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he is an American, and trusts that God may burn him in perdi-
tion if he is not also a Protestant.

For myself, I am not conscious of entertaining many prejudices
at the most, and of those, few which will not yield to reason and
evidence; and, beside, to me the most offensive feature of our
national character and we get it from the English is the
habit of considering every people who do not conform to our
standard in dress, manners, government and religion as heathen
and the scum of the earth.

Divesting himself of such feelings, if he entertain them, and
the American finds that Mexico is a great country, with numer-
ous natural resources, inhabited by a people very different, it is
true, from the people of the United States, yet a people proud of
and attached to their country; proud of its independence, and
teaching their children the history of the struggle by which that
independence was achieved. He will find a people governed by
a certain social code, and extremely tenacious in regard to its
observance; as much so as the French or any European people.
He will find a people who, while adhering to their ancient relig-
ion, have yet deprived the church of its power as a political
organization ; who have remanded the priest to the altar, where
he belongs, and, more than any other Spanish-American country,
have effected the secularization of education. This last step,
the absolute elimination of the church as a political factor, has
brought about what Mexico has long needed the destruction
of the idea of imperialism, revived once and again by Iturbide
and by Maximilian. I do not say that any form of religion is
incompatible with republicanism, but I do say that universal
secular education is necessary to its existence. This point Mex-
ico is steadily approaching. There are ten public schools in
Chihuahua, and in the city council room of Chihuahua may be
seen a piece of embroidery, a testimonial from the children of
the city schools to the city government. The Governor of the
State of Guanajuato has recently submitted a bill to the Legis-
lature providing for compulsory education. A knowledge of
reading and writing is much more commonly diffused among the
common people of Mexico than is generally supposed by foreign-


ers, and I have noticed that Mexicans usually write a hand
remarkable for beauty and legibility.

With the settlement of the imperial and clerical questions has
come a settled government and the reign of law under the rule
of General Porfirio Diaz and his successor, General Gonzalez.
Courts exist everywhere in Mexico, the system being somewhat
like our own, save that in the courts above that of the justice of
the peace the proceedings are all in writing. I have seen the
reports of the Supreme Court of the Republic advertised for
sale, as the reports of the State Supreme Courts are sold in the
United States.

It will thus be seen that the idea that Mexico is a country
without laws, without order, and with an utterly barbarous, ig-
norant and vicious population, is erroneous.

The progress of the country has been made clearer to my mind
by looking over the volumes containing the text of the conces-
sions under which the construction of the Mexican Central Rail-
road has been undertaken. The volume makes, in Spanish and
English, two hundred pages. An intelligent American gentle-
man of Chihuahua said to me that the Congress of the United
States could learn a great deal from the careful course pursued
by the Mexican government in its dealings with corporations.
In the pages before me, the government pledges itself to aid the
construction of a great railway system, extending the length and
breadth of the Republic ; more strictly speaking, from the city of
Mexico to El Paso del Norte, a distance of 1,300 miles, with
transverse lines running from Tampico to San Bias, and connect-
ing the Gulf and the Pacific. It pledges to this great enterprise
a subsidy of $14,500 a mile, exempts the road from taxation
for fifteen years, admits all material for its construction free of
duty, and provides that six per cent, of the customs revenue
of the country shall be devoted to the payment of the subsidy.
On the other hand, the interest of the people is carefully looked
after; the passenger and freight tariff is fixed; the former in no
case to exceed five cents a mile for first-class passage, with second
and third-rate fares to correspond. Every detail in regard to
damages to private and public property is looked after. The


method of construction must be such as the government approves
and in the event that the railroad company does not comply in
every respect with the letter and spirit of the contract, then the
road is declared forfeited, and the road may be taken by the
government and the contract re-let to the same or other parties,
since the Mexican government does not propose to become in any
event a builder of railroads. It seems to me that in these con-
cessions there is displayed genuine and far-seeing statesmanship;
and yet the statesmen who drew up the conditions were Mexicans
born and bred.

