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Document No. 315.
HOUSE BILL 35 (ON THE NICARAGUA CANAL)
ON INTERSTATE AND FOREIGN COMMERCE,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
government printing office.
HEARINGS ON HOUSE BILL 35 BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON
INTERSTATE AND FOREIGN COMMERCE.
Washington, D. 0., Friday, March 27, 1896.
The committee met at 10.30 a. m. for the purpose of a hearing on House bill 35, on the Nicaragua Canal.
STATEMENT OF HON. WARNER MILLER, OF NEW YORK.
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Committee : I do not
appear here to-day to advocate the passage of the bill before the committee, or any other bill. The Nicaragua Canal Company has never yet asked Congress to do anything in this matter, and it never will so long as I am at the head of it. Before I finish 1 will give you the history of the first movement in Congress in regard to this matter, and what the company and myself had to do therewith.
First, I want to give a brief history leading up to the concessions from the Nicaraguan Government now held by our company. In 1884 a treaty was negotiated by Secretary Freliughuysen, known as the Zevalla-Frelinghuysen treaty, giving the Government of the United States the right to build a canal through the Republic of Nicaragua from ocean to ocean, and giving it a large amount of land upon both sides of the canal; in fact, giving the Government of the United States right over the entire line. That treaty came to the Senate, of which I was a member, and would undoubtedly have been ratified had it not been withdrawn from the Senate by President Cleveland immediately after coming into office in his first Administration. The treaty was withdrawn from the Senate and never returned.
Immediately after that a number of gentlemen in New York formed what was known as the Nicaragua Canal Association. It was not an incorporation or chartered company, but simply a syndicate or voluntary gathering together of twenty-five or thirty gentlemen moved thereto chiefly by the representations of Admiral Ammen; Mr. Menocal, an engineer in the Navy; Commander, now Captain, Taylor; Captain Evans, and other officers of the United States Navy who had given consideration to these matters of the canal.
This body of gentlemen raised a considerable sum of moneytwo or three hundred thousand dollarsand sent Mr. Menocal to Nicaragua, and through his services they secured the concessions made by the Government of Nicaragua, which concessions are now held by The Maritime Canal Company" and the ones now under consideration.
Briefly, those concessions gave the owners the exclusive right to build and operate a canal across Nicaragua for a period of ninety-nine years, with certain conditions that it shall be extended for ninety-nine years, making nearly two hundred years for the life of the concessions. Mr. Menocal was sent to Nicaragua, because he had already made two surveys of the route under the direction of the United States Govern-
nient, and was familiar with the route, and his acquaintance with the people and knowledge of the question indicated that he would be a suitable party to make negotiations with the Nicaraguan Government, which were made successfully; and under those concessions the company has been operating ever since.
Upon Mr. Menocal's return, a company was organized, called the Nicaragua Canal Construction Company, under the laws of the State of Colorado, writh a nominal capital of $12,000,000. The concessions obtained by Mr. Menocal were transferred to the Nicaragua Canal Construction Company. Money was raised and an expedition was sent out in November, 1887, with Mr. Menocal at the head of it, consisting of a large number of engineer officers. An establishment was made at Grey-town, and finally surveys of the canal were commenced, which continued lor a period of three years, during which time a large amount of money, something over $300,000, was expended in engineering work and preparing plans for the construction of the canal. While this work was going on the company became convinced that it ought to have a charter from the Government of the United States, in order to secure proper protection in Nicaragua in case of any internal or external troubles which might arise. So the company came to the Congress of the United States and asked for a charter. This charter was granteda rare thing for Congress to grant a special charter. This charter was granted on February 20, 1889, and is known as the Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua. It provided for the issuance of $100,000,000 of stock, and $200,000,000 if necessary. It gave the company all the ordinary and necessary powers of a corporation.
The Nicaragua Canal Construction Company transferred the concessions to the Maritime Canal Company chartered by Congress, which then became what might be termed the parent company, and it took back from the Maritime Canal Company the contract by which it was to build the canal and turned it over to the Maritime Canal Company for the securities of that company, which it was to take and negotiate as best it could. The amount of securities fixed was 6150,000,000 of first-mortgage bonds and $100,000,000 of stock. The work went on under the Nicaragua Construction Company, and the affairs of the original Nicaragua Canal Association were turned over to the Construction Company, and, as I have just explained, the concessions were finally put into the hands of the Maritime Canal Company, which had been chartered by Congress.
In the spring of 1890, after I had retired from the Senate, the gentlemen having this matter in charge came to me and asked me to take the presidency of the Nicaragua Canal Construction Company. After considerable hesitation and consideration, I finally accepted it, and for five years past I have given it more time and have done more hard work in it than I have ever done in any private enterprise with which I have been connected since 1 have been engaged in business. From that time down to 1893 I raised in cash something over $3,000,000 by the issuance of the securities of the company, and I also procured a large amount of machinery and services for which the company paid in securities. The sum I raised myself, personally, and that which had been raised by the company before I became its president, amounts to something over $1,500,000, counting the machinery and labor at its actual value. The concessions required, first, that the final surveys and location of the canal should be made within eighteen months after a i\xed time, and that within a year at least $2,000,000 should be expended in cash upon the work, and it was to be approved by the Nicaraguan Government itself.
When 1 came into the service of the company I found much less than $1,000,000 had been expended up to that time, and that the two years would expire on the 1st of October of that year. So I went to work to push the enterprise rapidly, and in order to comply with the concession and expend $2,000,000, which we were compelled to expend during the first year. I began work, and as a result of it I constructed a railroad eleven and a half miles from Greytown across the lagoon up to the point of the first lock. This was a substantial railroad, built uudei very great difficulties. During that entire season the land from Grey-town to Lock No. 1 was under water, because it was the rainy season. The water was from 2 to 4 feet deep, and the ground was covered with tropical vegetation. I was told by railroad men and engineers that 1 could not build this within the time, and that it could only be built by putting up trestles and piles the entire distance. I was not satisfied with that judgment, and finally called into counsel Mr. C. P. Treat, of Chicago, a young, energetic man who had made a fortune in the West building railroads, lie had spent months going over the proposed line, with a view of making a bid upon a portion of the work. I asked him if he could build a railroad in the lagoon within the time at a reasonable price.
The object was, of course, to enable us to get into the foothills up to the locks and the great divide, because the length of time required to build the canal was based upon the length of time required to build the locks and cut the divide, a distance of 13 miles from Greytown. Mr.Treat went to Nicaragua. I sent an agent to Jamaica, and he sent a large number of workmen from Jamaica. I sent rails, ties, and a working train, and the work began with 1,600 men. The ground was under water substantially the entire distance, and the men worked in the water during the whole time. The railroad was constructed by cutting down trees and building a corduroy road some 4 feet in thickness of solid wood the entire distance. Upon this the track was laid, and sand (dredged from the mouth of the canal) carried by train was put upon this temporary track or wooden road until it was buried in the sand; and in that way the road was built for the entire distance, and to-day, after a period of five years, it is in fair order. I have passed over it at the rate of 20 miles an hour.
The road was constructed within the time at a cost, which our books will show, of $32,000 a mile, and was completed perfectly. That included 10 per cent commission paid to Mr. Treat for doing the work. ^ We employed 1,000 men all the time, and but seven or eight died, and
four of those were killed by accidents upon the road. Only four or five died from the effects of the climate. I speak of that to show you that Nicaragua is not so unhealthy a climate as has been generally represented. All these statements which I make can be verified by the records of the company.
We also purchased at the same time the entire dredging plant of the American Dredging Company, which had done substantially all the work at Panama and which originally cost nearly $2,000,000. We began the actual excavation of the canal at Greytown Harbor, and excavated to a depth of 17 feet a distance of nearly 2 miles, and the work remains to show for itself. We also began the construction of a pier which was to make the entrance into the harbor safe. We extended this pier a distance of 1,000 feet; finally it is to be extended nearly 0,000 feet. The construction of this pier, with a little dredging, made a depth of 14 feet over the bar, and it was maintained at that until the company, under stress of financial difficulties, was compelled to suspend
operations. We proved that there was no difficulty in opening the harbor. Before that time vessels had to lie out, and the freight was taken to the shore in lighters and hauled up in the sand by the power of human labor. This railroad was completed at this price, and it was a cheaper piece of work than any that ever has been done in the United States or anywhere else in the world. It shows what work will cost in that country. Mr. Menocal had estimated the cost at $60,000 per mile, and we built it at $29,000 per mile and paid Mr. Treat a commission of 10 per cent for his services and skill, which carried the cost up to $32,000. I mention this in order to show you the cost of building railroads in that country, and also to show you that we built at one-half of our
engineer's estimate. We went on with the work and with the negotiations. Immediately
after I came into the company negotiations began with the Baring Bros., of London. They sent gentlemen to our office in New York, an engineer and a lawyer, to examine our affairs. Those gentlemen made an examination and returned to London, but within thirty days after their return the Baring Bros.' failure came on, and from that time to this there never has been a time when an enterprise of this character could have been floated, except at very low rates for its securities. The panic of 1893 came, and the construction company was compelled to suspend operations first, and finally it was compelled to go into the hands of a receiver. This, mind you, did not affect the parent company, which then held, and now holds, the concessions. Immediately after the Construction Company went into the hands of a receiver, a committee was organized and took the matter up, and after some nine or ten months of work, a new company was organized, the affairs of the old company were settled up, and every dollar of its obligations was paid. The new company was chartered by the legislature of the State of Vermont, and was organized last spring, which took the assets of the old company, the contract for building the canal, and the stockholders of the old company of course came into possession of a large part of the stock of the new company in exchange for their holdings in the original company.
This briefly is the condition of affairs at the present time. The Maritime Canal Company own the concessions from the Government of Nicaragua, and their standing with that Government is in a satisfactory condition. It is also in a condition to enter into negotiations for the procurement of money and for completing the work.
I said at the beginning that I was not here to advocate this bill or any other bill. This bill I have never read, although one of the members of the committee sent me a copy of it. Soon after I became president in 1890, I came to Washington upon some private business, and while sitting in the room of the Secretary of the Senate, Gen. Anson McCook, my personal friend, Senator Edmunds, of Vermont, came in and congratulated me upon having taken up the Nicaraguan Canal and wished me success. He asked, uIIow do you expect to get funds to build this canalV/J I said, "We expect .to do it in the usual way by issuing securities and selling them at such price as we can get. If we can not sell them at par, as we do not expect to, we may get 80 or 70, and if Ave can not do that, perhaps we can get 60. 1 shall undertake in some way to sell enough to get money to build the canal."
Senator Edmunds said to me, u Will you be able to sell them in this country?" I said, "I shall try to sell them here, and, failing in that, I shall go abroad; and of course as this country is taking vast sums ot money from Europe to build railroads at the present time, it will prob-
ably be necessary to secure the bulk of the money abroad." He then said, Where will the control be then, if the majority of the stock is held abroad?" I replied, "Of course the control will go to those who furnish a majority of the money with which to build it, and that should be the case." He said that ought not to be. It ought to be an American enterprise, and we ought to raise the money and have it controlled by the American people. I said, Senator, as a patriotic citizen I agree with your statement that it ought to be an American enterprise, and we ought to make it such and keep it as such; but my duty to the stockholders is to get the money where and how I can."
A few days afterwards, I received a letter from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate asking me to come to Washington to be examined by that committee of the Senate in executive session. I came, and remained here for several days. It turned out then that Senator Edmunds had introduced into the Senate in executive session a resolution instructing the Committee on Foreign Affairs to inquire into the condition of the Nicaragua Canal and the Maritime Company, and report to the Senate what the condition of it was, and what, if anything, the Congress of the United States ought to do in regard to the matter. Then things went on for several weeks and months. I made several visits to this city, being called by the committee. The committee finally said to me that they thought as a committee the Government of the United States ought to be interested in this enterprise, and perhaps ought to control it, and asked me to state upon what terms the company would be willing for the Government to go into the enterprise. I said, "I will go back to New York and consult the leading stockholders, and wfll give you an answer." I went back to New York, and consulted with the leading men in the enterprise, and replied by letter to Senator Sherman, chairman of the committee, that in our judgment the stockholders of the Nicaragua Canal Company would be willing that the Government should take control of the company, provided it would return to us the amount of money that we had expended upon the enterprise up to that time, and also give us stock of the Maritime Company to whatever amount they saw fit as a bonus, or bounty, for the time and energy we had expended and the risk we had taken in putting our money into the enterprise.
The members of the committee expressed their belief that that was a most liberal offer upon our part. The committee upon the strength of that prepared a report and a bill, which was reported to the Senate. The terms of the bill I do not remember, but the record will show what they were. It provided for the return of the money we had expended, and provided also that the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury should audit our accounts and determine what amount we had expended, and also provided for giving us some of the stock of the Maritime Company as a bonus for our time, trouble, and risk. What that amount was, I have now forgotten. No action was had upon that bill; but the next year the same committee took it up again, and asked me again to come before the committee, which I did, and gave them my suggestions.
During all this time. I had traveled over the United States and Europe. I had made three trips to the Pacific Coast. I had spoken in nearly every city of importance in the United States, before many of the Chambers of Commerce, and other bodies in regard to this enterprise, endeavoring to educate the people of the country up to the importance of the undertaking, thereby seeking to secure the cooperation of the American people in taking stock and bonds; but I found.
wherever I went, that after the Senate Committee had reported its first bill, the people generally came to the conclusion that it ought to be a Government enterprise and be controlled by the Government, instead of by private individuals. The people said that if they put their money into it, the Government will come in and take the canal and we shall simply get a return of the money, without any especial profit being allowed for the risk which we may take. I then came before the com-mittee with this knowledge.
I had traveled over the country three times, almost 50,000 miles, made speeches, and written many articles. I told the committee what I had found to be the opinion of the peoplethat the Government ought to control it. I said, "If you want to go on with this enterprise, I will make this suggestion : Let the Government guarantee the bonds of the company for whatever amount may be necessary, and for this the Government can take and put into the Treasury of the United States either $70,000,000 or $S
Mr. Patterson. What is the amount of the capitalization, $100,-000,000?
Mr. Miller. Yes, sir; the capital was not to be disposed of. About $1,000,000 was estimated as the probable cost of maintaining and improving the canal, which was about the cost of maintaining the Suez Canal, and $1,000,000 was to be put into a sinking fund, so that in sixty years the sinking fund would have entirely paid olf the bonded debt. The Government would never have advanced a cent, and would be the owner of 870,ooo,ooo or $80,000,000 of the $100,000,000 of capitalization.
We neither sought nor opposed the passage of that bill. We have refused to have anything to do with the passage of any legislation.
This is the first time in five years that I have ever appeared before a House committee, or mentioned the matter even to the Member of the House from my own district. Mr. Sherman, the Member from my district, can tell you that I never presented the matter to him in any shape whatever. I said to Mr. Sherman that I would not come before your committee unless I was requested to do so. We have never asked for a hearing, and under no circumstances will we come here to ask anything. If, following out the suggestions of Senator Morgan and Senator Edmunds, the Congress of the United States sees fit to pass a measure which is just and fair to us, undoubtedly the stockholders, who are nearly all Americans, will accept that decision and turn over the control of this great enterprise to the Government.
Mr. Sherman. You might say further, that you declined even to express an opinion to me of your preference as between three bills which I handed you.
Mr. Miller. Not only that, but I have not read them. In fact, I declined to read them. We have felt that if the people of the United States thought that this enterprise ought to be an American enterprise, we as American citizens would not stand in the way of it, no matter what our prospective profits in such enterprise might be. It is now five years since the Government first took it up, and we have felt for several years that we had a cause of grievance against the Government in this matter, for, since it became known that the Senate was considering it, and had reported a bill, it became substantially impossible to get any money anywhere.
The American people had said Congress ought to do this, so that it can control tolls and run the canal for the benefit of the people.
Foreign bankers have said: "We can not take this up now, because by the time we have raised and expended several millions on it the Government of the United States will step in and take it away from us, and we shall get nothing but our cash in return. In other words, our profits will never be realized, and therefore we will not touch it until the Government of the United States has decided what it will do." We have been in this condition that during all these years it has been impossible to raise money, except from the original subscribers. Now, these men who have furnished money and have been assessing themselves to keep up the property, keep up an office, and all the necessary expenses connected with an enterprise like this, could not abandon it entirely. The result has been that the old subscribers have been compelled to add to their subscriptions. When the company was reorganized every one of the old stockholders who were able remained and
paid their assessments of $3.50 per share.
Mr. Doolittle. What is your belief relative to the ability of the company to raise money, if the Government had not interfered or had not taken the matter up?
Mr. Miller. I have not any doubt that, if there had not been any interference on the part of Congress, we could have raised the money. I was appealing to the American people, and received everywhere cordial support until this matter was introduced into Congress; then I was met everywhere with the proposition that it ought to be a Government matter, and I found that private individuals would not take it up. Since 1893 the financial situation has been bad, and it has been difficult to obtain money. The company would have been justified in offering bonds at low prices, which would have appealed to the speculative spirit of the American people and foreigners. I have no doubt that ince 1893 we would have been able to get $25,000,000.
Mr. Patterson. I think you correctly reflect the opinion of the
United States when you say the people desire the Government to own
and control this canal; but the one question in the minds of some of
us is as to the practicability of constructing the canal within reasonable limitations of cost.
Mr. Miller. That I am coming to, with the permission of the committee. I want to have the position of the company in regard to this fully understood. It is constantly being misrepresented by its opponents, and also by people who are not familiar with the facts, and therefore I desire to put before the committee the exact conditions existing from the beginning down to the present time. Last winter a bill passed the Senate. There was not time to get it up in the House, owing to the fact that the 4th of March was near; but there was placed upon one of the appropriation bills $20,000, to be expended by a United States Commission to be appointed by the President to be sent to Nicaragua for the purpose of making an investigation and report. That appropriation was passed, a Commission was appointed, and they made a report to the President, which was finally transmitted to Congress. The object of the appointment of this Commission, of course, was well understood; that it was to gain time and delay. The friends of the enterprise in the Senate and House, as I understand it, accepted this appropriation in good faith as the only thing that could be done. No one connected with the company had anything to say about it.
Immediately after it became a law, I called the directors of the company together, and we voted to spend whatever money was necessary to put the line in condition, so that it could be seen by the commissioners. The appropriation of $20,000 made by the Government for three commissioners, after paying their salaries, left very little for the necessary work of investigation, and had not the company come to the aid of the commission by expending its own moneys the investigation would have been impossible. The company expended for this purpose in opening up the line and rebuilding camps for taking care of the commissioners and the service of the men nearly as much as the Government had appropriated; and the company turned over to the commission, when it sat in New York, all its notes and surveys, which had cost nearly $500,000. Those were put into the hands of the commission unreservedly.
Mr. Patterson. Who were the Commissioners?
Mr. Miller. Major Ludlow, Mr. Endicott, and Mr. Noble, a civil engineer from Chicago. The impression has gone out that the report was adverse to the canal, but a careful reading will show that the report is not adverse. It makes many recommendations in regard to changes in the proposed line and in the works. It calls in question the wisdom of some of the plans made by the company and recommends changes which would largely increase the cost of the canal; and after making a detailed estimate of the cost, it says that it lacks sufficient data by which to make a proper estimate. It finds, however, as was found by several engineers throughout the world, both great and small, who have examined it, that the plan is entirely feasible; that the canal can be built, and I inay add that it is, in the judgment of all the best engineers who have examined the matter thoroughly, the only possible route across the isthmus which can be constructed at a reasonable cost. This Commission places the cost at $133,000,01)0.
Now, I want to call your attention to some of the statements of this Commission. I do not want to weary you, or take your time by going into a detailed examination from a technical or engineering standpoint,
because Mr. Menocal, the engineer of the company, who has made three surveys, two of them for the Government, and who has spent many years in examining this route, is perfectly able to defend his surveys and estimates. Having the report of the Commission before him he has prepared and submitted for your use an elaborate discussion of this question from every standpoint, and as president I am perfectly willing to stand upon that argument before the best engineers in the world.
When in London our plans were submitted to Sir John Cood, who was the leading engineer of England and who planned and executed many important harbor works for the English Government. He studied the plans for several weeks, until he was thoroughly familiar with them. He said that they were practicable, and the only change he recommended was that the cut through the great rock divide should be increased from 80 to 100 feet in width, but that the harbors at Greytown and Brito were correct in plan, and if carried out would furnish two great safe harbors for this canal. I simply mention that because we have to rely upon the testimony of engineers, and we have in Sir John Cood a man whose opinion js worth much in a great work like this, and it is proper and just that I should refer to him.
Four years ago when I went to Nicaragua I spent more time in examining the line than this Commission spent, for they only spent fourteen days on the line of the canal, and there are parts of it they never saw. When I went over the line, 1 took with me Mr. Donaldson, one' of the principal engineers of the Manchester ship canal, now chief engineer of the London docks.
He made a thorough, careful, and elaborate study of the canal and the plans of our company, and reported to his principals, Messrs. Walker & Co., contractors, that the canal was feasible, and that the cost of the canal would be less than $100,000,000.
Mr. Bartlett. In the report of the Government Commission I think it is -stated that there is no precedent for the construction of a dam such as the Ochoa dam.
Mr. Miller. I will come to that. If this Commission had had a little experience in such matters it would have known better. I understand that the chief has been sent abroad to examine similar works. I think if the Government had sent him abroad before he made his investigations in Nicaragua he would have been better able to have spoken in regard to it.
The report of the Commission begins and ends by criticising the plans of the engineer, but the Commission is compelled substantially to admit that finally the work as planned can be done. The first proposition they make is that the entrance to Greytown Harbor shall be moved about a mile and a half to the east. The reason given for it is of no value whatever. The entrance as laid down by the company is the original entrance where, in 1819 and 1850, during the California gold excitement, vessels went in with over 20 feet of water. It was an open harbor for many years, but finally a bar was formed. The company naturally supposed that a good place to make an entrance to a harbor would be where one existed many years before, and they adopted this place, but only extended the pier out 1,000 feet and got 11 feet of water. It can be maintained at little cost. If we had had money we would have completed the pier 0,000 feet, where we could have obtained 30 feet of water without difficulty, and it would have been maintained at less cost than the cost of maintaining the entrance to the Suez Canal.
Mr. Patterson. How did you construct that pier?
.Air. Miller. It was constructed by putting down piles in rows. We made it 40 feet wide and filled it in with stone and concrete. Since the work was commenced on that point the whole engineering world has come to adopt a cheaper method of building. The great breakwater on the Columbia River was constructed by driving piles the whole length of the proposed pier and putting a railroad on the top, by which the work was carried out and placed the entire length of the pier, constituting what is known as riprap or a loose wall projecting out so that the force of the waves is destroyed. The reason the waves do not do any harm is that there is a gradual slope, and the force of the waves is broken and no harm is done the main work. It is upon that plan that the great breakwaters are now built.
Mr. Patterson. Are these wooden piles not subject to being spoiled by the toredo?
Mr. Miller. They would be in time; but they are only a temporary structure. I found them in Amsterdam on my visit to Holland. They have built piers there on the plan of the Eades jetties at the mouth of the Mississippi River. They are breakwaters built with perpendicular sides, with artificial stone blocks packed with loose rock. The result of that kind of structure is that the waves come in and beat against this work without doing any harm. Our work was built by driving piles and putting a railroad track upon it, and bringing rock and dumping it into the ocean, making a pier which the waves could not destroy.
Mr. Patterson. And the rock excavated is used for that purpose? Mr. Miller. Yes, sir.
Mr. Patterson. What is now the condition of the canal, as far as you have constructed it out from Greytown through the alluvial soil?
Mr. Miller. The Commission reports that the banks stand perpendicularly, just as they were built five years ago. There has been no change. The damage there is much less than it is in a northern country on account of the climate, there being no frost. It stands in perfect repair.
In reference to the entrance to the harbor being moved a mile and a half east, I would say that, in the first place, we could not go there, because the Nicaraguan Government would not allow us to go there. If we went there we would be in Costa Rican territory, and our concession demands that the canal shall begin and end in Nicaraguan territory. The line dividing the two territories is a short distance to the east of the entrance ol the harbor. It was natural to suppose that we would go where the work would be done the easiest and cheapest, and investigation will show that it would have cost 61,000,000 more to build it where the Commission suggests than where it is built.
Mr. Patterson. What is the estimated cost of improving Greytown
Mr. Miller. We will furnish that to you. It is in the engineer's estimates. The line starting from Greytown Harbor for 10 miles to the foothills runs across low ground or lagoons. The Commission recommends a change of the line a little farther to the south or east. No good reason is given for it. The company spent months and months surveying that portion of the line in order to get the best location. We have run over 4,000 miles of line by the theodolite. We think we know quite as well as the Commission the scope of that country. If we change the line south, the river would have to be changed. The line has been kept in the present direction so as to avoid the river. This Commission suggests a change, but makes no provision for changing
the river. Mr. MenocaPs argument will show conclusively the condition in that respect.
We next come to the question of locks. They admit that the locks are all right. They say that the lift can be made without doubt. They suggest, however, four locks instead of three. The object of this is not stated. Of course it would increase the cost and the length of time it would take for a ship to go through the canal. There can be no good reason for it. Instead of diminishing the lifts, it is quite possible that those lifts might be done in two instead of three. With hydraulic machinery in France they lift more than 50 feet in a single lift.
In short, there is not a single recommendation of the Commission which is not in the direction of increased cost. It would also increase the time which would be taken to build the canal. It would seem that they supposed they were representing a Government work in which the amount of money was unlimited, and the question of cost had nothing to do with it. This company started out to build an available canal which would accommodate the commerce, and do it at the least possible cost. That has been the plan upon which railroads and canals have been built. The Suez Canal, the great prototype of all canals, was built first to a depth of 26 feet, and was so narrow that vessels could not pass, and every 4 or 5 miles turnouts were made, so that vessels could pass; but now they, having made a great success of the canal, are deepening it to 30 feet and increasing it to the width of the proposed Nicaraguan Canal.
Our canal was laid out with a width of 125 feet on the bottom. The Commission propose to reduce it to a width of 80 feet for the first 10 miles from Greytown and make turn-outs, which would cost as much as the plan of the company would, and it would be impossible for vessels to pass. The only possible reason we can think of for their making these recommendations is that they did not want to approve anything that the engineer of the company had done. They changed the canal from 125 feet at the bottom for the first 10 miles, and farther up they propose different widths up to 300 feet, simply, I suppose, because the engineers of the company had decided upon the other widths.
We then come to the divide. With that they find no fault, except to say that we have not made borings. They claim we ought to have made more borings, so as to be sure of it.
Mr. Patterson. Did you find the same material in your borings'?
Mr. Miller. Yes, sir. There is no tendency of the rock to slide or disintegrate. The indications of centuries show the character of the rock to be absolutely fixed.
Mr. Patterson. It is of uniform formation?
Mr. Miller. Yes, sir. We have been able to show exactly what the rock is. Between this and the divide at Ochoa comes in the dam where embankments have to be built. They find the embankments can be built. The only serious thing which the Commissioners say about it is, that in case of war somebody might destroy it with dynamite. I suppose that is true. I suppose, too, that somebody might blow up this Capitol.
Mr. Patterson. You have two locks between Greytown and the Ochoa dam?
Mr. Miller. We have three locks on each side, making the rise 110 feet. There are six locks in all; but the Commissioners recommend eight in all. We now come to Ochoa dam. This is the key of the whole plan. Ochoa dam is some 50 to 60 miles down the river and 20 to 40 miles from Greytown, direct across, as the canal goes.
Mr. Patterson About what is the size of the San Juan River and its flow!
Mr. Miller. San Juan River is a large navigable stream; is from 40 to 100 feet deep; it is 500 to 1,500 feet wide. Mr. Patterson. It has about as much flow of water as the Ohio
above Cincinnati! Mr. Miller. I am not familiar with that; but the proposition is to
build a dam 05 feet in height. That raises the water of the San Juan River to the level of the lake. Much of the low land will be Hooded back to the foothills, so that a large part of this will be an addition to the lake. That makes a greater reservoir for holding the floods of the country. At the point where the dam is to be located there is no rock bottom to be found within any reasonable distance to which the masonry could go down. As a result of that, it became necessary to find some other way to build the dam and rest it upon clay bottom, so as to make it permanent and safe. This plan of the company, alter being argued for a long time by the Commission, is finally held to be practicable by some changes being made in its construction. That dam is simply a rock-filled dam. The rock is to be taken out of a cut and by railroad to be carried to the Ochoa dam and damped into the river. It is built upon the same plan as piers or bulkheads,, of loose stone weighing from 5 to 10 tons. It will spread out, being 500 feet on the bottom and brought up to a crown on the top, and its weight will be many times greater than the weight of the water which will come against it; consequently it will not be moved by the water. It will be made tight by depositing gravel and clay on the upside. There are a large number ot great dams in India which are four to six times as long as that, but not as high. They are built in the same manner, with loose stone and filled in with clay material, which makes them tight.
This matter of the dam is gone through in several pages of the report-and finally the Commissioners say that modern engineering can do any, thing necessary, but that theabutment ought to be made stronger; and they suggest that the top construction be carried on after the water is turned out through the San Carlos River. This river is in Costa Rican territory, and on the eastern side of the river there are low ridges of lock which can be used as wasteweirs for the canal. They suggest that wasteweirs be make sufficient so that the river can flow over them, and that this dam be constructed dry. I have all my life, as a manufacturer, been building dams and hydraulic works, and therefore have some practical knowledge of works of this kind. This committee can see instantly the folly of such construction. Suppose you turn the water out through San Carlos River and build the dam dry, as proposed, and then turn the water back on the completed dam. There will be a great deal of settling of the stones, undoubtedly the dam would settle many feet, and it might be greatly injured; but if built when the water is on it, no settling is possible after completion.
Mr. Bartlett. What is the cost of this four miles of construction?
Mr. Miller. We say that it will cost less than half what their estimate is.
Mr. Bartlett. Suppose the dam gives away, would it destroy the canal?
Mr. Miller. No, sir. The water would go down the original channel of the San Juan and the canal would be left dry and uninjured.
Mr. Bartlett. The Railroad News had .an article in which this seemed to be regarded as an objection, and it intimated that the dam would be taken away.
Mr. Miller. There is not a particle of danger in that case. Out of great precaution, if you want to make it absolutely certain that nothing can ever harm the dam, you have simply to build it 8 or 10 feet higher than proposed, so that the water can not pass over ittaking the water over the wasteweirs, to be made along the San Carlos River.
Mr. Bartlett. Some years ago there was published in the American Law Review an article on the legal aspects in regard to the proposition contained in the original bill. It was intimated that after the bonds were paid off the Government would be no longer interested, because she would be entitled to none of the stock, and the stock would fall back into the hands from whence it came.
