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A project is now being advertised for reducing the bar at the entrance of Cardenas Harbor. This work will cost about $400,000 and will be done by contract. Plans and specifications for this work have been prepared in the department of public works under the direction of Señor Villalón. The results obtained will be to deepen the channel to such an extent as to furnish sufficient water for large ships to pass the bar and load in smooth water. In connection with the dredging it is the purpose of the chamber of commerce of the city to build a railroad some 15 miles long from Cardenas to the shipping point, just within the bar. The effect of this will undoubtedly be to gradually transfer the shipping and warehouse interests of Cardenas from the present city limits to the point above referred to.
Plans for a large government wharf at Matanzas are being prepared for advertising, which will cost, with the necessary dredging, something over $300,000. This wharf is to be constructed of native hard timber, which lasts in salt water from twenty-five to forty years. Plans and specifications have been prepared by the engineer department after careful preliminary surveys by Lieut. W. J. Barden of the Corps of Engineers.
A large amount of dredging has been done in the harbor of Habana, and quite extensive improvements made in the water front. One of the most important obstructions in the harbor of Habana at the present time is the wreck of the battle ship Maine, which is in the center of the general anchorage and renders unavailable a large portion of the harbor. Proposals for removing the wreck have been once advertised for, but no satisfactory bids were received. They are at present being advertised the second time, and it is hoped that satisfactory proposals will be received.
Surveys have been made of the harbor of Cienfuegos by Capt. David du B. Gaillard, Corps of Engineers, and plans are being prepared for the construction of a government wharf at that point. The surveys and borings show that the bottom contains a good deal of soft limestone rock, the removal of which will be somewhat expensive, but not difficult. The construction of this wharf and the wharf at Matanzas means a saving of so much per bag on every bag of sugar exported, and on every pound of merchandise coming into the port. There is a saving not only in lighterage fees, which are extremely heavy, but a great saving in wear and tear and breakage from this extra handling at sea.
In the harbor at Santiago a new wharf has been built and a considerable amount of dredging done along the water front.
At Guantanamo the government wharf has been entirely rebuilt of native hard wood, and the government wharf at Baracoa is now undergoing reconstruction. At Gibara plans have been prepared for a new government wharf, which is much needed. In short, the amount of work in the harbors is only limited by the amount of available money.
What has been said about the harbors is equally true concerning public roads, for with the exception of a number of public highways in the province of Habana, some few in Matanzas and Pinar del Río, and a few very indifferent ones in Santa Clara, the island of Cuba may be said to be without public roads or means of inland communication other than the roughest types of country roads, difficult to pass in the dry season and absolutely impassable in the rainy season except for pack animals. What is said of Santa Clara is equally true of Puerto
CUBA 1900-VOL I, PT 1————9
Principe and the province of Santiago, although in the latter province much systematic work has been done around and about the city of Santiago, where many miles of first-class roads have been constructed and country roads opened up and made passable for freight carts and wagons in dry weather. Numerous bridges have been built, in order that the country may be passable even in the wet season for pack animals and horsemen.
One of the greatest difficulties in road building in some of the provinces of Cuba, especially the western, is the quality of stone, which is extremely poor for road making, being a soft limestone which disintegrates rather easily under the influence of moisture and wear. In the provinces of Puerto Principe and Santiago excellent stone is found, stone which will compare favorably for the purpose of road making with any found in our own country. The problem of road construction in Cuba is a very serious and difficult one. Torrential rains not infrequently resulting in a fall of from 6 to 10 inches of water in a single night are common all through the rainy season, and regions which in the dry season appear to be well drained may in one of these heavy downpours become covered with a rapidly moving body of water which sweeps away anything and everything in the way of road construction unless it be of the most substantial and durable character. For the same reason it is necessary to build a great many large culverts and bridges in order to permit the free escape of water. The result of all these conditions is that good country roads cost from $9,000 to $15,000 per mile, according to the distance that stone has to be hauled, and in the mountains the cost frequently runs up to $30,000 or $40,000 per mile. The roadbed has to be slightly excavated and rolled, then packed with heavy stone. In fact, all high-class roads built in Cuba are combinations of macadam and Telford pavement. The foundations of bridges have to be carried down to the rock and carefully secured. An immense amount of rolling is also required to pack the road so thoroughly that the heavy rainfall does not destroy it. Cuban roads not only have to struggle with the rains, but with another enemy, and one almost as difficult to deal with as the water, namely, the Cuban ox cart and mule cart, especially the former. These carts are immensely heavy affairs with enormous wheels, drawn by from 1 to 4 pairs of oxen, and with their loads frequently weighing 6 tons, the average being probably from 4 to 6 tons. When it is realized that all this weight is upon two wheels, with rather narrow tires, and that the wheels have a great deal of play, the effect on the roads, especially in the rainy season, is easily appreciated. Carts of this description will tear up and destroy any kind of road except one of the most solid construction. What is said about the ox cart is equally true of the heavy mule cart, built for freight and plying between the seacoast cities on the western end of the island and the interior. These carts carry enormous loads, frequently over 4 tons, have comparatively narrow tires, and are drawn by from 4 to 8 mules.
