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Full text of "The Cartago earthquake 6h. 47m. 35s. May 4th, 1910"

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Fernandez Guargia 
The Cartago Earthquake 






The Cartago 

MAY 4th 191 O 

San Josk. Costa Kica 



Costa Rica 

Central Onierica 


ri)e Cartago 



6 li. 47 m. 35 s. may 4tl] 1910. 

Copyright by 

f eon Fernanbez Guarbia anb 

Flmanbo Cespebes ITIarm. 

Copyright by 

TTIagazin Costarricense. 





nntonio rebmann. Printer. 
San Jose, Costa Rica 

Ttic city of Cartago 


Juan Vasquez de Coronado was successor with full power, to Juan 
de Cavallon, Alcalde Mayor of Nicaragua, and continued the conquest of 
Costa Rica. Born at Salamanca (Spain) in 1523 he was a descendant of a 
distinguished noble family. Prior to his appointment as Mayor of Nicaragua 
he occupied the same office in Honduras and San Salvador. He came 
over sea from Nicoya with eighty men, and after setting at peace the country 
he settled in Aserri from whence he proceeded to Quepo, thence to the 
Pacific coast, Boruca and Terraba plains. He stormed and took possession 
of the Indian fortress Goto, from where ^e returned to Garcimufioz through 
the old settlement of Pacaca (Tabarcia). 

He explored the Guarco Valley (Gartago) laying out a city between 
Purires and Taras rivers which he named Gartago. In the month of March 
1564 he ordered the inhabitants of Garcimufioz to move the new country seat. 

In the year 1565, Phillip II, King of Spain acknowledged his thanks 
to the city of Gartago for services tendered in favour of the conquest, 
awarding her at the same time a Coat of Arms, — a copy of which we 
reproduce on the cover of this album. 

At the beginning of 1572 Perafan de Rivera, a noble- man, at that time 
Governor of Costa Rica, moved the city of Cartago to a savana in the 
outskirts of San Jose where the settlers remained for two years. 

In 1574, Anguciana de Gamboa, Provisional Governor of Costa Rica, 
again moved the settlers to the place where the present seat of Cartago 
is now in ruins. 

In 1808 the Cartagoans refused to recognize King Jose Bonaparte 
of Spain, keeping their oath to Carlos IV. 

Since then, Cartago was the capital of Costa Rica until 1823, when 
San Jose was made the capital of the new Republic. 

Front a booklet written 

by D. Ricardo Fernandez Guardia. 



The wrecked Paraiso Catholic Church. (Village near Cartago.) 



One of the oldest towns in Costa Rica, and until 1823 
the capital of the Republic, lies about twelve miles to the 
southeast of the present capital, the city of San Jose. 

It is built dangerously near the base of the volcanic 
mountain called Irazu, which is probably the cause of the 
present disaster. Irazu is a more or less active volcano, and 
the city of Cartago has been evacuated several times on 
account of the eruptions of its restless neighbour. 

In the year 1841 Cartago was completely wiped out by a 
violent earthquake in sympathy with Irazu's eruptions. A number 

1286268 3 

of people were killed, but not the great number that would 
have met their end had the town been built at that time as 
it was latterly. 

The city was partly or in greater part destroyed also in 
1723, 1803, 1825, 1851 and 1854. On April 13th 1910 a series 
of earthquakes, varying in intensity, swept over Costa Rica, 
doing considerable material damage but practically without 
loss of life. San Jose suffered most severely, while Cartago 
and its surroundings up to Port Limon felt the force of the 

The city was a very picturesque old place. Like its 
younger but more beautiful and wealthy sister, San Jose, it is 
situated on a tableland about 4500 feet above sea level. It is 
joined with Costa Rica's greatest port. Port Limon, by a 
railway which, passing through Cartago, goes to San Jose and 
Alajuela, then right across to the Pacific port of Puntarenas. 



A view of the Central American Court of Justice, after the shock. 

This Palace constructed with the gift of $ 100.000-00 donated by 

Hon. Mr. Andrew Carnegie, was nearly finished. 

How the buildings at Cartago withstood the earthquakes just before the fatal shock. 

After the removal of the seat of the Government from 
Cartago to San Jose the old capital seemed to be a dying 
town. The population fell to about 3000 in 1890. The com- 
pletion of the railway, however, and the extensive banana 
industry of the United Fruit Company stirred it to life again. 
At the time of this latest disaster the population had increased 
to over 12,000. The town was of considerable size, and during 
the past fifteen years had become modernized by the influx 
of foreigners. It had some very fine old buildings, including 
the City Hall, the Armory, the College of St. Luis, which 
was at one time considered the finest building in the republic; 
the Palace of the Central American Court of Justice, or in other 
words the Carnegie's Peace Palace, which had been built with 
a view to resist earthquakes, did not honour the Architect for 
it was completely demolished when almost ready to be dedicated. 
There was also the Convent of the Sacred Heart and the very 
ancient Church of Our Lady of the Angels. 

Besides this church there were about a dozen others of \\ 
various denominations, most of all built of stone. The Saint 
Nicholas being of solid Gothic architecture; under construction 
there was also a parochial church built solidly ever since the 
second destruction of Cartago. 

The wrecked Carnegie's Peace Palace. The Entrance. 
Nature did not done justice to the symbolic Statue of Justice. 

Cartago was one of the few towns left in Central Ame- 
rica where innovation could not wipe out the atmosphere of 
the Old World antiquity. Its streets suggested ancient Spain 
and on a busy day they presented a motley of race and color. 
Today, the proud old town is a total ruin instead of being the 
flourishing city of yesterday. It was awfully destroyed! 


A street scene along the High Road from Cartago to San Jose, 
in the village of Taras. 

Mention has been made of the old church of our Lady of 
the Angels. While it survived many other earthquakes, it did 
not withstand the fourth of May shock. There is a strange story 
attached to Los Angeles! 

