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Title: The Industrial Canal and Inner Harbor of New Orleans - History, Description and Economic Aspects of Giant Facility - Created to Encourage Industrial Expansion and Develop - Commerce
Author: Dabney, Thomas Ewing
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: WILLIAM O. HUDSON
President, Board of Commissioners of Port of New Orleans]


Oh the mind of man! Frail, untrustworthy, perishable--yet able to stand
unlimited agony, cope with the greatest forces of Nature and build
against a thousand years. Passion can blind it--yet it can read in
infinity the difference between right and wrong. Alcohol can unsettle
it--yet it can create a poem or a harmony or a philosophy that is
immortal. A flower pot falling out of a window can destroy it--yet it
can move mountains.

If Man had a tool that was as frail as his mind, he would fear to use
it. He would not trust himself on a plank so liable to crack. He would
not venture into a boat so liable to go to pieces. He would not drive a
tack with a hammer, the head of which is so liable to fly off.

But Man knows that what the mind can conceive, that can he execute. So
Man sits in his room and plans the things the world thought impossible.
From the known he dares the unknown. He covers paper with figures,
conjures forth a blue print, and sends an army of workmen against the
forces of Nature. If his mind blundered, he would waste millions in
money and perhaps destroy thousands of lives. But Man can trust his
mind; fragile though it is, he knows it can bear the strain of any task
put upon it.

All over the world there is the proof: in the heavens above, and in the
waters under the earth. And nowhere has Man won a greater triumph over
unspeakable odds than in New Orleans, in the dredging of a canal
through buried forests 18,000 years old, the creation of an underground
river, and the building of a lock that was thought impossible.

The Industrial Canal
and Inner Harbor of New Orleans

History, Description and Economic Aspects of Giant
Facility Created to Encourage Industrial
Expansion and Develop Commerce

By Thomas Ewing Dabney

Published by
Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans
Second Port U. S. A.
May, 1921

(Copyright, 1921, by Thomas Ewing Dabney).


FOREWORD                                                      2

THE NEED RECOGNIZED FOR A CENTURY                             5

NEW ORLEANS DECIDES TO BUILD CANAL                            8

SMALL CANAL FIRST PLANNED                                    13

THE DIRT BEGINS TO FLY                                       17

CANAL PLANS EXPANDED                                         22

DIGGING THE DITCH                                            27


SIPHON AND BRIDGES                                           36

THE REMARKABLE LOCK                                          40

NEW CHANNEL TO THE GULF                                      48

WHY GOVERNMENT SHOULD OPERATE CANAL                          54

ECONOMIC ASPECT OF CANAL                                     60

CONSTRUCTION COSTS AND CONTRACTORS                           66

OTHER PORT FACILITIES                                        70



There is a map in the possession of T. P. Thompson of New Orleans, who
has a notable collection of books and documents on the early history of
this city, dated March 1, 1827, and drawn by Captain W. T. Poussin,
topographical engineer, showing the route of a proposed canal to
connect the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, curiously near
the site finally chosen for that great enterprise nearly a hundred
years later.

New Orleans then was a mere huddle of buildings around Jackson Square;
but with the purchase of the Louisiana territory from France, and the
great influx of American enterprise that characterized the first
quarter of the last century, development was working like yeast, and it
was foreseen that New Orleans' future depended largely upon connecting
the two waterways mentioned--the river, that drains the commerce of the
Mississippi Valley, at our front door, and the lake, with its short-cut
to the sea and the commerce of the world, at the back.

When the Carondelet canal, now known as the Old Basin Canal, was begun
in 1794, the plan was to extend it to the river. It was also planned to
connect the New Basin Canal, begun in 1833, with the Mississippi. This
was, in fact, one of the big questions of the period. That the work was
not put through was due more to the lack of machinery than of

During the rest of the century, the proposal bobbed up at frequent
intervals, and the small Lake Borgne canal was finally shoved through
from the Mississippi to Lake Borgne, which is a bay of Lake

The difference between these early proposals and the plan for the
Industrial Canal and Inner Harbor that was finally adopted, is that the
purpose in the former case was simply to develop a waterway for
handling freight, whereas the object of New Orleans' great facility,
now nearing completion, is to create industrial development.

Under the law of Louisiana, inherited from the Spanish and French
regimes, river frontage can not be sold or leased to private
enterprise. This law prevents port facilities being sewed up by selfish
interests and insures a fair deal for all shipping lines, new ones as
well as old, with a consequent development of foreign trade; and port
officials, at harbors that are under private monopoly, would give a
pretty if the Louisiana system could be established there.

But there is no law, however good, that meets all conditions, and a
number of private enterprises--warehouses and factories--have
undoubtedly been kept out of New Orleans because they could not secure
water frontage.

An artificial waterway, capable of indefinite expansion, on whose banks
private enterprise could buy or lease, for a long period of time, the
land for erecting its buildings and plants, without putting in jeopardy
the commercial development of the port; a waterway that would
co-ordinate river, rail and maritime facilities most economically, and
lend itself to the development of a "free port" when the United States
finally adopts that requisite to a world commerce--that was the
recognized need of New Orleans when the proposal for connecting the two
waterways came to the fore in the opening years of the present century.
The Progressive Union, later the Association of Commerce, took a
leading part in the propaganda; it was assisted by other public bodies,
and forward-looking men, who gradually wore away the opposition with
which is received every attempt to do something that grandfather didn't

And on July 9, 1914, the legislature of Louisiana passed Act No. 244,
authorizing the Commission Council of New Orleans to determine the
site, and the Board of Port Commissioners of Louisiana, or Dock Board,
as it is more commonly called, to build the Industrial Canal.

The act gave the board a right to expropriate all property necessary
for the purpose, to build the "necessary locks, slips, laterals, basins
and appurtenances * * * in aid of commerce," and to issue an unlimited
amount in bonds "against the real estate and canal and locks and other
improvements * * * to be paid out of the net receipts of said canal and
appurtenances thereof, after the payment of operating expenses * * *
(and) to fix charges for tolls in said canal."

This was submitted to a vote of the people at the regular election in
November of that year, and became part of the constitution.

To avoid the complication of a second mortgage on the property, the
Dock Board subsequently (ordinance of June 29, 1918) set a limit on the
total bond issue. To enable the development that was then seen to be
dimly possible, it set this limit high--at $25,000,000.


The canal for which the legislature made provision in 1914 bears about
the relation to the one that was finally built as the acorn does to the
oak. It was to be a mere barge canal that might ultimately be enlarged
to a ship canal. Its cost was estimated at $2,400,000, which was less
than the cost of digging the New Basin canal nearly a century before,
which was a great deal smaller and ran but half way between the lake
and river.

The panic of the early days of the World War shoved even this modest
plan to one side, and it was not until the next year that enthusiasm
caught its second wind. Then the leading men and the press of the city
put themselves behind the project once more.

As the New Orleans Item said, October 22, 1915, "the lack of that canal
has already proven to have cost the city much in trade and developed

Commenting on the "astonishing exhibition of intelligent public spirit"
in New Orleans, the Chicago Tribune said that "no other city in or near
the Mississippi Valley, including Chicago, has shown such an awakening
to the possibilities and rearrangements that are following the cutting
of the Panama canal. * * * The awakening started with the talk of the
new canal."

Other papers throughout the country made similar expressions.

In 1915 the engineering firm of Ford, Bacon & Davis made a preliminary
survey of conditions and how development would be affected by the
canal. At about the same time the Illinois legislature voted to spend
$5,000,000 to construct a deep water canal, giving Chicago water
connection with the Mississippi River; and the New Orleans Item linked
the two projects when it said, January 16, 1916, "the Illinois-Lake
Michigan Canal and the New Orleans Industrial Canal are complementary
links in a new system of waterways connecting the upper Valley through
the Mississippi River and New Orleans with the Gulf and the Panama
Canal. This system again gives the differential to the Valley cities in
trade with the markets of the Orient, our own west coast, and South

Commodore Ernest Lee Jahncke, president of the Association of Commerce,
issued a statement to the press January 16, 1916, declaring that the
prospect of the canal "brightened the whole business future of this
city and the Mississippi Valley"; the New Orleans Real Estate Board and
the Auction Exchange, in a joint meeting, urged its speedy building;
and Governor Luther E. Hall, in a formal statement to the press January
16, 1916, gave his endorsement to the construction of the canal "long
sought by many commercial interests of New Orleans," and said that work
would probably begin in "three months."

In August, 1916, the governor dismissed the Dock Board and appointed a
new one.

In the confusion attending the reorganization the canal project was
again dropped. The New Orleans American, on August 28, 1916, attempted
to revive it, but the effort fell flat, and the plan laid on ice until

America had in the meantime thrown its hat into the ring, and the cry
was going up for ships, more ships, and still more ships. National
patriotism succeeded where civic effort had failed. New Orleans brought
out its Industrial Canal project to help the country build the famous
"bridge of boats."

But this new phase of the plan was far from the canal that was finally
built. In fact, the accomplishment of this project has shown a
remarkable development with the passing years, reminding one of the
growth of the trivial hopes of the boy into the mighty achievement of
the man.

Ships could not be built on the Mississippi River. The twenty-foot
range in the water level would require the ways to make a long slope
into the current, a work of prohibitive expense, and as nearly
impossible from an engineering standpoint as anything can be.

Early in 1918 a committee of representative Orleanians began to study
the situation. This was known as the City Shipbuilding Committee. It
comprised Mayor Behrman, O. S. Morris, president of the Association of
Commerce; Walter Parker, manager of that body; Arthur McGuirk, special
counsel of the Dock Board; R. S. Hecht, president of the Hibernia Bank;
Dr. Paul H. Saunders, president of the Canal-Commercial Bank; J. D.
O'Keefe, vice-president of the Whitney-Central Bank; J. K. Newman,
financier; G. G. Earl, superintendent of the Sewerage and Water Board;
Hampton Reynolds, contractor; D. D. Moore, James M. Thompson and J.
Walker Ross, of the Times-Picayune, Item and States, respectively.

On February 10, 1918, this committee laid the plans for an industrial
basin, connected with the river by a lock, and ultimately to be
connected with the lake by a small barge canal. Ships could be built on
the banks of this basin, the water in which would have a fixed level.

Mr. Hecht, and Arthur McGuirk, special counsel of the Dock Board,
devised the plan by which the project could be financed. The Dock Board
would issue long-term bonds, and build the necessary levees with the
material excavated from the canal.

The committee's formal statement summarized the public need of this
facility as follows:

"1. It will provide practical, convenient and fixed-level water-front
sites for ship and boat building and repair plants, for industries and
commercial enterprises requiring water frontage.

"2. It will provide opportunities for all enterprises requiring
particular facilities on water frontage to create such facilities.

"3. It will permit the complete co-ordination, in the City of New
Orleans, of the traffic of the Mississippi River and its tributaries,
of the Intracoastal Canal, the railroads and the sea, under the most
convenient and satisfactory conditions.

"4. In connection with the publicly-owned facilities on the river
front, it will give New Orleans all the port and harbor advantages
enjoyed by Amsterdam with its canal system, Rotterdam and Antwerp with
their joint river and ocean facilities; Hamburg with its free port, and
Liverpool with its capacity as a market deposit.

"5. It will give New Orleans a fixed-level, well protected harbor.

"6. It will serve the purposes of the Intracoastal Canal and increase
the benefits to accrue to New Orleans from that canal.

"7. In connection with revived commercial use of the inland waterways
upon which the federal government is now determined, it will open the
way for an easy solution of the problem of handling, housing and
interchange of water-borne commerce, and of the development of
facilities for the storage of commodities between the period of
production and consumption.

"8. It will prove an important facility in the equipment of New Orleans
to meet the new competition the enlarged Erie Canal will create. The
original Erie Canal harmed New Orleans because Mississippi River boat
lines could not build their own terminal and housing facilities at New

[Illustration: W. A. KERNAGHAN Vice-President
RENÉ CLERC Secretary
Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans]

This meeting made industrial history in New Orleans. The Hecht plan was
studied by lawyers and financiers and declared feasible. Mr. Hecht
summarized the confidence of the far-visioned men in the new New
Orleans when he declared in a public interview: "I feel there is
absolutely nothing to prevent the immediate realization of New Orleans'
long dream of becoming a great industrial and commercial center and
having great shipbuilding plants located within the city limits."

And the Item said, in commenting on the undertaking (February 17,
1918): "Millions of dollars of capital will be ready to engage in
shipbuilding in New Orleans the moment that piledrivers and steam
shovels are set to work on the shiplock and navigation canal."

