Title Page
 List of bureau publications
 Bureau publications available for...
 Table of Contents
 Chapter I: Geography and physical...
 Chatper II: Geology, minerals,...
 Chapter III: Climate and seaso...
 Chapter IV: Forests and fibrous...
 Chapter V: Agricultural resour...
 Chapter VI: The interoceanic...
 Chapter VII: Railroads and...
 Chapter VIII: Constitution and...
 Chapter IX: Religion and public...
 Chapter X: Cost of living, wages,...
 Chapter XI: Commerce
 Chapter XII: Postal and telegraph...
 Chapter XIII: Immigration...
 Chapter XIV: Historical and bibliographical...
 A: Import duties of Nicaragua
 B: Reciprocal commercial arrangement...
 C: The jewell irrigation contr...
 D: The mining code of Nicaragu...
 E: The mines of Nicaragua - report...
 F: Commercial directory of...

Group Title: Bulletin - Bureau of the American Republics - no. 51
Title: Nicaragua
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00074009/00001
 Material Information
Title: Nicaragua a handbook
Series Title: Its Bulletin
Physical Description: v, 183 p. : front. (fold. map), plates (part fold.) ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: International Bureau of the American Republics
Publisher: Govt. print. off.
Place of Publication: Washington
Publication Date: 1893
Subject: Nicaragua   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Bibliography: p. 106-108.
General Note: "Import duties" (p. 109-138) in English and Spanish.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00074009
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000587804
oclc - 22876809
notis - ADB6518

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
    List of bureau publications
        Page iii
    Bureau publications available for distribution
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
    Chapter I: Geography and physical features
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 6a
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
    Chatper II: Geology, minerals, and mining
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
    Chapter III: Climate and seasons
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 20a
        Page 21
    Chapter IV: Forests and fibrous plants
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
    Chapter V: Agricultural resources
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 30a
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
    Chapter VI: The interoceanic canal
        Page 42
        Page 42a
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 52a
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
    Chapter VII: Railroads and transportation
        Page 56
        Page 56a
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
    Chapter VIII: Constitution and laws: finance and taxation: public improvements
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
    Chapter IX: Religion and public instruction
        Page 76
        Page 77
    Chapter X: Cost of living, wages, etc.
        Page 78
        Page 78a
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 82a
        Page 83
    Chapter XI: Commerce
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
    Chapter XII: Postal and telegraph service
        Page 98
        Page 99
    Chapter XIII: Immigration and colonization
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 104a
    Chapter XIV: Historical and bibliographical notes
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
    A: Import duties of Nicaragua
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        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
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
    B: Reciprocal commercial arrangement between the United States and Nicaragua
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
    C: The jewell irrigation contract
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
    D: The mining code of Nicaragua
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
    E: The mines of Nicaragua - report of consul Newell
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
    F: Commercial directory of Nicaragua
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        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
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[Revised to August I, 1893.]







Scretary.-FREDERIc EMoRY.

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While the utmost care Is taken to Insure accuracy in the publications of the Burean of the Ameri.
can Republics, no pecuniary responsibility is assumed on account of errors or inaccuracies which may
occur therein.



1. Hand Book of the American Repub-
lics, No. I.
2. Hand Book of the American Repub-
lics, No. 2.
50. Hand Books of the American Repub-
lics, No. 3.
7. Hand Book of Brazil.
9. Hand Book of Mexico.
31. Hand Book of Costa Rica.
32. Hand Book of Guatemala.
33. Hand Book of Colombia.
34. Hand Book of Venezuela.
51. Hand Book ot Nicaragua.
61. Hand Book of Uruguay.
62. Hand Book of Haiti.
67. Hand Book of the Argentine Republic.
55. Hand Book of Bolivia.
5. Import Duties of Mexico.
8. Import Duties of Brazil.
o1. Import Duties of Cuba and Puerto
ii. Import Duties of Costa Rica.
12. Import Duties of Santo Domingo.
20. Import Duties of Nicaragua.
21. Import Duties of Mexico (revised).
22. Import Duties of Bolivia.
23. Import Duties of Salvador.
24. Import Duties of Honduras.
25. Import Duties of Ecuador.
27. Import Duties of Colombia.
36.. Import Duties of Venezuela.
37. Import Duties of the British Colonies.
43. Import Duties of Guatemala.
44. Import Duties of the United States.
45. Import Duties of Peru.
46. Import Duties of Chile.
47. Import Duties of Uruguay.
48. Import Duties of the Argentine Re-
49. Import Duties of Haiti.
13. Commercial Directory of' Brazil.
14. Commercial Directory of Venezuela.

x5. Commercial Directory of Colombia.
16. Commercial Directory of Peru.
17. Commercial Directory of Chile.
18. Commercial Directory of Mexico.
19. Commercial Directory of Bolivia, Ec-
uador, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
26. Commercial Directory of the Argen-
tine Republic.
28. Commercial Directory of Central
29. Commercial Directory of Haiti and
Santo Domingo.
38. Commercial Directory of Cuba and
Puerto Rico.
39. Commercial Directory of European
Commercial Directory of Latin Amer-
42. Newspaper Directory of Latin America.
3. Patent and Trade-Mark Laws of Amer-
4. Money, Weights, and Measures of the
American Republics.
6. Foreign Commerce of the American
30. First Annual Report, 1891.
Second Annual Report, 1892.
35. Breadstuffs in Latin America.
40. Mines and Mining Laws of Latin
41. Commercial Information Concerning
the American Republics and Col-
53. Immigration and Land Laws of Latin
63. How the Markets of Latin America
may be reached.
Manual de las Repfiblicas Ameri-
canas, 1891.
Monthly Bulletin, October, 1893.
Monthly Bulletin, November, 1893.

The above list includes all the publications of the Bureau to December x5, z893. Orders for co ies
based on tkh above will xat be noticed.
On the following page will be found a list of publications, of which a limited number remain for dis-
Address: Director, Bureau of the American Republics, Washington, D. C.


Hand Books of the American Republics,
No. 3.
Hand Book of Guatemala.
Hand Book of Colombia.
Hand Book of Venezuela.
Hand Book of Nicaragua.
Hand Book of Bolivia.
Hand Book of Uruguay.
Hand Book of Haiti.
Hand Book of the Argentine Republic.
Import Duties of Brazil.
Import Duties of Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Import Duties of Costa Rica.
Import Duties of Nicaragua.
Import Duties of Mexico (revised).
Import Duties of Bolivia.
Import Duties of Salvador.
Import Duties of Honduras.
Import Duties of Ecuador.
Import Duties of Colombia.
Import Duties of Venezuela.
Import Duties of Guatemala.
Import Duties of the United States.
Import Duties of Peru.
Import Duties of Chile.
Import Duties of Uruguay.
Import Duties of the Argentine Republic.
Import Duties of Haiti.
Commercial Directory of Brazil.
Commercial Directory of Cuba and Puerto
Commercial Directory of the European

Commercial Directory of Venezuela.
Commercial Directory of Colombia.
Commercial Directory of Peru.
Commercial'Directory of Chile.
Commercial Directory of Mexico.
Commercial Directory of Bolivia, Ecua-
dor, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
Commercial Directory of the Argentine
Commercial Directory of Haiti and Santo
Commercial Directory of Central America.
Commercial Directory of Latin America.
Newspaper Directory of Latin America.
Patent and Trade-Mark Laws of America.
Money, Weights, and Measures of the
American Republics.
Foreign Commerce of the American Re-
First Annual Report, 1891.
Second Annual Report, 1892.
Immigration and Land Laws of Latin
How the Markets of Latin America may
be reached.
Manual de las Reptiblicas Americanas,
Monthly Bulletin, October, 1893.
Monthly Bulletin, November, 1893.



Chapter I. Geography and Physical Features ..........................
II. Geology, Minerals, and Mining ............................. o
III. Climate and Seasons ............................. ........ 16
IV. Forests and Fibrous Plants ................................ 22
V. Agricultural Resources ..................................... 28
VI. The Interoceanic Canal.................................... 42
VII. Railroads and Transportation .............................. 56
VIII. Constitution and Laws; Finance and Taxation; Public Improve-
ments ........................................ .. ....... 65
IX. Religion and Public Instruction .............................. 76
X. Cost of Living, Wages, etc ................................... 78
XI. Commerce ................................................... 84
XII. Postal and Telegraph Service ................................... 98
XIII. Immigration and Colonization............................... xo
XIV. Historical and Bibliographical Notes........................ 105
Appendix A. Import Duties of Nicaragua ................................. og
B. Reciprocal Commercial Arrangement Between the United States
and Nicaragua............................................. 39
C. The Jewell Irrigation Contract ................................. 143
D. The Mining Code .................................. .... 146
E. The Mines of Nicaragua; Report of Consul Newell............ 163
F. Commercial Directory of Nicaragua .......................... 167
Index ........................... ........................... ............. 179


Map of Nicaragua..................................................Frontispiece.
Government Palace, Managua...............................................
Ancient Castle on the San Juan River........................................ 7
In the Suburbs of Rivas .................................................... 20
Bread-fruit Tree and Peon's Cabin... ..................................... 30
View of Nicaragua Canal......... ........... ............................ 42
Dredges, Nicaragua Canal............. .......... ............ ....... .... 53
Railroad Station at Granada ....................... ........................ 56
A Nicaraguan House ........................... ........................... 79
Principal Street, Greytown ......... ............ ......................... .... 83
Cathedral at Leon .................................. .................... o5


Chapter I.

Nicaragua, from the fact that it offers a ready means of com-
munication between the two great oceans, holds an important
position among the Central American Republics. Its territory
is comprised between the limits of o10 41' and 150 north latitude,
and. 83 15' and 870 40' west longitude from Greenwich. The
boundaries are: on the east, the Caribbean Sea; on the south.
the Republic of Costa Rica; on the west, the Pacific Ocean, and
on the. north, the Republic of Honduras. It contains about
40,oo square miles, or an area nearly equal to that comprised in
the combined territories of the States of Maine, Massachusetts,
Rhode Island, and Connecticut. In shape, it resembles an isosceles
triangle, the base of which is the Caribbean coast and the apex the
cone of the volcano of Cosigiiina, on the bay of Fonseca.
The boundary between Nicaragua and Costa Rica was long in
dispute, but was defined by a treaty between the two Republics,
which was concluded on April 15, 1858. The claim having been
made by Nicaragua that this treaty was not valid, the question
was submitted to the arbitration of President Cleveland, who made
an award on March 22, 1888. This decision, accepted by both
parties, declared the treaty to be valid, and gave interpretations of
all doubtful points.
The Caribbean coast of Nicaragua measures about' 300 miles
from north to south. Of this extent, 15c miles is comprised in
the Mosquito Reservation, the limits of which, as settled by the
treaty of 1860, are inclosed in a line commencing at the mouth


of the river Rama, in the Caribbean Sea, thence up the midcourse
of that river to its source, and from such source due west to the
meridian of 84 15' longitude west from Greenwich; thence due
north up the said meridian to the river Hueso,and down the mid-
course of that river to the sea, and thence southerly along the shore
of the Caribbean Sea to the point of commencement, at the mouth
of the river Rama. This territory contains about 7,000 square
miles of the richest, most fertile, and valuable part of Central
The ports of entry on the Atlantic side are San Juan del Norte,
or Greytown, as it was named by the English; Cabo de Gracias
i Dios, and Bluefields. The port of San Juan del Norte was
formerly a splendid harbor, having 30 feet of water at low tide,
but in 1855 the river San Juan burst through its left bank near
the Colorado and discharged a large portion of its water into that
stream. Consequently the harbor at its mouth, no longer experi-
encing the scouring effects of the quantity of water that had for-
merly poured into it, began to fill with muddy deposits until it
became so silted up as to be useless. Since the Nicaragua Canal
Company selected it as their Atlantic terminus, they have built a
breakwater, and by this means, combined with powerful dredges,
have so improved the harbor that ocean steamers are again able to
enter, and it will soon be fit to receive the largest vessels. The
port of Gracias a Dios was also in former times an excellent har-
bor, but now has scarcely 15 feet of water at the deepest place.
Vessels have to cast anchor at some distance outside the bar, and
therefore the landing of passengers and merchandise is difficult,
and in some cases attended with danger.
In consequence of the great development of the trade in bana-
nas and other tropical fruits, and the establishment of regular lines
of steamers from the United States, Bluefields is assuming a posi-
tion of importance as a port. The lagoon has an area of 100
square miles and in some parts has considerable depth, although


it suffers from the deposit of sediment brought down by the Blue-
fields or Mico and other smaller rivers which empty into it.
The Pacific coast of Nicaragua is about 200 miles in length,
from the Gulf of Fonseca to the bay of Salinas. The water is
deep close to the shore, while neither reefs nor shoals render nav-
igation dangerous, and the volcanic peaks, visible at a distance of
many miles, form admirable landmarks for the guidance of nav-
igators. The heavy swell of the mighty Pacific rolls in high on
the sandy beach and forms a constant heavy surf, called by the
natives "La Tasca," affording splendid facilities for sea bathing.
The bay of Fonseca, of which Nicaragua possesses a share with
the neighboring republics of Salvador and Honduras, is the finest
port on the entire western coast of America. It contains several
good interior harbors, and has the appearance of having once been
an inland lake, like those of Nicaragua and Managua, which has
been opened to the ocean by some mighty convulsion of nature
which has torn asunder its rocky barrier and left an outlet 18 miles
in width. The southern shore of this great bay, which belongs to
Nicaragua, is about 25 miles in length. Here, a wide creek or
inlet called "El Estero Real" extends some 5o miles into the
interior. At 30 miles from its mouth, it is 3 fathoms in depth.
Whenever the Interoceanic Railroad of Honduras is completed to
La Brea, on the bay of Fonseca, this inlet will form an admirable
avenue of commerce between it and Nicaragua.
The Nicaraguan ports of entry on the Pacific side are Corinto
and San Juan del Sur. The harbor of Corinto is one of the best-
protected ports on the coast. It is a part of the ancient port of
Realejo, which was in former times one of the best in Spanish
America, but has now become shallow and in many places over-
grown with mangrove trees. Corinto is the terminus of the rail-
road from Lake Managua and is regularly visited by the Pacific
Mail Company's steamers. Brito is not a port of entry, but has
been selected as the Pacific terminus of the Nicaragua Canal, and


will be thoroughly improved and adapted by the company to
accommodate the immense traffic which it expects to receive.
San Juan del Sur has a small but deep and safe harbor, with
an entrance about half a mile in width between piles of rock more
than 400 feet in height. It was brought into prominence from
1851 to 1855 as the Pacific port of the Nicaragua transit line, by
way of the lake and San Juan River from the Caribbean coast, by
which many thousands of American passengers traveled to reach
the Eldorado of California.
The bay of Salinas forms a beautiful, deep port, nearly circular
in shape, embracing an area of about 8 square miles. The center
of this bay marks the western terminus of the boundary line between
Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
The topographical features of Nicaragua are largely determined
by two mountain ranges, which traverse the Republic in a general
direction from northwest to southeast. The western or coast
range commences in the high regions of Guatemala, and extend-
ing through Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua ter-
minates in the great knot or group of Costa Rican mountains.
It follows the general direction of the coast at a distance from the
sea varying from 10 to 20 miles, to which fact it is due that there
are no considerable streams discharging from that slope into the
Pacific Ocean. This is the principal line of volcanic energy and
is marked by the volcanoes of Cosigiiina, 3,000 feet in height,
which has been inactive since its tremendous eruption in 1835;
Madera, 4,590 feet; Ometepe, 5,747 feet; Mombacho, 4,583 feet;
Masaya, 2,972 feet; Momotombo, 6,121 feet, and El Viejo, 6,256
feet, all these altitudes being calculated from the surface of the
surrounding country and not from the sea level. There are also
many other lesser volcanic peaks, some of hem showing evidences
of recent activity and others which bear no signs of even com-
paratively late eruptions and of which no traditions of such energy
are extant.


