JF Ptak Science Books Post 1808
This fantastic cover appeared in Popular Mechanics, volume 71, and showed a devotion to a monumental idea of dragging enormous ships by rail from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. It was to be 300 miles long, and what looks like 125' wide, connecting Port le Verdon and Beziers, putting down the 1,200-mile Bay of Biscaye/Gibraltar/Mediterranean route.
It puts me in the mind of ponderable (and not impossible) colossi, some of which I wrote about in a short post on Werner Herzog's film Fitzcarraldo. (It is a spill-over big, magnificent film about a would-be ice-making rubber baron bringing an opera house into the trans-Andes, trying to make his way into the dense forest in a huge rear-paddle steamboat on the Amazon to stake a claim in exploiting leased lands filled with rubber trees. See here.)
The spirit of peace was nearly gone in Europe at this time, and the railroad line was to be guarded at 1000'-foot or so intervals by balloons which would suspend a steel net, protecting it from aerial attack.
In one year's time this would all be shrinkingly academic, a microbe in the plans for a greater France. This issue was printed in June, 1939, three months away from the official start of the Second World War. France would be attacked by Germany on 10 May, 1940, and an armistice would be signed with the aggressor five weeks later.
It is a little painful to look at the color image from the cover, with an enormous battleship hosted within a turreted mobile structure perhaps 100' wide, lumbering along on eight sets of railroad lines. Not only that, but this absolutely enormous mobile situation was crossing over another railroad, atop a very, very substantial stone bridge.
And as I said, a year later, France was conquered, and another Maginot Line was never built.