Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 Chapter I
 Chapter II
 Chapter III
 Chapter IV
 Chapter V
 Chapter VI
 Chapter VII
 Chapter VIII
 Chapter IX
 Chapter X
 Chapter XI
 Chapter XII
 Chapter XIII
 Chapter XIV
 Chapter XV
 Chapter XVI
 Chapter XVII
 Chapter XVIII
 Chapter XIX
 Chapter XX
 Chapter XXI
 Chapter XXII
 Chapter XXIII
 Chapter XXIV
 Back Cover


Internet Archive ( Related URL )
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00011913/00001
 Material Information
Title: Panama; a personal record of forty-six years, 1861-1907
Physical Description: xiii, 282 p. : port. 25 plates. ; 22 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Robinson, Tracy, 1833-1915
Donor: Robert Karrer ( donor )
Publisher: Star and herald Co.
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: 1907
Subjects / Keywords: History -- Panama   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: by Tracy Robinson.
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 01592953
lccn - 07041775
Classification: lcc - F1563 .R65
System ID: AA00011913:00001

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
    List of Illustrations
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
    Chapter I
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
    Chapter II
        Page 12
        Page 12a
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 20a
    Chapter III
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 28a
    Chapter IV
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 40a
    Chapter V
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 46a
    Chapter VI
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
    Chapter VII
        Page 62
        Page 62a
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
    Chapter VIII
        Page 74
        Page 74a
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 86a
    Chapter IX
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 94a
    Chapter X
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 106a
    Chapter XI
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 116a
    Chapter XII
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
    Chapter XIII
        Page 130
        Page 130a
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
    Chapter XIV
        Page 138
        Page 138a
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
    Chapter XV
        Page 150
        Page 150a
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 158a
    Chapter XVI
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 170a
    Chapter XVII
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 184a
    Chapter XVIII
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
    Chapter XIX
        Page 202
        Page 202a
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 210a
    Chapter XX
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
    Chapter XXI
        Page 228
        Page 228a
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
    Chapter XXII
        Page 242
        Page 242a
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 252a
    Chapter XXIII
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
    Chapter XXIV
        Page 268
        Page 268a
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 272a
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
Full Text

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Photograph by Folk, November, 1907.

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A Personal Record of Forty-six Years










To the Memory of
"Other voices-well-loved voices, that have died."


Panama Before 1850-Early History of the Panama
Railroad Enterprise-Its Pioneers-Selection of
an Atlantic Terminus-Porto Bello, Otro Lado,
and Manzanillo Island-The Latter Wins the
Day-The Engineers-Early Trials .

The Location of the Track-Crowds of G(old Seekers
en route for California-Estimates of Cost too low
-Scarcity of Labor-The Chinese-Overesti-
mated Mortality-Timely Arrival of Steamers
Georgia and PhIiladelphia-Death of John L.
Stephens-W. C. Young appointed President-
Soon Succeeded by David Hoadley-A. J. Cen-
ter Becomes Superintendent-Completion of the
Road, January 27. 1855 .

The Completed Road-Would it Pay ?-Superintend-
ency of A. J. Center-Colonel Totten Remains
Chief Engineer-Other Officers Under the First

Organization-First Tariff of Charges-Pros-
perity Assured-Revenue Rolls in on Wheels-
Patriarchal Style of Maanagement-Good Times 21


The Voyage Out-Different Steamship Lines-
Personnel of the Road in December, 1861-
Sketches of Colonel Totten and Others-Colonel
Totten's Death and Resurrection-The Great
Spider-Lack of Enterprise 31


hlerease of the Capital Stock of the Road-Dividends
of Twenty-four Per Cent per Annum-Fatal
Defect in the Contract with Colombia-Com-
mission Sent to Bogota-A New Contract Made
-A White Elephant-Heavy Burdens Imposed
-Great Tumble in Price of Shares-Breakers
Ahead 41


Clouds-The Pacific Overland Roads-Effort of
Colonel Center and Mr. George Petrie to Retain
the South Pacific Trade Ends in Failure-The
Panama and Australian Line also Fails-Straits
Line of New Steamers Established, and a Large


Traffic Forever Lost to the Road-Short-sighted
Policy .. .47

Rapid Development of the Central American Trade-
Its Importance to the Isthmian Transit-Con-
nection of William Nelson Therewith-Immense
Increase in Coffee Production-Central Line of
Steamers-Its Transfer to the Pacific Mail Com-
pany-The Atlantic Service also in that Com-
pany's Hands-Some of the Old Vanderbilt
Captains-Capture of the Ariel by the Alabama
-Burning of the Bienville-Captain Jefferson
Maury 62

Loss of Steamship Golden Rule on the Roncador
Reef-Rescue of Her Passengers, Officers, and
Crew by U. S. Steamers State of Georgia and
Huntsville-Victor Smith-Loss of Steamer
Central -Ameirica, Captain Herndon-" Old Gar-
ry'"-Wreck of Steamer Avon in the Great
Norther of 1862-Loss of Other Steamers of the
Royal Mail and Liverpool Lines-Fearful Ex-
plosion on Steamer European in 1866. 74

Naming of Aspinwall in Honor of a Prominent Foun-
der-Refusal of Colombia to Accept the Name

-Colon Insisted on-United States Government
Brought into Line in the Matter of Consular
Appointments-Confusion Caused by the Double
Name, Colon-Aspinwall-A Wreck the Result
Thereof-Landing of the First Cable-Bronze
Statue of Columbus 87


First Trip Home-Happy Reminiscences of Many
Voyages and Captains-Beautiful Sunset and a
Cyclone-War Ships and Some of their Com-
manders-Admiral Preble-News of Lincoln's
Assassination-Commander Cushing and Ad-
miral Amy 95


Resignation of David Hoadley and Election of Joseph
F. Joy as President of the Railroad Company-
The Brig Line-The Year 1868 and Subsequent
Falling Off-Presidents Alden B. Stockwell,
Russell Sage, Trenor W. Park, J. G. McCullough,
John Newton, and J. Edward Simmons-Shoot-
ing of William Parker by James L. Baldwin 107


Return of Colonel Center-Retrenchment-Excur-
sions-Search for Rebel Coal-General Daniel E.
Sickles at the Bayano Plantation-Amusements-

The Lion and the Goat-Ball on Board H.B.M.
Ship Reindecr-The Ice-House-The Steamer
Virginius and Captain Frank Bowen . 117


Russell Sage. President, and Rufus Hatch, MAismana-
ger of the Railroad-Colonel Center Dismissed
with Scant Ceremony-His Death-Two Years
of Misrule-Trenor W. Park and Brandon
Mozlev to the Rescue-H. A. Woods-Great
Flood in the Chagres-The $50,000 Gold Rob-
bery at Panama 130


Canal Times-Arrival of AM. de Lesseps-Reception
and Dinner--Madame de Lesseps-Reasons for
the Failure of the Canal-Second Visit of AM. de
Lesseps-His Remarkable Vitality-Explosion
that Failed to Explode-"The Canal Will be
Made" 138


The American Contracting and Dredging Company-
The Slaven Brothers-Captain Clapp and the
Dredges-Crawford Douglas, Nathan Crowell,
Eugene Kelly, and Others 150


Sale of the Shares of the Panama Railroad Company
to the Universal Interoceanic Canal Company-
The Deal Engineered by Trenor W. Park-J. J.
Iribe Succeeds Mr. Woods as Superintendent,
and is succeeded by G. A. Burt-The Great
Prestan Fire of March 31, 1885-Captain Kane
of the Galena-Protection that Failed to Protect
-Who is Responsible? 159


Historical Interest of the Isthmus-Estimated Popu-
lation at Time of Discovery-Prehistoric Re-
mains-Vasco Nunez de Balboa-Francisco
Pizarro-Destruction of Panama Viejo by Mor-
gan-Three Hundred Years of Spanish Rule-
Geographical Importance of the Isthmus-Area
and Population-Recent Explorations-Central
Position 171


Political Affairs-Isthmian Chief Magistrates-Some
Personal Remarks Transit Tonnage- Com-
merce and Agriculture of the Isthmus-Depres-
sioq of the One and Almost Entire Absence of the
Other-The Banana Trade: Its Beginning and
Development at Colon and Bocas del Toro-
Other Shipments, Timber, Cocoanut, etc. .185


Diplomatic and Consular Officers of the United States
-General Stephen A. Hurlbut and His Canal
Treaty-British Ministers and Consuls-A Civil
Service Contrast .202


Some Personals: the tichborne Claimant-Sam
Ward-Edwin Forrest-The Menken-Queen
Emma of Hawaii-Sarah Bernhardt-Edward
Whymper-E. D. Keyes-Captain Pim-E. G.
Squier-Fred Hassaurek-W. H. Hurlbut-Ar-
temus Ward-J. Ross Browne-Louis Agassiz-
S. L. Clemens-E. C. Stedman 211


Catholic Priesthood and Protestant Preachers-
Religious Toleration-The Two Protestant
Churches of Colon-Visit of Bishop Alonzo
Potter-His Death-Morals and Social Rela-
tions of the Community-Climate, Rainfall, Tem-
perature, Health, etc. 228


Domestic Life-Servants-Food Supplies-Fruits-
Vegetables-Flowers- Insects -Animals -.And
a Bird's Obituary 42


Isthmian Journalism-The Panama Star and the
Panama Herald Combined in the Star and Herald
-Archibald Boardman Boyd and His Brother
James-The Writer's Editorship, in Connection
with Don J. Luciano Duque-The Colon Tele-
gram and Colon Starlet-Isthmian Literature-
James Stanley Gilbert-General Remarks on the
Future of the Tropics, with Some Quotations-
The Tropics to Become the Garden of the World 253


A Brief Review 268



Portrait-Tracy Robinson Frontifipirce P~CT
Bronze of Columbus and Indian Girl . 1
Panama Cathedral. Ancon Hill in the Rear 13
Native Dwelling, Canal Zone, Panama 20
Mother and Daughters in Native Dress .
Entrance to Ancon Hospital, Canal Zone 40
Black Boys Climbing Cocoanut Tree 46
On the French Canal near Colon 63

Slaven Dredges at Anchor
View on the Chagres River
Harbor View, Colon, In French Canal Times
Banana Day
Street Scene, Colon
Ninth Street. Colon, in 1906
De Lesseps and Family .
Slaven Dredge at Work .
Tenth Street, Colon, 1806
Panama Houris
Tower of San Jerome, Old Panama
Ruins of Santo Domingo Church, Panama
Culebra Cut as the French Left It
Going to School, Colon. 1906
Front Street. Colon, Before 1885
Sea-Beach, Cristobal, Canal Zone.
Inauguration of President Amador
Lesseps Villa, Cristobal, Canal Zone

