100 Years Ago: September 1922
This is the ninety-second entry in my series of illustrated abridgements of one-hundred-year-old National Geographic Magazines
The first article in this month’s issue is entitled “A Longitudinal Journey Through Chile” and was written by Harriet Chalmers Adams, author of such articles as “Picturesque Parmaribo”, “Kaleidoscopic La Paz”, “The First Transandine Railroad from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso”, “Cuzco, America’s Ancient Mecca”, and “Rio de Janeiro, in the Land of Lure”, in the National Geographic Magazine. The article contains sixty black-and-white photographs, of which, thirteen are full-page in size. The article also contains a sketch map of Chile on page 223.
Sketch Map courtesy of Philip Riviere
Friends of the author’s party in Antofagasta, on the arid coast of northern Chile urged them to continue the journey south by sea. It would have been much easier than the long, dusty road trip. But some years before they had made that voyage, visiting the ports of that elongated country. It extended through nearly thirty-nine degrees of latitude and was exceeded in length only by Canada and Brazil. So, the party decided to travel on the longitudinal railway from its beginning, in the dreary desert, to its dropping-off place, on the wooded shores on the Gulf of Ancud. Few, save the Chileans themselves, made that comprehensive journey, from the rainless regions of the north to the rich agricultural heart of the country, and on through the magnificent forest and river lands to that enchanting mountain and lake region unrivaled in beauty the world over. Still farther south, reached by coasting vessels, lied the wild territory of Chiloe, with its denticulated coast and forest-fringed fjords; forbidding Magallanes, a network of channels and archipelagoes, with majestic glaciers; and little-known Tierra del Fuego, whose pasture lands supported two million heavily fleeced sheep. At 2,627 miles long, Chile was the only South American country lying altogether west of the Andes. Placed east to west across the U. S., its sword-like body, varying in width from 105 to 223 miles, stretched from New York City to San Francisco, and extended over 50 miles into the Pacific Ocean. Geographically, it was much like our Pacific coast in reverse. Alaskan fjords were paralleled in the Magallanes country. Where we had northern forests, Chile was arid; where we had southern deserts, Chile was forested. The long agricultural valley, alternating between grainfields and vineyards, corresponded with the “Sunny San Joaquin” in California. The climate of the more densely inhabited portions of that southern republic was not unlike the sparkling, sundrenched atmosphere of our own Golden West.
Their Antofagasta friends had a garden in the desert. The author’s bedroom window, high up in the tower, commanded a view of the town. Walls and roofs, as colorless as sand, were unrelieved by tree or a blade of grass; yet, just under her window, the barren soil had been touched by the magic wand of irrigation. There, firs and eucalyptus towered above bamboos and oleanders, and pomegranate and fig trees, heavy with fruit. In the shade of the grape arbor, the breakfast table was laid. Water was brought 250 miles by pipeline from the Bolivian Andes. Irrigation in those lateral coastal valleys, lying between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, dated back to pre-Spanish days. Then as now [in 1922], agriculture was dependent on the streams flowing seaward from the Andes. In 1922, the province was in dispute between Peru and Chile. In Antofagasta, the author’s party boarded the eastbound train on its way to the Bolivian highlands, changing to the Chilean longitudinal sixty miles inland on the pampa. The longitudinal’s beginning was at Pisagua, a port north of Antofagasta. Arica, still farther north in disputed territory, was not yet connected to the Chilean railroad system, being beyond the nitrate zone. Uninterrupted rail communications from north to south was finally completed eight years prior [to 1922], In the 1,863 miles of track from Pisagua to Puerto Montt, on the Gulf of Ancud, three different gauges were employed. The government owned most of the road, and was gradually taking over the northern section, built to bring nitrate and other minerals to the coast, and paid for by the British and Belgians. The landscape during the first two days of travel was a drab, monotonous treeless plain. They were too far inland to see the restless, blue Pacific. To the east, the bleak, gray hills shut off the snow-crowned Andes. Near the railroad the author saw deeply furrowed patches of white earth resembling old salt deposits. Those marked the site of former nitrate workings. Nitrate of soda was Chile’s chief source of revenue, and the country had a virtual monopoly. The nitrate deposits lied from 15 to 90 miles inland from the coast, at an altitude from 3,000 to 13,000 feet. Theories varied on the nitrate’s origin.