In order to protect public roads Order 356 was issued.
There is also a great amount of bridge construction required. In short, the department of public works has before it an immense amount of work. It would be a conservative estimate to state that Cuba to-day requires at least 1,500 miles of first-class turnpike roads. This is without reference to the short roads running from the main roads to farms and small hamlets. It can be also conservatively stated that the cost
of these roads will be at least $10,000 a mile, amounting to $15,000,000. This estimate as to the amount of roads required is extremely conservative and the price is probably lower than the roads could be constructed for.
The construction of these roads means the development of Cuba, which through a great portion of its area is only developed along the coasts and near the sea. The work of the ports requires millions more. The problem confronting the people of Cuba to-day pertains not only to this new work but to the repairing and renovation of works of former times which have been entirely neglected for many years. With the development of the means of communication, the possibilities of Cuba will commence to be realized. If with the imperfect and partial development which has hitherto taken place the island of Cuba has shown herself to be the richest of the West Indies in natural resources, it is difficult to appreciate the possibilities when the central section is thoroughly opened up and the island is developed to its fullest capacity.
In addition to the particular works above referred to, there are many public works, such as the construction of State buildings, which will properly come under the charge of the department of public works. This department (public works) in Cuba presents an excellent field for young engineers. Public work up to the present time has been performed not only by the department of public works, but also to a large extent by military officers of the Army acting as engineer officers. This has been necessary because it was difficult to organize completely the department of public works without considerable delay on the basis of employing only native engineers and native talent, inasmuch as the lack of interest and the disorganization existing in the department of public works of the island of Cuba during recent years was such that nearly all Cuban engineers of ability had sought and found employment in other countries, and the amount of personnel at hand thoroughly familiar with engineering details and the method of conducting public work, rendering accounts, etc., was limited. The amount of work, however, performed by military engineers is steadily diminishing and the amount turned over to the department of public works proportionately increasing.
Public and municipal works in and about the city of Habana have been in charge of officers of the Engineer Corps, Col. W. M. Black and Lieut. W. J. Barden. The duties of these officers have included almost every branch of engineering and construction work, and they are entitled to much credit for the ability with which their department has been conducted. Especial attention is invited to their reports. There has been much unjust criticism concerning their work, criticism based upon ignorance of the subject and lack of familiarity with the details and the amount and value of the work performed.
Habana at the commencement of American occupation, so far as her state buildings and streets went, was in a wretched condition. Her harbor was filthy. The work of the department of engineers has covered almost every field of engineering work, from dredging the harbor, cleaning up the water front, building wharves and sea walls, to the repairing and construction of court-houses, police stations, hospitals, asylums-in fact, it has embraced the entire category of works necessary for the cleaning up and partial renovating of a city of 250,000 people, which at the time of the commencement of the work was one of the dirtiest and most insanitary cities in the world. The result of
this work has been a radical change in the general appearance of Habana, and in connection with the efficient and unremitting labor of the sanitary department has resulted, as shown by a comparison of the vital statistics of 1900 with those of former years, in the saving of thousands of lives. For data concerning this, attention is invited to the report of the chief sanitary officer, Maj. W. C. Gorgas.