It was a time of great industrial excitement. Victory was at last in
the grasp of New Orleans. The eyes of the country were on New Orleans.
The cry was, "Full Speed Ahead!"


The plan, at this time, was to have a lock-sill only 16 or 18 feet
deep. This would be sufficient to allow empty ships to enter or leave
the canal, but not loaded. The mere building of ships was thus the
principal thought, despite the rhetoric on commercial and industrial
possibilities. Perhaps the leaders who were beating the project into
shape were themselves afraid to think in the millions necessary to do
the work to which New Orleans finally dedicated itself; perhaps they
realized that the figure would stagger the minds of the people and
defeat the undertaking, if they were not gradually educated up to the

Meeting on February 15, 1918, the Dock Board resolved unanimously to
put the plan through, if it proved feasible. W. B. Thompson was
president of the board; the other members were Dr. E. S. Kelly, Thomas
J. Kelly, B. B. Hans and O. P. Geren. Later, E. E. Lafaye took Mr.
Kelly's place on the board.

The Public Belt Railroad board had in the meantime (February 13) voted
to pay the Dock Board $50,000 a year; and the Levee Board (February 14)
to give $125,000 a year. As the plans were increased, the Levee Board
later increased its bit to $925,000.

Mayor Behrman, Arthur McGuirk and R. S. Hecht laid the proposition
before both bodies. Action was unanimous. Colonel J. D. Hill, speaking
for the Belt Railroad Board, said: "I am glad that at last there has
been outlined a plan which seemingly makes it possible to construct the
canal. It will not only result in the eventual construction of a big
fleet of ships, but will prepare the way for a tremendous industrial
activity in other lines. The consensus has been that a navigation canal
is needed to induce large manufacturers, importers and exporters to
establish their factories and warehouses here. This project will be the
opening wedge."

Members of the Public Belt Board voting, besides Colonel Hill and Mayor
Behrman (ex-officio) were Ginder Abbott, Arthur Simpson, John H.
Murphy, W. B. Bloomfield, Adam Lorch, George P. Thompson, Thomas F.
Cunningham, Victor Lambou, Edgar B. Stern and Sam Segari.

Members of the Levee Board voting were: William McL. Fayssoux,
president, Thomas Killeen, Thomas Smith, John F. Muller, James P.
Williams, John P. Vezien.

W. B. Thompson, president, put the matter before the Dock Board. "The
idea" he said, according to the minutes of the meeting of February 15,
1918, "had always received his approval, and he thought that the mayor
would recall that in the preparation, he with the city attorney, had a
very considerable part in framing the same, and he had taken an active
interest in the matter; he had always been in favor of the Industrial
Canal, and he believed in the possibility of development of New Orleans
through this, as a terminus; and it was entirely logical that the Dock
Board should do all that may lie within its power to bring about the
successful consummation of this project; the only doubt in his mind
being as to the feasibility of the project from the financial
standpoint. It seems now, however, that a plan has been devised,
through efforts of the mayor and Mr. Hecht, which gives every promise
of success. The co-operation of the city on behalf of the Public Belt
Railroad, and of the Levee Board, apparently removed the difficulties
in respect to the financial end. The Dock Board welcomes the assistance
and co-operation of the city and of the Levee Board, but inasmuch as
these boards are merely contributing certain amounts per year, and
whereas the Dock Board is the obligor in respect of the principal of
the bond issue, it devolves upon the Dock Board to use great caution
before committing itself to any particular plan in a matter which so
vitally affects the credit of the Dock Board, the city of New Orleans
and the Levee Board. President Thompson further stated that he
unhesitatingly endorsed the project and that he was sure that every
member of the board agreed, and the board would be glad to give prompt
consideration to the particular plan in question and reach some
conclusion which will insure the realization of this great project."

To estimate the probable cost of the canal, Mayor Behrman appointed the
following committee of engineers: W. J. Hardee, city engineer; A. F.
Barclay, engineer of the Public Belt Railroad; George G. Earl,
superintendent of the Sewerage & Water Board; C. T. Rayner, Jr.,
engineer of the Levee Board and Hampton Reynolds, contractor.

On February 22, the committee reported that, not counting real estate,
a canal could be built for $2,626,876. This estimate called for a lock
600 feet long, 70 feet wide, and 18 feet deep, and a barge canal to the
lake. The cost of constructing the lock was put at $1,370,660, and of
digging the canal $1,256,216.

This report was first received by a special committee composed of Mayor
Behrman, W. B. Thompson, Col. J. B. Hill, R. S. Hecht and Major W. McL.
Fayssoux. This committee referred it to the Dock Board, which adopted
it February 22.

Financial arrangements were completed at this same meeting. In order to
have sufficient to pay for the land which would have to be expropriated
for the canal, and to give some leeway, it was decided to issue bonds
for $3,500,000, with an option of floating $1,000,000 more within 30
days. A financial syndicate, consisting of the Hibernia, Interstate and
Whitney-Central banks of New Orleans, the William R. Compton Investment
Company of St. Louis, and the Halsey, Stuart Company of Chicago, agreed
to take the entire issue. The bonds were to run 40 years and begin to
mature serially after 10 years. They were to bear 5 per cent interest,
and to be sold at 95. They would be secured by a mortgage on the real
estate of the canal site, and by the taxing powers of the state, for
they were a recognized state obligation, as Arthur McGuirk, special
counsel of the Dock Board, pointed out in his opinion of July 10, 1918.

He added: "I am likewise of opinion that said bonds are unaffected by
any limitations upon the state debt, or upon the rate of taxation for
public purposes; that the said bonds are entitled to be paid out of the
general funds, or by the exercise of the power of taxation insofar as
the revenues, funds or property preferentially pledged or mortgaged to
secure said issue may fail, or be insufficient, to pay the same."

The following sat with the Dock Board and its attorneys at the meeting
of February 22: Mayor Behrman, J. D. Hill of the Public Belt Railroad,
R. S. Hecht, president of the Hibernia Bank, J. D. O'Keefe,
vice-president of the Whitney-Central Bank, C. G. Reeves,
vice-president of the Interstate Bank, W. R. Compton of the Compton
Investment Company, H. L. Stuart of Halsey, Stuart and Company, W. J.
Hardee, city engineer, and Hampton Reynolds, contractor.

The selection of the site was left, by the state law, to the commission
council. There were a number of possible routes, and the selection was
made with the utmost secrecy to prevent real estate profiteering. At
first the area bounded by France and Reynes streets was chosen. This
was on February 28. On May 9, however, the site was changed to the area
bounded by France and Lizardi streets, north from the Mississippi River
to Florida Walk, thence to Lake Pontchartrain. This is a virtually
uninhabited region in the Third District, through the old Ursulines
tract. The site chosen for expropriation is five and a third miles long
by 2,200 feet wide, 897 acres.

For this land the Dock Board paid $1,493,532.24, which is at the rate
of $1,665 an acre. The valuation was reached by expropriation

In the meantime, Commodore Ernest Lee Jahncke had asked to be allotted
the first site on the Industrial Canal, and Doullut & Williams for the
second. Both were for shipyards. The Foundation Company, which was
operating a number of shipyards in various parts of the country, sent
an engineer here to see if it would be feasible for the concern to
build a shipyard here.

Even before the piledrivers and dredges were on the job, the millions
were being counted for investment in the city whose remarkable
enterprise had won the admiration of the country.


Until the money for the bond issue should be available, the Hibernia
Bank authorized the Dock Board to draw against it on open account. It
only remained, then, to secure the authorization of the Capital Issues
Committee of the Federal Reserve Board, which controlled all bond
issues during the World War, to start the work. The grounds on which
the authorization was requested summarize conditions that make possible
a great industrial development in New Orleans, and will stand quoting.
They are:

"(a) Semi-tropical conditions, which make it feasible to work every day
and night in the year;

"(b) Admirable housing conditions which render it feasible for labor to
live under most sanitary conditions in houses closely proximate to both
the plants and the city, with sewerage and water connections, and with
street car transportation facilities to and from the plants and to and
from the amusement centers of the city;

"(c) Ample labor supply and satisfactory labor conditions;

"(d) Proximity to timber, steel and coal sources of supply with all
water as well as rail transportation facilities thereon;

"(e) State control of the canal facilities and operation of the same,
not for profit, but for the economical and expeditious development of

Two shipyards were established on the canal. They poured millions of
dollars into New Orleans. The tremendous tonnage built in the United
States during the war, and the slump in foreign trade that followed the
armistice, due to financial conditions abroad, have caused many
shipyards throughout the United States to close down, among them one of
these at New Orleans. The other one is now finishing its war contracts,
and will be more or less inactive until the demands of the American
Merchant Marine and business in general open up again. If they are not
used for shipbuilding, they can be used for ship repairing or building
barges. And it is obvious that the same conditions that made ship
building an economic possibility, will encourage other industrial
production, especially production that requires the co-ordination of
river, rail and maritime facilities. The Canal means millions of new
money to New Orleans, as its proponents said it would.

On March 12, the authorization of the Capital Issues Committee was
given. On March 15, the George W. Goethals Company, Inc., was retained
as consulting engineers on the big job. The services of this company
were secured as much for its engineering skill, proven by its work on
the Panama Canal, as for the prestige of its name. The Goethals
Company, co-operating with the engineers of the Dock Board, which did
the work, designed the famous lock and directed the entire job. George
M. Wells, vice-president of the firm, was put in active charge of the
work. General Goethals made occasional visits of supervision.

The dirt began to fly on June 6, 1918.

Before coming to New Orleans to take up his work, Mr. Wells, acting
upon instructions of the Dock Board, called at the office of the
Foundation Company in New York, whose engineer had already studied the
possibilities of establishing a shipyard on the canal, and guaranteed
an outlet to the sea by the time its vessels should be finished.

The river end of the site chosen for the canal consisted of low and
flat meadow land. There were a few houses helter-skeltered about, like
blocks in a nursery, but the principal signs of human life were the
cows that grazed where the grazing was good, and sought refuge from the
noonday beams of the sun under the occasional oaks that had strayed out
into the open and didn't know how to get back. The middle of the
site--several miles in extent--was a gray cypress swamp, with five or
six hundred trees to the acre, and always awash. The lake end was
"trembling prairie" marsh land subject to tidal overflow and very soft.

[Illustration: N. O. ARMY SUPPLY BASE]


With dredges, spades, mechanical excavators, piledrivers and dynamite
the work opened.

A great force of men began to throw up by hand, the levees that were to
serve as banks for the turning basin, the lock and other portions of
the canal. This levee would keep the liquid material, dredged out, from
running back into the excavation. The turning basin, 950 feet by 1,150
feet, was an expansion of the original industrial basin. Situated
several hundred feet from the lock, its purpose is to enable ships
entering the canal from the river, and passing through the lock, to
turn in, as well as to furnish a site for the concentration of
industries. The Foundation Company had in the meantime decided to
establish a shipyard on this basin; its engineers were on the ground,
and its material was rolling.

One dredge was sent around Lake Pontchartrain to commence boring in
from that end. This could not be done on the river end. The Mississippi
is too mighty a giant to risk such liberties. The 2,000-foot cut
between the river and the lock would have to be done last of all, when
the rest of the canal and the lock were finished, and the new levees
that would protect the city against its overflow, were solidly set. But
a few hundred feet from the turning basin, was Bayou Bienvenu, which
runs into Lake Borgne, part of Lake Pontchartrain, and one of the
refuges of Lafitte in the brave days when smuggling was more a sport of
the plain people than it is now with European travel restricted to the
wealthy. So through Bayou Bienvenu a small excavator was sent to cut a
passage into the turning basin, to allow the mighty 22-inch dredges to
get in and work outwards towards the lake and the lock site.

The problem was further complicated by the Florida Walk drainage
system, which emptied into Bayou Bienvenu, and by the railway lines
that crossed the site of the Canal.

These railways were the Southern Railway, at the lake end, the
Louisville & Nashville, at the middle, and the Southern and Public Belt
near the turning basin on Florida Walk. For them, the Dock Board had to
build "run-around" tracks, to be used while their lines were cut to
enable the dredging to be made and the bridges to be constructed.

For the drainage, the plans called for the construction of an inverted
siphon passing under the Canal, a river under a river, so to speak. In
the meantime, however, the drainage canal had to be blocked off with
two cofferdams, to cut off the water from the city and the bayou, and
enable the construction of the siphon between.

