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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, 28JA.—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." 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 most 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 -J 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 J 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. Heie, 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 i of a mile, we came upon a rancho. There were some marks of a canoe having ascended the river as high as this hut 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-cul ting; 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, If mile; distance across swamp, J mile; length of road cut beyond, 4 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 rightabout 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, Slst.—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 Nunez 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 high, 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 i 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 early 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 safety of those left at Rancho No. 1 were not allayed until we reached No. 6, where we found a day's provisions, letters from the ship, and a note saying: a strong party had left that rancho only a few hours previous to our arrival. The moon lighted us to No. 5, where we arrived about 8 o'clock.
Friday, 6th.—As soon as we could distinguish the bushes we were on the march towards the boats, which we reached about II o'clock, and found all well.
Saturday, 1th.—About 2 A.m. we reached the ship, much refreshed in body, but sad in heart and spirits. So toilsome was our journey that we spent 15 days in performing a distance of little more than 26 miles, haviner to force our slow and laborious path through forests that seemed to stretch from the Pacific to the Atlantic shores. The trees, of stupendous size, were matted with creepers and parasitical vines, which hung in festoons from tree to tree, forming an almost impenetrable net-work, and obliging us to hew open a passage with our axes every step we advanced.
XII.— Observations on the Territory of Burica, in the Province of Chiriqui, Isthmus of Panama. By J. H. Smith, Esq., of Panama, F.k.g.s.
Read May 8, 1854.
The territory of Burica lies between the 8th and 9th degrees of N. latitude, and longitude 82° 50' and 83° 10' W., and has lately separated from the province of Veraguas. A part of the level country is densely covered with palms and various timbers, and its coast line has good harbours. According to a late treaty between the United States and New Granada, the former guarantees the sovereign integrity of the Isthmus, and the latter has abolished custom-houses, and admits, free of duty, all foreign imports with the exception of a small municipal tax.
The lands of Burica do not belong to the General Government, but exclusively to the province of Chiriqui, and are called "tierras indultadas," or exemption lands. The rest of the public domain is under the jurisdiction of the General Government, and known as the "tierras baldias," or unseated lands.
The Burica territory embraces an area of about 800,000 acres —mineral, arable, table, plain, forest, highlands, and sea-coast. It extends from the coasts of the Pacific to the summit of the northern Cordillera. The boundary on the E. is from the coast of Guanavano, including Punta Burica, thence along the Pacific -round to the head waters of the Rio Claro, which run into the Golfo Dulce.
On the Guanavano coast are the three ports of Ensenada de Ladrillos, Charco, and Guanavano.
From Punta Burica along the coast is an extensive region of cocoa-nut trees, 21 to 25 miles in length, and it is calculated that there are more than a million of trees in full bearing all the year
a most picturesque situation, flowing S.W. Here we built our 12th and last rancho, Total distance measured 26 miles and 14 chains from Rancho No. 1.
Wednesday, 4th.-Although finding ourselves in the centre of the Cordilleras, and, I believe, within a very few miles of the object of our search, yet having already exceeded the limit of my stay, it became my duty to rejoin the ship without delay - still feeling confident that, had time and our provisions allowed us, we should have eventually reached the Atlantic shores, and that easily, by following one of the several rivers or streams which appear to exist in this range of hills, forming certain passages to the sea.
We now retraced our steps to the river we had crossed yesterday flowing N. A W., and leaving one half of the party there with directions to build a rancho for the night, if we did not return before 2 P.M., we pushed on, following its course to ascertain, as best we could, in what direction it ran; and when we came upon it again, a magnificent sight was before us. Precipitous rocks, causing a fall of at least 150 feet, in something less than of a mile, in which even at this season was a beautiful waterfall and several deep pools, finding their way through, not over, the masses of rock around them; the richly clothed hills, verdant with the finest forest trees; and, above all, the perfect solitude, perhaps never before broken by civilized man, made us feel ourselves already repaid for our labours. Our guide thought it too pre. cipitous to follow ; so we ascended one of its overhanging hills, and from its summit commanded a view tolerably clear towards the S.W., over an apparently level country, but too distant to distinguish its true nature.
