The Canal Commission on the 12th opened bids from private contractors for the completion of the Panama Canal. Only four were received. The basis on which the contract will be awarded is a percentage of the cost of completing the work. Bidders are required to accompany their proposals with a certified check of $200,000, and the successful bidder is required to give a bond of $2,000,000. The Government expressly reserved to itself the control of sanitation and engineering, the right of rigid supervision of quarters and the subsistence departments and the department of materials of supplies, and, so far as the Panama Railroad is concerned, it expressly is declared that it could not wisely be turned over to the contractor. The work to be done by the contractors, therefore, has been confined to construction. W.J. Oliver of Nashville, Tenn., and Anson M. Bangs of 5 Nassau Street, New York, associated together, were the lowest bidders for the construction of the canal. They propose to do the work for 6.75 per centum upon the estimated cost. The other bidders were George Peirce Co. of Frankfort, Me., and New York City, who offered to do the work for 7.19 per centum upon the estimated cost; the North American Dredging Company of Los Angeles, Cal., who offered to do the work for 8.2 per centum of the estimated cost, and the McArthur, Gillespie Company of New Jersey, whose bid was 12.5 per centum.

The question is before the Attorney General to determine whether the Government shall proceed in the courts under the provisions of the Sherman anti-trust law against a combination that is alleged to regulate the supply and control the price of coal in nearly every Middle Western State. Evidence in the case has been collected by the Interstate Commerce Commission, which first secured information in the matter in the progress of its inquiry into the causes for the shortage in the supply of cars on railroads in the Northwest. In his report following the investigation Franklin K. Lane declared that indisputable evidence has been found showing the existence of a coal combination; that is controlled the price of the product at some central agency, that it regulated the output and declined to supply dealers who refused to allow the price-lists made at the principal offices of the combination.

January 26, 1907

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