Michael George Mulhall.

Handbook of the river Plate republics. Comprising Buenos Ayres and the provinces of the Argentine Republic and the republics of Uruguay and Paraguay online

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roads lined with poplars, through the districts of Eiojita, Isla,
Eetamo, Independencia, Monte Caseros, Santa Eosa, MaUea,
and Dormida, all which are watered by means of canals drawn
from the Tunuyan and Mendoza rivers. San Martin is eastward
from Luxan and San Vicente.

, La Paz,

Lying near the Desaguadero, on the San Luis frontier, is so
favourably situated along the Tunuyan river that numberless
canals serve to irrigate its well-cultivated lands, which are
chiefly used for pasture. A canal 40 miles in length unites the
Tunuyan and Desaguadero, which will permit all the interme-
diate country to be devoted to farming as soon as the Indians
become less troublesome on the right bank of the Tunuyan.
The village of La Paz, of recent date, promises to attain some
importance, being exactly half-way between Mendoza and San
Luis. The surrounding woods are used to pasture cattle. The
districts of Chacarita, Barrial Grande, and Eamadita are likewise

The lagoons of Huanacache comprise a semicircular area
from the river of Mendoza to tte head waters of the Desaguadero,
on the San Juan frontier. The inhabitants are descendants of
the original Guarpe Indians, and avail themselves of the
periodical overflow of these lakes to raise abundant crops, while
they also devote much of their attention to fishing, making
weirs for the purpose. At the same time a few herds of cattle
subsist on the aquatic plants of the lagoons, and good drinking



water is always obtainable by digging wells a few feet deep.
The village of Kosario, on the lake of that name, is the chief
town of the department, and hamlets with chapels are also
found at San Miguel, Ascencion, San Pedro, and Alto Grande.
In the districts bordering on the Mendoza river the inhabitants
draw canals thence to irrigate their lands, but the Indians
prefer planting in the low grounds adjoining the lagoons.

San Carlos,
Along the slope of the Andes, between the rivers Tunuyan
and Diamante, occupies half the Uco valley, and is luxuriantly
watered, well cultivated, possessing a numerous population and
considerable trade with Chile, The department takes the name
from a fort built by the Spaniards in the last century, near the
foot of the Portillo pass, which is open from November to
March ; but travellers to Chile prefer the Uspallata. The fort
and village of, San Carlos are 25 leagues S. from LuxAn, and
30 from Mendoza, at the junction of two streams. A small
settlement of Chilian immigrants, called Chilecito, is met 2
leagues S.W. of San Carlos. Sundry spurs of the Andes
display rich marble, as yet undeveloped, and bituminous soil
exists in the lower grounds. The districts of Carrizal, Arboleda,
Melocoton, and Totoral pertain to this department, the total
population of which is 3824, including 8 Europeans. There
are 52 children attending the public school.

San Bafael,
The most southern department in the province, occupies the
rest of the Uco valley, southward from the Diamante to the
river Atuel. Fort San Eafael stands 60 leagues S. of
Mendoza city, and is the last outpost of civilization, surrounded
by some well-tilled chacras. The Pehuenches and Auca Indians
often come hither to sell their skins and other wares, living on
friendly terms with the Christians. A regular traffic is carried
on, especially in stolen cattle, between the southern Indians and


the CMlian province of Arauco, by means of the low passes of
Peteroa, Sazo, and Planchon, which hardly exceed 10,000 feet
over sea-level, and are often open most of the year. The
petroleum spring is 10 leagues S. of San- Eafael. All the
country below San Eafael is held by the- Indians, but the nomiaal
limit of the province is supposed to be the Eio Grande, after-
wards called Colorado. A military expedition once reached
Mount Limen-Mahuida (" whet-stone peak "), near Curra-
Languen, or the "bitter lake." All these parts are flooded
when the snows melt, and Lake Nahuel-Huapi is iu the midst
of fine scenery, where the Eio Negro of Patagonia takes its rise.
About 3 leagues W. of Fort Eafael is found a greenish
alabaster, and all tne hilly country is said to abound in silver,
especially at a place 10 leagues N. of the fort. The banks
of the Tunuyan are thickly wooded : here tigers are found, and
vicunas and guanacos on the mountain slopes, as well as the
majestic condor.

