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The second lecture in the course now being given under the auspices of the Harvard Finance club, was delivered last evening in Sever 11 by Mr. John C Soley, The lecturer was introduced by Professor F. W. Taussig, and spoke on the Isthmian Canal in the presence of two hundred people.
The project of constructing a canal through the Isthmus, which should connect the Atlantic with the Pacific ocean, is an old one. The discovery of gold in California gave a new impetus to this idea; for the Union Pacific railroad had not then been built, and the journey overland was long and dangerous, while the voyage around Cape Horn was fraught with hardships. But on the breaking out of the civil war all thought of an Isthmian canal, so far as the United States were concerned had to be abandoned.
There were four routes proposed for the canal-the southern route; the route by Panama; the ship railway, and the canal through lake Nicaragua. It was found that the southern route would require a tunnel to be drilled through solid rock, high enough to allow there lower masts of a ship to pass under. This trunnel would have been very expensive, and it was also found that the expense that would have to be increased in sending down the topmast of vessels would offset the advantage gained by the canal, so the scheme was a bandoned. The plan of a ship railway was declared by engineers impracticable for mechanical reasons and by seamen, on account of the strain imposed on a vessels hull by lifting it out of water. The Panama canal has proved impossible on account of a river near it which cannot be controlled, and the canal by way of lake Nicaragua is left in sole possession of the field.
The principal advantage the Nicaragua canal possesses over its rivals is that it is aided by the nature of the land about it. Through ninety miles of its length it flows through the lake of Nicargua where little or no dredging will be required.
The government at Nicargua has done much to help the enterprise. It has given the land for the canal free, together with strips of land on both sides of it, and all mines and timber that may be in this land. Moreover It allows all the machinery used in the construction of the canal to be imported free. Also the government has pledged itself to permit no other canal in its territory. The lecture was illustrated by viewsand maps thrown by a stereopticon.
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