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Senator Morgax. It seems to be the general opinion that it is not as heavy at Gamboa; that it is not as stiff and intractable as it is at the other places you mentioned.
Mr. STEVENS. I have a better chance in the canal, where it has been cut away, to examine the formation. At Gamboa, of course, it is all grown up with jungle, and, as I recall it, it is 50 feet from the bed of the river to bed rock in the river.
Senator MORGAN. Now, pressing on still south, the first rise or ele• vation you come to is Culebra?
Mr. STEVENS. There is a general rise until you come to Culebra. Senator MORGAN. And beyond that is Emperador? Mr. STEVENS. Yes, sir. Emperador is north of Culebra. Senator MORGAN. It is one ridge, with a dip between, is it not! Mr. STEVENS. Yes, sir; Emperador is north of Culebra. Senator MORGAN. North of Culebra? Mr. STEVENS. Yes, sir-what was formerly known as Emperador, what we call Empire now. It is about one mile or a mile and a half away.
Senator MORGAN. Which is the rocky elevation through which you have to cut-Culebra or Emperador? Mr. STEVENS. Culebra. Senator MORGAN. Culebra! Mr. STEVENS. Yes, sir.
Senator Morgan. The reason I inquired particularly about it was this—that I had a report yesterday from the Geological Survey, and they put Culebra, as I find now, on the wrong side of the situation.
Mr. STEVENS. Yes, sir. Well, Culebra, you know, is a general term, Senator.
Senator MORGAX. Yes.
Mr. STEVENS. What we call Culebra, the town of Culebra, is south of Empire about 1 mile, measured along the axis of the canal, or along the railway.
The higher mountains are at Culebra. On the east side of the cut, which is the left-hand side as you go toward Panama, is what is known as Gold Hill. Where the slope stakes or the side-formation lines would come, the natural surface of the ground is the highest. In other words, the highest point of the canal, not merely on the center line but on the side line, would be the highest point of any type of canal, the deepest cut. On the opposite side is what is called Contractors' Hill, and between those two hills was the original summit, the highest point.
Senator MORGAN. Let me see, now, if I comprehend the situation there. I have never been there, and do not know anything about it as a geologist at all, and can not even have any scientific imagination about it, but here is an outpouring from an ancient volcano of the stone that hardens into basalt. That is laid down in sheets something like this sindicating], is it not?
Mr. STEVENS. Well, the original rock, undoubtedly put in there by the water, lies in what you might call sheets, strata, and these dykes are injected through it.
Senator MORGAN. Then another explosion of that volcano or some other volcano lays another layer of the basalt above it, and the intervening matter is called the dyke?
Mr. STEVENS. The dykes are generally thrown up vertically through these strata, injected through.
Senator Morgan. Yes; but intervening between these sheets or layers of basalt there are softer materials? Mr. STEVENS. Yes, sir; there is some softer material.
Senator MORGAN. So that in cutting across it, when you come to the outcrop, we will call it, the upper elevation of the basalt sheet or layer, you cut through that, and then you pass a softer material until you get to the next sheet?
Mr. STEVENS. Yes.
Senator Morgan. It is cutting across the upper edges of the basalt formation ?
Mr. STEVENS. Yes, sir.
Senator MORGAN. Has it occurred to you, or have you had your mind drawn to this point, to ascertain at what distance from the coast, for instance, in the Bay of Panama the basalt ledges lift themselves up?
Mr. STEVENS. I did not quite get that.
Senator MORGAN. These basalt formations at the summit at Bohio, or Obispo, or wherever it is, on the north side of the axis of the canal, dip under; they have a decided dip to the south? Mr. STEVENS. Yes, sir.
Senator MORGAN. Now, they curve and come up somewhere. Have you ever ascertained at what point in the Bay of Panama these basalt deposits, as I call them, reappear?
Mr. STEVENS. I suppose at Ancon Hill, which is right in the town of Panama, and Sosa Hill, which is a twin sister, a very much smaller one at La Boca, lying within a quarter of a mile of it; and then the islands in Panama Bay, from 3 to 12 miles out, are the same formation. I am not a geologist, but they look to me like it.
Senator MORGAN. Some of them are very high, are they not?
Mr. STEVENS. Well, Ancon is about 600 feet above sea level. Perico and Culebra and Flamenco, which are the islands at the mouth of the harbor, and larger ones farther out, are of practically the same formation to an unscientific eye.
