a purer atmosphere.

W. H. Gall, M. D., thought that the extent to which malaria affected the
health of London, must of course be very much a theoretical question; "but
it is very remarkable that diseases which are not distinctly miasmatic, do
become much more severe in a miasmatic district. Influenzas, which
prevailed in England in 1847, were very much more fatal in London and the
surrounding parts than they were in the country generally, and influenza
and ague poisons are very nearly allied in their effects. Marsh miasms are
conveyed, no doubt, a considerable distance. Sufficiently authentic cases
are recorded to show that the influence of marsh miasm extends several
miles." Other physicians testify to the fact, that near the Thames
marshes, the prevalent diseases are all of them of an aguish type,
intermittent and remittent, and that they are accompanied with much
dysentery. Dr. John Manly said that, when he first went to Barking, he
found a great deal of ague, but since the draining, in a population of ten
thousand, there are not half-a-dozen cases annually and but very little

The following Extract is taken from the testimony of Sir Culling Eardly,

"Chairman:—I believe you reside at Belvidere, in the parish of
Erith?—Yes.—Ch.: Close to these marshes?—Yes.—Ch.: Can you speak from your
own knowledge, of the state of these marshes, with regard to public
health?—Sir C.: I can speak of some of the results which have been
produced in the neighborhood, from the condition of the marshes; the
neighborhood is in one continual state of ague. My own house is protected,
from the height of its position, and a gentleman’s house is less liable to
the influence of malaria than the houses of the lower classes. But even in
my house we are liable to ague; and to show the extraordinary manner in
which the ague operates, in the basement story of this house where my
men-servants sleep, we have more than once had bad ague. In the attics of
my house, where my maid-servants sleep, we have never had it. Persons are
deterred from settling in the neighborhood by the aguish character of the
country. Many persons, attracted by the beauty of the locality, wish to
come down and settle; but when they find the liability to ague, they are
compelled to give up their intention. I may mention that the village of
Erith itself, bears marks of the influence of malaria. It is more like one
of the desolate towns of Italy, Ferrara, for instance, than a healthy,
happy, English village. I do not know whether it is known to the
committee, that Erith is the village described in Dickens’ _Household
Words_, as Dumble-down-deary, and that it is a most graphic and correct
description of the state of the place, attributable to the unhealthy
character of the locality."

He also stated that the ague is not confined to the marshes, but extends
to the high lands near them.

The General Board of Health, of England, at the close of a voluminous
report, publish the following "Conclusions as to the Drainage of Suburban

"1. Excess of moisture, even on lands not evidently wet, is a cause of
fogs and damps.

"2. Dampness serves as a medium for the conveyance of any decomposing
matter that may be evolved, and adds to the injurious effects of such
matters in the air:—in other words the excess of moisture may be said to
increase or aggravate atmospheric impurities.

"3. The evaporation of the surplus moisture lowers the temperature,
produces chills, and creates or aggravates the sudden and injurious
changes or fluctuations by which health is injured."

In view of the foregoing opinions as to the cause of malaria, and of the
evidence as to the effect of draining in removing the unhealthy condition
in which those causes originate, it is not too much to say that,—in
addition to the capital effect of draining on the productive capacity of
the land,—the most beneficial sanitary results may be confidently expected
from the extension of the practice, especially in such localities as are
now unsafe, or at least undesirable for residence.

In proportion to the completeness and efficiency of the means for the
removal of surplus water from the soil:—in proportion, that is, to the
degree in which the improved tile drainage described in these pages is
adopted,—will be the completeness of the removal of the causes of disease.
So far as the drying of malarious lands is concerned, it is only necessary
to construct drains in precisely the same manner as for agricultural

The removal of the waste of houses, and of other filth, will be considered
in the next chapter.


The following is extracted from a report made by the General Board of
Health to the British Parliament, concerning the administration of the
Public Health Act and the Nuisances Removal and Diseases Prevention Acts
from 1848 to 1854.

"Where instances have been favorable for definite observation, as in broad
blocks of buildings, the effects of sanitary improvement have been already
manifested to an extent greater than could have been anticipated, and than
can be readily credited by those who have not paid attention to the

"In one favorable instance, that of between 600 and 700 persons of the
working class in the metropolis, during a period of three years, the
average rate of mortality has been reduced to between 13 and 14 in 1000.
In another instance, for a shorter period, among 500 persons, the
mortality has been reduced as low as even 7 in 1000. The average rate of
mortality for the whole metropolis being 23 in 1000.

"In another instance, the abolishing of cess-pools and their replacement
by water-closets, together with the abolishing of brick drains and their
replacement by impermeable and self-cleansing stone-ware pipes, has been
attended with an immediate and extraordinary reduction of mortality. Thus,
in Lambeth Square, occupied by a superior class of operatives, in the
receipt of high wages, the deaths, which in ordinary times were above the
general average, or more than 30 in 1000, had risen to a rate of 55 in
1000. By the abolishing of cess-pools, which were within the houses, and
the substitution of water-closets, and with the introduction of tubular,
self-cleansing house-drains, the mortality has been reduced to 13 in 1000.

"The reduction of the mortality was effected precisely among the same
occupants, without any change in their habits whatever."

"Sewers are less important than the House-Drains and Water-Closets, and if
not carrying much water, may become cess-pools. In the case of the Square
just referred to, when cess-pools and drains of deposit were removed
without any alteration whatever in the adjacent sewers, fevers disappeared
from house to house, as these receptacles were filled up, and the
water-closet apparatus substituted, merely in consequence of the removal
of the decomposing matter from beneath the houses to a distant sewer of
deposit or open water course.

