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Senator ANKENY. But they never would attempt to pass one another at speed. They would have to stop in any event, even if they had a canal 1.000 feet wide?
General Davis. One would tie up or they would proceed slowly. Senator ANKENY. That would be the way it would be done? General Davis. Oh, of course it would be so.
In the minority report, on page 86, there is a tabulation which shows the effect of locks and sea-level upon time of transit. It is stated that a type C vessel, which is supposed to be 540 feet long and 60 feet beam, will go through the sea-level canal in eight and ninetenths hours, and that she will go through the lock canal in nine and five-tenths hours—that is, supposing her to be one of 10 ships for the daily transit. Supposing her to be one of 10, and no more, she will go through a sea-level canal in eight and nine-tenths hours, according to the minority, and nine and five-tenths hours in the lock canal, according to the minority. Now, they say that when that business increases so that there are 20 ships a day of type C, 540 feet long, it will take ten and one-half hours for each one of them to go through the sea-level canal, and it will take here nine and seven-tenths hours to go through a lock canal. In other words, it will be eight-tenths of an hour against her, supposing there be 20 ships a day.
I have made a little calculation to show what that really means. On the theory that there are 20 ships in a day three hundred and sixty-five days in the year, it means 7,300 ships, all of type C—that is, of ships 540 feet long. Now, a ship of type C has a net tonnage of about 9,520 tons. That is about her net tonnage. That is about the tonnage she would pay tolls on, because the ratio between net tonnage and gross tonnage is about in the ratio of 13 to 18. Her gross tonnage would be 13,182 tons, and her net tonnage 9,520. Now, if there were 7,300 of those ships to go through the canal in a year, what would it amount to? It would amount to 69,460,000 tons for just that one kind of ship.
It is perfectly preposterous that there should be any such number of ships of that type to go through the canal. It may be that now there are three or four or half a dozen a year going through Suez. There are a few; there would be a few in Panama. But for the purpose of showing the effect of locks upon this question of delay, and assuming that there are 15 or 20 ships per day of that size, you are demonstrating something that has no applicability to our problem at all, because there would not be any such number of ships. There could not be. It is beyond human reason that there should be.
The Secretary has another observation, which is that “lock navi. gation is not experimental.” But I say that any lock is a cause of delay, an obstruction, a danger. No locks of the lift proposed have ever been constructed. Locks in an interoceanic canal should not be permitted unless the topography and the financial resources of the canal proprietor forbid the sea-level plan; and these objections do not obtain at Panama with the United States as proprietor.
The reasoning which the majority have given in their report as to why they are opposed to locks is so clearly stated, so forcibly stated, that it would be supererogation on my part to repeat it. I think it is sound and logical and forceful. It seems to me that it is hardly necessary to say a word about that. That locks are necessary in some places is, of course, true; and when they must be used in certain localities they are tolerated. We are delighted with the Soo Canal, with its present arrangement of locks. It is an admirable arrangement. Nature did not permit any other arrangement. We have to use them; and they are beautifully managed, economically managed; but we would not have them if we did not have to. If we were not obliged to, we would not have them.
Senator TALIAFERRO. In other words, locks are used to overcome difficulties that can not be overcome in any other way?
General Davis. Exactly so; and they are sometimes used a step beyond that. They are sometimes used to establish a convenience.
Take the great harbor basins in Europe-Liverpool, Bristol, London, Cherbourg, Havre, and all of those in the north of Europe, except around in the Baltic—they have a tide of 20, 25, 26, 27 feet. In a great many of the great harbor basins in Europe if ships were put formerly where the basins now are the tide would run out and leave them aground. They have overcome that difficulty by fencing in these great harbor basins and putting locks in front.
Senator TALIAFERRO. That is a fault or difficulty that can not be overcome in any other way, is it not?
General Davis. That is a difficulty that can not be overcome in any other way, except that they could lighter their ships; they could handle all their cargo by lightering, the same as they do in Hongkong and Singapore. But, I say, there it is done to effect a convenience.
Another proposition is that “the weight of dams insures compression of the mud and clay upon which they are founded.”
