United States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign Commerce.

Consular reports, Issues 196-199 online

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need a good machinis.t, with his tools and a set of job machinery — a man who can turn his
hand to any repair work and who is a blacksmith. Such a man would have about all he
could do at good rates. There is a good opening here for a doctor, and he should open a
fairly well-stocked drug store.

Living expenses are not high — about the same cost here in silver as in
the West of the United States in gold; rents, about the same, but neither the
houses nor the living are equal to what our. citizens are accustomed to at

Most of the vegetables we are accustomed to grow here ; cabbages, onions,
tomatoes, and lettuce do well. Potatoes do not completely mature, -but are
eatable. Tropical bulbs, yucca, yams, and a sort of sweet potato are all

Such fruits as the orange, pineapple, banana, limes, etc., are extremely
fine, but no successful attempt to raise the fruits of the temperate zone has
been made.

Cacao and rubber do well at an elevation anywhere up to 1,500 feet,
and some attention is beginning to be paid to the cultivation of these crops
in the lower lands between Matagalpa and the Atlantic. Cattle are exten-
sively raised. Cows sell for from $10 to $20; oxen, $30 to $40; mules, $80
to $150; horses, $20 to $50. The cattle are good, mules fair, and horses
poor. The dairy business is quite extensive; the product is cheese, which
sells at 25 cents per pound. Chickens are plentiful at $4 to $6 per dozen.
Butter is scarcely known and of poor quality. Corn and beans flourish and
No. 199 2.

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are i)rofi table crops. Wheat, oats, rye, and barley do not grow. The only
mills in the country are old stone mills, without the bolting process.

T^nds can still be had from the Government for actual cultivation at a
cost of about J3 (silver) per acre. Lands are covered with heavy, tropical
forest and without roads to them.

Manning Bros, write:

The time is ripe for the establishment of an American mercantile house in Matagalpa to
handle a good quality of American-made tools, machinery, and other goods, in place of the
shoddy stuff now imported from Germany "only to sell."

There is room for many more people here, but this is no place for any one without capital.
This last fact is no joke, but will be found to be a sad reality to all who make the trial.

My excuse for writing at such length is, I receive hundreds of letters
from every section of the United States making inquiries, some of which are
answered here for the information of the general public.

Managua, February 6, i8p/. Minister,


The gold industry of British Guiana* started about twelve years ago, and
steadily advanced to and including the year 1893, when the exports amounted
to something over 12,300,000. The output for 1894 was not equal to that
of 1893 by about 13,000 ounces, but was about equal to that of 1892. The
year 1895 again showed a falling off, as does 1896 up to the present time.
This decrease, it is claimed, is caused by a great many investors having
withdrawn from the placer washings and joined the mining companies, only
one of which has commenced crushing. But I think the true cause is, that
the majority of the placers that pay have been worked out. There is no
doubt, if there were some easy and cheap communication with the interior,
a large number of placers could be made to pay handsomely. The expense
of getting to and from these placers is so heavy that their working is unprof-

I learn from reliable American miners that there are very few creeks in
the colony but what show "color,'* and many of them can not be worked
on account of the expense of getting to and from them and the heavy roy-
alty the Government exacts, viz, 90 cents per ounce.

In the face of all the drawbacks incident to mining in this colony, there
are about 7,000 men employed by the numerous syndicates.

The most successful placer that has ever been worked by any syndicate
in this colony, producing something over 18,000 ounces in three years, viz,
the Barnard Syndicate, was discovered and managed by an American. This
placer is twenty-one days from Georgetown, up the Mazaruni River, but the

* Consul Patterson states that the gold mines of British Guiana (so called) mentioned by him are situated
in the territory in dispute between British Guiana and Venezuela.

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return to Georgetown can be made in less than a week. This will give some
idea of the expense and time required to reach some of the placers, and it
can be readily seen that a placer has to pay handsomely to justify its working.

