Suez Canal III

Lead: Facing almost universal skepticism, the Suez Canal Company under Ferdinand de Lesseps raised the money and dug the Canal.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Prime Minister Palmerston of Britain called him a swindler and a fool. Bankers such as Baron de Rothschild rejected his pleas for capital. Yet, de Lesseps succeeded against all odds. Raising money from small investors and operating with a design approved by the International Commission for the Piercing of the Isthmus of Suez, he broke ground in 1859 near the future Port Said. It took ten years to construct the canal. At any given point 30,000 workers were employed often under harsh, forced conditions. More than a million were so engaged and thousands of laborers died on the project. Progress was often delayed by labor disputes and the outbreak of diseases such as cholera, but in the end the canal was completed primarily due to the importation of giant French-designed steam shovels and dredges.

 

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Suez Canal II

Lead: In 1869, finally, the land bridge between Egypt and Suez was pierced with a canal, thanks in large measure to Ferdinand de Lesseps.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: He was no engineer, had no great fortune, had no access to capital, and was in no way an effective administrator, unanimated by tedium. Yet, if anyone might be called the Father of the Suez, it was de Lesseps. Other than his indefatigable energy and dedication to the project, he largely succeeded in building the canal because of his personal connection to two people.

 

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Suez Canal I

Lead: In 1869 French engineers and Egyptian laborers completed work eliminating one of the world’s two great blocks to navigation. They opened the canal at Suez.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Until the 19th and 20th centuries there were two significant places in the world where the passage of oceangoing commerce and transportation were impeded by relatively short land bridges. The Isthmus of Panama fell before the assaults of U.S. doctors and engineers in 1914. Creating a passage between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea was much longer in coming. It had attracted the attention of rulers such as Ramesses II of the 12th Egyptian dynasty in the 2nd Millennium BCE and Persian conqueror Darius I. They built narrow canals from the Nile to the Red Sea but these soon fell into disuse.

 

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Belle Huntington (Richest Woman in the World) II

Lead: Born of humble circumstances in Richmond, Arabella Yarrington Huntington in 1900 was considered by many to be the richest woman in the world.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After helping to build the first transcontinental railroad, Collis Potter Huntington went south to explore investment opportunities. During his stays at a Richmond, Virginia boardinghouse, he fell in love with the daughter of the owner who also served as barmaid, Arabella. She was thirty years his junior but a vivacious and beautiful woman. She moved to New York, became his mistress, and bore him a son in 1870.

Belle Huntington (Richest Woman in the World) I

Lead: One of America's foremost collectors of art as an adult expended great energy concealing her roots. Belle Huntington spent her youth as a barmaid in Shockoe Bottom.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Collis Potter Huntington was one of the founders of the Central Pacific, the West Coast link of the first Transcontinental Railroad. With the completion of that line in 1869, Huntington began to seek other outlets for his restless energy. One logical place to search was the South. Defeated and demoralized, Southerners were anxious to attract capital investment to help rebuild the region in the years following the Civil War. In 1868 Huntington came to Richmond, Virginia seeking to merge three ailing Virginia railroads into an effective southeastern network that could feed into his transcontinental lines. He secured an endorsement for the merger from Robert E. Lee and in 1870 he reorganized the Chesapeake and Ohio with himself as President.

Charlie Crocker’s $10K Bet (Transatlantic Railroad)

Lead: Charlie Crocker's men lay ten miles of track and won for their boss a $10,000 bet.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: It all started in late October 1868. Thomas C. Durant, of the Union Pacific Railroad, had just witnessed his own men laying 7 3/4 miles of track, a record for a single day's work. He then cabled Charlie Crocker, chief engineer of the Central Pacific working eastward on the first continental rail link. He wagered $10,000 that the Union Pacific's record could not be broken surpassed. Crocker thought he could beat it, accepted the bet, and bragged that his crew could lay ten miles of track in a single day.

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America’s First Railroad

Lead: Far from the industrial North, America's first railroad began at Charleston, South Carolina.

Content: In 1828, Horatio Allen, an American engineer, became fascinated with the new means of transportation known as the railroad. He paid a visit to England to study the few railroads then in existence. He was very impressed. So much so that he bought four locomotives and had them shipped back across the Atlantic.

The Great Eastern

Lead:  In November, 1857, Isambard Kingdom Brunel tried to launch his magnificent creation. Great Eastern, the heaviest object anyone had ever attempted to move, got stuck.

 Tag: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

 Content: Brunel was one of the most successful engineers of his day. He constructed what was at that time, the world’s longest tunnel, several unusual railroad bridges, and finally, Great Eastern.  Conceived as the first luxury liner, the ship was designed to carry 4,000 passengers in complete comfort, haul enough coal for a non-stop round-trip from England to Australia, and earn her inventors’ money back in a couple of years.  No such luck.  No profit was ever made with Great Eastern.

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