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BLASTING A CHINEL THROUGH CUCARACHA SLIDE
October 16, 1913
A DREDGE REMOVING TIT SIIDI This dredge came from the l'acilic side, and across the slide can be seen the smoke-stacks of the dredge that came from the Atlantic through the
Gatun Jocks. Note the pipe-line through which the dirt from the slide will be pumped away to il sale place.
BATTLING WITH THE PIN DIT SLIDES
landing, while the remains of an ancient countering any trouble from Cucaracha fishing village are in evidence.
slide. “Why, I have tramped over it The intention of the canal engineers is every day for months, and with my exto cover the banks of the canal through perience with such slides I know that it Culebra Cut with vegetation in order to is only a question of proper drainage." prevent those small slides that come Never did any set of men miss a proper down through erosion. As soon as the statement of conditions that would be angle of repose is reached this work of
encountered more widely than the majortropical forestation will begin, and when ity of the board of consulting engineers. the ships of the future use the canal they They said the banks would stand up; will sail between banks of tropic green that there would be no slides; that a except at those places where the living hundred steam shovels could be used in rock defies the efforts of the forester. Culebra Cut; that the cut could be built
I can find no more striking way to con to sea-level in less time than it would revey to my readers the meaning of the quire to construct locks; that a sea-level slides at Panama than by asking them cut would require the excavation of only to remember that at one place where the 110 million cubic yards of eartlı. consulting engineers said the slope should The facts are that the banks failed to be such as to give a top width 670 feet stand up, to the tune of 30 million cubic that width is now 1,8oo feet; the vastness yards; that there have been over 250 of the difficulties created by this differ acres of slides; that no more than 10 ence can thus be somewhat appreciated. steam shovels ever could be worked in
It is a most striking thing to look back Culebra Cut; that locks a fourth larger to the days of the consulting engineers, than those the majority members of the in the light of what the completion of the board of consulting engineers had in canal has shown, and to see how well mind were built in less time than even a they appreciated conditions in Culebra lock-level cut was dug, and that a lockCut, especially those who advocated a level cut has required the excavation of sea-level canal. These men were so sure almost as much material as they said a that they knew what was beneath the soil sea-level cut would require. of Culebra Mountain that they did not hesitate to proclaim with confidence that
I FORTU VITE CILINGE OF PLIN Culebra Cut dug to 40 feet below the sea The Imerican people may thank their was no problem except that of removing stars that at such a juncture as we were material.
facing at the time the consulting engiA member of the Isthmian Canal Com neers made their report, there was a man mission of 1899-1901 testified that it was in the White House and a man at the thoroughly known exactly what materials head of the War Department who dared would be encountered in the cut, and the ignore the recommendations of the maconsulting engineers, taking their cue jority of that board. from this, reported that the whole propo Had the change to a lock canal not sition was an easy one.
Henry Huter, been made we would have worked up to chief engineer of the Manchester Ship about the present time on a sea-level Canal, was so sure that a sea-level Cu canal, digging a tremendous ditch all lebra Cut would present no difficulties through that broad country from Gatun that he announced it as his belief that to Gamboa, 20-odd miles, building a sixsuch a cut could be completed long before million-dollar set of tidal locks at Sosa the locks of a lock canal could be built. Hill. building a
six-million-collar maThe entire majority declared that it sonry dam at Gamboa, and doing divers was as clearly demonstrable as anything other things unnecessary to a lock canal, of such a nature could be that it would at a total cost of some $50,000,000, enly be possible to
a hundred steam to find, after all, just as the French disshovels in the cut alone, and that a sea covered, that a sea-level canal could not level cut could be finished in 11 years at be built within the limit of money and the outside.
patience set by the people behind the One engineer laughed at the idea of en project.
Here we see the Cucaracha slide after the water was let in and the dredges had got to work on it. It is composed mainly of clay, and by placing
at relay pump in the pipeline the clay can be sucked out and pumped over the banks of the canal out of harm's way
STEAM SIIOVELS REMOVING CUCARICILI SLIDI; This particular slide, one of the many, completely filled the canal. The flat cars are standing
on the west bank of the canal, 70 feet above the bottom of the cut
We would either have been forced to roughly, how much more material would acknowledge a humiliating defeat or to have to be removed from the cut to bring have started at this late date to trans it to sea-level. Sot one of them would form the sea-level canal that was to have risk a prediction, but all agreed that it been into a lock canal such as we have would be more than cross-section measnow. It is very easy to imagine that, urements plus the slide experience of "'ith a sea-level canal fiasco staring them the fiscal year 1913 vould indicate. in the face, the American people might
measurement not have been willing to accept the lock would involve about 50 million cubic canal, with its Gatum Dam and its great vards. Even if the slides were 110 porse locks, and there would have been than they were in 1913, the extra excacanal in the end,
vation which would be required to con
vert the present cut into a sea-level cut WHY A SEI-LEVEL CANAL WAS DI POSSIBLE
would amount to approximately 75 milLet us consider for a moment, in view lion cubic vards. of what actual work has proven, how The probabilities, therefore, are in the much more excavation would be required light of experience, that it would require to bring the present cut to sea-level. We the removal of as much more material have seen that the slides have grown
as has been taken out to make a sea-level Vastly more serious as the cut has deep cut; in other words, that from the vanened.
tage point at which we stand today we During my last trip to the Isthmus might' fairly conclude that a sea-level I asked every engineer I met, from Colo
Culebra Cut would have required the exnel Goethals down, to estimate for me,
cavation of 210 million cubic jards of