Mr. Miller. That remark was made in reference to the first bill. According to the bill which passed the Senate, the Government was to take the company and have ten directors out of the fifteen, and was to guarantee the bonds and take from $70,000,000 to $80,000,000 worth of the stock. The Government would have three-fourths of the stock of the company; consequently own and control the canal.
Mr. Patterson. The first proposition contemplated the Government indorsing the bonds, and placing the stock in the hands of the Government as collateral security; now the plan is for the Government to become absolute owner of the canal.
Mr. Sherman. If the canal prove a success it would be the best investment the Government ever made.
Thereupon the committee took a recess until 2 p. m.
STATEMENT OF HON. WARNER MILLERContinued.
The Chairman (to Mr. Miller). If it pleases you to go on, anticipating the arrival of the balance of the committee, it will suit those of us who are here, but it is just as you please.
Mr. Miller. I will be glad to do whatever you desire.
Mr. Patterson. I will say I will have to leave here by half past 3 at any rate, and I would like for the Senator to proceed.
Mr. Miller. I do not recollect my last statement to the committee, and, as the stenographer of the morning is not here, I am not able, perhaps, to commence exactly at the point I left oft*; still, I had substantially finished the discussion of the Ochoa dam. I will simply say in regard to that one thing more. Of course the Ochoa dam has to be built upon a sand bottom. The question as to whether that is sufficient or not is not a question of theory but settled by any quantity of great public works all over the world. The president of the Illinois Central Railroad told me yesterday nearly all of the great bridges upon the line of his road and many of those across the Mississippi River rested entirely upon a sand bottom where the superstructure was very heavy and the piers built of cut stone and weighing many hundreds and thousands of tons. The ship canal of Amsterdam in Hollandall of its superstructure rests upon sand. When I was visiting there they were then constructing a new lock much larger than the old lock, a lock about the size proposed in this canal, and I saw its foundation, which rests entirely upon sand. It is unnecessary to repeat illustrations regarding the fact that any superstructure of any weight to-day can be built resting entirely upon sand.
Mr. Patterson. Before you proceed to take up another question, please let me know how far it is from Greytown to the foothills by way of the canal, if you carry it in your memory.
Mr. MILLER. Beginning at the foothillsthat is to say, where they put in the locksto here [illustrating on map] is some 15 miles. The whole distance up to Ochoa, as we reckon it, is about 31 miles, oi a
trifle over. Mr. Patterson. From Greytown?
Mr. Miller. Yes.
The next point of criticism of the Commission is confined to the river from Ochoa to the lake, a distance of, I think, 56 miles, if I now recollect correctly. M uch of that way the river is deep enough and wide enough for the largest vessels. There are three rapids, however, which are now navigable and over which small vessels pass. These rapids will have to be taken out. The dam at Ochoa, as I said, elevates the water of the San Juan River from this point to the lake, and brings it to the same level as the lake, so that it has free navigation from Ochoa to the lake and across the lake, and so on to the Pacific. In the parts of the river where we have to make excavations through rock or soil, the company had estimated for the bottom of the canal a width of 125 feet. That is the width of the Manchester Ship Canal and a little more than that of the Kiel Canal, and very much wider than the Suez Canal as finished. The Commission recommend that it be increased to 250 feet, or doubled; for what reason I do not know.
As I told you at the beginning, they had recommended that the first 10 miles through the lagoon be reduced from 125 feet to 100 feet, but when they come to the river they recommend an increase of from 125 feet to 250 feet. When we come to the lake here, there is a deposit of mud extending out for 14 miles, more or less, on which a large amount of dredging will have to be done. There the company has made the bottom of the canal 150 feet wide, and there the commission recommend that it be made 300 feet. The only object of that can be, of course, to increase the cost of the work. The width of 125 feet is sufficient for any vessel to navigate and it is sufficient for vessels to pass, and 150 feet in the lake is ample there. We might say it would be better to have it 500 or 1,000 feet wide or any width, but the company proposes to build a commercial canal to meet the wants of commerce and to build it at the least possible expense, and we simply submit that a width which is greater than that of the Suez Canal and equal to that of the Manchester Canal or any ship canal in the world, ought to be wide enough for this, and it is simply a wanton waste of money and largely increasing the cost of this canal to add to its width.
There is no difficulty whatever in marking this channel perfectly so that vessels can not by any possibility get out of it. If any of you have been down at Morgan City, on the Gulf of Mexico, you have seen a channel several miles long running through a great waste of mud and shoal water in which the channel is very narrow, and not as wide as this, where it is thoroughly marked, say every 100 feet, by poles set up, making a guide for ships passing out and in.
Mr. doolittle. May I ask it any storms of any consequence visit this portion of the lake which would make a wider canal necessary, and if there are any heavy winds which would make the steering difficult?
Mr. Miller. The reports of captains and men who have been on the lake since 181!) say that there will be no difficulty in the navigation of a channel of 150 feet wide, if it is thoroughly marked. The cost of a work of this kind depends upon two things chielly: First, the quantity
oi* materials of all kinds that have to be moved: and, secondly, the cost
of labor, which makes the unit of price. This Commission, in arriving at an estimate of cost of $133,000,000 for this work, have first, as I have shown you, largely increased the quantity of material to be removed by increasing the width from 125 feet on the river to 250 feet, and on the lake from 150 feet to 300 feet. They have then increased the quantities in other directions, but they arrived at the cost of the unit of removing this material by taking data which are inadmissible, and most of which are incorrect. Their price was the price prevailing years ago, when the cost of doing this kind of work was very much greater than now. In fact, the estimate of the company was made upon a basis of cost which does not prevail anywhere in the world to-day; that is to say, the present cost is greatly reduced. For instance, we have estimated, beginning at Greytown, the cost of dredging at 20 cents a yard for deepening the harbor and dredging the first 10 miles, and that was a fair estimate when it was made, with the machinery then in existence, by which that kind of work was done.
The machinery which we bought from the Panama people and brought there was of a superior kind at that time, and the result was that the dredging which we did at Greytownand we kept a perfect and accurate account of it, and I have here a transcript from our books showing that at the beginning of the canal we took out some 700,000 cubic yards at a cost of only 11 cents per cubic yard. Of course we did it under adverse circumstances. We worked the plant only 10 hours a day instead of 24 hours a day, as the company would do if it had had abundance of funds, but we did it at 11 cents per cubic yard, as our books show, while our estimate was 20 cents per cubic yard. This Commission increases it from 20 to 25 and 30 cents per cubic yard. Now, what are the facts to-day? All the machinery down there now can be discarded, and to a great profit, because machinery to-day for dredging is much more effective than that was. For instance, to-day dredging is being done at Mobile under contract at 7 cents a yard, and the material is taken 0 miles to sea. It is being done under a contract at 7 cents a yard, and the contractors tell me they are entirely satisfied with their profit. We had offers froni dredging companies several years ago offering to do all the dredging of this canal at our estimated price, but this Commission, without informing itself as-to what the cost of this kind of work throughout the world is to day, simply increases our estimate from 10 to 25 per cent.
Our rock excavation in this great divide here, which is nearly 3 miles long, and which, I think, calls for some 8,000,000 cubic yards or more rock to be taken out, we estimate at $1.50 a cubic yard, and then we allow for transportation to Greytown to put in the breakwater and also to be put in the Ochoa dam 50 cents per yard. They are not satisfied with that, but they largely increase that unit of price. Now, what are the facts to-day? If this committee wants to know what rock of that kind can be excavated for, let me ask you to send for some of the leading contractors who are now doing work upon the drainage canal at Chicago. I visited that last year in connection with the contractors and chief engineers, and there I found that great work being done under contract, and the highest price was 76 cents a yard, and the contractors told me they were entirely satisfied with the profits they were making. I believe it is entirely possible to-day to let a contract for all this rock excavation for less than $1 per cubic yard. I have here a
letter from Thomas A. Edison, giving what it cost to move rock to-clay with the improved machinery and system which is adopted:
Okange, n. J., December 18, 1895.
Mr. Horace L. Hotchkiss,
35 Broad Street, New York.
My Dear Sir: Replying to yours of the 17th, i beg to say that at our works at Edison, n. J., we mine low-grade iron ore (magnetic oxide and feldspar).
All our work is in an open cut, and over the cut we have a traveling crane 200 feet span, with which we load the ore into the iron skips or boxes (each holds about 5 tons) and also place the loaded skips on the railroad can, which deliver the ore to our crushing plant, ap average distance of about 2,000 feet. We use steam drills and blow out several thousand tons at each blast, and try to get the pieces out as large as possible, not exceeding 5 tons, as with our appliances a man can load a 5-ton piece as quickly as one 500 pounds. Our cost per ton (2,240 pounds) for drilling, blasting, loading the ore into the skips (by hand, as at the time this cost was made our loading appliances were not ready, so we were compelled to load by baud labor), putting the skips on the can, and delivering the can at the crushing plant, on 1,154 tons per day of ten hours, including all material, labor, coal, repairs, etc., was 19.71 cents per ton.
With the appliances we are putting on the crane for loadiug the ore into the skips and with our plant full capacity (5,000 tons per twenty hours), we fully expect to deliver the ore at crushing plant for from 12 to 14 cents per ton, and probably less.
Yours, very truly,
Thomas A. Edison, President.
p. S.Granite as per sample in office weighs 4,540 pounds to cubic yard = 2 tons 60 pounds per yard.
Mr. Miller. Now that converted into yards, in round figures two tons would equal one yard. That would make the cost of taking out the rock upon this plan in the one case where it says 19.71 cents per ton or 40 cents per yard. He says, "We fully expect to deliver the ore at crushing plant for from 12 to 14 cents per ton and probably less," or from 24 to 28 cents per cubic yard. Now those are actual facts, but this Commission disregarding all that puts the cost up to 1.75 per cubic yard and then adds 50 cents for quarrying it in blocks of from 5 to 10 tons, which would be large enough to put in the Ochoa dam. Taking these figures of Mr. Edison, the estimates of the Commission are from three to five times the actual cost to-day of doing this work.
Now as to the cost of labor down there. The Commission say of course in that climate and under those conditions the cost of labor will be much greater than in the States. Let us see. We have spent $4,000,000 or $5,000,000 there chiefly upon labor and we know something about it. We had at one time 2,000 men, Jamaica negroes, and the cost I have here exactly. We paid colored laborers 20 soles per month and subsistence, and occasionally we paid 25 soles and subsistence. The sole is the money of Nicaragua, a silver piece equal to about an American silver dollar.
Mr. Patterson. You mean 20 soles per month?
Mr. Miller. Yes, sir; it would be $20 in silver or $10 in gold at the present time. The actual cost of subsistence was 11.50 soles; that, added to the other, makes 31.50 soles and 36.50 soles per month, or in the one case $15.25 in gold per month and in the other case $18.25 in gold per month. At that time the rate of exchange and value of silver made the sole worth about 72 cents. Now it is worth 50 or less. In other words, you can get anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 laborers of the West Indian islands, who are perfectly acclimated, for less than one-half you pay labor in this country. Now, assuming that the labor there is only one-half as effective as it is hereand we are prepared to show that it is more than that; that it is nearer two-thirds as effective there as it is hereit brings the cost of labor in Nicaragua for all this kind of work,
NICARAGUA CANAL. 19
common labor^ to substantially the same basis as it is in the United States,
All these statements I make here are verified from the experience of this company and from their books and accounts, so that there should be no addition to the cost of that kind of labor because of the climate, and the record which I gave you this morning in regard to working 1,000 Jamaica negroes for six months and only four dying, and they were worked in the wet season, shows it is not in the common acceptance of the term an unhealthy climate in which to do work for that kind of laborers, who are of course acclimated and are accustomed to it. The skilled laborers, the engineers, mechanics, etc., of course, are from the United States, and we paid them no more than they received here; but if the work was going on with a large number, with 10,000 or 20,000 men there at once, the demand for skilled labor would probably lead to a demand for a larger compensation than received in the United States, but the bulk of the labor and bulk of the cost is, of course, the common labor.
The company have estimated the cost of excavatiug rock under water at $5 per cubic yard. There is a large amount of rock in the river at the three rapids of which I have spoken, to be excavated. It has all been estimated at $5 per cubic yard. We submit that that is an extravagant estimate. The Government at the Saulte and the channel below it is,doing this work at a cost of not more than one-half of that, or substantially $2.50 a yard, and the same machinery and appliances can be used at Nicaragua as there used and the work be continued the whole year, whereas at the Saulte they have to suspend entirely during the winter season, therefore costing more than it would otherwise.
Mr. Patterson. Would not that depend somewhat upon the character of the rock?
Mr. Miller. Yes; quite likely it would.
Mr. Patterson. What about the rock in the bottom of the San Juan Eiver?
Mr. Miller. It is like all the rock of the country, which is largely of igneous or volcanic form, and while it is hard it drills readily, of course, with a diamond drill, and in blasting it comes out in pieces large enough to be handled successfully; and we believe it is a no more expensive rock to quarry than the rock found at the Saulte, or not much more expensive than the rock found on the drainage canal at Chicago. But even it it is, the prices we have estimated under present conditions are extremely large, because, as I say, we have made a basis upon a system of doing it which is much more expensive than it is at the present time. Now, a dredging plant to-daya suction dredge doing this work at Mobile and some of the ports of Mexicohas demonstrated that the principal part of the dredging can be done at an actual cost of not exceeding 5 cents a cubic yard, whereas our lowest estimate is 20 cents. The Government has just had constructed for use of the Mississippi River Commission a great dredge, which, I am told by the builder, is enabled to handle 6,000 cubic yards an hour, which is twice as much earth as the entire United States Army can handle if it was furnished with wheelbarrows and shovels. It is all done by one machine.
Our estimates were made when it was assumed in the harbor it would be necessary to put the material into scows and tow them out to sea 4 or 5 miles to be dumped. Nothing of the kind now is done. The material is pumped through a pipe and discharged directly from the dredge at a distance of a half, three-quarters, or a mile and dumped off in the swamps along the canal, and not a jmrticle put in a scow
and towed out to sea. The builders of a modern dredge would like nothing better than to have a contract to do this work at our estimate instead of increasing it.
In the building of the locks of course a large amount of concrete has to be used. The bulk of the locks is to be made of concrete; that is, a mixture of Portland cement, sand, and broken stone. We have estimated all of that at $0 a cubic yard in place. The Commission find that that is not sufficient, and they raise the price of that to 89.50 a yard because they say some of the work on the Hennepin Canal cost that much to do there. Now let us see. The work done in Alabama by the Government, now substantially completed, on the Coosa dam cost $4.50 a cubic yard for concrete in place, and the cost of the Portland cement was about $2.50 a barrel delivered. Portland cement can be laid down at Greytown from England or Belgium in shiploads at $1.50 to $1.75 per barrel. There is no duty, of course, in Nicaragua upon anything that the canal company chooses to take in for use upon the canal. We have as line sand as can be found anywhere in the world for masonry, and of course the rock is free, as it is taken out of the cut. We can get offers from responsible parties giving bond to do all the concrete work at $G per cubic yard. There is no doubt it can be done actually at from $4 to $1.50, but the contractors must necessarily make a profit, and when they go into a country like Nicaragua they expect to make large profits; but there is no trouble at all about furnishing contractors who will do the work at our price named, which is $0 per yard.
We submit that this estimate of the Commission is simply out of all character and uncalled for, and no reason can be given except a desire to increase the cost of the whole canal. We find this increased cost based upon two things, an increase of the quantities by increasing the prism of the canal, and, secondly, by depreciating the value of the labor, which is unfounded. Now, modern methods of dredging and excavating have been so much improved since our estimates were made that we might safely, if we saw fit, reduce our estimate upon those things at least25 per cent, and in many c^ses 50 percent. Upon that point of the case Mr. Treat, of whom I spoke this morning, who went down to build the railroad for the company and is an able man and very reliable, and who spent nearly a year in Nicaragua, wrote me a letter some time ago stating that he would take the entire contract for the canal and do all the work at the price named by our chief engineer in his estimate, we of course guaranteeing the quantities to be not greater than those stated in our estimates. Further than that, he offered to build the entire canal for $00,000,000 and take no guaranty as to the actual quantities. If the quantities exceeded our estimates he was to do the work complete, giving us the canal 28 feet in depth, 125 feet at the bottom at the beginning, 125 feet in the river and 150 feet in the lake.
I only mention this to show you it is possible to bring before this committee a number of skilled and able contractors in this country who will verify every statement I have made as to the cost of doing this kind of work at the present time. The builder of this new dredge, of which he is justly very proud and which has demonstrated its ability to handle 0,000 cubic yards an hour, is here in the city, and in talking with him in regard to it last night he confirmed all I have said to you in regard to this matter, and we hold there is no necessity or occasion for making an increased size of this canal at the present time. Twenty-eight feet of depth is deeper than any other ship canal in the world, and if in
future generations it should be necessary to increase the depth to 30 feet it can be done just as well after the canal is finished as it can be done now, or even cheaper, because then dredges could move easily through the whole length of the canal, and with this modern machinery dredge out the 30 feet required; but no one supposes the great ocean greyhounds which ply between Portsmouth, Liverpool, and New York are going to be in the trade of the Pacific. You find most of the vessels engaged now are 22 to 25 feet draft, very few that are more than 22 or 23 feet. Mr. Patterson. And none more than 28 feet?
Mr. Miller. None more than 25; and I do not know any of that kind.
Mr. Bennett. When you say a depth of 28 feet, do you mean it will take a vessel, say^of 27 feet?
Mr. Miller. Well, I suppose with 28 feet you would scarcely want to take a vessel of more than probably 2G feet draft, because as a vessel moves it draws down a little and it might touch bottom, but, mind you, a greater portion of this entire canal, so far as vessels are concerned, is without bottom. The river, except at points I have mentioned, is anywhere from 40 to 100 feet deep, and after you get out in the lake over the mud I have described then the lake is from 50 to 150 feet in depth, so that the minimum of 28 feet is only for a small part of the way. The bulk of it is of course entirely free, but the cost of getting a de^tli of 30 feet instead of 28 would be very slight after it was completed. Mind you, the meter sills of all locks are required to be 30 feet so there will be 30 feet in all locks, so you have simply to take up the bottom of the river and sand in the harbor to give you 30 feet the whole length if you want to, and why we should go on and add $10,000,000 to the cost of this or any other considerable sum to make 30 feet to start with, whereas the Suez started with a depth of 2G and the Manchester at 26 feet, I do not see the force of it.
On the west side from here down [illustrating on map] there is no necessity of taking up your time in regard to that. I will say here that the company presented two plans; one was to carry the water through here without a dam and the other with a dam. Here is a natural depression in the earth, called the Tola Basin, covering some 4,000 or 5,000 acres, which is 4 or 5 miles long, and where it opens out here it is narrow. One plan involved building a dam across that gap, thus making a large basin and saving excavations. The other was to carry the canal down through the basin in excavations, just as through any land, and not building any dam. Of course that dam can be safely put there, and it would not be as expensive as the excavation, and would give a large basin, in which vessels could lie at anchor there, or where they could pass each other without any trouble at all; but the Commission recommend, I believe, that a dam be not built, but that the canal be built by excavation.
That is a mere difference of detail, and it is a matter which is not. worth while to stop to discuss one way or another. What they did, however, without giving it any consideration at all, is, they undertook to change the line of the canal here 4 or 5 miles from the right bank to the left bank of the Rio Grande, which would largely increase its cosi, because it would necessitate a diverting of the Bio Grande and building a channel for it, which would be almost as expensive as the canal itself; and there is no possible good reason which can be given for it. It is clear country here, and no line has ever been so thoroughly investi gated and surveyed as that is. Mind you, these surveys of ours follow largely in the line of the one made by Mr. Childs for Commodore Yan-
derbilt, and two surveys made by the United States Government itself, and one partial survey made by the Nicaraguan Government, and they all came to the same conclusion.
I undertake to say that no work of this magnitude or anything like it has ever been so thoroughly prepared for the beginning of work as this has in advance. We have surveys as accurate as surveys of that kind can be made, and any necessity tor delay for further investigation does not exist. Now, the Commission undertakes to say-
Mr. Patterson. Eight in that connection. Now, there has been repeated surveys; is there a consensus of opinion, or rather is there a concurrence of opinion, among these surveyors in regard to the line?
Mr. Miller. Substantially so. The original and old surveys undertook to follow the river there and make several dams, and to follow the river down through here [illustrating], but that was soon abandoned because of the amount of silt and deposits which came down, and it would have filled up and made the passage impossible to navigate.
Mr. Patterson. So the researches-
Mr. Miller. Have all come to the same end, and there is nothing suggested by this Commission except minor details. As I stated to you this morning, they argue against the Ochoa clam, and end up by saying it is possible and it can be built.
Mr. Patterson. Did the Commission survey the route at all?
Mr, Miller. The Commission spent from twelve to fourteen days on or near the line of the canal. They never made any surveys of any kind. They never even stopped at the sight of the Ochoa dam. and of course the Commission could not have made a survey. They could not make any survey that would be of the slightest use without two or three years' time with a corps of engineers.
Mr. Patterson. Tell me, now, could not any competent engineer here at Washington, with the data which was before that Commission, have as good an opportunity to arrive at a correct conclusion as they did ?
Mr. Miller. Certainly he could. There is no man who can go there avd gain any knowledge except he gets a general idea of the country and material and he has an impression which goes with him and undoubtedly helps him to a certain extent, and no engineer would consider it necessary to go there except to verify; but assuming our surveys, so far as they go, are correct, any engineer anywhere in the world can take the plans and go over them and see whether they are feasible; of course, starting upon the premises as to what we have given him is true.
Mr. Patterson. Theystate the practicability of constructing acanal, but if I understand you they insist upon an increased cost growing out of the width of the canal and depth of the canal, and paying a much larger price for work and for wages than has been estimated by the company?
Mr. Miller. That is what it amounts to. That is what their report says. I do not think they are fair enough to state their increased cost comes in that way, but that is an absolute and necessary inference, because it gives the increased quantities and then it takes an increased unit of price for doing the work, and of course the increased cost comes from those two elements.
Mr. Patterson. Have you made an estimate of the increased cost growing out of these various facts you have stated here in respect to the diverting of the canal and the dredging and wages, and the cost ot
removing material, and all that?
Mr. Miller. I have not myself, but Mr. Menocal told me he had gone
over it, and the increased cost by increasing the quantities would be something like $10,000,000, and the increased cost of labor on their basis in addition.
Now, while on that point of cost, I want to call the attention of the committee to some reports here, a report made in the Senate in the last Congress by Senator Morgan, which gives first the report of our engineer of his estimate of the cost of this work in detail, the figures of which are stated, 20 cents per cubic yard for dredging, $1.50 for removal of rock above water, $5 for removal of rock under water, and $6 for concrete, etc. That estimate was made and reported to the company at the beginning, before I became connected with it. In my talk this morning, I stated the time that I became connected with this enterprise, but it is gone into here in great detail, and that estimate of Mr. Menocal amounted to $05,000,000. Now, the company, before proceeding further, took all this data, all these surveys, and all work that had been done by our engineers over three years' time, and submitted them to a board of leading engineers which was gathered in New York, at the head of which was Mr. John Bogart, a very distinguished engineer, who was for several years the engineer of the State of New York.
In New York we have an officer known as the State engineer and surveyor, who is elected by the people, the same as other officers. He is in charge of the whole canal systemErie, Oh am plain, etc., and all those*great worksand I know of no man more competent. With him were associated four other engineers, Mr. Myers, one of the leading railroad engineers of the South, who resides, I believe, in Bichmond; Mr. Wellington, who was the editor of the Engineering News, a very distinguished engineer; Mr. Harvey, who was the engineer connected with the building of the first lock of the Sault Ste. Marie, and Mr. Hitchcock, an able engineer. These gentlemen took all of this data and spent a long time upon it and made a report to the company, and that is printed here, and I want to read just a few clauses from it to give you some idea. They begin by saying:
We have carefully examined the unusually full maps, profiles, borings, samples of material, etc., which have been prepared and collected under the directions of your chief engineer, and the completeness and excellent form of which reflect credit upon your engineering staff.
I will not undertake to read the whole of it, although it is important. They go on further to say:
The project as a whole appears to have comparatively few elements of doubt about it, as comparing it with other works of at all similar magnitude, and we consider it to be unquestionably feasible. The great area of Lake Nicaragua offers immunity from serious floods by regulating flow. Much of the earth excavation and dredging, the rock drilling, and the concrete mixing can be done by mechanical means, to that extent reducing the needs for manual labor. The dams and embankments are proposed to be made largely from the immense mass of otherwise useless rock spoil. Under the climatic conditions, as we understand them, an adequate supply of labor should be obtainable. The project in detail consists of the following elements:
Then they proceed to describe the line of the canal, which of course I will not read. As this document is accessible to the committee, I will not go further into it. They find the figures of our engineers to be substantially correct as to its estimates, but in addition to that they add 20 per cent to contingencies of construction as a factor for safety, and they carry the grand total of the estimate up to $87,799,570, and those are the figures which the company has acted upon instead of upon the preliminary report of Mr. Menocal.
Mr. Patterson. What was the estimate of the English engineer, to
whom you referred?
Mr. Miller. The estimate of the English engineer was within a million dollars of Mr. MenocaPs estimate.
Now, one thing more in regard to the findings of the Commission or its criticisms. They claim we have not sufficient knowledge of the hydraulic conditionsthat is to say, of the rainfall and of tiie floods and of the lake and of the riverand they say that more data should be obtained, and they recommend making careful observations for eighteen months. Now, the company have made careful observations for a much longer time than that, and these data are perfectly at their command, and have been published by the company. But let us see. The history of Nicaragua for a long time is well known in this countrycertainly since 1849, when the California gold fever broke out and people began to go over it. We know from that time to the present there has never been any disastrous flood there, and from the nature of things it is almost impossible to have one there. In the first place, the rainfall upon the eastern side is very great, anyhownearly 300 inches a year, and it is difficult to imagine any greater rainfall than thatand that rainfall has done no injury to the works of the company, nor has it done any serious injury at any time to the river. The fact is, Lake Nicaragua is a great reservoir, which takes in the watersheds of the country and acts as a regulator. During the wet period the lake gradually rises, usually not more than 6 feet in the several months of rain. Then it gradually recedes again during the dry months, and the floods of the San Juan River are not sudden floods, such as we have here in this country.
A few weeks ago we had floods in the great rivers of Maine, the Androscoggin and Penobscot, which did damage of millions of dollars, which all happened in a day by the melting of snows; but no such thing happens in Nicaragua. Any examination of the San Juan Biver made by anyone will show you the high-water marks upon the banks and upon the trees. Everyone knows you can go along a river and tell what the high-water mark is. The rise of the San Juan Biver is from 4 to G feet. It is scarcely ever known to be more than that, and it has never done serious damage to the country at all. Mr. Menocal, chief engineer, in preparing the Ochoa dam flows, prepared wasteweirs to take the average flow of the river, assuming it to be 03,000 cubic feet per second, and he planned his wasteweirs to discharge double that amount of water, or ll!5,000 cubic feet per second. The Commission goes beyond that, and say it might at high flood discharge 150,000 cubic feet per second. That is a mere matter of detail. Of course we could build wasteweirs large enough to take off 200,000 feet of water per second, but it would cost several hundred thousand dollars more to do it; but we should find that out during the process of construction.
If we wait a year and a half before proceeding with this work in order to make these observations what value will they be? What was the condition of the Great Lakes last year, 3 or 4 feet lower than they were ever known to be in the last forty years! The St. Lawrence River last year was 3 feet below the lowest water it has ever known, and vessels were running on rocks which were never known to be in exist-ence. Suppose the improvements of the harbors of the Great Lakes had been stopped or never commenced, because we had not sufficient data of the hydraulic conditions, and did not know what was the highest water or the lowest water? Last year we found harbors which formerly had 22 and 23 feet of water had only 18 or 19 feet of water in them. But I do not think anybody would argue that we ought to wait forever to find this out, but if you did you would have to take a period
running from twenty to fifty years, and then there would be no reason able certainty about it.
As I stated here this morning, if the Ochoa dam went away it would not injure the construction part of this canal at all. It is possible to get rid of all the water here and wasteweirs can be made to pass 150,000 cubic feet per second, as the Commission say, or 200,000 or any other reasonable amount. But no such clanger exists. But what could be learned in a year and a half would amount to nothing, and it is not nearly as much as we have now and the canal would be five or six years in process of construction before we would get the dam up and the wasteweirs, and we would know what the conditions were then anyhow and we would make provision for them. I do not think it neccessary to extendedly consider the question of rainfall. One of the things that has recommended this route to all engineers who have ever examined it has been its freedom from floods so different from the Panama route in connection with the Chagres Biver, from the fact of this great reservoir which gradually rises and gradually falls.
Mr. Patterson. I have heard it occasionally suggested, and seen it frequently in print, that probably earthquakes in that country would very seriously interfere with this enterprise.
Mr. Miller. Yes; I understand a great railroad man said the records of a thousand years showed that no canal could be maintained there. I asked where the records were for a thousand years, but of course they could not be produced. Now, there has been no serious earthquake along the line of the canal within the knowledge of man, and the earth-quakes that have been there in modern times have never damaged anything but the spires of churches. The motion of an earthquake at the surface of the earth is very slight. Of course, if you go up 100 or 200 feet in the air, at the top of a spire, it becomes important, but there have been no earthquakes in Nicaragua that would have damaged any works connected with the canal at all. Not only that, but the wells which are dug in the earth have not been destroyed or broken by earthquakes, and no change has been made in the San Juan Biver or any rivers there since we had any knowledge of the country or any history of it. I took down with me, when I went to Nicaragua, Major Dunton, who is one of the greatest seismic scientists in the world, and who, under the direction of the Government, spent four or five years in the Hawaiian Islands and elsewhere studying earthquakes and volcanoes, and he has made a very full report as to what he found, and it has been printed by the War department. The whole question is there answered satisfactorily.
The damage done there by earthquakes has been nothing like that done in Charleston a few years ago, and other places in this country, and as the works of the canal are below or even with the surface of the earth no fear is entertained; but if it were feared that the locks might be injured by earthquake shocks, those locks could be built entirely of steel, as they are being built in New York and elsewhere, and it is not at all certain it could not be made cheaper to have the foundation of concrete and build the superstructure of steel, which could be prepared in this country and taken down there and set and in less time than it could be constructed of concrete. That is being considered by the engineers, but when the company suspended operation the engineers who had charge of it of course suspended their labors; but before the locks were built undoubtedly this plan would be considered, and then it would be submitted to a board of leading engineers to decide whether the locks should be built of concrete or steel con-
struction work and filled in with concrete or stone, so there is no danger from that under any circumstances. Now, I do not know that I care to say anything further in regard to the cost. There is one other thing which passed from my mind-
Mr. Patterson. In regard to the harbor at Brito, there are some difficulties there, are there not?