The eastern range enters Nicaragua from Honduras and extends
in a general southeastern direction until it reaches the San Juan
River, at a point about 5o miles from its mouth. It sends out
numerous spurs and extensions towards the Caribbean Sea.
Between these flow the many rivers and streams that abundantly
irrigate the country on their way to the coast. Between these
two ranges, lies the great interior basin, comprising an area of
nearly 300 miles in length by ioo wide, in which are situated the
two beautiful lakes which form such important features in the
physical geography and economic conditions of the Republic.
Lake Nicaragua, the ancient "Cocibolca," the largest of these,
is about 92 miles in length by 34 in width. It varies consider-
ably in depth, from 83 feet in places to 12 in others.- O-i
-northwestern e,-sand-e- aneient city of-Granada, long the
n n fr the national -epitt.- A-few-tiites
_fom= ranadis4-the-extinct volcanic peak of Mombacho. Forty-
m-ilesdistant-ad -near the same shore, is the city of Rivas, built
on r ngea-th-sirtof--the aboriginal capital. The lake receives
the waters of the Rio Frio, which has its source in Costa Rica,
and of several smaller streams. Its outlet is the river San
Juan, flowing to the Caribbean Sea, the waters of which and part
of its bed will be utilized to form the interoceanic canal. There
are several islands in the lake, the largest of which is Ometepe,
where the two volcanic peaks of Ometepe and Madera form con-
spicuous objects in the scenery. This island has two towns and
is inhabited by a considerable Indian population.
Lake Managua is about 32 miles long by 16 in width. Its
level is about 134 feet above the sea, or 24 feet above Lake Nica-
ragua. Two points jut out into it from opposite sides, near its
center, and give it somewhat the shape of the figure 8. It is not
so deep as Lake Nicaragua, but a line -of five steamers is now
employed on its waters to accommodate the constantly increasing
traffic between Momotombo, the terminus of the railroad from


Corinto, on the Pacific coast, and Managua, the capital of the
Republic, which is situated on the southern shore of the lake.
The towns of Mateare and Tipitapa are also on its southern shore.
The fluvial system of Nicaragua lies almost entirely to the
eastward of the mountain ranges and consists of numerous rivers,
varying in volume according to the length of their course. The
principal are the Coco or Wauks, the Rio Grande, the Bluefields
or Mico, and the San Juan. The Coco, towards the Honduran
frontier, is about 300 miles in length. It was named Wauks by
the English mahogany-cutters, who had settlements on its banks.
It has also been known by various other names. Although it
receives the waters of numerous streams, as it runs through a
narrow valley, it does not carry a volume of water proportionate
to its length. It flows into the Caribbean sea near Cape Gracias
a Dios.
The Rio Grande or Matagalpa River rises in the Sierra de
Guaguali in the department of Matagalpa. It receives in its
course the waters of many streams and of several considerable
rivers. For a distance of 1oo miles from the sea it averages 300
yards in width and 15 feet in depth, and would be navigable for
vessels of considerable size, and would form a magnificent avenue
for commerce and immigration if it were not for the bar at its mouth,
which is very dangerous and seldom carries more than 8 feet of
water. It was at this point that Columbus lost a boat and its
crew, and this circumstance gave to it the name of El Rio del
Desastre." The deepening of the water on the bar would not be
a difficult or very expensive undertaking, and there is no doubt
that, in the near future, it will be done, and this fine river opened,
to the commerce of the world. The whole length of the river is
about 230 miles.
The Bluefields River, or, as it is sometimes called, the Mico or
Escondido, has its source in the mountains of the Department of
Chontales. Its general course is from west to east. It receives

- ~ ~ Y r





the waters of many rivers and streams of more or less importance
and flows through a region covered with magnificent forests. It
is a beautiful river, and for a distance of about 65 miles, from
Bluefields to the Boca de Rama, large steamers running to Gal-
veston, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, and Boston ascend
without difficulty, and, when the contemplated deepening at the
bar has been carried out, ocean vessels of large draft will be able
to reach the same point. It discharges into the Bluefields lagoon,
a landlocked and well-protected harbor.
The San Juan River is the most important water course in
Central America, as it forms the outlet through which are discharged
the waters of the great hydraulic system of Lake Nicaragua, from
which circumstance it was named by the Spaniards "El Desa-
guadero." Its navigation is interrupted by rapids and rocks at
several points. It was, however, used for some years by the small
steamboats of the transit company to carry passengers and freight
between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. It is now again brought,
and more prominently than ever, to the notice of the world as the
scene of operations of the Nicaragua Canal Company, who will
use its waters as a part of their system of interoceanic communi-
There are several islands near the Caribbean coast, the most
important of which are St. Andrews, Old Providence, and Great
and Little Corn Islands. These two latter have been claimed by
the Mosquito authorities; but, as the treaty of 1860 defines the
Caribbean coast line as the limit of the reservation, the Nica-
raguan Government has ignored their claim and established a post
on the Great Corn Island and placed an official in charge. This
island is situated about 38 miles from Bluefields and 82 from San
Juan del Norte. Banana and cocoanut growing are the industries
that are rendering these islands valuable.


When the "kingdom" of Guatemala was definitely organized,
in 1568, Nicaragua formed one of its five provinces and was in
turn divided into seven departments, called Realejo, Granada,
Nicaragua, Matagalpa, Monimbo, Chontales, and Quezaltepeque.
Under the ordinances published by Charles III in 1778, the prov-
ince of Nicaragua was divided into five political divisions, Le6n,
Matagalpa, Realejo, Subtiaba, and Nicoya.
The Republic is now divided into twelve departments: Chinan-
dega, Le6n, Managua, Masaya, Granada, Carazo, Rivas, Chontales,
Matagalpa, Jinotega, Nueva Segovia, and Esteli.
Nicaragua, enjoying all the richest gifts of nature, presenting
an ever-varying panorama of mountain and valley, broad plains,
and fertile valleys, forest and pasture land, lake and river, with a
productive soil and salubrious climate, provided conditions emi-
nently favorable for sustaining a vast population and bringing
together great communities of the aboriginal people. That this
was the case, is amply proved by the testimony of the ancient
chroniclers. As was asserted by Las Casas, it was one of the best-
peopled countries of Central America.
Those same early historians tell us how its inhabitants were
decimated by war, slavery, torture, and pestilence until but a rem-
nant remained of its once teeming population. Indeed, so rapidly
were they reduced in numbers that, in the year 1586, negro slavery
was introduced by Governor Diego de Artieda to supply the
demand for laborers, and it continued to be a legalized institution
until April, 1824, when it was abolished by act of the Congress of
the Republic of Central America, and the owners were compen-
sated by the payment of the money value of their slaves.
Te resent.opulation of the Repu uic, according to te census
of is A sQeQ inhabitants ( white, s ndians,
Z4L6 negroes, and-i of mixed races), little more than 8 to
the square mile. How inadequate this is for the development of


the resources of the country and how much smaller than the num-
ber it would comfortably maintain, may be estimated by a compari-
son with the population of four Commonwealths of the United
States which closely correspond in area to Nicaragua, viz: Maine,
Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, which contain, on
the same space of the earth's surface, nearly 4000,000oo,ooo of inhab-
itants. In Nicaragua, as throughout Central America, females
exceed the males in number.
The Indians, who form the bulk of the laboring inhabitants, are
docile and industrious, and form an excellent rural population,
free to labor for their own benefit or for others, as their inclination
or interest may dictate. Most of the people in the rural districts
li;e in towns and villages, necessitating, in many instances, a jour-
ney of several miles to and from their field of labor. This has
arisen largely from the necessity for mutual protection during
times of disturbance through which the country has passed. This
fact frequently induces travelers when passing through the coun-
try to estimate the population to be even more scanty than it
really is, as they may pass, at times, many miles without seeing a
house and meeting but few people.
Many schemes have been from time to time proposed to secure
immigration, but none have yet proved successful on any con-
siderable scale; but, while the Government has been seeking a
solution of the problem, the march of events has steadily tended
to show that it will settle itself as soon as facilities are provided
for transporting the products of the country to the ports of the
Atlantic seaboard and the improvement of the ports by deepening
the bars at the mouths of the rivers is effected. Whenever these
conditions are fulfilled, giving access to the markets of the world
for the products of their labor, immigrants will flow in as they
have done in other parts of Central and South America.

Chapter II.

Geologically, Nicaragua maybe divided into five zones, differing
from each other in many characteristics.
The first or central division extends from southwest to northeast
in direction. Its rocks are composed of granite, gneiss, sandstone,
porphyry, slate, quartzite, limestone, and hornblende, and it contains
large deposits of titanic iron ore and graphite. The Laurentian
rocks occupy the center of the northern part of the division, while
rocks of later age overlie them on the west and east. Devonian
rocks rest unconformably upon the Silurian. They consist of
marls, coarse and gritty shale, and red sandstone. These rocks
resemble those of Scotland more closely than similar formations in
the State of New York. In parts of this division are many fis-
sures or lodes, frequently having walls of diabase or diorite, or one
of these and slate, which have gold deposited in them, or they
include veins of the ores of silver, tin, nickel, antimony, arsenic,
etc. In a few places platinum, iridium, and osmium are found in
creeks, mixed with the gangue of mineral veins, from which they
have been removed by erosion and transported to the creeks by
ancient glacial action or water. Many of these veins are very rich
in the precious metals.
A few of the peaks on these mountain ranges are the highest in
Nicaragua, from 6,5oo to 6,700 feet above the ocean level. At
several places in the mountains are areas of nearly flat table-lands
called "mesas," from 9 to 20 square miles in superficial dimensions.
For recent developments in mining in Nicaragua, see report of U. S. Consul Newell,
Appendix E.


They are inclosed almost completely by peaks and ridges, which
rise to a height of from loo to 500 feet, and have nearly per-
pendicular external walls, intersected in places by cautions through
which the rain waters find their way to the streams which flow into
the Caribbean Sea. A few ancient extinct volcanic cones and
fissures can be seen, and some mineral springs are found, having
temperatures of from 131 to 2150 F.
The second division is a narrow annex on the east of the division
just described, and extends to within about too miles of the Carib-
bean coast. Its mountain system is monogenetic, forming iso-
lated cones, short ridges, and long valleys, all from 1,000 to 2,800
feet above sea level. There are many dry beds of ancient rivers,
traceable for many miles, along which are small hills. Those near
the old river, north of the river Prinzapulca, consist of iron clay
slates and partly stratified fragments of chlorite and talcose slates;
quartz, pebbles, sands, and occasionally clays, interspersed with
numerous small and a few large particles of gold. Fifteen miles
north of the Indian village of Wylowas, on the Prinzapulka River,
the old river channel and its valleys contain very rich gold players.
Another large placer, very rich in gold, is found in the bed of a
pre-glacial river, on the southeast side of and near the river Eas,
a confluent of the river Tooma. Among the rocks of this division
are Lower Carboniferous limestones, Permian magnesian limestones,
red sandstones, and variegated shales. In the Laramie, brown coal
or lignite is found, and in the Cretaceous formations, volitic rocks
and clays, gypsum, salt, and slightly metamorphosed sandstones.
At several places mountain limestone of the Lower Carboniferous
forms the outcropping eastern margin of the rocks. At some
localities there are long groups of hills and ridges which are
evidently terminal moraines referable to a glacial epoch in Nicara-
gua contemporaneous with a similar era in North America.
Numerous mineral springs have been discovered in this uninhab-
ited part of Nicaragua. The waters are cool, except in one case,
where the water has a temperature of 1200 F.


The delta-shaped area of all the east-flowing rivers forms the
third division. It comprises about 15,000 square miles, or 75
miles from east to west and about 200 miles from north to south
on the seacoast. This part of the coast has subsided until within
the past few years, and the ancient coast line was formerly far to
the eastward odf its present position. Recently, its elevation ap-
pears to have recommended. Formerly, corals grew nearly into
the mouths of the rivers Matagalpa, Escondido, and others.
Now, the tops of their branches are dead, and the muddy river
waters that killed them are distinguishable several miles seaward.
The fourth division lies on the western side of the first. It has
for its western limit the foot of the mountain ridges which extend
to near the margin of lakes Nicaragua and Managua, and extends
from the lakes northwestward to about latitude 130 15' north.
Formations of the following ages occur in this as well as in the
second division:
Recent.-Submerged forests, clay, peat, marl, volcanic tufas, stratified sand
and ashes, and uncompacted volcanic ashes.
Pleistocene.-Terrace beaches and deposits, metamorphosed rock-walled
gulches, erratic bowlders, striated rocks, moraines, volcanic tufas and agglom-
erates, and alluvial conglomerates.
Pliocene.-Lignites, loams, and flinty shingle.
Mzocene.-Greenish marly limestones, clay, fresh-water marly limestone, and
Eocene.-Limestones, clay, fresh-water marly limestones, and sandstones.
Mesozoic.-Oblitic flinty limestones, conglomerates and slates, bluish marlyy
clays, greenish sandstones, pebbly sandstones, gypsum, salt beds, bituminous
earths, and marls.
Permzan.-Magnesian limestones, variegated shales, red sandstones, and
Carboniferous.-Coal, mostly anthracite in character, sandstone, and lime-
There are ancient volcanic fissures in this division, but the rocks
filling them are rapidly disintegrating. They are not distinctly
outlined in many places, but are partly covered by eruptions from


more recent volcanoes. Several large springs, having a tem-
perature of 1580 to 2120 F., flow from the foot of the mountains
in the northwestern part of this division. They usually contain
large percentages of alkalis. This division is very interesting, and
wonderfully varied in its stratification, lithology, mineralogy, and
mineral springs.
The fifth division embraces the northwestern and southwestern
parts of Nicaragua, including lakes Nicaragua and Managua,
which were once part of the Cenozoic ocean; also several small
lakes in the craters of extinct volcanoes. Some of these contain
pure or slightly alkaline water, as Masaya, Apoyo, Tiscapa, etc.
Others contain large amounts of sulphur and alkalis, as Nejapa
(which gives iodine reactions and possesses in a remarkable de-
gree the property of preserving and strengthening animal mem-
brane, tissues, etc.), Asososca, and others. The northwestern part
of this division extends to near the Gulf of Fonseca. Its rocks
are paleozoic. It is intersected by many lodes, generally running
from northeast to southwest, which contain gold as the principal
metal, but those passing into granite rocks, or between granite and
gneiss and shales, have as their principal metal silver, tin, or
manganese.. The gangue of all these veins is quartz and mag-
nesian slates, and their walls are granite or gneiss, or one of these
on one side and shales on the other, excepting a few of the gold-
bearing veins, which have walls of diabase or diorite. Some of
the most valuable mineral veins in the southern part of this division
have been largely faulted and disturbed.
The western and southwestern parts of this division, with the
exception of a few low hills, are composed to great depths of mat-
ter ejected from the line of volcanic fissures and cones which pass
through or appear above it. On this erupted mass, are situated all
the large towns and cities in Nicaragua excepting Matagalpa and
Jinotega; and more than seven-tenths of the population of the
country reside in the towns, fertile valleys, and mountain slopes of


this vicinity. In several places, the darker and more easily melted
minerals, basalt, dolorite, andesite, and black scoriae have been
transported by water to greater distances from the volcanoes than
the lighter-colored and more acidic minerals, pumice, obsidian,
trachyte, light-colored scoriae, and rhyolite.

The northern part of this division, in the department of Segovia,
contains many mines, and some that were once famous; and there
is no doubt that, under conditions of peace and good govern-
ment, the influx of capital and labor will, before long, make
this one of the richest mining regions in Central America.
Chontales is a very rich mining district, where mines are now in
active operation which have contributed in no small degree to
augment the wealth of the Republic. Matagalpa is also very rich
in minerals, requiring only capital and improved means of trans-
portation to develop a great mining interest.
The code of mining laws of Nicaragua is a very voluminous
document, forming a book of 112 pages, published in the year
1877. It is based upon the old Spanish mining laws, but is very
liberal in its provisions.
The most important part of this Code (CUdigo de mineria) was
published in English in the chapter "Nicaragua," of Bulletin No.
40, of the Bureau of the American Republics, Mines and Mining
Laws of Latin America ". This chapter is reprinted in full, at the
end of this Hand Book, as Appendix D.
Mining machinery is admitted free of duty, and there are no
taxes, either government or municipal, levied on mines. There
is no distinction between foreigners and natives in the right to
acquire and hold mining property.
Sefor Don Jose D. Gamez, in his "Noticias Geogrificas de la
Repdiblica de'Nicaragua," which the Nicaraguan Government sent
to the Bureau of the American Republics to aid in the prepara-


tion of this Hand Book, refers to the mines of Nicaragua in the
following terms:
In the whole of Central America the only country which goes ahead of Nica-
ragua, as far as mineral wealth is concerned, is the Republic of Honduras.
The vast mountain system which extends to the Atlantic coast, although
almost unexplored in this respect, is the great mining regidh of the country;
but independently of it there are -the districts of Nueva Segovia and Chontales,
which have become celebrated for the gold they yield in abundant quantities.
The mines thus far discovered are very valuable; but the mining industry has
not developed in proportion, because of the lack of capital, skilled labor, and
convenient means of transportation. This is the reason why few mines have
been worked up to this date; but those which have been worked, most of which
belong to foreigners, are yielding large profits.
At present only gold mines are worked in Nicaragua. The famous silver
mines, which gave such fabulous yieldings in the Sixteenth and the Seventeenth
centuries, are no longer in operation. They require larger expenses and a
greater knowledge of the subject.
The gold mines of Chontales yield from one-fourth to 2 ounces of gold, from
14 to zo carats, per ton of 2,000 English pounds of ore. Those of Nuevo Se-
govia yield from one-half to 3 ounces of gold per ton.
The bad roads of the department of Nueva Segovia render the introduction
of mining machinery very difficult, and for this reason no mine which yields
less than I ounce of gold per ton of ore is worked with profit. Every town,
every hill, every mountain, and almost every river in this department, contains
gold, or gold and silver, or copper, tin, zinc, antimony, or other metals. Sam-
ples of these metals and ores commanded the attention of the world at the
Paris Exhibition of 1889. *
The total production of gold in Nicaragua can be estimated at zz,754 ounces
per year.

Chapter III.

