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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (May 13, 1906)
daring work of surveyors
Pneeri laoed and Orercom by P r !j
findera in Mountain Oorcet.
EXPERIENCES IN THE GUNNISON TUNNEl
Fipleratlon of (? n.OOO Fee
Deep frees Wfclrfc So On Before
Fad Rrlirifi Allre Hage
'j " 1
All the hfroM In the employ of Uncle
Ham de not wear the uniform of military
ervlce. Men on the rlvlllan payrolls, un
apurred by martial music or the pomp
and panoply of war, carry their mpwain
to Oarrla an surely and uncomplainingly,
and In the line of duty a frenely moot
death aa any wearer of shoulder straps or
The reolamatlon service, that branch of
government activity engaged In redeeming
arid wastes of western lands, would not
seem to offer a fertile field for deeds of
daring n heroic sacrifice. Yet Ita record
re replete with the blood-etlrring deeda
of men whose names the public never
hears. The atory of the survey for the
Gunnison tunnel and the achievements of
A. L. Fellows and J. W. McConnell, how
ever, la too good a one to be lost In musty
Down In aouthwestern Colorado Ilea tha
I'ncompahgre desert, a hundred thousand
acr'S of desolation. A small part of It
under Irrigation lias proved fertile beyond
all eipectatlons. but In the proving the
full rapacity of I'ncompahgre river had
been reached. No more water was avail
able, hut there lny beyond the Irrigated
lands a principality of enormous potential
wealth which. It appeared, must forever
remain an unproductive desert If no addi
tional supply could be brought Into the
Tapping; the finnnlson.
Thirty miles eastward from the fnrom
pahgre flows the Gunnison river, a power
ful stream. Just the kind needed In ithe
vally. Why not divert It and use the
water for this purpose? A visionary
scheme would be the off-hand verdict. The
Gunnison along Its stretch traverses a box
canon 3.00O fcrt deep. Purely no one- could
divert water under such clrcumstancea.
One cIh.v there came to the resident en
gineer of the reclamation service at len
ver an order from Washington that read
somewhat like this: "Advise nie If It la
feasibleo divert Gunnison to I'ncompahgre
valley by" tunnel under Vernal Mesa."
Signed "Chief Engineer."
Let us diverge briefly to analyse this or
der. A tunnel under the Vernal Mesa, which
Is the name of the mountain through which
Ountilson river has cut a narrow gush,
would be at least live miles long from the
canon to the nearest opening In fncom
pahfre valley. This meant the longest tun
nel In the 1'nlted Stales; not so amazing to
the Denver office. If the location of both
ends of the proposed tunnel were In known
country. B;it in this case the canyon where
It must begin was unknown. No one had
ever passed through it alive, and those
who had attempted It and returnd were
ready to demonstrate beyond all possible
doubt that It waa an impossibility.
Measurements on the Spot.
Now. It la axiomatic In engineering work
that If you are going to report upon the
feasibility of a tunnel you must determine
the location of both ends by careful meas
urement on the spot. Well, orders from
Washington directed a report on feasibility.
No one In the service seemed to think It
anything unusual when "Fellows of the
Denver office" set his square jaw, quietly
made his preparations, took along one as
sistant and went surveying down Gunnison
canon. It will be well to remember that
In all those days of swimming, climbing1,
t reeling, thawing and hunger he was not
sliding through by the easiest path and
taking the death-threatening places at a
bound, but he was proceeding deliberately
and surveying every foot. The next time you
go down the street and see a well dressed
fellow running a level or a transit along
the curb, or staking off the boundaries of
a house lot. Just notice his polished shoes,
his neat notebook, his comfortable, easy at
tltude, and his graceful signals to the rod
man, and then think of "Fellows of the
Denver office," down In that roaring cav
ern, drenched to the skin, hanging on by
ropes and squinting through a transit, be
cause Washington waated to know If the
tunnel was feasible.
No man, so far as known, had ever gone
through the canyon alive. Stoutly built
rafts of logs launched at the head of the
canon had emerged at Its mouth smashed
Into kindling wood. It was popular belief
that no man could go down the canon and
live to tell of his experiences.
Lives in Constant Peril.