Mr. Miller. At Brito the Commissioners of course recommend a change of that farther to the south. The report made by Mr. Menocal in regard to the winds will show that will be unwise. Brito was selected after several surveys had been made. In fact Colonel Child's survey ran in the same direction because the canal went down the north channel of the stream, which saved large excavations, and at Brito there was a small stream emptying into the Pacific, and there was a bar on which there was from 4 to 6 feet of water, and on the north side of this is a promontory of at least 100 feet high of solid rock running out into the ocean, and naturally we took this promontory as one of the breakwaters and built another breakwater parallel to it, a very natural place and a very easy place to build a harbor, and the breakwater is built out, and of course between this breakwater and this natural promontory a channel would be dredged, and the interior basin is of sufficient size to hold all the ships that would be necessary, and the answer to the report made by Engineer Menocal I think will satisfy every member of the committee there is no sufficient reason given for any changeof that location, but if there were any good reason of course the board of consulting engineers would discover it and the change would be made.
Mr. Patterson. Are the engineering difficulties there as great as they are at Greytown?
Mr. Miller. I should say not, from my own investigation of it, and I have been there. Of course, Greytown twenty-five or thirty years ago was a deep-water harbor. It is a natural harbor, but the bar closed and then gradually the harbor filled, so at last there is some 14 to -0 feet of water in some places and some places less. A portion of that harbor is going to be dredged out to a final depth of 30 feet.
Mr. Patterson. You have to excavate near the Pacific coast; you have to cut a dividing ridge or two, do you not?
Mr. Miller. As we go out from the lake here, we go across the lowest piece of land there is in Nicaragua. The extreme height of that land here [illustrating] above water is 45 feet, and the average height above water is 20 feet, so you have to make an excavation of 20 feet on an average, and then 30 feet below to get the depth of water in the canal. This work has been most thoroughly and carefully surveyed, because that is occupied mainly with farms and not difficult to get at
at all. ,! '\^Cl'y ^
I may say one more word in regard to the Commission increasing the size of the prism of the canal on the river from 125 to 250, and on the lake from 150 to 300 feet. They may have had in mind that as many ships were to pass through this canal every year as through Saulte Ste. Marie and therefore the canal has to be made so wide, but what are the facts? Last year there passed through the Saulte Canal vessels to the number of something like 17,000, being something over 70 a day, nearly 75 during the 230 days that it is open. Suppose the Nicarauga Canal carried 6,000,000 tons per annum only. Ordinary vessels navigating the sea which would pass through it would only take II vessels a day passing through the canal to carry that amount of tonnage, and it goes without saying that the capacity of passing in this broad basin here and the
San Francisco Basin and in the main river and in the lake and Tola basin, that there is only a small portion of the canal in which vessels could not pass freely, but large seagoing vessels pass to-day without any interruption in the Manchester Ship Canal, the bottom of which is only 125 feet.
So, is there any reason why they could not pass just as well in the Nicaragua waters as in the English waters? I see none at all, and the small number of vessels which necessarily pass through any canal of this kind in a year makes it possible, it there should be any difficulty in the bends of the river in passing freely, to hold ships by means of the telegraph, and one vessel would not be allowed to go into a narrow channel until another had gotten out of it. There would be no difficulty about that at all with the small number of vessels passing through the Suez Canal last year, in which 3,600 or 3,700 vessels passed. That is somewhere from 11 to 12 or 13 vessels a day. The necessities of a canal of this kind do not demand any such width, and there ought not to be any such waste of money, but this Commission seems to have gone on the idea that this canal should be begun on the most expensive scale, as regards width, depth, etc.
Mr. Patterson. I understand after you get out of the basin at Greytown and get to the foothills, from there to the Pacific Ocean you have a salubrious climateit is a rather healthful countryand there would be less likelihood of any people engaged in labor dying and being sick than at Greytown?
Mr. Miller. The conditions are these and the records show it. At Greytown there is never a day in the year in which the trade winds do not blow, in which the winds blow from the ocean on to the land. The result is, while this low land would naturally create miasma and fever and does to a certain extent, these constantly blowing winds make it substantially healthy. As I told you, there were for six months 1,600 Jamaica negroes working upon this line of railroad, 11 miles long. Only four of them died there of any disease; others were killed by accident. The moment you approach the foothills and mountains the rain decreases. When you come to the lake, we have a record from Dr. Hall, who lives at Bivas, 5 miles from the line of the canal, who has resided there for thirty or forty years. I know him \Vell. He has kept a record of the rainfall of all that region, which shows an average fall of 65 inches annually. Of course, no tropical country is a sanitarium, but I went through that country in the month of March and part of April with a party of thirty gentlemen. Some of them were over 60 years of age and others down to 20 years of age, none of whom were familiar with the tropics or had been in them. We tramped through this wilderness and slept in open sheds at night and waded swamps and drank the water of the country. Not one of the thirty was sick at all during the entire journey or during the time we were there.
We have had American engineers who have been three years con-tinuously in Nicaragua without ever being sick or going to the hospital. Other engineers have been sick for a short time, but the records of the hospitaland I believe the subcommittee have had Dr. Stubbert before them, who was chief surgeon and in charge of this business all the time the company was carrying on work, and here is a short sketch from the hospital if it will not detain the committee too long. Here is one year's work. Number of patients in the hospital December 31, 1890, 25; admitted during the year 507, total number of x^atients 532; discharged cured 339, discharged improved 112; unimproved 8; died 10. In the hospital December 31, 1891, 03, and of the deaths, 4 were the results of
accidents suffered while at work, 1 from syphilis, and 5 were from climatic ailments. This was less than 1 per cent, or accurately speaking 0.93 of 1 per cent. Total death rate for the year was 0.187 per cent including those who died by accident. I do not believe any great public work in the United States can show any better record.
Mr. Patterson. What about the Chagres fever which prevails at Panama?
Mr. Miller. No such fever has been known at Nicaragua, and there is no record in modern times of a single case of yellow fever even at Greytown. During our work there came a steamer there from Colon bringing up a portion of this dredging plant which we bought. When it left Colon it had Chagres fever. Some four or five of its crew were put in the hospital at Colon and the vessel came on to Greytown. When it arrived there it had six or eight men down with Chagres fever, and they were taken out and put into our hospital and treated, and none of our men took the disease; and every one of those men who went into the hospital was cured and came out, and every one who went into the hospital at Colon died. That is the only record we have of that matter.
Mr. Patterson. This is a very interesting discussion, and I make these suggestions so as to get the important facts into the record?
Mr. Miller. I am very glad to have you make them.
Mr. Patterson. My information is that at Panama, both on the Atlantic and Pacific sides, there is a dead calm, and trade winds are unknown there, whereas at Greytown and Brito, on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific, the trade winds prevail, and if this canal is constructed the sailors can sail through this canal without difficulty, whereas if the canal was constructed at Panama, even if it was possible to construct one there, it would be only useful for steam going vessels, for the reason that there is a dead calm on both sides at that point?
Mr. Miller. I am very sorry that I have not got a large map of Central America and the upper part of South America; if I had I would show you that Panama lies in a great bend or bay. The facts are that the winds do not reach it, and trade winds do not prevail there, and that is undoubtedly the reason why the fever is there, as it is not blown away. This country through here [illustrating] is the lowest piece of land there is in Central America. The trade winds blow in there every day in the year and dissipate the fevers and pass through the highlands. When we come to the Pacific side, the wind blows in here, and right here at San Juan del Sur is the summer resort for people of Nicaragua who come there for health, and who live there during the hot season, showing it is the healthiest place there. .
Now, as to the possibility of sail vessels using this canal and not using the Panama, if it was built, Lieutenant Maury, who is a great authority upon the geography of the seas and winds connected with it, has written upon this subject, and a gentleman who has been writing against the canal and who has given as one of the chief reasons why it should not be built because it could never be used by sailing vessels, has quoted Lieutenant Maury upon this question, and I want to show you how he has been quoted. This is a quotation made from Lieutenant Maury. He says: Should nature by one of her convulsions rend the American continent in twain and make a channel across the Isthmus of Panama or Darien as deep, as wide, and as free as the straits of Dover, it would never become a commercial thoroughfare for sailing vessels, saving the outward bound or those which could reach it with leading winds." Now, Lieutenant Maury wrote that, but the gentleman quoting this against the canal did not quote it all. Let us see what Lieutenant
Maury further says in this same article. He says: We come now to the Nicaragua route. It is to this part of the Isthmus that we must look for a route that shall best fulfill the requirements of commerce. Vessels under canvas would, in the main, do the fetching and carrying for the Nicaragua route, which, for reasons already stated, they can not do for Panama. The aggregate amount of this trade is immense, and it is neither accommodated for Panama nor Panama for it." (Sullivan's report to the Navy Department, 1883, p. 148.)
This is the main argument made against the canal. Now, in regard to this question, I would be very glad to have the committee call some distinguished officersfor instance, Admiral Aminen, who is 80 years old, but is a man who knows more about the subject than all the rest of us and understands this question thoroughly, or Captain Taylor, who is at the head of the War and Navy College at Providence, B. I., who has written very much upon this question and who knows it thoroughly, or any of your naval officers who are familiar with this. I do not want to talk to you about the sailing qualities of this route, because I am not a sailor, and I take my views very much from the statements of Admiral Ammen andCaptain Taylor and others; but there is another point while I am about it, and that is the Commission questions the surveys of the river and lake. Now, these surveys were not made by our company; they were made by the United States Government, under Commander Luce, and the lieutenant in charge of the survey was a lieutenant named J. W. Miller, now retired from the Navy and president of one of the leading steamship lines running from New York up the coast to Providence and elsewhere. He personally made this survey during the years 1872-73, and spent a long time there.
I would like to have this committee call Lieutenant Miller, to gain from him the fact whether these surveys wTere made carefully and whether they are reliable. They were made by a naval officer, under the direction of the United States Government, and they were not made in the interests of any company, or any concession, or anything else, because there was none in existence. They were made carefully, as honestly, and as fairly as officers of the Navy could make them, and we claim they are sufficient for all preliminary work of beginning this canal and going on with it. The whole survey of this lake has not been made to obtain its depth everywhere, but we have obtained the depth along the sailing channel, and of course the Government eventually, or some other authority, or the Nicaraguan Government, will undoubtedly make a complete survey of the lake and take soundings all over it, so you will have a chart to know where to anchor your ships; but I submit that that is not necessary at the beginning. I think it is sufficient to know the depth along the sailing line.
Mr. Patterson. You know it will float all the navies of the world?
Mr. Miller. Yes, sir; I know that, but the Commission wants this thing delayed eighteen months and wants $350,000 appropriated by the United States Government to send out a commission of engineers to make these surveys during the eighteen months. Well, $350,000 would put quite an army of engineers in Nicaragua and keep them for eighteen months, but we submit that when they get through they would not have anything we have not got that would be of the slightest value. Of course it would delay this great enterprise for that length of time.
I have talked so much about this thing all over the United States that I never know when to stop. Now, I would like the committee to ask me any questions that have suggested themselves to them during my talk.
Mr. Patterson. There is just one point which, in the beginning of
your discussion, you did not explain fully. My understanding is that when these concessions were granted by Nicaragua and Costa Rica the arrangement was that Nicaragua was to have $0,000,000 of stock and be represented by one director, and Costa Rica was to have $1,500,000 of stock and be represented by one director?
Mr. Miller. That is correct; that is the agreement.
Mr. Patterson. Now, what is the extent of the right of way, what is the width of the ownership of the canal?
Mr. Miller. Well, the concession carries with it a gift of something over a million acres of land. In the first place we are permitted to take all the land that we want for the right of way, be it more or less, that is through the public lands, but upon the western side the Government was to furnish us with the right of way by our paying them $50,000 in gold, which wepaidthem, and then they were to proceed to condemn the right of way for us. I think it is not all condemned, but we paid the Nicaraguan Government $50,000 in cash and they have condemned a portion of it. TheGovernment is to furnish the right of way, free of course, over the public lands, and we take all we want, and in addition to that we have a right to go upon the public lands and take timber and stone and help ourselves to anything we can find, and then after the canal is completed we are to have a million acres of land lying upon the line of the canal, in alternate sections, the Government holding one and the company the next.
Mr. Patterson. Then, if I understand you correctly, the Maritime Canal Company owns these concessions?
Mr. Miller. Yes, sir.
Mr. Patterson. And the present owners of the canal company, or rather the stockholders of this construction company, have expended something over $1,000,000 in acquiring these concessions and in the work that has already been accomplished on the canal?
Mr. Miller. That is correct.
Mr. Patterson. And the canal company now controls practically the entire stock, amounting to $92,500,000, and it owes to its stockholders the amount expended on the work?
.Mr. Miller. It owes this amount of money to its stockholders. It has not any debts outside at all.
Mr. Patterson. I mean, if it were to pay the stockholders this amount of money, and they were willing to give it up, it would then have stock amounting to $92,500,000.
Mr. Miller. Yes; that is substantially correct as it is.
Mr. Sherman. Was there some provision in these concessions which made them nonassignable?
Mr. Miller. They can not be assigned to any Government, but there is nothing in the concessions forbidding their being assigned from one company to another company, or there is nothing in the concession to prevent any Government holding stock in them. We are bound to hold the lists open and let anvbody subscribe, but the Government of Nicaragua should have $0,000,000 and Costa Rica $1,500,000 of stock, and then the United States or any other Government could come and buy stock. There is no limit or control upon that whatever, but we could not sell this out to any Government. Therefore, the necessity of the Government building this canal through the medium of a company with its own charter.
Mr. Doolittle. I would ask you to have something to say about the probable commerce passing through this canal. There have been some recent publications relative to that?
Mr. Miller. Yes; there have been some publications relative to that, trying to show it would not do any business; yet at the same time there have been publications emanating from the transcontinental railroads opposing the canal upon the supposed ground that it would take the business away from the railroads. Just how the two things come together 1 do not understand, although these arguments are made by the same party. Now, as to the probable commerce of this, at this late hour I will not undertake to go into that in a very full and elaborate manner, but I want to call the attention of the committee to this report made to the Senate last year, and there you will find the views of the company set forth in full, with an article prepared by our secretary, Mr. Atkins, which is printed here in full.
Mr. Sherman. What page is it?
Mr. Miller. It commences on page 175. You will find it a very thorough and carefully prepared article. I will do nothing more than call your attention to the results. Now, in the first place, the Congress which met in Paris in 1879, over which Mr. De Lesseps presided, and to which conference our Government sent Admiral Ammen and Engineer Menocal as delegates, was composed of leading engineers of Europe, and found that the canal at that time would have something like 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 tons of freight to begin with. That was in 1879. This report made here takes from the British Board of Trade the actual commerce of the world, and it divides it into that portion which would be entirely tributary to the canal and that which would be liable
to be influenced to the canal and drawn toward it, and it is accurate as to the commerce which exists; of course, no one can undertake to say whether it will all go through the canal.
The only thing we can say is that commerce seeks the shortest line and cheapest route, and it is fair to infer that the commerce of the world which wants to pass from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, and vice versa, and the cheapestwhich can be accomplished in the least timeand I will from the Atlantic to the Pacific, will take the line which is the shortest simply refer you to this; but 1 simply call attention to what it shows. It shows, in the first place, the class which is entirely tributary to the canal that is to say, which would pass through the canal if it sought the shortest and cheapest routeamounts to 5,332,415 tons. The second class, which is largely tributary to it, that might go through it but would not find as much profit in going through as the other class, amounts to 2,526,542 tons. Then comes the third class of tonnage, partially, and only partially, tributary to itsuch tonnage as upon the west coast of South America, we will say in the lower part of Chile, down that way, which might go around Cape Horn or might come through the canal, depending upon which would be the cheaper. This is only small, amounting to 262,136 tons, making a total of 8,122,093 tons.
Now, that takes no account whatever of the growth of commerce by the construction of the canal; and let me say here that these figures correspond substantially with the estimates made by the French engineers at the conference in 1879, adding the annual growth of commerce from that time to this, and it makes substantially the same figures as ours. But if there was not but a million tons to-day in sight that would probably go through the canal, I undertake to say, judging from the past, that within ten years' time from the construction of the canal it would have a commerce of more than 10,000,000 tons. When the Suez Canal was opened at first it seemed to be an absolute failure; commerce still continued to go around the southern point of Africa. But from year to year it began to gain, until to-day it (a gentleman gave me a
pamphlet here to-day showing the last report)well, it does not matter as to getting it exactly, but the returns there are from 8,000,000 to 12,000,000 and 13,000,000 tons per year, and the receipts are, 1 remember, given in this last report, $15,000,000; and after paying for all betterments and all commissions which they are compelled to pay under their concessions and under their rights, it left a dividend upon their stock of 18 per cent. It has frequently paid 20 per cent, and the stock has been as high as 750 in Paris; and I only speak of this to show you how commerce grows when you open a new, desirable, and cheap way.
In the Sault Ste. Marie Canal, before the Government built the present lock, there was a private lock there. The largest amount of commerce passing through that, I believe, was about 500,000 tons. The Government built a locka very large locksufficient to carry several vessels at a time; and what has been the result? The Sault Ste. Marie Canal passed last year, I think, over 17,000 craft of different kinds and something like 12,000,000 to 15,000,000 tons of freight. That has all been created since the lock was built. People did not go into the region about Duluth until there was means of transportation, and when it came they went into the country and opened up the mines and iron ore and milling business and wheat business, and the result has been the stupendous amount of material which passed through the Sault.
Mr. Doolittle. And there the waters are closed during the winter time?
Mr. Miller. Yes, it only runs from 225 to 230 days in the year. Now, what is the position of the Pacific Coast? We have a vast territory reaching from Mexico to British Columbia. It has the finest climate in America, and it has the most fertile land. The State of Washington or the State of Oregon will produce all the wheat, if it is cultivated, that this country requires for our whole 70,000,000people. It is estimated that the Pacific Coast alone is capable of maintaining a population of more than 100,000,000, but it has less population than the cities of New York and Brooklyn combined, and why? Simply because the material which it produces is raw material, and it must have a cheap and quick outlet to the markets, and it is farther from the markets of the world to-day than any other civilized portion of the globe. It is 14,500 miles from San Francisco to New York by water, and the same distance, or a little more, to Liverpool, whereas India and Argentina get their wheat into the Liverpool market in less than a quarter of the time it takes from San Francisco around Cape Horn, and the result has been what? The country is left vacant, our people do not go there. They take up less fertile and colder and less desirable lands.
If that canal were opened, the raw products could be carried to the markets of the world at rates which would leave a fair margin of profit to the producer. If it is done, they would be able to compete with Argentina, India, and Russia. Unless it is done, the export of wheat from the Pacific Coast will substantially cease within five years, because there is no profit in it, and it is growing less and less because Argentina is being developed. Only a few days ago I was talking to the secretary of our legation at Argentina, who had returned on a visit home, and who gave me an account of the railroads and opening up of that country and developing of the growth of wheat, which all goes to prove this work must be done and done speedily if the Pacific Coast is to be developed. Now, the lumber and timber standing in the States of Oregon and Washington, if increased 25 cents in value per thousand, wouldinore than pay the cost of building this canal twice over. Within ten years the Atlantic Coast must have this timber. As everyone
knows, the great bulk of the white pine of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota is disappearing. Ten years from now will see it all absolutely used up and it will not be able to supply the demand at all.
Some two or three years ago several ships laden with spars, the finest in the world for shipbuilding, went from Puget Sound around Cape Horn to Maine and went into ships building in Maine. The shipbuilding timber of Maine and all the Eastern coast is disappearing, and if the canal were built to carry the raw material, which can not be carried by railroads successfully, it would at once attract a large population to that country. I have no doubt it would double within five years. The railroads who are fighting this enterprise, and believe it would ruin them, I think would be greatly benefited by it, because the business of the transcontinental roads, their through business, has never been any considerable return to themless than 10 per cent; but put 5,000,000 of people upon the Pacific Coast and the local business, the short haul of the railroads of the Pacific Coast, will be quadrupled, and the profits of these roads will be something enormous. I refer the committee to this printed report here for exact data. I am speaking now entirely upon what I believe will be the result, and as to the exact data I prefer to have the committee take the report made by the company which is, in our judgment, correct.
The Chairman. What do you estimate the receipts of the canal, say, a year after its completion?
Mr. Miller. Well, we believe at the opening of the canal that out of this 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 tons of freight, which is tributary to it, and which ought to go through it, that from a half to two-thirds would go through it at once. We have no doubt of that at all. And in the statement which I made to the committee of the Senate when they changed the bill and substantially took controltook ten directors and took two-thirds or three-fourths of the stockI based the results upon these figures. Say, 4,000,000 tons, at $1.50 a ton tolland I assume the tolls will not be higher than thatalthough the Suez Canal when it started had a toll of $2.50 a ton, and it is now $1.85 or $1.87; but 4,000,000 tons, at $1.50 a ton, would be a great inducement for freight to come that way, and that would give us $6,000,000 on 4,000,000 tons.
If the Government were to guarantee or issue $100,000,000 bonds at 3 per cent, the result would be as this: The interest would be $3,000,-000; the operating and maintenance of the canal will be $1,000,000. We are sure that is quite safe, and we think more than safe, but we will call it $1,000,000. That brings it up to $4,000,000. Then $1,000,000 put in a sinking fund for sixty yearsthe bonds to be sixty years in lengthand $1,000,000 per annum added to the sinking fund will at the expiration of sixty years have paid off the entire debt. One million dollars then should be put in the sinking fund, and that would be $5,000,000, and that would have to be paid before anything came to the stock at all. Then, if I am correct in supposing 4,000,000 tons might pass, there would be $1,000,000 left for dividends upon the stock, or if not, even if it were to take two or three years to arrive at that it would not be entirely out of keeping of great enterprises of this kind, whicli require time.
Now, as to sailing vessels passing through it, it has been held, I understand, that sailing vessels can not pass through it; but that is a mistake, as I have shown you, as you will find from officers of the Navy if you call them, and I am frank to say this, that one of the first and most important results of this canal would be the abandonment of the building of more sailing vessels for that trade which is now carried
around Cape Horn. Sail vessels will not be built at all. The vessels will be what the Gorman and English build, called tramp steamers, or trade carriers with a low consumption of coal, making from 7 to 10 knots an hour, thus making the trip within a reasonable length of time.
Mr. Scott, manager of the great Union Iron Works of San Francisco, stated to me the last time I was there that when this canal was built there were not half shipyards enough in the United States to build steamers required for this trade, and undoubtedly the business would change into this class of steam carriers, just as it has done in the Suez Canal. In that canal when it began there were quite a large number of sailing vessels which went through, but no more were built. Steamers came in their place, and last year I think only one sailing vessel went through the Suez Canal. There may have been two or three, but my memory is not precise upon that question; but certainly not more than three, four, or five sailing vessels went through. The whole business has been transferred to the steamers, and that is one of the advantages, because it reduces the time, and the cost of commerce is time as well as in anything else; because it necessitates insurance during the time the produce is afloat.
Mr. Doolittle. I want to ask you what difference that would make in marine insurance, if you have investigated that at all, as between going through this canal and around the Horn?
Mr. Miller. Well, you can not insure a vessel to go around the Horn unless it is first-class; there is no marine insurance company which will take it.
Mr. Bennett. That is in consequence of the danger?
Mr. Miller. In consequence of the danger. Let me read you a few words from Capt. William M. Merry, of San Francisco, who has been for many years a navigator around Cape Horn. Captain Merry says:
The difficulties of the Cape Horn route Mr. Nimmo lightly dismisses as of no consequence, as he may safely do at Huntington, Long Island. When I recall the terrific gales, the heavy seas, the sleet, snow, and ice encountered during the eleven voyages I made around the Cape, I can realize the contempt due such a perversion of the truth. No vessel is insurable at usual rates by marine underwriters for the Cape Horn voyage unless she rates first-class, and the class of ships rounding Cape Horn is the largest and finest in the world. As they approach the Cape they are stripped of all light yards and sails; prepared for a severe contest with the elements, which they seldom escape. The marine annals of San Francisco are a lifelong record of disasters off Cape Horn, and occasionally an able ship, tired of the contest, with crew worn-out, spars and sails blown away, squares off away for the Cape of Good Hope, to reach San Francisco by a route fully one-third longer, and tempestuous at that. iA/ .*..-' t-. M 7 1
Mr. Corliss. I desire to ask what the present owners are to accept under this plan, $7,000,000 of stock?
Mr. Miller. There is no plan at all, sir. Mr. Corliss. Well, it has been before us.
Mr. Miller. What I stated here this morning, the answer I gave to the Senate committeeyou perhaps were not in at the time, but I will repeat itwe were asked by the Senate committee several years ago upon what terms we would allow the United States Government to come in and control this enterprise through the company, and after consultation with the leading directors and stockholders I made this statement, that the Government might take the company, taking two-thirds of its directors, to be appointed by the President, and taking two-thirds or three-fourths of the stock in the Treasury of the United States, taking absolute control of it if they would return to us the amount of money that we had expended upon it, which we stated to be in round figures about $4,500,000, and that in addition to that they
should give us of the stock of the maritime company whatever they thought we were entitled to for our services, for our energy, and time in holding this thing and risks we had taken in it, and that we would submit ourselves to the justice of Congress upon that question as to what it should be.
As to the amount of money that we had expended, we would submit that to a commission to be appointed in any way that might be agreed, only that one of our company might be there to see justice was done, and one to be appointed by the President, and if those two did not agree, why those two should select the third, and that whatever they found we had actually expended should be returned to us in cash or its equivalent in bonds. That proposition was made to the committee, and that is the only proposition we have made; and as to the expenditures, we have preserved all of the books of the company and all the vouchers and all the files of all kinds and of every name and nature, and we can show to the commission or to a committee or to anybody everything that we have expended and what it was expended for.
It is unnecessary, it seems to me, that this committee, or any committee in Congress, should go into the details of that, because it would be endless, as it would include five years of work and thousands of vouchers and thousands of items, but they are all there and can be shown. We should, of course, expect to be paid for all moneys we have expended in what might be called promoting the work. That is to say, I have spent three years of time in going to different parts of the world speaking upon this and writing upon it, but the promotion work has been comparatively small, comparatively a few thousand dollars in comparison with the work we have done; but that was necessary to bring the enterprise before the world and have them understand it. We, fortunately, have never expended any money in Washington except our own traveling expenses, and that has been charged up, and the expenses of our own attorneys in New York who have come down here to express to the committee just the legal condition of affairs. We have not any $2,000,000 or $3,000,000 to account for as expended in legislative work; we have not done anything of the kind. We have not had it to expend, and would not have spent it if we had had it.
All of our accounts will be open if it is done, and I want to simply say this, and I want to repeat what I said this morning: As the matter stands now we are prevented from getting any money or doing anything with it, and of course we may be compelledgentlemen who have put their time and money into this thingto lose it all; but if we do that we shall do it without complaint, for I say for myself I have never been engaged in a work that was likely to be of so much benefit to the whole world, particularly to my own country, as this, but we feel now that in some means or in some way Congress ought to say, "We will take this work off your hands upon the terms proposed," or "We do not want it at all," and then give us a clear field, and if we can not make anything out of it and get the money outside we will simply retire beaten and let some others undertake it. That is the way we feel about it. I am not finding any fault with Congress at all. I have been here myself as a member of both Houses, and I know the difficulty of doing a great work of this kind, and I know there are a great many men in Congress who honestly believe the Government ought not to have anything to do with it, that it is an outside affair, and it is all wrong and should not be touched, and I appreciate all that, and I know they are honest in that, although I do not agree with them myself, but we understand all that difficulty and have no fault to find at all.
The gentlemen, particularly in the Senate, who have been working on this for years, making it you might say a hobby, attempting to get it through, have treated us with all fairness and we have no complaint to make, and so far as the House is concerned this is the first time I ever appeared before any committee having anything to do with the question, and we have no complaint to make here in any way, shape, or manner, but we do feel we have the right now to ask that we know whether the Government is going to take the work and carry it through to success or else that the Government shall in some way indicate to the world at large its decision not to have anything to do with it because it does not think it wise, or ought not to be done by our Government, and leave us free to go over the world and get what money we can get to carry on this work. We certainly shall never give it up until our concessions shall expire, and we hope in some way to carry it to success.
Mr. Sherman. How long do your concessions run?
Mr. Miller. Our concessions were for ten years, and three years remain, and then we have the right to ten years additional, making twenty years in all, which makes thirteen years in which we have yet to complete the work.
Mr. Corliss. Are anv of the terms of the concessions such as would
compel the paying of a revenue to Nicaragua and Costa Eica?
Mr. Miller. Not unless they get dividends on the stock. They stand like any other stockholder. Nicaragua has $6,000,000 of stock and Costa Eica $1,500,000 stock, and if dividends are made of course they would get their pro rata.
Mr. Corliss. But there is nothing to prevent their being paid off and the United States having a majority of the stock sinrply charge
nothing for maintenance?
Mr. Miller. Of course the United States can from the beginning, if they saw fit, pay interest on the bonds and make the canal free at any time, or make the tolls a dollar to begin with, or a hair dollar, or anything it likes. If they control the business they can do that, and I presume the Government, after getting revenue sufficient to pay interest on the bonds, would probably reduce the tolls materially, and that of course is one reason why the stock we might get as compensation for our services would be worth very little, because it would depend entirely upon whether the Government is going to reduce the tolls, but it is fair to assume the Government is going to treat us properly and would not reduce the tolls to wThere nothing would be paid upon the stock, because if it did it would not be justified as far as Nicaragua and Costa Eica are concerned. It would, injustice to them, have to compensate them and pay them 5 or 6 per cent dividend on their stock. I assume it would not do anything else and would not treat Nicaragua and Costa Eica in that way, and it probably would not treat its own citizens any worse than it did them. At all events we would rest our case there.
Mr. Sherman. I understand the proposed tolls are $1.50 a ton?
Mr. Miller. Of course no action has ever been had upon that. Originally, when it was first started, it was assumed $2.50 a ton, because Suez charged that at first, but there was so much business it found it profitable to reduce the tolls to $1.85 a ton, and I have not any doubt at all but what this company would start its tolls at $1.50 a ton. That would be my judgment and desire, and if I was in control at the time I would have something to say about it.
Mr. Sherman. The probable tonnage would unquestionably yield a sufficient revenue to pay the interest upon these bonds and also provide a sinking fund for them?
