United States. Inland Waterways Commission.

Preliminary report of the Inland Waterways Commission. Message from the President transmitting a preliminary report online

. (page 45 of 83)
Online LibraryUnited States. Inland Waterways CommissionPreliminary report of the Inland Waterways Commission. Message from the President transmitting a preliminary report → online text (page 45 of 83)
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nels within narrower limits. These results are accomplished in
different ways. In some cases it is necessary to build wing dams
and in time the spaces between these are filled in by sand and dirt,
and thus land is reclaimed. In other cases it has been necessary to
build works parallel to the course of the stream and inside the natural
channel, so as to hold the waters within narrower lines. In these
cases the land outside the artificial channel is gradually filled in.

Finally, in connection with some of the waterway works, experi-
ments in irrigation have been made possible, from wliich highly
satisfactory results are reported.


In connection with the great project of connecting the Rliine and
the Weser, it may be shown how the general and local governments
cooperate in the division of expenses. The execution of the whole
work was made contingent upon the cooperation of provinces and
cities. Thus on one section it was provided that the provincial
authorities should guarantee a sum not to exceed $132,000 per annum
to cover any deficit in maintenance. In addition, the local authorities
were required to guarantee 3 per cent annual interest on some part
of the cost, varying on different sections of the canal.

As regards the section from Bevern to Weser, the local authorities
must pay, in the event of a maintenance deficit, up to $210,000 a year.
Further than this they must pay 1 per cent a year during the first
five years, 2 per cent during the second five years, and thereafter 3 per
cent, on the $9,000,000 cost of this section. Further, after sixteen
years certain sinking-fund requirements must be met by the local
authorities in order to establish a fund with wliich ultimately to
discharge the capital debt.

The cities of Hanover and Bremen, which were recognized as
certain to derive great benefits from this waterway, were required
to do very important parts of the work, and their compliance with
the terms was made one of the conditions of the State executing
the project.

An illustration of the interest local authorities take in improve-
ment of their waterways is the story of the improvement of the
Weser at the expense of the city of Bremen. The Weser is a very
important commercial artery to Bremen. It flows almost due north
to that city, intersecting the big interior waterway at ^linden.
From Bremen to Minden it has long been improved so as to accom-


modate barges of large tonnage. It was believed important commer-
cial benefits would accrue to Bremen from having the river further
improved south of Minden. Accordingly, the Bremen government ap-
propriated some millions of dollars and actually carried out this great
worK of betterment, in a territory far beyond Bremen's boundaries.

The Berlin-Stettin canal's construction was made contingent upon
a guarantee b}" local governmental divisions to make up any deficit
in working expenses up to $150,000 a year and to pay 3 per cent inter-
est on a proportion of the cost of the work.

The province of Posen was required, as a preliminary to carrying
out the scheme of improving the Warthe River, to guarantee about
$135,000 a 3^ear for operating and maintenance expenses, and 1 per
cent a year for five years, 2 per cent a year for the next five, and 3
per cent a year thereafter, on about $1,500,000 of the investment.

The province of Silesia and local authorities within the province
were required a guarantee operating deficit up to $52,000 a year,
and to pay interest at 1 per cent a year for the first five years, 2 per
cent the second five years, and 3 per cent a year thereafter on a
capital debt of $225,000.

As to these various conditions imposed on the local or provincial
authorities, some difficulty was experienced, but ultimately practi-
cally every condition laid down by the Landtag was met and the
works are now well under construction.

In the early period of the development of the waterways system
under vState auspices less eflPort was made to secure the financial
cooperation of local authorities within the State. The State was
more willing than it is now to provide all the capital. But as the
investment in waterways came to represent a considerable part of
the State debt, regions which for topographical or other reasons
were denied water transportation became vigorous in their protests.
They pointed out that the whole State was taxed to provide trans-
portation which immediately benefited only regions contiguous to
the waterways. Accordingly, in later years, the policy of financial
cooperation has been developed, thus far occasioning no check in
the development of the system. While the State in the first instance
finds the capital and directs the works, the local authorities under-
write a large proportion of the financial burden. It is probable that
had not this arrangement been reached the protest against construct-
ing waterways out of general taxation would idtimately have checked
the development of the system. As matters stand now the commer-
cial and governmental authorities of any region, when convinced
that waterway improvements are needed, are heard bv the minister
of public works, and if their proposals seem meritorious and a rea-
sonable financial guarantee is tendered, the State is likely to take
up the project.