Passes of the Andes.

There are twenty-seven known passes over the Andes into
Chile, but only two or three are much in use, the rest being
either held by Indians or too difficult for travellers.

Nahuel-Hiiapi, the most southern, is used by Patagonian
Indians going to Port Montt or Valdivia; the highest point,
called Pedro Eosales, is reported by Messrs. Fonck and Hers as
only 2770 feet over sea-level, and 30 leagues from Montt colony.

Arica, Einihue, and Villarica, communicating with Arancania.
The Indians say they are practicable all the year round, and the
eastern slopes covered with apple-trees.

Pena-Blanca, Antuco, and Parqui-Tanquen, also used by
Indians. Antuco is only 6900 feet high, and here Cruz passed
in 1806, when he came from the Pacific to Buenos Ayres in
47 days. The Indians take cattle and salt by this route to

Planchon, used by Eanqueles cattle-lifters. Mr. Eobert
Crawford surveyed this pass in 1872, for a railway to Chile.



Highest point, 8225 feet; steepest gradients, 1 in 30 on
Argentine, 1 in 20 on Chilian side ; sharpest curve, 574 feet
radius; 15 tunnels, in all 2200 yards long; 2 viaducts, the
highest 190 feet high and 660 feet long. The summit is
830 miles from Buenos Ayres, and 59 from the nearest railway
station in Chile.

Damas, Peteroa, and Cruz de Piedra, also Indian passes.
The first was so called by Souillac in 1805, because, he said,
ladies could cross at any season. Pissis states the Cruz pass to
be 11,360 feet, but one of the shortest and best.

Portillo, described by Darwin and Dr. Gillies, is 13,240 feet
high, difficult, and often shut with snows ; it reduces the distance
to 80 leagues from Mendoza to Santiago.

Uspallata, or Cumbre, 12,870 feet, is the usual overland route
to Chile, and proposed by Mr. Clark for his Transandine railway.
Couriers cross it all the year, but travellers only from November
to April inclusive. The only dangerous part is the Cumbre,
which should be passed before 10 a.m. to avoid the high wind.
The journey can be made in three days, but is usually done in
six, viz. : Mendoza to VUla-Vicencio, 15 leagues ; to-^sp9,llata,
15 ; to Punta Las Vaoas, 15 ; to the Pie del Cumbre, 10 ; to
Guardia Vieja, 12 ; to Santa Eosa, 13 ; in all, 80 leagues.

Potrero-Alto separates from the last at Punta Las Vacas, is
shorter and more difficult.

Horcones, formerly used by smugglers.

Los Patos, by which General San Martin led his army into
Chile in 1817, takes its name from the abundance of ducks, and
is used by San Juan traders to Valparaiso, the distance being
128 leagues.

Calingasta, Tocota, Agua-Negra, Coconta, Colangue, Deidad,
and Dona-Ana are passes between Sap Juan and the ChUian
provinces of Aconcagua, Coquimbo, and Atacama, much used for
the traffic of fat cattle into Chile, as well as by muleteers.

Three passes, called Pircas, Pulido, and Come-cabaUo, connect
Oopiapd with San Juan, and are much frequented in summer


the distance being 200 leagues : they are high, and exposed to
frequent storms.

From Salta to Copiap6 there are the routes of Fiambuld, San
Francisco, and Autofagasta, passing through much desert
country ; distance about 200 leagues, taking 15 days ; height,
10,000 feet.

Despoblado, from Salta to Cobija across deserts, takes 20
, days.

