National Geographic : 1899 Dec
528 GEOGRAPHIC MISCELLANEA 248 feet per mile, will soon be a thing of the past, a new route, with a maximum grade of only 3 per cent, being in course of construction eight miles south of the existing line. HYDROGRAPHIC investigations have been extended by the Nicaragua Canal Commission to the Isthmus of Panama, the work being still under the charge of Mr Arthur P. Davis, of the Division of Hydrography, U. S . Geological Survey. The Panama Company has been maintaining on Chagres river three elaborate nilometers or automatic devices for recording the height of water. Two of these records have been kept for a number of years. A third was established in April, 1899, at Alajuela. It is somewhat extraordinary that hitherto no observations of rainfall have been maintained above these river stations and no measurements made of the Rio Grande, the stream on the Pacific slope. Arrangements have been made for obtaining a record of rainfall and for measuring this stream, every facility being afforded by the French company. THE article on " The Relation of Forests and Forest Fires," by Mr Gif ford Pinchot, Forester of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, which appeared in the October number of this Magazine, is receiving much favorable comment from students of forestry. A feature of the article is the excellent set of original pictures with which Mr Pinchot has illus trated his text. It is regrettable that, through an error for which Mr Pinchot was not responsible, several mistakes should have crept into the titles. The photograph on page 400, showing most clearly two genera tions of lodgepole pine, was taken by Prof. C. S. Crandall, of Fort Collins, Colo., a collaborator in the Division of Forestry, and should have been credited to him. Four feet beneath the large cedar tree standing in the background on the right of the cut on page 402, a layer of charcoal was found-a proof that the tree had grown up after a fire. The title of the picture of a seedling longleaf pine on page 399 is misleading, for while the drooping needles still retain their natural downward curve, the young tree is too far advanced for them any longer to afford protection to the lower stem in case of fire. IN a recent communication to the Department of State (see Consular Reports, vol. lxi, No. 230, p. 487) the U. S. consul at Stratford, Ontario, expresses the opinion that the most serious problem that confronts the Canadian people of the future is material for fuel. He states that the gigantic lumber industries and the great annual forest fires have so de nuded the timber area of Ontario that the people are thoroughly alarmed about the future fuel supply. So long and severe are the winters that an ordinary residence will consume $100 worth of fuel in a year. It has been well known for years that there were extensive beds of peat bogs in Canada, and particularly in the Province of Ontario, and an effort has been made during the past six months to utilize this product of nature. It has been tested in locomotives with excellent results, 100 pounds of peat having been found to be equal to 95.15 pounds of coal. The heat produced is much greater than that of coal, but it is 8 per cent deficient in lasting power. The recent invention of machinery, by means of which vast areas of hitherto unused bogs can be converted into marketable peat, has opened up a new Canadian industry.