No. 5.
Mr. Hanna to Mr. Bayard.

No. 67.]

Sir: It may prove instructive in a national sense to note the fact that the Argentine Government, having experimented in the construction and operation of a number of railroads, begins now to view the venture with disappointment and dissatisfaction.

In 1880 it had 2,318 kilometers, equal to 1,391 miles, of railroad in operation, and in 1886, 6,152 kilometers, or 3,691 miles. It first seemed these vast lines, mapped out by the Government when it had first choice of the territory to be traversed, would prove to be a safe and sure source of revenue, but pressing difficulties have recently interposed themselves. These vast properties have been scattered about, widely distant from each other, and so have been hard to manage economically and successfully, public supervision not having proved equal to private ownership and control. This seems to have been the difficulty. At all events there is apparently a strong inclination on the part of the new Government to sell its railroads, and in this it is now sustained by popular judgment.

The Andine Railway, now in operation from Villa Mercedes to San Juan, and a necessary link in the great line from Buenos Ayres to Valparaiso, Chili, called the “Transcontinental Railway,” has just been sold to an English company for $24,000 per kilometer, equal to 40,000 per mile of our measurement. This valuable link is 324 miles in length. [Page 8] The purchasers are rapidly constructing the road from this city to Villa Mercedes, so that within a year or two the entire line will he completed to the Pacific sea board. It will unquestionably become a most valuable property and do the service at vastly reduced expense and in less than one-eighth of the time, now performed exclusively by a strong English company with steamships going around by sea through the hazardous Straits of Magellan to the Pacific coast, so if the Argentine Government has been willing to let this property pass out of its ownership it has probably reached the conclusion that Government railways are not practically what they have seemed to be in theory.

I have, etc.,

Bayless W. Hanna.