National Geographic : 1959 Mar
Gunman draws a bead on classmates at flood-doomed Mille Roches School. On tario. Creation of a lake above Moses-Saunders Powerdam forced the relo cation of seven villages and the partial shifting of one more. The builders of the dam paid the $28,000,000 moving and housing bill. This view shows the build ing before wreckers toppled it (opposite). The monu ment honors the school's World War I dead. Scattered rubble clogs the school's foundations. Today water covers the spot, and a new school on high ground replaces the old building. In the distance, engineers on the causeway salvage a bridge. Barges lift the structure as the water rises, permitting the span to be towed away. One St. Lawrence pilot likened the changing water way to an "old friend who shaved off all his hair so you don't know him any more." FRED L. TONNE (ABOVEAND RIGHT) It was anything but easy. The Seaway builders faced and overcame obstacles that at times seemed almost insurmountable. Consider, for example, the "blue goop." A greasy clay that sometimes contained almost as much water as solid substance, it sloshed out of dredge buckets and oozed through truck bodies. Exposed to sun and air, it turned rubbery or even brittle, until a shower changed it back to soup again. One desperate engineer even considered spreading tarpaulins over it during rain. Technically, it was called "sen sitive"; the workmen had other names, all unprintable. Southern Gentleman to the Rescue There were millions of tons of clay to re move from the Wiley-Dondero channel, which required a cross-country cut 442 feet wide at the bottom and as much as 50 feet deep. Seaway builders called to the job monstrous earth-moving machines, one of the biggest a 308 650-ton walking dragline excavator named "the Gentleman." It belonged to the Badgett Mine Stripping Corporation, and was busy digging for coal near Madisonville, Kentucky. When it heard the call from the north, the Gentleman put down its flat steel feet and crawled like a centipede 18 miles to Pond River. On barges it rode the Pond, Green, Ohio, Mississippi, and Illinois Rivers. Unable to pass beneath one bridge, the Gentleman lifted the span from its piers, floated through, and then set the bridge back in place. From Chicago the big dragline traversed four of the five Great Lakes to reach the St. Lawrence. The 2,000-mile trek lasted 102 days. At journey's end, the Gentleman built itself an earth ramp and walked majestically ashore, where it proceeded to dine on the slushy blue clay and glacial till in a most ungentlemanly way-25 tons to a bite. In six months it re moved 2,000,000 tons of earth from the new ship channel.