In other cities of the island equally valuable work has been done and equally good results obtained. The work done under the supervision of Gen. James H. Wilson, of the Department of Matanzas and Santa Clara, was excellent and as extensive as the means allotted him would permit. The streets in the city of Matanzas were largely relaid with good, substantial macadam pavement. The insanitary section of the city bordering upon the San Juan River has been reclaimed by the construction of a sea wall along the above-mentioned river and the filling in of the low, damp section adjoining thereto. This work was executed at first under the supervision of Lieut. W. J. Barden, C. E., and later of Lieut. J. S. Winn, Second Cavalry. In Cienfuegos, the principal city of Santa Clara Province, extensive street paving (macadam) has been done, as at Cardenas and Colon, and some at Santa Clara. The work at Cienfuegos and Cardenas was done principally under the supervision of Maj. R. W. Hoyt, Tenth Infantry. In all these cities there have also been improvements to and renovations of the public buildings, such as jails, hospitals, etc. The same may be said of the work done in the city of Puerto Principe, commenced during the administration of Gen. L. P. Carpenter. This work has resulted in the city of Puerto Principe being repaved to a large extent, thoroughly cleaned, and its mortality greatly reduced. The work commenced by General Carpenter has been vigorously pushed forward under his successors, Col. Wirt Davis and Major Hatfield, and to-day Puerto Principe is in excellent condition. The engineering work in Puerto Principe has been under the direct charge of Capt. C. J. Symmonds, who has discharged all the duties devolving on him with zeal and ability. Captain Symmonds's work has also included the conversion of one of the large barrack buildings into a modern hospital, well equipped and supplied; also improvements on various public buildings of the city, construction of an artesian well, etc. At Nuevitas, the seaport of Puerto Principe, good and efficient work has been done by Capt. S. V. Ham, quartermaster, United States Volunteers. His work has been principally paving and the sanitary renovation of the town, which has resulted in an entire change in the character of the water front.
In Santiago very extensive public improvements have been made. A large portion of the streets of the city has been asphalted; some have been paved with brick, and miles of first-class macadam put in. A modern sewer system is now being completed.
The water supply of the city has been doubled, an excellent sanitary department established and maintained under the superintendence of Maj. G. M. Barbour, and from about the poorest and, I think it could be safely said, the dirtiest city in the island, Santiago is now the best paved, best drained, and one of the healthiest. The work in this city has been pushed forward as rapidly as possible. There is yet remaining, however, the completion of the water system and the development of an additional supply. This will be accomplished in the next few months. Public buildings in this city have been largely repaired, and in some instances almost reconstructed. A new wharf
has been built, and excellent roads, leading into the neighboring country, are being constructed.
The work in Santiago, province and city, has been almost entirely. under the supervision of military officers. The engineering work of the city has been and is entirely under the direction of military offiIt was at first under charge of Lieut. R. L. Hamilton, Fifth United States Infantry, and more recently under that of Lieut. S. D. Rockenbach, Tenth Cavalry. The work of both these officers has been of the highest character. They have received the efficient sup port and aid of Col. S. M. Whitside of the Department of Santiago. The work in Santiago was commenced in the fall of 1898 and should be practically completed the coming summer. The roads leading into the country were constructed under the charge of Lieut. M. E. Hanna, engineering officer, up to March, 1900. This latter work is among the best in the island.
In Guantanamo an aqueduct 9 miles long, capable of supplying 45,000 people, has been constructed; the final work of putting in the water pipes in the city streets and building the standpipes for local supply is being completed. The water is taken from a point well above any possible source of contamination, and is of excellent quality. It is safe to say that the construction of this aqueduct will very greatly improve the sanitary conditions existing in Guantanamo and tend to the building up and growth of the town. All through this province very important public works have been completed under the supervision of military officers; in short, nearly all the public works in the province of Santiago have been under the charge of military engineers, and there is not a town of any size or consequence which has not received material improvements and benefits. These improvements cover all types of constructive work, from road making and well digging to the renovation of old barrack buildings for school and hospital purposes, and their effect has been to revive public interest in municipal improvements and welfare.
Lieut. M. S. Jarvis, Fifth Infantry, was in charge of work at San Luis and Palma Soriano; Lieut. L. D. Cabell, Fifth Infantry, Lieut. Letcher Hardeman, Tenth Cavalry, and Lieut. R. G. Paxton, Tenth Cavalry, have all rendered excellent service. The area covered by the work of Lieutenants Hardeman and Paxton has been extensive and the country rough and difficult, and much ingenuity and good sense required to bring it to a successful termination.
In the provinces of Habana and Pinar del Rio, formerly under the command of Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, a considerable amount of road construction has been done and good sanitary work, especially in the towns of Marianao, Pinar del Rio, and Guanajay. In these departments the roads were, generally speaking, in better condition and the demand for public improvements not as urgent as elsewhere. Lieut. H. F. Jackson, Second Artillery, acting engineer officer of the department here, performed the duties devolving on him with ability.
In addition to the public works constructed under the supervision of military officers, there has been an immense amount of work done in the construction and repairing of civil hospitals, converting old barrack buildings into schools, court-houses, etc. This work, however, is covered more in detail by the reports of the officers who have charge of the work. Capt. H. B. Chamberlin, United States Volunteers, has rendered especially good service in the work in the towns of Colon and Santa Clara.