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a large portion of its southern, eastern, and northern shores are bordered by extensive and wide mud-flats, preventing the landing, at low water, of even a boat; so much so that the eastern shore may be said to be inaccessible for a distance of thirty miles; and this impediment prevents it from ever becoming useful, except by the construction of extensive artificial works. On the north it is bounded by the Straits of San Pablo, which divide it from the bay of that name.
"On the western side of the Bay of San Francisco, from the Straits of San Pablo, for a distance of fifteen miles, the country is broken and mountainous, and the shores rocky and indented by small bays, which are useless.
"These obstructions reduce this extensive
bay very much in size, and it becomes still more so when the safety and convenience of vessels is taken into consideration; indeed, with the deep water, cross tides, and exposed situations, there are but two safe anchorages,
viz: Yerba Buena and Sausalito. The former lies on the south of the entrance, between the island and town of the same name, and is of but small extent, with mud-flats, bare at low water, to the channel; it is also very much exposed to the prevailing winds, which blow at times with great violence. It is the usual but by no means the best anchorage, and has but a scanty supply of water, not sufficient for the population of the town, or the vessels that frequent it; this, added to the rocky point on which the town is situated, will prevent it from ever becoming the seat of trade. The population of the town exceeds five hundred inhabitants; and, from its being nearer to the gold mines than Monterey, has become of late the most frequented.
"Sausalito, or Whaler's Harbor, is on the north side of the entrance, under Table Hill, which protects vessels from the prevailing westerly winds. This anchorage is the principal resort of whalers. Here they can obtain wood and water, and refit. The water in the summer is obtained from small springs. The extent of land around this bay is limited to a few acres, the hills rising precipitately, and the high spurs cutting off communication with the country adjoining it.
"The Bay of San Francisco is well adapted for a naval depôt, or a place for our whalers to recruit at. Its possession insures us the command of the Northern Pacific, and the protection of our large and extended interests there; but I know of no place where a natural site for a town can be found throughout the whole bay; and it appears to me extremely difficult to select one where the locality would permit of extensive artificial improvements."
Bodega is disposed of in brief:
"The port of Bodega is ninety miles north of
San Francisco. It is both small and inconvenient, and cannot be entered, except by vessels of a light draught of water."
The vast advantages of Puget Sound as a resort for large vessels, over all other ports of the Pacific coast, render it almost
certain that it will become at last the principal entrance for the trade of Asia. The advantages of this bay are however united in a providential manner with those of the surrounding country. The climate is healthy and temperate, and the land well watered and susceptible to a great extent of regular cultivation; but above all we desire to call our reader's attention to the singular fact, that between this sound and the highest point of the Mississippi which will admit a bridge, the route is levelled and adapted by nature for the passage of cars; so even and unobstructed is this route, for nearly six hundred continuous miles of the middle part it will not be necessary to make a bridge. After reviewing the several routes, by the Isthmus, and by the South Pass, Lieutenant Wilkes decides in favor of that chosen by Mr. Whitney; namely, from the foot of Lake Michigan by Prairie du Chien to Fort Wallawalla, on the Columbia, and thence to Puget Sound.
"Steam can be used only for the transportation of passengers to China by the way of Panama; the rates for freight would preclude the transmission of merchandise. The route across the Pacific from Panama offers many difficulties to sailing vessels, in the prevailing winds, calms, &c.; Panama is, indeed, one of the worst ports on the western coast to arrive at or depart from; the seasons there are divided into the fine and the rainy; the former, or what is called summer, though in north latitude, is from December to May, and only during this period is it advisable to approach this coast. In the rainy or winter season, from June to November, every part of it is liable to hard gales, tornadoes, or heavy squalls, succeeded by calms and deluges of rain, and the most dangerous lightning. Sickness begins at Panama as early as March, and continues until December; and with the exception of the fine season, the whole coast in its vicinity may be described as dangerous, and on every account to be avoided. From December to May, the prevailing winds are from the north and northwest, the remainder of the year they blow from the northeast, southeast, and the west; but are at all times uncertain, and calms frequently prevail; vessels may be detained on their passage,
from these causes, so long as to make this route of greater length than that now followed by the China trade.
