Obrázky stránek

ing, as the line had been completed only to Gatun, seven miles inland. In November of that year a ship unable to land its passengers at the mouth of the Chagres, as was customary for the transit, landed them at Colon, and at once the railroad came into use. The rates charged were high, but the service, as far as the trains went, was prompt compared with the canoes on the river. From 1852 to the present time the road has paid a dividend of from 3 to 61 per cent annually.

Clearing was begun in May, 1850, and the first train crossed the continent on January 28, 1855. As originally constructed the line was 47 miles, 3,020 feet, and the summit was at 263 feet above mean sea level. From the beginning the passenger and freight trade were heavy, as the road was used by all the west coast of North and South America, and, until an arbitrary decision of the management drove them from the trade (1868), there were several ships carrying European freight from Panama to the Orient. In 1869 the railroad across the United States was completed and thus a considerable amount of freight and almost all the passenger traffic for California and Oregon were diverted. Notwithstanding, the road continued to pay good dividends.

In August, 1881, the French canal company purchased 68,887 of the 70,000 shares at $291 a share. The railroad was absolutely necessary in the canal construction. When the United States completed its purchase of the French rights (May 4, 1904) it came into possession of the 68,887 shares of railroad stock, and by private purchase acquired the balance.

The heavy equipment purchased for the American Canal work made it necessary to relay the road with 80-pound rail, double track 40 miles of it, and otherwise improve it. Since 1904 the equipment has been renewed and it now has 100-ton oil-burning locomotives, large and comfortable day coaches, parlor cars, and 40-ton freight cars.

Its commercial usefulness has been somewhat handicapped by the Canal work, because all considerations are made secondary to this. At present it cannot handle all the freight between the east and west coasts of the United States that could be procured, but it does transfer an average of 35,000 tons of commercial freight a month. This is about half of the total freight carried, the balance being for the canal and the railroad.



The canal construction made necessary a relocation of the road, in order that it might not cross the canal line, and consequently the new road, constructed since 1907, runs on the east side of the canal from Colon to Panama. Between Mindi and Gorgona, and Pedro Miguel and Panama the old line has been abandoned, but it is still kept in service from Gorgona to Pedro Miguel to accommodate the villages on the west side of Culebra Cut. (See also section Colon to Panama).

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


History of Panama

Leading Dates in History of Panama. Discovery by Rodrigo de Bastidas.

1501 Pacific Discovered...

September 25, 1513 City of Panama founded.

Augusi 15, 1519 City of Panama destroyed.

January 28, 1671 New City founded.

January 21, 1673 Galleons abandon Panama route.

1739 Freedom from Spain..

September 26, 1821 Freedom of religious worship.

1821 Panama Congress.

June 22-July 15,1826 First public school.

July 16, 1836 Slavery abolished

1848 Panama Railroad built.

1850–55 Separation of Church and State.

1863 Ground broken for Panama Canal.

January 10, 1880 Independence from Colombia..

November 3, 1903 There are four great events in the history of Panama(1) The discovery of the Pacific Ocean, 1513. (2) The destruction of Old Panama, 1671. (3) The separation from Spain, 1821. (4) The construction of the Panama Canal, 1881–1914. The first two, and last of these events are geographical, the third is unimportant, except as it forms one of several local events frcm which schoolboys reckon history. Intrinsically there is just one big fact—Panama has never been an important influence in its own destiny. It has always been ruled from without, and usually misruled, first by Spain, then by Colombia.

In the brief sketch of its history that follows (and the reader should remember that this book is only a guide), Panama is considered in three epochs—the first that of the conquest and exploration (1499–1550), the second that of the great trade (1550–1750), the third the period of decline (1750– 1903). The authorities consulted are referred to in the text. There is, however, only cne real compiled authority for the local history of Panama, and that the Compendio de Historia de Panama, by Juan B. Sosa and Enrique J. Arce, published in Panama in 1911.

This work was compiled at the instance of the Government of Panama as a text book for use in the schools.

Wherever other authorities are in conflict with this, the book by Sosa and Arce is followed. The most interesting and accurate account yet published

in English on the colonial history of Panama is that by Albert Edwards (MacMillan Co., New York, 1911), in his general work on Panama and the Canal.

Conquest and Settlement.

The old city of Panama (Panama Viejo) was founded in 1519 by Pedro Arias Davila (Pedrarias), and it was the first permanent settlement in the new world. It is said that Alonza de Ojeda was the first European to touch upon the shores of the isthmus, the date given being 1499, and is known that Columbus anchored in Limon Bay on his fourth voyage in 1502, and named the place Puerto Naos, from which was derived the name by which it was commonly known up to within the past generation, namely, Navy Bay.

The first attempt at colonization was made by Columbus at Santa Maria de Balen in 1503, but failed; and the second, at a point on the Caribbean coast, known as Nombre de Dios, about 20 miles east of Colon, where Nicuesa, having weathered a severe storm on his way from Porto Bello, sailed into calm water, saying “let us rest here in the name of God.” This attempt also failed, and it was not until 1510 that a Spanish lawyer named Enciso, who had been one of Ojeda's expedition for the settling of the region south of the Atrato River, made a permanent station at Santa Maria del Antigua, so named in payment of a vow made to his protectress.

This colony, also was later deserted, and it is chiefly important because it was here that Vasco Nunez de Balboa,

first came into importance as a bold leader Balboa. and consummate politician. He usurped the

governorship, and had a precarious rule over a turbulent band of three hundred adventurers for a period of two years, meanwhile subduing the Indians in the neighborhood. The news of his usurpation reaching Spain, he was summoned to return for trial, but, having heard of this in advance, he made his dash across the isthmus, hoping to return with the glory of new discoveries to help him in his cause.

From a mountain top overlooking the Bay of San Miguel in Darien, he first saw the Pacific Ocean on September 25,

1513. He made peace with the Indians, colPacific Ocean lected some gold and pearls, and returned to 1513. Santa Maria, where he was arrested by the

governor, Pedrarias. Balboa




« PředchozíPokračovat »