In the middle of the 17th century, in the latter part of 
which the church was founded, an Indian woman, going to a 
spring for water, found a little stone image of Our Lady on a 
rock where the church now stands in ruins. She took it home 
and placed it in a safe place. Next day, upon going for water, 
she discovered a similar image on the same rock. Taking it 
home and being about to place it with the first, she discovered 


As it appeared the morning after the earthquake the High Way'^the old 

street of Los Angeles. At the background appears the famous Church 

of Our Lady of the Angels. 

The Church of Our Lady of the Angels. 
It was a famous earthquake resisting building, but this time failed. 

The Church of "La Soledad» at Cartago waiting its final 
demolishment by men. 

that the first had vanished. This happened several times, in each 
case the image vanishing from the niche and appearing on the 
rock. She reported the matter to a priest and under the belief 
that this image was a divine sign, the Church of the Angels was 
founded upon that rock, from which a spring of clear water 
runs, being of course for those with sufficient faith a healing 
water; the people claim and prove such miracles by the 

From April 13th to May 4th 400 shocks were recorded, 
but the volcanoes of the vicinity exhibited no special activities, 
excepting the ash eruption of Poas on the 25th of January 
1910 which aside from being an eruption the most great and 
formidable of those remembered, it was a most beautiful 

The shock of the 4th of May demostrated its amplitude 
to have been .22.3 m. m. which is only 2 m. m. less than 
that which destroyed San Francisco and Valparaiso. 


The nature of the earthquake which destroyed Cartago 
is now being discussed, but the general testimony of those 
who suffered from it goes to show that it resembled an 
explosion more than the ordinary seismic movement which 
was felt throughout the Republic during those days. 

Not a building was left standing whole, and next morning 
the scene in the stricken town was one of the utmost horror. The 
ancient adobe of which most of the houses in the city were 
constructed, crumbled easily, burying men, women and chil- 
dren. Many of the most modern buildings, however, were 
constructed of heavier material and in them the loss of life 
was even greater. Throughout the ruins rescue parties worked 
haphazardly, using any implements that were available, but 
they worked with fear and were unorganized. 

. The rescue parties had two distinct duties to perform: 
that of searching for dead bodies and that of carrying them to 
the plaza in front of the Armory for identification. It was a 
grimy scene when the carts arrived with their gruesome loads 
which were watched by people looking for the loved ones; 
perhaps mutilated horribly or unrecognizable. 

At Cartago the old adobe houses and stone walls fell or cracked. 



The Schools and the Municipal Theatre at Cartago, totally wrecked. 

The Armory at Cartago. The tower with its clock fell 
to the ground with terrific force. 


One of the adobe houses in Cartago that withstood the shock. 

Many of the victims of tiie earthquake remained trapped 
beneath the broken walls and timbers and those that survived 
found it difficult to find then all, being themselves hungry and 
helpless, besides suffering from shock and fright. 

More than 600 dead were recovered from the wreckage; 
it is estimated that the number of victims amounted to 1500 
out of a twelve thousand population. 

Many pitiful stories are told by refugees. One is that of 
a man who found himself alone after the great disaster 
(6 h. 47 m. p. m. May 4th 1910) saved by a queer turn of 
fortune. He set himself to the task of rescuing his family alone, 
refusing to admit that all were crushed to death. Unable to 
secure aid, he laboured on for many hours without food or 
drink when he was found to be hopelessly mad. 

In other instances children worked with only their hands 
to save their parents, or vice -versa; the cry of the entombed 
being heard in every section of the city. 


One of the residences in Cartago. 

The Chapel of the Nun's Convent. 


Slight shocks increased the terror of the remaining 
inhabitants, and many a rescue party was trapped or buried 
by falling walls. 

Many hundreds of people were injured and the temporary 
hospitals thrown up on the outskirts of Cartago and in Cen- 
tral Park were packed with wounded and dying. 

Most of the survivors of the earthquake are now in San 
Jose living in tents and wooden structures, fearing to occupy 
the houses as the earth tremors still continue. All efforts have 
been made to shelter everyone and extraordinary measures 
were taken by the Government and Foreign Colonies to provide 
assistance and shelter for them. 

Owing to the general damage at Cartago and San Jose 
(the city capital) and many other adjoining villages partially 
damaged, as the earthquake was one of a series of seismic 
disturbances, and the worst that science has recorded in years, 
the extent of the loss can only be guessed. The property 
damage will possibly be thirty millions of dollars. 

Back of the Church of « La Soledad » as it was seen the 
morning after the earthquake. 


One of Cartago's principal streets after the earthquatce. 

Cartago. — Ruins of the Church of San Nicolas. 


The Market is only a mass of ruins after being a building of finest 
and solid structure. 

It was a scene that one can never forget. Cartago is 
wholly levelled, it is a deserted city buried under tons of stone, 
adobes and timber, and the full disaster is beyond the grasp 
of startled Costa Rica. 

While the shocks are diminishing, the entire population 
of the central plateau is still fearful, tho Cartago bore the 
brunt of the shock, the earthquake affected 200 miles in length 
and played havoc throughout the valley. It is the third time 
in history that Cartago lies in ruins and it will be some 
time before tranquility is restored. 

No one is allowed within the precincts of the devastated 
city unless with a special permit, for gangs of soldiers and 
volunteers are employed in clearing ninety five building blocks 
shaken from their foundations; it is estimated that] a force of 
2000 men would be required for six months to clear the ruins 
of old Cartago, under good organization. 


The earthquake that did the damage lasted only one 
second and gave absolutely no time for the people to leave 
their houses. This statement is verified by the small number 
of wounded in comparison with the killed. The mortality 
v/ould have been greater had it not been that the entire 
population of the earthquake zone has been camping out in 
anticipation of a general disaster, because of so many 'quakes 
after April 13th. During the 4th of May, seventeen earthquakes 
were felt in Cartago, which naturally alarmed the community 
and induced more people than usual to seek shelter in the open. 

