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AUGUSTUS FOLLIN, ) ^ , , , . zr 7 
U. S. Consul, Omoa ^'""''"^ ^^^^^ *" Honduras. 


All the rights, interests, privileges, and property of the Honduras 
Intbbocbanic Railway Company have been divided, by act of the original 
Grantees and Proprietors, into the fixed number of One Thousand Shares, 
represented by an equal nuniber of Share Certificates. 

The Company does not propose to issue Stock, nor to open books for 
Stock Subscription, until their road shall be located, and actually under 
contract, and the cost of constructing the same, and putting it in working 
order, accurately known. 

To aid in carrying forward the work to that point, a limited number of 
the above One Thousand Shares have been reserved iu the Treasury for sale, 
at rates to be determined by the Board of Directors. 






TO Directors covehino Report, - - - 

-General observations on proposed line, 

-Puerto Caballos, 

-Puerto Caballos to Santngo, 
-Santiago to Plain of Espino, 
-Plain of Espino to Comaytgua 
-Plain of Comayagua, 

-The Summit, 

-Valley of the Goascoran, 

-Bay of Fonaeca, 

-Grades on proposed road, 

-Labor, materials, etc., . . - - 

-Climate and temperature, 

-Eesourcea on line of road, - - - - - 

-Interior Navigation, ------ 

-Synopsis of Ckarter, . - - - - 

-Comparison of Isthmus Routes in respect of distance, 
-Comparison of Isthmus Eoutes in respect of ports. 


A. — Peeliminaey Report op Lieut. Jepfers, U, S. N,, - 

B,— Letter ehom Amory Edwahus, Esq., 

C— PuERio Caballos— Extracts from Log-Book of Sc!ir. Geo. Steers, 

p. Gulp of Fonseca as a Naval Station — Extract from despatch 

to Government of the United States, . . . - 


, Google 



I DEREwiTH submit to the Associates and Board of Directors 
of the Honduras Interoeeanie Railway, a summary of the reooTi- 
naismnoe made by me, in the year 1853, of the line of the proposed 
"HoNBUEAS Inteeoceahic Eailway." This reoonnmssmtce was 
conducted with great rapidity, hut the results are clear and con- 
clusive, and may be summed up in a very few pages. 

Lieut. Jefpees, who was attached to the expedition, almost 
immediately after hia return to the United States, was ordered to 
tlie Brazil Sc[uadron. In consequence of this circumstance, his 
complete report has not yet been received. His preliminary 
report, however, will be found in the Appendix, in conjunction 
witla a letter from Amoey Edwabds, Esq., President of the Com- 
pany, who has recently returned from Honduras, and a commu- 
nication from Capt. Thi-xidoke Lewis, in reference to Puerto 
Caballos, the northern terminus of the propceed Eailway. 

Appended hereto are also, 1st. A general outline map, showing 
the actual and proposed rontea of Interoeeanie Communication ; 
2d. A Sketch Map of the line of the road from eea to sea; 3d. A 
chai't of Puerto Caballos, the northern or Atlantic terminus, froiii 


the sui'veys and soandinga of Lieut, Jeffers and Oapt, Lewis ; and 
4th. A chart of the Bay of Fonseca, the southern or Pacific 
terminus of the proposed road. 

The general map of Honduras, and the general and sectional 
maps of the road, are still in the hands of the engravers, but will 
be attached to ray final Report, which will comprise also a genC' 
j-al account of the topography, climate, productions, resources, 
population, etc, etc, of Honduras, 


Your oht, aervt., 

E, Geo. SQUIER, 



The line of the proposed " IIohdueas Inteeoceakic Railway," 
commeQcea at Puerto Caballoa on the Bay of Honduras, in Lat. 
15° 49' N., and Lon. 87° 57' "W., and runa nearly due south, 
across the continent, to the Bay of Tonseca on the Pacific, in Lat. 
13° 31' jST., and Lon. 87° 35' W. The total length of the line from 
anchorage to anchorage, or from iive fathoms of watei" in Puerto 
Caballos to five fathoms of water in tlie Bay of Fonseca, is 148 
geographical, eq^ual to about 160 statute miles. This line hes 
wholly in the State of Honduras, whose territoiial right and sove- 
reignty over it has never been called in CLUeation. Starting at 
Puerto Caballos, the line of the proposed road pursues a com'se a 
little east of south, across the plain of Sula, until it strikes the Eio 
Uhia, near the town of Santiago. Thence it follows the valley of 
that river, now called the Ilumuya, to its very source, in the great 
plain of Oomayagua, a distance of not far fi'om 100 miles from 
Pnerto Caballos. At the southern extremity of this plain there is 
a slight elevation, which constitutes the "summit" between the 
Atlantic and Pacific. Here the sources of the Humuya interlock 
with those of the Eio Goascoran, which flows through its proper 
valley, into the Gulf of Fonseca. 

Two important facts are to be observed in tracing this line : 1st. 
The valleys of the Humuya and Goascoran, in conjunction with the 
central plain of Oomayagua, constitute a great transverse ixMmf 
extendmg from sea to sm, com^letdy outtiTig through the cham of 
the CordMeraa ; and 2d, That this great transverae vaUey or 
natural cut, extends due north and south, and permits the location 
of tlie proposed road so that, in its whole course, it will scarcely 
deviate five miles from a right line. These natural conditions, not 
less than capacious, safe, and altogether unexceptionable harbors 
at both extremities, and a country entirely salubrious, distinguish 
this line as combining the obvious and primary requisites for an 


adequate and permanent Interoceanic CoTninumcation, to a 
which has no parallel in any project which has yet been p 
to public consideration. 

Without intending any invidioua comparisons, it is u 
the fact that the proposed road, not only in the respecta above 
enumerated, but alao in respect of distance, has great advantages 
over any Railway yet projected across the Central Isthmns. Its 
construction will shorten the distance between the Atlantic porta 
of the United States and CaUfomia, Oregon, the Sandwich Islands, 
and the centres of Oriental trade, not less than 1100 miles over 
Panama, 800 over Nicaragua, and upwards of 200 over Tehuante- 
pec, following the hne which the company, holding the charter 
for a road over the latter isthmus, are obliged to follow. 

And when the Kailway connections which the company propose 
to establish with the Gulf of Mexico are complete, the joassage from 
N'ew- York to San Frandseo, via Honduras, will he Reeled in 
less than fawrteen da/ys, or withi/n about half the ti/me now ooou- 
jpied in tJie voyage. The nature of the arrangements now in pro- 
gress to this end, when completed, will, I presume, be made the 
subject of a special publication. I shall, therefore, confine myself 
in the following pages, to a rapid review of the proposed hne 
lihrough Honduras, from Puerto Oaballos to the Gnlf of Fonseca. 


PuERTO Oaballos, as I have said, opens on the Bay of Hon- 
duras, in Lat. 15° 49' N., and Lon. 87° 57' W. It was selected by 
Oortez, in his expedition into Honduras, as the best port in all the 
country then Imown as New Spain ; and he established a settle- 
ment there, with the purpose of making it the grand ewbrepU of 
Spanish North Ameiiea. For more than two centuri^ it was the 
principal town on the coast, and was finally removed to Omoa, a 
few miles to the westwai'd, during the time of tlie buccaneers, be- 
cause it was too large to admit of defence, except by the construc- 
tion of several forts, while a single work was adequate to the pro- 
tection of the small port of Omoa. The accompanying Chart of 


the Port will give a better conception of its eliaracter and capacity 
than can be afforded by a deseiiption, Lieut. Jeffers, in submit' 
ting his snrvey, obaerpes, " Puerto Oc^cMos is a good harior, of 
great capacity, suffioientd^th of water, and easy of entrmioe amd 
eodt. Situated at the base of the hills, there ai'e neither marshes 
nor swamps to affect the healthfulness of the locality, which is 
sufficiently extensive for the formation of a large city. The lagoon, 
which is of salt water, and open to the sea, abounds in lish." 

The winds which prevail on the north coast of Honduras are 
from tlie ]Sr. E., N"., and K. by W., from all of which the port ia 
perfectly protected. W. and S.W. winds are scarcely known, and 
are furthermore entirely cut off from the port by the high hills and 
mountains stirting the coast in that direction. 

The Port, or rather Bay, is of large capacity, being not less than 
nine miles in circumference. Its depth is ample, ranging, for more 
than two-thirds of its area, from 4 to 13 fathoms, with secure 
holding ground. Towards its northern shore the depth of water is 
great^t ; and by the construction of docks sixty feet in length, 
the largest ocean steamers may enter and receive and land pas- 
sengers and cargo more easily than in the docks of New- York, in- 
asmuch as, in this portion of the Bay of Honduras, the rise and 
fall of the tide is almost imperceptible. 

Connected with the port or bay is a large salt-water lagoon, 
upwards of two miles in length, by about a mile and a quarter 
broad, of eqnal deptli of water with the port itself. Should it ever 
be thought proper, the connecting channel may be dredged so as 
to permit vessels to enter the lagoon, where they would be com- 
pletely land-locked, and where no wind could affect them in any 
perceptible degree. In place of deepening the connecting chan- 
nel, an open cut, a few hundred yards in length, would eifeet 
the same result. This cut eonld be made through firm ground, 
and once constructed would remain permanently open, as none of 
the causes which operate to fill up excavations exist here. 

The ground around tlie port is firm, and a considerable part of 
it cleared and under cultivation. In abundance of good water, 
and in fertility of soil, the neighborhood of Puerto Oaballos offers 
every condition necessary for the building np and support of a 
large and flourishing town. And it cannot be doubted that the 
commencement of the proposed work would attract here, not only 



a eottsiderable pAtt of the present popnlation of Onioa, but a gl'eat 
J)roportion of the inhabitants of the Enghah establishment of 
Belize, which, shut in by dangerous reefs, and built in the midst 
of a vast, pestiferous aWamp, is disqualified from being the centre 
of the growing trade of the neighboring eoimtries. 

For further information respecting Puerto Caballos, see Ap« 
^endix C. 


Fbom Puerto Caballosj in order to reach the great and beauti' 
ifal plain of Sula or Santiago, through which flow the large rivers 
OhaMelicon and iTlua, it is necessary to make a small circuit of 
about three miles, to tUrn the eastern end or baae of the high 
mountain chain of Merendon or Omoa, -which is a branch of the 
Oordillei'aSj and which here finds an abrupt termination. 

The plain of Sula forms a great triangle, its base resting on the 
Sea and extending for upwards of fi.fty miles along the coast from 
the outposts of the mountains of Omoa, to those of Congrehoy) and 
its apex extending due south on the line of the proposed road, in 
the direction of Oomayagua. A portion of this plain, to the right 
Or eastwai-d of the Hio TJlua, is low, and during high water sub^ 
jeet to oYei'ilow. Such, however^ is not the case with the western 
portion of the plain, over which the road will be located. Here 
the ground is firm, and the streams have all sand or gravel beds. 
"Ho bottomless marshes, such as those which have obstructed the 
Panama road) are found hero, nor indeed upon any part of the 
entire line. 

In the opinion of Lieut. Jeffei-s the road, after turning the base 
of the hills, back of Puerto CaballoSj can be made perfectly 
Straight to the town of Santiago, where the Ulua is formed by the 
jxmction of the rivera Santiago, Blanco, and Hmniiya. The lat- 
ler, keeping the direction of the iJlua from IsT. to 8., should prop- 
erly beai- the same name. Prom Puerto Caballos to Santiago 
there formerly existed a graded road, which may still be followed, 
although much grown up since the abandonment of the port. 



The asCetlt to Santiago is so gentle aS to te iiflperceptible, and 
the cutting and filling will be so slight as scarcely to deserve 

Santiago may be regarded as the head of steamboat navigation 
on the Ulna, although vessels of light draft, at favorable stages of 
the water, might ascend much further. Lieut. Jeffers, who exam- 
ined the river minutelyj repoils that " stemners d/rwiOmg seven 
feet may enter the JJlua at all ti/mes ; a/ndfroTn Jwns to J^armmy 
ascend aefwr cig the Jiifietion of the Hwmwya. tAght Araft steams 
ers ca/n a^jways ascend to the inouth of the Jtrnnm/a^ a/lid hy the 
HioBla/nco to a pomt ned/i' YfyoaP A consideration of theEivei' 
Ulna and its dependencieSj in reference to their capacities, and 
the facilities which they will afford in constructing the proposed 
l-oad, will be found in another connection. 


I*E0M Santiago the line of the road is discretional. It may hd 
located on either hank of the Humuya. A detailed and minute 
survey can alone determine which banlc affords tlie greatest facili- 
ties, Lieut. JefEers is of opinion that the left, or western, bank is 
most favorahle. Li following tlie left hank, it will be necessary to 
bridge the Santiago or Venta, a large and broad stream, requiring 
a bridge from 500 to 700 feet in length ; and afterwards to bridge 
the Elanco, which is narrow^ not exceeding 60 feet in width. If,- 
on the other hand, the Ulua is crossed below the junction of the 
streamsj but one bridge will he required. Crossings however, a 
larger body of water, it would necessarily require to be of more 
considerable dimensions than that oter the Yenta. 

Taking either hank, the road would pursae e^eiitially the same 
direction. The plain continues for about ten miles beyond San-- 
tiago, when it is contracted by tlie hiUa and mountains which 
border the comparatively narrow valley of the Humuya. From 
this point the ascent becomes more rapid. The course of tlie 
Eiver Humuya, up to the plain of Espiiio, is direct, and the 


Valley, according to Lieut. Jeffers, is " formed between hills of 
fiNJiri 50 to 600 feet of altitnd©, which, in general, come down to 
the banks of the ri?er, hut occasionally recede, and leave strips of 
level above the reach of inundations. The slopes of these hil!s 
«re seldom abrupt, and no heavy work -will he required at any 
point. The alternation of cut and fill," he continues, "for the 
entire distance, is very favorable. The country around is gener- 
ally broken, but intersected witli numerous fertile valleys. This 
portion is more valuable for gracing than for agricultural purposes. 
The hills ai'e covered with the pine and oak, and on the bordei-s of 
the streams exist vast quantiti^ of mahogany, cedar, guanacaste, 
iudia rubber, and other valuable trees." 

