Henry C. (Henry Clemens) Pearson.

The rubber country of the Amazon : a detailed description of the great rubber industry of the Amazon valley, which comprises the Brazilian states of Pará, Amazonas and Matto Grosso, the territory of the Acre, the Montana of Peru and Bolivia, and the southern portions of Colombia and Venezuela online

. (page 1 of 12)
Online LibraryHenry C. (Henry Clemens) PearsonThe rubber country of the Amazon : a detailed description of the great rubber industry of the Amazon valley, which comprises the Brazilian states of Pará, Amazonas and Matto Grosso, the territory of the Acre, the Montana of Peru and Bolivia, and the southern portions of Colombia and Venezuela → online text (page 1 of 12)
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THE Ul'iiV.

RUBBER COUNTRY



OF THE



AMAZON



A DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE GREAT RUB-
BER INDUSTRY OF THE AMAZON VALLEY, WHICH
COMPRISES THE BRAZILIAN STATES OF PARA,
AMAZONAS AND MATTO GROSSO, THE TERRI-
TORY OF THE ACRE, THE MONTANA OF PERU
AND BOLIVIA, AND THE SOUTHERN PORTIONS
OF COLOMBIA AND VENEZUELA



By

HENRY C. PEARSON

n

Editor of "The India Rubber World." Author of "What I Saw
In the Tropics," "Crude Rubber and Compound-
ing Ingredients," Etc.



NEW YORK

THE INDIA RUBBER WORLD
1911



COPYRIGHT, igil, BY

HENRY C. PEARSON.



PREFATORY

I THINK it was in 1870 that I started to outfit my first expedition
to the Amazon. It was not in any sense scientific nor had I the
interests of the rubber trade then at heart. It was to be a hunting
and fishing trip solely, varied by occasional battles with Indians. A
treacherous companion, to whom I incautiously confided some of the
outfitting details, betrayed the trust to my mother. She confiscated my
gun, an elder sister hid the ammunition, so I was compelled to abandon
the attempt for a short time, (forty years in retrospect is not long).
And what a satisfaction to feel that one's early ambitions are finally
realized, at least in part.

The delay in the journey altered my viewpoint somewhat, and
changed the equipment. The gun, hunting knife, and lasso did not
seem so important as a Letter of Credit; nor did I have that intense
yearning for slaughter that dominated Expedition No. I.

Then, too, much rubber research in other tropical countries made
the prospect of this trip particularly alluring.

From the time when La Condamine made his report to the Royal
Geographical Society at Paris upon the curious gum that he found in the
Brazils, the Amazon river has been visited by a procession of specialists.
Some went for adventure, some for trade and some in the interest of
science. To such as Humboldt, Agassiz, and Spruce whose search
was for knowledge the reward was the richest of all.

With one-half of the worlds product of india rubber coming from
the mighty Amazon, with the great northern states of Brazil, and notable
portions of Peru and Bolivia dependant wholly upon the rubber business
it seemed time that the story of "Ouro Preto" (black gold as the Brazilians
most appropriately call india rubber), be fully and fairly told.

Personally I am more than pleased that it is my fortune thus to
tell the story. Not altogether my own experiences but a composite
sketch, to which Governors of states, Captains of trading vessels, half
breed rubber gatherers, American, English, German and Brazilian business
men have all contributed.



520729



CONTENTS

CHAPTER I.

PAGE

From Brooklyn to Barbados by Banana Boat The Home of Sea I

Island Cotton Some Interesting Rubber Planting Experi-
ments.

CHAPTER II.

Exploring the Island in a Four Wheeler Seas of Sugar Cane and 7

Sentinel Windmills Barbados as a Halfway House Where

One Goes into Training for Tropical Adventure A

Typical Tropical Golf Course Boarding the Rubber

Boat for Belem.

CHAPTER III.

Entering the Tocantins, the Neck of the Amazonian Rubber 16
Bottle Real Equatorial Rains and Heat The loo-Mile Run
to the City of Para- The Longest Way Round, the
Shortest Way to the Shore Landing in the Midst
of Rubber.

CHAPTER IV.

Para a Pleasant Surprise How the "White Wings" Work in 23
Para The Yellow Fever Mosquito and How to Dodge it A
Military Fire Department Bits of Early History.

