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with these islands, he had on board two sons of native chiefs, who came with him as a guarantee of good faith to parties wishing to trade with them. A specimen of the gold-bearing quartz from Una Point, Mitchell Harbour, in the middle island of the Queen Charlotte Islands, was also brought, which, from an assay made in London, yielded 6317 dwts. 4 grs, of gold to the ton of quartz. Small pieces of gold, varying in size from a grain of wheat to a pigeon's egg, fall out of the rock after blasting. Traces of silver have also been found in the rock.-ED.
XI.- Official Report of the Proceedings of the Exploring Party
under Commander J. C. PREVOST, of H.M.S. Virago, sent to cross the Isthmus of Darien. Communicated through Sir RODERICK I. MURCHISON.
Read April 24, 1854. December 16th, 1853.—(Full Moon.) 8.0 P.M. Weighed and steamed from the anchorage of Taboga, near Panama, shaping a course to pass inside the Pearl Islands. 11. Sighted Pacheca, the northernmost of the Pearl Islands. Daylight, off the Farallon Ingles.
Saturday, 17th.-8 A.M. Entered the Gulf of San Miguel, steering midchannel between Points Brava and Garachiné to avoid the Buey Shoal, which extends some distance S. of the former. The tide or current was strong against us ; general soundings froin 6 to 8 fathoms, which deepened as we approached Punta Patino. Passed through the Boca-Chica Passage at lowwater spring-tides ; lowest cast 7 fathoms. Entered the harbour of Darien, a magnificent sheet of water, and at 2.30 P.M. anchored in the mouth of the Savana River.
Sunday, 18th.-8.15 A.m. Discovered the ship dragging her anchor, let go small bower and got steam up; brought up outside the river in Darien Harbour with 48 fathoms on each anchor. 10.30. Low water. Weighed and proceeded up the river. In picking up a berth, the ship grounded on a soft mudbank off the right side of the river Savana; laid out kedge, let go small bower, and waited for the tide to flow. 3 P.m. Ship floated, steamed to an anchorage in mid-channel, and moored with swivel, 36 fathoms on each anchor. We were shortly afterwards visited by the authorities from Chapigana, a village situated about 8 miles distant on the S. bank of the Tuyra, containing about 150 inhabitants. These persons, viz. the Gefe Politico and Governor of the province, Don Manuel Borbina, the Alcalde, and Messrs. Hossack and Nelson, Scotchmen, gave us every information in their power of the route we were about to take, and obtained for us all the native assistance we required.
Monday, 19th.-About noon a party in the cutter and gig, with a canoe for the Indians, left the ship fully armed and equipped, with 14 days' provisions.
The latitude and longitude of two principal points being given, viz., Fuerte del Principe, lat. 8° 34' N.,* long. 77° 56' W., and Port Escoces, lat. 8° 50' N., long 77° 41' W., I deemed it better to work out our route as a course and distance, and cut our road accordingly, rather than trust to the uncertainty of the published maps, which appear to differ materially from each other. The survey made by Mr. W. Haydon, acting
* The positions of these places are, according to Mr. Gisborne's recent survey (as laid down in his MS. map), also adopted in an Admiralty Chart, just published, Fuerte del Principe, lat. 8° 44' N., long. 78° 8' W., and Port Escoces, lat. 8° 511 N., long. 77° 361 W.-ED.
second-master of this ship, shows the course followed by the boats as far as the islands “Fairfax” and “Eliza," which we reached at 3 P.m., and were joined by two more native guides (hunters) in a small canoe, who promised to accompany the expedition as carriers. Beyond this the Savana forms a reach about 3 miles long in a N.N.W, direction. Its western bauk is entirely lost among small islets and other streams running into it, forming a long, shallow mud-bank, the channel being apparently on the eastern side, where, at halftide, we found 5 fathoms. At 3:45 P.M. we were abreast of a point opening into a straight reach, and beyond it a conspicuous bill was visible, which our guides named Periaki, estimated by us at about 300 feet in height; farther than this there were no hills. Following this reach about 3 miles, the river suddenly narrowed to 60 yards, taking a sharp turn towards the N.E., bringing Periaki before us; thence the turns of the river became sharp and tortuous, our soundings giving only 1 fathom, and the banks consisting of mangrovetrees and swampy land. 5 P.m. Reached the mouth of the Lara, the Savana running N.N.W. about 30 yards wide, its turnings sharp and stream sluggish; about one mile above this, the eastern side began to assume banks, with large trees, the western side still swampy. 5:30 P.M. Abreast of Matumaganti, a small stream on the W. bank. A mile above this, our guide pointed out a spot on the same bank said to have been in former days the Spanish settlement of Fuerte del Principe ; the absence of forest trees, and the presence of brushwood and young shrubs, was the only indication we could perceive. A short distance beyond this, as the sun had gone down, we were glad to stop for the night at an old rancho on the western bank, the boats now only just afloat in the middle of the stream.
