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ISTHMIAN CANAL COMMISSION-DEPARTMENTS AND
Mechanical Division. Headquarters, Gorgona.
A. L. Robinson, Superintendent.
Headquarters, Cristobal. Lieut. Col. Eugene T. Wilson, U. S. A., Subsistence Officer. Capt. Frank O. Whitlock, U. S. A., Assistant Subsistence Officer. John Burke, Manager of Commissaries. W. F. Shipley, Chief Clerk.
Col. C. A. Devol, U. S. A., Chief Quartermaster.
Capt. R. E. Wood, U. S. A., Assistant Chief Quartermaster.
Lieut. Walter D. Smith, U. S. A., Con-
Maurice H. Thatcher, Head of Department.
G. A. Ninas, Chief Clerk.
C. L. Luedtke, Assistant Chief Clerk. Tom M. Cooke, Chief, Division of Posts, Customs, and Revenues, Ancon. Arthur McGown, Deputy Collector, Ancon.
Jno. L. Storla, Deputy Collector, Cristobal.
Capt. Chas. W. Barber, U. S. A., Chief of Police, Ancon.
C. E. Weidman, Fire Chief, Cristobal. Chas. F. Koerner, Assistant Fire Chief, Ancon.
M. E. Gilmore, Superintendent of Public Works, Ancon.
J. J. Reidy, Assistant Superintendent of Public Works, Colon.
F. A. Gause, Superintendent of Schools, Ancon.
Edgar P. Beck, Treasurer of Canal Zone, Empire.
W. G. Comber, Chairman; James Macfarlane, C. J. Anderson, Board of Local Steamboat Inspectors.
Lieut. Col. Charles F. Mason, U. S. A., Supt. Ancon Hospital, Ancon. Surgeon Wm. H. Bell, U. S. N., Superintendent Colon Hospital.
Surgeon J. C. Perry, P. H. and M. H. S., Chief Quarantine Officer, and Health Officer, Panama.
Surgeon Claude C. Pierce, P. H. and
M. H. S., Quarantine Officer, Colon. Dr. Fleetwood Gruver, P. H. and M. H. S., Quarantine Officer, Panama. Joseph A. LePrince, Chief Sanitary Inspector, Ancon.
Dr. M. E. Connor, Health Officer, Colon.
Sea Level or Lock Plan.
"I cannot venture to predict the time required and the amount of money necessary for the construction of a sea-level canal," said the present Chief Engineer, Col. Geo. W. Goethals, before a committee of Congress when asked to give an estimate for a sea-level canal. As a matter of fact the only sea-level project scientifically considered was that of the Consulting Engineers of 1906. The estimates for the lock-level project then made were soon found to be grossly inadequate, both as to the cost of the original project and the size of the project itself, so these are of little value in estimating for a sea-level canal. The reasons why a sea-level canal is not being constructed are that it would cost so much, take so much time, and in the end be of less value than the present Canal, with its broad lake channels.
The question was settled in January, 1906, when the International Board of Consulting Engineers, by vote of 8 to 5 decided in favor of a sea-level canal, and President Roosevelt recommended that Congress adopt the plan for a lock-level canal submitted by the minority. In favor of the minority plan were 5 of 7 members of the Isthmian Canal Commission and Chief Engineer Stevens. The Board consisted of Geo. W. Davis, U. S. A., Messrs. Alfred Noble, W. B. Parsons, W. H. Burr, Brig. Gen. Henry L. Abbott, Corps of Engineers, U. S. A.; Frederick P. Stearns, Joseph Ripley, and Isham Randolph of the United States; W. H. Hunter of England, Eugene Tincauzer of Germany, Adolph Guerard of France, E. Quellennec of France, and J. W. Welcker of The Netherlands. The report in favor of the canal at sea level was signed by Messrs. Davis, Parsons, Burr, Hunter, Guerard, Tincauzer, Welcker, and Quellennec. President Roosevelt summed up the case as follows:
"A careful study of the reports seems to establish a strong probability that the following are the facts: The sea-level Canal would be slightly less exposed to damage in the event of war; the running expenses, apart from the heavy cost of interest on the amount employed to build it, would be less; and for small ships the time of transit would probably be less. On the other hand, the lock Canal at a level of 80 feet or thereabouts would not cost much more than half as much to build and could be built in about half the time, while there would be very much less risk connected with building it, and for large ships the transit would be quicker; while, taking into account the interest on the amount saved in building, the actual cost of maintenance would be less. After being built it
would be easier to enlarge the lock canal than a sea-level canal. Moreover, what has been actually demonstrated in making and operating the great lock canal, the Soo, a more important artery of traffic than the great sea-level canal, the Suez, goes to support the opinion of the minority of the Consulting Board of Engineers and of the majority of the Isthmian Canal Commission as to the superior safety, feasibility, and desirability of building a lock Canal at Panama.'