It seems a little singular that after capitalists and adventurers
of every nation, French, Spanish and English, have had the first
chance in Mexico for years, that this concession should at last be
obtained by a company of New-Englanders, headed officially by
an ex-Cape Cod sea captain. Such is the case, however. The
men into whose hands the railroad system of Mexico has been
committed are those whose names are familiar in Kansas, from
the fact that they are painted on the locomotives of the Atchison,
Topeka & Santa Fe Kailroad.

The value of the concession (which includes several former
minor grants) is incalculable. There can never be another great
railroad in Mexico. By the terms of the concession no compet-
ing line can be built within twenty leagues. The line runs along
the high table-land, the backbone, as it were, of Mexico, and
there is no room for any other. By the terras of the concession
the road must reach, directly or by branch, the capital of every
State between El Paso and the city of Mexico. It thus reaches
every important point. Chihuahua is one of the smallest in
point of population of the Mexican State capitals. Zacatecas
was described to me as " eight times as large as Chihuahua and
a hundred times as rich," and there are larger and richer cities
than Zacatecas.

The road runs through two zones, or from the temperate to
the confines of the torrid zone. It runs through cotton, cocoa,
coffee and sugar fields, and through a country full of mines which
have yielded their unexhausted treasures for three centuries. It
is the most romantic enterprise that a lot of practical Yankees


ever took hold of. I believe it is the great railroad boom of the
immediate future, and I expect a Kansas exodus will follow it&
construction. I expect that within two years the mails will be
burdened with letters addressed to "formerly of Kansas" men,
residing in Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas, Aguas Caliente,
Guadalajara, and other Mexican cities.

Some very well posted people have asserted that the road will
never do a passenger business. Such persons do not understand the
Mexican temperament. The Mexican is a social being; he likes
to go about and visit his friends. He is fond of traveling. In
the New-Mexican towns where street railways have been built,
he is their constant patron. When the new world of the North
is open to him, he will not fail to go and see it. The wealthy
Mexican travels as a luxury. Many of the higher classes of
Mexicans visit Europe, and many Mexican gentlemen have been
educated abroad. This class of travelers will constantly enlarge.

The influence of the railroad is seen the moment one crosses
the line and enters El Paso del Norte. Here a Kansas man,
ex-Governor Anthony, with several Kansas associates, has been
at work, and has built the first railroad town in Mexico.
There is a yard of fifty-seven acres, numerous tracks and turn-
tables, shops, store-houses, freight-houses, and now a new depot.
The American has sensibly adopted in this building the Mexi-
can adobe, but he makes the adobes with machinery of his own,
turning them out ten times as fast as under the Mexican plan. El
Paso is now to the Mexican Central what Topeka is to the A, T.
& S. F. Hundreds of Mexican laborers are employed. They
get wages such as they never dreamed of before, fill up with
American "grub" at the railroad boarding-house, and are trans-
formed internally and externally. These men will never again
follow the banner of any revolutionary chief. They will take
no heed of prouunciamentos if they are issued. They will at-
tend to their regular business. It is a pleasure to know that in
this great enterprise a fellow-citizen of ours has borne a promi-
nent part. Ex-Governor Anthony was early on the ground, ha&
encountered and overcome a mountain of prejudice on the part
of the local Mexican authorities; has worked day and night,
attending to every detail, and will soon have the satisfaction of


riding into Chihuahua over a first-class road, over which trains
have been already run at the rate of forty miles an hour.

I think one secret of Governor Anthony's success betrays itself
in the kindly and interested tone in which he spoke of the Mexi-
can people. He had much to say of their law-abiding and
peaceful character. In fact, he has a theory that the troubles of
Mexico have resulted, not from a lawless disposition on the part
of the common people, but from their devotion to those whom
they have been accustomed to regard as their lawful and legiti-
mate leaders. Naturally adverse to fighting, they will yet follow
those to whom they have been accustomed to look for orders to
the last gasp. With the spread of education this distinction of
leaders and led will cease in Mexico, at least in its present form.

By the terms of the law, the Mexican Central is a Mexican
enterprise. All its officers and employes are, in law, Mexicans.
They have no recourse to any foreign power or potentate. In
accepting the subsidy and other aid they consent to conduct their
enterprise under the laws of Mexico, and no other. This seems
to me just, and it will be an interesting study to watch Mexico
work out her own salvation through the railroad.