Tuesday, 20th.- Taking advantage of the flowing tide, we passed a small stream on the W. bank, by our guide called “ La Villa.” This was about a mile from our rancho; and half a mile higher up we were stopped by falls and rocks crossing the river diagonally in several places. We had now ascended the river about 22 miles from its mouth; the tide appears to flow as high as this point, but only for half an hour; this obliged me to land the party here, and upload the boats. In addition to a tent, a large rancho was provided on the E. bank of the river, and the stores and provisions were left in charge of Mr. Hornby, midshipman, with a perty officer and twelve men, all well armed. During this short detention I ascended the river, accompanied by Mr. Kennish, a volunteer, in a piragua, which had to be carried over the various falls abounding at this point, called by our canoemen Point Chepo, some Indians of that tribe having once settled there. Alternately walking along the banks and poling in the canoe, we ascended with some difficulty about 3 miles, when the river became so winding, shallow, and blocked up with fallen trees, &c., that we were obliged to return. We were told that in - the month of July we could have ascended 2 days' journey until we reached its source, Its banks assumed a more perfect form, and the debris collected on the overhanging branches of the trees gave evident signs of the height and rapidity with which the stream runs during the floods of the rainy season. On my return to Rancho No. 1, I found all our party equipped and ready for a start, with the exception of the two native volunteers of the previous night; their hearts had failed them, and they remained behind with their countrymen, the huntsmen.
Mr. Kennish had orders to steer N.N.E., compass in hand, and myself and Mr. Inskip, acting-master, with small axes to mark the trees, the latter carrying also a compass to check Mr. Kennish, Lieut. Moore and Mr. Gordon, mate, measured the road. We left No. 1 Rancho about 2 p.m. on the 20th, and on
Wednesday, 21st, we were able to start early, cutting our way through the bush. Halted at a large cuipa-tree, upon which we cut “ Virago," and commenced measuring with a line, one chain in length, which we continued
until we returned South again. Many monkeys were seen, and some shot: they made a savoury meal for our guides.
Not far from Virago tree we discovered the remains of a well, and near it several pieces of earthenware jars, &c., said by our Indian interpreter to be the work of some Indians. Encamped this night at Rancho No. 3, estimating our distance at nearly 3 miles from the boats.
Thursday, 22nd. -At our first halt a native climbed a tree, whence he saw over the dense forest “ a white space like a river, but no hills."
The largest water-course we crossed to-day, with but little water in it.' All the guides, with Pedro (interpreter), exclaimed it was the Lara. Encamped at Rancho No. 4, having travelled over 219 chains, 2} miles, at 80 chains to the mile. While the rancho was being built I returned about three quarters of a mile to examine what I supposed to be a river we had passed on our left hand, but it proved only a small stream. The cutting this day was heavy. As yet we have seen neither snakes, tigers, nor any ferocious animals.
Friday, 23rd.- Our work did not commence as early as usual; the cutting was through thick underwood and stunted shrubs, which made it more difficult to get ahead. The supply of water was less plentiful. Soon after noon a tiger (jaguar) approached very close to us, but quickly made off. Two turkeys were shot. Tracks of the wild hog, and also of a large animal called the tapir, were seen near the streams.
Encamped for the night at No. 5 Rancho, having progressed 208 chains. From a tree level land was seen ahead, but no mountains.
