A CONSTANTLY navigable waterway through the heart of Europe, from the North Sea to the Black Sea, is now being constructed. Twice before it has been attempted. More than a thousand years ago Charlemagne tried to join together two tributaries of the Danube and Main Rivers, but geological conditions and heavy rains defeated his engineers. Nearly a century ago Ludwig I of Bavaria built a canal connecting the Main below Bamberg with the Danube at Kelheim. But this 107-mile canal, with its 100 locks and its capacity limited to 120-ton ships, went down to defeat before its latest competitor, the railroad; for while the upper reaches of the Danube and the Main are not always
navigable, steam power is always on tap. And so the traveler through Nürnberg today sees from the train a deserted waterway.
Determined to overcome the obstacles that were fatal to their predecessors, twentieth century engineers plan to make use of the 388 miles of navigable river from Rotterdam to Aschaffenburg and of the 1,362 miles of the navigable Danube from Sulina to Passau, and to construct from Aschaffenburg on the Main to Passau on the Danube -- a distance of 380 miles -- a waterway navigable for 1,500-ton ships (i.e., the largest ships usually engaged in inland traffic). They will also give Augsburg and Munich shipping connections with the canal.
By a treaty signed in 1921 the German Government and Bavaria agreed jointly to construct a Rhine-Main-Danube waterway. The Rhine-Main-Danube Company, of Munich, was formed for the purpose, and the stock was subscribed to by the Reich and Bavaria, as well as by other German states, by cities along the Rhine and Main, and by the public; all loans to the company are jointly guaranteed by the Reich and the Bavarian Government. The American public is interested in the company to the extent of about $6,000,000. As the Main had already been canalized as far up as Aschaffenburg, the company first set out to canalize the river above Aschaffenburg and
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