The Potomac Company (spelled variously as Patowmack, Potowmack, Potowmac, and Compony) was created in 1785 to make improvements to the Potomac River in order to improve its navigability. The Potomac Company built five skirting canals around the major falls. When completed it allowed boats and rafts to float downstream towards Georgetown, a major port of the time on the Potomac River, now in the District of Columbia. George Washington was its first president, as well as an investor in the company. Tobias Lear, Washington's personal secretary, was its chairman for a period. Other principals of the company included Thomas Johnson of Maryland. While slim boats called bateaux could be poled up-river in even the shallowest of waters, they could not traverse the fall line, the area where an upland region (continental bedrock) and a coastal plain (coastal alluvia) meet, typically in waterfalls. One of the major constructions of the Potomac Company was the Patowmack Canal. A major engineering feet of the time, the Potomack Canal permitted boats to navigate around Great Falls, where the Potomac River drops a treacherous 75 feet through the unnavigable Mather Gorge. After 21 years, the Potomack Canal was later sold, along with the other assets of the Potomac Company to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company, which built a canal on the opposite, Maryland side of the Potomac River. History from Wikipedia and OldCompany.com (old stock certificate research service)
Early chapters in the development of the Patomac route to the West By Corra Bacon-Foster At the meeting in 1810 a lottery scheme under the laws of Maryland was adopted. The appeal to Congress had signally failed, as any proposition coming from a concern notoriously Federalist was bound to do. And just then, too, the national government was much engaged in solving riddles propounded by Napoleon and Great Britain. As usual in such cases of disturbance capital sought secure hiding places and all enterprises suffered. The act of the state of Maryland secured at the solicitation of the directory authorized a lottery to raise $300,000 for the improvement of the navigation of the Potomac and its branches, of which the following is the authorized ticket: "Potowmack and Shenandoah Navigation Lottery No "By authorization of the State of Maryland, "This ticket will entitle the Bearer to such prize as may be drawn to its number if demanded within twelve months after the drawing shall have been completed, subject to 15% deduction. "By order of the President & Directors of the Potowmack Co. "(Signed) Treasurer." A special meeting was called for the 10th of May, 1810, when it was resolved that the bond demanded by the state of Maryland for the correct conduct of the lottery should be given under seal of the corporation. The agents to be employed to also serve under bond. Later Joseph Carleton, the treasurer of the company, was appointed agent for the sale of tickets with a salary of $500 per annum with travelling expenses. Tickets were to be sold for $10 each with a discount for blocks of five hundred. Fortunately the honorable gentlemen could not foresee the disasters this would bring upon them.