Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 1, 1879
to Mr. Evarts.
Santiago, Chili, April 3, 1879. (Received May 8.)
Sir: Following the events related in my dispatch No. 83 came the proclamation of the President of Bolivia, on the 1st of March, declaring war against Chili, and providing for the confiscation of the property of Chilians. Upon the receipt of this proclamation here, the Chilian land forces were ordered to advance upon Calama, and the naval force was directed to occupy Cobija and Tocopilla. The two latter places are the only Bolivian ports north of the 23d degree, and the former is a town of about five hundred people, in the valley of the Loa, some hundred miles from Antofagasta, and is supposed to have some strategic importance.
The two ports were taken possession of without trouble, but the secretary of war, who was in the vicinity, reports that at Calama the Ghili troops were seriously resisted.
A number were killed on both sides, but the Chilians triumphed, and the Bolivians who were not killed were taken prisoners. I judge, however, [Page 161] that there were not more than five hundred men engaged, all told. This is the only engagement of which advices have been received here.
Peru is giving the government and people here much more concern just now than is Bolivia.
Soon after the taking of Antofagasta the Government of Peru sent here an ambassador extraordinary, Señor Lavalle, with instructions to tender the good offices of his government in the settlement of the dispute with Bolivia, and to urge, earnestly, an amicable arrangement. Señor Lavalle was kindly received by the government, but among the people there has been an almost universal expression of displeasure at his coming. From day to day the newspapers have been filled with reports from the north tending to show that Peru is preparing herself for a struggle with her rival.
I was invited to an interview with the minister of foreign relations, and attended for that purpose at his official quarters, on the 29th ultimo.. Among other things he informed me that Chili was not satisfied with the attitude of Peru, and that Mr. Godoy, their minister at Lima, under instructions from his government, had demanded an answer from the Peruvian Government as to its purpose in the dispute between Chili and Bolivia. The answer was not, he said, satisfactory. In it was embodied an acknowledgment that there had existed for several years a secret alliance between Peru and Bolivia, the effect of which would be to force Peru into the conflict against Chili.
I told Mr. Fierro, the foreign minister, that I was sure that my government would be exceedingly sorry to hear of a war between these countries, and I urged him to neglect no opportunity to settle the dispute amicably. In response to a suggestion from him, I remarked that I did not doubt that the United States Government would cheerfully lend its efforts to an amicable arrangement of the difficulties if the governments engaged in the controversy should request it to do so, but that I trusted that they would be able to arrange it among themselves.
His language concerning the reply of Peru to Mr. Godoy led me to believe that war was almost certain to follow.
I had informed the minister some time previous of my intention to avail myself at a convenient time of the privilege granted me by my government to visit the United States, and he now expressed a very earnest wish, in behalf his government, that pending these difficulties I should remain in Chili. He seemed satisfied with my answer.
Minister Levalle is still in Santiago, and it is barely possible that Peru may yet remain out of the conflict. I don’t regard it as probable, however.
The minister informed me that the Chilian legation in Washington was about to be supplied with a minister, and that post would be filled by Don F. L. Asta-Buruaga. Mr. Asta-Buruaga formerly represented Chili at Washington in the same capacity. He has a high regard for our country, and I look upon his selection as a fit one. He will probably leave for the United States next week.
I inclose some slips cut from an English paper containing an article translated from the Diario Official of Santiago, upon the “Desert of Atacama and its resources.” The article will well repay a perusal.
I have, &c.
the desert of atacama and its resources.
[Translated from the “Diario Official.”]
1. Antofagasta.—This is the worst port in the Pacific; the only excuse for locating there the flourishing town which Chilian enterprise and industry has built, is the rudiamentary state of civilization prevailing in Bolivia. When the mining fever was at its height, the population amounted to upwards of 10,000. This was afterwards reduced to one-half by the decadence of Caracoles and the reaction naturally following on the first excitement; but latterly, confidence having been restored by the Chilian occupation, the population has doubled, counting the troops that have been sent there; so that it may be truly said, from Coquimbo northwards, it is the most populated port in Chili. It possesses several good hotels, a church, doctors, drug-stores, a cemetery, a well-supplied market, a theater, and several water-condensing machines, which provide a plentiful supply of the needed element at a relatively moderate price. The climate is healthy, and the temperature moderate and agreeable.
