Is Erie Drying Up?

Tradition has it that once upon a time, for a single day, since civilization obtained a footing on this continent, the bed of the Niagara River was dry and the cliffs down which the mighty waters have since plunged without cessation stood forth naked and black and frowning and grim. The phenomenon was explained on natural grounds. The same thing may happen again under similar circumstances, though such an occurrence would attract more wondering visitors probably than does the great cataract now as it roars and surges and flashes in the sunlight from century to century. It must suggest to most people a surprise of hardly less degree to be informed that Lake Erie is in danger of becoming so shallow as to offer serious obstacles to navigation. We can conceive of the Niagara being dammed at its source, but few have ever dreamed that the vast expanse of water which furnishes it its life current would ever perceptibly shrink.

That is the startling report, however, that a chief engineer of the marine department of Canada has just made. He has returned to Ottawa from a tour of inspection of the upper lakes, and states that Lake Erie is lower than was ever known to be the case before. This condition is due, he thinks, to a series of dry seasons, to the drain made by the power development works at Niagara Falls, and to the fact that dredging the Tonawanda Canal has made it easier for water to escape from the lake. He considers it imperative that the United States government adopt remedial measures at an early date, else navigation upon its present basis will be seriously interfered with.

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