It is a common error among persons unacquainted with the
country to suppose that Nicaragua, being, geographically, a tropical
country, must suffer from excessive heat, and consequently, is un-
healthy for people of northern origin. The truth is that, while on
the low lands of the coast and forests of the plains the climate is
tropical, in the higher regions it is varied.and temperate.
Situated between two great oceans, the country enjoys an insu-
lar regularity of temperature, while the absence of mountains
toward the Atlantic coast and the broad expanse of its lakes per-
mit the trade winds to sweep across the country and ventilate it
so thoroughly as to produce a climate agreeable to the senses and
favorable to health.
There are in Nicaragua only two seasons-the wet, called by
the natives winter, and the dry, called summer-but on the Atlan-
tic side these seasons are not so well defined. The time of com-
mencement and ending of these varies according to locality. On
the eastern coast, the rainy season is from June to December,
inclusive; on the Pacific slope the rains commence about the 15th
of May and continue until the 15th of November. The climate
of th- Caribbean coast is much more humid than that of the
Pacific side of the mountains. The amount of precipitation at
San Juan del Norte during the past year was 29.7 inches. This
heavy rainfall and humidity of the atmosphere are largely attribu-
table to the dense forests. As the country is cleared and brought


under cultivation this will doubtless meet with a proportionate
diminution, as has been the case in other tropical countries.
Even on the hottest part of this coast, the heat is never oppres-
sive while the trade wind is blowing, but during calms it is very
sultry. The climate, however, is anything but unhealthful. The
prevailing type of disease appears to be a low form of intermittent
fever, mild in its character, and yielding readily to simple remedies.
In the majority of cases, where foreigners suffer from it, the cause
may be traced to their own imprudence and careless habits of life.
With ordinary attention to hygienic laws, and temperance in eat-
ing and drinking, there is no reason why any person of good con-
stitution should not enjoy as good health in Nicaragua as in any
other part of the world.
A naval officer, who has written on the subject, states that he
once commanded a ship of war, with a large crew, that was sta-
tioned on the coast for five months, during which time he never
had more than four men on the sick list, and not a single death
The following notes, taken during a more extended residence
on this coast, by the same officer, will afford a good idea of the
climate and its variations:
January.-Strong breezes from northeast; dry weather; occasional showers,
principally during the night.
February.-Squally weather, wind changing from north to east in sudden
gusts. This month is sometimes showery, but wind never shifts beyond north
or east.
March.-Strong breezes from eastnortheast. Generally, about the zoth, an
equinoctial gale may be expected, which generally lasts about three days, with
heavy rain, and violent winds from north to northwest. Otherwise, March is
a dry month.
April.-Light southeast and south winds, with calms. No rain. Rivers low
and lagoons shallow.
May.-Calms; dry weather; winds very light and variable.
June.-Heavy rains; with much thunder and lightning; generally calm, but
subject to squalls and sudden gusts of wind.
Bull. 51- 2


July.-The same as June, but varied by strong steady breezes from east-
northeast to northeast.
August.-The same as the two preceding months, with the addition of heavy
squalls of short duration.
September.-Calms and light variable winds, thunder and lightning, with
occasional rains.
October.-Northers commence in this month; generally, about the 15th, heavy
northerly gales may be expected, with rain and squalls. These may be looked
for occasionally between October and January. During a wet norther the
weather is chilly and unpleasant, but should it be dry, it is both healthy and.
November.-Similar weather; plenty of rain. Sometimes the trade wind
blows uninterruptedly, and the entire month passes without a norther.
December.-Passing showers, the trade wind blowing strongly, occasionally
interrupted by northers.
January, February, March, and April are considered the most
healthful months of the year. March and April are the hottest.
The thermometer seldom rises above 850 or falls below 700.
A report published by the Nicaragua Canal Company gives
some interesting details as to the healthfulness of the country. It
says: "No better proof of the healthfulness of the country can be
asked than the practical experience of the men who have been
employed in surveys of the route and on actual work of construc-
tion thus far accomplished. The surveys were made through
dense forests and jungle, where every foot of advance was gained
by the use of the ax or machete, and through swamps and streams
where the men were often compelled to do their work up to their
waists in water. In December, 1887, the engineering expedition
under the charge of Mr. Peary, consisting of some forty-five survey-
ors, including their assistants, and accompanied by about one hun-
dred negroes from Jamaica, landed at Greytown and commenced
work. Peary says that, excepting the negroes only five members
of the expedition had ever been in tropical climates before, and
the rodmen and chainmen of the party were young men just out of
college, who had never done a day's work nor slept on the ground a


night in their lives. The rainy season prevailed more than a month
beyond the usual period, during which time and for months after-
ward all the members of the party, engineers and laborers alike,
were equally exposed in their tents and in the forests, working
sometimes on land, sometimes in the streams and swamps, to all
the vicissitudes of the climate. Yet, notwithstanding all this
exposure, not only were there no deaths on the expedition, but there
was not a single case of serious illness; and those who, at the
expiration of their contract, returned to the United States came
back in better health and weight than when they went away.
Of course, the men were well fed and sanitary rules were strictly
enforced, but the results proved the natural salubrity of the climate."
The annual report, for the year 1890, of Dr. J. E. Stubbert,
surgeon in chief to the Nicaragua Canal Company, shows the same
remarkable immunity from disease and sickness among the em-
ployes. The following is the meteorological report of observations
taken at the company's headquarters at San Juan del Sur for the
year ending December 31, 1890o:

Month. Total rain- Daily aver- Maximum Minimum Average
fall. age. temperature I temperature, temperature.

Inches. Inches.
January .............. 26.80 .86 8I 70 75
February ............. 6.36 .227 8o 72 76
March................ 5.93 .191 81 73 77
April ................. 18. 11 .6o 78 72 75
May.................. 493 .164 So 72 76
June ................ 46.84 I55 84 74 79
July................ 52.55 1. 69 81 75 78
August .............. 35 72 I 15 81. 5 75 7S
September ......... 8. 14 .27 89.5 75 S8
October ............ 24.36 7S 8o.5 74 77
November ............ 25. 55 85 82 71 76. 5
December ............ 41. 65 1 34 81 72 76. 5

Average monthly rainfall for the year ................................... 24. 75
Average daily rainfall for the year ...................................... .819
Total rainfall for the year ............................................. 296.94
In the more elevated regions and on the Pacific slope, the tem-
perature is also very equable, differing a little according to locality,


but preserving a nearly uniform range, during the wet season, of
from 750 to 880 F., occasionally sinking to 70o during the night
and rising to 900 in the afternoon. During the dry season, the
average temperature is less, for although it ranges from 80 to 90g
during the day, it falls frequently to 650 or 680 during the night.
The sky is cloudless, the fields become parched and dry, and the
effect of this season is practically that of a northern winter, check-
ing and destroying ephemeral vegetation, thereby purifying the
atmosphere and rendering it the healthiest part of the year. In
all the elevated regions of Nicaragua, no sense of oppression or
exhaustion is felt, even on the hottest day. The air is so pure
and fresh and the radiation of heat so rapid that, even when the
direct rays of the sun may be felt to be intolerable, the temper-
ature is pleasant and refreshing in the shade, forming a great con-
trast in this respect to northern cities, where, at times, it is impossible
to escape from the exhausting heat, either in the house or even during
the night.
Observations taken during one year at the town of Rivas gave
the following results: Mean highest temperature 860 F., mean
lowest 710; mean average for the year 77, mean range 1 The
amount of rain which fell from May to November, inclusive, was
90.3 inches; from December to April, inclusive, 7.41 inches; total
for the year, 97.44 inches. Hail is almost unknown in Nicara-
gua, as are also frost and snow, and none of the mountains or vol-
canic peaks are high enough to be liable to a perpetual or even
an occasional covering of snow. Cyclones, hurricanes, and destruc-
tive storms, which at certain seasons are so devastating in other
countries, never reach this favored land. It is a remarkable fact
that in Nicaragua, although the barometer varies in one place or
the other according to the altitude, as is natural, in any fixed spot
the variation throughout the year is almost inappreciable, so much
so as to render it almost useless as an indicator of atmospheric dis-
turbance or changes of weather. This proves that the atmosphere



' ^ '*


has a uniformity of pressure that is very remarkable, a condition
very favorable to the maintenance of good health, and particularly
beneficial to the respiratory organs. Earthquakes, to which all
volcanic countries are more or less subject have at times been felt
on the Pacific slope, but they have never been so violent or
destructive as in other countries. The volcanic energy which, in
remote ages, has had such a marked influence on the topography
of the whole Pacific coast of America, is gradually dying out, and
seismic disturbances subside in the same ratio.

Chapter IV.

In the luxuriant forests that cover so many square miles of ter-
ritory, Nicaragua possesses an element of incalculable wealth,
which, from its accessibility to the great markets of the world,
will, in the very near future, become the foundation of a great in-
dustry. Some beginning in this direction has been made in the
neighborhood of Bluefields, but with the improvement of the bars
at the river mouths and the opening of routes of transportation,
this will expand in all directions and contribute in no small
degree to the national prosperity.
The mahogany (caoba) is the monarch tree of Central Ameri-
can forests and is abundant in Nicaragua, growing to an enormous
size, frequently measuring from 40 to 50 feet in height below the
first branches and from 9 to 12 feet in diameter at the base. At
a short distance the tree is a magnificent object, its giant arms
stretching outward over a wide space and surmounted by a great
dome of verdure, which at certain seasons of the year is colored
with hues like the autumnal foliage of our northern trees. This
change of color is the guide of the mahogany hunter, whose busi-
ness it is to find the trees in the dense forest and point them out
to the choppers. He climbs the highest tree he can find, detects
the spot where they are growing, cuts a way to them through the
undergrowth and carves on the trunk his employer's mark. This
magnificent wood has long been appreciated for its beauty by
cabinet-makers and for decorative work, but its value for ship-


building and other similar purposes has never been estimated as
highly as it deserves. It is in all respects better than oak. It
shrinks less, warps and twists less, is more buoyant, holds glue
better, and weighs less. (The average weight of mahogany is 44
pounds per cubic foot, while oak weighs 55.) Mahogany is slow
to take fire, is free from dry rot and the effects of acids, and does
not suffer from any change of temperature. The non-corrosion of
metals is a very valuable property in this wood. A decoction of
it gives hardly any chemical reaction, and has no effect on iron or
copper. The tree can be cut at anytime during the year, but it
is generally felled in the dry season, between October and May.
When the tree is down, the branches are lopped off and the logs
squared. They are then drawn by oxen to the nearest water
course, where they are rafted and allowed to remain until the high
water of June or July, when they are floated to the port of ship-
ment. When railroads penetrate the forest districts, vast quanti-
ties of this timber that are now remote from the streams will
become available.
The tree second only to mahogany in beauty and value is the
cedar (cedro), so well known from its extensive use for pencils and
cigar boxes. In Nicaragua, it is abundant, grows to an immense
size, and produces wood of the finest quality. It can be worked
as easily as pine, and when polished is as beautiful as mahogany,
while its aromatic odor preserves it from the attack of insects. It
also, like the common red cedar of the North, is very durable, and
is not liable to rot when exposed to damp.
The wild cotton tree (ceiba) is one of the grandest forest trees.
It grows rapidly and to great size; trunks of 70 feet in length and
14 in diameter near the root are not uncommon. The wood is
very useful for building purposes; it is lighter than pine but per-
haps not quite so durable, and can be worked very easily. It is
largely used by natives to make canoes, or bongos, many of them
of. large size, which are hollowed out from a single log; also for


making barrels. It produces large pods, filled with a downy sub-
stance like floss silk; the shortness of the fiber renders it unavail-
able for textile purposes, but it is frequently used for stuffing cush-
ions, pillows, etc., and is doubtless available for other economic
The guanacaste is a noble tree, notable for the immense size it
attains and the enormous spread of its branches. It produces fine,
durable lumber, and large quantities of gum exude from it, which
might be made available as an article of commerce.
The jenisero, a tree of the acacia family, also reaches great pro-
portions and produces an excellent wood, which is unknown to
commerce, but occupying a middle place between mahogany and
cedar, with somewhat of the good qualities of both.
The guayacan (lignum-vite). The wood of this tree is too well
known to need description; there are two varieties, black and
green, both abundant in the forests of Nicaragua.
The granadillo, rour6n, and zaimbaro (rosewood) are all beautiful
and valuable cabinet woods, which grow abundantly. The nispero,
which produces one of the best tropical fruits, also furnishes a most
valuable wood which, for cabinet uses, rivals mahogany in beauty.
It is hard and heavy; under water it becomes as hard as iron, and
will last almost indefinitely. The madrono produces a very fine
grained wood, suitable for turning, and would be very useful as a
substitute for boxwood, for wood engraving and other purposes.
The tree called madre de cacao (mother of cacao), which is
used extensively to shade the cacao plants, does not grow to a
large size, but produces a wood called by the natives madera negra
(black wood), which is useful for foundations, posts, etc., as it is
almost indestructible when under ground.
The guapinol produces a fruit from which an edible substance is
made and a gum equal in every respect to copal. Its wood is
also very beautiful and useful either for construction or cabinet


The cortis is a large tree which produces a beautiful fine grained
wood of a pale yellow color. It is very hard, and could, without
doubt,be made available for many purposes of manufacture.
The zapotillo produces wood which is the only kind known
that will resist the attacks of the teredo or boring sea worm, so
destructive in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.
There are also a number of trees such as the guachipilin, the
giihgiiiste, the palo de carbon, the coyote, and the chiquirin, which
produce woods excellent for underground use and especially valu-
able for railway ties or sleepers.
Oaks of several varieties, and particularly the live oak, which
grows to an enormous size, and the long-leaved pine, called by
the natives jocote, grow abundantly in the more elevated regions.
The latter are particularly rich in resinous juices and would pro-
duce abundant harvests of turpentine and tar.
Dyewoods also abound in the dense tropical forests. One of
the most valuable of these is that called moran.
Brazil wood, a variety of which is called in the country Nica-
raguan wood" (madera de Nicaragua), is abundant, also sandal
wood, nance, elequeme, and many others that produce valuable tinc-
tures and dyes well known t- the natives. but which have no com-
mercial nomenclature and are unknown in the markets of the
world, although they can be found everywhere in Nicaragua.
The several varieties of palms are very beautiful and striking
features of N icaraguan forests. They are often so numerous as to
form groves extending for miles. The best known are the corozo
or cohune palm and 'the coyol, both of which produce great crops
of oleaginous nuts. The vegetable oils that can be produced in
these forests present an admirable field for commercial enterprise.
The trees and plants producing them exist in great variety and
abundance, such as the jolio, the marango, the cacaguate, and the
castor-oil plant.
Medicinal plants of all kinds abound in countless numbers and


infinite variety, a few of them known in the pharmacopoeia of the
United States, but these latter are insignificant in number when
compared with the vast resources of medical botany in tropical
America. Among those known to commerce, Nicaragua produces
sarsaparilla, ipecacuana, jalap, croton, hellebore, cundurango, bella-
donna, quassia, ginger, copaiva, aloes, vanilla, and great numbers of
others, the virtues of which are well known to the natives, although
even their names are unknown outside the country.
This slight sketch of the products of the Central American for-
ests is merely an indication of their vast resources; anything like
a full list or description would occupy a volume of no inconsider-
able dimensions. It may serve to direct attention to the subject,
and invite enterprise to their utilization.

Besides cotton, which will be mentioned more fully in another
chapter of this Hand-Book, Nicaragua has many other textile plants
that are valuable to commerce.
The pita (Bromelia pita) produces a fiber the roughest of which
is superior to manila hemp for length, strength, and suppleness,
but when bleached a&ndeari&'uly ipreparec'-for mixing with silk, it
can not be disti'puLshted from it exceptby airPof the microscope.
Its length, fin: 5 to 9 feet, makes it available fo twines of single
thread arid' its lightness att 4du'raliliry reader it vatluable for cord-
age. Monsieur Chevremont, a Belgian engineer, whole has closely
studied the question, says: "Ropes made from pita possess a
greater average strength by four times than those made from hemp
of similar dimensions."
Squier also -tates that this fiber is probably more valuable in
every sense than that of any other tropical plant.
There are three varieties of yuca, bearing leaves from 18 to 36
inches in length, which produce valuable fibers.
The Agave sisalana that produces the henequen or sisal hemp


of commerce, which forms such an extensive article of export from
Yucatan that a capital of $6,000,000 is invested there in its pro-
duction, is not confined to that country alone, but grows even more
luxuriantly in Central America. It is found as a wild plant
throughout Nicaragua, as are also other members of the agave
family well known as fiber-producing plants.
Ramie and jute could also be grown in perfection in Nicaragua
and would prove valuable additions to her export commodities.
The consumption of fibers in the United States is very large
and constantly increasing. During the year 1891, there were im-
ported 733,296 bales of jute from the East Indies and an immense
quantity of other fibers. With such a market in close proximity
and with vast facilities for production, this industry must become
an important interest in Nicaragua and Central America gener-
ally. There is so little realization of the hidden wealth in this
direction that nobody moves or takes the opportunities now open.
The plants abound; all that is wanting is energy and far-seeing

Chapter V.

Peter Heylyn, in his Cosmography, published in London in
1652, says, in reference to Nicaragua: "It is stored with plenty
of cotton wool and abundance of sugar canes, and is so pleasing
to the eye that the Spaniards call it by the name of Mahomet's
Paradise." Its productions, however, far from being limited to the
staples mentioned by the .old geographer, are of the most varied
character, but its resources have been very imperfectly developed.
The facilities for transportation have been so poor that little more
has been raised than is sufficient for the wants of its population,
and the portion of land brought under cultivation has been rela-
tively small. With the development that is now in progress, and
the opening up and improvement of roads and other means of
transport, the condition of affairs is gradually changing, and the
boundless wealth of its resources is beginning to be recognized.
The principal agricultural wealth of Nicaragua lies in its coffee
plantations. Although this industry is still in its infancy, every
year witnesses its augmentation, and the time is near at hand when
the coffee of Nicaragua will take the prominent position to which
it is certainly entitled. There are millions of acres of land in the
Republic that are especially adapted to the cultivation of coffee.
Sefor Don Jose D. Gamez in his Noticias Geogr.ficas de la Re-
pzblica de Nicaragua, already cited, says:
Coffee grows well almost everywhere in Nicaragua, but preferably in the
mountainous districts. The production at a height of from zoo to 2,ooo feet
above the level of the sea is generally at the rate of one-half pound, and in some
cases i pound per tree. At an elevation of 2,ooo or 3,000 feet, the production


tion fluctuates between 1, 2, 3, 4, and even 5 pounds per tree, according to the
quality of the ground. At a higher altitude the production diminishes gradually
until it ceases entirely on account of the cold temperature. There are in
Nicaragua certain coffee regions offering the best possible advantages for the
cultivation of this plant. They are to be found in the departments of Managua,
Carazo, Matagalpa, Chontales, Jinotega, and in the skirts of the hills and vol-
canoes of the other departments.
The Government charges $1.50 for each manzana of public land. (A man-
zana is equivalent to i% acres.)
The number of coffee trees which have been planted in Nicaragua up to the
month of August, 1892, is as follows:

On the mountains of Managua......................... ...
On the Mombacho volcano (Granada)..........................
In the Department of-

I, 000, 000

Carazo ............................................... 5,000ooo,ooo
Jinotega ................................................. I,844,000
M atagalpa................. .................... ...... I, 294, 600
Masaya.................................................. iooo.ooo
Ribas................................................... 50,ooo
Chinandega ............................................ 30,ooo
Chontales....................................... 30,000

Total ........................................... 25,748,600
The number of trees planted in the present year (1892) will raise the above
total to 27,000,000.
The expenses vary in proportion to the quality of the ground, the height at
which it is situated, the distance from the coast, and the facilities of transporta-
tion. The results thus far obtained allow the following statement to be made
with certainty:


1881....... ....
1882... ........
1885 ............

in quintals.

88, 66
84, 145
91, 540

price per

10. 00
20. 00
24. 00

Total value of
the production.

282,344. 00
657, 547.00
687, 648.oo
701,210. 00
723, So. oo
I,369, 400.oo
1, 682,900.oo
2, 73, 68o. oo
2,013,880. 00

Cost per



Net profit

i8. oo
16. oo

Net profit in the
production of
the year.