The expense of prospecting is very great — five to ten times the cost in
the United States. One person can not prospect alone, as provisions have
to be carried for the entire journey. There are no roads in the interior, but
a virgin, tropical forest to contend with, where the traveler can not see 20
feet, and paths have to be cut as the prospectors go along. The expense of
a small prospecting trip, for four months, with four laborers, will be from
^500 to $800.

What the outcome of quartz mining in this colony is to be seems uncer-
tain; experts, as well as miners, are in doubt, while mai y others are very
confident. There is no question as to the richness of the quartz, but there
has not been as yet enough of development work to prove that it is in quan-
tities sufficient to justify the expenditure of large sums of money. I have
seen samples of quartz from the Barima Gold Mining Company with pieces
of gold as large as wheat grains sticking all through them, and have in my
possession a piece of quartz weighing about 10 pounds thus studded with
gold. How much of this class of quartz they have I am unable to say, but
from the quantity of ore crushed and of gold yielded, as per report below,
I am of the opinion there is not a very large vein of this rich ore, although
the company claims that the poorest ore is being crushed first. The manager
of this mine and nearly all the staff are Americans.

Gold-bearing quartz has been found in other sections, and the impression
prevails that some of it is fully as rich as the Barima.

I quote from the Demerara Fortnightly Market Report the following:

The Barima Gold Mining C?ompany commenced operations with full force of twenty
stamps on the 15th of July, and during ten days of eighteen hours' work, crushed 459 tons
mixed ore, yielding, after cleaning up, 766 ounces of gold. It is expected that the crushing
during the present month (August) will return a total of over 2,000 ounces of gold, which,
by the la-st two weekly returns, seems fully justiBed. The $$ shares of this company have
gone up to $12, and the mining strength of the concern is being increased.

The Arakaka is giving good returns in placer working, and is paying attention to the de-
velopment of the reefs. Two dividends of lo per cent have been declared.

The Barima Park mines continue exposing some very promising veins.

The Barima Development Company has sold the whole of its undoubtedly rich property
to an English syndicate. The Sir Walter Raleigh Company, which comprises part of the lat-
ter property, is still engaged putting up machinery.

A new (ierman syndicate of capitalists has purchased several properties, and is now pre-
paring for operations.

Other properties of great promise have changed hands to English capitalists, and we are
looking for a large development in the gold industry, in spite of the unsettled state of the
Venezuelan boundary question.

I desire to say that all the mines referred to in this article are in the ter-
ritory claimed by Venezuela.

Demerara, September ^ i8g6. Consul,

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In response to my request, the Secretary of Foreign Relations for the
Republic of Guatemala has furnished me with a list of the periodicals pub-
lished in that country. American merchants and manufacturers who con-
template making exhibits at the exposition soon to be held in the city of
Guatemala [opens March 15, closes July 15, 1897] might find it profitable
to do some newspaper advertising in Guatemala. Each advertisement should
contain the announcement that the goods may be seen at the exposition.
A copy of the list of periodicals is inclosed herewith.


San Juan del Norte, December 4, j8g6. Consul.

List of periodicals published in Guatemala.
Where published.


I Occidcnic I Que?aItenango....

Kl I )iano deCentro America i Guatemala.

El Guaiemalieco „do

F^I Progreso Nacional „do

La Naii6n do

La Nucva Era ; do

L.-* Republica do

El Bien Publico I Quezahenangc.

I^ Fe I Guatemala

I^ Ilustraci6u Guaicmalicco do

La Kevista Municipal do

El Eco de Amatiilon Amatillan

EI Faro Retlalhulan

El Michataya Amaiitlan

El Paz Jutiapa

EI Peladito... Guatemala

El Indcpendiente Hulhultenango..

Fierra Blanca TotonicapAn.....

