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The Undersea Tube by L. Taylor Hansen

The Undersea Tube

BY L. TAYLOR HANSEN

Classic Reprint from AMAZING STORIES, Nov., 1929

Copyright, 1929, by E. P. Incorporated

[Illustration]

If my friend the engineer had not told me the Tube was dangerous, I would not have bought a ticket on that fatal night, and the world would never have learned the story of the Golden Cavern and the City of the Dead. Having therefore, according to universal custom, first made my report as the sole survivor of the much-discussed Undersea Tube disaster to the International Committee for the Investigation of Disasters, I am now ready to outline that story for the world. Naturally I am aware of the many wild tales and rumors that have been circulated ever since the accident, but I must ask my readers to bear with me while I attempt to briefly sketch, not only the tremendous difficulties to be overcome by the engineers, but also the wind-propulsion theory which was made use of in this undertaking; because it is only by understanding something of these two phases of the Tube's engineering problems that one can understand the accident and its subsequent revelations.

It will be recalled by those who have not allowed their view of modern history to become too hazy, that the close of the twentieth century saw a dream of the engineering world at last realized--the completion of the long-heralded undersea railroad. It will also be recalled that the engineers in charge of this stupendous undertaking were greatly encouraged by the signal success of the first tube under the English Channel, joining England and France by rail. However, it was from the second tube across the Channel and the tube connecting Montreal to New York, as well as the one connecting New York and Chicago, that they obtained some of their then radical ideas concerning the use of wind power for propulsion. Therefore, before the Undersea Tube had been completed, the engineers in charge had decided to make use of the new method in the world's longest tunnel, and upon that decision work was immediately commenced upon the blue-prints for the great air pumps that were to rise at the two ends--Liverpool and New York. However, I will touch upon the theory of wind-propulsion later and after the manner in which it was explained to me.

It will be recalled that after great ceremonies, the Tube was begun simultaneously at the two terminating cities and proceeded through solid rock--low enough below the ocean floor to overcome the terrible pressure of the body of water over it, and yet close enough to the sea to overcome the intensity of subterranean heat. Needless to say, it was an extremely hazardous undertaking, despite the very careful surveys that had been made, for the little parties of workmen could never tell when they would strike a crack or an unexpected crevice that would let down upon them with a terrible rush, the waters of the Atlantic. But hazard is adventure, and as the two little groups of laborers dug toward each other, the eyes of the press followed them with more persistent interest than it has ever followed the daily toil of any man or group of men, either before or since.

* * * * *

Once the world was startled by the "extree-ee--" announcing that the English group had broken into an extinct volcano, whose upper end had apparently been sealed ages before, for it contained not water but air--curiously close and choking perhaps, but at least it was not the watery deluge of death. And then came the great discovery. No one who lived through that time will forget the thrill that quickened the pulse of mankind when the American group digging through a seam of old lava under what scientists call the "ancient ridge," broke into a sealed cavern which gleamed in the probing flashlights of the workers like the scintillating points of a thousand diamonds. But when they found the jeweled casket, through whose glass top they peered curiously down upon the white body of a beautiful woman, partly draped in the ripples of her heavy, red hair, the world gasped and wondered. As every school child knows, the casket was opened by curious scientists, who flocked into the tube from the length of the world, but at the first exposure to the air, the strange liquid that had protected the body vanished, leaving in the casket not the white figure, but only a crumbling mass of grey dust. But the questions that the finding of the cave had raised remained unanswered.


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