Without a warning of any kind, the shock came at 
6.47 p. m. There was a tremor and a crash and then everything 
fell — walls, beams, ceiling. The horrors of the night began and 
nobody wants to talk of the scene. There were great cracks in the 
streets and the railway tracks were twisted and distorted so that 
at first no trains could be run. The city was in darkness, from 
the fact of the electric lights going out. Excited men and women 
walked about seeking their relatives after escaping miraculously, 

A street scene with those that survived, and could not bear to 
talk of the horrors of the scene. 


One of the ambulances left, carrying away the bodies taken out from 
the debris. There were no separation of sex nor age. 

for many a one was found in position showing that they were 
killed without a moment's warning. One man was found sitting 
at his desk with pen in hand; a clerk was found on top of 
the counter which he had endeavored to vault at the first 
shock; a cashier was found also, with some money in hand 
and the machine open. The few houses that remain standing 
are those that had been constructed with wooden frames. 

Costa Rica's sister republics and also United States, 
Mexico, Cuba, Panama, Colombia, etc., are responding nobly. 
The Foreign colonies and private Committees throughout Cen- 
tral America are also sending in money. 

When informed that the Palace of Justice had been des- 
troyed, the Honorable Andrew Carnegie who gave $ 100.000.00 


needed for the building, which was about ^ i completed, he 
expressed that he would do his share, if called upon, toward 
paying for the rebuilding of the structure. 

The American Red Cross, appealed to the people of 
U. S. to express their sympathy contributing generously to the 
relief of the sufferers, and they sent, money, lumber, provis- 
sions, tents, 35 wooden houses, blankets, etc. 

The United Fruit Co., the Costa Rica Railway Co., and 
many other companies that have interests in the country have 
sent large contributions. 

The new city of Cartago will be built like a thoroughly 
modern one, with the buildings as nearly earthquake proof as it 
san be possible to make them, nevertheless, the rememberance 
of the mighty upheaval that overwhelmed our old and dear 
Cartago, it will remain for many a generation. 

[une 4th 1910. San Jose, Costa Rica, C. A. 

Bodies of people who were killed by the falling buildings, waiting their 
turn to be buried. 



^ecc/oTt. A^-Sj^ J^/c^a^ A/rxJ . .^.i.^,,^./.-. 

/»i -r. 3'1-no 

This drawing shows the position of the old and the 
new craters of Irazu volcano. 

Crateres vlejos apagados = Old dead craters 
Volcan nuevo . . . . = New crater 

Bosque = Forest 

Arbustos = Bush 

Escjrias = Ashes 

Arena = Sand 

Boca . . . . = Mouth 75 M. deep. 

Rocas . . . . ^ Rocks 

_ Cavities which emit 
"" sulphureous smoke 

Alt = Hight from sea level 




From an article by Professor Tristan that appeared in the 
only Magazin in Central America, Magazin Costarriccnsey 
published in San Jose, C. R., we translate the following data: 

1723. February. Eruption of volcano Irazu with many quakes 
lasting up to Dec. 11, the most formidable remembered. 
1726. May. Great eruption of ashes. No earthquakes. 

1821. May. Eruption of ashes. No earthquakes. 

1822. May. Strong earthquakes. 

1841. September. Destruction of Cartago. There exists no 
data about the volcanic activity. 


1844. May. Extraordinary activity of volcanoes Irazu and Orosi, 
which were in evident relation with the earthquakes felt 
in Nicaragua. 

1847. May 18. Eruption of ashes with strong earthquakes, 
which were felt from Rivas, Nicaragua, down to Panama. 

1851. May 18. Cartago in ruins, caused by a North -South 
ondulatory earthquake. There does not exist any record 
about the activity of Irazu, which is notable, had the 
volcano been active a record would have been made. 

1888. December. Strong earthquakes that did considerable 
damage in San Jose: were caused by extraordinary 
activities of the volcanoes Irazu and Poas, the erup- 
tions being watery and gaseous. 

1910. May 4th. Total destruction of Cartago, and villages 
near-by, caused by a strong shock at 6 h. 47'35" p. m. 
The volcano did not show any activity at all. 

Observations. The Editors of the Magazin Costarricense 
Prof. Leon Fernandez Guardia and Mr. Amando Cespedes 
Marin, a well known photographer, climbed the Irazu mountain 
the day after the destruction of Cartago, visited the craters 
both the old and the new, slept overnight in the old crater 
of the volcano, but could not bring any data about the volcanic 
activity excepting that the earthquakes had caused many slides 
and long openings all over the volcanic mountain. They felt 
over 40 'quakes that night of the 6th of May but nothing else. 

Cartago has been ruined three times in 1841, 1851 and 
1910 and the volcano Irazu has not shown any activity. From 
the dates given the reader will note that most all earthquakes 
and eruptions have occurred during the month of May. 



Ruins of Rafael Angel Troyo's Villa. This national poet was i<ilied by 
a spire of the Church of the Salesian Convent. 


aeaggiMte" * * " ' ' 'ifo^ ' 

Bodies of people killed by the earthquake waiting identification in 
front of the ruined Armory House. 


Co que oimos bespues be la 
bestruccion be Cartago 


Ceon fernanbez Guarbia 

El dia 6 de mayo salimos de San Jose con direccion a 
la ciudad de Cartago 6 mejor dicho, de lo que fue la antigua 
metropoli costarricense. 

A las 9 menos cuarto llegabamos a la estacion del Atlan- 
tico donde con dificultad pudimos comprar unos billetes. 

Una vez provistos de los indispensables cartoncitos que 
pos daban derecho de ir en pie en los carros de la Compania 
del Ferrocarril de Costa Rica, nos metimos al anden y vimos 
que ni sentados ni en pie ni en forma alguna podiamos colar- 
nos entre la apinada multitud que llenaba, no de bote en bote, 
pero de pasarela a pasarela, todos los carros de aquel tren. 

Cespedes que ha viajado tanto por los Estados Unidos y 
otros mundos mejores 6 peores, tuvo una idea genial. Con la 
tripode de la camara fotografica, levanto la ventaniUa de cier- 
to lugar excusado y privado. 