"If the mortality were at the same rate as in the model dwellings, or in
the improved dwellings in Lambeth Square, the annual deaths for the whole
of the metropolis would be 25,000 less, and for the whole of England and
Wales 170,000 less than the actual deaths.

"If the reduced rate of mortality in these dwellings should continue, and
there appears to be no reason to suppose that it will not, the extension
to all towns which have been affected, of the improvements which have been
applied in these buildings, would raise the average age at death to about
forty-eight instead of twenty-nine, the present average age at death of
the inhabitants of towns in all England and Wales."

The branch of the Art of Drainage which relates to the removal of the
fecal and other refuse wastes of the population of towns, is quite
different from that which has been described in the preceding pages, as
applicable to the agricultural and sanitary improvement of lands under
cultivation, and of suburban districts. Still, the fact that town and
house drainage affords a means for the preservation of valuable manures,
justifies its discussion in an agricultural work, and "draining for
health" would stop far short of completeness were no attention paid to the
removal of the cause of diseases, which are far more fatal than those that
originate in an undrained condition of the soil.

The extent to which these diseases, (of which typhoid fever is a type,)
are prevented by sanitary drainage, is strikingly shown in the extract
which commences this chapter. Since the experience to which this report
refers, it has been found that the most fatal epidemics of the lower
portions of London originated in the choked condition of the street
sewers, whose general character, as well as the plan of improvement
adopted are described in the following "Extracts from the Report of the
Metropolitan Board of Works," made in 1866.

"The main sewers discharged their whole contents direct into the Thames,
the majority of them capable of being emptied only at the time of low
water; consequently, as the tide rose, the outlets of the sewers were
closed, and the sewage was dammed back, and became stagnant; the sewage
and impure waters were also constantly flowing from the higher grounds, in
some instances during 18 out of the 24 hours, and thus the thick and heavy
substances were deposited, which had to be afterwards removed by the
costly process of hand labor. During long continued or copious falls of
rain, more particularly when these occurred at the time of high water in
the river, the closed outlets not having sufficient storage capacity to
receive the increased volume of sewage, the houses and premises in the low
lying districts, especially on the south side of the river, became flooded
by the sewage rising through the house drains, and so continued until the
tide had receded sufficiently to afford a vent for the pent-up waters,
when the sewage flowed and deposited itself along the banks of the river,
evolving gases of a foul and offensive character.

"This state of things had a most injurious effect upon the condition of
the Thames; for not only was the sewage carried up the river by the rising
tide, at a time when the volume of pure water was at its minimum, and
quite insufficient to dilute and disinfect it, but it was brought back
again into the heart of the metropolis, there to mix with each day’s fresh
supply, until the gradual progress towards the sea of many day’s
accumulation could be plainly discerned; the result being that the portion
of the river within the metropolitan district became scarcely less impure
and offensive than the foulest of the sewers themselves. * * * * * *

"The Board, by the system they have adopted, have sought to abolish the
evils which hitherto existed, by constructing new lines of sewers, laid in
a direction at right angles to that of the existing sewers, and a little
below their levels, so as to intercept their contents and convey them to
an outfall, on the north side of the Thames about 11-1/4 miles, and on the
south side about 14 miles, below London Bridge. By this arrangement as
large a proportion of the sewage as practicable is carried away by
gravitation, and a constant discharge for the remainder is provided by
means of pumping. At the outlets, the sewage is delivered into reservoirs
situate on the banks of the Thames, and placed at such levels as enable
them to discharge into the river at or about the time of high water. The
sewage thus becomes not only at once diluted by the large volume of water
in the river at the time of high water, but is also carried by the ebb 26
miles below London Bridge, and its return by the following flood-tide
within the metropolitan area, is effectually prevented."

The details of this stupendous enterprise are of sufficient interest to
justify the introduction here of the "General Statistics of the Works" as
reported by the Board.

"A few statistics relative to the works may not prove uninteresting. The
first portion of the works was commenced in January 1859, being about five
months after the passing of the Act authorising their execution. There are
82 miles of main intercepting sewers in London. In the construction of the
works 318,000,000 of bricks, and 880,000 cubic yards of concrete have been
used, and 3,500,000 cubic yards of earth excavated. The cost, when
completed, will have been about £4,200,000. The total pumping power
employed is 2,300 nominal horse power: and if the engines were at full
work, night and day, 44,000 tons of coals per annum would be used; but the
average consumption is estimated at 20,000 tons. The sewage to be
intercepted by the works on the north side of the river, at present
amounts to 10,000,000 cubic feet, and on the south side 4,000,000 cubic
feet per day; but provision is made for an anticipated increase in these
quantities, in addition to the rainfall, amounting to a total of
63,000,000 cubic feet per day, which is equal to a lake of 482 acres,
three feet deep, or 15 times as large as the Serpentine in Hyde Park."

A very large portion of the sewage has to be lifted thirty-six feet to the
outfall sewer. The works on the north side of the Thames were formally
opened, by the Prince of Wales, in April 1865.

In the hope that the immense amount of sewage, for which an escape has
been thus provided, might be profitably employed in agriculture,
advertisements were inserted in the public journals asking for proposals
for carrying out such a scheme; and arrangements were subsequently made
for an extension of the works, by private enterprise, by the construction
of a culvert nine and a half feet in diameter, and forty miles in length,
capable of carrying 12,000,000 cubic feet of sewage per day to the barren
sands on the coast of Essex; the intention being to dispose of the liquid
to farmers along the line, and to use the surplus for the fertilization of
7000 acres, (to be subsequently increased,) which are to be reclaimed from
the sea by embankments and valve sluice-gates.

The estimated cost of this enterprise is about $10,000,000.

