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      The ordinary mule-path to Chili goes out to the north of the town, and always along the north bank of the river, the usual halting stations being Villa Vicencio, Uspallata, Punta de las Vacas, Puente del Inca, Juncal, and Guardia Vieja. On the accompanying sketch map, the first that has ever been published of this now very ancient route across the mountains, the reader will find the ordinary road to Chili marked, and on the other side of the river, and occasionally crossing it, the route of the transandine railway; at the same time he will be able to get some idea of the position of the main mountain ranges and of the height in metres of the principal points, while other conventional markings indicate the nature of the ground.

      Some said, without further explanation, that it did not suit them to go that way. Next to a mule itself, I believe that there is no more obstinate creature than a muleteer. Mendoza, near the cemetery ; and at 5 a.

      Enero 22, ' Zacarias Diaz. And so, with much jolting, rattling, and dust, we sped along gayly. The starting-point at Mendoza is metres above the level of the sea, and the line runs south-west by south for the first twelve kilo- metres, passing through cultivated ground near the famous Trapiche vineyard ; then it gets on to barren ground covered with scrub and bulbous cactuses studded with beautiful wax-like flowers, though as far as kilometre 21 you still see zones of cultivated ground, and away to the right hand the red and brown slopes of the Andes and distant sowy peaks.

      At kilometre 21 is the first station, called La Compuer- ta. At kilometre 24 the line reaches the Mendoza River for the first time, and crosses it over a bridge of metres span, in six openings of twenty metres each. It then turns more to the west, and follows the south bank of the Mendoza River over a stony plain, until it reaches Boca del Rio at kilometre 33, where the rails stopped at the time of my journey.

      But before reaching this point we left the train at a small camp called El Rodeo, placed on a bluff on the bank of the Mendoza River — a barren and deserted spot indeed, but luxurious compared with other camps which I was destined to see later. Im- agine heaps of broken railway material, piles of rails, sheds full of vari- ous materials, groups of little cabins made of corrugated iron, a corral of wattled brushwood, a dome-roofed baking oven built of sun-dried bricks, a total absence of vegetation or shade, and an abundance of dust and scattered rubbish.

      Animate this landscape with mules, a few teams of oxen, navvies of all nationalities, Indian and half-breed wom- en and children, lean dogs, a few goats, some errant fowls, and you will have an idea of the first camp on the line. Here Don Carlos stayed a couple of hours to pay the men, and I meanwhile sent to in- quire if Benigno was at the rendezvous, a short distance farther on ; but although the hour fixed upon had passed, there were no signs of mules or muleteer.

      I remembered that I was in the land of mahana, and waited patiently; but as hour followed hour and the mules did not appear, I began to feel irritated and alarmed. Don Carlos had gone ahead and left me. It was already noon. The situation was becoming hopeless, and it seemed probable that I and my poncho.

      However, I determined to make the best of things, and there being no immediate means of returning to the town, I accepted the invitation of the engineer of the camp, a most sympa- thetic and accomplished German gentleman, and sat down to break- fast under the shade of a brush roof in company with my host, with the telegraphist of the camp, a young Venezuelan, and with the head blacksmith, one of the most imaginative and agreeable Gascons I have ever met. This lunch between hope and fear was so pleasant to all parties that it was prolonged nearly three hours, and then, when I had quite reconciled myself to a forced retreat, the worthy Benigno was announced.

      Where had he been? He had missed the road, and gone up the mountain instead of down. However, there was no ques- tion of reproach or expostulation. Benigno smiled all over his face ; his black beard glistened with blue reflections in the sunlight ; hoarse but still articulate sounds issued from his parched lips.

      We must not lose any more time, he suggested, and took the baggage to load up the pack-mule. A few minutes later I bade a hearty farewell to my host, mounted my mule, and off we started over scrub and cactus, the madrina leading the way with her tinkling bell. The general order of march was the madrina, the spare mules, and the baggage- mule in the van, followed by Benigno, who drove them on with his lasso, and chased them back into the path when they wandered away. A short distance behind Benigno, my mule stepped along at a rapid walking pace, rarely breaking into a trot, and that only when he saw that the others were getting too far ahead.

      As for the accoutrements, they presented some special details worthy of notice. The bridle of both mules and horses in the mountain dis- tricts of the Argentine and of Chili is provided not only with a bit and curb, but also with a semicircular metal guard which covers the lips, and serves the double purpose of protecting the nose of the animals in case of a fall or slip in going uphill, and at the same time of preventing them from drinking when they are fording streams.

      This Chilian bit is a formidable engine against which no animal can rebel. This long lasso-lash is especially useful when you meet another troop of mules, or when you have to spur and " whoop " your way through one of those herds of a thousand or fifteen hundred horned cattle which are constantly being driven over the mountains during the summer months, and crowd the narrow path in an often alarming manner. This surcingle is not provided with buckles, but simply with rings and thongs, which are tied with running knots, and so can be more readily loosened and tightened while the various elements of the saddle are being recom- posed — an operation which has to be done from time to time dur- ing the day's march, especially when the road is precipitous.

