Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

able features of this great undertaking. turbines which will supply all the elecTo guard against the recurrence of the tric current required for manipulating trouble which had baffled the French the lock gates, shuttles, etc. This latengineers, it was decided to make a ter plant is, however, to be augmented dam at the Colon end of the Canal at a by a steam plant in case of shortage of place called Gatun, in which are also water in the large lake, which it is esincorporated the spillway and locks, timated can be lowered some five to six six in number, with a total rise of 85 feet without interfering with the pasfeet. This dam is the largest in the sage of the largest steamer. world. It impounds the water over an All the locks are alike and are conarea of 164 square miles, with a great- structed of concrete. A solid hill of est depth of 90 feet. The width of the rock known as Ancorn provides the base is half a mile, its height is 115 necessary material, and excellent sand feet above sea-level, its width at top is found in the estuary at Panama. is a quarter of a mile. It has been This is sucked up by hydraulic dredges constructed by first tipping two rock and loaded into barges, from which it embankments side by side, leaving a is transferred by grab buckets into space of about 100 yards, and then hoppers which in turn discharge into pumping in mud and clay to form a railway wagons. There are about water seal. The hydraulic dredges 4.200,000 cubic yards of concrete in the suck up the mud from the bottom of locks, and a similar number of barrels the old rivers with a considerable quan. of cement will also be required. Antity of water. It is then forced corn Hill is blasted with powder and through pipes about 18 inches in diam- the stone then loaded up into dump eter over a mile in distance, and thus wagons by means of steam shovels. delivered into the centre of the dam, These wagons are emptied direct into forming a puddle-trench impervious to a stone-crusher, which is the largest in water. The amount of earth and rock the world. It will seize and crack used in this dam is over 21 million over 3000 cubic yards of rock per day, cubic yards. In the centre of the dam and will admit stones about four feet is the spillway or overflow. This is square. A terrible number of fatal built of reinforced concrete, and is 300 accidents due to blasting have taken feet wide, and connected directly with place right through the Canal area, the bed of the old Chagres river, thus chiefly owing to carelessness on the keeping any overflow water from find- part of the native laborers. The steam ing its way into the lower reach of the shovels and locos throw out sparks Canal seawards. It is impossible ac- which are wafted in all directions, and tually to realize the quantity of water one of these sparks falling into a powrunning to waste from a river which it der tin or a hole partially charged has is wide of the mark to estimate as resulted in the loss of numerous lives. twice the size of the Thames: 306 bil- Again, an unexplored charge of dynalion cubic feet per year is about the mite may be dug out by the steam yearly average of water to be con- shovel, causing it to explode and detrolled. The annual rainfall of about stroy all the men employed round 220 inches occurs chiefly during the pe- the digger. The powder bill runs to riod from March to October. It is es. about £8000 per month. There are timated that the water impounded in about 560 drills worked mechanically, the artificial lake of 164 square miles chiefly driven by black labor derived will be enough for working the locks from the West Indies. The men obduring the dry season, and also for the tained from islands in British posses

of

sions are well educated and infinitely many of them take as much as eight superior to the native black of the tons of rock at a lift. The drivers of Southern States. They are used as engines of all classes are white men, clerks and typists, and are amenable with black firemen. Engine-drivers to the strict discipline which is very get about £2 a-day. In addition to this rigidly enforced throughout the whole they have a free house or room and as of the undertal ng. The bead man, much ice and coal they want free. Colonel Goethals, and his assistant, Stringent rules are enforced about Colonel Hodges, are men who have had housing and sanitation. The houses large and varied experience, and the are all of wood and protected with system of strict discipline they have in- gauze screens round them. The enstituted and maintain is most remark- trance is through a swing-door, and able. One never hears an order ques. woe betide any one who props or leares tioned; it is obeyed at once and with a door open. Flies and vermin of all a smiling face. Any laxity in obe- sorts have war to the death waged condience is known to mean instant dis- tinually against them by the doctors missal.

and sanitary inspectors. All ditches Telephones are installed all over the and gutters as far as possible are made Canal zone. Messages are written concrete and kept swept and down in triplicate, as are all orders to cleaned. The houses are raised about officials. Nine hours a day for every four feet above ground-level, and beone (with the exception of the loco neath the house-floor no refuse is aldrivers) is the time worked on the lowed to accumulate. The roads are Canal. The loco men work ten hours, coated with a mixture of tar, carbolic, half an hour extra being given for tak- and paraffin: all house refuse is in. ing out and bringing back their locos stantly swept up and the streets from their respective sheds each way. watered two or three times a day with There are nearly 700 locos of all sizes, carbolic and water. The Canal adminbut as a rule only some 380 are at istration can house -about 5000 whites, work. The water is splendid. Many and in addition there are about 35,000 of the engines run for five years with- blacks. Every morning ice and proout having their boilers cleaned. These vision trains start out and supply all engines, of standard American type, signal-boxes and offices with ice and are very large, having 20" cylinders, pure water. The sanitary inspectors 26" stroke, 6-wheeled, coupled, with examine all houses as often as possible, 54" drivers carrying 180 pounds of and any old tins or cooking utensils steam. They haul twenty wagons of which they deem unfit for use are colthe double bogie type and carry about lected and dumped on the tips. The 400 tons a trip. The flat dump wagons natives are personally dirty, but they number 1800. They have only one are made to keep their houses clean side, the ends and other side being and in order, or else they are expelled left off. The intervening space be- from the country. Other amenities of tween the adjacent wagon is bridged life are provided on the works. The over by a loose steel plate. They are Government