Mr. Miller. We Lave no doubt about that at all. If I Lad as much money as some one or two men in tliis country Lave I would build tbe canal out of my annual revenues. There are half a dozen men who could build it out of their annual revenues and have the best canal in the world, but the difficulty now among our American people is just what 1 have expressed; that is, people say the Government ought to control it, and therefore the Government ought to pay for it, but we can not do anything until Congress has decided to take it, or decided they will not have anything to do with it; and if Congress decides that, I shall make a vigorous appeal to the people of America to get the money to enable us to make it a success, and if that fails I will retire and let somebody else take it up after me.
Mr. Wanger. Did I understand you to say that what you call the promoting expenses had been charged up?
Mr. Miller. They are a part of the expenses; for instance, my expenses of traveling over the country and publishing pamphlets and things of that kind. We Lave not paid tbe press of tliis country any-tliing, and I am frank to say the press of tliis country Lave published articles regarding it; in fact, they Lave come to us and asked them and printed them, and there is no expense attending the press of this country except the mere notices of our annual meetings, that is all, which we paid for as any other amount due; otherwise the American press Lave given us hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of advertisement, which would have been charged for ordinarily, in so far as arguments in favor of the canal are concerned. That has been so all over the country and we have to acknowledge that.
Mr. Sherman. I understand the percentage of the whole expense is very trilling?
Mr. Miller. It is a very small percentage of the totalprobably it might be 5 per cent. It is what has been done in every enterprise, railroad or otherwise, and is a legitimate charge.
Mr. Ellett. I would like to know whetli > the terms of the Mahon billI have not been here during all of your speechare objectionable?
Mr. Miller. I have not read the bill at all, or looked at it. I simply stated wiiat our proposition was to the Government. Any bill which carries that out, why, we will undoubtedly accept, but I have never read any portion of the other and do not care to.
Thereupon the committee went into executive session.
Washington, D. C, Tuesday, April 1,1896.
The committee, having under consideration the Nicaragua Canal, met at 11 a. in., Hon. William P. Hepburn, chairman.
STATEMENT OF CAPT. H. C. TAYLOR, OF NEWPORT, R. L, PRESIDENT OF THE NAVAL WAR COLLEGE.
The Chairman. There are three propositions up here upon which we wish nfore particularly to get information. One is the practicability of the Nicaragua Canal; another is the probable accuracy of the estimates made by the company; and the third is the probable use of the canal, as measured by the tonnage.
Mr. Doolittle. I would like to add that we expected to have Pro fesmr Menocal before the committee tLis morning, and I have received a nctefrom tJie Acting Secretary saying that Professor Menocal would
be unable to appear to-day; but he has submitted a paper which goes over the surveys, and answers completely all the objections and criticisms ottered by the recent Commission, consisting of Engineer Ludlow and others, who visited the canal. We have the letters of other experts in this statement made by Professor Menocal. Professor Menocal states that he hopes to be her'e within a week from this time to answer such questions as the members of the committee may desire to ask him.
The Chairman. I do not wish to dictate the line of Captain Taylor's speech, but I suggested such facts as perhaps the members of the committee desire to hear.
Mr. W anger. I would like to have Captain Taylor tell us all of the facts within his personal observation.
Captain Taylor. As to the practicability of the canal, as has been stated by Mr. Doolittle, Mr. Menocal has a reply, of which I knew before I came here, and which I believe to be very full. I have never taken that part in this enterprise which would enable me to give you any remarks as regards the engineering details. I was for many years engaged, with the consent of the Government, being on leave from the Navy Department, in promoting the enterprise in New York, and I became, in 1885 or 1886, vice-president and general manager of the company, and continued this service until the time came for me to again take a ship, when 1 resigned and went to China in command of a vessel. On returning, I found that, owing to the general depression in business, the enterprise was flagging. I have given great attention to what you might call the general aspects of the enterprise.
The chairman first mentioned the question of practicability. This question will be answered by the paper of Mr. Menocal. Its practicability has been conceded siuce 1809 continuously, and it was discussed before that from the days of Cortez; but since 1809 it has been discussed practically, and whenever a doubt has arisen as to the location, the Government has sent surveying parties there. As to the matter of cost, I think you can say that everybody may be right in the opinions expressed upon the subject. It is possible, if we wished to do so, to spend $120,000,000 or $130,000,000 in building that canal. Under certain circumstances that much could be spent; but under judicious and wise management the figures that we had from parties not personally interested in the canal would make it cost not above $85,000,000. The company estimated that it could be built for $05,000,000, but they chose to put that figure up in order to take the verdict of those who were nonpartisan. At the same time many persons who are not otherwise concerned in it, such as contractors and others, as well as Captain Webb, the veteran shipbuilder, who as long ago as 1S50 became interested in the Nicaragua Canal, said that they would be glad to take the contract and make a profit out of it at $15,000,000 to^$50,000,000. I make these statements to show the range of opinion upon the question of cost. If you were to build double locks, if you would widen the rock cut from 80 to 120 feet, and much else of the same sort, then you might run the cost up to $90,000,000.
The chairman mentioned something about the probability of the work being done and completed on the estimates. That is also covered by what I have stated. In reference to the use of the canal, it is a thing to which I have given a good deal of attention and thought. Its use will be both national and international. It will be, as we believe, a great factor in getting our flag flying upon deep water ships, and in taking an intervening step, as it were, to deep-sea commerce by first
establishing a coastwise commerce in deep-sea ships. In other words, ships which clear from New York or New Orleans for Puget Sound or San Francisco will be, you may say, coastwise commerce, and yet they will go through that canal, and in order to reach it will require to be deep-sea ships. By such means it is hoped that we will see a new birth of American shipping on the high seas.
In looking at the map, it appears among other things that the nation occupying the North American Continent should naturally be the one to carryall the commerce that passes between Asia and Europe byway of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In order to show the shortest route across the North Pacific between our coast and Yokahama and Hongkong, an accurate chart of distances is necessary. The rectangular or Mercator's projection is familiar in maps of every-day use, but it fails in that it shows the shortest distance as apparently curved. I think we all recognize that as true, and that we must go up to the northern latitudes in order to get the shortest distances. Nevertheless, I find that many shipowners, men who have been engaged in shipping all their lives, do not fully realize that idea, because the graphic representation of distances across the sea has not been properly presented to them. Concerning the business of the Nicaragua Canal and the trade thence to China and Japan, the commercial world is much deceived, because it has not that proper graphic representation of great circle routes.
I will send your committee to-morrow some charts published by the Government, which show by means of the gnomonic projection the shortest distance as a straight line. It indicates also in a general way the commerce which will go through the Nicaragua Canal in future. It has been claimed by opponents of the canal that vessels from the canal passing across the Pacific to China and Japan would pass at once toward Honolulu and away from our Pacific coast, leaving our Pacific cities far away from the line of sea trade. Indeed, when I arrived from China at San Francisco some years ago, I found that placards had been posted in various public places, saying that if the Nicaragua Canal were built the trade would be diverted from the Pacific coast, and the grass would be growing in the streets of San Francisco a few years after the canal was completed.
This statement is absolutely contrary to the facts of the case, and upon it much misconception has been based. The Pacific coast, after leaving the canal, trends so much to the westward that vessels would not in any case depart far from it until between Acapulco and Mazat-lan. Taking Mazatlan for example, we find the shortest distance line thence to Yokohama or Hongkong passes at no great distance from San Francisco and other California ports, which would present most favorable conditions of coaling and cargoes to the great lines of freight steamers that are to use the canal. I therefore say that the natural route from Liverpool and New York to China and Japan, via the Nicaragua Canal, will be directly along the Pacific coast. There would not be a great divergence in touching at any Pacific port of the United States. This line will naturally touch at or near the Aleutian group of islands, where a coaling station can be placed. The development of trade on the Pacific coast will be assisted by the Nicaragua Canal. Part of the trade between Yokohama and Shanghai will be assisted.
Another point to be considered is that steamers must make their trips short in order that they may carry only a small amount of coal, so as to not infringe unduly upon the space allotted to cargo. For this reason, vessels from London going by the Suez Canal all follow lines where they can stop frequently in order not to interfere with the cargo by taking
large quantities of coal aboard and for the local cargo business as well. 1 mention this to show that it is natural that this should be done upon routes which will use the Nicaragua Canal. Puget Sound and the Aleutian group will give other coaling stations and new cargoes to the north and west, and sailing from the Aleutian group to Hakodadi, Yokohama, and Shanghai we have a route as favorable as any that could be arranged, even if you could select the ports and place them at the points desired.
These facts are not understood, I believe, by nine-tenths of the business men, nor by ninety-nine out of every hundred people of less education, and one of the immediate results of this ignorance is seen in the newspaper statements to the effect that the American continent will be left out of the current of trade passing from Europe to Asia by way of the Nicaragua Canal. If I have made myself clear in this respect, I think I have done as much as I can now do without the figures necessary to discuss matters more in detail before your honorable committee.
Mr. Doolittle. Can you give us the figures in reference to the tonnage of the canal?
Captain Taylor. I made most of the older estimates myself, but 1 have not them with me. I would be very glad to send them to your committee. I can say, within wide limits, without figuring on anything which would be brought into existence by the canal, but which would need the canal as soon as it was built, in order to bring the right result in somewhere between our figures. In 1888 we made figures for 1805, the time when we expected the canal to be completed, and we estimated a maximum of 8,000,000 tons without knowing what would be the exact tolls per ton, and so we figured upon those charged in the Suez Canal, which were in the neighborhood of $1.50 per ton. We based our figures on various sourcesthe traffic around Cape Horn; upon that between New Orleans, New York, and Callao, and other points in western South America; upon a certain amount of traffic between New York and San Francisco, Seattle, and San Diego, and upon an almost immediate trade between New Orleans and the points in that neighborhood. We included, I think, such trade as might go from New York to Yokohama, and from Liverpool to Seattle and Tacoma, and from San Francisco to Liverpool.
Mr. Doolittle. You have not reckoned any wheat from the State of Washington at Puget Sound?
Captain Taylor. The figures included the wheat from San Francisco. I can not remember as to Seattle. The figures include some lumber shipped from Puget Sound.
Mr. Bennett. What would be the probable cost per annum of maintenance of this canal?
Captain Taylor. It would be about $1,500,000 per year. That was about our figure.
Mr. Bennett. You say that you estimate the maximum figure of the cost of the canal at $85,000,000?
Captain Taylor. The board made an estimate of $87,000,000. This estimate was absolutely unprejudiced, but we thought, and I believe the company still thinks, that the canal can be built for $05,000,000.
Mr. Bennett. And you give the maximum cost of running the canal at $1,500,000?
Captain Taylor. We saw no reason to put it above $750,000; but we chose to do so, basing it on the Suez Canal, which has had a large expense because of the drifting sand, from which the Nicaragua Canal would be free.
Mr. Doolittle. I want you to explain the effect of the doldrums at Panama?
Captain Taylor. The doldrums extend north and south of the equ& tor. They vary, and, according as the sun goes north and south in declination, the belt moves north and south. The heart of that belt seems to be a little north of the equator and it includes Panama. Speaking only from memory, this belt of calms covers the Panama Canal line during about ten months of every year, during which time the light and variable winds make it difficult for sailing ships to move. The Nicaragua Canal may be said to be outside of that belt, and during ten months of the year they have breezes such as to enable sailing vessels to approach or leave the harbors on both sides of the isthmus. The northeast trade wind, blowing from about east by north at Greytown, is nearly an on-shore wind at Greytown, but sailing vessels would rarely have difficulty in clawing offshore, and then towboats would always be at hand.
Mr. Wanger. What distance would towage be required?
Captain Taylor. In this case the maximum would be 6 or 8 miles. I have been on both sides in sailing ships and steamers, and there was no time when I felt that I would be delayed more than a day or two. I was speaking only of the fresh breezes blowing on shore, which, not being gales of wind, are what sailing vessels like. Vessels only need an offing from the breakwater 3 or 4 miles.
Mr. Bennett. As a matter of fact, can sailing vessels afford to pay
$1.50 per ton for going through the canal?
Captain Taylor. Yes, sir; and make a large amount of money, rather than go around Cape Horn.
The Chairman. I think it has been stated that, with this canal, sailing vessels may be done away with.
Captain Taylor. They will not grow less, nor pass away, but their relative importance will grow less, because of the greater number of steamers. The tonnage of sailing vessels will not diminish, but where one will be seen in the canal per day there will be twenty or thirty steamers. There are many remarks that might be made as regards the use of the canal which one could occupy days in discussing, but I think what the committee wanted me to touch upon more than anything else was the points upon which some objection has been made to the canal and to which some reply could be made.
Various matters of great interest will follow the construction of the canal. One is the question of a great tropical metropolis which may be expected to arise in Central America upon or near the canal. This, of course, is in the realm of fancy; it is coming, but when we can not tell.
One of the gentlemen of the committee wished me to say something about the military and naval aspect of the question. I have the permission of the Secretary of the Navy to appear before you and state, so far as I can, what you wish to know about it. The question has been raised in the newspapers of late that if this canal be owned by the United States, or controlled by our Government, there will be a great deal of trouble to retain it; that foreign powers with superior fleets will attack it, and that we will be compelled to use a large force, and that in favoring this canal we will be building, or helping to build, something that will weaken us; and that the position of the canal will be a dangerous and isolated one. I do not think that that can be answered or intelligently discussed, because it is according to one's point of view. It is something like the objections which may be made
to tlie accumulation of wealth for fear it will be stolen, or like objections to the acquiring of a handsome house because it might be burned down, or because it would give more or less trouble to keep in order. I do not know how to answer that question in any other way. The canal will be a most valuable possession to that country that shall own or control it.
Mr. Patterson. The only trouble about your illustration is that 1 do not think any other power could take this canal.
Captain Taylor. I am quite sure of that. The position of the canal is of great strategic importance, and I think that of itself will some day enable the United States to use a smaller naval force and a smaller military force, owing to the strength of the position which it will then hold.
Mr. Patterson. Have you given an estimate of the cost of the canal? I have not been present during all of your remarks.
Captain Taylor. I have given an estimate of the company when I was general manager, and also other estimates. The company estimated that it would cost $05,000,000. We then asked a board of the most eminent engineers of the United States, who were totally unprejudiced and who possessed no interest in the company in the way of stock or anything else, and they spent several months in making an exhaustive examination. That board was composed of the State engineer of New York, and Mr. Wellington, editor of the Engineering News, whose standing is well known; and also railroad engineers well known in the country, as wrell as one or two other men of scientific attainments. We had a commission of five. The company was not represented. I was at the time a director and the general manager, and we were very particular in that respect. This board stated that our estimates were good, but by reason of wishing to secure their estimates against all possibility of being too low they raised our figures to $87,000,000.
Mr. Sherman. They made a horizontal addition of 15 or 20 per cent
on the cost?
Captain Taylor. About 20 per cent, as I remember. From that time on we took the figures which they left in our hands; but I think it will not cost anything like that figure now, because excavation is coming down very materially in cost as time goes on; still, their estimate has been retained.
Mr. Patterson. You have gone over the ground?
Captain Taylor. I know very little of the interior. My business was, first, that of promoting the company, and later that of vice-president and general manager in New York. I know more of the estimates in reference to the traffic, although I am not an expert. We in the Navy are not trained constructing engineers. I was on leave by the Government for the purpose of assisting in the promotion of the canal in reference to the engineering. I think you will hear from Chief Engineer Menocal.
Mr. Patterson. He is the engineer?
Captain Taylor. He is a civil engineer in the Navy, and has been
prominent in his profession.
Mr. Patterson. He is a civil engineer? Captain Taylor. Yes, sir; of distinction.
Mr. Patterson. From your knowledge of Professor Menocal, you place reliance upon his skill?
Captain Taylor. Yes, sir; a reliance based upon a long acquaintance. Mr. Menocal is certainly very competent for that work. You
will hear from him fully and exhaustively.
Mr. Patterson. What is the consensus of opinion in reference to the canal among naval officers.
Captain Taylor. I have never heard but two officers question the wisdom of this project out of six or eight hundred whom I know, and I must have heard three or four hundred speak of it. It is a matter of frequent discussion among us in every form. Every officer in the Navy knows that country, because we are a great deal in the Caribbean Sea. We are called there quite frequently by political disturbances on the west side. We are there more than we are here. I have never heard but two officers who condemned it. One questioned whether it would add to our military strength to have it, and another doubted whether it would not injure our transcontinental railroads. It is favored among naval officers more universally than anything I know of.
Mr. Patterson. If you were a business man, would you come to the conclusion that this canal would cheapen rates across the continent?
Captain Taylor. I have no doubt it would increase the amount of goods transported from the Pacific Slope. It would give the railroads that much more money.
Mr. Patterson. The effect would be to introduce an important factor of competition to cheapen rates, practically throughout the country, and, at the same time, by increasing the volume of business, wrould permit the railroads to live and thrive.
Captain Taylor. My impression is that the volume of business would be increased to such an extent that it would resemble that occasion when the rates of postage being reduced there resulted a great increase in the amount of money received. I should think it would be the same in this case.
The Chairman. The suggestion has been made that the population would be so increased that there would be a great deal of passenger business which would add to the revenues of the railroads.
Captain Taylor. Yes, sir.
Mr. Bennett. In your computations in reference to the probable traffic which would be received by the canal, was any traffic now carried by the transcontinental railroads taken into consideration?
Captain Taylor. None, as far as I remember, only the present traffic water-borne. We proposed that the tolls should be such that vessels can make a profit going through the canal.
Mr. Bennett. You believe the minimum tonnage would be 5,000,000 tons?
Captain Taylor. Yes, sir; but if you desire to quote me I would prefer that you wait, because I shall be able to show the figures in that connection when I can get at my papers.
Mr. Patterson. I suppose you are able to give an intelligent opinion in respect to the trade winds at the point where this canal would cross the isthmus?
Captain Taylor. Yes, sir.
Mr. Patterson. I am told that at Panama sailing vessels practically could not use a canal there for the reason that the air is calm on both sides, whereas, on the Nicaragua Canal, it has been insisted that sailing vessels would have the advantage of trade winds both in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
Captain Taylor. That is true; I do not remember the exact figures. The belt stays over Panama about ten months of the year, and at Nicaragua it is calm perhaps only two months in the year. I have been eleven days in sight of the hills around Aspinwall, in command of the Saratoga, a sailing man-of-war, trying to get in.
I would suggest that if the chairman would send to the Navy Department for the charts of Lieutenant Maury they will show the calm belts. The situation is worse on the Pacific coast than on the Atlantic side. There is no difficulty in regard to winds at the Nicaragua Canal. You can be convinced of that when you examine these charts; but, pending that, I can state quite positively that the difficulties at Panama are very great, while they practically do not exist at Nicaragua.
Mr. Patterson. Some years ago a gentleman, whose name I will not mention, but who claimed to be familiar with these matters, was very much in favor of the Eads system.
Captain Taylor. The ship railway at Tehuantepee?
Mr. Patterson. Yes, sir; and he described the difficulties with the Nicaragua Canal to be these: That this canal was excavated for 26 miles through a ledge of rock, and that it was practically impossible for ships to go through without being injured, and without coming in contact with the sides of the canal, and all that sort of thing.
Captain Taylor. The entire distance of the Nicaragua Canal is 1G9 miles, of which there are 27 miles of canal, and the rest is river and lake. There are only about 2 miles of rock. The remainder is dredging in the open country. There is a rock cut of about If miles, and to that they add another piece, which makes about 2 or 3 miles.
Mr. Patterson. In passing through in Windsor storms, would a vessel be liable to be pushed up against the sides of the canal and be injured?
Captain Taylor. In a deep rock cut there are no side winds, and in the open country a vessel could run up aginst the soft sides and would not be hurt. On the Suez Canal they have sand storms, and sometimes vessels are forced against the sides in a storm, but they are not injured. I have laid there all night in a ship without injury or discomfort.
Mr. Patterson. I did not think there was anything in the complaint, but I wanted to get it in the record, as that was one of the points made against the canal.
Captain Taylor. It is without foundation in fact. The amount of rock cut is so small that the statement may be regarded as a mistake. There is a deep rock cut in this plan, but it was not forced upon our engineers as a necessity; it was taken as a favorable alternative. The canal might pass around it by taking another route, if it was desired, but it would be 7 miles longer. The rock cut is an advantage, because a portion of the material excavated is needed for the jetties at Greytown for the Ochoa dam, for revetments of the banks at certain places which are liable to wash. We have to get much rock from somewhere, and this was thought to be a favorable location to obtain it. It is in some respects the same principle which governs a railroad engineer in making his 44 cuts" and "fills."
Mr. Corliss. Mr. Miller said that practically the bottom of the canal was free sand and clay. Did your commission have anything to say on that subject?
Captain Taylor. We had borings made to a certain extent, and the commission appointed by the company gave their opinion and made some suggestions. There is no reason to decide all minor details of the canal now. These matters are not usually decided in a great work like this until the time for each detail comes. Sufficient contour lines and borings and gaugings are completed to make it certain that the project is feasible and economical. At a later period, as we approach each detail of the work, one hundred borings and gaugings and contours will be undertaken for every one made before. It is nothing against the
project that there should be a preliminary examination for preliminary work, and full examination for the detailed work. All great works proceed in this way.
Mr. Bennett. If you have finished, I suppose you will prepare and forward us the papers which you have promised?
Captain Taylor. I have finished, and I will recommend you now to Mr. Menocal, who will appear before you as soon as he recovers.
Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,
Thursday, April 2, 1896.
The Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce this day met, Hon. William P. Hepburn in the chair.
The committee had under consideration the subject of the Nicaragua Canal.
STATEMENT OF MR. LINDON W. BATES, OF CHICAGO.
Mr. Bates said:
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: In being here I accept the invitation, as I understand it, to speak from the standpoint both of a large holder of property on the Pacific Coast and to represent American invention and contractors in such relations as to what they have done and what they can do as far as the Nicaragua Canal is concerned, and I would say that I have been familiar with the reports of the Nicaragua Canal for the last seven or eight years, and have conferred very frequently with officers of the company, and more particularly with the subordinates who did the actual work of boring and surveying on the line of the canal. I have up to within a year ago been engaged upon the Chicago Drainage Canal, which affords the most modern parallel to the work of the Nicaragua Canal, treating it from an American standpoint.
Mr. Doolittle. I wish you would state whether you are a civil engineer, how long you have been in the practice of your profession, and also what experience you have had in contracting; that is, covering what period?
Mr. Bates. I am a civil engineer, coming from the Tale Scientific School; have been engaged upon the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, and afterwards upon nearly all the transcontinental lines during their construction since 1878, acting both as an engineer and subsequently as a contractor for a considerable portion of the actual work of construction in California, Oregon, and Washington. Latterly I have been engaged for the Mississippi Biver Commission in the construction of a very large dredging plant which has just been finished, which upon the final official test has demonstrated its capacity of 6,000 cubic yards per hour on ordinary river sand excavated from the bar and thrown a distance of 1,000 feet through a pipe line. Its record is something like ten times the record achieved in the world before, and is, perhaps, unique in Government annals, in that I have given in the results achieved four times beyond that which I guaranteed to do.
The work that this machine does is of special significance in reference to the Nicaragua Canal, because it embodies in itself power that is greater than that of all the machines and men and appliances which were gathered by Lesseps at Panama, and it is equivalent in its work
to more than an army of 00,000 men could do if tliey were given a shovel and wheelbarrow to take the sand a distance of a quarter of a mile as she is sending it. In addition to that, upon the Chicago Drainage Canal I have had much more than the ordinary facilities afforded by the chief engineer and trustees of the sanitary district, as well as by the successful contractors, who are my personal friends, and all of them are intensely interested in this Nicaragua project to know what are the most modern appliances for the actual execution of such work as the Nicaragua Canal, and I will say that those men are the men above all others who are qualified to say what it will cost to build the Nicaragua Canal. They are the men who do the thing, not those who make the preliminary plans. There has been upon the Chicago Drainage Canal a survival of the fittest, and there are now five or six men or firms who have been eminently successful in designing the best apparatus for executing their work and in making a profit at the lowest canal prices which have ever obtained in any country, and I would suggest, if it be desired by the committee, that I will give them the names, which I will recite, of men whom I consider, from the experience I have had, as experts qualified to give the very best information upon the actual work of construction that is contemplated in the canal.
The Chairman. Will you give some of those names just there?
Mr. Bates. I would give the name of Mr. Brown, of the Brown Hoist Company, of Cleveland, Ohio, and the Lidgerwood Manufacturing Company, of New York, as being especially skilled in the transportation of spoil from the excavation into a given spoil bank; I would give the name of the Bepauno Chemical Company, whose office is in Chicago, as the best experts upon powder in this country, because they have furnished all the powder amounting to many tons of dynamite daily upon the canal. I would give the name of E. D. Smith & Co., of Philadelphia and Chicago, and of Mason, Hoge & Co., of Borneo; also the name of MacAr-thur Bros. & Co., of Chicago, and Christie & Lowe, of Chicago, as men who have been preeminently successful of all men who have taken a great interest in this canal, and who, I believe, would respond to an invitation to appear before the committee. I would also include the name of Lyman E. Cooley, of Chicago.
Speaking from the dredging standpoint, I would say that there are 40,000,000 yards of dredging upon the Nicaragua Canal and in the harbor of Greytown, and in the sand formation so far as it goes up toward the first lock, and in the harbor of Brito, and machines of the type which I have photographs of here and have myself operated and designed are capable of executing the work at a very great profit at the prices mentioned in the report of Mr. Menocal, and that with these machines the construction company could do the work for but a small percentage of these actual estimates. The work upon the Drainage Canal at Chicago has shown that for the different kinds of work different apparatus is necessary, and I would draw a special parallel between the Drainage Canal and the work upon the Nicaragua Canal lying between Lake Nicaragua and Brito. The average cut is about the same, except the prism of the Chicago canal is greater than that contemplated at the other point; but the actual type of machines which operate at Chicago and have been so successful would be particularly applicable to the division between the lake and the Pacific Ocean.
Mr. Doolittle. How about the rock cut?
Mr. Bates. Speaking about the rock cut and organization, I would say, as contractors, there would be two ways of approaching the problem, either taking the surveys and borings and everything the Nicaragua
Canal Company have got and actually seeing the ground and forming a syndicate which would make a price, or the canal could really be built cheaper probably if the harbor at Greytown and railroad up to the Ochoa dam and the railroad to the coast were first constructed. Our experience upon the canal has demonstrated that the two lines of railroad, the Chicago Northern and the Santa Fe, running on either side of the canal, have been of inestimable service, and if the contractors had those conditions given and the line was divided into sections there are a large number of firms in this country of experience who would be glad to put in their figures upon a fair basis, and I will say that the problem of the divide cut and the excavation of material, requiring powder, drills, and transportation, could hardly be committed to hands which would solve the problem better of cheapness than to the very men who have handled the rockwork on the Chicago Drainage Canal, which in the aggregate is really greater than upon the Nicaragua.
Mr. Doolittle. How about the appliances that have been made use of at Chicago for handling material in the rock cuts?
Mr. Bates. I have here a number of photographs [exhibiting same]; for instance, there is one which shows what is known as the Brown cantilever hoist. This is a novel apparatus, built especially for the canal, that has built what they call in Chicago the cantilever mountains. This machine actually cost probably not to exceed $14,000 or $15,000, and the Brown Hoist Company have been able to make contracts to furnish these machines themselves, and received as compensation for the removal of material from the excavation after it had been loaded on the skips 15 cents per cubic yard. It is my belief, from personal investigation, the actual cost to the company is not to exceed 5 cents per cubic yard for taking the material from the bottom of a 40-foot excavation and carrying it 300 feet and putting it in the spoil bank. I have here another form of transporting apparatus, which is known as the Lidgerwood Overhead Cable Way. That costs a little less than the Brown hoist, and has about the same cost of operation, perhaps a little more, but it would be especially advantageous in many situations upon the Nicaragua Canal.
Mr. Doolittle. For what purpose is this last appliance?
Mr. Bates. That is for taking out rock from the excavation and putting it in the spoil bank.
Mr. Doolittle. How far can it be carried in that way by the Lidgerwood machine?
Mr. Bates. I think there will be no trouble about the distance o-transportation. This, you understand, is a wire-rope tramway that will transport a great distance, but in this special form it would probably not be advantageous to carry it more than 1,000 feet.
Mr. Doolittle. What would you say about the use of that machine in the rock cut and at Ochoa dam for removal of the material and the handling of it there?
Mr. Bates. Without going very definitely into it, I might say material from the divide cut could be carried on this railroad to the vicinity of Ochoa dam, and it might be advantageous from one standpoint of the contractor to use the overhead cable way in putting the material into the dam. But this has to be said, that every contractor who might have a proposition to take it would be very likely to solve it in his own different way, and the most peculiar thing, almost, in the canal has been that every man who had a section there has evolved a different method of handling and excavating his material, and each one of them has been novel and each has been successful. There is a form of derrick
[exhibiting photograph] used on the canal which is a pivoted derrick, with long arms swinging around and around. There is another one^ showing the way the cantilever reaches over into the excavation.
Mr. Noonan. When you take the material excavated to the place where you desire to make a dam, what process do you have of putting that in position to make it hold the water?
Mr. Bates. As I understand, the process at the Ochoa dam is that they propose to put in a loose-rock dam, which would be literally putting in so much rock that, with the collecting of the sediment, or, perhaps, the putting in of a core, it would prevent the filtration of water through it.
Mr. Noonan. As an expert, do you approve of that mode?
Mr. Bates. I think that is the very best way to solve that problem. I have seen in California, for instance, what we call a sweet-water dam masonry dam, with the arch toward the pressurebut that would not be feasible at Ochoa, and they have got there rock so available that I think there is not any question but what they can make a perfect success of it.
Mr. Doolittle. It is only a question of sufficient material being
deposited there, I suppose? Mr. Bates. Yes.
Mr. Noonan. I have heard it claimed by some that this mode of depositing stone and earth is a most perfect plan at the present day.
Mr. Bates. Well, for that particular purpose I think it would be. Now, there is another form [exhibiting photograph]. Here is one with a blast going on, and here is a photograph of one of the hydraulic dredges which are engaged on the canal, similar to the form I have mentioned on the Mississippi, except it is smaller. Here is a larger photograph showing this new dredge that has been built for the Missis-sip])! Biver Commission, and here again is a detailed plan of the same.
I will say the Drainage Canal contains five-sevenths of the total excavation to be made at Nicaragua.
The Chairman. What will be the total cost of this excavation on
this Chicago Drainage Canal?