As I have said, I look upon Mexico as the great opening field
of enterprise, and I expect that many Kansans will try their
fortunes therein. To such I would say, that they will do well to
drop on the frontier the most of their preconceived notions about
Mexico and the Mexicans; to be prepared to respect the preju-
dices and feelings of the people ; and to avoid, not only rowdyism
as a matter of course, but that lofty superciliousness and loud
and intolerable bumptiousness which makes so many traveling
Englishmen and Americans utterly detested in foreign parts.
People who cannot like anybody but themselves, or any country
except their own, had better stay at home. To an American of
a kindly, tolerant and forbearing spirit, willing to put up with
unavoidable inconveniences in short, to an American gentle-
man, Mexico will prove a most interesting country, and should
certainly be visited, especially now that the country is soon to be
opened up in its length and breadth by a great railroad, the re-
sult of American enterprise, and, it is but just to add, of Mexi-
can liberality and public spirit.


AT Albuquerque I struck a new railroad, the Atlantic & Pacific.
There is more of it back east, but the connection is lost somewhere
in the Indian Territory, and is taken up again at Albuquerque.
It starts at that town and pushes out into the Western wilds a
veritable Christopher Columbus of a railroad.

At Albuquerque the road has built fine shops and offices, and
has about three hundred people employed. It has done much to
operate the Albuquerque boom, which I regard as about the most
genuine in New Mexico.

Other railroads are built to reach certain way points, as well
as to connect certain terminals; but the Atlantic & Pacific starts
out to the mountains, canons, deserts, sage-brush, Indians and
"rustlers" with an eye single to going to California. There was
not a "laid-out" town on its route when it was projected, nor do
I believe that there ever would have been a town had the road
not been built. As it is, the road has started out carrying its
own wood, water and provisions, and- has reached the Canon
Diablo, which means the Devil's Own Canon, a matter of three
hundred miles from Albuquerque.

The reason this otherwise unaccountable railroad has been built,
is because its engineers have found a place where the Rocky Moun-
tains have simply played out; there is a gap in the great mountain
fence, and through this opening the road has been run. There
is, properly speaking, no pass, no defile, no canon only a place
where there seems to be no mountain. The track, with at the most
u grade of 58 feet to the mile, climbs the Continental Divide, and
then goes down at the same rate, and the road to the Pacific is
open. This is the reason the Atlantic & Pacific has been built.

The discovery of this route is associated with the name of
8 (117)


Wingate. There is an old abandoned Fort Wingate near the
line, and also a new Fort Wingate; but who Wingate was, no.
body along the road appeared to know.

The west-bound passenger on the Atlantic & Pacific leaves
Albuquerque at half-past nine o'clock at night, connecting with
the Santa Fe train from the north. The night of my departure
the cars were crowded, and every man had a roll of blankets
and a gun.

Morning, or rather, breakfast, found us at Coolidge, until
lately known to all the country round as "Crane's ranche," (of
which "more anon,") and then came Fort Wingate the new
one the fort itself being situated at the foot of a line of pine-
covered hills, in sight of, but some three miles from the track.
Fort Wingate passed, the stations consisted of the station house
and the name.

By the dawn's early light you begin to notice Indians. The
Atlantic & Pacific is the great and only Indian route. It is the
only railroad by which you can reach Mr. Cushing's[Zunis, like-
wise the Accomas, also the Navajos, also the Apaches. It
makes a connection with the Moquis, and will soon give transit
facilities to the clothesless Mojaves. If you want to see "In-
juns," take the Atlantic & Pacific. The Zunis just now are at-
tracting tourists and investigators on account of their advertising
trip under the management of Mr. Gushing, who has found out
more about them than they ever suspected themselves. Major
Dane, who rejoined me at Albuquerque, paid them a visit. They
seem to be much like other Pueblo Indians; they weave woolen
goods like the Navajoes, raise peaches, grind corn with a couple
of rocks, and eat mutton with the wool on. These seem to be
the principal features of Zuni life. They are much attached to
Mr. Gushing, whom they have elected register of deeds, county
commissioner, or something of the kind. They were awaiting
his return to assist in tying up bunches of feathers and getting
ready for some grand and intensely-interesting ceremonies. The
Accomas seem to have more practical sense than the Zunis.
Major Dane and a traveling companion having incautiously used
the word "Washington" in the Accoma country, were^promptly


put in arrest until the Indians could ascertain whether any new
swindle was contemplated. The Major having convinced the
Accomas that he did not live in Washington, and had no con-
nection with the Interior Department, he was allowed to depart
in safety.