. 116
. 170
. 203
. 210
. 239
. 243


PRr.i:NTi:E BY iLMPF'l t.L3- NIE1 ': C.:.'M i ND rR N rFL Ri D ii)



SIXTY years ago the city of Panama was
more difficult to reach than Tibet is to-
day. The only means of communication, after
the rule of Spain had ended, and the paved road
across the Isthmus, from Porto Bello on the
Atlantic, had become a ruin, was either by sea
or. as far as boats could go, by the Rio Chagres,
and thence on muleback.
The once proud city had fallen into a state
of apathy. It had no foreign commerce, and
very little domestic trade. A few members of
some of the leading families of Spanish ancestry
were sent abroad to be educated; but for the
most part, poverty or indifference or both kept
the inhabitants captive within their picturesque
old walls. Dullness held them in a summer
snare of contented ignorance. Men were sent
up the crumbling towers of the old churches,
with stones in their hands, to pound religiously
upon the broken bells still suspended there, and

make a daily jangle in the name of God, while
women in black lace mantillas went with their
plentiful children to prayers. Life had slowed
down to a snail's pace. There were no news-
papers, no regular mails, no libraries, no public
spirit or ambition in this old city so superbly
situated at the joining of the continents, this
natural gateway to and from the Pacific.
In such circumstances the need of modern
means of communication across the Isthmus had
been felt before the discovery of gold in Cali-
fornia. With a business foresight akin to in-
spiration, certain enterprising New Yorkers,
perceiving the great possibilities in an Isthmian
rapid transit, began to take measures for estab-
lishing one. At first a tramway or horse-car
road was thought of; but as early as 1848, W.
H. Aspinwall, Henry Chauncey, and John L.
Stephens had petitioned the government of
New Granada, afterwards Colombia, for a con-
cession under which they and their associates
might open a railway, one terminus of which
should be at the ancient city of Panama.
Nor had they asked in vain. Yet it was not
until 1850 that John L. Stephens, already a
well-known author, traveler, and citizen of the
world, was sent to Bogota as the missionary
of the doubtful enterprise, and brought back

Chapter I]
a concession for building and operating the
Panama Railroad, dated April 15th of that
year, and signed by the Secretary of State of
New Granada, Don Victoriano de Diego Pa-
redes, and himself. It was considered a hazard-
ous undertaking on the part of the contracting
parties. but they were stout of heart and fully
determined to carry the scheme through.
A considerable time was then unavoidably
taken up with the preliminaries of organization,
subscriptions to funds for the work, surveys,
and especially the location of an Atlantic ter-
At first it was thought that Porto Bello
would be the best place. That beautiful and
perfectly land-locked harbor, only twenty miles
to the eastward of the present Colon, had been
famous in old days as the one from which had
sailed the treasure-laden galleons of Spain-the
port through which, in a great golden stream,
had poured the riches of the Pacific shores. It
had been discovered and named by Columbus
on the 2d of November, 1502. A paved road,
made at enormous cost, had connected it with
the city of Panama, fifty miles away, across the
summits of the baby Andes. Proud Spain had
fortified it with a cordon of batteries, the mold-
ering remains of which may still be seen, from

one side of the narrow entrance all the way
around to the other, like shark's teeth. There
was, and is, deep water close alongside the
rocky shores, so that large ships could come
to land without the expense of wharves, while
streams of fresh water, at all seasons of the
year. flow down from the lovely encircling hills.
It seemed the ideal place for the beginning of
the projected railroad. The cost of construc-
tion could not greatly exceed that of any other
route, while the comparative advantages were
greatly in its favor. Into so snug a harbor the
disastrous northers which at intervals vex the
coast could never intrude, while the surround-
ing heights would afford salubrious and delight-
ful homes. ,Ad more than all, here was a town
long established and ready, with some repairs,
for immediate use.
Then why. it will be asked, was this Beau-
tiful Port, as its name indicates, not selected for
the Atlantic terminus
If tradition may be trusted, the late Mr.
George Law, of New York, could have an-
swered that question. He bought all the sur-
rounding lands and held them for a rise. For
many years an ancient warrior named Colonel
Zwingle, who had been with Walker in Nica-
ragua, and his good wife, were employed by

Chapter I]
Mr. Law as keepers and lived in great comfort
on the estate. Upon my first visit to Porto
Bello, soon after arrival on the Isthmus. I had
the pleasure of making the acquaintance of
this nineteenth-century Adam and Eve, in their
lonely hillside cottage beneath the palms. I
talked with them upon their vine-embowered
veranda, overlooking the harbor, set like a gem
in tropical luxuriance, the scene of Stedman's
spirited poem, Morgan the Buccaneer," as
well as of many another historic deed of blood.
This old pair afterwards departed for Cali-
fornia, leaving their small Eden to be soon lost
in the lonely magnificence of the jungle.
The price of the land at Porto Bello had been
more than the infant company thought it could
afford to pay; and as no arrangement could be
arrived at, an effort was then made to secure
the location of the starting point at the foot of
the hills which form the coast of Otro Lado
(Other Side). as the shore of Navy Bay, op-
posite the present town of Colon, is called.
Among the warm local friends of the rail-
road enterprise who were strongly in favor of
that site, was the late MIr. de Sabla, prominent
at Panama in those days. He and others
claimed that by making the terminus there, at
or near what is now called Keeny's Bluff, and

by taking the track thence, out around the head
of the Bay to the Rio Mindi, results better in
every way would be secured than by starting
from the wretched mangrove swamps along the
eastern margin thereof. There were the advan-
tages of high land and fresh water on one
side, against the malarial lair of land crabs and
alligators on the other. So decided were the
views of those gentlemen, that when at last they
were overruled, and the Island of Manzanillo
determined upon as the Atlantic terminus, they
withdrew from all further connection with. or
friendly interest in the enterprise. And in fact,
at this distance, it seems strange indeed that
the present site of Colon should have received
the preference, unless it was solely on account
of the greater depth of water along the coral
reefs which guard the shores of the island.
It was decided by the engineers in charge
that work should be commenced at or near the
point where now stands the Panama Railroad
lighthouse at Colon.
In regard to the beginning there is conflict-
ing testimony. According to Dr. F. N. Otis,
in his Hand-book of the Panama Railroad,"
now out of print, Messrs. Trautwine and Bald-
win struck the first blow.
He says: No imposing ceremony inaugu-

Chapter I]
rated breaking the ground. Two American
citizens, leaping, ax in hand, from a native
canoe upon a wild and desolate island, their
retinue consisting of half a dozen Indians, who
clear the path with rude knives, strike their
glittering axes into the nearest tree: the rapid
blows reverberate from shore to shore, and the
stately cocoa crashes upon the beach." And he
adds: Thus unostentatiously was announced
the commencement of a railway, which, from
the interests and difficulties involved. might well
be looked upon as one of the grandest and
boldest enterprises ever attempted." This was
in May, 1850.
On the other hand, I quote the following,
from a highly interesting letter addressed to me
by Captain John Jay Williams, C.E., dated at
Jackson, Tennessee, February 25, 1897: "I
also set the first stake, indicating the beginning
of the railroad at Aspinwall, now Colon, in the
winter of 1849, now forty-eight years ago. when
the country around that place was a perfect
wilderness. I was then thirty-one years old."
Captain Williams says, farther on: A num-
ber of Colonel Hughes's Engineering Party, in-
cluding myself, with some of the citizens, went
from the mouth of the Chagres River, or rather
from Fort San Lorenzo, in the little steamer

[Pana ma
Orus, to Aspinwall, with Colonel Hughes in
charge, for the express purpose of fixing the
point for the commencement of the line of sur-
vey. After we had studied the ground over, I
had a large stake driven, showing the beginning
point of the railroad." Captain Williams, now
dead. was doubtless the only surviving member
of that remarkable company at the date of the
above letter. He was a man of iugh character,
and his statements are deserving of credit.
However it may have been in regard to the
first blow, the historic fact remains that the
work was actually begun in May, 1850, as
stated, and from that date until its completion
was pushed forward with all possible energy.
Colonel G. M. Totten, C.E., had been con-
tractor for an unsuccessful enterprise known as
El Dique. the object of which was to connect
by canal the city of Cartagena with the Mag-
dalena River at Calanmar. He had therefore
been for some time in the country, and knew
something of its people and their language.
He was selected as chief engineer of the pro-
jected railroad; while associated with him were
Messrs. John C. Trautwine, James L. Bald-
win, J. J. Williams, and others, as assistants.
They were all in the prine of life, the eldest
not more than forty or forty-five years, and

Chapter I]
were men of ability and action. They collected
a few native laborers and made the attack.
There was not the least sign of human life,
civilized or savage, on the island of Manzanillo;
nor was there a space of dry land upon which to
set foot, except the narrow ridge of coral sand
that had been washed up by the surf along the
reef. In front, the sea; behind, the malarial, im-
memorial swamp. But they set to work to clear
away a space for the purpose of erecting a build-
ing to shelter themselves, their followers, and
their supplies from sun and rain.
Colonel George IV. Hughes was a distin-
guished engineer of the United States Army,
who had been detailed, at the request of Messrs.
Aspinwall and Stephens, to make a general sur-
vey of the proposed route; and J. J. Williams
was his able assistant. The report of Colonel
Hughes is still extant, in which is shown the vast
prospective importance of the railroad across the
Captain Williams, in the letter already re-
ferred to, says: I made the reconnaissance of
the entire Panama Railroad, between the two
oceans, and found the lowest pass in the moun-
tain divide, through which the road now runs;
and of which Colonel Hughes gave me full

Thus there remains no doubt of the great im-
portance of the services rendered by Captain
Williams; which it does not appear that Dr.
Otis. in his hand-book, recognized. But to re-
turn to the brave and hardy company of en-
gineers and their assistants, camped on the
ridge of sand. They had a schooner of 200
tons, upon which they had arrived, and on
which they lived for the first few months. Even
after the first house was completed it was
found impossible to occupy it, on account of the
swarms of mosquitoes, sand flies, and other nox-
ious insects which invaded it; while on board the
vessel the men were tormented with myriads of
cockroaches, which rendered life a burden.
Among the engineers' assistants was Mr.
Charles F. Lee. a young American whom I
knew very well in later years, when he held the
position of conductor on the road. He has long
since passed away. From him I learned some-
thing of the trials that were undergone in those
days. Sickness was seldom absent from the
camp, while death was a too frequent visitor.
No one escaped the calentura, as the jungle
fever is called. In a little time the white mem-
bers of the party wore the pale hue of ghosts;
and even the dusky natives grew many shades
lighter than their natural bronze.