About midway between Santiago and the Plain of Espino, the 
Eiver Sulaeo, descending from die right, unites with the Humnya. 
This is a considerable stream, draining a broad and fertile valley, 
and extending in the direction of the rich department of ©laneho. 
The eonstmction of the proposed railroad would lead, not only to 
the development of the valley of the Sulaeo by means of depend- 
ent wagon roads through it, but abo bring the rich disti-ict of 
Olancho in close communication with the coast, at Puerto Oa- 

The Plain of Espino may be said to commence at the town of 
Ojos de Agua. This town is fifty-five miles (approximately) from 
Puerto Caballos, and the valley is here elevated 936 feet above 
the sea. Tlie average grade of tho proposed road to this point 
wiU therefore be seventeen feet to the mile. 


Fkom Ojos de Agua to the point where a transvei'se range of 
hills separates the Plain of Espino from that of Comayagua, there 
exist no difficulties whatever to the building of the road. A few 
bridges over small streams, none requiring to be more than thirty 
feet water-way, are about the only consh'uctions which will bo 
required. The plain of Espino slopes gently toward the north, 
and lends its aid in overcoming the summit, without involving 


^ny effort of engineering skill. Fi'om the upper, or sontbem, 
extremity of this plain, there are two ways of reaching the plain 
■of Comayagua, viz. : 1st, hy following the valley of Humuya, 
which here makes a considei-able bend to pass the intervening 
hills; or, 2d, by passing these hills on a direct line, over an int^- 
jnediate summit of about 150 feet. 

The choice between tliese two lines will be determined, no 
doubt, by the choice of a pasa over the .general summit, at the 
southern exti'emity of the Plain of Comayagua. If the Pass of 
■Guajoca be adopted, then the line of the river will be selected ; 
if that of Eancho Ohiquito be chosen, tlien the line of the road 
will be carried directly through the hills, and past the city of 
■Comayagna, the capital of the State, 

It may be observed that the Plain of Espino, sometimes called 
llaniani, is about twelve miles long by eight broad, and surpass- 
ingly beautiful. It is stated that, under the crown, trafEc was 
carried on between Maniani and Puerto Oaballos in boats. In 
later -times, loaded canoes have descended; and Lieut. Jeffers 
went down in a canoe from Ojos de Agua, The current of tie 
stream, however, is rapid, and much obstructed by boulders and 
-rocks, making the navigation both difficult .and dangerous. 


The gi-eat Plain of Comayagua, constituting precisely that fea- 
ture in the general topogi'aphy of the countiy, which gives not 
only practicability, but eminent feasibility to the proposed enter- 
prise, demands more than a passing notice. It is situated in the 
very centre of the State, midway between the seas, and is not fat 
from forty miles in greatest length, by from live to fifteen broad. 
Its gi-eatest or largrat axis is noi-th and south, and nearly coincides 
with the line of the proposed road. These dimensions are exclu- 
sive of the lateral or dependent valleys of the sti-eams which con- 
'centi-ate themselves in this basin, and form the Eio Humuya. Like 
the plain of Espino, it slopes gradually to the north, and thus ren- 
ders the grade of the proposed road to the sununit gentle and easy. 


Tlie plain, upon its eastern and western bonders, ia skirted "by 
moiintaina five or sis thousand feet liigli, and it eonseq^uently enjoya 
a climate cool, equal, and salubrious, comparing in respect of 
temperatui-e with tiie middle States of our Union, in the month of 
June. The hills and monntains adjacent to tlie plain are eovere(J 
with pines, and on their summit and slopes^ wheat^ potatoes, and 
other products of tho temperate zones, are cultivated, and may be 
produced in abundance. The prcductions of the plain, however, 
are e^eutiaHj" tropical. Ite soil is extremely fertile^ In short the 
plain of Comayagua ofFers all the conditions for attracting and 
sustaining, as there is abundant evidence that it formerly sustained,' 
a large and flonrishing population. 

The city of Contayagna (anciently called Yalladolid) is si6iCatedi 
on the southern border of the plain. It was founded in 1540, by 
Alonao Caceres, in obedience to insfcmetions '■'■to find out mt eUgiUe 
sittiaPlon far a town fmdway hetwem the ocecms.^^ The intention 
of the founders, m expressed in the following extract from, the 
History of Guatenmla by Juarros, seems now about to be realized. 
He says : "It was intended, by means of this place, to obtain an 
easy crnimxmicaHon, "between the Afktmiic (mdPamfic; its situation 
being about half way between Puerto- Caballos and the Bay of 
Fonsecs, wouH render it a convenient intermediate depot ; the 
climate being" healthy, and the soil fertile, much of the siclmess 
and waste of human life would be prevented ; and many of the 
fetigues and privations avoided that were usually experienced in 
the journey from Wombre de Dios (Chagres) to Faflama." 

The city now contains between 7,000 and 8,000 inhabitants^ 
Previous to 1827 it had about 18,000, and was embellished with 
fountains and monuments* In that year it was taken and bumecf 
by the monarchical faction of Guatemala, and has never been 
able wholly to recofer from the shock. 

In the maps its position has been put too far to the eastward and 
southward. It is in Lat. 14° 28' K., and Long. 87° 39' "VV., and in 
a right line, or within a few miles of a right line, drawn between 
the mouth of the Ulua and that of the Goascoran. Its distance 
from the Bay of Fonseca is 70 miles, and it is within a few miles- 
more or less midway between the two seas. 

The line of the road across the plain of Comayagua is, as I have 
said, discretional, and will depend upon the selection of i^e summit 



pass. Should tlie pass of Uanclio Clnquito be fixed upon, the road 
would pass through the hills separating the plains of Coiiiayagua 
and Espino, on nearly a right line, and emerge near the city of 
Comayagua. Thence on the right bank of the Humuya, to a point 
near the town of San Antonio, thei-e cross the stream, and proceed 
on a direct course to the town of Lamani. The plain on the right 
bant of the Humuya is more broken than on the left, but not to a 
degree to embarrass the operations of the engineer or constructor. 

On the other hand, should the pass of Gnajoca be adopted, as I 
have already said, the road would follow the valley of the river 
through the hills, a distance of perhaps threo miles, enter the plain 
of Comayagua on the left banlr of the river, and traverse the 
western portion of the plain neai-, or through the small towns of 
Lejamini and Ajuteric[ue, the large and flourishing town of Las 
Piedras, to the village of Tambla. This portion of the plam is 
wonderfully fertile and favorable for the work. The streanas, with 
a single exception, are small, and exhaastless quanies of blue mar- 
ble border the line. 

It was in the valley of the river, between tlie hills dividing the 
two plains, that the surveying party were led to believe, by the 
representations made to them, the great, if not only, difficulty 
between the summit and the Atlantic was to be found. There is, 
however, absolutely no difficulty in the way of a railroad ; in fact, 
tliere is room for a dozen, at slightly different grades. The hills 
are high, but not bo steep as to preclude cultivation down to the 
edge of the water, which, in a countiy of rains, presupposes a 
declivity not inconvenient for our purposes. 

From Ojos de Agua to Lamani, and to Tambla, is a distance of 
about forty miles. The elevation of Tambla is 1,944, and of Lamani 
2,016 feet above the sea. The grade, theretbre, from Ojos de Agua 
to Tambla, the elevation of the latter over the former being 1,008 
feet, wiU be twenty-five feet two inches to the nule. To Lamani 
the distance would be somewhat greater, and the grade shghtly 
greater hi conseq^uence of the intermediate summit of 150 feet, 
between the plains. 

From Puerto Caballos to Tambla the distance may be sot down 
at 90 miles, and the avei-age grade 21 feet 9 mches to the mile. 



By the summit I mean the section hetween Tambla or Lamani 
and Eancho Grande, a distance of nearly fifteen miles — the divid- 
ing point, or summit proper, being midivaj between these two 
places. It is within this section that the principal, I may almost 
say the only, engineering difficulties on the whole hne are to be 
foimd. But these are not of a serious nature, nor ai'e they greater 
than occur on nearly all roads of equal length in all countries. !No 
tunnels nor deep cuttings ai'e required to pass the summit ; it may 
be reached from the north by side cuttings, in a friable sand rock, 
approaching chalk in appearance and texture, and which yields 
readily to the pick. It can be cut almost as easily as clay, with 
the advantage of admitting of vertical walls, and not washing. 

The summit may be overcome at two pa^es, neither of which 
varies the route materially from a right hue, viz : the pass of Ean- 
cho Chiquito, followed by the mule path, and that of Guajoca. 

The sararait at the former pa^ is 393 feet above Lamani, to be 
overcome in six miles, which gives a grade of 65 feet to flie mile. 
From Kancho Chiquito to Eancho Grande the distance is eight 
miles, and the descent 500 feet, involving a grade of 63 feet 6 
inches to the mile. These are the mcudniwrn or heaviest grades on 
the entire road. IN'owhere else do they exceed 40 feet to the mile. 

The pa^ of Eancho Chiqnito is not a rocky summit, abiuptly 
dividing tbe waters flowing into the great oceans, but a beiutiful 
valley, a savannah or natural meadow, bounded nn the east by a 
parallel range of high mountains, and on the west bj a eoiTe- 
sponding range of hills. In this meadow, dotted over with cattle, 
the traveller finds two bright streams, scarcely a hundred yards 
apart, flowing in opposite dhections. One is a som'ce of the Hu- 
muya flowing into the Atlantic, tlie other of the Go^coran falling 
into the Pacific. An active spadesman conld reverse their direc- 
tions in a single day. 

The pass of Guajoca is lower, by 100 feet, than that of Eancho 
Chiquito. From the viUage of Tambla to the summit is about seven 
and a half miles. The grade necessary to reach it wonid therefore 
be but 47 feet 4 inches to the mile. From the summit to Eancho 
Grande is also between seven and eight miles, with a uniform de- 
scent of 55 feet to the mile. 



Lite that of Eancho Chiquito, the pass of Gnajoca is a broad 
savannah, in which the sources of the Goascoran and Hnmuya 
almost mingle. Upon the north aide rises abruptly a high contin- 
uous ridge, twelve or fifteen hundred feet in height, which extends 
exactly parallel to the line of the road, and permits, by means of 
a side cut, precisely such a grade, in approaching the summit from 
the north, as the locating engineer may find it best to adopt. 

In my own judgment, the pass of Guajoca is greatly preferable, 
in all respects, to that of Kancho Chiquito. Notonlyisit 100 feet 
lower to start witli, but with an average cutting of 30 feet for a 
mile, it may be reduced 100 or 135 feet more, so that the extreme 
rise from Tambla shall not exceed 300 feet. The valley of Ou- 
ruru, which the line would follow, is bounded by parallel straight 
ridges, upon the slopes of which any grade may be selected which 
may be deemed advisable. That is to say, the grade may be car- 
ried over three or eight miles, and the road located with a rise of 
from 40 to 100 feet per mile, in tlie discretion of the engineer. 

As I have said, the road will follow the valley of Cururu to the 
divide, and thence descend the valley of a small stream, the Car- 
rizal, to Eancho Grande, where the streams descending from the 
two passes unite and form the Eio Kancho Grande. Should the 
cut above contemplated be made, the maximum grade on the entire 
Une of the road will fall below 60 feet to tlie mile, and not exceed 
40 feet for a distance of more than six miles. 


Aftee passing the summit, the line of the road will follow the 
valley of the Rio Goascoran, to the plains surrounding the Bay of 
Fonseca. The grade will be very nearly uniform, although aver- 
aging higher than on the northern dechvity. The character of the 
country, and the facilities for the eonstruction of the road, are thus 
summed up by Lieut. Jeffers : 

"The countiy is in general of the most favorable character. The 
line of the road being traced upon a table on the banks of the 
river, and beyond the reach of freshets, presents the character of 



an inclined plain, from the summit to the harhor. The anionnt ot 
cutting and filling -will be very small, except in the division on each 
side of the summit ; the curves will he good, and the grades not 
greater tlian are to be found upon successful roads. There will be 
no tunnels required, and very little excavation in rock. 

" Tiie elevation to he overcome, to pass the summit at Eancho 
Ohiqiiito, is 2400 feet, but when it is considered that there are no 
descents, wnd that it is the total of accents, and not the elevation of 
the summit, that constitutes the expense of working, it will be seen 
that this is by no means unfavorable. 

" South of Goaacoran the formations are of limestone, white sand- 
stone, disintegrated quartz, gravel and sand, mixed with lavas and 
volcanic stones. No cutting of any extent will be necessary in 
these rocts. At Gioaacoran there ai'e extensive beds of blue lime- 
stone, and in all the streams an immense quantity of large bould- 
era of granite, gneiss, conglomerate, and sandstone. Prom this 
point, the rock is a white sandstone, sufficiently soft to be quarried 
with the pick, but hardening and toughening by exposure. Its 
durability is sufficiently proved by the existence of engraved fig- 
ures upon the rocks near Arameeina, wliich are in a good state of 
preservation, although of a date anterior to the conquest. Exca- 
vations can be made at an expense little or no greater than in earti, 
with the advantage of durability, and no liability to wash. Upon 
tlie whole line there is abundance of gravel, sand, lime, and brick- 

" At Arameeina, the yellow pine appears on the hills, and at 
San Juan and Aguanqueterique, it is to be found of good size and 
in inexhaustible quantities, in the immediate vicinity of tlie road. 
The pine attains a size of 80 inclies, and from 50 to 75 feet of al- 
titude, differing in no respect fl'om tlie best ]S"orth Oai'olina. The 
oak is also to he found in considerable quantities, as also many 
other useful and valuable woods in any desirable abundance. 

