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river "Inambari," which flows through this Montaña, make a sort of scaly pavement (empedrado, en forma de escama) just before the increase of the river, caused by the rains, so that the gold borne down by its current may be deposited. They call these their chacras, or farms of gold, and collect their crop at the falling of the river.
It will be perceived, from the above accounts, that, if the river "Madre de Dios" of Father Bobo should be identical with the Purus, and there should be a navigable communication between this country and the Atlantic, the advantages to commerce would be enormous, and the "Brillante Porvenir," or dazzling future of Cuzco, would be no dream. I judge, from the description of the country through which this "great river" (as it is called in all the accounts of people who have visited these parts) flows, that it is not navigable; and it is certain that neither the cascarilla nor the gold can be collected for six months in the year. Yet I judge that there is a much nearer and easier communication with the Atlantic, by this route, than that by the passage of the Cordillera, and the voyage around Cape Horn; and that the opening to trade of a country which produces, in abundance, gold, and the best quality of cinchona, would soon repay the courage, enterprise, and outlay of money which would be necessary to open, at most, but a short road, and to remove a few obstructions from a river.
Since writing the above I have received from Mr. Clay, our distinguished chargé at Lima, a slip from the Comercio, a Lima journal, containing an account of the fitting out of an expedition for the exploration of this river by the people of the town of Paucartambo. These, tired of wa'ting the tardy action of the government, met in council on the 10th of June, 1852, and subscribed one hundred and fifteen dollars to pay the expenses of the exploring party. Twenty Indians were hired, for twenty days, at five dollars a head, and ten dollars given as gratification to their overseer; the remaining five were expended in repairing the axes and other tools supplied by the farmers. The party, consisting of young volunteers, having their expeditionary flag blessed by the Curate, being exhorted by their governors and elders, and placed under the especial protection of our blessed Lady of Carmen, marched out, under the guidance of Don Manuel Ugaldi, amid the strains of music and the "vivas" blessings and tears of their relatives and friends. We have yet to see the result of so enthusiastic an outburst.
I was so much impressed with the importance of this route, that I left Lima undecided whether I should take it or not; and at Tarma, after long and anxious deliberation, (the measure being supported by
Mr. Gibbon's advice and earnest personal solicitation,) I determined to take the responsibility of dividing the party, and did so, furnishing Mr. Gibbon with the following instructions, and verbally calling his attention to the river Beni:
TARMA, June 30, 1851.
SIR: From a careful perusal of my instructions from the Navy Department, it appears to be a matter of importance that as much of the great South American basin, drained by the Amazon and its tributaries, should be explored as the means placed at my disposal will allow; and having now arrived at a point where, if the party is kept together, some objects of much interest will have to be abandoned to secure others, I have determined to divide the party, and confide a portion of it to your direction.
You will, therefore, with "Mr. Richards" and a guide, proceed to "Cuzco," and examine the country to the eastward of that place. It is said that a large and navigable river, called the Madre de Dios, has its source in the mountains of Carabaya, and may be approached at a navigable point by descending the Andes from "Cuzco." Many arguments have been adduced to show that this river is the "Purus," which is known to empty into the Amazon.
It is desirable that this should be determined; and you will make such inquiries in Cuzco as will enable you to decide whether it is practicable to descend this river. I am under the impression that its shores, near where you would be likely to embark, are inhabited by tribes of savage and warlike Indians, who have committed frequent depredations upon the "haciendas" established in the neighborhood. You will constantly bear in mind that your loss will deprive the government of the after-services expected of you in the prosecution of our important and interesting enterprise. You will therefore run no unnecessary risk, nor expose yourself or party to unreasonable danger from the attacks of these savages. The inhabitants of Cuzco are said to be so much interested in this discovery that they may furnish you an escort past the point of danger.
Should you find this route impracticable, you will proceed south, to Puno, on the banks of the "Lake Titicaca;" thence around the southern shores of this "lake" to La Paz, in Bolivia; thence to Cochabamba; and, descending the mountains in that neighborhood, embark upon the "Mamoré," and descend that river and the "Madeira" to the Amazon. You will then ascend the Amazon to the "Barra do Rio Negro," and, making that your headquarters, make excursions for the
exploration of the main stream and adjacent tributaries, until my arrival, or you hear from me.
You are already possessed of the views of the department regarding the objects of this expedition. A copy of its instructions is herewith furnished you. You will follow them as closely as possible.
Should you go into "Bolivia," I would call your attention to the "cascarilla," or Peruvian bark, which is of a better quality in that country than elsewhere. Make yourself acquainted with its history and present condition.
Wishing you success, I remain your
obedient servant, WM. LEWIS HERNDON, Lieutenant U. S. Navy.
Passed Midshipman LARDNER GIBBON,
U. S. Navy.
Other reasons that induced me to take this step were, that I might carry out the instructions of the department as fully as lay in my power; and while I gave my own personal attention to the countries drained by the upper Marañon and its tributaries, Mr. Gibbon might explore some, and gather all the information he could respecting others, of the Bolivian tributaries of the Amazon. The objections were, that the department had not sanctioned the step, and that by separating we were deprived of the comfort and assistance to be derived from companionship-no small item in so long and lonely a journey. But I did not conceive that these should weigh against the consideration that we could cover more ground apart than together.
