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Senator MORGAN. That means volcanic ash lifted up and compressed afterwards until it was united into hard material!
Colonel Ernst. I really do not know.
Senator ANKENY. You said that you preferred the small contracts; that you thought they were preferable. What is your objection to letting it in one contract, if you could find a person who would take it?
Colonel Ernst. I can not see any way that you can get any competition in letting such a contract as that.
Senator ANKENY. If that were possible and such a contract could be made, one contract for the greater portion of the work, say east or west of that big cut, what is your objection to letting it in one big contract? You say that there would be confusion and embarrassment with small contractors; might not that be obviated by letting the work to a greater contractor? You have given your objections without telling us the remedy.
Colonel ERNST. I do not think I gave that as an objection, Senator. I simply said it was one of the difficulties. I think I said distinctly that that is what I would do.
Senator ANKENY. Let it in small contracts?
Colonel Ernst. Yes, sir; not in small contracts, but a number of contracts.
Senator ANKENY. Twelve or more, you said?
Colonel Ernst. I should anticipate very great difficulty in letting any such contract as that. I do not see exactly where you would get any competition. I do not see but what you would have to bind yourselves completely in advance as to every detail.
Senator ANKENY. There is the same objection to a small contract, is there not?
Colonel Ernst. Not to so great an extent. Those are my principal objections. I should think a contract like that, left to any syndicate, would be putting immense power into the hands of somebody that was not in the interest of the United States.
Senator ANKENY. That is your objection to letting it in large contracts?
Colonel ERNST. In one single contract, yes.
The CHAIRMAN. I believe that is all, Colonel Ernst, and we are very much obliged to you, sir.
(The committee thereupon adjourned until to-morrow, Tuesday, March 27, 1906, at 10.30 o'clock a. m.)
COMMITTEE ON INTEROCEANIC CANALS,
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C., Tuesday, March 27, 1906. The committee met at 10.30 o'clock a. m.
Present: Senators Millard (chairman), Kittredge, Dryden, Hopkins, Ankeny, Morgan, Taliaferro, and Simmons.
STATEMENT OF BRIG. GEN. PETER C. HAINS, U. S. ARMY (RETIRED).
The CHAIRMAN. Please give your full name and residence, General. General Hains. Peter C. Hains; Washington, D. C. The CHAIRMAN. And your military position, and your present duties? General Hains. At the present time I am a brigadier-general of the United States Army, on the retired list, and a member of the Isthmian Canal Commission.
The CHAIRMAN. You are an army engineer?
General Hains. I have been an army engineer for about forty-two years. I am not an army engineer now.
The CHAIRMAN. You ought to be an army engineer by this time—a retired one.
General Hains. No, sir; I was promoted to be a brigadier-general in the line.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes?
General Hains. I was transferred from the engineers in April, 1903, to be a brigadier-general in the line.
The CHAIRMAN. Were you a member of the Walker Commission, the first Commission?
General Hains. The Commission of 1899–1901; yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. You were a member of the committee that was sent down to the Isthmus in the fall, were you not; and you signed the minority report?
General Hains. You mean in 1901 ?
The CHAIRMAN. General, we would like to have your judgment in regard to these two types of canal, if you will be kind enough to give it to the committee; your opinion in regard to the different types and why you prefer one over the other.
General Hains. I have a memorandum here, Senator, of some reasons why I prefer the lock canal to the sea-level canal, and I will state them briefly and endeavor to elucidate some of the points that were treated only in a brief manner in our report. I think our report covers nearly everything that has any influence with me, but there are details about that—that is, there are matters in connection with some of the points that are not referred to in detail.
Senator MORGAN. What report do you refer to, General?
General Hains. I mean this last report, submitting the two reports of the Consulting Board.
Senator MORGAN. Of the Consulting Board?
General Hains. Yes, sir. Before doing that I would like to make one statement in regard to Professor Burr's testimony. General Ernst referred to it yesterday. Professor Burr states that the recommendation made by the Isthmian Canal Commission of 1901 was largely for the tentative purpose of making a comparison between the Nicaragua and the Panama routes. Of course I do not know anything about what controlled Professor Burr, whether he regarded our project as tentative or not, but I did not regard it as tentative.
Senator MORGAN. You speak now of the project for a dam at Bohio?
General Hains. Yes, sir; the project that was submitted by the Commission of 1901.
Senator MORGAN. Yes; that is the Commission of exploration and examination?
General Hains. Yes, sir; what you call the Commission of exploration; and we state in our report the reason why we rejected the sealevel canal, and we state it in this way, on page 88 of that report: “That this Commission concurs with the various French commissions which have preceded it since the failure of the old company in rejecting the sea-level plan, and while such a plan would be physically practicable, and might be adopted if no other solution were available, the difficulties of all kinds, and especially those of time and cost, would be so great that a canal with a summit level reached by locks is to be preferred.
