Colony Courier (Colony, Okla.), Vol. 1, No. 7, Ed. 1 Saturday, October 23, 1909 Page: 3 of 8
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CHAWWtArtD Crt/rFF/STJW/AN CAml 'CO^mS^o)}
1 CANAL connecting the Atlantic and Pacific
oceans has occupied public attention for up-
ward of four centuries, during which period
various routes have been proposed, each hav-
lng certain special or peculiar advantages. It
was not until the nineteenth century, however
,, that an* definite action was taken looking
toward its accomplishment.
In 1876 an organization was perfected in France for
making surveys and collecting data on which to base
the construction of a canal across the Isthmus of Pan-
ama and In 1878 a concession for prosecuting the work
was secured from the Qplombian government.
In May, 1879, an international congress was convened,
and complete Investigation of the Isth-
mus of Panama, with a view to the con-
struction of a canal ... to connect
the Atlantic and Pacific oceans . . .
and particularly to investigate the two
routes known respectively as the Nica-
ragua route and the Panama route, with
a view to determining the most prac-
ticable and feasible route for such canal,
together with the approximate and prob-
able cost of constructing a canal at each
of the two or more of said routes.
The commission reported on Novem-
ber 16. 1901, in favor of Panama apd rec-
mcAs£iLt:AR Tm: PAar/c T£xt*f*&or
of the general beard of the wavy, so as to
aeectnmodata any possible Inc pease In beam
of future battleships.
WMe©d1ng Stories About Mrs Qatun Dam.
1 he Gatun dam Is te consist of two plies
®f reek 1,200 feet apart and carried up to
so feet above mean tide. The apace be-
tween them and up to the required height
Is to be filled by selected material deposited
In placo by the hydraulic process. During,
the construction of the north side of the
south rock pile a slip occurred in Novem-
ber last at the crossing of the French canal.
fheeflr„!!laUSPfl? °/ Ferc"nand de Lesseps, to consider
"!°r.of.the Panama route and of a sea-level canal with-
out locks. De Lesseps' success with the Suez canal
made him a strong advocate of the sea-level type anc
his opinion had considerable influence in the decision
Immediately following this ac-
tion the Panama Canal Company —..i _
was organized under the general
lawB of France, with Ferdinand
de Lesseps as Its prer'.dent. The
concession granted in 1878 by Co-
lombia was purchased by the com-
pany and the stock was success-
fully floated In December, 1880.
The two years following were de-
voted largely to surveys, examina-
tions and preliminary work. In
the first plan adopted the canal
was to be 29.5 feet deep, with a
ruling bottom width of 72 feet.
Leaving Colon, the canal passed
through low ground to the valley
of the Chagres river at Gatun, a
distance of about six miles; thence
through this valley for 21 miles, to
Obispo, where, leaving the river, it
crossed the continental divide at
Culebra by means of a tunnel, and
reached the Pacific through the
valley of the Rio Grande. The dif-
ference in the tides of the two
oceans, m.« Inches in either di-
rection from the mean In the At-
lantic and from nine to li feet
from tha same datum In the Pa-
ctde, was te be overcame and tk)
Anal, currents reduced by a proper
■loping of the bottom of the Pa-
cifie portion of the canal. . No pro-
vielona were made for the oontrol
of tho Chagres river.
In tha early eighties. after a
study of the flow due to the tidal
V *£***!"“ Ud*J k,ch tha Pacific was provided.
VartoM schemes were also proposed for the control at
the Chagrow, the moot prominent being the construction
of a dam at Gamboa. Tho dam a. "opW?5™£2
pro.v#dt u8 ,Bipn,c“cabl« and this problem re*
tto d*VWe0rwiT IlT18 bJrtn?‘ t"MU>,ved Th« tunnel through
the divide wae also abandoned la favor of an open cut
First Cheats from »«a Lever to Lech Type.
