United States. Inland Waterways Commission.

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

. (page 57 of 83)
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cheapest and in many respects the most reliable kind of construction. In general,
reenforced concrete resists the action of fu"e better than any stone and is one of the
best forms of fireproof construction.

3. Stone masonry is to be preferred where local conditions render it cheaper than
concrete; also where great hardness is required and a very hard stone is convenient.
Where imperviousness to water is important, this can be more perfectly attained
with a hard compact stone laid in cement mortar than with ordinary concrete. Stone
masom-y like ordinary concrete has a high compressive resistance but necessarily a
low tensile one. It is, therefore, adaptable to the same class of structm^es as is plain
concrete. Also for use in carvings and other ornamental purposes stone masonry is
vastly superior to either plain or reenforced concrete.

Very respectfully, A. C. Davis,

Chief Engineer.



In that part of the Commission's letter asking for information con-
cerning "relative advantages of steam engines and internal com-
bustion engines, with special reference to different sections of the
country," also, "to prospective use in connection with inland navi-
gation," I understand the chief purpose of this inquiry is to develop
information from investigations already conducted and to be con-
ducted which will indicate the cheapest form of power — (a) for use in
river transportation; and (h) for use in developing industries along
the navigable waters of the country; including (c) the practicability
of utihzing at the mines low-grade fuels not now used, and trans-


mittin^ electric power thus developed to industrial centers located
on navigable streams and on railway lines.

As illustrating the possibility of transporting fuel cheaply with
water navigation, I may call attention to the steamer en route ( at
this date, January, 1908) from Pittsburg to New Orleans, carrying
56,000 tons of bituminous coal on barges at a cost of $1.50 per ton,
as compared with the cost by rail, which would exceed $5 per ton.

Cheap power is now universally considered to be a fimdamental
factor in the development of industries in all countries. While cheap
power for navigation is an important factor, cheap navigation and
cheap transmission of electric power are also important to the devel-
opment of industries along our waterways.


The Commission's inquiry is therefore interpreted as calling for the
consideration of the relative advantages of the steam and internal
combustion engines simply as a part of the discussion of the broader
problem — the development of cheap power for navigation and indus-
trial purposes.

The development of the modern gas producer and gas engine is so
recent that the exhibition of a 600 horsepower gas engine at the Paris
Exposition in 1900 awakened general comment and it was several
years later before engines of even this size were being manufactured
m the United States; whereas to-day gas engines as large as 6,000
horsepower, of American manufacture, are being operated satisfac-
torily. A few small gas producers for power purposes were operated
in the United States ten years ago, but as late as 1904 when the fuel-
testing work of the Geological Survey was begun at St. I.vouis Expo-
sition it was not generally believed that gas producers could be oper-
ated commercially in this country on ordinary bituminous coal.
The development of the gas engine and producer have, therefore, only
just been entered upon. Nevertheless during the past few years
more than 300 gas-producer plants have been installed in the United
States; and while more than two-thirds of these plants use anthra-
cite coal and charcoal as fuel, more than 70 per cent of the power
developed is developed on producer plants using bituminous coal;
and in spite of the still imperfect development of the producer, and
our imperfect knowledge as to the chemistry and physics of its com-
bustion processes, these plants, as a whole, are rendering satisfactory
service. The belief among engineers is now quite general that the
producer and the internal combustion engine have not only come to
stay but are a distinct step forward in cheap power development,
and in the utilization of our low-grade fuels. In view of the long and
more mature development of the steam boiler and the steam engine,
it seems hardly fair to draw comparisons between them and the mod-
em gas producer, but the situation may be summarized, briefly, as

1. In relation to the cost and installation of the larger plants in
excess of 4,000 horsepower, the cost of the two plants is, approxi-
mately, the same. For smaller installation the cost of the gas engine
gas producer plant may slightly exceed that of the steam plant.

2. The cost of maintenance between the steam and producer gas
plants, in many respects, may be considered as approximately the
same, excepting that the internal-combustion engine and the pro-



ducer require at present more skilled and expensive eno;ineering super-
vision than does the steam plant, and there are available fewer experts
trained for the supervision of producer plants, owing to the newness
of this form of power development. But the greater efficiency in
operating the producer plant reduces the cost of the fuel to such an
extent as to show a balance in favor of combined maintenance and
operating expenses for the producer-gas plant over the steam plant
of about 50 per cent.

3. The growing demand for cheap power without smoke and the
consequent development of the producer and gas engine have also
greatly stimulated tlie more efficient development of the steam boiler
and engines (including steam turbines). Success in attaining higher
fuel efficiencies with each system indicates that each will continue to
play an important part in the industrial progress of the country.