2. The roads leaving Antofagasta for the interior are three in number. The first starts in a southeasterly direction, and after touching at various nitrate deposits, terminates in the range called Cordon de Varas. The second makes a bend to the north-east, and then follows the same direction as the former: it also calls at various nitrate beds and ends at the same range. The third is the railway constructed by the Nitrate Company, the object of Bolivian avarice.
Let us take a seat in a car and pursue our way into the interior. At first the engine takes us in a southeast direction, then changes to east, and afterwards to the northeast. The first point we stop at is Salar del Carmen, headquarters of the great Nitrate Company—a magnificent establishment, where the traveler meets with every kind of resources, especially water in abundance, condensed by the company’s machines. The large number of workmen here, all Chilians, have laid the foundation of a town that time and labor will cause to progress with the rapidity of other places that were yesterday arid desert, and which the hand of man has converted into flourishing colonies.
3. From this place to Mantos Blancos the traveler sees only an extensive desert, where nature appears to sleep the sleep of ages. In the latter place there are several houses, the first being built by the Chilian don Zacarias Echiburú, where a tired traveler meets with good accommodation for himself and beast.
4. We continue on the same route till we arrive at Cuevitas, where there are a few houses. Provisions are scarce, and the only water is that brought by the trains.
5. Rising the same plateau we reach Salinitas, where abundance of everything is found. Here the Nitrate Company possesses an establishment, which, although on a smaller scale than the first, consists of several houses and a large number of workmen. The railway ends here, but it will doubtless soon be continued to Caracoles. In Salinitas the traveler finds good hotels, goats, fowls, &c.; and numerous carriages, carts, mules, &c., to convey him to Caracoles, Sierra Gorda, Rebosadero de Cobre, &c.
6. Leaving Salinitas, we arrive at Punta Negra after a journey of twelve leagues. Here is only an ordinary inn and a few houses. The water used is brought from Salinitas.
7. After a journey of eight or nine leagues from Punta Negra, we find ourselves in the famous mineral region of Caracoles. Before 1870, that which has been the object of so many golden dreams and febrile aspirations, only offered to the eye of the traveler yawning ravines and inhospitable desert, till the hand of man awoke nature from the lethargy in which she was bound. Then, the Chilian miners, “shedding in streams those tears of the body called the sweat of labor, snatched from the rocks the riches buried within them, and converted this solitary region into the busy scene now called Caracoles. Early in May, 1868, the first expedition left Valparaiso bound for the Bolivian desert, consisting of only two daring explorers—Don Emilio E. Garin and Don Maximiano Agurto. Arrived at Cobija, they were under the necessity of disguising the real object of their voyage, in order to avoid the ridicule of little minds, who considered it quite absurd enough to think of such a daring enterprise. Provided with the necessaries for the journey, the two first Chilian explorers penetrated into the dessert—the vanguard of the army of civilization which subsequently subdued these bar-fen regions to the hand of man. After exploring for many months in every direction the mountains and ravines of that territory from the Pacific to the Argentine frontier, they returned to Chili, out of supplies and overcome with privations, relating as they went the news of the great wealth concealed in that ocean of sand and rock called the desert of Atacama. This stimulated and encouraged other explorers and resulted in the discovery of the wealthy district, without—mystery of destiny!—profiting in any way its original initiators. Vicissitudes peculiar to such expeditions and such places prevented them reaching the cerros fajados (now Caracoles), notwithstanding they were in sight after a long journey in their direction, so difficult that the explorers were obliged to return owing to some unforseen accident.”[Page 163]
8. Within a short time after the discovery of Caracoles, more than 5,000 applications for mining claims were sent in, and the population exceeded 10,000. The absence of all the necessaries of life did not appall our enterprising fellow-countrymen. Water was at first brought from Limon Verde, nine leagues to the northwest; although of good quality it was not very abundant, so that it was found necessary to bring more from Calama, until the springs called Diaz Gana were discovered; this water, though bad and stinted at first, has been improved both in quantity and quality by proper means. From these springs, situated six leagues to the northeast of the mineral, from those of Sierra Alto, at ten leagues to the east, and from various others recently found, sufficient water is obtained for a numerous population. There are machines for distilling it, so that at present it is obtained in a perfectly potable condition. Caracoles possesses a church, cemetery, several hotels, market, cuartel, jail, and a school; its population now exceeds 5,000 souls. There are several amalgamating works of great importance, and the edifices of the mining companies as well as many commercial establishments are of the first order. Besides the private drug stores belonging to the mining companies, there are others in the town, and some doctors.
