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Statement showing the navigation at the port of Belize for the year ending June 30, 1883-Continued. SIX MONTHS ENDING JUNE 30, 1883-Continued.
UNITED STATES OF COLOMBIA.
Report by Consul Dawson on the trade and navigation of Barranquilla and Sabanilla for the year 1882.
I have the honor to state that, as I have but just arrived at Barranquilla, I can of course do but little more than give my first impressions of the place. But as the consulate at Sabanilla and the consular agency at this place have been abolished, and I have the honor to be the first United States consul ever appointed to this post, I will impart such information as I have acquired since my arrival, leaving fuller details for a later date. Barranquilla has a population of about 25,000. It is situated on a flat, sandy plain on the Magdalena River, about 5 miles from its mouth. The Magdalena River is the great commercial highway of Colombia, and 9 lines of steamers ply between this place and interior ports along its shores. Last year 15,036.18 tons of freight went up the river from this city, and 16,420.07 tons came down. Passengers who went up the river from this place numbered 2,314, and those who came down 3,321. In other words, 23 steamers were engaged in the river traffic, and transported 31,456.24 tons of cargo and 5,635 passengers. Gold and silver brought from the interior was valued at $3,175,580.71, and that sent away at $637,742.40.
There is a railway between here and Salgar, 15 miles distant, and two or three trains run daily. The ocean steamers disembark and receive most of their cargoes and passengers for this place at Salgar, on account of the difficulty of crossing the bar at the entrance to the Magdalena. But the custom-house is in this city, and here all things must come. Mails leave here for Bogota, the capital, 600 miles inland, every six days. Bogota has telegraph and cable communication with the United States. There is also a telegraph line between Barranquilla and Carthagena, 108 miles, but no direct telegraphic communication with the rest of the world.
The principal steamship lines between this and foreign ports are the Hamburg, the Liverpool, the Royal Mail, the Transatlantic French, and the Campo and Transatlantic Spanish lines. The Atlas line plies between here and New York, via Kingston, Jamaica, fortnightly. The time for steamers direct between here and New York is about nine days, and between here and New Orleans about six days. A monthly steamer leaves here for the latter place. The subjoined table will show the character and destination of the exports from here during the year 1882. I also append a brief sketch of the country from a report of Director-General Cisneros.
FROM WASHINGTON TO BARRANQUILLA.
And now, perhaps, I may be allowed a few words about getting here. After I was ready to start I desired to reach here as soon as possible and to avoid as much of the Atlantic as I could during the months of February and March. I determined, therefore, to reach Colombia via Florida and Cuba; and on February 14 I took the cars at Philadelphia, Pa. The fast train started one hour and fifteen minutes late, or at 8.35
instead of 7.20 a. m. Beyond Wilmington the engine disconnected and ran away from the train two or three times, and we arrived at Wilmington one hour late. But the southern train had waited, and I continued my journey. The southern train, instead of gaining, lost time, and we reached Charleston Junction three hours late, missed through connections, and I had to go to Charleston and stay all day. In the evening I went on to Savannah. The train left there on time, at 11 p. m., but was eight hours reaching Jesup, 57 miles, and conse quently missed connection at Callahan, and I had to pay extra fare and go to Jacksonville and stay all night. There I tried in vain to get a special car to Cedar Key and when I reached the latter place, the day following, was four hours too late for the steamer from New Orleans to Havana. Thus I had been four days in getting where I ought to have gone in two. I staid at Cedar Key till evening of the 19th, and then took the steamer Alabama to Tampa Bay. I reached there at daylight, and was transferred to a little steamer named T. J. Cochran, which reached l'unta Rassa at 7 p. m., and Key West next day at 10 a. m. The same evening I took a small fishing smack to Havana, and reached there in twenty hours, at 5 p. m. on Washington's birthday. There I was effectually stopped for two weeks, both Spanish lines for this port having left the 14th and 17th, respectively. March 9 I took the cars across Cuba, 305 miles, to Cienfuegos. The ride across that beautiful tropical and fertile sugar-producing country was extremely interesting, notwithstanding the dust and the uncomfortable cars. On either side were vast fields of sugar-cane and large mills and plantain fields and old towns-Matanzas, with its celebrated cave, Santo Domingo, &c. It took twelve hours from Havana to Cienfuegos, the pleasantest town, I should think, in Cuba. On the 11th I took the splendid New York steamer Santiago, and reached Santiago early on the 13th. There I got the large cattle steamer, San Jacinto, the same day, and started for Carthagena, crossing the Caribbean Sea in three days, and anchoring in the harbor at night on the 16th. I remained in the picturesque old town of Carthagena two days; and, as there were no steamers coming from there here, as I had expected, I determined to come overland. From this purpose some of our principal merchants tried to discourage me, saying two gentlemen had made the trip and died, it was thought in consequence. The distance was 36 leagues, or 108 miles. I gave a Spanish-speaking colored guide $40 to accompany me, and started at 4 a. m. on the 19th. The path was narrow, and, as soon as the sun was up, exposed to the fiery rays. The country was dry and parched, like California in August. There has been no rain here since last November. I saw but two muddy pools the entire distance. Half a dozen large towns were passed on the way. They were old, and the houses were principally thatched with palmetto. The people were mostly colored. The roads much of the way were lined with asses heavily laden, and with riders on top of the loads. There were in places signs of land-clearing, sugar-cane, and plantain patches. The mountains which I traversed were gashed by the torrents of the wet season, and there were fearful chasms beside the path. I was not out of the saddle from 11 p. m. on the 19th to 11 a. m. on the 20th, at which hour I arrived in Barranquilla beneath a sun so hot I was obliged every few minutes to put fresh locust leaves in my hat to keep from getting sunstruck. I reached here in thirty-one and a half hours, and immediately assumed the discharge of the functions of my office. The trip cost me $350. The rates between here and New York by the Atlas line are $75. The country here has suffered much the past year by that all-devouring pest, the locust, and the people have been forced to leave some of the
interior towns. Barranquilla has no quarantine station or health officer, and two years ago 700 or 800 persons died of small-pox in a single month. Wages seem to be good in some places, and a civil engineer here has just been offered and declined $300 per month to go to one place where people are apt to get the fever. The death-roll in this city during the year 1882 was 1,456, of which 592 were adults and 864 children. The greatest mortality among the adults was in the month of October, being 60; the least, May, being 32. Among the children, the least in April, 47. With a population of about 20,000, this includes something like 7 per cent.
UNITED STATES CONSULATE,
Barranquilla, March 28, 1883.
THOMAS M. DAWSON,
Table showing the amount and value of exports per steamer from the port of Barranquilla for the year ended December 31, 1882.
Weight in kilograms
79, 260 5,392, 020 6, 250 1,250 14, 820 4,849, 200 52, 600 93, 100 38, 850