CHAPTER V.

Received by the Governor and the Intendentc Club Life on the 30
Amazon Carnival Scenes Brazilian Hospitality Ham-
burger Tourists.

CHAPTER VI.

Para's "Wall Street' How the Natives Adulterate Crude Rub- 38
ber Examining for Adulterations Hard Working Tropical
Longshoremen Friendly Rivalry Between Para and
Manaos Where Rubber Markets are Really Made.

VII



viii CONTENTS

CHAPTER VII.

PAGE

To the "Island of Tiger Cats" "Overtapped" Rubber Trees Rub- 43
ber Tree Diseases up the Amazon Four-eyed Fish of the
Igarape Explosive Rubber Nuts Nipped by a
Centipede.

CHAPTER VIII.

The Wonderful Museu Goeldi with its Fauna, Animate and Inani- 49
mate Rubber in the Botanical Gardens The World's
Greatest Authority on the Hevea and His Tropical Work-
shop Sapiums and Balata in the Amazon Tapping-
Rubber Trees at Daybreak The Identification
of Caucho Braving the "Dangers" of the
Upriver Journey.

CHAPTER IX.

How the Para Rubber Tree Got its Name A Bit of Botanical 57
History Grades of Brazilian Rubber Hebrew Peddlers on
the Amazon Distribution of the Industry Outfitting the
Rubber Gatherers The Rubber Gatherer and How
He Lives Locating the Para Rubber Trees
Tapping and Collecting of Rubber De-
scribed in Detail.

I

CHAPTER X.

The Smoking of the Rubber Milk Palm Nut Fuel What Becomes 68
of the Drippings Branding Method of Collecting
"Cameta" Indians as Natural Botanists Size of Rub-
ber Trees Various Inventions for Preserving Latex
and Smoking the Rubber Milk Blending of
Other Rubber Milks with Hevea Tapping
Season.

CHAPTER XI.

The Source of the Amazon River Early Traditions The Start 78
Upriver The Narrows Forest Scenes Our Butterfly Hun-
ter Breves and the Ancient Channel The River Cable
and Its Interruptions The Wireless.

CHAPTER XII.

Jungle Study from the Chart Deck The Southern Cross as it 85
Really is Into the Amazon Proper Floating Islands De-
structive Work of Floods Prainha on the Xingu Fast
in a Mud Bank Steering by Lightning Flashes
Itacoatiara The "Dead and the Living Rivers."



CONTENTS ix

CHAPTER XIII.

_^ PAGE

Arrival at Manaos Floating Docks of the Rio Negro Transpor- 93
tation by "Bonds" The Great City of the Wilderness Rubber

Revenues.

CHAPTER XIV.

*

The Bosque and Experimental Rubber Plantings Real Wild 102
Indians Exploring, up the Rio Negro Rubber at "Paradizo"
Ranch Drinking "Cupussu" The Commercial Associa-
tion Rubber Exhibition Tropical Colds and
Coughs Manaos Mosquitos Roasted Amazo-
nian Turtle Rubber Tree-Planting Day.

CHAPTER XV.

Steamers of the Amazon Interesting Bits of History Mail 112
Delivery on the Upper Rivers The Associacdo Commercial do
Amazonas Borracha The Land of "Poco Poco"-
Footprints of Visiting Americans Nine Dollar Head
Tax Off for the Solimoes.

CHAPTER XVI.

Railroad Building in the Heart of the Rubber Country The 119
Cataracts of the Madeira J3afc/ao.y Madeira-Mamore Con-
cession The Great Camp at Porto Velho Caripuna

Indians..

CHAPTER XVII.

Rubber Manufacture by Indians Head Hunters Rebellion of 129
Contest Laborers Insects in the Railroad Camps Early
Attempts at Railroad Building The Mamore, the Beni
and the Madeira dc Dios Cannibal Indians.

CHAPTER XVIII.

The Bolivian Montana Discovery of Rubber There "Ouro 138
Vegetal" - - Establishing Seringacs Cart Roads Liberal
Laws Passed "Border Ruffians" How Bolivian Rub-
ber is Gathered River Navigation by Balsa and
Callapo A Rich Rubber Chieftian.



x CONTENTS

CHAPTER XIX.

