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Bello was laid out, and the fortifications were planned, the construction of Fort St. Philip being the first begun. As the port at which the King's treasure was stored, Porto Bello was naturally the object of frequent attack, and as naturally it was well fortified to resist attack. Many an English and French pirate sailed past the harbor and feared to attack the city; many a "free trader” anchored in the cove nearby, and notified the officials within the walls, and through them the merchants at Panama, that he was there to sell goods that would not be burdened with the King's tax.
Fort St. Philip had just been completed, and work was in progress on the second fort, St. James the Glorious (La Gloria), when the city sustained its first attack. On Febru. ary 7, 1602, the buccaneer William Parker surprised the place and, breaking into the king's warehouse, stole gold valued at 10,000 ducats. The fort of St. Jerome was built in 1660. In April, 1663, a fire burned 43 houses.
In June, 1668, Morgan and his band of cutthroats took the place, burned such buildings as would burn, pillaged the storehouses, and put many of the people to death. The story of this attack, and of the carnage that followed, is told by Esquemeling, and is entertaining in its way. But it is 80 much a duplication of what is told of the taking of Old Panama, that it is not worth while to repeat it here. In 1681, the work of rebuilding the forts, battered in the assault and subsequent occupation by the pirates, was begun.
On November 22, 1739, the expedition under Vernon, sent out from England during war with Spain to harry the trade of the Spanish Main, took the city with little resistance. Almost as easily on April 25, 1742, Vernon took it again, and held it two months as a base for his intended expe on against Panama. These attacks by Vernon were so faintly resisted that the forts and buildings suffered little. They were badly battered, however, on August 2, 1744, when an English pirate, William Kinghills, in retaliation for attacks on contraband trade, entered the bay under guise of friendship with 40 vessels, and turned 500 guns broadside on the city. The galleons had not called at Porto Bello since 1739, and the city walls and buildings were never fully restored after Kinghills? vandal attack.
During the wars for independence from Spain, Porto Bello was unsuccessfully attacked by the Colombian revolutionists in January, 1814. On April 9, 1818, Gregory Mac
Gregor, a soldier of fortune commanding two ships and 417 men recruited in England, took Porto Bello; but on the 28th of that month the place was retaken by the Spanish, and 340 English prisoners were set to work in repairing the forts.
Porto Bello ceased to be important as an entrepot with the end of the galleon trade. When steamship traffic was begun with the isthmus (1839) the ships unloaded at the mouth of the Chagres, whence the river route was followed to Cruces. This also was the place of disembarkation for immigrants to California and Oregon, and a few years later for the gold-seekers of the “fifties.” The completion of the Panama Railrcad killed what little chance Porto Bello had of resuscitation as a trade center. The trail to Panama is still open, but it is used only by the country people in their local communication.
In the section of this book given to a summary of the Privateers and Buccaneers attention is called to the fact
that they had begun their assaults on Spain's Porto Bello commerce, as early as 1550. By 1565 these Fairs. inroads had become so grave that a royal de
cree was issued forbidding Spanish merchantment to sail alone. They were forced to set out twice a year in fleets from Spain, rendezvous at a central point in the West Indies, and from there depart in smaller squadrons to the fairs at Vera Cruz, Habana, Cartagena, Porto Bello, and other points. Having made their trade they must return to the rendezvous in order to set out for Spain in large fleets.
Therefore it was only twice a year that the fleets of Spain called at Porto Bello to take away "the king's treasure,' and to trade with the merchants of Panama. The town was large enough to accommodate only its normal population, composed of negro slaves and the garrison, with a few officials to represent the government. It was the custom in Europe to do trade at annual or semiannual fairs, and this custom was continued at Porto Bello. Treasure was stored there the year around, and there were warehouses; but generally the procedure was for the merchants at Panama to go to Porto Bello at the times the fleet might be expected. After its arrival the trade was done in a fortnight, everyone hurrying as much as possible, because the town was overcrowded, and the mortality was high. Writing of it as it was in 1637 (only 40 years after it was made the king's port), Thomas Gage says:
"For the town being little and the soldiers that come with the galleons for their defense at least four or five thousand, besides merchants from Peru, from Spain, and many other places, to buy and sell, is cause that every room, though never so small
, be dear; and sometimes all the lodgings in the town are few enough for so many people, which at that time do meet at Porto Bello. I knew a merchant who gave a thousand crowns for a shop of reasonable bigness, to sell his wares and commodities that year I was there, for fifteen days only, while the fleet continued to be in that haven. I visited the castles which indeed seemed unto me to be very strong; but what most I wondered at was to see the requas of mules which came thither from Panama, laden with wedges of silver; in one day I told two hundred mules laden with nothing else, which were unladed in the public market place so that there the heaps of silver wedges lay like heaps of stones in the street, without any fear or suspicion of being lust. Within ten days the fleet came, consisting of eight galleons and ten merchant ships, which forced me to run to my hole (lodging). It was a wonder then to see the multitude of people in those streets which the week before had been empty. Merchants sold their commodities not by the ell or yard, but by piece and weight, not paying in coined pieces of money, but in wedges which were weighed and taken for commodities. This lasted but fifteen days while the galleons were lading with wedges of silver and nothing else, so that for those fifteen days I dare boldly say and avouch that in the world there is no greater fair than that of Porto Bello between the Spanish merchants and those of Peru, Panama, and other places thereabout.
