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Slogan of the National
Deep Water-way Conven
tion In New Orleans to
Be Attended by Presi
dent Taft. J+ .j*
JAME A. EDGERTON.
the dike hold. President Taft
wil go boat from St. Louis to
waterway convention at
New Orleans. It will be a crucial
test and will show whether all the
money spent by the government on the
Father of Waters has been in vain.
Should the president succeed in mak
ing the whole trip without the banks
giving way congress may be encour
aged to spend a few more hundred
millions on the great river. This was
doubtless the idea of the deep water
way people when they invited the
president to take the steamboat trip.
If the Mississippi is strong enough to
withstand the extra strain it is cer
tainly strong enough to be made into
a ship canal. It was a great scheme,
for it would work either way. If the
dikes did not bold, congress would
have to vote money to re-enforce them
Thus the appropriation was safe what
ever happened. They had it coming
and going. Whoever suggested the
presidential trip down the Mississippi
is a genius.
The ship canal from the great lakes
to the gulf is bound to como. Roose
velt favored it. Taft favors it. Uncle
Joe Cannon favors it, and all it now
lacks is the consent of Senator Ald
Tich. As it is not located in Rhode Is
land, Aldrich has not become wildly
enthusiastic in its favor. But Aldrich
Will not live forever and it is said
will retire in 1011. His retirement
may mean the ship canal's arrival, or
if not then it will put in an appear
ance later. Nothing can stop it. Jt
has been a long time.coming, but is
almost here. The refrain "fourteen
feet in the valley" will be sung till
Chips run from Joliet to Baton Rouge.
At the Now Orleans convention.
Which lasts from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.
President Taft will speak the first
day, Vice President Sherman the sec
ond day and Speaker Cannon the third
day. This shows that the deep water
way scheme is already drawing deep
water. There will be so many govern
ors present that it will be easier to
name those that are not on hand than
those that are. There will also be
such a numerous delegation of con
gressmen and senators that it will
look like a session of congress on pork
day. All these governors, senators
and congressmen will follow the presi
dent down the river. It is question
able if so much greatness was ever be
fore afloat on one stream at one time.
If the Mississippi can get away with
all that, it can bear up under the ship
ping of the world.
Chicago Drainage Canal.
The only reasons the lakes to gulf
canal has not been dug before this are
th at it costs a bunch of money and
the engineers have not finished figur
ing out how t8 do it. Chicago has
made a start by digging her drainage
ditch, which she calls by the more po
lite name of the sanitary canal and
St. Louis calls names that aire not fit
to print. The sanitary canal extends
as far as Joliet and really is a large
even if it is not a beautiful or sweet
smelling stream. Chicago might have
iu it much smaller and h::d it aitir'
for sanitary purposes. j,nt that is n.t
Chicago's wcy. She was determined
W. K. KAVANAUGH OF CHICAGO, PRESIDENT OF LAKES TO THE
GULF DEEP WATERWAY CONVENTION-STEAMBOAT MISSIS-
SIPPI, WHICH WILL CARRY PRESIDENT TAFT-MAP OF ROUTE.
Meeting Will Deal With
"Proposed Widening of
River Routes Projects
of Immense Importance
to the United States.
to own a ship canal to Joliet whether
she ever got it to New Orleans or not.
Now the state of Illinois has voted
twenty millions more to carry it from
Joliet toward the Mississippi. Even
When it reaches the big river, how
ever, the work will only be started, for
the great task lies in straightening,
deepening and making permanenttne
channel of that stream itself. If the
Father of Waters were a well be
haved, dependable river that would
stay put, matters would be simplified,
but it has a habit of changing Its
course overnight, so that its pilots
must learn it all over every trip. This
Is not only hard on the pilots, but on
the boats, which may run on a new
sand bar or a sunken log at any mo
ment. It is one thing to dig a ship
canal and another to make it stay dug.
especially if it is in the Mississippi.
Today the channel may be all right,
and tomorrow it may be a mile away,
running over somebody's plantation.
Moreover, the river is so big and car
ries such a volume of water that it is
hard to discipline it.
An Elevated River.
Most rivers run in a trough, but the
Mississippi runs on a ridge. It is
higher than the surrounding country.
This elevation it has built up itself
through the vast amounts of sediment
that it tears out of the landscape and
carries downstream. A man may not
be able to lift himself by the boot
straps, but the Mississippi has done
something like that. It is not only a
restless but an aspiring stream that
wants to climb.
Dikes on the Mississippi are as nec
essary as the dikes of Holland. If it
were not for them the lower river
would wander all over the scenery.
New Orleans would be another Venice.
Some of the Louisiana and Mississippi
plantations would have to be cultivat
ed by submarines. That is the reason
Mississippi floods cause seven differ
ent kinds of consternation in the lower
valley. The dikes do not always hold,
and it is hard to repair them with sev
eral million tons of water pressing
through. It is hoped, however, that
there will be low water when Taft
makes his trip, so that the unusual
weight will not cause an inundation.
Perhaps the original idea in having'
Mark Twain pilot the president's boat
was to relieve the strain. Mark has
way of lightening things up. He was
afraid to tackle the job, however. Per
haps he reflected that the congressmen
in the follow up boats might have a
number of undelivered speeches in
their heads, and these would be so
heavy they would cause the river to
bulge still more.
One of the deep waterway conven
tions was held at Memphis, and this
was attended by Mr. Roosevelt, who
also went to it in a boat. Nothing
more disastrous happened than that
the president ripped a steamboat cap
tain up the back. Nobody remembers
what the captain did, but everybody
recalls what Roosevelt said. How
could they forget? Thus words some
times live longer than deeds. At that
time the president expressed himself
in an enthusiastic way for the ship
canal a general proposition, but re
fuse* to go into details. Perhaps
t ?3 of the shifting bed of the
Mississippi made him sidestep' being
too specific. If that river can be made
to settle down and stay at home it-wfi*.
Through the y*l
That the supporters of the deep wa
terway are in earnest is shown by the
fact that they have written poetry
about it. This poetry evidently came
hard and resulted from a stern sense
of duty. We ^forbear quoting more
than one stanza, but the rest show the
same grim resolve to write a song or
We represent the people who want the
Fourteen feet through the valley.
We represent the shippers, who have the
Fourteen feet through the valley.
We want the ships a-runnlng and lower
ing the rate
Fourteen feet through the valley.
And It we get the water we'll guarantee
Fourteen feet through the valley.
The proposed ship canal connects
with Lake Michigan at Chicago, fol
lows the Chicago drainage canal to
Joliet, thence down the Illinois river
to the Mississippi and by the Missis
sippi to the gulf. "Fourteen feet
through the valley" represents depth
at low water. The project includes
more than the ship canal. It also, em
braces nine feet up the Ohio to Pitts
burg, six feet up the Mississippi to
Minneapolis and six feet up the Mis
souri to Sioux City.
Tom Reed once said that "the Mis
souri river is not navigable and the
Mississippi river ought not to be," but
it was on one of his grouchy days
when most of the congressmen were
yelling for river and harbor appropria
tions. The witticism should now be
revised and made to read, "The Missis
sippi river is navigable, and the Mis
souri river ought to be." When it is
reflected that the great river and its
tributaries can freight from a vast
territory extending from. Pittsburg to
Omaha and from Minneapolis to New
Orleans and that by means of the
ship canal and the proposed connec
tion with the Red River of the North
It could also reach the great lakes re
gion and the Canadian northwest the
importance of the giant scheme can
be dimly realized. It would extend
the coast line of the nation by multi
plied thousands of miles, would relieve
crop congestions throughout the vast
wheat, corn and cattle belt, would
lower freight rates, would make a con
tinuous ship canal from New York via
the enlarged Erie canal to Buffalo,
thence through the great lakes to Chi
cago and from there down the Missis
sippi to the gulf, would furnish a new
outlet to such important trade centers
as Chicago. St. Louis. Pittsburg. Cin
cinnati. Louisville. Sioux City. Omaha.
Kansas City, Minneapolis, St. Paul and
Memphis and would be a boon to the
farmers and merchants of the entire
Interior of the United States and Can
Will Eeduce Freight Bates.
Take the question of freight tariffs
alone. Not only the boomers of the
deep waterway project, but commercial
bodies in many cities and towns of the
country, have adopted the motto. "Riv
er regulation is rate regulation." The
proof of the statement as it relates to
the Mississippi valley is furnished by
the report of the chief of engineers a
few years ago:
"Comparative rates between Pitts
burg and Memphis by rail and river
on soft coal: By rail, 807 miles, $3.73
per ton by river. 1,218 miles. 42 cents
per ton." Figures from this same re
port show another interesting compari
son between the rail and river rates:
"St. Louis to St. Paul, by rail, 57a
miles, first class, 63 cents per hundred
sixth, 21 cents by river. 729 miles, first
class, 40 cents sixth, 14 cents." It is
the prediction of an army engineer for
merly in charge of river improvements
at Pittsburg that the cost of coal trans
portation to New Orleans, 2.000 miles
away, at present about 75 cents per
ton. including the cost of returning
empties and all incidentals, will be re
duced to 40 cents when a nine foot
channel is obtained the year round.
This will be about one-fifteenth, of the
cheapest existing rail rate.
Of almost equal importance with
cheaper freight rates is the prompt
moving of the crops. The increasing
car shortages show the railroads un
equal to the task. There appears no
simpler, cheaper and more effectual
method of meeting the situation than
by the use of the rivers.
Here is the real force behind the
ship canal proposition. It is business,
not sentiment. That is the reason it
will win. Whether it is "fourteen feet
through the valley" or ten, it will gain
the day at some depth. The chief en
gineer who reported on the proposition
was inclined to cast doubts on the
fourteen foot thing, spite of the po
etry put over in its behalf. He thought
a less number of feet might answer
and would not be in the same danger
from the changeable Mississippi cur
rent. This may have been a case
where official timidity tried to get in
the way of the American spirit, to be
run over and ground under the wheels
In consequence. The promoters of the
enterprise all live along the Mississip
pi, have studied the situation and be
lieve that fourteen feet is feasible and
necessary. Certain it is that freight
ers are ever growing in size and hence
have deeper bottoms. If this canal is
designed to carry ocean trade, even
fourteen feet will soon be too shallow.
To show his faith in the project Wil
liam K. Eavanaugh, the president of
the deep waterway commission, has
Incorporated a $10,000,000 corporation
to navigate the Mississippi and to pro
mote the ship canal. It is this com
mission that has arranged the New
Orleans gathering and will take Presi
dent Taft down the river in the steam
ship Mississippi, always provided that
the dikes hold.
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