9. There are several roads leading from the coast to Caracoles, and thence to other points. That of Mejillones, which is the shortest, starts from that port in a southeast direction, then turns to the north, passing by Naguayan, where are mines of silver and copper, and afterwards goes east, passing by Sierra Gorda the spring called el pozo de la Victoria, and ends at Caracoles. That of Tames, which starts from Cobija, follows a southerly direction for about seven leagues, then turns east, joining the Mejillones road at various points in the desert, and follows the same route. At twelve leagues from Punta Tames it divides in two, one leading off to Miscanti. Another road leaves Cobija towards the north, to the Gatico cove, follows the same direction with an easterly inclination till arriving at the Cuesta de la Paciencia; on the summit of this, after a distance of five leagues, it turns east, passes by Culupo, a post supplied with water from the Loa, and touches at Chacance and Miscanti. Here it separates into two, one of which goes east to Calama, and the other southeast to Caracoles.
10. From Tocopilla starts the best road of all; it leads to Culupito and Chacance, and thence to Caracoles. We should observe that all these, except that of Tames, are cart-roads, the last named and that of Antofagasta being preferable, as well on account of the water as the topography of the country.
11. On leaving the coast for Caracoles we have touched at Chacance and Miscanti. The first of these is situated at an equal distance from Tocopilla and Caracoles, twenty-five leagues more or less from each. It lies in the bed of the Loa, and there is a smelting works and a few private houses there. Around the township there are a few (twenty or twenty-five) cuadras of pasture; the inhabitants number about one hundred. The second is a post maintained by the Bolivian Government, and is also situated in the bed of the Loa; and though the traveler finds there some resources, its soil is not cultivated like that of Chacance, for which reason it looks arid and gloomy. The number of inhabitants is small.
12. At three leagues from Miscanti is met a kind of village, called Huacate, situated on the Loa, and comprising a smelting establishment and some six houses. As in Chacance, there are twenty-five cuadras of pasture, and no lack of provisions. Its population does not exceed twenty. From here there is another road leading to Caracoles, passing by the springs already named as the pozo de la Victoria.
13. We will now occupy ourselves with the roads leaving Caracoles for the interior. These are four in number. The first goes by the west side of the Limon Verde hills, passing by the springs of the same name, sufficient for about sixty persons with their horses, and ends at Calama. The second crosses the same range and also ends at Calama, but without meeting with any water for the whole distance. The third, passing by the east side of the Limon Verde hills, forms an imperfect ellipse with the first named, and terminates at Calama like the others, but without meeting water; in the middle of the road another branches off which leads to Chiuchiu, where abundance of necessaries are met with. The fourth, the Atacama road, leaves Caracoles in a northeast direction till reaching the place called Los Cerrillos; here it turns to the east as far as Tambores, where a few stone-sheds are found which serve for shelter. Two leagues before reaching this spot exist the walls of an old post, which may be of some service to the traveler. Three leagues to the northwest the springs called La Teca are found, sufficient for about sixty horsemen. From Tambores the road continues to the east, with a slight southerly inclination (east one-quarter south) till arriving at Atacama, previously passing by the broad glen called Paciencia, and the incline going down to the river of Atacama, two leagues before arriving at the city of this name, the road here lying along the river bed.
14. Calama is situated about a league to the north of the Loa, on a plain formed by the river and the deposits from the hills to the north, and comprising a space of some eight square leagues. The town is composed of some sixty houses, and the inhabitants number 500. The houses are badly constructed, and the remains of many are found [Page 164] that have been destroyed by the frequent earthquakes, which easily occurs in consequence of the material used—pieces of caliche cut in the form of adobes—and the shifting nature of the soil where they are situated.
