Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 25 > Page 45 - Harry MacKenzie: Building the Causeway

Page 45 - Harry MacKenzie: Building the Causeway

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1980/6/1 (420 reads)

lower face. The way they did it, we had a 400-foot face. In back they would have had maybe a 40-foot face but made it longer and had it back in the woods somewhere where nobody would have ever seen where the rock came from. If they had it to do over again, I know that's what they would do. But as it is, they stayed right with it. They put coyote holes in. That's a hole a- bout 4 or 5 feet high, about the same width--and used to go in 100 feet into the face of the mountain. Then at the 100-foot mark they'd branch off, 50 feet each way. Then come out at the 50-foot mark and do the same thing. Then they'd load that whole thing up with d5mamite. And they'd bring down, oh, 350 to 400 thousand tons in one shot. (Blasting every day?) Oh no. When they did blast, they had to move all the equipment out. But if they had had that long face like they suggested later, they could have been drilling and blasting on one end and hauling from the other end. On a day they were going to blast, they hauled everything out of that quarry. The whole face came out. The coyote holes are dug only on the lower level. And the whole thing • 400-foot lift of rock--just lift the whole thing. And it would all come down. Then the next step of the job was to load that, lug it out to the Causeway. (Is that the building of the Causeway? You blasted the face of a mountain; you picked the rock up and put it on a truck; men drove to the water's edge?...) And dumped it. (And that was it?) That was it. That was all. The engineering part of it was the lock. And the bridge and the gates. (When the first load of rock went in, you didn't see anything. And when the 50th load went in?.,,) You didn't see much either. (When did you know you were going to have a Causeway?) Actually, a lot of the people thought it would never get across. Oh, they were sure of it. They thought that the ice would take it out. Of course, those big pans of ice coming down, hit that Causeway--and the ice would split right over the Cape Breton side • just open up. And then it would pile up on the Cause? way • today you never get that current. But I don't think I ever had any doubt that we could build it, because that tide stops every day, you know, and you can put a lot of rock in, and sit back and wait till the tide turns again. That's the way we fin? ished it, the last of it, we had it right there, waiting, ready to push. Once we got her shut off, that was it. The strangest thing on that job to me was the change in the depth. The original sounding showed the depth of water at the deepest spot was 187 feet. Now, no one had ever built a rock fill in that depth of water before, and nobody knew what slope it was going to take. And my boss figured on 1% : l--which is exactly right--or it would have been, but we put more rock on the sides and threw it out more, make it wider, to make it more stable. (1% : 1 means...) For every foot up, it goes out a foot and a half. (This is the form the Causeway fell into as it was dumped.) That's right. You couldn't control it. They just dumped on the end there, right along, bringing her along, widening her. At times it stood up so straight in front, we'd have to put dynamite down and blast it. You see, they'd dump rock over. Actu? ally, they bulldozed it over. The truck would dump it first and then another man would bulldoze it over. And that rock would stand right up straight almost like a wall at the outside end of the Causeway. They'd drop dynamite and touch it off to make it crumble. And they were wondering why the dynamite didn't go sometimes. They'd put it down in big sacks, lower it down there, the wires hooked up--and they discovered that seals liked the dynamite CONTINUED In October, 1953, 12,368 truckloads were dumped, making 117,891 truckloads to date, a total of 4,124,673.6 tons to date. The narrowing gap is viewed from Cape Porcupine.
Cape Breton's Magazine
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