" The width of the valley is so small, compared with its length, 
that there are no streams to be crossed, between the tenninus and 
the summit, having a water-way to exceed thirty feet : the expense 
in this important item will consequently be exceedingly small. 
For the construction of bridges, there is, nevertheless, abundance 
of timber on the ground. 

" The smaller streams running into the Goaseoran afford a sup- 

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ply of water power applicable to the nmuiiig of saw-mills or otlier 


Thk magiiificent Eay of Ponseca, the western terminus of the 
proposed road, is beyond dispute the finest port or rather " Con- 
:stellation of Ports" on the entire Pacific Coast of America. It is 
■fifty miles in length, by about thirty in average width, perfectly 
protected, aad contains two or tJu'ee large islands, offering inner 
ports with Mnple water, and admirable sites for towns and com- 
mercial and nmnufacturing estahlishmwits of all kinds. The 
tlu^e States of San Salvador, Honduras amd Nicai'agua touch upon 
at. Honduras, however, has fai' the largest front on the Bay. The 
port of La TJnioH in the subordinate bay -of the same name, ia the 
principal port of San Sdvador, Its trade last year amounted to 
■something over $500,000, and the r-ev-enues to about $100,000. 
The principal port of Honduras is Amapala, on the Island of 
Tigre. It is a Free Port, and is rapidly advancing in importance ; 
ats population and trade having doubled within the past two years. 
An American Company has erected on the island a large steaia 
saw, planing, and shingle mill, which is now in active and effec- 
tive operation. This Company is ready to contract for supplying 
«ros8-tie8, and lumber of all kintfe, for the construction of the Pacific 
section of the road, and for its varioES dependent edifices, such as 
stations, depots, etc. 

The precise point of teimination on Hie Bay, will depend upon 
such considerations as may be disclosed fi'om a careful examinar 
*ion by the Eii^neers, and by other circumstances. The load may 
he carried to the Port of San Lorenzo, at the head of the Inna- 
bay of that name, which possesses throughout not less than four 
fathoms of water. This line would i-un on dry, fiim gi-ound, bnt 
would involve a bndge of 100 feet in length over the Eio Nactir 
orae. By the congtrustion of a short causeway, or one hundred and 
fifty yards of pile bridging, the road could be conducted upon the 
large island of Sacate Grande, to a point indicated in the chart, 
ii-onting upon a capacious and excellent anchorage. It might 



even, witli some difficulty, be carried across tlie nortHem end of 
that Island, and be made to terminate on tlie Island of Tigre, hy 
means of a pile bridge, a mile and a quarter long, over a strait 
having but six feet depth of water at low tide. 

The road can also be brought, without serious difficulty, to a 
point on the main land fronting on the Bay of Chismuyo, but here it 
would be necessary to cany out a wharf of considerable length,, 
while at S'an Lorenzo, Saeate Grande, and Tigre, a wharf or dock 
of ordinary length would enable the largest steamers to " tie up" 
beside the depots of the company. 

The road could readily be made to terminate at La Union, but 
as this would involve going into another Stat«, withoiit attaining 
any obj ect beyond what would be equally secured at the other points 
named; tlie feet is not of importance, beyond showing the great 
facilities which the bay affords for tlie work in question. 

The chart of the Bay of Fonseca, from the survey made by Si? 
Edward Belcher, under the instructions of the British Govei'nment, 
and published under the authority of the Admiralty, precludes the 
necessity for any further account of this remarkable bay, which 
seems to have been mai'ked out by the Ol^ator as the ultimate 
centre of the commerce of the Pacific, Salubrious, surrounded 
by a country of illimitable agricultural resources, and with rich 
and exhaustleas coal, gold, and silver mines inland ; abounding in 
fine fish, including excellent oysters, etc, etc. ; in short, possess- 
ing all the nece^ities for sustaining a lai'ge and prosperous popu- 
lation, the Bay of Fonseca is unrivalled in its adaptation for a 
terminus of a great work of univei^al utility, hke the one pro- 

Mr. Stephens, in his '^Incidents of "R-avel in Central Am^ea," 
says of it, that it surpasses the jEgean Sea, and that its islands are 
unriTalled in beauty by the boasted isles of Greece^ 

X.— grades: 

In the constniction, but to a still greater degree in the working 
ef Railways, the matter of grades is a laost important eoJisidera- 

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tion. Prom the preceding statements it will be seen that the first 
fifty miles of the proposed road will have an average grade of 
17 feet to the mile ; the next forty miles an average grade of 
25 ft, 2 in, to the mile. For the division of fifteen miles c 
the summit, the maximum grade, irrespective of probable li 
of grades by a summit cut, will be 55 feet to the mile, and that 
only tor a sliort distance. From thence to the Pacific the maxi- 
mum gi'ade will not exceed 45 feet to the mile. The sum total of 
ascents and descents, from sea to sea, is 4600 feet, which gives an 
average grade of a little over 28 feet to the mile. The results are 
highly favorable, as will be seen from the following comparison : 


Baltimore and Ohio Koad, per mile, - - 110 feet. 
Baltimore and Susquehanna, 
Boston and Albany, 

Kew-York and Erie, " . _ go 

Tehuantepec (proposed road), " - - 64 

Honduras (proposed road), 
[The statement of grade at Tehuantepec is irrespective of half a 
mile of tmmelling.] 

The 116 feet grade on the Baltimore and Ohio road is eiffM mid 
a hcdf miles long ;* that is to say 986 feet of altitude, or nearly 
one-half of the sum total of ascents on the proposed Honduras 
road, are overcome in this short distance. Grades as great as 
this are of com-se objectionable ; but tliey are daily becoming less 
80, with the improvements taking place in locomotive engines. 

Hitherto heavy grades have been avoided, at whatever sacrifice, 
in favor of moderate grades, even when the sum of ascents to be 
overcome has been the same. In other words, it has been thought 
tliat in a road 100 miles long, leading to a summit of 1000 feet of 
altitude, an average and uniform grade of ten feet per mile for 
the entire distance, was preferable to 80 miles of level, and 20 of 
a 50 feet per mile grade. But practically, the latter arrangement 

* " On this grade an eDgine weighing 24 tona, with a traction power of 1-5,160 lbs., 
has ascended with a train of loaded cm«, weiglung, in the aggi-egate, exclusive of 
fender, 208 tons, at a speed of from six to eight miles the hour. The same engine 
ascended the same grade with a passenger train of 118 tons, at the speed of 17 miles 
the hour." 

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is aaid to have been found the best. That 13 to say, the concen- 
tration of grades at one point, compensated by an auxiliary power, 
ia most advantageous, both as regards cost and time. 

How far this principle can be applied advantageously, in the 
line of the proposed road, must be left to the discretion of the 
engineers to whom its consti'uction may be confided, fortu- 
nately, the nature of tlie country admits of such discretion. 
There may be a considerable concentration of grades within 
ten miles on either side of the summit, by approaching it directly ; 
or the road may be located at the bases of the parallel ranges of 
hills, on h'ghter and uniform grades. 


ISTeahiy all the materials neceseai'y for the construction of the 
road exist on the line. There are inexhaustible quantities of the 
finest white and blue marble and sandstone, as also of tlie beat 
pine, oak, and otlier vai'ieti^ of useful timber. The comitry, with 
the exception, perhaps, of a narrow belt on the northern coast, 
is eminently cool and salubrious, and proper for the employment 
of extra-ti'opical labor. In this latter respect, {that of labor,) the 
pTOposed hue is remai'kably favored ; for almost {uxy amount that 
may be required for the noithem division, can be obtained from 
the mahogany cuttings on the coast. There is, probably, no equal 
number of men under the ti-opies, so inured to hard labor and ex- 
pceure, or so well instructed in precisely the kind of work which 
we require, as the mahogany cutters. They are, further, thor- 
oughly dkciplined, and accustomed to that unity of action so 
Y to the prosecution of an enterprise like oiu-s. Tliey are 
I axemen, and expert in the clearing and grading of 
roads, and construction of bridges. 

The truck roatte in the mahogany cutting of the Messrs, Follin, 
on the Ulua, are often sevei'al miles in length, thirty feet in width, 
careMly levelled, grubbed and bridged for the passage of loaded 
trucks drawn by six yoke of oxen. These roads are constructed 
by tas^ worJc, at the average rate of about fifty yards per man per 
day ; or say, fifty dollars per mile. The pay of these men is $15 


per montli,* and rations ; tlie latter consisting of a certain amount 
of flour, and a fixed number of pounds of pork per week. Plan- 
tains, which grow in tiie greatest plenty on the coast, are substi- 
tuted, to a considerable extent, for floiu-. The huts which the men 
occupy- are constructed on the spot, and are made of poles or 
«anes, covered with palm leaves, and seldom require more than 
half a day in building. A hammock swung from one comer to 
the other, a conple of stones to support the cooking utensils, and the 
habitation of the workman is complete. He has few artificial wants, 
and no winter to provide againafc, or to interrupt his labors. All 
he requit-es is a covering to protect him from the sun and the rain. 
There is no doubt that the labor requisite to carry the road from 
the coast to the plains of the interior, can all be obtained fi-om 
this source. In the interior, and on the Pacific section, northern 
laborers can work with equal facility and less danger from the 
necessary exposure, than in tlie United States. The greater part 
■of the population of Central America exists on the Pacific coast, 
and on that division, therefore, a large supply of labor could be 
relied upon, from ilie States of San Salvador and Nicaragua, and 
from Honduras itself. Upon this point I am supported by the 
opinion of Lieut. Jefi'ers, who says that on this portion of the line, 
*' native labor can be obtained from this [Honduras] and the ad- 
joining States in sufficient quantity ; and, at the rate of wages, 
(twenty-five cents per day,) it would be very useful. There can, 
however, be no difficulty in introducing foreign labor, and its em- 
ployment will be more satisfactory." 

Atlei' passing the plain of Sula, the country is very open, with 
frequent savannahs. The pine and oak forests are seldom so 
■dense as to prevent the explorer from riding freely in all direc- 
tions. Tlie location of the road, therefore, for two-thirds of its 
length, will be comparatively easy ; and for this distance also, 
tlie cost of clearing and grubbing will be much diminished. 

Reverting to the climate, I can only repeat what I have already 
written on the subject, from the country itself. " I do not believe 
there is a more healthful, and there certainly is no more agreeable 
climate in the world, than that of Honduras in general. In tliis 

* One half of tliis is now paid in goods, at high rate. If the wages wwe paid 
wholly in cash, they would role considerably Jower — say at $13. 

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?espeet, tfie country surpasses the test parts of Italy. The Faeffi'c 
coast is superior to that of the Atlantic in respect of health, and 
settlei's might establish themselves around the glorious Bay of 
JFonseca, with no more risk thau would attend any change of 
climate. Amongst temperate, cleanly people, all other circnm- 
stances being equal, I hare no doubt the average of ]ife would b« 
ten years longer on that coast and in the interior of the country, 
than in New- York. In the first place, pulmonary complaints, and 
tliat large and fatal class of diseases resulting from colds and sud- 
den ehangea- of temperature,- are here nearly or quite uoknowH. 
Intermittent fevers are less common than in our Western States, 
and yield more readily to the usual medicines. They are, after 
all, pretty much eoniined to persons of irregular hahite, who dis- 
regard the precautions nece^ary to health in any elimate. I have, 
for two years, undergone almost every kind of exposure and 
fatigue here, yet I liave enjoyed uninterrupted good health — far 
better than I could liave hoped for at home, under simile circum^ 


The temperature on the line of the road is, of course, highest at 
its extremities. But the high temperature of the coast does not 
hold far inland. The modifying influence of the neighboring 
mountains is felt, even before iJie increased altitude begins to 
have its natural effect. Ilie temperature of Oomayagua may be 
taken as approxiinately that of the entire b'ne between the town 
of San Pedro Sula on the north, and that of Goascoran on ther 
south— that is to say, of about three-fourths of the entire line. At 
Gomayagua, my observations gave the following results : — 



mo:.™ {1853). 

6 A. u. 


E P.M. 

,. ,. 

April (part), 
Maj, .... 
June,. . . . 

75° 1' 
Y5° 5' 
W 4' 

81" 9' 
81" 2' 
78° 5' 

84° 0' 
80° 3' 
80° 8' 

80° 2' 
78° 6' 
78° 3' 

ATerage, . 

W 2' 

80° 5' 

81° 7' 

79° 0' 

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"That is to say, during &e above montlis, tiie mean temperature, 
^rom six o'clock in the morning until the same hour in the even- 
ing, was 79° 1', The highest or maximum points touched by the 
[thermometer during th<se months was 88° ; the lowest, or 
itninimnm, 68°; an extreme range of 20°. It may be observed 
liere that, frem certain peculiarities of ihe position of Comayagua, 
ats temperature rules higher than in .any other porticai of the 
valley or plain in whi-eh it is situated. The temperatm'e of Las 
Piedras and of San Antonio, distant twelve or fourteen miles, has 
-■a mean of from thi'ee to five degrees lower. A little place called 
"El SitiOj" not twenty minutes' ride from Oomayagua, and not 
perceptibly higher, has a mean of at least five degrees less. 

It should also be home in mind, that in the interior, the months 
-of April, May, and June are the hottest of the year, and that for 
the remaining nine months, the temperatnre is considerably 
lower. November, December, and January are positively cool, 
.and fires sometimes become neceasaiy for comfort. 

The table lands bordering the line of the proposed route vaiy in 
temperature according to their elevation, and afford a variety of 
cclimate adapted to every caprice, and a temperature suitable for 
the cultivation of every product of e-s'ery zone. 