4. Other important advantages claimed for the producer gas sys-
tem are its ability to use efficiently low-grade fuels, even when con-
taining more than 50 per cent ash; the complete abolition of smoke;
while for the steam furnace system is claimed greater simplicity, ease
of management, and the utilization of exhaust steam for heating pur-

The situation as to cost of maintenance is illustrated by the follow-
ing table, taken from a paper on power plant economics by Mr. H. G.
Stott, superintendent of motive power of the Interborough Rapid
Transit Company, and also a member of the national advisory board
on fuels and structural materials.

Distribution of maintenance and operation charges per kilowatt-hour
[Stated in percentages]



and steam







Engine room, mechanical

Boiler room or producer room

€oal and ash handling apparatus

Electrical apparatus


Coal and ash handling labor

Removal of ashes

Dock rental

Boiler-room labor

Boiler room, oil, waste, etc



Engine room, mechanical labor


Waste, etc

Electrical labor

Relative cost of maintenance and operation
Relative investment

2. .57









100. 00











2. 52
































J. 03






2. 52


As to the relative efficiency of the steam engine and the internal
combustion engine from the standpoint of coal consumption, on 162
tests made at the fuel-testing plant of the Geological Survey, ex-
tending over 120 samples of bituminous coals, 9 samples of semi-
bituminous coals, 9 samples of lignite, 2 samples of peat, and other


miscellaneous coals, it was indicated as an average result that the
davelopment of one horsepower per hour required about 2^ times as
much fuel under the steam boiler as was required in the gas producer.

As further indicating the relative losses in converting coal into
power through the steam engine and the internal combustion engine,
an average was shown at one of the most modern power plants in the
country, viz, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company of New
York, of 89.7 per cent loss and 10.3 per cent of energy utilized as
actual work; whereas the average loss in the producer-gas plant
showed 76 per cent loss and 24 per cent energy utilized as electricity.

Modern improvements both in the steam engine and the internal
combustion engine equipment are now making such rapid progress
that these relative figures may be changed from time to time. The
development of each of these systems is greatly stimulating the
development of the other. But the advanced position already
gained by the producer-gas system, considered in connection with
the recentness and immaturity of the producer for bituminous coal,
gives promise of a future in cheap power development and the utili-
zation of the low-grade fuels of the country which is most encouraging.

There is also need of further information concerning improved
methods of mining coal which will render practicable the removal
of from 90 per cent to 100 per cent of the total good coal available in
a given bed of coal; and will also render practicable the removal for
use in a gas producer the low-grade coals occupying a portion of the
same bed or adjacent beds of coal.

But while the development of cheap power and the utilization for
this purpose of the low-grade fuels widely distributed in the United
States is full of promise, progress in this direction is now seriously
retarded by the lack of information —

1. Concerning the real character and composition of the different
types of bituminous coal, i. e., the composition is expressed in hydro-
gen rather than in atoms of oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, etc.

2. Concerning the character and composition of low-grade fuels.

3. Concerning the chemical and physical changes which take
place in connection with the combustion processes both m the pro-
ducer and in the gas engine.

4. Concerning the methods by which in the operations of the gas
producer the highest efficiency attained may be attained continu-
ously and on a chemical basis.

One of the difficulties in connection with the operation of the gas
producer and the internal combustion engines at the present time is
the variability in the quality of the gas as it leaves the producer.
Thus in the operations of the producer at the fuel-testing plant of the
Geological Survey all gas made and utilized for power purposes
would, within a few hours' time, occasionally vary from 125 to 225
British thermal units per cubic foot of gas. If, in cases like this, the
highest efficiency of 225 B. t. u. per cubit foot of gas can be main-
tained continuously the fuel efficiency of the gas producer would
thereby be largely increased.


Internal combustion engines using gasoline and alcohol are now
being recognized as entirely feasible as a motive power for small boata
such as small launches, barges, etc.; and these are beginning to be


regarded as feasible for use as motive power for larger vessels such as
torpedo boats and small yachts. The larger gas producers and gas
engines are also beginnmg to be considered as a possible future
motive power for larger vessels; and the necessar}^ modifications in
both are now being developed successfully. The producer is being
reduced in size and simj)lified, wiiile the gas engine, now excessively
heavy and not available for reversing the movement of the steamer
in slowing do\\Ti or backing, is being changed to overcome both


The Mississippi River and its tributaries are alreatly the important
coal-carrying streams of the country; and with the improvement of
these waterways not only will the distribution of the heavy products
like coal, iron, etc., be cheapened and extended, but also there will be
a corresponding development of industry centers, at more or less re-
mote places where both water and rail transportation are adequate.

