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The New York Times, December 31, 1858, p.2:


Arrival in Callao Bay--Appearance of the Country--
The Peruvians and their Troubles with Ecuador--The Steamer Lines, &c.

From Our Own Correspondent.

CALLAO BAY, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 1858.   
    We arrived here this morning at sunrise. After leaving Payta, my last date, an easy day's steaming brought us to San José, the port of Lambayeque.
    There is no harbor, and in fact scarcely any indentation in the coast line. It is only an open and perilous roadstead. Six vessels lay at anchor, about two miles out. Even whaleboats cannot live in the surf along shore.

    Rafts made of light timber are employed for landing and embarking all goods, baggage or passengers. These carry a sail, and are manned by six or eight Indians, men of medium height and rather stoutly built. The rafts are dangerous affairs. Sometimes they part asunder. Not long ago as many as 49 persons were drowned in this way.
    When the surf is too violent for even these rafts to be used, the only means of communicating with ships, from the shore, is to send off what is called a caballito, or pony, made of rushes; resembling two Carolina potatoes, side by side, bound together by the small ends. On this the Indian sits, and, wet to the skin of course, works his way through the most fearful breakers with impunity.

    The exports of this section of coast are tobacco, in considerable quantities, and sugar. A countryman of ours, named Captain BARNEY, of New-Haven, has a sugar-mill for grinding the cane. This is sent to different points on the coast, in the coarsest form of brown sugar, called Chancaca. Its principal use is the manufacture of rum. Its price, when shipped, is about $3 a cwt. In Lima it sells for $6. The amount of freight shipped on these freighters has increased very much, and is every day augmenting.
    The appearance of the port, from the ship, as of all the neighboring coast, is most arid and uninviting.

    Ninety-eight miles to the south, and the steamer called at the port(!) of Huanchaco; bad enough, though not quite so bad as the last one. Here launches, built in whale-boat fashion, get through the surf and reach the ships. An antique church stands on the bluff behind the port, built in memory of some Spanish mariners, who, many years since, perished near by. Through the glass something like a garden could be seen ashore, and two palm trees; but all the rest wore the arid look of a desert.
    The launches are manned by nine or ten Indians each, and are propelled by eight oars. Horses, poultry, pigs, and bales of red peppers were brought on board for Callao, also a small amount of silver, in bar and coined. The steamer going north usually conveys more of this latter article en route for England.

    Between this latter port and Callao there are two or three minor ones, as Casma, Huacho, and Huarl, at which the mail steamer does not call. A smaller boat called the Inca runs to these ports as well as to others south of Callao. From Huanchaco to Callao is a little less than two days' easy steaming.

    Arriving here, we find the Peruvians busy in the commencement of hostilities with their neighbors of Ecuador. I wrote you that we had found a Peruvian frigate blockading Guayaquil. To-day two steamers have been dispatched from this port, with troops to the number of 1,000 men, to land at Guayaquil, and even march on Quito, the capital.
    The question turns on a portion of territory which has been pledged by Ecuador to its English bondholders; but Peru claims it, and seems determined to sustain the claim by force. About six hours ago the steamers with the troops, infantry and cavalry, left this harbor for the north.

    The political condition of Peru is ever unpromising. The country is overburdened with military men; the army and its dependents devour the substance of the nation; and hardly ever is there lack of a "General" to head a revolution and overthrow the Government.
    The steamer Valparaiso came in on the 10th from the south. Chile is in peace, although an attempt had [been] made to take the President's life. It had been frustrated and the affair kept as quiet as possible.

    Lieutenant GILLISS and Mr. RAYMOND are on board the Valparaiso on their return from the Astronomical expedition. They are well. They have extended their trip to Chile, where Mr. G. has been received cordially by his former acquaintences.
    There are no foreign ships of war here at present, either of the French, American or British flag.

    The Pacific Steam Navigation Company, (British,) i. e., the line from Valparaiso to Panama, have recently put in two new boats, called the Cloda and Prince of Wales, both propellers. The Lima has been sent to England for new engines. The Bogota is also to return home, at once, for a similar purpose. I think they have six boats now running on the coast.