We have no continuous record of thermometrical observations 
,at Puerto Oaballos, nor what would be about the same tiling, at 
Omoa. This deficiency, however, is very well supplied by the 
Jesuits of such observations for an entire yeai', at tlie mouth of 
Black River, which, being on the same coast and in the same lati- 
inde, cannot differ materially from Puerto Caballos in respect of 
■temperature. These observations are given by Mr. Thomas 
Wi-ight, who remarks ttiat " the climate here is pretty .equablt^ 
only varying, throughout the year, from 62° to 86° Fah,, so that 
nothing need be apprehended from excessive heats, especially as, 
bluing the greater part of the year, it is tempered by the grateful 
.sea breeze, and sometimes hj the invigorating dry north wind. 
The following is a summary of ihe thermometrical observations 
iaken at this point, daily ainoon, for twelve -months j 


o S- o o o L^ 1- 

n fi fi s R P p 


<1 t^ o a P 



For one week, from the 5th to tho 13t]i of July, 1853, the ther- 
mometer at Omoa had an average of 85° Fall, at noon ; its greatest 
range, from six o'clock in the morning to the same hour in the 
evening, having been from 80° to 87°. During this period, the 
mornings were generally very pleasant, with frequent showers 
from nine to twelve. The sea hreeae set in between twelve and 
one, and from tliat time until six in the evening it was clear. 
Daring the evening and night, the land breeze was accompanied 
with frequent violent showere. 

The town of Sta Hosa, in the department of Gracias, is situated 
about 3400 feet above the sea. Here, for three weeks dming the 
month of July, 1853, the thermometer exhibited the following 
results : 

Maximum, 75° Fah. 

Hiuimum, ... - - 68° " 

Mean average, 71° 15' " 

But July is not amongst the coolest months of the year. In 
JSTovember, December, January, and February, the cold is decided, 
and sometimes uncomfortable. 

The city of San Salvador, capital of the State of the same name, 
is situated on an elevated plain or plateau of the Pacific coast 
range of mountains, at an elevation of 2110 feet above the sea. 
The month of August, 1853, gave the following thermometrical 
results : 

Maximum, 81° Fab. 

Minimum, 70° " 

Mean average, 76° 3' " 

Our observations on temperature at other points were too few to 
be of much value ; but the following facts may serve to illustrate 
the variety of temperature in Honduras. 

Tegucigalpa, 3420 feet elevation ; for four days, from April 38 
to May 4, 1853, inclusive : 

Maximum, 85° Fall. 

Minimum, 68 

Mean average, ^'^° S' 


GtrAjiQiiEKO, {Indian town,) 5265 feet elevation, May 4, 1S53, 
six o'clock A. M., 56° Fall. 

Intibucat, 4950 elevation, July 4, 1853, six o'clock A. M., 56° ; 
eleven o'clock A. M., 62°. 

Gkacias, 2620 feet elevation : 

Julj 6, 


13 M. - - 
It F.M. - 

- m' 


July r, 

6 A.M. - 
9 " - - 
2 P.M. - 

6 " - - 


- n° 



July 8, 

5 A.M. - 

- 70" 

5' " 


Apaet from the rich agricnitural resources of the countiy 
through -which the proposed road will pass, embracing eveiy va- 
riety of ti'opical staple, coffee, cochineal, cotton, cocoa, sngar, rice, to- 
bacco, indigo, maize, etc., there are other vast and undeveloped som-- 
ces of wealth. The valley of the Ulua abounds in valuable and pre- 
cious woods, and the hills and mountains of the interior contain 
numberless mines of the precious metals. There is hardly a stream 
on the Atlantic slope of iiie Cordilleras which does not carry gold 
in greater or less c[uantity. Eecent examinations have shown that 
the sands of particnlai- streams fully equal the placers of Califor- 
nia, in the extent and value of their yield. The silver mines of 
the interior, however, are unsurpassed in the amount and richness 
of their ores, and there is reason to believe, with the intelligence, 
enterprise, industry, and capital which will inevitably flow into 
the country, with the prcsecution of the railway, tliat Honduras 
will become, in proportion to its territorial extent, the lai-gest sU- 
ver-prodncing country in the world. In fact, up to tliis time, the 
mining interest of the State has been greater than aU others ; and 
under the crown as much as $3,000,000 were annually exported 
from the northern ports of the province. Other metals, such as 


iron, copper, and lead, are also abuiidaiit, and require nothing 
more than the opening of roads for the transportation of machinery, 
etc., to become important items in the productive wealth of the 

Coal is also fonnd at varions places in the State, and two large 
fields occur on the lands which have been ceded to tlie Company. 
The quality is good, it is easily worked, and in both cases it falls 
within a few miles of the line of the road. It can be supplied to 
the steamers of the Company with faciHty, and can be 
any point on tho Pacific which may be desired. A bed of coal 
which I examined, in the plain of Sensenti, Department of Gra- 
cias, covers a lai"ge area, and is ten feet in thickness. In this de- 
partment are valuable mines of opals, and cinnabar and asbestos 
ai'o also reported to exist. 

In the enumeration of the products of the State, hitherto neg- 
lected, I may mention sarsaparilla, gum copal, India-mbber, 
gum arable, fustic, dragon's blood, vanilla, Brazil wood, Hquid 
amber, Peruvian bark, quinine, etc., etc. Cattle are numerous in 
the State, and constitute a considerable part of the wealth of the 
inhabitants. Ilides, therefore, which hardly pay to be carried to 
the coast on mules, will become an important article of export, 
when new and cheap means of transportation are established. 

Altogether the ^tablishment of regular communication with 
Honduras, and between its ports and the interior, will open to the 
world a rich and virgin field for the industrious and enterprising ; 
create new markets for om' manufactures ; afford additional sup- 
plies for our use, and give a corresponding impulse to commerce 


Tim capabilities of the rivers of Honduras, coinciding in their 
course witli the line of the proposed road, for purpose of acces- 
sory and general navigation, have been incidentally alluded to in 
tbe foregoing paragi'aphs. As wiU be seen by the Sketch Map of 
the line of the road, accompanying these notes, that the large river 
Ulua, and tho smaller Rio Goaseoran, run parallel to the projected 


road. The first may now be navigated by steamers for a distance 
of upwards of 60 miles from its mouth, and to a point within 95 
miles of iJxe BayofFonseea. The latter, with some improvements, 
may be made to serve a useful pui-pcse in the rafting of timber, 
and the transportation of materials of constraetion. 

In respect to the Eio Ulna, Lieut. Jeffers observes : 

" The mouth of the river TJlua is obstructed by a bar, having 
at this time but nine feet of water upon it ; it may be said to be 
in^assable for sailing vessels, as the outset is so strong that a 
fresh breeze is required to enable them to stem the current, and 
with a fresh breeze the sea is very heavy. Steamers drawing seven 
feet may enter at all times ; a/nd, from Jwns to Jamuoffy, ascend 
mfa/r as thejiMioiion of the S'wmMya. 

" At any time between March and December, ships may, and 
do, anchor off the mouth of the river Ulua, loading mahogany. 
There is, however, a cove about one mile to the westward, where 
a landing may be better effected, and at all times, except during 
the continuance of the northers. From this la/ndmg to the rvoer, 
the 3istanoe is iut about two hwndred a/nd fifty yatrds, and a light 
d/raft steams Gam,,fr<mh th/is point, always aseend to the movih of 
the Murm/fya, or, hy the Hio £kmco, to a point near Yiyoa. 

" The Ulua can be used as accessory, and in the construction of 
the road, may be of essential service ; it cam, ie navigated ly a, 
Ught d/raft stea/mer at all seasons, as far as tJis junction of the 
rivers / and the Humuya, for several months, as fai- as the mouth 
of the Sulaco, but beyond that point the river cannot be made of 
service except in rafting down timber. The numerous rapids, sud- 
den rise and temporary duration of the floods, and the character 
of the bottom, composed entirely of sharp rocks, forbid all hopes 
of improvement in the upper part of the river." 

The Yenta or Santiago river, which is the larg^t tributary of 
the Ulua, and which reaches into the rich departments of Santa 
Barbara and Gracias, can be navigated to some extent, as it is also 
possible the Chamelicon may be, at certain stages of the water. 
At any rate, the valleys of these streams offer advantageous 
meai^ of communication with the departments above named, by 
improved cart or plank roads, for the construction of which all 
requisite materials are abundant on the spot. 

In respect to the Goascoran, Lieut. Jeffers observes : 



" The Goascoran may be made available as a means of transport 
in tbe winter, or ratlier rainy season ; and, with some improve- 
ments, at cfU seasons. Tbe moutb of this stream is obstructed by 
a sand bar, but may be entered on the tide at a quarter flood : this 
bar may be removed by dredging. Above tJiese are obstructions, 
caused by natural dams of large boulders : by removing these 
boulders from tbe centre of tbe river, we can create a series of 
ponds and sluice, forming a slack-water navigation as far as Cari- 
dad, probably to San Juan. For the purpose of rafting timber 
from above, should it be required, and transporting materials in 
boats, tbe river will be very serviceable." 

itTotwithstanding the facilities which tbe Ulua and other rivers 
may offer for navigation, it is not the purpose of the Company to 
use them except as accessories in the construction of the road, in 
wliich respect they will be of great value. Frequent tranship- 
ments are inadmissible in any route of Interoceanic Communica^ 
tion looking to pennanence. 

Two-thirds of tbe annoyance, to say nothing of the extortion 
and expense, of a California voyage, md Panama, consists in the 
landing, by means of small boats, at Ohagr^, the subsequent 
change to boats on the river, or to the cars on the railroad ; a 
iiiird change to mules ; and finally a fourth change to small boats, 
and a row of some miles to reach the steamers in Panama Bay. 
It is quite as bad, if not worse, by way of Nicaragua. Passengers 
shift fi:om the ocean steamei^ to the little river boats in the harbor 
of San Juan ; in these they ascend to the Castillo rapids, where 
there is a portage, and then another boat carries them to the Toro 
rapids, where they have to take to the woods again to reach the 
lake steamers, which land them at Virgin Bay, from whence they 
take mules to San Juan del Sur. At Tehuantepec, if the Sloo ar- 
rangement is cai-ried out, passengers must first go to that grave- 
yard of Europeans and Americans, Yera Cruz ; from there the 
contract stipulates they must go in vessels, xmder the Mexican 
flag, to Coatzaeoalcos ; disembarking there, they will go over land 
to Tehuantepec, where the difficulties of reaching tbe Pacific 
steamers will be quite as great as they are at Panama ; and after 
all this, the steamer must touch at Aeapulco. 

On the proposed road all these delays and annoyances will be 
avoided ; for both in Puerto Caballos and at Sacate Grande, by 


■the construction of ordinary wharves, the steamera may tie wp he- 
side the depots of the road. AH otlier cii-eiimatances being equal, 
this alone would be sufficient to decide the trayelling public in 
&.vor of the Honduras line- 


TiiE Charter of the Honduras Intoroceanic Railway Company, 
signed by the Commissioners of tlie State and the Company, June 
23, 1854, was ratiiied by the legislature of Honduras, and pro- 
claimed by the President of that Republic, April 2S, 1854. It is 
fer more liberal in its provisions than any charter ever conceded 
for any similar purpose, and moreover places the relations between 
the Company and the State on a basis so plain and simple, and 
withal so mutually advantageous, as almost to preclude the possi- 
bility of difficulty or misunderstanding arising between them. 
The following is a rapid summary of its provisions : 


Concedes to the Company the eseliisive right for an interoceanic 
communication, by water or railway, through the territories of Hon- 
dm-as ; and gives to the Company all lands and natural materials 
necessary for the purpose. Eight yeai-s from the date of the rati- 
fication of tlie contract are conceded for the completion of the work, 
with privilege of extension in case of interruption from natm-al or 
tmforeseen causes. The charter is for seuenty years from the com- 
pletion of the wort proposed, at the end of which time the State 
may purchase the road, at a fair valuation, or extend the charter, 
in its discretion. 


Provides that the Company shall have free passage over all 
lands, public or private, and concedes to the Company a space of 
two hujidj-ed yards on each side of the line of the road ; free use 


of all timbef, stone, or otlier natural materials ; free use of all tlie 
rivers and hai'bore of the State ; and free introduction of all ma- 
cliines, instruments, provisions, and other materials for the con- 
struction ajid use of the road. Illative laborers employed on the 
road are esemptfrom civil or mibtary service, llie Company has 
the right to constitute itself a Stock Company, etc., and all of its 
rights, interests, and property are permanently exempt from tax- 
ation or other charge. 


l*rovides that the Company shall pay to the State the sum of 
One DoUar for each through passenger over ten years of age. Tlie 
Company wUl receive the laboi' of convicts from the State on equi- 
table terms, and agrees to fix the rates for interior ti'ansit and 
ti'ade on tlie lowest terffis consistent with its interests. 


Provides that the citizens of the United States, and of all na- 
tions at peace with Honduras, shall pass over the route fi'ee of all 
taxes and charges, and without the requisition of passports. All 
goods and merchandioe, in transii/it, shall also pass free of charges 
on the part of the State, with the exception of a nominal sum for 
registiy, to be paid by the Company. Baggage of passengers to 
pass without examination or charge of any kind. 


Makes a gift to the Company of 4000 caballerias of land, which, 
as the caballeria is fixed by law at 160 acr^, equals 640,000 acres, 
or 1000 square miles. The Company has also the exclusive 
tight to purchase and locate on the line of the road or elsewhere, 
an additional 5000 caballerias, (800,000 acres,) at twelve and a half 
cents the acre, payable in the stock of the Company, at par. All 
persons settling on the lands of the Company are entitled to all 
the rights and privileges of native-bom citizens of the State, and 
are exempt for ten years from all kinds of taxes, and all civil or 
militaiy service, except with their own consent. 



Stipulates that tlie ports at the oxtremities of the road shall ho 
Ft66 Ports. A commiasion of five persons, two named by the Com- 
pany and two by the State, ■who shall jointly elect a fifth, to con- 
stitute a " Tribunal of Reference," to frame all necessary mles and 
regnlations for carrying out the Charter in its letter and spirit, and 
to decide finally and without appeal all disputes which may arise 
between the State and Company. The Government of Honduras 
to open negotiations with the leading maritime nations, for the 
guarantee of the perpetual neutrality of the proposed route, in ac- 
cordance "with tlie Convention of "Washington, July 5, 1850. The 
Company to have the right to consti'uct Magnetic Telegraphs. The 
Government gives a bounty of fifty acres of land to each unmar- 
ried, and of seventy-five acres to each married laborei', ■who shall 
come to Honduras to work on the road, and who shall declare his 
intention to become a citizen. 