Chapter I]
Under these untoward circumstances, at the
beginning of the long rainy season, of which
no one of the company, except the natives, had
any practical knowledge, was commenced the
battle with tropical nature that was to end in
triumph five weary years later.



PRELIMAINARY surveys had been made,
and a sununit level determined. But lines
had to be run, and the entire track located. This
arduous duty was assigned to Mr. Baldwin, the
youngest of the staff. He organized a small
party, and made the bold plunge. For a long
distance they were obliged to wade in water
waist deep, and to hew their way through the
dense jungle.
After the first two miles the low hills were
reached where the cemeteries are now situated.
This was the first foothold on solid ground; but
just beyond, another swamp was encountered,
across which Baldwin led his men, waist deep,
as before.
It is said that this intrepid man carried his
noonday luncheon in his hat, during the prog-
ress of that part of the survey, and ate it
standing. amid the envious alligators and water
snakes. Be that as it may, it is doubtful if a
more daring feat of engineering has been per-
formed. Think of it! day after scorching day,

I *


~ t~.


Chapter II]
shut in by impenetrable growth of jungle, each
weary foot of which must be cut down before any
advance could be made, breathing air laden with
poison, and tormented by millions of insects!
The wonder is that any man could have had
such courage and endurance. But this was, as
sometimes happens, the man for the occasion.
On a Inter page an estimate of him will be at-
tempted. when his sad end will be told.
The work was carried on with the utmost zeal,
until the whole line had been located, and the
grading for the track begun.
As early as 1849 crowds of gold seekers,
bound for California, had begun to cross the Isth-
mus, by the Chagres as far as either Gorgona or
Cruces. and thence by mule road to Panama.
The need of the railroad became each day more
pressing, and the company made every effort to
push the work to completion. Contracts were
made, embracing the whole line, and high hopes
were entertained that in two years at most, from
May, 1850, trains would be running from sea
to sea. Two years, or possibly three, and
steam cars would take the place of river bungoes
and pack mules.
But the cost had not been accurately counted.
Not money alone was needed. That could
doubtless have been found, although it came

early to light that the estimates had been far
too low. Total lack of experience had led
the engineers to place the expenses at rates
corresponding with those of similar work else-
where. This proved to be a tremendous mis-
take. The cost of labor alone, and the diffi-
culties in the way of obtaining it, soon swamped
the contractors, everyone; and within two years
the whole work came to a standstill.
But the directors, though disheartened, were
not dismayed. The company could do no less
than release the bankrupt contractors, and un-
dertake the work on its own account. This was
done. Colonel Totten was yet at the head of
the engineers. Mr. Trautwine and Captain
TIilliams soon withdrew, leaving Mr. Baldwin
at the fore, next in command to Colonel Totten;
in which position he showed phenomenal zeal.
intelligence, and endurance.
Other names to be remembered among those
who gave faithful service were Charles F. Lee,
already mentioned; Perez Turner, C.E., John
Wilson, Dr. Guyon, Tom Sharp, and William
Thompson; all of whom lived to see the road
completed, and to become respected officials of
the same.
Push was the order, and it was obeyed to
the utmost. Yet do what they might, strain

Chapter II]
every nerve, exhaust every resource, the difficul-
ties to be overcome proved almost insurmount-
able. The climate stood like a dragon in the
way. To this day it seems astonishing that
any soul survived to tell the tale. Labor was
brought by the four winds: from the West In-
dies, Spanish Main, United States, Europe, and
Asia. All was inefficient. The white men with-
ered as cut plants in the sun. The Chinese fell
victims, almost everyone, to a mania for sui-
cide; while the colored contingent was, for the
whole period, hard to secure in sufficient num-
bers to carry on the work with the rapidity so
ardently desired. The dreaded Chagres fever
cried delay. And yet it must be stated that the
death rate was comparatively low. It has been
a fearful exaggeration to say, for example, that
each cross-tie of the railroad track represents a
corpse. Let us see. That would be about 2,000
for each mile, or not far from 100,000 in all.
As a matter of fact, now stated upon the highest
authority, the whole number employed, from
first to last, did not exceed 6,000, of whom not
more than forty per cent died in the service. It
is true that the hospitals were always filled, and
that sulphate of quinine became a prime neces-
sity-almost an article of diet; but chills and
fever rarely kill, and the so-called Chagres fever

is nothing more. It is a malarial fever, disagree-
able and often difficult to control, but by no
means deadly. The chill is not of a pronounced
type, being rather a dumb ague than an old-
fashioned shake." I speak from experience;
for I suppose I must have had at least a hun-
dred attacks of it. It leaves the system much
prostrated, requiring careful nursing and a
change of climate, if possible, but no one need
have a mortal dread of it. Quinine and care
are the remedies.
As soon as a few miles of track had been
graded, an engine and construction cars were
brought out, and track-laying was begun.
Gatun, the first station, seven miles from As-
pinwall, was reached on the first of October,
1851, and it was not long before passengers
began to use the road in a small way. The
New York steamers still came to Chagres, at
the mouth of the river, to deliver and to re-
ceive passengers; but in November-the month
of northers-of that same year the steamers
Georgia and Philadelphia were caught in a cy-
clone off Chagres. and were compelled to put
into Navy Bay for refuge. This event gave
the railroad its first business of any importance.
We are told that there was not, at the time, a
passenger car of any description on the road;

Chapter II]
but that arrangements were made by which the
large number of passengers brought by these
steaniers were safely transported as far as
Gatun (seven miles;. whence they proceeded in
boats up the river, on their way across the Isth-
mus, well pleased."
This was the fortuitous beginning of the
great travel that soon followed, the receipts
from which, during the remainder of the tmne
before the road was completed, amounted to
about $2,000,000. All this went at once into
construction and was of course a great finan-
cial help. News of the transfer of passengers
was carried far and wide, and the doubtful for-
tunes of the railroad were greatly improved
thereby. The wavering courage of the directory
was restored and from that time, although great
trials were in store, success was never doubted.
Before the track had been finished to Gatun,
several vessels carried their cargoes across the
bar, at the mouth of the Chagres, and proceed-
ing up the river, landed them at that station.
These cargoes consisted of materials for con-
struction and greatly facilitated the progress of
the work beyond Gatun; so thab in a few months
Barbacoas was reached, which is halfway across
the Isthmus. At this point it became necessary
to take the track across the Chagres River. A

[Pa na t a
wooden bridge 300 feet long was planned, but
when it was nearly completed one span was
swept away by a great flood.
At this time, on October 10, 1852, the la-
mented death of the president of the company,
John Lloyd Stephens, at the age of forty-seven,
occurred in New York, whither he had gone,
worn out with anxiety and laid low by the
climate. His loss was keenly felt. He was a
man of more than ordinary ability, as his work
on Central America, published by Harper &
Brothers in 1811, and richly illustrated by Cath-
erwood, testifies.
Mr. W. C. Young succeeded Mr. Stephens
as president of the company.
At the time of Mr. Stephens's death things
looked dark. A new contract had been made
with Mr. M. C. Story for the completion of the
road from the bridge across the Chagres, at
Barbacoas, to Panama; but after a year the
bridge was still unfinished, and at last the whole
work faltered and stood still. The company
was again compelled to assume entire charge,
and to take such steps as were necessary to fin-
ish the track. In the place of Mr. Stephens's
successor, Mr. David Ioadley became president
" a gentleman who deservedly enjoyed the re-
spect and confidence, not alone of the company,

Chapter II]
but also of the entire community." He was a
man of wealth, and under his presidency affairs
began to look more promising. Colonel A. J.
Center was vice-president, and a little later be-
came resident superintendent on the Isthmus in
order to forward, by his presence, tact, and un-
common energy, the interests of the enterprise.
The most strenuous efforts were now made,
and on January 27, 1855, "at midnight and
in rain," the last rail was laid at the Summit,
now Culebra, thirty-seven miles from Aspin-
wall, and ten miles from Panama. The Pan-
ama end of the road was built under the care
of Mr. J. Young, who is said to have been a
capable man; the materials for construction hav-
ing been sent from New York to Panama by sea.
During all these years great credit is due to
Colonel G. M. Totten and the officers and men
under his direction, and especially to Mr. James
L. Baldwin, for the unfailing courage dis-
played. To quote from a writer of the period
-at a crisis near the end of the year 1850-
" the bravest might, well have faltered, and even
turned back from so dark a prospect as pre-
sented itself to the leaders of this forlorn hope;
but they were men whom personal perils and
privations could not daunt, whose energy and
determination, toil and suffering could not van-

quish." They saw with prophetic vision, even
through the delirium of fever, and the clouds
of doubt and darkness by which they were en-
veloped, that they were engaged in an under-
taking of great importance to the commerce of
the world, and that upon their devotion its early
completion depended. All honor should there-
fore be paid to the memory of these heroic men.
They have now joined the majority, everyone,

-" All. all are gone, the old familiar faces,"-

but their names should be remembered with
those who have conferred benefits on our race.

L j '

LA *^ :'.; r


Chapter III]


THE railroad was finished. It had cost
$7.,000000. Would it pay?
To one who had never seen a tropical jungle it
might seem strange that a little road. less than
fifty miles in length, should have cost very nearly
$140,000 per mile: more especially when there
had been no heavy grading, no tunneling, no
rock cutting of any importance; and a summit
level of only 262 feet above the sea. 1Without
the least suspicion of extravagance or dishonesty,
how could the total expense have been so enor-
But the real wonder was that the road had been
built at all. To this distant day. one cannot pass
from ocean to ocean, and see from the car win-
dows the dense masses of tangled verdure on
either side, forming in many places green walls
apparently impenetrable, without a sense of the
marvelous. How could lines ever have been
run? And afterwards, how could men have been
found to penetrate and conquer this torrid wil-
derness ?