A great extension of technical knowledge and construction methods
has in recent years contributed largely to increase the elliciency of
this mode of transportation. As in other countries, it came to be
realized three or four decades ago that to make waterways compete
with railways they must be enlarged ; so far as possible steam power
must be made available ; and that large numbers of small locks must


be replaced by fewer and larger ones. When possible locks on impor-
tant waterways are made so large that a steam tug with an entourage
of barges may be accommodated at one lockage. The tonnage of
barges has increased and the expense of transportation has been
reduced. Taking the fleet on the German Rhine, for example, the
official figures say that in 1887 there were 275 steamers, aggregating
17,000 tons. By 1897 the number of steamers had increased to 418
and their tonnage to 39,000; in 1904 there were 586 steamers and
the tonnage showed a still further considerable increase. But the
showing of the barge fleet in both numbers and tonnage is much
more significant.

In 1887 there were 2,731 barges of 570,000 tons. In the next ten
years, although there was an increase of only about 500 in the num-
ber of barges, the gross tonnage had more than doubled; in other
words, the average tonnage per barge on the Rhine had just about
doubled in this period. The increase is due to the improvement of
the Rhine and its tributaries — particularly the Main and the Neckar.
At present there are probabty 12,000 boats and barges on the Rhine,
including the German, Dutch, and Belgian fleets, and in capacity
they go as high as 2,400 tons, drawing about 9 feet of water. Barges
of over 2,000 tons ascend the Rhine as far as Mannheim and in favor-
able seasons even beyond. When the great east-and-west interior
waterway from the Rhine to the Vistula is finally completed, which
probably will not be for some years yet, it will accommodate barges
of 600 tons throughout.

For many years German waterways were in the main free of navi-
gation charges. It was, however, necessary, when the General Gov-
ernment began to divide the expenses with local authorities, to have
a new policy of imposing tolls in order to meet the cost of main-
tenance and ultimately to amortize the public debts. The regu-
lated rivers have generally been free, except where there were locks,
for which dues were charged. For instance, between Berlin and
Hamburg, on the route composed of the Elbe, Havel, and Spree,
there are 3 locks, on which tolls are levied. These locks are on the
Havel and Spree. The great expense of the Rhine-Weser Canal was
considered to make necessary a more general system of tolls. The
intention, however, is to inaugurate this only when the Rliine-Weser
Canal is open for operation, and then to make the tolls so low that they
will not be a serious charge on navigation.

The determination to enlarge and improve the water%vay between
Berlin and Stettin resulted from conditions of traffic. The minister
of public works some six years ago pointed out in an official communi-
cation to the Landtag that the tonnage of the Berlin-Stettin Canal
was falling off because it was impossible to operate on that route as
large barges as could be acconnnodated by the Berlin-Hanover Canal.
Thus, in the case of a shipment from Hanover to Stettin goods could
be handled from Hanover to Berhn in 600-ton barges, but at Berlin
must be transshipped to smaller barges for the remainder of the jour-
ney to Stettin. This added so greatly to the expense that the rail-
ways were preferred and it became necessary either to increase the
railroad facilities from Berlin to Stettin, or else to increase the capacity
of the waterway. The Landtag was appealed to on behalf of the
selfish interest of Prussia to further this project because Stettin is a
Prussian port, in competition with Hamburg, an independent State,


It was further pointed out that^if the capacity of the waterway were
increased so that it would accommodate 600-ton barges handled by
steam tugs a much larger proportion of the traffic would go by water,
and there would be a reduction in rates. Accordingly the improve-
ment was authorized in 1905. It is expected the improved route will
be ready for business about 1910 or 1911.

