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Early writings from Southern Patagonia
Title: The Gold Diggings of Cape Horn
Sub-title: A study of life in Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia
Author: John R. Spears
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1895



This is the story of what may be called the Cape Horn metropolis, for it is the story of a town, which, though a village in population, is the business centre of the region extending from Port Desire [present-day Puerto Deseado, Ed.], on the Patagonia coast, to the little island whose southern angle is called Cape Horn, and from the Falkland Islands on the east to the limits of the islands on the west coast of the southern continent. Moreover, it is a town whose characteristics are absolutely astounding, even to an experienced traveller who visits it for the first time, and, curiously enough, the more he may have read and heard about it the more he is likely to be astonished when he at last sees it himself.

"La Colonia de Magallanes," as Punta Arenas is styled in the public document of Chili, is more than fifty years old, and that, to the traveller looking at it from a ship's deck, is one of the most astonishing statements made about the town. On "the 21st of April, 1843, the Government of Chili planted the tri-color banner in the ancient port of Famine, thus taking possession, in the name of Chili, of the Straits of Magallanes," as the Chilian record says.

It is tolerably easy to guess that the Chili Government did this act more from a sentimental desire to hold possession of the territory that had been famous in history, than from any expectation that the region would be worth the expense of holding.

Besides the desire to hold ground with historical associations, the government wanted a penal colony that would be a very long way from the capital. A penal colony, it was argued, would not only hold troublesome convicts, but would serve as a place for employing members of the army suspected of plotting a revolt against the government.

This colony at Port Famine /see footnote/ depended entirely on supplies of food from Valparaiso, and as navigation in those days was much more uncertain than now, the settlement sometimes well-nigh repeated the experience of Sacramento's colony, that in the sixteenth century starved to death there. Because of their sufferings, the convicts rose up one day and took possession of the settlement. The Governor was killed. Then a ship happened along and the mutineers boarded it and compelled the crew to sail on, but a Chilian man-o'-war overtook them, whereat the convicts were for the most part hanged to the yardarms. It is said that a man was seen hanging from every yard-end on the warship, and she was a full-rigged ship – had twenty-four yard ends to hang men to.

The buildings at Port Famine having been burned by the convicts, the government decided to re-establish the colony just south of a long tongue of sand made by a mountain stream emptying into the strait some miles north of Port Famine. The new settlement was named from the old one – La Colonia de Magallanes – but because of that tongue of sand it was nicknamed Sandy Point by English-speaking seamen and Punta Arenas (which means Sandy Point) by all others, and so the town is called by everybody in the region.

As said, this was a place far out of the way. The life which the unfortunates there had to endure may, perhaps, be imagined by those who understand human nature, but not fully realized. Here were men condemned to live shut off from all civilized associations because of crimes of which they had been convicted. They were put in charge of men suspected of trying to commit other crimes. In most cases keeper and prisoner were guilty as charged, but in many cases both were innocent. In all cases the keeper was an absolute monarch with the power, if not the right, to take the life of any convict under him; and, for that matter, the officers could shoot the soldiers without very great risk of adequate punishment.

"It's coolish like the year round," said an old sailor there who had known the town twenty-five years ago, "but when I saw the colony first it wasn't a cable's length from hell."

That the colony did not remain a mere penal settlement with a mental atmosphere like that of Sheol was primarily due to the enterprise of a Yankee from Newburyport, Mass., Mr. William Wheelwright, who founded the steamship line called the Pacific Steam Navigation Company. This company began running steamers through the Straits of Magellan in 1868, and they all stopped at the colony perforce, because it was a convenient place to take on coal from hulks that were kept there for the purpose. It was natural that a trade in fresh meats and vegetables should grow out of the coming of the steamers. And that trade was to Punta Arenas what a long drink of Chili claret is to the wayfarer from the Patagonia desert. It brought a new life to the place. On the day the first steamer called the population was 195 souls. In 1872 it numbered 800.

Then other elements of growth appeared. There was the gold, for instance, as told in the last chapter. The gold did not bring a stampede, but it affected the population in a curious fashion.

"Men don't have to slave it for a boss in a gold camp. When they get out of grub they can take a pick and shovel and go dig some gold," said Mr. H. Grey, a Yankee merchant there. As the abundance of food affects the increase of wild animals, so the certainty of earning a living affects the growth of a human population.