It possesses a Catholic church in very bad condition, a cemetery completely open, and an edifice which serves as a cuartel, a jail, and the habitation of the authorities. The best buildings are the houses of Dorado and Artola. The inhabitants most well to do are four, the richest not being worth over $50,000. The soil is only fit for pasture, which is very poor, and for the chircas, which grow spontaneously and are used for fencing. Calama is not so abundant in resources as Caracoles, but fresh beef and mutton and some fowls are met with. The waters of the Loa, which supply the town, from two leagues west of Chiuchiu are distasteful and unhealthy, affecting the respiratory organs, and creating corns or warts on the hands, for which reason they should be used with caution. They serve to wash clothes, however, equal to soap, but they destroy them. The temperature is dry, and fatal for those who use alcoholic liquors or keep late hours. The prevailing sickness is the puntada or costado, which only arises from a disordered mode of living. Although a disease so fatal that in three days it kills a patient, it maybe easily cured, by mixing a yolk of egg with eight grams of powdered incense, taken every morning, fasting, for three consecutive days This is the only remedy used for this disease in all the interior of Bolivia. Calama being the point of union of all the roads leading from the interior and exterior, its strategical position is of the greatest importance. It is twenty leagues distant from Caracoles.
15. From Calama starts the main cart-road leading to the interior, passing through Chiuchiu, Santa Barbara, and other places. Chiuchiu is situated on the southern bank of the Loa, distant 9 leagues to the east of Calama, and about 25 to the N. ¼ E. of Caracoles. Its population amounts to 300 inhabitants, between Bolivians and Chilians; the town consists of about 40 houses, counting the church and the “town hall,” which serves as cuartel, jail, and quarters of the local authority, who is a correjidor, as in Calama. This town is an ancient post, sustained by the Bolivian Government. It is well off for fresh provisions, and has some pasture of as bad quality as that of Calama, and which extends over some 100 cuadras. Here the waters of the Loa are not injurious, as at Calama, but they are useless for irrigation, only a few algarrobos and chañares being raised. Here is situated the smelting works of Don Francisco Rivas, whose value amounts to $100,000. The temp erature is milder than that of Calama, and the climate is healthier, though the same diseases prevail here whose treatment Ave have before detailed. Four or five leagues to the east, upon the same river, there is more pasture, as also maize, barley, and potatoes, of excellent quality but limited quantity.
16. Seven leagues further on, and to the east of Chiuchiu, are situated the hills called Care anal, a most dangerous place for an army. From these hills start upwards of 70 ravines, very near to each other (from one cuadra to two or three) and running east and west. Their average depth is thirty meters, many reaching to seventy. At the head of three or four of these ravines are springs of potable water, near which a few families of Indians dwell with their flocks, whose number never exceeds 150 head.
This region, viewed from the north, west, and south, represents a plain, inclined towards the west, the precipices it contains not being observable, from which reason a number of explorers have perished there.
Four or five leagues to the north of Care anal, traversing the great ravine through which passes the road to La Paz, on an elevated hill is found the dwelling of an Indian on the edge of a scanty spring, overlooking the roads leading to the interior, the course of the Loa, about a mile distant, and the circumjacent valleys. It is one of the best points for a fortress.
17. About nine leagues from Chiuchiu is the gold-mining district called Conchi, where now only vestiges of some old and rich mines are found; but there exist abundant springs of good water. To the east of these hills, and at their termination, about two leagues before arriving at Santa Barbara, are some elevations suitable for the erection of forts, they also commanding all the roads leading to the interior.
18. The principal roads leaving Chiuchiu are three in number, and all lead to Atacama by different routes. The first takes a southeast direction, touches at the watering place called Teca, Tambores, Paciencia Valley, and rising the cuesta, descends to the Atacama River, and thence to the town of the same name. The second takes almost the same direction, but separates from the former between three and five leagues out, and touches at the Posta del Inca (where there is water for about 100 horsemen), at Alto de la Cruz, and on arriving at Paciencia Valley, again joins the first. The third starts in an east and south direction, passing by the river Salado, which is about midway between Chiuchiu and Aiquina, touches at the latter place, and thence leads to some Indian dwellings at the base (west side) of the hill Inacaliri; it goes on to Caspana, to San Bartolo (a copper mine of Artola), and descends by the ravine of the Atacama River till reaching the town of the same name.
