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 7 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 7 of 12)
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RIVER EXCURSION NEAR MANAOS.



business man, he defied climate and care, was always on the move, and
kept others moving also. It was he who chartered the Supremo,, a typical
little river steamer, and took a few of us up to the Rio Negro for a
day's jaunt.

The "black river" for miles and miles up into the interior is nothing
less than a chain of great lakes, and my host unfold'ed a weird scheme for
navigating it by means of boat aeroplanes, which, like gigantic flying fish,
should skip from one lake to another. He made it appear quite feasible,
and if such a thing is ever done he will be just the one to furnish the
courage and dash to put it through.



OF THE AMAZON



105



Our first pleasurable experience on this voyage was breakfast served
on an ingenious table, which, when not in use, folded its legs, rose to
the ceiling, and hung high above our heads. The meal was excellent
a freshly caught river fish, the pescadas, a wonderful salad, fruit and
coffee.

Out of sight and sound of the city the solitude was oppressive.
It may have been that the jungle covered shores had lost their charm
or and this is more likely it may have been the total absence of bird
and animal life for which the Rio Negro is noted.

Soon we entered an estuary and after an hour or more of steady
steaming sighted a clearing that indicated our near approach to "Paradizo"




VIEW ON THE RIO NEGRO NEAR MANAOS.



ranch. Hardly had we got ashore before we saw rubber trees, and many
of them. Much to my surprise they were planted in regular rows and
were big, young, and lusty. I had heard only the day before, from one
well versed in rubber, that the Hevea Brasiliensis would not grow up
the Negro. Yet here it was. This planting, although 20 feet above the
water as it then stood, was subject to inundations and apparently suffered
no harm, while further up the slope were trees equally large and healthy
that were above high water mark.. The Botanist of our party soon dis-
covered a borer beetle that was industriously puncturing many of the
trees, and we fell to and helped him to coax larvce out of their holes for
later entomological examination. If I know anything about that Botanist,



io6



THE RUBBER COUNTRY



and I think I do, he will make. that particular breed of beetle sorry that
it ever tackled rubber trees.

Later we visited the comfortable ranch houses, saw them make
cassava, admired the beautiful flower gardens, filled our pockets with
Hevea nuts, and turned toward our boat and Manaos. It was on this
excursion that we tried cupussu, a drink made from a creamy, pulpy
fruit that is deliciously refreshing. The proper way to imbibe it is to
slowly sip a goblet of it, then swallow half a pint of gin to head off the




PLANTATION HOUSE ON RIO NEGRO.



cramps, then a cup of black coffee to head off the gin. One of our
party who despised gin and did not care for coffee was the busiest man in
all Brazil for 24 hours after finishing his goblet.

Perhaps the most interesting of the sights in Manaos was the double
exhibition of Amazonian products. I call it double because there was
first a rubber exhibition arranged by the Commercial Association for those
attending the Congress, and in the same building a varied collection of
native products that were to go to a European world's fair. In the



OF THE AMAZON



107



former were specimens of fine and coarse Para rubber, of caucho, and
a great pellc of rather sticky rubber from the Hevea Guyanensis. One
enterprising and wealthy scringuciro had prepared block, crepe, and pan-
cake rubber after the fashion of the preparation in the Far East and it
certainly was as good as any plantation rubber in the world. There were
also gathered and shown all of the tapping and coagulating tools and
utensils used in Brazilian rubber gathering.

What the country had done agriculturally and industrially was shown
in the wonderful exhibits of cereals, textiles, coffee, cacao, and woods




RIO NEGRO "PELLE" OR RUBBER BALL OF 700 KILOGRAMS. AT MANAOS EXHIBITION.



of all degrees of hardness, beauty of polish and variety of grain. There
was also ornate feather work, gorgeous native embroideries, and won-
derful hammocks.

These exhibitions were opened by the Governor in person, and all
came in frock coats and tall hats. As each visitor entered the door, the
Police Band, which was lying in wait in an alcove, burst forth with a
brazen crash of welcome, while the newcomer, trying to look dignified
and free from self consciousness, wabbled through the vestibule and
lost himself in the crowd where he could watch the next fellow do the
same thing.

I did not find the heat too oppressive. It got up in the QO'S some-



io8



THE RUBBER COUNTRY



times, and there was the usual fight against mildew, which proved it to
be somewhat damp. Mine Host, his wife, and the baby all came down
with severe colds while I was there, which I believe was wholly due
to the dampness. I do not expect to make Manaos my permanent resi-
dence, although one might do worse, but if I do, my sleeping quarters
will be on the second floor and not on the ground floor, for that is where
one takes cold, and a cold once taken in the tropics is as hard to cure
as a sprained disposition.

