The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, May 06, 1914, ENGINEER'S EDITION, Image 2

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Imagine a roacky coast lino with an
cBtunry stretching miles Inland to
where two glaciers roar their ley
faces 300 feet abovo tho water. On
clthor sido and Inland as far as tho
eyeB can seo are ragged mountains
cleft by canyons of sickening depth.
In winter all is burled beneath a
dozen feet of snow; In summor It Is
a placo of chill fogs and ruBhing
etroaniB that often double their depth
In a single day. , .
Such is tho site of tho Copper River
Kailroad in Alaska. As a. feat of en
gineering this railroad today stands
aboalutoly alone. Its builders faced
problems never boforo met by any
other engineers. They started tho
great work with prophesies of failure
ringing in their ears. In a land of
such cruel wlntors and such sudden
climatic changes It seemed as If thoso
wiio riskeu nrteen million dollars on
the lino woro foolB as woll as dream
ors. But they won tho stako and
how they won is an inspiring story.
To begin with, tho Coppor River
Railroad is only 193 miles long, but it
coat $70,000 a mile to build It. Tho
discovery of rich deposits of anthra
clto coal and copper In tho northwest
ern part of Alaska made such a road
necessary unlcBB tho now treasure
houso that had been opened up was to
bo allowed to koop Its good things for
ever locked up from man. Tho only
possible route carried the tracks
across tho Copper Rlvor. This stream
Is tho-mUIerforhtrinoltcdwatcre of
Copper Rlvor Valloy would be Impass
able, as Indeed it was considered for
many years. To get material and
supplies across tho water that washed
thoBO two cliffs of. Ice was tho first
problem tho onglneors faced. A tem
porary brldgo was not to bo thought
Of. Tho first flow nf Ic.n wnnlrl hnvn
carried It away like a houso of cards.
It was finally decided to establish a
forry. A heavily timbered boat was
brought up from tho coast.
On this clumsy craft, stationary en
glnos, construction locomotives and
cars, as woll as ties and tracks, woro
transported across tho rlvor, often at
great risk of life.
Of course, none of the heavy mate
rial for tho brldgo could bo brought
there until tho track had beon finiBhod
from tho eaBt to tho edge of tho river.
But before this was done material was
uosireu for the building of the lino
from tho western bank of tho stream.
TIiIb was brought in up tre river from
tho coast in heavy river boats, each
handled by a crow of fifteen hardened
rlvermon and guides. It was impos
sible to paddle or sail any great part
of tho way, and during most of tho
Journey tho boatB had to bo towed
along tho shore 'by tho men them
selves. Tho boatmon woro often forcod to
wado for miles through water waist
deep and as cold as ico could mako it.
In winter it would seem to" have been
an easy task to bring tho supplies un
4ho frozon surface of tho river on
tho great Miles and Chllds glaciers
and It stretches from tho foot of the
ice of the Bohrlng sea.
AcroBB this, almost at ,the base of
tho glacier, it was necessary to erect
a 1,150 foot bridge. In that arctic land
literally hundreds of miles from any
baBo of supplies there is today one of
the flncBt railroad bridges in Amorlca.
JLia built on. concrete piers that defy
both floes and icebergs. In fact one
of tho piers 1b itself sot in a base of
glacial Ice which In that climate la as
unchanging as stone.
Tho contract called for tho comple
tion of tho road in1 two years. ThlB
meant that tho IrackB would bo laid
east and wet from tho river at tho
same time that tho brldgo was being
built. But a groat many reputable en
gineers were not at all suro that the
brldgo could ever, bo flnishedr Its' lo
cation wa salmost In tho shadow of
thoBo two frowning cliffs of Ice. In
spring and summer great pieces were
constantly breaking off and crashing
down Into the water, there to rush to
ward the sea in tho form of Icebergs,
sweeping away anything that got in
their path. The rlvor was hardly ever
free from Hoob, and In winter tho ice
-shect-Avas-aeven-f eotthick; -During-the
spring floods tho river had beon
known to rise twenty feet In a slnglo
day. Had this bnnn r.lnnr wntni- If
would-notr-have rbeen Ifrcourainis4ica-fl
But remember, this water always car--cd,TillL-JMpn.-ui)oa-lonr-of-dco-Tvith:
upruiB unu summer it is a savage
ice-filled torrent. But ono nlcht. hv i,i iifn.f. ..
. -.vv.vjti. ,7 uuipu iui in iruui inn mrmiimnnt knhln.1 Tin i i...
IT"" - - -- noTot STiSST S
, n:Z ;::; :: 1 , 7 l t110 brId6 ho B broken in Health
.un-we-nuHUB- -from-htrrdBhlp and cxposurt that he
horo and thero a towering org that
seemed largo enough to crush- any
bridge that was ever built.
If the brldgo should fall tho rest of
tho line would be useless and its en
tiro cost of ?15,000,000 would bo lost.
Tho plans called for a four-span
steel brldgo resting on concroto piers
forty feet abovo normal water level to
allow for floods and tho passage of
Ice. AIbo several barriers wore to bo
built between tho brldgo and the gla
cial wall to intercept as much ico as
Woro it hot for tho fact that tho
MileB and Chllds glaclerB Bpllt long bo
foro they reach tho soa Into two sep
arate wallb of moxng Ico, each pre
senting a face three miles long, tho
Blodges But this was not so slmplo
as It sounds. Even in winter the cli
mate in that portion of Alaska is bo
low, zoro one day and melting tho next.