None of these roads are fit for carts, except for a short distance; the best is the first [Page 165] named, although the third is better, topographically speaking. We should add that all these roads except that of Aiquina, cross at the hills of Teca and Alto de la Cruz.
19. Let us enumerate the points touched at by the last of these roads, which we have not yet described.
Rio Salado is formed by the waters of the Cordilleras near Aiquina, and those of Caspana and Tatio, and runs north and south as far as Aiquina; it turns then to the northeast, and joins the Loa two leagues west of Chiuchiu. Its waters are disagreeable and unhealthy, and it is for this reason that those of the Loa are spoiled from their confluence with them.
20. Aiquina is a township nine leagues to the E. ¼ S. of Chiuchiu, situated in the ravine of the Salado, and possesses some 12 to 16 houses. It is supplied with tolerably good water from some springs of the same river. Meat is found here, potatoes brought from Caspana, and a few fowls. The inhabitants do not exceed 30. There is a church also, which is the best of these regions after that of Atacama.
Crossing the hills of Inacaliri and Bupo, about a league and a half to the east of Aiquina, a place is found called Inacaliri, the dwelling of some 12 Indians, who possess some flocks scattered about the valley, amounting altogether to 400 to 500 head; about an equal quantity exist at Aiquina and its neighborhood. A little further to the south of the residence of these Indians, three leagues more or less, rises the Loa; still more south, after a journey of five or six leagues, and crossing the hills where the Loa springs, is found the excellent and abundant watering place called El Cajon.
To the southwest of Aiquina are found some hills running north and south; at the latter of the extremities lie the ruins of an ancient Indian town, about five leagues from Aiquina.
Two roads leave Aiquina to the small valley of Inacaliri; one passes at the foot and north side of Cerro Bupo, and the other at the south side of Cerro Inacaliri, distant one from the other about three leagues. Both are so rugged that a very small force could defend the passage into the interior.
We should observe that these roads are provided with water, firewood, and even with flocks, belonging to the Indians dwelling here. Leaving Aiquina for the south by the road previously mentioned, at six leagues distant Caspana is reached, the residence of a few Indians. Here is the best water of this district, a few pasture fields, and a small plantation of potatoes. Maize and barley are also raised on the same limited scale as in Chiuchiu and Calama. Firewood is not scarce in proportion to the number of the inhabitants, who do not exceed 40.
Following in the same direction (S. ¼ E.), after a journey of 12 leagues we arrive at San Bartolo, where Artola’s copper-mining works are situated, whose cost is estimated at $400,000. To reach the establishment we have to descend a very rugged ravine, about 60 meters in depth vertically, which seems placed there purposely to try the patience of the traveler, after having traversed twelve leagues of the worst road imaginable. The works possess all kinds of resources.
About 200 peones are employed, mostly Chilians. In the quebrada there are pieces of ground sown with alfalfa of very good quality, and which together would amount to 40 or 50 square cuadras in extent, belonging to Artola. The road continues through the quebrada to Atacama, where we arrive after passing the river 72 times. This part of the road is the pleasantest and most picturesque. Here we meet with bits of green and beautiful pasture; there with capricious and brilliantly white figures in salt, formed on the shores by the waters of the Atacama, with which, though brackish, the fatigued traveler joyfully refreshes his parched throat. If the roads previously passed have been full of difficulty, the pleasanter becomes this stretch of nine leagues, which recall at every step the valleys of the cordilleras of the center of Chili. All the road from San Bartolo to Atacama offers no difficulty to the traveler, even at the river fords; and although it is not fit for vehicles, it could easily be made so. The various pieces of pasture met with here and there would amount together to about 60 square cuadras. Neither are wanting some handsome algarrobos and chañares between San Bartolo and Atacama.