The process of nitrate production was simple. The loose rock (caliche) was carried by mule teams, or cars suspended on cables to the little railways, and on to the crushing plants. After being broken into small pieces, it was thrown into iron vats and boiled until the dissolved saltpeter could be filtered. When crystalized, the salitre, or nitrate of soda, was cleaned, packed in bags, and sent to the nearest port. The majority went to the U. S., to enrich our soil and to manufacture explosives. Iodine, precipitated from the nitrate solution, was the most important byproduct of the caliche rock. By agreement among the nitrate establishments, iodine production was limited to every sixth year, that the market would not be overstocked. Operated by Chilean and British capital, 129 of those nitrate establishments were scattered over the pampa back of Pisagua, Iquique, and Antofagasta, their tall chimneys dominating the plain. At night, from the southbound train, a myriad of twinkling lights of those strange towns spoke of life and industry in the region. At a dreary, sunbaked station, the British manager of one of those stations boarded their train; he was going south “just to see it rain”. His particular settlement, with 2,000 or more inhabitants, was a little world in itself, miles from its nearest neighbor. According to authorities, the explored nitrate region contained sufficient mineral to last 240 years at the current [in 1922] rate of production. The nitrate workers were mostly Chilean, with a few Bolivians and Peruvians. They never imported coolies or African slaves, as had some other Latin American countries. Alcoholism was slowly but surely sapping the vitality of the laborers. There was a growing movement in favor of prohibition throughout Chile. The second night out of Antofagasta they reached Copiapo, where they left the Valparaiso Express to travel thereafter on “local” day trains, stopping off in many Chilean towns all the way down to the Gulf of Ancud.
Copiapo was Chile’s most historic town. The little stream that bordered it varied from nearly dry to overflowing. It was their first oasis after crossing the parched desert of the Atacama. To travelers, that strip of meadowland was a God-given sight. In the fifteenth century, the army of the Incan ruler, Tupac Yupanqui marched to Copiapo from Peru to conquer the tribes of northern Chile. In 1535, Diego de Almagro, a colleague of Pizarro, travelled the same route with his army of Spanish and Peruvian soldiers. Old Spanish chronicles told of the suffering endured by Almagro’s men on their six-month march. The desert was strewn with their bones. Almagro failed to subdue the southern natives, but five years later, a Spanish army was again encamped in Copiapo, this time led by Pedro de Valdivia, who kept on south to found Santiago. During the California gold rush, Valparaiso became the great mart on the Pacific coast for men lured round the Horn. It supplied flour and other commodities to the California miners. Back then, Copiapo was an important town, sharing the European opera season with Santiago and Valparaiso. In 1851, William Wheelwright, an American, built the first railroad in South America, from the port of Caldera, 50 miles inland to Copiapo. He envisioned it extending across the Andes and on to the Atlantic, but it never got far beyond Copiapo. Wheelwright also gave Chile its telegraphic system. After failing to interest American capital for a steamship line between New York and Valparaiso, he turned to England and inaugurated in the early 1860s the first steam service between the west coast and Europe. In 1832, a silver deposit was discovered near Copiapo. It was hard for the party to visualize Copiapo’s past splendor in the forlorn little town they found. Half of the buildings were in ruins, after the earthquake the previous year. From Copiapo, a trail across the desert led to the mountains. They passed the ruins of long-abandoned stone dwellings, possibly pre-Incan.
