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THE MANATEE AND ITS COUSINS GAVE RISE TO THE MERMAID STORY This mammal, allied to the dugong and known variously as cowfish, peixe-boi, and manatee, has such keen sight, smell, and hearing that the Amazon natives must use all their skill in taking it with the harpoon or in nets set across the entrance to its feeding grounds. Its bluish-gray color makes it difficult to distinguish from brackish water or floating logs. The flesh tastes like pork and the fat yields an oil used by the Indians for massage in certain diseases.

comes down out of the wild country of southeastern Colombia and is connected with the Orinoco system by the strange Cassiquiare Canal; or the Purús, with its long branches, such as the Ituxý and the Acre. These are also the widest of rivers, the Tapajóz being eight miles from shore to shore at Boim and the Negro ten miles in the Boiossú Channel.


There is considerable variety among the rivers of the Amazon system. Some, like the Purús and the Juruá, meander across the alluvial plain in huge oxbows, across the neck of which the river may cut a new way in a single month of flood. Others flow in a fairly straight course, like the Branco.

Some are black-water rivers, like the swarthy Negro and the Jutahý; others are clear streams, like the fine Tapajóz, or the Branco, so named for its "white" water,

or the Guaporé. Most of them are yellowish streams, carrying vast quantities of alluvial sediment. Such are the Purús, the Juruá, the Ucayali, and the Amazon itself, which is always muddy.

Where the black Negro and the white. Tapajóz enter the tawny Amazon, a sharp line divides their waters for miles before they finally mingle; also, some of the rivers have wide flood plains, and sometimes a veritable labyrinth of channels intersects these low-lying areas, as in the country between the Japurá and the Solimões. Sometimes they flow between high banks, as does the Tapajóz for most of its course, or as do the Jurity and the Parauarý.

Most of the Amazonian rivers bear the names given to them by the Indian aborigines. Some are majestic-sounding, as befits the great streams so named, like the Xingú and the Purús and the Juruá; some are melodious names, like Araguaya, Aripuaná, Tahuamanu, Inambary, and


This is a day's catch of pirarucú, the largest of fresh-water fishes. It sometimes attains a length of more than six feet and a weight of 200 pounds (see, also, page 452). The two specimens with flippers are not fish, but manatees, fresh-water mammals (see, also, illustration, page 449).


Juruena; some are strange-sounding Indian names, Tupi, or Quichua, Gy-paraná (pronounced Zhee-paranáh), or Jacundá, or Buyuyumanu, "manu" being the Peruvian Indian word for river; some might have been left by an Arabian conqueror, as the names of the Bolivian rivers Beni, Madidi, and Abuná; still others bear the names of foreign explorers, like the Heath, Orton, Chandless, and Roosevelt.

Comparatively few have Portuguese or Spanish names, among the exceptions being the Amazonas or Amazon itself, the Madeira, the São Manoel, the Trombetas, the Negro, and the Madre de Dios, known to the Bolivian Indians as Manutata, or "Mother of Rivers."


Nearly all the rivers of the Amazon system are broken by rapids or waterfalls at certain stage in their course.

The most famous, though not the highest, of these rapids are those which break the course of the Madeira and the Mamoré for more than 200 miles.

It is around these rapids that the famous Madeira - Mamoré Railroad was built to serve as an outlet for the rubber and other products of northeastern Bolivia. Previous to its construction rubber was brought down from Bolivia in large batelones (canoes). These shot the less dangerous rapids and were dragged painfully and slowly around the more perilous ones. The return trip was a matter of months and the losses of men from malaria, Indians, and capsizing in the rapids

were enormous.

The first promoter of a scheme for a railway to circumvent the rapids was Col. George E. Church, an American army engineer, who obtained a concession to build a line in 1870. However, it was not until 1878 that a firm of Philadelphia contractors began work on the Madeira. The American and other workers suffered such frightful mortality from fevers that the undertaking had to be discontinued the year of its initiation.


The final impulse for the completion of the work came with the Treaty of Petrop

olis, in 1903, whereby Brazil bound herself to construct the line as compensation to Bolivia for the latter's cession of the Acre country.

The contract for construction was given to a syndicate represented by Mr. Percival Farquhar, and American engineers resumed operations in 1907. The road was completed to the Abuná in 1911 and opened to traffic in 1913 as far as Guajaramirim, the present terminus of its 226 miles of line.

The principal problem in its construction was that of sanitation. Men died by the thousands of malaria, beriberi, yellow fever and other fevers; 400 out of 600 German laborers died, and Spaniards, Greeks, Barbadians, and other elements that were brought in suffered as heavily.

When the line reached the fatal camp of the Jacy-Paraná it seemed for a time as if the whole enterprise would have to be abandoned, as it had been in 1878. However, heroic measures saved the great job from failure. Quinine was brought in at the rate of over two tons a year and served with the meals in all the camps. Buildings were screened, as at Panama, and in addition to the main hospital at Candelaria efficient camp hospitals and hospital trains were put into service.


