THE ST. PETERSBURG AND CRONSTADT MARITIME CANAL, OPENED BY THE EMPEROR OF RUSSIA, ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 1885.
"The dredging between the embankments of the canal was done by an improved process, which may interest those connected with such works. It may be remembered that the Suez Canal was mostly made by dredging, and that the dredgers had attached to them what the French called 'long couloirs' or spouts, into which water was pumped, and by this means the stuff brought up by the dredgers was carried to the sides of the canal, and there deposited. The great width of the St. Petersburg Canal was too much for the long couloirs, hence some other plan had to be found. The plan adopted was that invented by Mr. James Burt, and which had been used with the greatest success on the New Amsterdam Canal. Instead of the couloir, floating pipes, made of wood, are in this system employed; the earth or mud brought up has a copious stream of water poured on it, which mixes in the process of descending, and the whole becomes a thick liquid. This, by means of a centrifugal pump, is propelled through the floating pipes to any point required, where it can be deposited. The couloir can only run the output a comparatively short distance, while this system can send it a quarter of a mile, or even further, if necessary. Its power is not limited to the level surface of the water.
I saw on my visit to the canal one of the dredgers at work, and the floating pipes lay on the water like a veritable sea-serpent, extending to a long distance where the stuff had to be carried. At that point the pipe emerged from the water, and what looked very much like a vertebra or two of the serpent crossed the embankment, went down the other side, and there the muddy deposit was pouring out in a steady flow. Mr. Burt pointed out to me one part of the works where his pump had sent the stuff nearly half a mile away, and over undulating ground. This system will not suit all soils. Hard clay, for instance, will not mix with the water; but where the matter brought up is soft and easily diluted, this plan possesses many advantages, and its success here affords ample evidence of its merits.
"About five miles below St. Petersburg, a basin had been already finished, with landing quays, sheds, and offices; and there is an embankment connecting it with the railways of St. Petersburg, all ready for ships to arrive. When the ships of all nations sail up to the capital, then the ideas of Peter the Great, when he laid the foundations of St. Petersburg, will be realized. St. Petersburg will be no longer an inland port. It will, with its ample harbor and numerous canals among its streets, become the Venice of the North. Its era of commercial greatness is now about to commence. The ceremony of letting the waters of the canal into the new docks was performed by the Emperor in October, 1883. The Empress and heir apparent, with a large number of the Court, were present on the occasion. The works on the canal, costing about a million and a half sterling, were begun in 1876, and have been carried out under the direction of a committee appointed by the Government, presided over by his Excellency, N. Sarloff. The resident engineer is M. Phofiesky; and the contractors are Messrs. Maximovitch and Boreysha."
We heartily congratulate the Russian government and the Russian nation upon the accomplishment of this great and useful work of peace. It will certainly benefit English trade. The value of British imports from the northern ports of Russia for the year 1883 was £13,799,033; British exports, £6,459,993; while from the southern ports of Russia our trade was: British imports, £7,177,149; British exports, £1,169,890--making a total British commerce with European Russia of £20,976,182 imports from Russia and £7,629,883 exports to Russia. It cannot be to the interest of nations which are such large customers of each other to go to war about a few miles of Afguhan frontier. The London Chamber of Commerce Journal, ably edited by Mr. Kenric B. Murray, Secretary to the Chamber, has in its May number an article upon this subject well deserving of perusal. It points out that in case of war most of the British export trade to Russia would go through Germany, and might possibly never again return under British control.
In spite of Russian protective duties, this trade has been well maintained, even while the British import of Russian commodities, wheat, flax, hemp, tallow, and timber, was declining 40 per cent. from 1883 to 1884. The St. Petersburg Maritime Canal will evidently give much improved facilities to the direct export of English goods to Russia. Without reference to our own manufactures, it should be observed that the Russian cotton mills, including those of Poland, consume yearly 264 million pounds of cotton, most of which comes through England. The importation of English coal to Russia has afforded a noteworthy instance of the disadvantage hitherto occasioned by the want of direct navigation to St. Petersburg; the freight of a ton of coal from Newcastle to Cronstadt was six shillings and sixpence, but from Cronstadt to St. Petersburg it cost two shillings more. It is often said, in a tone of alarm and reproach, that Russia is very eager to get to the sea. The more Russia gets to the sea everywhere, the better it will be for British trade with Russia; and friendly intercourse with an empire containing nearly a hundred millions of people is not to be lightly rejected.--Illustrated London News.