On the Panama Canal.
The United States Consul (Virquair), stationed at Aspinwall, in his last official , report to the State Department, gives a striking picture of the present condition of affairs along the line of the Panama Canal. The decadence of Colon (Aspinwall), and the most entire prostration of , all business at that place since the collapse of the canal, becomes more and more ap- ■ parent. It very often happens that not a solitary vessel is to be found in the harbor, . a tiling that was never known there, even to 1880 and after 1860; and yet it is but a short while ago since vessels were obliged to be anchored out for days in waiting for dock room at which to un- ' load their respective cargoes. The local traffic of the Isthmus during the time that work was being pushed on the canal had reached vast proportions. The line of the canal, between Colon and Panama, about fifty miles, was a vast bivouac where the most energetic of all nationalities and races had congregated to amass wealth; and many have done so especially among the Chinese portion of it. Wages were high, princely salaries were paid, money was made easily and expended most freely. Day time was not enough; and nights themselves were turned into day, and, literally speaking, the twenty-four hours of the day were a constant draft on various industries. The expression the most fitting is "It was Bedlam let loose," and people cannot have any idea of what the Isthmus was in i 1885, 1886, 1887, and part of 1888, unless they have seen it. Forty towns had sprung up on the line in almost as many miles, every one of them thriving, a real bee-hive of people ; in fact, all of them bent, not only on changing the physical aspect of the land, but on turning a tropical jungle of heretofore a death-dealing clime into a new Babylon, for never was there such a confusion of tongues and a conglomeration of races from all over the world. These people were fighting back the diseases manfully, dying at once without a murmur or living, in spite of clime, lives of the most reckless dissipation, when at leisure. It is no wonder that so ( many died; it is a wonder that so many lived. Indeed, it can be truthfully said that . " grim death got exhausted at the task" and retreated to his lair. The Isthmus had become habitable ; before the advent of this reckless throng it was not. And what has become of it all ? Vanished. The people have all gone, business is dead on the line, the local traffic is dead, the line of the canal, onee —only a short time ago—the liveliest place on the globe, ' is dead; the rank vegetation of the tropics is growing denser, it seems, for the rest ifc has had, hiding from view railroad trains, dredges, and all the paraphernalia of the canal contractors, who left their implements of all sorts as. if work was to have been resumed in the morning. Colon and Panama still live, but that is all, merely by-way stations for the traffic across the Isthmus eastward and westward between two hemispheres. In Colon rents have fallen off 50 per cent In three months and are still on the decline. The Panama Bailroad, which in 1888 paid 23-50 per cent, of dividends will in 1889 pay only 9 ' per cent. This line in 1888 carried 1,300,000 passengers (4000 every day); this year it may carry probably 500,000, if so many. But the transit traffic has not suffered ; on the contrary, it is only the local traffic which in a short six months has suffered a loss of nearly 110,000 tons of imports— that is to say, this much has been lost to the local trade. As a result nearly twothirds of the business houses in Colon are closed up, and bankrupt sales are a daily occurrence.
Permanent link to this item
On the Panama Canal., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2406, 21 April 1890
On the Panama Canal. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2406, 21 April 1890
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.