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A Journey in Other Worlds
J. J. Astor
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shaped feet, connected with a superstructural deck by ankle-jointed pipes, through which,
when necessary, a pressure of air can be forced down upon the enclosed surface of water.
Ordinarily, however, they go at great speed without this, the weight of the water
displaced by the bell feet being as great as that resting upon them. Thus they swing along
like a pacing horse, except that there are four rows of feet instead of two, each foot being
taken out of the water as it is swung forward, the first and fourth and second and third
rows being worked together. Although, on account of their size, which covers several
acres, they can go in any water, they give the best results on Mediterraneans and lakes
that are free from ocean rollers, and, under favourable conditions, make better speed than
the nineteenth-century express trains, and, of course, going straight as the crow flies, and
without stopping, they reach a destination in considerably shorter time.
Some passengers and express packages still cross the Atlantic on 'spiders,' but most of
these light cargoes go in a far pleasanter and more rapid way. The deep-displacement
vessels, for heavy freight, make little better speed than was made by the same class a
hundred years ago. But they are also run entirely by electricity, largely supplied by wind,
and by the tide turning their motors, which become dynamos while at anchor in any
stream. They therefore need no bulky boilers, engines, sails, or coal-bunkers, and
consequently can carry unprecedentedly large cargoes with comparatively small crews.
The officers on the bridge and the men in the crow's nest--the way to which is by a ladder
INSIDE the mast, to protect the climber from the weather--are about all that is needed;
while disablement is made practically impossible, by having four screws, each with its
own set of automatically lubricating motors.
"This change, like other labour-saving appliances, at first resulted in laying off a good
many men, the least satisfactory being the first to go; but the increase in business was so
great that the intelligent men were soon reemployed as officers at higher rates of pay and
more interesting work than before, while they as consumers were benefited as much as
any one else by the decreased cost of production and transportation.
"With a view to facilitating interchange still further, our Government has gradually
completed the double coast-line that Nature gave us in part. This was done by connecting
islands separated from shore by navigable water, and leaving openings for ingress and
exit but a few hundred yards wide. The breakwaters required to do this were built with
cribbing of incorrodible metal, affixed to deeply driven metallic piles, and filled with
stones along coasts where they were found in abundance or excess. This, while clearing
many fields and improving them for cultivation, provided just the needed material; since
irregular stones bind together firmly, and, while also insoluble, combine considerable
bulk with weight. South of Hatteras, where stones are scarce, the sand dredged from parts
of the channel was filled into the crib, the surface of which has a concave metallic cover,
a trough of still water being often the best barrier against the passage of waves. This
double coast-line has been a great benefit, and propelled vessels of moderate draught can
range in smooth water, carrying very full loads, from Labrador to the Orinoco. The exits
are, of course, protected by a line of cribbing a few hundred feet to seaward.