in San Jose told me he had been there less than a year and had
felt six or seven earthquakes in that time. The city is well
built, after the Spanish mode, and would be a delightful place
of residence were it not for the earthquakes, for it is so high
that the thermometer never goes above 78 or below 65 Â°. The
railroad to San Jose is the most dangerous road I ever saw.
After leaving the seashore it is almost a continuous curve, and
much of the way is made by digging a trench along the side
of the mountain which makes a most insecure roadbed. Large
bodies of workmen are employed constantly to detect and repair
breaks in the road. I saw scores of places where there had been
recent slides in which the road had gone bodily into the depths,
and I saw others where the mountain above the roadbed had slid
down, taking everything with it.
One of those torrential rains to which that country is st> sub-
ject, or even a slight earthquake, puts the road out of business.
The superintendent told one of our passengers that when a train
started he never knew whether it would get through or not, and
our engineer said he had gone with his train into the depths
three times. There is another danger. The engines are so light
that frequently on the very steep down grades the train runs
away with them. On all such places a spur is built running up
the mountains, and upon signal from the engineer that he has
lost control of his train, a switchman throws it onto the spur
and it is speedily stopped. Our ship was to sail from Port Limon
Monday afternoon, but I came down the mountains Saturday,
not taking any chances by waiting longer at San Jose, for I
learned that frequently passengers were unable to rejoin their
ships on account of accidents to the railroad and were left behind.
All the immense banana shipments from Port Limon are made
on the steamers of the United Fruit Company, which has the
monopoly of that trade, and our only cargo from there was
coffee. At Jamaica we shipped 6,000 bunches of bananas and at
Santiago a large quantity of molasses. We landed at New York
on Wednesday forenoon, February 21st.
On April 14, 1912, with five other Past Department Command-
ers of the G. A. R. from this Department, I was a pallbearer at
the funeral of Miss Clara Barton, who had died at the ripe age
of ninety years, having given most of her life to doing good
228 RECOLLECTIONS FROM
throughout the world in what is known as Red Cross Work.
Her name is known and honored everywhere.
On the night of April 14th occurred the disaster to the steamer
Titanic which shocked and astounded the civilized world.
I find that I have omitted from these memoirs a historic event
of great interest, to wit: the part taken by the Grand Army of
the Republic in the raising of the flag for the first time over the
new Department of Commerce and Labor. I was invited by
Hon. George B. Cortelyou, the Secretary of Commerce and
Labor, to be present with my stall on that occasion, and we
attended in full uniform. The account of this pleasing incident
is to be found on page 22 of the History of the Department of
Commerce and Labor, written by Hon. George B. Cortelyou, and
is as follows :
"On the morning of June 17, 1903, under the auspices of the
Grand Army of the Republic, the Nation's flag was raised for
the first time over the new Department, and its headquarters was
formally placed in commission. The entire personnel of the De-
partment assembled at the flagstaff on the roof with the com-
mittee of the Grand Army of the Republic to witness the cere-
mony. The brief address of Judge I. G. Kimball, department
commander, G. A. R., on this occasion was as follows:
"On behalf of the Grand Army and my old comrades of the
war, I want to thank you for the invitation you have given to us
to be present at this ceremony, the hoisting of the flag over the
new Department. It shows your appreciation of the old sol-
diers ; it shows your appreciation of the flag and all that it means.
And it is especially appropriate today, just after Flag Day, and
today the anniversary of the first great battle of the Revolution-
ary war â€” the battle of Bunker Hill â€” that the old soldiers should
assist in this inauguration of the service of putting up the flag
over this Department, which is not a department of war, but a
department of peace â€” one that we hope will take into all the
world the commerce of our country and reap those results which
the soldiers, by their fighting, helped to accomplish â€” I mean the
placing of this country in the forefront, not only in war, but in
Secretary Cortelyou replied as follows :
"Commander: It is altogether fitting that under such auspices
as these the flag should be raised on the new Department. In
asking you to participate in this simple ceremony we were influ-
A BUSY LIFE 229
enced very largely by the reasons you have given in the very
appropriate address you have just made. I thank you for being
here, with your staff and others, representing the Grand Army
of the Republic, and I need hardly assure you that in the work
of this Department it will be our constant hope and purpose that
nothing shall be done unworthy of that flag."
The flag was raised by a comrade of the G. A. R., all present
standing with uncovered heads.