PAGE

The Rubber Forest Country of Peru A Rubber Revolution 150

Foreign Capital in Peru Iquitos and Its Growth The

"Dining Hall of the World" Peruvian Indians Various

Peruvian Rubbers The Complete Story of Cau-

cho Para Rubber of Peru.

CHAPTER XX.

O Acre The Richest Rubber Territory in the World Romantic 161
History of a Tropical "No-Man's-Land" The Acre War
It Becomes Brazilian Federal Territory Ownership of
Upriver Estates Administrations of Laws in the
Acre Mortality in Rubber Districts The
Seasons.

CHAPTER XXI.

Matto Grosso, a Great Unexplored Country Gathering of Matto 170

Grosso Rubber Colombia on the Amazon Hcvca, Caucho,

and Balata Venezula and the Rio Negro "Angostura"

Rubber The Casiquiare and the Forestal District

Careless Rubber Gathering.

CHAPTER XXII.

Down the Amazon in a Freighter Santarem and Wickham The 178
Narrows Again Arrival at Para Rubber Planting Lands
Examination of the "Rain Forest"- -"Capoeira" Land.

CHAPTER XXIII.

Planting Interest in Para New Planting Laws A Word About 187
the Tapping Season What Para Rubber Trees Yield The

Recebcdoria.

CHAPTER XXIV.

Good-bye to Para Wonderful Phosphorescence In the Great 195
Coast Current Short Stop at Barbados Landing Rub-
ber Cargo at Brooklyn.

APPENDIXES.

A Word of Thanks Statistics of Exports from the Amazon 203
Valley Shrinkage of Rubber Selling Conditions Prices
and Speculation Rubber Species on the Amazon Early
Para Rubber Shoes.



CHAPTER I.

FROM BROOKLYN TO BARBADOS BY BANANA BOAT THE HOME OF SEA ISLAND
COTTON SOME INTERESTING RUBBER PLANTING EXPERIMENTS.

I HAD been planning an Amazonian trip for several years, only waiting
for the psychological period when everything would be ready for
a really profitable visit. When, therefore, during the latter part
oi 19x^9, prominent Brazilians began to call at my office, full of interest
in rubber planting and in new methods for collecting and coagulating
rubber, I felt that the time had come, and made rapid preparations for
the journey. The really luxurious traveler to the Amazon, if he be a
New Yorker, goes to Europe first, and is able to make the whole passage
on a big boat. It is a question, however, if he gets very much more
of comfort than I got on the little 3,000 ton steamer of the Koninklijke
West Indische Maildienst, which sailed from Brooklyn, a well known
suburb of New York, on the afternoon of January 3rd for Bridgetown,
Barbados, West Indies; certainly he does not get as much Amazonian
information en route.

It is a " Sabbath day's" journey from Manhattan by ferry and dock
trolley to the Bush Terminal pier, from which the southern boats start.
Ours was advertised to sail at I o'clock. The steamship office informed
me in confidence that it got away at 2, my ticket read "Sailing at 3,"
and we really got away at 4.

Built in Amsterdam in 1908, commanded by Dutch officers, with
Curaqoa negroes for a crew, and with only 13 passengers and a deck
load of mules, the tout ensemble was unique, and the voyage gave promise
of unusualness sure to appeal to one not wedded to luxury and the
beaten track. Escorted by tugs and saluted by a mob of "dago"
stevedores, we worked our way out through the press of tramp steamers,
lighters, and foreign shipping, and our journey was begun. The sea
was smooth and the tiny social hall and smoking room, bright with electric
lights, were very cozy. The impress of Dutch art was upon both rooms,
and showed in the inlaid tables, chairs, and walls, the Dutch-made rubber
tiling of a pattern none but a Hollander could design, the upright piano
of hard action and soft tone, in a queer, stiffly ornamented case built in the

1



THE RUBBER COUNTRY



side of the room, together with a fascinating panel painting of a mermaid
in a tail-maid suit, sitting upon a rock, and alluring a low browed savage
by blowing through a conch shell.

