Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/440
436 . TEE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY
and the dangers increase at a more rapid rate than proportional to the lift, and the dangers are magnified by the fact that the locks are to be in flights. He furthermore reaches the conclusion that the traffic capa- city of the lock canal should be estimated at about 35,000,000 tons per annum instead of at 80,000,000 tons, the figure assumed by the minority.
An extended and comprehensive argument for a sea-level project was presented to the senate committee by General Davis, who, as a member of the commission of 1904, and resident on the isthmus as governor of the Canal Zone for a year, and thereupon as chairman of the board of consulting engineers, had had unusual opportunity for arriving at a mature conclusion. All that General Davis said in rela- tion to the type of the canal before the committee should be read by those who desire to follow this matter farther. Short extracts, and a condensed statement embodying the substance of his presentation, can alone be here attempted.
What the situation demands is well known, and the American government has declared to the world that the obstacle at Panama shall be removed. Will it be removed if we leave a hill over which the world's commerce and navies are to be hoisted? Will the world consider that we have adequately solved the problem, and will the American people be satisfied with the result if we offer them anything inferior as respects capacity, or convenience, or adaptability for enlargement, or type, to what capital did for the old world — a canal which now serves as a model, and will continue to, until we acquit ourselves of the respon- sibility voluntarily and eagerly assumed.
General Davis compares the Soo Canal, with its few thousand feet of channel approaches, to the great tidal harbor basins of Europe. It is more nearly analogous to these than to a great interoceanic canal on which the aggregate length of locks alone exceeds by nearly a mile the entire length of the Soo Canal. Because Lake Huron is twenty odd feet higher than Lake Erie, it was useless to hope for a channel clear of all obstructions, and American and Canadian engineers have provided the best solution possible.
At first, locks 350 feet long sufficed. Then one 515 feet long was added. "Next, the first were demolished and replaced with a lock with a chamber 800 feet long. Then the Canadians made another in their territory 900 feet long; and we are about to demolish our second lock to put in one 1,400 long. . . . The critics of the majority report admit that a canal at sea-level would have certain advantages. I think it may be said that one and all concede that if a sea-level waterway be wide and deep enough, it would be superior to any in- volving excavated lakes, locks and lifts; but they discard it as impracticable because of the greater cost.
The better approach to the straight line requirement by the sea-level canal is pointed out. The lock canal project shows 21 per centum more winding and tortuous navigation than the sea-level project. General Davis estimates the expense of maintenance and operation of a sea-level canal at $1,550,000 per annum, and the lock type of canal, at $2,-