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Ivory nuts grow wild in sufficient number to pay for gathering them all the way from the Cocole River to the
Atrato. The chief export at present is from the Ivory Nuts. San Blas coast where they are gathered by the
Indians, and from the Garachiné region near San Miguel Bay. Throughout the Darien ivory nuts are collected by the natives. The Panama nuts are not the highest grade, but in 1912 those gathered on the Duque estate on the upper Bayano River were so large that they commanded the top price. No attempt has been made to systematize the growing of the trees, and most of the nuts are collected without special system, although trails have been made at Garachine and on the upper Bayano. The exports amounts to about two million kilograms a year.
The native rubber of Panama (Castilloa Elasticus) is gathered in practically every part of the country, the majority
of it at present coming from Darien. The Rubber. Boston-Panama Company has been tapping
a hundred thousand trees on its large estate on Montijo Bay for the past four years, and turning the revenue therefrom into the development of the plantation, which comprises 400 square miles and will be set out in bananas, pineapples, coconuts, and other tropical fruits and plants. An experiment in the growing of Para rubber is being carried on at this place, and the indications are that it will succeed, although it is too early to say this with surety.
Coffee grown on the tablelands of Chiriqui is as good as the best Costa Rican, and it is probable that it could be
grown with considerable profit in view of Coffee. the present high prices for coffee. Not enough
is grown at present, however, to supply even the local market, although there is a good demand for the native product.
There is only one large cacao plantation in Panama, the Preciado estate near David, in Chiriqui, where 58,000 trees
are bearing. This is the cnly scientific atCacao. Sugar. tempt that has been made to raise cacao and
it has been so successful that trees are added every year. For several years past this cacav brought the test price on the London market.
There is no part of the Republic in which sugar cane can
not be found growing to great height. Tests show that this cane is high in sugar matter. Two plantations are being set out along the north coast of the isthmus, one near Chiriqui Lagoon, and the other near Porto Bello. By 1915 these experiments will have been carried far enough to afford reliable information as to the possibilities of sugar raising in Panama. This industry requires a large capital and extensive operations.
Oranges, limes, sweet lemons, pineapples, mangoes, papaya, mamei, nispero, sapodilla, Panama cantaloupes,
guava, and other tropical fruits grow proFruits. fusely, but no effort has yet been made to cultivate them extensively. In its report on agriculture in the Canal Zone (1911), the Department of Agriculture says that the steep side hills of Panama are well adapted to the growing of citrus fruits, in connection with other farming; that is, that the hills which are too steep for ploughing could be utilized in this way. The pineapples of Taboga Island have a good local reputation. They are large and delicious and command a ready sale.
Garden products, such as beans, radishes, lettuce, and the like are grown chiefly by the Chinese in and around
the arger settlements. A model garden of Garden this kind is that situated alongside the SabVegetables. anas road in the Calidonia section of Panama
city. The supply is not sufficient for the local market. Intensive methods and cheap labor are used by the Chinese. It is not believed that truck gardening as an independent industry would pay in Panama.
The cutting of hardwoods and other timber in Panama is in its infancy. There is no hardwood along the line of the Canal and railway, except a stick here and there.
In developing the hardwood resources of the country only experts in this line should be depended upon. No money
should be invested before the investor has Cabinet gone over the land to be developed, and deWoods. termined how much timber there is, and what
the facilities for moving it to a navigable stream are. The hardwoods of Panama are many and good, but the trees grow in isolated places and not many in an acre, so that the felling and carrying to market are expensive. The beautiful native mahogany, so much used in the city as flooring and in cabinet work, costs from $80 to $100 a thousand board feet, and the amount available at this price is small. A small quantity of this mahogany is exported. The best timber is reputed as being along the Bayano, Chucunaque, and Tuyra rivers and their branches, and most of this land is already held by development companies. Sawmills have been erected in various parts of the Republic, but the companies seem to be waiting for the opening of the Canal before placing their product on the market, the prices for freight over the Panama Railroad being very high. Elsewhere in this book reference is made to the door of the Municipal Building in Panama as affording a good illustration of the various native cabinet woods. There are a number of small cabinet shops throughout the city where these woods may also be seen.
The local demand for meat is supplied almost entirely from cattle raised in the country. This does not take account
of the cold storage meats imported for the Cattle Canal workers. The cattle are allowed to Raising. fatten on the grass grown in cleared places,
no grain being fed to them. The meat is good. The project of erecting an abbattoir near one of the entrances of the Canal, and operating a cold storage plant for the supplying of meat to passing vessels has been broached, but no steps in this direction have yet been taken.
