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MEXICO OF TODAY*
BY SENOR DR. DON JUAN N. NAVARRO, CONSUL-GENERAL OF MEXICO IN NEW YORK CITY
GLANCE at our factories shows that our people manufacture acids, chemicals, candles, excellent beer and ale, carpets, furniture, and carriages that have received premiums at some of the Paris expositions, cordage, glassware, hats, matches, paper of every description, sugar, tobacco, and many other articles, the production of which increases every day in quantity and quality. In the last few years the textile industry of Mexico has progressed at a surprising rate, and some of the manufactories deserve special mention. Rio Blanco is a manufactory situated near Orizaba. I personally visited this manufactory a few months ago and found that it produces eighty different classes of linen and cotton goods, has a colossal and tasteful building, and maintains in incessant work more than 3,000 workmen, who make 40,000 pieces per week. I have in my office, in New York, a complete set of samples of all the linen and cotton goods from this manufactory, and all, especially the prints, in the perfection of the work and in the beauty and taste of colors and designs, excite the admiration of all who examine them.
I have not at hand the statistics giving the actual number of cotton manufactories, but I calculate that there must be approximately 150, and that they last year produced more than ten millions of pieces of white and printed goods and nearly two millions of yarn. The sales declared for taxes for the years 1898 and 1899 are more than $29,700,000. Another of the manufactories near the city of Orizaba makes bags for flour, grain, salt, etc. The raw material is jute,
a fiber originally imported from East India, which has been planted in Mexico and in all probability will yield a good harvest. This establishment makes 7,000 bags per day and 800 meters of carpets and rugs of the same material. The motive power in these factories is electricity derived from the falls of the Rio Blanco.
The wool manufactories, though not so many, are remarkable for the excellence of their products, and are not often excelled by the best products of other countries. The number of tobacco manufactories is very considerable, and the fame of the excellence of the material and elaboration is spreading day by day in the commerce of the world. Another manufactory worthy of mention is the one in Merida for cordage. The capital invested in mounting it was $600,000, and up to September of last year there were exported to this country by way of the port of Progreso more than two millions of kilos of the henequen cordage there manufactured.
Our government has promised certain privileges for the introduction of new industries into the country, and the department for correspondence has received 114 applications.
I have always believed that Mexico is destined to be not only an agricultural but an industrial country, as it produces a great number of vegetable raw materials and possesses an incomparable quantity of every known metal, and has living in cities a good part of its population who have a decided inclination and a remarkable ability for mechanical labor. The facts of her development are confirming these views.
*Continued from the April number.
The scientific boards and establishments of the government render good services to science in general and particularly to our country. There is a geodesical board that, besides other scientific occupations, is measuring the part of the arc of the meridian corresponding to Mexico.
La Comisión Geografica Exploradora (the geographical exploring board), in order to make a correct map of the republic on a large scale, is now working in the States of Nuevo Leon, Vera Cruz, and Tamaulipas. The topographical surveys measure an area of 424,148 square kilometers, the itineraries 142,799 lineal kilometers, and the number of positions astronomically determined is 424. The learned members of this Society can appreciate properly the time and scientific labor represented by these operations.
Our astronomical observatory in Tacubaya, Federal District, is in constant communication with similar institutions in the civilized world, and our directors have visited them repeatedly and been present at the astronomical congresses of all nations. It has also the honor of taking part in the formation of a photographic zone of the celestial map that is to be executed by international convention.
Speaking of this science, it is worth mentioning that Mexico, since colonial times, has always had remarkable astronomers, and in the seventeenth century the illustrious Don Carlos de Sigüenza y Gongora, of European renown, was appointed by Charles II of Spain his royal cosmographer. In our times we had Diaz Covarrubias, and in fact Mexico, since the sixteenth century, has taken a prominent part in all astronomical observations, and was one of the many countries to observe the transit of Venus through the disc of the sun more than 100 years ago.
There are also meteorological observatories in connection with those of the
United States, and a geological institute, one of whose works, the geological cut from Acapulco to Vera Cruz, figured very advantageously in the last Paris Exposition, and many other scientific institutions supported by public funds or by private enterprise.
To give some idea of our means of communication and public works, I shall mention some facts about our railroads, telegraphs, telephones, and postal service, and of some of the great works in the capital and states.
Besides many hundreds of miles of railways in active construction, we have in actual operation 14,573 kilometers, or 9,055.22 English miles. In the last four years 3, 104 kilometers of roads were finished.