The Indians seen along the Alantic & Pacific are mostly Nav-
ajos. They may be seen lounging around the stations, or work-
ing along the railroad grade. Their droves of piebald horses
and flocks of sheep and goats are seen at frequent intervals. The
Indians herd their sheep and goats together, on account of the
superior courage of the goats. When the sheep get frightened,
and ready to run, and are in the state of mind peculiar to a
Kansas legislator when he pipes out, " Mr. Speaker, I desire to
change my vote/' the goats stand still with their heads up and
investigate the approaching object, and so encourage the sheep to
follow their example. Thus is courage infectious even among

The-Navajos appear friendly to the railroad, and as yet have
not organized an anti-monopoly party. In compliment to the
tribe the railroad have named a station Manuelito, after the head
chief of the Navajos. As the Navajos own a million sheep, their
wool export is a matter of importance.

The landscape from Coolidge to Defiance presents little change.
On one side runs a line of forest-covered hills or mountains. On
the other side stretches an almost unbroken perpendicular wall
of red sandstone, crowned with trees; at Coolidge this wall is
four or five miles from the track, at other points it is within a
few rods. It is worn by the wind and the rain into fantastic
shapes. At some points the wall is pierced by numerous holes
as if worn by the action of gravel and water, like the "pot-
holes" seen in the rocky beds of rivers. Between the sandstone
bluffs and the wooded hills is a valley, or plateau, varying in
width ; and in many places white with a flower that lies on the
surface like snow-flakes. It fades quickly, and is called the
" phantom flower." The valley everywhere looks barren, bu-
the flocks and herds seemed in good condition. There are nut
merous springs in the foot-hills, and a particularly fine one at
Fort Wingate.


At the line of New Mexico and Arizona, which is marked by
a post, the abomination of desolation commences. The red sand-
stone changes to gray, and finally recedes on either hand into the
blue distance, leaving a wide plain, broken here and there by
piles of rock, which look like great masses of slag from a fur-
nace. The surface, patched here and there with sage-brush, looks
like an old dried buffalo hide. A dry river, the Rio Puerco, winds
through the sandy solitude. In the rainy season this sandy,
gravelly bed is suddenly filled with a rushing, roaring torrent,
which tears everything to pieces. The railroad people were
erecting barriers of plank and stone, and building levees and
changing the bed of the stream, to avoid the possible and prob-
able washouts. For miles not a tree was to be seen. It seemed
like the bed of a dried sea, and here and there a long, }ow ledge
of rocks looked like the hulk of some great ship, left stranded
by the subsiding waters. The wind moaned and shrieked over
the wilderness, catching up the sand in high, whirling columns,
which sped across the line of vision, and then dissolved, sand to
sand. Rocks, dead rivers, sand cyclones, and the fierce, unpity-
ing sun this was the scene. A running stream was reached at
last, the Little Colorado. There, in an immensely wide, gravelly
bed, runs a narrow flow of water. At Holbrook some cotton-
woods were growing. At St. Joseph the Mormons have a set-
tlement, and their little colonies are scattered along the Little
Colorado. A well-dressed and intelligent young man rode some
distance on the train, whom I understood afterward was a Mor-
mon storekeeper or commissary. Although the condition of the
Mormons in Arizona had been discussed in his presence, he had
not mentioned or suggested his connection with the multi-marry-
ing people. I imagine polygamy does not flourish greatly among
the sage brush of the Little Colorado and Rio Puerco country.
A harem in Turkey may be a romantic idea; but there is nothing
particularly gorgeous in the Mormon reality four or five hag-
gard, angular, sun-bonneted, sandy-colored old girls, browsing
around among the greasewood and cactus, and "dobes" and
brush corrals of a desert. The spectacle of an old Mormon
striking out on his burro through the sand by the wan moon


light to the music of the coyotes' midnight choir to woo and win
his fifteenth bride, will never inspire another Moore to write an-
other Lalla Rookh.