As already stated, Colonel A. J. Center was
appointed to the position of superintendent,
while Colonel Totten retained that of chief en-
gineer. It has always been said that Colonel
Totten, recognizing the great services of Mr. J.
L. Baldwin, in the location and construction of
the road-from the time when, in company with
Mr. John L. Stephens. before the Concession of
1850 had been obtained from the Bogota Gov-
ernment, he had gone over the route, and de-
cided that it was practicable for a railroad, to the
hour when the first engine bellowed its trium-
phant way from ocean to ocean-had generously
certified his willingness that Mr. Baldwin should
be made chief engineer, but that the offer had
been as generously refused. At all events, Mr.
IBaldwin retired from the Istlhmus. and spent
several years in the West, after which he returned
to perform his part in the tragedy to be recounted
Mr. Perez Turner was made assistant en-
gineer; Mr. William Nelson given the important
post of conunercial agent at Panama; John Mar-
cial appointed to the equally responsible position
of fiscal and shipping agent at Aspinwall; John
Wilson made conmissary; John F. Bateman,
master mechanic; and Messrs. Lee and Thomson,

Chapter III]
With this staff of good men and true the
working organization was completed, and the
world was informed that time had been annihi-
lated on the Panama Isthmus, or had at least
been cut down to about three hours for passenger
trains, and four or five hours for freight. There
was to be no more dreadful bumgo-mule combina-
tion, picturesque though it had been; but all man-
kind might cross from sea to sea in the cars.
Just how the anticipated volune of business
was all at once to be accommodated was not so
clear. Here was the railroad, but so great had
been the financial stress that no provision of mo-
tive power and rolling stock had been made.
The road was, for the moment, as poor as pov-
erty. Its principal asset was hope. No doubt
arose in the mind of Superintendent Center, who
was at all times an optimist, or of Colonel Tot-
ten, whose strong point was obstinacy, that soon
all would be well. Money would roll in literally
on wheels. If the present could be bridged over,
the future would take care of itself. To help in
bridging it, and to gain firm foothold upon that
golden future, cautious and sagacious Colonel
Center, requested to send to the president and di-
rectors in New York his ideas of a tariff of
charges suitable to the situation, advised the fol-


First C'las ................... $-5 0(0 gold
Steerage ..................... 11 10 0 gold

Personal Baggage ............. 0.05 per pound
Express ..................... 1 .80 per cubic foot
Ordinary First Clans .......... .50 per cubie foot
Second Class ................. i 50 per 100 pounds
M ail ........... . .... .' per pound
Coal........ ... .. ....... 5 00 per ton

These rates," said Colonel Center to me. long
afterwards, were intended to be, to a certain
extent, prohibitory. until we could get things in
shape. As soon as we were on our feet and ready
for business we could, as I wrote the president,
gracefully reduce our charges to within reason-
able limits. For it is always pleasing to the pub-
lic to have prices come down rather than rise."
To his surprise, these provisional rates were
adopted; and what is more. they remained in
force for more than twenty years. It was found
just as easy to get large rates as small: and thus,
without looking very much to the future, this
goose soon began to lay golden eggs with aston-
ishing extravagance. The road was put in good
order, with track foremen established in neat cot-
tages four or five miles apart, along the whole

Chapter III]
line. New engines and cars were put on. com-
modious terminal wharves and other buildings
provided, and all things were in excellent shape.
Dividends on the original 50,000 shares be-
gan to be paid, and soon mounted to twenty-
four per cent per annum, with a large surplus
carried to the sinking fund. Nor was it long
before the price of the shares went up in Wall
Street to more than one hundred per cent above
par: and although a stock dividend of forty per
cent was declared, to cover the amount of earn-
ings which had gone toward construction, thus
increasing the capital from $5.000.000 to $7,-
000,000, the shares were sold the next day at the
same high price at which they had been sold the
day before. They were regarded as ahnost the
best investment in Wall Street at that period.
In fact, for the first ten years the enterprise was
on the high tide of prosperity, and it did not
seem possible that its fortunes could ever become
a prey to rivalry. The management was con-
servative, too much so perhaps, and strictly hon-
est. Under the presidency of Mr. David Hoad-
ley, whose name was the synonym of honor,
assisted by the able and indefatigable secretary of
the company, Mr. Joseph F. Joy, the corpora-
tion soon became known and respected in the
business world as one of unquestionable stabil-

ity and worth. Everyone connected with it, from
president to office boy, took a peculiar pride in
such connection, as though honor had been con-
ferred thereby. If to be a Roman was greater
than to be a king. so to be in any way associated
wiith the Panama Railroad Company's service
was to be highly favored by fortune.
On the Istlmus there was an esprit du corps,
a feeling of pride that manifested itself in a
htmdred ways. of which newcomers were speedily
made aware. And it must be recorded, that while
there was not the least extravagance in the con-
duct of affairs, but, on the contrary. great sim-
plicity. the officers, clerks, and employees gen-
erally were paid generously for their services, and
the lives of themselves and families made as com-
fortable as possible under the circumstances.
The Isthmus of those days was but slowly
emerging from long years of ahnost absolute iso-
lation and consequent industrial decay. Except
the narrow lane through which the track had been
laid, hewn out of the jungle and hemmed in by
dense vegetation, it was practically an unknown
land. Its resources, so far as the people of the
railroad were concerned, were nil.
It was necessary, therefore, that the company
should be, in a manner, patriarchal in its rela-
tions to those whom it employed. The food they

Chapter III]
ate and the houses in which they lived were part
of the contract. During the first years it was a
large family, the head of which was the super-
intendent or the chief engineer, either taking
charge in the absence of the other. Headquar-
ters were at the Washington House. fronting the
Caribbean, whose foam-crested waves beat for-
ever on the coral reef looking northward, a few
yards away. There the officers gathered for their
meals, with the chief at the head, in true family
style. All the supplies, with few exceptions-a
chicken, a pig. a few yams or yucas, a bunch of
bananas-were brought from New York; the na-
tive farmer not yet suspecting that he had for-
tune within his indolent grasp, did he but know
or care.
Even in case of illness, medical attendance and
the hospitals were free; for the company kept
competent surgeons on its pay rolls, whose duty
it was to dose and to carve its servants in case
of need.
A library of good books, and a reading room,
with billiards attached, were also provided for
the employees; nor were the spiritual needs of
the railroad flock forgotten, as the fine church,
built in 1865 mainly at the expense of the com-
pany, upon the margin of the sounding sea, still


In short, nothing in reason was omitted by the
company that could make the chains of exile
easier to wear by those who had left their north-
ern homes to join the Isthmian service. Railroad
life, at best. is not altogether rose-colored; but
here was found a Colony of the Rail, so to speak.
whose members, with few exceptions, were satis-
fied with their lot.
And thus Gray-Beard Time marshaled his
great army of the hours, days, weeks, months,
and years in quick procession, while prosperity

P~' ~' "
~T' r

j .,


* *r ..


Chapter I']


H AVING been appointed, during this happy
period, to a position in the service of the
Panama Railroad Company on the Isthmus, I
arrived at Colon (then Aspinwall), by the steam-
ship Northern Light, Captain Tinklepaugh,
nine days from New York. It was the early
morning of December 20. 1861, ahnost seven
years after the road had been opened. Ice in
North River had delayed the departure of the
steamer, crowded with passengers for California
and other parts of the Pacific coast. There was
no sun in the steely sky. and the short day was
nearly done when the Narrows were passed, and
the steamer headed for the gray and gusty sea.
The storm-tossed vessel went plunging onward
into the inky darkness, and all on board were
wretched in the extreme. But in a few days the
Gulf Stream had been crossed, dreaded Cape
Hatteras, and Watling's Island, where Colum-
bus first landed, left behind: the tropic of Cancer
cut in two; Bird Rock, Castle Island, Cape
Maysi at the eastern end of Cuba, and Navassa

Island passed, and the indigo Caribbean entered.
Bitter winter weather had been suddenly ex-
changed for tropical heat and the golden sun-
light of the Belt of Palms.
At that time Commodore Vanderbilt owned
the steamers on the Atlantic side, while the
Pacific Mail Company had the service between
Panama and San Francisco, and the Panama
Railroad had put on a line to Central American
ports. The south coast, as far as Valparaiso, was
supplied by the boats of the Pacific Steam Navi-
gation Company, of which Mr. George Petrie-
"Lord George,"-a man of remarkable ability,
was the general manager, with offices at Callao.
These were all the steam connections on the
Pacific coast at that time; although a line-of
which more hereafter-was established, a little
later, between Panama and Australia, via the
Sandwich Islands and New Zealand.
On the Atlantic side there were only the New
York line, the Royal Mail Southampton line,
and the first of Holt's Liverpool monthly boats,
which afterwards developed into the strong West
India and Pacific Steamship Company, now
These connections, and a line of sailing ves-
sels from New York, gave the road a traffic ap-
parently satisfactory to those concerned.

Chapter IV]
Among my fellow-passengers on the Northern
Light was an American sea captain named
Dewey, about eighty years of age, a resident of
Lambayeque; to whom, or to whose breezy old
ghost I wish to pay my respects, as a man of
great good nature, with an immense fund of salt-
sea lore, which it appeared to give him a sort of
spendthrift pleasure to impart. A character that
would have delighted Robert Louis Stevenson or
Clark Russell, he contributed to make my first
sea voyage memorable; and I trust he is now
with "the jolly, jolly mariners" of The Last
Tinklepaugh, the captain of the steamer, was
a large, gross, rough, florid, ignorant Dane, a
favorite of Commodore Vanderbilt, of whom he
told this characteristic story. One cold winter
night a Sound steamer belonging to the Com-
modore lost her way in a storm, and went ashore
on Long Island. Tinklepaugh was the first mate
of the boat, and was given the chief credit of
getting her off and saving her. A few days
later he met the Commodore, who praised him, in
rough fashion, for the service he had rendered.
But he thought he deserved a more substantial
reward for a night of exposure and of great
peril; especially as his wages were only forty
dollars a month; and ventured to say so.

