National Geographic : 1899 Aug
THE INTEROCEANIC CANAL* By EMORY R. JOHNSON, Assistant Professor of Transportation and Commerce in the University of Pennsylvania The nature and scope of the influences which a canal across the American isthmus will exert have not been so thoroughly studied as have been the engineering and political questions connected with the enterprise. Congress has established several boards of engineers to survey the canal routes and to report upon the technical problems and to estimate the probable cost of the work; but as yet there has been no official report upon the industrial and commercial effects that will follow from the construction of the waterway. It is not altogether obvious what economic changes will be brought about by the canal, and it would seem desirable that we should understand more clearlv than we now do why this waterway is essential, if it be so, to the welfare of the American people and the American nation. The construction of an isthmian canal is proposed for the general purpose of shortening distances between the Atlantic and Pacific. The route for sailing vessels between San Fran cisco and New Orleans, the route now being by way of Cape Horn, will be shortened 11,000 miles, that from San Francisco to New York 10,000 miles, and to Liverpool 7,200 miles. For steamers the distances saved will be about 2,000 miles less, be cause they pass through the Straits of Magellan instead of round ing the Horn, and also follow a more direct course than sailers can. The canal will make Valparaiso 1,000 miles nearer to our *As a writer on the industrial and commercial aspects of the Isthmian Canal problem, known to regard favorably the proposed construction of a waterway across the Republic of Nicaragua, Professor Emory R. Johnson was invited to contribute an article on the subject to this number of THE NATIONAL GEOOGAPiHIC MAGAZINE. His engagements being such as entirely to preclude him from accepting the invitation, he has, at the special request of the Editor, kindly revised for this issue the article which he wrote a few months ago for the Independent, in which the benefits which he considers likely to accrue to American commerce from the construction of an Isthmian Canal are very clearly and forcibly set forth. If any justification were needed for the virtual reproduction in this Magazine of an article that has recently appeared in so widely-read a journal as the Independent, it should be sought in the desire of the Editor to present both sides of that most important question, whether the benefit to be derived by the United States from the construction of an Isthmian Canal would be such as to justify a large Congressional subvention.-En.