      The stirrups are simply heavy wooden shoes, or sabots, always curiously carved, and an excellent protection against the bowlders and thorn- bushes which line the mountain track. To the inexperienced eye this equipment may seem primitive and cumbersome, but in reality every detail of it has its reason and use.

      Indeed, as a general rule, we may be sure that usages consecrated by long tradition are not to be sneered at. Even those enormous wheel spurs have their raison d'etre, which is not to hurt the horse or mule — no spur is more harm- less — but to assist the rider to sit in the saddle with ease and cling more closely to his horse. A Chilian does not feel his equilibrium complete unless he wears a pair of these big spurs, which are so ter- ribly embarrassing when he dismounts and walks on terra firma.

      Then he has to be driven back to the road. All this ends by disturbing the equilibrium of the cargo, and then the arriero gallops up to the baggage-mule, dismounts with agility, and throws his poncho over the animal's head. As long as his head is cov- ered with the poncho the mule remains still, and recourse to this method of blindfolding is had each time the mule is loaded, and each time that the balance needs to be re-established during the day's march.

      At kilometre One kilometre farther on it recrosses to the south bank over a bridge of forty metres span, and a viaduct of three arches, each of nine metres. The rails at the time of my journey were laid only as far as kilometre 33, and although most of the masonry was com- pleted for the bridges beyond that point, none of the iron-work had yet arrived, for the simple reason that it cannot be brought until the rails are laid.

      Henceforward, then, we followed a mule -path along the south side of the Mendoza River, up hill and down dale, through grand scenery, until we reached San Ignacio about two hours after sunset, passing on our way, at kilometre Just beyond this station the line crosses to the north bank, with a bridge of forty-five metres span, and three arches of nine metres each. Then shortly afterwards it goes through a tunnel of forty-two metres, and round a quick bend in the river by retaining walls on the mountain-side.

      All this I noticed with interest, but in order not to distract the reader, and for the sake of greater clearness, I will reserve the technical details of the line for a subsequent page, and proceed to relate the few incidents of the journey. At San Ignacio I slept comfortably in the house of the engineer of the camp, who was absent, and whose hospitality I could recognize only by leaving a card of thanks on his desk.

      The next morning I was awakened about half- past four by the trampling of mules and by the steps of Benigno, who was making preparations for starting. After a cup of coffee and a biscuit we were in the saddle, and as we jogged along in the mild morning freshness my eyes rested with won- derment on the surrounding snow-clad ridges, above which towered in the distance the conical peak of Tupungato, metres high. It was a singularly impressive sight. The gloom of night still lingered in the valley ; the lower ranges of mountains seemed to emit dark- ness ; the outlines of the bowlders, scrub, and cactus plants were not yet sharply defined ; the earth appeared as it were half asleep, lulled by the subdued roar of the Mendoza River rolling its torrent of brown- gray water along its deep and tortuous bed; the only other sound per- ceptible was the tinkling of the mule-bell and the soft pattering of ACROSS THE ANDES.

      Suddenly the summit of Tupun- gato reddened, and in a few minutes all the topmost ridges became brilliant and almost transparent, like molten copper as it fiows out of the furnace. The spectacle of sunrise in the Andes was one that I contemplated each morning with ever-increasing awe, for each time it seemed more wonderful, more beautiful, and more indescribable. The second day's journey from San Ignacio to the camp of Us- pallata was long and wearisome.

      We were still in the arid region of rugged ground thinly dotted with thorn, jarilla scrub, and great hairy cactuses growing in single spikes a foot or more in diameter and three or four feet high. Keeping as near to the river as possible, we rode along until we came to the Rio Blanco de los Potrerillos, which we forded without difficulty, and then crossed a number of ra- vines, or quebradas, descending and ascending the precipitous sides without accident, but not without emotion.

      All this part of the route is as hard travelling as one could wish to one's worst enemy. The arid ground, the bare red granite rocks, every particle of dust even, seem to be burning hot. There is no shade, no water, no shelter; and with eyes inflamed parched tongue, and smarting throat, you toil along, deriving little consolation from the fact that the hardy muleteer is suffering nearly as much as yourself.

      Finally, about half an hour after sundown, we came in sight of a soli- tary provision store, a few kilometres on this side of the camp of Us- pallata, with around it two or three empty houses, forming part of a camp that had now been removed higher up. This store, or prove- doria, was kept by a Spanish Basque, who was of kindly disposition in spite of his ferocious aspect, and being utterly exhausted, I be- souo-ht him to let me sleep in his shed, rather than go on in the dark half a dozen kilometres farther to the regular camp.

      It was useless to bewail my fate. I had chosen this path of my own free-will. The only thing to do now was to make the best of it, or perish in the attempt. At any rate, I was learning by personal experience what are the hardships suffered by those who travel through the desert, for certainly no Sahara sands can be more scarifying and more parching than the granitic dust of the Alumbre.

      However, the next morning, though still parched, I mounted my mule as usual, and we rode on through similar country, amid brush, cac- tus, and burning rocks, until we reached the camp of Punta Negra, where the Swedish engineer in charge received me with the greatest cordiality, and offered me two new-laid eggs and a cup of fine coffee prepared by a Frenchwoman, the wife of one of the workmen.