    The railway from this port to Lima is in successful operation. About six trains pass over the road daily. The fare is 50 cents in first-class cars, and 25 cents in the second--distance being eight miles. Smoking is practised in all the cars without any restriction whatever.

    I visited the Mint. The machinery is of Philadelphia make, said to be like that of the United States Mint. However, all was at a stand-still; no coining; no silver.
    I also went to the Chamber of the Senate. It is in the old Inquisition. In fact, the Senate meet in the former hall of audience, where those fearful trials took place. The ceiling is a wonderful piece of the most intricate and elaborate carved work. The apartment is full small, though large enough, I suppose, for the assembly that gathers within it.

    It will be interesting to ship-owners to know that a sectional dock is to be laid down on the island of San Lorenzo, which bounds this bay on the west. The workmen engaged to set up this dock came down with us in this steamer. The owner of the enterprise is a Mr. TERRY, a Peruvian. The dock was built in Jersey City.

    The steamers on this coast leave Panama, coming south, twice a month, on the 15th and 30th, at 10 A. M. They arrive at Callao on the 26th and 10th, and at Valparaiso on the 7th and 23rd of each respective month, thus making about 25 days for the entire distance from Panama to Valparaiso. The fare is $290. From Valparaiso to Panama it is $50 less.

    The amount of shipping in this bay is less than ususal.
    Our Minister to Bolivia, General SMITH, has decided to remain a fortnight in Lima before proceeding to his post.
X. X.   

COAST OF PERU, Thursday, Nov. 18, 1858.   
    We are south of Arica in the British steamer Bolivia, Captain JOHNSTON. Left Callao on the 13th, and next morning at 9 were off the anchorage of the Chincha Islands.
    Comparatively few ships are loading. It is said there is a better prospect for charters at present than there has been. The supply of guano is still immense--enough to meet the foreign demand, as well as furnish the apple of discord for the political aspirants of Peru for years to come...
    Gen. SMITH of Connecticut, Minister to Bolivia, concluded to remain in Lima for two weeks, with Mr. CLAY.

    From the Chinchas two hours' steaming brought us to Pisco. From this port... oranges and sweet potatoes are exported to other parts of the coast. Our decks are completely filled up... Even the hurricane deck has bags of produce piled up on it. At Pisco an iron pier is in process of construction.

    Our next stopping place was Chala, a new port, at which the steamers have called for only about eight months. Near it there are some rich copper mines, yielding, I hear, sixty-seven per cent. The Peruvian Government have stationed a hulk at Chala for passengeres and goods when the surf is too strong for a safe landing to be effected; as was the case when we called there. Owing to the heavily-laden condition of this ship, we were several hours behind our time, not getting there till 8 P. M.
    The next night, at 10, we reached Islay, the landing port of Arequipa, again behind time. This was the seat of war in the late revolution. Here CASTILLA attacked VIVANCO in April last, and carried the city by storm. Business is now resuming its wonted course. Our freight for Islay was very large.

    Yesterday morning the Volcano of Arequipa was in sight from the ship--a beautiful cone. It is not in action at present. It seems to be west of the Snow Mountains; at least, there is no appearance of snow on it.
    The coast is uninteresting. The only variation in its outline occurs in the case of river valleys coming down from the Snow Mountains. The is scarce any appearance of vegetation in a week's voyaging.

    Last night, at 1 o'clock, we reached Arica. This is the port of Tacus, with which town there is connection by railroad. We were twelve hours behind time. Our speed has been very slow--not more than six or seven knots at any time.
    Here considerable improvement has been effected. A pier has been erected, as well as at Islay and Chala. But all these are poor harbors at the best.

    We left Arica at eight this morning, and are now running along not more than a mile and a half from the shore. This is precipitous; in fact, for miles and miles it has been perpendicular. It seems about 300 feet high, but the surveys of FITZROY, the Captain tells me, give the height between 3,000 and 4,000 feet. Not a tree, not a plant, not even a blade of grass, has been seen, from the base to the summit of these bluffs, during the sail of four hours we have made this morning in sight of them.