88,232. 50
135,849. 00
164 437.oo
218,324. oo
280, 484. 00
289, 404.oo
1,464, 640.oo


In starting a coffee plantation, it is usual to form a nursery,
where the seeds are planted at the beginning of the rainy season-
say April or May. Thus the young plants are growing while the
land is being cleared. The following year, about the same time,
the plants will be ready to set out, which is usually done when
they have attained a height of 18 to 20 inches. The plants require
plenty of air, light, and water, but should be sheltered from the
full glare of the sun. The best time for watering is in the even-
ing. Nursery beds should always be in operation, either for
extending the plantation or replacing defective or worn-out trees.
In transplanting, the new ground should be carefully prepared,
and holes dug to receive the plants from to to 15 feet apart.
The coffee tree is essentially a tender shrub, and needs protection
from the sun from the time of planting and even for years after it
has begun to bear. For this purpose, bananas, plantains, or quick-
growing, wide-branching trees are planted between the rows. At
no time, from its first sprouting until its death from old age, should
a single weed be permitted to remain in the vicinity of a coffee
plant. Even after the tree has reached maturity and is in full
bearing the plantation must be thoroughly weeded five or six
times in the course of the year. This work must be carefully
done by hand. As the tree grows, it is improved in health and
condition by pruning, but this must be judiciously done and at a
time when it is not bearing. In two years, the trees will begin to
bear a small number of berries, and at the end of three years, a fair
crop will be produced, which will continue to increase until the
plantation is seven years old, by which time it will have reached
its maximum. For persons who have the necessary capital to
start and cultivate a plantation and wait until its maturity for
returns, there is no more profitable industry in existence at the
present day. The fruit should never be picked until fully ripe,
as any admixture of green berries has a detrimental effect on the re-
mainder. After the berries have been picked, the preparation of the



coffee for the market must be carefully conducted, as on this depends
in great measure the value of the crop. The berries are first lightly
ground and washed in running water and allowed to ferment. In
some cases the grinding is omitted, but the fermentation is essen-
tial. The berries are thus freed from the outer skin and pulp
which surrounds them. They are then spread out in the open air
in patios or yards, where the drying is effected by the heat of the
sun. After they are thoroughly dried, they are passed through a
mill to remove the fine skin which covers each grain. The coffee
thus prepared is then sorted, the grains being separated according
to size and quality, and all broken and damaged ones removed.
This work is usually performed by women and children.
For some years past, in consequence of the high price of coffee,
a great impulse has been given to its production. According to
the public records, between December 1, 1889, and December 1,
1890, 24,598 manzanas of public land were taken up, of which
16,740 manzanas, it is estimated, were fit and intended for the
cultivation of coffee. Of these, 8,491 manzanas are in the depart-
ment of Matagalpa, and 4,11o in that of Managua. In the depart-
ment of Matagalpa alone, there are now about 2,000,000 of young
trees under cultivation, which will begin to yield in about a year.
The amount of coffee exported from Nicaragua during the ten
years, 1881-1890, is as follows:

Year. Quantity. Year. Quantity.

Pounds. Pounds.
18SI-'S2 .................... 12, o26. 200 i886-'88 .................. 12,424,300
ISS2-'S4.................... 12,696,400 i 88-'90................... 19, 76,4oo
ISS4-'86.............. ...... 14,247, 200

The main obstacle in the past to the progress of this most im-
portant industry has been the lack of facilities for transportation.
But few of the roads are practicable for wagons or carts, necessi-
tating the moving of freight on the backs of mules. The Gov-


ernment is doing all in its power to remove this obstacle by making
new wagon roads, and the opening of the railroad to the Pacific
coast and the increase of steam navigation on the lakes have been
of the greatest assistance. The freight on coffee by rail and
steamer is as follows:
From Granada to the port of Corinto, per ioo pounds, 65 cents. From
Masaya to the port of Corinto, per 1oo pounds, 62 cents. From Managua to
the port of Corinto, per 1oo pounds, 55 cents.
Coffee can be shipped also by steamer on the lake from Granada
to San Jorge, thence by wagons or carts to the port of San Juan
del Sur on the Pacific; or it can be sent by way of the lake and
the San Juan River to San Juan del Norte (Greytown) on the
Caribbean coast, but in the dry season, this route is inconvenient
on account of the scarcity of water and obstructions in the river at
certain localities. The construction of the Nicaragua Canal and
of railroads that are projected to the Atlantic coast will give an
immense impetus to coffee growing, as they will quicken and
cheapen access to the markets of the United States and Europe.

The production of India rubber is an important industry in
Nicaragua, but it is yearly decreasing from the reckless slaughter
of the trees. Even with the most careful treatment, they will
stand but a few years of tapping, and as they have not been culti-
vated to any extent, the export of India rubber will dwindle into
insignificance at no distant period, unless there is a change in this
India rubber, called in South America caucho, and in Central
America hule, is obtained in Nicaragua from the siphonia elastic,
a tree growing to 50 or 60 feet in height. The collectors of rub-
ber, called huleros, employ several methods to obtain it. The
following are the three most generally used.
1. The trees are felled and V-shaped channels about 2 inches

deep and 2 inches wide at the top and cut around the trunk 1 foot
apart, from which the sap or milk flows through funnels formed
of leaves into calabashes of holes made in the ground and lined
with leaves.
2. The tree is left standing and two or three vertical channels,
according to the size of the tree, are cut through the bark from
top to base; then numerous oblique channels are cut connecting
with the vertical ones. To do this work, the huleros improvise
ladders from the vines and creepers which everywhere abound in
the tropical forests. The milk from these channels is collected in
the same manner as in the first process.
3. The huleros scrape off the outer bark of the tree with a
"machete," commencing 8 or to feet above and extending down
to within 1 or 2 feet of the ground. A ridge of clay, or a vine
and clay, is so placed around the tree as to direct the flow of the
milk into the receivers at the foot. This process is somewhat
similar to that used in the turpentine orchards of North Carolina,
Alabama, and Mississippi. The milk having been collected,
coagulation is hastened by adding to it a decoction made from
the vines of the liana or vines of the convolvulus or morning
glory tribe, which abound in the forests, in the proportion of 1
pint of the decoction to a gallon of the milk. The rubber is then
kneaded into round cakes. Sometimes, after the coagulating
decoction is added to the milk, it is heated in the calabashes to
1600 or 1750 F., which produces a more elastic and less sticky
rubber than is obtained by other processes.
The huleros make waterproof blankets and bags, which they
prefer to any imported articles, as they do not become so heated
when exposed to the sun and are less liable to crack or scale off
Their process is to spread the cloth on the ground, pour the milk
over it, and distribute it evenly by paddles or cocoanut husks. A
short exposure serves to dry the milk, and the goods are then ready
for service.
Bull. 51--3


Although the Government of Nicaragua has exercised no super-
vision of the forests and has taken no steps to prevent the ruthless
destruction of the rubber trees, it has endeavored to stimulate their
cultivation by issuing a decree giving a premium of lo cents for
every tree planted where the number does not go below 250
planted by one person. The decree also provides that the trees
must be planted in squares of not less than 6 varas for each plant,
equal to about 16 feet.
In all the lower regions of Nicaragua, particularly in those ex-
tending toward the Caribbean coast, there are large tracts of land
suitable for growing rubber trees, and there is no doubt that their
cultivation would prove very profitable to anyone who could
afford to wait for a return from the capital invested until the trees
reach maturity, which is from seven to ten years, or they could be
planted as an investment where the planter is deriving an income
from the other crops.
The value of the India rubber exported from Nicaragua, accord-
ing to the latest report, which covered the period from July 1,
1888, to June 30, 1890, was $519,447.85.
The cultivation of bananas for export has hitherto been largely
confined to the Caribbean coast, finding the principal outlet at
Bluefields, in the Mosquito reservation; but whenever the bars at
the mouths of the rivers are improved so as to freely admit ocean
steamers, and the interoceanic canal and railroads afford means of
transportation, this fruit will become a still more prominent fea-
ture in the exports from Nicaragua, and the large profits yielded
to the producers will stimulate agricultural operations on thousands
of acres of fertile but now unoccupied lands.
The lands that have been generally used for the culture of ba-
nanas are the rich alluvial deposits of the valleys and river bot-
toms, but there are many upland regions where rain is abundant


or water is plentifully supplied by other means, which will produce
abundant crops; and it is well known that bananas grown on high
ground are finer fruit, being harder and less liable to damage from
a sea voyage, and reach their destination in better condition.
There is perhaps no industry in Central America that is more
attractive to men of small capital than banana-growing, from the fact
that the clearing of the land is effected cheaply and from the small
cost of after cultivation which is limited only to such clearance
of weeds and undergrowth as may be sufficient to allow access to
the trees, and the short time necessary to produce a paying crop.
When the trees and brush that have been cut in clearing the land
become sufficiently dry, they are burned, and the banana suckers
are then planted among the charred remains and ashes without any
further preparation of the soil. The best results are obtained by
giving the trees plenty of space, say from 15 to 18 feet apart. In
about ten months, the first fruit can be gathered; but in the second
year, the trees reach maturity, and by a proper management of the
fruit stalks in a fair-sized plantation, a constant succession in the
crop may be secured and fruit gathered every week throughout the
year. The only careful work necessary on a banana plantation is
in handling the heavy bunches so as to avoid bruising them, as
any such injury causes a black spot to appear, beneath which decay
rapidly commences as the fruit ripens. The natives have learned
by experience, when they cut into the fruit stalk, so to gauge the
strength of the blow as to cut just deep enough to cause the stalk
to bend slowly over until the end of the bunch reaches the ground
when another slash with the machete severs it, and it is loaded
carefully into the cart. A plantation of 40 manzanas (about 69
acres) will, during and after the second year, produce about 54,000
bunches. The lowest price paid for bananas, for some years past,
is 37g cents per bunch, which would give an annual value for the
crop of $20,250, or more than double the expenditure for purchase
of land, clearing, cultivating, gathering the crop, and all expenses
to the end of the second year.


There is another variety of the banana family, the plantain, with
which the people of North America are only slowly becoming
acquainted, but which deserves to be better known. Its production
in Nicaragua need only be limited by the demand for it, which
must become immense when its merits are appreciated. There, it
is boiled, stewed, baked, roasted in the ashes, fried, dried and
ground into flour, cooked in the skin or out of it, green or ripe,
and produces vastly more nutriment per acre than is yielded by
wheat, corn, or potatoes. When the cooks of the northern coun-
tries learn its use, it will become as valuable an article of food as
the potato, and its cultivation in Nicaragua will become a large

Cacao ('Theobroma cacao) is too well known to need any expres-
sion of opinion as to its value. That grown in Nicaragua is sold
with advantage in the markets of the world.
The tree which produces it seldom exceeds 20 feet in height.
The leaves are large, oblong, and pointed. The nuts are con-
tained in long oval-pointed pods. It produces two crops a year.
The trees are planted about 15 feet apart. When young, the
plants are delicate, requiring to be sheltered from the sun in the
same manner as is practiced in coffee plantations. At first,
plantains or bananas are used for that purpose, but other quick-
growing trees, such as that called by the natives madre de cacao
(mother of cacao), are planted with them; and as these reach suf-
ficient size, the plantains are cut down, leaving the trees as a per-
manent shade. The cacao begins to bear in about seven years,
and continues to produce for from thirty to fifty years. Capital is
therefore necessary to start a plantation, but when once well estab-
lished and in full bearing, very little outlay is necessary, and the
revenue is large, sure, and steady. It may be well to notice here
the confusion that exists in the United States in respect to the


words cocoa, cacao, and coca. Although very similar in sound,
they represent widely different articles.
Cocoa is the name of the species of palm that produces the
cocoanut, a fruit too well known to need description; also, the fiber
so largely used for making matting, mats, brushes, etc.
Cacao is the fruit of the cacao tree (Titeobroma cacao) from which
we obtain chocolate, and what is universally misnamed b* the
manufacturers as cocoa.
Coca is the name given to the South American shrub (Ery-
throxylon coca) which is used by the natives of Peru, Chili, and
Bolivia, as the betel nut is in Asia, to allay hunger and thirst
and supply a stimulant which gives energy to endure extraordi-
nary exertion, and from which the well-known drug cocaine is

Sugar cane grows in Nicaragua with extraordinary luxuriance.
The canes are soft and contain no more woody substance or less sac-
charine matter than those produced in the East or West Indies,
while their duration is wonderful. A crop can be secured within
twelve months after planting, and thenceforward two, and in some
localities, three crops a year can be cut for an indefinite number
of years. It is not uncommon in traveling through the country
to find fields of sugar cane in full production of which no one in
the neighborhood can remember the date of planting. A great
deal of the sugar manufactured in Nicaragua is of a coarse, brown
quality, the juice being merely boiled until it crystallizes, without
being cleared of the molasses. In this crude state, it is poured
into molds forming small cakes, which are sold to the poorer
A very large quantity of the sugar cane is used in the manu-
facture of a species of rum called aguardiente. The sale of spirits
being a Government monopoly, the distillation can only be carried


on by license, and is principally confined to the larger producers.
The bulk of the sugar produced in the Republic is manufactured
in the district of Jinotepe, in the Department of Granada, where,
although very primitive and imperfect methods are employed, it
is stated that in the year 1890 the production amounted to about
2,500,000 pounds. The soil is admirably adapted for producing
the cane, and a superior quality of sugar is made, but scarcity of
water is a great drawback, and for this reason, unless artificial-
means of overcoming the difficulty can be devised, it will be impos-
sible to carry on large plantations in the district. In the neighbor-
hoods of Granada, San Rafael, and Pital, in the same department,
there are also a number of plantations; those at Granada produc-
ing from 300,000 to '400,000 pounds of good vacuum-pan sugar,
while those near San Rafael and Pital yield annually about
150,000 pounds of muscovado sugar. These plantations are under
English management.
A company with a capital of $300,000 has lately been started
for the working of a large plantation in Chinandega, at a place
known as San Antonio. It is intended to use a first-class plant,
with all modern improvements as regards machinery and cultiva-
tion, and to produce at least 300 tons of sugar yearly. Another
company has taken in charge the Polvon plantation in the same
department, and has imported new machinery capable of produc-
ing 500 tons of sugar annually. In the department of Leon,
there are two plantations, the Polvoncito and San Pedro, produc-
ing together about 600,000 pounds of excellent vacuum-pan
The total production for the year 1890 amounted to about
3,500,000 pounds, in addition to which Nicaragua yearly imports
from her neighbor Salvador nearly half that quantity.

Cotton is indigenous in Nicaragua, and the finest quality can be
produced in vast quantities. Columbus, when he discovered the


country, found the natives dressed in garments of cotton cloth,
and the Indians of the present day manufacture from it hammocks,
sail cloth, and coarse cloth for clothing. The quantity raised is
considerable, but entirely for home consumption, as, in spite of all
natural advantages, Nicaragua can not compete, in raising cotton
for export, with the capital, abundant labor, improved machinery,
and ample facilities for transportation possessed by the United
States; but if the time should arrive when Nicaraguan cotton will
be required, either to supply manufactories at home, or in response
to some demand from abroad, it can be produced in unlimited
quantities and of quality equal to the best. Instead of being an
annual plant as in the United States, it is here perennial, and,
growing much larger, yields double the quantity that it does in
the most favored locality in the Northern Republic.

Corn (maize) flourishes luxuriantly and forms, both for man
and beast, literally the staff of life. Three crops can be raised from
the same ground annually.
Tobacco.-All the tobacco used in Nicaragua, which is consid-
erable in quantity, as every one smokes, is raised in the country.
It is of good quality and can be cultivated to any desired extent,
as there are large tracts of land well adapted to its use.
Rice is abundant and is extensively used. The climate and
soil are suited to it, and it can be raised to supply all demands
for it.
Indigo and cochineal were formerly produced in large quantities,
but as they have been superseded by the introduction of mineral
dyes, the cultivation of these articles has almost entirely ceased,
particularly of the latter.
The yuca, the yam (name), and the sweet potato are the principal
farinaceous roots that are extensively cultivated. The potato also
thrives well and produces large crops in the more elevated regions.


The yuca is not only useful for food, but valuable from an indus-
trial point of view, as the starch it yields could readily be made
an extensive article of commerce.
The bread fruit grows to perfection in Nicaragua, although
few of the natives seem to appreciate its full value. It can
be easily raised from a slip and forms a tree with massive trunk
and large dark green leaves, as handsome as it is useful. It
begins to bear about three years after planting. It yields two crops
in the year, one lasting through March and April and the other
from August to October, although if a variety of trees were planted
judiciously the fruit could be obtained every month in the year.
Each fruit will weigh from six to ten pounds, and it is delicious
either fried or boiled.
The cocoanut tree, which in the tropics is one of the most useful
productions of nature, is abundant. It commences bearing at from
five to seven years old and continues to yield for many years. On
the Caribbean coast, it is an important article of commerce, although
no efforts have been made to utilize the fiber of the husk, which
in the East Indies has added so largely to the profits derived from
cocoanut groves.
Frijoles, the brown beans that form such a prominent article of
diet throughout Spanish America, are produced abundantly in all
parts of the Republic, while all other edibles and fruits of the
tropics yield ample crops, such as oranges, lemons, limes, citrons,
shaddocks, pine apples, mameys, chirimoyas, guavas, mangoes, and
aguacates (alligator pears). The vegetables of the temperate zone
grow luxuriantly in the more elevated districts, where cabbages,
turnips, radishes, lettuce, egg plants, and tomatoes can be obtained
with a minimum of labor and care.

Cattle-raising is one of the greatest sources of the public wealth
of Nicaragua. Its production is large enough to supply with


abundance all the necessities of home consumption, and to allow
a very profitable commerce in the exportation of cattle.
Large haciendas, owned by the richest and most influential peo-
ple of the country, are entirely devoted to this industry.
According to Senor Gamez, dairy farms in considerable num-
bers have been established in the neighborhood of the principal
cities and towns of the Republic, and are doing well.