"As a means of communicating with the western coast of South America by the agency of steam, too much value cannot be laid upon the proposed railroad across the Isthmus. For ten years it may be advisable to use one of these routes, or until such time as the routes through our own territory can be completed and in operation; but it can never satisfy the wants of the nation, or preserve those advantages we should look forward to obtain.
Next in order is the southern route by railway across the country, by way of the Gila. The recognizance of the country through which this would pass has been fully made known to us by Colonel Emory, and his report shows that it would be nearly impossible for this purpose. The altitude of the mountains is in itself sufficient to decide the question; but if we grant that this can be overcome, the sterile country through which it would run brings conviction to the mind, that if it is not impossible it is certainly unadvisable. It can never become an inhabited country, therefore one great object in the construction of a railroad would be lost. Again, if this last fact were not the case, the proposed terminus on the Pacific at the port of San Diego would never accommodate the trade, and half or two-thirds of the ships would not be able to enter. The port is inadequate for the commerce that such an intercourse would bring about; and the country around can never furnish the necessary supplies. The proposition for terminating it at San Francisco is equally objectionable, and amounts to an impossibility on account of the high mountain ranges which surround it.
We now come to the last or most northern route. Nature here invites the enterprise. The distance is the shortest; it has few if any difficulties to overcome; the lands it would pass through are some of the best in the western country; and the greater part of the whole distance can become densely populated, and opens out an entirely new country, towards which our own population and the emigrants are even now wending their way in tens of thousands, seeking a quiet home from the troubles of the Old World.
"The northern route contemplated has a delightful climate, suitable for the full development of the human frame, and all the accompaniments of civilization. It has been found by examination to be practicable throughout the whole distance, and at its western terminus there are excellent ports. All the great barriers on other routes are on this line either modified into gentle hills or rent asunder, and the way is thus made clear for the undertaking.
The construction of this road across the headwaters of all the great rivers, touching the limits of their navigation, will at once satisfy
any one of the advantages to be derived from it, adding to the inland commerce by transporting the products brought on this iron river' from the remotest ports of the globe to all the cities, towns, and landings on the vast waters of the Mississippi and its tributaries. At the same time it would connect with all our seaports by the railroads that are now constructing towards its northern and eastern terminus, while it would also be the means of furnishing the whole extent of our Atlantic coast, including even Canada, with all they desired of the productions of the east, and carrying back in return their merchandise in exchange. It must be readily seen that all parts of our extended country would equally participate in its advantages, and none more so than the Southern and Western States, whose railroads and navigable waters would all be so many paths by which the trade that must flow through such a channel would circulate. The general government would be equally benefited, by the increased value it would give to all the public lands on either side of it.
The terminus on Lake Michigan would enable the large supplies required for the persons employed, as well as the materials, to be forwarded with great economy as well as facility of transportation, and secure the necessary timber for the construction of the road. country for the first eight hundred miles is admirably adapted for the purpose, offering no impediments whatever; and after this distance such a route will offer as to place the whole country on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains subservient to its use and support, a portion of the country, from the accounts of those who have visited it, surpassed by none in fruitfulness or climate. The passage through the mountains is known to be without difficulty, and the course to the point of its destination almost a direct line until the lower waters of the Columbia are reached, when a short divergence brings it to a terminus on the waters of Puget's Sound-as I before remarked, one of the most noble estuaries in the world; without a danger of any kind to impede navigation, with a surrounding country capable of affording all kinds of supplies, harbors without obstructions at any season of the year, and a climate unsurpassed in salubrity."