De un salto se colo en el lugarcito consabido, me tendio 
ambas manos y, a mi vez, cai con todo y lentes en el reduci- 
do espacio donde tantos suspiros se han lanzado. 

De pronto, otro bulto asalta el ventanillo, y tras ese, otro. 

Nada menos que un diplomatic© tico, de gran presencia y 
capital se decidi'a a compartir los pocos pies de aire que ence- 
rrados estaban entre cuatro tabiques barnizados! 


Tents in the streets of Cartago before the earthquake of the 4th of May. 

Y el tren no salia; tras una media hora de espera, de fal- 
ta de aire, de perfume sui generis, salimos a paso de entierro. 

La puerta de comunicacion estaba cerrada con Have y no 
nos pudo ser abierta sino en Tres Rios, cuando ya estabamos 
semi asfixiados. 

Por fin, tras mucho sudar, desembarcamos en medio no 
de ruinas sino de terrones. 

De la bella, aristocratica, orgullosa y sana Cartago; de la 
ciudad fundada en 1564, por Juan Vazquez de Coronado, y que 
tantas vicisitudes y traslados sufrio; de la de las numerosas 
iglesias y recuerdos historicos, no quedaba nada, absolutamen- 
te nada. 


Among this debris the body of a man writing 
at his desk, was found. 

Parecia que un gigantesco arado, movido por monstruo- 
sos bueyes y guiado por el Demonio de la Maldad y de la 
Destruccion, hubiera pasado por ahi. 

De Jerusalen a pesar de la maldicicn del Cristo Jesus 
quedo, en partes piedra sobre piedra. 

En Cartago no quedo nada. 

La estatua del expresidente don Jesus Jimenez, fue lo 
unico que no cayo. Desde su elevado pedestal parecia llorar 
sobre la desolacion que lo rodeaba y ser el ultimo de los mo- 
radores de aquella ciudad, cuna y orgullo de tantos hombres 

Paralizados por espectaculo tan terrible, no sabiamos a 
donde dirigir nuestros pasos: las calles estaban obstruidas por 
escombros, por abrigos improvisados en medio del terror de 
los primeros instantes, por una multitud atontada y por curiosos. 

Por fin, vimos a lo lejos un conocido: Juan Cumplido, el 
mejicano generoso, que lo mismo rasguea una caricatura que 
desentierra un aterrado. 

Seis caballos yacian en medio de la calle y se discutia si 
debian quemarse en el lugar 6 trasladarse fuera de la ciudad. 


Por doquiera, mujeres, ninos, ancianos, hombres nos pre- 
guntaban si les llevabamos pan. 

Repartimos unas poca. provisiones que en la capital ha- 
biamos acopiado con ese objeto. 

Llegamos frente a la capilla de los Salesianos, una de 
cuyas torres, al caer, apago para siempre el numen de un de- 
licado poeta, de Rafael Angel Troyo, nuestro amigo querido. 

Cespedes, con un valor temerario se introdujo en la ca- 
pilla, donde segun se nos informo yacian bajo los escombros 
algunos frailes. 

Por mas que me llamo para que lo acompanara en su 
peligrosa exploracion, la prudencia (que es una forma velada 
del miedo) me detuvo en media calle contemplando las ruino- 
sas paredes que parecian desafiar todas las leyes de estabi- 
lidad conocidas. 

Interior of the St. Francis Chappel. 

The picture was taken just before the removal of the corpses 

of two Salesian Brothers and of an orphan boy. 


Cespedes llego hasta el altar; trato de sacar un santo que 
parecia, con sus brazos y manos alzadas, implorar auxilio. 

Una inultitud de personas contemplaba desde afuera el 

Por fin, Cespedes tomo una vista unica del interior de 
aquella capilla. 

Seguimos nuestro itinerario hacia el cementerio. 

Jamas olvidaremos la horrible impresion que experimen- 
tamos al penetrar en la ciudad de los muertos por encima de 
sus parades derruidas. 

Solo la pluma de un Edgard Poe 6 la fantasia de un 
Hoffmann podrian pintar aquella escena horrorosa! 

The niches at the Cemetery. The back wall fell leaving 
the remains uncovered. 

Un hedor nauseabundo se esparcfa por todos lados y pa- 
recia que una atmosfera especial, densa y penetrante flotara so- 
bre aquel lugar. 

La quietud y el silencio habituales eran interrumpidos 
por los golpes de pico, por el rastrilleo de las palas por los 
gritos de los trabajadores. 


U^'^^i^^^^: -"^ 


- liiii«fmi<iiirMmrtfTiriii'l«iiffl>iiii'ri»V<>-»a»r Airtifwi 

The Cemetery at Cartago did not withstand the shock. 

The end of the niches was a total wreck. The caskets and 
remains can be seen among thousands of bricks. 


Los monumentos erigidos por los pudientes en honra de 
sus difuntos yacian en escombros por el suelo agrietado, como 
arrugado por terrible enfermedad. 

Estatuas de angeles despedazadas, una mano por aquf, un 
brazo por alia, la cabeza separada del tronco, rotas las alas 
parecian haber sido heridas por centenares de rayos. 

Un ataud, de pie, salido de su nicho y entreabierto> 
dejaba ver una momia que con sus orbitas vacias parecia 
contemplar aquel desastre. 

En otro cenotafio los cuerpos que descansaban cado una 
en su nicho cayeron unos sobre otros en abrazo macabro, con- 
fundiendo los sexos y uniendo lo que los hombres habi'an 

Centenares de calaveras con su rictus terrible, con los 
cabellos humedos adheridos al craneo, con los dientes rotos, 
formaban en algunos sitios montones horribles. 

Un esqueleto colgando de un nicho parecia querer alcan- 
zar con sus huesosos dedos el ataud bianco de un niiio. 

Por fin, en los nichos piiblicos, la pared derruida dejaba 
ver cientos de ataudes aplastados, de cuerpos desnudos, de 
huesos mezclados, de calaveras cai'das. 

