• The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia

The Lee Family Digital Archive is the largest online source for primary source materials concerning the Lee family of Virginia. It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online. We are always looking for new letters, diaries, and books to add to our website. Do you have a rare item that you would like to donate or share with us? If so, please contact our editor, Colin Woodward, at  (804) 493-1940, about how you can contribute to this historic project.



Lexington, Va., 20 May 1867

Hon. John B. Baldwin

Staunton, Va.

My Dear Sir:

The documents relating to the Covington and Ohio railroad, which you had the kindness to send me, give the pleasing assurance, as far as I have been able to examine them, of the practicability of completing that great work. The cautious estimate of Mr Whitcomb, superintendent of the Va Central R. R., gives the cost of finishing the road to the point of steamboat navigation on the Kanawha at $5,700.000; and he shews very satisfactorily from the steady increase of receipts which has attended every extension of the road, that the company can undertake the work and pay out of its nett revenues the interest on the amount required for each additional stage of the road, besides the interest of its present debt. When the road shall reach the point of communication with the steamers from the Ohio, there will be such a large and increasing business, that I think there can be no doubt but that its completion will be ensured to any point desired; and with a maximum grade of less than 30 feet per mile, what mountains of merchandize can be transported from the western rivers to the waters of the atlantic. Taking Cincinati [sic] as the centre of this trade, the transportation by this route will not only be shorter in miles, as stated in the reports, than by the more Northern routes; but will be the easiest, and will meet with the least interruptions in winter, and the freight over the road can at all times be landed at points accessible to ocean steamers. When these facts are known, there will be I hope no difficulty in procuring the requisite funds, as capitalists can feel assured of the payment of their interest and principal.

Wishing every success to the road, I am with great respect,

Your obdt. svt.

(sgd) R. E. Lee



Source: Photocopy of letterbook copy, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 738, pp.43-44, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Katie Hall, 2018 June 12

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