Another thing, every window and door in my house should have
screens, even if none other in the city followed suit. The yellow fever




MACHINE FOR SMOKING LATEX.
(Earthen smoking cone on the extreme right.)



mosquito is a city dweller, and if he was driven out of Panama by screen-
ing and a little sanitation, he can be out of Manaos. The government
is alive to it, but the people, foreigners and all, seem indifferent. While
I was there the Inspector Sanitaria sent out a circular illustrated with
pictures of mosquitos, which was passed from house to house. It was,
however, in Portuguese, and I was unable to decide whether the Cule.r,
kneeling in prayerful attitude, or the Anopheles, standing on its head
as if about to turn a joyful somersault, was the one to avoid.

At first I kept close tabs on the death rate in the daily papers through



OF THE AMAZON



109



my Companion. I showed him the Portuguese word for fever, and his
statistics grew larger day by day. Finally I discovered that he believed
that Fevereiro (February) meant fever. Therefore, if it happened to







RUBBER TREE PLANTED BY THE AUTHOR IN MANAOS.



be the 2oth of the month, dispatches of the day before would appear
throughout the paper "Fevereiro 19." Adding them up he got a daily
death rate of something like 350 and sure to increase to the end of the



no



THE RUBBER COUNTRY



month. It speaks much for his self poise that he was not at all startled,
even if I was.

One of my early visits was to the Governor, who impressed me as
most anxious to give his State a capable, businesslike administration. I
attended all of the functions that made up that notable week from the




CHURCH OF ST. SEBASTIAN, MANAOS.



laying of the corner stone of the new brewery to my own lectures in the
Theatro Amazonas. I enjoyed official breakfasts, private dinners, and
"sing songs." But of all the meals, some of which were magnificently
served, none tickles the palate of my memory like the turtle roasted
in the shell with farinha that my hostess prepared for me. It was in-



OF THE AMAZON in

describably delicious. At last I could comprehend how an Indian could
stand day after day in a cranky canoe, in the broiling sun, on the off
chance of shooting an arrow up into the sky, that it might drop, impale,
and secure this most delicious of crustaceans.

It was my suggestion, and I am proud of it, that got the Governor,
his staff, and a dignified committee out of their beds very early one morn-
ing to plant Hcvea rubber trees in one of the public parks. It seemed as if
in that great city some one ought to know how the tree looked that pro-
duced its wealth. Yet few of the business men could tell me whether
the leaves of the Hevea Brasiliensis grew in clusters of three or thirty-
three. So I suggested city planting and they assented with enthusiasm.

The Governor planted his tree, the President of the Association his,
I planted mine, then came Dr. Huber, with many others, and we sprinkled
that beautiful park with thrifty seedlings that, according to latest ad-
vices, "are doing well."



CHAPTER XV.

STEAMERS OF THE AMAZON INTERESTING BITS OF HISTORY MAIL DELIVERY ON
THE UPPER RIVERS THE "ASSOCIACAO COMMERCIAL DO AMAZONS" "BORRACHA"-
THE LAND OF "Poco Poco" FOOTPRINTS OF VISITING AMERICANS NINE DOLLAR
HEAD TAX OFF FOR THE SOLIOMOES.

MAXAOS has direct sailings for the United States and Europe, and
a great fleet of steamers, big and little, that go to all the upper
rivers, even to the slopes of the Andes.

The carrying trade of the Amazon is done, first, by ocean going boats
of such lines as the Booth, Hamburg-American, and Lloyd Brasileiro,
many of which visit Para and Manaos only, while others go a thousand
miles further up to Iquitos ; second, by a fleet of river steamers, several
hundred in number, that belong some to individuals and some to com-
panies. The Amazon Steam Navigation Co., Limited, for example, the
oldest, has about forty steamers and many tugs and lighters. Their
boats are from 150 to 800 tons burden, and the company is subsidized
by both State and Federal governments to run regularly up some of the
great tributaries of the Amazon.