That was my opinion at that time, and I supposed that that was practically the opinion of all the others, because we all signed it.
Senator MORGAN. That is your opinion yet?
Senator KITTREDGE. Right at that point, General: The plans of the old French company were for a sea-level canal ?
General Hains. Yes, sir. You mean the first company?
General HAINS. The change was made after the failure of the
Senator KITTREDGE. And the organization of what is known as the New Panama Canal Company?
General HAINS. Yes, sir.
Senator MORGAN. No; I beg to call attention to the fact that the change was made while the receiver of the old company had charge of it and before the new company was organized.
General Hains. Yes; the first commission or board was what was called the Comité d'Etudes.
Senator MORGAN. That was organized by the receiver?
General Hains. I think it is pretty hard to say what all of them may have had in their minds, and I do not know that I can answer for any of them.
Senator KITTREDGE. Was not the reason the fact that they became short of money?
General Hains. I think, perhaps, that was one reason.
Senator KITTREDGE. Was not that the reason, and does it not so appear of record? General Hains. No, sir; not according to my understanding. Senator KITTREDGE. What is your understanding of the situation?
General Hains. My understanding was that they found that they had a more difficult problem before them, and they learned more about it, and it was advisable not to try to carry it on because it was going to cost too much for any private corporation to complete.
Senator KITTREDGE. Then, it was a question of cost?
General Hains. Well, no; I can not say that. I do not know what they had in their minds, but the question of cost doubtless was one of the reasons.
Senator KITTREDGE. Was it not the reason?
Senator TALIAFERRO. Were not the questions of cost and of time the reasons that influenced you to prefer the high-level canal?
General Hains. Not entirely. Those are two principal reasons.
General Hains. No, sir; they are not controlling; that is, they do not control it alone. There are other strong reasons.
Senator MORGAN. General, you have examined these maps that we took over from the French Canal Company?
General Hains. Yes, sir. Senator MORGAN. Have you found among those, from the beginning of the first operations upon the canal, any actual survey accompanied with borings that would take the work down to a sea-level canal ?
General Hains. Among those?
General Hains. They had a number of borings, Senator, that went down as deep as would be necessary for a sea-level canal, but not many,
Senator MORGAN. As deep as would be necessary for a sea-level canal down to the bottom of the canal prism?
General Hains. I do not think they had enough to base a project on.
Senator MORGAN. Did De Lesseps while he was in charge of that work ever have a complete or sufficient instrumental survey with borings for the purpose of determining the practicability or the cost of a sea-level canal ?
General Hains. When they started on the work there they did not.
Senator MORGAN. Very good. When was the first approximation to such a thing as that attempted by the French engineers?
General Hains. During the time the French were at work they began surveys.
Senator MORGAN. Yes.
General Hains. And they continued them clear up to the time of the report, or somewhat near the time of the report of the technical committee in 1898.
Senator MORGAN. They began the survey and the work at the same time?
General Hains. Yes, sir; I think so.
Senator MORGAN. I know, they made examinations, but I am talking about a thorough survey of location, cost, dimensions, and all that.
General Hains. A thorough survey was not made until afterwards.
Senator MORGAN. Was a thorough survey made while the receiver had the property in charge, and before the organization of the New Panama Canal Company?
General Hains. I can not answer that question positively, from my own knowledge, but I do not think they ever had sufficient surveys then.
Senator MORGAN. It was upon what was known by the engineers and reported by the engineers that the Comité d'Etudes predicated their decision under the auspices or authority of the receiver, The Comité d'Etudes did not make any surveys themselves?
General Hains. I am not sure whether they made any surveys or not.
Senator MORGAN. I think I can assure you that there is no evidence that they ever did.
General Hains. Yes. Senator MORGAN. If that is so, then up to the time that this Comité d'Etudes made their recommendation in favor of a lock canal the sealevel plan had never been worked out or projected as an engineering scheme upon a working scale?
General Hains. Well, I can not say that exactly, Senator. That may be so.
Senator MORGAN. When the New Panama Canal Company came in did they attempt even to make a survey for a sea-level canal?
General Hains. I do not think they did. They decided to build a canal with locks.
Senator MORGAN. They adopted the recommendation of the Comite d'Etudes, and went on to work it out?
General Hains. Yes, sir.
Senator MORGAN. And the Comite d'Etudes had projected a locklevel canal—a level at what height above the level of the sea?
General Hains. They considered several levels. I do not remember now.
Senator MORGAN. It was 90 feet or 95 feet, or something like that?