Letter from Claudius Crozet to Governor John B. Floyd, November 15, 1850

The Kelly contract dispute occupied the first year of Claudius Crozet's project to build the Blue Ridge Tunnel. This letter from Kelly to the Governor of Virginia explains the contractor's view of his contract and his disagreement with Claudius Crozet, the chief engineer. Kelly claims his contract was to include the building of some parts of the project, while Crozet let these to another contractor at a much lower price.


To Gov. John B. Floyd [Sr]


We beg most respectfully to lay before the following circumstances connected with an Act of your chief Engineer, by which we feel ourselves aggrieved in our contract for the first section of the Blue ridge railroad, having duly, but unsuccessfully remonstrated with your chief Engineer at the time, we feel no other course open to us now, than to appeal direct to you in the matter. The contract entered into by us, 14th Feb. 1850, requires us to construct in a substantial and workmanlike manner, all that part of the Blue ridge railroad, designated as the first section thereof, extending from section 9 on the East side of the mountain, to station 18 on the west side of the same [?] excepting only what properly belongs to the superstructure of the railroad.

In this section, there occurs a bridge over the turnpike road, the piers or abutments of which we hold ourselves bound under our contract to construct at the price named in our proposal for such work which forms part of the contract namely $8.00 per cubic yard for rockwork, masonry, which character of work is fully described in 48 of the specifications, which form equally a part of the contract.

Accordingly we had commenced and made considerable progress with the digging out the foundations, we selected and opened several quarries and quarried considerable quantities of stone, which we hauled to the work; we also purchased and had delivered at the work considerable quantities of lime for the purpose of constructing there abutments.

While thus engaged in the execution of the work, your chief engineer, much to our surprise, requested us to enter into a special contract for this work, which we declined in as much as our original clearly embraced this work; and therefore a second contract was wholly unnecessary, as long a the first had not been voided.

Nevertheless your chief engineer directed us to discontinue that part of our work and made a new contract with another party, at a price, which we are credibly informed, is very considerably below our contract price for that character of work.

The materials which we had collected and paid for were taken from us and employed by the new contractor, the foundations which we had dug were availed of by him and the quarries which we had opened for the purpose of that piece of work were taken possession of and worked by the new contractor under sanction of your chief Engineer, without any compensation being made or offered to us, either for the amount of labor and money expended by us upon the work or the benefits which we should reasonably have derived from its erection under our contract and which by this proceeding on the part of your Engineer we were deprived of.

We cannot but view this act of your chief engineer as an infraction of our contract of Feb. 14th 1850 - against which, in just which, justice to ourselves as well as our bondsmen we feel bound to protest and, at the same time, to present our clams to the difference between the price stipulated for rockwork in our bid viz: $8.00 per cubic yard and the price at which the work in question as let by our Engineer to another party.

We respectfully invite your attention to the character of the work in question and to our contract, which, we think, makes this case a perfectly plain one; but even wen [sic] the question doubtful we claim the benefit of the doubt under $110 of the specifications forming part of our contract.[?]

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Kelly to Governor John B. Floyd, 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