To Bolivia there are two excellent roads always practicable :
the old high road from Salta to Peru, well supplied with mulsB,
and the Humahuaca road, from Jujuy to Suipacha.

( 207 )



This proAnnce ranks eleventli in the Confederation, having
only 60,319 inhabitants, or 10,000 less than De Moussy's
estimate in 1859. It is, however, the most progressive in the
interior, anc|. has for successive years earned the prize given by
the Argentine Congress for the province which shows the
largest relative nnmber of children attending school. There
are 62 schools, attended by 6907 children. It has also pro-
duced a variety of learned and distinguished men, including
President Sarmiento, Dr. Eawson, and others. Its agricultural
and mining industries are more advanced than in any other
of the provinces. There are half-a-million acres under alfalfa
pastures, where cattle are fattened for the Chilian market, and
this occupation as well as the care of vineyards absorbs one-
third of the entire popiilation. The land artificially irrigated
often gives crops a hundredfold, especially maize, wheat, and
beans. But for the scarcity of capital much more land might
be irrigated and brought under cultivation.

The only river of any importance is the Eio San Juan, which
has its source in the Cordilleras, passes by the city and is lost
in some lakes in the southern part of the province. The climate
is healthy, dry in winter, and very hot in summer, with short
raias occasionally. Grapes, oranges, and peaches thrive in
great abundance, but the fig and oKve have deteriorated.
Foreign trees are acclimatized at the Government Quinta
Normal, which is under the direction of a German. Timber
for firewood is found all over the department. Coal exists at
Marayes, and excellent samples were obtained by Mr. Klappen-
bach, but the locality is too remote to be of much use, and


Congress refused Mr. Klappenbach's application for the premium
of discovery, as these coal-beds were certainly known before.
Silver mines are so numerous that they are said to cover an
area of 10,000 square miles ; many of them are very rich, and
as soon as the railway, now in constrnction, opens up this pro-
vince, mining will form a principal industry. The best known
mines are at Tontal, Jachal, Guayaguas, San Padro; Iglesia,
Marayes, Morado, Guachi, Gualilan, and Huerta ; the works of
the Anglo-Argentine Co., of London, are at Gualilan. The
Tontal silver mines, 100 miles S.E. from ■ the city, are reputed
the richest. In other places are said to exist copper, iron, and

The province may be said to consist of three great valleys—
Tulan, in which the city of San Juan is situated ; Jachal, with
a town of the same name, and Valle Fertil. The census of
1869 gives the population as follows : —

San Juan 28,192

Jachal 12,040

Valle Fertil 2,055

Pozitos 4,158

Angaco 5,479

Cauoete 3,221

San Martin 5,174


It is the only province which shows no increase of population
during the last ten years, and this is owing to the incessant con-
vulsions of which San Juan has been the scene. The aboriginal
inhabitants were Guarpe Indians, as in Mendoza, who inter-
married with their conquerors, and at present in many of the
rural departments this mixed race is plainly observable, but
not in the city. De Moussy gives the area at 33,000 square
miles, but the San Juaninos claim 96,000; the province lies
between the 30th and 32nd parallels of S. lat. on the eastern
slope of the Andes.


City of San Juan.