But Punta Arenas grew from one cause that had nothing natural about it, save as some seafaring people seem to be naturally of a devilish disposition. One of the most prominent promoters of the growth of Punta Arenas was the hard-fisted Yankee skipper – he who commanded the sealer and whale ship fitted out in New London or New Bedford to skin the rookeries of Staten Island and others farther south. Not that the skipper deserved thanks or praise from the people of Punta Arenas or any other people in this matter. He did not do it intending to promote the prosperity of Punta Arenas or its people. The skipper who helped the growth of Punta Arenas was an infamous scoundrel, who got sailors to toil and drudge for him until they had filled his ship with skins and oil, and then by cruelty that is shocking to consider drove them ashore at Punta Arenas that he might rob them of their hard-earned wages. Some other sea captains than Yankees have driven sailors ashore there, too, but the Yankees have done the most of it.

Nine tenths of the population with whom I talked had been sailors. Not all had been hazed from ships, but the majority had.

Last of all came the one industry that was to make Punta Arenas the antarctic metropolis. Mr. H. L. Reynard, an Englishman living in Punta Arenas, rented Elizabeth Island early in the seventies, and brought some sheep there from the Falklands. The sheep took kindly to their new home, and increased so rapidly that Mr. Reynard soon had to move some of them to the mainland. They say he now owns over 100,000 sheep, besides horses and cattle galore, and enjoys – really enjoys – an income of not far from £400 per week.

The people of Punta Arenas did not wait until Mr. Reynard became rich before following his example. They began to invest in sheep as soon as they saw that sheep were profitable, and so far as I could learn every man there who had gone into the business and had given it ordinary care had made money. So the sheep spread far and wide over the region, and men came to care for them and Punta Arenas was the point to which all these men came for supplies. And, as has happened elsewhere, so here the rearing of cattle and horses goes along with the rearing of sheep.

It appears that during the early years the garrison in charge of the convicts numbered on the average sixty soldiers of the line. Besides these the government employed a lot of men to hunt the guanaco and the cattle that ran wild in the Cordilleras, in order to keep the garrison supplied with meat, and, incidentally, to help the soldiers hunt runaway convicts of whom not a few were found brave enough to face the terrors of the Patagonia desert for the sake of liberty. Such tales as may be gathered of the doings and sufferings of these runaways are almost beyond belief. To follow the beach to the Santa Cruz River, a journey of from two to three weeks, subsisting on the few raw fish that might be cast up by the sea, and passing two days at a stretch without water, were matters of common experience. To wander inland and perish miserably while striving to reach a mirage lake often happened.

However, it was not so much for the love of liberty that men fled from the Punta Arenas prison, as it was because they could not endure the sufferings peculiar to their situation. It was because officers as well as soldiers of the line and convicts were in exile, and because the worse instincts of the officers were brought out by the hardships they endured. In such a penal settlement as that was matters naturally went from bad to worse, and a second mutiny was inevitable.

On the night of November 10, 1877, the soldiers and convicts united to take the town, and succeeded. And for three days they held it. They caught the commander of the garrison and revenged the cruelties of which he had been guilty by cutting off his nose, cutting out his tongue, putting out his eyes, hacking off his limbs, and last of all severing his head from his body, and setting it upon a pole at the prison gate. With equal animosity they sought the Governor and the chaplain, but both had fled in time, the former deserting his wife and children that he might save his own skin whole. Then the mutineers sacked the town and lived riotously until a Chilian man-o'-war appeared in the offing, when they gathered their plunder together and started away, according to one account, 180 in number, and, according to another, in a mob numbering 120. Incredible as it may seem, these mutineers, although they had forty horses in all, took not one scrap of food with them. Instead of food they loaded themselves and the animals with clothing, bales of dry goods, fancy cutlery, bric-a-brac – almost anything and everything the town afforded that would be of no benefit in the journey that was before them.

The Chilian authorities made no pursuit worth mention, though a handful of men well armed and mounted could have rounded up the whole company. Unmolested they marched away. The first night they killed three horses for food. The next night and the next and the next they continued to kill horses. They kept at it till all were gone. Other horses were captured from incoming Gauchos, but these did not suffice. Many mutineers were killed in murderous quarrels, but more died because of the hardships of the route. They found freedom on the desert pampas, but hunger and thirst overtook them, and crawling beneath the scant shelter of the thorny bushes growing there, they died, and the foxes and vultures ate them.

At the end of three months a company of forty reached the Welsh settlement on the Chubut River, and these were carried to Buenos Ayres by the Argentine Government, and were there eventually turned loose.

