National Geographic : 1896 Feb
76 THE PRESENT STATE OF THE NICARAGUA CANAL has increased the canal company's estimate of $69,893,660 to a " provisional" estimate of $133,472,893. Authoritative estimates can be obtained only at the cost of $250,000 for an exhaustive survey covering two dry seasons. The present location from Greytown to Brito is practically condemned, and it is suggested that the entrance to Greytown harbor should be moved east ward and its depth increased to 6 fathoms; that the Brito harbor should be moved southeastward and its breakwater extended con siderably, and that the canal should be moved south of Bernard lagoon and be straightened, etc. The proposed rock-filled dam at Ochoa, across a powerful river and on a sand foundation, pre sents grave difficulties, and should be built only after careful study; it should preferably be replaced by a masonry structure. The physical conditions and regimen of San Juan river and Lake Nicaragua should be carefully studied; the proposed channel excavated to widths varying from 250 to 400 feet instead of from 125 to 150 feet;' all locks should be widened to 80 feet, so as to permit the passage of war vessels; rainfall observations should be instituted over the whole route; all streams be gauged, and full explorations of alternative routes be made in the eastern division. These recommendations of the commission for a deeper and wider channel, for the construction of passing points, a reduc tion in lock-lift, more capacious and deeper harbors, and a more stable construction, are in the direction of desirable improve ments, which, however, practically double the cost of the canal. Even should these enhanced estimates be correct, and should the conservative judgment of the commission be fully indorsed by other engineers, it remains to be seen whether a few millions of dollars, more or less, shall stand in the way of securing an inter oceanic communication which the Senate committee has said " is indispensable to our physical and political geography and to the proper care of the Government for the protection and prosperity of our Pacific coasts." In view of the national interest taken in this question, and especially at this juncture, it would seem that no backward step should be taken that would tend to weaken the power and in fluence of the United States as the dominating factor in the wel fare of the American continents. From an American standpoint this canal seems to be a necessity, not only for our own com mercial interests and national protection, but also as part of our " public policy of uniting the republics of America by works of peaceful development."