In addition to this, the Railway Company constitutes the ".Siwi- 
dv/ras Steainship (mdMavigaHon Coirvpany" with tlie privilege of 
" ingress, egress, and passage to, -from, and through the harbors, 
riveiB, and waters of tlie State, free of all duties and charges of 
every kind." 


Time, not distam/:e, is the true measure of the relations between 
places. If tlie traveller can go from New- York to Philadelphia 
in two hours, it is of little consec[uence whether the distance is fifty 
or five hundred miles. 

Tlie saving of time, of com'se, depends more or less on the dis- 
tance to be traversed, and hence a shortening of distance must al- 
ways be an important element in calculating the advantages of the 
respective routes which have been proposed between the Atlantic 
States and California. But this is only one element. Good ports, 
■where vessels may embark and disembark theii' freight and pas- 
sengere ■with rapidity, at proper wharves, instead of through the 



means of small boats and lighters, is another important element to 
be considered, not only in respect of economy of time, but in re- 
spect also of convenience, cost, and security. Another element is 
the possession of easily accessible ports, and a general sailing 
course free from opposing periodical winds, and other similar de- 
taining and obstructing causes. And still another element, and 
one of primary importance, is the avoidance of harassing delays 
resulting from freijuent transhipments. These not only consume 
time, but are fruitful in annoyance, and ai'e a constant occasion 
of dread to the traveller. As I have already said, " frequent tran- 
shipments are inadm^ible in any route of interoceanic communi- 
cation looldng to permanence." 

I unhesitatingly claim for the proposed route, md Honduras, in 
respect not only of distance, but in freedom from detentions and 
delays resulting from bad poi-ts, adverse winds, and frequent 
changes, a cleai' and emphatic superiority over all routes which 
have been proposed across the Central American Isthmus. In re- 
spect of sailing distances, the following letter from Lieut. Mauey 
must be received as conclusive : 

National Obsekvatoey, 

Washington, June 26, 185i. 
E. G. Squtkr, Esq. 

Sir :— In reply to your note, requesting to know the sailing dis- 
tance from New-York to San Francisco, md the various Isthmus 
routes : 

Tou are aware that these distances cannot be accurately stated, 
unless from more accurate charts than we now have. I suppose 
you do not want the distances stated except from port to port, ex- 
clusive of the distance to be run after the vessel crosses the bar or 
enters the harbor. I therefore send you the shortest steaming dis- 
tance, from port to port, in round numbers. 

From New-Tork to San Francisco, vid Panama, 5200 miles. 

" " " " " Nicaragua, 4T00 " 

" " " " " Honduras, i200 " 

" " ■■ Vera Cniz and Tehuantepec, 4200 " 

No iillowanee is made in the above for the distance across the 
continent KespectfuUy yours, 

M. F. Mauey. 


The distance across the continent at Panama is 54 statute milea, 
at Kicaragna 184, at Hondui'as 160, at Tehuantopec 169, Accord- 
ingly, the total distance are, from New- York to San Praneiaco, 
via Panama, 5354 miles ; Kicaragna, 4884 niOes ; Honduras, 4360 
miles ; Tehnantepec, 4369 miles. 

Bat it is also to te considered that the shortest steaming course 
is not always a practicable one. Tlins, after passing the Capes of 
Florida, steamers cannot safely steer direct for Vera Cruz. They 
must keep Well to the northward, to avoid the dangerous reeft, 
shoals, and low islands which embarrass the gi-eat Oampeachy 
Bank, to the north of Yucatan. This detoiir augments the sailing 
distance between New-York and Tehuantepec several hundred 
miles, and thus increases the relative superiority, in respect of dis- 
tance, of the proposed Honduras route. 


"It is necessary to remark further, that irrespective of cHmafc aud political 
considerations, there is one chief requisite, one main point to be insisted on, 
in connection with any route or line intended to be available for general 
utility, without which, permanent success will be impossible. This indis- 
pensable adjunct is a good port. Without such » place of resort nt each 
end of any canal or railway, easy of access, and sheltered at all times, ship- 
ping could Bot effect objects securely, and in definite times. Delay expense, 
and risk must be the consequence of using a route unprovided with adequate 
harborage." — Capt. Fitzroy, E, N., Journal Royal Geographical Soc^ vol. 
Sx., p. 185. 

In order to institute a fair and impartial comparison between the 
various interoceanic routes proposed or in actual operation, we 
must first inquire what are the purposes of each. Taking them 
in their order, Tehuantepec, Honduras, and Panama are claimed 
to be proper and feasible points for railways; Nicaragua and 
Atrato for canal communications. We here leave out the Ohiriqui 
and Darien lines as exploded and impracticable. Nicaragua is 
simply impracticable for a railway ; that is to say for a continuous 



road, leading from one ocean to the other. A road built up the 
valley of the San Juan river would require to he constructed 
through an unbroken wilderness, and moreover, to be 119 miles in 
length. And even then a change to boats would become requisite 
to pass the lake, (which cannot be turned,) with a resumption of 
land travel on the other side. The geographical position of the 
Atrato line, to say nothing of its proximity to the railway at Pana- 
ma, renders a railway there unnecessary and valueless. The ques- 
tion of ports then, as regards Ati-ato and Nicaragua, is of no 
consequence. It may nevertheless be observed that both aa-e 
exceedingly defective in this respect. The present line of transit 
at Nicaragua has absolutely no port on the Pacific ; and an ade- 
■quate terminus on that aea cannot be found short of the port of 
itealejo, a distance of upwards of 300 miles from San Juan de 
Nicaragua. The Atrato route labors under the same disadvantage 
on the Pacific, Cupica being small and exposed to the S. "W". ; 
while on the Atlantic the Atrato river has a bad bar, with only 
five feet of water. 

Nor is it necessary, in this connection, to give much consideration 
to Panama. Its Atlantic terminus is not less than 7 degrees of 
latitude to the southward of the corresponding terminus of the 
Honduras line, while ite Pacific terminus is not lees than four days' 
sailing distance below the latitude of the corresponding tei-minua 
of the Honduras line. Supposing all other circumstances to be 
«qual, the saving in distance of the Honduras over the Panama 
line, would decide the question of superiority immensely in its 
favor. But Panama has bad ports on both sides ; bad in respect 
to climate, and if not absolutely unsafe oA the Atlantic, certainly 
inadequate ; while on the Pacific the Bay of Panama, where vessels 
are compelled to lie several miles from the shore, can hardly be 
called a port. The time lost in effecting embarkation and Jisem- 
barkation there, by means of email boats, to say nothing of the ex- 
pense, annoyance, and danger, must always be a serious drawback. 

It follows then, that the routes which in respect of latitude, and 
consequent saving of distance, can bear a comparison with each 
other, are those of Honduras and Tehuantepec. In this respect, 
these are the only ones which meet the obvious requirements of 
commerce and travel. And here the general reader must bear in 
mind, that above latitude 14° N., the continent does not run north 


and sotrtli, l)nt nearly east and west. The proposed nortliom tei^- 
mimia at Tehuantepec is in Lat. 18° 8' N. ; that of Honduras in 
Lat. 15° id' N. ; the sonthem termini in lat. 16° 12' and 13° 21' N. 
respectively. The absolute difference in latitude is, therefore, bitt 
3° 19'; and although Tehuantepec is in Lon. 94° 30' W., and Hon- 
duras in Lon. 81° 57' "W.^it is immaterial, in the voyage from New- 
Tork to San Francisco, for iiKtance, whether the westing is made 
in the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific — except perhaps that the 
Pacific is a smoother sea than the Gulf, and that it could be made 
in the first qiiicker and more easily than in the latter. 

It would appear then that Tehuantepec has an absolute advan- 
tage over Honduras of 2° 19' of latitude, equal to 4° 38', or 270 
naiitieal miles in the whole voyage, as between ]S"ew-York and San 
Francisco. Eat this wppaireait ad/vantage is lost in consequence of 
certain difficulties in the navigation of the Gulf of Mexico, and of 
certain requirements in the only charter for a Railway at Tehuan- 
tepec> which may be regarded as having, any vitality for the present, 
viz.: that of "la Oompafla Mista," or "SIoo Grant." This charter 
provides that the steamers running in connection with the propceed 
Tehuantepec road must sail to Vera Cruz, and that there all 
passengers and freight must be transhipped in Mexican bottoms, 
before going to the Isthmus. Subjoined is the provision in ques- 

^1" Art. III. The Company is obliged to estabiisli a line of steamers, suffi- 
cient for the service of the route of communication, under the Mexican flag, 
la ticcordaiice with the laws of the country, to nm between Vera Cruz and 
the point in the Rio Coataacoalcos, where the raihoad shall commence." 

Vera Cruz is established as the only port of entry on the Gulf. 
Apart from all the detention which this transhipment involves, — 
the fatality of the climate of Vera Cruz, and the insecurity of its 
harbor,* — all steamers from the Atlantic States must give the great 
bank of Campeachy, witli its thousand reefs and low islands, a 
wide berth, by keeping far to the northward. They cannot^ as I 
have already said, safely steer in a right line, from the straits of 
Florida for Vera Ci-uz, but must make a circuit to avoid the 
Alacranes and other dangerous impediments to navigation to tlie 

* " Vera Cruz doea not even deserve Uie name of roadstead ,- it is a disagreeable 
tmchOTage amongst shallows." — Humboldt, New Spain, vol. i. p. 2. 

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north of Yucatan, upon which the British West India Steamship 
Company lost a number of their best vessels, until strict ' orders 
were given to have them keep well to the northward of the 0am- 
peachy bank. 

Calculating the deflection from this cause, and the increase of 
distance involved in going to Vera Cruz, not only is the apparent 
! in favor of Tehuantcpee over Honduras lost, but the 
! distance is so much increased as to give an absoliite 
advcmtage to Hondmrm of more than two Jmimdred miles. 

"We now come to the question of ports, upon which Captain 
Fitzroy, in the quotation at the head of this section, has laid a 
str^s which all who have investigated the subject know is none 
too emphatic. To avoid any imputation of unfairness in this 
matter, which is necessarily one of testimony,' we shall content 
ourselves with quoting ft'om authorities not open to suspicion, 
whose impartiality cannot be called in question, and who establish 
the fact that Tehuantepec has no ports worthy of the name on 
either sea. In respect to the Pacific terminus : 

" The port of Tehuantepec is not more favored by nature [Uian the coast 
of Nicaragua]. It gives its name to the hurricanes which blow from the 
N.W., and which prevent vessels from landing at the small ports of Sahinaa 
and Ventosa'^ [Anfflice, " the windy"].— Humboldt, J^ew Spain, vol. i. p. 26, 

Eeferring to Tehuantepec, M. Michel Chevalier observes, in his 
work on Interoceanie Communications, that — 

" It wouJd be necessary to remedy, if posa.ble, the leant of a moderately 
convenient port on the Pacific. Tehuantepec scarcely deserves the name of 
roadstead ; tie sea recedes day by day from its shores, the anchorage yearly 
becomes worse ; the sand deposited by the Chimalapa increases the height 
and extent of the bars of sand at the entrance of tie first lake, in the second, 
and thence info the sea, and already is Tehuantepec accessible to small 

In fact, the plan of employing what is caEed the port of Tehuan- 
tepec, was formally abandoned by the engineers of the Tehuan- 
tepec survey. They propose to create an artificial port at Ventosa, 
by the construction of a " breakwater 2000 feet long." The diffi- 
culty, not to say impossibility, of constructing artificial harbors to 
meet any impoi'tant purpose, is too obvious and well understood 
to require remai'k. 



In one word, Tehuantopec has absolutely no port on the Pacific. 
It is oven leaa favored on the Atlantic ; nor is it claimed that there 
is here the remotest rmrnnblance of what is understood by a port. 

Thia deficiency ia propcfeed to be supplied by entering the Coat- 
zacoalcos river, which is without shelter at its mouth, and which 
flowa directly into the open sea. It has, moreover, a bar, which 
in bad weather would be impassable for vessels of a hundred tons, 
"jli high waiter, on thefvll and change, the depth qf -water on the 
J>wr is aloui 13 feet, andfalU as low as 11/eet," is the confession 
of those who have identified tliemselves with the Tehuantepec 
project.* Upon this point the authority of Gen. Orbegoso, who 
was first employed by Sr. Garay to examine the Isthmus of Te- 
huantepec, cannot be accepted. He reported 21 to 23 feet on the 
bar, while the engineers of tlie Tehuantepec Co. found but from 
11 to 13, and Commodore PeiTy but 13 feet. Sr. ICoro seems to 
have been of the same school. Ho reported 23 feet on the 
bar at Boca Barra, at Tehuantepec, where the authority of the 
Tehuantepec report found but eight feet ! ^Nevertheless, proceed- 
ing upon the erroneous assumption tliat the Coatzacoalcce earri^ 
18 feet at its bar instead of 10 to 13, Capt. Liot, Superintendent 
of the British West India steamers, < 

" The soundings given in tie preceding remarks (even those most favor- 
able to the Tehuantepec project) are evidently insufficient for large vessels 
with full cargoes ; for although the principal channel of the bar were always 
to maintain a deptli of 18 feet, (as Sr. Orbegoso asserts it does, but after- 
wards admiu that ' under extraordinary circumstances perhaps it does not,') 
how is a ship of 600 tons burthen, for instance, (drawing 18 feet water at 
least,) to pass it 1 If there were much swell on the bar, it would be perilous 
for vessels of even 15 ftet draft to attempt it. Thus, then, this projected ship 
canal would avail only for vessels of and under 300 tons burthen, and in the 
season of ' Norths' great rist would attend their approach to that part of 
the coast, where there is neither port nor shelter nearer than Vera Cruz, (120 
miles upon a northwest bearing horn the bar of the Coatzacoalcos ;) and dur- 
ing 'Norths' the land threabouts is not only a 'dead lee shore', but it forms 
a perfect ' cul de sac' out of which sailing vessels conid not escape under 
canvas, e\cept by risking the passage of the bar, (which shifts,) and that 
they TvoTild scarcelv due wilhuut i pilot , during a hard no 

* Tehuantepec Survey, p. 115. 


the surf on the coast is so heavy, tliat pilots are unable to ' board ' vessels, 
whatever their distress or danger raaj be." 