I say that the depth of the compressible base changes abruptly as the two deep gorges are crossed by the dam at Gatun, this depth varying from zero to over 200 feet in four places, and within a very short distance on the dam's axis. It results that immediately alongside a spot where the compressible material is over 200 feet deep the base of the dam will rest on the incompressible indurated clay, but the dam at its highest point will be 135 feet above both classes of foundation. Mr. Stearns thought the total settlement might reach 2 feet, one-fourth of this after the dam was completed. If this settlement should occur over the margins of these precipitous subterranean geologic gorges there would be a tendency or a liability of the earth mass that settled to break away from the part that could not move. The tendency would be for a fault to occur--that word “fault" is used in the geologic sense—which would be a vertical fissure or plane of movement or weakness extending through the dam transversely from its base to its crest.
If a compression should occur such as is counted on as a beneficent feature the opposite would result and a danger would exist.
Senator MORGAN. General, may I ask you a question that is interesting here! You mentioned these "geological gorges.” Is there any authority that you know of amongst scientific men, amongst geologists, for denominating those as geological gulches or geological gorges ?
General Davis. It is a name that has been applied to them by all the writers that have talked about the canal problem at Panama ever since it began to be discussed by scientists. There have been, I think, four groups of scientific observers at Panama. One is a gentleman whose name I can not recall, connected with the University of California, who made a visit to the Isthmus many years ago and wrote a report on the geology of the Isthmus. Another was Mr. Hill, connected with Harvard University, who visited the Isthmus ten years ago, I think, and wrote a book on the subject of the geology of the Isthmus.
Senator Morgan. That report is among the papers of this committee.
General Davis. No, sir; not the report of this Board; no. The next observers who wrote a report were two Frenchmen-Zurcher and Bertrand. They went there at the time the new French canal company was endeavoring to put its scheme on its feet and get money to build the canal. They are distinguished scientific men, distinguished in their own country, and their opinion is regarded as deserving of attention. Their report is printed in this book, translated and printed. They had before them, when they wrote that report, all that Mr. Hill had written, and all that the California geologist had written; and they discussed the geology of the Isthmus from those standpoints. These, and other writers, speak of that geological gorge at Panama; they all refer to it by mentioning it as the probable bed of a prehistoric river which flowed into the sea when the land was at least 300 feet higher than it is now with respect to the ocean. They all refer to it in that way, and we have taken up that term from those reports.
Senator MORGAN. That is to say, they are gulches that have been washed out by water?
General Davis. Washed out by water when the land was higher with respect to the sea than it is now.
Senator MORGAN. And not formed as a part of the original crust of the earth there?
General Davis. Oh, no. The land may have been a great deal higher than it is now; we do not know how high. It is a well-known fact that the Hudson River bed extends about 400 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean. You can trace it three or four hundred miles, clear out to the Gulf stream; so that the land was once a great deal higher than it is now.
Senator MORGAN. Yes.
General Davis. And so the Chagres River perhaps drained an isthmus that may have been many times as wide as the present Isthmus is.
Senator MORGAN. The point I was trying to trace was as to whether or not those gulches are attributable, according to the common consent of all who have examined them, to the attrition of water?
General Davis. Oh, there is no question about that. I do not think there are any two opinions on the subject.
Senator MORGAN. That is the point I wanted to get at.
General Davis. Another remark of the Secretary speaks of navigation under the sea-level plan as being conducted through a comparatively narrow gorge." He speaks of difficult navigation on account of the narrowness of the gorge at the Culebra.
So far as concerns navigation, a channel with banks 1 foot high is no more and no less convenient than one with banks 1,000 feet high. It seems to me that that is palpably the fact.
The Secretary says, as a disadvantage to the sea-level canal, that the vessels can not turn about. That is, it is assumed that a vessel gets started and for some reason wants to go back, or an obstacle is found to interpose, some accident has happened, and passage through the canal is interrupted, and it must go back.