Saturday, 24th.-- We struck on a considerable river flowing S. E., and built our 6th Rancho on its other bank, making this day 249 chains. We here missed the fine leaves of the palm, which appears never to grow in wet, swampy, land, but in its place is found another species, with thorns, by no means so useful. A fine deer passed close to me 10-day, and many birds of beautiful plumage were seen. Pedro, our Indian interpreter, said Indians came up this river, for he saw bamboo-trees, &c., cut through, which otherwise would have obstructed the passage of a canoe.
Sunday, 25th.—The river we were encamped near, though at present containing but little water, is evidently a rapid stream when the freshes come down. Here we had the first intimation of being in the territory of the Indians of the interior, three shots during the day being distinctly heard to the northwestward, which our natives immediately said were fired by Indian hunters.
Monday, 26th.-Our road lay through low, swampy, unpleasant ground, as on the other side of the river, for about } mile, then over several streams to undulating ground, from 50 to 60 feet high, on which the wood was more open and breeze very pleasant, leaving higher ground sometimes on our left, at others on our right. " On the slope of a pleasant hill we encamped for the night at No. 7 Rancho, having gone 185 chains. On the summit of this hill one of the officers climbed part of the way up a tree, and saw a similar hill N.N.E., so that we were crossing over a range of hills varying from 50 to 60 feet high, running in a N.N.E. direction ; this being the highest land we have yet been on.
Tuesday, 27th.Some rain fell during the night, but not sufficient to annoy us. Pioneers started first, as usual, passing over the same kind of undulating hilly ground for 36 chains, which brought us to a nice stream running to the eastward. Here we fell in with the certain tracks of Indians, for the first time, pronounced by Pedro to be the bare feet of men, a child or children, and a dog, both towards the E. and W.; the most recent towards the E. The trees were the finest this day I have yet seen, and well grown; the mahogany, fustic, caoutchouc, and the tree of which the natives make their canoes, most abundant. We met also the wild-lime, which quite perfumed the air; also several most brilliant flowers of the fuchsia kind. At the foot of the last of the hills, 125 chains from our starting-place to-day, we came to the largest river we have yet seen, running pretty rapidly to the eastward, 2 feet deep. It had more water in it than at our 6th Rancho, though its bed was not near so deep. After crossing this, the ground became swampy, the road was soft, and the day far advanced, so that after crossing three other streams flowing eastward, the palm disappearing, and our way becoming more swampy as we proceeded, we determined not to attempt to cross it that night. After a slight examination we therefore retraced our steps to the first high ground, which was across the largest river; turning a short distance off the road, we selected a rising-ground, and, though nearly dark, by the united exertions of all hands, we soon had a rancho built, No. 8; distant from No. 7, 125 chains.
Wednesday, 28th.-George Julier and an officer ascended a tree this morning. From the summit of the hill, near our rancho, the former reported a mountain and a range of hills across our path, apparently about 6 miles off, with a few small risings of the ground between them and us. He also saw a gap in the range away to the right, bearing about E. The latter reports
hills running in a direction about w. by N. N., and E. by S. S." Those to the right of our N.N.E. course seemed the highest, and the nearest about 6 miles distant; those a-head about 8 miles; those to the left further off, and not so high ; saw what he thought was a gap, bearing about N.; could not see the gap. Julier spoke of the foliage of the tree he was in, shutting out the view in that direction.
The pioneers started alone this morning, as it was thought mast prudent to find a road through the swamp, before bringing up the provisions, &c. On we went, compass in hand, cheerfully retracing our steps of yesterday, in hopes of overcoming the difficulty we had met in the soft black swamp about of a mile distant. Steering the same course, N.N.E., we pushed through, sometimes knee-deep in water, at others nearly the same in black mud, but, in a swamp, with rather a hard bottom; this, together with the fact of trees growing in it, without brush or underwood, gave us hopes it would not continue.
Three hundred yards of this disagreeable travelling brought us at last to terra firma : the heavy cutting commenced, and we advanced on level ground, nearly 4 mile, when we once again found the palm and other dry-soil shrubs and trees; monkeys also began to chatter, and we, in high spirits, hastened on to reach the Cordilleras. The falling sun, however, reminded us it was time to rejoin our shipmates who were waiting anxiously at No. 8 Rancho. We arrived about five o'clock, having advanced our road about a mile beyond the swamp. This day we again fell in with the tracks of the Indians,—their marks cut on a tree, but not recent, apparently intended to mark a spot we called the Tiger's Den, an open space of about an acre, thickly covered with a species of wild grass. This space we supposed had some time or other been cleared for the cultivation of maize or other Indian food. Here, too, we saw the clear sky for the first time since leaving the boats-11 days—so dense was the forest we had cut our way through.
