United States. Inland Waterways Commission.

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

. (page 49 of 83)
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eral Governments not only permit cities thus to provide themselves
with facilities, but to go so far as to loan the State's credit to the extent
of a large part or even all the cost of such an improvement.


English railways are the most highly capitalized in the world,
but it is not fah to attribute all the blame for this condition to their
managers and corporate policies. The landowners of England from
the beginning systematically "held up" railroad corporations for
the largest possible prices for lands necessary for right of way and
terminals. Because the landowners were a ^reat power in Parlia-
ment and were willing to stand together in this matter, the railroads
were systematically compelled to pay fancy prices. But whatever
may have been the cause, the fact remains that internal transporta-
tion in England has become so expensive as to impose a heavy burden
on British commerce. A computation made to illustrate this con-
dition reached the conclusion that from an interior point 40 miles
from the ocean it cost 22s. 6d. to ship a ton of fi-eight to India, and
that of this 12s. 6d. is absorbed by the railroad company for the
40-mile haul to the seacoast. In other words, it cost the shipper
about 125 times as much to move a ton a mile by land as by water.
Comparing this again with the situation in Germany, it is found that
on export business the German railways and interior waterways haul
business at almost ridiculously low rates from distant interior points
to the seacoast, allowing the lion's share of the total through rate
to go to the steamship company, and that, even then, the German
through rate is so much lower in many cases than the English that
Englishmen find it constantly more and more difficult to compete in
foreign trade with Germany.



Against this insistent demand of English traders for better water-
ways a variety of arguments are presented. One is that few British
rivers are large enough to be usefid, even when improved to the
utmost. Another is that it would be impossible to connect the
British streams by a network of canals, as has been done on the
Continent, because there is not a large enough water supply in Britain
and the country is too rough. Finally, the history of the Erie Canal
in New York has been iterated and reiterated as evidence that water-
ways really can not compete on anythmg like equal terms with rail-

The present-day attitude of progressive and candid communities
toward waterways is that, while a small, inadequate, and antiquated
waterway may not be able to compete with a great, modern, 4-track
railroad, a modern canal handling 1,000-ton barges with steam
power is very likely to prove itself an exceedingly important factor
in making rates and moving traffic.

The British Royal Commission has not formulated its conclusion or
recommendations up to this time. Conjecture as to what they may
be is useless. It is certain that because of the parallel between con-
ditions in the United States and Great Britain, the experience of the
reconstructed Erie Canal will be studied with immense mterest in
Great Britain. That canal has been so many times cited as proof of
the antiwaterways view that if, when rebuilt, it is able to justify the
great expenditure it will have demolished a most potent argument of
the British railroads.


Because there is no system of internal waterways in Great Britain
worthy of the name, attempt at description of the routes would be
hardly worth while. There is reason for saying that the waterways
investigation by the royal commission has developed facts concern-
ing the relations of railroads and waterways, and concerning the com-
parative cost of transportation by rail in Britain and other countries,
which have strengthened the movement for nationalization of rail-
roads in the United Kmgdom. Within a few months Lord Brassey,
who enjoj^s large repute in England as a thoughtful student of eco-
nomic problems, has come out with the flat declaration that, after
opposing it for many years, he is convinced that nationalization of
railroads is the only plan which promises a solution of the increasingly
difficult internal transportation problem.


By R. B. Dole
United States Geological Survey

In former years, water was water for the practical man if it would
flow tlirough a pipe in sufficient amount. But, more and more, has
he been obliged to modify his views, previously Hmited only by the
quantity of available water, by considering that part of his pro-
duction cost due to the use of water unsuitable in quality for his par-
ticular manufacturing process. In the adoption of water for domes-
tic suppljj, one of the most important of the features that affect
its value is its potability, which is determined primarily by its free-
dom from dangerous, ill-smelling or bad-tasting organisms. In the
application of water to industrial use, however, biologic features are
in the majority of cases rather secondary in importance, and the
suitability of the supply is determined by the amount of mineral
matter dissolved or suspended in it. Tliis is especially true when
waters are used for boiler supply, for papermaking, and for similar
purposes. In some industries, such as starch making, bre\ving, dis-
tilHng, and ice manufacturing, the hygienic quaUty of the water
supply must be considered as well as its physical and chemical char-
acteristics. All natural waters contain more or less foreign matter,
and this relative degree of purity is dependent on the locality from
wliich they come. It therefore becomes important to study the
peculiar composition of different waters and their adaptability to
various industrial processes.

The following list gives the names of the substances that, dissolved
or suspended in water, have to be considered when a supply is utilized
for manufacturing purposes :

I. — rSuspended matter:

(a) Vegetable: Leaves, sawdust, sticks, etc.

(b) Mineral: Sand, clay, etc.

II. — Dissolved matter:

(a) Vegetable: Resin, gums, tannins, etc., extracted from vegetable mat-
ter and seldom differentiated. Usually determined as ''organic
matter" and "color."
(6) Mineral: This is the part of greatest importance, and the different
mineral matters are determined as silica, iron, aluminum, calcium,
magnesium, sodium, potassium, carbonates, bicarbonates, sulphates,

By comparing with each other the figures given in the table that
follows it can be seen what great differences there are in the quahty
of waters from different parts of the United States. Analyses of
waters from large rivers have been selected, because they represent
an average condition, inasmuch as these streams are formed by the
confluence of many smaller ones. Each set of figures is the average
of 20 or more analyses of water from the same river at the same place.




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Online LibraryUnited States. Inland Waterways CommissionPreliminary report of the Inland Waterways Commission. Message from the President transmitting a preliminary report → online text (page 49 of 83)