En el fondo, en zanjas enormes, abiertas al azar, se 
mezclaban cadaveres de hombres, mujeres y ninos, victimas 
del horroroso terromoto! 

Salimos de ahi con los cabellos erizados. 

En un rancho improvisado fuimos albergados por un 
pariente cercano de Cespedes y, como en campaiia, almor- 
zamos frugalmente con galletas de soda y jamon endiablado. 

Despues de descansar durante algunos minutos coniinua- 
mos nuestra Jornada. 

El enorme y bello Palacio de Justicia Centroamericano^ 
para cuya construccion, tan generosamente contribuyo el millo- 
nario Carnegie con cien mil dolares, parecia un castillo de 
naipes sobre el cual hubiera pasado un ciclon. 

Mas adelante, contemplamos, en el lugar donde antes 
existio el Hospital, una Hermana de Caridad que tranquila- 
mente, con la dulce sonrisa que caracteriza a esas nobles 
mujeres, sacudia una casulla que acababan de sacar de los 


Varias de sus companeras habian llegado al termino de 
su Jornada y seguramente sonreian tambien, bajo las paredes 
que las aplastaron junto con algunos de sus enfermos. 

En las calles los alambres del telegrafo, del telefono y 
del alumbrado publico se entrelazaban en confusion indescrip- 
tible. Los postes parecian haber sido doblados como si fueran 
simples alfileres. 

Nos dio ganas de exclamar, parodiando al conquistador 
de Troya: jAqui fue Cartago! 

Despues de recorrer en su mayor parte aquel campo de 
desoiacion y de ruina, nos acercamos al kiosco del Parque 
Central. Un caballo negro, ensillado, bebia golosamente en 
uno de los laguitos, despues de haberse hartado de hierba y 

Los lamentos eran horribles y nos alejamos llenos de 
tristeza, encontrando a cada paso procesiones funebres, convo- 
yes macabros que se dirigian hacia el cementerio. 

One of the principal streets in Cartago as it appeared the morning after 
the earthquake. — The building at the side was the St. Charles Hotel. 


Montamos a caballo hacia las tres de la tarde y nos en- 
camlnamos hacia el volcan Irazu a quien se atribuyo desde un 
principio aquella hecatombe. 

Apenas hubimos salido de la ex-ciudad, encontramos a lo 
largo del camino los mismos escombros, otras victimas, la 
destruccion total. 

Las piedras que constituian los cercados a las orillas del 
camino, habi'an caido y lo obstrui'an con su masa. Paredones 
enormes de tierra llenaban los canjilones, arboles arrancados de 
raiz nos obligaban, a cada paso, a desviarnos. 

3- < * j-'i! ^>.««i»rC^MaM^^Hi 

Going to the summit of Irazu volcano, we had to go slowly 

as all the stone from the walls were thrown on the road. 

Compare the size of the stone? with the house at the side. 

En Tierra Blanca, misma desolacion y ruina. Todas las 
cas:s cafdas, con excepcion de unas tres 6 cuatro de madera. 

La pulperia unica tuvo que ser trasladada a la carcel, 
construccion especial de gruesos tablones ensamblados por los 
extremos y que a pesar de ello, habia sufrido grandemente. 


Alli compramos unas pocas provisiones y continuamos 

nuestra Jornada. 

Despues de una penosa larga y ascension, llegamos cala- 
dos hasta los huesos y con un frio terrible a la finca de don 
Ricardo Jimenez O., en la falda del Irazu. 

Alli fuimos acogidos con una hospitalidad que nunca 
olvidaremos y despues de habernos secado a la vera de la 
cocina de hierro, conversamos. democraticamente con aquellas 
buenas gentes todavia llenas de terror. 

Tomamos cafe con leche a una temperatura de unos 90^ 

A las cuatro de la manana nos levantamos a contemplar 
el cielo. El Cometa Halley brillaba en todo su esplendor con 
una Cauda recta como de cien metros (al parecer), y Venus, 
enorme, deslumbraba como un inmenso diamante. 

Group of a family and peones, from the hacienda «La Pastora» located 

almost at the top of Volcan Irazu (one hour on horse back from the crater). 

These good people had time to go to the patio before 

the shock, as they heard a norse just before earthquaking. 


Despues de desayunarnos, acompanados de un guia vo- 
luntario, nos dirigimos a la finca «La Pastoraw del senor Gu- 
tierrez, situada como a una hora a caballo de la del Lie. 
Jimenez O. 

Alli tomamos unos vasos de leche y bondadosamente se 
nos preparo un opiparo almuerzo. 

Continuamos nuestra penosa ascension a pie, las mas de 
las veces, y a caballo a ratos, hasta llegar a la ultima casa, 
propiedad del mismo seiior Gutierrez. 

Cruzando por entre mirtos tupidisimos pudimos situarnos 
frenre al volcan Turrialba, separado de nosotros por una hon- 
donada majestuosamente extensa, en cuyo fondo nace un n'o. 

Desde alli tomamos una fotografia de aquel coloso, y de 
una preciosa laguneta muy poco conocida. 

Turrialba volcano as seen from the mountain of Irazu. 
It is the first time this view is obtained, among the clouds 13,000 feet 

above sea level. 

Taken on the 6th day of May 1910. 


Right on the side of Irazii Volcano there is a little pond which 

grows at times as big as its bed. 

This photo was taken for the first time on the 6th day of May 1910. 

Despues. de unas dos horas de penosisima marcha, siem- 
pre ascendiendo en medio de las gruesas ramas de los arboles 
arrancadas de raiz por el terremoto, pudimos Uegar a los 
playones de arena desde donde continuamos hasta los crateres 

El aspecto general del terreno no habi'a variado mucho. 
Solo notamos grandes derrumbes por todos lados, muchisimas 
grietas, algunas de las cuales median mas de treinta centfmetros 
de ancho por longitudes que variaban entre diez y cuatrocien- 
tos metros, y de una profundidad inapreciable porque no te- 
niamos cuerdas para medirla. 