Additional railroad tracks, too, had to be built to handle the immense
volume of material needed for the work; roads had to be built for
getting supplies on the job by truck; the trolley line had to be
extended for the transportation of labor.

Week by week the labor gangs grew, as the men were able to find places
in the attacking line of the industrial battle. Great excavators
stalked over the land, pulling themselves along by their dippers which
bit out chunks of earth as big as a cart when they "took a-hold"; the
smack of pile drivers, the thump of dynamite, and the whistle of
dredges filled the air. Buildings sprouted like mushrooms; in the
meadow, half a mile from the nearest water, the shipyard of the
Foundation Company began to take form. It was the plan to finish the
Canal by January, 1920.


Work in the meantime had begun on the commodity warehouse and wharf,
another facility planned by the Dock Board to relieve the growing
pains. Built on the Canal, but opening on the river, it was to perform
the same service for general commodities as the Public Cotton Warehouse
and the Public Grain Elevator did for those products. Though not a part
of the canal plan, the construction of the warehouse at this point was
part of the general scheme to concentrate industrial development on
that waterway.

Later, the Federal Government took over this work and gave New Orleans
a $13,000,000 terminal, through which it handled army supplies. It is
still using the three warehouses for storage purposes, but has leased
the half-mile double-deck wharf to the Dock Board, which is devoting it
to the general commerce of the port. In time, the Dock Board hopes to
get at least one of the buildings.

There can be no doubt but that the enterprise of New Orleans in
building the Industrial Canal had a great deal to do with the
government's determination to establish a depot at New Orleans.

On May 30, the news came out of Washington that the Doullut & Williams
Shipbuilding Company had been awarded a $15,000,000 contract by the
Emergency Fleet Corporation to build eight ships of 9,600 tons each.
This was the largest shipbuilding contract that had been given the
South. The Industrial Canal rendered it possible.

The firm of Doullut & Williams had been engaged for fifteen years or so
in the civil engineering and contracting business in New Orleans.
Captain M. P. Doullut had built launches with his own hands when a
young man, and dreamed of the time when he would have a yard capable of
turning out ocean-going vessels. The Doullut & Williams Shipbuilding
Company was organized April 25, 1918, with the following officers: M.
P. Doullut, president; Paul Doullut, vice-president; W. Horace
Williams, secretary-treasurer and general manager; L. H. Guerin, chief
engineer; and James P. Ewin, assistant chief engineer.

"I feel that New Orleans is on the eve of a very remarkable
development" said Senator Ransdell of Louisiana in a telegram of
congratulation, "and earnestly hope our people will continue to work
together with energy and hearty accord until we have gone way over the
top in shipbuilding and many other lines."

The expression "over the top" had not become the pest that it and other
war-time weeds of rhetoric have subsequently proven. That was a time
when one could still refer to a "drive" without causing a gnashing of

Picking the site at the Lake Pontchartrain end of the canal, Doullut &
Williams Shipbuilding Company began to erect its shipyard. The plant
buildings were erected upon tall piling. As the dredges excavated the
material from the cut, they deposited it on the site of the shipyard
and raised the elevation several feet, so the buildings were only the
usual height above the ground. Both sides of the Canal, it should be
added, have been similarly raised by excavation material.

It was planned that the ships from the Doullut & Williams yard should
be sent out into the world through Lake Pontchartrain, which empties
into the Gulf of Mexico. There was ample water in the lake, without
dredging, to accommodate unloaded ships of this size.

But the fact that ships 400 or so feet long and drawing, when loaded to
capacity, 27 feet, were to be built at New Orleans, emphasized the
belief of those directing the work of the Industrial Canal that the
plan on which they were working was too small. An 18-foot canal would
not meet the growing needs of New Orleans. Accordingly the Dock Board
instructed the engineering department to expand the plans.

By June 11, 1918, the plans had been revised to give a 25-foot channel.
This would accommodate all but the largest ships that come to New
Orleans. The cost of such a lock and canal, George M. Wells estimated,
would be $6,000,000, or $2,500,000 more than the estimate for the
original canal. The Levee Board promptly raised its ante to $250,000 to
guarantee the interest.

When the Dock Board floated the first bond issue of $3,500,000 in
February, at 95, it reserved the option to issue another $1,000,000 of
bonds within thirty days, at the same rate.

For $1,500,000 of the new issue, the same syndicate of banks offered
97-1/2, or two and a half points higher than for the first; but for the
other million, they held the board to the original rate of 95.
President Thompson reported to the Dock Board June 11 that he
considered these "very satisfactory terms." He added: "We were able to
secure these better prices and conditions because the bond market is in
a somewhat better condition now than it was when we made the original

The contract was accepted on that date, and application made to the
Capital Issues Committee for the necessary permission. This was given
in due time, though there was considerable opposition.

The opposition, said President Thompson, at the Dock Board meeting of
February 26, 1919, reviewing the development of the canal plans, "was
inspired by vicious and spectacular attacks of certain private
interests hostile to the canal project and to the port of New Orleans."
Railroads, whose right of way crossed the Canal, were the principal
propagandists. They realized that the Dock Board could not be required
to build their bridges over the waterway, and although the Thompson
board financed the work at the time, they knew that sooner or later
would come a day of reckoning. The Hudson Board has since then taken
steps to collect several million dollars from these roads.

But why build a canal almost large enough, only? Why build a 25-foot
lock when ships drawing 30-feet of water come to New Orleans? A lock
cannot be enlarged, once it is completed--and the tendency of the times
is towards larger ships. Why not make a capacity facility while they
were about it?

[Illustration: LOCK SITE
    Driving Sheet Piling]

[Illustration: LOCK SITE
    Dredges Entering]

These were questions the Dock Board asked itself, and on June 29, 1918,
it decided to build the lock with a 30-foot depth over the sill at
extreme low water, and make the canal 300 feet wide at the top, and 150
feet wide at the bottom.

To do this, would cost about $1,000,000 more, it was estimated by
George M. Wells of the Goethals company--a sum which the Dock Board
thought would be realized from the rental-revenues of Doullut &
Williams and the Foundation Company, without increasing the second bond

This is the Canal that was finally built--nearly 70 per cent larger
than the one that was begun and about 100 per cent larger than the one
originally planned, when the newspapers and forward-looking told the
people that the lack of such a canal had cost New Orleans millions of
dollars in development.


No rock-problem was encountered in dredging the canal. The cost was
below what the engineers estimated it would be--less than thirty cents
a cubic yard. But a novel situation did develop; a condition that would
have sent the cost sky-rocketing if an Orleanian had not met the

Louisiana is what geologists call a region of subsidence. The gulf of
Mexico formerly reached to where Cairo, Ill., now is. Washings from the
land, during the slow-moving centuries, pushed the shoreline ever
outward; the humus of decaying vegetation raised the ground surface
still higher. This section of Louisiana, built by the silt of the
Mississippi, was of course the most recent formation.

Twenty thousand years ago, say the geologists, there were great forests
where Louisiana now is. Among these mighty trees roamed the glyptodont;
the 16-foot armadillo with a tail like the morning-star of the old
crusaders, monstrously magnified; the giraffe camel; the titanothere;
the Columbian elephant, about the size of a trolley car and with
15-foot tusks; the giant sloth which could look into a second-story
window; here the saber-toothed tiger fought with the megatherium;
mighty rhinoceroses sloshed their clumsy way, and huge and grotesque
birds filled the air with their flappings.

As the subsoil packed more solidly, this wilderness in time sunk
beneath the waters. The Mississippi built up its sandbars again, storms
shaped them above the waves, marsh grass raised the surface with its
humus, and another forest grew. This, in turn, sunk. And so the process
was repeated, time after time.

At different depths below the surface of the ground the remains of
these forests are found today, the wood perfectly preserved by the
dampness. And through this tangled mass the dredges had to fight their

It was a task too great for the ordinary type of 20 or 22-inch suction
dredge, even with the strength of 1,000 horses behind it. When they met
these giant stumps and trunks they just stopped.

A. B. Wood, of the sewerage and water department, had already designed
and patented a centrifugal pump impeller adapted to the handling of
sewerage containing trash. Learning of this, W. J. White,
superintendent of dredging on the Canal, asked him to design a special
impeller, along similar lines, for the dredge Texas.

Results from the invention were remarkable. During the thirty days
immediately preceding the installation the dredge had suffered delays
from clogged suction which totalled 130-3/4 hours. During the thirty
days immediately succeeding installation the total of delays for the
same reason was cut down to 71-1/2 hours. The average yardage was, for
the earlier period, 152 an hour, of actual excavation; and for the
later period, 445 an hour--an increase of almost 200 per cent. The
situation had been met.

This was the period when the cost of labor and material began to jump.
Employers were bidding against each other for men, and the government's
work practically fixed the price of supplies.

George M. Wells, consulting engineer, in his report of December 9,
1918, to the Dock Board, summarized labor increases over the scale when
the work was begun, as follows: Unskilled labor, 54%; pile driver men,
40%; machinists, 40%; blacksmiths, 40%; foremen and monthly, 15 to
40%--an average increase of 40%. Materials had advanced, he went on to
show, as follows: Gravel, 72%; sand, 25%; cement, 10%; lumber (form),
70%; timber, 40%; piles, untreated, 40%; piles, treated, 25%. These
increases, together with the expansion of the plans requiring a canal
of maximum depth, instead of the pilot cut of fifteen feet, as
originally planned; the insistence of the Levee Board that levees in
the back areas must be raised to elevation 30; development of
unforeseen and unforeseeable quicksand conditions in the various
excavations; requirements of railroads for bridges of greater capacity
and strength than needed; building of a power line to the Foundation
Company's plant--not a Dock Board job, but one that the conditions
required it should finance then; and other expenses, besides delaying
the work, made another bond issue necessary to finish the job.

At its meeting of February 26, 1919, President Thompson laid the matter
before the board. It decided to issue $6,000,000 of bonds, for which
the same syndicate of bankers that had taken the other two offered 96.
Liberty bonds were then selling at a big discount, and this seemed the
best terms on which the money could be secured.

This gave a total issue of $12,000,000 to date, the interest on which
amounted to $600,000 a year. The Levee Board raised its share of the
"rental" to $550,000, to guarantee the interest; the Public Belt
Railroad's $50,000 made the total complete.

In the meantime ships were beginning to bulk large on the ways of the
Foundation and the Doullut & Williams yards. The Foundation company
launched its first, the Gauchy--a 4,200-ton non-sinkable steel ship,
built for the French government--in September, 1919; and the Doullut &
Williams company launched its first, the New Orleans, a steel vessel of
9,600 tons, the largest turned out south of Newport News, built for the
Shipping Board, in January, 1920. These were followed by four sister
vessels from the Foundation yard and seven from the Doullut & Williams
plant. The former went to sea through Bayou Bienvenu and the latter
through Lake Pontchartrain. The Doullut & Williams yard is a large one.
Originally planning a mere assembling yard, the Foundation Company had
subsequently developed the greatest steel fabricating plant in the
South--so confident it was that New Orleans would carry through the

And, too, the New Orleans Army Supply Base that Uncle Sam was building
on the river end of the Industrial Canal was rapidly rising--the
facility that was to double the port storage capacity of New Orleans
when it was finally completed in June, 1919.

The canal is 5-1/3 miles long. Between river and lock the canal prism
will be 125 feet wide at the bottom and 275 feet at the top; between
the lock and the lake, 150 feet wide at the bottom and 300 feet wide at
the top. It is an excavation job of 10,000,000 cubic yards. Five
hundred thousand flat cars would be required to carry that dirt--a
train more than 4,000 miles long.

By September, 1919, the canal had been entirely dredged, except for the
2,000-foot channel between the lock and river, which must be left until
the last, to a width of about 150 feet and a depth of 26 feet. Since
then, the labor has been concentrated upon the lock. But twenty-six
feet will float a vessel carrying 6,000 bales of cotton. Full
dimensions, however, will be developed, and the Canal, with a system of
laterals and basins such as are found in Europe, will be an Inner
Harbor capable of indefinite expansion.


When the Canal was about half finished it received the most tremendous
endorsement by every interest of New Orleans in its history. The
question was put squarely before the people: "Do you think it is a good
thing, and you are willing to be taxed to put it across, and, if so,
how much?" And the answer came without hesitation: "It is absolutely
necessary to the industrial progress of the city. We must have the
Canal at all costs, and are willing to be taxed any amount for it."

On September 24, 1919, George M. Wells, consulting engineer, made a
report to the Dock Board, showing that the last bond issue of
$6,000,000 had been exhausted, and about $5,000,000 more was needed to
finish the Canal.