      Fresh eggs are a great luxury in these camps, where, strange to say, few of the engineers have fowls, or even a goat, but live in a desperately primitive manner. The camp of Punta Negra was one of the most characteristic that I saw. In an open space of absolutely sterile brown earth, under the shadow of the equally sterile mountains, there were the usual corrals for the mules ; the usual houses, with corrugated iron roofs, built for the most part of loose stones without mortar ; a baking ACROSS THE ANDES.

      The inhabitants were the men working on the line, mostly Eastern Europeans, a number of cJiiiia, or half-Indian women and children, with brown skins and coarse black hair, and a few mis- cellaneous servants. In such surroundings the engineers, often highly educated young men, speaking two or three languages, live month after month and year after year, cut off from the world, and receiving no other visits than a rare call from a colleague in a neighboring camp, and once a month that of the paymaster from Mendoza.

      From this fact alone the reader may judge how great have been the difficul- ties of the construction of the railway. While in the camp of Punta Negra I witnessed a scene which illustrated the primitiveness of existence in these mountain deserts.

      In the upper valleys, it appears, there are occasionally stretches of pasture where the carneadorcs, or fleshers, keep cattle. As we were smoking our cigarettes after lunch we saw in the distance half a dozen horsemen galloping along and driving before them three oxen.

      Soon, with remarkable rapidity and skill, the cattle were directed into the camp, lassos were thrown over their horns and over their hind and fore legs, and the animals lay panting and roaring on the ground. In a few seconds each one was killed, and in a few minutes afterwards the hides were drying in the sun, and the meat was being roasted on wooden spits before the fire of the baking oven. The lightning speed with which this incident took place, and the brusque transition from bounding and splendid life to the red horror of dead meat, were dis- agreeably striking to the eye of the over-sensitive dweller in cities.

      Here we spent the night ; and the next morning, after admiring the grand black basaltic rocks that render the scenery in these parts all the more dismally impressive, we start- ed together with two of the engineers of the camp, who volunteered to see us safely across the Rio Blanco, which was reported to be dan- gerously swollen. When we reached the bottom of the deep ravine through which this torrent tiows, we found the reports to be only too true. The water, white as milk, was foaming and dashing over a part of the narrow planks which had been anchored across the stream be- low the best fording-place.

      After working an hour at the risk of their lives, the two young engineers, who were as agile as goats — one was a Swede and the other an Italian — succeeded in raising one of the planks a foot, so that it could be crossed with comparative safety, the dash of the water over it remaining only about six inches.

      The hu- man element of the party then felt reassured; but how would the mules 2fet over? The arrieros were in a state of Q:reat ascitation, and the paymaster was anxious about the thousands of dollars that he had in his monev-bacrs. However, everv man lent a hand. The next thing was to carry over the baggage and saddles. My little caravan halted for lunch in an open flat valley, walled in on three sides with rugged black basaltic mountains, and on the other by the deep gorge of the Mendoza River.

      This valley was a waste of baked earth, crackled in every direction like a Chinese porcelain pot, and divided into sections by the stony beds of dry rivulets. A patch of jarilla scrub beside a litde trickling streamlet of clear water, with tadpoles lurking in the pools and among the cryptogamous verdure along the edges, seemed to us a comfortable spot, although there was not an inch of shade, and no shelter whatever either from wind or sun.

      Here we lighted a fire, and turning our backs to the desert, faced tow- ards the river, which we could see glistening in the distance as it disappeared round a bend between the horrid mountains, while at the other end of the valley we perceived tall snow-capped peaks, and across the desert itself the implacable line of iron telegraph posts with a double wire stretched from insulator to insulator. This telegraph line goes from the Argentine to Chili, passing the summit of the An- des in underground cables as far as Guardia Vieja.

      When the brush- wood was well ablaze Benigno produced from his saddle-bags a piece of fresh meat which he had bought at Punta Negra, spitted it on a stick, and propped it up on two stones in front of the fire, where it was roasted to perfection. With this roast, a box of sardines, some marmalade, a bottle of wine, and a cup of coffee, we made an excellent meal, and started off gayly for the next camp, called Punta de las Vacas. The road was arduous, the ascents being exceedingly steep, and the descents equally precipitous.

      The path, too, was not clear, but, luckily, Don Carlos had lighted fires at different points so that the smoke might guide us. Thus we arrived at a paltry stream called the Rio Colorado, which in ordinary times you cross on stepping- stones, but which was now swollen into a formidable torrent tumbling along violently through.

      Here we spent some time before we could find a spot where the mules could pass with safety, and even then we had to ford it with the water washing over our mules' backs. I will here remark, without insisting upon such a trifling detail, that in fording these swift torrents, if you hap- pen to look down instead of straight ahead, the water and the mule seem to be stationary, while the banks are rushing past with alarming rapidity.

      People who are subject to giddiness will do well not to at- tempt to cross the Andes. This camp is one of the loneliest, most desolate, and most arid of the whole line, the only living things near it being pumas, guanacos, and vultures. The engineer had as a pet a young guanaco, which wandered freely about the camp and fondled everybody.