The work which has been done, and which is now in contemplation, in
England, is suggestive of what might, with advantage, be adopted in the
larger cities in America. Especially in New York an improved means of
outlet is desirable, and it is doubtful whether the high rate of mortality
of that city will be materially reduced before effective measures are
devised for removing the vast accumulations of filth, which ebb and flow
in many of the larger sewers, with each change of the tide; and which are
deposited between the piers along the river-sides.

It would be practicable to construct a main receiving sewer under the
river streets, skirting the city, from the vicinity of Bellevue Hospital
on the east side, passing near the outer edge of the Battery, and
continuing to the high land near 60th street on the west side; having its
water level at least twenty feet below the level of the street, and
receiving all of the sewage which now flows into the river. At the
Battery, this receiving sewer might be connected, by a tunnel, with the
Brooklyn shore, its contents being carried to a convenient point south of
Fort Hamilton,—where their discharge, (by lifting steam pumps), into the
waters of the Lower Bay, would be attended with no inconvenience. The
improvement being carried out to this point, it would probably not be long
before the advantages to result from the application of the sewage to the
sandy soil on the south side of Long Island would be manifest.

The effect of such an improvement on the health of the city,—which is now
in constant danger from the putrefying filth of the sewers, (these being
little better than covered cess-pools under the streets,)—would, no doubt,
equal the improvement that has resulted from similar work in London.

The foregoing relates only to the main outlets for town sewage. The
arterial drainage, (the lateral drains of the system,) which receives the
waste of the houses and the wash of the streets, is entirely dependent on
the outlet sewers, and can be effective only when these are so constructed
as to afford a free outfall for the matters that it delivers to them. In
many towns, owing to high situation, or to a rapid inclination of surface,
the outfall is naturally so good as to require but little attention. In
all cases, the manner of constructing the collecting drains is a matter of
great importance, and in this work a radical change has been introduced
within a few years past.

Formerly, immense conduits of porous brick work, in all cases large enough
to be entered to be cleansed, by hand labor, of their accumulated
deposits, were considered necessary for the accommodation of the smallest
discharge. The consequence of this was, that, especially in sewers
carrying but little water, the solid matters contained in the sewage were
deposited by the sluggish flow, frequently causing the entire obstruction
of the passages. Such drains always required frequent and expensive
cleansing by hand, and the decomposition of the filth which they contained
produced a most injurious effect on the health of persons living near
their connections with the street. The foul liquids with which they were
filled, passing through their porous walls, impregnated the earth near
them, and sometimes reached to the cellars of adjacent houses, which were
in consequence rendered extremely unhealthy. Many such sewers are now in
existence, and some such are still being constructed. Not only are they
unsatisfactory, they are much more expensive in construction, and require
much attention and labor for repairs, and cleansing, than do the
stone-ware pipe sewers which are now universally adopted wherever measures
are taken to investigate their comparative merits. An example of the
difference between the old and modern styles of sewers is found in the
drainage of the Westminster School buildings, etc., in London.

The new drainage conveys the house and surface drainage of about two acres
on which are fifteen large houses. The whole length of the drain is about
three thousand feet, and the entire outlet is through two nine inch pipes.
The drainage is perfectly removed, and the pipes are always clean, no foul
matters being deposited at any point. This drainage has been adopted as a
substitute for an old system of sewerage of which the main was from 4 feet
high, by 3 feet 6 inches wide, to 17 feet high and 6 or 7 feet wide. The
houses had cess-pools beneath them, which were filled with the
accumulations of many years, while the sewers themselves were scarcely
less offensive. This condition resulted in a severe epidemic fever of a
very fatal character.

An examination instituted to discover the cause of the epidemic resulted
in the discovery of the facts set forth above, and there were removed from
the drains and cess-pools more than 550 loads of ordure. The evaporating
surface of this filth was more than 2000 square yards.

Since the new drainage, not only has there been no recurrence of epidemic
fever, but "a greater improvement in the general health of the population
has succeeded than might be reasonably expected in a small block of
houses, amidst an ill-conditioned district, from which it cannot be
completely isolated."

The principle which justifies the use of pipe sewers is precisely that
which has been described in recommending small tiles for agricultural
drainage,—_to wit_: that the rapidity of a flow of water, and its power to
remove obstacles, is in proportion to its depth as compared with its
width. It has been found in practice, that a stream which wends its
sluggish way along the bottom of a large brick culvert, when concentrated
within the area of a small pipe of regular form, flows much more rapidly,
and will carry away even whole bricks, and other substances which were an
obstacle to its flow in the larger channel. As an experiment as to the
efficacy of small pipes Mr. Hale, the surveyor, who was directed by the
General Board of Health of London to make the trial, laid a 12-inch pipe
in the bottom of a sewer 5 feet and 6 inches high, and 3 feet and 6 inches
wide. The area drained was about 44 acres. He found the velocity of the
stream in the pipe to be four and a half times greater than that of the
same amount of water in the sewer. The pipe at no time accumulated silt,
and the force of the water issuing from the end of the pipe kept the
bottom of the sewer perfectly clear for the distance of 12 feet, beyond
which point some bricks and stones were deposited, their quantity
increasing with the distance from the pipe. He caused sand, pieces of
bricks, stones, mud, etc., to be put into the head of the pipe. These were
all carried clear through the pipe, but were deposited in the sewer below

It has been found by experiment that in a flat bottomed sewer, four feet
wide, having a fall of eight inches in one hundred feet, a stream of water
one inch depth, runs very sluggishly, while the same water running through
a 12-inch pipe, laid on the same inclination, forms a rapid stream,
carrying away the heavy silt which was deposited in the broad sewer. As a
consequence of this, it has been found, where pipe sewers are used, even
on almost imperceptible inclinations, that silt is very rarely deposited,
and the waste matters of house and street drainage are carried immediately
to the outlet, instead of remaining to ferment and poison the atmosphere
of the streets through which they pass. In the rare cases of obstruction
which occur, the pipes are very readily cleansed by flushing, at a tithe
of the cost of the constant hand-work required in brick sewers.