    FRIDAY, Nov. 19. Still the same arid, treeless and high coast. All sight of the snow mountains is intercepted by these shore bluffs, from which our distance varies from one to three miles. There seem to be no shoals here, and no sunken rocks save close in shore.

    Last night at 10 we reached Iquique. This is the por from which saltpetre is exported in great quantities. Eight or ten ships were at anchor. There is not enough water here for drinking. They distil sea-water for this purpose, advertising to supply ships with it at the rate of 2˝ cents the imperial gallon.
    The amount of dissapation here is dreadful. Men plead the scarcity of water as a reason for planting the seeds of the deeper and more unslakable thirst of the inebriate.

    Iquique is certainly one of the last places at which a man might choose to pass his days, or even a portion of them. The cargo for this port was very abundant, consisting chiefly of vegetables and fruits from the more northern and favored parts of Peru.
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    Republic of Peru: Ancient Peru was the seat of several prominent Andean civilizations, most notably that of the Incas whose empire was captured by the Spanish conquistadors in 1533.

    Peruvian independence was declared in 1821, and remaining Spanish forces defeated in 1824.

    After a dozen years of military rule, Peru returned to democratic leadership in 1980, but experienced economic problems and the growth of a violent insurgency. President Alberto FUJIMORI's election in 1990 ushered in a decade that saw a dramatic turnaround in the economy and significant progress in curtailing guerrilla activity. Nevertheless, the president's increasing reliance on authoritarian measures and an economic slump in the late 1990s generated mounting dissatisfaction with his regime, which led to his ouster in 2000. A caretaker government oversaw new elections in the spring of 2001, which ushered in Alejandro TOLEDO as the new head of government - Peru's first democratically elected president of Native American ethnicity.

    The presidential election of 2006 saw the return of Alan GARCIA who, after a disappointing presidential term from 1985 to 1990, returned to the presidency with promises to improve social conditions and maintain fiscal responsibility.
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    We are behind time about twelve hours, and therefore call at all these ports at night. To-night again we are to call at Cabijah, the only seaport of Bolivia. This is situated in the desert of Atacama, and is also a wretched place. The journey thence to Potosi is made on mules, for hundreds of miles through a desert tract. There are two ways of reaching that seat of fabled wealth, one from Cobija, the other by Arica. The latter is the more expeditious route, but, from having to climb the mountains more abruptly, the traveler is liable to the peculiar disease of the mountains called sirocho or puna. It is said that nearly every one suffers from it on rising to the higher elevations of the Andes. However, it is not merely a matter of height, since persons have often been attacked when nine thousand feet high, and not attacked at higher elevations.

    The feet become cold; pain in the head becomes violent; circulation is almost suspended; dreadful sickness at the stomach comes on, worse than any sea-sickness; and, it is said, even death sometimes has ensued. Applications to restore the warmth of the body are the most appropriate remedies; but the attacks come on very suddenly.
    On this account the ascent to Potosi is safer from Cobija, although the distance and inconvenience of travel are, by that route, far greater. The distance is 190 leagues, which would make between five and six hundred miles.

    We are now nearing Cobija; shall leave again to-night; pass all day tomorrow at sea, for first time since leaving Callao, and next day call at Caldera. Our letters will be left at Cobija for the steamer to take them, which left Valparaiso on the 16th, three days ago, for Panama. The sailing days from Valparaiso are the 1st and 16th of every month.
X. X. X.   

The Federal Reserve Bank's estimated consumer price index shows that $1 in 1858 was equivalent to $23.66 in 2007 dollars.

The Los Angeles Times, May 15, 1898, p.16:



From Our Own Correspondent.

    LIMA, (Peru.) April 16, 1898.--Down the Andes on a hand car. Coasting over the steepest railroad in the world. Dashing through the clouds to find clouds below you.
    Hanging to precipices, flying on bridges over frightful chasms, whirling about curves, now in the midnight darkness of winding tunnels and now where the light of day makes you shudder at the depths below.