, W“ Prosecuted on. tho sea-level canal until
1887, when a change to tho look type was made, la order
to secure the use of the canal for navigation os soon
aa Possible. It was Agreed at that time that tho change
n plan did not contemplate abandonment of the *£?
mnrlivCnn.n1’ ^hkh ult,matel’r to he secured, but
merely its postponement for the time being. I„ this new
efR?hlb™BUIU,n,t ievel wne placed ab0'’e the Hue
CnhaKr* rfver' *° btf supplied with water from
ihKfl lh fbZ 1>,mp,,■ VVork wa" Pushed forward until
188ft, when tho company tvont Into bankruptcy, and-on
February 4 that year, « liquidator was appointed tfi tnlM
charge of Its affairs. Work was suspended on May 15
In Mtobv 1>U!"lllitt ?laai C°m*y* wn" irized
In October, 1894, when wdrk wap again resumed, on the
blap recommended by a commission of egglneons.
contemplated a sea-level canal from Llmon
bay to llohlo, where a dam across the valley created *■
lako extending to Has Obispo, the difference In love?
being overcome by two lock*; tho summit level extondod
from Due Obispo to Parnlso, reached by two more locka
and waa supplied with water by a feeder from nn artifi-
cial reservoir created by a dam at Alhajuela. in the up-
per Chagroa valley. Four locks were located on tho
.%!«,. am,° ““ “ I‘“,r°
A second or alternative plan waa proposed at the
■amo time, by which the summit level waa to bo a lake
formed by the Bohlo dam, fed directly by the chasms
Work waa continued on this plan until the rights and
United* Stalel ** ”°W comp“My w*ru Purrhaawd by the
United Staten Become Interested.
Tho United States, not unmindful of the advantages
of ai\ Isthmian canal, had front time to time nta.lo „.ve.
tlgatlona and aurveys of tho various routes With a
view to government ownership and control congress dh
rected an Investigation of tho Nicaraguan canal for
which a concession had boon granted to a private com-
pany. The resulting report brought about such a dis-
suasion of tho advantages of tho Panama route to the
Nicaraguan route that by an act of congreaa, approved
05/r/G OF THF CHAC&EJ RIVER
ommended tho lock type of canal. Tho plan
Bohlo wh °f ” B,ea-l0Vel 8ectloi‘ ‘rom Colon to
Bohlo, where a dam across the Chagres valley
created a summit level 82 to 90 feet above the
sea, reached by two locks. The lake or sum-
mit level extended from Bohlo to Pedro Mi-
gnel, where two locks connected it with a nool
mZuoTTZTV'! a° nr“",«nt <»•
- °n ?Un.e 29' 1906‘ congreaa provided
across the |tyMS °f Cana' b8 con8tructed
across the Isthmus of Panama, of the
of "th^h tyPf proposed by the minority
work l! consu,tlnK engineers, and
work has continued along these lines As
originally proposed, the plan consUttd
WideP4WCaPaBtral,ght Channel 500 teet
wide, 41 feet deep from deep water in
tSether85bfea? *.° G?tUn’ WHere a" a8Cent
to the 85-foot level was made by three
locks in flight. Tho level Is maintained
oy a dam approximately 7,700 feet long
Thli was the fifth slip that occurred at thle
point, the rock settling to some extent,' but
generally slipping sidewise until the angle of
repose was reached.* In this connection It ie
to he noted that the slit deposits In the chan-
nel had not been removed. This slip would
probably have passed unnoticed, aa did the
former ones, but for the fact that at the time
a flood In tho Chagres river had attained such
proportions as to cover a portion of the Pa-
nama railroad tracks just south of Gatun. A
newspaper correspondent, going from Colon to
Panama, saw his opportunity for a sensational story and
attributed the flood to the dropping of the Gatun dam
Into the subterranean lake under the dam and looks,
which another faker had previously discovered, and the
news of the destruction of the Gatun dam waa cabled to
the United States.
The slip did ndt affect the south slope or side of the
rock pile. It. was entirely local and did not In any way
interfere with the work. It would not have occurred
had steps been taken during construction to give the
proper slope to the rock pile, but economy of time and
money did not warrant such precaution. Ae stated by
one of the engineering publications, "We can state from
actual personal examination that this Incident has aback
lutely no engineering significance."
As a result, however, the public Is told that dire dis-
aster will follow the undertaking unless the present plana
are abandoned and the Straits of Panama constructed--
W fw* shove mean tide, extending to Mfraficw** »»»
the eoaai prism was fixed at 154 feet lB*fea««l
the width was fixed at 2M feet and I. the arttfieteT•£?