      This spe- cies of animal — something between an antelope and a llama — is very prolific and abundant in the upper valleys of the Cordillera. In the camp of Punta de las Vacas, as in all the camps that I visited, I found a warm welcome, and spent a pleasant evening with my host and Don Carlos, the paymaster, who also stayed there that night.

      The next morning I left the track of the railway, crossed the Mendoza River on a shaky wooden bridge, rode along the Rio de las Cuevas for a short distance, among bowlders and rocks, and then rejoined the ordinary mule- road from Mendoza to Chili, a good broad path, very different from the scarcely visible bridle-paths which I had been following hitherto on the other side of the river. The scenery, too, began to grow less arid. There were even some pasture-land and some wild flowers in the vicinity of the public halting-place, called also Punta de las Vacas — a dismal and filthy spot withal, surrounded with dirt, offal, horns, bones, skeletons of horses, rnules, and other cattle, old meat -cans, broken bottles, and all the evidences of uncleanliness, destruction, and cruelty which nomad humanity leaves for nature s scavengers to transmute.

      As we continued along the Cuevas Valley we saw from time to time more skeletons of mules or oxen, some bleached and cleanly picked, others still occupying the ravenous beaks of large birds of prey. So we arrived without incident at Puente del Inca, where I stayed that day to examine the natural curiosities of the spot. The Inca's Bridge is simply an arch of stratified shingle, cemented together by deposits and petrifications from the hot springs which bubble up all over the neighboring bluff, the river Cuevas having eaten its way through the shingle and falling in a cascade below.

      The bridge is 66 feet high, wide, and varies from 20 to 30 feet in thickness, and, seen from below the bridge, is found to be covered with yel- lowish stalactites more curious than beautiful. This water contains sulphur, iron, and other mineral properties, and is re- puted to be of great efficacy.

      Doubtless, when the transandine rail- way is opened for traffic, a company will buy up Puente del Inca, construct a fine bath establishment, and take in handsome profits. Even as it is, although the grottos are merely enclosed with a few planks, and although neither at the springs nor at the inn is there the smallest element of comfort or simple decency, many people come every year from Chili and the Argentine in order to take the baths. Indeed, a more miserable and desolate spot could hardly be imagined.

      It is a stretch of reddish-brown ground at the foot of the mountains without a particle of vegetation on it. Towards the river the ground is covered with a yellow or white efflorescence that suggests coral formation, and innumerable little springs of hot water bubble up through cracks in the rock with a hissing sound, and trickle over green or yellow floating fibre towards the edge of the rock, where the fibre hangs over and gradually solidifies into stalactites, which in turn become converted into projecting ledges, on which other stalactites hang.

      As for the inn itself, it is an agglomeration of one -story buildings of sun-dried bricks, mud roofs, floors of beaten earth not even levelled, the walls whitewashed, and the doors painted bright green. I may say here that experienced travellers strenuously dep- recate the use of soap and water during the journey across the An- des, on the ground that it renders the skin tender and susceptible, not so much to the sun, but to the terrible dust and winds that you meet.

      If you wash, they say, your lips and nose will crack and your skin peel off. For my part, I abstained from washing the whole time I was in the mountains, not only because I felt confidence in the experienced advice of other travellers, but also because, for want of water and utensils, I never had an opportunity of washing.

      On the other hand, I must say that I arrived at my journey's end without any hurt or disfigurement other than the loss of the skin on the tip of my nose. From Puente del Inca we started the next morning to perform perhaps the hardest stretch of the joijrney, namely, the passage of the Cumbre, 12, feet high, the dividing point between the Pacific and Atlantic water- sheds of the Andes. The road lies along the middle of the grand valley of Las Cuevas, in which are two or three round huts, or casuchas, where travellers and the couriers carrying the mails find shelter when needful.

      All these casuchas are built on the same plan, with steps ascending to the interior, which consists of a room some sixteen feet square, without any other aperture except the door. In the centre is a heap of ashes where travellers build a fire to cook food, and sometimes remain a week or ten days in smoke and misery waiting for a favorable moment to scale the steep hog- back ridge, and get down the terribly precipitous descent on the Chilian side.

      The difficulties at this point are twofold, due either to the elements or to the traveller's temperament. Some people, and even some mules and horses, are attacked at this elevation with ptma — a difficulty of breathing ascribed to the rarefaction of the air. The symptoms are sudden bleeding of the nose and of the lungs, and a gasping for breath which may cause death.

      Travellers not unfrequently have to turn back and retrace their steps to Mendo- za. The day I crossed, three persons out of a party of seven were obliged to turn back and hurry down to the valley, so acute was the attack of puna which they experienced.

      The difficulties of the other category are snow-storms and gales of wind of such force that they blow mules and men off their leijs and into destruction. The best time to cross is, therefore, early morning, or, at any rate, before noon. Benigno and myself had determined to cross the Cumbre early, the more so as at Puente del Inca the wind was already blowing rather strongly, and the clouds hung threateningly around the mountains. Thanks to this delay, we had to cross the Cumbre in the afternoon, and before we reached the summit, with the snowy peaks and glaciers glistening all around us, the gale began to blow more strongly, making us bend close over the necks of our mules, and by the time we began the descent on the Chilian side, snow and hail were beating against our faces and almost blinding us.

