Page images
PDF
EPUB

subject of official action in 1905, and on June 12th of that year the contract with P.M.S.S.Co. was abolished. Previous to this it was the practice of the Panama Railroad Company to recognize no through bills of lading except those issued from its own office in New York, Thus goods brought to the Isthmus by competing steamship lines were subjected to the current local freight rates in shipping across. Complaints regarding this situation became SO numerous that in 1905 1905 Joseph W. Bristow was commissioned to investigate the entire matter, which he did by visiting the Isthmus and going over the route to San Francisco. His report which followed contained many important recommendations among them being:

Cancellation of the existing exclusive contracts with the Pacific Mail S. S. Co., and the Pacific Steam Navigation Company.

Continued maintenance of the Panama Railroad Steamship line by the United States Government.

Establishment by the Government of a line between ports on the Gulf and Colon in case private capital refused to take it up.

Establishment by the Government of a line between Panama and San Francisco, in case the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. decided to discontinue its service, and no other company entered the field.

Double-tracking the Panama Railroad.

The contracts with the other steamship companies were cancelled June 12, 1995.

The Panama Railroad Steamship Company is still being maintained by the Government as a part of the operations of the Panama Railroad Company. It possesses five steamers, viz., the Panama, Colon, Advance, Finance and Allianca. The last named was in dry dock during the last half of 1907, and has been enlarged to a boat of the Panama class.

The maintenance of weekly sailings by the United Fruit Company from New Orleans to Colon furnishes a better service than formerly, and covers in part the third

recommendation mentioned above. The boats cover the distance of 1400 miles in five days, but the passenger accommodations are limited.

The Pacific Mail Steamship Company at the present time is again the subject of official investigation. Charges are reported to have been made by the Panama Railroad Company and the Isthmian Canal Commission that the Pacific Mail S.S.Co. has been rendering inadequate and unsatisfactory service between Panama and San Francisco, thus proving an injury to business. Mr. Bristow has once more been selected to investigate the situation and make a report, which will be ready early in 1908.

The double-tracking of the Panama Railroad is practically an accomplished fact. At At the Panama end the double track begins at the La Boca "Y", about one-half mile from the city passenger station and continues to Pedro Miguel. From here to Culebra but one track is used. From Culebra to Gatun there is an uninterrupted stretch of double-track. From Gatun to Mount Hope but one track will be used, and from Mount Hope to Cristobal there is a network of tracks, comprising the Cristobal yards.

The New Main Line.

Work on the new main line of the Panama Railroad, as it will be when the canal is completed was begun in June, 1907. The new line was made necessary on account of the low level of the old track, a great part of which will be submerged when the Gatun lake is filled. By the end of October, 1907, over three and one-half miles of this new track had been laid. One of the largest railroad embankments in the world, and probably the largest in point of average height to length, will be located at Gatun on the new line. It crosses the valley of the Gatuncillo river at an average height of about eighty-two feet, is one and a quarter miles long, and will contain over 2,600,000

HOTEL KENMORE

CENTRAL AVENUE, FRONTING ANCON BOULEVARD.

BACHELOR QUARTERS.

STRICTLY FIRST CLASS AMERICAN RESTAURANT

FOR LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.

MEALS, TABLE D'HOTE: $1.50 SILVER,

A la Carte Service at All Hours of the Day or Night.

Steaks, Chops, Oysters, Chicken, Squabs, Lobsters, Game, and EVERYTHING IN SEASON.

SPECIAL RATES TO PERMANENT GUESTS. NEVER CLOSE

C. S. BUTTRICK, Proprietor.

cubic yards of material. Owing to the great height and length of this fill it will be necessary to build it in three sections. A trestle, thirty feet high and running the entire length of the fill, will first be built, from which material will be dumped by the construction trains. When the dirt reaches the top of the trestle another 30-foot trestle will be built on the dump thus formed, and the operation will be repeated until the final grade of the railroad is reached. The fill crosses an arm of the lake that will be formed by the Gatun dam and an opening will be left at the bottom of the fill in case it ever becomes necessary to drain the lake. In order to allow passage for boats a drawbridge of the Bascule type, about 100 feet long, is being considered.

The new bridge over the Chagres river near Gamboa, will be 1,320 feet long, consisting of fourteen 80-foot through-girder spans and one 200-foot through-truss span. The contract for the steel work has been let to the Penn

Bridge Company and will cost $60,000. The fifteen spans will rest on fourteen piers and two abutments all of which will be built of concrete on pile foundations. It is estimated that the masonry work will be finished about July, 1908.

There will be a tunnel at Miraflores, the first on the Isthmus, about 600 feet long. It will be a single track tunnel and will be lined its entire length with concrete.

It is estimated that before the new line is completed 10,000,000 cubic yards of fill must be made. All these fills are being made with excavated excavated material from the

canal cuttings.

Plans have been prepared for a modern terminal yard at Panama of nine tracks, The terminal at Colon has already been brought up to date. A new $50,000 modern passenger station is all that Panama now lacks in the matter of railroad facilities.

Some Comparisons as to Rates.

It is interesting to note the difference between the first passenger and freight tariff of the Panama Railroad which went into effect February 15th, 1855, and that of the present day. The following table will give some of the changes that have taken place:

[blocks in formation]

idea

3.00 per cwt.
2.00 per cwt.
1.00 per cwt.

.02 per lb.
.40 per cu. ft.

.02 per lb.

.50 per cwt.

1.20 per cwt.

.44 per cwt.

[blocks in formation]

Freight Rate, 3d. class,

All the rates payable in gold.

mentioned in the

While the fare from Colon to Panama

was at the rate of over 50 cents gold per mile, in those days it was not considered excessive, in fact, travelers

of

congratulated themselves. upon getting over the Isthmus so easily and cheaply. Children under twelve twelve years age were charged half fare, or $12.50, while the rate to residents on the Isthmus was commuted to the flat amount of $50.00 per month. A large number of articles at that time did not come under the general classification, and carried special rates. One quarter of one per cent. of its value was charged for the transportation of gold across the Isthmus. Silver was charged one-half of one per cent.; jewelry and precious stones one quarter of one per cent.; indigo and cochineal, 2 cents per pound; coffee and cocoa 1 cent per pound; coal in bulk $9.00 per ton of 2240 pounds; coal in bags $7.00 per ton of 2240 pounds, iron in pigs $7.50 per ton; rolled iron $10.00 per ton; white pine lumber $18.00 per thousand feet; yellow pine lumber $20.00 per thousand feet, and oak at $22.00 per thousand feet. Horses, mules and cattle were transported at owners' risk. The rate on horses was $40.00 each, mules $20.00, and cattle $7.00. All bills for freight had to be paid in advance, but the management in its first schedule made the consoling announcement that as soon as the business of the road would warrant, some of the above rates might be materially reduced.

The baggage charge was a feature the traveling public did not like, especially inasmuch as the management rated overcoats, umbrellas and the like under this head. So much "kicking" resulted that about three months after the first rates were put into effect, the company permitted passengers fifty pounds of baggage free.

The first-class passenger rate between Colon and Panama at the time the United States took the railroad over was $5.00 gold. On the first of August, 1904, the rate was reduced to $4.00. Later it came down to $2.80, and again to $2.40 where it stands at the present time.

Passenger traffic over the railroad during the past year or so has shown an enormous increase. This is in part due to the constant accessions in the ranks of the

« PreviousContinue »