    This will give you a faint idea of the last part of a trip from which I have just returned. During it I have ascended to the very top of the mountains and have come back again to this point, which is just six miles from the sea.

    My trip was over the famous Oroya Railroad, the most wonderful piece of railroad engineering ever constructed or planned. The road is, all told, only 138 miles long, but it climbs up the steepest mountains of the globe. In less than 100 miles it ascends more than three miles, and at its highest point it is 15,665 feet above where it starts at the port of Callao, on the Pacific Ocean. At the top it is still 2000 feet below the summit of Mount Meiggs. It cuts right through this peak by a tunnel which carries it to the other side of the Andes. It then descends to the valley of the Juaja, through the rich silver-mining region of Yaull, and finally ends at Oroya, an Indian market town 12,178 feet above the sea.

    It is one of the most expensive railroads ever built. Seven thousand lives were, it is said, lost during its construction, and the first eighty-six miles of it cost $27,000,000.
    Between the coast and the summit there is not an inch of down grade, and the speed of our handcar in my journey over it was only regulated by the pressure on the brake in the hands of the Indian who served as conductor. On many parts of the road the grade is over 4 per cent., and at such grades the track winds about and up the Andes, passing through cuts in the solid rock and through sixty-three tunnels, some of which are of the shape of the letter S. It is of the standard-gauge, its track is well-laid and is in excellent condition.


    This road was built by an American, though it was suggested by a Peruvian. The man who constructed it was Henry Meiggs. Meiggs laid out the road, acted as its engineer-in-chief, raised the money to build it, and, in fact, is entitled to all the credit of its construction.
    The road was originally intended to reach the Cerro de Pasco silver mines, but the $27,000,000 gave out when about eighty-six miles were built, and the extension is still some forty-odd miles away from these famous mountains of copper and silver. The portion of the road above where Meiggs left off was constructed by the Peruvian corporation under what is known as the Grace contract.
    The ultimate intention is to extend it further on into the Perene, a rich coffee-raising district, and to the head of the steam navigation of the Amazon at Chanchacayo. The preliminary surveys for this have already been made. The total distance from the sea to the navigable Amazon is, I am told, not more than 210 miles, but there is at present no sign of the railroad being completed.

    It is doubtful whether the railroad now pays much more than its operating expenses, and it will be long before it will give dividends in proportion to its enormous cost. Only two passenger trains are run over it a week, and the chief freight down the mountains is ore.


    The usual over this road is taken on the regular passenger train, which carries the traveler up the mountains one day and brings him back the next. Through the kindness of the influential American firm Grace & Co., I was taken up on a little engine and had my ride down on the handcar. I thus had a wonderful opportunity for studying both the railroad construction and the mighty mountains up which it climbs.
    Our special engine was called La Favorita. It was composed of the engine proper, and a cab walled with glass and fitted up with comfortable seats. This observation compartment was a part of the engine itself, taking the place that the ordinary engine uses for coal. Our little engine burned coal oil, and it was Peruvian petroleum that pulled us up the Andes.

    The party consisted of the American Minister, Mr. Dudley; the Secretary of our Legation, Mr. Neal; Mr. Sherman, the manager of the house of Grace at Lima; a Frenchman named Piper, and Mr. Pierson, an electric street-railroad man from Ohio, who is out here to see whether the Lima tramways are worth buying.
    The engineer and his helper were Peruvians. We left at 7 in the morning and spent the whole day on the road, stopping to take photographs at the most interesting points and going on as fast or as slow as we wished.

    Lima, you know, is situated in the valley of the Rimac River. It is right at the foot of the Andes, and our trip was up the mountains along the course of the river to its very source on the summit. At Lima the Rimac is what in America would be called a good-sized creek. It is nowhere navigable, and is, in fact, a stream of foaming white water from the top of the Andes to the sea. The descent is so steep that quiet pools are nowhere to be found, and the river is a succession of waterfalls, foaming churns and rushing rapids.
    During the ride we could often see the river above and below us at the same time, and we went up, up, climbing the sides of the mountains, cheered on our way by the rushing of the waters.


