[D8933ABX], Letter from Charles B Gaskill to William Birch Rankine, October 27th, 1889


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[D8933ABX], Letter from Charles B Gaskill to William Birch Rankine, October 27th, 1889

Editor's Notes

[This is an enclosure to D8933ABW] My dear Mr. Rankine, Yours of the 26th just received.####A few days since a gentleman came here from Toronto fresh from a conference with Canadian parties who had asked him to take hold of the Canada scheme and take it to England to be capitalized. He stated to me that the terms which the Canadian authorities exacted for permission to use their reservation lands and for access to the run and use of its waters, were####1st: A payment of $50,000 cash, for the two first years of occupancy and use, i.e. $25,000 per annum rental. Thereafter an annual rental of $30,000 up to and including 20 years, and then the Canadian authorities would fix the future charge at such sum as the worth of the plant, its uses &c. would warrant. Or that they would agree upon $50,000 annual rental if satisfactory to the parties who were interested.####My informant stated that much effort was made to soften these terms, but without avail and that he, personally, preferred the Niagara Falls Tunnel) plan and wished to secure it for London parties who would at once take hold and build it &c. &c. He further stated that the authorities at Washington had been asked about duties upon the power to be transmitted to the American side and that no favorable decision of freedom from taxation or duties could be obtained which was another obstacle &c.####He visited Lockport, looked over their plans and returning here informed me that they were not worth considering, and finally said: "The fact is, your Niagara Falls Tunnel scheme is the only one worth my time to engage in 'and if 60 days' time, with control, can be given me I will ;raise the capital and commence work."####Assuring him of our inability to entertain any prop oaition--the interview ended.####From another source I learn that the terms of the Canadian government are substantially those give me by this party.####It would seem to be unnecessary to call attention to the difference existing between the two regions and people separated by the Niagara River. Upon the american side, within 30 miles of niagara Falls; we have 400,000 population, 15 great trunk railway lines, and with every pound of available water power in full use and probably 50 to 75,000 horse power made from coal in full and active employment.####Upon the canadian side within 30 miles, they have a population of less than 75,000, two lines of railway, with several thousand unused house power (water) along the Welland Canal and with a class of people 50 years behind the Americans in energy and ability to thrive and prosper.####That their power can be transmitted I do not doubt. That it can be of any local value for mills, factories &c. for many years to come, I can safely deny, and any engineer of ability who will carefully examine the physical feature of the Canadian side of the river also weigh the fact that all inlets for water to propel his wheels must have their commencement along the edge of and within the rapids leading to the "Horse-shoe" Falls, subject to interruptions from fields of ice tumbling and irresitibly forcing its way to the river below --must pronounce against the desirability of a power subject to such interruptions and which would be fatal to any investment where earnings are expected to be derived from transmitted power. From long experience with power I insist that only that which is continuous and always reliable should receive consideration.####Truly yours, has. B. Gaskill####W.B. Rankine, Esq., New York####[next enclosure: Memoranda####The hydraulic canal now at Niagara Falls is an open out about 2/3 of a mile in length, 7 feet deep and 60 feet wide, cost of $300,000 [handwritten note: exclusive of lands given by the (Porter?] and has an average capacity of about 6,000 h.p now fully used. In Jan., Feby. And first half of March there is some trouble with slush or anchor ice which reduces its average capacity 20 to 40% according to the severity of the winter. It should be understood that the character of ice referred to is not that which comes in solidform from the lakes and down the river but forms in the river and open canal and frequently for several hours closes all the wheels in use upon the Canal. This difficulty becomes serious in proportion to the length of the open canal or conduit and is lessened and removed when water wheels are placed near the source of supply. The plans of the Tunnel Co. locate the wheel pits within 3 to 400 feet of the deep waters of the Niagara River which will insure continuous power.####It is of very great importance in planning for the use of Niagara power for electric light and power purposes in Tonawanda & Buffalo that the public understand that it can be made reliable and always available. Particularly is this the case with reference to electric light the revenue from which can be made to exceed one half million of dollars annually. Were the city of Buffalo supplied with light by transmission from Niagara and the power prove to be eccentric during several weeks in the winter it would give rise to difficulties of a very grave nature. The only safe plan is, to have as little open canal as possible, with liberal connections with the Channel and the power will ten be continuous and reliable. This condition of location the Tunnel plan CAN ONLY SUPPLY.####The writer has had fifteen years experience as a manufacturer upon the hydraulic canal here and during some of the severe winters has suffered a loss during the months above named from 25 to 50% in the output of his mills. This could not have occurred under the Tunnel plan of water supply.####The construction of a 24 foot Tunnel 1 1/2 miles permits of the discharge of water sufficient to produce 120,000 horse power. This result cannot be secured by any other plan without at least doubling the cost, and when once constructed the cost of maintaining is reduced to the minimum since an underground tunnel in rock once built needs no repair thereafter.####The advantages of the Tunnel project may be summarized as follows:####1st. The production of the greatest amount of power for the sum to be expended.####2nd. The location of the wheel pits adjacent to the river will furnish CONTINUOUS power not obtainable by any other plan.####3rd. Cost of maintaining reduced to the minimum. All work to be done is in rock and of the most durable character.####4th. As part of our plan is to absorb the Niagara Falls water supply system which will yield a revenue of 12 to $15,000 per annum, location must be had upon the river to secure pure water for domestic uses.####5th. The location of Pulp and Paper mills should be such as to permit the use of faily clean water which should also come directly from the river---####6th. Lake and Erie Canal transportation available without added expense.####7th. Continuous power for Electric transmittion to Buffalo which will yield an immense revenue.---####6th. The Tunnel Co. will acquire about two hundred acres of lands under water, the title to which follows that covered by our conftracts.####respectfully submitted, Chas. B. Gaskill.####[Enclosure]: The objections to the Lewiston or Suspension Bridge scheme, are as follows:####1st. An equal sum expended on the Lewiston Co. plan will produce less than one-half the power obtained by the Tunnel plan.####2nd. Requires a surface Canal or at least two miles in length which is objecttionable as its capacity is liable to be reduced one-half at times during winter months.####3rd. Extra cost to maintain. Passes under railroads and streets requiring bridges, excludes vessels unless the Canal is of large size adding to its cost and requiring draw-bridges, &c.####4th. Presents upon the surface a large property subject to taxation,####5th. Will not supply a power under all conditions suitable for electrical transmission to Buffalo.####8th. Its locaation away from the river does not present the advantages for location of mills and factories which a frontage along the river gives. This has special reference to sewerage the uses of clear water for domestic and manufacturing purposes, easy access by lake and canal vessels laden with heavy freight both raw and manufactured material. These and other special advantages cannot be had where an inland power is located two or three miles away from the Niagara River with which it is only onnected by a slender Canal.####7th. Finally it is not understood that this company (Lewiston) have acquired any lands upon which to locate mills and factories, nor right of way, nor have they in hand any discernable revenues as an inducement to capitalists to carry out the project.




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Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University
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