In Llmon buy 500 feet via adonto^ mUL * ,
Place. 800 feet wklo, The wlnlm^J,
and the locks were te have usable lengths of 7m IT*?
and whits* ■, .... of 740 fast
■nu whites of 84 feet. The comralsski'M °TTnnni tk*
val'ie of. the rights, franchises, concessloes lands nn.
finished work, plans nntl other property In'rludinl’
SSSS! ,hr N,w «
«*i| OF Mllll
jxttm mr jmwmmmmmmi
March 3, 1133, -a commission wa. appointed to’
By act of cohfiress, approved June 88 1902 th* «
flent of the United States was auSoruld to mulS S
fh»°v n8u excc€,dl,,K W6.000.009. the property Shts Jl
,‘nH,?a Ca"al f,opip«ny on the Isthmus ofP.?'
agin and also to soertr® from the Republic of Co1r»»ni>i«
Perpetual control of tt strip of land “rt nlTlll
Pntdfic'ocenn°**0,Id8 trom the ^Hbbean sea to the
ltlt(f "wBh *r T Hi leK,^'‘tl',n- hegotlntloae Were entered
into with Colombia and with the New Pnnama run.i
Company, with tko end that a treaty Wns nide ^th the
gTmV2* 10°3* and by tto U-‘“*d St'at^r Feh’Juar6,
1 ho formal transfer of the property of the New Putin
Danal Company on the isthmus wa. made on AUv 2‘
1904, after which the United Slate, began the organui
tlon of a forco for the construction of tho lock tvno of
Utms!nin.h*8|emeautl,ne eontln",M8 ‘he excavation by
utilising the French material and equipment and such
labor aa was procurable on tho lathmu.
Look Type la Adopted.
Tho quoatlon cf a sea-level ennui was nxnln n>itntmt
and secured such recognition that the president eon-
vened the International hoard of engineers, consisting of
if "iumblir °iMB«',n»b'*.kt W""l,",*",n 'he flrit day
f J J .,no5' for ,h* Purpose of considering
inrlous plana for the conatructlon of tho canal
would bo submitted to It.
“ re*u,t °r dellbsratlona the board submitted a
majority report and n minority report signed by five of
hVZtr: 'h°'»rn">r «drr*,,,« ■ •••"•*•. Sb!U
tbovo mean tld°t lh" ,UWmU Uv#l 86 ,Mt
Tht Isthmian Canal Comnilsslon, with one dissenting
on ©ha If mile wide a. the bwso, 108 fee* at «ho to®,
A = i?tJX55
uIj Pvd,‘* » t«vk «# 39 f«j(04
tttt earrtod th© vwoH down t© a lak© 85 feet above mo mi
<5V<- ‘he toke snrfaeo and the
Nlse4©en and eight-hundredthe m4km «4 H*e dta»
“tU* *° Sk,s“ hl11 had a channel 1,099 fee.
at the bottom, a minimus* chasael for 4% ml km tbrnmrh
Culebra of 200 f©et at the bottom. The kaimme ef
distance varied la wldWi to 8M fmrt. the larger portly
®"Mm’ c*n■, ’hsfag aot lemr than UK h,«d The
depth of water waa fined «t 46 tmmt. The Into omnmd -
berfeet control o# tho f'hagt’s© Mvw*.. 0*suirm(
ImprevmwmW© In Original Man*. .
Cqrtala change* have hern made in thp oidgintil rw.
Joct. the most Important being th«' withdrawal nt the
locks from Sosa to kflralloren, which' wim Cevomiaendwd
«nd adopted In Ih-cember, 13*7. Tbtls 4*©ult«d la a
chanpo In the direction o( the channel Ik Fsbhpmi hhp
A breakwater la holpd eonntruhUd- from Bded U 'Nnos
lont' whlch Hh by rUlfng °* tk* .'rpm®wv.
r.m, * SL..’ jsjs: »'»>►- >»».
£ i*uC,,nd uhange Ip the Widening of the ' mfioa
was d© ThUt t0 “ Y,dth ot30° f««‘ ‘»F» hottoai. TbJg .
was done by oxociUlve qfder and whs nbt ma«e on tl^
recommendation of the commission.