For the first six or seven hundred feet at the head of a sewer, a six inch
pipe will remove all of the house and street drainage, even during a heavy
rain fall; and if the inclination is rapid, (say 6 inches to 100 feet,)
the acceleration of the flow, caused partly by the constant additions to
the water, pipes of this size may be used for considerably greater
distances. It has been found by actual trial that it is not necessary to
increase the size of the pipe sewer in exact proportion to the amount of
drainage that it has to convey, as each addition to the flow, where
drainage is admitted from street openings or from houses, accelerates the
velocity of the current, pipes discharging even eight times as much when
received at intervals along the line as they would take from a full head
at the upper end of the sewer.

For a district inhabited by 10,000 persons, a 12-inch pipe would afford a
sufficient outlet, unless the amount of road drainage were unusually
large, and for the largest sewers, pipes of more than 18 inches diameter
are rarely used, these doing the work which, under the old system, was
alloted to a sewer 6 feet high and 3 feet broad.

Of course, the connections by which the drainage of roads is admitted to
these sewers, must be provided with ample silt-basins, which require
frequent cleaning out. In the construction of the sewers, man-holes, built
to the surface, are placed at sufficient intervals, and at all points
where the course of the sewer changes, so that a light placed at one of
these may be seen from the next one;—the contractor being required to lay
the sewer so that the light may be thus seen, a straight line both of
inclination and direction is secured.

The rules which regulate the laying of land-drains apply with equal force
in the making of sewers, that is no part of the pipe should be less
perfect, either in material or construction, than that which lies above
it; and where the inclination becomes less, in approaching the outlet,
silt-basins should be employed, unless the decreased fall is still rapid.
The essential point of difference is, that while land drains may be of
porous material, and should have open joints for the admission of water,
sewer pipes should be of impervious glazed earthen-ware, and their joints
should be securely cemented, to prevent the escape of the sewage, which it
is their province to remove, not to distribute. Drains from houses, which
need not be more than 3 or 4 inches in diameter, should be of the same
material, and should discharge with considerable inclination into the
pipes, being connected with a curving branch, directing the fluid towards
the outlet.

In laying a sewer, it is customary to insert a pipe with a branch opposite
each house, or probable site of a house.

It is important that, in towns not supplied with waterworks, measures be
taken to prevent the admission of too much solid matter in the drainage of
houses. Water being the motive power for the removal of the solid parts of
the sewage, unless there be a public supply which can be turned on at
pleasure, no house should deliver more solid matter than can be carried
away by its refuse waters.

The drainage of houses is one of the chief objects of sewerage.

In addition to the cases cited above of the model lodging houses in
Lambeth Square, and of the buildings at Westminster, it may be well to
refer to a remarkable epidemic which broke out in the Maplewood Young
Ladies’ Institute in Pittsfield, Mass., in 1864, which was of so violent
and fatal a character as to elicit a special examination by a committee of
physicians. The family consisted, (pupils, servants, and all,) of one
hundred and twelve persons. Of these, fifty-one were attacked with
well-defined typhoid fever during a period of less than three weeks. Of
this number thirteen died. The following is extracted from the report of
the committee:

"Of the 74 resident pupils heard from, 66 are reported as having had
illness of some kind at the close of the school or soon after. This is a
proportion of 33/37 or nearly 90 per cent. Of the same 74, fifty-one had
typhoid fever, or a proportion of nearly 69 per cent. If all the people in
the town, say 8000, had been affected in an equal proportion, more than
7000 would have been ill during these few weeks, and about 5500 of them
would have had typhoid fever, and of these over 1375 would have died. If
it would be a more just comparison to take the whole family at Maplewood
into the account, estimating the number at 112, fifty-six had typhoid
fever, or 50 per cent., and of these fifty-six, sixteen died, or over 28.5
per cent. These proportions applied to the whole population of 8000, would
give 4000 of typhoid fever in the same time; and of these 1140 would have
died. According to the testimony of the practising physicians of
Pittsfield, the number of cases of typhoid fever, during this period,
aside from those affected by the influences at Maplewood, was small, some
physicians not having had any, others had two or three." These cases
amounted to but eight, none of which terminated fatally.

The whole secret of this case was proven to have been the retention of the
ordure and waste matter from the kitchens and dormitories in privies and
vaults, underneath or immediately adjoining the buildings, the odor from
these having been offensively perceptible, and under certain atmospheric
conditions, having pervaded the whole house.

The committee say "it would be impossible to bring this report within
reasonable limits, were we to discuss the various questions connected with
the origin and propagation of typhoid fever, although various theoretical
views are held as to whether the poison producing the disease is generated
in the bodies of the sick, and communicated from them to the well, or
whether it is generated in sources exterior to the bodies of fever
patients, yet all authorities maintain that a peculiar poison is concerned
in its production.

"Those who hold to the doctrine of contagion admit that, to give such
contagion efficacy in the production of wide spread results, filth or
decaying organic matter is essential; while those who sustain the theory
of non-contagion—the production of the poison from sources without the
bodies of the sick—contend that it has its entire origin in such filth—in
decomposing matter, especially in fermenting sewage, and decaying human

"The injurious influence of decomposing azotised matter, in either
predisposing to or exciting severe disease, and particularly typhoid
fever, is universally admitted among high medical authorities."

