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Veins of the baser metals are reported to occur on the peninsula, but many a year must pass before they can be of any value to the country. Coal has been searched for unsuccess. fully. I heard a rumor of its occurrence near the Ojo de Liebre, in the vicinity of Scammon's Lagoon, but the rocks there are post-pliocene. It may prove to be asphaltum such as is found in Sånta Bárbara and Los Angeles Counties, California, and which has been repeatedly mistaken for coal by ignorant persons.
Sulphur exists in small quantities about Moleje, and is said to be found abundantly in the vicinity of the volcano of the Virgins. (iypsum occurs scattered over many parts of the table-land, and in sheets in the rocks, especially on the western slope. It is most abundant, however, about Moleje, where extravagant stories have been told about its quantity.
Salt-lakes exist on Carmen Island, at San Quentin, and the Ojo de Liebre, sufficiently extensive to be one day a source of great revenue ; but so long as the salt has to pass two custom-houses on its way to a market, the duties will consume all the profits.
Along the western coast, in almost every large bay, whalers have been in the habit of spending a whole season at a time for many years past. Every season finds from three to a dozen whaling-vessels in Magdalena Bay and its adjoining estuary, and the proceeds of a season are so regular that year after year the same vessel is found at its accustomed berth. The principal bays frequented by the vessels engaged in this business are Magdalena, and the two like bays, one below San Ignacio, and the other by the Ojo de Liebre, the latter known as Scammon’s Lagoon. This opens by a narrow mouth into the broad open bay of San Sebastian Viscaino ; the other, which has no other name than La Laguna, opens into Ballenas Bay.
Other parts, such as San Juanico, Sto. Domingo, and others farther north, are visited frequently, but are not the sites of regular fisheries. Besides the whale-fisheries, the whole Pacific side of the peninsula furnishes unusual facilities for seal-hunters. Seals swarm by myriads everywhere, and this branch of industry has been heretofore almost entirely neglected in Lower California. Nor are these all; shoals of fish frequent these shores in such abun. dance, that the surface is often agitated for hundreds of yards by a school playing almost within arm's reach of the sands. On either coast there are countless spots where fisheries could be established with all the facilities of a good beach, and excellent port and unlimited quantities of salt. Besides these, there is another source of revenue in the waters, not to be despised—the immense beds of pearl oysters. They are principally in the gulf. Pearl-fishing has been for over a hundred years a regular business, and one of the most profitable in Lower California. It is estimated that in the last century and a half upward of five and a half million dollars' worth of pearls, and pearl shells bave been taken in the Californian waters.
The fishing commences in May and continues to October. It is conducted by companies, the divers being principally Yaqui Indians from the other side of the gulf, who receive, in addition to a trifling pay, a portion of the proceeds of the fishery.
Between their ignorance and the rascality of their employers, the poor fellows, who do the work at the risk of their lives, come in for a very small share of the profits.
Diving-bells and submarine armor have been tried at great expense, but ibeir use has been abandoned. They could not compete with the naked Indians in cheapness, nor rapidity of work.
AGRICULTURE. With the great extent of desert and rocky land that covers so much of the territory, Lower California can never aspire to a high rank as an agricultural country. But there is no picture without its brightest side. Even in the worst parts, the weary traveller, after journeying day after day over rocks or sands, will suddenly find himself in the midst of a little Eden. In the most inhospitable parts of the peninsula, these little valleys are scattered through the mountains, as if to redeem the country from the bad name that all its neighbors scem to agree in giving it. It is difficult to imagine a spot more beautiful than Santa Anita in San José valley; more fertile than the neighborhood of San José or San Ignacio, more unexpected than Comondu or Purisima, or with a climate more perfect than Lower California.
There is hardly a fruit, flower, or vegetable that will not grow in the open air in any valley in the country, and, of those that are cultivated, there is hardly one that requires care beyond a little irrigation.
In the granite mountains of the south are innumerable valleys, all capable of cultivation, all with fertile soil and most of them with an abundance of good water. The greater part of these are occupied, but there is still an immense quantity of unoccupied land, capable of being brought into an available condition with a trifling outlay of capital.
The immense plains northeast of Magdalena Bay are covered with rich soil, and only require wells to bring water to the surface for irrigation, to render them available. There is, in this one tract, land enough to support a population of many thousands, on which there is
not a single inhabitant. Among the table hills to the east of this plain are many small val. leys with good little tracts of bottom-land and plenty of water. Most of these are without inhabitants. A few such as Comondu, Purísima, Sta. Cruz, etc., are occupied, and in some, such as the first two of these, there are populations of twenty or thirty families.