Doctors made the daily rounds of the construction gangs in track automobiles, treating all who were ill and tagging the more serious cases for transfer to Candelaria. During the four years 1908-11 the total entries at Candelaria totaled 30,430 patients.

There have been few conquests of American sanitary and civil engineering to compare with the completion of this railroad, isolated in the heart of the South American Continent. It was finished too late to be more than a financial liability, for the great rubber boom had collapsed and traffic from the Beni country declined in volume and value with the falling price of rubber. More than $30,000,000 had been expended on the line, one of the most costly railroads ever built.

A small band of British represents the company that administers the road for the Brazilian Government. Theirs is a discouraging task, but done efficiently. One

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The skillful native harpoons the pirarucú from the prow of his boat when an agitation of the water denotes that the fish is approaching the surface. During high water it is also caught by a line attached to a tree on the bank or to a perch in the middle of lake or river.

train a week makes the run through the jungle between Porto Velho and Guajaramirim, stopping overnight at the village of Abuná, where the traveler finds the best hotel between Pará and the Andes. Guajaramirim is a small frontier town, whence one jumps off into the wilderness of the Guaporé or takes the little sternwheeler that goes south toward the heart of the Bolivian Oriente.

Here we saw blocks of caucho rubber from the Guaporé, and a carload of lean dogs for the lonely workers in the seringaes, and wild-eyed cattle from the Mojos plains of the Mamoré, with horns so wide they had, according to one native, to be loaded sideways into the cars.

At Porto Velho the Candelaria Hospital still stands as a haven for the sick and injured for hundreds of miles up and down the railroad and the rivers. The clean, well screened buildings lie among pleasant grounds overlooking the Madeira, and around them are flower and vegetable gardens.

In all that vast basin of the Madeira no one is so esteemed as Dr. William Emrich, the veteran American physician of con

struction days, who is in charge of the
Candelaria Hospital.


A large fleet of steamers plies up and down all the large affluents of the Amazon. It is possible to travel with comfort from Pará as far as Yurimaguas, on the Huallaga, in Peru, hundreds of miles above Iquitos, and up all the great tributaries to the limit of navigation, fixed by rapids or bars (see map, page 354).

During the rainy season, when the rivers rise from 30 to 50 feet, it is possible to go much higher, unless there is a permanent barrier, as at Santo Antonio, on the Madeira. Ocean-going steamers from Europe and the United States regularly ascend the Amazon to Manáos (see page 355), nearly 900 miles from Pará, and the same vessels could go up to Iquitos, more than 2,000 miles from the mouth.

Above Iquitos there are 500 miles of navigation for steamers drawing nine feet of water-that is, to within a few miles of the Andes. A line of steamers is actually in operation between Iquitos and Cal

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THE END OF THE GIANT'S STRUGGLE (SEE, ALSO, PAGE 450) Exhausted, the speared pirarucú (see opposite page) allows itself to be pulled alongside the canoe to meet death from a machete. Its cured and salted flesh forms a staple food for the river dwellers, its dried tongue makes an excellent file, and its broad red-margined scales are used as sandpaper for polishing native weapons and gourds.

lao, the port of Lima, on the Pacific, by way of the Panama Canal, making a journey of more than 6,500 statute miles by water to connect two points, only 630 airline miles apart overland!

The common type of steamer used on the Amazonian rivers is popularly called a gaiola, or bird cage, because of the open superstructure, adapted to the tropical climate. On the rivers of the Acre and on the Rio Negro shallow-draft sternwheelers of our Mississippi River type are employed.

A wide variety of other craft is seen. The Peruvians are especially skilled in making canoes, some of their dugouts holding 15 or more persons. They are also famous builders of rafts, which are a much more common sight on the Peruvian rivers than in Brazil or Bolivia. Frequently these rafts carry a thatched hut, in which the family lives during the slow journey downriver, and they may also carry cattle and pigs and a flock of chickens (p. 446).

Two years ago a huge raft came down the Purús from Peru with 17 families

aboard, housed in as many cabins, and with a large supply of live stock and poultry.

Rubber is also frequently transported by making a raft of the balls, on which a low platform is built for those who pole it downstream.


In spite of the cataclysmic floods that annually sweep over the valley, to pour out through the wide mouths on both sides of Marajó, the Amazon Valley is not a gigantic morass, where man must be half-amphibious to survive. Probably not more than 5 per cent of the more than 2,700,000 square miles of the Amazonia are below the normal flood level of the rivers. The great mass is upland country.

One who travels on any of the rivers is surprised by the high bluffs that border them for long distances.

Isolated hills and mountains are also prominent phases of the Amazonian landscape. A day above Pará one sights to

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