This was in the last days of the Thompson Board, and it took no action.
The Hudson board entered upon its duties October 2. It comprised
William O. Hudson, president; William A. Kernaghan, René F. Clerc,
Albert Mackie, Thomas H. Roberts. Later, Mr. Roberts resigned and Hugh
McCloskey took his place. All are sound business men, with the
interests of the port at heart.

They found, in the bank, only $2,067,845.37 to the Industrial Canal
Account. After deducting the obligations already made there was left
only $112,064.43 to continue the work. Without a public expression from
New Orleans they were unwilling to incur the responsibility of issuing
$5,000,000 more bonds.

President Hudson called a series of meetings of the representative
interests of the city to decide what was to be done. As the people of
New Orleans had decided to begin the Canal in the first place, it was
only right that they should determine whether the undertaking, costing
five times as much as the original plan, should be carried through.

The governor, the mayor, presidents of banks, committees of commercial
exchanges, the president of the Public Belt Railroad, the president of
the Levee Board, newspaper publishers, labor leaders and prominent
business men were invited. Likewise, a general call was made to the
community at large to express an opinion as to finishing the Canal.

At the meeting of October 17 the city made its answer.

President Hudson outlined the attitude of the Dock Board as follows:

"The board has no feeling of prejudice against the completion of the
Canal. We are in favor of it. We are anxious to complete it. It was
fostered by the citizens of New Orleans.

"The floating of the bond issue is a simple matter, if you men think we
ought to do it; but where is the money for meeting the interest to come
from? The $600,000 interest on bonds now outstanding is being paid,
$550,000 by the Levee Board, and $50,000 by the Public Belt Railroad.
The Public Belt's share is paid from its earnings; but the Levee
Board's share is being paid by direct taxation on the citizens of New
Orleans. Must we increase that tax? I personally won't object to any
taxation as a citizen to pay my part towards financing the Canal."

"I want to see the canal completed," said Governor Pleasant. "But it is
up to the people of New Orleans to say whether they are willing to
assume the added obligation."

R. S. Hecht, president of the Hibernia Bank, and a recognized financial
leader in New Orleans, then arose.

"I feel," he said, "that all who have the future of New Orleans at
heart must agree that we are here to discuss not whether the Canal is
to be finished, but how.

"Finished it must be, or our commercial future will be doomed for many
years. If the Dock Board were to stop the work, it would forever kill
its credit for any other bond issue that might be proposed for wharf
development, new warehouses, or anything else.

"The cost of the canal is a surprise to everybody. I was present when
the cost was originally estimated at $3,500,000 with a leeway of
$1,000,000. I said then, and I repeat now, that the canal could be
financed if the people of New Orleans stood squarely behind it.

"The cotton warehouse and the grain elevator cost a great deal more
than the original estimates. So the Industrial Canal, though it is
costing more than anticipated, because of the increased cost of
material and labor and the increased size in the Canal, will, I feel
sure, be justified by the development of the future.

"Are we to be taxed for fifty years for our investment of $12,000,000
and get no return, or are we willing to pay a little bit more and get
something worth while?"

That expressed the sentiment of the meeting.

[Illustration: BUILDING THE LOCK]

"The people of New Orleans," said Hugh McCloskey, financier and dean of
all Dock Board presidents, "have never failed to meet a crisis. It is
the duty of the Dock Board to finish the Canal, no matter what the
doubting Thomases may say."

Similar expressions were made by Thomas Killeen, president of the Levee
Board; Thomas Cunningham, of the Public Belt Railroad; D. D. Moore,
editor of the Times-Picayune; James M. Thompson, publisher of the Item;
B. C. Casanas, president of the Association of Commerce; L. M. Pool,
president of the Marine Bank; J. E. Bouden, president of the
Whitney-Central Bank; Bernard McCloskey, attorney; Frank B. Hayne, of
the Cotton Exchange; Jefferson D. Hardin, of the Board of Trade;
William V. Seeber, representative of the Ninth Ward; Marshall Ballard,
editor of The Item. Others present, assenting by their silence,
included John F. Clark, president, and E. S. Butler, member of the
Cotton Exchange; W. Horace Williams, of Doullut & Williams Shipbuilding
Company; E. M. Stafford, state senator; C. G. Rives of the Interstate
Bank; S. T. DeMilt, president of the New Orleans Steamship Association;
R. W. Dietrich of the Bienville Warehouse Corporation; Edgar B. Stern,
Milton Boylan, W. H. Byrnes, J. C. Hamilton, and about thirty other
representative business and professional men. Mayor Behrman, John T.
Banville, president of the Brewery Workers' Union, and George W. Moore,
president of the Building Trades Council, at a subsequent meeting, gave
their endorsement.

With only one dissenting voice, these meetings were unanimous that the
Industrial Canal must be completed at all costs; that without it, the
growth of the city would be seriously interrupted. The one protest was
by the Southern Realty and Securities Company. It was made October 23
against the Levee Board's underwriting the interest on the new bond

On that date the Levee Board unanimously voted to guarantee these
interest charges, amounting to $375,000 a year. This brings the total
being paid by that body out of direct taxation to $925,000.00 a year.
The other $50,000 is paid by the Public Belt Railroad.

To provide a leeway against the engineer's estimates, the Dock Board
made provision for a bond issue of $7,500,000, but actually issued only
$5,000,000 worth. This was taken by the same syndicate of bankers that
had taken the previous issues, but this time they paid par. That was a
point on which President Hudson had insisted. The contract was accepted
December 10, 1919.

And the work went on, with every effort concentrated on economical


As an incident in the work of building the Industrial Canal, it was
necessary to create a disappearing river.

This is the famous siphon--the quadruple passage of concrete that will
carry the city's drainage underneath the shipway. It is one of the
largest structures of its kind in the country.

A word about New Orleans' drainage problem. The city is the bowl of a
dish, of which the levees against river and lake are the rim. There is
no natural drainage. The rainfall is nearly five feet a year,
concentrated at times, upon the thousand miles of streets, into
cloudbursts of four inches an hour and ten inches in a day. In the
boyhood of men now in their early thirties it was a regular thing for
the city to be flooded after a heavy rain.

To meet the situation, New Orleans has constructed the greatest
drainage system in the world. There are six pumping stations on the
east side of the river, connected with each other by canals, and with a
discharge capacity of more than 10,000 cubic feet a second. The seven
billion gallons of water that these pumps can move a day would fill a
lake one mile square and thirty-five feet deep.

Three of the canals empty into Lake Pontchartrain, the fourth, the
Florida Walk Canal, into Bayou Bienvenu, which leads into Lake Borgne,
an arm of Pontchartrain.

Because of this drainage contamination, the lake shore front of New
Orleans has been held back in its development. Yet it is an ideal site
for a suburb--on a beautiful body of water, and just half a dozen miles
from the business district.

So the Sewerage and Water Board has been planning ultimately to turn
the city's entire drainage into Bayou Bienvenu, a stream with swamps on
both sides, running into a lake surrounded by marsh.

The Industrial Canal crosses the Florida Walk drainage canal. This made
it necessary to build the inverted siphon.

A siphon, in the ordinary sense, is a bent tube, one section of which
is longer than the other, through which a liquid flows by its own
weight over an elevation to a lower level. But siphon here is an
engineering term to describe a channel that goes under an
obstruction--the canal--and returns the water to its former level.

Like the famous rivers that drop into the earth and appear again miles
further on, the Florida drainage canal approaches to within a hundred
or so feet of the Industrial Canal, then dives forty feet underground,
passes beneath the shipway, and comes to the surface on the other side,
in front of the pumping station, which lifts it into Bayou Bienvenu.

At first it was planned to build a comparatively small siphon, but
while the plans were being drawn, New Orleans entered upon its
tremendous development. The engineers threw away their blueprints and
began over again. They designed one that is capable of handling the
entire drainage of the city. And in April, 1920, it was finished--a
work of steel and concrete and machinery, costing nearly three-quarters
of a million dollars, and with a capacity of 2,000 cubic feet of water
a second, 7,200,000 an hour, 172,800,000 a day.

It was a work that presented many difficulties. First the Florida Walk
canal had to be closed by two cofferdams. The space between was pumped
out, the excavation was made, and the driving of foundation piling
begun. Quicksands gave much trouble. They flowed into the cut, until
they were stopped with sheet piling. The piles were from 30 to 60 feet
in length and from three to five feet apart on centers.

Forty-six feet below the ground surface (-26 Cairo datum) was laid the
concrete floor of the siphon.

The siphon is divided into four compartments. There are two storm
chambers, measuring 10 by 13 feet each, one normal weather chamber
measuring 4 by 10 feet, and one public utilities duct, measuring 6 by
10 feet. These are inside dimensions. The floor of the siphon is two
feet thick; the roof, one foot nine inches. The whole structure is a
solid piece of concrete and capable of standing a pressure of more than
2,000 pounds to the square foot. Its total length is 378 feet; the
shipway passing over it is 105 feet wide and 30 feet deep.

In the public utilities duct are carried the city's water pipes,
cables, telephone and telegraph wires, and gas mains.

The storm chambers will handle the rainfall of cloudbursts. In ordinary
weather the water will be concentrated through the smaller chamber, in
order to produce a strong flow and reduce the settlement of sediment to
a minimum.

Eight sluice gates, each 6 by 10 feet, open or close the water
chambers. They are operated by hydraulic cylinders of the most approved

For sending workmen inside the siphon to make repairs or clearing away
an obstruction there are eight manholes. Four measure 6 by 13 feet, two
6 by 6 feet, and two 6 by 4 feet.

As soon as the Florida Walk canal can be deepened and a few link-ups in
the drainage system can be made, the entire drainage of New Orleans, in
normal weather and during light storms, will, according to announcement
by the Sewerage and Water Board, be sent through this outlet. During
the occasional cloudbursts it will be necessary to send some of the
drainage into the lake, but this will be rapidly flowing water and will
sweep offshore. It means a great deal to the suburban development of
the city.

A year and a half the siphon was in the making. Preparations for the
structure cost more than $250,000--excavation foundation, etc. The
concrete alone cost $170,000. Machinery and the work of housing and
installing it cost $60,000 more.

Four bascule steel bridges now cross the Industrial Canal. They are the
largest in the city. Three of them--at Florida Walk, for the Southern
and Public Belt Railways; Gentilly, for the Louisville & Nashville; and
on the lake front, for the Southern, weigh 1,600,000 pounds
each--superstructure only. The fourth--at the lock--weighs 1,000,000
pounds. They are balanced by 800-ton concrete blocks and concrete
adjustment blocks. Their extreme length is 160 feet; the moving leaf
has a span of 117 feet.

With a 30-foot right of way for railroad tracks, 11 feet for vehicles
and trolley cars and four feet for pedestrians, they are designed to
meet traffic conditions of a great and growing city. They will support
50-ton street cars or 15-ton road rollers--New Orleans has nothing as
heavy as that now--and trains a great deal heavier than are now coming
to the city. No bridge in the South will support as heavy loads.

The tensile strength of the steel of which the bridges are constructed
is from 55,000 to 85,000 pounds to the square inch, and they will bear
a wind load of 20 pounds to the square inch of exposed surface.

They are operated by two 75-horse power electric motors, 440 volts,
60-cycle, 3-phase current, which is stepped down from 2,200 volts by
means of transformers. In addition, there is a 36-horse power gasoline
engine, to be used if the electrical equipment is out of order. To open
or close the bridges will require a minute and a half.


Not only is the lock of the Industrial Canal one of the largest in the
United States, but its construction solved a soil problem that was
thought impossible. That of the Panama Canal is simple in comparison.
The design is unique in many respects. The lock is a monument to the
power of Man over the forces of Nature, and to the progress of a
community that will not say die.

Because of the great variation in the level of the river at low and
high water--a matter of twenty feet--it was necessary to make the
excavation, for building the lock, about fifty feet deep. In solid soil
this would be a simple matter. But this ground has been made by the
gradual deposit of Mississippi River silt upon what was originally the
sandy bed of the ocean, and through these deposits run strata of
water-bearing sand, or quicksand. This flows into a cut and causes the
banks to cave and slide into the excavation. Underneath there is a
pressure of marsh gas, which, with the pressure of the collapsing
banks, squeezes the deeper layers of quicksand upwards, creating boils
and blowing up the bottom.