Mr. Bates. I think the last figures reached something like a total cost of the canal, including right of way, about $28,000,000. My impression is the right of way and other expenses have amounted to $3,000,000 or $4,000,000 of that sum.
Mr. Doolittle. What is the depth of it at the bottom and at the
Mr. Bates. On the earth sections of the canal, which extend about 12 miles out from the beginning, the bottom width is to be 210 feet, and that width also extending through the glacial drift section, which goes on about 10 miles farther. In the rock section the slope of the canal is increased a little, and that admits of narrowing the prism of the canal. It is 160 feet wide on the bottom, with nearly vertical slopes. Those slopes may be vertical there, because the rock is limestone rock, and in the rock section the first process is clearing the ground of obstructions and starting the channeling machines. Those channeling machines cut a groove representing either side of the canal
II feet deep, and then the drills, run by compressed air or by steam, are put to work upon the face, and the material is broken up so it can be loaded on the skips of the cantalevers, or the overhead cable way, or any other method which is adopted for transporting the material.
Mr. Doolittle. What is the length of the Drainage CanaH Mr. Bates. The total length is about 30 miles. The Chairman. And the depth?
Mr. Bates. The depth of water will be 26 feet and the average cut
may be said to be about 40 to 42 feet deep, which is about the same as
the cut from the lake to the Pacific Ocean in Nicaragua, or just about
the same. These photographs also show the masonry walls which have
been put up along some sections where the glacial drifts or alluvial deposits overlie the solid rock.
Mr. Doolittle. Have you ever handled igneous rock ?
Mr. Bates. Yes.
Mr. Doolittle. And know of the difficulties attending that sort of work, and the difficulties attending the handling of limestone rock on this Drainage Canal ?
Mr. Bates. Yes. I can best compare that with the work on the Columbia Biver, where I was engaged in 1881 on work for the Oregon Navigation Company, and when we first began nobody offered to do it for less than $3 a yard, but after the construction began we found we were able to handle the rock under railway conditions, the igneous rock, or basalt, as we called it out there, at $1.0 per cubic yard. I would like to have all the rock I could excavate on railway work at that price.
Mr. Doolittle. What has been the cost of handling the limestone rock on the Drainage Canal?
Mr. Bates. The actual cost of handling the limestone rock has not been to exceed 50 cents per cubic yard, and that includes the whole work. Of course, there have been some contractors who spent more money on it, because they did not rise to the occasion as the successful men did.
Mr. Doolittle. Would you say, from the descriptions you have in these reports of the rock in the rock cut at Nicaragua, that the same appliances could be made use of and the same labor, and that the cost would be greatly increased necessarily, or otherwise?
Mr. Bates. I would express the opinion that Mr. Menocars estimates are adequate for the handling of any material on the canal, with a fair profit to the contractor.
The Chairman. Would you be willing to take a contract for the whole canal at the estimates of Mr. Menocal?
Mr. Bates. Yes; and I should do so with the belief that I would make a very considerable profit out of it.
Mr. Doolittle. Do you believe that a force could be organized here within the country to complete the work according to those plans and specifications, after having gone over them thoroughly as you have, within this estimateI mean to take the work up right now and carry it on ?
Mr. Bates. I am thoroughly satisfied it could be done. I would like to add from the standpoint of a practical property owner on the Pacific Coast that, knowing the condition of my property and that of my friends out there and being thoroughly familiar with the agricultural and timber resources of the country and the conditions that the people are in out there, I think that there is not a man from San Diego to Puget Sound but who feels that the Nicaragua Canal will be his salvation, and from a railroad standpoint I think that everyone who is familiar with what we call the California boom, and we recollect that we were able to go from the Mississippi Valley to San Francisco at from $5 to $10 railroad fare, and that the railroads in California were never more prosperous than they were from the large local business which developed from the population of 200,000 people who went in under that excitement, and with the assured construction of the Nicaragua Canal there would be inaugurated a new era for the Pacific Coast which
S n C4
would very largely increase the earnings, especially the local earnings, of every railroad company on the coast, and while there might be gross freights taken in large amounts through the canal there would be a much vaster tonnage and very much larger amount of passenger earnings, resulting from the increase of prosperity and population on the Pacific Coast, to the railroads than they can ever hope to secure under present conditions.
Mr. Doolittle. I would like to ask you if the Nicaragua Canal has been a subject of conversation between yourself and other successful men on the Chicago Drainage Canal, and about the judgment of those men as expressed in those talks you have had with them concerning the practicability of that and the feasibility of it.
Mr. Bates. I will say I have often talked with the gentlemen whom I have named here as contractors on the line, and that they are all of them familiar with the literature and reports that have been published, and they would like to be able to be part of the construction of the Nicaragua Canal, just as they have been part of the success of the Chicago Drainage Canal. They are men who have got invested in plants upon the canal now upward of $3,000,000, and they have been under bonds to the sanitary canal to a similar amount.
Mr. Doolittle. I wish you would here state whether a portion oi that plant could be made use of profitably at Nicaragua.
Mr. Bates. I think there are some portions of the plant on the Drainage Canal which could be used to advantage at Nicaragua, but, on the other hand, there are little parts of it which have been worn out in the service and which it would not pay to transport to a new point; but, further, the most valuable thing in reference to it has been that they have evolved methods of knowing how to do the thing the cheapest.
Mr. Chairman, I will leave these photographs and maps here, so that other members of the committee will have an opportunity to look at them if they so desire.
Thereupon the committee adjourned.
Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,
Washington, D. C, Saturday, April 11,1896.
The committee met at 10.30 a. m. for the purpose of continuing hearings on the question of the Nicaragua Canal.
STATEMENT OF MR. A. G. MENOCAL, OF THE NAVY DEPARTMENT.
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Committee: I have prepared a statement in which I propose to answer some of the criticisms which have been made against the Nicaragua Canal. I am unable to read it, as I am suffering from bronchitis, and I shall have to ask that the paper be read by some member of the committee, or by a gentleman present who is familiar with the geographical names in Nicaragua. If you will allow this gentleman to read it, I will answer any questions which any member of the committee may desire to ask as the reading is proceeded with.
Mr. Doolittle. This is a paper which has been prepared comprehensively, and it can be read, if the members desire to have it; but perhaps we would prefer to have the statement printed, and hear Mr. Menocal in regard to the work.
Mr. Patterson. I would rather that the paper were left to be inserted in the notes, and printed, and that Mr. Menocal take a seat at the table and let us have a table talk, as it were. The chairman can draw out the information which we desire by questions.
The Chairman. How long have you been connected with this enterprise?
Mr. Menocal. Since 1872.
The Chairman. What portion of that time have you spent in Nicaragua in the vicinity of the line of the canal?
Mr. Menocal. In the aggregate, more than six years. I have been in Nicaragua fifteen or sixteen times, and have remained there six months to a year at a time. I have spent on the line of the canal and its surroundings about six years.
The' Chairman. During the time of your residence there, what has been your observation as to the precipitation and volume of water discharged from the lake?
Mr. Menocal. I have made observations as to the rainfall and discharge of the streams and other meteorological conditions.
The Chairman. Your observations have enabled vou to understand every class of phenomena affecting the canal?
Mr. Menocal. Entirely. I do not know that I have a knowledge of what is termed the regimen of the rivers, but I have the maximum and minimum of the rainfall and the floods for a number of years. By observation I have arrived at conclusions in regard to that, especially in Nicaragua, where the rainfall varies. The rainfall changes over 100 inches from one year to another, and in some places it changes as much as 200 inches in a distance of country not more than 200 miles in area.
In order to arrive at the extent or estimate of rainfall; observations must be carried on for a long number of years, and even then the observations for a series of years may be entirely upset by the observations of another series of years.
The Chairman. Have those observations been preserved?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir; they have during the time that I was there. They have not been preserved for an uninterrupted series of years, as they should have been, because we have not remained in the country permanently; but during the time I was there I made observations regularly.
The Chairman. Were they sufficient?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir; to arrive at an approximate of the floods of all the rivers and of the lake. What I have clone has been to estimate the maximum from observations and then to duplicate them, and I base the work proposed for the canal on those figures.
The Chairman. The minimum rainfall seems to be twice as great as the maximum?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir; in Grey Town the precipitation is as much as 290 inches. That was according to daily observations made during three years.
Mr. Joy. Do you mean a rainfall of 296 inches in one year?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir. It varies very much. There is no condition of dry or wet season on the Atlantic coast. It rains most all the year through, and every day, and for that reason the rainfall is usually great. West of the lake the conditions are different. The rainfall is less, and the period of dry and wet season runs each about six months in the year, with an occasional rain every two or three days in the rainy season. As you approach the Atlantic coast the rainfall increases gradually, and from 16 to 20 miles from Greytown on the coast the
rainfall increases very much. In Greytown we have observed rainfall of as much as 296 inches in one year. The largest flood which has been observed in the San Juan Eiver was 42,000 cubic feet per second. In estimating weirs and sluices I have increased that volume 50 per cent, estimating the maximum flood at 63,000 cubic feet per second. I double that in providing for weirs and sluice discharge, and provide for 125,000 cubic feet per second.
The board of engineers base their estimate of the maximum at 150,000 cubic feet per second. I regard that as grossly exaggerated, but it is only a question of weirs. If 125,000 feet, for which 1 have estimated, is not sufficient, let us provide for 150,000 cubic feet. It is only a comparatively small increase of cost.
The Chairman. How long have you been engaged in your profession as an enginer?
Mr. Menocal. Since 1862.
The Chairman. Have you been in the Navy during that time?
Mr. Menocal. I have been in the Navy since 1872. I graduated from the Polytechnic School in Troy, N. Y., in 1862, and have been engaged in my profession ever since.
The Chairman. How long have you been connected with the work on this canal?
Mr. Menocal. Since March, 1872; over twenty-four years.
The Chairman. What relation have you to it now?
Mr. Menocal. I do not know that I have any close relation, any more than I have been chief engineer of the company. I made the surveys through Nicaragua and Panama as chief engineer, the Government having sent me.
The Chairman. Are you a stockholder in the canal?
Mr. Menocal. I have a small interest. I hold some stock. It is only a little which I procured when the company was short of funds, and I contributed some money to help it along.
The Chairman. Has the work done by the Canal Company in the furtherance of its enterprise been done under your supervision?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir.
The Chairman. Has this work been done upon your estimates, and within the estimates made by you?
Mr. Menocal. It has been done inside my estimates. I estimated the railroad at $60,000 per mile, and the road was built by contract for $32,000 per mile. I estimated the telegraph line at $400 per mile, and it was built for less. The clearing of the line was done for less than the estimate, and the same is true of other work.
The Chairman. Have you knowledge of what amount of money has been actually expended?
Mr. Menocal. I know what the work cost, and I know the condition of it now. I was in Nicaragua with the board of engineers.
The Chairman. What work has been done?
Mr. Menocal. We have built 1,000 feet of breakwater; we have dredged a mile of the canal, and cleared the land of trees and rubbish and completed surveys; we have made borings, put up a number of buildings and wharves; we have dredged some in the harbor of Grey-ton, and built 125 miles of telegraph line; we have put up machine shops, carpenter shops, and things like that.
The Chairman. Has any work been done in the canal proper?
Mr. Menocal. We have built about a mile of the canal to the depth of 17 feet. .
The Chairman. When was this work done?
NICARAGUA CANAL. 53
Mr. Menocal. In 1889 to 1891.
The Chairman. What is the condition of that work now?
Mr. Menocal. I want to say that we have also built 12 miles of railroad from Greytown toward the interior. In regard to the condition of the work, it is this: The canal has been excavated through swamps a mile from Greytown, and is in the same condition in which it was left when the work stopped in 1891. The banks are vertical; the material deposited remains the same as when the work was suspended; there have been no slides in the excavation or their banks; the railroad is in excellent condition with the exception that the ties are badly rotted. The ties were pine imported from the United States. The timber of Nicaragua is unfit for railroad ties. Those ties were exported from the United States, and were creosoted, but the creosotiug was very imperfectly done, so that they have rotted out. Otherwise, the railroad is in good condition. The banks are about the same as when the work was suspended. The embankments are perfect, and the rails show very little oxidation. The bridges are in excellent condition, and, to my great surprise, we found that we had no trouble in going over the line, being pulled by men in hand cart.
The Chairm an. When you were there this last summer, did you use the road by trains?
Mr. Menocal. Not by locomotives. We went over the road in hand cars, propelled by men, making about 8 miles an hour. The reason why the locomotive was not used was on account of the condition of the ties.
The Chairman. What is the condition of the breakwater?
Mr. Menocal. It is bad. It was a temporary structure built of creosoted piles, and it was to be made of stone into deep water. It was intended to fill it with stone as soon as the railroad was built to the rock excavation; but the work was suspended before the railroad was carried to the rock excavation, and this breakwater was attacked by the teredo, so that it is in a very bad condition. During the time the breakwater was in good condition, the channel on the lee side was maintained to the depth of 14 feet, so that the ocean steamers came into the harbor.
The Chairman. When the breakwater is built, do you expect that the fiowage of water from the river will scour the channel?
Mr. Menocal. No, sir. The plan is not based upon that principle. The harbor is not closed through sediment brought down by the river directly to the harbor, but by the shifting of the sandsby the action of the waves striking the beach at an angle of about 45 degrees. The sand will accumulate to the eastward of the breakwater. We will then be able to dredge the channel, and as the supply of sand is stopped there will be nothing to fill the channel afterwards.
The Chairman. Can you give to the committee an approximate estimate of the actual expenditure of money required in this enterprisethat is, can you give us the fiscal estimates to carry it forward?
Mr. Menocal. Your question is, how much will be required to be spent to build it. I have nothing to do with the financial affairs of the company. I know that the company has spent between $3,000,000 and $4,000,000.
The Chairman. Do you mean that between $3,000,000 and $4,000,000 have been actually expended on the work?
Mr. Menocal. I am speaking of the w^ork. I do not know what expenditure the company has made upon other things. In Nicaragua the work they have done has amounted to between $3,000,000 and $4,000,000.
The Chairman. Does that include the dredges and other machinery?
Mr. Menocal. It includes the plant, the dredges, the locomotives, and the material on hand when the work was suspended.
The Chairman. What would be your estimate of the present actual value of the work which has been done in actual construction?
Mr. Menocal. 1 would prefer not to give that, because I have made no careful estimate lately, and whatever I would say might be far from the mark.
The Chairman. Is there any considerable portion of the work that could be made available, or which it would be economical to use?
Mr. Menocal. A part of it could be used. The dredges are not in that condition to be put at work at present, but two of the four dredges could be used. The locomotives are in good condition. They have been well housed, and certainly three of them are in good condition. The buildings are in extraordinary good condition, considering the way they have been neglected. The foundations are good, and the woodwork is sound. All the railroad is good, with the exception of the ties. The embankments are well preserved, and the rails are in fair condition. The telegraph line is badly maintained. It would have to be cleared and poles would have to be erected. The ground work of the telegraph is good.
The Chairman. In view of the improvements which have been made in dredging machines, would it be economical for the company to use the old machines?
Mr. Menocal. I think it would not benot for the work which has been estimated. I think it would be more economical to use more improved machines. Some of the dredges there could be of service for certain purposes. v
The Chairman. What is the capacity of those dredges?
Mr. Menocal. Ten thousand cubic yards each per day of twenty
hours. ^ y ; ;
Mr. Doolittle. You work twenty-four hours?
Mr. Menocal. Yes; but there is some time lost in cleaning boilers and making slight repairs. We have never had more than two of the dredges at work. The company did not have the whole plant at work at any one time. We did not have a sufficient number of scows, and we did not have enough money and material to employ the necessary force. The company was in expectation of more funds, but by reasou of financial difficulties they were prevented from doing the work properly and economically.
The Chairman. What is your estimate of the dredging to be done in the harbor at Greytown and on the other side?
Mr. Menocal. I think all the dredging, speaking approximately from memory, would amount to about 25,000,000 cubic yards.
The Chairman. Are you familiar with the modern Bates dredge?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir. I have not seen that dredge at work, but I have seen descriptions of the dredge.
The Chairman. In what portion of the canal could that dredge be
Mr. Menocal. All the material could be removed with that dredge. Mr. Bennktt. At what cost per cubic yard?
Mr. Menocal. It would not cost more than 6 or 8 cents per cubic yard. They are doing very extensive dredging at the harbor in Mobile, and have removed vast quantities of material and dumped it g miles out at sea for 7 cents per cubic yard, and the contractor seems to be doing welL
The Chairman. When you make an estimate of 25,000,000 cubic yards, does that include all the dredging for the canal? Mr. Menocal. It is all the dredging of the canal, the lake, the river,
The Chairman. If you were to become the contractor for that whole work, how much would you diminish your bid by reason of the work already done?
Mr. Menocal. I would diminish it by a considerable amount50 per cent, I should say.
The Chairman. Would it be worth so much as that?
Mr. Menocal. I think it would, if properly utilized.
The Chairman. Were you the agent of the company at the time the concessions were given?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir; there was no company then.
The Chairman. State what was done.
Mr. Menocal. I had made surveys in Nicaragua, became convinced of the practicability of the scheme, and the gentlemen interested in the matter were also believers in the construction of the canal, and they organized a preliminary company, if a company can bo so called. It was nothing but an association. A few of the gentlemen met and asked if I would like to go to Nicaragua and get concessions for the building of a canal. I volunteered to do it. I had been in the country and knew the officials. I went to Nicaragua and got these concessions, and the gentlemen who were interested in the scheme contributed the money for this purpose. When I got to Nicaragua I had no great difficulty in obtaining the concession, and when I came back I turned it over to them. That was my connection with it.
One of the conditions was that final surveys should be completed within eighteen months from the date of the concession. I was asked by the association of gentlemen to go to Nicaragua and make final locations, and I did so, and plans were submitted in time. Afterwards I was asked to go to Costa Rica and get similar concessions to those granted by Nicaragua, and I did so, and turned them over to these gentlemen. I did all this without compensation, except the interest I had in seeing the canal built, believing in it as an engineering proposition.
The Chairman. Those concessions were made in the form of contracts, were they?
Mr. Menocal. They were in the form of contracts between the Government of Nicaragua and this association of gentlemen, with the power on the part of the association to transfer the concessions to a company or organization. When the company was subsequently organized the concessions were transferred to the company.
The Chairman. What provision is there, if any, in that construction grant prohibiting transfer to a Government?
Mr. Menocal. There is such a provisionthat it was not to be transferred to any Government as a whole.
Mr. Bennett. By whom was that inserted?
Mr. Menocal. By the Government of Nicaragua. That clause was in all the concessions which the Government had made to other parties, and it was inserted in this one.
The Chairman. Would there be any violation of the terms of the concession if this association of gentlemen should make an arrangement whereby the Government would obtain control through owning the majority of the stock?
Mr. Menocal. I do not think so. I do not see how there can be, because the conypany would have the right to sell its stock in the
market to such parties as wanted to buy, whether they were agents of the Government or private individuals. The concession does not prohibit the company from selling its stock to the best bidder.
The Chairman. That would be one method by which the company could transfer it, perhaps?
Mr. Menocal. The concession need not be transferred. The company will be in existence, and the majority of the shareholders will control that company, and if the Government holds a majority of the stock, it owns the concession without its being transferred. That is my idea. I see no violation of the concession, and I may say that the officials in Nicaragua have taken the same view.
The Chairman. Have you any objection to stating what consideration in money was given lor that concession?
Mr. Menocal. The Government of Nicaragua was paid $100,000. Fifty thousand dollars was paid to the Government for the right of way west of the lake.
The Chairman. Was any money consideration paid to Costa Rica?
Mr. Menocal. No, sir. There passed through my hands $100,000 of American gold which was paid to the Government of Nicaragua. If anything else has been paid, I am not aware of it. This money was paid at the time the concessions were made.
The Chairman. What other obligations were assumed with reference to giving stock?
Mr. Menocal. The Government of Nicaragua was to receive 6 per cent, and the Government of Costa Rica one-half of that, or o per cent.
The Chairman. Have you any knowledge of the liabilities of the present company?
Mr. Menocal. No, sir; none whatever. My connection with the company is entirely professional. When they have wanted my services as an engineer I have always been willing, and have been able, so far, to assist them. I have nothing to do with the negotiations of the company, and could not tell you now how the stock stands. In fact I have no time for that.
The Chairman. You have no knowledge as to the stockholders or as to the finances?
Mr. Menocal. No, sir. I am not a stockholder as a speculator. I am not acting as an investor. My wife had a little money, and when the company was in financial straits we put it in.
Mr. Patterson. During all this period you were an officer of the United States?
Mr. Menocal. I was; and I was given permission by the Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Whitney, to accept the position of chief engineer of the companyif you refer to the time of the construction and to the concessions.
Mr. Patterson. During this whole service.
Mr. Menocal. All my service has been given to the company under orders from the Government.
Mr. Patterson. During that time you were in the service of the Government?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir. I have made surveys as the chief engineer and as the head of a surveying expedition as an officer of the Government. I was ordered there to do this work.
Mr. Patterson. How long have you been an officer of the Government?
Mr. Menocal. Since 1872 in the Navy. Whenever I have gone to Nicaragua to do anything I have done so with the special permission
of the Government to engage myself in that work, knowing exactly for what purpose I was sent, and I have with me an indorsement on my application from Secretary Whitney stating the great importance to the people of the United States of this enterprise, and that it was the least the Government could do to give me this leave in order that my services could be given to the enterprise.
Mr. Bennett. Usually in engineering work of this character it is done in sections, and the cost of each section is estimated?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir.
Mr. Bennett. Which section of the canal is most expensive?
Mr. Menocal. The most expensive section is the deep excavation 21 miles, nearly 3 milesa little over 15,000 feet. That represents 21 per cent of the cost of the whole.
Mr. Bennett. From the harbor at Greytown, is that one section?
Mr. Menocal. That is one section, as far as the deep cut; then to the river is another section; then from the river to the lake is another section. The fourth section is between the lake and the Pacific Ocean.
Mr. Bennett. The section from Greytown is the most expensive?
Mr. Menocal. Yes.
Mr. Bennett. At what do you estimate the cost of the Ochoa dam? Mr. Menocal. Inside of $2,000,000.
Mr. Bennett. What do you estimate the cost of the middle section?
Mr. Menocal. The deep cut? It is difficult to remember those figures, but about $13,000,000, I should think, speaking from memory.
Mr. Bennett. At what do you estimate the cost of the section between Greytown and the deep cut?
Mr. Menocal. The canal, locks and all, would cost about $10,000,000.
Mr. Bennett. Then you go over to the other side of the lake, where there are two dams and wasteweir and the Ochoa dam?
Mr. Menocal. There is only one weir. Weirs are not expensive. They can be built on the top of the hill on the solid foundation, and would require only strengthening.
Mr. Bennett. From the deep cut to the other side are there no especial engineering difficulties to overcome?
Mr. Menocal. There is no serious engineering work in the whole line of the canal, any more than we meet with every day. The Ochoa dam is a heavy piece of work. It is not regarded as a serious undertaking, considering modern methods.
Mr. Bennett. From the deep cut to the other side of the lake there is no practical difficulty, nothing to be done but dredging?
Mr. Menocal. Dredging the lake and river. Between the lake and the Pacific the excavations are small70 feet to the bottom of the canal and 42 feet to the level of the canal.
Mr. Bennett. What would be your estimate of construction from the lake to the Pacific coast?
Mr. Menocal. The whole section is estimated at $14,000,000.
Mr. Sherman. Is it not true that the cost of every portion of the work of this canal has, by reason of the invention of modern machinery, been decreased since you made your estimate?
Mr. Menocal. Very much so. Our estimates were nearly double what similar work has been done for in this country since that time.
Mr. Bennett. You have only gotten up to $40,000,000 for the work in the figures you have given me.
Mr. Menocal. There is other detailed work of importance, such as the harbor and breakwater. The full estimate is $05,000,000.
Mr. Bennett. Do you tliiuk it can be completed for $65,000,000?
Mr. Menocal. It can be completed inside of $70,000,000, and built of the dimensions proposeda ship canal larger than any in the world to-day.
Mr. Bennett. To what depth of water?
Mr. Menocal. Thirty feet throughout, except at the level of the sea, where I have estimated only 28 feet, which gives a proper depth of water. The reason the estimate was limited to that was because that is all the traffic requires, and it can be increased to a greater depth if needed. But I do not think it will be needed. There is no ship canal to-day over 28 feet deep.
Mr. Joy. What is the depth of the Suez Canal?
Mr. Menocal. Twenty-six feet. It was 22 feet, but it has been gradually deepened. Perhaps now it is 24 feet throughout. We have estimated a depth of 28 feet at the level of the sea, and it can be dredged and made deeper later on, if necessary, when the traffic requires it. Except as to the dredging in the river, the canal is 30 feet in depth. To increase the depth afterwards would not be expensive.
Mr. Joy. It has been stated publicly that during the greater part of the year there is a calm existing on both sides of the canal.
Mr. Menocal. That is not the case. There is a constant breeze from Greytown to Brito. The trade winds never fail in Greytown, nor on the Pacific Coast. They blow right through. The breeze was so strong, and blew so steadily off shore, that we found it difficult to make surveys, for fear of our boats being capsized. *
Mr. Patterson. Did you accompany the Commission which recently
visited the site of this canal?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir.
Mr. Patterson. I would like you to state somewhat in detail what opportunities those gentlemen had for observation and reaching correct conclusions, and wherein they differ from you in their estimates; and if so, why.
Mr. Menocal. The Commission was in Nicaragua altogether forty days. Of these forty days, a total of two weeks, more or less, was spent in examining the canal route, or rather the canal route and vicinity. Some places they touched and others they did not. These gentlemen traveled by the most comfortable methods, either through the woods or along the roads, so that they were only two weeks examining the canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast. They were detained in Greytown both on the arrival and before leaving.
The Chairman. Please state just what methods they used.
Mr. Menocal. They arrived in Greytown and remained a week waiting for a steamer that was to bring certain outfit for the Commission. They had ordered this outfit, but the Commission arrived before the steamer containing the outfit arrived, and they waited a week for it. They then went up the river and had to transfer in the river from one steamer to another at two different points. They then came to the lake and went to Fort San Carlos. There is only one steamer on the lake, and when they arrived it was not there, and the Commission had to stay two days waiting for this steamer. In those three days they made a trip up the river running south, and they also took a river steamer and went out into the lake and took borings and soundings. They came back to Fort San Carlos and waited for the river steamer. When it arrived they got aboard and went to St. George, on the other side of the lake, where they landed their party and the Commissioners, and went to the capitol to visit the President. Next day, in the evening,
they arrived at Rivas, 3 miles distant, from the lake and there they stayed two or three days hunting horses and other means of transportation to go over the line of the canal. On the morning of the third day they left Rivas and went toward the Pacific Coast to a point 3 miles from Brito and passed the night. Up to this time nothing had been seen of the canal. On the following morning they went to Brito, leaving cam]) about 7 o'clock a. in. Arriving at Brito they stayed there, and the gentlemen had time to take baths and look around a little. They then came back to the same camp, following more or less the line of the canal. The other days were spent in traveling. The line had been cleared for the Commission from one end to the other. Mr. Patterson. Were any borings made?
Mr. Menocal. No, sir. 1 had instruments at all places to verify everything, and they had some also, but no surveys were made. They continued in this way, traveling 0 or 7 miles a day to the lake, and then went to Rivas for transportation across the lake. After they got across the lake, they went to Fort San Carlos and spent a day waiting for connections, and drifted down the river to Ochoa. At Ochoa they landed in the afternoon of one day about 2 o'clock, and looked around a little, visited the ridge line and the region of the San Carlos basin south of Ochoa. They spent one day going aud one day coming back. On the second day they arrived, and the next morning they started on their way across to Greytown. They were six days in that section.
Mr. Patterson. If I understand you, no instruments were used except what you furnished.
Mr. Menocal. Not by the Commission.
Mr. Patterson. And my information further is that in locating the route of this canal by you every part of the line was examined and bored and that you knew exactly what its formation was, and the soil and every kind of material through which you must go in order to make the canal?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir; I had taken 696 borings.
Mr. Patterson. Nothing of that kind was done by this Commission ?
Mr. Menocal. No, sir.
Mr. Patterson. And they had no data, except what they got from you ?
Mr. Menocal. They had nothing, except the data I furnished. I want to say this to remove misapprehension. I must say that they ran lines around Greytown while they were waiting. Only a part of our instruments were used. After they left Greytown they sent a party back to make a survey of the confluents of two rivers. I will point that out on the large map. As we were about leaving Greytown they sent some of the party to make this examination, aud the result fully confirms what had been made previously by me.
Mr. Patterson. There are two questions in that connection. Would it not be possible for a board of engineers who wore in possession of the maps and profiles, surveys, and all the data with which you are familiar to have made this investigation and report as well in the privacy of an office in Washington as to make report on the cursory kind of examination and survey which they gave?
Mr. Menocal. 1 think so.
Mr. Patterson. They simply walked over the country there without aim and without any data further than you furnished?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir. I had an assistant with me with all the plans, and wherever we touched the line my assistant took the plans, p; ofiles, and borings, and I called their attention to it and asked them to
examine the plans. I said: UI want you to satisfy yourselves that
these plans are correct, and I want to show you where the borings were taken." I took them to places where the borings were made, and they saw the core of the rock and the lay of the ground.
Mr. Patterson. Does the difference between your estimate of the cost of this canal and the estimate of the Commission grow out of any defect or criticism of your work ?
Mr. Menocal. No, sir.
Mr. Patterson. Or does it involve additional work?
Mr. Menocal. There is no criticism of the work, and yet there is some criticism of what they think the work ought to be. The board admits the practicability of the canal as proposed by the company, but they have proposed changes which tend to increase the cost, and which are entirely unnecessary. They say that the channel in the river should not be less than 250 feet wide, and in the lake it should not be less than 300. The company wanted to build a canal economically, which would accommodate the traffic of the world. They wanted to, at the same time, build it for such an amount of money as would pay a reasonable return upon the capital invested. They intended that it could be enlarged when the traffic of the ocean required it.
The Chairman. With the facilities the board had, how long would
it have required to have verified all of your work?
Mr. Menocal. Oh, that would have required several years' work and observations if they had attempted to verify the surveys and borings in detail. I told the Commissioners that the surveys and borings had all been carefully made; that I had an accurate record of them all; that a large number of men were employed in the work, and that I had engineers of experience to conduct the work. I was repeatedly told by them that they had no reason to doubt the accuracy of our surveys. I followed them step by step, with profiles and maps and plans, showing the results of the borings and surveys, and called their attention constantly to the different parts of the route, and very frequently invited them to verify those plans, maps, and surveys. It is said that we did not take borings enough at the site of the Ochoa Dam. I think we have. We have taken seventeen borings there, which show only two kinds of material, clay abutments and sand, in the bed of the river. We have penetrated sufficiently to satisfy us that a stone dam there is not practicable, except at enormous cost; that the building of such an expensive dam is unnecessary, and that other methods must be applied in order to obtain the necessary results of impounding the water to the necessary elevation.