\a Demacecia SanMdrcos

La Familia Cristiana Guatemala

La Escuela Antigua

T^ E^trclla de Orienle Chiquimula

La Lucha Livingston

I.A Scmana Catolica Guatemala

Las Vos del Norte , Cohan

Boletin Exposicion Guatemala ,

El Boletin Postal ..do ,

El Educacianisia do

El Griio (Ic Tara do ,

EI PabcIIan del Rosario do

La Bolsa do

La Escuela dc Dcrccho do

La Escuela Mcdicina do

La Escuela Normal do

La Union Ciclista do

El 2 de AhnI do

El 15 dc Scptbra do


































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I have the honor to submit a report on railroads in Venezuela. I was
recently ordered to Caracas on official business, and as I had never traveled
over the railroad from Puerto Cabello to Valencia or over the celebrated
railroad from Valencia to Caracas, I concluded to make my journey from
Puerto Cabello overland. Some years ago, on a visit to Caracas, I traveled
over the English line from I^ Guayra to Caracas, which is considered a great
work of engineering ; yet I must say that what I had the pleasure of seeing
on this trip far exceeded my expectations, as these well-built railroads run
through the garden spot of Venezuela.

I also had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of the directors of the
roads, and was kindly furnished by them with statistical reports, plans, etc.


Puerto Cabello, a busy city of about 15,000 inhabitants, is justly cele-
brated as possessing the finest seaport on the entire north coast of South
America. In it are united the three conditions of ease of access, safety, and
deep water up to the wharves of the city. Besides these advantages, the
harbor is commodious and several ocean steamers may load and discharge

This is the only Venezuelan port which does not present serious obstacles
to commerce ; the magnificent harbor of Maracaibo, second to none in the
world, can only be entered by passing two bars, the outer and inner. Over
the latter there is only io}4 feet of water. La Guayra, until a few years ago,
was an exceedingly inconvenient and frequently dangerous roadstead, where
vessels were often subjected to great peril, and although a breakwater has
been constructed where the shipping is supposed to lie and at whose wharves
loading and discharging are effected, the results of the enterprise have not
equaled anticipation. As far as the other open ports of the Republic are
concerned, none of them can compare in the slightest degree with that of
Puerto Cabello.

This favorable circumstance has given great importance to the city, which
the proximity of Valencia has greatly increased.

For many years previous to the construction of the railway between the
two cities, efforts were made to accomplish this result and more than one
concession was granted, but although surveys were effected and the line
marked out, no practical beginning was made.

Valencia having an elevation of nearly 500 meters above sea level, its
distance from Puerto Cabello being about 30 miles, the engineers at times
found many difficulties to be encountered, and it was feared that the returns
of the road, when in operation, would not be proportionate to the expenses

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of construction, but a company was finally organized in England and the
work commenced. One clause in the contract with the Venezuelan Gov-
ernment was highly favorable to the company, this being a Government
guaranty of 7 per cent upon the total cost of the line. The road was
opened to traffic in 1886, having been built in a most solid and thorough

There are no places on the line between Puerto Cabello and Valencia
worthy of special description except Las Frincheras, where a thermal and san-
itary establishment attracts invalids from all parts of the country, and even
from Curasao and other neighboring islands. However, but little was ex-
pected from way traffic, the road being especially constructed to give speedy
and regular transport to the coast of the productions of the great agricultural
region of which Valencia is the center and for the transportation to the in-
terior of the merchandise from abroad introduced at Puerto Cabello. The
earnings of the line have not, however, equaled what was anticipated, and
the company has already heavy claims against the Government for arrears
of the guaranty of 7 per cent.

Only during one year (1893) was the income of the road equal to that
percentage of its cost. This was due to the great quantity of material carried
from Puerto Cabello to Valencia for the construction of the Great Venezuela
Railway from Caracas to the latter city.

With the completion of the latter line, it was believed that the revenues
of the Puerto Cabello road would be permanently benefited, especially as
both are of the same gauge and have their tracks connecting, and it was
confidently expected that the lines would be reciprocally beneficial to a great
extent. This expectation, however, has not been realized, and in 1894 the
receipts of the road under consideration again fell off considerably. The
gross amount during that period was ;^59,339 5s. 2d. ($288,743.81), while
the working expenses were ^^37,373 3s. 7d. ($181,857.88), leaving a net re-
turn of but ^21,966 IS. 7d. ($106,885.93), and this on a capital of ;^82o,-
ooo ($3,990,120). .