Para pasar a los crateres apagados tuvimos que caminar 
sobre un desfiladero que apenas tiene, en partes, unos veinte 
centimetros, con precipicios insondables a cada lado y un suelo 
de arena suelta y movediza que a cada paso se deslizaba bajo 
nuestros pies. 


Irazu Volcano. 13,000 feet above sea level. Old craters. This view is taken 
from the opposite wall of one of the cavities. — Note the size of men. 

Creo que expusimos nuestras vidas muchas veces en ese 
paso dificil; pero, afortunadamente, lo cruzamos sin accidente. 

Recorrimos todos los crateres viejos, donde solo obser- 
Vamos muchos derrumbes y un constante deslizamiento de 
arenas y piedrecillas cuya causa no adivinamos en el momento; 
pero que despues resulto ser producido por el constante mo- 
vimiento de la tierra que no dejaba de temblar sino por 


Pasamos despues, bajo una Uuvia torrencial y en medio 
de una neblina que casi nos cegaba, a la parte llamada volcdti 

Alii tampoco notamos grandes cambios, a no ser algunas 
fumorolas que no recordabamos haber visto anteriormente en 
otras expediciones. 

En toda la parte del volcan viejo se notaba un fuerte 
olor azufrado, pero la vegetacion no habi'a sufrido y las aves 
no habian abandonado el lugar, lo que nos indujo a creer, con 
las observaciones anteriores, que alii no hubo erupcion alguna 
ni de agua, ni de cenizas, ni de lava. 

Irazu volcano. The new crater the day after the great shock 

that destroyed Cartago. The white spots seen in the picture are 

fumorolas, from sulphureous deposits and cavities. 



En el volcan nuevo se notaba una actividad acentuada, 
mucho mayor que en los tiempos normales. Las grietas eran 
muy numerosas y todas, lo mismo que las que antes habfamos 
observado, tenian la forma de una herradura de caballo, cuyo 
centro hubiera sido el volcan nuevo. 

Enormes derrumbes que no pudimos apreciar en toda su 
extension debldo a que la neblina aiin cubria gran parte de 
lo que nos rodeaba; un olor azufrado insoportable; ruidos sor- 
dos y lejanos, semejantes al que puede producir una inmensa 
cantidad de agua precipitandose de gran altura, pero ruido 
ensordecido por la distancia, como a muy grande profundidad. 
Eso vimos y oimos. 

Las plantas no parecen haber sufrido gran cosa, aunque 
hay muchas que a pesar de su resistencia conocida estaban 
tristes, con las hojas mustias y amarillentas. 

Ninguna ave, ningun cuadrupedo, ni siquiera avispas 6 
moscas habia en aquel lugar solo comparable a uno de los 
ci'rculos que describe el Dante en su infierno. 

Una angustia incomprensible, una opresion insoportable, 
embargo nuestro animo, y tras breves momentos de silencioso 
contemplar, volvimos a nuestro punto de partida, al oscurecer. 

Encontramos nuestros pobres caballos tratando de comer 
algunas hierbas que crecian por milagro en aquel suelo reque- 
mado, y nos preparamos al regreso cuando se nos ocurrio 
pernoctar en ese lugar para ver el cometa en la madrugada. 

Una enorme pena, un poco ahuecada, unas ramas corta- 
das y formando un techo provisional cubierto de ramajes, tres 
hogueras que mitigaran el frio y ya estabamos instalados. 

Durante los momentos de reposo notamos, no sin inquie- 
tud, que el agua que habfamos llevado y que estaba en una 
vasija ancha (una olla) se movia casi constantemente con pe- 
quenas sacudidas bruscas muy parecidas a las que se producen 
sobre la piel de un caballo que trata de espantar las moscas 
por medio de contracciones nerviosas. 

De vez en cuando sentiamos un temblor mas fuerte, y tres 
de ellos fueron de gran intensidad. 

Pero pudo mas el cansancio que el temor y el fri'o, y 
nos dormimos. 


A las cuatro y cuarto nos levantamos y pudimos contem- 
plar el cometa desde una altura de 3,400 metros. 

El cielo estaba completamente despejado y la pureza del 
aire, a esa altura es admirable. 

Al poco tiempo vimos surgir, casi simultaneamente, el 
cometa y Venus. 

Espectaculo inolvidable fue aquel. 

A family who miraculously escaped from the debris of their home. 

Just after the great shock, they saw 

the meteor that fell in to the Gulf of Nicoya, Pacific Ocean. 

De nuestro regreso nada tenemos que decir, y las pe- 
quenas observaciones que recogimos sobre temperatura, altura, 
etc., no han sldo aiin puestas en orden para su publicacion. 

Entresacamos solamente las siguientes: 

1.^ El terremoto que destruyo la ciudad de Cartago a las 
6 y 47 minutos de la tarde del 4 de mayo, fue sentido en la 
finca de don Ricardo Jimenez a hs 6 y 35; en la finca del 
seiior Guterrez, se sintio a las 6 y 30 y en la ultima casa del 
mismo senor, a las 6 y unos minutos. 


Carta.'^o.'— Carmen Church tower on the railroad track. 

De modo que dada la velocidad aproximada de trasmision 
observada hasta la fecha y conocida la distancia que separa 
.esos lugares de la ciudad de Cartago, es muy facil deducir 
que el movimiento vino del Irazu 6 de sus alrededores con 
direccion a Cartago. 

2.0 Todas las grietas observadas por nosotros parecian 
tener por centro el volcan Irazu y haberse propagado como 
las ondas del agua alrededor de un objeto que cae en ella. 

3.0 Todos los temblores fuertes que se sintieron, inclusive 
el terremoto, veni'an precedidos de un sordo ruido procedente 
del Irazu, pues los vecinos de aquellos lugares teni'an tiempo 
de salir de sus casas, antes de sentir el temblor; lo que ven- 
drfa a demostrar que ese movimiento es mas lento que el de 
la trasmision del sonido. 