New Orleans has had plenty of experiences with these flowing sands in
its shallow sewerage excavations. How, then, expect to make an
excavation fifty feet deep? asked the doubting Thomases. It couldn't be
done. The quicksands would flow in too fast. The dredges would drain
the surrounding subsoil, but that wouldn't get beyond a certain depth.
Furthermore, what assurance was there that the soil that far down would
supply sufficient friction to hold the piles necessary to sustain the
enormous weight of the lock and the ships passing through it?

Undaunted by these croakings, the engineers, from test borings,
calculated the sliding and flowing character of the soil, and estimated
the various pressures that would have to be counteracted, balanced this
with the holding power of pine and steel and concrete, evolved a plan,
and began an excavation of a hole 350 feet wide by 1,500 feet long,
gradually sloping the cut (1 to 4 ratio) to a center where the lock,
1,020 by 150 feet, outside dimensions, was to be built.

    Lock and Vicinity]

The gentle slope of the cut was to prevent slides.

It had been ascertained that the first stratum of quicksand began
twenty-eight feet below the ground surface (-3 Cairo datum) and was
three feet thick; the second stratum, forty-eight feet below the
surface (-23 Cairo datum) and ten feet thick. Coarser sand extended
eleven feet below this, from -33 Cairo datum. The second stratum of
flowing sand began just below where the lock floor had to be laid. The
third layer was 80 feet below the surface (-55 Cairo datum); the tips
of the piling would just miss it.

Excavation began in November, 1918. While the dredges were at work a
wooden sheet piling cofferdam was driven completely around the lock,
and about 125 feet from the edge of the bank, to cut off the first
quicksand stratum. About 150 feet further in, when the excavation was
well advanced, a second ring of sheet piling was driven, to cut off the
second stratum, which carried a static pressure of 55 feet and was just
a foot or so below where the floor of the lock would be. It was not
thought necessary to cut off the third stratum.

The excavation was made in the wet. When it was finished the dredges
moved back into the Canal, the entrance closed, and the work of
unwatering the lock site began. This was in April, 1919.

There had never been such a deep cut made in this section.
Consequently, the character of the soil, while it could be estimated,
could not be known absolutely. And the exact pressure of the gas could
not be known.

The sands proved to be more liquid and the gas pressure stronger than
anticipated. Quicksands ran through the sheet piling as through a
sieve. The walls of the excavation began to slough and cave. The gas
pressure became alarming when the weight of earth and water was taken
off; sand boils began to develop at the bottom; the floor of the cut
was blowing up.

The fate of the Industrial Canal hung in the scale.

To meet the situation the engineers pumped a great volume of water into
the excavation. Its weight counterbalanced the earth pressure of the
side and the gas pressure of the bottom.

Then another ring of sheet piling was driven inside the other two. This
one was of steel, and the walls were braced apart by wooden beams ten
inches square and fifteen feet apart in both directions. This is one of
the largest cofferdams of steel ever driven. As an added precaution
against the danger of a blowout by the third stratum of quicksand,
which had a static head of 75 feet, 130 ten-inch artesian wells were
driven inside the steel cofferdam. Fifty-six similar wells were driven
between the steel and the wooden cofferdams to dry out the second
stratum of quicksand, as much as possible, and lessen its flowing

In November, 1919, the work of unwatering the lock site again began.
Only one foot every other day was taken off. Engineers watched every
timber. It was not until January 4, 1920, that the unwatering was
complete. The plan had worked. Only in one place had there been any
movement--a section of the wooden sheet piling about 300 feet long
bulged forward a maximum distance of three inches, when the bracing
caught and stopped it.

Then began the work of driving the 24,000 piles on which the lock was
to be floated. They are 60 feet long and their tips are 100 feet below
the surface of the ground.

In March, 1920, the work of laying the concrete began. The work was
done in 15-foot sections, for only a few of the braces could be moved
at one time. When it was finished in April, 1921, the lock was in one
piece, a solid mass of steel and stone, 1,020 feet long, 150 feet wide,
and 68 feet high, weighing, with its gates and machinery, 225,000 tons,
and filled with water, 350,000 tons.

The concrete floor of the lock is 9 to 12 feet thick, the walls 13 feet
wide at the bottom, decreasing to a two foot width at the top. Six
thousand tons of reinforcing steel were used in the construction, and
125,000 barrels of cement. There are 90,000 cubic yards of concrete in
the structure. Two and a half million feet of lumber were used in
building the forms.

Usable dimensions of the lock are 640 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 30
feet (at minimum low water of the river) deep.

The top of the lock is 20 feet above the natural ground surface and 6
feet above the highest stage of the Mississippi River on record. To the
top the ground will be sloped on a 150-foot series of terraces. This
will brace the walls against the pressure of water within the monolith.
It will be developed to a beautiful park. Heavy anchor-columns of
concrete will hold the walls against the pressure of these artificial
hills when the lock is empty.

Traffic crosses the canal here by a steel bascule bridge 65 feet wide,
with two railroad and two street car tracks, two vehicle roadways, and
two ways for pedestrians. Concrete viaducts lead to the bridge.

Gas and water mains, sewer pipes and telephone, telegraph and electric
wires pass under the lock in conduits cast in the living concrete.

Water is admitted into and drained from the lock by culverts cast in
the base. These are 8 by 10 feet, narrowing at the opening to 8 by 8
feet, and closed by 8 sluice gates, each operated by a 52-horsepower
electric motor. It will be possible to fill or empty the lock in ten

There are five sets of gates to the lock. They are built of steel
plates and rolled shapes, four and a half feet thick and weighing 200
tons each. And there is an emergency dam weighing 720 tons, which in
case of necessity can be used as a gate.

Four pairs of the gates are of 55-foot size; one of 42-foot. Each gate
is operated by a 52-horsepower electric motor. When open, the gates fit
flush into the walls of the locks.

In the emergency dam is the refinement of precaution--designed as it
was to save the city from overflow in the remote event of the lock
gates failing to work during high water, and to insure the
uninterrupted operation of the lock in normal times, if the gates
should be sprung by a ship, or otherwise put out of commission.

This dam consists of eight girders or sections, 80 feet long, 3 feet
wide and 6 feet high. They weigh 90 tons each. They are kept on a
platform near the river end of the lock. Nearby is the crane with a
300-horsepower motor, that picks up these girders and drops them into
the slots in the walls of the lock. To set this emergency dam is the
work of an hour.

A ship passing through the lock will not proceed under her own power.
There are six capstans, two at each end of the lock and two at the
middle, each operated by a 52-horsepower electric motor, and capable of
developing a pull of 35,000 pounds, which will work the vessels

The lock complete, counting the bridge and approaches, cost $7,500,000.
One and a half million of this is for machinery, and $56,000 for the

Henry Goldmark, the New York engineer who designed the gates of the
Panama Canal and the New Orleans Industrial Canal, in a letter of March
24, 1921, to the engineering department of the Dock Board, comments as
follows on the remarkable lock:

"I was much impressed by the uniformly high grade of construction of
the lock, the systematic and energetic way in which the work was being
carried on, and especially by the admirable spirit of team work, shown
by the employees of the Dock Board, of different grades, as well as the
contractors, superintendents and foremen.

"The desire to get the best possible results in all the details, at the
least cost, was manifest throughout.

"The unique method used for carrying on the very difficult and risky
work of excavation has attracted much professional attention in all
parts of the country. Its successful completion is very creditable to
all concerned, in the inception and carrying out of the method used.

"The concrete work gives the impression of lightness, as well as
strength, as though every yard of concrete was doing its special share
of the work without overstraining, which is, of course, the
characteristic of well-designed reinforced masonry.

"The outer surfaces are particularly smooth and well finished, more so
than in any work I have recently seen.

"The erection of the gates, valves, operating machinery and the
protective dam, has kept up closely with the concrete work, so that no
delays need be apprehended at the close of the construction period.

"The shop and field work in the lock gates is excellent. The rivet
holes match well and the rivet heads appear to be tight and well
formed. The gate leaves seem very straight and true."

The lock was designed by George M. Wells of the George W. Goethals
Company, assisted by R. O. Comer, designing engineer of the Dock Board,
and approved by General Goethals. The methods employed to unwater the
lock were devised by Mr. Wells. J. Devereux O'Reilly, chief engineer of
the Dock Board, to November, 1919, had charge of the details of
installing the unwatering and safety devices. He was succeeded by
General Arséne Perrilliat, who supervised the final unwatering process.
Upon his death in October, 1920, he was succeeded by J. F. Coleman &
Company, in charge of the engineering department, and H. M. Gallagher,
chief engineer, under whom work is being brought to a conclusion.

From first to last, Tiley S. McChesney, assistant secretary and
treasurer of the Dock Board, rendered intelligent and invaluable
service, gathering together and holding the threads of the enterprise,
and attending promptly to the multitude of details connected with the
prosecution of the work.

The lock was formally dedicated May 2, 1921--a ceremony that was the
feature of the Mississippi Valley Association's convention in New

With the dredging of the channel between the river and the lock, a work
that should be finished before January, 1922, ships will be able to
pass from the Mississippi into Lake Pontchartrain. Then New Orleans can
plan its next great development.




George M. Wells, George R. Goethals, son of the General, Colonel E. J.
Dent, U.S. district engineer at New Orleans, and other engineers who
have studied the problem, say that the dredging of a channel from the
Industrial Canal to the gulf through Lake Pontchartrain, or the
marshes, is feasible, comparatively cheap, and maintenance would be
simple. This would shorten the distance from New Orleans to the sea by
about 50 miles, and would be a vast saving for ships. It is one of the
objects towards which the Hudson Dock Board is working.

It is Uncle Sam's recognized duty to develop and maintain harbors and
channels to the sea. Distance is obviously an important factor;
furthermore, the proposed new outlet would be an important link in the
Intracoastal Canal, connecting with the Warrior River section of
Alabama, which the government is developing between the Atlantic and
Gulf Coasts. A bill was introduced in the Senate in 1920 by Senator
Ransdell of Louisiana, providing for the development of the proposed
channel; it was not pressed because the canal was far from completed.
However, every effort will be made by the Dock Board from now on to
have Uncle Sam take hold.

Colonel Dent has for a number of months been studying the feasible
routes. He, by the way, is thoroughly convinced of the value of the
Industrial Canal to the development of New Orleans, and the commerce of
the nation, and has so expressed himself in public.

The Pontchartrain route has been laid off, by engineers, beginning at
the Canal, paralleling the south shore of the Lake Pontchartrain to the
south draw of the Southern Railway bridge, thence to the Rigolets to
Cat Island Pass, from there to Cat Island Channel and so to the deep
water of the Gulf, a total distance of 75 miles.

Soundings and surface probings have been taken at frequent intervals
over the entire route. These have shown the engineers the following:

Three-quarters of a mile from the south shore of the lake, and as far
as the railroad drawbridge, a hard bottom is found. The material is
principally packed sand, rather fine, with a small amount of clay, and
occasionally some broken shells. Beyond this distance from the shore,
the bottom is softer, consisting of mud mixed with sand. From the
bridge over the remainder of the route, the bottom, with the exception
of a few sand pockets, is soft--a blue mud with a large percentage of
sand. This soft material has so much tenacity, however, that current
and wave wash, which tend to fill up artificially dredged channels,
would affect only the surface.

The government is conducting large dredging operations in Mobile Bay,
Gulfport Channel, Atchafalaya Bay and the Houston Ship Channel. An
outline of the results there will show how feasible the dredging of the
Pontchartrain Channel would be, and how much cheaper in comparison.

The channel connecting Mobile Bay with the Gulf of Mexico has a bottom
very soft for the most part, and with a small percentage of sand.
Towards the outer end, the material is black mud, about equal in
consistency to the softest material found in the Pontchartrain route. A
sounding pole with a 4-inch disc on the end can be easily pushed three
or four feet into the mud and pulled out again. Wave and current action
cause the channel to shoal at the rate of 78,000 to 132,000 cubic yards
per mile per year, depending on the softness of the bottom and the
depth. Where the highest rate obtains, the surrounding material
consists of soft mud, without a trace of sand. Experience shows that
where there is a fair percentage of sand in the material adjacent to
the channel bed, the shoaling is lessened. In general, the material
along the Pontchartrain route contains a greater percentage of sand and
is far more tenacious than that along the Mobile Bay Channel.
Furthermore, the Pontchartrain route is not exposed to such strong
cross currents.

