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as it leaves the coast. Every geographer who carefully compares Mackenzie's maps with Vancouver’s, will be astonished that the Colombia in descend. ing from these stony mountains, which we cannot help considering as a prolongation of the Andes of Mexico, should traverse the chain of mountains which approach the shore of the Great Ocean, whose principal summits are Mount St. Helen and Mount Rainier. But M. Halte-Brun has started important doubts concerning the identity of the Tacoutche Tesse and the Rio Colombia. He even presumes that the former discharges itself into the gulf of California"; a bold supposition, which would give to the Tacoutche Tesse a course of an enormous length. It must be allowed that all that part of the west of North America is still but very imperfectly known. In the 50° of latitude, the Nelson river, the Saskashawan, and the Missoury, which may be regarded as one of the principal branches of the Mississippi, furnish equal facilities of communication with the Pacific Ocean. All these rivers take their rise at the foot of the Stony Mountains. But we have not yet sufficient acquaintance with the nature of the ground through which the communication is proposed to be established, to pronounce upon the utility of these projects. The journey of Captain Lewis, at the expense of the
* Geogr. Mathem. vol. XV. p. 117.
Anglo-American government, on the Mississippi and the Missoury, may throw considerable light on this interesting problem. 2. Under the 40° of latitude, the sources of the Rio del Norte, or Rio Bravo, a considerable river which flows into the gulf of Mexico, are only separated from the sources of the Rio Colorado by a mountainous tract of from twelve to thirteen leagues of breadth. This tract is the continuation of the Cordillera of the Cranes, which stretches towards the Sierra Perde and the lake of Timpanogus, celebrated in the Mexican history. The Rio S. Rafael and the Rio S. Aavie, are the principal sources of the river Zaouananas, which, with the Rio de Nobojoa, forms the Rio Colorado : the latter has its embouchore in the gulf of California. These regions, abounding in rock salt, were examined in 1777 by two travellers full of zeal and intrepidity, monks of the order of St. Francis, Father Escato te and Father Antonio Velez. But however interesting the Rio Zaguananas and the Rio del Norte may one day become for the internal commerce of this northern part of New Spain, and however easy the carriage may be across the mountains, no communication will ever result from it comparable to that opened directly from sea to SC3, - - 3. The isthmus of Tehuantepec comprises, under the 16’ of latitude, the sources of the Rio Huasacualco, which is discharged into the gulf of
chap. 11.] KINGDOM OF NEW SPAIN. 23
Mexico, and the sources of the Rio de Chimalapa. The waters of this last river mix with those of the Pacific Ocean near the Barra de S. Francisco. I consider here the Rio del Passo as the principal source of the river Huasacualco, although the latter only takes its name at the Passo de la Fabrica, after one of its arms, which comes from the mountains de los Meres, unites with the Rio del Passo. We shall examine afterwards the possibility of cutting a canal, of from six to seven leagues, in the forests of Tarifa. We shall merely observe here, that since, in 1798, a road has been opened which leads by land from the port of Tehuantepec, to the Embarcadero de la Cruz (a road completed in '800); the Rio Huasacualco forms, in reality, a commercial communication between the two oceans. During the course of the war with the English, the indigo of Guatimala, the most precious of all known indigos, came by the way of this isthmus to the port of l'era Cruz, and from thence to Europe. 4. The great lake of Nicaragua communicates not only with the lake of Leon, but also on the east, by the river of San Juan, with the sea of the Antilles. The communication with the Pacific Ocean would be effected in cutting a canal across the isthmus which separates the lake from the gulf of Papagayo. On this strait isthmus are to be found the volcanic and isolated summits of Bombacho (at 11° 7' of latitude), of Grenada, and of the Papagayo (at 10° 50' of latitude). The old map point out a communication by water as existing across the isthmus from the lake to the Great Ocean. Cther maps, somewhat newer, represent a river under the name of Rio Partiao, which gives one of its branches to the Pacific Ocean, and the other to the lake of Nicaragua; but this divided stream does not appear cn the last maps published by the Spaniards and English. There are in the archives of Madrid several French and English memoirs", on the possibility of he juction of the lake of icaragua with the Pacific Ocean. The commerce carried on by the English on the coast of Mosquitos has greatly contributed to give celebrity to this project of communication between the two seas. In none of the memoirs which have come to my knowledge is the principal point, the height of the ground in the isthmus, sufficiently cleared up. From the kingdom of New Grenada to the environs of the capital of Mexico, there is not a single mount in, a single level, a single city, of which we know the elevation above the level of the sea. Does there exist an uninterrupted chain of mountains in the provinces of Veragua and Nicaragua 2 Has this cordillera, which is supposed to unite the Andes of Peru to the mountains of Mexico, its central chain to the west or the east of the lake of Nicaragua & Would not the isthmus of Papagayo rather present a hilly tract than a continued cordillera These are problems whose solution is equally interesting to the statesman and the geographical naturalist There is no spot on the globe so full of volcanos as this part of America, from the 11° or 13° of latitude; but do not these conical summits form groupes which, separately from one another, rise from the plain itself? We ought not to be astonished that we are ignorant of these very important facts; we shall soon see that even the height of the mountains which traverse the isthmus of Panama is not yet known. Perlaps the communication of the lake of Nicaragua with the Pac fic Ocean could be carried on by the like of Leon, by means of the river Tosta, which, on the road from Leon to Realero, descends from the volcano of Telica. In fact, the ground appears there very little elevated. The account of the vo age of Dampier leads us even to suppose that ther exists no chain of mountains between the lake of Nicaragua and the South Sea “The coast of Nico a, says this great navigator, “is low, and covered at full tide. To arrive from Realero to Leon, we must go twenty miles across a country flat and covered with mangle trees.” The
* Memoire sur le passage de la mer du Sud a la mer du Nord, par M. la Bastide, en 1791. Voyage de Marchand, vol. i. p. 505. Mapa del Golfo de Mexico por Thomas Lopez y Juan de la Cruz, 1755.