In the vicinity of Loreto, especially along the coast southward to Chuenca, there is much good land, without occupants, because there are no springs or running streams on it. Water can be obtained by wells, and there is no good reason why, if, required, it should not be all cultivated. This is also the case with the valley of San Andreas farther north, and the valley south of Moleje, through which our road ran before entering that town.
San Ignacio, with its vineyards, its orchards of figs, oranges, and olives, and its forest of palms, is enough to reconcile one to the relinquishment of ambition and the adoption of the dream-life of the tropics ; while, a little farther north, in Sto. Tomas, San Vicente, Guadalupe, and a dozen other valleys, the farmer can cultivate his fields of grain, live in the shadow of his own vine and fig tree, or, if he prefers it, shade his house with the palm of the tropics, and the oak and sycamore of more northern climes.
GRAZING. At the time of our passing through the country, with the exception of some spots which rather proved the rule, the whole country was clothed with an abundance of good grass. But this was an unusually good year. There are times when, in all the lower grounds, the grass will be so killed by drought that were it not for trees, such as mesquit and lipua, all the animals would die of starvation. But even in the dryest seasons, these trees, as well as some smaller ones and bushes, retain their freshness, and the horses, mules, and horned cattle feed on them with avidity.
In the higher table-mountains from San Ignacio to San Borja, the grass is said to be always good, on account of the dews and fogs, and cattle flourish here when there is not a mouthful of grass on the lower lands. North of Rosario, the forage-plants are similar to those of Upper California, and the climate is more like that of the adjoining regions north than south. It is said that in the years 1863 and 1864, when a large proportion of the stock of Upper California died of starvation, there was little or no suffering south of San Diego. The greater part of this region is suitable for sheep-raising, the dense thorny thickets of the south having given place to a less aggressive growth, and the mate being sufficiently mild to permit a good crop of wool.
CONCLUSION. Note.- This chapter is ntended rather for the private consideration of the Company, than for publication.
To any person who has read the terms of the grant, made by the Mexican Government to the Company, and has then seen the country covered by this grant, but one conclusion can present itself-the grantees have been woefully deceived. The whole transaction is but little short of a deliberate swindle. Lower California possesses but two pretty good tracts of country, the extremes, but both of these have been carefully excluded from the grant, which covers only the rough mountains and rocky plains, with a comparatively small proportion of available land, and that was considered valueless by the Mexicans. The only parts of which the Company can avail itself are, first, the little slip south of Loreto, which is too small for the enterprise contemplated by the grant; and, second, the broad plains bordering the estuary north and northeast from Magdalena Bay. On this tract there is no water at the surface, though, wherever wells have been sunk, water of good quality has been found in from 10 to 18 feet. The whole plain is covered with a dense growth of cactus, and has little or no wood. To send a party of colonists here, without previous preparation of the land at great expense, would be criminal. The result needs no prophet to foretell it. The history of the twenty-seven similar attempts made in Lower California tell only too plainly how it would result. Before a colony? can be successfully founded, pioneers must be sent to dig wells, clear ground, get a portion of it under cultivation, and prepare it, so that from the time of landing the colonists can have among themselves the elements of self-sustenance. Not only this, but, on account of the bitter hatred of the Mexicans toward our own people, a man of administrative ability, strong will, and, above all, intimate acquaintance with the Mexican character, must be placed at the head of the colony, with ample discretionary power, and well sustained by his employers in the collisions which will almost inevitably occur.
In thus writing so plainly, I do not wish to be understood as guilty of the impertinence of dictating to, or advising the Company about its own business affairs. I was employed to examine the country, and ascertain and report all facts which would have a bearing on the interests of the Company. The above conclusions have forced themselves so strongly upon me that I have considered it my duty to report them, feeling confident that the New York and Lower California Colonization Company would know how far to accept them and how much of them to disregard. .
WM. M. GABB. SAN FRANCISCO, June 15, 1867.
REPORT OF CAPTAIN C. M. SCAMMON, OF THE U. S. REVE
NUE SERVICE, ON THE WEST COAST OF LOWER CALIFORNIA.
From the boundary between the United States and Lower California the west coast presents a bold shore, with precipitous cliffs, or high mountain-slopes, as far south as Cape San Quentin, and, as laid down on the charts now in use, is in latitude 31° 05'06" N., longitude 116° 40' 33" W. An indentation here occurs in the coast line, and the face of the country for a few miles toward the interior, and southward to Cape Bajo, is less elevated ; about the port of San Quentin, the low sand-hills, covered scantily with a stunted growth of bushes, intermixed with cactus and prickly pear, or moderately elevated hills of volcanic origin, give this portion of the country a barren and uninviting aspect.