The Mississippi River itself along the western border of Illinois is
at a number of points within a short distance of valuable coal deposits
and it is joined by several improvable waterways which penetrate
these fields. The coal fields of portions of Indiana, Ohio, Pennsyl-
vania, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama border the
Ohio and its various tributaries; such as the Wabash, the Tennessee,
the Kanawha, the Allegheny, and the Monongahela, and will yield
increasingly large supplies for two centuries of river transportation
During 1906 the coal tonnage of the Allegheny and Monongahela
alone was nearly 10,000,000 tons; and their coal tonnage will be largely
and continuously increased if the navigation of these streams is im-
proved so as to become available for such shipments throughout the
year. The quality of the coal in the different fields bordering the
Ohio and its tributaries varies considerably, but the}^ are admirably
adapted to the varied needs of the varied industries in the rapidly
growing Mississippi Valley region.

The Red River crosses extensive brown lignite areas in Texas; and
the Arkansas River penetrates the coal fields of Arkansas and Okla-
homa, in which there are large deposits of bituminous and semi-
anthracite coals of the best quality for steaming purposes.

The Missouri River skirts the western margin of the coal fields of
Iowa, and passes through the fields of northern Kansas and Missouri;
and while the quality of these coals is not equal to those available
along the Ohio and its tributaries, still they are valuable for heat and
power purposes. They are now being mined to a considerable extent,
and available for extensive future supplies.

The upper Missouri passes through extensive areas of brown lignite
in the Dakotas, and especially the North Dakota areas give promise
of large future developments for power and domestic purposes.

Briquettes made from these lignites may be expected to play an
important part in future Missouri River transportation, if that river
is made more navigable.

The Coosa, Cahawba, and Black Warrior rivers in Alabama penetrate
coal fields which will yield large future shipments if the navigation
of these rivers is improved.


Power development at the mines and its transmission to industry
centers hor,dering inland waterways. — The early power developments
in the United States were generally at natural waterfalls on the
streams, remote from even the main public highways. Latre came
the location of the factories on the railways with power developed
through the local steam plant or electrically transmitted from more
or less distant waterpowers.

Another system now attracting attention and promising much for
future industrial developments is the utilization of low-grade fuels
for cheap-power production at the mines, and the electric transmis-
sion of this power for varying distances to industry centers located at
places where transportation is available by both water and rail for
both the concentration of raw material and the distribution of manu-
factured products.

The investigation conducted during the past few years at the
Geological Survey fuel testing plant has indicated that in the modern
gas producer low-grade coals carrying as much as 50 per cent ash, or
lignites carrying as much as 40 per cent water can be used efficiently
for power development; and experience both in this and other coun-
tries has demonstrated the practicability of the electric transmis-
sion of power for distances exceeding 200 miles.

The advantages of this system would be: (1) the utilization of
cheap low-grade fuels, or those rich in sulphur such as are now neg-
lected or wasted in mining operations, leaving the higher grade coals
to be used for steam power plants, coking or other purposes for which
they are especially adapted; (2) the ehmination of freight charges
on the transportation of this low-grade material, the power being
transmitted as electricity rather than as coal; and (3) the location
of factories at places distant from the mines where transportation
by both water and rail are available, but without the smoke and
ashes, which usually abound at manufacturing centers.

Distribution of these low-grade coals. — The low-grade fuels suitable
for power development in the way indicated above are sometimes
found in the same beds with high-grade coal, making up a few inches
or a few feet on the upper or lower surface of the main bed of high-
grade coal; or, in other places, it may make up the entire thickness
of the bed. In either case this low-grade material, which would
otherwise be neglected, may for the local gas-producer power develop-
ment be completely and advantageously utilized; while the associ-
ated high-grade steam coals or coking coals may be advantageously
used for such other purposes near the mines or at distant centers to
which they may be transported by rail or by water.

The coal fields bordering the Mississipj)! and its tributary s^^reams
as described above while for the most ])art abounding in high -grade
coals will also yield large supplies of this low-grade coal suitable for
local producer power plants, from which the power may be trans-
mitted to numerous industry centers located where both water and
railway transportation are available. And the utilization in this
way of these extensive deposits of low-grade coals, which must be
mined, if at all, at the same time the accompanying higher grade
coals are mined, will greatly prolong the life of the nation's fuel.


By Raphael Zon
Chief, Office of Silvics, U. S. Forest Service

The phase of the relation of forest to chmate which is best known
and is really the most important in hmnan economy, is the effect
which forest cover exerts on the supply of water in streams and
on the regularity of their flow.