The committee were of the opinion "that the disease at Maplewood
essentially originated in the state of the privies and drainage of the
place; the high temperature, and other peculiar atmospheric conditions
developing, in the organic material thus exposed, a peculiar poison, which
accumulated in sufficient quantity to pervade the whole premises, and
operated a sufficient length of time to produce disease in young and
susceptible persons. * * * * * *  To prevent the poison of typhoid fever
when taken into the system, from producing its legitimate effects, except
by natural agencies, would require as positive a miracle as to restore a
severed head, or arrest the course of the heavenly bodies in their
spheres. * * * The lesson for all, for the future, is too obvious to need
further pointing out; and the committee cannot doubt that they would
hazard little in predicting that the wisdom obtained by this sad
experience, will be of value in the future management of this institution,
and secure precautions which will forever prevent the recurrence of such a

The results of all sanitary investigation indicate clearly the vital
necessity for the complete and speedy removal from human habitations of
all matters which, by their decomposition, may tend to the production of
disease, and early measures should be taken by the authorities of all
towns, especially those which are at all compactly built, to secure this
removal. The means by which this is to be effected are to be found in such
a combination of water-supply and sewerage, as will furnish a constant and
copious supply of water to dissolve or hold in suspension the whole of the
waste matters, and will provide a channel through which they may be
carried away from the vicinity of residences. If means for the application
of the sewage water to agricultural lands can be provided, a part if not
the whole of the cost of the works will be thus returned.

Concerning the details of house drainage, it would be impossible to say
much within the limits of this book. The construction of water-closets,
soil-pipes, sinks, etc., are too will be understood to need a special
description here.

The principal point, (aside from the use of pipes instead of brick-sewers
and brick house-drains,) is what is called in London the system of Back
Drainage, where only principal main lines of sewers are laid under the
streets, all collecting sewers passing through the centres of the blocks
in the rear of the houses. Pipes for water supply are disposed in the same
manner, as it is chiefly at the rears of houses that water is required,
and that drainage is most necessary; and this adjustment saves the cost,
the annoyance and the loss of fall, which accompany the use of pipes
running under the entire length of each house. Much tearing up of
pavements, expensive ditching in hard road-ways, and interference with
traffic is avoided, while very much less ditching and piping is necessary,
and repairs are made with very little annoyance to the occupants of
houses. The accompanying diagrams, (Figs. 48-49,) illustrate the
difference between the old system of drainage with brick sewers under the
streets, and brick drains under the houses, and pipe sewers under main
streets and through the back yards of premises. A measurement of these two
methods will show that the lengths of the drains in the new system, are to
those of the old, as 1 to 2-1/4;—the fall of the house drains, (these
having much less length,) would be 10 times more in the one case than in
the other;—the main sewers would have twice the fall, their area would be
only 1/30], and their cubic contents only 1/73.



Experience in England has shown that if the whole cost of water supply and
pipe sewers is, with its interest, divided over a period of thirty
years,—so that at the end of that time it should all be repaid,—the annual
charge would not be greater than the cost of keeping house-drains and
cess-pools pools clean. The General Board of Health state that "the
expense of cleansing the brick house-drains and cess-pools for four or
five years, would pay the expense of properly constructed water-closets
and pipe-drains, for the greater number of old premises."



One of the reports of this body, which has added more than any other
organization to the world’s knowledge on these subjects, closes with the

"Conclusions obtained as to house drainage, and the sewerage and cleansing
of the sites of towns."

"That no population living amidst impurities, arising from the putrid
emanations from cess-pools, drains and sewers of deposit, can be healthy
or free from the attacks of devastating epidemics.

"That as a primary condition of salubrity, no ordure and town refuse can
be permitted to remain beneath or near habitations.

"That by no means can remedial operations be so conveniently,
economically, inoffensively, and quickly effected as by the removal of all
such refuse dissolved or suspended in water.

"That it has been subsequently proved by the operation of draining houses
with tubular drains, in upwards of 19,000 cases, and by the trial of more
than 200 miles of pipe sewers, that the practice of constructing large
brick or stone sewers for general town drainage, which detain matters
passing into them in suspension in water, which accumulate deposit, and
which are made large enough for men to enter them, and remove the deposit
by hand labor, without reference to the area to be drained, has been in
ignorance, neglect or perversion of the above recited principles.

"That while sewers so constructed are productive of great injury to the
public health, by the diffusion into houses and streets of the noxious
products of the decomposing matters contained in them, they are wasteful
from the increased expense of their construction and repair, and from the
cost of ineffectual efforts to keep them free from deposit.

"That the house-drains, made as they have heretofore been, of absorbent
brick or stone, besides detaining substances in suspension, accumulating
foul deposit, and being so permeable as to permit the escape of the liquid
and gaseous matters, are also false in principle and wasteful in the
expense of construction, cleansing and repair.

"That it results from the experience developed in these inquiries, that
improved tubular house-drains and sewers of the proper sizes,
inclinations, and material, detain and accumulate no deposit, emit no
offensive smells, and require no additional supplies of water to keep them

"That the offensive smells proceeding from any works intended for house or
town drainage, indicate the fact of the detention and decomposition of
ordure, and afford decisive evidence of mal-construction or of ignorant or
defective arrangement.

"That the method of removing refuse in suspension in water by properly
combined works, is much better than that of collecting it in pits or
cess-pools near or underneath houses, emptying it by hand labor, and
removing it by carts.

"That it is important for the sake of economy, as well as for the health
of the population, that the practice of the removal of refuse in
suspension in water, and by combined works, should be applied to all
houses, especially those occupied by the poorer classes."

