National Geographic : 1945 Jun
The National Geographic Magazine U. S. Army Signal Corps, Official GI's Plod Through Jungle Grass with a Pipeline Section They are members of the U. S. 776th Engineer Petroleum Distribution Com pany, building the India-Burma-China pipeline. The stretch on which they are working is in wilderness south of Warazup, Burma. and lay as a rough foundation pavement. Then, in baskets, wheelbarrows, and slings, they would bring smaller rocks to wedge into the spaces between the big ones. Gradually they built up this rock base, using smaller and smaller stones as it grew higher. Road beds were graded by hand with an ordinary builder's water level. The final layer was of mud-moistened earth of western China, which has a bonding quality similar to Texas adobe. This earth was care fully worked down into all crevices and then smoothed on top. The finished product was closely akin to what United States road build ers call a telford base. Rock excavation took a high toll of Chinese lives. Black powder was used for blasting. Instead of detonators, the Chinese made fuses of paper, soaked in oil and black powder and of uncertain timing. They jammed powder into the drilled holes with the back end of a steel hand drill. There were many explosions that brought sudden death to scores of coolies. Burma Road Carved from Mountains Western China is developing a common dialect as a result of the mingling of people from widely separated districts. Prior to these huge building operations, inhabitants of one part of Yunnan Province could not con verse with people from other sections. Now thousands can talk among themselves, no matter how far apart their homelands are. Carved entirely out of rock-studded moun tains, the Burma Road reaches elevations as high as 8,500 feet. That section of it in Chinese hands is still in process of improve ment. My trip down the Chinese portion of the Burma Road convinced me, however, that before it can carry heavy two-way traffic considerable realignment and reduction of grades will be necessary. The road has many curves, an average of four to the mile (page 684). Chinese officials seem reluctant to cut through paddy fields. Per haps they feel that the rice produced is more important than a few miles of travel saved. Since my sole concern was with bridges, I examined with great interest the crossings built by Chinese engineers. They were, gen erally speaking, of good construction but designed to carry lighter loads than the Amer ican type. Bridges ranged from primitive types to elaborate stonework structures more attractive than utilitarian.