We had hoped for a smooth passage, and as we left New York
right after the great Christmas storm, yearned for warmer weather,
but it was not until the third day of the voyage that there was any




WIND MILL FOR CANE GRINDING/ BARBADOS.

suggestion of either smoothness or warmth. A following wind from
the northeast chilled the air and made the Gulf stream a steaming
vapor crested caldron.

There were about the usual health seekers, in the persons of
middle aged individuals, who were fleeing from winter rigors of the
north to summer safety, an asphalt man and a drummer for a big textile
house. There was little or no excitement, even when the friendly ones
in the smoking room succeeded in introducing the potent and pleasant
West Indian cocktail the "Swizzle" to the masculine contingent.

The usual route of the Dutch boats is outside of the West Indian



OF THE AMAZON



islands, Barbados being the first land sighted, but for the sake of
smoother seas for his passengers the Captain took the inside route.
We, therefore, late on Saturday night, saw Sombrero in the distance,
and awoke Sunday morning off Sabre island, a brown sugar loaf peak
rising from the ocean depths. Later came Dutch St. Eustacia, which we
saluted. Then, running through white capped seas, we passed St. Kitts,




SQUEEZE ROLLS FOR CRUSHING SUGAR CANE.

Nevis, Barbuda, and Guadaloupe. All day long we skirted shores where
the sea was a wonderful blue, where mountain peaks were wreathed
in cloud, and the land, often heavily forested, showed the most wonder-
ful varied, and vivid greens colors that only a tropical sun and abundant
moisture can create. That night, the last on board, we had a special
dinner, with ornamented menu, and, as a finale, ice cream served in
a huge block of ice, lighted by candles ingeniously arranged in crystal
niches. At nightfall we passed outside again between Dominica
and Martinique, and as it was squally the Captain spent the night on
the bridge, while the rest of us slept.



4 THE RUBBER COUNTRY

In the morning we were close to the island of Barbados, which
we partly circled, anchoring off Bridgetown at noon. A swarm of
boats manned by husky black oarsmen crowded along by the ship's
side, shouting anything and everything to attract attention to their
boats. They had '*iven genuine darky names to their craft, such as
"Ladybird," "Lilyvhite," "Mel Rose," etc. With all of our luggage
in " Lily white," we went ashore, passed the courteous customs success-
fully, leaving my heavy service revolver in their care until I sailed again,




TYPICAL BARBADIAN NEGRO HUT.

and were soon bowling along the dazzling white coral roads to the hotel
at Hastings. Here we had lunch, and three hours later, the luggage
having arrived, were comfortably settled in cool, airy rooms, windows
and doors wide open, clad in linen suits, wondering how cold it was
on Broadway.

After all of the northern cold, and the boisterous and chilly sea,
it was supremely comfortable to relax in the semi-tropical warmth and
enjoy the evening stillness, broken only by the bird calls, the piping
frogs, and the distant plaints of sheep and goats.

Rubber has not as yet been successfully grown in Barbados. There
is, to be sure, a small planting of Funtumia on one of the estates, and
a few Ficus elasticas in the gardens, but that is all. Not that the
Imperial Commissioner and his associates are not on the watch for any
rubber producer that may be of use. Indeed, their quiet alertness was
fully proved when the "Ekanda" first came into brief prominence. They



OF THE AMAZON 5

secured some of the tubers, set them out, proved them useless, and
turned to other work before the rest of the world was through with the
preliminary discussion as to their probable value. Sugar is the great
staple, and often produced in the old fashioned wvy by hand labor in
planting and gathering, and often extracted by the. wasteful windmill.
Something like 500 tons of Man jack or glance pitch is mined in
Barbados. This form of asphalt is very solid and pure and is used in




GINNING SEA ISLAND COTTON, BARBADOS.

insulation quite largely. None of the small deposits that I saw were
being worked,, and the industry did not seem to be of great importance.
Of greater interest than sugar and molasses is the Sea Island
cotton grown there. Barbados figures in the cotton trade possibly to
a greater extent than some may be aware. While cotton was found
native in the present area of the United States, there is no record of
that variety ever having been put under cultivation. The cotton now
grown in our country came from the West Indies. Just where is not
certain, but it may be mentioned that the "sea island" sort, the Gossypium
Barbadense, had its origin in Barbados.



