FEATS OF RAILWAY ENGINEERING.
A short time ago we quoted a paragraph from an engineer periodical to the effect that the three-railed railway over Mont Cenis was a failare, and that the locomotive engines specially manufactured for the purpose would not do their work. This, however, appears to
hare been a premature condemnation. Ac- cording to the latest accounts this novel rail- way is a success. It has not yet been tested by the actual requirements of the ordinary traffic, but the Florence correspondent of the Times formed one of a party on an experi- mental trip, and, according to his account, the ascent and descent of the mountain are per- formed with ease, expedition, and safety. The summit-level of the Mont Cenis road is 7000 feet, but the train passed over it in little more than four hours, and the regular time for passengers is fixed at five and a-half hours. This is a saving of half the time occupied by
the diligence. The correspondent states that the apparatus is perfectly under command ; that when the train was descending a gradient of 1 in 12, at die rate of twelve miles an hour, it was brought to a stand still in thirty-yards, and could have been stopped more abruptly if the shock would not have been too great. The ride by railway over this mountain pass is reported to be far
safer than to travel by the ordinary diligence, indeed, "fancied danger is converted into un- doubted safety." Some of the most formidable looking parts of the line occur within the first few miles after leaving Susa. Here are the sharpest curves, the steepest gradients, and the most appalling glimses of precipices. But the train passes smoothly over the ground, and the correspondent states that there is no un- pleasant sensation of peril. Of course, he speaks for himself ; and, as a seasoned traveller, his nerves may be strong. Other travellers might feel a little queer, especially if unused to such roads, but so they might in the common diligence. The point, however, is not what is the sensation of danger, but what is the real danger. This will be proved by experience. If the train regularly and safely passes and re-passes the summit, it will be felt that the iron horse is as safe a mountain steed as the flesh and blood horse is, and going up and down gradients of one in twelve will become as common-place as travelling on a level. So far as to the engineering question. The financial aspect of the invention has yet to be developed. We do not find it stated what has been the cost per mile of laying down the rail- way, but it must be remembered that the for- mation level was already prepared. The rails are laid for the most part on the outer edge of the previously existing road. It is true that there have been some buttressing and walling, some little tunnels at the elbows of the zig-zags, and some arched coverings to keep off the enow, but there have been none of the ordinary cuttings and embankments to bring a rough surface to the required level. It has yet to be proved
too, by the practical test of daily working, how far the expense of haulage over such steep gradients will exceed the estimated amount — whether the locomotives will stand the special strain put upon them, and whether the rails at the curves will be subject to excessive wear. The expectation of the proprietors is that the line will repay its cost, both principle and interest, in six years. If it does not they will lose by the experiment, for by that time the tunnel underneath the mountain will have been completed. When that is open for traffic, all express and business travellers will take the lower road, and only tourists and sight-seers will care to climb the mountain. The financial experience of the Mont Cenis railway will be watched with as much interest as the engineering experiment has been. If it proves to be a great success it will go far towards revolutionising the art of railway con- struction in mountainous districts, and it may prove to be of especial importance in a colony like this, where a moderate amount of traffic has to be carried across rugged dis- tricts, and where the saving of time is not so important as the saving of the first outlay of construction. Our two great trunk lines of railway hare already conquered the most for- midable difficulties that have to be encountered, and the principle even, if suitable to them, is
too late to be applied. But in course of time there will arise demands for innumerable extensions and branch lines along routes where the traffic will not pay for a first-class railway, and yet where mining and agricultural settle- ments call for something better than a com- mon road. In such cases the problem will be to furnish the required convenience, without investing a large quantity of dead capital. If a little extra expenditure in rails, in the loco- motives, and in working expenses will be less than the interest on the extra sum required to make a first-class railway, there will be a strong inducement to lay down railways over the natural surface of the country. Almost contemporaneously with the opening of the Mont Cenis Railway is the opening of another railway over an Alpine pass, which has been also visited by a Times correspondent. This line is over the Brenner Pass, and connects Bavaria with Italy. The height attained is only 4800 feet, but then the line is one of the ordinary description, the average gradient being about 2¾ per hundred. To keep the line down this, a great deal of expensive work has been undertaken Altogether there are twenty-seven tunnels, and some very extraordinary windings. Sneaking of one part, the correspondent says : "It was as if the arm was doubled over the breast, and we entered the tunnel by the hand, coming out at the most distant shoulder, enough to show the narrow space in which the engineer had to work, and the great difficulties which his skill has overcome." How danger- ous to the "navvies " the works have been is evidenced by the fact that out of 16,000 men employed on die construction of the line, 1200 perished. It is a question now whether it would not have been more economical to have submitted to steeper gradients, as on the Mont Cenis line, than to have gone to such great expense. The material for forming a final decision open this question is not as yet in possession ; but if the Mont Cenis line is worke till the tunnel is ready to supersede it, it will furnish sufficient data for solving the problem - problem, however, in which it will ????
Reef Company has started optngo» with* e»pital of S.omooo^tos, J£WA one mile gquare on the line of Pacific Baflwijf, Onopen ing the reef at die depth of liter felt c ?pecimen ofquarUwas takes oat, wfafafc sold at San Franriseaforao,OOOdoHan. Ha toloe of the claim is estimated at twice OMl^ahn of the Golden Currie (7,000,000 dollars). Stocks in the above company are all disposed of, and numerous other companies are now forming on the same line of country. In Idaho territory upwards of lOjOOOminerg are employed in the silver mines. In Montana territory the number of miners employed is estimated at 16, 000.