Mexico being a mountainous country, the cost of these roads in many cases was enormous; but we can boast of having some of the most daring and magnificent works of engineering and of the most picturesque views in the world. One of the two railroads connecting the capital with the port of Vera Cruz has a section literally above the clouds, and, according to the opinion of foreigners visiting the country, the trip of any tourist would be amply repaid by only traveling on that magnificent railroad, so solidly and skillfully built and cautiously run that an accident of a serious nature has never happened in more than 28 years of continual operation. operation. For construction and splendid scenery, the railroads running from Morelia to Uruapan, in the state of Michoacan, and from Puebla to Oaxaca, connecting the two states of said names, can be especially recommended.
The number of passengers increases at an enormous rate year by year. In 1893, 22,781,343 passengers were carried on Mexican railways; in 1900 this number had nearly doubled, exceeding 40,000,000. Of merchandise, 3,798,360 tons were carried in 1893, and in 1900 nearly 8,000,000 tons.
The development of our telegraphs has kept pace with the railroads, and today there is not a place of any importance that is not connected telegraphically with the rest of the republic.
Our telegraphic lines are divided into four different branches-federal lines, state lines, private company lines, and railroad lines-and the federal lines last November had an extension of 45,740 kilometers, or 28,421 English miles. President Diaz in his last report mentions only the federal lines, but, according to the statistical annuary, of the state lines there were, on December 1, 1898, 8,659.4 kilometers; of lines belonging to private companies, 3,690.240 kilometers, and of railroad lines, 11, 198.195 kilometers. Adding these lines to the 45,740 kilometers of federal wire and we have a total of 69,287.881 kilometers, or about 43,053 miles.
The extension of telephone lines in December, 1898, was 28,433 kilometers, but in the last two years many more lines have been constructed, and we can estimate that there are now 30,000 kilometers, equivalent to about 18,641 English miles. The number of messages transmitted by federal telegraph only during the year 1892-'93 were 1,083,359, and during the last year, 1899-1900, this number had more than doubled.
The federal offices in the capital and other principal ones are open day and night, and the night service has been so well patronized by the public that it covered its expenses almost immediately after being established.
Our telegraph lines are connected at different points with those of the United States and by two submarine cables— one from Galveston to Tampico and the other from Tampico to Vera Cruz. Through the United States we are in communication with any part of Europe, while the United States, through our telegraph lines from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and a cable from Salina Cruz to Libertad, communicates with
the greater part of South America as far as Brazil and Chile, and by land with Guatemala and the other Central American republics. We have one telegraph cable at Alvarado Bar, and three others between Tuxtepec and Cosamaloapam, another between Champoton and Campeche, and one between. San Juan Bautista and Nopalapam.
Our government has established a school of telegraphy where girls receive gratuitous instruction.
Our postal system is continually studied and improved, and the results obtained are of the most gratifying order. The number of offices in 1900 was 1,972, including 96 on railroad
The public works completed and those in the course of construction are too numerous to mention. Two, however, the drainage canal of the valley and city of Mexico and the great docks and wharves in the port of Vera Cruz, deserve special consideration, because of their colossal magnitude and importance.
The city of Mexico is situated in an extensive and beautiful level valley, surrounded by lofty mountains. There is no natural exit for the water that pours from the mountains or for the refuse of a large city. In consequence the inhabitants were exposed to the perils of floods which at different times in the past became a reality. The Spanish Government early took the matter in hand and approved the project of the celebrated engineer, Enrico Martinez. He constructed the gigantic cut now in existence and known by the name of "Tajo de Nochistongo." But, although that work had averted the danger from the side of Cuautitlán, deviating the course of the river of that name, it did not solve the whole problem. The solution as completed was first proposed by another Spanish engineer, Simon Mendez, whose plans, with some modifications, constitute the work now finished.
The work was undertaken and suspended several different times for the want of funds and the uncertainties produced by revolutions.
In the year 1885 it was resumed in earnest, and incessantly and vigorously prosecuted until its completion, by General Diaz, who, with his usual activity and energy, put it under the direction of a board of distinguished citizens. The Mexican engineer, Dr. Luis Espinosa, was the technical director, who modified advantageously the original plan and brought it to a happy termination with an ability, energy, and constancy that deserve the gratitude and admiration of all his fellow-citizens.
The completed works consist of a canal, with a length of 30 miles, and a tunnel of more than six miles. The canal runs from the northeastern section of the city, called San Lazaro, to the town of Zumpango. There the . enormous mass of water enters the tunnel cut through the mountain, and on the other side disgorges into the ravine or Barranca de Tequisquiac, in which it is confined till it reaches the Gulf of Mexico. The works are laid out in such a way that when the system of canalization of the streets of the city is finished, according to the plans presented by another distinguished engineer, Dr. Roberto Gayol, the water of the lakes, principally of Texcoco, which is the lowest, will be controlled, and Mexico will be perhaps the only city in the world which will be able to wash its sewers every day. This last work is being vigorously pushed, and it is expected will be completed during the last months of the present year. Mexico has good reason to be proud of this magnificent work, which has cost her many millions of dollars.