In 1890, a settlement was made by the Government, but, since then,
the guaranty arrears have again accumulated, amounting at present to more
than ^80,000 ($389,280).

The general depression throughout Venezuela for the past few years is
no doubt largely responsible for the comparatively small income of this line.
It is much to be regretted that a better showing is not made, as this railway
is of the greatest importance.

In this country, as in all others, an essential to progress is proper means
of communication and transport, and experience teaches that where railways
are constructed through districts of fertility and natural resources, whose
only obstacle to development is scantiness of population, settlers will ulti-
mately come if efforts are made to attract them. In a thinly settled country
like Venezuela, the natives naturally can not be counted upon as settlers or
colonizers for any particular section, and if every railway extending into the

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interior and passing through regions which invite the agriculturist would
take an interest in attracting to the country and establishing on or near the
line of the road a number of immigrants, it would soon cease to complain
of a deficiency of revenue.

On the line from Puerto Cabello to Valencia there are many thousands
of acres lying absolutely idle where are united the conditions of fertile soil,
mild and healthful climate, and an abundance of water supply. Had the
company from the beginning established settlements in this district, its
position to-day would be a very different one.

Railways, it is true, attract population, but this population must be drawn
from somewhere, and in the case of Venezuela and other countries similarly
situated it must come from abroad. The Government, moreover, would
most cheerfully cooperate in such a movement, which must naturally redound
to the public good.

Although the Puerto Cabello road does not pass through a country of so
much interest as does the line from Caracas to Valencia, where, after leaving
the mountains, villages and towns follow each other in rapid succession,
many of these being of importance and of historical note, it is yet the great
connecting link between the central interior and the coast, and as such must
some day more than realize all the anticipations of its projectors.

Its interests and those of the Great Venezuela Railway are to a certain
extent identical ; both have the same terminus — the city of Valencia. United
they form a continuous route from Puerto Cabello, on the coast, to Caracas,
the capital of the Republic, which is, in its turn, united with its seaport.
La Guayra, by the railway opened in 1883. Thus the circle is complete
and the advantages which must ultimately be derived from this achievement
of modem engineering are obvious.

With the continuance of peace, which now seems assured, and the im-
provement which is confidently looked for in the economic condition of the
country, the Puerto Cabello and Valencia Company justly expect an increase
of business which will soon compensate for past losses, and there are san-
guine anticipations that the coming year may usher in a period of permanent
and increasing prosperity.


Maracaibo, September jOy i8g6. Consul.


In Venezuela, as in most of the South American states, three conditions
must be complied with before any real advance can be made in the path of
progress. When internal peace shall have been guarantied, easy and rapid
means of transportation established, and a stream of immigration attracted
to its shores, it is safe to say that this Republic will, within a short time,
have taken a much higher place among nations.

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Of these three great requisites, the first seems now to be tolerably assured,
and, with the exception of a few professional revolutionists who can not
comprehend that the people are yearly becoming more intelligent, scarcely
anyone thinks of civil war as a remedy for real or supposed grievances.

Respecting improved means of communication, much progress has been
made since 1883, when the railway from La Guayra to Caracas was opened
to traffic; and during the past thirteen years various other lines have been
completed in different sections of the country, besides those still in construc-
tion or under study.

No Venezuelan railroad, however, is more notable than the one under
consideration, which, starting from Caracas, scales the frowning and appar-
ently impassable mountains, which, to the westward, imprison the valley of
the capital and finally descends into the fertile and picturesque valleys
of Aragua, celebrated as the garden spot of Venezuela. Thence, it con-
tinues to the city of Valencia, capital of the State of Carabobo and metrop-
olis of an immense section, where more advance has been made in modern
agriculture than in any other part of the Republic.