[ Panama
Young man." roared Vanderbilt. what in
thunder do you want anyhow?."
Well, sir, this being zero weather. perhaps
a nice warm suit of clothes might strike you
favorably, in recognition of my having saved
your ship."
Do you not receive your wages regularly?"
SYes, sir."
Well. then, that is all you will get and be
d-d to you. I like you well enough, but let
me tell you. yotuig feller. I have found that the
only waly to have good men is to keep them
Lists of the Panama Railroad Company's of-
ficers. both in New York and on the Isthmus,
as they were when I came to Aspinwall, will be
found in the appendix.
The New York offices were in the old Tontine
Building at 88 Wall Street. whence they were
long afterwards removed to the Mills Building,
then to 29 Broadway, and later to 24 State
On the Isthmus the railroad people were a
kind of happy family, with Colonel Totten at
their head. That gentleman, although no longer
young, was still vigorous. As I remember him,
he was a small dark man. and wore spectacles.
His manner was quiet and reserved, although he

Chapter IV]
had plenty of hunior. He gained much credit
for having engineered the road successfully
through all difficulties, while it was under con-
struction, and he was regarded with great favor
by the president and directors. It must be said
of him that he possessed certain qualities of the
first order, chief of which was his staying power.
His opinion once formed, there was no more to
be said on the subject. Indeed, he was conserv-
ative to the last degree. While he was modest
and unobtrusive, it would nevertheless have been
difficult to move him from a position once as-
sumed. As a military man he would have been
an obstinate fighter. As a civilian he was reti-
cent, plain, steadfast, just, and the soul of honor
and honesty. He was a superior man without
being great, looked up to and respected by
all; but hardly a man of practical affairs be-
yond his chosen profession of civil engineer,
and it is doubtful if his retention by the com-
pany, as its virtual head, long after a wide-
awake traffic manager was needed in that posi-
tion, was wise. For many years whatever he
said "went." If he withheld his approval the
affair, whatever it might be, was no longer dis-
cussed. But he was not a business man, as his
later misfortunes demonstrated. The very vir-
tues which recommended him as chief engineer

of the Panama Railroad during its construc-
tion, particularly a tenacity of purpose amount-
ing to obstinacy, were tumfavorable to continued
Colonel A. J. Center had retired from the
service to accept the general management of
Wells, Fargo & Company's business in New
York, and Mr. William Parker. an engineer and
railroad man formerly connected with the Fitch-
burg road, and later with the Baltimore and
Ohio, had been appointed, early in 1861. to suc-
ceed him as superintendent. AMr. Parker was
well along in years, but retained a large share
of activity for the discharge of his duties. He
was originally from Perth Amboy. N. J., a
kindly man, paternal in his instincts, and
greatly respected by the employees. He was
killed by AMr. Baldwin in 1868, as will be
Mr. Charles F. Stedman, who succeeded MIr.
John Marcial as fiscal and shipping agent, was
the only brother of the distinguished poet and
critic, Edmund Clarence Stedman, now at the
head of Amnerican letters. He was a young gen-
tleman of great charm of manner and ability as
a man of affairs. It gives me great pleasure to
recall him. His health failed and his lamented
death followed soon after my arrival, when I had

Chapter IV]
the honor to be appointed to the position thus so
sorrow fully made vacant.
Mr. William Nelson was perhaps the strong-
est horse in the team. He was of Scotch birth,
and had been at Panama, as United States Con-
sul, long before the days of the road. His per-
sonality was of that fascinating quality which
draws and retains warm friends; at the same
time, his business sagacity was unquestioned. He
was a fine man physically, with a corresponding
intellectual endowment; while a strong sense of
humor was perhaps his most salient characteris-
tic. He had control of the general interests of
the company at Panama, including the agency
of the Central American steamers. In 1872,
or early in 1873, he left the service and retired
to Guatemala, where he had made profitable in-
vestments in coffee estates. He died there, Feb-
ruary 12, 1878, at the age of sixty-two.
Mr. E. D. Dennis was one of the most ele-
gant young men to be found anywhere. He was
in the railroad service for several years, and held
also the agency of Wells, Fargo & Company, at
Aspinwall, as well as the coal agency for the
United States navy; from which sources he was
said to have made a small fortune. Leaving
the service, in company with Mr. Fred An-
soategue, he joined the firm of Marcial & Com-

pany, New York, as partner, and continued to
prosper. Both he and his wife, a daughter of
the late Admiral Cooper, U. S. N., and a
very beautiful and accomplished woman, are
now dead.
Mr. Perez Turner was also much respected.
He married a charming Panama woman who
survives him. He died at Colon, in September,
Dr. D. H. Guyon was a gentleman and a
scholar. He had a large library, and was held
in high esteem as a man of culture. He went
from Panama to Chile, where he resided many
years, afterwards returning to Missouri, whence
he came. His associate in the pay department,
Mr. J. P. Woodbury, came from Rutland, Vt.,
but after a few years returned home with his ami-
able wife, much to the regret of their Isthmian
Dr. W. T. White had a passion for surgery,
and made it a practice to dissect his hospital
patients as soon as they were cold. He had a
theory that every person who had been in the
Isthmian climate ten years-in many instances
less-must have a liver hopelessly diseased.
Hence the cutting up. He stated that the the-
ory had been abundantly proven by his investi-
gations. He went to New York, where he es-

Chapter IV]
tablished a practice, and has only recently joined
the majority.
Dr. J. P. Kluge was a different kind of man.
While he had the name of being a good phy-
sician, he made himself agreeable socially, and
was much liked. After Dr. White left the Isth-
mus, he came to Aspinwall, as chief surgeon of
the company, and had charge of Colonel Tot-
ten that time he died and came to life again,"
according to the current phrase. The Colonel,
although so long acclimated, was very ill with
the fatal type of yellow fever known as the
vomito. Dr. Kluge and his associate, Dr.
Springer, held a final consultation, with the fol-
lowing result:
Dr. Kluge announced that there was no chance
of recovery-not the slightest.
Dr. Springer, more cautious, and believing
that while there was life there was hope, said
there might be one chance in a thousand.
Then a sorrowful contention arose as to the
mathematical probabilities of an equation where-
in the unknown quantity appeared so very, very
doubtful. But to be prepared for the appar-
ently inevitable, Superintendent Parker had a
coffin ready, and a funeral train in waiting. It
was, indeed, a tearful group, of which I was one,
that stood around the dying man, with the con-


fident expectation that each breath would be the
last. But the remark of Montaigne was then,
in a manner, illustrated, that some have sur-
vived their executioners." For Colonel Totten
did not die upon that day, nor until many years
later, on May 17, 188-, at the age of seventy-
But poor Dr. Kluge. at that time the picture
of health, fell a victim, not long after, to fever
and overwork. He did not put foot on ship, as
lie ought, and sail straight away to the North.
He thought he could cure himself, but before
he at last decided to leave he had become so
reduced that he died on the passage home.
Of others I need not speak. It would have
been difficult, I think, to find an equal number
of men who would have shown a like zeal and
fidelity, or lived together in greater harmony
and mutual regard.
The road itself, as I first lkew it, might have
been compared to a great spider. ready to catch
the flies of conunerce that might buzz its way.
But it was soon evident to me that it was not
an ambitious spider. The word enterprise was
unknown to it. If passengers and cargo came,
they were welcome, and the jingle of their coin
made pleasant music: but no effort was made to
enlarge and permanently establish the ingather-

Chapter 1F]
ing capacities of the web. It was a lazy spider.
and would almost disdain to say, Will you
walk into my parlor? "
As an illustration, I will mention here that
about that time the Pacific Mail Company
wanted to ship 20,000 tons of coal to Panama,
for the supply of their steamers on the Pa-
cific. The freight over the road, of $5 per ton
in gold, without the expense of loading or un-
loading, was not complained of by the shippers;
but there was a lack of coal cars, and unless the
railroad company would supply the deficiency, so
that ships would not get on demurrage in dis-
charging, it would be better to send the coal
around the Horn.
This was represented to the railroad manage-
ment. and the reply came back, that cargo of
that kind was not desired. The whole lot was
therefore shipped to Panama by sea, and our
spider missed a fat hundred thousand dollar fly
that it might have had as well as not. I mention
this incident to show the sort of come-or-stay-
away-as-you-please spirit that prevailed. That
it was a short-sighted policy became painfully
evident later on. Colonel Totten had gained
laurels as an engineer, his star was in the ascend-
ant, and it led a trustful company a good deal

Had the spirit of modern enterprise, so bril-
liantly manifested in the building of the road.
foumd in its earlier control a representative who
could have risen to the height of the great com-
mercial occasion, there is no room for doubt that
a very different destiny would have waited upon
the Panama Isthmian transit.


Chapter V]


D URING the years 1852, 1853. and 1854.
while the road was yet unfinished, the
gross earnings were more than a million dollars;
and the total income for the first ten years, in-
cluding 1861, was $11.339,662.78. A consider-
able portion of this sum was used in construction
and equipment even after the trains began to
run. The original capital of the company, as
before stated, was $5,000,000, in shares of $100
each; and it was decided by the directors to issue
a stock dividend of forty per cent, to cover the
earnings that had been thus used. This raised
the number of the shares to 70,000, where it still
This was the period of greatest prosperity.
Dividends of six per cent quarterly were paid,
after all expenses had been met, and the affairs
of the company were the color of the rose. The
shares were sold in Wall Street at a premium of
more than one hundred and fifty per cent, even
after the stock dividend had added $2,000,000 to
their amount. It did not seem possible that any

combination of circumstances would interfere
with this truly phenomenal prosperity. It was
confidently expected by those who were inter-
ested that the natural increase of traffic would
give a corresponding yearly increase of income
and dividends. And so it might have done. had
there not been two or three very serious draw-
backs. Perhaps the most serious was the fatal
fact that the contract made by John L. Stephens
with the Government of New Granada, now Co-
lombia, was for only a very short period, consid-
ering the importance of the enterprise. It is not
easy to tell at this late day why the time for
which the concession was made was so limited.
Perhaps Mr. Stephens could not make better
conditions: or perhaps forty-nine years-for that
was the term of the contract-may have seemed
long enough to him. It was agreed that at the
end of the first twenty years from the date of
opening the road, the Government of New Gra-
nada could take possession of the same by pay-
ing the sum of $5.000,000. Here, then, was a
rich pluml, that was yielding a clear revenue of
twenty-four per cent on $7,000,000. with only
twenty short years in which to decline and fall
off." Or if the Bogota Government should pass
that date-which was by no means likely-at
the end of thirty years the sum would be reduced

Chapter V]
to $1.000,000; at the end of forty years to
$2,000,000; and when the forty-nine years came
round, the road, with all its appurtenances and
belongings, was to be turned over to Colombia
without further payment.
These facts may be found in the contract
signed at Bogota by Victoriano de D. Paredes
and John Lloyd Stephens. and approved by
President Lopez. April 16, 1850.
With such a Damocles's sword suspended over
the fortunes of the best paying railroad in the
world what was to be done? No amount of
regret that the affair had not been better ar-
ranged for the interests of the company would
now avail. The good people of Colombia were
keenly alive to the fact that they had, in vulgar
phrase, a big thing within their grasp. There-
fore, as early as 1867. or eight years before the
expiration of the first term of twenty years, the
directors of the railroad company sent Colonel
Totten and Mr. William Nelson to Bogota, duly
commissioned to enter into a new contract that
should supplement or entirely supersede the old
one, on the best terms that could be secured.
Reports had reached the company's headquarters
in New York, to the effect that other influences
were at work to obtain possession of the road
at the expiration of the twenty-year term, in

