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by a reverse process, the ship is again placed in the water. Of course, there must be a cradle in use for each ship being transported simultaneously. The grades are overcome by tipping-tables, and the curves by turn-tables—as can readily be imagined, of gigantic size. How many of these he will need, cannot be known until surveys are completed; but I fear the Tehuantepec Isthmus will give him many grades and curves. He at first estimated the cost of such a railway at half the cost of a ship canal, but his present idea is, that it will cost $75,000,000, which at once detracts from his scheme the principal merit heretofore claimed for it, which was comparatively small cost; for there is every prospect that the Nicaragua Canal can be constructed for a like amount; and, while the depreciation and wear and tear of his railway, subjected to the action of a tropical climate, will necessarily be great, a ship canal improves with age-considerations of no little importance.
That Captain Eads can construct a ship railway across Tehuantepec, there is little doubt; that he can so construct it, as to meet all the requirements of the case, is another consideration. His mechanical appliances for overcoming the objections I was able to point out to him, appeared complicated, while the engineering obstacles of curves, grades, etc., his intimate knowledge of his profession had already indicated methods placing them under his control. He was willing to handle a loaded ship as carefully as I demanded, while it was my object, not to allow previous prejudices to affect my judgment of the merits of the scheme. In one respect, however, I fear, he has underrated the difficulty of his project. I doubt if, at Tehuantepec, or on any tropical American isthmus, he can find a
foundation for such a road as he wishes to build. The “cuts” may support it, but the “fills" may fail to do so. The success of the scheme depends on extreme rigidity of road and cradle, and if, in tropical countries, foundations are always troubling railroad engineers under ordinary tracks, what are we to expect, under a weight of fifteen or twenty thousand tons, concentrated within the limits of the cradle carrying the loaded ship? Captain Eads is one of the greatest living engineers, and if capitalists will furnish funds, he may build his railway; but, unless it is cheaper than a canal, what advantage does it offer? Why try an experiment, when a certainty offers the same results? However, in the 'absence of a survey with instruments of precision, it is probably unfair to discuss the project at all, and I dismiss it, with great respect for the ability and resources of the illustrious projector.
COMMERCIAL RESULTS ANTICIPATED.
That an American interoceanic canal will effect great changes in the world's commerce, none can doubt; but what little I shall have to say on this branch of the subject, will refer to the effect it will have upon American commercial interests generally, and especially upon the interests of the Pacific coast of our country-commercial, agricultural and social. A project which brings this coast nearly nine thousand miles nearer our Atlantic sea-board, and the great marts of Europe, cannot fail to work great changes in our commercial position. The inhabitants of the Pacific coast must, for a long period, continue rather a producing, than a manufacturing people; and what manufacturing we are able to accomplish, will be from our
own products. The saving in time, insurance, depreciation and freights, applicable to Oregon and California, alone, will amount in ten years to the cost of the Nicaragua Canal. The saving above named, applied to this year's Oregon and California wheat crop, can be placed, with sober truth, at fully eight million dollars! When our wool, wine, and other growing industries are considered, it will easily be seen, that the producers of our coast should strain every nerve to insure the success of an interoceanic canal.
Nor, as might at first sight appear, will the canal injure our local railroads. While it would undoubtedly at first deprive them of the through freights, or force upon them a reduction which would be a great benefit to our State, in a short time after its completion their local traffic would surpass all the through traffic they can hope to control, and, with our other interests, they can reap the benefit of our rapidly increasing development, carrying all the products of our soil to tide-water, and securing a greatly increased passenger traffic. Meanwhile they have probably six years during the period of construction to accommodate themselves to the change.
The completion of the canal will make San Francisco the distributing point for the products of China, Japan and Central America, as far east as the Missouri, for it will then be to the interest of our railroads to secure this distribution rather than allow it to be made westward from Atlantic seaboard cities after reaching them through the canal. A rapid development of the Central American States and west Mexican coast would ensue, and those markets would increase their demand upon us for the commodities we are already sending there in limited quantity. Our
merchant steam marine would rapidly increase, for the commerce between our eastern seaboard and our west coast being coastwise, and shut out from European competition, we should need a large steam tonnage under American colors to carry our freights eastward, while they would also compete with foreign steamers for European freights. It will be a glorious day for our State when San Francisco wharves will be crowded with four and five thousand ton screw steamers flying our flag and loading with our products, and with the completion of the canal this day will surely come. Cheap communication with Europe will bring to us desirable European immigration to settle up our lands and displace the unassimulative Chinese who are trying to crowd in upon us. Shall we not tend to keep them out by filling the places they would occupy with a class of immigrants that can be Americanized? An intelligent mind investigating this subject finds the grand results unfolding themselves until an interoceanic canal appears the greatest boon our coast can ask for, and to the names that are associated therewith, their country and the world will accord undying luster.
POLITICAL CONSIDERATIONS OF THE CANAL QUESTION.
Primarily, it would appear that it matters little who constructs a canal if our country is accorded the unrestricted use of it, in common with other nations. A further inquiry, however, must satisfy us that if we do not build this work we must acquire a controlling interest therein. We cannot afford so important a link in our coastwise communication to remain in the hands of any European organization, which would naturally consult foreign interests rather than our own. The Central American republics are now friendly to us, although sparsely inhabited and without development. The company constructing and managing an interoceanic canal would soon wield an influence paramount to the local government, and the policy of the latter might become subservient thereto and inimical to us. . During the existence of the Panama railroad it has been deemed a necessity for our government to keep armed forces almost constantly at both ends of the transit, and these forces have often been landed and kept ashore indefinitely for the protection of life and property. If this has been the case with a railroad managed by permanent employees and with a small native population, what may we expect when five to ten thousand laborers of various nationalities are congregated there, subject to a lax police control, suffering from malarial fevers, discontented, mutinous, and with a free supply of aguardiente? Add thereto a greatly increased native population, and we have all the elements needing military power to control them in emergencies.
When Count de Lessep's company have purchased the Panama railroad, which they have agreed to do as a preliminary step, we no longer have large American interests to protect there. It will be natural, and indeed necessary, for him to call upon the French Government to protect the enterprise, as we. have protected the railroad company on many occasions. The French Government, both during and after construction, will find it necessary to station armed forces at both ends and on the line of the canal. After landing these forces a few times, what