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REPUBLIC OF COSTA RICA.
CHAP. XX. Boundaries-Extent-Population-Volcanoes-Climate
CHAP. XXI. The Capital-Principal Towns-Character of Popula-
tion — Government -Judiciary - Religion-Education-Com-
REPUBLIC OF GUATEMALA.
CHAP. XXII. Physical Features - Limits Political Divisions -
Scenery-Rivers, Lakes, Cities, etc., etc...........
CHAP. XXIII. Political Organization-Religion-Military-Produc-
CHAP. XXIV. Department of Vera Paz-District of Peten-Lake of
Itza-Ancient Monuments-People and History, etc............... 532–553
CHAP. XXV. The unconquered Indians - Lacandones, Manches,
A. The Relations of Races........
B. "Fuente de Sangre"-Letter from Dr. J. L. Le Conte...
CHAP. XXVII. Discovery-Spanish Forays-Descents of the Pirates
-Report of Don Francisco de Avila-Depopulation-Seizure
CHAP. XXVIII. Extent-History-Contests between Spain and
Great Britain-Pretended Cession-Evacuation by the English
-British Protectorate-Dispute with the United States-San
D. Attempts on the Mosquito Shore........
E. Treaties guaranteeing the Honduras Inter-oceanic Railway.
CHAP. XXIX. Spanish Explorations for a Transit in the Sixteenth
CHAP. XXX. Inter-oceanic Railway through Honduras - General
Considerations-Line of Road-Puerto Cortez--Puerto Cortez
to Santiago-Plain of Comayagua-Summit-Bay of Fonseca,
G. Meteorological Observations at the Bay of Fonseca, 1857 ......................
52. Church of St. John, Belize......
53. The Papaya...
54. Puerto Cortez (late Caballos) and Alvarado Lagoon.... 55. Bay of Fonseca, Pacific Port of Honduras Railway
56. Summit-pass of Rancho Chiquito......... 57. Map of Hurricanes
To face page 347
To face page 665 " 676
Page 688 718
In the year 1850, while occupying the position of diplomatic representative of the United States in Central America, it became requisite for me to visit the Bay of Fonseca, which has a commanding geographical position between the states of Nicaragua and San Salvador, on the Pacific Ocean. During my residence at the port of La Union, my attention was arrested by the circumstance that portions of this bay were swept by strong winds from the north, leading me to infer that there must exist an interruption in the great mountain chain of the Cordilleras, which otherwise would interpose an impassable barrier to the winds blowing from that direction. This inference was strengthened on learning that the north winds prevailed only during the period of their continuance on the Atlantic coast, and was confirmed by the additional circumstance that the current of wind reaching the Pacific was only felt over a very narrow space, not exceeding ten miles in breadth. It was with no surprise, therefore, on ascending the volcano of Conchagua, which rises above the port of La Union, that I turned my glass to the northward, and saw that the mountains of Honduras seemed to be completely interrupted in that direction.
Then, this fact only interested me as a remarkable feature in the general physical character of the country; nor was it until the autumn of 1852 that I was led to reflect upon it in connection with the subject of inter-oceanic communications. At this time the practical examination of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, with reference to the construction of a railway between the seas, had resulted in establishing the fact of the total absence of adequate ports for the purpose upon both oceans. The project of a communication at that point had, moreover, become involved, politically, to such a degree that little hope could be entertained of its successful prosecution until a new and permanent order of things should be established in Mexico, a result which the previous history of that country gave no warrant for anticipating as likely to happen for many years.
The unwilling conviction was consequently forced upon the pub
lic mind that, in order to reach California, it would continue to be necessary to follow the tedious and circuitous route by way of the Isthmus of Panama.
It was then that the observations which I had made at La Union induced me to inquire if there might not be a feasible railway route across the continent, terminating on the Bay of Fonseca, in reference to which, and on other grounds, I had ventured the prediction that, "from its position and capacity, it must ultimately become the great emporium of trade and the centre of enterprise upon that side of the continent." I soon found that, as early as 1540, the officers of the Spanish crown had discovered a favorable passage between the seas upon this very line, and that they had founded the city of Comayagua "midway between the oceans" for the purpose of obtaining "an easy communication between the Atlantic and Pacific," by means of which "much sickness, and waste of human life, and many of the fatigues and privations which were experienced in the journey from Nombre de Dios to Panama would be avoided.”
On presenting my views upon the subject to a few personal friends and public-spirited gentlemen, it was determined to incur the expense of verifying them by a direct and careful examination of the country in question. I at once proceeded to organize a competent corps of reconnaissance for the purpose, which sailed from the United States in the month of February, 1853, returning in the month of January of the same year. The results of this reconnaissance, as also of a subsequent detailed survey of the line indicated, by competent American and English engineers, are given in the chapters on the “Honduras Inter-oceanic Railway," and need not be repeated here.
It was, however, on the data collected in that reconnaissance, and in conducting the negotiations resulting from it, that the first edition of this work, under the title of "Notes on Central America,” etc., was founded. But as that work, after all, was confined almost entirely to the States of Honduras and San Salvador, it could not meet the public requirement, enhanced by a series of startling events in Nicaragua, for an accurate and comprehensive account of Central America as a whole. To meet that requirement, I have not only carefully revised the original work, but added to it chapters on Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Belize, the Bay Islands, and the Mosquito Shore, increasing the bulk of the volume from less than four hundred to upward of seven hundred pages, not to mention the addition of numerous illustrations, which serve better than any de