    We first passed through the sugar and cotton plantations which fill the valley above Lima. The fields look like gardens gotten up for show. They are surrounded by mud walls, and the crops are as green as those of the United States in June.
    Now we pass a sugar hacienda, in which on one side of the track two steam engines are pulling a cable plow through the field, while on the other side men are plowing with oxen and wooden plows, urging the beasts onward with goads fifteen feet long.

    In the cotton fields gangs of Indian workmen are working under overseers on horseback. The cotton plants are in blossom, and the fields look like vast gardens of pink and yellow roses. The men weed the plants and they are as clean as any rose garden at home.
    There is a cotton mill, and farther on we pass a sugar factory which grinds out thousands of pounds of sugar a day. There is no better sugar land anywhere than this, and we learn in passing that it produces from two to six tons of sugar per acre, and after once started will keep on producing for as long as six years.

    We notice that all the land is used. The water is taken from the Rimac, and nothing grows without irrigation.


    Now we are in the foothills of the Andes. How bleak and bare and gray they look in the early morning! There is not a green spot anywhere to be seen on these vast walls, which here face the sea. We shall find it different as we rise to the mountains behind... As we rise higher the mountains grow greener, until at the level of Mount Washington, we find them covered with a thin coat of vegetation. As we near the altitude of Leadville there is plenty of grass, and at one point we count forty different kinds of flowers at a stopping of our engine...
    Mr. Sherman tells me that the fact that there is any green at all to be seen is due to the rainy season, and that at other times of the year this whole western side of the Andes is bleak, dry and almost absolutely sterile...
    Further up you come into a region of rocks, where only bits of soil are to be seen here and there. In such places every inch of ground is cultivated. The mountains are terraced clear to their tops, and some of them are covered with steps of green built up with rocks, and so graduated that a man can stand on one of the lower steps or ledges and plant the seed or weed the crops of the next ledge without stooping over...

    ...The mountains rise alomst abruptly upward. You ride for miles between walls of rock... We pierce a wall of rock, where a river has been turned aside that it may not interfere with the road, and by a winding tunnel dash out into what is called "The Infernillo" or hell. It is a slender iron bridge two miles above the sea, high up between walls of rock. Far down below you see waters rushing, and far out of the wall we have left a great torrent of foaming water plunges. Before us, at the other end of the bridge, there is another wall of rock, in which there is a black hole pierced by the track, and as we look upward between these walls we see as through a narrow slit the blue sky of heaven above this Andean hell.
    There are a number of these hanging bridges on the route. We stopped at the Veruguas bridge, which spans a chasm 580 feet above the Veruguas River. This bridge was swept away some time ago, and for months both passengers and freight were carried across on a cable, a little car hanging to the rope stretched from wall to wall across this frightful chasm.

    At times we saw tunnels above and below us. The track goes up its steepest places in a zigzag route, so that at one time we counted five tracks running almost parallel below us. Almost the whole line was blasted out of the mountain rocks. On many places along the line the hills are so steep that men had to be lowered in roped over the edges of the precipices to drill holes for the powder which blasted away the ledges for the track. Falling rocks killed some, landslides swallowed up others, and many died of fever.


    You can imagine something of the sensation of going down such a road on a hand car. The reality is wilder and more exciting than anything you can conceive.
    The hand car on which I rode [while descending the following day] was of the rudest order. It was merely a platform five feet long and a little wider than the track, upon four ordinary car wheels. On the front part of the platform a strip of wood two inches thick and about that wide was nailed, and at the back was a seat much like that on a farm wagon. The seat had a railing two inches high, and it was just wide enough for three.

    The conductor, a brown-faced Indian, sat in the middle, with his hand on a brake extending down through the center of the platform. Mr. Sherman and I sat on the right and left, our feet braced against the strip on the bed of the car and our hands on the sides and back of the seat, holding on for dear life as we rushed down the mountains.
    Our only means of stopping the car was the brake, and the danger as we rushed through the tunnels was not only that of the car jumping the track in going around the curves, but also the possibility of meeting a donkey or and Indian coming through. The rocks in many places are loose, and the danger of a landslide is such at this time of year that a hand car is always sent five minutes ahead of the regular passenger train to see that the road is free.