The amount of water available for stream flow depends on three
conditions: First, the amount of precipitation received over their
drainage areas; second, the amount of precipitation returned into
the atmosphere from the same areas; and third, the behavior of the
residue. To understand the effect which forests have on stream
flow it is necessary, therefore, to consider separately their influence
on each of these main factors.


Whether or not the amount of precipitation is generally increased
to any appreciable degree by forest cover is still a matter of doubt.
While some investigators, from the existing measurements, are
inclined to think that forest has a perceptible influence at least on
local precipitation, others deny it. Regular observations taken at
Nancy for 33 years, since 1866, at stations inside, on the edge of,
and outside the forest show that without exception more rain has
fallen inside than outside the forest, and that in 8 out of 10 cases
more rain fell on the edge of the forest than outside. If the amount
of the rainfall at the center of the forest be designated as 100, then
the amount of rainfall at the edge of the forest would be represented
by 93.9, and the rainfall outside the forest, by 76.7. The tendency of
moisture-bearing currents to precipitate their moisture more rapidly
above or near the forest than over bare or cultivated fields, is due to
the dampening and chilling effect of the forest upon the atmosphere
which induces condensation of the atmospheric vapor. This has been
proved not only by actual measurements at Nancy and other parts of
France, but also in Germany, Russia, and India. These observations
show that forests tend to increase the total amount of precipitation
over wooded watersheds and thus make available more water for
stream flow, all other conditions being equal, than barren or deforested


The rate at which water is evaporated from the surface of the soil
depends on a number of factors. Chief among these are: (1) Tem-
perature; (2) movement of the air (wind); (3) relative humidity of
the air; (4) character of the soil cover.

31673— S. Doc. 325, 60-1 33 505


Temperature. — Careful observations extended over a long period
in France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and other countries,
established the fact that forests reduce the temperature of the air:
first, by preventing the heating of the soil by the sun; second, by
transpiring water from the leaves — this process of transforming water
into vapor absorbs heat and therefore reduces the temperature of the
surrounding air; and third, by increasing the nocturnal radiation
from the crown.

The yearly mean temperature was invariably found to be less
inside than outside a forest. The difference between the yearly mean
temperature inside and outside of a forest is about 0.9° F. for forests
in level country. This difference increases with altitude and at an
elevation of about 3,000 feet it is 1.8° F.

The monthly mean temf)erature is less in the forest for each month
of the year, but the variation is greatest during the summer months,
when the difference may reach 3.6° F., while in winter it does not
often exceed 0.1° F.

The daily mean temperature shows the same variation, but to a
greater degree. The difference between the temperature inside and
outside the forest during the hottest days amounted to over 5° F.,
while for the coldest days of the year the difference was only 1.8° F.

These facts show that the temperature of the air mthin the forest
is on the whole lower but is subject to lesser fluctuations than in the

Wind. — The wind exercises a great influence on evaporation by
constantly renewing air in contact with the moisture-containing
surface. The influence is great during both summer and winter.
By breaking the force of the wind and checking the circulation of the
air a forest cover reduces the evaporation of water or snow from the
forest soil.

Mr. F. H. King, of the agricultural experiment station of the
University of Wisconsin, carried on in 1894 a number of most inter-
esting experiments upon the effect which wdnds have upon the rate
of evaporation within and outside the sphere of influence of woods.
The first series of experiments was made to the northwest of Plain-
field, on a piece of ground planted to corn, lying to the south of a
grove of black oaks having on the average a height of 12 to 15 feet.
At the time of the experiment there was a gentle breeze from a little
west of north. The results showed in one case that the evaporation
at 20 feet from the woods was 17.2 per cent less than at 120 feet.
In another case, at three stations located within 60 feet from the woods
the amount of evaporation was 24 per cent less than at the three
farther removed stations located between 280 and 320 feet away
from the woods.

Another trial was made by him in the to^vn of Almond, to the
south of an oak grove 80 rods square in a field sowed to oats and wheat
mixed. The results obtained at the stations located at increasing
distances from the woods showed that the amount of evaporation
increased until 300 feet from the woods was reached. At this dis-
tance and beyond it the rate of evaporation remained practically
the same, but at 300 feet the evaporation was 17.7 per cent greater
than at 200 feet, and 66.6 per cent greater than at 20 feet from the
woods, the difference being due entirely to the protection from the
wind which the forest afforded.


Relative humidity. — The relative humidity of the air is higher in the
forest than in the open, first because the transpiration of water by the
leaves appreciably increases the moisture content of the air within or
near the forest; and second, because the temperature of the air is

Online LibraryUnited States. Inland Waterways CommissionPreliminary report of the Inland Waterways Commission. Message from the President transmitting a preliminary report → online text (page 57 of 83)