Winslow, Arizona, was reached for supper, and a nicely-served
meal it was. The town stands in a dead flat plain. In the dis-
tance are scattered peaks, remains of some former mountain
chain. Even the purple twilight did not redeem their weird bar-
renness. They seemed to mark the confines of a lone land, tra-
versed by no human foot, where only devils roam and satyrs cry.
But turning from these scorched and splintered ruins of a lost
world, there ran directly in front, outlined against the saffron
sky, the most kindly, human, symmetrical mountain I have seen
in all my wanderings in these southern regions. It is the Fran-
cisco or San Francisco mountain, forty miles beyond the Canon
Diablo, and directly in the path of the oncoming railroad. Its
sides were dark with forest, its top was streaked with snow. It
rose in gentle slopes to a long, wavy crest, and one could imagine
the voice of waterfalls and the curling smoke from the homes of
men about its feet. I saw it at sunset, by moonlight, and again
at sunrise, and it was ever the same gentle and yet majestic pres-
ence. From its summit, it is said, you can make out the windings
of the Grand Canon of the Colorado.

Canon Diablo, the present end of the Atlantic & Pacific track,
was the last station reached. The canon is half a mile beyond
the little town of tents, houses, shanties and box cars, and I saw
it by moonlight. The word canon usually brings up the idea of
a rift through a high mountain or a narrow passage between two
mountains, but there is no mountain here it is just a tremen-
dous fissure in the level plain. You might ride your horse into
it in the dark without the least warning of its existence. It may
have been rent by an earthquake, perhaps worn by the action of
water. I should incline to the former opinion. It has shelving
sides composed of masses of rocks, is at the bridge two hundred
and thirty feet deep, and is spanned by a bridge five hundred and
forty feet long. At the bottom the canon seems the width of an
ordinary wagon-road, and there can be discerned, like winding
threads, the track laid down by the bridge-builders to aid in


their work. The moon shone brightly, yet the view was broken
by deep masses of shadow in the depths below. It was strange
to look down from the bridge, which reached to the middle of
the chasm, and realize that the great church of Chihuahua might
stand down there, and yet you might look down one hundred feet
on the glossy backs of the swallows that flit around its topmost
spire. Canon Diablo, the Mexicans called it, a devilish obstruc-
tion to their journeyings, causing them a detour of many miles,
but it is no obstruction now. A few hours after I left, the heavy
iron spans were swung as lightly to their places as a Mexican
woman lifts the earthen jar of water to the shoulder at the
fountain; and by the time these lines are read in Kansas the
busy locomotive will be running on its errands to and fro.

After a comfortable night at Canon Diablo station, the
"chamber that opened to the sunrise" being a box car, a last
look was taken at the great mountain which stands a sentinel at
the gateway of the Pacific coast, and the backward journey was
begun. It was a welcome moment when the train passed out of
the plain and the road was winding about again in the sandstone
defiles. It is only when one has traversed the desert, that he
realizes the beauty and force of the old oriental simile, "the
shadow of a great rock in a weary land."

At Coolidge the hospitality of Mr. R. M. Bacheller, formerly
of Emporia, the station agent, acting division superintendent and
man-of all-work of the Atlantic & Pacific, was enjoyed, and a
night was passed in the late home of the "rustlers." Coolidge,
the outgrowth of " Crane's ranche," has had a stirring history.
The American frontier "wolf," beside whom a common Apache
is a scholar, gentleman and Christian, for some time "held high
wassail" as Major John N. Edwards would say, in that locality.
"Hold-ups" were a daily and nightly occurrence. To simple
robbery the more peaceable citizens submitted for awhile, but
when to robbery, brutal violence was added, a general fight took
place. At the conclusion of the exercises three of the outlaws

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Online LibraryNoble L. (Noble Lovely) PrentisSouth-western letters → online text (page 10 of 11)