Senator ANKENY. Are they the same height—600 feet above sea level?
Mr. STEVENS. I really could not tell you that; no, I should say it was not as high as that at Ancon. Still, they are quite high; they are peaks.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not think Mr. Stevens is through with his statement yet; are you, Mr. Stevens?
Mr. STEVENS. Well, I do not know how far you want to carry it. I could talk, you know, for any length of time.
The CHAIRMAN. I think we would like to have you go on until you feel that you are through.
Mr. STEVENS. I have told you some of the things that I have found as far as construction is concerned. Now, I had another proposition, which was the most discouraging of all to me, and that was the Panama Railroad. Mr. Taliaferro asked some questions about the Panama Railroad in reference to the tracks. The Panama Railroad runs, of course, from Colon, on the eastern or northern side, to Panama, on the western or southern side. La Boca is on a spur track
about 24 miles west of Panama. That is where the steel dock which we acquired from the French is located on the Pacific coast, at La Boca. It has a first-class roadbed, well graded, with permanent masonry openings, and thoroughly ballasted--one of the best roadbeds I ever saw in all my experience. There are better ones in the United States, but it is better than the majority of the eastern roads.
Senator GORMAN. What is the maximum grade?
Mr. STEVENS. About 14 or 1} per cent to the mile; the curves make it in the neighborhood of 80 feet to the mile. The ties generally, especially those that were placed there years ago—that is, those that have not been put in during the last two or three years-are probably the finest in the world. Some of them have been there forty years and are as sound as the day they were put in. They are made of lignum vitæ. Senator MORGAN. Are some of them mahogany or ebony?
Mr. STEVENS. Lignum vitæ and that class of wood. They are magnificent ties; they could not be better.
The rail, at the time the Americans bought it, was, I think, almost entirely very light and badly worn, practically worn out, weighing 56 pounds to the yard. I think that the French probably laid a few miles of heavy rail; I do not know. I took out some this fall that they told me had only been laid four or five years, but it was worn out. It was not heavy rail.
The rail has all been relaid with 70-pound rails from one end to the other, and I finished the relaying. Well, I say “I finished it'there was 3 or 4 miles to lay when I left, and I assume that it is all laid. In fact, I was sure it would be, so I assumed that it was.
The bridges were old. In fact, the bridge across the Chagres River was an iron bridge, a girder bridge, and it has the reputation (and I have no doubt of it) of being the first girder bridge that was ever built in the world. It was built, I think, forty-seven years ago. Of course there are hundreds and thousands of them now that we travel over every month here. But all the bridges were, for modern traffic, too light-dangerously light--and one of the things I have had to do before we could run any of the new engines which we are now putting in is to strengthen every bridge on the road. I picked up a great deal of old French material in the shape of girders and I-beams, and we are working them in our railroad shops for strengthening many of the small ones. In the case of others, we have had to drive creosote piling under them and cap them and make them stronger, so that now we have got them so that we can take heavy power over the road.
The sidings were very few, most of them poorly located, and, in fact, there was not very much to the Panama Railroad, either as to railroad or equipment, except the roadbed, which, as I say, was excellent.
The docks were entirely insufficient, and for the last few years, at least, have been absolutely neglected, so far as I could see. In fact, during the worst of my troubles, in September, the main dependence at Colon broke down, so that I had to throw one-half of it out of service at the time of my greatest trouble and rebuild it.
On the La Boca or Pacific end we had one steel dock over 800 feet long, 48 feet wide, with two tracks on it, built by the French and acquired with the railway. That was about half supplied with modern machinery in the shape of cranes, and before the time of the heavy Commission business was, no doubt, ample to take care of all the commercial through business that went over it; but it was entirely insufficient last summer, and is at the present time.
Our people had evidently realized that and they had commenced building a new wooden dock there. But owing to a delay in the delivery of piling and timbers it was practically at a standstill, and had been for a long time. The same condition prevailed at Cristobal, or Colon, where they had started to build two docks. Of course, I got busy as quickly as possible, and as soon as I got the material on the ground I reorganized the force and put it in the hands of the Panama Railroad to build, because their carpenters were more used to that work than house carpenters, and since that time we have completed those three docks. We completed them sixty days ago to such an extent that we could use them, although they were not done, with the result that to-day we can berth four ships at a time at La Boca, instead of two, as formerly, and we can berth about ten at Colon. In other words, we have increased our berthings there by four, and we are now using those docks.
