PRESIDENT TAFT, in asking for an additional appropriation of 250,000 to complete the. work of unwatering and disclosing the wreck of the Maine, undoubtedly voiced the opinion of the nation at large when he said As long as there remains unexcayated any portion of the mud and debris within the wreck or in its neighborhood, from which evidences may he had of the original cause of the disaster, we shall be derelict in our duty in 19t prosecuting a further research." Interest in the extraordinary operations which are being carried on by our army engineers in Havana harbor in the effort to solve the riddle of the maine is more than national. It is world-wide. Both as an engineering work of unusual difficulty and as a determined attempt to get to the bottom of a mystery which is without parallel in naval history, the work which we illustrate and describe on another page of this issue is of profound interest, and the question will naturally arise at this stage of the proceedings, as to whlt promise is afforded of determining with certainty whether the faine destroyed by an explosion from without or within the ship, Ind whether the disaster was deliberai. -1y planned, or resulted from accidentll causes. The work so far done seems to render the problem more perplexing than ever; for the unwatering of the ship has shown that the destruction of that portion of it where the explosion occurred was even more complete than was supposed. The examination made by divers immediately after the disaster showed that for a length of 70 to 80 feet the sides and decks of the “Maine” hld been literally blown to pieces. The double bottom, badly broken up and twisted out of shape, was apparently more or lpss in place, and it was largely upon the testimony of the divers thlt portions of the double bottom showed tlwt the plating was bent upwards and into the hull, and that a portion of the keel and bottom had been forced up to a point about :4 feet above where it would be had the S1ip sunk uninjured; that the naval court of inquiry found that the maine was destroyed by the explosion of 1 submarine mine, which caused the plrtial explosion of two or more cf the forward magazines." In the intervening thirteen years, the wreck of the “Marine” has sunk many fect down into thc soft mud of the hlrbor bottom. Judging from the photograph shown on pages 2] ° and 211, the keel and double bottom in the region of the explosion must have sunk even further than the wreck itself; else this portion of the wreckage would be visible, whcre the photograph shows an absolutely clear splce. It is shted (though we haye no ofcial confrmation of this) that soundings in the region of the glp failed to show the existence of the double bottom. It is conceivable that, becoming detached from the rest of tbc wreckage, its wcight has carried it slowly (own to the underlying frmer bottom of the hlrbor, some sixty feet below the surface of the water. In this case, its recovery and thorough examinltion will prove to be a matter of extreme difculty, Failing its recovery, the question as to how the “Maine" was destroyed must forever lack a definite and convincing answer. The mystery of the “Maine” is to-dlY as profound as ever. Every hypothesis that has been ofered presents insuperable difculties. Thc suggestion that the deed was done by the Spanish government through its navli or military ofccrs has, from thc very frst, been scouted by the naval and military men of the United States, who point to the fact that the Spaniards are a proud and a high-minded people, whose naval and military men are ab:Ye 111 suspicion of so foul an act as the sinking of the ship of a friendly nation. Furthermore, the events of the war showed the Spaniards were woefully inefcient in the handling of mines and torpedoes; as witness the case of the battleship “Texas,” which fouled 1 foating, Spanish contact mine with one of her propellels without causing it to detonate; furthermore, her mining Ind torpedo operations in general proved to be equally futile. The suggcstion that the “:ine” was sunk by Cuban conspirators in the hope of embroiling the United States and Spain is disproved by the fact that it would be impossible to lay a large mine in the Irea ovcr which the Maine would swing at her mooring and connect it with two independent observation stations on shore, without attracting public attention. The mine would have to be carried out on a lighter or vessel of considerable size, moored in placc, and electric clbles paid out from the mine to In observing station, which would itself have to be connected by telephone with another obscrving station, each station being equipped with instruments to determine the exact moment Ilt which the “:Iaine” was folting above the mine. The attempt to anchor 1 foating contact minc would present almost equal probabilities of detcction. Llstly, it hiS been suggested that the entrance to the harbor mly have been mined, Ilnd that one of the mines may have broken loose or dragged its mooring, and come in contact with the ship, which was located, we believe, not very far from the harbor entrance. The trouble with this theory is that contact mines would scarcely be placed in a waterway where ships were free to come and go; and that, if the mine had broken adrift and was floating at the surface, the incurved plating which the divers discovercd would have been the side plating at the water line, and not that of the double bottom. There remains then the theory that the “:Iaine” may lwve been destroyed by an internal explosion, presumably of the mlglzines; but this suggestion is strongly controverted by the testimony of Capt. Sigsbce before the board of inquiry, which showed that on the fatal night cverything connected with the ship was perfectly normll. The guncotton WIS stowed aft under the cabin, as were the torpedo warheads. The gun cotton primers and dctonltors were aft in the captain's cabin, and no torpedo was ftted with a warhead at the time of the explosion. As to thc magazines, they were on that night at the normal temperatures for a tropical climate. There was no loose powder in the magazines. The magazines had been subj ectcd to the regular inspection, the doors locked, and the keys were in the captain's cabin (from which they were recovered after the ship sank) at the time of the explosion. The evidence on this point is strongly against the possibility of any malicious