Chapter VI.

While the question of interoceanic communication across the
American Isthmus has been continually presented to the attention
of the civilized world, with more or less persistency, since the days
of Columbus, and while the route by way of the San Juan River
and Lake Nicaragua has always been among those which offered
the strongest claims for consideration, yet the special prominence
of that route as a means to the end proposed may be said to date
from the beginning of this century only, when that eminent ex-
plorer and scientist, the Baron Alexander Von Humboldt, pub-
lished the account of observations made by him during a period
of ten years spent in explorations and scientific research in the
Spanish-American States of South and Central America. In his
"Personal Narrative of Travels," Volume VI, he remarks:
The five points that present the practicability of a communication from sea
to sea are situated between the fifth and eighteenth degrees of north latitude.
They all consequently belong to the States washed by the Atlantic-to the
territory of the Mexican and Colombian Confederacies, or, to use the ancient
geographical denominations, to the intendencies of Oaxaca and Vera Cruz and
the provinces of Nicaragua, Panama, and Choco.
They are the Isthmus of Tehauntepec (latitude 16-18), between the sources
of the Rio Chimalapa and the Rio del Passo, which empties itself into the Rio
Huascualco or Goazcoalcos.
The Isthmus of Nicaragua (latitude lo0-z2), between the port of San Juan
de Nicaragua and the coast of the Gulf of Papajuyo, near the volcanoes of
Granada and Mombacho.


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The Isthmus of Panama (latitude 80 15'-9 36').
The Isthmus of Darien or Cupica (latitude 60 40'-7* 12').
The canal of Raspadura, between the Rio Atrato and the Rio San Tuan ae
Choco (latitude 40 48'-50 2o').
After some general remarks concerning features of the different
routes, Von Humboldt continues: "The Isthmus of Nicaragua and
that of Cupica have always appeared to me the most favorable for
the formation of canals of large dimensions;" and what is very
significant of his opinion as to the comparative advantages of
these two routes is that, in his illustration of the advantages to
commerce of a trans-isthmian canal, he uses the Nicaraguan route
as the standard of his comparisons and the premise of his argu-
ments. Though more recent and more exact information has not
fully corroborated all of his opinions, it has fully confirmed all
that he said or implied concerning the Nicaraguan route. A few
years after the completion of his explorations, the Central Amer-
ican provinces threw off the yoke of Spain and became inde-
pendent states confederated as the Republic of the Centre. One
of the earliest acts of the Government of the new Republic was
to empower and instruct Sefior Don Antonio Jose Cafiaz, envoy
extraordinary to the United States, to call the attention ,of the
United States Government to the project of opening a canal for
communication between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in the
province of Nicaragua. Sefior Cafiaz accordingly, on the 8th of
February, 1825, addressed a communication to the Department
of State, at Washington, upon the subject. The Secretary of
State, in his reply, gave Senior Cafiaz assurance of the deep interest
felt by the United States Government in the undertaking, and
promised an official investigation of the facilities offered for its
accomplishment by the Nicaraguan route.
In pursuance of the assurance thus given, the United States
charge d'affaires in Central America was instructed to make the
investigation promised and to report thereon. From that time
onward, the United States have given more or less attention to the


investigation of the question of isthmian transit, at times by indi-
vidual or associated enterprise, of private citizens, but more fre-
quently under the direct control and direction and at the expense
of the Government.
In 1826, a survey and estimate of cost-very inadequate, how-
ever-were made under the auspices of De Witt Clinton, Stephen
Van Rensselaer, and Monroe Robinson, of New York, Edward
Forsyth, of Louisiana, and C. J. Catlett, of the District of
Columbia, and others.
In 1831, the Secretary of State instructed the United States
charge d'affaires in Central America to protect the interests of
citizens of his country in certain negotiations concerning a canal
then pending with the King of the Netherlands.
In 1835, Congress ordered an inspection of the different routes,
and an agent was appointed, who, however, failed to comply with
his instructions.
In 1837-'38, a survey of the route was made for the Govern-
ment of Nicaragua by Lieut. John Bailey.
In 1838, Messrs. Aaron Clark, Herman LeRoy, William Rad-
cliffe, of New York, Matthew Cary, of Philadelphia, and others
memorialized Congress concerning the subject, in consequence of
which a committee was appointed and a report made, and, in 1839,
Mr. John L. Stephens was sent on a special and confidential
mission to Central America, during which. mission he made an
investigation of the canal route and subsequently submitted a
report upon it.
In 1844, the Nicaraguan Government solicited the aid of the
French Government in prosecution of the undertaking, but failed
to obtain any valuable cooperation.
In 1847, Nicaragua solicited the intervention of the United
States against the attempts of Great Britain to secure control of
the interoceanic canal route. This resulted in the negotiation of
the Hise-Selva treaty, which, though never ratified, appears to


have been an important factor in the negotiation of the Clayton-
Bulwer treaty in 1849, under which treaty, the United States
understood that Great Britain relinquished the attempt so obnox-
ious to Nicaragua.
In 1849, at the same time with the ratification of the Clayton-
Bulwer treaty, a concession was granted by Nicaragua to Cor-
nelius Vanderbilt and his associates for an interoceanic canal.
Under its provisions, a survey of the route was made, in 1850o-'51,
by Col. O. W. Childs, of Philadelphia, who is entitled to the
credit of discovering and pointing out the lowest depression in the
Cordillera between the Arctic Ocean and Cape Horn. His was
the first thorough instrumental examination of the whole route, of
which a record has been preserved, that responds fully to the
demands of engineering science, and its general accuracy has been
fully confirmed by all subsequent explorations.
The canal proposed by Mr. Vanderbilt was not built, and after
several modifications of the contract, made at the request of the
grantees, the concession finally lapsed and was declared forfeited
by the Nicaraguan Government.
In 1858, a concession was granted to Felix Belly, of Paris, and
associates, for construction of a canal by the route proposed by
Col. Childs.
Mr. Belly had devoted many years of his life to explorations
and to the solution of the Isthmian transit problem. He was an
enthusiast concerning the advantages of the Nicaraguan line, but
neither his knowledge nor his zeal won success. For several
years, Central American affairs were in a very disturbed condition,
and later on, the civil war in the United States had a discouraging
effect upon the successful inauguration of large enterprises on this
continent. Before Mr. Belly succeeded in obtaining the neces-
sary funds, notwithstanding the favorable disposition of the Nic-
araguan Government, his concession lapsed.
In 1852, there was commenced a series of explorations cover-
ing the whole of the American Isthmus. Some were undertaken


by individual enterprise directed to particular routes, but the more
important were under the control and direction of the United
States Government, the object being to secure a systematic exam-
ination of any and all the routes which presented any possibilities
of a practicable solution of the problem. These explorations
were carried on with more or less continuity until 1880; every
locality possessing any claims for consideration was carefully
examined, and data were accumulated for a competent and impar-
tial comparison. The route through Nicaragua was explored in
1872-'73 and made the subject of a thorough report by Comman-
der E. P. Lull, aided by Mr. A. G. Menocal as chief engineer.
In 1872, President Grant appointed a commission, consisting of
Gen. A. A. Humphreys, Chief of Engineers, U. S. Army; Capt.
C. C. Patterson, Superintendent of the Coast Survey; and Admiral
Daniel Ammen, U. S. Navy, Chief of the Bureau of Navigation,
"to examine into, make suggestions, and report upon the subject
of interoceanic ship canal communication."
In 1876, the Commission reported as follows:
To the President of the United States:
The Commission appointed by you to consider the subject of communication
by canal between the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans across, over, or
near the isthmus connecting North and South America, have the honor, after
a long, careful, and minute study of the several surveys of the various routes
across the continent, unanimously to report:
That the route known as the "Nicaragua route," beginning on the Atlantic
side at or near Greytown, running by canal to the San Juan River, thence fol-
lowing its left bank to the mouth of the San Carlos River, at which point navi-
gation of the San Juan River begins and by the aid of three short canals of the
aggregate length of 3.5 miles reaches Lake Nicaragua, from thence across the
lake and through the valleys of the Rio del Medio and the Rio Grande to what
is known as the port of Brito, on the Pacific coast, possesses, both for the con-
struction and maintenance of a canal, greater advantages and offers fewer diffi-
culties from engineering, commercial, and economic points of view than any of
the other routes shown to be practicable by surveys sufficiently in detail to
enable a judgment to be formed of their relative merits, as will be briefly pre-
sented in the appended memorandum.


In 1879, the report was printed by order of Congress and the
subject occupied the attention of one House or the other in the
sessions of 1879, 1880, and 1881.
In 1880, a concession for a canal was again obtained from Nica-
ragua, this time by Capt. S. L. Phelps and his associates; but the
failure of the bankers, with whom negotiations for capital were
under consideration, prevented the achievement of the project.
The United States Government, at this point, became alive to
the importance of facilitating the work as a national enterprise.
In December, 1884, there was submitted to Congress a treaty
which had been negotiated with Nicaragua for the construction of
the canal by the United States and its joint ownership by the two
Governments. At the same time, Mr. A. G. Menocal, civil en-
gineer United States Navy, was ordered to Nicaragua to make
final surveys for the Government. The treaty, however, failed of
ratification by the Senate, and, the administration having changed,
it was withdrawn for further consideration and was not again pre-
In 1887, the concession now held by the Maritime Canal Com-
pany of Nicaragua was granted to the Nicaragua Canal Association
and the work of final survey and location was commenced thereunder
by the association without delay. Early in 1888, a movement was
made to secure a charter from the United States Government for
the incorporation of the concessionary company. Bills were in-
troduced in the Senate and House of Representatives for the
purpose. That before the Senate passed without delay and, being
identical in form, was permitted to take the place of the House
bill. It finally passed the House, February 7, 1889, and was
approved by the President and became a law February 20, 1889.
On May 4, the Maritime Canal Company, thus incorporated, was
formally organized. In the meantime, the association had also
caused to be incorporated, as a necessary adjunct, a construction
company, under whose direction the surveys and the work which
had been commenced' were carried on.


Since that time, the work of construction has progressed slowly,
but steadily, until its recent suspension for lack of funds, demon-
strating, step by step, the correctness of the theories and plans of
the projectors of the enterprise.
The following is a concise description of the work proposed:
San Juan del Norte, or Greytown, on the Atlantic, and Brito, on the Pacific,
are the termini of the canal. Its length from port to port is 169g miles, of
which z6) will be excavated channel and 142% miles is lakes, rivers, and basins.
The summit level is necessarily that of Lake Nicaragua, 11o feet above the sea.
There will be three locks near either end. The summit level commences z1
miles from the Atlantic and extends to within 3% miles of the Pacific. The
summit reach will, therefore, be 153~ miles long.
For 9% miles from the inner harbor at San Juan del Norte, the canal extends
southwesterly across the lowlands of the coast to the foothills of the Cordillera,
known as the Eastern Divide, where is located the first of the three eastern locks.
Up to this point, the formation through which the canal is to be cut is entirely
alluvial and will be excavated by machinery. The locks follow in close succes-
sion: No. I at 9% miles, as above stated, with a lift of 31 feet; No. 2, i1 miles
further on, with a lift of 30 feet, and No. 3 about 2 miles farther on, with a
lift of 45 feet. Here commences the summit level of the canal, at an elevation
of 106 feet above the sea, which allows 4 feet of fall from the lake for flowage.
Beyond the locks, a cutting is to be made through the eastern divide to the river
San Juan, at a place called Ochoa, near to its junction with the San Carlos, where
a large dam of the same elevation as lock No. 3 will be built, which, with such
other embankments as are ascertained to be requisite, will impound the waters
of the river and of small tributary streams in their valleys, forming a series of
large basins at the elevation determined by Ochoa dam and by the locks.
The material to be moved in the excavation through the divide is principally
solid, homogeneous rock and will all be needed and used in building dams, em-
bankments, breakwaters, and other structures, for which it will also furnish a
sufficient supply. The cutting through the divide will be about 3 miles long,
with an average depth of 141 feet.
The dam at Ochoa is to hold the waters of the river permanently at the height
of 106 feet above the sea. The lake level will be 11o feet. The difference,
three-quarters of an inch per mile in the 64 miles of river, is taken as the slope
necessary to enable a free discharge of the lake and river waters. By this dam,
slack-water navigation all the way to the lake will be secured, and, with the
.exception of 28 miles above Toro Rapids, the navigation channel will be i,ooo
feet wide and from z8 to 1 o feet deep. Rock blasting and dredging above Toro


to the lake will be required to an average depth of 4+ feet in several localities;
in all, for 24 miles. When the river channel is deepened it will have a bottom
width of Iz5 feet and a top width from 500 to 1,500 feet. At two or three
points the river bends will be improved by removal of projecting promontories,
so as to decrease abruptness of the curves. The San Carlos debouches into the
Rio San Juan a few miles above Ochoa. The hills bounding its valley on the
east are not continuous at the proposed water level, and several embankments
of inconsiderable height will be required to retain the waters backed up in the
San Juan.
Dredging in Lake Nicaragua to an average depth of to feet in soft mud bottom,
width 150 feet, for 14 miles from the shore, will secure a navigable channel of
30 feet to deep water.
From this point, the course of the canal is across the lake to the mouth of the
Rio Lajas, where the western division of the canal commences. From the mouth
of the Rio Lajas across the Western Divide, which is 43 feet above the canal level,
to the valley of the Rio Grande and the Tola Basin, for 9 miles from the lake,
there will be required considerable earth and rock excavation. About 5~ miles
farther on, near La Flor, are located locks Nos. 4 and 5 and a large dam which
impounds the waters of the Tola Basin. These locks terminate the summit level
of the canal. They are close together, and will have a lift of 42% feet each.
Lock No. 6, about i% miles beyond, is the last of the western series, and will
lower the canal to the level of the Pacific, with a lift of 21 to 29 feet, varying
according to tidal conditions. From lock No. 6 to Brito, the western terminus,
is i% miles of alluvial excavation.
The terminal harbors of the canal will, in the case of San Juan del Norte,
require restoration, and in the case of Brito, construction.
The plans for the restoration of the port of San Juan del Norte, which, until
186o, was easily accessible for vessels of zo feet draft, but since then has been
dosed by drifting sands, are based on long-continued observation and investi-
gation, and particularly take cognizance of the fact that the northwesterly move-
ment of the ocean sands (brought to the coast from the mountains by the lower
San Juan and its tributaries), under the influence of the prevailing winds, have
extended the sand pits entirely across the entrance and sealed the port.
It is intended to oppose to the further movements of the sand drift a solid
jetty or breakwater, about 3,000 feet long, projecting seawards at right angles
to the shore line, to the 6-fathom curve, then to dredge under the lee of this
jetty a new entrance. The shifting sands, arrested by this structure, will accu-
mulate in the angle formed by it and the coast. As the triangular space becomes
filled, the water may shoal towards the sea end of the jetty, and this will neces-
sitate its extension until the new shore line is at right angles to the prevailing
Bull 51--4


wind, which, it will be remembered, is the northeast "trades." Eighteen hun-
dred feet of the jetty, constituting its shore end, is to be built of creosoted
timber, filled in with rock or concrete and fascines, the stone to be brought from
the divide cut and laid or deposited at random.
The entrance channel is to be 30 feet deep and 500 feet wide at that depth.
The inner basin or harbor proper, the depth of which is to be increased to 30
feet, is to have an area of upwards of zoo acres, which, with the enlarged section
of the port reach of canal, gives a total harbor area of about 350 acres, exclusive
of the remainder of the inner bay, where, throughout a considerable area, there
is now a depth of from to to zo feet.
Brito, the western terminus, is not now a harbor in any proper sense of the
word, or even a roadstead, yet the practicability of constructing a harbor at
this point has never been questioned, the only difference of opinion being as to
The Rio Grande discharges here; its lower course for 6,ooo feet back from
the beach is through a low valley, which, it is believed, once formed a large bay.
A high, rocky promontory, connecting with the interior ridge, juts out into the
ocean just north of the river mouth. It is proposed to build from this rocky
point a breakwater 900 feet long, its extremity to be in 7 fathoms of water;
also to build another jetty, normal to the beach, 830 feet long, the extremity of
the latter to be nearly opposite and some 800 feet distant from the sea end of
the former. A considerable area of deep water will be thus inclosed; but the
principal portion of the harbor will be formed by excavation in alluvium, thus
securing a deep, broad basin, penetrating 3,000 feet from the present shore line
and 3,900 feet from the entrance.
The work of canal construction on the plan thus outlined went
forward systematically until the summer of 1893. What has
been accomplished, briefly stated, is as follows:
As soon as the first corps of engineers was landed, the surveying parties were
organized and at once pushed out. Traversing the lowlands for a few miles
back of San Juan del Norte were some sluggish streams, whose courses favored
the idea of utilization for water-borne carriage of supplies. A steam snag boat
was immediately set at work removing the obstructions, and barriers too heavy and
massive for displacement otherwise were broken up with dynamite. The San
Juanillo and Deseado were thus cleared and utilized for a distance of upward-
of 30 miles of their course, but the streams were so crooked that the actual
land mileage accomplished was only about one-third the distance by water.
Then trails for the packers were cut out and footbridges built across impeding