The rolling stock of the Panama Railroad was and is yet (with the exception of these 25 flat cars which the Commission bought, and the 24 locomotives which were bought, of which twelve are delivered down there, and about three of which we have been able to get into service) antiquated to the last degree. The engines are very light, and while the company had kept them up in fairly good shape, they were totally unsuited to handle heavy business. Their cars are few in number and very small. Very many of the cars that are on there now were built thirty-five years ago, they tell me-littel 10 and 12 ton box cars, whereas up here, you know, we use 30 and 40 ton cars. The fiat cars were old and small. They had nothing that they should have bad to handle the business.
But in face of all the discouragement I found, I think, the worst congestion that I ever saw in my life over a similar length of track. I found from 13,000 to 16,000 tons of freight piled up at Colon in a hopeless mass of confusion. I found freight which they told me had been there for eighteen months. I saw papers some of which we afterwards found had been there over six months. I found that part of the rolling stock of the road was tied up under load by our own men with Commission stuff for Culebra and other points, some of which had been under load ninety days, and still the railroad was unable to move the freight because it had not the equipment.
However, you have all undoubtedly read about the congestion on the Panama Railroad.
Senator MORGAN. Let me ask you this question right there, if you please: Is it your opinion that that congestion was due to the difficulty of the situation as to the docks and the railroad situation?
Mr. STEVENS. It was a combination of causes that gave rise to it, Senator. In the first place, the rolling stock of the road was not and is not sufficient to handle the business of the road as it should be handled; neither the car equipment nor the motive power—that is, the engines. Senator KITTREDGE. Do you refer to purely commercial business?
. Mr. STEVENS. It is hard to separate them, because the Commission business must be handled at the same time as the commercial business. Undoubtedly if they had only the same amount of commercial business that they would have if there were no canal being built there, they would be able to handle it fairly well.
Senator KITTREDGE. With the equipment they then had ?
Mr. STEVENS. With the equipment they then had, although it was worn out and being worn out very fast. In fact, a lot of it had come to the end of its life, practically speaking, and everybody was complaining. Nobody could get his freight. I suppose there were 3,000 packages on the docks in Colon and Panama that there were no papers for. I could not tell, nobody could tell, what its destination or its consignees were. Then, I do not like to criticize, but the methods of the people who were operating the road were not, according to my judgment, the best in the world.
Senator KITTREDGE. If you will pardon me the interruption, was the condition you speak of aggravated by the condition of health on the Isthmus?
Mr. STEVENS. Largely.
Mr. STEVENS. To a certain extent, yes, sir. I do not refer particularly to yellow fever; I am speaking generally.
The Chairman asked me, when I commenced this very discursive statement, how I found things on the Isthmus. I found a very bad state of feeling among the employees everywhere. They were scared out of their boots, afraid of yellow fever and afraid of everything.
They were not working with any heart, and I think the most of them would have been very glad if the whole thing had been abandoned. For some time, owing to the change in the chief engineer, they had practically felt that there had been no one there in authority, and that they were rather left alone; and this feeling had gone to a certain extent to the railroad employees. It took a long time, or sometime, to disabuse their minds of that notion. But as health conditions got better, and they found that there was somebody there to make decisions and to order them to do something, that soon disappeared, and for the last three months I do not think that in my thirty odd years of experience I have seen a more faithful, hard-working, loyal set of men than 80 or 30 per cent of the men are to-day.
Senator Krox. Contented, also?
Senator TALIAFERRO. Does that apply to the railroad work, or to both canal and railroad?
Mr. STEVENS. To both. Of course the health conditions and the vellow fever situation have improved in the last two or three months, so that they have gotten over feeling afraid of vellow fever.
Senator Morgan. Do you mean all the laborers, as well as the others, when you speak of how the men feel?
Mr. STEVENS. Well, it is hard to say what a Jamaica or a Martinique negro thinks, you know. Sometimes I think that they do not think.
Senator DRYDEN. Is this congestion of the railroad in anyway aggravated by the neglect of the steamship companies?
Mr. STEVENS. If you will pardon me, Senator, just a moment, I would like to make this statement: We went to work on this congestion and we gradually dug this freight out. We found out from