The passage which the river might take towards the N.E. was very indistinct. Descending from this point at a very sharp angle, we came again upon the river, flowing south-westerly, which we follower until it took a turn W.S.W., between hills rising very high on both its banks, when, finding it very difficult to proceed, we returned to the remainder of the party, feeling sure it did not run through the passage we had supposed it did the previous night. Many fine fish were seen in it, which Macao told us were only found near the sea-coast. Having plenty of daylight, we passed on to No. 11, which we found undisturbed, and the fire still burning.
Thursday, 5th.-Started off at early dawn, hoping to reach our depôt, No. 10 Rancho, in good time, to rest and enjoy a fresh and cooked meal, half allowance of pork with biscuit having been our mountain fare. Returned to Rancho No. 10 by our old road without meeting anything worthy of notice, except that in wading through the river as before, we missed our mark for crossing over the hills; and following the stream lower down, it gave evident signs of soon emptying itself into the main river.
We reached the river Chuqunaque, and crossed it by the same ford, when, arriving at the rancho, to my utter astonishment and dismay I found all the party gone, as well as all our provisions and stores ; and there was every appearance of the hut having been ransacked. Our native guides searched in vain for traces of an Indian attack, or even of their footsteps. Rancho No. 9 was soon passed ; and in Indian file we came to the swamp, and there plainly distinguished the marks of Indian feet. Still we were undisturbed, and had reached within # of a mile of No. 8 Rancho, when, in taking a short turn in the road, to my horror I came suddenly upon the bodies of three of our shipmates, Thos. Hyde and James Perkins, R.M.A., and Henry Windsor, A.B., lying dead in the pathway.
At No. 8 Rancho we found the few stores and provisions left there untouched ; the Indians had not advanced so far; still we were liable every moment to the same unseen attack, had such been their object. Our only resource appeared to me to push on to the boats by forced marches, taking every precaution as we went along to prevent a surprise. My fears for the there existed gold mines in the vicinity of the Mosquito coast, which in former times extended as far as the Bay of Almirante and Lagoon of Chiriqui on the Atlantic. The Mosquito Indians, who were in continual warfare with those of the mountains and plains on the Pacific side, finally overthrew the latter, destroying their mines, the precise localities of which have been lost since then.
From these accounts it may be inferred that the gold found in the ancient graves must have been procured in the territory where those Indians dwelt. Gold has been found in the mountains, ravines, plains, and streams which run into the Pacific, particularly at Guanavano and Charco Azul. On the road from Costa Rica to this province an extensive quartz formation has been discovered at Las Breñas. It is a common occurrence for the Indians of Terrora to visit this spot to grind the rock and extract gold. Copper and zinc have been found, as well as coal (a superior lignite).
Climate.- Dr. M‘Dowall, an old resident in this district, says, “ The proximity of the Cordillera to the coast of the Atlantic, giving rise to continued rains and malaria, colonies could only be founded by great sacrifice of life; but when we cross the Cordillera, and reach the country sloping towards the Pacific, the scene is at once changed. The better air we breathe and the different scenery infuse a more healthy character than on the Atlantic side."
The dry season extends from December to May inclusive, when the wind blows steadily from the North ; during this period no dews are formed, and one can sleep in the open air at night with impunity. The soil is so productive that six hours' labour will remunerate the wishes of the most sanguine.
The average temperature on the coast is 80° Fahr. ; that of the highlands at the foot of the mountains 65o. A valuable trade might be opened in the item of “tasajo," jerked beef, at the foot of the Cordillera ; the atmosphere being so pure and rarefied that cattle could be slaughtered and the meat kept sweet six to eight days without salting. The Panama railway and steam facilities on the coast will lead to markets far beyond the Isthmus.