stores where all all fitted with air brakes and centre kinds of commodities can be obtained buffers. The gauge of the railway is at the lowest possible cost, but only five feet,-an unusual gauge, which employees are allowed to trade with will make all the plant of little value these stores. The employees purchase at the termination of the work. The a book of paper money with which steam shovels are of various sizes, they pay for all goods. No actual money is taken at any of the stores. beau is resplendent in patent-leather In addition, at the large centres dining- boots, white striped trousers, straw rooms have been installed where the hat, and a bright blue coat with gilt single men get their meals if they are buttons. A red necktie with a diadisposed to do so. There are also a mond pin about the size of a pigeon's number of Y.M.C.A. rooms open to any egg, yellow kid gloves (with a ring out. one, and this society is doing magnifi- side the glove), cane and cigar, give a cent work on the Canal by providing finishing touch of magnificence to his healthy recreation for the young folk. appearance. The natives have to keep High-grade schools have been installed themselves strictly apart from the at various centres, and special trains white population, nor are whites alrun backwards and forwards with the lowed to live in the black quarters. children living away from the school Special carriages are set apart for them area. The high wages earned allow on the regular trains and likewise on parents to equip their children in plain the paddy mails, and woe betide any and simple white dresses, though now native who attempts to enter a white and again you find other costumes bor- man's carriage. The white police are dering on vulgarity. Most of the white chiefly drawn from the Frontiersmen population are down there to make of Canada, and are of very high standmoney for a few years, and then their ing. The native police are chiefly reambition is to return to their old home, cruited from the West Indian possesbuy a piece of ground, and settle down sions of this country. for life.

runs

Throughout the whole length of the The army of the Panama Republic is Canal one sees the reckless waste of a sight to delight the heart of a Gilbert machinery ordered by the French Com. and Sullivan Major-General.

pany-machinery which has never been rade it numbers about one hundred set to work. If anything broke down men. The uniform consists of white it was never repaired, but a complete duck trousers, button boots, blue serge new machine ordered. One thus sees tunic heavily frogged, square top hundreds of old locos in sidings short yachting cap of blue with a great tor- of a rod or some important item; tip toiseshell peak. An old Brown Bess wagons made of steel thrown about rifle, without a bayonet, completes the and left to rust away. At one placeequipment. The colors

Christobal-there are about twenty jointed bamboo pole some fifteen feet huge dredgers, which have sunk in the high, gorgeous in silk and tied up with mud owing to their hulls having rotted bows and streamers. The national away; barges in sections, never used; band are dressed in white, and have thousands of tons of girders never put little ear for time or music. They, together; thousands of tons of scrap however, play in the Plaza or dumped anywhere and everywhere. ket-place on Sunday, when the whole This wanton and wicked waste is an town turns out to hear the music and everlasting disgrace to the French parade their smartest clothes. The Company. The Americans have put native girl in a flowing flowered mus- a certain amount of this old machinlin dress, an enormous hat with feath- ery to work again, and found many eners, and a big red silk bow at the back gines, etc., buried in the jungle, which of her head, is a feature of the scene. grows very quickly; and it is not unWhite shoes and stockings, yellow kid usual to see a tree as thick as a man's gloves, and a parasol about the size of body growing through an engine or an a soup-plate, completes her attire. Her

old wagon.

On pa

are

on

а

mar

To

an

The vegetation is perfectly extraor- American engineers successfully to dinary. The thermometer never, even overcome the vast natural obstacles at night, goes below 85° Fahr., and in with which they are confronted at this the daytime the sun is intensely hot. point. The difficulties of carrying a Being so close to the Equator, your canal through a hilly district of this shadow is very small--practically just length are stupendous. It is impossithe ground you stand on. Cocoanut- ble too highly to praise the skill and intrees thrive; rubber, palms, and all trepid courage with which obstacle afkinds of most beautiful tropical plants ter obstacle has been surmounted. grow in every watercourse.

