Connecting with the Intercoastal Canal
In February 1913, General Bixby, chief of the Board of Army Engineers, announced plans and cost estimates to improve the Vermilion River and connect it with the Intercoastal Canal, between Franklin and Mermentau at Schooner Bay. The goal was to increase the depth of the channel to 6 feet — even though it was dredged to 6 feet in 1910, the channel shoaled rapidly and by 1913 was only 3 feet deep.
According to reports in The Times-Picayune, Major Edward H. Schulz said that about 95 percent of the Vermilion’s commerce at the time came from the west through the Mermentau River and the inland waterway at the mouth of Schooner Bay, then crossed the open waters of Vermilion Bay to enter the Vermilion River. “The danger of the open waters and the shallowness of the waters in West Bayou Vermilion have rendered unprofitable previous attempts to run boats from New Orleans to Abbeville and the commerce has been greatly reduces and hampered by the unsatisfactory conditions” (Times-Picayune, Vermilion River Report is Filed, Feb. 4, 1913). To create the new channel connection, the district officer estimated a cost of $37,500 and $1,800 annually for maintenance.