1875: and that there was no doubt about the
payment of the $5,000,000 that would then be
due to the railroad company, in case Colombia
should elect to pay it.
These reports, which doubtless had some foun-
dation in truth, stimulated the Parent Company,
as the railroad had now been named, to urge
upon its representatives before the Colombian
(or rather New Granadian) Government, the
absolute necessity of prompt action, at whatever
cost. In this delicate situation, it became neces-
sary for the ambassadors to overcome, as far as
possible, the idea entertained by the rulers and
people of the country that the road was a golden
providence of infinite benefaction, sent to them
as an inheritance and reward of merit, forever
and ever.
The labors of these gentlemen lasted several
months: and when at last the new contract was
signed, July 5, 1867. by Messrs. J. G. Lara, on
the part of Colombia, and G. M. Totten, for the
Panama Railroad, and finally approved, with
some important modifications, August 16, 1867,
by President Santos Acosta, the ambassadors
had captured a sort of white elephant. But it
was probably the best that could have been done
under the trying circumstances.
The conditions of the new contract were hard

Chapter V]
on the Parent Company, and it is doubtful if it
would have consented to them if the directorate
in New York could have been consulted before
the document had been signed. But at that date
there was no cable, and Bogota was farther away
from New York than Japan. It was therefore
Hobson's choice; take it or leave it. Many
thought at the time that to leave it would have
been wiser; for the burdens assumed by the road
were onerous in the extreme. It is true that the
duration of the new franchise had been extended
to ninety-nine years from the day it was exe-
cuted; but no other better condition than the old
contract embraced had been conceded. On the
contrary, many new obligations had been im-
posed. First of all, to lubricate the ways for the
launch of this new scheme, a cool million in gold
was paid at once; and thenceforward, to the end
of the ninety-nine years, the further subsidy of
$250,000 in gold per annum was to be promptly
handed over to the Government of Colombia, as
New Granada had in the meantime been re-
christened. It was further stipulated, in Arti-
cle IV, that "the company binds itself to ex-
tend the railroad on the Pacific side to the islands
of Naos, Culebra, Perico, and Flamenco; or other
place in the Bay of Panama where there may ex-
ist a permanent depth of water for large ships."

This would involve the expenditure of many
Another condition imposed was the recession
of the Island of Manzanillo, upon which Colon
is built. Under the old contract it had been
granted to the railroad in perpetuity. Under
the new, it was to be restored at the end of ninety-
nine years, along with the road.
These and minor conditions of a less favorable
nature than those contained in the original grant
having been consented to. it was little wonder
that when the intelligence reached New York,
and it became known that the future of the com-
pany had been handicapped with so weighty lia-
bilities, in exchange for so little present or pros-
pective gain, panic seized upon the holders of the
shares. The latter fell in Wall Street when the
news arrived from the rosy region of three hun-
dred to the gloomy depths of eighty in a single
week. It was a case of facilis desccnsus Averni,
and the rest of it; which freely translated may
read: the descent of a railroad to Hades is easy
enough, but to get it back is another thing.


Copyright, 1906, by J. C. Hemment.

Chapter II]


O THER clouds began to gather.. In July,
1862. the United States Congress passed
an act in favor of a railroad and telegraph line
across the continent. A corporate body known as
the Union Pacific Railroad Company was or-
ganized and authorized to build the road from a
point in Nebraska, then a territory, to the west-
ern boundary of Nevada. there to connect with
the Central Pacific Railroad, which ran from
Sacramento eastward.
This great line, 1,776 miles long, from the
Missouri River to the Bay of Sacramento, was
to be completed not later than July 1, 1876, or
within fourteen years.
Immense inducements had been offered by the
United States Government, in the shape of lands
and direct financial aid. Yet with all these pow-
erful advantages, nothing was done at the east-
ern end until 1864, during which year twelve
miles were constructed from Omaha westward.
In 1865 so little energy was displayed that
twenty-eight additional miles only were laid. At

this rate it would have taken more than a half
century to complete the work. I remember well
the remark made at that time by Colonel Tot-
ten, when discussing the possible danger of com-
petition with that road.
It will be at least twenty-five years," said
he, before through trains are run from Omaha
to San Francisco." He laughed to scorn the
idea that the fortunes of the Panama Railroad
were or could be. for a long time to come, in any
manner influenced unfavorably by the overland
route. But just then, to quote from the history
of that stupendous enterprise, as given in Har-
per's Magazine:
The work fell into the hands of men who
were resolved to push things, no matter at what
cost. Soon a mile a day was reached. Then, in
1868, the work was pushed forward with a rapid-
ity heretofore unknown. For weeks, four miles
a day was the usual rate at which the rails were
laid; and early in May, 1869, the thousand miles
and more from Omaha to the head of Salt Lake
had been built. Meanwhile the Central Pacific
had been pushing on their road to meet their
eastern coadjutors." On May 10, 1869, the
world was astonished by the intelligence that the
last rail of the "Overland" had been laid, at
Promontory Point. "The ceremony of placing

Chapter VI]
the last tie of the united roads was performed
with as much display as possible. The scene was
a grassy valley at the head of Great Salt Lake.
About 3,000 people of all sorts had congre-
gated. Among them were many men who had
borne a prominent part in the construction of
the road. The final tie was of polished laurel-
wood bound at the ends with silver bands. A
golden spike sent by California, a silver one by
Nevada, and one of gold and silver and iron by
Arizona were used. These spikes were driven
home by the representative officers of the com-
panies by whom the two roads had been con-
structed. Prayers were offered and speeches
made. Arrangements were made by which the
strokes of the hammers were connected with the
telegraph wires; and almost on the instant it was
known on the Pacific and Atlantic that the junc-
tion of the roads had been completed."
And here is what Mr. Bret Harte wrote in
celebration of the event:

What was it the engines said,
Pilots touching, head to head,
Facing in the single track,
Half a world behind each back?
This is what the engines said,
Unreported and unread.


With a prefalory screech.
In a florid Western speech.
Said the engine from the West:
"I am from Sierra's crest;
And if altitude's a test,
Why, I reckon it's confessed
That I've done my le\el best."

Said the engine from the East:
"They who work best talk the least.
S'pose you whistle down your brakes;
What you'\e done is no great shakes-
Pretty fair-but let our meeting
Be a different kind of greeting.
Let these folks with champagne stuffing,
Not their engines, do the puffing.

"Listen! Where Atlantic beats
Shores of snow and summer heats;
Where the Indian autumn skies
Paint the woods with wampum dyes,
I have chased the flying sun.
Seeing all he looked upon.
Blessing all that he has blessed.
Nursing in my iron breast
All his vivifying heat,
All his clouds about my crest;
And before my flying feet
Every shadow must retreat."

Said the Western engine. "Whew!"
And a long low whistle blew.
"Come now, really that's the oddest
Talk for one so very modest.

Chapter II]
Y'il brag of your E.st! Your d!i'
Why.. I bring ihe East to y0i!
All the Orient. all CaTtha\.
Find throghli nie the lhortest way;
And the sun you follow here
Ri-es in my hemisphere.
Really-if one miil .be rude-
Len lth. umy friend. ain't longitude."
Said tlie Union. "Don't reflect or
I'll run over some Direcl,'r."
Said the Central. "I'm Padilic:
But. when riled. I'm quite terrific.
Yet to-day we shall not quarrel.
Jui[ to show these folkl a nimra.l.
Huow tvwo eingines-in their vinion-
Once have met without collisionn"
That is what the engines said,
iUirepo:.rtld iand unread:
Spoken slightly through the nose,
With a v hiitle at the close.

Thus an undertaking-unprecedented in the
history of the world-that was to have occupied
at least twenty-five years. had been completed in
seven. The crowds of California passengers, the
mails, and the millions of treasure, as well as the
higher class of merchandise, ceased to come and
go via Panama. The best of the California busi-
ness of the Panama route was over. and the Par-
ent Company never again pretended to skim the
cream of that great traffic.

But this was not the only nor yet the greater
loss. The entire population of California at the
time was not more than half a million. It was,
for the most part, it is true, a population of live
men, full of energy; and the rapidity of devel-
opment was marvelous. But with all its enter-
prise and self-confidence, if its entire commerce
with the Eastern States and Europe had sought
the Isthmian route, it would have been limited
compared with that of the Spanish-American
west coast. The portion that actually came from
California to Panama was but a fraction of the
total amount from all sources. Dr. Otis, in his
"Handbook," says:
"The fact seems to be overlooked that while
California has a population estimated at only
500,000, the population of Central America is
over 2,000,000, and that that portion of South
America, whose only means of communication
with the Atlantic is either by the Isthmus of Pan-
ama or around Cape Horn, contains nearly
8,000,000, and that regular and direct steam com-
munication exists between those countries and
the Panama Railroad."
It would be needless to say another word as
to the paramount importance of the traffic of
10,000,000, compared with that of one twentieth
of that number. Even so long ago as 1867,

Chapter VI]
Dr. Otis goes on to state that careful estimates
show that the value of the trade of these coun-
tries to and from the Atlantic exceeds $60,000,-
000 per annum. The managers of the Panama
Railroad Company, from its earliest existence,
were aware of that important circumstance, and
looked confidently to the business of those re-
gions already existing, and that which would un-
doubtedly be developed by the facilities afforded
by the railroad, as one of the surest elements of
its ultimate and permanent success."
It was a natural conclusion that the stimulus
afforded by the quick and safe transit' of the
Panama Isthmus byerail would cause a great in-
crease of traffic, and that, by judicious manage-
ment, the permanent possession and control of
the same could be secured. In this case it would
not matter though California should contribute
no more to the business of the road than it did
in 1860, when, according to Dr. Otis, "less than
one fifteenth of the freighting business was due
to the California trade," the remaining fourteen
fifteenths consisting mainly of the Central and
South American commerce.
These facts are here given in order that the
magnitude of the mistake which the Parent Com-
pany now made may be better appreciated.
For a long time complaints had come from

Mr. George Petrie, the able manager of the Pa-
cific Steam Navigation Company's affairs, on
the west coast of South America, that the divi-
sion of rates for through traffic was not satis-
factory to his company; and that the facilities
afforded by the Panama Railroad were not, in
all respects, what they should be. to satisfy
the demands of the rapidly increasing business.
At length, whether with or without the knowl-
edge of the Parent Company I never knew,
Colonel A. J. Center. who, as already said. had
been the first superintendent of the railroad on
the Isthmus. and who was then an officer of the
Wells, Fargo Express Company, in New York,
went on a special mission to Peru, to see Mr.
Petrie. and to arrive, if possible, at an arrange-
ment that should be satisfactory to all concerned.
He was absent from New York for some time;
and I well remember his return to the Isthmus
on his way home. He had succeeded in making
an agreement with which he seemed to be greatly
elated, and which appeared to all who were in
the secret a wise and equitable adjustment of the
relations of the several companies interested. It
was as simple as it was just.
The rates for passages and freights were to be
made by the company with which the same origi-
nated: and the total charge was to be divided pro

