An American Engineer in Afghanistan. From the Letters and by A. C.; Bell, Marjorie Jewett (editor) Jewett

By A. C.; Bell, Marjorie Jewett (editor) Jewett

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Part of this bridge falls down or washes out every year, and already it has cost the state more than an iron bridge to span the river. The floods tipped some of the columns over. Now they are going to set them in cement and build piers around them. There were thirty-five hundred men at work on a canal to divert the river, some of them coming twelve miles to work and walking back at night. They work for the love of the chief malik of the district. There were soldiers on guard, and drums were beaten and fifes shrieked to encourage the men — very fine music.

There were thirty-five hundred men at work on a canal to divert the river, some of them coming twelve miles to work and walking back at night. They work for the love of the chief malik of the district. There were soldiers on guard, and drums were beaten and fifes shrieked to encourage the men — very fine music. The Afghan method of bridge construction is to lay poles across and then to cover the poles with flat stones and the whole with earth. The dead weight of the stones and earth generally reduces the factor of safety to a minimum.

It is very dry; the humidity must be nil, and the wind from ten to ten would blow the hair off your head. Every morning I go up to the dam we are building — guard in front with a rusty sword to clear the way and one behind; then the mirza, the mehmandar, and other parasites in the order of precedence. My interpreter makes his horse go by flapping his legs. In the work on the dam the sappers and 23 AN AMERICAN ENGINEER IN AFGHANISTAN miners use black powder, blasting without a fuse. They drill a hole and put in powder and a rod about one-fourth inch in diameter; then they tamp the hole, pull out the rod, and pour in more powder, leaving a little pile on top and placing small stones around to keep the powder from blowing away.

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