The essential features of the plan adopted, and now nearing completion, are a lake at 85 feet above mean sealevel, and two approaches to it at sea level. The lake is held at its high level by two dams, one at Gatun and one at Pedro Miguel, and ships will pass from one level to another in locks. The route chosen is 50 miles long, and it follows the bed of the Chagres River on the north side of the continental divide, and that of the Rio Grande on the south side, thus making use of the natural lay of the land to minimize the amount of excavation.
In trying to understand the plans for the work the tourist should keep in mind that the isthmus runs east and west, that Colon and the Atlantic terminal of the Canal are north and west of Panama City, which is near the southern or Pacific terminus. With the directions in mind suppose yourself on a ship bound from New York or Liverpool to San Francisco, then the general direction of your voyage, which is from east to west, will be changed when you reach the Panama Canal to a north to south direction.
The ship will enter the Canal in Limon Bay, and under its own steam proceed to Gatun. The place on the isthmus where the plan can best be seen is at Gatun, where the Atlantic entrance, the locks, the partly filled lake and the ship channel through it, all lie before the eye. Gatun Locks are seven miles inland. At the entrance to the locks the ship will anchor and wait until it is taken in tow by four electric towing locomotives, two ahead pulling and two behind exerting such back pull as will keep the ship steady between lines of taut hawsers, while it moves through the locks. It makes its ascent in three steps each lifting it 28 feet, the total of 85 feet representing the difference between the level of the sea and the lake level.
Entering one of the sea-level chambers, the gates will be shut behind the ship, and water will be let in from the
lake through a system of culverts in the lock walls and under the floors, until the ship has been raised 28 feet above sealevel. It will then be towed into a second lock chamber, the gates will be closed, and the water let in from the lake will raise it another 28 feet. In a third lock chamber, this process will be repeated, and the ship will then be at 85 feet above sea-level, when it will be towed out from the locks into Gatun Lake.
Under its own steam the vessel will proceed up a broad channel past scores of little islands, green with the unfailing verdure of the tropics, past native hamlets and isolated huts, for a distance of 16 miles, when the broad waters will be left behind, and the hills will close in, leaving a channel only 500 feet wide. Six miles farther on, the channel will narrow to 300 feet, and the ship will enter the pass through the continental divide, commonly known as Culebra Cut. In this section, nine miles in length, the hills will rise sheer at places, and again will slope gradually away, but at no point will one be able to see the surrounding country from the deck. At Culebra the opposing hills will rise five hundred feet above the water level, great masses of igneous rock. This is the summit of the divide, and within sight is the lock at Pedro Miguel, where the descent to the Pacific is begun. After leaving this lock, the ship will sail through a small lake called Miraflores Lake, a distance of one mile, at an elevation of 55 feet above sea level; and then entering the double flight of locks at Miraflores will be lowered to the sea-level channel, through which it will sail a distance of seven miles to deep water in Panama Bay. The time of passage need not exceed eleven hours, at least three of which will be used at the locks.
The sea-level channels or approaches will have a bottom width of 500 feet. That at the Atlantic entrance will begin at a point in Limon Bay, 41 feet below mean sea-level, about four and one-half miles from the shore line. The maximum tidal oscillation in this bay is two feet, and the channel will therefore be 40 feet deep at the lowest stage of the tide. A breakwater extending from the west shore of the bay in a northerly direction guards the entrance against the heavy winds that blow from the north during November, December, and January. The excavation here is done by two elevator-dredges brought to the Isthmus by the French, a dipper dredge of American make, and a sea-going hopper