The Gulfport Channel is dredged through very soft material, a
grayish-blue mud of oozy consistency, into which the sounding pole
penetrates six feet with very little exertion. On top, a small amount
of sand is found, but practically none in the lower stratum. The
material is considerably softer than any encountered on the
Pontchartrain route, except for one small stretch. Yet the shoaling is
not great. Where the shoaling is heaviest, between the end of the pier
and Beacon 10, only about 700,000 cubic yards a mile has to be dredged
out every year to maintain the channel. From Beacon 10 out, the average
annual maintenance is less than 200,000 cubic yards a mile. Except for
the four-mile stretch west of the inner entrance to the Cat Island
Channel, the bottom, on the Pontchartrain route, is harder than that of
the Gulfport Channel. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the
maintenance of the Pontchartrain Channel would not average as high as
the outer portion of the Gulfport Channel.

The Atchafalaya Bay Ship Channel, extending from the mouth of the
Atchafalaya River across the shoal waters of Atchafalaya Bay, to about
the 20-foot contour of the Gulf, a distance of fifteen miles, is
through a material of slushy mud, with occasional thin pockets of sand.
The shoaling runs from 540,000 to 1,680,000 cubic yards a mile a year.
The highest rate is obtained in shallow water. Except in the stretch
mentioned, the material on the Pontchartrain route is not as soft as on
the Atchafalaya, nor are the depths as shoal, nor is there the exposure
to cross currents.

In the Houston Ship Channel, the material is composed of soft mud with
a small amount of sand. A two-mile stretch through Red Fish Reef is
practically self-maintaining. For the remainder of the channel, during
the six years from 1915 to 1920, a total excavation of 13,574,000 cubic
yards was necessary to maintain the depth. This is equivalent to
100,000 cubic yards a mile a year.

In summary, then:

1. The Lake Pontchartrain route is practically unexposed to cross
currents, as is the case with the Mobile Bay, Gulfport, Atchafalaya,
and, to a certain extent, the outer portion of the Houston Ship

2. The material along and on the sides of the Pontchartrain route is,
with the exception of a small stretch, more tenacious, and contains, in
general, a greater proportion of sand than in the case of the
neighboring channels mentioned.

The channel could therefore be more easily maintained.

Engineers estimate that a channel with a 300-foot bottom would be
needed. On the south shore of the lake, the side slopes should be on
the 1 to 3 ratio, with provision for a 1 to 5 ratio at the end of five
years. Dumped on shore, the material would reclaim considerable
frontage, and eliminate the re-deposit of this material in the channel.

Through the remainder of the route, the original excavation should be
made with side slopes on the 1 to 5 ratio, with provision made for a 1
to 10 ratio in five years.

The dredging of the 75 miles of the Pontchartrain Channel would amount
to 97,200,000 cubic yards, it is estimated by engineers. The cost would
be around $10,000,000. The annual maintenance, during the first five
years, would amount to 8,880,000 cubic yards--an estimate based on a
comparison with the other channels into the Gulf, and the character of
the material to be excavated. This estimate is considered large--but
even at that, it is only 118,400 cubic yards a mile a year, and the
cost would be about $750,000, according to Colonel Dent. After five
years, it would be less.

Another proposed route, investigated by Colonel Dent, is through Lake
Borgne. A canal some miles in length, through the marsh, would connect
the lake with the Industrial Canal. This route has considerable
maintenance advantages over the Pontchartrain route. The character of
the bottom in Borgne is more or less the same as in Pontchartrain.

Sooner or later, one of these channels will be built by the government.
That it has not already been begun is due to the fact that the Canal
has not yet been completed, and the expected development has not taken
place. But there is no doubt that it will.




It is the function of the state to provide port facilities in the form
of docks, piers, warehouses, grain elevators, mechanical equipment,
etc. But it is the duty of the national government to improve harbors,
dredge streams, dig canals for navigation and irrigation, erect levees
to protect the back country, and build locks and dams when needed.

These are the premises from which the Hudson Dock Board reasons that
the cost of construction and maintenance of the New Orleans Navigation
Canal and Inner Harbor should be assumed by Uncle Sam. It will leave no
stone unturned to have him assume the obligation.

The Navigation Canal is essentially a harbor improvement. It enables
practically unlimited industrial development and commercial
interchange. It is an important link in the Intracoastal Canal system
which the government is developing to provide an inland waterway from
Boston, Mass. to Brownsville, Tex., and, with the dredging of a channel
through Lake Pontchartrain to the Gulf, a problem which U.S. engineers
have been studying for some time and an undertaking which they have
found feasible, it will put the nation's second port about fifty miles
closer to the sea. It has considerable military value. Its purpose is,
therefore, national; the local interests are secondary.

It is no new principle, this obligation of the government. That duty
has been recognized by Congress since the United States was.

Any rivers and harbors bill will show great and useful expenditure for
waterways improvement.

The Panama Canal, built by the government, is the greatest example.

Coming closer home, there is south pass at the mouth of the
Mississippi. A bar, with a nine-foot depth of water, blocked the
commerce of New Orleans. Under the rivers and harbors act of 1875,
Captain James B. Eads was paid $8,000,000 for building the famous
jetties to provide a 26-foot channel. Since then, the channel has been
deepened to 33 feet.

In more recent years, the government began to improve southwest pass,
the westernmost mouth of the Mississippi. A nine-foot bar was there,
too. To increase the depth to 35 feet, the government spent, up to
1919, about $15,000,000, and is still spending.

"Just as the purpose of the improvements of these channels was to
bridge the distance from deep water to deep water" says Arthur McGuirk,
special counsel of the Dock Board, in a report of February 23, 1921, to
the Board, "so is the purpose of the Navigation Canal to bridge the
distance from the deep water of the river to the proposed deep water
channel of the lake."

In the annual report of the chief of engineers, U.S.A., for the fiscal
year ending June 30, 1919, are listed the following waterways
improvements and canal developments being made by the Government:

"Operating and care of canals, $3,596,566.20.

"Cape Cod canal, purchase authorized, river and harbors act, August 8,
1917, cost not exceeding $10,000,000, and enlargement $5,000,000.

"Jamaica Bay channel, 500 feet width, 10 feet depth, to be further
increased to 1,500 feet width entrance channel and 1,000 feet interior
channel, maximum depth of 30 feet, length of channel 12 miles. Approved
estimate of cost to United States not to exceed $7,430,000. River and
harbors act of June 25, 1910. House document No. 1488, 60th Congress.

"Ambrose channel, New York harbor, appropriation new work and
maintenance, $4,924,530.88, year ending June 30, 1919.

"Bay Ridge and Red Hook channels, $4,471,100.

"Locks and dams on Coosa River, Alabama-Georgia, $1,700,918.21.

"Channel connecting Mobile Bay and Mississippi Sound, act of June 13,
1902, original project, for construction and maintenance total cost

"Black Warrior river, 17 locks, Mobile to Sanders' Ferry, 443 miles.
Total to date, $10,101,295.54. Indefinite appropriation.

"Sabine Pass, act of June 19, 1906 and prior, channels, turning basins
and jetties, March 2, 1907, and previously, total appropriations,

"Trinity River, Galveston, north, 37 miles locks and dams. Act of June
13, 1902, house document 409, 56th congress. Estimate cost complete
canalization of river, revised 1916, in addition to amounts expended
prior to rivers and harbors act of July, 1916, in round numbers
$13,500,000. Estimated annual cost of maintenance, $280,000.

"Houston to Galveston ship canal, act of July 25, 1912, and July 27,
1916. Cost, $3,850,000. Annual maintenance, $325,000.

"Rock Island Rapids (Ill.) and LeClaire canal, rock excavations, etc.,
act of March 2, 1907, dams, 3 locks, etc., to June 30, $31,180,085.62
and $130,158.03 for 1 year maintenance.

"Keokuk, Iowa (formerly Des Moines Rapids canal), old project (act of
June 23, 1866), $4,574,950.00.

"Muscle Shoals Canal (Tennessee River), 36.6 miles, depth 5 feet,
$4,743,484.50. Exclusive of cost of nitrate plant.

"Locks and dams on Ohio River, act of March 3, 1879, to act of March 2,
1907, including purchase of Louisville and Portland canal,

"Estimated cost of new work, widening Louisville and Portland canal and
changes in dams, $63,731,488. Annual maintenance covering only lock
forces and cost of repairs and renewals, $810,000. Act of June 25,
1920, house document 492, 65th congress, first session. Also act of
March 4, 1915, house document 1695, 64th congress, second session.

"Ship channel connecting waters of great lakes, including St. Mary's
river (Sault Sainte Marie locks), St. Clair and Detroit rivers, locks
and dams, total appropriations to June 30, 1919, $26,020,369.68.
Estimate new work, $24,085.

"St. Clair river, connecting Lakes St. Clair and Erie, shoalest part
was 12-1/2 to 15 feet. Improved at expense of $13,252,254.00. Estimated
cost of completion, $2,720,000.

"Niagara river, $15,785,713.07.

"Los Angeles and Long Beach harbor, $4,492,809.80.

"Seattle, Lake Washington ship canal, in city of Seattle, from Puget
Sound to lake; original project, act of August 18, 1894. Double lock
and fixed dam. Length about 8 miles. Total appropriation to date,

These are only some of the larger projects. Of course there are a great
number of such works, all over the country, constructed and maintained
by the United States, sometimes alone, and again by co-operation with
local authorities.

New Orleans was founded because of the strategic value of the location,
both from a commercial and a military standpoint. The power that holds
New Orleans commands the Mississippi Valley--a fact which the British
recognized in 1812 when they tried to capture it. Likewise, when
Farragut captured New Orleans, he broke the backbone of the

Mr. McGuirk, in the report to which reference has already been made,
discusses the military importance of the Industrial Canal as follows:

"A ship canal, connecting the river and the lake at New Orleans will be
a Panama or a Kiel canal, in miniature, and double in effectiveness the
naval forces defending the valley, as they may be moved to and fro in
the canal from the river to the lake. On this line of defense heavy
artillery on mobile mounts can be utilized, in addition to heavy ships
of the line. That is to say, just as light-draft monitors, and even
floats carrying high-powered rifles were used effectively on the
Belgian coast; on the Piave river in Italy, and on the Tigris in
Mesopotamia, so may they be used in the defense of the valley, on any
canal connecting the Mississippi river and Lake Pontchartrain. Changes
are constantly occurring in the details of work of defense due to
development of armament, munitions and transport. The never-ending
development of range and caliber has assumed vast importance,
particularly with reference to the effect on the protection of cities
from bombardment. Naval guns are now capable of hurling projectiles to
distances of over 50,000 yards, 28 to 30 miles. For the protection of
the valley we should have at New Orleans armament mounted on floating
platforms which will hold the enemy beyond the point where his shells
may not reach their objective, and in this operation the canal,
affording means of rapid transport, will render invaluable and
essential service."

A country's ports are its watergates. Their local importance is
comparatively small. They are important or not according to whether
they are on trade routes, and easily accessible. An infinitesimal part
of the trade that flows through New Orleans originates or terminates
there. The back country gets the bulk of the business. The development
of the harbor is for the service of the interior. It is essentially

From every point of view, therefore, it is the duty of the national
government to take over the Navigation Canal and release the monies of
the state so they may be devoted to the improvement of the waterway
with wharves and other works in aid of the nation's commerce.

[Illustration: S. S. NEW ORLEANS
    First Ship Launched by Doullut & Williams Shipbuilding Co.]

[Illustration: S. S. GAUCHY
    First Ship Launched on Canal]


Tied to the Mississippi Valley by nearly 14,000 miles of navigable
waterways, and the largest port on the gulf coast and the most
centrally situated with respect to the Latin-American and Oriental
trade, New Orleans is naturally a market of deposit. The development of
the river service, in which the government set the pace in 1918, is
restoring the north and south flow of commerce, after a generation of
forced haul east and west, along the lines of greatest resistance; and
New Orleans has become the nation's second port. Its import and export
business in 1920 amounted to a billion dollars.

Ninety per cent of the nation's wealth is produced in the Valley, of
which New Orleans is the maritime capital. It is the source of supply
of wheat, corn, sugar, lumber, meat, iron, coal, cotton oil,
agricultural implements, and many other products. It is a market for
the products of Latin-America and the Orient.