Time was when the flat bottomed stern-wheel Mississippi type of
steamer was very generally used, but it has practically disappeared. The
twin screw steamer is to day the usual thing that is, for the better
class of river boats. Some of these are fitted with electric fans, ice
machines and excellent accommodations for first class passengers. The
boats are usually two deckers, both being open. The lower deck is for
the engine, cargo, animals, crew, and third class passengers. This deck
is usually loaded in layers merchandise, mules and dogs at the bottom,
passengers in hammocks just above, with an animated top layer of par-
rots, monkeys, and insects. The upper deck, reserved for officers and first
class passengers, has a few four bunk cabins and a long table aft where
meals are served, and is very comfortable.

The real beginning of steam-navigation on the Amazon was in 1853,
when a Brazilian company ran regular steamers between Para and
Manaos. In 1866 Brazil declared the Amazon a free waterway. This,
however, does not mean the river all the way up to Iquitos, nor does it



OF THE AMAZON 113

include the great tributaries. It means the Amazon from the Atlantic
up to where the Rio Negro enters it, 900 odd miles away. Thus under
a strict ruling, Manaos, which is five miles up on the Rio Negro, and the
settlements on the Solimoes up to Iquitos, would be deprived of this
boon. The result is that the great affluents of the Amazon are navigated
only by vessels that sail under the Brazilian flag, except under special
treaty.

Several Brazilian companies started soon after this, but their ex-
istence was brief and they sold their steamers to private firms. In 1872
the Amazon Steam Navigation Co., Limited, was registered and equipped
especially for work on the Amazon. This consisted mainly in handling




PALACE OF JUSTICE, MANAOS.



freights and passengers between Para and Manaos. By means of sub-
sidies and special concessions, however, they were induced to extend the
service to most of the important affluents of the Amazon. For example,
they were allowed to raise freight rates 25 per cent, and passenger tariffs
30 per cent. In return for this they agreed to run more boats on the
Madeira and Purus and to establish a monthly service on the Araguary
river.

Of the hundreds of steamers privately owned no two are exactly
alike. All types of engines are represented, and of propellers one would
not believe that so many patterns had ever been made^-a great handicap
in repairing. These boats do not pretend to run on schedule time. They
leave when they get ready, go where they choose, and arrive when they



114



THE RUBBER COUNTRY



can. The result is a great deal of wasted effort. It often happens, on
the main river or some of the great tributaries, that a party expecting the
boat will wait for days and finally go back in disgust to their scringal.
Then a week or more later the boat arrives and sends out an expedition
to find the seringal and secure its freight.

According to Brazilian law any and every boat navigating their
waters must carry mail if requested to do so, and that, without re-
compense. A wise old Portuguese sea captain described to me the mail
carrying of some of these smaller boats that went far into the interior.
Not being paid for the service the owners were resentful, and sometimes




COMMERCIAL ASSOCIATION BUILDING, MANAOS.



when away from the restraints of civilization the mail bags were viciously
dumped overboard. At other times they were completely forgotten,
and after months of journeying were brought back and delivered to the
postoffice from which they started.

Of great importance to city and state is the Associacdo Commercial
do Amazonas, Every business house in Manaos, of any prominence
Brazilian, Portuguese, English, German, and American is represented in
this Association. Nor is this all ; business interests throughout the state
of Amazonas, particularly in the upper Amazon, are also members. It is
really a State Board of Trade, active, progressive and comprehensive, and
vital.



OF THE AMAZON




JARDIM DA PRACA GENERAL OSORIO, MANAOS.




'VICTORIA REGIA" IN ESTUARY OF THE AMAZON.



n6



THE RUBBER COUNTRY



Organized 35 years ago, its history has been marked by varying
degrees of activity, but it has stimulated cooperation in the direction
of the general welfare of the city and state. Its work has been much
broadened since its reorganization under the new statutes of May 28,
1908.

The visitor to the Amazon country, whatever tongue he may speak,
soon learns some Portuguese. One word in particular impresses itself
upon him from the beginning, that is borracha. He hears it in the streets
of the cities, on the river steamers, in the jungle, and soon learns that it
means "rubber." Like all people of Latin extraction, the Brazilians




JARDIM DA PRACA DA CQNSTITUCAO, MANAOS.

are very apt in coining expressive phrases. They often call india-rubber
ouro preto (black gold), a fascinating term, perfect in its complete sug-
gestiveness.

Some people at Manaos are still wrathful over an article published
in a New York daily back in 1907, entitled "Peter Panning in the
Land of Poco Poco." It was an alleged interview with Casper Whitney,
illustrated by reproductions of photographs, such as all tourists may pur-
chase anywhere in Brazil. One of these was labeled "Indian of the Up-
per Amazon Never Before Seen by White Man." Another pictured In-
dians found only in the Argentine republic, some 2,000 miles from the
region in which "Peter Pan" was "pocopocoing." By keeping the canoe
" close in shore he fortunately slipped by without attracting the attention
of these savages !



