Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/427

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423
THE TYPE OF THE PANAMA CANAL

absence of the data necessary to reach a final conclusion on this point, and in view of the fact that no embarrassment would result from a deliberate weighing of all the facts, the writer, though with a pronounced leaning toward the sea-level type, could not see his own way clear to an immediate concurrence in the conclusions of the committee. There was nothing convincing either in the report of the chief engineer nor in the report of the committee relating to quantity of material to be excavated nor in relation to probable cost. Th.e writer did not then believe, nor does he now believe, that the steep slopes where the cut is deepest, as suggested by the committee, nor as incorporated in the plans now being carried out, can be adhered to.[1] There will have to be taken out ultimately very much more material than heretofore assumed at Culebra. This fact coupled with the concentration of the great mass of the excavation in a relatively short central section of the canal, which rendered preliminary estimates of time and cost of the removal of this material uncertain, was a factor that could not be ignored. When, therefore, at a meeting of the commission in March, 1905. it was proposed by Major Harrod that the recommendation of the committee be adopted and that the commission decide in favor of the sea-level canal the writer was not prepared to go so far and the committee report was referred to the committee on engineering plans, of which he was a member, for further consideration.

From these facts, as recorded in the printed proceedings of the canal commission, it might be inferred that at that time Major Harrod was in favor of the sea-level type of canal and that the writer favored the lock type. But the writer's stand was taken, as explained, to prevent action based on inadequate data, while Major Harrod is found eight months later among the members of the second canal commission who determined that the lock plan of canal, as recommended by the minority of the board of consulting engineers, is the one that should be carried out. And now the writer, after having had several years more time for reflection, and in the light of such additional information as has come to hand, is not yet convinced that the wisest course was pursued by the later commission, by the secretary of war, by the president and by congress when the findings of the majority of the board of consulting engineers, eight to five, were disregarded and the plans for a lock-canal project, as recommended by the minority, were adopted.

Before the committee on engineering plans made a report the Walker commission was superseded by the commission of 1905, whose powers were concentrated in an executive committee of three, at the

  1. Since this article was written information has been received that there has been much flattening of slopes. The standard section as shown in the illustration elsewhere presented is therefore no longer strictly typical of the section to which the canal will be finished.