6 THE RUBBER COUNTRY

For a long time the West Indian planters seemed not interested
in cotton, but now, under the urgency of the British government that
every colony shall be self supporting, if not more so, they are planting
it and especially in Barbados. The amount of cotton produced is not
large as yet, but considering the enterprise of the planters as a class,
and the encouragement of planting interests by the governmental
authorities, it seems reasonable to expect an important development from




FIELD OF SEA ISLAND COTTON, BARBADOS.

the present small beginnings. Already the annual production is nearly
half a million pounds.

As a final touch to the subject came my visit to the Central Cotton
Ginning Factory, located at Bridgetown. Here a very careful Scot
somewhat reluctantly took us over the factory. That is, he was doubtful
at first, but after a bit warmed up and showed everything with enthusiasm.
The work of ginning, cleaning the seed, baling the lint, crushing the
seed, expressing and clarifying the oil, and grinding the cake, was well
done throughout. The machinery used was mostly English, with some
American for special purposes.



CHAPTER II.

EXPLORING THE ISLAND IN A FOUR WHEELER SEAS OF SUGAR CANE AND
SENTINEL WINDMILLS BARBADOS AS A HALFWAY HOUSE WHERE ONE GOES INTO
TRAINING FOR TROPICAL ADVENTURE A TYPICAL TROPICAL GOLF COURSE BOARDING
THE RUBBER BOAT FOR BELEM.

JUST to get an idea of the topography of the island, we rose early
one morning and drove over to Codrington College, some 14 miles
away. The roads were all good, but narrow, with no sidewalks
even in the small towns. It was a wonder, so smooth were the roads,
that the 40 automobiles owned on the island, as well as the 1,500 bicycles,
were not equipped with solid tires rather than pneumatics. There were
no speed limits, but there were so many turns, and such a crowd of
foot passengers and vehicles, that more than 20 miles an hour was
out of the question. So smooth were the roads that boys with forked
sticks rolled three-inch iron wheels for miles a form of toy not seen
elsewhere.

The drive was a very beautiful one, through great fields of sugar
cane, by big and little sugar mills, sometimes run by steam power, but
more often by the wind. We stopped briefly at St. John's church, which
is situated on the top of a hill fronting the ocean, and climbing the bell
tower got a wonderful view of sea and shore. Then we wandered
through the ancient churchyard and looked at the quaint headstones and
limestone vaults, took photographs and went on our way.

A four-mile drive down a series of steep hills, where the driver roped
one of the rear wheels to keep it from turning, and we were at Codrington
College, which we did not see much of, as the main buildings were being
repaired. Here under a huge tree, from the shade of which we evicted
several sullenly reluctant toads, we opened our lunch basket. We were
very comfortable, for the caretaker brought us chairs, and a "monkey"
of cool water, and the food was excellent. We loafed and smoked through
the heat of the day and finally, at 3.30 started back. On the way we
stopped at a sugar estate and saw a windmill at work and the process
of boiling the juice. The proprietor was an absentee, but his colored



8 THE RUBBER COUNTRY

superintendent was elaborately polite and hospitable. After the ex-
amination of the plant he led us to the "gallery" (veranda) of the house
and treated us to a pitcher of the hot syrup.

The day following I called upon the American Consul, who promptly
put me up at the Golf Club, and was particularly helpful. Speaking of
golf, I had been advised that it was well before a journey to the Amazon
to get in as good a physical condition as possible. That was one reason




AVENUE OF ROYAL PALMS, BRIDGETOWN.

that I was glad to be put up at the Savannah Club which institution merits
a little extra attention, as the links were different from any that I had
ever played over.