I felt that, under my instructions requiring me to explore the Amazon from its source to its mouth, I could not neglect the route I finally determined to take. This route would enable me to form a judgment respecting the practicability of a transitable connexion between Lima and the navigable head waters of the tributaries of the Amazon-would lead me through the richest and most productive mineral district of Peru-would put under my observation nearly all the course of the Amazon-and would enable me to gather information regarding the Pampa del Sacramento, or great plain, shut in between four great rivers, and concerning which the "Viagero Universal" says "that the two continents of America do not contain another country so favorably situated, or so fertile."
The last and most commonly-used route to the Montaña is through
the cities of Truxillo, Caxamarca, Chachapoyas, Moyobamba, &c. The Andes here break into many chains, sending off spurs in all directions, but none of any great height, so that there is a tolerably good mule road all the way to Moyobamba; and almost all articles of foreign manufacture—such as cloths and the necessary household articles used in the small towns that border the Huallaga and the Marañon-are supplied by this route. The climate and productions of this country are, on account of its precipitous elevations, and, consequently, deep valleys, very various; and here the sugar-cane and the pine-apple may be seen growing by a spectator standing in the barley field and the potato patch.
This route crosses the Amazon, or rather the Marañon, where, according to Lieut. Maw, it is sixty yards wide, and rushes between mountains whose summits are hid in the clouds. This point is about three degrees north of its source, in Lake Lauricocha; but the river is nowhere navigable until Tomependa, in the province of Jaen de Braca Moros, is reached; whence it may be descended, but with great peril and difficulty, on rafts. There are twenty-seven "pongos," or rapids, to pass, and the water rushes over these with frightful velocity. Four days of such navigation passes the last, called the Pongo de "Manseriché," near the village of San Borja, and I am satisfied that an unbroken channel, of at least eighteen feet in depth, may be found thence to the Atlantic Ocean.
That the rains might be entirely over, and the roads on the mend in the Cordillera, I fixed upon the 20th of May as the day of departure, and Mr. Gibbon and I set about making the necessary preparations. I engaged the services of Don Manuel Ijurra, a young Peruvian, who had made the voyage down the Amazon a few years before, as interpreter to the Indians; and Capt. Gauntt, of the frigate Raritan, then lying in the harbor of Callao, was kind enough to give me a young master's mate from his ship, named Richards; besides supplying me with carbines, pistols, ammunition, and a tent. Capt. Magruder, of the St. Mary's, also offered me anything that the ship could supply, and furnished me with more arms, and fifteen hundred fathoms of the fishing-line now put on board ships for deep-sea soundings.
Our purchases were four saddle-mules, which, through the agency of Dr. Smith, we were fortunate enough to get young, sound, and well bitted, (indispensable requisites,) out of a drove just in from the mountains. We consulted the learned in such matters on the propriety of having them shod, and found the doctors disagreeing upon this subject very much. As they were from the mountains, and their
hoofs were round, sound, and apparently as hard as iron, we decided not to shoe; and, I believe, did better than if we had followed a contrary course. We also purchased about a thousand yards of coarse cotton cloth, made in the mills at Lima, and put up for mountain travel in bales of half a mule-load; hatchets, knives, tinder-boxes, fish-hooks, beads, looking-glasses, cotton handkerchiefs, ribbons, and cheap trinkets, which we thought might take the fancy of the Indians, and purchase us services and food when money would not. These things were also put up in boxes of the same size and shape, and each equal to half a mule-load. Our trunks were arranged in the same way, so that they might be lashed one on each side of the mule's back, with an Indiarubber bag, (also obtained from the Raritan,) which carried our bedclothes, put on top in the space between them. This makes a compact and easily-handled load; and every traveller in the Cordillera should take care to arrange his baggage in this way, and have, as far as possible, everything under lock and key, and in water-tight chests. Such small, incongruous articles as our pots and pans for cooking, our tent, and particularly the tent-pole, which was carried fore and aft above a cargo, and which, from its length, was poking into everything, and constantly getting awry, gave us more trouble than anything else. Our bedding consisted of the saddle-cloths, a stout blanket, and anything else that could be packed in the India-rubber bag. An Englishman from New Holland, whom I met in Lima, gave me a coverlet made of the skins of a kind of raccoon, which served me many a good turn; and often, when in the cold of the Cordillera I wrapped myself in its warm folds, I felt a thrill of gratitude for the thoughtful kindness which had provided me with such a comfort. We purchased thick flannel shirts, ponchos, of India-rubber, wool, and cotton, and had straw hats, covered with oil-cloth, and fitted with green veils, to protect our eyes from the painful affections which often occur by the sudden bursting out of the sunlight upon the masses of snow that lie forever upon the mountain tops.
We carried two small kegs-one containing brandy, for drinking, and the other, the common rum of the country, called Ron de Quemar, for burning; also, some coarse knives, forks, spoons, tin cups and plates. I did not carry, as I should have done, a few cases of preserved meat, sardines, cheese, &c., which would have given us a much more agreeable meal than we often got on the road; but I did carry, in the Indiarubber bags, quite a large quantity of biscuit, which I had baked in Lima, which served a very good purpose, and lasted us to Tarma.
We had the mules fitted with the heavy, deep-seated box saddles of