blowing up of the maglzines. There remains the theory of spontlneous combustion of the magazine powder. This is rendered unlikely by the fact that the gunpowder for the big guns was entirely of the brown prismatic type; which, as is well known, is one of the safest powders known, and is not subject to any chemicli deterioration, such as occurs in the smokelcss nitro-glycerin powders. Had the magazines that exploded contained big-gun charges of smokeless powder, it is conceivable that spontlneous combustion such few years ago, destroyed thc French battleship “Jena,” might havc wrecked the “Maine." On the other hand, the evidence shows that there was a small arm ammunition locker forward, and that it contained 1 new supply of ammunition for small-arm and small rapid-fre guns. This was presumably of the smokeless vlriety, rnd this fact will naturally raise the question as to whether the mischief might have originated at this point. A Record Aeroplane Tour WHEN he alighted upon Governors Isllnd at 2.38 o'clock in the afternoon of Friday, August 25th, Harry N. Atwood completed his long journey from Chicago in triumph and established a new record for long distance travelling by Ieroplane. He stlrted from St. Louis at 8.05 A.M., August 1 'Hh-12 days before-Ind, flying from -o to 150 miles each day, he completed the 1,265-mile trip without difculty or serious mishap. His jour- ney is the longest ever made across country bl aeroplane, and the first real pleasure tour. Atwood was able to fy every day, and each day he made headway, although on a fcw he was obliged to wait until late in the afternoon for the wind to die down. His longest day's fight was 286 miles made the frst day and his shortest 27 milcs made the last. When he passed Rhineelif, N. Y., at 8.39 A. 11., the day before he fnished, Atwood was 13 miles ahead of the long-distance record of 1,16, miles made in 30 days in a circuit race in Germlny. The Europeln circuit aeroplane race was only about 1,000 miles in length and it required nearly 1 week longer than the time required by Atwood. The circuit of Britain race, 1,060 miles in length, although completed by Lieut. Conneau and :I. Vedrines, in three days, was only fnished by Mr. Valcntine, on a French monoplane, and Capt. Cody, in his huge British-built biplane, in 13 and 14 days respectively. Thus it can be scen that Atwood surpassed their performances despite the engine trouble which delayed him considerably during the last three days of his trip. At one time, while he was nearing Albany, he was obliged to Ilight and tighten the bCltS which secured the engine to thc frame of the aeroplane. In ten minutes he was en 1'oute again. After circling about the capital city of New York State he was compelled to descend It Castleton, a few miles furthcr down the riYcr, on account of the hurning out of a belring in the motor. After re-babbitting this bearing oyer night, he made a fne fight down the river, dipping suddenly and passing under the Poughkcepsie Bridge, and circling over the plrade ground at \Yest Point, but he did not land on the parade ground owing to his fear that he could not start from the feld succcssfully bccause of the trees and buildings surrounding it: Instead he alighted high up on the other side of the ri,'er, at Glrrisons, replenished his fuel, Im1 started for Xew York. \Yhen at Nyack, a half hour later, the motor suddenly gave out a1(1 he was obliged to find a. landing place quickly, as he was not at 1 very great elevation. Dexterously guiding his machine, he alighted on a narrow patch of open feld between a barn and an apple orchard. The motor WIlS repaired overnight, and the next day, despite the thorough sOlking which the aeroplane received in a helvy rain the night before, Atwood was able to make the trip successfully under lowering skies and with a strong wind at his back. Under thcse weather conditions he was only 43 minutes in covering the 27 milcs to Governor's Island. The total fying time of the Burgcss-Wright biplane used by Atwood was 28 hours and 31 minutes, which corresponds to an average speed of 44.38 miles Iln hour throughout the long trip. The journey was Iccomplished in twenty fights of an average length of 63V miles. Every time the machine alighted and started again without mishap, and the fact that it was never damaged, even in the dangerous forced descent at “yack, speaks well indeed for Atwood's skill as an Iviator. His fight shows up well in comparison with the London Dail. lail's Circuit of Britlin race and endurance test as, like the competitors in this English event, he did not change his engine or any essential part of the machine. Furthermore, he had several days of more difcult fying around the Great Lakcs and above the Hudson, than was experienced by any of the aviators mentioned above in the British contest. \Vhile fying over the water was dangerous fOl' Atwood, even with pontoons on his biplane, with a hydro-aeroplane such as Curtiss has devised, it would be preferable to follow rivers Ind canals, upon which a forced descent could alwlYs be madc without danger. The successful termination at New York of Atwood's tour has shown America to still be in the lead as regards the practical use of the aeroplanc for pleasure and touring purposcs, \Yhile France has made a far greater use of it for military purposes, and England is taking it up for carrying of the mails, a young American with only a few months' experience in flying, lws shown that it is possible to tour for pleasure and without danger in In American aeroplane, fitted with an American motor. The lesson taught by the motor troubles which he experienced is that for safety a touring aeroplane should be equipped with two seplrate engines, so that in case of failure of one, the other can be used. }Ir. Edwin Gould foresaw this necessity two years ago and offered 1 generous prize of $15,000 through the Scientific American for 1 twin-motor aeroplane. Alreadv one American monoplane has been built and-fown with two motors, and several machines of this type, we understand. have also flown abroad, The Gould prize is still open for competition. Ind we hope that by July 4th of next year, Ilt least half a score of aeroplanes will be built to compete for it.
This article was originally published with the title "The Mystery of the “Maine”, A Record Aeroplane Tour, and more" in Scientific American 105, 10, 202 (September 1911)