National Geographic : 1914 Feb
LOOKING INTO THE CULEBRA CUT FROM THE TOP OF A SLIDE, SHOWING THE BROKEN BANK more than could be drawn by all the horses and mules in the United States. It would fill a million and a half big Lidgerwood cars, enough to make a string 12,000 miles long. These figures show that the mere getting rid of this surplus material is no mean job. But when you reflect that each yard of this sliding material has rendered doubly difficult the getting out of three yards of other material, the true meaning of the slides will begin to appear. There have been times when 170 trains were going out of the cut one day at the south end, only to be stopped entirely the next day by the Cucaracha slide getting busy. Now there may be a dozen tracks in use in the cut, and 24 hours later half of these will be out of commission. That is what makes the slides such serious things to combat. THE GREATEST ENGINEERING WONDER OF THE AGE It is no wonder that the lamented Colonel Gaillard lost his health and his life fighting them. It is no wonder that Colonel Goethals has aged 20 years in six while struggling with them. But it is a wonder, the greatest engineering wonder of the age, that in spite of these difficul ties they have been able to remove Io6 million cubic yards of material from the cut in less time than it was estimated that they could remove 53 million cubic yards. And this wonder grows when I look at their cost sheets and see them removing a cubic yard for an average of 6o-odd cents, when it was estimated that, unhin dered by slides, the cost of removing a cubic yard would be 98 cents. Speaking of the terrific strain involved upon those who are responsible for the battle with the slides at Panama, no inci dent in my life can stand out more viv idly than one I will now relate, illustrat ing the meaning of it all to the engineers. Cucaracha slide resumed her old tricks: when I was on the Isthmus last May. She had been quiescent for some time,. and it was believed that she had retired from the fray for good and all.