Every stream in Panama shows colorings of gold, yet few of them are worth working by the ordinary panning
method, the long rainy season interfering Minerals seriously with this class of operation. In
every province of the Republic there are sections where gold was mined with profit by the Spaniards, but they used slave labor, and the methods by which they worked the diggings were not profitable when slavery was abolished. Various prospecting companies have sent engineers into various sections of the country, and in almost every case the report was to the effect that the ore was good, in some instances even excellent, but the cost of development, including transportation inland of machinery, was too great to warrant operations at the present time. In the Darien region, where formerly the Spaniards worked extensively at Santo Domingo, Cana, and other points, only the Cana mines are now operated. They pay a good interest on a small investment. The closed country for the Indians in Chiriqui, Veraguas, and the San Blas region of Colon is said to be rich in gold but your guide ventures the opinion that this is because no one knows, and every one likes to
place in the "closed country" great riches. Copper is found in Los Santos, and both copper and nickle in Darien. Inquiries with regard to denouncing claims should be made at the office of the Secretary of Fomento in the National Palace.
Pearl Islands and Fisheries.
The Pearl Islands, an archipelago of 60 islets, lie in the Gulf of Panama about 60 miles south of Panama city. It was these islands that Balboa saw from the Pacific shore of Darien, and Rey Island, the king of the group, he named Isla Rica. From here Pizarro took back to Acla the basket of pearls, later he outfitted here for one of his voyages in search of Peru. Except as a stopping place for ships enroute from Peru to Panama in the old days, the islands have little historical interest. Today they are inhabited by negroes and morenos, and a few Chinese who run the stores. San Miguel, the largest village, is situated on the side of a hill on Rey Island overlooking a pretty bay, which becomes a mud flat when the tide is out. It has a church, a school house, half a dozen small general stores, and a few saloons. The population is 700, and the village is the seat of an alcaldia. It is a stopping place for the steamers that run to Darien. Saboga, on the island of that name, is a clean little village situated on a bluff overlooking a bay that can be entered at all stages of the tide. It has a church, school, stores, saloon, and 300 inhabitants.
The pearl fisheries are the principal industry. Schooners outfitted in Panama carry on this work, and the oysters are taken by men who work in diving suits. No value can be assigned for the pearls because they are carried out in small parcels. The pearls are of two kinds, white, and black, and here as elsewhere they are valued according to their perfectness of shape and coloring. Some of the natives dive naked for the pearls, but their product forms a small part of the total. For information on the pearl fisheries the reader is referred to an article by C. M. Brown in The Bulletin of the Pan-American Union.
A trip to these islands may be made by launch in six hours, eight hours to San Miguel, from Panama city. One who is in search of natural beauty cannot spend two days better than in a cruise about the archipelago.
Gocos Island Treasure.
Cocos Island lies at the entrance to the Gulf of Panama 300 miles south of the city. It is the place where $7,000,000 worth of treasure stolen from Callao, and $3,000,000 worth stolen from Mexico between 1820 and 1830 are said to be hidden. Many expeditions have searched for this treasure, and two men are said to have found some of it. The whole story is told in the book, “On The Track of a Treasure”, by Harvy Montmorency. Since that book was written four expeditions have made the attempt, two of them by Lord Fitzwilliam, whose second ship is now the Chame of the Canal service at the Pacific entrance. A hydraulic mining company of Seattle is now preparing to wash the treasure out of its hiding place.
Taboga Island. Of the dozen islands in the Bay of Panama only Taboga is inhabited. It was set aside as the dwelling place of liberated Indian slaves in 1549, and its people, 850 in all, are chiefly. the descendants of these Indians mixed with negroes. The island is an extinct volcano whose steep sides come down to the water's edge, leaving only a little shelf or terrace on which the village stands. The houses are for the great part substantial stone and adobe buildings. There is a church with a bone of a real saint, a school, half a dozen saloons, and half a dozen Chinese shops. Raising pineapples, fishing, and dealing with the convalescents from the sanatorium are the chief sources of livelihood.
The sanatorium is a large frame building erected by the French as a convalescent hospital, and maintained as such by the Americans. There is little rain in Taboga, even in the rainy season, and the cool dry air is very tonic for people from the mainland.