From Valencia, another railroad reaches the coast at Puerto Cabello, and
as the gauges of the two lines are the same, cars may run without interruption
from that section to Caracas.

A descriptive and historical sketch of what is emphatically called the
Great Venezuela Railway will not be lacking in interest. For many years
a carriage road has existed between the two great cities of central Vene-
zuela — Caracas and Valencia — but the difficulty of keeping it in repair,
especially among the mountains, and the unavoidably slow rate of travel,
rendered it a most unsatisfactory means of communication. This became
more and more apparent with the constant increase of travel and transport
between the two cities.

In 1887, four years after the opening of the La Guayra railway, the re-
sults of which had even surpassed expectation, a concession was granted to
Mr. Friedrich Krupp, of Essen, Germany, for the construction of the Caracas-
Valencia line. No time was lost in beginning the work and the preliminary
surveys were at once made, demonstrating the feasibility of the project,
although at least one-third of the line presented natural obstacles which
many persons had considered insurmountable, except by the expenditure of
most disproportionate sums.

Favorable reports were, however, made by the engineers sent out from
Germany, and in 1888 a joint-stock company was formed in that country
and the work of construction began. On February i, 1894, six years after
the commencement of operations and before the date required by the terms
of the concession, the road was formally inaugurated and has since continued
running without interruption. It will be remembered that during many
months of the period of construction the work was seriously embarrassed by
the revolution against President Andueza Palacio, especially as the .section
of country through which the line runs was particularly exposed to the

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hazards of war. No efforts, however, were spared to keep the work in
progress, and its early completion in the face not only of gigantic natural
obstacles, but also of civil war, is a high testimonial to the ability and i>er-
severance of those to whom this great enterprise was intrusted. It would
not be just, in this connection, to omit mention of Mr. C. Plock, director
in chief, and of Messrs. G. Knoop and E. Isermeyer, chief engineers, to
whom the line is particularly indebted for its prompt completion.

Since the formal inauguration of the road in 1894, Messrs. Th. Dieterich
and G. Knoop have been its directors and the representatives of the com-
pany, and their administration up to the present has left nothing to be

The importance of this line and the effect it must have eventually upon
the progress of the country can not be better demonstrated than by a de-
scription of the district through which it passes. Its entire length is 179
kilometers (about 108 miles), but the expense and difficulty of construction
have been enormously disproportionate to its length. Leaving Caracas, which
has an elevation of 920 meters (3,018 feet) above sea level, the road follows a
general southwesterly direction, and for the first 10 or 12 miles is compara-
tively level. After passing the pretty village of Antimano, it leaves the
beautiful valley of Caracas, and at a point a little beyond, called Las Ad-
juntas, it enters a very rough, mountainous region and seriously begins its
climb. The ascent from there is practically continual, with an average grade
of 2 per cent until the thirtieth kilometer is reached, 1,227 meters (4,026 feet)
above the sea. From this point to the seventy- fourth kilometer, the line
gradually descends, but this descent was the most expensive and offered the
greatest difficulties to construction of all the sections of the line. Tunnels
of great length through solid rock and steel viaducts of great height span-
ning immense chasms follow each other in rapid succession, until level
ground is again reached near the station of Las Tejerias. From there to
Valencia, the road passes through a most fertile and beautiful country,
which only needs a sufficiency of population for the development of its great

Before entering upon a detailed description of the cities, villages, and
territory which have been placed in close and advantageous connection by
the completion of this line, it will not be amiss to present a few data which
will give an idea of the difficulties encountered in construction and the
present condition of the road.

First of all, it has been neces.sary to construct two hundred and twelve
viaducts and bridges and eighty-six tunnels. The viaduct of greatest length
and height is that of Agua Amarilla (Yellow Water), at the forty -eighth kilo-
meter, which is 106 meters (348 feet) long and 47 meters (154 feet) high.

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 196-199 → online text (page 65 of 82)