It was founded in 1561 by CaptainB Castillo, Jofr6, and
Mallea, on the banks of the river which bears its name, and
from its position on the northern extremity of the Cuyo terri-
tory was known as San Juan de la Frontera. In 1776 it re-
ceiToda Deputy-Governor from Mendoza, and continued even
after the Independence to be considered as a part of the pro-
vince of Cuyo, until 1820, when it declared itself a separate
State. The city, which stood originally at the place now called
Pueblo Viejo, about 4 miles northward, had to be removed
owing to inundations from the river ; its present population is
8353, there being 4 women to 3 men, and it counts 115 Euro-
peans, of whom 9 are English, besides 319 Chilians. The town
is watered by means of acequias or canals, one of which runs
through each block. The principal square is nicely planted ;
the public buildings comprise a cathedral, 3 churches, and
7 schools, the most remarkable of the latter being the Sarmiento
Model School, with Grecian fa9ade and accommodation for 600
boys. Most of the houses are built of "adobes." An active trade
is maintained with Chile, the leading merchants being Quiroga,
Zavalla, Merlo, Carrie, Lloveras, Moreno, Eodriguez, and
Aguiar. The journey to Chile takes five or six days by the
Uspallata pass, which is open from 1st November to 1st May.
The exports consist of fat cattle and dried fruits ; the raisins
are of superior quality, although the native-grown wines are
badly prepared. The Governor and principal authorities reside
at San Juan.

The suburbs comprise Concepcion, Desamparados, Santa
Lucia, and Trinidad, with an aggregate population of 20,000
souls. The first occupies the site of the old capital, and offers a
picture of superior cultivation. The second is on the Marque-
zado route, passing the Murallon or dyke of 1000 feet in
length, to prevent inundation : the hills abound in marble of
various colours, and this district counts numerous limekilns.


This road also leads to the picturesque watering-place of Zonda,
in a valley watered by a river of that name, famous for its
fruits, at a medium elevation of 3300 feet over sea-level : hither
the principal families repair in the summer months. Santa
Lucia is beautifully irrigated, and produces wheat, fruits, and
alfalfa in abundance, as also the districts of Chacritas, Eincon,
and Cercado. The village of Trinidad, on the Pozitos road, has
country houses and gardens of charming appearance. The
usual yield of wheat is twenty-five fold, but in some places it
has given 100 for one.

The city of San Juan is 120 leagues from Cordoba, part of
the way being desert. The new road passes over the Cordoba
hiUs, through San Pedro, skirting the south point of the Llanos
range, and by Guayaguas and Caucete to San Juan.

Is a populous and well-cultivated department, forming as it
were a series of gardens, with rows of poplars between, and
artificial irrigation. The Acequion and ParamiUos valleys are
specially remarkable for the well-cultivated farms known as
Durazuo, Barros, Acequion, Pedemal, and Quebrada de Montano.
'The road to Uspallata passes here. Eastward along the slopes
of the Zonda, on the Mendoza route, are Caypiateria, Canada
Honda, and Uuanacache : the first is useless from lack of water,
but the two others yield fine wheat and grapes. At Cerrillos
and Oochagual the industry is pastoral. The village of Pozitos
is 3 leagues S. from San Juan, and in 1861 a battle was fought


I Caucete,

East of San Juan, extends from the foot of the Palo moim-
tains to the lagoons of Huanacache and the sand-deserts which
form the boundary with Eioja. In 1825 a company, was formed
to cultivate a part of this district, but the civil wars prevented
any efforts for more than thirty years, tiU. 1858, when canals
were made, lands divided into farms of 40 cuadras each, and a

SAN JUAlf. ■ 211

prosperous state of affairs inaugurated. Wheat, grapes, and
poplars have enriched the first settlers, and the village of
Caucete, which is about 7 leagues from San Juan, on the
eastern bank of the Rio San Juan, is now the centre of a flourish-
ing region of farms, which extends even up the slopes of Sierra
de Palo, overlooking the high road from San Juan to San Luis.
The Sierra Guayaguas, on the borders of Bioja, has a silver mine
and some grazing farms.

Sometimes called Salvador, lies N.E. from San Juan, ^between
the VUlicum and Pie de Palo ranges. A canal 20 miles long is
drawn from the San Juan river to Punta del Monte, affording
irrigation to the whole department, which is carefully cultivated.
Angaco village, with a church and 808 inhabitants, is about
6 leagues N.E. of the city. The village of San Isidro is also
in this department. Beyond Punta del Monte the high roads to
Valle Tertil and Eioja are devoid of water for over 100 miles.