Salt-springs, at the head of a lagoon 16 miles from the sea, where are erected six or eight houses and shanties to accommodate the salt-bands, constitute San Quentin proper. The salt is collected from January to August; this establishment, it is said, car be made to yield 1,000 to 1,500 tons annually. Vessels of small capacity usually go for the salt, as the depth of water on the bar is not over three fathoms, and the channel narrow. The usual number residing at San Quentin is six or eight individuals, who are compelled to go for fresh water some six miles across the lagoon. Rich copper-mines, reported to be not over 30 miles from the town, are now about to be opened.
From Cape Bajo to Passaedo Blanco Bay, the same bold coast continues, except to the south of San Geronimo Island, in latitude 30° 16' N., a distance of 10 or 15 miles; shoal water is found extending several miles from the shore, which is marked by kelp, in places growing in thick beds that may be seen some distance from the mast-head of a vessel at sea; the soundings vary from 5, 10, to 15 fathoms. From the last-named bay to the south side of the large open bay of San Sebastian Viscaino, moderately elevated land meets the coast, diversified occasionally by low, rolling sand-hills; midway between Passaedo Blanco Bay and latitude 28' N., lies a projecting point called Lagoon Head; it appears like an island when seen at sea a distance of 15 miles or more: from this point southward to the extreme southern limit of San Sebastian Viscaino Bay, a low sandy desert country presents itself, reaching the moun. tain-range of the interior, a distance of from 20 to 50 miles. Immediately at the shore line, low, drifting sand-hills predominate, behind which lie three lagoons, bearing names given by whalemen, as follows: Upper Lagoon, Black Warrior Lagoon, and Scammon's Lagoon. Upper Lagoon, the most northern of the three, is but a few miles in extent, and has a narrow entrance, with 10 feet of water on the bar at high tide. The American schooner Elsie, of 12 or 15 tons, is the only vessel known to have dropped anchor in it. Black Warrior Lagoon is said to be 15 miles long, varying in width from three to five miles; it is fronted by a sandbar, as is invariably the case with all the lagoons on the California coast. The channel is tortuous, but vessels of 300 tons have passed in, drawing 13 feet, the depth being equal to that of Scammon's Lagoon bar. Several vessels resorted to Black Warrior Lagoon, thinking the whales would come there as well as in other lagoons; but, strange as it may appear, it was not a favorite haunt, and I believe but one whale has ever been captured there. In the year 1859 the American whaling-bark Black Warrior was lost in this lagoon, while attempting to tow out: this disaster gave rise to the name. Scammon's Lagoon was first commercially known in 1858; the passage into it is lined by continuous breakers. On the south side, forming a curve that extends four miles from the heads of the harbor, reaching to the bar that bas three fathoms depth of water on it in ordinary tides, detached breakers on the north plainly mark that side of the passage, it being of sufficient width to afford a good beating-channel for a vessel of 300 tons, drawing 12 feet. The brig Boston, with the schooner Marin as tender, on a whaling, seal, and sea-elephant voyage, were the first vessels that traversed this hitherto unknown whaling-ground. At that time the waters were alive with whales, porpoises, and fish of many varieties; turtle and seal basked upon the shores of low islands studding the lagoon; and game of many species was so abundant that shoals of acres in extent, left bare by the receding tide, would be closely covered with geese, duck, snipe, and other species of sea-fowl that are found along the coast. The surrounding country for miles from its shores is a sandy desert, of decaying trap formation, with occasional clusters of dwarf shrubbery, and the uni. versal cactus and prickly pear, struggling, between an arid climate and sterile soil, to maintain existence.
On the south and southwest sides are seen high and boulder-like peaks, named Sta. Clara.