Young, as compared with other great ranges, the Andes was the giant among them. Those Heights were the home of the roving guanaco and vicuna, wild cousins of the llama and alpaca, all of cameloid stock. There soared the mighty condor. A little to the north lied a highland plateau known as the Pampa of the Ostrich, where the occasional rhea still roamed. One afternoon, they rode past a natural rock fortress with many windows. At each opening squatted a little gray viscacha, a rodent, gazing out over the plain. The fleet pampa fox and the velvety chinchilla disputed the borderland between plateau and plain. Near the railroad, they passed a chinchilla farm. Cattle were driven from Argentina into Chile over mountain passes. Through one of those passes, a railroad was planned to run west from Salta, in northwest Argentina to the Chilean nitrate desert, bringing vegetables and fruit. If that region was poor in greenery, it was rich in minerals. Metal mining dated back to the days when Chilean aborigines paid tribute to the Incas in gold and silver. Nitrate and copper were mined in 1922, and manganese, perhaps, in the future. Cobalt, nickel, lead, and Sulphur were also mined. Two American mining companies operated gigantic copper properties. A Japanese syndicate was exploring Chile’s undeveloped mineral wealth. Under the jurisdiction of the Department of Caldera, in which Copiapo was situated, was an isolated Chilean island, 2,000 miles west in the Pacific – Pascua, or Easter Island. A meteorological station was located on the island. [Seen: “the Mystery of Eastern Island”, December 1921, National Geographic]. In 1922, the archeological field of northern Chile was merely scratched. Under the drifting sands of the Atacama Desert lied the record of a pre-Incan race. Continuing south from Copiapo, little by little, the desert flora grew from tufts of grass and stunted bushes to tall algarobas and cacti. At Vallenar, they entered a wide, irrigated valley, emerald green with alfalfa, and vines heavy with luscious white grapes.
At the River Elqui, the longitudinal railway gave a twist seaward to serve the charmingly situated town of La Serena, and Coquimbo, its port. La Serena dated back to 1544. If you sailed down the Pacific coast, you said goodbye to verdure at Guayaquil; then a long stretch of desert coast through Peru and northern Chile. It was only as you neared Coquimbo that green fields greeted you. From Coquimbo, the railroad again struck inland. Two locomotives urged their train up the steep grade to the cumbre, the rack system used for some 30 miles. They entered a mountainous region where graceful palms covered the hillsides. Those palms were used for making syrup. The trees were not tapped like maples, but were felled to extract the sap. It took six days of daylight travel from Antofagasta to Calera. There they met the lateral railway into the Aconcagua Valley, connecting the town of Los Andes, at the foot of the mountain, with Valparaiso. The Aconcagua Valley was Chile’s gem, a lovely vale where a merry little river was bordered by velvety green hills. They were now in the rich agricultural region which stretched south to the Bio-Bio River. Where the coast range of the Andes dipped its toe in the sea, Valparaiso, South America’s chief port on the Pacific, rose like an amphitheater from the crescent shores. To the author, the city didn’t seem South American; there were so many of British blood that it was more like a colonial port. Like Hong Kong, Valparaiso was formed of a few level streets on land in part reclaimed from the sea, and a residential section on the hills above. Elevators on inclined planes connected the streets by the shore with those on the heights. Those lifts were the first objects in the port to claim the traveler’s attention, and the ones that dwelt longest in his memory. The harbor of Valparaiso was called a bay by courtesy. It was almost an open roadstead. Great seawalls were needed to protect the port from waves and storms.
The author was often asked what interested her most about Chile; to which she replied, “the food.” Valparaiso’s market was stocked with excellent meat – beef from Argentina; veal from Tierra del Fuego, seafood from the cold southern waters; fresh-water fish from snow-fed streams; dairy products from the southern German colony; vegetables from the central Chilean valleys; tropical fruit from Ecuador; and native wine of the best quality. Chilean seafood deserved special mention. Mussels and oysters came from beds off the island of Chiloe, and lobsters, of unusual size, from the islands of Juan Fernandez. Mas-a-Tierra, the largest of the Juan Fernandez group of three islands, lying 360 miles southwest of Valparaiso, was Robinson Crusoe’s Isle. It was there, in 1704, that Alexander Selkirk was dropped ashore from an English galley at his own request. Selkirk had dreamed of a shipwreck, and yearned for terra firma. Defoe, in his story, made the West Indies Island of Tobago the setting for his hero’s adventures, instead of the Chilean island, where Selkirk lived for more than four years. San Fernandez had the unique chonta palms and other semitropical flora. The situation of Santiago, Chile’s capital, nearly 1,800 feet above the sea, was most attractive, ranking in beauty among South American cities second only to Rio de Janeiro. At sunset from the summit of Santa Lucia, the volcano in the heart of the city, they looked down on the great city of half a million souls. As the sun set, the jagged Andean peaks were aflame. It was a sublime panorama. In that part of Chile were many mountains whose summits could be won by Alpine enthusiasts. The view of green fields, blue ocean, and surrounding ranges from one of those crests was worth the most strenuous climb. Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas, wore its eternal snow-helmet. Aviators flew past the volcano Tupungato; as of the author’s article, eight men and one woman had successfully dared the Transandine [sic] flight.
