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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 83

Current Engineering

Current Engineering.

A Survey of the great projects in the world may be likened to that of the atelier of an eminent sculptor with all his fragments. There are usually a mass of works in various stages None are wholly abandoned.

The Channel Tunnel between England and France is being proceeded with insidiously, as one may say. The vertical borings are down. The horizontal ones, through the chalk bed, or strap, are whittled at.

De Lesseps announces that the Suez Canal is to be widened, doubled in breadth, and the works will shortly be begun. Meanwhile the Panama Canal is persevered with, and will occupy at least seven more years. Eads, the eminent American engineer, does not abandon his project of a ship railroad across the Panama Isthmus. His plans include a sensational picture of a great British ironclad, like the Nelson, being dragged across the Isthmus by half-a-dozen twelve-wheel locomotives on six parallel lines of rails. The thing does not look impossible. The ironclad is braced up with shore-poles as in dock.

The Jordan Valley Canal scheme has dropped for the time being. This is a proposal to furnish a connecting loop of navigable ocean through Palestine, from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, thus turning the flank of the Suez Canal. Jerusalem and Damascus would almost become seaport towns, while the Lake of Tiberias, and many scenes of Bible story, would be obliterated. Immense cuttings would have to be made at each end of the canal, and it is a mere question of expense and paying. The ships sailing through Palestine would be a new miracle.

The flooding of the Sahara with the Mediterranean, a French project, is hung up for the present, but has received the approval of De Lesseps, after a survey of the ground to be cut away. Here, again, the only question is of revenue. There is a similar project on the Pacific coast, with regard to a tract of California.

The Euphrates Valley railway scheme, connecting India with Asia Minor, Calcutta with the Dardanelles, is in abeyance. page 39 Russia pushes forward her railways into Asia. When will China be opened up to the Western engineer? Imagine the railway system which there awaits to be developed amid a population of four hundred millions. Nothing is heard just now about the great Australian continental railroad. Some light railway works have been pushed into Upper Egypt in connection with Lord Wolseley's expedition.

The success of the Mont Cenis and St. Gothard tunnels through the Alps has led to a third tunnel being definitely resolved upon, and we believe it is commenced.

The most important undertaking lately completed in India is the huge railway bridge at Attock, over the Indus, on the north-western line. This line is purely military. Though it cannot help being useful to commerce, it is not expected to pay. It affords the means of rattling up large bodies of troops and war material quickly to Peshawur, for service in Afghanistan. However, the commerce through the Bolan Pass, from India into Afghanistan, is estimated at near a million sterling in value annually.

The difficult work of tunnelling under the Hudson river, at New York, for a railway, horse traffic and pedestrians, goes slowly on. This accomplishment will eclipse even the mammoth Brooklyn suspension bridge. The work has been in progress this decade, and will take another.

Bartholdi's colossal statue of Liberty, executed in Paris as a lighthouse to the entrance of New York harbour, will soon be fixed up, and rival the antique Colossus of Rhodes.

The great Canadian trunk railway is pushed ahead. This is a rival to the Pacific line, in extent from ocean to ocean, but it can never obtain the celebrity of the Pacific railroad.

The new submarine telegraph lines mooted—reinforcing the wires between England and America, demand notice, as fresh ties of amity. The greatest feat of telegraphy on record is when Archer's win in the Epsom Derby, on the American horse, Iroquois, was known in New York before he had dismounted from the saddle. St. Petersburg is connected by land telegraph with Vladivostock, on the eastern coast of Asia, a distance of 3000 miles, or, roughly speaking, as far as from New York to San Francisco.

The Mersey Canal, from Liverpool to Manchester, is in difficulties, but will be accomplished. The railway bridge over the Frith of Forth is the most extensive work progressing in Great Britain.

In harbour clearance, the tremendous submarine blasting operations at Hellgate, New York, are noticeable, and have severely tested engineering skill.