Between them and the sea is a broken range that separates the lagoon from St. Bartolomé Bay; from the bar to the extreme end of it is a distance of 35 miles, varying in width from four to 12 miles. A good channel is found along the south shore, reaching to near the head, where is found an extensive salt-field, called Ojo Liebre. From the northern boundary of the lagoon to the north side of the channel it is much cut up with sand-shoals and low islands, the latter being the breeding places of seals and sea-fowls. The whales found in the lagoon are the species known as the California Gray. From 1868 to 1861, many whaling-vessels resorted thither in the winter months, and a large amount of oil was taken during that time, the aggregate amounting to 22,250 barrels; valuing the oil at $15 per barrel, it amounts to $333,750. At the present time, however, so few whales are found there that it has been abandoned as a whaling-ground; the decaying carcasses and bleaching bones strewed along the shores give evidence of the havoc made by the most enterprising and energetic class of seamen that sail under our national flag. The salt-fields of Ojo Lebre are capable of supplying an almost unlimited quantity of excellent salt. Vessels of 400 tons' burden can find good anchorage within five miles of where the commodity can be embarked in lighters of 25 to 60 tons' capacity ; every thing for man's subsistence, except fish, turtle, and sea-fowl, must come from the interior, or be imported by sea. The nearest fresh water is seven miles distant, and is of poor quality. A year or two after the whaling commenced, vessels were dispatched from San Francisco, Upper California, for cargoes of salt; the first two, after cruising a length of time off the desired port, returned with the account that no such lagoon existed, or, if it did, no channel could be found to get into it. A third vessel was sent with a master determined to either find the place or“ break something;” he lost his vessel between Black Warrior and Upper Lagoon. Subsequently the late Captain Collins, of San Francisco, a gentleman of much experience, and a skilful scaman, obtaining the most reliable information at hand, sailed for the place that seemed to baffle the efforts of his predecessors to find. In due time he arrived at the desired haven, without difficulty procured a cargo of salt, and returned to San Francisco. These voyages were followed up for a length of time, but the low price of the article compelled the proprietors to abandon the trade. A series of disasters seems to have occurred in the vicinity of these lagoons somewhat remarkable when considering the small number of vesseis frequenting them, and the uniform good weather that usually prevails. The first was the British whale-ship Tower Castle, bound from the Pacific to Europe, wrecked on the south side of the mouth of Scammon's Lagoon, in 1836. From the meagre data obtained, it is supposed many things were saved from the ship. The crew built a comfortable house, and were well provided with cooking-utensils, etc. An officer, with a part of the men, in a boat, improved a favorable opportunity to leave for the nearest port to obtain a vessel to take off their companions and whatever was of value that had been saved of either ship or cargo, but before their return the supply of fresh water became exhausted, none could be found by digging, and a fruitless search of the back country for springs or standing pools in the ravines only hastened their end. On the return of their comrades to rescue them, a journal kept by the officer in charge revealed the sad intelligence that one after another had died from thirst, and the last writer makes mention of feeling the same synptoms as the others—“It is but reasonable to expect that my time will come soon”—this seems to have been the purport of the last lines penned by the remaining survivor of the ill-fated party.
In the winter of 1859 the American barl: Warrior, Captain Brown, was totally lost at the mouth of the lagoon which bears the name as before mentioned. No lives were lost by this disaster. Captain B. had a small schooner for a tender to his ship, which proved doubly valuable at the time. A number of vessels were lying at anchor under Lagoon Head, but a short distance off, the officers and crews of which were ready to give any assistance required, so that no suffering occurred by this mishap. The brig Advance, from San Francisco, California, bound to Scammon's Lagoon, for salt, was wrecked between Black Warrior and Upper Lagoon. In 1861 the ship Speedwell grounded on a sunken rock when at anchor in the lagoon, and sunk; she was sold at auction as she lay, purchased by the masters of two whaling-vessels, who, with their ships' companies, raised the vessel, temporarily repaired the bottom, and sailed for Honolulu, where she was again sold.
Following along the south shore of the bay of San Sebastian Viscaino to the westward, the mainland terminates in a moderately elevated cape, named Pt. St. Eugenio, thence to San Bartolomé, or Bartholomew Bay. The coast makes a curve that is named Frenchman's Bay, on account of a French ship being wrecked there many years since. St. Bartolomé Bay is an excellent harbor; the north head, according to observations made by Sir E. Belcher, R. N., is in latitude 27° 40' N., longitude 114° 51' 20' W. The anchoring-ground, however, to be sheltered from all winds, is not large, but could accommodate three or four vessels. A large number may anchor on the northern shore, sheltered from all winds, except from the southwest. The face of the country here is high and broken, abounding in many varieties of trap-rock. The boundary of the bay to the south is a low gravel and shingle belt, connecting the high ridge that forms the western shore. A small patch of low, sandy land, intermixed with broken shells and rock, lies on the northeast side of the bay; and immediately back of this, again, you come to the same broken country, with but few traces of vegetation.
St. Bartolomé is the Turtle Bay of the whalers, and formerly was much frequented by the whalemen, who availed themselves of this fine harbor to “break out and cooper their oil,"
refit ship, and change the routine of the whale-ship by catching turtle and crawfish, with which the waters of the bay swarmed. Wood may be had here, in case of extreme necessity, by searching for small, green bashes, in the low land about the eastern shore; the roots of this bush are found running along near the surface of the ground, eight or ten feet long, and often six inches in diameter; it burns well, and produces the required heat.