    At one time we chased a cow for about a mile, and at another two llamas blocked the track for a few moments. At times the road seemed to us to go down at an angle of 45 deg., and many of the severest grades were along the edges of precipices or where we seemed to be clinging to the walls of rock...


    The sensation of standing on the top of the Andes was worth having. As we climbed up and up above Casapaica the air grew colder and rarer. We rode out of a heavy rain into a dense snowstorm... As the mist we caught a glimpse of the country through which we had been passing and shuddered at the precipices over which we had gone. Mount Meiggs was almost straight below us, and we stopped the engine a moment in front of the black mouth of the Galera tunnel on the very roof of the South American continent.
    Behind us all the waters were flowing into the Pacific Ocean. On the opposite side of the tunnel all of the waters find their way through the Amazon into the Atlantic. The dividing of the waters is, in fact, within the tunnel itself, and you could really stand at a certain point in the Galera tunnel and spit in both oceans without taking a step to one side or the other...

    We went through the tunnel and stopped La Favorita at the other side... Over us towered Mount Meiggs, 17,575 feet high, its top half a mile above where we stood. Our altitude was more than three miles above the sea. We were on the highest railroad point in the world. Think of it! We were far above the height of Mount Fugiyama, the snow-capped mountain of Japan, far nearer the heavens than the top of Mount Blanc or any point in Europe, a thousand feet higher than Pike's Peak or any mountain in Colorado, above Mt. Whitney, and, in fact, far higher than any mountain in the United States, outside of Alaska...


    ...My voice was so weak from the rarity of the air that I could not have whistled a dog. At about ten thousand feet above the sea conversation began to lag in our party. It was almost impossible to talk to one another on the outside platform of La Favorita, and I found myself again weighing my thoughts to decide whether they were worth the breath it would take to utter them. All sorts of exertions took triple strength to perform them. I found my boots suddenly heavy, and changed my step to that of an old man...
    As the day went on the uncomfortable feeling from the extraordinary height and our quick jump from the sea to the tops of the mountains increased. We descended about one thousand feet and stopped for the night at Casapalca, where there is a big silver and copper smelter owned by Backus, Johnson & Co...

    Before we got to the house the Frenchman and Mr. Pierson were attacked with soroche, or the mountain sickness, a disease common to strangers in high altitudes, and later on the whole of the party were more or less affected. My attack did not come until midnight. I awoke feeling as though the top of my head was rising into the air. I had a terrible pain in the temples, cramps in my legs and at the same time a strong inclination to vomit. I lay on my back all night to give my lungs as full play as possible and hardly slept a wink.
    I managed to get up at daybreak, and although there was a coat on my tongue as thick as the fur of an Alaska seal, I drank some coffee, and by keeping out of doors was sufficiently recovered to take my hand car ride down the mountains. Mr. Sherman fared even better than I, but Secretary Neal said that between the smell of the sulphur from the smelting furnaces and the soroche, he thought he was in hell, and dreamed all night that a hundred devils were dancing on his chest, while Mr. Pierson looked as though he had lost all his friends and said he longed for home.

    Capt. Guyer told us that almost everyone who comes up the mountains is similarly affected, and that some fare much worse... The soroche is common throughout the Andes, and I fear I shall have more of it before my trip is over. It usually begins at the altitude of 12,000 feet. With some it does not last more than a day or so, and then passes off. With others it is very serious.
    The first symptoms are pains in the head and nausea. Then come vertigo, dimness of sight and hearing; fainting fits follow and blood flows from the eyes, nose and lips. Those whose hearts are weak sometimes drop dead. It is especially hard on full-blooded and stout people and those addicted to liquor and high living. Healthy, thin people of temperate habits soon get over it, and as I am of that class, weighing, all told, not more than one hundred pounds, I expect to survive.

The Federal Reserve Bank's estimated consumer price index shows that $1 in 1898 was equivalent to $24.60 in 2007 dollars.

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