      On the Chilian side the downward path is so rapid, and the loose red earth and stones so slippery, that most peo- ple jump off their mules and scramble down on foot for about two miles until the path becomes a little firmer.

      Thence, through a steady downfall of thick rain, we rode across the valley, forded a few streams, and about five o'clock in the afternoon we reached a comfortable little post-house at Ojos del Agua, where we found clean beds and an excellent caztiela — one of the national Chilian dishes, being a combination of a soup and a stew, and a most consoling meal for a weary traveller.

      Here I spent the night in peaceful slumber, and the next morning started early, in company with a Chilian gentleman, to perform the last stage of the journey and the most delightfully picturesque. The scenery on the Argen- tine side of the Cordillera is grand, imposing, and awe-inspiring, but never charming. On the Chilian side, on the contrary, after passing the upper morose and intemperate regions, you find a most wonderful combination of grandeur and of softer beauty in the long valley of the Aconcagua, all the way from Ojos del Agua and Guardia Vie- ja down to the town of Santa Rosa de los An- des.

      It is like riding through a garden, so great is the variety of trees, shrubs, and brilliant flowers that line the path and the mountain -sides, and cling to the ledges and terraces of the deep ravine, at the bottom of which the river boils and roars. Many of the trees bear fruits or nuts of kinds not recorded in ordinary botanical treatises. Some of the shrubs emit aromatic odors, and one in particular, called nipa, fills the air with a perfume that suggests the proximity of the domestic hog. Strange, too, is the candle-cactus, or qiiisco, which grows in profusion on the lower slopes, with branches fifteen and twenty feet high, the pale green prickly lances being generally overgrown with a mossy parasite of a rich red color.

      As we descend lower an occa- sional mountain farm-house is seen buried in the rich verdure of this Garden of Eden which man's hand has not yet marred. An acequia, or irrigating canal, diverts some water from the neighboring torrent to fertilize the patches of corn and vegetables. Soon we came to a curious natural phenomenon, where the river has eaten its way through a barrier of solid rock. This point is known as the Salto del Soldado.

      Then, still descending through most enchanting scenery, we reached the pretty halting - place, Los Loros, where the road becomes practicable for carriages. Here I confess that I dis- mounted from my mule with pleasure, gave the faithful Benigno Mendoza sterling tokens of my satisfaction, and transferred my weary person and dusty baggage to a carriage that was waiting in the hope of a return fare to Los Andes, where I arrived after a pleasant three hours' ride through well-watered gardens of vines, apple and peach trees, and vast fields of alfalfa pasture, divided by row after row of slender and graceful poplars.

      The aspect of the valley of the Aconcagua is one of indescribable fertility, and the net-work of irrigation canals, which carry water to every point, keeps the vege- tation in a state of brilliantly green freshness. From Ojos del Agua downward, the scenery is enchanting to a degree that neither pictures nor words can render.

      On the afternoon of January 29th, I reached the little town of Santa Rosa de los Andes, having spent six days on the road. The same evening I had the pleasure of dining with Don Honorio Rosende, who had on one urgent occasion ridden from Los Andes to Mendoza in thirty-six consecutive hours, using two horses, mount- ing one and driving the other before him for a change. Both the horses died at the end of the journey from over -exertion, but Don Honorio had the satisfaction of saving his brother, who had been captured and carried south by some Indians.

      Thirty -six consecutive hours is the quickest time that has been made between Mendoza and Los Andes. By the regular road four days is generally con- sidered a fair record for ordinary travellers, and six days are need- ed by those who wish to ride easily and occasionally to linger a few hours on the road. Further- more, with good horses and mules, and a com- fortable Chil- ian saddle, and with an ample provi- sion of food, drink, and other useful commodities, the prudent traveller may reduce to a minimum the sum of possible woes, espe- cially in the fine months of December and January, when ladies even venture to under- take the journey.

      As we were scaling the zigzag path up the Cumbre we met a party of about fifty men and women who were crossing on foot, but their lot was not to be envied. These were poor emigrants who had found the promises of Chilian agents in Europe to be fallacious, and who were wan- dering over into the Argentine in the hope of better days.

      Of late, I am told, great numbers of disappointed emigrants pass from Chili to Mendoza by this hard and dangerous route, and not a few have succumbed by the way, a prey to the condors and vultures. The originators of the line are J. Owing to financial and political difficulties, this general combination was not carried out. The first studies for the mountain line were made in , but a serious survey was not completed until , amid countless difficul- ties, for the ground was almost entirely pathless and unknown both geographically and geologically.

      Up to the present day you find no maps and no literature about this section of the Andes. The field is new and open to future enterprise. A glance at the map on page 31 will show the route finally selected, after many changes and essays. The point at which the Cordillera is to be passed is situated in the Cumbre between the two lofty snow-clad peaks of Tupungato towards the south and Aconcagua towards the north.