At the time sailing-vessels were plying between San Francisco and Panama, occasionally one of the large number that were in distress for the necessary articles of provisions, put into Port St. Bartolomé, as laid down on some charts, hoping to have their wants, to some extent, relieved. One vessel is said to have anchored here with nearly all her crew down with the scurvy, and several of them died. Numbers of hapless adventurers have found a final resting-place along the shores of the inner bay; and on an islet that breaks the ocean swell in front of the harbor, are found grave-boards, some rudely carved, giving the date of interment, other graves only marked by rough head-stones. Countless numbers of birds nightly cover the ground above them. The nearest watering-place to this bay is on Cedros Island, which will be spoken of hereafter. The same bold, rough coast continues to the southward, as far as the island of San Roque, in latitude 27' 14' N., longitude 114° 28' W.; from thence the coast presents a more inviting appearance, the front-land being of moderate elevation, and in places nearly level, or gradually ascending toward the high ranges of the peninsula, and its green appearance gives evidence of a producing soil. This description of country extends along the coast near to Point Abreojos, which is in latitude 26° 42', longitude 113° 42' W.; then again occurs a sandy coast, behind which are found small lagoons, with passages into them from the sea, that will only admit the smallest craft, or ordinary open boats, in very smooth weather at high tide; the shore line at this point makes a sharp turn, running to the northeast, a distance of 28 miles, then turns abruptly again to the southeast, forming the open bay of Ballenas. The soundings of this bay are quite regular, reaching a long way off shore, gradually decreasing to three fathoms within a mile of the beach ; with the strong coast winds a heavy swell sets in, that causes a high surf along its shores. Whales of the humpback species formerly made this a favorite feeding-ground on account of myriads of small fish being found there. In fine weather countless numbers of pelican were seen making awkward plunges to catch their swimming food.
Off Point Abreojos, an outlying reef of rocks extends six miles. Abreojos, or "Open-youreye Point," seems å fitting name for it; there is a passage between the reef and the main, that be used in case of necessity. In latitude 26° 40' N., longitude 113° 15' W., Ballenas Lagoon connects itself with the
It was seen by Captain Pool, of the whaling-bark Sarah Warren, in 1858. He examined the mouth of it in hopes of finding a safe passage in, but at that time did not succeed. In the summer of 1859 he again visited it, in company with another vessel. At this time a passage was found which was deemed practicable for a vessel drawing 12 feet water. The passage is very narrow, not more than half a cable's length in width; but at this particular place a strong land-breeze blows in the morning, and the same may be said of the seabreeze that comes from the opposite direction in the afternoon. The regularity of these winds throughout the year is surprising, when it is well known that no dependence can be placed in the land-brecze at any other point along the whole coast; and were it not for the certainty of these winds the passage into this lagoon would not be practicable for sailing-vessels. The following December the Sarah Warren, with the schooner Nevada as tender, and the barks Ocean Bird and Carib, with schooners A. M. Simpson and Kate, anchored off the lagoon. The Kate was the first to pass the bar, and was probably the first vessel that ever sailed in those waters. In a few days the whole fleet, having a favorable chance, also passed the bar, and entered the unexplored waters in safety. The main branch of the lagoon is two miles wide at the mouth, running northerly about three miles, then turns westerly, increasing in width to four miles, terminating 14 to 18 miles from the bar. A small branch, making from the south side of the entrance, and taking a more easterly course, runs through a low country, a distance of 12 or 15 miles, where it reaches a high table-land. Another smail estero, 15 miles farther south, emptying into the sea, joins the southern branch of the main lagoon. Near the head of this fine sheet of water are two low islands, each not over two miles long and less than one broad. The upper one, on its highest elevation, has a growth of green bushes, which affords a pleasant contrast with the surrounding country; the southern one is quite barren. Flocks of gray gulls literally covered its shell beaches; pelicans and cormorants filled the air and surrounding waters ; hawks were building their high nests of dry sticks; around the shores huge turtle in large numbers lay sleeping, and shoals of cow-fish and porpoise played their undulating gambols. All gave evidence of its being unfrequented by any human being.
The fleet of vessels that had arrived came for the purpose of whaling. About the 1st of January the whales (California grays) came in in large numbers, and the whaling commenced with the most fluttering prospects. Soon after, several large vessels appeared off the bar, but of too heavy a draught to warrant them getting in safely. However, one captain, who did not fancy looking on to see others "filling their ships," decided to take the chances. The ship was lightened, and every precaution taken to prevent accident, but when the attempt was made to get over the bar the vessel grounded, and remained for several days thumping at high tide, and changing from side to side of the narrow passage, getting a little farther in occa