A few words will give some idea of the magnitude and usefulness of the public works in the port of Vera Cruz. The city of Vera Cruz was founded by the Spaniards for military and not for commercial purposes. It was planted within the fire of the guns of the fortress, San Juan de Ulua, which they had built on a rock in the bay. The port was a bay, or rather an open roadstead, where ships could find no protection in a storm. Often the shipmasters preferred to lift anchor and battle with a tempest on the high seas. Today the old fortress is a part of the city, and can be reached by carriage, and the open roadstead has been converted into a safe port, with wharves for the largest vessels and every convenience for the landing of passengers and the loading and unloading of ships.
In many other ports on the Gulf and the Pacific Ocean improvements are being constantly made In Tampico a new wharf is nearly completed to replace the one destroyed by fire in 1888. In San Juan Bautista four wharves have been finished. The fiscal wharf in Frontera is completed and in use, and also the one in Progreso. Very important works are in progress in the ports of Salina Cruz, the Pacific end of the Tehuantepec Inter-Oceanic Railroad, and Altata, a port that is to be changed to Tetuan, which offers a better anchorage for vessels.
In the last four years many lighthouses have been built on the coast of Yucatán, in Isla de Mujeres, Cayo Norte, Cabo Catoche, Contoy, Punta Molar, and Punta Calarain and on the Pacific coast, on Morros de Seybaplaya, Salina Cruz, Santiaguillo, Isla de Arcas, Zapotitlan, Cayo Lobos, and Puerto Angel.
(To be concluded in the June number.)
THE GENERAL GEOGRAPHY OF ALASKA
BY HENRY GANNETT, CHIEF GEOGRAPHER, UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
LASKA, our northernmost possession, extends over more than 20 degrees of latitude and 45 degrees of longitude-as far as from Florida to Maine and from Maine to Utah. From the main body of the Territory stretch two projections, one to the southeast, comprising the Alexander Archipelago and the adjacent mainland, the other to the southwest, comprising the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands.
The exact area of Alaska cannot at present be known, owing to the fact that the boundaries are as yet located only approximately. The seacoast, which forms by far the greater part of the boundary, has not been accurately mapped, except in small part, while the land boundary on the southeast, which separates our territory from Canada, has not been defined, except in the general terms of the treaty of cession from Russia.
Various measurements have been made, based upon different maps, giving areas ranging from 570,000 to 600,000 square miles. A careful recent measurement from the large map published by the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (scale 1: 1,200,000) gives its area as 590,884 square miles. Of this the portion lying east of the 141st meridian, popularly known as southeastern Alaska, which is the best known part of the Territory, has an area of 43,710 square miles, of which 30,800 square miles consist of mainland and 12,910 square miles
*It lies between latitudes 51° and 71° 30′, extending 5 degrees within the Arctic Circle, and stretches from longitude 130° to 175°. The great body of the Territory lies, however, between latitudes 60° and 71° 30', and between longitude 141° and 168°.
of islands, forming what is known as the Alexander Archipelago.
The Cordillera of North America enters Alaska at its southeastern extremity and follows the Pacific coast around to the Aleutian Islands. Beyond this mountain system and following its general trend is a broad depression, drained by the Yukon River and its tributaries. North of this basin is a height of land which separates the Yukon Valley from the bleak shores of the Arctic Ocean.
THE PACIFIC COAST REGION
This portion of the Territory is mountainous throughout. Although the coast of the mainland and of the islands is, altogether, several thousand miles in length, yet for the entire distance there are very few square miles of level ground. The land rises from the water almost everywhere at steep angles, without a sign of beach, to altitudes of thousands of feet. It is a fiord coast. The islands are separated from one another and from the mainland by fiords, deep gorges, whose bottoms are in some cases thousands of feet below the surface of the water. These fiords extend far up into the mainland and into the islands, in deep, narrow U-shaped inlets.
The relief features of this region, its mountains and its gorges, partly filled by the sea, are all of glacial origin, presenting everywhere the familiar handwriting of ice. Every cañon, every water passage, whether called strait, canal, or bay, is a U-shaped gorge, and its branches are similar gorges commonly at higher levels-" hanging valleys" they have been called. Above