OF THE AMAZON



117



He went cautiously up the Amazon as far as Rio Negro, where he
found that "steamboat navigation ceases." Here he took to canoe, paddled
past Manaos, with its waterfront crowded with buildings and its huge
floating docks, passing through the fleets of ocean going steamers~that
crowd the river basin even to midstream, and saw only jungle covered
shores and watery wastes never before trodden by the foot of white man.
From danger to danger, from little jeopardy to great jeopardy, he ad-
vanced up to the Casiquiare river. His adventures were marvelous.




STAFF HOUSE, FOR AMERICAN CLERKS, MANAOS.



He fought his way through schools of crocodiles that slew natives right
and left ; slept in trees while cannibals held orgies on the ground beneath,
and at last worn, ragged, half starved, but with unfaltering imagination
he came down the Orinoco, never before seen by white man, and was
safe.

Peter need not go so far afield for material. A little "panning"
nearer home would surely get color. Why not offer his daily story on
"Jigging for Giraffes in Jersey City," and be back in the hall bedroom)
before dark?



n8 THE RUBBER COUNTRY

A city so far removed from New York as Manaos is an ideal re-
flector of the sort of permanent impression a foreign visitor leaves behind
him. It is usually some particular idiosyncrasy, mannerism, or fad that
is held in remembrance. Thus, for example, Manaos remembered a
speculative rubber promoter as possessing a very broad, tooth showing
smile ; a millionaire yachtsman and Wall Street magnate as a good natured
"prince of perspiration" ; a New York city official, once in rubber, as
dictating .to three stenographers at once (why didn't he hire one good
one?), and so on.

Perhaps the one whom they remembered best, and with surprised
awe, was a certain boyish American, who appeared on the arcnida, coat-
less, vestless the only man in Manaos without belt or sash, his trousers
held up by good, old-fashioned "galluses." This youngster crossed the
Andes, bought rubber, came down the Madeira and got it through to
New York at a profit. Not only that, but he engaged to build a Madeira-
Mamore railway. Others got concessions to be sure, and he did.not,
but it was not owing to his lack of ambition.

When the time came for our departure from Manaos, the stesi/nboat
company allowed us to go down on a cargo boat. At first the officials
strongly advised our waiting for a week for one of the regular passenger
boats, picturing the discomforts of a vessel not fitted for passengers,
but finally capitulated.

One very interesting formality that we were obliged to go through
before leaving Manaos was the payment of a head tax amounting to $9
for permission to leave the country. I tried to get the official to make
it $8.98, but got not the slightest encouragement. I was further obliged
to deposit with the steamship company $50 to be turned over to the
hospital board in Barbados for care or funeral expenses in case 1 arrived
at that careful island with yellow fever.

Early on Sunday morning, therefore, we said our good byes and made
our way down to the pier, where a delegation from the Commercial Asso-
ciation was waiting to bid us bon voyage. We all shook hands and saici
nice things to each other ; the president gave me a beautiful spray of
orchids, the Catalaya sitperba, and with a final adieu we went aboard.
Shortly after, the boat started down the river. Our last glimpse of
Manaos as we steamed away was the huge dome of the theater, its rich
blending of red, blue, yellow, and green tiling blazing in the sunlight
like a gigantic fire opal. We passed by the red clay shores, and at
length out of the black water of the Rio Negro into the yellow Amazon
again.






CHAPTER XVI.

RAILROAD BUILDING IN THE HEART OF THE RUBBER COUNTRY THE CATARACTS OF
THE MADEIRA "BATELAOS" MADEIRA-MA MORE CONCESSION THE GREAT CAMP AT
PORTO VELHO CARIPUNA INDIANS.

*-

I HAVE already mentioned the great number of workers, engineers
and others, whom we met going and coming from the headquarters
of the Madeira-Mamore railway, but it was not until I got to
Manaos that I really appreciated what a great undertaking it was, and'
how energetically it was handled. One of the partners in the contracting
firm that was putting the road through resided there, and I got to know
him well. . His official headquarters were at Manaos. But Itacoatiara, at
the mouth of the Madeira river, was the place where supplies were
stored, and many of the men housed going and coming from the railroad
camps.