Having thus ascertained which route is to be preferred, if a land route is attempted at all, it remains next to lay before the reader in the least possible compass, the arguments offered against attempting a communication with China or the Pacific generally, by any routes across the Isth
A correspondent of the New York Herald has communicated to that paper
of June 5th, 1849, information in regard to the route by which a railroad from Memphis would be taken over the mountains to the harbor of San Diego. He tells us that Lieutenant Beall, who has travelled the several overland routes, describes the Gila River route as impracticable for a railroad; that a railroad along the summits of the Palisades on the highlands of the Hudson, passing the inequalities by bridges, would be more feasible than a railway down the valley of the Gila. This river flows for miles through deep and narrow channels or canones. Precipitous cliffs overhang its waters, and the rocks form a chain of peaks and precipices along its entire length. We may, therefore, conclude with certainty that a road passing through Santa Fe, to the Pacific will never be attempted. Memphis will consequently be no longer thought of as a point of departure for the main trunk of the Pacific railroad, though it is extremely probable that in the event of the completion of the main trunk from Lake Michigan, branches will be constructed to unite with it both from Memphis and from St. Louis.
But of all the arguments in favor of the northern route across the continent from Michigan to Puget Sound, none are more satisfactory than those derived from a comparison of distances; for if any person interested in the inquiry will take an artificial globe, and measure with a string or a pair of compasses, making short steps, the various distances from the British Channel to Canton, he will find that by the overland route from New York, or Boston, to Puget Sound across the Continent, the distance to be passed over in direct travel, is some 2000 miles less than the voyage, either by the Cape of Good Hope, the Isthmus of Panama, Cape Horn, or the Mediterranean.
The calculations of Professor Wittish, of London University, which were made for a proposed canal at Nicaragua, give the distance from England to Valparaiso, via Cape Horn, at 9400 miles, 117 days of ordinary sailing; but the distance from England to Valparaiso by the proposed canal at Nicaragua, would be 442 miles less, and 11 days sooner in consequence of a more favorable navigation. A route across Panama would be
300 miles nearer still; but this difference of time and of distance would not pay the expense of the delay, the breaking up of the cargo, the land or canal carriage across the Isthmus, the employment of another set of vessels on the Pacific side, and the division of the profits of the voyage in consequence between carriers by land and two different carriers by water. To this, add that in consequence of a more favorable trade winds and currents, the homeward voyage by Cape Horn would be 168 miles nearer than that by the Isthmus.
If these calculations are to be trusted British commerce will always prefer the Cape route to Valparaiso. Again, by the computations of Professor Wittish, the distance from Sydney in New Holland to England, via Cape Horn, with favorable sailing is 13,830 miles; time 136 days; whereas by a canal at Nicaragua it is 15,848 miles; time 138 days, the sailing being more favorable; to which must be added transportation dues, the breaking up of cargoes, the employment of another set of vessels, and the consequent division of profits among several hands.
Let us now examine Professor Wittish's calculations of distance from England to Singapore in Hindoostan, via the Cape of Good Hope with favorable winds. Comparing these with the same voyage, via the canal at Nicaragua, also during favorable winds, the first is 13,350, the second is 17,738 miles; the time of the first is 128, and of the second 131 days. These differences against the route by the proposed canal, with the tolls and the expenses of transshipment &c., make it almost certain that English commerce will always make the voyage to India by the Cape of Good Hope. To this, add also, that the homeward voyage by the Cape of Good Hope is 17 days less than the outward voyage.
We are next to examine the comparison of routes from China to England, by the Cape of Good Hope with favorable sailing. The voyage from China to England by the Cape of Good Hope is 13,370 miles; favorable time 107 days. From China to England by the Isthmus canal, favorable sailing 15,557 miles; time 129 days. A difference of 2228 miles, and 22 days against the Isthmus route, with
the additional drawbacks of tolls, transshipment, &c. These differences turn, and must always turn, the stream of English commerce with China upon the way of the Cape of Good hope, until some shorter and less expensive route can be found, than any of the proposed railways or canals across the narrow space between the two American continents.