From Santiago, they once more headed south on the longitudinal. They were now in the long agricultural valley between the Coast Range and the Andes. Wheat-fields and vineyards bordered the track. Stately rows of poplar and eucalyptus enclosed the fields. At the stations were female fruit-sellers uniformed in white. They had melons for sale, big yellow melons. They passed Rancagua, a famous battleground in the war of independence. Now they came the industrial towns of Talca and Chillan, with many one-story buildings. Industrial growth was slow but certain. Beside raw material, Chile possessed unlimited water-power. From Chillan, they drove to a neighboring village to watch the country-folk play the ancient game of topio. In front of a farmhouse were large uprights with crossbars. The horsemen paired by lot and lined up in front of the bar. One of the riders pressed his horse forward against the bar, crossing and imprisoning his opponent’s mount. At the referee’s call, the game was on, and the rider of the imprisoned horse endeavored to free him. A single struggle may last an hour. In the preliminaries, a dozen such contests were simultaneous, with short rests between. A day was often consumed in determining the final victor. The national dance, the cueca, once popular throughout the country, was still in vogue in many of the villages. They sped south through the irrigated bottom lands of central Chile, with their refreshing alfalfa fields, and their browsing cattle. It was a country of large estates, where the roto toiled for the masters – the ancient feudal system. Few foreigners stopped between Santiago and Concepcion, a day or a night journey on the express. Concepcion, Chile’s third city in importance, was on the north shore of the Bio-Bio River, not far from the sea. The Bio-Bio River, the largest river on the west coast of South America, was long the dividing line between civilized Spanish Chile and the territory of the Araucanian Indians, who for more than three centuries defied their country’s invaders.
As a frontier post, and the seat of innumerable earthquakes, Concepcion had known turbulent days. Nine miles from Concepcion lied its seaport, Talcahuano, with the best harbor in southern Chile, seat of the whaling industry. Southward lied the ports of Coronel and Lota, where vast coal mines extended under the sea. When they crossed the Bio-Bio River, they entered that romantic territory known to the Chileans as the Frontera. The region was the domain of the Araucanians. They dropped off in Temuco to study and photograph that South American tribe, who for centuries remained unconquered by Inca, Spaniard, or Chilean. It was left to evil old John Barleycorn to batter down their valiant resistance. There were about 100,000 Araucanians left in southern Chile. They called themselves Mapuche, which meant “people of the country”. They lived in no particular place, being scattered though the forest from sea to the Andes; but there were more of them around the town of Temuco than in any other section. There, they farmed on a small scale, raising wheat, corn, potatoes, and apples; some raised cattle. Formerly, those Indians had a much wider range, extending across the Andes toward the Atlantic. Some of their relatives still lived on the Argentina side of the Andes [in 1922]. The Incas failed to subjugate these people, but vestiges of Peruvian culture somehow drifted down to them. From the Incas they learned the art of weaving, and woolen blankets replaced the old guanaco-skin garments. The black-and-white designs on Mapuche ponchos reminded the author of ancient Central American designs. The mass of silver ornaments worn by Mapuche women showed Incan influence. Incan influence was also noted in certain Mapuche words. The author compiled quite a list of those Incan-Mapuche words. The women clung to the of type of costume – the black or indigo belted blanket gown, pinned over the shoulders. The men had forsaken native dress, save for back in the mountains.