Ool. Abeet, of the Topographical Bureau, in a review of the 
Transits published by Congress, observes : 

"The gulf bar cannot be considered as affording more than 12 feet of 
water. Upon llie Pacific side there is no harbor. . . . Tehuantepec 
bay is represented as shoal and much exposed, dangerous, and subject to 

Com, Shtibeiok, commanding the Pacific Squadron, in a letter 
to the Secretary of the Navj, dated Oct. 7, 1847, saya : 

" There is, I imderstand, anchorage in the Bay of Tenuantepoc ; but all 
accounts agree with the letters of Mr. Forbes in describing it as exceedingly 
boisterous. Capt. Hall says the hardest gales he ever experienced were in 
that bay, and tlie Spanish call it Ventosa." 

Again, Mr. J, H, Alexander, in a communication on the snlijeet 
to the special Congre^ Committee : 

"What was said just now as to the defects of tlie harbor of San Juan del 
Sur, in connection with the Nicaragua route, applies also to the considera- 
tion of another, which has attracted much attention ; I mean that over the 
Isthmus of Tehuantepec. . . In regard to the approaches on either side, 
Nature has been unkind ; and Ventosa bay, on the Pacific, is in its very 
name {' the Windy') an apt expression for the character of the roadstead ; 
while on the Coatzacoaleos side, there ia nothing to protect the entrance of 
that river from the northers of the Gulf of Mexico." — J. H. Alesandbh, 
CoTtgresswnal Report, No. 145, 1849, p. 44. 

Lieut. Col. Geo. "W. Hughes of the U. S. Topographical Engi- 
neers, in a letter to the Secretary of State, on the subject of " Inter- 
marine Commtmications," sums up his account of Tehuantepec 
in the following words : 

"One most serious objection to any communication across this isthmus 
for great commercial purposes, is to be found in the want of safe and capa- 
cious harbors at either terminus. At the mouth of the Coatzacoaleos there 
ia but twelve and a half feet water at low tide, and it is exposed to the full 


force of the northera which prevail from November till April. I have seen 
thirty skips stranded in a single norther in tJie month of March. It may 
be said that the bar may be removed and an artificial harbor constructed at 
the mouth of the river. There is probahly no moie diflicult problam in the 
science of engineering than the execution of such worts undei the beat of 
circumstances; but I am fiir from asserting that still lad wnti/ m tv not 
accomplish them. The mouth of the Ooitzacoalcos is pecuh'ul} ill adapted 
to such improvements, which would sciicely be inferior m magnitude to the 
hai'bor of Cherbourg, and would assuredly leqmre the munificence and 
resources of a Louis XIV. for theii execution The b)i, cieated by the 
action of a certain natural law, would, if removed, be immediitely re foimed 
by the same cause to which it owes its ongin, unless that cause should be so 
modified as to direct elsewhere the deposition of earthy matter ; and in the 
present case the question would be further complicated by the silting up of 
the artificial harbor, if one should be built. Supposing that such a harbor 
should be constructed, it would still be liable to the objection of the dif5- 
cuUy and danger of access, especially for sail vessels, in the season of north- 
ers. .. . The whole shore of Tehuantepee is subject to the visitation of 
terrific hurricanes, {which tate their name from the Isthmus,) sweeping with 
resistless fuiy along this inhospitable coast, where the tempest-tossed mar- 
iner sects in vain for a harbor of reftige, even for the smallest class of sea- 
going vessels. For this there seems to be no remedy ; the genius of man 
cannot control the storms, and nature is constantly inteiposing new physical 
difiicullies in the way of navigation." 

!Mr. Pitman, in his work on tlie Practicability of an Intero- 
ceanic Corammiication, (p. 204,) arrives at a precisely similar con- 
clusion : 

"The prevailing weight of all extant authority shows tliat the mouth of 
the river Ooatzacoalcos is not a sufficiently good port ; that there is not a port 
at the mouth of the river Tehuantepee capable of receiving ships of consid- 
erable tonnage, and that there is no [means of making the present port bet- 
ter. . . . From all these considerations, in addition to the before- 
mentioned reasons, it seems to be an unavoidable conclusion that the pro- 
posed route is •anjit, if not impracticable, far a ship navigation that would 
e to extensive commerce." 

As has already been observed, it has been proposed to remedy 
the deficiency of a port on the Pacific, by the construction of an 
artificial harbor. To this end it is designed to carry ont a break- 
water 2000 feet long, to a depth of 36 feet. It is only n 



look at the amnual Congressional appropriations for breakwaters, 
on our own coast, apart from their original cost, and to consider 
their coinparative inadequacy, m order to estimate the practical 
valne of this proposition. 

The official survey of tke entrance of tlie Eio Coatzacoalcos hy 
Com. Peny, published by the Government, shows but 12 feet of 
water on the bar, in a channel but 150 feet wide. Outside of the 
channel the water shoals to 11, 10, and 9 feet. 

Experience has shown that the vessels, employed in the Califor- 
nia transit, require the highest admissible tonnage, in order to give 
the requisite capacity and accommodation. The vessels which 
have been most profitable are the Ohio, Georgia, Illinois, etc., 
each having a capacity of upwards of 3000 tons. Tlie Falcon, one 
of the smallest of the ocean-going steamers, and too small for a 
profitable passenger vessel, carries 750 tons, and di'aws 15 feet of 
water, or three feet mors t]utm> the total depth of water on the 
Coatsaeoaleos tof t Tehuantepec, therefore, laclis the essential re- 
quisite of good ports : it has none worthy of the name, or capable 
of meeting the ordinary conditions of an interoceanic transit, on 
either sea. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to find in the 
"Gulf of Mexico, or any where else on tko whole Atlantic coast of 
America, a more dangerous point, or one less suited for a terminus 
of a route of communication across the continent, than Tehuante- 
pec. The northers sweeping down the great valley of the Mis- 
sissippi, have here their greatest force and influence ; and, as ob- 
served by Capt. Liot, no steamer or other vessel, of ordinary sea- 
draft, could cross the Coatzacoalcos bar during their prevalence, 
which is for six months in the year, from September to March. 
Ordinary way«3 are five or six feet from trough to crest, and wittt 
a moderate wind on shore, in conflict with the current of the river, 
the sea would break on the bar. Deducted from the total depth, 
no sufficient depth of water remains to float a vessel of a size and 
draft proper to venture into the open sea. 

In respect to the dimate of Tehnant^>ec, Sr. Moro mentions that 
he had frequently seen the thermometer at Tehuantepec stand at 
S3° Fahrenheit at 7 -o'clock in the morning. The vomito, (yellow 
fever,) it is notorious, prevails along the whole coast of Mexico 
from Yera Cruz to Campeachj. 


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In reference to tlie subjoined letters from Lieut. Jefpehs, it should be 
observed, that they were intended to be submitted only as preliminary to a 
full Report, the completion of which, was prevented by civcunistauces already 
explained. The first letter was written at Comayagua, and refers to that 
portion of the line lying between Comayagua and the Gulf of Fonseca; the 
second, dated at Omoa, to that portion between Comayagua and Puerto Ca- 


CoMAYAouA, May 15th, 18S3. 
My Dear Sib : 

We have now passed the " divide" between the Atlantic and Pacific 
Oceans, and the question of feasibility in the enterprise in hand, may bo 
considered aa solved with approximate accuracy. Before proceeding to 
negotiations, I am desirous oE having from you a statement of your views 
upon this point, in such form that it may be transmitted, with my own let- 
ters, to my associates. The remainder of the line from here to Omoa, I 
propose shall constitute the subject of a second report. Of course no re- 
port can be made in a complete form, with detailed statements and esti- 
mates ; nor is it expected, inasmuch as nothing more than a reconnaisstmce 
of the country has been contemplated, to determine the question of feasibil- 
ity, and preliminary to a regular survey. The special points upon which I 
ask your views are :— 

The feasibility of the line thus far examined, in respect, 1st To its direct- 
ness ; 2d. In respect to its western terminus ; 3d. The character of country 
through which it passes, and the fecilities which it affords for such a work, 
as, for instance, the absence of forest, the supply of timber and stone ; 4th. 
The temperature and salubrity of the climate ; 5th. The practicability c£ 



carrying on eonatracfiona, and obtaining supplies, on the BTippoaition that 
the plain of Comayagua, and the Island of Tigre shall, respectively, consti- 
tute a base of operations. 

I am, Sir, 

Your ob't sorr'f, 

E. G. Squibe. 


CoMAYAGUA, May I5th, 1853. 
Dear Sib : 

In reply to your note of the 13th iast., requesting a repoi-t, based 
upon the recmvmiissance which has been made of the rout* from Fonseca to 
tiis pkoe, with respect to the feasibility of opening a route of eomnmnica- 
tion between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceana, and partjcnlarly upon the 
special points therein enumerated, I give tiie following general summary. 

1st. With respect to directness. In this respect the projected line from 
Tigre Island by the valley of the Goascoran, the plain of Oomayagua, and 
fJie vaJley of the Humuya, presents extraordinary feeilities. The valley, 
through wliich flows the River Goascoran, is a great transverse valley, lying 
m a direction due north and south between the Lepaterique range on the 
east, and the San Juan mountains on the west. In tie lowest pait of the 
valley, which is from one to fonr miles wide, sloping down from the bases 
of the hills, the river has gradually worn a bed, and pursues a serpentine 
course between banks of from ten feet in height at the month, to about 
thirty feet at San Juan, above which place, the river is divided into two 
principal branches, each of which has numerous tributaries. 

The ranges of mountains which border the valley extend north to the 
plain of Comayagaa, where they are abraptly terminated. At this point, 
the Cordilleras, or great Pacific coast range of mountains, are entirely in- 

Between the ranges are several parallel ridges, 1000 to 1500 feet in 
height, lying north and south, their steepest sides to the west, in the valleys 
of which rise the head waters of the Goascoran, flowing into the Pacific, and 
those of the Humuya flowing northward into the Atlantic. These valleys 
are the passes through which it is proposed to form the communication 
with the plain of Comayagua. The plain of Comayagua is about forty 
miles in a nortb and south direction, by fifteen to twenty miles from east to 
west Many lateral valleys, through which the head waters of tbe Humuya 
flow, open into this pltdn. There is a gentle descent from the summit to 
tJie citj of Comayagua, situated on the northern limit of the plain. This 

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a quarter mil<a m length to the island ;* for this causeway a temporary 
comraunication hy ferry might be substituted, and would perhaps be pre- 
ferable as a peimanent irrangemeiit. 

From Goascoran the uvec piu'sues a general direction to the north, wind- 
ing through the \all''\, until it reaches the town of Oaridad, a distance of 
80 miles, and at an elevation of 580 feet. The road would lie upon a table 
elevated fifty feet above the low water mark. The average rise of the water 
at Caridad is fifteen feet. To this point there would be no heavy cuttings, 
or curves less than a mile radius, and no brid^res over thirty feet water-way. 
At Caridad the mountains appro h th 1 m heavy cutting 

would be required for a couple of m I f t tl biees. From this 
point to San Juan, which place is at It f h dred and fifty 

feet, we have a table gently sloping t d th To miles above 

San Juan, the hills again approach th f I t 1 t ce, and agaia 

recede, until we reach the valley of E h G d h there is a collec- 
tion of four huts on the line of the i t m 1 t f 1900 feet. At 
this point the river divides ; the t m b h 11 d th Rio Rancho 
Grande, comes from the north-east th t 1 h the Chaguiton, 

from the north-west. The main r 1 th E 1 Grande branch 

at the summit, at the pass of Ean h Ch q t h th is a hut and 
shade for travellers, situated on a si ght It 11 plain. 

The head-waters of the Goasoora 1 H y t this point, distant 

but two hundred yards, with so slight Ig b t th m s to be almost 

imperceptible ; the elevation of the summit is 2400 feet. 

From Eancho Grande to the summit no serious difSeiilties present them- 
selves beyond the grade, which will not esoeed eighty feet to the mile. A 
cutting of fifty feet at this point for eight hundred yards, will relieve the 
grade f« the extent of one hundred feet. 

By the Chaguiton branch, and the valley of the Eio Carisal, the country 
is of a very favorable character, t« the summit at the Hacienda of Guajoea. 

* Subsequent examinatioas stowed that the island can be i-eaehed by tha _c 
notion of a pfle bridge, one hundred and fifty yards in length, — E. G. 8. 

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Thia pass is one hundred feet lower thaa that of Kancho Chiqinto, the sum- 
mit upon a plain half a mile in extent. Prom this pass we descend to tho 
plain of Comayagua, by the valley of the Curaru, and past the villages of 
Tambla and Yarumela, to the city of Comayagua. The first six miles of 
this division would be over broken gi'ouad, requiring some heavy cutting 
and filling ; the remainder of the distance would be over au almcet un- 
broken plain. 

From Rancho Chiquito the road would pass near Yarumela, in a direct 
line to Comayagua, ofiering in no part special diflioulties of construction. 
The relative advantages of these two passes can only be established by a 
detailed survey. Tlie pass of Bancho Chiquito presents more favorable 
ground for the descent to the plain ; that of Guajooa a better route from 
the valley of the Rancho Grande, with a less elevation at the summit by one 
tundred feet. The distance by the pass of Guajoca is somewhat greatest. 