streams and ravines, so that supplies could be transported with certainty, though
slowly, to and beyond the eastern divide.
The San Juan River has long been used by a steamboat transportation com-
pany, and a large part of the produce of Nicaragua has, for forty years, been
moved from the interior by this route. Steam transport, via the river, was,
of course, availed of by the engineers when it served their needs, but much of the
surveying work was remote from the river, and hence its unavailability, except
in the region beyond "the divide" towards Ochoa, where the canal and river
were in closer proximity. The canal line, beyond the dividing ridge, intersected
the valleys of the San Francisco, Chanchos, and Danta. The channels of these
streams were also cleared and made available for canoe traffic from the San
Juan River.
Numerous camps and depots of supplies were constructed and stocked wher-
ever necessary, and fleets of light steel canoes were employed as means of com-
munication and supply.
At the site of all important works, such as dams, embankments, and locks,
as well as at the points where heavy cuttings will be required, subterranean
examinations have been made in great numbers. Earth augers were used where
there was no rock, and when this was encountered, the annular diamond drill
was used and cores of the rock itself brought up and preserved for future refer-
ence and examination by engineers and contractors proposing to submit tenders
for work. Owing to the transportation difficulties, steam drills were impracti-
cable and the work was accomplished with hand power.
The necessity of securing at once a safe entrance to the old harbor was real-
ized as indispensable to economical and rapid progress, and the first work of
actual construction begun was in execution of the engineers' plans for restoring
the harbor. One of the means to this end was the erection of a breakwater
for protection of the entrance.
As the pier advanced, it afforded a partial shelter to the beach to leeward,
and also served as a barrier to the moving beach sand, which, impelled by the
waves and prevailing winds, had formerly been driven constantly to the west-
ward, and so built up and maintained the sand spit that thirty years ago closed
the old port San Juan.
This artificial interruption to the operation of the winds and current, which
were always active in bringing sand to build and renew the beach, permitted
countervailing forces of nature to come into play, and the result was that, by
the time the pier had been pushed out 600 feet, the sand beach under its lee
was swept away and an open channel formed, communicating from the open
ocean to the old harbor, now restored to the extent of permitting the entrance
of light-draft seagoing vessels, and this at a point where, six months before, was


a sand bank 3 or 4 feet above the sea level. The outer end of the pier is in 20
feet of water, and a force is constantly engaged in filling in the spaces between
the piles with mattresses, rock, and concrete. The depth of the channel under its
lee reached to feet when the structure had been extended to 800 feet. In the
winter of 1890-'91, a dredge increased this depth to about 15 feet, and this has
been maintained since, except in very restricted areas, which are easily deepened
by the dredging machines, if necessary.
During the summer of 1889, permanent buildings were begun, and building
constructions have been in progress ever since. The structures are all of wood
(pine from the United States) and roofed with corrugated galvanized iron.
The offices, quarters, and hospitals are all ceiled and painted inside, have wide
verandas outside, and are neat and comfortable. All the permanent buildings
so far erected are in the immediate vicinity of San Juan, for at this point, is
located the general headquarters, and here have been concentrated the most
important operations.
The buildings now occupied consist of five groups, as follows: Headquarters,
8 buildings; hospital, to buildings; La F6 depot, 8 buildings; railroad head-
quarters, 9 buildings; Camp Cheney, 4 buildings; in all, 39 buildings.
Besides the above, there have been constructed numerous and extensive wharves
equipped for unloading freight, sheds, small outhouses, water tanks, etc. The
machine and smiths' shops are equipped with a varied and extensive assortment
of modern machine tools, and a tramway connects the more important of these
Work in clearing the canal line of forest growth was begun in January, 1890,
and for a distance of about to miles back from the coast, the clearing has the
full width of 486 feet. The same work was commenced on the west side of
Lake Nicaragua in the month of November, 1890, and for a distance of 9 miles,
this ground is made ready for the active construction work.
The necessity for a telegraph line reaching to the interior, connecting with
the telegraph system of the country and the ocean cables, very soon became
apparent. The construction of a line was commenced and soon pushed through
to Castillo, with its loops amounting to 60 miles.
As the heaviest body of work to be accomplished on the whole line is concen-
trated within a distance of 3 miles, at what has been designated as the East-
ern Divide," and as the time that will be required to complete the canal is
measured by the time spent in the opening of this deep cut, it was felt to be
important to install a plant for heavy rock-cutting at the earliest date possible.
But so great were the difficulties of transporting heavy machinery, etc., from
the harbor to the site that it was at once apparent there was no alternative to be
considered but the immediate construction of a railroad. The road was begun




in the summer of 1890. It extends across what had always been considered an
impassable swamp. For the first o1 miles, there are but about 4 miles of nat-
urally hard ground.
There are several places along the line where streams and other water courses
are crossed. These are spanned by pile bridges, and a powerful steam pile-
driver has been used in their construction. The length of road already built is
i miles-the most difficult of the whole line-and 7 miles remain to be com-
pleted in order to reach the "divide." There are several miles of side track,
switches, etc., already put down.
The road is equipped for construction work, and supplied with four locomo-
tives, fifty cars, steam shovel, ballast unloader, jacks, and other requisite appli-
ances. All the cross-ties and bridge timbers are of Northern pine and charged
with 16 pounds creosote oil to the cubic foot. At the railroad terminus in the
harbor is a fine wharf 264 feet long, built in the best manner of creosoted timber
and equipped with modern steam conveniences for handling freight rapidly.
The survey for the remainder of the line, extending to the San Juan River at
Ochoa, has been completed; in fact, there have been two lines surveyed and
profiles prepared in sufficient detail to enable a close estimation of cost.
In the summer of 1890, there was purchased from the American Contracting
and Dredging Company the very extensive and valuable plant used so success-
fully on the eastern end of the Panama Canal from the year 1881 to the collapse
of that enterprise in 1888. It consisted of seven dredges, the most powerful
ever built; two fine tugboats, twenty lighters, several launches, and a vast
quantity of tools, spare parts, materials for repair and renewals, an entire
machine shop, stationary engines, pumps, etc. Many of the articles are in
abundance sufficient for completion of the canal. During the autumn of 1890,
this property was transferred to San Juan del Norte. Upon its arrival, portions
of it were immediately equipped for work, and three of the dredges have since
been in use for various periods-two upon the line of the canal proper and a
third in increasing the depth of the water at various points in the harbor and.
upon the bar. The canal line, to the width of z80 feet and depth of 17 feet, has
been opened for 3,000 feet inland from the harbor, the material excavated being
sand almost wholly. No buried wood or other obstructions to free dredging]
has been found.
Under a provision of the concession, the Canal Company has the right to
expropriate private lands found requisite for its uses. It also possessed similar
rights as against a company which held the exclusive privilege of navigating the
San Juan River and Lake Nicaragua with steam vessels. In 1889, the Con-
struction Company became the purchaser of the rights and property of the
steamboat company, and since the purchase has opened the line in the interest


of tne canal. The franchise is valuable independently, but in connection with
construction its ownership became necessary to the company. Considerable
acquisitions of private lands between Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific have been
made under the expropriation provisions mentioned.
The country through which the course of the canal is laid for
the first to miles from the coast is a flat, alluvial formation, the
accumulation of centuries, with occasional lagoons and swamps
covered with zacate and silico palms or the primeval forests and a
dense, tangled, almost impenetrable, mass of underbrush and vines.
From thence its course is through wooded and fertile valleys be-
tween low hills to the divide cut, and thence to a connection at
Ochoa with the San Juan; above Ochoa, it receives-the waters of
the San Carlos. From the mouth of the San Carlos, the course of
the San Juan-then and thereafter the route of the canal-is
through what may be termed the highlands of the river, the abut-
ting flanks of the Cordillera. Sixteen miles above the San Carlos
occur the Machuca Rapids; 5 and 6 miles farther on, Balas; 6
miles beyond are Castillo Rapids, the most important of all; and
9 miles farther the Toro Rapids, beyond which, to the lake, the
course of the river is through a broad valley of lowlands, bounded
by remote hills. Above the San Carlos and at Machuca, the for-
ests which clothe the banks of the river are tropical in luxuriance.
The lofty trees are draped with vines which creep and twine among
their branches and droop to the water's edge in massive walls of
Above Machuca there are occasional clearings-where the lands
are cultivated or grazed-through which the distant hills appear.
At other places the hills themselves rise with steep and almost
precipitous slopes directly from the river. Squier likens this part
of the river to the highlands of the Hudson. At Castillo is an old
Spanish fort, garrisoned by the Nicaraguan Government. It was
considered impregnable by its builders, but was captured by a
British force in 1780. Post Captain (afterwards Admiral) Nelson
was in command of the naval corps of the expedition.


The erection of a dam at Ochoa and the execution of other
works of canalization will, of course, change many of the present
aspects of the river, deepening its waters over the rapids, and in
numerous places expanding them into broad and lake-like surfaces,
adding to its advantages for navigation and to its beauties as part
of an already delightful landscape. One important peculiarity of
the San Juan, already adverted to, should be particularly noted.
It is exempt from the floods common to other tropical streams.
This is owing to the fact that the great lakes serve as receiving
reservoirs, on the broad expanses of which the rainfall is stored
and from which it is delivered slowly instead of being concen-
trated from the adjacent hillsides into narrow valleys, and thus
massed into rushing torrential floods.
The commercial problem which the opening of a canal across
Nicaragua would solve is the same to-day as that which stimulated
Columbus and his contemporaries and successors to their arduous
efforts. The only difference is in the increased magnitude of its
It is still the discovery of a direct east and west route for the
commerce of the world. Four centuries ago, that commerce con-
sisted of the interchange of commodities between Europe and
Asia. Since that time, there has been added to the nations then
existing and to their growth in population, production, and con-
sumption, a new continent, peopled now by 1oo,ooo,ooo inhabit-
ants, to whom the advantages of such a route for extension of their
commerce is proportionately greater in a degree almost beyond
computation than it was believed in the fifteenth century that it
would be, if discovered, to the Spain, or France, or England, of
those days, or than it can be to them to-day when completed.

Chapter VII.


The existing railroad system of Nicaragua consists of two sepa-
rate divisions. The first commences at the port of Corinto, on the
Pacific, and terminates at Momotombo, on the northwestern shore
of Lake Managua, where it connects with the line of steamers
plying on the lake.
The stations and distances are:
From Corinto to- Miles.
Chinandega........................................................... 13
Chichigalpa.............................................. ........ 2
Posoltega................................. ........ .................. 25
Quezalguaque........ .......................... .................. 29
Le6n ................................... .... .. ............ ....... 35
La Paz ....................... ................ ............ ... ..50
Momotombo ........................................................ 58
The second division commences at the capital, Managua, on the
southern shore of the lake of that name, and terminates at Granada,
on the northwestern shore of Lake Nicaragua.
From Managua to- Miles.
Sabana Grande ...................................................... 8
P ortillo........................................ ............. .......... ri
Campuzano ........................... ............................ 14
Nindiri ........ ........................ ................... .. 17
M asaya .. ... .... ............. .. .............. ................... 9
San Bias ............................................................ 21
G ranada ............................................. ............. 32
-The distance from the port of Corinto is therefore:
Corinto to Momotombo, by railroad....................................... 58
Momotombo to Managua, by lake steamboat ................................. 32
Managua to Granada, by railroad.................... ....................... 32




At Granada, connection is made with the steamboat service on
the lake and San Juan River, running to San Juan del Norte
(Greytown), on the Caribbean coast, thus forming an interoceanic
trunk line of communication through the country.
The above-named railroads and steamboat line on Lake Managua
are owned and operated by the Government. The railroads were
only completed throughout in 1886, but they had an immediate
and most gratifying effect on the commerce and progress of the
country. The total cost for the Government amounted to
$2,oo05,583.90, most of which was paid out of economies made in
several branches of the public service. The first division of the
railroad was opened to the public on February 27, 1884, the
second on May 1, 1886.
There are three classes of passenger coaches in use on these roads,
first, second, and third class. The charge for first-class passengers
is a little over 5 cents per mile, but in the third-class, the fare is
somewhat less than 2) cents per mile. First-class passengers are
allowed 40 pounds of baggage free; third-class passengers, 25
pounds. All above this quantity is charged as first-class freight.
The rolling stock is all of American manufacture; the locomo-
tives use wood as fuel. The first-class cars have a smoking com-
partment at one end, but in other respects are like the first-class
cars used in the United States. The third-class cars are similar
to the ordinary smoking cars run on the railroads in the United
States, and they are used in the same way, as the women of the
laboring classes smoke as much as the men. The cars are clean
and comfortable, and the, roads are well managed. Freight is
divided into six classes, and is carried at rates varying from about
25 cents per ton per mile for first class to about 6 cents per ton
for that of the fifth class. The sixth class is for dyewoods, which
are charged at about 3g cents per ton per mile.
According to Sefior Gamez, this railroad yields annually to the
Government a net profit of about $ oo,ooo.


The account for 1890 was:
Gross receipts ............... .............................. $295,86o.20
Expenses.................................................. 187, 851.23
Net profit................. ........................... o8, oo. o6

representing an interest of a little over 6, per cent per annum.
The movement of passengers in 189o was as follows:
First-class passengers ............. ....... .. ......... .. ......... 41,910
Second-class.............................. .. .................. 41,014
Third-class .............. ... ................................. 292,937
Total..................................................... 375,861


The topography of Nicaragua, especially all along the Pacific
coast, is very favorable for the construction and preservation of
wagon roads. Nature itself aids the Government. in keeping them
in good condition.
The carreta, drawn by oxen, is the principal means of transporta-
tion used on these roads.
There are two lines of stages between Granada and Rivas (51
miles), and between Masaya and Jinotepe (18 miles), subsidized
by the Government, the former with $15o per month, and the
latter with $50 also per month. They make daily trips during
the dry season.


The steamers plying on the lake belonged originally to a
private company liberally subsidized by the Government. The
charges which they made were so onerous that it became necessary
for the commercial interests either to establish a new line, which
would make competition with the old one in existence, or to induce
the Government to buy the whole concern and organize the service
upon a satisfactory basis. In pursuance of this plan a second com-
pany was organized, but when it was about to receive a steamer


which had been built in England by its order, the Government
saw the necessity of making this service national and of freeing
it from all contingencies. Contracts were then entered into with
the two companies, and their vessels, as well as the whole property
which belonged to them, became the property of the Government.
The first advantage which was derived from this transaction,
besides a considerable reduction in the rates of freight, was the
establishment of regular connections with the railroad trains, so as
to cause the whole trip from Corinto to Granada, or vice versa, to
be made in one day.
The movement during the first six months of the new arrange-
ment was as follows:
Gross proceeds.................. ......................... $33,23.09
Expenses ................. ............................... 13, 24.04
Net profit .............................................. 990. o5
which is equivalent to an average monthly profit of $3,331.67.
The Government paid for the steamers $278,229.83.
The steamers now engaged in this service ire: The Managua,
120 tons; the Angela, 120 tons; the Progreso, o00 tons; the Isa-
bel, 20 tons, and the Amelia, 50 tons.
The three first named are spacious and have good accommo-
dations for passengers.
In addition to the "national line," there is now another line
of steamers, belonging to a foreign company, a large portion of
whose stock belongs to the Interoceanic Canal Constructing Com-
pany. This company is called Great Lake Steamers Company"
(Compania de vapores del Gran Lago), but it has only one steamer,
called the Victoria, of 180 tons, which goes around the lake,
touching at all its ports, eight times a month.
The table following gives the amount of cargo transported by
the Lake Managua steamers during the space of six months, from
January 1 to June 30, 1891:


Table showing the amount of cargo transported by the national steamers from January I to
June 3o, z89r.

Months. Cargo. Months. Cargo.

Pounds. Pounds.
January ................... 2,140,519 May............... ..... 6,o80,906
February................... 3,306,632 June ...................... 6,413,803
March ..................... 4,248,972
April ...................... 5, 851, 507 Total ................. 28, 042, 339

The following statement shows the cargoes transported for the
first six months of 1890 and 1891:
189o............................................. ............. 6,970o
1891........................... ....................... ......... 14,021
Difference in favor of 1891 ................................ 7,0505


The steamboat line via Lake Nicaragua and the San Juan
River is the natural route for the commerce of the Republic, but
complaints are loud and constant of the long delays that occur in
transit. The fact is that competition is much keener in business
than it was a few years ago; consequently, merchants can not afford
the uncertainty and delay which attend the river service. The
result is that since the construction of the railroad to Corinto, on
the Pacific, the river transit company has been gradually losing
its hold, and the bulk of the trade to and from the interior is find-
ing its way via Corinto. This is certainly unfortunate, as the
rates are necessarily high via the Pacific, and the route is much
longer either to the United States or Europe; but the service is
regular and frequent, and therefore obtains the preference.
The difficulty with the river route is the impossibility of main-
taining a good service whenever the rains are insufficient to keep
the lake at a high level. The rapids and shallows on the river
are numerous and the cargo has to be carried over them in lighters
when the river is low, causing delay and risk of damage to the

goods, necessitating also high freight rates, though they are less
than the rates via the Pacific. The river steamers, three or four
in number, are flat-bottomed, and make the trip twice a month.
To facilitate foreign commerce the Government of Nicaragua
has entered into contracts with several steamship companies, to
which it pays liberal subsidies to perform the service in the follow-
ing way:
On the Pacific side.-The steamers of the Pacific Mail Steam-
ship Company from San Francisco to Panama regularly touch at
San Juan del Sur and Corinto. When going north they touch at
San Juan del Sur on the 5th, the 14th, and the 24th of each month,
and Corinto on the 12th, the 15th, and the 25th. When going
south they touch at the same ports, respectively, on the 7th, the
14th, and the 27th, and the 6th, the 13th, and 26th.
Passengers and merchandise carried by these steamers can reach
the Atlantic when landed at San Francisco by means of the Pacific
Transcontinental- Railroad, and when landed at Panama by the
Panama Railroad.
. On the Atlantic side.-The steamers of the British Royal Mail
from Southampton and the West Indies, which leave Aspinwall
every two weeks.
Compagnie Gn&erale Transatlantique, whose steamers leave
Marseilles on the 9th, Bordeaux on the 19th, and Saint Nazaire
on the 29th.
The Hamburg-American Company, whose steamers leave,
Hamburg on the 4th, the 12th, and the 23d of each month.
The Compania Transatlantica de Barcelona, whose steamers
leave Santander on the 6th and 19th of each month.
The West Indies and Pacific Company and the Harrison line
some of whose steamers leave Liverpool every Thursday, while
some others leave every two weeks.