Esquemeling writes of Porto Bello as it was when the pirates under Morgan took it in June, 1668:
"It is judged the strongest place the king of Spain possesses in all the West Indies, except Havanna and Carthagena. Here are two castles almost impregnable, that defend the city, situate at the entry of the port, so that no ship or boat can pass without permission. The garrison consists of three hundred soldiers, and the town is inhabited by about four hundred families. The merchants dwell not here but only reside awhile, when the galleons come from or go for Spain, by reason of the unhealthiness of the air, occasioned by vapours from the mountains; so that though their chief warehouses are at Puerto Bello, their habitations are at Panamá, whence they bring the plate upon mules, when the fair begins, and when the ships belonging to the company of negroes arrive to sell slaves."
During the first, second, and third fifty years of its life, then, Porto Bello did not change greatly. It was a fortified harbor where the isthmian traders met twice a year to buy and sell with Spanish merchants, although its trade decreased constantly from the first half of the 17th century. It was a garrisoned place in 1740 when the English under Admiral Vernon silenced its guns. in 1810, according to Restrepo, it was well fortified and garrisoned. Since the wars of independence, however, it has had little strength although a small garrison was kept there up to 1860.
There is no stopping place in the story of Porto Bello, as in that of Old Panama, and although this chapter has
to do chiefly with the old, the story may as Porto Bello well be finished here. It is in Panaman terToday. ritory, 18 miles northeast of Colon, is the
seat of a local municipality of the same name, and the center of a small coasting trade. On the south side of the bay is the native town, to which reference has already been made, and on the north side the American settlement at the rock quarries.
The rock in the hills here is hard and easily enough crushed to make it a desirable rock for concrete; the water haul
to Gatun makes the carrying of the rock easy. Porto Bello Therefore it was decided early in the canal Quarries. history, as soon as the lock type had been
agreed upon, to use rock from Porto Bello for the locks at Gatun. Preliminary work was carried on in 1907 and 1908, and the first rock was crushed on March 2, 1909. Since then the plant has worked practically continuously. It must crush 2,250,000 cubic yards of rock for the concrete at Gatun Locks and Spillway, and in addition there will be supplied from the quarry, 4,500,000 cubic yards of large rock for the armoring of the breakwater at the Atlantic entrance to the canal.
The quarries are on the side of a hill that rises almost sheer from the water, on the north shore of the bay, well inside of the harbor. After it is quarried, the rock is conveyed in dump cars direct to the crusher plant, which con- . sists of two No. 9, four No. 6 McCully gyratory crushers, and one large crusher which takes rock any size the steamshovels can handle. Pan conveyors take the crushed rock from the crushers to a hopper beneath the shipping bin, located on the water line. This hopper empties into a double distributing bucket-conveyor which elevates the crushed stone and delivers it by means of a tripper at the points desired in the bin. The storage bin has a capacity of 2,500 cubic yards, and from this bin the stone is loaded into barges by gravity; each barge has a capacity of 600 cubic yards. These barges are towed to Cristobal and thence through the old French canal to Gatun.
The new village of Porto Bello is a typical canal-workers' settlement, with employes' quarters, a clubhouse, dispensary and hospital, sewer, water system, and electric lights. By agreement with the Republic of Panama the Canal Zone police keep order in the American settlement, although all persons arrested are turned over to the Panaman courts. The United States Navy maintains a wireless telegraph station here.
Fort San Lorenzo.
How to Get There are two ways to get to Fort San There. Lorenzo, at the mouth of the Chagres River
one by sea from Colon, and motor boats are available to take the tourist; and the other by way of the river from Gatun.
The latter is the more interesting trip, because it involves a ride of ten miles by way of the Chagres. This is one of the few bits of the tropics in Panama that comes up to the ideas the wood-prints in the old geographies gave us. Here one sails through a tidal estuary between banks thick with jungle, giant bamboo bends over the water, and the trees are heavy with great vines and orchids. Here and there, in the dry season, one sees a lonely lignum vitae, discovered by its brilliant yellow top, the espeve towering above all others, and