On the new Berlin-Stettin Canal considerable engineering difficul-
ties are required to be met. These necessitate, among other things,
construction of a new section of canal about 30 miles long northeast-
ward from Berlin on an entirely new route in order to reduce the num-
ber of locks. At another point a difference of 120 feet in levels is
required to be overcome in a very short distance, and to accomplish
this the engineers have determined upon a flight of 5 locks of be-
tween 23 and 24 feet lift each. Between Berlin and Hohensaathen,
about 60 miles, is practically all the difficult work on this new route.
Hohensaathen is on the Oder, and from there north to Stettin the
river is already navigable for 600-ton craft. This route will be as-
sured an immense traffic. The Prussian authorities have calculated
that classes of goods which now pay about 85 cents per ton from
Berlin to Stettin will pay only about 25 cents. The confidence of
the Government that so great a reduction can be effected is not gen-
erally reflected in the opinions of either railroad or bargemen, but all
agree that the saving in freights will be very important.


From Berlin to Hamburg is one of the most important water routes
in Germany. The distance is about 235 miles, and there are only 3
locks, for which charges are made. In adjusting the lock dues the
rule is to make a larger charge per lock on routes where there are few
locks than on those routes where there are considerable numbers.

For the purpose of canal traffic on these important routes freight
is divided into 4 classes according to value. The more valuable goods
pay a higher lockage due, and the dues decrease as the value of the
goods is reduced. A cargo of 500 tons of wheat coming from Ham-
burg up to Berlin in a 500-ton barge would pay about $40 in lockage

In addition to the classification of freight there is also a classi-
fication of barges, depending on their construction. The more ex-
pensive ones are allowed to take expensive classes of freight. The
cheaper ones are barred from accepting freight which might be more
easily damaged. One class of craft in which a large tonnage is moved
at some seasons of the year are built for a downstream trip only.
These are light boats, put together very cheaply in Hungary, and sent
down the Elbe with cargoes of fruit, particularly apples, for the Ger-
man markets. The upper reaches of the Elbe are not always easy of
navigation, and it is found cheaper to use cheap crafts for this busi-
ness, and on arrival at their destination to knock them down and sell
the material.

The one element of real competition which enters into transporta-
tion in Germany is introduced by the waterwaj^s. Obviously there
is no railroad competition, because the States own nearly all the rail-
roads. Likewise, as has been pointed out, the railroads are not per-
mitted to compete against the watenvays in a manner calculated to


drive the latter out of business. But among the enormous number
of operators of barges and boats there is keen competition. It is
doubtful, indeed, if there is much profit in operating barges, unless
by a large concern, and in recent years the tendency in tliis line of
enterprise, as indeed in almost everything in Germany, has been to
consolidation and combination. Thus, on the Elbe the. "United
Elbe Shipping Company" was formed tliree or four years ago, bring-
ing together 3 concerns that up to that time had been among the
largest in that part of the Empire, and which had been in bitter com-
petition. At times they had attempted to perfect "gentlemen's
agreements," but these never lasted long and were absolutely inef-
fective. The consolidated company has a great fleet of towing steam-
ers and barges, some of the latter of 1,200 tons capacitj^. The largest
towing steamers will handle as high as 6,000 tons of freight in a single
tow. In addition the compan}^ has its owti warehouses, warehouse
barges, and a fleet of lighters at Hamburg.

The warehouse barges represent an interesting method by which
managers of barge lines overcome the difficulty in river navigation
caused by the changes of water level. A huge terminal barge is
anchored in the harbor and of course rises and falls with the level of
the stream, as affected either by tides or the. changing volume of
water at different seasons. In other cases warehouses are constructed
with elevators or cranes, so that whatever the level of the stream the
freight may be taken directly from the barge and stored.