Mr. Doolittle. Do you mean a masonry dam?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir; that such a dam is commercially impracticable. That it could be built, but it would be enormously expensive. Knowing that and satisfying ourselves by the 17 borings at the site of the dam that there was no rock foundation, and that we had only clay hills as abutments and sand in the bed of the river, we arrived at another method for building the dam, which we regard as safer and cheaper, than a masonry dam, and the dam we propose I believe to be indestructible either by floods or earthquakes. This dam is very simple. Having strengthening abutments of clay hills on both sides of the river, the method proposed is merely to dump the stone obtained from that deep excavation into the bed of the river, giving the dam a very large base as compared to the height. That is to say, the height of the dam will be about GO feet above the bed of the river. I propose to give it a base of about 1,000 feet, composed of large rocks, weighing from 4 to 10 tons deposited in the bed of the river, the voids to be
filled by smaller material, ami then an embankment on the upper side of the dam of still smaller material, to make the dam tight, as required to impound the waters of the river. Such a dam will leak, but our object is not to store water, but only to arrest the free flow so as to raise it to a certain elevation. When we have raised the water to that elevation our object is accomplished, and if a portion of the surplus waters percolate through the dam there is no harm done. The dam will eventually become tight. This is inevitable by the silt of the river itself. This is a simple description of what we propose to do. We propose to build that dam contending with the flow of the river. In fact, I believe that the only safe way to build a dam is by contending with the flow of the river, so as to assist us in distributing this material until every stone and every pebble has found arresting place. The Commission has stated in its report that the dam is practicable, but that they propose some modifications; one of which I think is unnecessary but extremely expensive, the other I think will lead to disaster if carried out.
Mr. Doolittle. Is the current of the San Carlos of any assistance in this work?
Mr. Menocal. It forms part of the San Juan itself, and we ignore the San Carlos, for the reason that it is already merged in the San Juan and becomes a part of the main river, the dam being 5 miles below the confluence of the two rivers.
Mr. Noonan. In reply to a question of Mr. Patterson you stated that those Commissioners could compile their report as well from the data which you have as by going over the ground. Don't you think there is some advantage in getting a contour of the country?
Mr. Menocal. They did get the contour of the country. None of them had visited the tropics, I believe, and they got an idea of the country and shores. I believe none of them had been south of Key West, and everything was novel to themthe country and vegetation and animals and rivers. Everything was new to them, the rainfalls and the heat of the sunall this was novel.
Mr. Noonan. If those men had experience, would it not give them some idea of the cost to travel as they did over the route proposed?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir; I think so.
Mr. Noonan. Without actually surveying?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir; I think so.
Mr. Noonan. That is, give them a safe conjecture in regard to it?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir; observation, no matter how short the time, will enable one to arrive at conclusions that can not well be reached by other methods.
Mr. Noonan. My object in asking you this question was to have you qualify your answer to the question of Mr. Patterson. My question was what might be called a leading question.
Mr. Menocal. I think this, that some of the examinations were very superficial. I was speaking only of this particular case when I answered Mr. Patterson. I had only in mind the superficial examination made by this board. In order to be materially assisted by the inspection of the ground the engineers ought to have been there in the rainy and dry seasonsto be there at different times of the year as the-rainfall varies very much. An inspection of two weeks in either the rainy season or the dry season, or the season intermediate between the two, gives only a very superficial knowledge, which is misleading, because they ji^lge from the conditions they have been able to observe in that short length of time. This statement is verified by the great divergence of opinion between the members of the Board and practical
contractors, who had spent several months in Nicaragua both in the rainy season and in the dry season. These gentlemen went there for the purpose of getting the necessary information to enable them to bid for the work, when the company was getting ready to commence the construction, and they spent six or eight monthseven more than thatin that country. They offered to build this railroad through the swamps, which is regarded as the most difficult part of the line, and over a portion of the hilly country also, to see how they could handle the men, how much it would cost them, and what work they could get out of the men. Contractors from Chicago and from California were there for quite a long time, and they built this railroad, as I have said, for about one-half the estimated cost. These gentlemen, after gaining all this experience, are now ready to bid for the whole work of the canal inside of my estimate.
Mr. Joy. You say they are ready to bid for this work inside your estimate?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir; to build that canal, and these men know what they are talking about. They not only followed every boring we took, and followed the engineers and camped out with the engineers, but then looked into the question of how much work they could get out of a laborer, and volunteered to build that railroad for the cost, with 10 per cent to pay for the clerical work.
Mr. Corliss. Do I understand you that the contractors are ready to take the contract for this entire work, according to your plan, inside of your estimate of $65,000,000?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir.
Mr. Bennett. Those gentlemen would be willing to appear before this committee?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir; I think so. I have a letter from one of them now, saying that they are willing to take the contract inside of my estimates, for the different parts of the work; or, otherwise, they will take a contract to build the whole canal, bear the entire expense, and run all risks, inside of $100,000,000.
Mr. Patterson. The thought I had was this: That while intelligent and educated gentlemen, engineers, might walk or ride through a country and form a general idea of its topography, yet such information, when it came to estimating the cost of a canal, its excavation and the material that would have to be excavated and the amount of the material and all that, is worth but very little.
Mr. Menocal. Very little; yes, sir, and may be misleading.
Mr. Patterson. And at last it must be based upon the actual surveys, the profiles, and data.
Mr. Menocal. Our plans are so complete and perfectand the Board had to admit thatthat any engineer can get a perfect knowledge of the topography of the country by an inspection of these plans and charts. Every boring is marked. In the dee]) cut we have taken many borings, and at the sites of the locks, I think, 120 borings were made. It was almost unnecessary to bore as much as that, because the materials are uniform.
Mr. Bennett. Have you a side elevation of the proposed canal?
Mr. Menocal. I do not know that I have it here. I will see.
Mr. Doolittle. Before you proceed with that, allow me to ask one question. Please state about what length of time the engineers spent at the Ochoa dam, and tell about the examination that was made there, at the site of the dam.
Mr. Menocal. Not any. They did not examine the site of the dam;
they passed by it.
Mr. Bennett. If they passed by such an important piece of work, estimated to cost millions of dollars, without investigating it, what would their investigation amount to?
Mr. Menocal. I am not prepared to answer that. I only say they passed by there. I had fixed all their camps so that they would have an opportunity of examining the most important sites, and one of the camps was at the Ochoa Dam itself. They slept there two nights, and, as I said, they went one day to examine the adjacent hills. I had a camp here [exhibiting on map], and six days7 provisions, and a number of engineers. They arrived in the afternoon and looked around for half a mile or so and came back to the camp; the next morning they started for the San Carlos ridge line. I sent the boats here to bring them back [exhibiting on the map], and on the following day they found them here and brought them back, and they arrived at the camp about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Next morning they started to look over the line of the canal and never had any time for an examination of the site of the dam.
Mr. Doolittle. What examination did they make personally of the river from Ochoa to the lakethat is, as to the material?
Mr. Menocal. They went up the river in a steamboat, traveling at night occasionally. In the daytime they could see the banks; at night nothing.
Mr. Doolittle. In this report, a considerable sum is added to your estimate on account of supposed rock excavation in the bed of the river.
Mr. Menocal. That is due more especially to the larger dimensions proposed by the Board. They do not question our estimates so far as the quality of the material to be removed is concerned, although it is hinted here and there that the borings are not sufficient, but still they think that the material estimated as dredging is dredging and what I estimate as rock is rock. The fact is, that wherever there were indications of rock I estimated it as all rock. In the river the width is estimated at 125 feet, as I said before, and the Board has increased that to 250 feet, and it is estimated at 300 feet in the bends of the river. They have also increased the cost of both the dredging and the rock excavation in the river considerably. The rock excavation has been raised from $3 a cubic yard to $5, and the dredging has been increased by about 50 per cent of my estimates.
Mr. Wanger. They add $1,000,000 for hospital. Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir; we had as many as 2,500 men employed in Nicaragua, and we built hospitals to accommodate all the sick in that length of time, and I believe the cost of the hospitals, outfit, and everything complete did not exceed $25,000. We were very highly complimented by those who visited the canalEnglish and American officers and engineersupon our hospital arrangements. I think the hospital was as perfectly conducted and managed as any hospital is in any part of the worldnot so luxurious as some, but we had a Jarge staff of officers and all the necessary supplies and comforts for the sick. It did not cost the company, I think, buildings and all, together with instruments and bedding, and all that, more than $40,000. I think that $200,000 will provide for all the hospitals and appliances thereto along the whole line of the canal. Of course, a great deal more can be spent if it is desired to put up luxurious buildings, as was done in Panama. There $4,000,000 were spent for this purpose alone.
Mr. Joy. The Commission say that they deem the building of this dam impracticable on account of the dangerous foundation on which it would have to be built. What have you to say as to the foundation?
Mr. Menocal. I think their conclusions, as you will see in the report,
are that the rock-fill dam is practical, but they have added a great deal on account of the methods they propose for strengthening the abutments. They have increased the estimate from $50,000 to $500,000, and have also increased the cost by 81,500,000, providing for a series of sluices in the vicinity of the dam to get rid of the river during the construction of this mound. I call the dam a mound. That is what it isjust a pile of rocks. On account of these sluices they have added $1,500,000.
Mr. Cojiliss. That would be a detriment.
Mr. Menocal. I regard the estimate of $500,000 for strengthening the dam as a gross exaggeration; and I regard the other estimate of $1,500,000 to take away the flow of the river during the construction of the dam as dangerous and likely to lead to disaster. My proposition is to build this dam with the assistance of tbe river. Stones will be dumped, as many as are required, and the river will assist us in depositing these stones, until every one of them has obtained a resting place.
Mr. Doolittle. Until a barrier, like one of nature's barriers, is created there.
Mr. Menocal. Necessarily. We will continue dumping these stones, and the water will gradually rise, small material tilling in the voids. As I have stated, the river itself will aid us in building this great mound across the river. While we are dumping these big rocks in the river, of course we are all the time contending with the flow of the water, and when we have completed the dam we have controlled the element with which we have been contending. But, on the other hand, if you take away the river from this mound and build it free from the water, the result will be that when you bring the river back, and the water acts with a hydraulic head on the dam and the foundations, there will be a sudden settling of the mass. This will take place suddenly, instead of gradually. The mass of stone will sink, a portion be carried away, and the repairs would be very expensive. This is the main point upon which we mainly differ from the board. The board thinks a masonry dam will be better. It can not be brought within a reasonable cost, and I believe this rock-fill dam is the best and cheapest.
Mr. Joy. Where is there to-day existing any dam of considerable dimensions similarly constructed to the dam proposed by you at Ochoa?
Mr. Menocal. There are several in India thousands of feet in length and on sandy river beds, not across such an insignificant river as the San Juan, which is insignificant compared with the Ganges or other Indian rivers. The Gauges is a river of enormous flow. Over some ol the dams in India over 1,000,000 cubic feet of water flow per second in times of flood, the water running in some cases 20 feet above the weirs. In Nicaragua it is estimated that the greatest flow of water over the dam will be 150,000 cubic feet per second, not much more than a tenth of the flow over the Indian dams; and yet these dams are built in a soft river bed, with soft soil banks. They have stood there for years; not as high as the Ochoa dam. It is only a question of proportion of dimensions. The highest of them in India is perhaps 22 feet. That is the highest I know of. In Nicaragua it will be a little over double that, with the advantage that in building the Nicaragua dam we have all the stone that is required. It is right there. It only has to be blasted and dumped in the river.
Mr. Doolittle. How far from the dam is the stone?
Mr. Menocal. About 12 miles. You could not get a better dumping place.
Mr. Joy. At these points, where you propose to erect the locks, have your borings demonstrated that you can find a solid foundation?
Mr. Menocal. No question about that. There is not the least doubt about that. At the sites of some of the locks there were as many as a hundred borings made. It is not rock foundation, but hard clay foundation, which is equivalent to soft rockbetter, because it is perfectly water-tight.
Mr. Corliss. Why, in your judgment, did the board feel it necessary to recommend a wider excavation in the river than that planned by yourself?
Mr. Menocal. I do not know. Perhaps because the board was familiar with the canals connecting the Great Lakes, and with other similar canals. We propose a ship canal, through which there will pass only G, 8, or 10 ships a day. They probably had in view canals with which they were familiar. For example, there passed through the Sault Ste. Marie Canal, according to figures for the last season of 231 days, about 17,000,000 tonnage in that time, or at the rate of about 26,000,000 tons a year. The canal was open for navigation 231 days in the last year I have, in which time there passed through about 18,000 vessels, steamers, tugs, ships, scows, etc. There is such competition on the tonnage that passes through that canal that every minute and every mile counts. Passing to the Nicaragua Canal, the traffic there will probably not exceed 10,000,000 tons. The company has never estimated that much or about 7 or 8 ships a day, 2,500 tons average capacity. Instead of saving 50 or 100 miles by the Nicaragua Canal, as is the case with these Great Lakes canals in some cases, there will be a saving of hundreds and thousands of miles, and therefore the loss of a few hours or a few days plays no part whatever in the question of the trip from one point to another. So you see the great difference between the one and the other.
Now, these gentlemen in considering the Nicaragua Canal had in mind the conditions existing in connection with the canals at the Great Lakes. The conditions are entirely different. There is no ship canal to-day that has the dimensions we propose for the Nicaragua Canal. The Suez Canal to-day is not 100 feet wicfe throughout the whole length. Lately they have commenced to enlarge it, and it is 112 feet for some of its length. The Manchester Canal has just been completed with a width of 120 feet; the Kiel Canal 85 feet. We have proposed 125 feet in the river, 150 feet in the lake, and 100 feet in the rock excavation. This is to be wider than the Kiel Canal and the Suez Canal.
The Chairman. Would there not be this difference in the canals you have mentioned: They have soft bottom and sides, while here they are made of jagged rocks, which would make greater width necessary?
Mr. Menocal. You mean between the lakes? The channel between the lakes is excavated as well. There the vessels pass going at full speed. In the Nicaragua Canal it is not estimated that they will go more than 5 or 6 miles an hour. I have a letter from the chief engineer of the Manchester Canal. I asked him if he thought there was any difficulty of ships passing at all points, with the canal 120 feet wide 5 feet less than I have proposed, in the river, and the same depth in all other portions, except the deep cutand he tells me that there will be no difficulty whatever in their passing at all times and meeting at all places, at the rate of 6 miles an hour. I have this letter from the chief engineer of the London docks. At any rate, we have numerous basins in the river itself and the artificial basins that we have made, and the traffic can be so regulated that there will be no necessity for passing at all points. It is not intended to pass at all points. It has not been done in the Suez Canal. Why should this be made an exception to all other ship canals in the world?
Mr. Joy. Ton propose to use the river in place of the canal at Ochoa. What is the sharpest curvature? Mr. Menocal. Three thousand feet.
Mr. Joy. Can one of the large vessels go through without a towboat?
Mr. Menocal. Yes, sir; we have the opinion of the experience of naval officers and experienced captains of merchant shipscaptains of the Pacific Mail steamers, who have gone over the ground with me. It is their opinion that there will be no difficulty whatever in ships going through. However, in one or two points I have estimated to cut off the bend of the river to a considerable extent.
Mr. Bennett. Then a ship going through with its own power would not injure it?
Mr. Menocal. The sides of the canal are supposed to be lined with stone anyway where the sides are soft. Mr. Joy. llow much distance in the lake do you figure will have to
be excavated ?
Mr. Menocal. Fourteen miles to get a 30-foot depth of water. Now, in regard to this width of the canal. First, the canal is estimated at 120 feet wide. The slopes are estimated at 3 to 1, and in the lake also 3 to 1. Maybe in the lake it will require as much as 5 to 1. If you take a ship drawing 20 feet of water, you will have 180 feet between the banks. You see by the slope there would be 180 instead of 120 feet, and in the lake there would be still more, because the slopes are flat. So, while we have estimated 120 feet, that is only at the bottom, and as the average draft of ships would be about 20 feet and the maximum 25 feetthere are few anywhere to-day more than thatthere would be a margin in all cases very much larger than we have proposed.
Mr. Joy. You do not think there will be any danger of the flooding of the sands by the action of the water and by the excavation in the lake itself?
Mr. Menocal. No, sir; I do not. There is no current there, and there is no reason why it should. The lake is large and the discharge is comparatively small. The basins are small as compared to the area of the section. Consequently, the current in the lake is imperceptible.
Mr. Corliss. Would it not have a tendency to lower the level?
Mr. Menocal. No, sir; it would be an average of 110 feet above sea level by the Ochoa dam. Necessarily there would be fluctuations. The level would probably fluctuate 3 feetfrom 108 J feet to, say, 111 I do not think the Commission disagrees with me, but they seem to have thought that when I said 110 feet above sea level that I meant this level was permanent. I could not mean anything of the kind, because the lake must fluctuate up and down between the rainy and the dry seasons, and when I said 110 feet I meant the average. It may fall a foot and a half. It may rise a foot and a half above that, yet leaving a greater depth than we have in any ship canal in the world to-day.
A REVIEW OP THE REPORT OP THE BOARD OF ENGINEERS, APPOINTED UNDER ACT OF CONGRESS, TO EXAMINE AND REPORT UPON THE NICARAGUA CANAL PROJECT.
By Civil Engineer A. G. Menocal, U. S. N.
To anyone familiar with the project of the interoceanic canal across the American Isthmus, as it is proposed to be constructed by the Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua, the first and continually x>rominent
fact that commands attention in considering the report of the Board of Engineers appointed by the United States Government to consider the feasibility, etc., of the enterprise, is that the subject is treated by the company and by the Board from two entirely different and distinct points of view.
The company regards and has treated the project as a business enterprise, with a view to commercial requirements, technical success, and financial results. The Board entirely ignores two of these conditions and considers it from the point of unlimited expenditure without any question as to financial results, and provides beyond commercial requirements of the present for the accommodation of demands that, at the utmost, can only be claimed to be rarely occasional.
The only point on which there is agreement is the entire feasibility of the project. As to this, the claims of the company are conceded by the Board, and any difference that exists as to the methods by which the work may be achieved is measurable by increased cost of construction.
Whether such increase of cost is a necessary factor in the problem is then the question at issue, and that to which I have particularly directed my attention.
In discussing this question it is my purpose to review in the most concise form consistent with the importance of the subject the conclusions set forth in the report, and to show that the numerous changes proposed along the route, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, are the natural result of the premises on which the Board appears to have acted and their insufficient observations, made on a hasty trip through the territory traversed by the canal, which touched the canal route here and there only, as was most convenient to the line of travel followed, and the consequent imperfect knowledge of the physical condi tions, of the problems, and of the amount and character of the work previously done to develop and utilize to the best advantages the natural features of the country, the necessary requirements of the canal proposed to be built by the company, and the provisions and spirit of the concessions under which the canal is to be built.
The canal projected and estimated for by the company is intended to be built and operated by a private corporation, with private capital and as a business enterprise. It is to be large enough to pass safely all the traffic likely to seek the route, but to be constructed economically, so as to pay reasonable returns on the capital invested. There is a marked distinction between such a waterway and an ideal canal, of ideal proportions, built regardless of cost. It is claimed that the canal designed by the company is ample to satisfy the requirements of commerce and larger in its dimensions than any other ship canal built and in actual operation in the world, except, if they can be classed as ship canals, the waterways joining the American lakes, in which the conditions of traffic are peculiar to those localities and entirely different from those pertaining to ocean traffic.
It is quite remarkable that in the numerous changes proposed by the Board there is not one in the line of economy or in the interest of a better canal. On the well-recognized principle that the best engineering consists in obtaining the results desired at the least expense, increase in dimensions of locks, channels, etc., beyond what is actually needed for the safe and commodious passage of ships, which involve enormously increased expense in first cost, can not be accepted as improvements in such a business enterprise as is contemplated by the company.
The Board lays considerable stress on what is claimed to be the insufficiency of the hydraulic and geological data collected by the com-
pany, and dwells at great length on the need of the fullest and most precise information, accurately recorded and carefully studied, of the varying rainfall and floods of the lake and rivers, the gauging of all the water courses concerned, following their variations of volume and velocity throughout their ranges, etc., before engineering works, such as have been proposed for the construction of the canal, can be decided upon; and adds that, even with such data most carefully ascertained, allowance would still have to be made for possibilities occurring at long intervals. This information, the Board says, has not been secured.
The importance of such data in designing and executing the works proposed is fully recognized and the deficiency referred to in the records of the company is admitted; but all practical engineers are aware of the fact that, even in countries of limited and comparatively regular rainfall, the attainment of such information must be the result of many years of persistent, careful investigations, extending over a large area of territory, with numerous permanent points of observation. In a country like Central America, where the range of rainfall in the same locality varies as much as 100 inches from one year to another, and 200 inches or more in the same year between points less than 100 miles apart, theories based upon observations extending over twenty years may be entirely upset the twenty-first. It is a well-known fact that the lowest water level of the Mississippi River and of other large streams in the United States has not yet been established, and that after many years of constant observations and the expenditure of many million dollars in their improvement, the regime of the streams is but approximately known. It is also well known that the works undertaken by the Army engineers for improvement of the navigation of Columbia River, at Cascade Falls, were designed, and construction commenced on them, after many years of careful observations of the rainfall and when the r6gime of the river was supposed to have been satisfactorily established; yet the flood of 1894 rose several feet above the tops of the works, which, consequently, will have to be raised, at considerable additional cost, to bring them above the new high-water mark. To defer the designing of the Nicaragua Canal until all the precise hydraulic data required by the Board is accurately recorded and the regime of the lake and of the numerous water courses affected by its construction are fully determined would be equivalent to putting off the execution of the work indefinitely.
The concessions granted by the Nicaraguan Government provided, under penalty of forfeiture, that the final surveys for the location of the canal should be completed within eighteen months from the date allowed for commencement, and that the final plans be filed and the work of construction commenced within two and a half years from the date of the grant. The fragmentary hydraulic data obtainable in that short length of time, while the project was in process of development, would have been of no more value in connection with the design of dams, weirs, and other works, than will be the information proposed to be obtained by the Board in the eighteen months, additional surveys recommended.
In the absence of this unattainable exact information the engineer familiar with the topography and varied meteorological conditions of the country must assume generally coordinate conditions on which his works are based, and then to be on the side of safety make liberal allowances for a possible maximum. The work of preparation and actual construction will extend through a number of years, during which valuable data will be secured, to which the works must be adjusted in
their completion. There is no other practical method possible under the circumstances, and with the proper exercise of judgment the work is reduced to a minimum. This method is also much simpler than to go through lengthy, complicated theoretical calculations, based on assumed watersheds, rainfalls, and runoffs, all far from actual conditions, and leading to conclusions worse than valueless, because, to those unfamiliar with the country, they are misleading. In the case of the River San Juan, at Ochoa, it was assumed that the maximum flood might reach 63,000 cubic feet per second, and provisions were made for a discharge of more than double that amount from the basin of the San Juan, with a maximum rise not exceeding 4 feet. The Board has returned from its trip to Nicaragua with the impression that the maximum flood may reach 150,000 cubic feet per second. This estimate is, in my opinion, a rough and excessive guess; but assuming it to be nearer the correct figure than the company's estimate, the problem is reduced to one of detail; that is, to increasing the length of weir crest and sluiceways so as to provide for the estimated additional discharge. That the minimum flow of the River San Juan may be less than 11,390 cubic feet per second, as shown by the gauging of May, 1872, is not disputed, as the lowest level of the river has not been established, but the extraordinary low water of that year is a matter of record recognized by boatmen and those living along the stream, but that the flow may be as little as one-half or one-third that amount is not admitted, and the rough gauging made by the board near the lake in May, 1895, can not be accepted as of sufficient value for comparison.
The maximum fluctuations of the lake level, as near as can be determined from the information obtainable, is about 10 feet. The level 96.6, given by the Board as reported by an engineer in Nicaragua, is inadmissible, as such low lake would practically cat off the flow of the San Juan below Toro Rapids, an event not recorded in the history of the country. The fluctuations of lake level and discharge will be controlled by the Ochoa dam. The flow of the river will be more uniform by reason of enlarged sectional area in the created storage reservoirs and lessened fluctuations of lake level; and with an intelligent management of the sluices and weirs, at both the western and eastern ends of the summit level, there is no reason why the lake should not be maintained within 1 feet of the assumed 110-foot level, as proposed in the company's plans. With the regimen of the river and lake thus regulated, the flow will be more uniform and far more in excess of the amount required for necessary lockage than has been estimated.
The Board questions the estimate of three-quarter inch per mile slope allowed in the river from the lake to Ochoa, and, without assigning valid reasons or presenting any figures to disprove it, presents an estimated slope of two-tenths feet for this entire distance, based on a discharge of 10,000 feet per second. There is no data at hand on which to base computations conducive to even approximate results, as the constantly varying section of the river and conditions of the banks and the contractions and expansions of the flooded valley at every point will result in variable conditions of flow, which can not now be ascertained. But it is of direct interest to observe, in this connection, that in the section of the river called "Aguas Muertas," between Machuca Rapids and the confluence of the river San Carlos, where for a distance of 18 miles the depth varies from 40 to 80 feet, the slope of the river, for a flow of 11,000 cubic feet, is nearly 1 inch per mile. The sectional area of the river above Machuca Rapids, as modified by the dam,
and exclusive of expansions of the valley where the current will be nil, will not vary materially from the dimensions given for the "Aguas Muertas" section, and it may be fairly estimated that the slope will be about the same. Nearly similar conditions of slope obtain between the lake and Toro Rapids. The estimated slope of three-quarter inch to the mile assumed for the plan of the canal is, therefore, insisted upon as approximately correct until disproved by some substantial reason or by computations not yet submitted by the Board, and the unsupported assertion that the lake level of 110 feet will be extended to Ochoa, and that the dam and embankments should be raised 4 feet by reason thereof is, in my opinion, unwarranted and inadmissible, and the increased cost due to that change should be regarded as an unreasonable addition to the estimates.
The Board attaches considerable importance to retaining the lake level at or above 110, and believes that any fall from that level will be injurious to navigation in the river and canal. There is no foundation for the statement. The canal is projected to be, ultimately, 30 feet deep throughout from ocean to ocean, but in order to reduce first cost of construction the river section and the sea-level sections of the canal have been estimated with a depth of 28 feet, the additional 2 feet to be excavated after the canal is open to traffic. It is claimed that the lake level can be maintained within a range of 3 feet, or within 1 feet of 110, and the Board does not seem to dispute it. Should the lake fall 18 inches below the 110-foot level the excavated channel in the river will yet have a depth of 26 feet, or 6 inches more than the Manchester and Suez canals, and the sections of canal in excavation a depth of 28 feet, or deeper than any ship canal in the world. That is to say, the lake may fall 2 feet below the assumed summit level, 110, and all the sections of the river and canal in excavation will yet remain deeper than any other canal now in successful operation, and there is no apparent reason why this canal should be made deeper than experience has conclusively shown to be sufficient elsewhere.
Owing to lack of time and the pressing need of carefully surveying and developing vast sections of the# country not previously examined and entering as important factors into the problem of designing and estimating the cost of the canal, the company was not able to make a new and more detailed survey of the river San Juan before operations were suspended. This omission has not, however, the importance attached to it by the Board. The river had been surveyed by a party of navy officers, specially trained in hydrographic work, under the immediate charge of Lieut. J. W. Miller, acting under the supervision of Commander E. P. Lull, U. S. N., commanding the Government surveying expedition of 1872-1873. The company had the free use of the field notes and original plans of that survey, and there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of the survey or the sufficiency of the estimates based on the same. The compass survey referred to by the Board was set aside, not because it was valueless, as stated in the report, but for the reason that the company had it in contemplation to supplement the Government survey by a thorough and complete survey of the stream and its adjacent valley as far as Ochoa, with numerous cross sections and borings from the lake to Castillo. There being no question, however, as to the entire practicability of that portion of the canal, the engineering force was kept employed in developing other less-known sections of the country and in rectifying the location of the canal and locks, and embankment sites, until a suspension of work on account of financial difficulties found the river work yet undone.
Borings in the bed of the river, where excavations arfe needed, would have been of much interest and value, but the discrepancy in the estimates due to the omission of such boring may be safely counted on the right side, as excavations at points where rock is known or supposed to exist have been computed and estimated for as all rock. The estimated excavations at the bends of the river are only approximate and are of doubtful necessity, as with perhaps one exception the bends are not so sharp that, in the opinion of experienced navigators, ships can not go around with perfect safety. These excavations, in any case, will be in alluvial formation on the convex side of the bend, of small depth, and anyone familiar with the ground can see at once that no rock will be encountered.
I will now discuss the changes in the design and dimensions of the canal recommended by the Board in order as they appear in the report.
1. Greytown Harbor.The Board accepts as correct the principles on which the plans proposed for the restoration of the harbor are based, but recommends that the pier and harbor entrance be shifted about one and a half miles to the eastward, on the ground that as located on the plans of the company it is too near the angle formed by the west coast. The change is not regarded as advisable for the following important reasons:
First. The Government of Nicaragua will not assent to it. The canal concession provides that the company shall build one first-class harbor on the coast of Nicaragua at each terminus of the canal, on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The first location for the harbor entrance made by the company was several thousand feet to the eastward of the present location, but the Government of Nicaragua insisted on the removal of the proposed breakwater and harbor entrance to the westward, on the ground that the site selected was on disputed territory between that Republic and Costa Eica; and the present location was the result of a compromise on that point between the company and the Government.
Second. The five and four fathom curves lie five-eighths of a mile and one mile respectively west of the pier head as proposed, and therefore ships entering or leaving the harbor will have considerable more leeway than is allowed at the entrance of the best artificial harbors in the world. Ships arriving off Greytown generally anchor to the westward of the proposed pier extended, showing that the objection raised by the Board is not well founded.
Third. The suggested change would increase exposure to the northwest, with consequent agitation at harbor entrance.
Fourth. It would bring the pier and harbor entrance into dangerous proximity to the mouth of the lower branch of the river, with imminent risk of being undermined and destroyed at the root, or of being converted into an artificial island by the scouring of the coast and shifting of the river into a new channel to the west of the pier.
Fifth. It would greatly decrease the area of deposit for the drifting sand arrested by the pier, and consequently involve an unnecessary increase in length of pier.
Sixth. It would involve an unnecessarily enormous increase of cost over present estimates.
Seventh. The advance noted on the west coast line, as reported by the Board, is due to accumulations of the uncontrolled sands drifting westward, which will be completely arrested by the pier, and no apprehension need be felt as to construction and permanency of harbor entrance as proposed in the company's plans.
2. Greytown%Harbor to Lock No. 1.The change of canal location recommended between Greytown and Lock No. 1 is not advisable, for the reason that it would require expensive and dangerous diversions of the River San Juanillo, and interference with the natural drainage of the country, without thereby gaining any material advantage over the present location. Such a line was located by the company and discarded in favor of the one through Benards Lagoon, which is more economical in construction, and leaves the San Juanillo undisturbed. Had the Board visited that section of the canal location it would have obtained some idea of the topography, and have seen that Benards Lagoon is a lagoon only in name; that it is similar in character to the various swamps extending several miles back of Greytown, and that it offers no more difficulty in being cut into with the canal prism than those that have already been dredged through by the company. In the section of canal excavated, the spoil banks have kept the swamp waters from running into the excavation, while percolation through the surrounding sandy soil has had the effect of draining the swamps in the dry season, the water of the canal being maintained at sea level. The apprehension stated in the report as the reason for the proposed change of locationthat the material to be excavated through the lagoon may be mud as soft as that met with in building the pile bridge at the confluence of the San Juanillo and the outlet of the lagoon, or rather the Deseadohas no foundation in fact. That mud pocket is formed by the scour of the inflow and outflow of the waters to and from the San Juanillo and the low land to the westward and the lower Deseado Valley, running through the narrow gorge formed by the steep clay banks and deepening the channel of the outlet, a light sedimentary deposit taking the place of the harder material removed.
The same conditions are observed at the Danta and Nicholson crossing in the valley of the San Francisco, and at all other places where the waters of a river run through a narrow clay gorge to and from a large area of low land. The proposed change in the bottom width of the canal from 120 feet to 100 feet is not in the interest either of economy or of a better canal. The first proposition is proved by the estimate of the Board and the second by the experience gained in operating the Manchester Canal, which is, as the proposed Nicaragua Canal, 120 feet wide at bottom. The assertion of the Board that such a width is not sufficient to allow the safe passage of ships traveling in opposite directions is disproved by a late report of the officials of the Manchester Canal to the effect that ships traveling at the rate of 6 miles an hour pass one another at all points without difficulty. The turnouts proposed by the Board have proved a source of annoyance and delay to navigation in the Suez Canal, by reason of frequent grounding of vessels in taking and leaving them, and they should be avoided. It should be observed that with a bottom width of 120 feet and slopes of 3 to 1, as proposed in the plans, ships drawing 20 feet, which may be accepted as the average draft of vessels using the canal, will have a clearance of 180 feet between banks, and with a draft of 25 feet, which may be taken as the maximum, the clearance will be 150 feet, which is much more than the navigable width at those depths in the Manchester Canal, where the slopes are much steeper.
3. Lock No. 1 to east divide.The Board finds no special mechanical or other engineering difficulties in the design and construction of locks of the lifts proposed in the company's plans, but thinks it would be preferable to have four locks of uniform lift instead of three as proposed. The change would materially increase the original cost and the
operating expenses without gaining any advantage to navigation. Locks of 31, 35, and 40 feet lift, as proposed, conform much better to the topography of the country, will be less expensive in original cost and maintenance, and offer less obstruction to navigation, and therefore the proposed change is not desirable. As to the recommendation that the locks be built 80 feet wide in the chamber, there is no objection to the proposition beyond the increased cost. The width estimated for by the company (70 feet) is, however, quite sufficient for the unimpeded passage of all vessels likely to pass through the canal, and no waterway built as a commercial undertaking can afford to be overloaded with extra cost for the purpose of making provisions for the passage of a few ships afloat of unusual dimensions which may never have occasion to use the canal.
East divideNo definite changes have been proposed in the section adopted for the "eastern divide cut," but it is pointed out that more borings will be needed to determine with precision the exact character and amount of rock to be removed. The cut is short of 3 miles long, and there were 38 borings taken in that distance. Of that number, 22 borings were made with the auger through the overlying clay to the rock, and 16 were made with the diamond drill in the rock, penetrating to the bottom level of the canal. While these borings showed some variation in the consistence of the rock, there is no indication, either in the cores brought up or in the large masses of rock in view at the Falls and in the bed of the Deseado, of stratification, clay seams, or disintegrated material, suggesting the probability, or even possibility, of the sliding of the mass from the sides of the excavation. It is claimed that with the borings taken, averaging one at every 400 feet on the axis of the canal, and with cross sections of the ground at every 100 feet, the computed amount of excavation is as close an approximation to the actual quantity to be removed as is reasonable to expect in an estimate of this kind, and more so than is generally found in original estimates of works of this magnitude. Borings on lines parallel to the axis of the canal would be of interest and of value, especially if the work is to be done by contract; but for the purpose of an estimate, with a large percentage added for contingencies, they are not regarded as essential.
The San Francisco embankments.The Board finds no insurmountable difficulties in the construction of the embankments in the valley of the San Francisco. Some of them are important engineering works requiring care and skill in their construction, as has always been admitted, but they are accepted as practicable; not, however, without calling attention in three places in the report to the facility with which such a line of embankments could be destroyed through malice or for military purposes, thus blocking the canal or stopping its operation for a considerable length of time. Such a remark might have been more strikingly emphasized by applying it to the locks and other works connected with the canal, and by adding that there is no engineering work in existence to-day which could not be wrecked by a charge of dynamite.
Railroad and telegraph lines.The company has provided for a single-track railroad between Greytown and Ochoa, and has estimated it at a price per mile sufficiently high to include the necessary sidings, water tanks, and stations, such as are required during construction, but exclusive of such switches and other temporary tracks as may be needed in the vicinity of the works, the cost of which being chargeable to are included in the estimate of the various works to which they pertain. The Board is of the opinion that a double-track road will be needed for the business west of the east end of the divide cut, and
has increased the estimate accordingly. Considering that this road is to be built strictly for construction purposes, and for no other business, it is believed that even if the traffic westward should be as large as the Board assumes, a well built and intelligently managed single-track road will be quite sufficient for the business. The remarkable state of preservation shown (after four years of neglect) by the 11 miles of road built by the company under adverse circumstances, as regards the physical conditions and the inadequate plant used in construction, is sufficient proof that track maintenance in that country will offer no greater difficulties than in any other country, nor as great.
The Ochoa Bam and San C
over its top, a circumstance due, evidently as much as to any other condition, to the larger size of the stone used in its construction. In searching for precedents of rock-fill or dry-rubble dams built on sandy bottom to withstand the flow of large volumes of water over their tops, we will have to look at the irrigation works of India, where such methods of construction have been in practice for many years.
Rough stone weirs exist at the heads of most of the irrigation channels in Misan, which raise the level of the water to the required height, the lowest being 7 feet and the highest 25 feet.
The Mudden weir is 22 feet high and 168 feet at base. As originally constructed it consisted of amass of rubble, paved with larger stones, the front face with stones 1 by 1 foot, while the apron was paved with rough stone blocks of about 2 cubic yards each. That this weir should have stood, with but occasional repairs, for a great number of years is quite remarkable, on account of the small stones comprising its mass. It was recently reconstructed, and the original form was retained by the engineer, but a brick-and-mortar wall was introduced against the upper face to prevent the displacement of the small stones.
The weir at the head of the Agra and Soane canals represents a quite usual type of rough weirs built in sandy bottom. This weir is without solid foundations of any kind, resting directly on the sandy bed of the river. Its crest is 10 feet above the river bed and its length 2,575 feet. The flood discharge is as high as 1,300,000 cubic feet per second, the depth of water over the crest in flood discharge being about 10 feet.
The Soane weir is similar to the Agra weir in general construction; it rests on wells sunk from 6 to 8 feet in the sandy bed of the river, three narrow masonry walls being used to keep the small stone in place. Between the walls is a simple stone packing. The upstream slope is 1 on 3, and the downstream slope is 1 on 12. The weir is 12,470 feet long, and the height, including depth of wells, 19.3 feet. Flood discharge, 750,000 cubic feet per second.
The weir at Begewada, in the Kistna Deltaic works, is 3,198 feet long and 15 feet high above top of foundations, which consist of a double row of walls sunk in the sandy river bed. The flood discharge is 736,000 feet per second, and at the greatest flood the water rose 19.J feet above crest of weir. It will be apparent that such works could not be built in one dry season, and the floods must have passed over them during construction.
Many similar weirs could be cited of about similar dimensions and built on the same conditions and by similar methods as those described above.
Not any of these weirs approach in height the one proposed at Ochoa, but the precedent of rock-fill dams or weirs, built on sandy river beds successfully withstanding the undermining effects of a considerable hydraulic head and the flow over their crests of enormous volumes of water is fully established; all that is needed in the case of Ochoa being to proportion the structure to the height required. The cross walls used in the construction of the weirs in India to prevent the rolling of small stones can safely be dispensed with in this case by using large blocks weighing from five to ten tons in the body of the whole mound, as has been proposed. That these stone blocks will gradually sink in the river-sand bed, as the work progresses, by the scouring action of the increasing head is fully admitted; but if the practical results obtained in India, especially at the Agra weir, and in many brush and timber dams built in sandy rivers in the United States, can be taken as a criterion, the mound at Ochoa will not sink more than 15 feet in
the river bed under a head of GO feet, the base of the rock mound being not less than 900 feet in length. The Agra weir rests on the bed of the river without foundation of any kind, practically floating on sand, the friction under its long base being solely depended upon to overcome the hydraulic head. That the comparatively small flow of the San Juan will have but little or no effect on the mound during construction is also proved by the experience gained in India, where such enormous floods as cited are discharged over rock-fill weirs. In fact, during the first stage of the work the floods will practically drown the mound, showing scarcely a ripple in the surface. As the work advances the fall will be more clearly defined, but by that time the whole base of the dam should have been laid in place, and the long apron will serve to destroy the force of the fall. That the dam will become tight by the simple action of the sedimentary deposit of the river is beyond dispute, but the small material proposed to be deposited on the upstream face will precipitate that result.
The Board admits the practicability of the dam, with some modifications in the method of construction. The first consists in strengthening the abutments by means of concrete piers sunk with the aid of caissons, and the second, and most important change proposed is to build a series of sluices in the surrounding ridge of the San Carlos basin, by which the whole volume of the river in flood can be diverted from its natural channel when the mound has attained a height of about 50 feet above low-water level, the rest of the dam to be then built to completion practically free from water.
The first proposition involves a mere matter of detail, and while I regard it as practically of no advantage, and therefore extravagantly and unnecessarily expensive, it need not be discussed at length.
The second proposition is, in my opinion, of the greater importance. It would be an element of weakness in method, and if carried out it is most likely to result in at least temporary failure. I claim that the assistance of the river is essentially necessary during construction by the method proposed, in order to obtain a permanent structure. The hydraulic head should be constantly acting on the base to attain and to keep up the maximum scour and the settlement of the whole mass, and the flow will be a powerful and valuable agent in distributing the material over the work in progress, until every block and every pebble has found a final resting place. But if a portion, and the most important part, of the dam is built free from water, it is more than probable that when the whole pressure is brought to bear upon the structure a sudden settlement of the mass will take place; the dam may be breached thereby, and the resulting injury to the work may be very serious, and to say the least, expensive to repair.
If the method of construction recommended by the company's plan is adhered to, there will be no danger in allowing a portion of the river flow to discharge over the dam. If all the parts composing the mound have in their turn successfully stood a proportional share of the full force of the stream acting on the whole mass, there is no good reason to fear that a much reduced flow will endanger stability. However, that is a matter of detail, and the fact that by raising the dam crest above the highest probable water level in the river the stability of the dam is placed beyond all possible contingencies of accident need not be disputed. But I firmly assert that the method I have outlined for building the dam is the safest, as well as the most economical, and that the modifications proposed by the Board are, first, unnecessarily costly, the auxiliary sluices alone being estimated at $1,500;000, and next danger-
ous as regards stability of the structure. With the sluces aud weirs proposed by the company, the summit level can be regulated and the surplus waters safely discharged, and if later investigations should show that the probable maximum floods may be greater than have been estimated, additional weir crest can be provided in due time during construction.
Tlie San Juan Biver.The Board believes that the channels proposed by the company's plans in the river San Juan and at the east side of the lake, where excavations are needed to obtain the required depth for navigation, viz, 125 feet wide at the bottom in the river section and 150 feet wide in the lake, is altogether too small, and recommends bottom widths of not less than 250 feet in the river and 300 feet in the lake. Such widths of channel are, in my opinion, unnecessary, and at the outset undesirable on account of the enormous increase of cost involved. There is no ship canal in the world of such channel width, with the exception of the canals between the American Great Lakes, if they can be called ship canals, where the conditions of traffic differ entirely from those pertaining to canals built for the accommodation of ocean traffic.
During the season of 1895, of two hundred and thirty-one days, 17,956 vessels passed through the St. Marys Falls Canal, of which 12,495 were steamers, 4,790 sails, and 671 unregistered craft, or an average of 78 vessels per day, with an average tonnage of 935, carrying an aggregate of 15,062,580 registered tonnage, showing an increase of 7,399 vessels and 6,508,145 tons since 1890. With an estimated traffic of 10,000,000 tons, extended over the entire year, and an average tonnage of 2,500 tons, the number of vessels passing through the Nicaragua Canal per day will be 11, as compared to 78 going through the St. Marys Falls Canal, and for a traffic of 6,000,000 tons the number of ships passing through Nicaragua will average less than 7 per day. The conditions of traffic are also entirely dissimilar. In the lake traffic the distances are comparatively short and the competition sharp, and every hour saved and each mile made represents an appreciable item in the profit and loss account for the trip, while ships passing through the Nicaragua Canal will save hundreds of thousands of miles, and days instead of hours, in the length of the voyages, and the loss of a few hours by detention would play no part in the expense of the voyage. The matter of speed is, therefore, of vast importance in lake navigation, but of far less consequence in an interoceanic ship canal. A wide channel, in which steam and sailing vessels and large tows can travel at full speed, and pass one another at all points without hindrance, is necessary in the former case, while at Nicaragua, with a limited number of ships traveling at comparatively low speed, a much more contracted channel will
be sufficient to meet requirements, as has been proved by experience in other ship canals.
Pilots and navigators are of the opinion that there will be no difficulty for ships passing each other in the 125-foot channel proposed in the excavated section of the river. With the channel properly marked, vessels traveling in opposite directions can pass each other at many points, and if necessary the traffic can be regulated so that they will meet only on the lake or in the broad and deep expanses of the river. When the traffic through the canal increases to the extent that such arrangement can not be conveniently carried out without undue delay, turn-outs can be excavated at proper places or the channel widened in its entire length. In the meantime it is not a sound business proposition, and surely not good engineering, to load the enterprise at the outset with such enormous unnecessary expense.
Lake Nicaragua.What has been said of the river channel can be applied with greater force to the lake channel; 150 feet wide at bottom, with slopes of 3 to 1, as estimated in the company's plans, or slopes of 5 to 1, as is quite possible, may be needed on account of the soft nature of the bottom. With such slopes, vessels drawing 20 feet will have a clearance of from 210 to 250 feet between the banks, and for a draft of 25 feet the clearance would be from 180 to 200 feet.
I am of the opinion, therefore, that the width of channel proposed by the company's plans is quite sufficient, and that the changes, involving enormously increased cost of construction, recommended by the board, are unnecessary.
As to the depth of the channels, the company has estimated 28 feet in the river and 30 feet in the lake. It has been contemplated that when the plans are finally carried out the depth will be 30 feet throughout, but in order to open the canal to traffic with no more expense than is necessary to secure free and safe navigation the channels in the river and in the sea-level sections of the canal have been estimated at 28 feet, which is the maximum depth of the deepest ship canal in the world. Attention is called in this connection to an error recently discovered in the quantities of excavation in the upper section of the river estimated for by the company. These quantities were transferred from the Government report of 1885 (the Government surveys of the river having been used by the company), and it now appears that through clerical error, mistaken computations, or misprint in the preparation of that report the quantities estimated fall short of the actual amount of excavation needed, and it is conceded that the estimates must be corrected accordingly. The computations for excavations in the lake, as on other parts of the canal, were made from data of recent careful surveys made by the company and the amounts inserted in the estimates are believed to be absolutely correct. The discrepancy of 417,000 cubic yards of dredging in the lake between the amounts estimated by the company and as computed by the Board must be due either to error in calculation by the Board or to distortion of the paper after much handling and exposure of the plans, the figures of the Board being based on scale measurements along 14 miles of excavation. The error in the river section was detected by the Board while checking the quantities in the company's estimates.
The change suggested in the position of the pier proposed at the entrance of the canal on the west coast of the lake is not regarded as desirable. The proposed piers are intended to assist ships in taking the canal, and not to break the lake waves, which are never sufficiently high to make the least impression on vessels of the size passing through the canal. The correctness of this statement is proved by the safety with which small boats of the rudest construction ply regularly between points on both coasts of the lake, and also by the remarkably good state of preservation of roughly built crib piers of many years' standing at San Jorge and Granada, on the most exposed shore of the lake.
Lake Nicaragua to the Pacific.The company has carefully located two routes for the section of the canal between the lake and the Pacific. The route estimated for involves the construction of a dam about 70 feet high at La Flor. A deep basin about 5 miles long, created by this dam in the valley of Tola, and three locks to overcome the lake level, extended through the canal to the dam. The alternate route would be wholly in excavation from the lake to Brito, would require four locks of reduced lift, and, while presenting no engineering difficulties, its cost would be considerably more than the basin plan, by reason of increased excavation and one additional lock.
Deep borings with the diamond drill, taken at the site of the dam, show that the uniform rock ledge lies at great depth below the surface of the valley, and that the construction of the high dam originally proposed would involve more serious difficulties than had been anticipated. The basin plan is, however, so attractive and presents so many important advantages to navigation, both as a passing place and as an inner, spacious fresh-water harbor, less than 4 miles from the Pacific, that the company has been reluctant to abandon it in favor of the all-surface route before a more detailed examination of the site has been made, and it is yet confidently expected that in case a high dam proves to be impracticable, one of considerably less height may be safely constructed and the basin plan, with some modifications, retained. Pending final decision in this matter, a temporary earth dam, with concrete core, has been provided for in the company's estimate for the basin-plan route.
The Board regards the result of the borings as conclusive against the high dam, and without giving any consideration to the modified plan with a low-level basin it recommends the low-level canal as the safest. A remarkable change in location is here proposed between the end of the divide cut and Brito, a distance of about 8 miles. That portion of the route located by the company, after the most careful detailed surveys and study of the country traversed, with due regard to previous examinations made by the United States surveying expedition, is set aside, and a paper location on the south side of the Rio Grande is suggested and estimated upon in lieu thereof. The claim that the proposed change in location would save complications in disposing of the insignificant water course Tola has no force whatever, as that creek can be taken into the canal or discharged under it into the Rio Grande at small expense and without inconvenience to navigation or risk of injury to the work. The transfer of the canal from the north to the south side of the Rio Grande would involve considerable increased cost in construction and very serious complications in the diversion of the stream by a long, expensive artificial channel, nearly as large as the canal itself, into Brito Harbor between the canal and the high land to the west. It would also prevent the contemplated change in location of the lower locks toward the hills, when more favorable foundations can be found for it, and the diversion of the Rio Grande directly into the sea, should such a plan be found advisable. In fact, to engineers familiar with the project, it is difficult to find one plausible reason to justify the extraordinary change in location proposed for this section of the route.
Brito Harbor.In the location and design of the harbor of Brito important changes are also proposed by the Board, and with the same disregard for increased cost manifested throughout the report. It is I>roper to state in this connection that the harbor has been designed with the only object in view of securing an easy and safe entrance to this canal, aud not for commercial purposes. The local business at the entrance of the canal is not expected to be large, aud in any case the company would not be justified in providing for it, at a largely increased expense, before the need becomes manifest as a business proposition. With the harbor as designed, several ships can be accommodated in it without interference with the traffic through the canal, and the topography of the vicinity presents ample facilities for enlarging the inner basin by dredging, when it becomes requisite and profitable to do so. The Tola Basin, and especially the lake, will be inland harbors, where the attractive surroundings and healthful climate will offer strong inducements for ships to lie at anchor for repairs, for coaling, or to
replenish their stock of fresh provisions, with the additional advantage that while lying in fresh waters their bottoms will be cleared of barnacles. For these reasons, large harbors at either terminus, beyond what is actually needed for admission to the canal, are not regarded as necessary or advisable from the start.
The proposed harbor of Brito has been located and designed with a view to satisfy the conditions first stated at the least expense, and as laid down has met with the approval of eminent harbor engineers and experienced navigators familiar with that coast. The claim of undue exposure is not substantiated by facts. The harbor of San Juan del Sur, about 8 miles to the east of Brito, but 600 yards deep inside of the rocky points forming the bight, comparatively shallow, with a shelving bottom and a sandy beach, and open on its whole width to the south and southwest, is uniformly smooth and affords safe anchorage for ships, hardly a ripple being ever observed on the sandy beach surrounding it. The prevailing winds on that coast are the u papagallos," blowing from north-northeast to east-northeast, directly offshore, frequently with great violence opposite Lakes Managua and Nicaragua, reaching their maximum force in December and January. They are first felt about 5 or 6 miles offshore and their influence extends 30 or miles from the coast. During the rainy season, from May to November, gales from the west and southwest, called "chubassos," are frequent and at times violent, although of very short duration.
The proposed entrance to Brito Harbor is open only to the south and southeast, which are the least exposed quarters; the prevailing swell will be practically arrested by the west breakwater and its deflection into the harbor prevented by the east jetty, and in view of what takes place at San Juan del Sur, there is absolutely no reason to apprehend any undue agitation in the basin or the breaking of the surf on the west beach of the harbor, as feared by the Board; the ground swells break on the shelving, open beach of the coast, but not in deep waters, and as to long, high waves, it is well known that the swells are scarcely noticeable half a mile from the coast, where ships can in ordinary weather lie with perfect comfort.
The statement that the borings made by the company are too few in number and of too little penetration to determine the underlying materials within the harbor limits is not sustained by the facts. Sixty borings were made in the vicinity, and their penetrations were sufficient to show the character of the material to be removed and the outline of the rock ledge within the harbor limits. There is, it is admitted, some important and necessary data yet to be obtained before the final plans for harbor construction can be completed in all details, and to respond to the degree of precision demanded by the Board, but not generally observed in the first estimate for work of this kind. In this, as in all other works proposed, the company had not yet reached that degree of completeness in its investigations which would warrant final and detail drawings to be made for each and every work proposed, but the vast amount of data accumulated concerning the route has been appreciated by practical engineers and regarded as unusually complete for the formation and first presentation of the canal project, and the estimate of its cost has been considered sufficiently approximate within the limits of the large margin allowed for contingencies.
Additional surveys and examinations.The additional surveys and other examinations recommended by the Board would add but little, if any, practical value to the data already at hand. The only material result would be a waste of valuable time and money and unnecessary postponement of the work.
The information recommended to be obtained in the vicinity of Brito Harbor would be of value for the preparation of final working drawings, but it is not essential for determining the practicability of the work or its approximate cost. The surveys of Brito and Greytown were made by experienced naval officers, trained in coast-survey work, and are believed to have been made and the work platted correctly.
It will be difficult to find valid reasons for the assertion made in the report that a new location is necessary in the western division from the summit lock, 9| miles distant from the lake, to the Pacific, following the left bank of the Rio Grande instead of the right bank, as proposed in the present location. No section of the country traversed by the canal has been more thoroughly examined and no portion of the route more carefully located than that between the lake and the Pacific. The low-level route adopted by the company is the result of the most careful study of data thus accumulated and of a perfect knowledge of the country, and the Board admits that it is perfectly practicable, involves no engineering difficulties, and could be built at less cost than the route suggested by them on the south side of the stream. The diversion of the upper Rio Grande, as proposed by the Board in connection with the modified location suggested, can be carried out as well, and better, as it would be less expensive, in connection with the present location, which has the additional important advantage of avoiding long and expensive artificial channels for the diversion of the Rio Grande, with all the dangers and engineering difficulties connected therewith.
The claim for the new location that it would avoid complications in crossing the creek Tola is not deserving of serious consideration, as that insignificant water course can be readily disposed of, either by taking it into the canal, discharging it by means of a small weir into the Rio Grande, or by passing it under the canal directly into the main stream. It is firmly believed that had the board devoted a short time to the examination of the topography of the Tola valley and other physical conditions the change of location suggested would not have received serious consideration. The new surveys recommended in the lake would add no value to the data now on hand. The surveys at the entrance on both sides could not be made with more care or by more competent officers than those employed by the company. The soundings are quite sufficient in number and location for the purpose of estimating the amounts of materials to be excavated. On the west coast, where no borings were made in the lake, the excavation is estimated as wholly in rock, as indicated by the character of the outcrop on the shore, and no change made in the material could add to the estimated cost. On the east side the material to be excavated has been definitely determined.
That the lake is sufficiently deep for free navigation of the largest vessels afloat between points 14 miles from the outlet and about 1,500 feet from the west coast, the limits of the company's surveys, has been established by soundings, and has not yet been questioned. A complete hydrographic chart of the lake will be necessary when the canal is open to Waffle in order to properly mark the locations of the best anchorages and the navigable portions of the lake, but the need of such expensive survey at the present stage of the enterprise can not be clearly understood.
As regards the San Juan River, it has been stated before that the company had the free use of the surveys made for the Government by a corps of competent officers under Commander L. P. Lull, United States Navy, in 1872-73. There is nothing to suggest the belief that
any material changes have taken place in the channel since that date, or that a new survey under the direction of the board would add much of practical value for the purpose of approximately estimating the amount of excavations required. Borings, it is admitted, would be of interest and value, but are not regarded so essential as the board seems to believe. Where rock is known or suspected to exist the excavation has been estimated as entirely in rock, and an examination of the river bed and banks would readily satisfy an engineer or contractor that there is no rock where dredgeable material has been estimated for.
One week's exploration of the river and adjacent valley would probably have been sufficient to satisfy the board that there are no practicable dam sites between Machuca and Ochoa, first, on account of the great depth of water in that section of the river, and second, on account of the prohibitory cost of canalization involved. There is a dam site some 5 miles below Ochoa, but it presents no advantage over the present location. Below that point there is no eligible site either for a high or a low dam. The region of the Serapiqui, as well as all others below Ochoa, has been carefully examined by the Government surveying parties and by the engineers of the company, and the impracticability of a dam in that section of the river fully determined. A casual examination of the topography in the vicinity of the river would remove all doubts on that point. An inspection of the sketch showing the result of the explorations made under the direction of the board in the region of the Serapiqui fails to show the least ground for encouragement as regards the possibility of finding a practicable line by which the flow of the combined San Juan and Serapiqui rivers could be checked in that vicinity. I see in the sketch but a confirmation of my examinations of that locality and of the utter impracticability of the scheme. The exploration in search of dam sites from the Serapiqui to the San Juanillo, and as far as Greytown, could be made in a few hours from the deck of a steamboat sufficiently to convince a practical engineer of the hopelessness of the scheme. But allowing, for the sake of argument, that such dam sites could be found, the canalization of the river by a series of low dams would be impracticable if for no other reason than because of the rapid accumulation of sand, which would soon fill up the channel of the river in the various reaches, and the mere suggestion of the scheme shows a complete lack of knowledge of existing physical conditions.
The Board recommends that from Ochoa to Greytown hydraulic and other data be gathered and studied before final location and construction plans can be decided upon, and that alternative plans, where such suggest themselves, must be investigated with equal thoroughness for comparison and selection. This question of additional hydraulic data has been already discussed in this paper, and the reasons against their necessity are equally applicable in the present instance. As to alternative plans, all those giving indications of possible practicability have been carefully examined, and the present location is the result of most thorough investigations and a complete knowledge of the country.
The completion of the flowage line of the San Francisco basins on the north side of the canal, and the measurement of the watersheds of the several streams, would lead to no practical results. The concession gives the company the right to occupy all the lands flooded by their work free of cost, and consequently the actual area submerged in the expansion and contraction of the basin is a matter of but little concern to either the company or to the Government of Nicaragua, as the lands
are of no present value. The watershed of the streams draining into the basin as a whole is
known with an approximation to accuracy sufficient for all practical purposes. An actual measurement of the catchment basin would certainly be interesting, and of some value in admitting of closer computation of the amount of surplus waters to be discharged over weirs and through sluices; but, as in all such cases, large allowances must be made for a possible maximum. The neat calculation, based on the precise watersheds, measured at considerable expense of time and money and at a time when the enterprise can least stand it, would be of no more value than a close approximation easily arrived at from the data on hand.
The Board has evidently been misinformed regarding the conditions existing at Benard Lagoon, and it is to be regretted that, with such erroneous impression as is manifested in the discussion of that portion of the route, it did not take the trouble to visit the canal route in that region. Such an inspection would have shown that the so-called lagoon does not diifer in physical characteristics from the other swamps between Greytown and Lock No. 1. The location eastward and avoiding Benard Lagoon, recommended by the Board, was made by the company and afterwards abandoned on account of increased cost, and more particularly because it would involve a long, expensive, and dangerous diversion of the San Juanillo River. The disturbance of the natural drainage and the diversion through an alluvial formation of such a large stream, in close proximity to the excavated canal, should be avoided if possible, and in this case there is no need of it. The statements that there have been no borings over a portion of the sea-level canal and no explorations made of the depth and other difficulties to be apprehended in the endeavor to traverse the Benard Lagoon are incorrect.
Between Greytown and the eastern end of the divide cut, 80 borings were made, penetrating to the bottom grade of the canal, of which 40 borings were made over the sea-level portion of the canal, the average distance between borings being about 1,000 feet. Considering the uniform character of the material and the fact that all the sea-level section is dredgeable, these are more than sufficient for a close estimate. In addition to the above, there were 121 borings made at the sites of locks Nos. 1, 2, and 3, in the same portion of the route. Altogether, 09G borings have been made by the company, of which 66 were made with the diamond drill, and numerous samples of the materials met with could have been seen by the board at the company's office if desired. Of that number, 103 borings were made on the lower route from Ochoa to Greytown, as to the location of which reference will be made hereafter. The company could not have anticipated the views of the Board in this matter, but it has done all that was believed to be necessary for the purpose of arriving at a close estimate of cost. Further repeated references to borings, to the gauging of streams, and to other hydraulic
data in the report need no further remark, as all these questions have been fully discussed already.
The Board, disregarding or ignoring all that has been done before the present route was adopted, recommends a resurvey or reexamination to be made of the entire matter of the choice of route for the eastern division. Nothing could lead to a more unwarranted waste of a large sum of money. Reference has already been made to the utter impracticibility of a canalization of the San Juan below the San Carlos, as suggested by the Board. In this connection attention is called to the statement on page 84 of the report, to the effect that the volcanic sand brought down by the river San Carlos from the volcanic range in Costa Rica, where that river has its sources, has been intermittent in
character and variable iii amount, and for sometime past has been suspended entirely. The first proposition is, of course, correct, as the sand brought down by the river is proportional in amount to the rainfall in its watershed and consequent floods, and intermittently corresponding to the frequency of the floods. The second proposition has, however, no foundation in fact, and there is nothing to even suggest it, as the waters of the San Carlos in flood are loaded to full capacity with sedimentary matter, which in turn is partly carried down by the San Juan to the sea, and partly builds numerous shoals and sand banks in its channel. Any hope for a canalization of the San Juan River below the San Carlos, based on such erroneous theory, if for no other reasons, is unworthy of consideration.
The Board also recommends a resurvey of what is called the lower route on the north side and close to the bank of the San Juan from Ochoa to the San Juanillo, and thence to Greytown. This route has been surveyed three times: First, by Colonel Childs; secondly, by the United States surveying expedition under Commander Lull; and third, by the Canal Company. The last was a careful location, cross sectioned and bored along the whole length. From the accumulated data a project was completed sufficiently accurate and in detail for purposes of comparison with the present route. After consideration of all the engineering difficulties due to floods in the San Juan, and the crossings of the San Francisco and numerous other streams draining the vast and hilly watershed north of San Juan from Ochoa to the Sarapiqui, as well as to increased length of canal and greater cost, the route was abandoned in favor of the present one, as the more economical and the safer of the two. All the above data is in possession of the company. The statement that no idea can be formed as to the seriousness of the above objections until all the streams affecting the building of the canal have been gauged and their regimen known, involves a postponement of the solution of the problem for an indefinite length of time, as the regimen of the streams can be said to be known for practical purposes only after many years of constant observations, and then only approximately. Acting on the usual method of approximations adopted in such cases, the difficulties have been carefully considered by the company and found to be so serious as to warrant the abandonment of the route. It would be interesting to know whether the Board contemplates other changes of location beyond these above noted, but it can be safely stated that the whole subject has been so thoroughly examined by the company that the field for investigation may be regarded as exhausted, and any attempt to find a route other than those already surveyed and considered will end only in waste of time and money. Extensive explorations have been made on both the south and the north sides of the San Juan, of which records were not kept, as they showed no indications of possible improvement on what was already known.
As to minor changes of detail in the present route, there may be a small margin for improvement, but not of material importance. When work was suspended in Nicaragua the company had in the field several parties of engineers engaged in making surveys with a view to minor changes in details. The four-lock system, suggested by the Board in lieu of the three locks proposed by the company's plans in the eastern division, had already received consideration and was discarded. The plan and record of tliat change can be found in the company's records.
Notwithstanding the opinions of the Board, the Canal Company claims to have fully complied with all the conditions requisite to a practical estimate of the cost of constructing a navigable ship canal
across the territory of the State of Nicaragua, in compliance with the conditions and requirements of its concession.
If its gauging of streams, and other data, concerning rainfall, etc., are not so extended and complete as are pronounced necessary by the Board, it is because they are entirely sufficient, and all that is requisite for a sufficiently proximate estimate of the cost of such a canal as is proposed to be constructed by the companya canal in every way sufficient for the transit of 20,000,000 tons of traffic.
It is the company's records which show the maximum rainfall at Greytown, 297 inches in one year, quoted by the Board, and that fact is openly stated in the company's publications, demonstrating that even the most extreme known conditions have been recognized in the preparation of the company's estimates.
It remains to consider briefly and in their consecutive order the conclusions submitted by the Board at page 85 et seq. of their report.
ul. Greytown Harbor:" Apart from technical objections to the change proposed, already stated, the concessions and the unwillingness of the Nicaraguan Government to allow the terminal ports of the canal to be located other than on Nicaraguan territory are prohibitory of the change proposed, inasmuch as the canal can only be constructed by the use of the San Juan River and Lake Nicaragua, which are under Nicaraguan sovereignty.
" 2. Canal Greytown to Lock No. 1:" The proposition of the Board is neither in the interest of economy nor of practical advantage, but is of practical disadvantage, as has been shown.
" 3. Lock No. 1 to end of Summit Level at Lock No. 3:" The multiplication of the number of locks is immaterial in itself, but it is objectionable for lack of desirable sites, and on the ground of increased expense, and because such increase is not necessary, as has been shown.
u4. Eastern Divide Cut Data:" The only objection to the Board's
suggestion on this point is the consequent delay and the unnecessary
increase of expenditure, the company's data being all that is practically necessary.
"5. San Francisco Basins:" The suggestions under this head are in the line of unnecessary increase of cost as has been shown. That of wreckage is a remote possibility which exists in every great public work, and there is no reason why it should have greater force in this case than in others.
"6. Ochoa Dam:" It has been shown that a suitable site for a masonry dam on the San Juan Eiver can not be found, and that a rock-fill dam is the only alternative. The Board admits the feasibility of construction of such a dam, The use of such dams in India, over the crest of which water flows in volume far in excess of even the Board's largest estimate of the flood flow of the San Juan has been shown, and is conclusive assurance of the permanency of such a dam at Ochoa when constructed in the manner proposed.
" 7. San Carlos Ridge."
"8. San Juan River, Ochoa to Lake."
u 9. Lake Nicaragua."
Are all suggestions involving unneccessary delay and increase of
expenditure. Any accumulation of data beyond what the company
already possesses, and which may modify the final development of its
plans, may and will be accumulated as the work progresses, all as has been shown.
"10. The Lajas Rio Grande route:" The possibility of an alternative location for the La Flor dam is recognized and provided for in the com-
pany's plans. The suggestion of the change of the location of the canal route is objectionable not only on the ground of increased cost, but because of engineering difficulties, avoidable by the company's location, as has been shown.
" 11. Brito Harbor:77 The suggestions indicate superficial observation of existing conditions. They involve increase of cost for no adequate reason, and unnecessary and disadvantageous changes in plan.
"12:" Objectionable, on ground that as a commercial undertaking it is unnecessary to charge the enterprise with providing excess of capacity for accommodation of the transit of the very few war vessels of the excessive dimensions mentioned.
"13 and 14:" Objectionable, as involving unnecessary delay. Provisions are made in the company's plans for extreme conditions, and, therefore, the accumulation of data only necessary to completion may progress as the work is carried on.
"15 and 16:" Objectionable, as involving unnecessary delay. Such investigation has been most thoroughly and completely made by the company, as has been shown.
"18:" Assertion unwarranted by practical experience." "19:" Admitted.
"20, 21, and 22:" Depend upon the accuracy of the Board's conclusions, which are questioned as hereinbefore.
COST OF WORK AND ESTIMATES.
In fixing the unit of prices for an estimate of cost of the canal, the Board has been influenced by the controlling impressions received in its hurried trip, made under many difficulties, through a country and in a climate entirely new to it, and has adopted the same extravagant methods and conclusions prevalent throughout the report.
The effect of the climate and rainfall in the execution of the works proposed are greatly magnified, and the conclusions arrived at are at variance with practical results attained both by the canal company and by experienced contractors in doing work at Nicaragua.
It is admitted in the report that a sufficient supply of unskilled labor can be obtained from Central America and the West Indies, especially from Jamaica; that under good management the Jamaica negroes are industrious and fairly effective and their wages only about one-half as much as in the United States, but that the efficiency of the laborers is much less in proportion. It is also admitted that under complete police control and subjected to judicious sanitary regulations there will be no more sickness than occurs on public works in many parts of the United States. The Board, however, finds a concurrence of opinion among those who have had experience in the management of construction work in Central America that the cost of work, due to inefficient labor and unfavorable location, is about twice as much as in the United States.
Attention is invited in this connection to the practical results accomplished by responsible and experienced contractors who have spent considerable time in Nicaragua at all seasons of the year, and knowing the route of the canal thoroughly constructed Hi miles of railroad for the company, in order to better study the health of the country and the question of the supply of labor for the construction of the canal.
There can scarcely be a more unhealthful piece of work in the entire
canal than that section of the railroad constructed from Greytown 10 miles across the swamps to the higher ground beyond. More than half the men employed worked in the swamps, in water from their knees to their shoulders, ten hours a day, doing hard work, and not always having proper food; and yet out of about 1,000 laborers employed by the contractor for seven months only 2 died of disease. The men did not stop work on account of the rain, but worked steadily through the rainy season, without protection while at work, except two half days during the seven months, and at the end of that time they were in as good health as at the beginning, or even better. Most of the men were Jamaica negroes, but there were also two or three hundred native Niear-aguans and Costa Ricans and a few negroes from the United States. The contractors therefore concluded that the matter of health, as affecting the difficulty and cost of construction of the canal, need hardly be considered more than in estimating the cost of work in almost any part of the United States. One party of the contractors had previously had considerable experience in building the railroad from San Jose to Guatemala City, in Central America. They expressed themselves satisfied that a constant force of 15,000 men, or more, could be had on the eastern end of the work from the island of Jamaica alone. These men are good at task work, and are fairly good in large gangs under foremen. A small number of engine drivers, excavators, and steam-drill men, stokers, etc., can be had from the same sources, also a good many rough masons and carpenters.
The cost of the 10 miles of road built by the contractors was $32,411.18 per mile, including material, labor, subsistence, and contractors7 profit of 10 per cent. The ties and rails were imported from the United States and landed at Greytown under many difficulties and at considerable cost. The actual cost was, therefore, a little over one-half the estimated cost of $60,000 per mile allowed in the company's estimate. That the road was thoroughly built is shown by the fact that, after four years of complete neglect, the work was found by the Board in a remarkably good state of preservation, with the exception of the ties that need renewing.
These contractors, with a full knowledge of the country and of all
the borings made on the route of the canal, are of the opinion that
"the work can be done on the whole canal for about the unit prices
estimated by the chief engineer and give the contractors fair profit,"
and they are ready to contract under bonds to do the work on that basis.
The work done by the company, such as telegraph lines, grubbing, and clearing and dredging, has also cost less than the estimate. The dredging was done with an incomplete and, in some respects, unsuitable plant, and its cost, exclusive of deterioratian of plant, but including all other charges, was 11 cents per cubic yard, the estimated cost being 20 cents.
There seems to be no good reason for the statement that the machinery used will be of but little value after the construction of the canal, that hardly any of it will be worth removal, and its entire cost would therefore be charged to canal construction, making the plant charge higher than usual. With the canal finished and open to traffic and a railroad parallel to it, there is no reason why the plant could not be transported to any part of the world where there may be a demand for it, at the same or less cost of transportation than in the United States. The dredging plant used in Panama for several years was transferred to Greytown in good working order, and the whole plant of the Panama
Canal could have been shipped to Nicaragua without much trouble and at small cost. However, it is quite likely that contractors in bidding for work on the canal would figure but little on future returns from the sale of the plant used in the work, and it may well be doubted that the contractors for the Chicago Drainage Canal, with the experience gained at Suez, and Manchester, and other similar works, expect any proceeds on the completion of their contracts from the sale of the special machinery and other appliances used in the works, except as scrap.
Dredging is being done in the harbor of Mobile to the amount ef many million yards, the material deposited 6 miles at sea for 7 cents per cubic yard, and the contractors appear to be prosperous. In Far Eockaway, where the material has been deposited by pipes as far as 4 miles from the dredges, it costs from 4 to 6 cents per cubic yard. On the coast of England, dredging at the harbor entrances costs from 5 to 8 cents per cubic yard. The dredging done by the company in Nicaragua, with an incomplete and unsuitable plant, cost, as has been already stated, 11 cents per cubic yard.
The Board estimates dredging in Nicaragua at 20, 25, and 30 cents, which is not only enormously in excess of the cost elsewhere, as shown above, but also of work actually done in Nicaragua, and of prices at which bids for the work by responsible contractors have been made to the company.
In the earth and rock excavation the company's estimates are from 06 to 78 per cent higher than the cost of similar work at the Chicago Drainage Canal; the Board's estimate is 150 per cent higher.
Mr. Thomas A. Edison writes from Orange, N. J., under date December 18, 1895, stating that at his works, at Edison, N. J., with present appliances, the total cost of ore for drilling, blasting, loading, and delivery at the crushing plant, including all materials, labor, coal, repairs, etc., is 19.17 cents per ton (2,240 pounds), the average distance from the quarry to the mill being about 2,000 feet. The pieces are taken out as large as possible, not to exceed 5 tons, and he adds that, with the appliances the company is now putting in the cranes for loading the ore into the skips, and with the plant working at full capacity (5,000 tons per twenty hours), he fully expects to deliver the ore at crushing plant for from 12 to 14 cents per ton, and probably less.
The ore weighs about 190 pounds per cubic foot. The canal rock would weigh from 150 to 160 pounds per cubic foot, and Mr. Edison thinks that, with the appliances at Edison, N. J., it should be mined, loaded, and delivered on the bank for about 25 cents per cubic yard. On this basis the canal estimate for rock excavation would be from four to five times the actual cost of similar work in this country, and the Board's estimate from five to eight times larger.
Mr. Edison says that they blow out several thousand tons at each blast, and try to get the pieces as large as possible, not exceeding 5 tons, as with his appliances a man can load a 5-ton piece as quickly as one weighing 500 pounds.
The same methods should be employed at Nicaragua, and the additional cost of 50 cents per cubic yard estimated by the Board for the stone to be used in the rock-fill dam is entirely unnecessary, especially if the rock excavation and the dam are built under one management, as they should be, as it would then be in the interest of the contractor to blow out and select the material suitable for the dam.
Considering that the cost of loading the stone on the cars and of hauling it to the dump are included in cost per cubic yard of excavation, and that the railroad is the property of the company, it seems that the charge of 1 cent per ton per mile for transportation to dam is entirely unreasonable.
The Board's estimate for rock excavation under water is excessive. The rock blasts well, much better than the stratified limestone in the St. Marys Eiver, and there is no reason why the cost of plant in Nicaragua should be 50 per cent greater nor the pay roll double. At any rate, the amount of rock to be removed is large and the plant is single and comparatively inexpensive. As to the pay roll, it was shown during the progress of the work in Nicaragua that the company could get all the skilled mechanics needed for about the ruling wages in New York, and ordinary mechanics for much less.
The Board estimates concrete at $9.50 per yard, based on the cost of concrete for lock construction at Hennepin Canal. By investigating the subject somewhat further the Board would have found that in the construction of the concrete locks in the Coosa Eiver, Alabama, 20,000 cubic yards of Portland cement concrete have been laid, and up to the close of the fiscal year ending June 30,1895, the average cost per cubic yard, including material, labor, engineering, and supervision, has been $4.57
i~o~? or about one-half the cost of concrete in the Hennepin Canal locks, used by the Board as the basis for its estimate. Other conditions in this same work are worthy of note in this connection. Portland cement, used in the Coosa dam, cost $2.48 per barrel. The best quality can be contracted for free of duty, in Nicaragua, at $1.60 to $1.70 per barrel. The work is done by negro labor, paid for at $1 for a day of eight hours, or 12 cents per hour, under climatic conditions more trying than those of Nicaragua. In Nicaragua the negro works ten hours to the day and his wages and cost of subsistence amount to about 85 cents per day, say, 8 cents per hour.
Portland cement will be delivered at Nicaragua free of duty, the stone and sand can be had for the cost of transportation over the company's railroad, and as to the effect of rain on the cost of the work, the whole structure can be protected by temporary sheds, and that difficulty entirely obviated. The average price of $6 per cubic yard for concrete in locks in the company's estimate is ample, and responsible contractors in New York are ready to make contracts under bonds to do the work at that price.
The prices for metal work, estimated by the company, are too high. The material can be had from Europe and all the work done at less cost than in the United States.
As to the sluices and weirs there is no reason for changing the company's estimates, which are regarded as ample to meet the requirements. It has been stated that the 11 miles of railroad built by the company through the most difficult portion of the line with insufficient plant and dealing with serious difficulties in landing the material cost at the rate of $32,411.18 per mile. The company has estimated the balance of the road to be built on the east side at $50,000 per mile, including turn-outs, switches, tanks, and temporary stations. The Board has estimated for a double-track road at $100,000 per mile, which is not regarded as necessary.
In the western division the company has estimated for a single-track narrow-gauge road to conform with the Nicaragua Eailroad. The Board estimates for a double-track standard-gauge railroad, which is not needed for construction work and would be objectionable to the Nicaraguan Government as not conformable to their present system.
It is firmly believed that the company's unit prices for the works proposed are quite sufficient, and that the Board's increased cost of the work is unwarranted and is contradicted by known facts at hand and the fact that responsible contractors familiar with the country and the route of the canal are prepared to enter into contracts for building the whole work at about the company's estimated cost.
STATEMENT OF COL. JAMES ANDREWS.
Mr. Andrews said:
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen : I appear before you as a private
citizen. I have thought and studied a great deal over this problem. It is somewhat in my line. I have spent my life on public works. I am here to'protest most earnestly against this Government being saddled with the cost of an enterprise to carry on which money enough can not be raised from individuals to pay for. the engineering. That gives it a very bad aspect. One point I will call your attention to, which it seems to me is a vital one and I do not think has been alluded to, is the question of location. You take that map and go to England and ask the shipowners and the public there where they would locate a crossing across the American Isthmus, and they would say Nicaraguaeveryone of thembecause it would suit their business exactly and would be to the detriment and injury of American sea commerce.
Mr. Doolittle. My understanding was that Colonel Andrews is interested in the Tehuantepec Bailroad, and that he would address himself to that subject.
Mr. Andrews. I do not understand that that has any standing here.
I am connected with that railroad, have been for many years, and will be glad to answer any questions that may be put in regard to it.
Mr. Corliss. I think we should hear any objections to the Nicaraguan Canal scheme which Colonel Andrews may have to offer.
Mr. Patterson. I think so, too.
Mr. Andrews. I often hear of the Suez Canal as compared with the Nicaragua and Panama canals and with other canals. Allow me to say that there is no such thing as a canal at Suez. I have been there. There is no canal. There is a salt-water ditch at the sea level; not a rock in the canal as big as a bean; not a dam in it. Compare the location of the proposed Nicaragua Canal with a country in which there is never exceeding 2 inches of rainfall. There are no slides, no washing, except a little sand drifted in by the winds. Compare that with building a canal through a mountainous country, and as regards safety for the ships passing through the Suez Canal, with either of these proposed canals. It is absurd! It is ridiculous! This must stand on its own merits. The Suez Canal is through a sand drift, drifted by the winds, with the deepest cut 48 feet deeppure sand. During my trip through there we met seven steamers. We never met one that we did not see go aground before we got out of sight of her. There was not a ship in that trip that went three-quarters of a mile without grounding.
Had it been a rock bottom, such as the proposed Nicaragua Canal, she would never have gotten another foot. No steamship, no iron ship especially, will go into a rock canal unless timber-cushioned in some way to save her from grinding along the rocks. She can not do it. You would rip her open from stem to stern, and every sea captain knows it. It can be lined up, but here is a proposed plan with perpendicular
sides from the water down to the bottom, blasted out; no estimate made for smoothing and polishing the sides. You must assume it is left as the powder will leave it. You can not steer one of these ships in such a canal. The least puff of wind takes her from side to side; sets her swaying. Let a man stand on one of the docks at New York and see one of our big ships making a landing. When she gets within 10 or 20 feet of the dock it takes her a quarter of an hour for fear of hurting herself, and then she comes up against a pine lognot a rock. 1 tell you, gentlemen, a canal down there is a fearful undertaking.
Another point. The Suez Canal has ruined the English sailing ships; driven them off of the sea. Dig a canal where the American ship can not go, partly on account of the winds and on account of the expense of towing her, and the cheap English tramp steamer would go in there and would drive out all American ships. Never a single sailing ship has gone through the Suez Canal for the same reasons.
Mr. Bennett. An ocean vessel or other vessel has wooden protectors. Would they not be available in the Nicaragua Canal?
Mr. Andrews. They hang small, little buffers over the sides.
Mr. Bennett. Is that not enough?
Mr. Andrews. No, sir; they are loose. They would not save the bottom or the bilge, or the lower part of the ship. She would have to be encased with timber from the bottom up to go through a rock canal, especially if she is an iron ship. Now, our merchant marine to-day, all told, is 0,000 and odd seagoing vessels; that is, they had this number a few years ago. Four hundred and twenty of those only are steamers. The balance are sailing ships. Dig a canal where the English tramp and ship steamer can go through, and away go all your sailing ships; they are driven off of the ocean. The only trade left for our large clipper ships is the Pacific grain trade, going around Cape Horn. Now, I say any policy that will give the advantage to the cheap English steamer will drive them out of that trade, and you had better study the matter seriously or you will find you have ruined what little seagoing marine we have, and given a monopoly to the Englishman, who is laughing in his sleeve and waiting for it. The French Government took the risk and dug out the Suez ditch at a cost of over $90,000,000. John Bull stepped in and carried off seven eighths of all the tonnage. He gobbled up the whole thing. The French have not added one steamer to their commercial marine; not one.
Now, if you do not study it seriously you will probably find you have done the same thing for the States, so far as foreign traffic is concerned. The Englishmen will come in there, having steamers by the thousand. They go wherever they can get a cargo. The grant by Nicaragua to this Government says specifically that all nations shall be on an equality; that there shall be no favoritism given. All ships that pay the toll shall be free to go through. The United States will build it and not use it. It seems to me foolish and very dangeroustaking all the risks and getting hardly any benefits. It is a monster undertaking. The idea of expending this money some 2,000 miles away when we have lots of places to put it; lots of them, without going there! Let individuals dig all the canals they wish. I see by the papers and otherwise that the United States ought to gobble up, monopolize this crossing. Why, the world would be against any such thingwould not permit it. The Nicaraguan Government has sense enough to say you shall not do it; that it shall be as open as the ocean to the world's traffic. You can not monopolize it in any way. You can furnish the money, and the matter of cost in dollars is not very important; whether it is a hun-
dred million or five hundred million, I believe the United States could stand it.
I see by reading the papers here that this bill provides for a capital of $300,000,000. The engineers estimate $60,000,000. There is $150,000,000 of stock and $150,000,000 of bonds. Three hundred million dollars for a work to cost less than $60,000,000! Something very queer there! I am no lawyer, but I can find nothing in this bill or any of these bills that have been before you for seven or eight years that shows any fixed quantity or stability. There is a grab of $4,500,000 that is to be taken out and paid to the gentlemen in New York. One gives $10,000,000 of paid-up stock, another $1,000,000. There is something strange in that; something unreliable; something you ought to get to the bottom of before you recommend such a bill. One of them provides for an issue of $75,000,000 stock and $75,000,000 bonds. Another of $150,000,000 stock and $150,000,000 bonds. Which is right, or are any of them right? I do not believe any of them are near right from my own experience. As I have said, I have spent my life in these works. The Manchester Canal, with which I am familiar, cost $77,000,000, built in the heart of England, with the most modern machinery that could be applied, runs up the Mersey Valley 30 miles, over the Mersey to Manchester$77,000,000and they are in debt, and last year it fell behind. Its revenues did not pay its working expenses. I have left that paper in my room. I got it from Benjamin Baker a week ago.
Mr. Patterson. Through what kind of a country does this canal run !
Mr. Andrews. A beautiful country.
Mr. Patterson. Is it a rocky country?
Mr. Andrews. Partially; sandstone; mostly soil.
Mr. Patterson. What kind of ships?
Mr. Andrews. Mostly steamerssmall steamers. One of these steamers a few months agoI forget her name; I have it somewhere going down went into one of the locks with a little too much speed and took the gates out with her. I say, a canal proposed across the American isthmus, with its dangers from floods, rainfalls, earthquakes, and other natural phenomena there, no human being could estimate the cost of maintaining or guaranteeing its maintenance for one week. The slightest injury to one of the locks and you are gone up. Every foot of the canal is worthless until it is repaired. The same with the dams. And there are no such dams as proposed herein India or anywhere else. These gentlemen who have been severely criticised here this morning of course could not stand by and have borings made, but they sensibly say so and recommend an appropriation big enough to send down a commission with ample equipments and give them two years to make these tests. Then you will kuow what you are doing. Now, it is guesswork; but they do some good guessing.
On page 77 of the report, coming to the proposed dam where borings had been made to 228 feet, on which no engineer of experience would found a dam or a lock. That is one, and if that is soI have no doubt of it, because they did not make the boringsthat is the key to the entire canal scheme, unless they get another location entirely. One bad dam, only one, or one badly founded lock would ruin the whole project. You catch a lot of ships bound for that canal, whether they have crossed the ocean or are on the way; they find a lock out of order. They are not provisioned or equipped to go around Cape Horn. They will have to go home, and I do not think they will ever go back to that canal again, even after it is repaired. It is a huge, monstrous undertaking. Money
will do it with plenty of time, but it is a fearful undertaking in its magnitude to construct and a much more fearful one to maintain. It must work Sundays and Saturdays, day and night, or else it will be udammed" without using rocks. Now, if there is any precedent anywhere for work of this kind, I would like to know where the precedent is. I will go and investigate it if there is such a precedent. I have never been able to find one in all my readings and travels.
Mr. Patterson. Are you a practical engineer?
Mr. Andrews. Sort of self-educated. I have been in many big works. I built the jetties at the mouth of the Mississippi Eiver and the masonry of the St. Louis Bridge; sunk those piers, one of them 112 feet below the surface, that weighed 44,000 tons. I have done work of that kind all my life. I have had hard, practical experience. I have had to hoe my own row in that respect, and that is where a man gets lessons. I tell you, too, with water as an enemy you have an enemy that never stops working; it never tires. Start a small leak and it will get bigger.
Mr. Patterson. Do I understand that there is no instance in the world where there is a canal excavated through rock that is used by large sea-going vessels?
Mr. Andrews. Not one that I have ever heard of or seen, and I have traveled, as I say, in almost every countrywith the late Captain Eads all through Eussia and the countries over there. We never found a single instance of that kind. There are some canals through which vessels of from 30 to 40 tons may pass, drawn by mules, where they may have rock banks, but never where a ship has gone through a canal with rock sides and rock bottom, and a ship drawing within a foot or two of all the water in it; never one such instance. If there is such an instance,
I would like to know where it is.
Mr. Patterson. Will you name one, Mr. Menocal?
Mr. Menocal. The Manchester Canal is more than half rock excavation, and there are ships of over 5,000 tons that pass through it. It is more than half rock, and with less depth than is proposed for the Nicaragua Canal. The gentleman may have been there. I have been there for two years and am acquainted with the facts.
Mr. Andrews. Yes, sir; aud it is taken out as smooth as a plastered wall.
Mr. Menocal. The question of locks, it seems to me, should not be discussed. The one lock can be passed without a minute's delay. Mr. Andrews. A lock with 16 feet lift only.
Mr. Menocal. Two hundred and thirty-one days without a minute's delay, and it has been in operation since 1880. I think all the delay in that lock in that time has been a few hours, by reason of an accident which happened once to one of the valves. When I say about two hundred aud thirty-one days, remember that 18,000 vessels went through it that year. That will give you an idea of how many had to pass in fourteen years, day and night.
Mr. Patterson. What is the width?
Mr. Menocal. Sixty and 80 feet. The one dam there is 60 feet wide, and that is stone. Mr. Andrews. Of cut stone.
Mr. Menocal. I think the locks ought not to be discussed. With regard to rock excavation, I will say that more than one-half of the Manchester Canal is solid rock; nothing but rock from the surface of the ground to the bottom.
Mr. Andrews. I will give you what was given to me in a letter.
There were but two ships last year, prior to their last report, that went up to Manchester and got cargoes for foreign countries. There were nothing but small boats, except these two foreign ships, that went up that canal in one year. That is the state of facts, and they crawl and creep along there. There is no current. As I said, the canal is excavated to a considerable extent through red sandstone and is exceedingly smooth. Of course, ships can go into a lock, but those locks have but 16 feet lift, instead of 45 or 50 feet. They are much safer and less liable to give way from the huge mass of water and pressure in these enormous locks. They are not subject to big rainfalls or to slides Here are hundreds of feet of hillsides slipping down into these canals. One cart load of rock there, and a ship may run onto it in the night and stop there until a dredge boat is brought to take it up.
It is surrounded with so many difficulties that no private individuals will put their money in it. I can not see why the Government should be asked to do it. Let them build it. Let individuals build a dozen canals; but why saddle a thing of that kind, that individuals are afraid of, on the people of the United States ? That is a mystery. It is such a grand thing and so cheap, and so easy to construct! Lots of capital ought to go into it if those are facts. If they are not facts, private individuals will not put their money into it. Do as the French are doing at Panamanot with the aid of the French Government. We are met every day with the threat that if the American Government does not put this thing through immediately, England will take it up. If that is not enough to make old man Monroe turn over in his grave, I do not know what will. England come over and dig a canal? Not much. John Bull will wait for Americans to do it, and then send his steamers through.
Where are we going to get our share of it? We will get it in dividends. We will never send a ship through there in competition unless there is a tariffsome way of giving our ships an advantage over John Bull. He can not interfere with our coast trade, but in foreign trade, where there is open competition, the cheapest man will get the freight every time. Now, I say some scheme ought to be devised by which a sailing ship, of which we have over 6,000, can fight for a living against the English steamer. Give them a chance. Put them on an equality. But the laws here prohibit that. The sailing ship is to get no cheaper rate of toll, the American ship no cheaper tolls, unless they ignore the concessions. All are to be on the same footing. There is to be no transfer of the lands granted or of the franchises to any foreign Government or other power. No doubt you have read it.
There is no use in my taking up your time to read these clauses, but yet, if I understand it, the United States Government is admitted, substantially, the owner. They are to get the majority of the stock. You buy a majority of the stock, and the property is yours, as I understand it. There is some kind of a hocus-pocus process of that kind going through, I believe, and then what good will it do them after they buy it if they have to let the Englishmen use it. You must get a monopoly of it. Keep an army there if necessary. It is to be the world's highway, open to every nation and to all people, on a big, broad scale. Now, I can not for the life of me understand why they come here and ask the United States Government to tax the people to the amount of hundreds of millions to dig a canal that there are still some private individuals in. Let them dig it for themselves, gentlemen. I have no doubt you can send a man down there and buy out Nicaragua bodily for $200,000 or $300,000 and then build the canal vourself.
Mr. Bennett. I object to that going in the record.