With the co-ordination of river, rail and maritime facilities, and
sufficient space for development, it is inevitable that New Orleans
should become a mighty manufacturing district. Such enterprises as coke
ovens, coal by-product plants, flour mills, iron furnaces, industrial
chemical works, iron and steel rolling mills, shipbuilding and repair
plants, automobile factories and assembling plants, soap works, packing
plants, lumber yards, building material plants and yards, warehouses of
all kinds, etc., would be encouraged to establish here if given the
proper facilities, and the Industrial Canal is the answer to this need,
for under the laws of Louisiana private industries can not acquire or
lease property on the river front. Even before the completion of the
Canal, the dream has been partly realized--with the establishment of
two large shipyards on the Canal, which otherwise would have gone
somewhere else, and the building of the army supply base on the same
waterway, largely due to the enterprise of the port.

As Colonel E. J. Dent, U.S. district engineer, said before the members'
council of the Association of Commerce, February 17, 1921, the
Industrial Canal will be the means of removing the handicaps on New
Orleans' foreign trade. "I hold no brief for the Industrial Canal," he
continued, "but speaking as one who has no interest in it but who has
studied the question deeply, I will say that five years from now, if
you develop the Industrial Canal as it should be developed, you will be
wondering how on earth you ever got along without it."

Before the constitutional convention of Louisiana, on April 4, 1921, he
elaborated this thought as follows:

"The Industrial Canal will furnish to New Orleans her greatest need. It
should be possible to build docks there where the entire cargo for a
ship may be assembled. Under present conditions in the river it is
often necessary for a ship to go to three or four docks to get a
complete cargo.

"Last year there passed through the port of New Orleans 11,000,000 tons
of freight valued at $1,100,000,000. This required 1,000 loaded freight
cars a day passing over the docks, fifteen solid trainloads of freight
each day. The inbound freight was about 5,000,000 tons and the outbound
about 6,000,000. This is extraordinarily well balanced for any port in
the United States. This would mean about 5,000 steamers of an average
capacity of 2,000 tons.

"The proper place to assemble a cargo is on the docks. Last year the
Dock Board allowed but seven days for assembling the cargo for a
ship--only seven days for assembling 250 carloads of stuff. Then last
year the Dock Board would not assign a ship a berth until it was within
the jetties. These are some of the difficulties.

"What New Orleans needs is 50 to 100 per cent more facilities for her
port. Last summer the port of New Orleans was congested, but she held
her own because other ports were congested. But that may not occur
again. If you want to hold your own you must improve your facilities."

Wharves can be built a great deal cheaper on the fixed-level canal,
with its stable banks. And that is the only place specialized
industries can secure water frontage.

Sooner or later the government will adopt the free port system, by
which other countries have pushed their foreign trade to such heights.
Free ports have nothing to do with the tariff question. They are simply
zones established in which imports may be stored, re-packed,
manufactured and then exported without the payment of duties in the
first place, duties for the refund of which the present law makes
provision, but only after vexatious delays and expensive red tape.
Precautions are taken to prevent smuggling. In the preliminary
investigations and recommendations made by the Department of Commerce,
New York, San Francisco and New Orleans have been designated as the
first free ports that should be established. With the ample space it
offers for expansion, the Industrial Canal is the logical location for
the free zone.

Counting the $15,000,000 contract of the Doullut & Williams Shipyard,
the $5,000,000 contract of the Foundation Company Shipyard, the
$13,000,000 army supply base, the Industrial Canal has already brought
$33,000,000 of development to New Orleans, 60 per cent more than the
cost of the undertaking. More than half of this was for wages and
material purchased in New Orleans. The state has gained hundreds of
thousands of dollars in taxes. About half the money spent on the
Industrial Canal was wages; and helped to increase the population,
force business to a new height, raise the value of real estate, and
make New Orleans the financial stronghold of the South.

What indirect bearing on bringing scores of other industries to New
Orleans, which did not require a location on the waterway, the building
of the Industrial Canal has had, there is no way of ascertaining.

Since the work was begun the Dock Board has received inquiries from a
hundred or so large enterprises regarding the cost of a site on the
canal. That they have not established there is due to the fact that the
Canal has not yet been completed, and the Dock Board has announced no

It is now working on that question with representatives of the
Association of Commerce, Joint Traffic Bureau, Clearing House
Association, Cotton Exchange, Board of Trade, and Steamship

There is no use trying to guess at what the policy will be. It is too
big a problem, and must be worked out very carefully, with reference to
a confusing tangle of cross-interests.

Two principles have already been categorically laid down by President
Hudson and endorsed by the Dock Board at an open meeting of April 5,
1921, with the commercial and industrial interests of the city,
planning for the policy of the Canal:

First, that the development of the Canal shall not be at the expense of
the river. Wharf development will be pushed on the river to meet the
legitimate commercial demands of the port. No one is to be forced on
the Canal. That would hurt the port. It is not thought that such forced
development would be necessary, and the Canal will be kept open for the
specialized industries that can best use the co-ordination of the
river, rail and maritime facilities.

Second, that the control of the property along the Canal, owned by the
Dock Board, will not go out of the hands of the Board. There will be
long-term leases--up to ninety-nine years, but no outright sale.
Furthermore, the private land on the other side of the Dock Board's
property will not be allowed to be developed at the expense of the
state's interests. So the frontage on the Canal will be developed
before there is any extensive construction of lateral basins and slips.

What will be the rate charged for a site? Will it be based on the
actual cost of the Canal and its maintenance? Or will the state
consider it a business investment like a road or street, and charge the
property owners thereon less than the cost of construction, collecting
the difference in the general progress? That, too, is a question which
calls for considerable study before it can be answered.

With the Industrial Canal open, sites available on long leases to
business enterprise, and with our tax laws relating to the processes of
industry and commerce revised and made more favorable, New Orleans will
enter a period of expansion and development on a scale hardly yet
dreamed of by her most far-visioned citizens, with enlarged profit and
opportunity for all her people.

New taxable wealth will be created rapidly. New needs for taxable
property will arise. The tax burden on all will be distributed more
widely and when contrasted with the earning power of such property will
become less and less of a burden.

This will be so because the water frontage through which the Canal is
being created for the attraction of many enterprises which cannot
locate on the river front, is all within the limits of the city of New

With this Canal in operation, New Orleans will possess to the fullest
degree the three great systems of port operation: Public ownership and
operation of the river harbor facilities; public ownership of the land
and private operation of facilities on the Industrial Canal; and
private ownership of the land and private operation of the facilities
on the new channel to the sea.

No other port in the country has the capacity for this trinity of port

No other port possesses such a hinterland as is embraced within the
Mississippi Valley, nor so extensive and so complete a system of
easy-grade railroads and navigable waterways penetrating its

No other port holds so strategic a position in the path of the new
trade routes connecting the region of greatest productivity with the
new markets of greatest promise in Latin-America and the Orient.

[Illustration: LOCK GATE
    There are Ten Like This]


Everything is relative. Looking at the total, some may think that the
cost of the Industrial Canal is large. So it is--compared with the cost
of an irrigation ditch through a 20-acre farm. But comparing the cost
with the wealth it is invested to produce--has already begun to
produce--it dwindles to a mere percentage. And a comparison of
construction costs on the Industrial Canal with similar work done
elsewhere during the same time is very much in favor of the former.

Witness the following figures shown in the books of the engineering
department of the Dock Board:

Dredging, including the canal prism and the excavation of the sites of
the bridge foundations, siphon and lock, averaged .2784 cents a cubic
yard. The highest cost was in the lock section, from which 609,302
cubic yards were excavated at an average cost of .3796 cents a cubic
yard. On the siphon and Florida Walk bridge section, including two
other deep cuts, the 814,919 cubic yards excavated cost an average of
.2607 cents a cubic yard. On the Louisville & Nashville bridge section,
the 1,023,466 cubic yards excavated cost an average of .2363 cents a
cubic yard. From there to the lake, 1,673,787 cubic yards, the average
cost was .2411 cents. Dredging costs were below the original estimates
when labor and supplies were 50 per cent cheaper.

The 90,000 cubic yards of concrete in the lock cost an average of
$22.50 a cubic yard. This includes cost of material, mixing, building
forms, pouring and stripping forms. Mixing and pouring, from the time
the material was handled from the storehouse or pile, averaged $1.20 a
cubic yard. It would be hard to find cheaper concrete on a work of
similar magnitude anywhere, say the engineers.

On the siphon the concrete work cost more, because it was a
subterranean job, with elaborate shaping. The price there was $35 a
cubic yard, in place, including material and form work.

To drive the 17,000 bearing piles and 7,000 traveling piles on which
the lock is floated, cost an average of 15 cents a running foot. This
does not include the cost of the piling.

Construction steel cost .12 cents a pound, and erection around 4 cents.
These were standard prices.

The lock gates, weighing 5,285,000 pounds, cost $845,600, in place.
This does not include opening and closing machinery.

Three of the bascule bridges crossing the Canal, weighing 1,600,000
pounds each, cost $250,000 each, erected. The fourth bridge, near the
lock, weighing 1,000,000 pounds, cost $200,000, erected. This is for
superstructure only--it does not include the foundation.

The emergency dam bridge, weighing 350,373 pounds, and its 108,256
pounds of turning machinery, cost $96,728, in place. Hoisting machinery
cost $40,000 more.

The eight girders of the emergency dam, weighing 90 tons each, at $240
a ton, cost $172,800.

Machinery for working the ten lock gates, the eight filling gates, and
the six capstans--twenty-four 52-horse power electric motors--cost
$21,479, f.o.b. New Orleans.

The plant for unwatering the lock, consisting of one pump with a
capacity of 15,000 gallons a minute, and two with a capacity of 250
gallons each, cost, erected, $11,000.

Total mechanical equipment used on the Industrial Canal weighs 14,500
tons. Its cost, including power-house, electrical connections, etc., is

Plant and equipment for building the Canal, including locomotives,
cranes, piledrivers, dredges, tools, etc., cost $781,232. Depreciation,
up to February, 1921, is set at $266,874, leaving a balance of
$514,358, carried as assets. Much of this has already been sold, and
more will be disposed of.

Following are the firms that executed contracts on the Industrial


Lock gates and emergency dam girders: McClintic-Marshall Construction
Company, Pittsburg, Pa.; designed by Goldmark & Harris Company, New

Filling gates: Coffin Valve Company, Indian Orchard, Mass.

Miscellaneous valve equipment: Ludlow Valve Company, Troy, N.Y.

Capstans: American Engineering Company, Philadelphia, Pa.

Mooring posts: Shipbuilding Products Company, New York, N.Y.

Miter gate moving machines: Fawcus Machine Works, Pittsburg, Pa.

Motors, control boards and miscellaneous electrical equipment: General
Electric Company, Schenectady, N.Y.

Bridge crane and bascule bridges: Bethlehem Steel Corporation,
Steelton, Pa. Former designed by Goldmark & Harris Company, New York,
N.Y.; latter, by Strauss Bascule Bridge Company, Chicago, Ill.

Steel sheet piling: Lackawanna Steel Company, Buffalo, New York.

Hoists and cranes: Orton & Steinbrenner, Huntington, Ind.; American
Hoist and Derrick Company, St. Paul, Minn.

Conveyor equipment: Webster Company, Tiffany, Ohio; Barker-Greene
Company, Aurora, Ill.

Woodworking machinery: Fay & Egan Company, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Pipe: U.S. Cast Iron Pipe Company, Birmingham, Ala.

Lumber and piling: Hammond Lumber Company, Hammond, La.; Great Southern
Lumber Company, Bogalusa, La.

Dredges: Bowers Southern Dredging Company, Galveston, Tex.; Atlantic,
Gulf and Pacific Company, Mobile, Ala.


Cinder and earth fill: Thomas M. Johnson.

Levee work: Hercules Construction Company; Hampton Reynolds.

Sand and gravel: Jahncke Service, Inc.; D. V. Johnston Company.

Cement: Atlas Portland Cement Company, the Michel Lumber and Brick
Company being local agents.

Lumber and piling: Salmen Brick and Lumber Company; W. W. Carre
Company, Ltd.

Coal: Kirkpatrick Coal Company; Tennessee Coal, Iron and R.R. Company.

Reinforcing steel and supplies: Tennessee Coal, Iron and R.R. Company;
Ole K. Olsen.

Rail and track accessories: A. Marx & Sons.

Concrete mixers: Fairbanks Company.

Repairs and castings: Dibert, Bancroft & Ross; Joubert & Goslin
Machinery and Foundry Company; Stern Foundry and Machinery Company.


"New Orleans," says Dr. Roy S. MacElwee in his book on Port and
Terminal Facilities, a subject on which he is considered an authority,
"is the most advanced port in America in respect to scientific policy."
The Shipping Board echoed the compliment in its report of its port and
harbor facilities commission of April, 1919, when it said: "New Orleans
ranks high among the ports of the United States for volume of business,
and presents a very successful example of the public ownership and
operation of port facilities. It is one of the best equipped and
co-ordinated ports of the country."

