National Geographic : 1919 Sep
Photograph by C. 1). Jameson ONEJ OF TIHE LOCKS OF THE GRAND CANAL NEAR TSINGKIANGPU, IN TIHE PROVINCE OF' KIANGSU The fall from one side to the other is some five feet, and the boats are pulled up the rise by many ropes carried by capstans on each bank. A house-boat is floating through the gates. The central section of the Grand Canal, although it is now paralleled by the Tientsin-Pukow Railway, which makes possible a thirty-seven hour service between Shanghai and Peking, is largely used by the Chinese, who, through their peculiar skill as oarsmen, move heavy cargo boats with a minimum of effort. The Grand Canal, called in Chinese Yi-ho (Imperial River), Yiin-ho (Trans port River), or Yuliang-ho (Tribute bearing River), extends from Tientsin, in Chihli, to Hangchow, in Chekiang, a distance of about I,ooo miles. Accord ing to the best accounts, it was com menced in the sixth century B. C. and finished only in A. D. 1283. The most ancient part is the central section, between the Yangtze and the Hwai rivers. The southern section, from Hangchow to Chinkiang, on the Yangtze, was constructed from A. D. 605 to 617. The northern and most recent section, extending from the old bed of the Yel low River to Tientsin, was completed by the Emperor Shitsu in the three years 1280-1283 A. D. Our journey on the canal began in the northern section, which is the most diffi cult to navigate; traversed the central part, where water is plentiful, and ended in the southern section, where we were again in rail connection with Shanghai, which had been our starting point two months before. The chief features of interest were two: the locks and their operation and the variety of traffic and craft on this ancient inland waterway, which, origi nally completed as an easy route for grain transport to Peking, still plays an impor tant local role for a very thickly popu lated part of the country, though of late years most of the supplies for Peking have been forwarded by sea. HOW THE LOCKS OF TIHE GRAND CANAL OPERATE In the northern part, owing to scarcity of water, frequent locks or dams are nec essary and are passed with difficulty. The ordinary canal lock consists of heavy granite bastions, forming a gateway and carrying on their opposing faces deep grooves, in which are set heavy timbers to form a dam. These timbers are raised by means of heavy stone-set capstans.