San Martin
Occupies" a pleasant valley beyond the Eio San Juan, facing
the city, having on one side the Sierra Villicum, and on the
other that of UUum ; it also comprehends the CaKngasta valley,
which is traversed by an Andine stream that falls into the Rio
San Juan. The village of San Martin, sometimes called Tapias,
is near the last-mentioned river, and surrounded on all sides by
smiling farms, as far as Tapiecitas, Barrial, and Pachaco. Five
miles inland from the village, on the Villicum slopes, we find
mineral waters of a sulphuric character.

' Valle Fertil
Lies midway on the route from San Juan to Eioja, consisting,
as its name indicates, of a fertile vaUey, cut off from the rest of
the province by an uninhabited desert extending 100 miles in
the direction of San Juan, and offering much difSculty to tra-

p 2


vellers. It Ib proposed to obviate this by establishing post-
houses along the route, which is in places wooded and with
pasture, up to a distance of 12 leagues from Valle FertO, when
the numerous cattle-farms of this fine valley commence. The
village of VaUe FertU has only 467 inhabitants, but the district
is populous on the eastern or Bioja side of the sierra, and a sub-
delegate with two justices of peace reside in the village. The
sierra abounds in mineral wealth, especially about La Huerta,
where mines have been in working for many years. Coal is
found at Marayes„of excellent quality. Wood for mining fur-
naces abounds.


An extensive valley to the north-west : the lower or southern
part is arid, but the upper is well watered, and numerous smaller
valleys converge into that of Jachal, each irrigated by an Andine
stream : these streams swell the Eio Jachal to a good volume of
water, which fertilizes the country for miles. The town of
Jachal, with 981 inhabitants, is pleasantly situated in a zone of
gardens and plantations. It is the residence of a sub-delegate
and the usual district authorities, and maintains a brisk trade
with the Chilian ports of Coqiiimbo and Huasco, sending thither
across the Cordillera large quantities of fat cattle, and receiving
in exchange European manufactures. It has but little trade with
San Juan, from which it is distant 150 miles N.W., a desert of
nearly 40 miles intervening from Eio San Juan to the Jachal
valley. Parallel with this last is the Pismanta valley, the
lower part of which is desert, but the upper well cultivated and
famous for its sulphur springs, as well as for its gold mines »t
ChHca, and those of silver at Antecristo. The Gualilan gold
mines, belonging to a London company, are also in the Pismanta
valley, at the foot of the Jachal range. Bodeo and Iglesia are
two hamlets farther north, also in this department. In the
mountainous country between the Jachal and Guandacol ranges
are the mining districts of Pescado and Guachi-guaco. The
desert and valley of Mogua lie south-east of Jachal ; the valley



is irrigated by the Moquina river, along which numerous water-
mills are met with, and agriculture is in an advanced condition.
Close to the town of Jachal are establishments for extracting
ore from the minerals.

If this province had pea<!e and an influx of population it
would rapidly assume great importance, both on account of its
mineral wealth and its advantageous trade in fat cattle with
Chile. A canal has been spoken of to connect San Juan and
Mendoza, rendering cultivable a tract of 150 miles, now desert.
The Kio San Juan, sometimes called Los Patos, from the defile
of the Andes in which it takes rise, irrigates a large portion of
country ; its length is 300 miles, its width about 250 feet,
and during the summer months the melting of Andine snows
gives it such volume of water that it is navigable from Caucete
to the lagoons of Portezuelo or Huanacache, in which it loses
itself. An inundation in December, 1833, laid waste 10,000
acres of arable land, and even threatened the city ; a dyke was
then constructed, causing such floods to cover the opposite bank.
The Huanacache lakes are formed by the rivers Mendoza and
San Juan, and from them the Desaguedero takes its rise. In
summer their level is much heightened, and the water almost
potable ; but in other seasons it is salty and brackish. The
"various mountain-ranges are spurs of the Andine system, their
medium height being 15,000 feet, and the only remarkable
peak Aconcagua ; the ranges are rugged and bare, free from
volcanoes, and in many places rich in minerals. The census
commissioners report the actual number of mines working as
14 of gold, 10 of silver, 12 of lead and silver, 1 of copper ;
besides 2 smelting establishments for gold and 5 for silver.