With their Instruments and provisions on
an Inflated rubber mattress. Fellows and
Ms companions set forth on their expe
dition. There was hardly an hour of the
time they were in the canon that their lives
were not in deadly peril; there was not a
minute that was not filled with heart
breaking hardships. It all ended by Fel
lows and his companion saving two things
their lives and their note books. Every
thing else went down with the flood. When
the men emerged at the Devil's Slide,
weary, bruised and bleeding, friends who
had been waiting to pick up their mangled
bodies hailed them as If they had returned
from the dead.
When Fellows sent his report to Washing,
ton there was In It no word of the perils
and hardships of survey work In a rmring
canon. It was brief and to the point:
"Gunnison tunnel project la feasible."
Boon the order came from Washington:
"Complete surveys for construction."
The next man on the scene was J. W. MrT
Connell. and better known In the service
aa "Gunnison" McConnell. Folka out there
slsed him up a a ahy sophomore: now they
tske off their hata to him. Thev flint
fault with him for one thing, however,
which ia that he la not given to talk.
A Heart-Breaking .'ob.
McConnell'a orders could not be car
ried out by surveying through the canon;
they had to lower him down In there with
ropes ao that he might make a map of It
a real topographic map. with contour lines,
levels and bench marks as clear and easy
to trace as the map of any section or ward
of your own town Then he established
precise levela at both ends of the proposed
tunnel. This was a heart-breaking Job. Of
course the tunnel could not tie built level,
because It must carry water and more
over it must carry Just the amount of
water needed over In the I'ncompaligre
valley. If It were built without sufficient
lope from river to valley It would not
carry enough water, while If it had too
much slope It would carry too much water.
And so McConnell ran levels up over the
mountain to the valley and back from the
valley over the mountain to the bottom of
the canon, out and In repeatedly, checking
his measurements each time until he had
Just the slope required. The fart that he
took his life In his hands a score of times
each day did not bother Washington in
the least. Washington waa looking for, a
set of construction plans.
But McConnell's Job was Just begun
when he had established the Mope levels.
It was then necessary to measure the
length of his tunnel down to the merest
Inch. , You would probably measure eff a
house. lot by running a loo-foot tape along
tie Boundaries, but that wouldn't do In
this case. There Is a hill 3.w0 feet high
between the ends of this tunnel, and the
tunnel Itself g,es straight through. He
measured It by triungulMtlon. a weird sort
of expedient to engineers who have studied
and worked long enough to learn It. but
even thnt was not sufficient for this pur
pose. The whole distHuce was "slope
boarjed" in addition.
Mow Bat Sere.
Hlope boarding Is easy to understand.
If ou want to determine the honionul
distance between the head and the foot
of a flight of stairs you would start at
the top and measure the width of each
tread, and allowing for overhang, you
would add theHe measurements together
snd have the horizontal distance. Now,
McConnell and his clew did something
similar to this. They had a long board
scaled off to hair's bi eadth just ao long,
no more and no lees. In the middle of
this board was set a spirit level, so that
the measurlug edge of the board could
be set true. With a man at each end of
the boar 4 and one in the middle to watch
the apliit level, they started from a pre
ii ii i vi i
cisely defined point at the top of the hill
and measured down hill each way. One
end of the board was placed on this point
and the other was directed along the
route and raised or lowered until the mid-
die mun said "level Then the man at
the outer end would drop a plumb hob
and mark the spot directly beneath the
end of the hoard. Then the hoard would
he reversed, the outer man would t:ik"
the atake, and the stake man would drop
the plumb hob. If the plumb bob did noi
htt the same identical siot that it had
marked before something was wrong, and
they began all over again. Having agreed
upon a precise distance and marked It
permanently, thla new mark would be
taken as a basis, and the process repeated
until tha whole distance was covered.
Imagine now three men alope-boarding
down the alecpest alate ruof you ever saw
Of course, they would need rubber-soled
ahoea and rones. Just as "Gunnison" Mc
Connell and his men did, but you should
remember In this connection that you never
saw a alate roof as steep as the walls of
Gunnison canon; builders di uot make
f i lilies ia '.t'js lyiW.u
them, nor do they perch their ridge poles
I.Whi feet above ground.
Orders to Ilia;.
McConnell prepared his pi. ins, sent them
to HAhitiKton and in the course of time
came Imi k the older. "J'rocei-d to dig."
and he Is digging now with the same spirit
with which he prepared lh plans.
About two miles, or a little more than
one-third, of the great GunniHon tunnel
ruui now liecn completed. Night and day,
unceasingly, the drills are biting their way
into the granite through the Vernal Mesa,
wlm h divides the watersheds of the Gun
nison and t'licompaghce rivers.
