December 23 - 1906: Opposition fails to thwart major Cape Cod coastal project

Canal will shorten the route between Boston and New York by 125 miles
Cape Cod Canal. Photo courtesy www.nae.usace.army.mil.

1906: Railroad interests try
to block the Cape Cod Canal

On this day in 1906, as editorialized in The Dayton (Ohio) Daily Star :

A canal across Cape Cod, that storm breeding projection from the Massachusetts coast, has been talked of and planned for ever since the early days of the old colony, and now bids fair to become an accomplished fact in as many years as it has been centuries under discussion.

One of the great New York banking firms is to finance the project and William Barclay Parsons, the famous New York engineer, has been engaged on the plans for the past eight months. The canal will be dug at sea level, provide a twenty-five-foot channel at low water, be eight miles in length, cost $10,000,000 and be completed in a little over two years. It will shorten the inside route between Boston and New York by seventy miles and the outside route by 125 miles.

A result hardly less desirable than the saving of time will be reduced peril to life and property, for Cape Cod is the most dangerous point on the Atlantic between Cape Hatteras and Cape Sable and is responsible for one-fourth of the wrecks occurring on that stretch of coast. Considering the enormous marine traffic in those waters and the lack of engineering difficulties which the canal project involves, it is rather surprising that the cape has been allowed so long to lure fleets and their crews to destruction.

The latest Cape Cod canal project may be significant of a changing attitude on the part of those interests which everywhere in the country have been most vehement and persistent in opposing canal enterprises: for the railroad which has bitterly fought the Cape Cod ditch for many years has made a complete change of front and now strongly supports it, though it apparently opens the way not only to freight competition, but to passenger competition as well.

Moreover, the public is certain to profit in the way of cheaper rates and better service from the competition to be made possible between the old 'Sound' steamship lines and the new Morse line. The enterprise will again call attention to the desirability and practicality of an inside waterway down the Atlantic coast, besides furnishing a fresh argument in favor of complementing, and incidentally restraining, the railroads by water transportation whenever possible.

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