With the burning of the prison an incubus that had weighed upon Punta Arenas vanished. The town was free to rise and flourish as the exuberant fancy of its people might dictate, for the prison was never rebuilt.

I first saw Punta Arenas on the 15th of May, 1894. I was on the deck of the Argentine naval transport Ushuaia, and the reader should remember that May there corresponds to November in the North, while the latitude of the Magellan region is precisely that of the coast of Labrador. With these geographical facts in mind, the appearance of things about Punta Arenas was astonishing, for it was a waterside settlement, backed by grassy, rolling hills, above which rose mountains green with verdure that never fades. Indeed, but for the snow-capped peaks away back in the Cordilleras, one would have had hard work bringing himself to realize that this was the Magellan of which the early navigators drew such bleak pictures. And yet Port Famine, where Sarmiento's colony starved to death, was but a few miles away to the south, – in sight, in fact, from the masthead. The general aspect of the scenery beyond the settlement was very much like that to be found in the Adirondacks after an early snow has whitened the higher peaks, leaving the foothills showing darker and greener by contrast.

But the similarity to an Adirondack picture ended at the village limits. There is nothing in the New York wilderness, nor yet in the camps that are found in the Rocky Mountains, that may be compared to Punta Arenas as it appeared from the water. Four streets ran from the beach up over the gentle slope – streets yellow with sand, then black with mud and glistening bright with pools of stagnant water. A stirring population kicked up sand and mud and splashed through the water. Between these streets and facing them were massed, of course, the houses – wall after wall and roof after roof, almost every wall of wood and every roof of corrugated iron, the exceptional walls being made of iron, like that in the roofs. But more singular still was the fact that every building appeared new – a shining mass of pine boards and zinc-white iron, save in those cases where paint had been used, and these houses looked more conspicuous even than the rest, for the prevailing color of paint was a brilliant pink.

The harbor, which is simply an open roadstead, was by no means uninteresting. A great line steamship, as trim looking as a man-o'-war, was at anchor discharging and taking in cargo from big lighters alongside. A great German bark lay beside a big hulk, into which it was discharging coal brought from Cardiff. A handsome little man-o'-war of the cruiser type floated the tricolor flag of Chili above her quarter deck. And besides these a whole fleet – a score or more of schooners, sloops, and catboats, the trading and prospecting fleet of the region – bobbed about and tugged at their cables under the impulse of a smart wind from westward, while lighters and small boats were passing to and fro among the vessels at anchor.

One of the small boats came alongside with a grocery salesman seeking orders, and when it went away I went along. It was a clean-lined yawl, with able seamen at the oars, but it could not travel fast enough to please me.

I had seen mine camps in the Rockies, and in the deserts of California – Creede and Death Valley; I had camped with cowboys and shepherds in Jackson's Hole beyond the Teton Mountains, on the plains of No Man's Land, and in the forks of the Red River of the South; I was acquainted with the life of lumbermen in the Adirondacks and the wilds of Nova Scotia; and I had sailed from the Arsuk fiord in Greenland to Chicago. But here was a town with pink roofs that sheltered at once the miner, the prospector, the cowboy, the lumberman, and happy-go-lucky Jack. What might not one expect in the way of wild life in such a town as this?

A long wood-and-iron pier furnished a landing for passengers, and at the head of this stood a new wood and iron hotel, two stories high, and having a bar-room in the corner next to the pier. I registered there under the eye of the clerk, who also served as bartender. My observations of this man were encouraging. He was talking French to one customer and Spanish to another as I entered. He addressed me in English when I came in, and then a moment later opened a door behind the bar and called for hot water in German. Judging from what I saw later still, when a pretty girl passed, I should say he was not unfamiliar with the sign language. He also knew how to mix hot whiskeys. After a little talk about the variety of people in the population of the town, I determined to take a look at the gambling-houses of the place by daylight, so I said:

"How many sporting houses in town?" The barkeeper smiled blandly.

"A plenty," he said; "you'll find the best looking girls in the second house beyond the post office right up this street."

"I meant gambling-houses," said I, "but since you've mentioned sporting women, how many dance-houses does this place support?"

"One. It's the house I mentioned. Both the girls like to dance, but of course one of them has to furnish the music. They've got one of these – how do you call them – pianos that turn with a crank, eh? It's a fine instrument, I tell you. Of course, if you want to take a chum along you can get a boy to turn the crank."

"Wait," said I "What was the number of the biggest gang of cowboys you ever saw come to town?"

"I suppose as many as twenty."

"Did they have any money? " "You bet they did."