With the progressive enlargement of the waterways the tendency
has been more and more to employ steam power. Horses and mules
are used on the smaller canals and still, to some extent, on larger
ones, but when boats of 300 to 1,200 tons can be used horses are
unable to compete with steam. On the older routes, formed by the
improvement of rivers, a common method of towmg was to have a
towing chain lying along the bed of the river wlhch boats going
upstream would pick up and with steam power wind around a drum,
thus dragging the boat along. This was long supposed to be a very
satisfactory method of towing for what were then regarded as the
larger craft, but as improvements deepened channels and reduced
currents tliis method became less desirable and the tendency has
been to use paddle-wheel tugboats.

Although an inland city, Berlin has been made the center of a
great water traffic. The tonnage has increased very fast since the
Spree was made accessible to vessels of 600 tons. Routes radiate
from Berlin to Stettin, Hamburg, Lubeck, Breslau, and to the upper
Elbe by way of the Ihle Canal. This canal constitutes one of the
important sections in the great east-and-west trunk waterway that
has been described. It connects the Oder and the Elbe. Between
Berlin and east Prussia there is much commerce by water, which will
be immensely increased as soon as the improvements along the
Warthe River are complete. Indeed, this route to Poland is expected
to open a market for a greatly increased proportion of German goods.

Taking the route from Berlin to Hamburg b}^ way of the Ihle
Canal, the Havel, and the Elbe, a statement of the growth of ton-
nage illustrates the possibilities of river and canal navigation between
great centers. In addition to the great fleet of barges and towing
steamboats which ply on this river, there is what may be called an
express freight service by cargo steamers, which run daily, leaving

31673— S. Doc. 325, 60-1 27


and arriving at fixed hours, and hardly less regular in their move-
ments than railway trains. Tw^enty-five years ago there were 2 of
these steamers, carrying less than 100 tons each. It was regarded as
a real achievement, when they were first put on, to make a trip each
way once a week between Hamburg and Berlin. There are now
something like 15 of these steamers. They carry as high as 300 tons
each and maintain a daily service each way. Not only this, but
going downstream each of them tows 4 or 5 large barges and going
upstream they tow 1 and sometimes 2.


It is not easy to make general statements about waterway freight
rates because they vary so much with the condition of streams and
the supply of freight. When the supply of freight is large and water
low freights get much higher, while at times when the freight supply
falls off and there is plenty of water in the streams rates almost reach
the vanishing point. Speaking generally, however, it is stated that
from Berlin to Hamburg, about 250 miles, rates vary from 50 to 75
cents per ton under ordinary conditions for more bulky and less
valuable goods, and get as high as S2 for valuable and perishable
freight. These figures are for traffic moving do^\^l stream. The
rates upstream do not average much higher except by the express
steamers, which have been described. These handle practically
everything that a fast freight train in America would take, and to
the apparent satisfaction of business men. All sorts of vegetables,
wheat, and even oranges are handled by the express steamers. Com-
petition for the orange business is very sharp and sometimes makes
the rates extremely low. Goods of this class are taken by the ex-
press steamers from Hamburg to Berlin usually in two days, but
in seasons when it is impossible for the steamers to run all night it
takes longer.

Some marvels in cheap transportation have been made possible on
this Berlin-Hamburg line. For instance, a great import business in
grain comes through the port of Hamburg. At times barges have
carried full loads of hundreds of tons of grain from Hamburg up the
river to Berlin, and even be3'ond, absolutely without charge, for the
privilege of being towed up the stream. They did this not because
towing service was worth enough to justify hauling the cargo for
nothing, but because at particular seasons of the year immense
amounts of beet sugar and other products are moving from the upper
Elbe to Hamburg for export, and there is not sufficient towage ca-
pacity to get the barges to the upper river as fast as they are wanted.
Therefore, an empty barge might lie at Hamburg for many days
earning nothing and losing its share of the paying business in sugar
or lignite. Under these circumstances it is good business to haul a
cargo upstream for nothing in order to get the barge where it can
take on the sugar, which is waiting for transportation. Not only
does the sugar pay good rates for this movement to Hamburg, but
in going downstream there is practically no expense for power.


