Page images

arms, named this cannon "The Woman's Gun."

The story goes that the Californians had but a single charge of good powder. They waited until the most auspicious moment came, then fired, and one shot from the Woman's Gun was responsible for the entire mortality of the battle of Dominguez. Beneath that fateful missile six Americans died and more were wounded, and the combined forces of Gillespie and Captain Mervine of the Savannah retreated to San Pedro and buried their dead on the island in the harbor which has since been known as Dead Man's Island.

Such is the story of Dominguez; such were the scenes enacted upon its pastoral fields of green-green trampled beneath angry, plunging hoofs, pressed down beneath the weight of the Woman's Gun, bespattered with dear-spilt blood. This was but a temporary stemming of the tide,

for the time of California had come, and its star was set to rise again in the blue of the American flag.

I wish for the sake of romance that I might close this narrative with one fact which would bring it to the approved happy ending; namely, that Dona Inocencia Reyes, the savior of the day at Dominguez, wedded the gallant gallant Serbulo Varela. But this cannot be. Our romance must end in the fog of tradition. The curtain drops prematurely upon our little drama. She and that young hero alike vanish into the nothingness of unrecorded history; he with his generous act at Chino; she with the glory of Dominguez to her everlasting fame. Even to-day in the National Museum at Washington is the ancient four-pounder cannon labeled the "Woman's Gun," which is a fitting monument to the heroic memory of Dona Inocencia Reyes.




Low-hanging clouds o'erhead;
Wind whipping through the sage;
Sand whirling in mad rage;

No sun, no moon, no star;
No shelter: brake nor tree,

Deep solitude as if the earth lay dead.

Burst is the gloom profound.

Like ingot new from hell
The sun which may compel
Both love and burning hate,
Flings down enduring curse

Upon a vacant world that gives no sound.

No thrush darts to the sky,

No songster breaks his heart

To music set apart

As nature's primal note

Of love that must create

Days that were are dead; days that are will die.

Close on this blistered plain

Kings ruled, made laws and war.

Slaves bound to victor's car

Wept to be free and died,

Or lived and wept the more

To give expression to long nights of pain.

Gay ladies blossomed here,

Consumers of the race,

Mere dolls of pretty face

Who toyed with life as now

The sand dunes toy with them.

They frowned on freedom, stabbed it with a sneer.

Great cities proud and strong,

Builded of blood and gold

Where honor (bought and sold)

Brought riband, medal, place

And heart of hammered brass

Were often impulse to triumphant song.

And mighty gods held sway

In temples raised in fear,

Their voices none could hear

Above the endless din

Of priest who worshipped still

Each god, each king, each crown of different day.

Gone lady, slave and king,

Gone priest and fearsome god.

No reverence has the clod

For clod, nor mingled dust

For dust. Equality

Dread scepter of the mob, rules without sting.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]




endowed with


HERE ARE FEW parts of the world so riches of nature, and that may be of such absorbing interest to the thoughtful traveler as Chile; that long, narrow strip of country extending along the west coast of South America for twenty-six hundred and seventeen miles.

Being within south latitude between 17:59 and 55:59, it is almost entirely in the south temperate zone, and is populated by an active, progressive race. That relatively so little is known, especially in the United States, of this country, is principally due to its remoteness in point of time necessary to reach there. At the present time it is true that it takes longer time to get to Valparaiso, the principal port of Chile, from New York or San Francisco than to any other country in the world. This will undoubtedly soon be a thing of the past because a twelve days' service between Valparaiso and Panama is proposed and two transcontinental railways will soon be completed to the Atlantic coast of Argentina.

The snowy peaks of the Andes mountains form the boundary between Chile and Argentina. The coast range or Cordillera de la Costa, as it is called in Chile, but are much less rugged and not so high. Extending from north to south between these mountain ranges is the great plateau, crossed by torrential rivers formed by the melting of the perpetual snow and glaciers of the Andes. These rivers, cutting through the coast range, find their way to the Pacific.

The diversity of the climatic and physical character of the country is most striking. In the northern part of Chile it never rains. and is an arid desert, but even all this is a veritable treasure house of mineral wealth, with the greatest nitrate of soda and borate deposits, besides rich mines of copper, gold and silver.

Gradually the rainfall increases, until in the southern part of Chile the precipitation is extraordinarily heavy.

In the extreme southern end of the country, known as Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia, stock grazing and gold washing are the principal industries; a little further north come the great forests and coal mining regions. But by far the most attractive and interesting is the central part of the country.

