Letter from Claudius Crozet to the President and Directors of Public Works, November 15, 1850

Claudius Crozet reports on his disagreement with the Tunnel's general contractor.

To the President & Directors of the Board
of Public works.


I have the honor to lay before you the following remarks in answer to the protest of John Kelly & Co. a copy of which is placed here in apposition, for your convenience.

The contractors were certainly bound to construct every work within the limits of their contract, provided, of course, they had bid for it. But, in the case they had not done so, the clause of their contract at the top of the 3d. page becomes applicable; and it was my duty to act under it; since, as I will show below the work was of a nature not comprised in their proposals; I therefore contract with Geo. A. Farrow, they refusing to enter into any agreement.

By reference to the proposals of John Kelly & Co, The board will perceive that a clear distinction is made between Tunnel and Railroad; that they bid $8 for Arching in the tunnel with Sandstone & mortar and also $8.00 for Rock work in mortar in the Portal of the Tunnel, an ormental & more difficult work than a common bridge abutment.

But you will find nothing opposite the item walling in mortar, rock work under the head Railroad which means, of course anything out of the Tunnel (the bridge is upward of 1200 feet from it.)

What Mr. Kelly intended in submitting his bid, I do not know; I take the bid as it is; and, surely, your Honble Board would not have approved of my paying the high price of $8 unauthorized by any previous agreement; or, indeed, any price at all, unless an agreement could be shown to justify it, which Mr. Kelly positively refused to enter into, alleging that he had made one.

The value of the word considerable repeated in the annexed paragraph can be readily appreciated by reference to the answer of Mr. Dupry to my first question: the amount of digging, liberally estimated was 45 cubic yards of rock! — The considerable excavation for the foundations was for each one foot deep about, something, like 60 feet long and probably an average of 7½ feet wide, in all for both not more than 33? yards worth about the considerable amounts of $4.00! even if all excavated by them, which I believe was not the case!

The considerable quantity or quantities of lime consisted of 50 bushels worth [$.10! at 20 cts a bshl.]

The positive refusal on the part of Kelly & Co. to enter into a contract for this work, on the flea that the contract existed, compelled me to make a contract with some other person; it being clear that no price had been bid for the kind of masonry required.

It may be asked why they were suffered to proceed; This I can readily explain: Mr. Larguey having remarked that the bridge should be made in time, I told him to look for building stone and see Mr. Kelly about the price; observing, at the same time, that though there was no price [affiacid] to walling in mortar, rock work under the head Railroad (probably because this viaduct was not, at the time, contemplated) I supposed that there would not be any difficulty about it, and that Mr. Kelly would be willing to build it for $3.82 (his price for Rock work on the 5th. and 6th. sections) where stone is not to be formed and lime has to come from a greater distance over the mountain while, here, lime and rock were at hand.) to this John Larguey answered "certainly" a favorite word of his which I have discovered since, implies rather a want of attention to the subject. I repeatedly asked him if he would see Mr. Kelly to which he replied "certainly" without bringing any answer.

As soon, however, as I perceived that he was at work, I sought Mr. Kelly and, to my surprise, found that he had never authorized Mr. Larguey to encourage my expectation of an easy arrangement but that he [peremptorily] refused to enter into any agreement.

It does not take long to quarry 45 yards, and this proves that I lost no time in stopping the work, where I found that they expected to build it and claim their own price afterwards—It became then my duty to seek some other contractor; Seeing no hope to agree with them.

there, I cannot but express my surprise [sic] at their persistency in asserting that here is such a bid in their proposal—if they thought so then; why not inform me of their desire to refer the matter to your Board; and why let me look for a contractor, which they were fully apprised I was doing?

The Board will see in Farrow's contact, that he is bound to pay Kelly & Co. for the Rock and lime furnished by them; this provision would be sufficient it seems to refute the annexed charges—but it is not a little singular that they have actually been paid literally for the rock quarried, deducted from Mr. Farrow's estimate.— If Mr. Larguey does not attend to what he is told or Mr. Kelly neglects to inquire into the items of his estimates, how can they assert what they have been paid, or not been paid for? —Mr. Dupry's statement hereto appended shows that they were paid for the rock and Mr. Farrow's corroborates it.

The lime, it seems, is not yet paid for: but it is an account with Mr. Farrow, which they know, and agreed to.

You will see also by Mr. Duprey's statement that they were allowed for the excavation!

As to the Quarries, the statement that several were worked by Geo. A. Farrow is incorrect; only one, which gave out immediately, was worked; and, then, I directed Mr. Farrow to work the other, which he was reluctant to do because Mr. Larguey objected saying he had a wall to build for which he wanted it.

It appearing that the wall would not be wanted, I insisted; when Mr. Larguey told me, he would want the quarry for the Portal; and that since he had found and opened it, it was but just he should retain it. — This being the case, and the quarry having remained in status quo, upon what ground could he expect remuneration for what he retained for his own benefit, or for looking for quarrying which he must necessarily do for the Portal?—he has formed it and kept it from Mr. Farrow; his right to use it untouched.

All this corroborated by Mr. Duprey 6th statement

I hope I have established, that there was no contract for this kind of work and tha I was bound to make one with somebody else, since John Kelly declined doing so.

If it is admitted, as appears evident to one, that there was not contract; the claim set up is inadmissible; and it is even questionable whether any claim whatever, by strict rule would exist; for, by the 101st. article of the specifications no extra—compensation will be made unless authorized by an instrument in writing: and it was the business of John Larguey not to do any work, quarrying or excavation in this case, without such an instrument, since I repeatedly asked him to execute an agreement—I believe, they never read the specifications thoroughly; but this does not impair their power as part of the contract.

The 110th paragraph traces out the course of conduct, when the Engineer himself as a doubt as to the application of a rule— But here he had now and acted accordingly.

I have the honor to be
Your most obed.
C. Crozet
Engr. B. R. R. R.

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Claudius Crozet to the President and Directors of Public Works, November 15, 1850
  • Author: Claudius Crozet
  • Extent: 4 pages
  • Citation: Archives, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA, Virginia Board of Public Works, Entry 125 "Blue Ridge Railroad", RG 57, Box 215, Last Folder
  • Date: November 15, 1850