The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 1889. TRANS-AMERICAN CANALS.
Great interest, not only from an engineering, but also from a commercial point of view, attaches to the rarious schemes m progress or m contemplation with a view to opening up waterways between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The most costly of these is the thus far ill-fated Panama Canal, which has proved too inwieldy an enterprise even for the energy of the great engineer who successfully grappled with the task of piercing the Isthmus of Suez, and it is now certain that the still greater work upon the completion of which De Lesseps had set his heart will never be finished under the ; auspices oi the French Company, which has only 14,000,000 francs — say threequarters of a million pounds — available above its indebtedness, while the company estimates that it will take from 600,000,000 to 700.000,000 francs, that is to say not less than thirty million pounds sterling, and five years labor to complete the canal. There is, however, we see some chance, apparently, of the work being taken up by American enterprise, m which case it is confidently anticipated that it can be finished m four years for an expenditure oi twenty millions. Let as hope that this will prove to be the case. Meantime we observe that the rival project — the Nicaragua Canal — is being pushed on, news by the mail giving the following interesting particulars : — "1 he dispute between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, over the bonndary line has been referred to a commission for discussion and settlement. The danger to operations on the part of the Nicaragua Canal Company is thus averted. The company has advertised for laborers at Greytown, the eastern terminus of the Canal, but thus far only about 400 men have responded. The company expects men to find their own way to Greytown, which accounts for the comparatively small number on the ground. A large number of negroes are expected from the Bahamas, and it is said that the company is negotiating with labor agents at Hongkong for the services of several thousand Chinese. The United States Hydrographic Office at Washington has published a chart and a table showing the new steamer routes that will be adopted when the canal is done, and the distances that will be saved. The colonies will not save much m distance by the use of the cang.l, though it will be of vaßt benefit to the traders to all American ports. The distance from New York to New Zealand by the Cape Horn route is 12,650 miles f by the Cape of Good Hope, 14,125 miles ; by the Nicaragua Canal, 8680 miles. The distance from New Zealand to Liverpool by the Cape of Good Hope is 18,975 miles } by Cape Horn, 12,400 miles ; by the Nicaragua Canal, 11,349 "miles. Between 1000 and 3000 miles are saved between Mcl • bourne and Liverpool and New York by the canal route. Commander Menocal, of the United States .Navy, who is chief engineer of the Nicaragua Canal Company, is a native of Havana, Cuba, and was educated at the Troy Polytechnic School m New York» He bas been an engineer at the Ntw York Waterworks, and his appointment m the Navy dates from 1881. He has made the Isthmian problem his life study, and the route of the Nicaragua Canal is his choosing." The Nicaragua Company evidently mean business, and thus we may reckon with some confidence on at least one great trans-isthmian project being carried out. Besides the Panama and Nicaragua schemes there is also Captain Bades ship railway across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec — of the progress of which we have no very recent news, and we observe that there is now a fourth scheme afoot for a canal starting from the Gulf of Honduras. The United States Consul to Honduras reports to the authorities at Washington an English projact to colonise Honduras, and build a railway across the isthmus. He says that the company at the back of those enterprises has £8,000,000 capital, and will have the road done inside of three years. If so, then it is on the cards that within five years there will be at least three, if not four, short outs between the Atlantic and Pacific