21. At ten leagues from the Andes, and between the rivers Bilama and Atacama, is situated the town bearing the name of the last of these rivers. Both rise in the cordillera of the Andes, and pass, the one to the south of the town, and the second to the north. Their course runs from east to west, inclining to the south, and at Atacama take the latter direction, losing themselves at three leagues from the town, forming the vegas called Salinas de Atacama, which are increased by other rills flowing from the same range. The town of Atacama is the largest in the desert, and contains more than 200 houses. In the plaza, which is small, are found the “town hall,” the residence of the sub-prefect, the school and church, cuartel, jail, and courthouse. Its streets are narrow and badly laid out. From leaving Calama this is the only place where a regular hotel is found, provided even with a billiard-table. Although there are neither druggists nor markets, their places are supplied by various houses of commerce.
The town possesses abundant resources, especially in animals, and in merchandise [Page 166] imported from the Argentine Republic and the coast. Everything here is relatively cheap. The population, including the suburbs, is about 1,500, mostly Indians; the rest are Bolivians, Argentines, and a few Chilians. The pasture lands adjoining the town are of excellent quality, and occupy an extent of 1,300 square cuadras. All classes of vegetables and fruit trees are cultivated, the waters of the Atacama being used for irrigation, those of the Bilama being prejudicial to all plants except alfalfa chañares, and algarrobos. On each of these rivers there is a mill, where the wheat and maize raised are ground.
The town of Atacama is a “dry port” (puerto seco), where all the roads join leading from the Argentine Republic, by which great herds of animals are brought for Peru, Bolivia, and the coast, this being the only place where they can be conveniently rested and refreshed. For this reason Atacama is a place of the greatest importance it is the key of the desert, and with a little trouble, by establishing forts on the cuesta where the roads descend from Caracoles, Calama, and Chiuchiu, on the banks of the Bilama, and at the grotto of San Pedro, it would become an impregnable place, and might deprive the towns of the coast and a large part of the interior of Bolivia of provisions.
Its climate and temperature are the best of all the coast, but the puntada or custado prevails, whose treatment we have already mentioned at § 14.
22. A league and a half to the west of Atacama is the beautiful grotto of San Pedro. It is about two cuadras in length, and on entering one is surprised with the singular beauty of the stalactites and stalagmites of the whitest salt, which in capricious forms decorate the interior of a handsome Gothic temple. The walls of the grotto are covered throughout their extent with this crystallized salt, and it has a beautiful effect with the lights that one uses in visiting the grotto. This salt is used for all domestic purposes in its natural state, without any preparation.
By the west side of the grotto and by the Paciencia Valley a cart-road can be easily made, communicating with Caracoles, Calama, and Chiuchiu.
23. Two roads lead from Atacama to the Argentine Republic. By the first, after a journey of five leagues, we arrive at Tambillo, where are the borax works of SS. Dorado, and where we find potable water for some hundred riders. Salt-water is very abundant, and it would not cost much to purify it. Two leagues from Tambillo, and a mile and a half from the road towards the east, is the quebrada of Zapar, where there are about 120 cuadras of alfalfa, a few algarrobos and flocks belonging to Indians, and abundant and excellent water. In the same quebrada are thermal springs bearing a high reputation in Atacama.
Journeying toward the south, we come to Toconao, the most beautiful oasis of the desert, in the depths of a quebrada, with good and abundant water and a plantation of 16 square cuadras, where grow in full vigor all kinds of fruit-trees, especially figs. There is a chapel and a few houses, some belonging to residents and others to well-to-do persons in Atacama, who, come to spend the summer in this beautiful spot. The flocks number about 300, besides asses and mules. To the east, and about two leagues distant in the same quebrada, lies the oasis called Queri, with plantations, pasture, and flocks similar to Toconao, but with fewer houses. Following the same road, and in the same southerly direction, we find in the quebradas of the Cordillera the places called Záncon, Camas, Socaire, and Peine, distant one from another from five to seven leagues; they mostly contain small pieces of pasture, good water, and a few flocks of sheep.