The grass appreciate the task of the American is kept burnt down to the water's edge, engineers the reader must first try and and along the railway the bush is cut form some conception of the country back for a hundred yards on each side. through which the great water-way Wherever there is any stagnant water, passes at this point. The country at a barrel of paraffin and tar is installed the Atlantic end of the Canal has a which has a tap in it, allowing so many curious resemblance to the Matoppos, drops an hour to fall. The mosquito the sugar-loaf peaks rising in many lays its eggs in the water, and it has cases upwards of a thousand feet in been proved that the eggs are rendered height. Unlike the bare South Afriunfertile by the slightest contamination can hills, however, they are covered with oil and paraffin. These barrels right up to the top with palms and have a numerous staff, whose daily tropical vegetation, forming what is work it is to replenish them and keep practically impenetrable jungle. the bush fired. Banana-trees thrive Numerous deer and wild hog, however, when once the ground has been manage to move about with comparacleared, and a very considerable trade tive ease. There are a number of old is now being done with this popular gold workings about forty miles south fruit. A bunch must weigh not less of the Canal, and there are also one or than fifty pounds. When the stem has two excellent seams of coal as yet unonce grown a bunch, it must be cut exploited. Culebra Cut pierces these down to the ground, as otherwise they mountains, which extend for about will not bear again to a profit. The fourteen miles inland from the Atlantic cocoanut-trees should not have less seaboard. From this point onwards than a hundred nuts a-year on them, the Canal route is constructed in the Copra is being made; and the natives river-bed of the Chagres river, which are also cultivating all kinds of fruit, has been dredged and the water-level for which they find a ready market raised by the construction of the Gatun amongst the white inhabitants-in- Dam. To give some comparative idea cluding sweet potatoes, yams, Indian of the magnitude of this engineering corn, mangoes, and a whole host of feat it may be stated that the dome of tropical fruits which are unknown to St. Paul's is 364 feet in height from the us in England on account of the diffi- pavement to the top of the cross. The culty in transportation.

cutting at Culebra is more than half as At the present time the Canal is well much again, having a depth of 587 feet. on the way to completion, with the ex- This is the only real trouble to be ception of the work at Culebra—the feared as regards the early and suc most gigantic engineering task ever at- cessful completion of the work. One tempted, being a cutting through a hill side of the cutting is known as Gold nine miles long. The crux of the Hill, and the other Contractors' Hill. Panama Canal lies in the power of the With the exception of the hill at Ancona, there is little or no solid rock to of the trouble that lies at this point. be met with. The measures are hard, Steam shovels are now taking off the and require a tremendous amount of tops of the hills so as to relieve the blasting and drilling, but as soon as the pressure as far as possible in the botrock is exposed to the atmosphere it tom, but so far with little or no useful crumbles away to dust, and in a few effect. There are several soft layers weeks' time trees and shrubs spring of clay which allow the rock to slide. up on land which had previously been There are also one or two huge faults buried 100 or 500 feet deep. In the which break up and disintegrate the bottom of this huge chasm countless measures. Time will prove the truth numbers of men are at work. The or falsehood of the numerous theories scene is an amazing one: great steam abroad, but for many years it is exshovels by the score, drills by the hun- tremely doubtful if this canal can be dred, miles of railway trains whistling kept open without constant dredging and snorting, dynamite exploding. and expense, and it is very probable Perched up in crows'-nests are the that the cutting will be nearly five overmen who direct the movements of miles across at the top before the sides all trains and supplies as they arrive. cease to run in, if ever they do, for the These crows'-nests are connected by rock in the bottom cut of all turns to telephones with the main administrå- mud in a short time when in contact tion buildings, and again with lower with water, and the wash of the prosignal-boxes which keep check of the pellers will suck this mud away. number of wagons filled by each shovel These slides take place without any and of the number of trips made daily warning, and often a train of wagons, by each engine to the dump nine miles shovels, &c., are swept down the cutaway. At the present time they are ting; but, so far, few lives have been excavating about 75,000 cubic yards a- actually lost, though many narrow esday. The total amount of excavation capes have been experienced. To deal in the whole of the Canal is something with accidents of all kinds, two breaklike 182 million cubic yards. Of this down trains are always under steam, huge amount only 30 million out of the one with a crane of 100-ton capacity 78 million excavated by the French and another of 75, capable of lifting an Company is of service to the new route. engine up off her side in few minutes,

It is estimated that about 52 million and quickly getting any wreck straightyards still remain to be moved, and the ened out and the line running again. whole of the energies of the staff are The divisional engineers are provided now being devoted to this particular with petrol loco-cars, and are continpoint at Culebra. With a depth of ually running up and down their seccutting so vast, it will be readily un- tions, receiving reports and consulting derstood that difficulties would be ex- with their foremen. Most of these perienced with the slopes. The deeper men are officers in the U.S. army, but the cutting the more accentuated does one finds many officials who have this become, because great slips are worked in England, and, for that matcontinually pouring down into the bot- ter, all over the world,-men of the tom, and the ground is developing deep highest capability and experience. (racks a mile away, showing that the Any workman who can put forward a whole of the hills are on the slide. scheme whereby a few minutes' time How deep these may go or how far or labor can be saved is at once recogback is a matter of conjecture, but all nized and inis salary increased Every are terribly afraid of the serious nature one is strong up to concert pitch, and

« ZurückWeiter »