Chapter FI]
rata, the Panama Railroad Company taking
one third, and the steamship companies on either
side of the Isthmus sharing equally tlae remain-
ing two thirds.
The fleet of the Pacific Steam Navigation
Company at that time consisted of twelve steam-
ers, which made semimonthy voyages between
Panama and Valparaiso, calling at twenty-eight
intermediate ports. It was one of the best man-
aged and most prosperous corporations in the
world. There was no competition. It had been
organized as long ago as 1839, and in July, 184-0.
two steamers were dispatched from England, and
began their regular voyages on the West Coast.
The business became successful, and the profits
in a short time were enormous. Mr. Willianm
Just was the general manager in Liverpool, but
the control on the Coast was left entirely to 1Mr.
Petrie, with headquarters at Callao. A large
establishment for repairs and for coaling the
steamers had been located at the island of Ta-
boga, in the Bay of Panama, under the manage-
ment of Mr. Jamieson, who was afterwards em-
ployed by the great shipbuilders, Smith and
Elder, as chief constructor at their shipyards on
the Clyde.
I often visited Taboga in those days, and was
impressed with the magnitude of the operations

carried on there. Mr. W. G. Sealy, afterwards
agent of the Australian line, was in charge of
the office, and good old Dr. McDowell, who sub-
sequently became editor of the Panama Star and
Herald, had his residence, as surgeon of the
works, in a vine-embowered cottage perched upon
the apex of the Morro, overlooking the shops,
with wide and lovely vistas of sea and land.
Hundreds of men were employed, and a large
amount of money was disbursed, a considerable
portion of which found its way into the hands
of Panama merchants.
As already stated, Colonel Center had brought
back from Callao a gilt-edged arrangement with
this powerful line, under which the Parent Com-
pany could not fail to reap great profit. The
spider could keep his web intact in that direc-
tion, though so soon to be broken by the Over-
land in the other. And it would not matter much
if the whole of the California trade collapsed, so
long as 10,000,000 people were still contribu-
tors to the Isthmian transit. At this time also a
new line of steamers had been put on between
Panama and Australia, called the Panama, New
Zealand, and Australian Royal Mail Line, to
run once a month via Wellington to Sidney, in
connection with, or as a "continuation of" the
great Royal Mail Line between Southampton

Chapter VI]
and Colon. This promised far-reaching results,
as it would bring the Isthmus into direct com-
munication with the South Seas and the mighty
British colonial empire of the South Pacific, of
which more a little farther on.
Colonel Center went back to New York. He
felt that he had accomplished great things; and
so he had. Yet when he presented the results
of his mission to the Panama directory, he was
told, to his dismay, that the conditions of his
arrangement would not be accepted. With cool
disregard, or perhaps it were more charitable to
say, ignorance of the situation, which no amount
of explanation could dispel or argument en-
lighten, the final answer was given that the road
would collect such charges as it might see fit to
make, and that that was the end of it!
In a final effort to bring the directorate to
reason, Colonel Center pointed out that Man-
ager George Petrie had declared in the most
positive manner that his company would at once
proceed to build big steamers for a fast line to
and from Liverpool, via the Straits of Magel-
lan, unless this pro rata agreement should be
confirmed. But the threat was regarded with
contempt. The idea that the Pacific Steam Navi-
gation Company would dare to talk such non-
sense only made the directors more inflexible in

their decision to charge whatever they pleased
for transportation across the Isthmus. The
spider got its back up to think that this big fly
should make an effort to break away.
But it was soon to be an faith accompli, all the
same. The bulk of that large commerce was to
be turned away into another channel. In the
year 1868 regular voyages were begun between
Valparaiso and Liverpool. which were later ex-
tended to Callao; and by 1874 the fleet consisted
of fifty-four steamers, with a gross tonnage of
120,000 tons. Only the smaller boats were sent
to Panama. and they brought as little as possible.
but acted as feeders, on their return southward,
for the Straits Line. The repair shops and
coaling station were removed from Taboga to
Callao. A staggering blow had been deliv-
ered; a great chance thrown away. Had the
Petrie-Center agreement been confirmed. and an
alliance then formed with the Pacific Steam
Navigation Company, it would be impossible
at this day to estimate the magnitude of the
As mentioned above, a new line had been put
on between Panama and Australia, with Mr. WV.
G. Senly (who married the daughter of Mr.
William Nelson. of Panama ) for its agent. It
commenced in June, 1866. with the four steam-

Chapter VI]
ers, Mataura. Kaikoura, Ruahine. and Rakaia,
all fine new boats of from 1.500 to 1.800 tons,
which were to make a monthly service. The
prospects were fair for the establislunent of this
very important line on a permanent footing. It
was to be expected that at first there might be
a deficit in the earnings, to cover expenses: but
no doubt existed that after a short time. with a
little aid from connecting lines, and from the
subsidies that would be obtained from the great
colonies, from the British Government, and from
the United States, the line would prove a suc-
It was owing to the lack of such aid, and espe-
cially to the absence of liberality on the part of
the Panama Railroad Company, that the enter-
prise failed. Easily could the road have extended
a helping hand. and said to the struggling com-
pany, so full of promise: Come along; and if
for a time you do not pay a dollar, it will be all
right." More yet it might have added, in view
of the advantages certain to follow: Here are
thousands of pounds in cash. to be placed to
your credit until you can pay them back; and
don't worry. Only get your line firmly estab-
lished: then you can settle the bill." Or still
further, suppose the treasury of the road had
never recovered said outlay; think of the pres-

tige. and of the final perpetual benefits that
would have resulted! But no ideas of the kind
were entertained. I am here, gentlemen," said
Mr. Spider, to take you all in. It is not accord-
ing to my long-established policy to show favor
to anybody. If you cannot go it alone, do not
look for any sort of consideration or aid from
me. I am not a sentimental spider, nor do I look
forward to to-morrow. I must have my daily
Thus, after an ineffectual struggle, during
which some money was lost, the Panama. New
Zealand, and Australian Steamship Company
(Limited) went under.
It is easy to understand why, previous to sign-
ing the new contract of 1867 with the Colom-
bian Government. the Parent Company dis-
played no interest beyond the present. There
was doubt if the time of its existence would be
extended beyond the year 1875. and it was there-
fore thought best to make as much hay as pos-
sible while the sun was shining. But as soon
as the extension to ninety-nine years had been ob-
tained, under conditions which rendered it im-
portant in the extreme to secure the largest pos-
sible future income, the involuntary question
arises: Why did not the management wake up
and rise to the level of the situation ? Why in

Chapter VI]
the world did it allow chances involving the loss
of millions to escape?
Due respect for the memory of the dead would
perhaps suggest silence. But it is permitted to
say, without the least wish to blame anyone in
particular, that there lacked the Able Man at
the head of affairs, of whom Carlyle was fond
of writing. No far-seeing and masterful mind
emerged to grasp and bind together the more
than continental issues of an unparalleled op-

- 'r w w r w



T would be impossible to estimate the im-
portance of the results which might have
followed, if the fortunes of the road had been
in other and wiser hands. Its position was
unique. A mere glance at the possibilities
should have convinced the most shortsighted
that, notwithstanding the loss of a large part
of the California business with the completion
of the Overland Road in 1869, there were still
magnificent opportunities for the future. As
pointed out, these had been to a large extent
sacrificed, but Central America remained, and
its importance was recognized at an early day.
There were no means of communication with
the Pacific Coast. from Panama to the Mexican
border, until after the opening of the Panama
Road. in 1855, when a line of steamers was
organized by the railroad company, and in
the latter part of 1856 the first steamer, the
Columbus, was dispatched from Panama on her
initial voyage as far as Guatemala. The re-
turns from the monthly voyages soon proved





Chapter VII]
the wisdom of the measure." says Dr. Otis, for
in less than two years the cargoes of merchan-
dise brought from those States, for transporta-
tion over the road, often exceeded in value half
a million of dollars. while a large amount of
foreign merchandise found its way to those
countries by the same channel."
It was the beginning of great things. Up
to that time Guatemala had not produced cof-
fee for exlpo)t: even as late as 1860 the value
of the coffee exported from that republic is
stated by Dr. Otis at $15,352. Costa Rica
had begun. as early as 1829, to cultivate the
great staple: and it is on record that in 1850
14,000.000 pounds were exported by the slow
and tedious route via Cape Horn to European
ports. Therefore, as soon as the steamers of
the Panama Railroad Company began to run,
a great stimulus was given, in all the Central
American States, to the production of coffee;
so that the commerce of the coast became im-
portant. At first only a few thousand bags
came to Panama for transportation over the
road: but from year to year the quantity
steadily increased, and notwithstanding the
large amount that found a market through
other channels-that from Costa Rica via Port
Limon, from Nicaragua via Greytown. and

from the other States via the Straits of Magel-
lan and California-the amount shipped via
Panama averaged 46,500 tons per annum for
the five years 1894-98, or 740,000 bags of 125
pounds each. And the amount has been con-
stantly increasing; so that when other exports
from those States, and the ever-growing vol-
ume of general merchandise imported by them
via Panama are added, it is readily seen that
if the road had no other source of revenue, this,
taken in connection with the passenger travel to
and from Central America, would have at least
paid its running expenses, and perhaps given
a fair profit.
The management of the Central American
Line had been left entirely in the hands of Mr.
William Nelson, the commercial agent of the
company at Panama, who clearly foresaw how
great would be the value of that trade, and who
left nothing undone to advance the interests he
had in charge. As a proof of his foresight, he
began at an early day to make investments
on his own account in Guatemala, which made
him rich. He recommended putting on new
steamers, and before long the Guatemala and
Salvador, the former under the command of
Captain Dow, and the latter of Captain Rath-
bun, were running on the coast; while the