4° No se nota erupcion en los lugares donde estuvimos; 
pero eso no es necesario para que haya terremoto 6 para que 


5^ El movimiento de la tierra casi constante, observado 
en los dias sigtiientes sobre la cumbre del Irazu, demuestra 
que existe alguna actividad no comun en aquel volcan. 

6^ Los retumbos sordos y profundos parecen confirmar 
esta creencia. 

70 Los derrumbes demuestran que alli debio ser de una 
intensidad terrible el movimiento que destruyo a Cartago y 
pueblos vecinos. 

8*^ No puede juzgarse que el epicentre del terremoto y 
de los otros temblores sucesivos fuera el Turrialba u otro vol- 
can, porque en ese caso habrian sufrido otras poblaciones y no 
las situadas alrededor del cono del Irazu. 

9° Todas las personas de aquellos lugares con quienes 
hablamos, estan de acuerdo en que el movimiento que produ- 
jo el desastre se sintio, primero, en la forma de un levanta- 
miento brusco del suelo, luego como un deslizamiento y des- 
pues como rotativo, es decir, como un signo de interrogacion ? 
cuyo punto fuera la primera sacudida y cuyo final fuera la 

No somos hombres de ciencia y por consiguiente no po- 
demos razonar como lo haria un entendido en la materia; pero 
nuestras deducciones podn'a sacarlas cualquiera sin grandes 
esfuerzos mentales. 

No creemos, pues, en un hundimiento local del terreno, 
sino en un levantamiento brusco cuya fuerza impulsiva puede 
ser cualquiera de las que responden a las varias hipotesis has- 
ta hoy sostenidas por unos y por otros. 


A picture among the debris. In some cases entire families perished 

under the fallen houses: some suffocated, some crushed. 

It is awful to remember these scenes. 

The school rooms at San Jose converted into a Hospital. 
The sufferers are the wounded from Cartago. 


At the school rooms in San Jose; Doctors and nurses were not sufficient 
to attend the wounded from Cartago. 


In Cartago the roofs caved in making a total wreckage. 

The Municipal Palace of Cartago stood erect, only to be demolished by the 

rebuilders. The first meeting of the Central American Court 

of Justice took place in this building. 

Ca nocbc t)el 4 be Illayo 


flmanbo Cespebes TTIarin 

Senti que la tierra queria derribarme. Me detuve en e! 
centre de la calle y vi paredes inclinarse a un lado y a otro; 
01 crugir el arteson de las casas; senti algo extraordinario. Una 
nube negra en direccion del Irazu se alzo para cubrir las lu- 
minarias del cielo. No sabi'a si era la atmosfera 6 la tierra las 
que producian el ruido espantoso que segundos despues hizo 
a todo el pueblo postrarse de hinojos pidiendo misericordia al 
que todo lo puede. Mi reloj marcaba las seis y cincuenta,— 
faltaban diez minutos para las siete de la noche. 


Paso el terremoto que sacudio a la ciudad capitolina y 
derrumbo a la antigua metropoli y otros pueblos. Yo cref que 
los edificios altos y las torres se hubieran derrumbado en 
nuestra San Jose. Solo hubo rajaduras. Solo hubo lamentos de 
la gente que pululaba por las calles con frazadas y enseres 
buscando alojamiento fuera de las casas. 

La catastrofe de Cartago, de la cual tuvimos noticias 
despues de las once de la noche, ha motivado entre los hombres 
de ciencia apasionadas discusiones sobre el origen, desarrollo 
y circunstancia del fenomeno. — Yo la atribuyo al volcan Irazu. 

El terremoto en San Jose duro 26 segundos. En Cartago 
no hubo aparato seismico alguno que lo registrara, fue un sa- 
cudimiento brusco, como que si un brazo poderoso hubiera 
empujado del centro de la tierra para afuera. — No dio tiempo 
para salvarse. Las gentes se sintieron derribadas unas, empu- 
jadas fuera de las casas otras; pero las victimas contadas por 
centenares no se dieron cuenta de su muerte, de su aplasta- 
miento 6 de su salvacion. 

From the looks of this picture one would never think that 
this was the principal street of Cartago. 


A scene in the streets ot Cartago the morning after the earthquatce. 
A man guarding the bodies of his father and two brothers. 

Al dia siguiente muy temprano sali a pie para Cartago, 
pensando en los veintidos kilometros de distancia que, aunque 
largos, fueron bastante cortos, por el deseo de ver lo que mis 
ojos no querran ver otra vez.' — El destrozo del terremoto se 
hizo notar en todos los pueblos allende el camino real: San 
Pedro, Curridabat, Sanchez, Tres Rios, Ochomogo y Taras. 
Este ultimo recibio la misma conmocion que Cartago; un em- 
pujon hacia arriba, que arruino completamente cada edificio 
causando muchas victimas y heridos. 

He de notar que Ochomogo estando en la misma Cordi- 
llera del Irazu dejaba ver grandes y largas grietas, — dos, tres, 
paralelas a la direccion del camino. 

No he de hablar del pasmo general existente aiin en cada 
uno de nosotros, sino del pasmo de toda una generacion, de 
todos los habitantes de Cartago y sus pueblos, -y el recuerdo 
de la noche del cuatro de mayo, para los de la antigua metro- 


One of the residences in San Jose almost wrecked, after the 
earthquakes of April 13th 1910. 

poll no podra olvidarse, aunque la solidaridad humana que nos 
ofrecen pueblos y naclones sea un movimiento hermoso. 

Cartago se destaco esa noche sobre un fondo de silencio 
y de negrura, y al verse solos en medio de escombros, de 
muertos y de heridos, unisonos pidieron socorro los que que- 
daron, clamando al cielo, y a cada temblor de tierra que 
durante la noche entera se sentia, el pavor se aumentaba. Hubo 
gentes que huyeron del lugar y que aparecieron dias despues. 
Vi gentes idiotizadas que ante la uniformidad de la destruccion 
apenas contaban que se habian salvado; que habi'an perdido 
hijos, padres 6 hermanos. 