Leaving Peine, which with Camas is the most important of the four last named places, after a journey of five leagues, we come to Tilomonte, where the natural grass only is found, water, a dwelling of Indians, and a few head of sheep. Following the road in the same direction, by the center of the first cordillera, at 15 leagues distance are Pajonal and Pular, small places of no more importance than Tilomonte. Eight leagues from Pajonal is situated Socompa, of the same category; here the road turns to the east, and at 12 leagues touches at Antofaya, Antoiayita, and Antofagasta, lying 18 leagues distant from one another. All are situated in the center of the cordilleras, the most important being Antofaya, for its abundant natural grasses and flocks. Here are found a few Indian dwellings, and it is the meeting point of the Argentine herdsmen, where they refresh their animals. All these lands were purchased by General Melgarejo, but the Bolivian Government confiscated them. In Antofagasta concludes the road, which passes to the Argentine Republic as far as Salta and San Juan. If we pursue the second road, which leads from west to east, ten leagues from Atacama, we shall pass by the foot of the cerro Licancaur, which lies to-the north of the road, and where rich silver deposits are said to exist. It is the highest hill of these ranges, and shows like a sugar-loaf viewed from the west. Three leagues from ticancaur the road divides in three; one enters the cordillera and leads to Jujui, in a southeasterly direction; another leads to the east to Incahuasi, an important place, where dwell the Indians called Esquiveles, who possess a large number of alpacas (1,000), llamas (700), and sheep (600). This point is distant 60 leagues from Atacama; and hence, seven leagues to the east is the small silver-mining township [Page 167] of Lipez, where Señores Aramayo possess an establishment costing upward of $300,000. It has a chapel, many houses, and 500 inhabitants, and was formerly much more peopled. The necessaries of life are not scarce. Here the road takes a north one-quarter east direction, and leads to La Paz. The other road enters the Cordilleras, touches at Canchas Blancas, and other points, and arrives at Potosí. All these roads which pass by the upper plateaus of the cordillera abound in many places in natural grasses, though also possessing large tracts exceedingly arid.
Besides the roads enumerated, starting from Atacama, there is another, which, leading in a southerly direction by the edge of the salinas, touches at Tambillo, Carvajal,, Quelama, Ciñnaga Redonda, and Tiloposo; then bending to the S. ¼ E. and passing through the range in the middle of the desert, calls at Puquios, Punta Negra, el Profeta, Sandon, Juncal, and ends at Chañaral. From Tiloposo leads another road, which takes a southwest direction and passes through Imilar, Aguas Blacas, and ends at Botija. At all these places water of bad quality is found.
24. Twenty leagues northeast of Atacama are the hills called Machucas, from a tribe of Indians of that name, who live there, and possess about 300 llamas and as many sheep. There is also house accommodation for about 200 persons, plenty of good water, forming the chief affluent of the Atacama, some pieces of natural pasture, and firewood.
25. To the north of Machuca, and 25 leagues from Atacama, is situated the active volcano Tatio. At the foot of this in a northeast direction are numerous beautiful fountains, which, as they are injurious, we will describe in detail. Those most to the north, on the edge of the hill, and about in the middle of the quebrada, contain a green-colored water charged with sulphate of copper, and is consequently poisonous. Those following towards the south have their waters white as milk, and contain carbonate of magnesia, potash, sulphur, and other substances. In those most to the south, the water runs over a bed of carbonate of iron for a distance of six quadras; these are crystalline and excellent for drinking. Not many years ago an arriero let his mules drink at a place where some of these streams mix with that of the green-colored water; all died. The traveler can never find a more surprising and marvelous spectacle than that offered to his view in the valley situated at the foot and to the east of Mount Tatio. A sheet of mineral substances white as snow covers all the valley, with beautiful fountains here and there, like those in our public promenades, throwing continuous streams to the height of even five meters, being highest early in the morning. In the midst of these innumerable fountains is found a block of stone, a yard high, in whose center the sediment of the volcanic waters has formed a globe of veined stone of various colors, through the midst of which several springs of water spout forth with great force.
We close our description of the desert here, with the remark that if we have not been more minute in our details, it has been because we consider them unnecessary under the present circumstances, and reserve them for a future opportunity, when the pacific possession of the territory shall have encouraged our citizens and led them to explorations as daring as those realized up to the present time.