The province of San Juan took the following prizes at
Cordoba : —

S. Elappenbaeh, minerals: gold medal.
P. Sarmiento, embroidery : gold medal.
M, Lailga, wagon : silver medal.
M, Bodriguez, dried &uits : sUver medal.


M. Doncel, wines : silver medal.

M. Castro, nrale : silver medal.

Prov. Committee, lace-work, &c : one silver and three bronze medals.

Gov. of Province, gold lace : bronze medal.

Videla Brother^, oil-paintings : two bronze medals.

M. Albarracin, poncho, &c. : two bronze medals.

This province came off fourth, being next after Tucmnan.

( 215 )


The thirteentli province in point of population, there being only
one less ( Jujuy) in the whole Confederation ; it is also of small
extent, its area not exceeding 35,000 square miles. It lies
south of Catamarca, along the eastern slope of the Andes,
between the 28th and 82nd parallels of south latitude, and
bounded on the east and south by the Salinas desert, which
separates it from Cordoba, San Luis, and San Juan. The
mineral and agricultural resources are almost inexhaustible, but
the country suffered so long from civil war that it was compara-
tively desolate until the pacification of 1863, and is even now
only slowly recovering. The chain of the Andes averages here
a medium height of 13,000 feet, some of the ancillary ranges
being still higher ; the most elevated point of the Sierra Fama-
tina is Nevado, 20,600 feet, and Cerro Negro, in the same range,
is 15,000 feet. The Sierra de Eioja, sometimes called Velazco,
is about 10,000 feet ; Jagiie and Vinchina are nearly as high.
The valleys are exceedingly productive, famous for oranges and
wine, which find their way to the lower provinces notwith-
standing the want of roads.

The primitive inhabitants were the same as.in Catamarca, of
the brave tribes of Calchaquies, who fought against their Spanish
conquerers from 1590 to 1655, when the former were at last
subdued and this territory put under a Lieutenant-Governor
subject to the Governor of Tucuman. About the close of the
eighteenth century agriculture was commenced, the products
being sent down to Cordoba and Buenos Ayres. Subsequently
the mines of Tamatina attracted still greater notice, until the
civil wars, in which the tyrant Quiroga played such a part,


began in 1822 and lasted over forty years. General Penaloza,
nicknamed the Chacho, was an independent chief of the Llanos,
who defied alike the tyrants and the laws, until his death in
1863. The inhabitants now seem intent on the arts of peace,
and while public instruction is making great progress, there are
no less flattering signs ia the number of mining and other enter-
prises projected, besides the railway in construction to unite
Hioja with Cordoba.

The Spanish census of Eioja territory in 1814 showed a total
of 14,092 inhabitants, of whom one-third Creoles, one-fourth
Indians, and the rest slaves or coloured people. Since then
the census has been twice taken, in 1855 and 1869, the figures
being as follow : —


Eioja 4,985

Famatina 8,579

Upper Llanos . . . . 6,531

Lower Llanos . . . . 4,084

Guandaool .. .. 1,777

Vinchina 2,789

Arauco 5,686











The last census shows the number of women to exceed that
of men by 2155, or as 14 women to 11 men, of the adult popu-
lation, doubtless owing to the incessant civil wars. Education
is well attended to, there being 53 schools, attended by 4157
children. Of the adult population one-fourth can read and

Online LibraryMichael George MulhallHandbook of the river Plate republics. Comprising Buenos Ayres and the provinces of the Argentine Republic and the republics of Uruguay and Paraguay → online text (page 17 of 36)