Protected from the fogs and storms of the Pacific by the coast range and from the icy winter blasts of the Argentina plains by the Andes, the plateau has a simply delightful climate. The temperature rarely falls below freezing during the so-called rainy season, or winter, that lasts from June to September. The rest of the year the climate is dry, and the temperature is never higher than eighty or eighty-five degrees.

The region around the city of Rancagua, the capital of the province of O'Higgins, is typical of that part of the plateau. It lies at an elevation of fifteen hundred feet above sea level. Long canals have been taken from the Cachapoal river, which flows past the city, to provide water for power and irrigating purposes. Here the finest of wines are produced. Cereals, fruits and other agricultural products are abundant, but there is comparatively small export of these because the great arid "nitrate" and mining regions of the north give excellent domestic market.

The land is generally owned in large tracts and rented to the actual tillers of the soil in smaller tracts, although a large amount of farming is done by Chilean hacendadoes by very modern methods, and American agricultural machinery is seen everywhere.

In the mountains on each side of the plateau, thousands of veins and deposits of


Looking up the Caya River. Wagon road one thousand feet below railway grade. Railway grade on left.

gold, silver and copper have been worked by natives, but in a relatively small way and usually by crude methods with little or no capital.

The fact of these limited operations hav-. ing definitely shown the existence of what are known to be valuable ore occurrences, will eventually attract the necessary capital and skill to develop these latent possibilities. Already a group of American capitalists have undertaken the task of modernizing, so to speak, one of these famous old mines, which having produced thousands of tons of high grade copper ore which was packed out of the mountains to the coast, nearly two hundred miles on mules had reached a stage where it could no longer be profitably worked by such crude means as were available, and had to be abandoned.

The American engineers had to meet the problems of transportation, power, milling, metallurgy and mining. First of all, a wagon road was built, after which the necessary machinery and materials were hauled in. To convey some idea of this task it may be stated that from one hun

dred and fifty to two hundred and fifty carts, using over two thousand oxen, were occupied for six months. Some four thousand metric tons were piled up at the freighting station on the railway at the beginning of the season, and the natives who saw this predicted that it would take. two or three years to haul all the stuff into the Cordilleras. As a matter of fact, in seven months' time the plant in all its divisions was running. Then it was explained to the Yankees that it would be impossible to operate in the dread Cordilleras in the winter. The American engineers, however, could see no different features about the snow of the Andes than of the Rockies of Montana and British Columbia, and so failed to be impressed.

Aerial tramways were erected so as to convey the ore and supplies over the deepest snows, and for two years the operations have continued day and night, summer and winter, without interruption.

One of the most interesting works undertaken by this group of Americans has been the construction of a railroad from the city of Rancagua to their mines.

The locating engineer found in the Andes of South America, unique problems in railway location and construction. The streams all have a heavy grade and the canyons through which they flow are very narrow. Consequently much of the line was built high above the streams, where the topography was better adapted to railway construction.

This Copper Company's railroad certainly fulfills all the requirements for a scenic route, as it gradually leaves the beautiful fields of the valley and climbs up over a mile in elevation from where it starts into the Andes.

At one point on the line, in a canyon known as Caleton Canyon, in surveying for the line the resourcefulness of the engineer was taxed to the utmost. He had two barefooted native boys who could go about any place that a bird could reach. No ropes were used, as they are useless for horizontal traveling, and the line being twelve hundred feet above the bottom of the canyon and six hundred feet below the top of the cliff, they would have been useless there.

In places the line was partly graded before any surveying could be done, as the line passes along a perpendicular cliff. At such places the grade is simply a tunnel open on one side, the roof overhanging about the width of the roadbed.

The actual grading of the roadbed was all hand work performed by the native laborers. Wonderful work it was, too, for its kind. Camps were established consisting of engineers' tents, a tent for tools and powder, and a tent for the store, where food and supplies of every kind were kept.

Usually five or six laborers would take a contract for two or three hundred feet of work. They would be given a supply of shovels, picks, bars, wheelbarrows, drills and hammers; also a tent or a few pieces of corrugated iron for shelter. They would be given an order on the store for enough stores to last them two or three days, or until they had fairly started their work. From time to time additional supplies would be issued to them until the work was completed, when the total store orders were deducted from the price of the contract and a liquidation made, after


Shows practically completed grade above No. 3. Grading is in the shape of a


« PreviousContinue »