Later investigations of the subject have established two general
conclusions applicable to the subject, namely, that:

"_In towns all offensive smells from the decomposition of animal and
vegetable matter, indicate the generation and presence of the causes of
insalubrity and of preventable disease, at the same time that they prove
defective local administration;_ and correlatively, that:

"_In rural districts all continuous offensive smells from animal and
vegetable decomposition, indicate preventable loss of fertilizing matter,
loss of money, and bad husbandry._"

The principles herein set forth, whether relating to sanitary improvement,
to convenience and decency of living, or to the use of waste matters of
houses in agricultural improvement, are no less applicable in America than
elsewhere; and the more general adoption of improved house drainage and
sewerage, and of the use of sewage matters in agriculture, would add to
the health and prosperity of its people, and would indicate a great
advance in civilization.


      Absorption and Filtration, 26-39
      Angles to be, as far as possible, avoided, 99

      Baking of clay soils by evaporation, 30
      Barley, 168
      Bartlett, Dr., quotation from, 211
      Base-line, 145
      Boning-rods, (with illustrations), 125-126

      Central Park, 74-86
      Cess-pools, cause of epidemics, 237
      Chadwick, Dr., quotation from, 213
      Clay Soils, 75
      Clay Soils, Baking of by Evaporation, 30
      Clay Soils, Made mellow by draining, 29-30
      Clay Soils, Shrinkage of, 28
      Clinometer, (illustration), 56
      Collars, 84
      Connections, 132
      Connections  (illustrations), 134
      Corn, Indian, 162
      Cost of draining, 150-153-158
      Cotton, 169
      Covering and filling, cost of, 157
      Covering  for the joints of tiles, 132
      Covering tiles, 136

      Datum-line, 52-104
      Denton, J. Bailey, quotation from, 115
      Distance between drains, 73
      Diseases, malarial, 208
      Ditches, cost of digging, 154
      Draining, amateur, 47
      Draining, indications of the need of, 9
      Draining, its effect on farming, 171
      Draining, tiles, how made, 174
      Draining, tiles, materials for, 174
      Draining, tools, (illustration), 114
      Draining, what it costs, 150
      Draining, will it pay? 161
      Draining, when necessary, 7
      Drains, Cubic yards of excavation in, 155
      Drains, and drained land, care of, 144
      Drains, lateral, should be parallel, 99
      Drains, how they act, 21
      Drains, obstructed, how cleared, 146
      Drains, old, how formed, 146
      Drains, rate of fall, 90
      Drains, their action in the Central Park, 86
      Drained Soil, capacity for receiving water of rains, 23
      Drainage of dwelling houses, 232
      Drought, 37-40

      Economy versus cheapness, 152
      Engineering and Superintendence, cost of, 153
      Engineers, draining, 47
      Epidemic at Maplewood Young Ladies’ Institute, 232
      Epidemics caused by cess-pools, 237
      Epidemics caused by ordure beneath houses, 238
      Evaporation, 33
      Evaporation, amount of, 34
      Evaporation, effect on temperature, 33-35
      Evaporation, heat lost during, 34

      Fall, rate of in drains, 77
      Fallacies in draining, 62
      Fen-lands of England, 193
      Fever and Ague, 208
      Fever and Ague, exact cause unknown, 210
      Filtration and absorption, 26-39
      Filling, illustration of—ditch with, furrows, 141
      Filling, maul for ramming, (illustration), 138
      Filling, scraper for, (illustration), 140
      Filling, the ditches, 136
      Finishing tools, (illustration), 123
      Finishing scoop, 123
      Finishing scoop, how used, 126
      Foot-pick, (illustration), 156
      Four-foot drains, 70

      Germination of seeds, 13
      Gisborne, Thos., quotations from, 28-31-35-47-66-78-84-93-127
      Grading, 124
      Grading,  cost of, 156
      Grade stakes, 103
      Grades, computation for, 109
      Grades, how to establish, 107
      Gratings in Silt-basins, 148

      Hackensack meadows, 203
      Hay, 168
      Heat, amount of lost during evaporation, 34
      House drainage, 220
      House drainage, back drain system, 235
      House drainage bad, indicated by offensive smells, 239

      Indications of the need of draining, 9
      Injury from standing water in the subsoil, 15
      Impervious soil, 31

      John Johnson, 164

      Land requiring draining, 7
      Lateral drains, 61-97
      Lateral drains, direction of, 75
      Lateral drains, shallow, how connected with deep main, 111
      La Roche, quotations from, 213
      Levels, how to take for drains, 104
      Levelling instrument, (illustration), 52
      Levelling  rod, (illustration), 53
      Location of main drains, 58

      Madden, Dr., quotation from, 12
      Main drain, 96
      Main drain, location of, 58
      Malaria 211
      Malaria borne by winds, 212-214-219
      Malaria conclusions of the General Board of Health of England, 220
      Malaria facts concerning, 212
      Malaria spread of, prevented by hills, 218
      Malarial diseases, evidence of the effect of drainage in removing,
      Malarial diseases, reports to the British Parliament concerning, 216
      Malarial diseases, rheumatism and tic-douloureux, 219
      Malarious localities, effects of residence in, 214
      Maps, amending the, 142
      Maps, description of, (illustrations), 49-50-51-54-98
      Maps, importance of, 48
      Marking the lines, 116
      Mechi, Alderman, quotations from, 29-71
      Mellowness or Porosity, 41
      Measuring staff (illustration), 124
      Metcalf, Dr., quotation from, 211
      Movement of water in the ground, 32-64-65
      Mortality, rate of reduced by improved house drainage, 222

      Neuralgia, 208
      New York, suggestions for sewer outlets, 227

      Oats, 168
      Obstructions, 90
      Opening ditches, 122
      Outlet, 95
      Outlet, how made (with illustrations), 118
      Outlet, location of, 58