Here thero will bo a solid mass of ico
and Just over tho next rise there may
be five feet of water. Thousands of
tons of brush woro laid on tho surface
of the Ice In an effort to maintain a
passable sledge road, but at best it
was terrifically Tiard going.
The brldgo piers, three of which
woro in deep water, wero built in the
dead of winter. ThlB work had to bo
done through holes cut In ico seven
foot thick. The molds for tho con
crete wero then sunk from forty to
Hfty foot through tho water and tho
river bottom tr bed rock. Theso
molds wero heavily Umbered boxos,
thoir outsldes armored with a succes
sion of eighty-pound railroad rails.
Abovo the molds ico barriers of rails
woro also sunk.
Tho engineers know that if thov
could got tho molds and piers down
before tho spring break-up they would
bo safe. For the rlvor is tamo only
when holdip. Its winter prison. In
fer in a cllmato that was frequently
twenty-flvo below zoro swopt away
by tho Ico that was growing less
stable overy hour. Also tho tlmo of
tho contract would terminate with tho
coming of spring, and when tho first
bolt was placed a margin of only six
weeks was loft.
Span No. 3, which was 460 feet from
pier to pier, was tho most dlfllcult,
for It was In tho direct lino of tho
greatest current and the heaviest flow
of Ico. Bjr the bars spaco of an hour
this span was saved from complete
destruction. While tho uncomDlotod
steol-work-stlll-rostod-on tho tempore
ary pile foundation it was discovered
that It had slipped an inch out of
alignment. This moant that tho Ico
was moving. Tho break-up had start
ed. In a few days the river would be
a mass of churning Ice and great
bergs. Unless the span thon rested
solidly on Its permanent concrete
foundations, It would bo swept away.
Tho first day's slippage of an Inch
Increased next day to two, thon to
three, to four, and finally tho whole
span was fifteen Inchos out of line.
Tho rlvor was nlfln rifling. T oltmlnvl
twenty-two feot whilo tho men un
bolted and shifted beams and girders
to get thorn out of harm's way. If
the pllo foundations could bo saved
tho bridge would be safe. As a last
desperate resort every "donkey en
glno" boiler on tho Job was fired up
and steam from scores of feed pipes
was turned on tho ico to keep It clear
of tho temporary basOB. !For days
every man worked eighteen hourB in
the damp cruel weather of an Alaskan
spring to save tho brldgo.
Heavy anchorages wero built Into
tho ico upBtream and by means of
block and tackle tho slipping span was
alignmont. When this was done tho
iron workers sot with frantic haBte to
bolt tho steel parts together, for tho
piles could hold but a few days longer.
Just an hour after tho last bolt was
placed, tho last block knocked out and
tho Bpan dropped upon its safo bed
of concrete, tho ico broke up with an
angry roar and tho temporary foun
dations wont downstream like so much
driftwood. But tho bridge had been
built. It defied tho glaciers.
There Is not space hero to detail tho
hardships of tho men who laid tho
tracks across tho ruggo dsurfaco of tho
land east and west. Washouts and
avalanches woro almost of dally oc
currence. Onco a rotary snowplow,
pushed by two locomotives, started
out- to clear tho twenty- foot drifts
from tho tracks to tho base of supplies
fifty mlleB away. It disappeared In
a white wave and was not seen until
a month later. It had taken thirty
ono dayB to travel tho fifty miles and
Its crow had eaten their last bit of
food tho day boforo It steamed Into
tho station.
Tho man who carried this exeat
work through to completion gave up
lurastus Hawkins was
and half finished piers out bv th Z Z -Zl" " " "u "r
ronta hnffh,.!, ,,,, .," I" "" 4 'wvuvo"JU U1H wrengin ana mor
.mBL:.r7:"r- onTnr TainCTmnraiTTirteFTho-lirBt-traln
-.,weu again ana uio crossed tho Copper River.
When tho stool workers arrived on
tho first train that camo through alone
tho new tracks from tho eaBt they
round that tho tomporary foundations
. . , -X I , . J-
IJitmmone I
Jube Iftrfnter I
317 So. 12th Phone B2319 I '
On Friday tho Colorado debaters
Will meet their flnnl nnnnnnnta nt ttm
uoiwoon tno piers had beon mado debating contest for tho year. This
ready for them by driving oano thou- debate against Utah will determine
sand piles fifty feet Into tho bottom of , whether or .not Colorado shall have
tho stream. So well had tho whole , three victories out of five intercollogi
thing boon timed that within an hour i ate debates. held this year. Colorado
after that first train arrived with Its
welcome load of metal, which .had been
six months In coming from tho mills,
the first big girdor was In place and
tho riveters had started their race to
boat tho spring thaw.
Day and night tho workers faced the
danger of having tho results of tholr
labor and suffering for they did suf-
now stands two and two, having lost
to Kansas and Oklahoma, and won
over Missouri and Toxas. Tho ques
tion of theso dobatos is, "That boards
of arbitration with compulsory powers
Bhould bo established .to settle dis
putes between employers and em
ployees." Colorado Is confident of vic
tory over Utah.
"Inhere the Annual Banquet will be held.
Visiting Guests
Please make your room reservations early.
R. W. JOHNSON, Owner and Manager
PRINTED or ENGRAVED foi Senior Invitations
Bstor tCext
Graves Rrintery
-2-1 No. 11th Lincoln, Neb.
2 Things To Remember
The store that handle U. S. Blue P-tint Paper en
tire line. "On the Square with Student:"
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