New Orleans is the principal fresh water-ocean harbor in the United
States. Landlocked and protected from storms, it is the safest harbor
on the Gulf Coast. Almost unlimited is the number of vessels that can
be accommodated at anchor. Alongside the wharves the water is from
thirty to seventy feet deep. The government maintains a 33-foot channel
at the mouth of the river.

The "port of New Orleans" takes in about 21 miles of this harbor on
both sides of the river. This gives a river frontage of 41.4 miles,
which is under the jurisdiction of the Dock Board, an agency of the
state. The Board has, to date, improved seven miles of the east bank of
the river with wharves, steel sheds, cotton warehouses, a grain
elevator and a coal-handling plant of most modern type, together with
other facilities for loading and unloading. Authority has been granted
to issue $6,500,000 in bonds for increasing these facilities.

Wharves, elevators and warehouses built by railroads and industrial
plants on both sides of the river bring up the total improved portion
of the port to 45,000 linear feet, capable of berthing ninety vessels
500 feet long. These facilities are co-ordinated by the only
municipally owned and operated belt railroad in the United States,
which saves the shipper much money. More than sixty steamship lines
connect the port with the world markets; the government barge line, a
number of steamboat lines, and twelve railroad lines connect it with
the producing and consuming sections of the United States.

[Illustration: BULL WHEEL
    Part of Operating Machinery for Lock Gates]

Now nearing completion is the Public Coal Handling Plant. Built by the
Dock Board to develop the business in cargo coal, it is costing more
than $1,000,000.00, and will have a capacity of 25,000 tons. It is of
the belt-conveyor type. The plant will be able to:

    1. Unload coal from railway cars into a storage pile;
    2. Unload coal from cars into steamers or barges;
    3. Load coal from storage pile into steamers or barges;
    4. Unload coal from barges into steamers and storage pile;
    5. Load coal from barges or storage pile into cars.

At the 750-foot wharf the plant can take care of three ships at one
time, with a maximum loading capacity of 800 to 1,000 tons an hour.

Other coaling facilities at the port are furnished by:

Illinois Central Railroad: Tipple with capacity of 300 tons an hour;

New Orleans Coal Company: Two tipples, capacity 150 and 350 tons an
hour; floating collier to coal ships while freight is being taken
aboard at the wharf, capacity 175 tons an hour; collier, capacity 150
tons an hour.

Alabama and New Orleans Transportation Company: Storage plant with
loading towers on Lake Borgne canal, just below the city;

American Sugar Refining Company: Coal plant, capacity, 70 tons an hour,
for receiving coal from barges and delivering it to boiler house;

Monongahela River Coal and Coke Company: Floating collier.

Fuel oil facilities for bunkering purposes are furnished by:

Gulf Refining Company: Storage capacity, 100,000 barrels; bunkering
capacity, 800 barrels an hour;

Texas Oil Company: Storage capacity, 150,000 barrels; bunkering
capacity, 1,500 barrels an hour;

Mexican Petroleum Corporation: Bunkering capacity, 1,500 barrels an

Sinclair Refining Company: Storage capacity, 250,000 barrels; bunkering
capacity, 2,500 barrels an hour;

Standard Oil Company: Storage capacity, 110,336 barrels; bunkering
capacity, 1,000 barrels an hour.

In the Jahncke Dry Dock and Ship Repair Company, New Orleans has the
largest ship repair plant south of Newport News. The plant is on the
Mississippi river, adjacent to the Industrial Canal. It has a
1,500-foot wharf and three dry docks, of 6,000, 8,000 and 10,000 tons
capacity, respectively. These can be joined for lifting the very large
ships. It is equipped with the latest and most powerful machinery, and
has been a strong factor in developing the port.

The Johnson Iron Works and Shipbuilding Company likewise has facilities
for wood repairing, caulking, painting and scraping of vessels, as well
as iron work. It has three docks: one 234 feet long, one 334 feet long,
and a small one for lifting barges and small river tugs.

At the United States Naval Yard is a dock of 15,000 tons capacity. This
is placed at the service of commercial vessels when private docks are
not available.

The Public Cotton Warehouse and Public Grain Elevator are among the
most modern facilities in the country.

Both plants are of reinforced concrete throughout, insuring a low
insurance rate.

The cotton warehouse comprises five units, with a total storage
capacity at one time of 320,000 bales, and an annual handling capacity
of 2,000,000. High density presses compress this cotton to 34 pounds
per cubic foot, saving the exporter 20 per cent on steamship freight
rates. The insurance rate on storage cotton is 24 cents per $100 a
year. Cotton is handled by Dock Board employees licensed by the New
Orleans Cotton Exchange under rules and regulations laid down by the
department of agriculture. Warehouse receipts may be discounted at the
banks. Cotton can be handled cheaper here than at any other warehouse
in the country.

Storage capacity of the Public Grain Elevator is 2,622,000 bushels.
This is about 25 per cent of the grain elevator storage capacity of the
port, but the Public Elevator handles 60 per cent of the
business--proving its efficiency. Its unloading capacity is 60,000
bushels a day from barges or ships, and 200,000 bushels from cars.
Loading capacity into ships is 100,000 bushels an hour--to one or four
vessels, simultaneously. Fireproof and equipped with a modern
dust-collecting system, this facility is considered one of the best in
the country.

Other grain elevators at New Orleans are operated by:

Southern Railway: capacity, 375,000 bushels;

Illinois Central Railroad two elevators, capacity, 2,500,000 bushels;

Trans-Mississippi Terminal Railroad Company: two elevators, capacity,
1,350,000 bushels.

Wharves owned and controlled by the Dock Board measure 28,872 linear
feet in length, with an area of 4,230,894 square feet. Twenty of these
thirty-four wharves are covered with steel sheds.

Wharves operated by the railroads on both sides of the river increase
the port facilities as follows:

Southern Railway: Two concrete and steel covered docks, one a two-story
structure; one is 150 by 1,300 feet, with a floor space of 195,000
square feet; one is 150 by 1,680 feet on the lower floor, and 120 by
1,680 on the upper, with a combined area of 453,000 square feet floor

Illinois Central Railroad: covered wharf, 130-150 by 4,739 feet.

Morgan's Louisiana and Texas Railroad and Steamship Company: wharf
space, 112,000 square feet; covered space, 117,200 square feet.

Trans-Mississippi Terminal Railroad Company: Wharf No. 1, three berths,
281,904 square feet; No. 2, one berth, 94,350 square feet; No. 3, one
berth, 100,725 square feet--most of it covered; oil wharf, 15,000
square feet.

The New Orleans Army Supply Base has a two-story wharf 2,000 feet long
by 140 feet wide. The lower floor of the wharf is leased by the Dock
Board. Back of it are the three warehouses, each 140 by 600 feet, and
six stories in height.

Seven industrial plants have loading and unloading facilities on the
river. The Dock Board does not lease or part with the control of these,
and controls the following charges: harbor fees, dockage, sheddage,
wharfage, etc.

Open storage on river front contiguous to wharves totals 1,169,900
square feet. There is a great deal of potential open storage space away
from the wharves and along railroad tracks, which could be reached by

For the storage of coffee, alcohol, sisal, sugar and general
commodities, private warehouses offer a floor space of 2,000,000 square

Railroads serving New Orleans are: The Public Belt, Illinois Central,
Yazoo & Mississippi Valley, Gulf Coast Lines, Louisiana Railway &
Navigation Company, Louisville & Nashville, Louisiana Southern,
Missouri-Pacific, Texas & Pacific, New Orleans & Lower Coast, Morgan's
Louisiana & Texas Railroad and Steamship Company, (Southern Pacific)
Southern Railway and New Orleans & Great Northern.

Storage track capacity of New Orleans for export traffic totals 15,156
cars. Track facilities alongside the wharves will accommodate 600 cars.
New Orleans can handle, at the grain elevators and wharves, 3,000 cars
a day.

Wharves are served exclusively by the Public Belt Railroad. The
Industrial Canal will be similarly served. The Public Belt Railroad
assumes the obligations of a common carrier, operating under
appropriate traffic rules and regulations. The switching charge is
$7.00 a car, regardless of the distance. On uncompressed cotton and
linters, the charge is $4.50.

The government barge line connects New Orleans with the Warrior River
section of Alabama and the Upper Mississippi Valley, including a great
deal of inland territory to which river and rail differential rates
apply, as far as St. Louis. It is operating a fleet of 2,000-ton steel
covered barges and 1,800 horsepower towboats. There is a weekly
service. Rates are 20 per cent cheaper than rail rates.

The port is supplied with some of the most modern freight handling
machinery. Harbor dues and other expenses are low. The water supply,
for drinking purposes and boilers, meets the strongest tests.

How advantageously situated is New Orleans will be seen from the
following comparison of distances:




(Distances in statute miles, furnished by War Department.)

                  New York   New Orleans
Atlanta              846         498
Baltimore            188       1,184
Birmingham         1,043         348
Boston               235       1,607
Buffalo              442       1,275
Charleston           739         776
Chattanooga          846         498
Chicago              912         912
Cincinnati           781         836
Cleveland            584       1,092
Dallas             1,642         515
Denver             1,932       1,356
Detroit              693       1,100
Duluth             1,390       1,340
El Paso            2,310       1,195
Galveston          1,782         410
Indianapolis         827         888
Kansas City        1,335         867
Little Rock        1,290         487
Louisville           867         749
Memphis            1,156         396
Minneapolis        1,332       1,285
Mobile             1,231         141
Norfolk              347       1,093
Oklahoma City      1,643         856
Omaha              1,402       1,070
Pittsburgh           444       1,142
Philadelphia          91       1,281
Port Townsend      3,199       2,979
Portland, Oregon   3,204       2,746
Salt Lake City     2,442       1,928
San Antonio        1,943         571
San Francisco      3,191       2,482
Savannah             845         661
Seattle            3,151       2,931
St. Louis          1,058         701
Toledo               705       1,040
Washington, D.C.     228       1,144


(Distances in nautical miles, supplied by Hydrographic Office, Navy
Department; land routes in statute miles supplied by War Department.)

                                    New York  New Orleans
Antwerp                               3,325      4,853
    Via Suez                          8,120      9,536
    Via Cape of Good Hope            11,250     11,848
Buenos Ayres                          5,868      6,318
    Via Panama                        3,392      2,764
    Via Tehauntepec                   4,246      2,991
Cape Town                             6,851      7,374
Colon (eastern end of Panama Canal)   1,981      1,380
Havana                                1,227        597
Hong Kong--
    Via Panama                       11,431     10,830
    [a] Via rail to San Francisco     9,277      8,568
    Via Panama                        6,686      6,085
    Via rail to San Francisco         5,288      4,579
Liverpool                             3,053      4,553
London                                3,233      4,507
    Via Panama                       11,546     10,993
    [a] Yokohama and San Francisco    9,480      8,771
    [a] Yokohama and Port Townsend    9,192      8,972
    [a] Via San Francisco            10,231      9,522
    Via Panama                       10,028      9,424
    Via Tehauntepec                   9,852      8,604
    Via Suez Canal                   12,981     14,303
Mexico City--
    By land and water                 2,399      1,172
    By land                           2,898      1,526
New Orleans--
    Land                              1,372
    Water                             1,741
Nome, Alaska--
    [a] Via San Francisco             5,896      5,187
    [a] Via Port Townsend             5,555      5,335
    Via Panama                        8,010      7,410
Panama (western end Canal)--
    Via Canal and Colon               2,028      1,427
Pernambuco, Brazil                    3,696      3,969
Rio de Janeiro                        4,778      5,218
San Juan, P.R.                        1,428      1,539
    Via Yokohama and Panama          13,104     12,503
    Via Suez                         10,170     11,560
San Francisco                         3,191      2,482
    Via Tehauntepec                   4,415      3,191
    Via Panama                        5,305      4,704
    Eastern end of railroad           2,036        812
    Via Panama                        4,637      4,035
    Via Honolulu and Tehauntepec      9,243      7,995
    Via Honolulu and Panama          10,093      9,492
    Via Panama                        9,869      9,268

      [a] By land and water.

      [b] By land.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Industrial Canal and Inner Harbor of New Orleans - History, Description and Economic Aspects of Giant Facility - Created to Encourage Industrial Expansion and Develop - Commerce" ***

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