2d. With respect to the point to be selected as the terminus. Tho Island 
of Saeate Grande, opposite Tigre Island, presents the greatest advantages. 
First, the road lying entirely within the limits of one State, its business will 
be less trammelled by police and customs regulations. Secondly, the hai'bor 
is somewhat easier of entrance and exit than that of La Union, though, in 
this respect, both ai-e excellent. Thirdly, there is sufficient depUi of water 
and room for any probable number of the largest ships. The port has 
aJready been constituted a Free Port, and the situation is remarkably salu- 

Port La Union, although fi'om two to three miles nearer, is in another 
State ; therefore, the possibility of collisions between tJie States, and differ- 
ences in respect to duties, might injure the business of the road. The 
water is moreover shallow, directiy in fi;ont of the town, for a distance of 
half a mile ; nearer Chiquirin Point, where the channel is near shore, the 
tides run with great force, a serious objection in a crowded harbor. It 
would also be necessary to bridge the Goascoran and Sirima. 

3d. The character of the country through which the road would pass and 
the facilities it would afford. 

The country is in general of the most favorable character. The line of 
the road being traced upon a table on the banks of the river, and beyond 
the reach of freshets, presents the character of an inclined plane, from the 
summit to the harbor. The amount of cutting and filling will be very 
small, except in the division on each side of the summit ; the curves will 
be good, and the grades not greater than are to be found upon successful 
roads. There will be no tunnels required and very litfle excavation in 

The elevation to be overcome, to pass the summit at Eancho Chiquito, is 


2400 feet, but when it is coTisidered that there are no descents, and 'that U 
is the total of ascents, and not the elevation, of the summit, that eonstitufea 
the expense of working, it will be seen that this is by no means unfayorabk. 

South of Goascoran the formations are of Hniestone, white sandstone, dis- 
integrated quarta, gravel and sand, mixed with lavas and volcanic stones. 
No cutting of any extent will be necessary in these rocks. At Goascoran 
there are extensive beds of blue limestone, and in all the streams an im- 
mense quantity of large boulders of granif*, gneiss, conglomerate, and sand- 
stone. From this point, the rock is a white sandstone, sufficiently soft to 
be quarried with the pick, but hardening and toughening by exposure. 
Its durability is sufSciently proved by the existence of engraved figures 
upon the rocks near Aramecina which are in a good state of preservation, 
although of a date anterior to the conquest. The aqueduct at Oomayagua, 
for some distance on the borders of the stream, is cut in this rock, evidently 
with the pick, the marts of which are still visible. Excavations can, there- 
fore, be made at an expense little or no greater than in earth, with the ad- 
vantage of durability, and no liability to wash. Upon the whole line there 
is abundance of gravel, sand, lime, and brick-clay. 

The soil of the valley, or rather plain, of Comayagua, is based upon a 
stratum of white clay, overlaying sandstone. The eastern side is composed 
of a substratum of sand and gravel of great depth, in which are imbedded 
lai^ boulders of granite, gneiss and quartz conglomerate ; the western side, 
of gravel, red clay, limestone and sandstone boulders ; the whole covered 
with a rich soil, except a few ridges denuded by the heavy rains. 

In the vicinity of La Piedras and Comay^ua are inexhaustible quarries 
of a handsome and durable blue marble, which affords both an excellent 
building material and lime. This limestone is both itt situ and in boid- 
ders, of all sizes, in the beds of the torrents, and on the sides of the moun- 

The practice of burning the dry grass before the summer rains, prevents 
the growth of large timber in the lower pai't of the valley, except on the 
bordeiB of the streams, and upon the hills ; this, with entire absence of 
jungle, affords great facilities for carrying on a survey, or the work of con- 
struction, "With some care, one can ride in any direction, and there are no 
impediments to walking. The cost of a survey, as well as the usual expense 
of clearing and grabbing the line of the road, is, therefore, considerably re- 
duced ; the transport of materials is also greatly fecilitated. 

At Aramecina, the yellow pine appears on the hills, and at San Juan 
and Aguanqueterique, it is to be found of good size and in iuexhaustible 
quantities, in the immediate vicinity of the road. The pine attains a size 
of 30 inches, and fiom fifty to seventy-five feet of altitude, differing in no 


respect from the best North Carolina. The oat is also to be found in con- 
siderable quantities, as also many other useful and valuable woods in any 

The width of the valley is so small, compared with its length, that there 
are no sti'eains to be crossed, between the terminus and the simimit, having 
a water-way to exceed thirty feet : the expense in this important item will 
consequently be exceedingly small. 

4th. The temperature and salubrity of the climate. At Comayagua, Lat 
14° 28' N., Long. 81° 39' W., 1800 feet above tbe sea, the average tem- 
perature, since our arrival, with the sun vertical at noon, has been 1i° at 6 
A. M., 84° at M., 80° at 6 P. M. ; a temperature agreeable, salubrious and 
proper for the employment of extra-tropical labor.* This temperature is 
maintained to a point near the coast, and is probably due to the fact that 
the prevailing winds are from the north, drawing down the valley of the 
Goascoran between the Lepaterique and San Juan mountains, the cool Mr 
of the table land and mountainous region. Upon no part of the toute is to be 
found tbe dense jungle and rank vegetation of the tropics; but, on the con- 
trary, the soil is dry, the country open and salubrious. At La Union, the 
thermometer, in April, the hottest month, oocaaionally reached 94° at 3 
P. M., bnt at this tour the volcano of Conchagua rising beyond it, shuts 
out the sea-breeze. At Amapala, (Tigre Island,) our stay was too short to 
determine the average temperature, but it is considerably below this figure. 
Even at the embouchiu"e of the river, there are neither marshes nor swamps 
to taint the air with pestiferous efiluvia. To the absence of these, and the 
influence of a tide rising fen feet, to scour the shores, must be atti'ibuted 
the healthfulness of the coast. 

5th. The practicability of carrying on constructions and obtaining sup- 
plies, on tbe supposition that the plain of Comayagua and 'figre Island 
shall respectively constitute a base of operations. Tigre is a most excellent 
depot for the Pacific division, being a good harbor, easily accessible, and a 
Free Port. There is a camino real or good mule road from Nacaome, (a 
point accessible by steamers or boats,) on tlie east side of the river, to Co- 
mayagua, over which all the travel now passes ; also a similar road from 
La Union on the west side, as far as San Juan. At a slight expense, these 
roads can be shortened, improved, and may be made passable for carts. In 
order to avoid the construction of bridges, these roads have been, in many- 
cases, carried over mountains, when the only difficulty to be overcome in 
carrying them round their bases, has consisted in bridging a stream twen- 

* This avernge ie for the month of May, which, next to April, is the hottest of the 
year. June showed an average of three degrees less, and tJie difference from Au- 
gust to April is still more decided. — E G. 9. 

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ty-iive to thirty feet in width ! For the eonstrflction of bridges, there ig, 
nevertheless, abundaDce of timher on the ground. 

The smaller streams running into the Goascoran afford a supply of wat«r- 
power, applicable to the running of saw-mills ov other machlnety 

The Qoaseoran maybe made avMlable as a means of transpoit m the 
winter, or rather rainy season ; and, with some improvements, at all ■leia ns 
The mouth of this stream is obstmcted by a sand-bar, but may be enteied 
on the tide at a quarter flood : this bar may be removed by diedging 
Above these are obstructions, caused by natural dims of large boulders ■ by 
removing these boulders from the eentie of the iner, we can create a series 
of ponds and sluices, forming a slack watei navigation as tar as Candad, 
probably to San Juan. For tiie puipf«e of nftmg timbei from above, 
should it be required, and transportjng matenals m boata, the nver wiU be 
very serviceable. 

Native labor can be obtained fiom this and the adjommg States la suffi- 
cient quantity ; and, at the rate of wages, {twenty five cents per day,) would 
be very useftil. There can, however, be no difliculty in mtroducmg foreign 
labor, and its employment will be more satisfeetory. 

The river Humuya, at Comayagua, is at present of an average depth, of 
three feet, breadth one hundred and fifty feet ; and, from the information 
Tve can obtain here, we have every reason to believe tliat it is navigable for 
the greater part of the distance from this point to the sea, thus giving us 
a most useful auxiliary in the construction of the remainder of the road. 

Whatever may be the character of the remainder of the route, the prin- 
cipal difficulty has been overcome in passing the summit, and the feasibility 
of tie route may be considered as practically established. 
I have the honor to be, 

Respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

Wm. N. Jeffrrs, 


CoMAYAGCA, June 4th, 1853. 
My Dear Sih : 

Herewith you . will receive an oi-der from the Pohtica! Chief of this 
department to the officers under his jurisdiction, for all such assistance as 
may be required in your passage to Espino, and thence down the river to 
the sea. 

You are already apprised of the nature of the information desii-ed respect- 
ing the river, and the valley through which it runs ; these are : 

Ist, In respect to the facility for a road along its banks. 


' 2d. In respect to t!ie extent it may be used eitber as accessory or per- 
aianently, in opening a road between the seas. 

3d. The nature of the land on its banks, and its value agriculturally, or 
OH account of its existing natural products. 

4tJi. The character of the rivers uniting with the principal stream, and 
their probable value for purpoaes of navigation. 

5th. And most particularly, tlie nature of the coast near the mouth of the 
river Ulua ; if the river may he entered by vessels, and of what size. 

6th. If the places known as Pu(,rto Sd, Puerto Caballos, Triunfo de la 
Cruz, or any others near the mouth ot the tjlua, can he u'ied ss ports 

Tth, If in ordinary weather stesmei-s niaj an hor off the moufh cf the 
Ulua and discharge or receive p'wsengeis ■ind fieight 

8th. If roads can be construetud reiddy from the'-e pomt'f to i pioper 
point of embarkation on the iivor 

9th. The facilities which Omoi mij offer as a port, and the feasibility of 
reaching the Ulua ft'om there both it a high and at a low pomt on the 
same. In fact, next to the question of crj«smg the summit between the 
two seas, the question of the Atlantic terminus ot the oontemplated hue is 
most important, and any intormation upon it cannot fail to te useful and 
interesting. lour* le^pertlullj 

E. G. Sqtjier. 


OuoA, Juno 23d, 1853. 
Dear Sir : 

I arrived at this place on yesterday, from the mouth of the Ulua, 
having made a thorough reconnaissance of the valley of the Humuya, and of 
the Ulua, from its junciaon with the former ta the sea ; also of the harbors 
of Puerto Sal, Triunfo de la Cruz, Puerto Escondido, and Puerto Caballos. 
In aecordmice with your instructions of June 4th, I transmit the following 
brief report upon the points therein enumerated, seriatim : — 

1st. There can be no difficulty in constructing a rail, or other roarf, upon 
fitker bank of (he river Humuya, from Comayagua to its junction with the 
Ulua ; the left bank, however, presents the most fevorable features. 

From the plain of E^pino to the junction of the rivers, the Humuya pur- 
sues a nearly direct course between hills of from 50 to 500 feet of altitude ; 
which, in general, come down to the bants of the river, but occasionally re- 
cede, and leave strips of level above the rea«h of inundations. The slopes 
of these hiUs are seldom abrupt, and no heavy work will be required at any 


Tlie Eio Blanco and Eumuya unite with the Ulna at the same point, 
and below their junction the land is level, swampy, subject to annual in- 
undations, covered by dense forests, and, in the rainy season, by immense 
lagoons ; from which unfavoi-able featm-es, I conceive that it will be neces- 
sary to confine the road to the left bant, following, for some distance, the 
hue of the camino real above the hmits of the floods. 

Commencing at Pueito Caballos, it should take an E. S. E. direction 
along the base of the coast range for about three miles, to turn the flant of 
the bills, thence across the plain to Santiago, in nearly a direct line beyond 
the limits of the overflow, and cross the Ulna, which, above this point, is 
called the Venta, about two milesabove its junction with the Hnmuya, thenc^ 
still upon the plain, about ten miles, to the Humuya, at a point where the 
mountains first approach the hanks, and confine the location of the i-oad 
stricOy to the valley of the river, up the left bank to near Espino, where we 
cross to the right bank, and pnrsne a direct course to Comayagua, This 
line pi-esents no difiiculties beyond the construction of the following bridges ; 
one of 800 feet (500 ?) span over the Chamelicon ; one over the Venta ; one 
of 60 feet over the Eio Blanco ; one of ftO feet over the Uri ; one of 40 feet 
over the Masagua; and one of 125 feet over the Humuya. Quite forty 
miks will be over a level plain, or an ascent so gentle as hardly to be per- 
ceived, and on that portion of the line which lies on the bank of tie Hn- 
muy^the alternation of cut and fill is highly favorable. 

2d. The Ulua can be used as accessory, and in the constructioa of the 
road, may be of essential service ; it can be navigated ly a light draft steamer- 
at all seasons, as far (W the junction of the rivers; and the Humuya, for 
several montiis, as for as the mouth of the Sulaco, but beyond that point the 
river cannot be made of service except in rafting down timber. The numer- 
ous rapids, shoit bends, sudden rise, and temporary duration of the floods, 
and the character of the bottom, composed entirely of sharp rocks, forbid 
all hopes of improvement in the upper part of the river. 

3d. From the plain of Espino to the moutJi of the Humuya, the country 
is hilly, but intersected with numerous fertile valleys. This portion is more 
valuable for gi-azing than for agricultural purposes. The hills are covered 
with the pine and oak, and on the borders of the stream exist vast quan- 
tities of mahogany, cedar, guanaoaste, india rubber, and other valuable trees. 
The banks of tiie Ulua are covered with valuable woods, md the land, whm 
cleared, is eminently adapted to the growth of cotton, sugar-cane, rice, and, 
in fad, all tropical products. The plain, extending from the coast to Yojoa^ 
not one kundredtk part of which is under cultivation, is highly valuable. 