      Parkes, Josiah, quotations from, 36-71-88-178
      Porosity, 41
      Profile of a drain, (illustration), 106
      Profit, instances of, 167-170
      Production, amount of increase of, necessary to make draining
      profitable, 162
      Puddling,  8-31-148
      Pumping, 206
      Pumping, London sewage, 226

      Rock, sounding for, 55
      Rock, how to collect water from, 60
      Roots, depth to which they reach, 40-67
      Roots, as a cause of obstruction, 93-148
      Rye, 168

      Salisbury’s, Dr., theory concerning malarious fever, 214
      Salt marshes, catch water drains, 201
      Salt marshes, construction of embankment, 196
      Salt marshes, dyke and ditch, (illustration), 197
      Salt marshes, exclusion of the sea, 195
      Salt marshes, how formed, 194
      Salt marshes, inundations from upland , 201
      Salt marshes, location and size of embankment, 195
      Salt marshes, management of creeks, 198-200
      Salt marshes, management of rivers, 201
      Salt marshes, muskrats, 199
      Salt marshes, outlet for under drainage, 204-205
      Salt marshes, pumping, 206
      Salt marshes, rain-fall and filtration, 204
      Salt marshes, valve-gates and sluices, 204
      Scraper for filling ditches, (illustration), 140
      Seeds, germination of, 13
      Sewage, use of in agriculture, 226
      Sewers, defects of large, 228-238
      Sewers, description of the London outfall, 225
      Sewers, efficacy of glazed earthern pipes, 229-230-238
      Sewers, experiments of Hale on pipe sewers, 230
      Sewers, imperfect, 224
      Sewers, of brick, defective, 228-235-238
      Sewerage, conclusions of General Board of Health, 237
      Sewerage, of New York, 227
      Shrinkage of clay soils, 28
      Sides of ditches in soft land, how braced, (illustration), 124
      Silt, 90
      Silt, basins, (illustrations), 121-135-136
      Silt, basins, how made, 120
      Silt, basins, 91-96-134
      Silt, in tiles, 144
      Sources of the water in the soil, 10
      Springs, how to collect the water of, 59-60-141
      Staking out the lines, 102
      Staten Island, 209
      Steam pumps, 206
      Stone and tile drains, 142
      Sub-mains, 59

      Teams used in opening ditches, 122
      Temperature, 35-66
      Temperature, affected by draining, 36
      Tile laying, 127
      Tile-pick, (illustration), 131
      Tiles, and tile laying, cost of, 157
      Tiles, capacity for discharging water, 84-86
      Tiles, double-style, 80
      Tiles, drain—essential characteristics, 22
      Tiles, how made, 174
      Tiles, horse-shoe, 78
      Tiles, kinds and sizes, 77
      Tiles, ordering, 82-101
      Tiles, objections to large sizes, 147
      Tiles, pipes and collars, 81
      Tiles, rapidity with which they receive water, 78
      Tiles, sizes of, 81
      Tiles, sizes required for different areas, 88
      Tiles, should be well formed, 83
      Tiles, sole, 80
      Tiles, trimming and perforating, 131
      Tile making, material for, 174
      Tile preparation of earths, 176
      Tile rolling and drying, 182
      Tile washing the clay, 177
      Tobacco, 169
      Tools required, 113
      Town drainage, conclusions of General Board of Health, 237

      Undrained land not reliable for cultivation, 18

      Vermin as a cause of obstruction, 93

      Water, depth of, 66-70
      Water, in the sub-soil, injurious effects of, 15
      Water, movement of in the ground, 32-64-65
      Water, objections to excess of, 11
      Water, the best vehicle for removing ordure, 238
      Water, when beneficial and when injurious, 24
      Water-courses and brooks, how treated during draining operations,
      Water-table, 22
      Wind-mills, 206
      Wheat, 164-167


The undersigned is prepared to assume the personal direction of works of
Agricultural and Town Drainage, and Water Supply, in any part of the
country; or to send advice and information, by letter, for the guidance of

Persons sending maps of their land, with contour lines, (see Fig. 8, page
54,) accompanied by such information as can be given in writing, will be
furnished with explicit instructions concerning the arrangement and depth
of the drains required; kinds and sizes of tiles to be used; management of
the work, etc., etc.

The lines of drains will be laid down, on the maps, for the direction of
local engineers,—and, when required, the grades will be calculated and
noted at the positions of the stakes.

For particulars, address

P. O. Box 290,




_Beautifully Illustrated._

We have heretofore had no work especially devoted to small fruits, and
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eminent orchardists is a valuable portion of the volume, while the
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most extended American fruit list ever published, and gives evidence of a
fearful amount of labor.


Chapter  III.—PROPAGATION. - Buds and Cuttings—Grafting—Budding—The
Chapter   IV.—DWARFING.
Chapter    V.—DISEASES.
Chapter   IX.—CULTURE, Etc.
Chapter   XI.—THINNING.
Chapter XIII and XIV.—INSECTS.
Chapter  XVI.—CLASSIFICATION. - Necessity for—Basis
of—Characters—Shape—Its Regularity—Flavor—Color—Their several Values, etc.
Description of Apples.

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Men fitted for the Business of Gardening.
The Amount of Capital Required, and
Working Force per Acre.
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Location, Situation, and Laying Out.
Soils, Drainage, and Preparation.
Manures, Implements.
Uses and Management of Cold Frames.
Formation and Management of Hot-beds.
Forcing Pits or Green-houses.
Seeds and Seed Raising.
How, When, and Where to Sow Seeds.
Transplanting, Insects.
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FOR 1870.



