THE PANAMA CANAL QUESTION.
On the whole the opinion of the engineers and commissioners who are busied about the construction of the Panama canal, seem to favor the lock system, even although it involves delay and danger to navigation and to the big ships passing through it, in the event of any thing happening to a lock or to the ships as they pass through one of them. Any such accident might put the canal out of commission for several months. Such a canal built with an upper level forty, sixty ninety feet above the sea renders traffic slow. It also involves controling the sudden and enormous floods of the Chagres river by constructing a great lake at the upper level, which, in turn, calls for a great dam at Bohio, where no satisfactory foundation for the gigantic masonry structure has yet been found. A sea-level canal disposes of the Chagres river by means of a dam at Gamboa, shutting the Hood off from the canal altogether, except for a spillway, delivering a current suitable for power uses—the great volume of the river in times of freshet being diverted to the ocean by new channels parallel with the canal. It contemplates a canal 150 feet wide the bottom and 200 to 350 feet wide on the irface, according to the steepness of the slope, as determined by local earth and rock conditions. Through such a waterway the largest ships would pass without delay or danger. There would be only one lock—a tide-lock at Miraflores. The mean level of the Pacific ocean and of the Caribbean is exactly the same; but, while on the Caribbean side there is substantially no tide—only a rise of a foot or so and a similiar fall; the tide rises ten feet above the mean level and falls ten feet below it on the Pacific side—a variation of twenty feet. This difference would produce in a canal forty-eight miles long a somewhat inconvenient current. The Miraflores lock would meet that difficulty, and one lock is not so serious an obstacle as six.