Apenas pudo restablecerse el servicio de trenes, continuaron 
saliendo para San Jose, llenos de gentes que hui'an del lugar 
querido y arruinado. 


Por el camino, tambien no se veia mas que lamentables 
peregrinaciones que pedian pan 6 abrigos, mientras que en la 
calle del Cementerio pude ver cortejos larguisimos de muertos. 

No quedaron viveres, ni agua, ni tiendas donde albergarse. 
Muchos de los aterrados murieron de hambre, pues no fue 
posible desenterrarles a tiempo. La ruina de la ciudad es es- 
pantosa aun, aunque la Ley Marcial establecida trate de limpiar 
el terreno de lo que la Naturaleza en un momento sacudio y 
revolco enfurecida. 

The plaster, ceilings and tiles from the roofs of buildings in San Jos6 
fell all about the city, causing considerable damage. 


Ayer mismo haci'amos vida comun; pero ante la catastrofe 
aterradora, inconcebible, todos los sucesos palidecen, haciendo- 
nos sentir oprimido el corazon por la magnitud inconmensurable 
de la perdida de la vieja ciudad. 

La idea de no reconstruir la ciudad en el mismo sitio 
encuentra vivisima oposicion en todos los habitantes de la vieja 
metropoli y aun en todo Costa Rica, por su magnifica posicion, 
por su clima y sus aguas, siempre que se usen mejores medios 
de construccion. 

El horror de ahora, espanta el animo. La ciudad capital 
aun teme que en un momento la fuerza brutal de las pote.icias 
subterraneas ocasione mas dano. Cada animo se estremece al 

Almost a total wreckage at the Municipal Slaughter house 
in San Jose, after the earthquake of April 13 th 1910. 


A scene in San Jose in Morazan Park. The tents are occupied 
by homeless people from Cartago. 

recuerdo del movimiento seismico; y yo he visto hombres, al 
describir las escenas de espanto inenarrable que se sucedieron, 
quedarse sin respiracion para enjutar lagrimas al narrar vividos 
cuadros en que aun oian los gritos de sus hijos 6 los ayes de 
la esposa. 

Si el terremoto hubiera sido a media noche, familias en- 
teras hubieran desaparecido y jamas la fabula habria podido 
inventar tanta mortandad, pues ese enemigo que tenemos bajo 
nuestros pies es invencible e incombatible. 

jQue triste cuadro presentaba la orgullosa ciudad, cuna 
de nuestros proceres y de nuestro actual Presidente! 

Solamente quien sintio y quien vio puede describir el 
horripilante conjunto y los pateticos episodios de la noche del 
4 de mayo. Noche liigubre para siempre, que tenia por centi- 
nela la cima del Irazu, de ese volcan muerto que aun vive; de 
ese volcan que tres veces ha destruido a Cartago, dejandonos, 
en los ojos, lagrimas y emocion en el alma. 


Solo falto el incendio; hubo un heroe, un joven, que sin 
acordarse de la niebla que lo envolvia, corrio y por entre los 
aparatos que caian con estrepito, corto la corriente electrica a 
los alambres distribuidores de la luz. 

Y aunque la ciudad quedo a oscuras en medio de la no- 
che tenebrosa y fria, hubo un momento tremendo, apocaliptico, 
en que el cielo rojo, con una inmensa cola de fuego que paso, 
parecia responder al sacudimiento de la tierra. Fue un bolido 
que cayo en el Golfo de Nicoya. 

El griterio de esa noche era ensordecedor. Todos se uni'an 
y se apretaban en medio de las calles oyendo los ayes ahogados 
de los que estaban prisioneros entre los escombros: agudos 
gritos de pequeiiuelos y voces lastimeras de las madres. No 
pudo haber sido mas espantosa y tragica esa noche del cuatro 
de mayo. 

i Noche lugubre como dije antes! 

A view from the Mercedes Plaza in San Jose, facing 

the San Juan de Dios Hospital (undergoing extensive earthquake 

repairs). Those tents erected are the gift of the American 

Red Cross who responded nobly to the appeal made by President Taft. 



— May 4 th 1910 — 
6 h. 47 m. 35 s. p. m. Astronomic hour in San Jose. 

Principal directions: 

N. 10° E. confluence Sucio and Sarapiqui rivers. 

N. 33° 0' E. 

N. 58° 30' E. towards Guadalupe of San Jose, 

N. 71° 4' E. towards the Irazu volcano. 

N. 78° 30' E. 

0' E. towards Cot, Cartago. 
N. 104° 0' E. 

N. 113° 30' E. towards Cartago. 
N. 123° 30' E. towards Chirripo Grande, mountain or volcano. 

North 121° 52' 30" E. 
N. 130° 30' E. 
N. 47° 0' W. towards the port of La Union, Rep. of Salvador, going 

a little towards W. of Miravalles volcano. 

The Government ought to have a special study of the present matter 
under a fine geological way, so that it can be determined the truth about 
the Chirripo Grande, said to be a volcano: its altitude is 3,800 meters above 
sea level; its direction is 9° 27' 59" North and 83° 31' 2" W. of Greenwich. 


San Jose (Observatory). . 1168.94 meters 90 56' 1" N. 84o 4' 10,75" W. of Gr. 

Cartago (St. Louis College) 1436.2 » 9^ 52' 41" 5 N. 83" 56' 26,1" » » » 

Irazu volcan 3429 » 9» 59' 27" 6" N. 83" 54' 5,1" » » » 

Chirripo Grande .... 3800 « 9° 27' 59" N. 83" 31' 2,5" » » « 

» volcan extinguido 2381 » 9i 41' 33" N. 84" 8' 0" » « » 

» » » 2419 » 9" 40' 25" N. 84" 9' 50" » » « 


Cartago, C. R. 

Group of fumorolas in the lower part of the new crater; 
see page 36. 



Los Angeles 
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 


JUL (^ ''"' 


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