I say that only in case of closing the canal through some accident could it be necessary for a ship to turn about. Should it be desired to withdraw a ship from the sea-level canal, she could be backed out or withdrawn by tugs, just as has been or can be done from the 49 miles of the Suez Canal (which is 118 feet wide at the bottom with a minimum width of 108 feet) from Port Said to Lake Timsah, in which distance there is no place to turn about. That is to say, it so happens at the Suez Canal that there is exactly 49 miles (the same length that we have on the Isthmus) where no ship can turn around and where, when an accident happens, the ship has to be backed out, as has been done and would have to be done anywhere.
Senator Morgan. Ships can be safely navigated stern foremost, can they not?
General Davis. Oh, it could be done, but very slowly, of course; and the steering would be difficult.
Senator Morgan. But I said " safely." General Davis. Oh, yes—sa fely; yes, sir. It could not be done with their own steam, I think. They would have to be handled with tugs and carefully guided. The next point is the greater safety of ships in a lock canal.”
If this claim is sound Suez would be safer if it were equipped with locks. It would be very difficult to convince the Suez management of the soundness of this proposition.
It is said that the estimate of the majority is too low by at least $25.000.000.
The Commission give definite figures for this alleged deficiency. The items are, underestimate of control of streams except the main Chagres, $7,800,000; underestimate of cost of the Culebra excavation below +10, $17,159,418; total, including 20 per cent contingent, about $25,000,000.
The majority have expressed their opinion, and no sufficient reason has been advanced to change their figures. The whole Board of 13 men are responsible for the estimate so far as relates to the Culebra excavation; that is to say, that the Culebra excavation would involve the removal of a certain number of yards of material, which was ascertained to be 110,000,000. The whole Board of Consulting Engineers fixed certain unit prices. They all agreed that those unit prices were adequate to do the work.
Senator MORGAN. There was no dissent from them?
General Davis. There was no dissent from those unit prices. Now, the majority found out that there was 110,000,000 cubic yards of material there; that a certain part of it was above +10, and we muitiplied that by 80 cents; that another part of it was below +10, and we multiplied that by $1.25. That is the way we got our figures, and that is exactly the way the minority get their figures for their excavation of Culebra. So that if there is any inadequacy of estimate there, 13 men have made a mistake—not 8, but 13 have made the inistake.
Senator MORGAN. That would apply equally to the lock canal ?
General Davis. And that applies just exactly the same to the lock figures as it does to the sea-level figures. Senator MORGAN. The unit figures are the same for both? General DAVIS. Exactly the same; exactly the same. Senator TALIAFERRO. Except as to the locks?
General Davis. No; I am only speaking about the inadequacy of these figures for this excavation at Culebra. No; I did not touch the locks.
Senator Morgan. I am referring to the excavation through the Culebra heights.
General Davis. And everywhere, Mr. Senator; everywhere. It applies everywhere.
Senator MORGAN. I particularly had in my mind the question about the Culebra heights.
General DAVIS. Yes, sir.
Senator MORGAN. Because that is the most difficult part of the work. I understand you to say that all of the Board agreed upon the unit prices that you have stated for excavation through that part of it?
General Davis. Through that part and every other part.
Senator MORGAN. And a minority who favor the lock system in their report adopted the same unit prices?
General DAVIS. Exactly; yes, sir.
Three engineer members of the Commission and Mr. Stevens oppose the sufficiency of this estimate. One member of the Commission concurs with the whole Board. The division therefore results, 14 in favor and 4 opposed to the sea-level estimates as respects Culebra. Besides, one member [Mr. Randolph] of the minority of the Board is on record (page 137 of the report) as expressing the opinion that the sea-level canal can be completed within the estimate.
So far as concerns the adequacy of the sea-level figures for the cost of controlling the subsidiary streams, the tally would seem to stand, in favor, the same eight members of the Board and one of the Commission, or nine in all; opposed, five of the Board, three of the Commission and its chief engineer, or nine in all. Or, if you add Mr. Wallace to the majority side, it stands ten to nine. În analyzing these numbers the two nonengineer members of the Commission have not been considered.
As to the estimated time of construction
Senator MORGAN. If you will wait just a moment, I wish to ask you about a fact that is in my mind, and that it will only take a minute to speak of. In both plans of the canal, as projected by the majority and by the minority-the one a sea-level and the other a lock canal—there is a berm left at the surface or just above the surface of the canal ?