"And did they spend it?"

"As quick as the Lord would let 'm."

"How many men have you seen coming from the diggings with dust?"

"Half a dozen, maybe. Why?"

"Did they blow in the dust?"

"Well, rather."

"And yet there is only one dance-house in town and that has but two women in it?"

"That's just the size of it."

"Let us return to the subject of gambling-houses. How many have you?"


"Do they have big play there?"

"That's what they do – sometimes."

"Where is it? I'd like to see it."

"Um – "

The barkeeper hesitated a moment, and then went to the door and looked up and down.

"I don't see a member anywhere," he said, "but some of them will be in at dinner, and I'll introduce you."

"Does one need an introduction to get in?"


"What! Police watch it in a town like this?"

"Police? No. It's a private club, gentlemen, eh? They would admit you on your card, I dare say, but it pleases the army and navy members to observe the usual formalities. Did you think it was run like a saloon?"

As was said, Punta Arenas is a town whose characteristics are absolutely astounding, even to an experienced traveller. Cowboys, shepherds, lumbermen, miners, and sailors gather there to waste their substance in riotous living, and do so waste it, but there is not one public gambling-house in town, and the one lone dance-house there has but two girls in it and a hand-organ for music.

"How long have you been in this town?" said I to the drink mixer.

"About twelve years."

"Professional gamblers ever come to town?"

"I think so – one came. He was a Yankee, they say." "What made you think that?"

"Well, we were up in Bray's billiard saloon. Bray is the boss billiard player of this town, and he was showing us some fancy shots, when a stranger dropped in and had a drink, and then we sat around and chatted. But Bray wanted to play billiards, and so pretty soon he asked the stranger to take a cue. The stranger said he liked to play billiards, but it was not worth while to play against the boss player of the town.

"'Never mind that,' said Bray. 'We'll play for the drinks and see how we match.'

"So they began. The stranger was a pretty fair player, and pretty soon Bray had to do his best, though by doing his best he managed to beat the stranger. I think it was thirty-two or thirty-three points. The stranger showed interest in the game, but was going to put down the cue, when Bray said:

"I'll just give you thirty points and beat you for ten dollars.'

"The stranger showed eagerness at once, and putting up the cash went at it. That was a right pretty game, let me tell you, for both men played well, but at the last Bray ran out, although the stranger had but one point to make. The stranger looked excited when Bray ran out, and taking out a wad said:

"I'll bet you one hundred, or two hundred, or three hundred you can't do that again.'

"I'll go you for three hundred,' said Bray. It was just what Bray had been aching for.

"It was Bray's first shot, and he made a string of nine. Thereat the stranger took his cue, chalked it, winked at the crowd, and ran out his string without a break. Then he picked up the cash, stuffed it in his pocket, and started out, whistling Yankee Doodle. We judged by that circumstance that he was a Yankee."

I was in Punta Arenas four days, and talked with a variety of people, but that was the only gambling story worth telling that I heard. I asked if fights and bloodshed were known to the town since the convict mutiny. They replied that fights were not unknown, but were rare.

"Do the fighters never kill each other?"

"I fancy not," said the barkeeper.

"Ever had cold-blooded murders for money?" "Not in my day, anyhow."

"Then you've never lynched anybody here." The barkeeper laughed.

"That's just like a Yankee," he said. "The only lynchings I ever heard of took place in the States. The government keeps soldiers here, and everybody is afraid of them."

This last statement explained why the town was peculiar. The government is monarchial in fact, though nominally republican. Chili is ruled, as all Latin-American countries are, by the army. Punta Arenas is ruled by an army officer sent from Santiago.

The town ordinances are backed by bayonets. The Texas town marshal in all his glory could not keep the peace as soldiers can. The government has decreed that there shall be no gambling-houses in Punta Arenas of the style found in United States mine camps. Neither shall there be dance-houses. Instead of these, drinking saloons are permitted in unlimited numbers, and one or two young women can get a license for a saloon as readily as a man can.

There are almost one hundred licensed bars in Punta Arenas. They are found scattered everywhere about town. The young women who own saloons commonly sit in the doorway knitting or sewing in the daytime. One who saw them said their trade would probably be larger if they remained behind the bar or wore veils. A more wretched-looking lot of women was never seen in the saloon business. It is in little wooden shanties, with corrugated iron roofs – utterly barren, squalid shanties – that the riotous living of Punta Arenas is found, and there is not one bright or picturesque feature about it to give excuse for its existence.