      Some of these barrancas are seventy metres in vertical heio-ht Just beyond the point where we last mentioned the track in the early pages of this chapter, at kilometre At kilometre 41 the river has been diverted, in order to avoid a couple of bridges. For three kilometres the line runs closely along the bottom of the hills until it reaches an open and fertile valley, with poplar-trees and grazing cat- tle, called the Potreros de San Ignacio, where it crosses again to the south side by a metre bridge.

      At kilometre 52 is a tunnel of forty metres. At kilometre 68 after a stretch of easy ground, there is a big cutting through an immense gravel cone, and then from kilometre 69 to 72 the line is benched on the rock with two short tunnels, which bring us to the last important bridge of sixty metres across the Mendoza to the south bank.

      At kilometre 75, after passing with one short tunnel along the Cerro Negro, the line reaches the open Pampa del Alumbre, which it follows to kilometre 81, the only break being a climb and a descent over a large gravel cone thrown out from an intermittent river in the centre of the pampa. From kilometre 81 to 89 the line runs along the precipitous face of a broken mountain, on a ledge blasted out of red granite rock, with one short tunnel.

      So we reach the station of Uspallata, at kilometre 91, whence the line passes midway between the river and the mountains over a bare stony plain to kilometre , where it clings close to the mountain to avoid a large and curious barranca some seventy metres in vertical height. At kilometre the Uspallata Pampa is left behind, and the line enters the upper val- ley between the Paramillos, which is a range parallel with the Andes, forming a sort of avant-garde, and attaining heights of from two to three thousand metres.

      At kilometre there is a short piece of broken ground, with a tunnel through a rock spur ; but after this the track becomes easy up to kilometre , where the turbulent Rio Blanco is reached. The rails alone remain to be laid, and the iron bridges to be fixed on the columns of masonry. At kilometre we enter upon that portion of the line which, although the route is practically settled, is not yet visible on the ground, and at this point begin the difficulties of grade, which have led to the adoption in the upper part of the Cordillera of the Abt rack system, about which we shall have more to say anon.

      Towards kilometre there is a very difficult place to pass, the whole valley having been filled up by slips from the mountains, which the river has subsequently cut through. It is at this spot, I understand, that the first rack section is necessary. At the level of the Paramillo de las Vacas the line is beinsf built in the river itself, on the south side, on an artificial embankment of rocks. From kilo- metre onward you can see signs of avalanches on the north side of the valley, for which reason doubtless the line is being placed on the south side.

      Shortly above Punta de las Vacas the line turns westward, entering the valley of Las Cuevas, on both sides of which there are avalanches. These, however, can be avoided by crossing and recrossing the river. Between Punta de las Vacas on the Argen- tine side, and Guardia Vieja on the Chili side is the region of snow during six months in the year; but the winds, it appears, blow in the direction of the track, and may be counted upon to sweep it clean.

      From Punta de las Vacas up to the Paramillo de las Cuevas the ground rises in steps, which will be mounted by rack sections as far as the mouth of the first of the tunnels through the Cumbre, called El Navaro, from the neighboring river. This tunnel, metres long, will be in two sections. Then crossing the Quebrada Blanca, we reach the second tunnel of Las Cuevas, metres long, and after about four kilometres of open ground, the line reaches, at kilometre , the mouth of the main tunnel through the Cumbre, or dividing ridge of the Cordillera.

      This tunnel will measure metres. On the Chili side the mountains fall very rapidly, so much so that Juncal, which, as the crow flies, is only ten kilometres from the sum- mit, is on the same level above the sea as a point on the Argentine side forty-eight kilometres from the summit. This drop consists in a series of enormous steps, which appear to have been formed by falls of rock that have blocked the valley, while streams have filled up behind each fall and formed lakes.

      Such a lake is the Laguna del Inca, the only one remaining, the others having been gradually filled up by the water-shed and abrasion of the upper peaks, so as to be now merely gravel plains. To carry the railway down this terribly rapid fall has been one of the greatest problems that the engineers have had to deal with, and the solution will be a triumph of science and ingenuity. To a certain extent the transandine will be a repetition of the Saint Gothard line, where the valley also rises step by step and the track climbs by means of helicoidal tunnels.

      The application of the rack grade, however, simplifies the task considerably. Thus in the great Cumbre tunnel the line, after rising gently from the east mouth for about three kilometres, commences to fall by a rack grade. It is needless, perhaps, to explain that the development of the line in a corkscrew turn is required to gain length for the incline. Then come the Juncalillo tunnel of metres, and the Juncal tunnel of 1 1 04 metres, which -' bring the line on to the spur of the mountain be- tween the valleys of the Jun- and metres above the valleys.

      This height will ne- ation of the rack grade until is reached. On the Chilian side, however, the line will be exceedingly picturesque, and will pass several curious natural phenomena, notably the Salto del Soldado, some twenty-five kilometres from Santa Rosa, a dike of rock o-oine rieht across the river.

      The back of this dike seems to have been broken by volcanic agency, and the river passes through it, as the railway will pass also. The line on the Chilian side from Santa Rosa to the frontier will measure 65 kilometres, and on the Argentine side from the frontier to Mendoza kilometres.