Thursday, 29th. Some were employed throwing a bridge across the river, improving the road, &c.; others measuring the height of the adjoining hill and tree whence Julier observed the surrounding country : while the remainder accompanied me to reconnoitre the banks of the river; following its course in a S.E. direction for about of a mile, we came upon a rancho. There were some marks of a canoe having ascended the river as high as this but during the summer season; but only an Indian eye could detect them.
Mr. Inskip, with a party of our native guides, was this afternoon occupied in throwing bridges across the streams, and otherwise improving the road already cut before us.
Friday, 30th.-The pioneering party left early to continue our road-cutting; the remainder had directions to join us as soon as the petty-officer and his party returned with provisions. Retracing our steps, we soon reached the point we had left off at on the 28th ; from No. 8 to the swamp, 14 mile; distance across swamp, mile; length of road cut beyond, $mile. The nature of the forest became quite changed : instead of the small underwood, we came on almost impenetrable thickets of the prickly palm or aloe, rather more than 6 feet in height, through which we with great difficulty cut our way for of a mile. The total absence of all underwood, together with the thickly-spreading roots of large trees, and the rich nature of the soil, made one fancy that the whole of this belt of land had been once under cultivation. At last we came to a small gorge between two hills (that on our right about 30 feet high), through which ran a small mountain-stream, due N. This gave us all great joy, as we at once believed it to be the Caledonia. In its bed we found stones, the streams hitherto met being generally over a bed of soft clay. On the right-hand hill we encamped for the night, making our No. 9 Rancho distant from No. 8, 283 chains.
Saturday, 31st. Started this morning as usual, the pioneers a-head, in high spirits, believing we had entered the Cordilleras, and that we should soon be rewarded with a sight of the sea, more anxiously looked for by us, than ever was the Pacific by Nuñez Balboa.
Having reached more undulating ground, we lost the prickly palm which had so delayed our progress, crossing two mountain-streams flowing W.N.W., which evidently joined that of yesterday, then ascending a hill, about 30 feet bigb, from whose summit, being partially clear of trees, we fancied we saw the sea. Descending the side of the hill covered with large stones, evidently washed by water, we came upon a noble river flowing swiftly towards the E.S.E., so suddenly that the foremost woodcutter almost fell into it; another.certain proof of the density of this forest. This discovery, however, quite puzzled me : the size of the river, 100 feet broad, apparently too deep to ford even at this time of the year ; the rapidity of its current, nearly 3 miles an hour; with its fine banks, plantations of bananas and plantains, were all certain signs of its being the Chuqunaque, which, by the Spanish charts and other public maps, we ought to have left some distance to the eastward, steering the course we had done from the Savana.
We pushed on towards the westward, along the banks of the river, to a more open space, distant 10 chains, where there was evidently a ford. Here we determined to build our 10th Rancho; but, being early in the day, we followed on another of a mile, hoping to meet some huts or a village, but without success. We returned to our first halting place on the river, and encamped for the night at No. 10.
Sunday, January 1st, 1854.-By measured distance we had advanced nearly 20 miles in a straight line from our point of starting on the Savana, near La Villa. If former reports are to be relied on, this must place us only a short distance from Port Escoces. Still, knowing the difficulties we had to contend with, I hesitated to give the order to go forward, until the return of a party sent in search of the Indians. To accomplish the examination of the country on the other side of the river, our pioneers crossed carly by the ford, not more than 2 feet deep, cutting our way through a plantation of bananas and plantains, which were growing wild.
Crossing several steep but small quebradas and broken ground, cut up by small streams emptying themselves into the main river, we reached the foot of a hill about 80 feet high, covered with fine timber, over which we crossed; then a steep descent to a mountain-torrent or small river, flowing N.W., another tributary, and a very considerable one in the rainy season. Reaching the summit of another hill, about 120 feet high, the view became rather open and clear towards the N.W.; turned in that direction, and while resting sent our native guide, Maria, up a high tree on the brow of the hill. He reported a