After leaving the bartender at the hotel, I started out to see so much of the town as could be observed in walking the streets. It is a town laid out on the checkerboard plan, and like all Spanish-American towns has a plaza or public square. The streets are unpaved. This means that near the beach, where there is sand, the wheeling is pretty fair, save in the driest weather, and elsewhere is pretty bad when fair on the beach, and good when it is bad on the beach. But one can find much deeper mud even in the outskirts of New York city than is found in the streets of Punta Arenas.

The sidewalks are peculiar. Under a village ordinance every such walk is edged with a six-inch square timber. Between this timber and the front wall of the house could be found, in a few places stone, in fewer tile brick, in some well-packed beds of sand, but in the majority of cases little narrow lakes of water securely held in place by the timber sea-wall. The plaza showed a rich black loam and nothing else.

Facing the plaza was the old official residence of the Governor. It was one of the few buildings remaining from the early days. It was a wooden structure that had originally had a shingle roof over all, but the moss-grown shingles had rotted away in patches, and had been replaced with odds and ends of board, tin, and sheet-iron. The contrast between the Governor in his gorgeous uniform and his official house was something stunning. The home was the only real shabby building in town.

The traveller who lands in Punta Arenas and fails to climb the hills behind the town makes a mistake, because the picture is wonderfully beautiful and striking as well. The yellowish hills of Tierra del Fuego rise up in the east beyond the broad waters of the strait. The snowcapped peaks of Mt. Sarmiento and its neighbors appear above the horizon at the south, while in the west the evergreen mountains rise boldly up from the water's edge. And then, right at the foot of these dark-green mountains lies the zinc and pink town, the most absurd foreground to a magnificent landscape that ever was imagined.

The lower hills to the northwest of the town have been chopped over in part and are covered with dead trunks of trees, giving the landscape the appearance of what the early settlers in the forest districts of the United States called a deadening. The trees seemed to have been killed by some kind of an epidemic. They say in the town that the trees were killed by lightning, but I did not see any marks of lightning on the trunks. However they died, the landscape there is wild enough to please an insane artist.

The only manufacturing industries of the place are the saw-mills and a brick-yard. The saw-mills are located some distance from the village, and are not novel, but the brick-yard is right at hand. I examined the brick, and found a product that I had not seen equalled since I saw the courthouse in Greer County, Tex., which had crumbled under a summer squall. Even the hardest burned brick in this kiln could be broken with the naked hands.

A worse industry than brick-making, however, was started some years ago in the town. What they called a vein of coal was discovered some five miles from the beach, and, after some talk, a company was formed to exploit it. A pier was built at the beach, a railroad laid thence to the mine, and rolling stock brought out from England. This done, they found that they had a lignite instead of a coal mine. The pier has gone to pieces, and the old locomotive could be seen partly buried in the sand not far from the head of the ruined pier. This is the coal of which all the writers who have visited the strait speak enthusiastically.

However, the town is going to have more industries, and there is to be still more business done by the traders. The increase in the number of sheep will soon compel the traders to establish a freezing establishment there in order that their surplus sheep may be shipped to market. Just now they sell their surplus to men wishing to establish ranches up country, but there will soon be no more room for new ranches up country.

Then Punta Arenas may yet manufacture goods from its wool, and it could very profitably tan its products of hides and skins. The region produces a bark so rich in tannin that it could be profitably exported to the States, but still more profitably used on the ground. The Chili Government will make liberal concessions to any man who knows the tannery business and has the capital to establish it there. But one must have the knack to get along comfortably with odd people if he would succeed in any business there.

The sales of merchandise in the town are naturally large in certain lines, and they are particularly satisfactory to the merchants, for the reason that many original packages are called for. It is a wholesale trade to a remarkable degree. Moreover, the merchants deliver goods to customers by means of sailboats instead of by wagons, as New York merchants do. But, one scarcely need add, there is no free delivery by boats. The navigation of the straits region is hazardous, and therefore expensive. Only the hardiest sailors will undertake the handling of a 25-foot catboat where, to quote Capt. Samuel Wallis, one of the early navigators, "even in midsummer the climate was cloudy, cold, and tempestuous."