Chapter VII]
Parkersburg and Winchester were sent out as
auxiliary steamers to relieve the others during
the coffee season. Afterwards the Honduras
was built in England for the company, and the
trade prospered until the line was sold to the
Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and incor-
porated with their Panama and California line
in 1872. It has continued to grow rapidly, al-
though a large portion of it has been diverted
to San Francisco. and thereby lost to the Pan-
ama transit.
Mr. Nelson retired to his coffee estates in
1872. and after making a pleasure tour of the
globe, died there in 1878, regretted by all who
knew him. He was a notable man in many re-
spects, and easily among the first of those who
were identified with the Panama Road, in
ability. tact, and general intelligence.
A man of entirely different character, Cap-
tain J. M. Do'w was for a long time connected
with the Central American coast trade. and
afterwards became agent of the Pacific Mail
Company on the Istlmus. He was widely
known, and many appeared to think him com-
petent, both as captain of a steamer and as
agent. It will always remain doubtful, how-
ever, how far a narrow mind and violent
prejudices can be compatible with a high de-

gree of usefulness in a position of considerable
Among the other captains of the Central
American Line were William Rathbun, A. T.
Douglas. Hawes, Bowditch, and Whiteberry.
The last named was captain of one of the com-
pany's sailing vessels between New York and
Colon before that line was transferred to the
Pacific Mail, the steamers of which company
began running on the Atlantic side on the 1st
of November, 1865.
The Atlantic service had, up to that time,
been in the hands of the Atlantic Mail Com-
pany. owned by Commodore Vanderbilt. The
Pacific Mail, under the presidency of Captain
Allan McLane since November, 1860, deter-
mined to control the whole line from New York
to San Francisco. The trade was at that time
growing rapidly in volume and in importance;
and to meet the requirements of the company
the capital stock was increased, by act of the
New% York Legislature, from $4,000,000 to
$10,000,000, and a little later to $20,000,000.
The old Vanderbilt steamers, Ocean Queen,
Rising Star, Northern Light, Arid, and Cham-
pion, were bought, and three new steamers,
Henry' CIhauncey, Arizona, and New York,
were built; so that there was no lack of

Chapter 1I.I]
ships for the new service. They were all side
wheelers, the screw not yet having been adopted.
The stately ship Henry Chauncey, commanded
by Commodore A. G. Gray, was the first to
sail under the new arrangement, as before
stated, November 1, 1865. I was passenger
by her on that occasion, and remember well
the delightful voyage. The late distinguished
General Hovey, fresh from the war, was also
a passenger, on his way as United States
Minister to Peru, and was conspicuous in a
general's uniform coat, tall hat, and carpet
The Hcnry Chauncey was followed by the
Arihona. Captain Jeff Maury; Ocean Queen,
Captain Seabury; and a little later, the Rising
Sun, Captain H. P. Conner. The old Van-
derbilt captains were not employed by the
Pacific Mail Company. I have already men-
tioned Captain Tinklepaugh. Captain Jones
was a hearty old chap, genial and popular.
He was in the Ariel when that steamer was
captured by the Alabama, in the Caribbean,
December 7, 1862. The Ariel was on her way
from New York, with a large number of pas-
sengers, including a hundred and fifty United
States Marines, and a valuable cargo. She was
detained three days, while Captain Semmes de-

bated whether he would land the passengers and
crew at the Island of Navassa, and burn the
ship, but on account of the large number of
women and children on board. be it said to his
credit. he let her go. Captain Jones was also
a Southerner. and always claimed that it was
partly on that account that he was permitted
to give bonds to the Confederacy. and to pro-
ceed on his voyage. instead of having his ship
On his arrival at Colon there was the most
intense excitement, and among other demon-
strations of temporary insanity MIr. Benjamin
Keeney. wharf builder and alleged poet. rushed
off to his room, darkened the windows. lighted
all the candles he could get-after the manner
of Alfred de Mlusset when composing poetry-
and wrote a long string of verses to conmmem-
orate the event. It is to be regretted that a
copy of this wonderful production is not ex-
tant. It celebrated Brave Jones and his Ariel
ship." and described the state of things on
board, before the appearance of Semmes. as
"a lovely sylvan scene." When the Ariel was
boarded the children all howled, and the ladies
fainted, but the gallant and bold pirettes re-
stored them (in rhyme) with their vinegar-

Chapter III]
It would be impossible, however, to do justice
to this work of genius.
Captain Wilson was a small, quiet man, as
unlike a sea captain as possible. He had many
friends-not on that account-but because of
his agreeable ways. All three have been long
gone to another world.
Of the captains who followed, in conmmnd of
the New York steamers, Commodore Gray was
perhaps the most popular and best known; al-
though Captain Jeff Maury was regarded as
an ideal captain. He was quiet, cool, and ret-
icent. lacking neither ability nor nerve. He
was in temporary command of the Steamship
Bienville, which had been chartered by the Pa-
cific 1Mail. when that vessel was burned, near
Watling's Island. on August 9. 1872. I have
always felt a peculiar interest in that sad event,
as I was in New York when the Bi'nville
sailed, and was to have taken passage by her,
but was fortunately (perhaps providentially)
detained until the following steamer-the Ocean
Queen, Captain Baker, and Purser William
Connor. who was afterwards agent of the Pa-
cific Mail Steamship Company at Colon.
George William Curtis, in The Easy
Chair" of Harper's Magazine for November,
1872, gave an account of the burning of the

Bienlille, which I recommend for the reader's
perusal. It pays a high tribute to Captain
MIaury and his officers, and closes as follows:
The stories of those who were saved confirm
the fact of the entire calmness and capacity of
the Captain.
"There were, indeed, instances of selfishness,
and accidents with loss of life. But the nerve
of the captain paralyzed all disaster and made
safety possible. He knew what to do, and how
and when to do it, and his moral mastery alone
prevented a frightful catastrophe. His name is
Jefferson' Maury. There has been no name
lately mentioned deserving of more sincere re-
spect. Those who are going to sea will sleep
in their berths more soundly if they know that
Captain Maury commands the ship! "
The captain, preceded by his purser. William
Alpheus Smith, was the last man to leave the
burning steamer.
Captain Maury was near of kin to tie cele-
brated Lieutenant M. F. Manury. U.S.N.. and
was educated at the United States Naval Acad-
emy at Annapolis. He had been in the navy be-
fore he became a merchant captain. He remained
a few years in the Atlantic service of the Pa-
cific Mail Company, and was then transferred
to their China line, where he had the misfortune

Chapter VII]
to lose the fine ship City of Tokio. He was
afterwards employed as an agent for the com-
pany in the Orient.
A few years ago he crossed the Isthmus for
the last time. His health was badly shattered,
and shortly afterwards lie passed away at his
home in Oakland. California.
The following personal" and my reply
thereto (referring to Captain Maury), which
appeared in the Panama Star and Herald in
September. 1893. may be of interest:
"Amongst the transit passengers who sail by
the Colombia to-day is Mr. Daniel Phillips. In
course of conversation Mr. Phillips made known
to a Star and Herald representative that he was
one of the passengers on the Ocean Queen when
that ill-fated vessel was wrecked on Watling's
Island. some twenty-one years ago. He has in
his possession to-day a splinter of the rock
which did that noble ship to death, but gener-
ously held her on its rugged back, so that she
might not slip off into deep water with her liv-
ing freight. The treacherous Bahamas are re-
sponsible for untold marine casualties, which are
more or less remembered by their victims; but
we will venture on the assertion that there are
not many of these who travel about the world
with a fragment of Columbus's Landfall in their

valise. This unique distinction belongs to Mr.
Phillips, and thereto we beg to direct the atten-
tion of Mr. W'illiam Clark Russell."

The Ocean Queen,
COLON. Sept. 5. 1893.
" Editor Star and Hcrald.
"DEAR SIR: The interesting item published
in your issue of this date. furnished your repre-
sentative by Mr. Daniel Phillips, will of course
be widely read, and may very possibly. as you
intimate, afford Mr. Clark Russell the motive
for another thrilling romance of the sea. But in
the interests of history. I beg respectfully to cor-
rect the impression conveyed that the good old
Ocean Queen. was wrecked and done to death by
the rock at Watling's Islanl. of which Mr.
Phillips still treasures a splinter as a souvenir
of the disaster.
No. dear sir! Take my word for it that
the vessel was not lost on that occasion, nor was
she even so disabled that she failed to make the
passage to Colon, and back again to New York.
Permit me to say that she was in command of
Captain Jeff Maury at the time, and that it
was owing to his able seamanship that her prob-
able loss was avoided. I do not dispute the
rock. nor yet the splinter; but the inference that
a disaster followed is entirely misleading. Cap-
tain Maury simply backed her off. drew a sail
wuder her forefoot, so that it covered the hole

Chapter I'II]
that had been made by the aforesaid rock,
pumped her out. and came on. And when the
day of sailing arrived, nothing daunted, he
pointed her old nose toward the north star. and
let her paddle her way homeward (for she was
a side-wheeler) just as though everything was
perfectly lovely!
That was the kind of man Jeff Maury was.
He had only just before this event, in the month
of August, 1872. shown of what material he
was made. in the terrible Bienville disaster. only
a few miles from that same Colunbus's Land-
fall. He had seen every soul safely out of the
burning ship, before he. scorched by the flames,
went down a rope over her stern into the sea, to
be picked up or not. as chance might have it.
But as Kipling would say, that is another
Let it suffice to be said. my dear Editor, that
the Ocean Queen, originally named. if I am not
mistaken, Queen of the Pacific, lived many
years after the incident referred to in this



T HE disaster of the Bienville was preceded
by the loss of the Golden Rule of the Nic-
aragua Line. Captain Dennis. wrecked on the
Roncador (the Snorer l. where the old Kear-
sarge and so many other vessels have gone to
The Golden Rule had left New York with
orders to proceed to Greytown and deliver mails
there; then go on to Colon, and transfer her 700
passengers to a steamer of the same line that
would be at Panama to receive them, as they
could not. for some reason, be transferred via
the Nicaragua transit. This was in May, 1865,
at a time when it happened that I had the honor
to represent the Government of the United
States at Colon as Vice Consul in charge. My
friend Captain William Lawrence Merry, then
local agent for the Nicaragua steamers, made
known to me the fact that the Golden Rule was
much overdue, and stated his fears that some-
thing had gone wrong with her. I then made
an official request to Captain George Henry

(ABOUT) 1886.

Chapter IIII]
Preble, U. S. N.. in conunand of the gunboat
State of Georgia, and Captain E. D. Devens
("Ned Devens ") of the Huntsville, both then
fortunately at Colon, that they would look up
the missing ship. They readily complied, and
it was arranged to have the Hu tsville go
first to Greytown, as quickly as possible, to
learn if the vessel had been there, or if any-
thing had been heard of her. I went and re-
turned in the Huntsville. accompanied by the
late Don Demetrio Arosemena. who was then
agent of the Atlantic Steamship Company at
Colon. Nothing was seen or heard of the Golden
Rule; but about the time of our return a boat
arrived at Colon, from the Roncador Reef,
bringing the news of her loss. At once the two
gunboats were up and away to the rescue.
They found the Golden Rule (a fine new ship)
a total wreck, but all the passengers and
crew, over 800 souls, safely landed on the reef.
which is only a few feet above the sea. They
were immediately taken off by the two vessels,
and landed at Colon about ten days from
the date of the disaster, all safe and sound, but
the most destitute, wretched crowd that could
be imagined. Colon, for once. had its hands
full, and it responded nobly. Mrs. Susan H.
Smith, then, as for so many years, proprietress