The Madeira, it will be remembered, is the Amazon's greatest
tributary. It comes from Bolivia and furnishes about the only outlet for
that landlocked republic. From where it enters the Amazon to San An-
tonio, nearly 500 miles away, it is navigable by ocean steamers. Then
come 250 miles of rapids, in' which there are nineteen cataracts. When
the water is high, the big rubber batcldos are able to get through by
floating part of the way and making portages around the falls, but shoot-
ing the rapids. These portages are furnished with narrow guage tracks.
The batcldos are unloaded, pulled upon a small truck, and dragged up
over the hills, and then eased down on the other side. The return trip
involves 25 portages, and three trips a year are all that is possible. The
enormous effort required in moving these heavy boats can hardly be
imagined. Every season at low water new roadways must be made by,
clearing the great boulders out of the river bed, and then laying a cor-
duroy road of green poles, over which the keels of the bateldos can slip.
Where it is possible they use block and tackle to help in pulling, but some-
times everything must be done by main strength.

There is a loss of 10 to 15 per cent, of the rubber sent down by the
upsetting of the scows. Not only that but many men are drowned.
The batcldos, by the way are flat bottomed scows 30 feet long and 8 feet

119



OF THE AMAZON



121



wide, and carry about 10 tons of rubber. They are manned by 16
paddlers, or baieleiros, and usually make the journey down in 20 days,
while it takes 60 to return. Transportation difficulties particularly where
there are cataracts as there are in the Madeira, are very great. For ex-
ample, the journey from Para to the Beni river took a trifle more than
200 days. The return trip down stream took 70 days. Freight rates
going up were from $800 to $1,200 per ton, and for the down trip from
$300 to $350 per ton.

It is commonly believed that because of the marvelous waterways




HAULING RUBBER BOAT AROUND THE FALLS OF THE MADEIRA, OLD REGIME.



possessed by northern Brazik railroads are neither necessary nor
likely to be built. Time was when it was thought that the Mississippi
and its tributaries would be all that the Middle West would ever need
for transportation. To-day those, waterways and half a dozen great
railroads are often unable to handle the merchandise offered them. His-
tory will undoubtedly repeat itself in Brazil. Railways from the great
province of Matto Grosso will carry rubber and other products south and
east, opening up an enormous territory. Running northward from the



122



THE RUBBER COUNTRY




FALLS AND RAPIDS ON THE MADEIRA RIVER.




CONSTRUCTION CAMP, MADETRA-MAMORE RAILWAY.



OF THE AMAZON



125



heart of Matto Grosso to the beginning of navigation in such rivers as
the Tapajos and the Araguay, perhaps joining the upper end of the
Madeira-Mamore, they would open up a country of inexhaustible wealth
The day will come, too, when Manaos will be connected with the Gnianas,
certainly by wireless and almost as certainly by railroad.

Brazil already has a fine railroad system but it is almost all in the
south. The Madeira-Mamore railroad is the precursor of a great num-
ber of roads that will undoubtedly be projected to open up the vast
country of the Amazon valley. The concession for the building of the











CONSTRUCTION WORK IN PROGRESS.



Madeira-Mamore railway was granted to a Brazilian in 1906 and at once
transferred to the Madeira-Mamore Railway Co., a corporation organized
in the United States. This company was financed by the Brazil Railway
Co., and a company known as the Port of Para, both American, each
owning 50 per cent, of the stock of the Madeira-Mamore railroad.

The Madeira-Mamore road will be 210 miles lony'and will open up
2,500 miles of navigable waters in Bolivia, the Acre, and a part of Matto
Grosso. In June, 1910, 55 miles from Porto Velho to Jaci-Parana were
open for traffic. The road has since been extended to the river Mutum-



124



THE RUBBER COUXTRY




CAMP 'HOSPITAL FOR LABORERS, M ADEIRA-M AMORE RAILWAY.




ROCK CUT ON RAILWAY LINE.



OF THE AMAZON



125



Parana, about 100 miles further, and one train a week is run for freight.
As the charges have been about $300 per ton down the Madeira and $400
per ton going up, the railroad can cut these rates in half and still make
money. It has been estimated that the annual transportation charges
over the Falls were about $2,500,000.

The headquarters of the construction camp was not at San Antonio,
but at Porto Velho, where were assembled from 4,000 to 5,000 men. Of
these 300 to 400 were Americans. Here were built substantial quarters
for the engineers, bunk houses for the men, an up to date thoroughly




A BAD LANDSLIDE ON THE RAILWAY.



equipped hospital, an ice plant, and large storehouses. The company


1 2 3 4 5 7 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 7 of 12)