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    1 —_Puddling_ is the kneading or rubbing of clay with water, a process
      by which it becomes almost impervious, retaining this property until
      thoroughly dried, when its close union is broken by the shrinking of
      its parts. Puddled clay remains impervious as long as it is
      saturated with water, and it does not entirely lose this quality
      until it has been pulverized in a dry state.

      A small proportion of clay is sufficient to injure the porousness of
      the soil by puddling.—A clay subsoil is puddled by being plowed over
      when too wet, and the injury is of considerable duration. Rain water
      collected in hollows of stiff land, by the simple movement given it
      by the wind, so puddles the surface that it holds the water while
      the adjacent soil is dry and porous.

      The term _puddling_ will often be used in this work, and the reader
      will understand, from this explanation, the meaning with which it is

    2 By leaving a space between the wall and the plastering, this
      moisture is prevented from being an annoyance, and if the inclosed
      space is not open from top to bottom, so as to allow a circulation
      of air, but little vapor will come in contact with the wall, and but
      an inconsiderable amount will be deposited.

    3 The maps in this book are, for convenience, drawn to a scale of 160
      feet to the inch.

    4 The instrument from which this cut was taken, (as also Fig. 7) was
      made by Messrs. Blunt & Nichols, Water st., N. Y.

    5 The slight deviations caused by carrying the drains around large
      stones, which are found in cutting the ditches, do not affect the
      general arrangement of the lines.

    6 The low price at which this instrument is sold, $1.50, places it
      within the reach of all.

    7 Except from quite near to the drain, it is not probable that the
      water in the soil runs laterally towards it.

    8 Some of the drains in the Central Park have a fall of only 1 in
      1,000, and they work perfectly; but they are large mains, laid with
      an amount of care, and with certain costly precautions, (including
      precisely graded wooden floors,) which could hardly be expected in
      private work.

    9 The tile has been said, by great authorities, to be broken by
      contraction, under some idea that the clay envelops the tile and
      presses it when it contracts. That is nonsense. The contraction
      would liberate the tile. Drive a stake into wet clay; and when the
      clay is dry, observe whether it clasps the stake tighter or has
      released it, and you will no longer have any doubt whether expansion
      or contraction breaks the tile. Shrink is a better word than

   10 Taking the difference of friction into consideration, 1-1/4 inch
      pipes have fully twice the discharging capacity of 1-inch pipes.

   11 No. 5 was one inch in diameter; No. 4, about 1-1/3 inches.

   12 If the springs, when running at their greatest volume, be found to
      require more than 1-1/4-inch tiles, due allowance must be made for
      the increase.

   13 Owing to the irregularity of the ground, and the necessity for
      placing some of the drains at narrower intervals, the total length
      of tile exceeds by nearly 50 per cent. what would be required if it
      had a uniform slope, and required no collecting drains. It is much
      greater than will be required in any ordinary case, as a very
      irregular surface has been adopted here for purposes of

   14 The stakes used may be 18 inches long, and driven one-half of their
      length into the ground. They should have one side sufficiently
      smooth to be distinctly marked with red chalk.

   15 The depth of 4.13, in Fig. 21, as well as the other depths at the
      points at which the grade changes, happen to be those found by the
      computation, as hereafter described, and they are used here for

   16 The figures in this table, as well as in the next preceding one, are
      adopted for the published profile of drain _C_, Fig. 21, to avoid
      confusion. In ordinary cases, the points which are fixed as the
      basis of the computation are given in round numbers;—for instance,
      the depth at _C3_ would be assumed to be 4.10 or 4.20, instead of
      4.13. The fractions given in the table, and in Fig. 21, arise from
      the fact that the decimals are not absolutely correct, being carried
      out only for two figures.

   17 The drains, which are removed a little to one side of the lines of
      stakes, may be turned toward the basin from a distance of 3 or 4

   18 The foot of the measuring rod should be shod with iron to prevent
      its being worn to less than the proper length.

   19 "Talpa, or the Chronicles of a Clay Farm."

   20 When chips of tile, or similar matters, are used to cover openings
      in the tile-work, it is well to cover them at once with a mortar
      made of wet clay, which will keep them in place until the ditches
      are filled.

   21 Surely such soil ought not to require thorough draining; where men
      can go so easily, water ought to find its way alone.

   22 The land shown in Fig. 21, is especially irregular, and, for the
      purpose of illustrating the principles upon which the work should be
      done, an effort has been made to make the work as complete as
      possible in all particulars. In actual work on a field similar to
      that, it would not probably be good economy to make all the drains
      laid in the plan, but as deviations from the plan would depend on
      conditions which cannot well be shown on such a small scale, they
      are disregarded, and the system of drains is made as it would be if
      it were all plain sailing.

   23 Klippart’s Land Drainage.

   24 Klippart’s Land Drainage.

   25 Drainage des Terres Arables, Paris, 1856.

   26 The ends of the work, while the operations are suspended during
      spring tides, will need an extra protection of sods, but that lying
      out of reach of the eddies that will be formed by the receding water
      will not be materially affected.

   27 The latest invention of this sort, is that of a series of cast iron
      plates, set on edge, riveted together, and driven in to such a depth
      as to reach from the top of the dyke to a point below low-water
      mark. The best that can be said of this plan is, that its adoption
      would do no harm. Unless the plates are driven deeply into the clay
      underlying the permeable soil, (and this is sometimes very deep,)
      they would not prevent the slight infiltration of water which could
      pass under them as well as through any other part of the soil, and
      unless the iron were very thick, the corrosive action of salt water
      would soon so honeycomb it that the borers would easily penetrate
      it; but the great objection to the use of these plates is, that they
      would be very costly and ineffectual. A dyke, made as described
      above, of the material of the locality, having a ditch only on the
      inside, and being well sodded on its outer face, would be far
      cheaper and better.

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