There is a station half way between Bridgetown and Hastings
known as Garrison. Here are arranged on three sides of the Savannah
the brick barracks and officers' houses that once sheltered full regiments.
To-day there is hardly a corporal's guard left. One of the buildings, the
'clock tower," where the regimental bands played, had been acquired by
the Savannah Club, that in the face of a dearth of m;n has kept tennis,



OF THE AMAZON



cricket, and polo alive, and incidently laid out a six-hole golf course.
The putting greens, circles of 23 feet, cut into the thick bunch grass
of the fields, were fine. Seeded to Bermuda grass, they are always level,
free from worm casts, and as nearly perfect as possible. Then, too,
the course to the first hole, across the polo field, was such that one can




CODRINGTON COLLEGE, BARBADOS.

use a brassy, but nowhere else. All of the tees were built on a slant
and grassed because of the rains, and it was wonderful how far into the
sky one could drive a ball. The caddies, funny little darkies, went on
ahead and located the ball in the deep grass, and thereafter one used
a lofter. By the club rules if a caddy fails to find the ball, any other
boy who does gets threepence, to be deducted from the caddy's
fee. Very few balls are lost. Although it is hot there is usually a breeze,
and eighteen holes with tea afterward on the club "gallery" is a good
healthy afternoon's work, and pleasant finish.



io THE RUBBER COUXTRY

Did I by any chance say there were no bunkers on the golf course?
I was wrong. From one tee the drive was over the race course and a
high board fence. Then, too, there were the big banyan trees that
circled one green. The only play was to loft the ball up over the one
fronting you. Then the small movable bunkers, the tethered cows,
sheep, and goats, might all be called hazards. One cow in particular
lowered her head and charged golfers whenever they indulged in too
much preliminary wrist wriggling. I did not blame her. If I had her
horns and bulk, I'd try to break up the practice myself. The goats
chewed the balls some, but that was only because they were thirsty
and hoped that some of the Americans were using watercore balls. Oh,
yes, there was much of interest and sport, particularly when a sergeant
was drilling the awkward squad on horseback on the polo field and you
were at the first tee. It was a poor drive that didn't get a horse or a
man, and the sergeant never knew what broke the formation. Then
at the last hole when you sliced on the approach and cannoned on a
carom no, caromed on a well, hit one of the row of cannon, it only
threw you off a bit, and added to the zest. So I kept it up between
whiles, and awaited the boat that was to take me to Para.

The owner of the hotel was very much of a genius in making
his guests comfortable and, incidently, amusing them. Aside from
dancing and bridge for those so inclined, as he was not saddened or
disgusted if you had other preferences, he had a series of tallyho rides
that were unique. With good horses, and the only coach on the island,
he was a whip who would be accounted an expert anywhere. To be
conveyed over the slippery limestone roads on Saturday night, down
through the indescribably crowded streets, cutting close corners, around
the market and out under the low stone arch set in a very inconvenient
curve, through "Murderer's Lane" and home, was a delightful experience
and not without thrills. Then, too, there were his special excursions
i^ the afternoon to the "haunted wood," the "baboon village" and the
"'smuggler's cave," places not noted in the guide books, but full of fun
and interest.

I saw sights and wrote forenoons, and golfed at 3.30 each day, and,
by the time my boat arrived, was feeling very fit. Indeed, I should
advise any one coming in midwinter from the north to stop at Barbados
and get accustomed to warmer weather, and incidently rested and re-
freshed before essaying the heat.

Barbados is the health resort of those who find the climate of



OF THE AMAZON n

South America too much for them. That is why I have given it so
much space, and why also I add the following personal conclusions :

Barbados is the oasis in the watery waste between New York and
Para where all wise travelers stop for rest and refreshment.

No bother at all with customs. They only tax tobacco and spirits.




MANJACK MINE, BARBADOS.

Everybody speaks English. The 200,000 residents are negroes, but
at the same time British subjects. Two or three weeks' study renders
their English quite intelligible.

Clothing is as good and as cheap as anywhere in the world. Just
the place to buy for a journey up the Amazon. No, it did not fit.

George Washington, our own George, came down here when a
young man, and the governor hospitably gave him an elaborate breakfast
and the small pox.

Gentle showers almost every day. Good water. No fleas, few flies,
and fewer mosquitoes.

Bathing ideal, but beaches are few and guarded by coral reefs
that are like the broken glass on the top of an orchard wall.


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryHenry C. (Henry Clemens) PearsonThe rubber country of the Amazon : a detailed description of the great rubber industry of the Amazon valley, which comprises the Brazilian states of Pará, Amazonas and Matto Grosso, the territory of the Acre, the Montana of Peru and Bolivia, and the southern portions of Colombia and Venezuela → online text (page 1 of 12)