Another objection more fatal than any of those stated, lies in the deterioration of transported goods by the damp and hot atmosphere of the tropics. Even the teas and silks of China would be materially injured by a detention in the land carriage across the Isthmus, while for breadstuffs and other perishable commodities, the transportation by that route will be so difficult as to preclude all hopes of a regular commerce. The effects of climate upon commodities are a great element in all the calculations of commerce, and in the present instance they are the most important of all.
Should a railroad be made across the Isthmus, it must depend for its support upon the commerce of the Pacific shores with the Atlantic shores of both the continents, and will never become the channel of the commerce of Europe with Asia. Although, therefore, it may be an enterprise of the greatest importance to the inhabitants of Chili and Peru, and in the absence of a northern route, to those of northern California and Oregon, its advantages fall so far behind those which must follow the proposed route from Michigan, we do not feel obliged to dwell upon them at present. A few words in regard to the consequences to be looked for, from the opening of an easy communication with the Pacific across the northern part of the continent, and we have done.
The first effects of the enterprise would be seen in the conversion of a long strip of forest and prairie, stretching from the foot of Lake Michigan to the wilderness beyond the Mississippi, into a populous and cultivated region, held by tillers of the soil. And in this connection, we may add, that the terms of the contract for the road may be so ordered in favor of the actual settler as to defend him against speculators and monopolists, and, if that is deemed best, to protect him against the ultimate
severities of the law. The new settlements will be in constant communication with all parts of the Union, by the grand routes of railroads diverging toward every part, and by the steam navigation of the lakes. Every particle of corn, or other products, not required for consumption on the spot, can be instantly exchanged for eastern manufactures, or for southern products, by the way, either of the lakes, or the Mississippi. By a direct communication with coal-bearing regions, supplies of coal can be furnished for the fuel of the inhabitants of the prairies, which are now uninhabited from the want of that commodity.
A rapid advance of population will soon carry the road over the prairies, and the consequent advances in the price of lands along the route will furnish abundant means for bridging the Columbia at Wallawalla, and thence by easy grades completing the connection with Puget Sound and the Pacific. The instant of the completion of the road would be the epochal moment of a grand movement in the commerce of the world. A fleet of merchant vessels would be found assembled at the terminus, and a transfer, or perhaps a barter would commence at that point, in which every species of commodity of Europe, Asia and America, would find its equivalent in some other. gold of California, the manufactures of New England, and the finer and more costly products of France and Great Britain; the sugars and other products of the South, the corn of Wisconsin, Canada, and all the lake countries, the iron of Pennsylvania, the furs of the Rocky Mountains, the teas and silks, and all other products of China, all would meet at the grand terminus of the world's road. Here the various Asiatic commodities would be placed in cars which would convey them to every point of the Atlantic coast. Here too, cargoes would be assorted for South Sea and South American commerce. At this point, which would become the caravanserai of the continent, the half-way house between Asia and America, a grand commercial city would soon arise, the capital of the Pacific States and the civilizer and merchant of the East.
But in dwelling upon the disadvantages of other routes, sufficient, indeed, without
further inquiry to put them out of compe- | advantages of a temperate climate, would tition with the present one, we had nearly forgotten to mention the great saving of distance and time, by the route advocated by Mr. Whitney. The distance from the foot of Lake Michigan to Puget Sound, with all the windings of the emigrant route, is about 2,195 miles.
turn the entire stream of Asio-European commerce across the continent of North America. Packages for China, made up for the convenience of railroad transportation, would be carried across the continent in 8 days; and to China by steam, in 25 days, which, with 14 days transport from England to America, makes 47 days from England to China with merchandise; whereas, at present, a favorable voyage requires 107 days. Saving more than half the time, sending his goods through a temperate climate, and escaping the dangers of a voyage about the stormy Capes, the English trader would not hesitate in his choice between the two routes. To this country would accrue the double profit of merchandise conveyed to and brought from China. It is unnecessary to dwell longer upon the plan of Mr. Whitney; its boldness, feasibility, simplicity, and economy, must commend it to universal favor.