4\h. The rivers which form the Humuya and the Ulua, are generally 
torronls in winter, and greatly embarrassed with shoals, large boulders, and 



4ams or ledges of rock, in summer. They are of little value as tbannels of 
communication in their present state, and can only be improved by an 
enormous outlay, 

5th. The eo^t near tbe mouth of the Ulua, and for some thirty miles 
inland, is flat, and in tbe rainy season, almost entJrdy inundated, so that the 
waters of the Ulua and of the Chamelicon unite'; as in all similar rivers, the 
banks are some little higher than the back country, which is, in the rmny 

The mouth of the river Ulua is obstructed by a bar, having at this time 
but nine feet of wafer upon it ; it may be said to be impassable for sailing 
vessels, as the outset is so strong that a fresh breeze is required to enable 
them to stem the current, and with a fresh breeze the sea is very heavy. 
Steamers drawing seven feet may enter at all times; and, from, June to 
Janitary, asemd as far as tAe ju-nctio-n of the Hwmuya. The navigation 
is obstructed by snags, sawyers, and drift-wood, but these impediments may 
easily be removed. 

6th. Fuerto Cahallos is a good harbor, of great capacity, sufficient depth 
of wafer, and easy of entrance emd exit. Situated at the base of the bills, 
there are neither marehes nor swamps to affect the healthfnlness of the 
locality, which is -sufficiently extensive for the formafion of a large city. 
The lagoon, which is of salt water, and open to the sea, abousds in fish. 

Neither Puerto Sal, nor Triunfo de !a Cruz, possess the requiate^for a 
good port ; both are very small, not capable of affording shelter to a dozen 
vessels, and not well protected from the northers which frequently blow 
with gi'eat severity. It would be difScuIt, if not impracticable, to carry the 
road to either of the last mentioned ports, on account of the extensive 
swamps to be traversed. 

"rth. At any time between March and December, ships may, and do, 
anchor off the mouth of the river Ulua, loading mahogany. There is, how- 
ever, a cove about one mile to the westward, where a landing may be better 
dfected, and at all times, excepting during the continuance of the northers. 

From, this landing to the river, the distance is hut about two hundred a-nd 
fifty yards, and a light draft steamer can, from this point, always ascend to 
the mouth of the Humuya, or, by the Mio Blanco, to a point near Yqjoa, 

8th. Puerto Oaballos was, for two eenturies, the principal port on this 
coast, and the road from that point to Santiago may still be travelled, 
although neglected and somewhat grown up. Roads may also be constiucted, 
on or near the line of the contemplated road, at a moderate expense. The 
truck roads in the mahogany cutting of the Messrs. FoUin are often several 
Kiiles in length, thirty feet in width, carefully levelled, grubbed and biidged 
for the passage of loaded trucks drawn by six yoke of oxen. These roads are 

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d By task worlc, at the average rate of about fifty yards per maa per 
day ; or say, fifty dollars per mile. I am, therefore, of the opinion that for 
double that sum, or say, $100 per mile, a road might be opened over the plain 
passable for carts. The line across the plain to Santiago can be, I thinlc, 
made perfectly straight, because the streams have all sandy or gravel beds, 
an evidence that no bottondess marshes, such as those on the Panama road, 
are to be found here. 

9th. The harbor of Omoa is an excellent port for small vessels, but does not 
offer the requisite security to vessels of large size, nor has it sufficient capacitj. 
Puerto Caballoa alone appears to unite the necessary qnahtiea for the ter- 
minus, and is, in fact, all that is requisite in fJiis respect. 

The above report includes all the points enumerated in your letter of June 
4th. The maps of the route I am now engaged in bringing up. 

Respectfully, yom- ob't serv'f, 

W. S". Jbffeks. 


CoMATAGUA, Ho-N'umus, 
Apiil 26, 1854. 
E. G. Squiee, Sect. H. I, E. R. Co. 

Dear Sie :— I propose to leave this city for Omoa and Npw-Toi'b, at the 
earliest possible moment ; meantime I avail myself of an opportunity of 
sending a letter vi& Nicaragua, to inform you that the contract signed by 
you, in conjunction with the Commissioners of Honduras, has been ratified 
by both branches of the Legislative Assembly ; that the ratifications have 
been exchanged between myself and Don Joaquin Mesa, appointed Gommis- 
Moner for the purpose ; and that it has received the signatures of the Execu- 
tive authorities of the State, and been proclaimed by the President as a law 
of the land. The terms of the Charter were slightly altered by the House 
of Delegates, but the alterations are not mateiial. The principal change 
is made in the terms of the tenure by which we hold the lands con- 
ceded to us. The oiiginal charter provided that they should be held by the 
" same tenure with lands purchased from the United States." It is now 
stipulated that " they shall be held by the same tenure with lands purchased 
from Honduras." The object of the orl^nal provision was to give u& per- 
petual control of the minerals, or rather, an exemption of the lands fix)m 


tlie Spanish law respecting minerala. This object, however, will be equally 
gained hy the passage of a law now before the House providing tiat all 
minerals and mines hereafter discovered shall belong to the owners of the 
lands on which they may he found. 

I have availed myself of the opportunity afforded hy my visit, to go over 
the proposed line of our road, between hei'e and the Pacific. I am most 
favorably impressed with the facilities for construction, and the easy grades 
which it affords. The only heavy work will be for about two miles, near 
the summit, where the side cuttings will be through chalk hills, yielding 
readily to the picfc. I am satisfied that for two-thirds of the entire line, the 
road will only require to be levelled to prepare it for the superstructure. 

Starting from Puerto CabaUos on the north, the line of the road lies 
through a level countiy for fifty miles. It then enteta the valley of tie Ulua 
river, skirting the bases of the mountains which border it, and which enable 
tbe engineer to select any desired elevation, to Laniani, a distance of about 
100 miles from the AUantic. From thence to tiie summit, a distance of six 
miles, the ris« is about 300 feet, which can be reduced by cuttings to not 
over 60 feet grade to the mile, I did not visit the Pass of Guajoca, which 
is 125 feet lower than that of Eancho Chiquito. At the summit, as I have 
said, is the only heavy work on the line ; but as the cuttings will be in chalk, 
they will be easily made, without danger fi'om slides, and at much less cubic 
excavation than if in earth. 

From the summit to the Pacific the grade will be gentle and uniform, 
nowhere exceeding 55 feet to the mile. The timber on the line is abundant 
and convenienL The long-leaved pine, identical with that of Florida, is 
found profusely on two-thirds of the route, and for the remaining third of tiie 
way, covers the hills and mountains. For forty miles fi-om the north coast, 
mahogany and cedar are abundant and cheap, 

A company of Americans have established a fine steam saw, planing, and 
shingle mill, on Tigre Island, in the Bay of Fonseca, and offer to supply 
cross-ties for the whole road, to be of pitch pine, cedar, mahogany, and 
lignum-vitic, at seventy-Jive cents each. The wood last mentioned is com- 
mon on the cential part of the line, as is also the live oak of Florida, 

The harbor of Puerto Caballos is unequalled. From tie ocean, by turn- 
ing a point of land, a vessel is immediately in a protected hai'bor, having 
not less than ten fathoms of water in the middle of the bay, and five fathoms 
within 20 yards of the northern shore. At an expense of $30,000 a chan- 
nel 20 feet deep can be cut through a strip of land, about 150 yards wide, 
which separates the harbor from an inner lagoon, which has from five to ten 
fathoms of water. It is surrounded by good land, and the road might be 
terminated on the shore of the lagoon, at a saving of about three miles of 

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railway- Siiould a town be built here, it can be supplied wltb pure water 
from tlie hills to the S. W^ at very little expense. These hills, at the distance 
of a mile from the port, reach the height of 400 feet ; and still further, in the 
8am.a direction, rise to be majestic mountains from 6000 to 9000 feet high. 
This range terminates abruptly near the port. For additional information 
respecting Puerto Caballos, I refer you to the enclosed extract fi'om the Log- 
Book of the " Geo. Steers," — Capt. Theo. JJewis, an old and experienced cap- 
tain, master. 

The Gulf of Fonseca, our southern terminus, requires no detailed account 
from me, I will only remark the extraordinary circumstance that our 
northern and southern termini will be in harboM without bars at their en- 
trance, and where the water gradually shoals from deep soundings to ten, 
nine, eight, seven and six fathoms — this last depth, close to the land, at the 
most secure possible point for wharves or for anchorage. 

The late superintending contractor of the Panama Railroad went over 
this route, and observed to me, " that one hundred miles of it required little 
more than levelling, to lay the crt)3s-ties, and that the most difficult part was 
an easy side-cutting through a chalk hill." We have no tunnels, not a sin- 
gle deep cut, nor one high embankment on the whole route. 

I visited the mahogany cuttings on the Ulua to observe the Caribs at 
work, and was much pleased to find that they are an industrious class of 
laborers. They are of mixed negro and Cai'ib blood, and work as hard on 
fifteen dollars a month and rations, as any men I ever saw getting out tim- 
ber at the North. We can get 1500 to 2000 of these, and 2000 to 3000 
natives, at ten dollars ]ier month and rations. I am offered one thousand 
pair of working osen, broken to the yoke, at twenty-flve dollai's the pair ; and 
cattle to any extent can be obtained in Honduras at from seven to ten dol- 
lars each. In haste, 

Keapectfidly yours, 



"Wednesday, April I7rn, 1854,-— At 10 A. M. got under way with tJie 
sea breeze, weather clear and very pleasant. 

Desirous of seeing the Bay of Puerto Caballos on our passage down the 
coast, I directed the pilot to steer for it, and at 1 P, M. we rounded the point 
and entered this capacious harbor. The mouth is about two miles wide. 



from north to aouth, aod tte port is about the same depth, from east to west, 
We rounded the point, within one hundred yai-ds of the shore, with not 
less than t«a fathoms wafer, and sailed along the northern side of the bay, 
for the purpose of examining minutely its capacity and depth of water. 

To do full justice to this capacious anchorage, and preclude the possibility 
of a doubt on the subject, I went myself in the boat with lead and line, and 
ascertained by a regular chain of soundings the dept]i of water for over two- 
thirds of the northern portion of the bay. 

In the middle of the bay, or nearly so, I had 12 fathoms at several easts, 
gradually shoaling as we neared the north shore to 10, 9, 8, 1, 6 fathoms, 
and when within about 20 yards of the beach, 5 fathoms, mud bottom, clear 
ground. At this time we had entered the bay for about two-thirds of the 
distance from the point, which forms its entrance, to its head. 

From the most diligent inquiry of many of those who follow the coasting 
trade, I am informed that westerly galea oa this coast at no season amonnt 
to any thing. 

"Westerly winds on this coast, I am able to say from my own experience, 
and that of others, begin rainy, with an easy breeze gradually veering to the 
northwest, increasing in strength, and by the time they arrive at H". N, W. 
blow with great force, at times for forty-eight hours, with but Mttle inter- 
mission, and raise a considerable swell. But they quickly subside on the 
clearing «p of the weather, and with the least easting — say one quarter of a 

By a reference to the chart it ivill l>e seen that a vessel is completely 
sheltered, when in 5 fathoms water, from any sea which may roll into the 
bay from the Eastward, and the sea from this quarter never amounts to any 
thing of consequence. As an instance ; the " George Steers" was anchored 
south about 300 yards from the south-east point of the harbor of Omoa, in 
3 fathoms water, during several of the hardest westerly gales, and in no 
case did the water come over the bow or wet the deck of this sharp vessel, 
or prevent boats from landing on the beach, due east from the place where 
she was anchored. 

With the wind from the N. W. to N., the points from which the 
hardest gales blow, there is room for 300 sail of vessels of aO classes, from a 
ship of 140 guns down to a sloop or dorf, to ride in perfect security. 

A gentleman resident on this coast, and of great experience in the winds 
and weather hereabouts, informed me that some time back he was voyaging 
in a dorff, when the sky, swell, etc., gave unmistakable evidence of a norther, 
and compelled him to make Puerto Caballos for security. Here he rode 
out in perfect safety one of the most furious northers he had ever witnessed. 





Extract from, a despatch to the Government of the United States, on the 
subject of a Naval Station on the Pacific. 

Legation op the United States, 

Leon de Nicaragua, June, 1850. 

Out present and prospective interests in the Pacific, and on the Pacific 
Coast of the Continent^ demand that all proper measures shall be taken 
by the Government to promote the Commerce of our country and secure the 
rights of our citizens in that quarter. The rise of an active commercial 
State in California^ and the settlement of Oregon, will open new channels of 
trade oa this hitherto essentially non-commercial ooi'it With their growth 
■will spring up a traffic with the tropical republic, in Sugai, Rice, Coffee, 
Cacao, Indigo, Tobacco, Cochineal, Hides, Djewoods, Indn rubber, Mahog- 
any, ef«., etc, proportionate to that which exists with the M ct Indies upon 
the Atlantic coast. This commerce, it is easy to see, will be carried ou in 
American vessels. But this is not all ; the establishment of new routes of 
communication between the two oceans, across the Central Isthmus, by rail- 
road or canal, or both, will open a new, but a large and profitable trade be- 
tween the eastern United States and the States of Central America, New 
Grenada^ Peru and Chili, as also ivith the rich Pacific slope of Mexico. 
The trade too, if proper precautions are taken, i>in fill into American hands. 
And with these facilities, the creation of which is no longer a speculative, 
dreamy thing, but practical and immediate, who cannot toieeee the revolu- 
tion which must tate place in all existing commercial lelations with the 
great centres of Asiatic trade, and comprehend the new and improved posi- 
tion which the United States will assume in respect to them ? 

■ These are matters, the importance of which is obvious to every refieeting 
mind. What, then, with this. new field of enterprise opening before us, is the 
immediate duty of the Government 3 Unquestionably to establish such rela- 
tions and cuter into such ai'rangements with the Pacific Republics and 
States as shall place our commerce with them and the rights of our citizens 
on the best possible basis ; adopting as far as possible the principle of re- 
ciprocity. This has been comprehended by the Administration, and made 
the subject of remark by Gen. Taylor, in his Message to Congress. And 
practically something has been done in carrying out these hheral views. 


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