In Belgium and France ice interferes little with navigation of the
inland waters; in France almost never. In Germany, on the other


hand, the dimate is much more nearly Hke that of the northern United
States, and ahnost every winter there is a period of several weeks in
v/hich water traffic is tied up. A gentleman who for more than twenty
years had charge of a large shipping business on the German water-
ways, said that the longest suspension of traffic he had ever known
was four months. That was in the very beginning of his experience,
and under modern conditions would not be repeated, because nowa-
days the waterwa^^s are larger and great ice-breaking steamers are
employed to open the way for the cargo boats. He said that three
times in his experience traffic encountered no tie-ups throughout the
entire winter; ordinarily the tie-vip is from a month to seven weeks.

In 1904 the great drought throughout Germany, resulting in many
even of the larger streams almost becoming dried up in their beds,
became a real calamity. Because of the regular recurrence of the
winter suspension of the water traffic, business interests accommodate
themselves to the inevitable and so arrange their affairs that business
is not injured. But when, as in 1904, the streams almost go dry and
practically the whole commerce of the country becomes dependent
upon the railroads, the results are very serious. Thus it came about,
curiously enough, that following the experience of 1904, when the
railroads were naturally unable to handle promptly the amount of
business oft'ered them, many people proceeded immediately to violent
criticism of the railway management because it could not furnish
cars and motive power enough to meet requirements. These serious
drought conditions have seldom been experienced, and as the water-
way system is further perfected the effect of drought is constantly
less serious because in the first place better arrangements are made
for conserving the water, and in the second place the big freight
barges almost exactly fit the locks and a remarkably small amount
of water will float through a lock a barge containing as much freight
as a railroad train would carry.

One of the 600 -ton barges, which now are common on the best
waterways, measures 206 feet in length, 25 feet 6 inches in breadth,
and draws 15J inches of water when empty and 6 feet when loaded
to its capacity. Such a barge costs in Germany about S8,500. The
express steamers are operated on the Elbe and Rhine, and to a less
extent on other large rivers. They are handsome and well-built craft.
One of these, built especially for speed, and wlfich has never failed in
good weather to make the trip from Berlin to Hamburg in forty-eight
hours, is 167 feet long, 21 feet 7 inches broad, and when carrying 200
tons of freight and a supply of coal, draws only 4 feet 1 1 inches of water.
It has twin-screw engines of 220 horsepower, and loaded to full capac-
ity will go 10 knots an hour. With 2 barges in tow, so that the cargo
plus that of the barges will aggregate 750 tons, it will make about 3
knots per hour. It requires a crew of only 6 men, costs about $22,000,
and looks a good deal like a small seagoing steamer. This vessel rep-
resents, perhaps, the most perfect type yet developed for waterways
in Germany.


The development of canal trade centering at Berlin has in recent
years become so enormous that a great congestion of freight and
barges threatened the same result that has been experienced on big
terminals of American railroads. At rush seasons there was so much
business that it was almost impossible to move boats. Accordingly


the district council of Tetlow, a Government division to the south of
BerUn, conceived the idea of constructing a cut-off canal around the
city, so that barges might move around Berlin and avoid the danger
of becoming entangled in the congestion there. A concession was
granted to the Tetlow authorities to construct this cut-off route and
they spent about $10,000,000 on it. This is at the rate of about
$400,000 per mile. Under the terms of their concession the Tetlow
authorities are permitted to charge tolls, wliich are already proving
highly remunerative. In addition to tliis the Tetlow people conducted
a handsome real-estate speculation, buying up land wdiich became
valuable for industrial purposes as soon as the canal was opened. As
a result they are developing an important industrial district and the
whole operation is assured success and large profits. Beyond this it
has greatly improved conditions of navigation at and about Berlin.

In order that shipping ma}'' be protected against floods and ice a
large number of harbors of refuge have been constructed, generally
by a division of expense between the state and the local government
bodies. Private interests have constructed quays and wharves in the
cities and towns.

Perhaps the most important facility provided for accommodating
and securing traffic for the waterways has been the system of so-called

Online LibraryUnited States. Inland Waterways CommissionPreliminary report of the Inland Waterways Commission. Message from the President transmitting a preliminary report → online text (page 45 of 83)