Steamers of the lines just named leave Colon or Aspinwall in
the following way:
(1) For Plymouth, Cherbourg, and Southampton, via West
Indies, every two weeks.
(2) For St. Nazaire on the 3d of each month; for Marseilles on
the 12th, and for Havre and Bordeaux on the 22d.
(3) For Hamburg, Havre, and other ports on the 7th, the 15th,
and the 26th of each month.
(4) For Santander and other ports on the 7th, the 15th, and the
(5) For Liverpool, via New Orleans, every Saturday; and for
Liverpool, via Vera Cruz and New Orleans, every two weeks.
The steamers of the Pacific Mail make connection also at Pa-
nama with those of the South American Pacific Steamship Navi-
gation Company, which touch at Guayaquil, Callao, Valparaiso,
and other intermediate points.
The Pacific Mail is subsidized by the Government of Nicara-
gua with $8,000 per year, and is bound to carry the mails.
The steamers of the Cosmos German Line touch irregularly at
Nicaragua. According to the arrangement made, the company is
bound to send to Nicaragua at least five steamers during the year,
some of which must touch at Corinto and some others at San
Juan del Sur. They bring directly from Europe, or carry there
from Nicaragua, cargoes of merchandise with the reduction of 10
per cent in the freight, such as is charged by the steamers of the
Pacific Mail. The Government subsidizes the Cosmos Line with
$300 for each round trip.
The steamers of the British Royal Mail touch at the port of San
Juan del Norte, or Greytown, twice a month. An independent
steamer of 250 tons burden does the service between San Juan
del Norte, Bluefields, Boca del Rama, Rio Grande, Wuonanta
and Princapulca, Cabo de Gracias a Dios, Corn Island, and Puerto
Limon, making four round trips every month. This steamer re-

ceives a subsidy of $24,000 per year and carries the mails. It
charges $o1 per each ton of cargo, except when taken to Corn
Island, in which case the freight is $15. The fare for passengers
varies from $8 in first class and $5 in second class to $20 and $1o,
respectively, according to the distances.

Nicaragua presents the remarkable feature of a country having
its best lands and navigable rivers on the Atlantic slope, overlook-
ing that ocean which is the highway to all the great markets of
the world, but having all its great towns, its cultivated soil and
its commerce on the Pacific side, where it is practically debarred
from all the advantages offered by its opposite coast. This is also
the condition of the other Central American republics, and it has
long been their hope and effort to change this anomalous state of
things. The Government of Nicaragua is fully alive to the
importance of utilizing the magnificent resources of its eastern
slope. It has done all in its power to encourage immigration, but
it has become convinced that immigration on any useful scale is
impossible without improved means of communication, and is,
therefore, wisely bending all its energies in that direction, and
evincing the most praiseworthy spirit of liberality in dealing with
all plans that promise to aid in solving this all important problem.
The progress of events and the attention that is now being
attracted towards Nicaragua are steadily tending toward a removal
of the difficulties that have hitherto stood in the way, the chief
of which has been the lack of capital to effect the necessary
improvements, to build the railroads and open the ports and rivers
that will give access to the inestimable wealth of forest, field, and
mine that lie awaiting the awakening hand of labor. When once
these improvements are effected, there will be no need of laws to
encourage immigration; thousands of the surplus population of
Europe will readily find their way to Nicaragua.


In addition to the plans of internal improvement, indicated there
are two great enterprises now before the world which promise ines-
timable advantages to the Republic-the Nicaragua Interoceanic
Canal, a work of such importance that a chapter in this work has been
especially devoted to it, and the Intercontinental Railroad from
North to South, connecting the three great divisions of America.
The railroad has not yet taken shape, but surveying parties have
located pathways for the locomotive.

Chapter VIII.

Nicaragua is a Republic, sovereign, free, and independent The
form of government is popular and representative, and its powers
are defined by a written constitution, which was adopted in 1858,
and was based upon that originally formed in 1838 when the
Central American federation was dissolved.
The Government is divided into three branches-legislative,
executive, and judicial. The legislative power is vested in a
Congress, consisting of two bodies, the Senate and the Chamber of
Deputies. The Senate is composed of two Senators from each
department, who are elected for a term of six years, but one-third
of their number is renewed by election every two years. No
person can be elected to the Senate who is less than 30 years of
age, or a minister of the church; he must be the father of a
family, and the owner of property not less than $2,000 in value.
The members of the lower House are called Deputies and are
elected for four years, but one-half are renewed by election every
two years. By virtue of the Constitution, there is one Deputy for
every 20,000 inhabitants in each district; but if the population
of the district shows an excess of 1o0,oo or more over and above
that number, then one more Deputy may be elected. The neces-
sary qualifications for a Deputy are that he must be not less than
25 years of age, and not a member of the priesthood. Congress
meets on the 1st of January every second year. The session lasts
for ninety days, but may be prorogued after thirty days. Neither
Bull. 51----5 6


chamber can adjourn for more than three days without the consent
of the other.
The executive power is vested in a President, whose term of
office is four years and who can not be reflected for the term im-
mediately following; he must be a native and resident of the
Republic, not less than 30 years of age, not a member of the priest-
hood, must be the father of a family, and the owner of property
worth not less than $4,000. But a native of any of the other
Central American Republics may be chosen, provided that he is
a naturalized citizen and has resided in the Republic of Nicaragua
not less than fifteen years. He is inaugurated and enters upon his
administration on the 1st of March.
The President is assisted by a Cabinet, which on November 30,
1892, consisted of four Secretaries or Ministers (Ministros). One
of these secretaries was the head of the Department of Foreign
Relations and Fomento or Promotion of Public Welfare. An-
other presided over the Department of War, the Navy and Pub-
lic Instruction. The third Secretary was the head of a Depart-
ment of the Interior, Police and Ecclesiastical Affairs, and the
fourth was the head of the Department of the Treasury and
Public Credit. The Ministers may take part in the delibera-
tions of Congress, but without the power of voting.
The judicial power is exercised by a Supreme Court, divided
into two sections, one of which is located in Leon and the other
in Granada. Each section is composed of at least four judges
and two alternates. There is also a well-organized system of
subordinate courts and tribunals throughout the country, and
justice is well administered?
The Constitution is wisely framed and liberal in its provisions,
and the laws are as just and well adapted for the needs of a civ-
ilized community as can be found in any nation of the world.
By virtue of the Constitution, all persons born on the soil are
free, and slavery and traffic in* slaves is prohibited. No person


can be deprived of life, property, honor, or liberty except by due
process of law.
The death penalty is inflicted only for murder, assault in a
town if followed by death, or in the country if accompanied
by wounds and robbery, and for arson under aggravated circum-
stances. The rights of petition and lawful assembly are recog-,
nized. The right to carry arms for lawful self-protection and de-
fense, and to enter, reside in, travel over and leave the Republic
without molestation, is guaranteed. Titles of nobility, hereditary
honors, privileged classes, and prerogatives are not recognized.
The inviolability of private correspondence, and of the house or
domicile, as well as the right of private property, is recognized.
Every citizen of Nicaragua has a right to vote at all elections if
he is 21 years of age or more, or he will be enfranchised at 18 years
of age if he holds a scientific degree or is the father of a family,
holding property of not less than $100 in value, or has some trade
or profession that produces that amount annually.


Citizenship may be acquired by foreigners in the following
1. If the applicant is a Central American, upon proof of his
residence for one year within the Republic.
2. If the applicant comes from any other Spanish-American
Republic, the residence must be for two years. If he comes from
any other country, four years' residence is required.
It will be sufficient for Central Americans, after one year of resi-
dence has been completed, to state their desire to become natur-
alized in the Republic, but all other Spanish-Americans are
obliged to give notice of their intention one year before their ap-
plication for citizenship, and all other foreigners are required to
give notice of their intention two years before their application.
All foreigners, however, have the power, without forfeiting


thereby their own nationality, to acquire public unoccupied lands
on the same terms and conditions as the citizens of Nicaragua.


Taxation in Nicaragua is indirect, the revenue being derived
from import duties, stamps, the Government monopolies of tobacco,
liquors, and gunpowder, the tax on cattle exported, and the sale
of unoccupied lands. The Government owns the railroad and
the steamers on Lake Managua, which together have yielded, at
date of last report, about 6 per cent on the cost. There are no
taxes levied on real estate. Municipal taxation is moderate, and
in the towns, consists principally of taxes for street lighting, police,
water supply, etc.
The revenue of Nicaragua is steadily increasing. This im-
provement is indisputable evidence of the growing wealth and
prosperity of the country.
The revenue from all sources was-
In the year 1851 ................... ............................ $122,686.oo
In the year 1870.............................................. 737,284.00oo
In the year 1889 ............................................... 2,036, 137.43
In the year 1890............................................... 2, 370, 183.49
In the year 1891........................................... 2,847,729,08
This improvement is demonstrated equally in every source
from which the public income is derived.
Thus, in the year ending June 30-
189o, telegraph yielded ......................................... $34,152.92
1889, telegraph yielded ................ ....................... 30, 793.67
Increase..................................................... 3,359.25
1890, post-office................................................. 35,774 73
1889, post-office........................... .................... 24,275.74
Increase ........................................... ..... 11. 498.99
189o, railways............................... ........... ...... 280, 819. 16
1889, railways................... ....................... ......... 236,853.92
Increase ....................................................... 43,965.24
1890, public lands ............................................. 15, 770.56
1889, public lands..... ............ ......... ................ 2,129.66
Increase...... ....................................... 13,640.90


The expenses of the Government in 1891 were $2,968,961.14
which is slightly in excess of the income, which is accounted for
by considerable sums having been spent in improvement of track,
buildings, and rolling stock of railways, piers on the lakes, and
public roads.
The sources of revenue of the Government of Nicaragua yielded
in 1891, according to official statement, the following result:

Customs .............. 1, 058, 913. 53
Customs House confisca-
tions .................. 835.02
Fines .................. 23,676.74
Tax on cattle ............ II, 134 20
Public lands............. 28, 517, 26
National railroad. ....... 365,070. 83
National steamers........ 89,754.09
Telegraphs .............. 35, 51o.95
Post-offices .............. 28,195.44

Tobacco................. 270,857. 23
Brandy ................. 733, 454. 85
Stamped paper........... 27,772.48
Gun powder ............. 18,404. 50
Sale of official publications. 130.85
Miscellaneous revenue ... 52,714. 33
Unforeseen income....... 2,776. 78

Total.............. $,847,729.08

The expenses in 1891 were as follows:

Executive department.....
Justice .... ............
Public worship and chari-
ties ..................
War............... ....
Collection of revenue.....

$675,719 50 Public works ........... 497,039. 33
71, x86. 54 Foreign relations......... 46, 184. 69
Public instruction........ 215, 309. 78
25,728.oo Extraordinary expenses .. 360, 645.93
465,077. 56
612,069. 81 Total............ $2,968, 961.14

The national debt of Nicaragua, according to the official state-
ment contained in the report of the Secretary of the Treasury in
1891, was as follows:

Interior debt.................................. ................... $932,309.20
Foreign debt ................................................... 2, 105,227.07
Total.................. .................................. $3,037,536.27

The largest portion of the- foreign debt is represented by bonds
payable in London in July, 1919, with interest at 6 per cent per
annum. This interest is regularly paid.
There are two incorporated banks in the Republic, through
which most of the commercial business of exchange, discounts,


etc., is done, but many private capitalists and merchants carry on
a banking business and make loans on mortgages.
The banks above referred to are the Bank of Nicaragua at Man-
agua and the Agricultural and Mercantile Bank (Banco 2.gricola
Mercantil) at Leon. Both of them have branches in all the im-
portant cities of the Republic.
The unit of monetary value is the pesofuerte, or dollar; but
foreign coins are allowed to circulate for their value in pesos
,uertes. The Peruvian sol, the United States silver dollar, and all
other Spanish American coins, are found in circulation, and re-
ceived without difficulty. The subsidiary small coins are 5, 10o,
and 25 cents, and many of the old Spanish reals of 12Y cents
are in circulation.
The standard of measurement is the vara, which is equal to
2.75 English feet. The manzana contains 1o,ooo square varas,
equal to about 134 acres. The caballeria contains 64 manzanas.


[Report in 1893 by U. S. Consul Newell, of Managua, on public improvements. Reports from the
consuls of the Umted States, No. 50o, March. 1893, p. 369.]

During the past year and a half there have been a number of improvements
made throughout the Republic of Nicaragua, the more important ones being the
erection of markets, construction of street railways, and organization of water
companies. Upon these I have the honor to report the following:


For a number of years Granada was illy supplied with market facilities; in
fact, I might say that she had none at all. The venders of merchandise, vegeta-
bles, fruits, salt, and sugar occupied stands in the wide corridors of the build-
ings that stand to the south and west sides of the plaza. Though the men and
women standing and sitting in the corridors with their stock in trade presented
a unique picture for the eye of the tourist, it was far from businesslike and the
*resort was an eyesore to the city. Around the plaza, the streets were always
dirty, as the market women and men were constantly throwing into them the


goods that had proven unsalable. This condition of affairs at last aroused the
attention of the more public-spirited men of the city, and the consequence is
that Granada can now point with pride to a fine edifice.
This building is constructed in the usual form-that of a hollow square-the
main portion of which is one story high, with a slightly pitched roof. Running
from the main entrance through the entire building, is an arched corridor, the
roof of which is of corrugated iron; this arch is supported by many iron
columns, with fancy corrugated-iron capitals. At the four corners of the struc-
ture, stand towers which extend one story above the main building. These
towers are ornamented with pilasters, crowned with cornice and pediment. On
either side of the main entrance rise towers that project a story and a half be-
yond the roof of the main edifice. There is a stone pavement on the north and
west sides of the market, the portion now completed, and cemented floors within
the stores and other portions of the structure.
The construction of the market was begun May zo, 1891. It will occupy,
when completed, a space of a little over 2 acres. The style of architecture is
Renaissance. Stone and brick, with hydraulic mortar, are the materials of
which the building is composed. The roof is constructed of iron and wood,
covered with plastic slate from the United States. At this time only one-half
of the structure is finished, while in the other half there is a provisional open
market place.
The estimated cost of the edifice, when completed according to the plans, is
$2o6,ooo (soles). Already, there has been expended the sum of $70,000. The
stone, brick, and mortar entering into the composition of the building are all
native products; the ironwork is from England and the United States.
In the part now finished there are twenty-two rooms for stores, but the
building, when fully completed, will contain forty-four such rooms. Besides these
rooms there are one hundred and fifty stands for selling small articles, and fifteen
special meat stalls. There are also a large number of pavement or curbstone
spaces for the Indians, who come daily to sell small quantities of fruit, vegetables,
and native wares.
From 250 to 300 persons are daily in attendance at the market, engaged in
vending some commodity. The average daily revenue is $50; the expenses
amount to $300 per month.
Granada's market was erected by the city council from money raised by a loan,
which was floated at 80 cents on the dollar. The management of the enterprise
was given into the hands of the capitalists subscribing the funds, and the struc-
ture was also mortgaged to them, along with the ground, until the nominal capital
is repaid with interest at the rate of 1 per cent per month. The edifice is open
every day in the week, Sundays and holidays not excepted.



For many years anterior to the date of this report, Masaya possessed worse
market facilities than Granada. It did not have even the corridors of buildings,
like its sister city, for the congregation of its market people. They usually congre-
gated in the plaza, under the shadow of the principal church, and there, in the
wind and rain, sitting or standing upon the bare ground, awaited their patrons.
The matter of a market was considered by the Nicaragua Company (limited),
an organization of English capitalists who have varied interests in this Republic,
with headquarters in London, and to it is due the edifice that now adorns the
city of Masaya.
This structure is very similar in design to that of Granada, and covers the.
same extent of surface-2 acres. It is entirely completed, and has sixty-four
rooms that can be used as stores. There is a large covered way through the
center of the building, which is in part for the accommodation of butchers and
for the sellers of fruit, salt, and vegetables. The courts of the markets are sur-
rounded with corridors, giving plenty of space for stalls. In the courtyards, are
spaces allotted for carts. As in Nicaragua, many vendors come to market with
sugar, salt, and plantains and sell direct from their carts, instead of selling from
stalls. In connection with the market is a large public kitchen, where the market
restaurateurs can prepare and cook food.
It is the intention of the management to soon introduce water into the building
and add public baths.
The edifice was constructed at a cost of $1o6,ooo in gold. It is built of vol-
canic stone taken from a quarry not far from the site of the market. As this
stone is very black, the structure presents an appearance of great antiquity, and
if it possessed an altitude greater than one story, would resemble more a castle
than a market. The roof is surmounted with a parapet that extends around the
entire building. At the main entrance, are two large, iron open-work gates
painted dark blue and lined with gold. The market has four entrances, and on
each side, there are handsome iron bracket lamps. Throughout the entire struc-
ture, in the stores and in the corridors, the floors are laid in Portland cement.
The monthly income is $1,150, and the expenses $300.


The street railway of Granada was projected about one year ago, and cars
were run over the line for the first time in September last. The persons com-
posing the company are citizens of Nicaragua, and, I believe, all residents of
Granada. Originally, the idea of a tramway in the city was that of a foreigner,
the same gentleman who conceived and carried into effect the Rivas street-car


line. After the company was organized, this foreigner disposed of his interest
to the syndicate that now owns the line.
The length of the route is i mile 300 yards, extending from the railroad
station to the market. The rails and the cars are of American manufacture,
the first costing $5,000 and the latter $3,000 in gold. For laying the track, the
sum of $3,000 was expended. It cost to bring the cars and rails to the city of
Granada from New York, via San Juan del Norte, the sum of $2z,ooo. An"
expenditure of $2,ooo has been made for the purchase of land for the erection
of a car shed and necessary offices, which will be erected at a cost of $1,ooo.
Twenty-four mules now comprise the number of animals in service; these ani-
mals were bought for $60 per head.
Besides the sums mentioned, the company has expended the sum of $1,ooo
for incidentals and $1,500 for the rights held by the organizer of the enterprise.
The. total amount expended in organizing the company and constructing the
line, to date, has been $24,740 (soles).
Originally the company was organized on a basis of thirty-five shares, valued
at $500 per share. Since beginning and completing the line the company has been
compelled to issue five more shares at the former valuation, so that there are
now forty shares, representing a capital of $2,o000 (soles).
The daily income averages from $13 to $15. On holidays, the earnings reach
the sum of $5o. The employs number seven, and the daily expenses are
about $1o.
The cars are the usual pattern denominated in the United States bobtailed,"
though here they use two animals and employ both conductor and driver. Ac-
cording to the opinion of many, the company made a mistake in not having
selected open or summer cars, which would be preferable in this tropical clime.
At the present time, all the cars run one way, that is, the three cars leave the
railroad station at about the same moment and change at the market. This
necessitates delay, and in consequence the line is not as popular as it might be.
The fare is 5 cents. This innovation has compelled the hack-owners to reduce
their fares from zo cents from the station to any part of the city to to cents,
and from 30 cents from any part of the city to the station to 15 cents.


