National Geographic : 1899 Jul
GEOGRAPHIC MISCELLA NEA THE members of the new commission appointed by President McKinley to determine the best route for an interoceanic canal are as follows: Rear Admiral John G. Walker, Col. P. C . Hains, U. S. A., and Lewis M. Haupt, C. E ., of the University of Pennsylvania (members of the commission which has just handed in its report); ex-Senator Samuel Pasco, of Flor ida; Alfred Noble, C. E., who was also on the Ludlow Canal Commis sion; George S. Morrison, C. E ., of New York ; Prof. Winm. H. Burr, of Columbia University; Lieut. Col. Oswald H. Ernst, U. S. A ., and Prof. Emory R. Johnson, of Pennsylvania. FROM a chart which the division of mines and mining of the U. S. Geo logical Survey will publish in a few weeks to show the total value of mineral productions in the United States for the years 1889-1898, it appears that the total value of mineral products in 1898 was nearly $700,000,000, as compared to $632,000,000 in 1897. This total represents simply the value of the material in its first marketable condition, and does not include coke, white lead, and other manufactured minerals. There was a general increase all along the line, especially in the produc tion of bituminous coal, which increased from 147,600,000 short tons in 1897 to 166,500,000 short tons in 1898. The value of the gold production rose from $57,363,000 to $64,463,000, while the production of petroleum decreased 5,000,000 barrels in quantity, but increased $3,200,000 in value. IN view of the recent developments in the industrial and transporta tion facilities of Russia, by which the products of her fields and forests may be increased and brought into closer competition with those of the United States, a recent report of O. P. Austin, Chief of the Bureau of Statistics of the Treasury Department, "'The Russian Empire and the Trans-SiberianRailway," is timely. An examination of the map (21 by 15 inches) which accompanies the report shows that the trans-Sibe rian road is now completed for nearly two-thirds of the distance to ward the Pacific, and that the construction of 600 miles of track east ward from Lake Baikal (the deepest lake in the world) will bring trans Siberian trains to the navigable waters of the Shilka and Amoor rivers, which flow into the Pacific. Probably within two years a complete rail and water system across Russia and Siberia will be in operation. ACCORDING to a recent publication of the Weather Bureau, Lightning and the Electricity of the Air, Bulletin No. 26, Part II. 312 persons on the average are killed annually by lightning in the United States. The author, Prof. A . J . Henry, believes that this number is below rather than above the true figure; in other words, that more comprehensive methods of re porting deaths by lightning would show a greater number than has thus far been recorded. The death-rate from lightning in the United States is apparently higher than in England, Norway and Sweden, France, and possibly the greater portion of the Russian Empire. It is about equal to that of the German Empire and probably a little less than that of Austria-Hungary. The danger of lightning stroke seems to be greatest in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, and other portions of the Rocky Moun tain country. In the South Atlantic states also it is above the average for the country at large. The regions of least danger are the Pacific coast and the Great Basin.