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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/303

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OUR INLAND WATERWAYS

factors: Many of the problems were solved practically by Washington and Clinton and their contemporaries through canal systems that would unquestionably be in use to-day had not the railways better met temporary needs; most of the rest have been solved in European countries that are to-day better advanced than ourselves both in waterway development and in that adjustment of transportation to production on which national prosperity must depend. In the light of this experience it would seem easy to return to and perfect Gallatin's great waterway system; and in the light of present needs, it should begin in the interior with a deep channel from the Great Lakes to the Gulf, and in the East with an Inner Passage from Massachusetts to Florida—and these main arteries should be coupled with passages skirting the Gulf coast and with improved tributaries in such manner that standardized barges may pass from Benton to Boston or to Brownsville, or from any lake port to any sea port with some choice of routes: and eventually through the Minnesota and Red River of the North to Lake Winnepeg and Hudson Bay, in order that the grain-fields of the Canadian plains may find outlet to the sea during a longer open season than that of Hudson Strait. And at the same time the pressing need of the Pacific Coast should be met; the treasure-houses of the Columbia and Snake should be unlocked and a way made into Puget Sound, while the golden gardens of California Valley should be opened to ships going down to the sea in order that the grains and fruits now rotting in bin and on branch may be turned to human good and national welfare. The details are innumerable; the demands irresistible.

Among the waterways, three or four should be improved not merely to meet commercial needs, but as a patriotic duty: First in importance is the Lakes-to-Gulf project; for should disaster befall and Canada pass into unfriendly hands, the enemy might within a week put war vessels into the Lakes through Welland Canal or the still larger Huron Canal (of which we hear little thus far), in which case catastrophe could be averted only by a waterway of war-ship capacity from the Gulf to Lake Michigan. Scarcely less important is the protected passage projected for the Atlantic slope, though since the baseless Cervera scare the details need not be pursued; while the connection of the Columbia with Puget Sound, and the extension of San Francisco and Suisun bays need no more than mention in connection with the military possibilities of the day and the "national defense" of the founders.

 

The Value of Water in Itself

While navigation is the most pressing use for our waterways, there are others of no less present value and future promise. Neither Wash-