These works have been in operation since September 1, and were commenced
about two years ago. The originators of this enterprise.are foreigners, though
a large portion of the stock is owned by Nicaraguans. The estimated cost of
the plant is $13o,ooo.


The point from which the water is derived is known as Tincuantepe, distant
from Masaya 16 miles, and elevated above the city 800 feet. Around the fall
of Tincuantepe, the scenery is very picturesque. The water is pure, wholesome,
and clear as crystal. At Nindiri, a small Indian village, iX miles from Masaya,
the company has built an immense reservoir, with an elevation of 140 feet,
capable of holding 600,000 gallons. From Nindiri to Masaya, there is a pres-
sure equal to 5oo pounds to the square inch.
The mains are of 3 and 4 inch iron pipe. The principal main is laid on
Monibo street. Few mains as yet have been laid on the side streets. This
company was organized with a capital stock of $126,ooo; that is, thirty shares,
at $4,200 per share. The piping was purchased in the United States. There is
every indication to believe that the enterprise will prove a paying one. Masaya
has a population estimated at 16,000, and is on the line of the national railroad
running from Managua to Granada.


Masatepe is a small village, about one hour and a half's ride from Masaya,
and has within and around its confines a population of 16,ooo. The source of
the water supply is Lake Masaya. This lake lies 300 feet below the town of
the same name, surrounded, excepting on the western side, by precipitous cliffs,
down which three or four rocky paths have been cut. In order to reach a
proper level, the water is pumped from the lake to a height of 1,ozo feet. The
length of the main, that is, from the lake to Masatepe, is 3 miles.
A company was organized to construct these works on a basis of one thou-
sand shares at $25 per share, and it is estimated that the plant cost $25,ooo.


On the 7th of July last, a concession was granted by the city of Leon to a
company for the introduction of water and the erection of the necessary works.
A company has been organized, with a capital stock amounting to $107,500,
divided into two hundred and fifteen shares, at $500 per share. The munici-
pality of Leon has subscribed for six shares. It is believed that the works will
not cost less than $1zo,ooo.
The water is to be taken from the Rio Chiquita, distant about half a mile
from the city. It is understood that the company will lay about 13 miles of
piping between now and the early part of next year.
The enterprise should be successful, as it has a greater population to draw
from than any other portion of Nicaragua. The inhabitants of Leon are sup-
posed to number 40,000.



Upon this enterprise I have already reported, but as the management has made
some improvements since that report, it is proper to revert to it again.
The company has just lately purchased a mile of portable railway, costing
$5,000 in gold. This machinery was bought in the United States, because it
comes free into this country under the reciprocity treaty and because it is supe-
rior to all others. The company has also added electrical machinery to its
already perfect sugar-refining plant. Electric lights will be placed in the main
building and in the houses set apart for the officers and employes.
The San Antonio Sugar Company is the most important undertaking in Nica-
ragua, and, I believe, in the whole of Central America. Their object is to rev-
olutionize the sugar industry of these countries, which their capital and extensive
plant will well enable them to do.
The gentleman who has charge of the purchasing department of this concern
assures me that American pumps and boilers take the lead of all others.


The business men of Granada are now considering the advisability of improv-
ing their water system. At this time the supply is very limited and inadequate
to the needs of the city. This system will be improved if the gentlemen who
have the new venture in hand can induce the old company to dispose of its
interests. It is believed that the old company will sell. As soon as the trans-
fer is consummated, the new company will proceed to expend $60,000 in im-
proving the water system and $40,000 for electrical machinery. I am assured
that the city of Granada will be lighted by electricity not later than the middle
of the year 1893.
Besides the tramway that runs from the station to thp market in Granada, it
is proposed to construct another from the cemetery to Lake Nicaragua. Those
interested in the project have estimated the cost to construct the line at $50,000
The young men of Granada are considering the proposition of erecting a hip-
podrome, where there can be racing and a place for athletic games of all kinds.
It is proposed to construct public baths on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, in
Capitalists of Leon are considering the suggestion to build a tramway through
the principal street and to the railroad station. *

Chapter IX.

Nicaragua is a Catholic country, and the constitution recognizes
this fact by declaring:
ARTICLE 6. The religion of the Republic is the Roman Catholic Apostolic.
The Government protects its practice.
No person is molested, however, on account of religious ideas.
Public instruction has been under the immediate and direct con-
trol of the Government ever since 1877, and that it is fully alive
to the importance of the work is proved by the fact that it expends
upon it 8 per cent of its income. Senior Gamez, in his Noticias
geogrificas, etc., says that the Nicaraguan Government expends for
this purpose no less than $18,883.281 per month, or $226,599.38
per year.
Besides the schools supported by the Government, there are
others supported by the respective municipalities, and others exclu-
sively private, or established and conducted by private enterprise.
When Sefior Gamez wrote (1892), there were 263 Government
schools, with 303 teachers, and an attendance of 16,554 pupils; 10
municipal schools, with 15 teachers and 87 pupils; and 37 private
schools with 95 teachers and 1,895 pupils; total, 310 schools, 413
teachers, and an attendance of 19,320 pupils.
In addition to the primary schools, there are two "intermediate,"
or rather high, schools for boys, and one of the same character for
girls, having together 51 teachers (42 for boys, 9 for girls), and an
attendance of 1,441 pupils (724 boys, 717 girls).


Until very recently, there have been two universities in Nica-
ragua, one in Le6n, and another in Granada, fully equipped for
the teaching ofjurisprudence and medicine, with powers to confer
academical degrees. Under a decree promulgated by President
Sacasa, the two universities have been consolidated into one.
There is but one public library in Nicaragua, which is located
at Managua. It contains a very choice collection of the works of
foreign and American authors, numbering 6,310 volumes and 600
pamphlets. This library is supported by the national Government,
and derives no revenue save from that source, as it is free to the

Chapter X.

The style of domestic architecture in Nicaragua is the same that
prevails throughout the whole of Spanish America. The houses
of the laboring classes vary in solidity according to the variations
of climate; being, in the, hot lands, near the coast, merely light
structures of wood or cane and thatched with palm leaves. In the
colder regions, they are built of adobe, or sun-dried brick, and
roofed with tiles. The better class of houses are built in the old
Spanish style which was introduced into Spain by the Moors, some-
times of two stories, but more frequently of one only, built around
a courtyard or patio. In a warm climate, no pleasanter residence
can be imagined than these houses. The thick walls are built of
adobe, cemented and whitewashed, or of stone. These and the
heavy-tiled roofs exclude the heat. The rooms are spacious and
very lofty, with great doors, and windows without glass sashes, but
closed by heavy wooden shutters and protected on the outside by
a grating of iron bars. All the doors of the rooms open upon a
veranda surrounding the patio, which is filled with shrubbery and
flowers. Here, easy chairs and hammocks afford inviting resting
places. In the towns, however delightful these houses may be as
places of residence, the fact that the verandas and other embellish-
ments are on the interior gives the street a gloomy appearance.
The majority of city residences are also connected with stores.
As a rule, few merchants or traders reside away from their places
of business. Rents are high and have greatly increased of late

1K-. Z ;



,r~C~~ .: F~3


years. The better class of houses rent at from $40 to $1oo per
month. In the larger cities, manyof the houses are built of stone,
which is abundant and easily procured. The quality generally
used is soft when first quarried and can be worked very easily, but
hardens with age and exposure. With abundant material and
cheap labor, there is no reason why such high rents should be
maintained. In Managua, the capital, where the population is
rapidly increasing, and in several other cities, the erection of houses
for rent would be a lucrative investment, particularly as there are
no taxes levied on real estate.
The markets are well supplied, but usually do not present any
great variety of vegetables. In Managua, the market building
covers an entire square. It was built by English capital under a
Government concession granting a monopoly for twenty-five years.
The selling is done principally by women. The following is a
list of retail prices prevailing there at date of latest advices:
Coffe ............................. .......................... ....per pound.. $o. 30
Coffee, black ......... .... ....................................... ....... do.... .20
Rice ................. .. .................... .......... .... .. ...... do.... o
Cacao ......................................................... do.... .80
Sugar, second class ............................................do.... .o
Sugar, first class ........... ............. .....................do.... .20
Milk cheese, or queso de leache ................................. do.... .30
Butter cheese, or queso de mantequilla ........................... do.... .45
Frijoles ................................................................ do.... .07
Corn............... ..............................per medio, 12 pounds.. .30
Starch ............. ....................................... per pound.. .20
Lard ...... .... .. ......................... per quart bottle.. .50
Native ....................... ........ .... ...... per pound.. .6o
Foreign ....................................................do.... .oo
Lemons ..................................... .............. per dozen.. .12
Potatoes ............. ................................... per pound.. .07X
Flour .................. ............ ....... ... ....... .... .... do.... o
Plantains .................... ...............................three.. .05
Astral............... .............................box of 5 gallons.. 8.oo
Radiant .. ............................................. do... 6. oo
Soap ...........................................per bar of 30 ounces.. .20
Beef, the best ...............................................per pound.. 5

Pork ..................................................... per pound.. .ro
Pepper, sold only unground.............................. ........do.... .30
Salt............ ......... .......... ...........................do.... .o2%
Ham.............. .................... ....................... do.... .38
These prices, as well as all others quoted, are in Nicaraguan
currency, which averages from 30 to 35 per cent less in value
than the United States gold dollar, consequently reducing prices
in a corresponding ratio as compared with United States currency.
In journeying through the country, the traveler has to depend
on such fare as he may be able to obtain at native houses and such
stores as he may carry with him, but in the principal towns and
cities there are hotels where fair accommodations and good rations
are the rule. Hotel charges throughout the Republic are from
$1 to $2.50 per day, the latter rate only at those of the higher
class and in the principal cities. There are places where board
can be obtained for less, but they are frequented by the lower class
of natives only and would not be very attractive, especially to
foreigners. The rates usually changed by the meal at the best
hotels are: Early coffee, 25 cents; breakfast, 75 cents; dinner, 80
cents to $1. Board by the month is from $25 to $30, without
room. An extra charge of $5 per month is usually made when
meals are sent to the house of the boarder. Tea is rarely used
and is only prepared at special request. Coffee and chocolate are
the usual beverages, and both are invariably excellent. Beer, both
European and American, can be obtained, but costs from 30 to 50
cents per pint bottle. California wines, 80 cents per pint bottle.
Butter is rarely seen on hotel tables, and is not usually palatable
when obtained. Meat is generally good. Chickens, turkey, and
venison are usually served at dinner, and in the lake cities espe-
cially, fish is abundant and good. Eggs, cooked in omelets and
in every other way, are staple articles of food. Frijoles (beans)
and rice are the usual vegetables, occasionally varied by potatoes,
cabbage, squash, and pease, but as a rule, vegetables are not served
in great variety.


Clothing is reasonable in price. The custofier usually provides
his own cloth, which costs from $3 to $5.50 per yard, and the
tailor charges from $10 to $16 for making a suit, according to the
style and trimmings required. Ready-made clothing can be ob-
tained at from $9 per suit upwards.
Shoemakers charge from $5 to $6 per pair for gaiter shoes and
for low-quarter shoes $4 to $5.50. Ready-made shoes are sold at
$4 for low quarters and $7.50 for gaiters. Russet shoes sell for $4.
Ladies' shoes, from $3 up per pair. The shoes found in the stores
are invariably of American manufacture and come largely from Bos-
ton. It is very rarely that shoes of European make can be found in
the stores of Nicaragua. Dressmakers charge for making dresses
as follows: Ordinary calico house dress, $2; street costume, $5
to $7; ball dress, $o1 to $15. Ladies' hats, trimmed, sell from
$4 to $20, but there is little demand for millinery, as the pafiol6n
and reboso are used in preference to the hat or bonnet.
Labor is plentiful in Nicaragua, at least so far as present needs
are concerned. But to carry out any great public work or to
develop the immense resources of the country on the scale that
will be required whenever the facilities for transportation are im-
proved, it will be necessary to import laborers and encourage immi-
The following is a statement of the wages received by the dif-
ferent classes of labor. It also shows the salaries paid by the
Government to those employed in the railroad, steamboat, and
telegraphic service. The amounts are stated in Nicaraguan cur-

Description. Wages.
Clerks, mercantile: Dollars.
Natives.......................................per month.. 20.oo to 40.00
Foreigners ............................ ............do.... 50.oo to 50. oo
Stone masons ............................... ..per day.. r. 50 to 2.00
Carpenters ............ ............................do.... I.oo to 2.00
Furniture-makers........... ... ....... .............do.... 50 to 2.00
Journeymen tailors ............. ......................... do.... .80 to 2.00
Bull. 51 -6



M achinists .............................................per day..
Cooks .............................................. per month..
Blacksmiths ................ ...........................per day..
Shoemakers ........ ................... ........... .. do ...
Tile roofers ..............................................do....
W agon-makers ...........................................do....
Railway service:
Auditor.........................................per month..
General superintendent ...............................do....
Private secretary ........................... ...........do....
Traffic manager-
Eastern section ......... .........................do...
W western section ..................................do...
Assistant auditor ......... ......................... .do...
Telegraph operator, superintendent's office ..............do....
Storekeeper ......................... .................do....
Road master ..........................................do....
Bridge inspector .................. ..................do....
Conductor ................................... .........do....
Machinists ......................................... do....
Collector and paymaster...............................do....
Inspector of cars.....................................do....
Ticket agent.... ............... .............. ..........do....
Station master-
Granada ........................................ do.
Central station ................. ...................do ...
Sabana Grande ...................................do ....
Campuzano .......................................do....
Nindiri ..........................................do ....
M asaya ...... ............ .. .....................do....
San Bias ........... ........... ................... do....
Master mechanic .....................................do....
Foreman, machine shop..............................do...
Founder ......................... .................... do...
Timekeeper ...................................... ...do...
Telegraph service:
Steamer service:
Steamers Managua and Angela ......... ........ do...
Steamer Progreso................................do...
Steamer Amelia ........... .....................do.
Steamer Isabel....................................do.......
Superintendent of steamers ............................do...
Master mechanic of steamers ...........................do....
Wharf master-
At Managua .......... .................. ........do....
At Grenada .......................................do....
Engineers, railways and steamers ...........................do....
Firemen ................................. ..............per day..
Brakemen............................................... do....


3.oo to 5.00
6.oo to 14.oo
i. oo to 3.00
I. 00 to 2.00
50 to 2.oo
I. 00 to 2.00

100. 00



60. oo to 125. 0
18. ooto 19.oo



r -


The coffee-pickers are paid by the task, about 40 pounds of
green berries for 1o cents.
Ordinary laborers, cartmen, and farm laborers receive from jo
to 80 cents per day.
Notwithstanding these low wages, food and clothing are so easily
obtained, the climate is so genial, and nature has been so bountiful
that the people all look contented and well fed. Old people and
children appear to be well cared for, few beggars are seen in the
streets, and nowhere are such appearances of poverty and squalor
as may be seen in the large cities of the United States and Europe.

Chapter XI.


Notwithstanding the natural difficulties of insufficient means of
transportation, the commerce of Nicaragua is steadily increasing.
This is due in part to the extension of its fruit trade, which is
principally transacted on the Caribbean coast, and in part to the
growth of the coffee shipments, made chiefly from Pacific ports.
The following table shows approximately the increase of the trade
between Nicaragua and the United States. Such statistics are to
be considered with a knowledge of the fact that the imports are
stated in Nicaraguan currency, while the exports are calculated
in that of the United States. Notice must also be taken of the
further fact of possible undervaluations on goods upon which im-
port duties are collected.

1888. i889. 18qo.

Imports into United States from Nicaragua... $1, 496, 171 $i, 747, 246 $1, 655, 69o
Exports to Nicaragua from United States .... 927, 022 I, oo9, 687 I, 373, 019
Balance against United States......... 569, 149 737, 559 282, 671

In so far as these figures show a steady increase in the trade
between the two countries, they will be accepted as gratifying
evidence of progress in that direction. Those, however, who see
in them an advantage to the United States because of a diminu-
tion of the "balance of trade" against this country will be forced


to explain in what manner Nicaragua is benefited under their
The shipments of coffee from Nicaragua were:
For the two years ending- Pounds.
June 30, 1884 ............................................ ..... 12,696,400
June 30, 1886 ................................................... 14, 247, 200
June 30, 1888 ................................................... 12, 424, 300
June 30, 1890 ................. ................................. 19, 786,400
Many new coffee plantations have been started within the past
few years and it is believed that exportations of this product must
continue to increase.
The following table shows the amount of coffee exported from
Nicaragua to the United States within the past ten years:

Year. Pounds. Year. Pounds.

iS81........................ 959,200 1.886. ..................I 2,331,400oo
ISS...................... 2, I68,500 1887..................... 2,700,000
ISS3.....356,4 oo 1889 356,400 888........................ 3,426, Ioo
ISS4 ...... .............. 23 2,ooo000 1889 ....................... 3,743,372
885.......... ...... ..... .. 2,033,60oo 189.......................... 3,735,196

Inasmuch as the price of coffee has increased, it will be under-
stood that this industry is an important factor in the prosperity and
wealth of the country.
The following table shows the total foreign commerce of Nica-
ragua, including exports and imports, for the periods stated:
For the two years ending-
June 30, 1884 ............................................... $8, 699, 629. 59
June 30, i886.................................................. 8, 410, 188. 26
June 30, 1888 ........................................................... 9,252,948.83
June 30, 189o .......... ....... ...................... ........ 14, 563, 113. 51
Of this last amount-
The imports were............................................... 7, 566, 293. 0o
The exports were ............................................ 6,996, 820.49
Showing an apparent excess of imports of ..................... 569, 472. 53
Here, again, it must be noted that the imports are stated in Nica-

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