CROSSING THE ISTHMUS OF PANAMA.
A correspondent of the " Sydney Morning Herald" gives the following account of his journey across the Isthmus : — " At this period, when the inhabitants of Sydney axe discussing the various routes to the mother country, with your kind permission I will give you an outline of what I experienced in crossing the isthmus of Panama. In doing this Ido not wish in any way to disparage any party connected with this route, but merely to give the inhabitants of Australia an idea of what they may expect, should they ever cross that delightful isthmus. We left New York in the steamer Illinois, on the 20th September, j 1852, and after a very quick passage entered Navy j Bay. On the morning of the 29th the steamer came alongside a wharf, and after some difficulty with baggage, &c., we found ourselves safely seated on the railway cars, en route to Panama ; after about three hours we reached Barbaracor, a distance of 22 to 24 miles from Navy Bay ; here the detention is tedious, as every passenger has to look after his own luggage, and as there is only the guard to take out the luggage of 400 or 500 passengers you can easily imagine the detention. The next stage of the journey is performed by boats, which generally occupy 10 to 12 people with their baggage. After a delay of about 4 hours we were again en route by boat on the Chagres River ; we reached Gorgona, the next station, about nine o'clock in the morning, having during our first landing from the steamer been alternately drenched by the rain, and then again baked by the sun ; the distance is about 6 miles, which we did in about six hours ; the current at that period of the year being extremely rapid from the immense quantity of rain. The boats are propelled by six natives with long poles, who at times are unable to move them in consequence of the rapid current. After "having arranged for one or two of the party to keep watch over the luggage during the night, we proceeded to the hotel. These places on the Isthmus of Panama generally consist of a bar below, and a long loft above, containing from 100 to 150 beds. However, the great fatigue of the day, coupled with the intense heat, made outward show quite indifferent, and, notwithstanding the noise of the birds above, the fighting of the rats below, leaving alone the creatures of a more diminutive size, we Boon fell off to sleep. At daylight the pleasure again commences, and although the distance from Gorgona to Cruce6 is only six miles, it took 14 hours to reach the latter town. At times it appears perfectly marvellous that the boats are not capsized, as it frequently happens that the current sends her back for miles without the means of stopping her, the only chance is keeping her close to the shore, where she generally comes in contact with the numerous bran ches of trees which project. • On arriving at Cruces I the same accommodation is found as at Gorgona, but here we had to separate from our luggage, which under the existing circumstances could not be avoided, as the muleteers positively refused to allow us mules ; this is, however, usual — very few passengers that cross the isthmus gain a sight of their luggage for several days after their arrival at Panama. At daylight in the morning Cruces is one scene of confusion ; although we were not everburdened with ladies out of the 500 passengers, necessity prompted them to go a step beyond the Bloomer costume and assume the male attire. This part of the journey from Cruces to Panama is very bad ; the mud varies from one to two feet deep, and at times the rider finds himself precipitated into an agreeable bath. The time occupied in crossing this part of the Isthmus varies, — a few of our party made the transit in a day, others in two, and a large portion in three days. The mails were exactly six days crossing, although the steamer Golden Gate was waiting for them at Panama. As regards the railway, it appears to be the general impression that it will be completed this season : in this I fear many will be disappointed ; and from what I could ascertain from parties on the spot, and in fact people capable of judging, they give them at least four years more to complete it. The great object the Panama Company have in keeping this matter a secret is, to prevent the public from encouraging the other route via Nicaragua, which at the present period is more frequented than Panama in consequence of the climate being better. As regards the mortality on board the steamers up from. Panama, I believe it has not been equalled in the annals of steam. The steamer Winfield Scott, with 000 passengers, had no less than 70 deaths, and other steamers more or less in proportion. This, however, niiiy be partially caused by the yellow fever which prevailed upon the isthmus during last year. As regards the expedition of the Panama route, time will show. But it appears to me strange that if the American mail cannot be landed in San Francisco under 30 days from New York, with steamers like the Illinois and Golden Gate, how are the Company over Panama going to deliver the mails in Sydney in 50 days ? The steamer New Orleans, from San Francisco to Sydney was 42 days under steam ; and taking into consideration that the distance from Panama to Sydney is 800 to 1000 more, the Company would require to run from Panama to Sydney in 18 days to perform the entire route in 50 days : — Miles. Days. England to New York 3, 100 12 New York to Navy Bay 2,000 9 Isthmus of Panama 60 6 Panama to Sydney 7,500 18 Coaling time at Tahiti 5 50
Having allowed the boats the same passage as the average of the Cunard's Companies and the fast steamers from New York to Navy Bay, which are invariably in advance of the Royal Mail Company, it would require those steamers to run the distance of 7500 miles in the short space of 18 days. As regards the detention for coaling at Tahiti, Tthink parties who know the place would give about double the time, but I only wish to show that if the discrepancy is so great in theory, what are we to expect in practice."
American Clippers. — If we may credit the statements which appear in the New York papers, American clipper ships have been making extraordinary runs. Speaking of the passage of a clipper called the Sovereign of the Seas, which made the run from Honolulu, Sandwich Islands, to New York, in 82 days, the Tribune says, — " The run from Honolulu to Cape Horn, a distance of 8654 miles, was accomplished in 37 days. In 26 of those days, consecutively, the ship ran 6489 miles, and one of these days was distinguished by an extraordinary run of 430 miles. This is the greatest sailing recorded, the nearest approach to it being that of the Flying Cloud, which ran, in 26 consecutive days, an average of 227 miles, per day ; while the daily average of the Sovereign of the Seas, for the same time was 242 11-13 miles, or 22 miles a day more than the Flying Cloud. The best day's run of the Flying Cloud was 374 miles. There is no doubt of the above run of the Sovereign of the Seas, as it appears, from the lights and calculations entered at large on Capt. M'Kay's journal, a speed of 18 miles an hour for 24 hours was obtained, which is far more than was ever done before under canvass.' 1 The captain of the clipper Golden Gate writes from Rio de Janeiro, stating, that on the passage from New York his vessel ran 327 miles, under royals, in one day. The following day all his topmasts were carried away with everything attached. Two clippers, the Comet and the Flying Dutchman, had made the passage from San Francisco to New York in 83 days 18 hours, and 85 days, notwithstanding head winds. — Standard.
Permanent link to this item
CROSSING THE ISTHMUS OF PANAMA., Otago Witness, Issue 131, 19 November 1853
CROSSING THE ISTHMUS OF PANAMA. Otago Witness, Issue 131, 19 November 1853
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.