CANAL THROUGH THE IRON GATES.
During the years 1890 to 1896 a canal 875 feet wide and seven feet deep was cut. through the Iron Gates, a celebrated defile in the Danube at the confines of Hungary, Servia, and Roumania, At this point the river is crossed from shore to shore on a length of about 8,000 feet by rocky masses, and many a ship went aground in the Iron Gates, which always had been a terror to all navigators. It is the most magnificent and the greatest river defile In the whole of Europe. The difficulties accompanying the undertaking were enormous. Before the canal could be cut through 14,000,000 cubic feet of solid rock had to be blasted out, and upwards of 50,000,000 cubic feet of stone and earth had to be excavated. A great number of dams, of a combined length of 85,000 feet had to be built to protect the canal. The expenditure for this work amounted to about $2,000,000. Since the completion of this canal the navigation on the river has steadily increased, and thousands of steamers and barks now sail every year down to the Black sea. One drawback, however, remained. The currunt in the Iron Gates is immense, averaging from fourteen to eighteen feet per second, and it was especially difficult for the heavy laden ships to steam upstream through the gates or to tow the barges ugalnst the current. It was, therefore, decided to build a special wire rope steamer for the purpose of towing ships through the defile. The steamer was built at Buda-Pesth,and has recently been put on the river. The Vasapu.as the steamer Is named, is entirely buitt of Bteel. It has a length of 1,836 feet, is twenly-flve and one-quarter feet broad, its draught being 5.44 feet. It is divided into nine watertight compartments and has a double bottom, so that, even in the case of a serious accident, the vessel will not sink. A wire rope 20,000 feet in length and utmost one foot in diameter, having a resistance of eighty-four tons, is strongly anchored to a rock at the upper end of the gates at the bottom of the river bed. This rope or cable runs over a drum on board the Bteamer. The vessels to be taken upstream are towed towards the steamer, and the cable is then drawn round the drum by means of a steam engine, of 300 horsepower. The wire rope vessel has, in addition, two other engines, so as to enable her to run independent of the cable. Each of these two engines has a capacity of 250-horsepower. The speed of the Bteamer, with two loaded vessels of 600 tons in tow, is 1.3 miles per hour when sailing against the current, and between four and five miles per hour when going downstream. The steamer has also been equipped with a powerful dynamo, which furnishes electric light and feeds a searchlight.