A third change I. the loegtfon of the breakwaters in
Colon harbor, Tho necessity for theso brenhwaiesn was
made apparent in the latter phrt of Januffry. wTen h
rm of some magnitude seriously Interfered with shlD-
fp' or,*'««lly Proposed for both soa-level and lock
types, the breakwaters were parallel to the axis of the
channel excavated H. Llmon bay. if constructed, suf
m “T* Tou " not bo g,vcn dissipate the waves
nffn’r i im.hrM r°n <ha nnd w""ld not
nfford niuoli, If any, protection to shipping, These break-
Toiornoh.r ,bUl1,1 °Ut frm" Manaanllln island and
loro point, so ns lo give a sheltered anchorage and also
break ?hen"uj, f°r BUC‘‘ expn"■lo,, ‘u lb« w'‘V(,s a. to
a. *" In ‘bn dimensions of the locka
ml*' »0,’^,!l0di by ,,‘c' mlwor“y “'«y w«r« BOO feet by 96
■Ubseau■ nt?J*<!»!**b* T! W,dlb*' Tbc” dimension, wem
qsU*4?t,y chlM,fi0d by the oommleslou at the Inatlxa-
Uon of tho president to tUmfi>.loi>. loo feet ill. Sti
«h>a>t la, tv ««d«>v.oT ea-TOfl avfmm «iw ItftHmux Soft or 600
*«Bt wide. Te ivceompliKh this, however. » lotsB canal
4««©t bo bu4U fl'Psti and sirhsequontily widened' and' data
etaw* vmvHi tho Ideal Is reached^ There la. no- data- gvill-
01*10 for such iv canal, with mautrlainw Instead of hills
»• he h«sw4 uNnntsi a«ei «f cousxe, imposslblet so
tkw must Nptlniletie Agwnesv ©u*t«btle alwne to the ideal.
JZLL rH ovewt ^ * aKo -clsflffied.
hWV* *fW,a sxdecled for (be wit* of Ur*
As betweea Ikvtua owe KwM* at bstfe plheew MVe-die-
4»»re feow the inct-uml mvrfowe to the e©ak l» eo geest
Uwvt a«y art tempt N» found Hie dam ©u fire last nnrtied
mMiMlHl witi he ivctended by entmkreus exuepas. At B©-
h*o the gorge in Kn lower strain Is filled with water-
heivrlng getvvol, am) te nnvke the dnm safe tfie upMMtkVk
Hte©ivgfc thuwi dteode w©u4* hnve to be cut «TP by soih© •
■isnvas mten*Ht*g down 105 feet. Wo eueh strata exist ‘
wt (kstx. «p. for thte reuesn atmm, « m3
ovMtloa th© advantages Wi Mm onnirel uf thw Ghnifres ’ -
river and tv aavlfovtlon hy smnnn of Hie greater extent'
<* late,, data's yffere thy bettor elfo. "' X"**’
Beth thuniuJorHy a fid siWvrlty at the- bpard' of cqn- *
suiting chgljinor. considered Gatun a ,ault»ltle-location !
N>r n dami thp former1 adopted It fOr the typical look
eanal used.for comparlirhh with the dhmlevei canal, tha
laftor fkr the SStfoot.'aummlt-levoi canal. Th©. miUorltv
hpwever, ienrod the egletensf of ah undesgrounft? flow
In <mse of the higher dam, But Investigation© hava’failad
to dllclbsq anys Thb |(reat nutsa of underlying material
Is not sandy and gravelly deposits, as pas supposed.*but
rt njUture of tlmse mate rials so firmly leiuenttd together
with cjny as to make the strata In which they occur
Impervious to water. * »«-our
Foundation at Qatun It Batlsfastory,
I venture the statement, without fear of contradiction,
that the site of no public or private work of any kind
ins received such a thorough and exhaustive examine-
[Ion nnd Investigation ns the foundation of the dam and
locks at Gatun. There Is no longer a doubt oonosmlu
uny of the underlying strata; neither the Impermeability
nor the nblllty of the foundations to bear the loads that
will be brought upon them can be questioned If the data
bo carefully and Impartially examined. Tha In vest law
tlons fall to disclose any waterbearing strata or tho ax-
i,_t*riC*._of..th*Lu,“,wriround ■‘•'••tt with a discharge
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Smith, F. J. Colony Courier (Colony, Okla.), Vol. 1, No. 7, Ed. 1 Saturday, October 23, 1909, newspaper, October 23, 1909; Colony, Oklahoma. (gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc941598/m1/3/: accessed December 17, 2017), The Gateway to Oklahoma History, gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society.