      The starting-point at Mendoza is metres above the level of the sea; the starting-point at Santa Rosa is metres; the highest summit level in the Cumbre tunnel is metres above the level of the sea. On the ordinary track the grades are 25 per thousand, or i in 40; on the rack sections the grades are eight per cent.

      The gauge is one metre, and the mini- mum curves are metres radius, though the concession allows curves of 80 metres. The adoption of this narrow gauge will neces- sitate the transfer of goods and passengers at Mendoza and Los An- des, which is, of course, a serious disadvantage ; on the other hand, it enables the line to be built at much less expense than if a broader gauge were employed, and at the same time permits sharp curves of short radius, whereas a broader gauge would require curves of to metres.

      As the line is singularly tortuous and the curves in- numerable, this consideration of sharp curves is very important. As to price, the engineers of the line believe that the transandine will be relatively cheaper than the Saint Gothard; the works are be- ing executed much more roughly, it is true; but all statements on this point would be hazardous and premature. It suffices to say that there is money enough at command to complete it, whatever it may cost.

      The great work of boring the tunnels will take some years, but as they are broken up into sections the task will not be so long as some anticipate. When I passed over the ground the faces of the summit tunnels were being cleared, and the drills, it is hoped, will be in posi- tion before the end of At Juncal is a water-fall of metres, which will be uti- lized to drive horse-power turbines of two feet diameter, with verti- cal axes, which will work the dynamos directly.

      The motive force for the Portillo, Calveras, and Cumbre tunnels will therefore be concen- trated at Juncal, and distributed by means of cables to the receiving dynamos at the various points where air-compressors and drills will be at work. At the lowest estimate the boring of the tunnels will take from three and a half to four years, providing, as it is believed, that the work underground can continue winter and summer without in- termission.

      The rock of the Cumbre is porphyric, while in the lower valleys it is chiefly granitic and basaltic. In the centre of the Cum- bre it is likely that granite will be found, but, as we have already seen, all this is new ground, and the geology of the Andes has still to be studied. As regards the Abt system, perfected by Roman Abt, of Luzern, Switzerland, and now in use on the Hartz Railway, the lines of Hol- lenthal Grand Duchy of Baden , Brunig Switzerland , Viege to Zer- matt, Bolan Pass in Afghanistan, in Venezuela, and on many industrial lines in Switzerland, Germany, and Hungary, we need only remind the reader that it had its origin in the railway up Mount Washington, where a rack was first employed.

      Riggenbach, of Aaran, in Switzer- land, introduced it in the Rhigi Railway, and his modification was applied on the Brazilian line from Rio Janeiro to Corcovado. Abt further modified the rack system, his transformation of it consisting chiefly in the construction of a locomotive of mixed traction, which can work either by simple adherence or by adherence in a geared rack, whereas the Riggenbach locomotive can only work on a rack.

      In short, the Abt machine is an ordinary locomotive with a special and independent motor attached to work on the rack. Thus the passage from the ordinary lines and grades to the rack sections causes neither trouble nor delay. The Abt system is considered to have the advan- tage of extreme safety, owing to the triple gearing of the rack, which is placed some seven centimetres above the level of the ordinary rails, and does not become clogged with snow.

      Its adoption over a certain part of the transandine line enables the constructors to equalize and diminish the average gradients on the remaining portion of the line. In order fully to realize the natural difficulties of this great trans- andine enterprise, one must have been over the ground, examined the peculiar dangers due to landslips, torrents, and avalanches, and passed through the silent region of eternal snows which the line avoids by burying itself in the bowels of the earth.

      One must have seen, too, the mountain-side dotted with long strings of pack-mules, laden with timber, iron, bricks, and even with their own fodder, for everything used in the construction of the line hitherto has been brought by thousands of mules either from Mendoza or Los Andes.

      However, now the works are beginning to become easier. The rails are being laid more rapidly, but we cannot hope to see the whole line in work- ing order before The business prospects of the line seem fair to those who have put money into the enterprise, the main element of income being ex- pected from passenger traffic.

      At present, during the five summer months, there is an average of twenty-five passengers a day crossing in each direction. When the railway is open this number will in- crease perhaps tenfold. A second source of revenue will be local traffic and merchandise between Chili and the Argentine provinces of Mendoza, San Juan, and San Luis. A third element of profit is looked for in the transport of cattle from the Argentine to Chili.

      At present some 40, to 50, head are driven over yearly by the Uspallata Pass. These cattle arrive in Chili mere skeletons, and have to be fattened in Chilian potreros, where pasture is very dear ; where- as, by the line, they can be carried over fattened and ready for killing. Fourthly, it is hoped that mines will be discovered and worked in the region opened up by the railway. As for general merchandise and imported goods, the transandine will not be able to compete with steamboat freights, and therefore the port of Valparaiso will retain all its importance.

      In conclusion it may be said that two rival transandine lines are already in construction or projected. One is J. The other is F. The construction of this line is already begun on the Chilian side. Both these railways, if ever they are com- pleted, will be of great utility and open up vast regions to agriculture and commerce, but, from the point of view of prodigious difBculties surmounted by bold and skilful engineering, they cannot be compared with the transandine route, which I visited with so much interest, and have described so inadequately.