The business feature of the town that interests travellers most is that of the dealer in Indian-made goods and curiosities. Indians from the pampas and from the southern islands come to Punta Arenas to sell skins, furs, feathers, baskets, arrow-heads-what not. The dealers find sale for more stuff, in fact, than the Indians bring, so they have some goods made to order in the town. The goods are all sold as genuine Indian-made things, and in a way so they are. There are squaws in town who make a living doing work of this kind. I saw one of them deliver an armful of rugs made of guanaco skins to one of the dealers. She was dressed in a tailor-made suit of good material; she had gold jewelry a plenty, and her hair was banged across her forehead. The dealer said she was a half-breed Tehuelche, and I did not doubt it, but when one buys Indian-made relics he does not suppose that the Indian wore a tailor-made suit and bangs. I asked Luis Zanibelli, who was formerly a Maiden Lane jeweller in New York, and is now in the relic business there, how to tell goods made in the wilds from those made by half-breed squaws with bangs.

"That's easy," he replied. "Smell of the goods. The genuine Indian goods from the pampas or the islands always smell bad."

The club of which the barkeeper had spoken as a gambling resort is an oddity in name, if in no other way. It is called the "Cuerpo de Bomberos," and that translated into English means the body or society of firemen. There is a neat little red club-house, built somewhat on the model of ancient colonial mansions in the States – that is, with pillars in front. There is a yard full of flower-beds in front of that, and there are flowers there in May, at least, if not later. The house is furnished as club-houses are elsewhere, except that it has no kitchen. The annual dues amount to less than a dollar a month gold, and for this the members have a remarkably pleasant resort. The barkeeper thought the play was heavy; this is interesting as showing what is considered heavy play at Punta Arenas. The heaviest loss of which I heard was 400 paper dollars – a trifle over $100 gold. The favorite game is baccarat, but the seductive influences of draw poker are not unknown. The list of members includes the merchants, sheep-owners, and officials living in the vicinity or stationed there by government, and in Punta Arenas the word vicinity covers a territory a hundred leagues away from the centre.

Speaking of the flowers in front of this club-house reminds me that Punta Arenas is the greatest town for flowers I ever saw. Every house has window gardens, and many houses have bays and rooms set apart for great masses of potted flowers and shrubs. It has many more flowers in proportion to the population even than the tropical cities like Rio. Flowers grow wild there in great profusion, too, among which the wild fuschias [fuchsias, Ed.] make the most profuse display, while the ferns and lichens are something to delight the eye of even the least observant.

For the rest, Punta Arenas claims a population of 3500. It is not unlike some United States towns in the matter of a local census, but after making due allowances for local pride and enthusiasm, it still is found a live and growing village. Lots in the business part of the town now sell for pounds sterling where paper dollars would have sufficed ten years ago. Indeed, a lot was sold while I was there for £500 that changed hands in 1886 for $400 national currency. The old settler goes about the street bewailing the fact that he didn't buy when he first came, and saying it is too late now. But those who buy now point to the growing traffic through the straits, and refer to the line of huge steam tugs now building in England that will tow sailing ships through the narrow waters and against the winds that vexed and baffled the early navigators; they speak confidently of the spread of sheep ranches on Tierra del Fuego, and the apparently unfailing discoveries of new gold-fields among the islands to the south; they talk of the increased demand for the wood of the straits. They balance against the frosts and cold rains of midsummer the many Indian summer days of winter, and tell stories of invalids regaining health that would make both Denver and Los Angeles green with envy. They find, in fact, no end of signs of future prosperity for their austral metropolis, and if somebody does not dig a canal from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific they are very certain to find these signs well founded. Even if such a canal is made, only one element of the prosperity of the place will be injured-the traffic through the straits – and that probably will not be wholly destroyed, while the other elements can scarcely fail to improve continually.

Mr. Julius Popper wrote in 1888 of Punta Arenas, that it was "a town that opened its doors at 11 A.M., and was more concerned about picnics and dances than business." Mr. Frank Vincent said in 1889, that it was a community scarce one of whom "would be willing to stay if he could get away." The people there say these remarks were libellous when written. I am bound to say that in 1894, if a man wanted to get to windward of a Punta Arenas man in the matter of business, it was necessary to get up in the morning before crow peep. And as for the people wishing to get away, one would have hard work to find a citizen there who could be driven away with a shotgun.

In spite of its climate and its government, it is a blooming and booming community, and because of the enterprise of its citizens it deserves all the prosperity the free pastures of the pampas and the waves of the sea are bringing to it.

[end of chapter II]

Editor's footnote: Spear's historical account of "La Colonia de Magallanes" contains several errors of fact. The 1843 settlement, located 5km. south of Port Famine, was moved in 1848 to Punta Arenas, subsequently becoming a penal colony. For more accurate descriptions of the 1851 and 1877 mutinies, see: