National Geographic : 1905 Oct
THE GREAT CANA looking into the establishment of a re frigerating system, so that meat, vege tables, eggs, butter, poultry, and other foodstuffs can be brought from cold storage in the United States, transported in cold storage by vessels to the Isth mus, and then distributed by refrigerat ing cars to the ice-boxes of the hotels and boarding-houses along the line of the canal. With the installation of this service the personnel of the canal will be properly housed, will have pure water, will be well fed, and the question of proper sanitation will be solved. The most efficient scientists and engi neers are thoroughly convinced that eventually the Isthmus will be a pleasant and agreeable place of abode. They affirm that the fever is not indigenous to the Isthmus. The nights are cool and, with the exception of a short period in the middle of the day, the heat is not oppressive. Both Panama and Colon LS OF THE WORLD 475 can be rendered as agreeable places of residence as Mobile or Pensacola. The Commission have about twelve American steam shovels at work ; others are arriving at the rate of about two a month. The Isthmian Commission found that their employes were not being properly fed ; local merchants lacked capacity or enterprise to provide for so many new comers; prices for food had nearly doubled in the past two years, with the result that the employes had great dif ficulty in securing sufficient food of the right quality. In view of this fact, the Commission have made arrangements with an American firm to supply the employes of the company with whole some food at rates varying from about $Io to $30 a month. The rations must reach a standard set by the Commission, which will inspect the food. G.H.G. THE GREAT CANALS OF THE WORLD* THE Suez Canal is usually consid ered the most important exam ple of ship canals, though the number of vessels passing through it annually does not equal that passing through the canals connecting Lake Superior with the chain of Great Lakes at the south. In length, however, it ex ceeds any of the other great ship canals, its total length being 90 miles, of which about two-thirds is through shallow lakes. The material excavated was usu ally sand, though in some cases strata of solid rock from 2 to 3 feet in thickness were encountered. The total excavation was about 80,000,000 cubic yards under the original plan, which gave a depth of 25 feet. In 1895 the canal was so en larged as to give a depth of 31 feet, a width at the bottom of o08 feet and at the surface of 420 feet. The original cost was $95,000,000, and for the canal in its present form slightly in excess of $1oo,ooo,ooo. The number of vessels passing through the canal in 1870 was 486, with a gross tonnage of 654,915 tons; in 1875, 1,494 vessels, gross ton nage, 2,940,708 tons; in 1880, 2,026 vessels, gross tonnage, 4,344,519 tons; in 1890, 3,389 vessels, gross tonnage, 9;749,129 tons; in 1895, 3,434 vessels, gross tonnage, 11,833,637 tons; and in 1900, 3,44I vessels, with a gross tonnage of 13,699,237 tons. The net profits of the canal for 19o3were 65,579,347 francs ($12,500,ooo) and the stockholders re ceived dividends of 12 per cent. The canal is without locks, being at the sea level the entire distance. The length of time occupied in passing * The facts in this article are derived from an exceedingly instructive monograph published (1905) by the Bureau of Statistics of the Department of Commerce and Labor, entitled "The Great Canals of the World," by O. P. Austin.