      This was my first experience of a Chilian hotel. As we rode up through clouds of dust the exterior of the one-story "adobe" building-s of the Hotel del Comercio did not seem invitinor. Inside, however, I found a series of court-yards, or patios, avenues of trellised vines, aviaries, canalized watercourses, and other pleasant feat- ures. I hired a room in the first patio, with an outlook upon the flowering shrubs, the fountain, and the wonderful imitation marble statues which stood around it.

      Who would have expected to find specime-ns of Greek sculpture — of the period of decadence, it is true — at the foot of the Andes.? Dusty as I was, and having been wholly deprived of the use of soap and water during my six days' journey across the mountains, the old prejudices of the dweller in towns asserted themselves, and I asked the landlady, in an off-hand and half-apologetic tone, if it would be possible to have a bath.

      And behold at the end of the garden was a tank some fifteen feet square, with water running through it, and overhead, as a protection against the sun, vines laden with pendent bunches of grapes, forming, as it were, a ceiling to the bath. This was delightful, and I bathed with joy. Now after a bath a man needs refreshment of some kind. The next day I explored Los Andes and its environs, and found everything pleasant and interesting.

      I might have selected for my observations San FeHpe, for instance, the capital of the prov- ince of Aconcagua, with 12, inhabitants; but the merit of evi- dences of civilization in San Felipe is less than in Los Andes, and althouo-h the former town has nearly four times the population of the latter, it is not relatively more civilized or more agreeable.

      Indeed, in general aspect all the little towns of the agricultural provinces of Chili are similar, and a description of one will serve for all. The situation of Los Andes is peculiarly charming, and one may imagine that one day enterprise might convert it into an admirable health and pleasure resort. All around the mountains rise with snow-capped peaks and blue mystery. The streets are laid out rectangularly in uniform cua- dras, according to the invariable Spanish custom.

      With very few ex- ceptions the houses are one story high, and built of sun-dried or adobe bricks, with grayish-red-tiled roofs, the walls being stuccoed, and col- ored rose, yellow, blue, and other shades. The long straight streets are deep in dust; an acequia. The shops are general stores for the sale of imported manufactured goods, Parisian perfumery, and " notions ;" provision stores ; despachos for the sale of watermelons, vegetables, aguardiente, pisco, anisado, chicha, and other drinks ; butchers' shops of uninviting looks ; saddlery and leather work-shops ; cigarrerias, at the doors of which you see the em- ployes sitting on stools and utilizing their leisure in rolling cigarettes in the thin fibrous leaf- that envelops the corn-cob; these hand-made cigarrillos de hoja are a specialty of Chili, where paper cigarettes are very little used.

      In the centre of the town is the plaza, with the mid- dle carefully railed off and provided with gates, which are closed at night, in order to preserve the flowers and plants from marauders, petty thieving being a weakness of the Chilenos. The plaza is well supplied with benches, and around it are the public buildings, the town-hall and the church, the latter a wooden structure in the Doric style, the mock columns painted white to imitate marble, and the rest of the church painted chocolate-color.

      Finally, we must mention a fine alaineda and broad exterior boulevards, lined with splendid trees, under which you see the peasant people in the morn- ing breakfasting before returning to their farms — the husband in the saddle ; the wife, in a gay shrimp-colored dress, riding en croupe. In the morning these boulevards are quite animated. Horsemen wear- ing enormous hats, prodigious spurs, and bright-colored ponchos ride to and fro, while wagons of primitive build and groaning wheels, drawn by two or three yokes of oxen, bring in square bundles of chopped and compressed alfalfa, a sort of lucern, the culture and ex- port of which is one of the principal industries of the province of Aconcagua, being centred chiefly in the towns of Curimon, San Felipe, and Los Andes.

      In the evening the town becomes relatively lively. Shops are revealed by brilliant gas-lights when night closes in ; dark forms of women swathed in black shawls glide along the streets ; there is a subdued hum of conversation, and in the distance the intermittent bass drum of some ambulant circus from the sister republic of the United States. Los Andes is at present the terminus of the branch line of the Chilian state railways which starts from Llaillai, the junction of the Santiago and Valparaiso line, and will ultimately join the great trans- andine railway to Mendoza and the Argentine.

      The ride through the Aconcagua Valley is rich in fine scenery. The grand outlines of the Andes always form the background. In the middle distance are the vast alfalfa fields, marked off with rows of graceful poplars and weep- ing-willows, and traversed by symmetrical irrigation canals derived from the Aconcagua, whose milky torrent rolls capriciously over a broad, dazzlingly white bed of stones and pebbles.

      In the foreground is the luxuriant vegetation of vineyards, orchards, quick hedges of gigantic growth, and gardens brilliant with the floral charm of climb- ing roses, jasmine, and wistaria. On the east are the lofty summits of the Andes, while on the west, touch- ing more or less the Pacific Ocean, runs the parallel range of the coast mountains, or Cordillera de la Costa. We may again divide this long band of country into four zones, which are : 1.

      A glance at the map will show, as it were, a continuous system of lakes in the centre of this extreme southern zone, suggesting the hypothesis that in former times these lakes reached all up the coast between the two Cordilleras.

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