The New Student's Reference Work/Danube

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Dan′ube, the second river of Europe, inferior only to the Volga. It is formed by the Brege and the Brigach, two mountain-streams rising in the Black Forest in Baden and uniting at Donaueschingen, 2,264 feet above sea level. At Ulm, the head of steam navigation, its elevation is about 1,500 feet; at Vienna 500; at Budapest 350; and at Moldova 200 feet. The Danube has a total length, including windings, of 1,740 miles, and drains an area estimated at 315,000 square miles. There are 400 tributaries, 100 of them navigable. There are three principal divisions of the river-basin. The upper course ends at Passau, where the river leaves German territory. At Passau its width is 231 yards and its depth 16 feet. The river then enters Austrian territory, and for some distance its scenery rivals that of the Rhine. It passes from the Austrian dominions through an opening called the Carpathian Gate, where it is 320 yards wide. After dividing and forming several islands, it enters the fertile Hungarian plain. Lower down, it forms the boundary between Hungary and Servia, and near Belgrade it is 1,706 yards wide. But within a stretch of 75 miles, beyond Ujpalanka are eight distinct rapids, shut in by lofty walls. The lower Klissura is the most strikingly picturesque of these; but the most difficult passage is the shortest (one and a half miles), the Iron Gate, below Orsova, where the middle course of the river ends. Here the stream has a breadth of only 129 yards, and the piled-up waters reach a depth of 28 fathoms; ledges of rock lift their tooth-like points above the surface; and all around a seething stretch of whirlpools, cataracts, eddies and counter-eddies combines with the river's rapid fall to present a serious and, formerly, impassable obstacle to navigation. Thence the lower course passes in a wide stream till it divides into the delta, through which it pours its waters into the Black Sea. The delta is a vast wilderness, covering an area of 1,000 square miles, and resembling an immense green sea of rushes; it is cut up by numerous channels and lakes, and is the haunt of sea-birds, wolves and buffaloes. The farthest mouths are 60 miles apart. The three main channels are the Kilia, St. George and Sulina. It is by the Sulina mouth that ships enter, although it discharges only two twenty-sevenths of the river's waters. The Danube is of great commercial importance. One company alone, which does a large business on its waters, has nearly 200 steamers and over 700 towboats. The Danube is connected with the Rhine by Ludwig's Canal, and with the Elbe by the Moldau, Muhl and other canals. Since 1856 the Danube has been free to all nations. In that year was appointed the International Danube Navigation Commission, made up of delegates of all the great powers. It has almost absolute power over the mouths of the Danube and as far inland as the Iron Gate. It has already made many improvements. It has its own flag, uniform and revenue; has made laws; and keeps its own small army of police.