The I'ncompahgre valley, which is to be
made fertile by the waters of the Gunnison
river, comprises parts of Ouray, Montrose
and Delta counties. It has a general ele.
vation above B.nfiO feet. Most of the land
under the government project is In private
ownership, the cultivated areae being
largely In orchards, alfalfa and grain. The
well-watered orchard lands In bearing are
easily worth $5X per acre, and thla fruit
has a ready sale In the eastern markets
of the United Blatea and in Europe. The
(8) (o) o.(8) (o) co)
G'ATW OVER LAST YEAR
valley is especially adapted tc. the raising
of potatoes, sugar beeta and vegetables
The tunnel, which will be cement-lined,
will have a carrying capacity of l.:iO cubic
feet a second, and will connect directly
with an elaborate system of canals and
ditches. Owing to the failure of the con
tractors the government is now construct
ing the tunnel under force account and
exnects to have the work completed and
! In An.ralli.n In ih. Inrln. of tUft
The men have been trained gradually to
the work and they go at the tunnel fall
like a lot of gophers, three eight-hour shifts
a day, and nearly every shift working to
beat the othera' record.
The completion of thin work will add :.Oi)
homea to the I'ncompahgre valley and will
increase the taxable wealth of Colorado by
not less than $1H.O00.Ci0. The estimated
cost of the whole Is approximately l:,b"l.
Cflo, which aum must be returned to the
government In not less than ten years after
completion by the ownera of the land!
which are to be Irrigated. Near York
Time. . --
Eighth Birthday Announcement
Our eighth fiscal year closed May 10th. From
May 10th, 1905, to Mav 10th, 1906, our actual
shipments were $8,012,296. This shows a gain
In shipments over labt year of $1,665,667
A record never before approached by any
other house in th history of the Shoe business.
Our Capitalization Is $2,500,000.00.
We have 93 Traveling Salesmen.
Over '12,000 leading merchants are selling
J STAR BRAND SHOES."
Over Three Million people are wearing them.
We operate seven big specialty factories, two
of which we have recently acquired, and we now
have a combined manufacturing capacity of over
Ten Million Pairs of Shoes annually.
In each factory we make only one grade of
Shoes, hence every workman becomes an expert.
This is why "STAR BRAND SHOES ARE
BETTER." Our Leading Brands:
"PATRIOT" Shoe for Men.
"SOCIETY" andl .
"MAYFLOWER" J SbOCS iot Women'
"OUR FAMILY" Shoes for all the Family.
J.' ETERNITY" School Shoe for Boys and Girls.
TO CUT COAL BILLS HALF
rroaperts Seem Kaiorable for Learn
ing Hon to Burn Dirt
If some one were to discover that ordi
nary dirt was a fuel, which burned under
cciMin hiinple conilllions, yielded aa good
or better results than the best Pennsyl
vania anthracite. It Is easy to imagine the
popular se.nBation that would tie rauscil.
"Vet results almost, if not quite, as sensa
tional obtained by the I'nlted States g-ni-logical
survey coal testing plant have
passed almost unnoticed by the general
'I lie experiments at Ihis plant have dem
onstrated that bituminous coal, heretofore
considered less than half as valuable as
anthracite, will, when manufactured Into
gas and hurtled In a gas engine, prnd'ice
as much net horse power per ton of fuel
as the best anthracite; and, still better,
that lignite, which la so common all through
the wtsl and baa bn considered almost
worthless, will actually yield more horee
power per ton than the best anthracite
burned under a steam boiler. It haa shown
that all grades of coal, from the best to
the most worthless, as Judged by former
standards, ran be utilized In this manner,
their value for producing gas being, gen
erally speaking, exactly Inverse to their
value In directly producing steam In a
boiler. That is to say. Hie jioorer the coal
for direct stcam-prodm lug purpose ibv
which power coal has been valued In tha
past) the more valuable It seems to be for
yielding gas for use In the gas engine.
"Yes. your husband wrote rne a verf
abusive letter." aald the lawyer. "I don I
think much of him."
"You don't?" retorted the caller hotlf.
"I wish you to understand that my hue
band is every inch a gentleman."
"Ah, In that case, madam, you ahoulcl
place hln) In the museum."
"Becausa fa must be a, dwarf "-oJcago
. . ,
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