Mapuche customs, slowly dying out, were interesting. There was a hair-pulling contest among boys. Chueca, a ballgame with clubs was not unlike hockey. Some Mapuche girls the author met had names half Christian, half pagan. There were Catholic and Protestant missions among those Indians. In the blood of the southern Chileans flowed the strain of conqueror and conquered. As a pure-blooded stock, those Indians were doomed; but they would be absorbed rather than annililated. In Hopi-Land, in Arizona, the Indians held their annual prayer festival for rain. In Mapuche-Land, they also had a traditional prayer feast; but they prayed for dry weather. In northern Chile, they longed for rain; in southern Chile, for sunshine. In the nitrate zone, the total rainfall during the past twenty years barely totaled one inch; but in the south, annual precipitation was gauged in feet instead of inches. Sixteen feet, even eighteen feet, farther south, was the official record. Our winter was the Chilean summer. If you planned to visit, go in December or January. Then the roads were in better condition. Saddle travel was popular. Ox-teams dragged carts over the muddiest of roads. In more settled regions, corduroy roads had been constructed; but the roads on the frontier were so bad for many months of the year that ranchers were marooned during the long, wet season. In spite of rain and mud, southern Chile was one of the New World’s wonderlands. There was an almost continuous forest from the Bio-Bio to the “jumping off place” at Puerto Montt. In that forest were many lakes and clear, grass-bordered rivers. Lumbering was the important industry. Sawed timber was piled high at the railroad station. In the days when Darwin voyaged to Chile, pine boards passed for currency in the southern ports. The copihue, national flower of Chile, glorified the woods. It was the bell-shaped bloom of a vine which festooned the trees – red, pink, and white in color. Boys and girls gathered armfuls of them and sold them at railroad stations.
This was the land of wild berries. Here, the strawberry was native. In 1775, a Frenchman carried the first Chilean strawberries to Marseilles and cultivation in Europe began. Later, this berry, superior to our variety, was brought to the U. S. Blackberries grew so luxuriantly that they were considered a pest. They revisited a number of South Chilean German colonies which they had known in former years. The first of those colonists arrived in the port of Valdivia in 1846. There were [in 1922] about 30,000 people of German stock in the country, mostly between Valdivia and Puerto Montt. The towns of La Union and Osorno showed marked German influence, while Puerto Varas was a typical Teuton village. As dairymen, fruit-growers, and lumbermen, those colonists were most successful. The Krupp concession in southern Chile was not materializing. That concession granted a renewable 30-year lease of 346,000 acres of forest land with underlying coal-beds. Previous water-rights and other legal knots blighted the scheme. At Puerto Varas, they left the railway for a side trip, via the lake route, across the southern Andes. The Chileans called the region the New World Switzerland. There was a chain of four lakes, two on either side of the continental divide, with wooded stretches in between. The first lake, Llanquihue, was an ultra-marine sheet of water, with forest-encircled shores. From Puerto Varas, they steamed across the lake toward Mount Osorno. The journey from Lake Llanquihue to the second lake, Todos los Santos, was made by automobile during the summer; by coach when the roads were muddy. The group rode horseback, their favorite mode of transportation. Lake Todos los Santos was just at Mount Osorno’s feet, emerald green, with heavily wooded shores. A second boat ride of several hours brought them to the end of the first day’s journey, to a Swiss inn at Peulla. The second day’s journey was over the Andes pass, there only 3,445 feet, to little Lake Frias, in Argentina, and on to big Lake Nahuel-Huapi. From the town of San Carlos de Bariloche, on its shores, one could continue on by automobile and rail to Buenos Aires.
Returning to Puerto Varas, they continued on to Puerto Montt, on the Gulf of Ancud, where the longitudinal railroad ended. Backed by evergreen hills lied the pretty little town of Puerto Montt, a busy port of southern Chile. From there, steamers sailed through the inland passage, a maze of archipelagoes, to the Strait of Magellan, and into the innumerable fjords that cleaved the ragged mainland. They boarded a little boat bound for Ancud, on the island of Chiloe. Ancud, a galvanized-iron town, was the seat of the shellfish industry. There clams, mussels, and shrimps were canned for export and oysters-in-the-shell shipped to Valparaiso. Wheat and fruit did not thrive in that moist climate, but potatoes formed an important article of export, 200,000 sacks being shipped the season of their visit. It was five hours by rail from Ancud to Castro, the last Chilean town of any importance until Punta Arenas was reached. The unexplored portion of Chile lied along the Andes range, in the provinces of Llanquihue and Magallanes. In 1783 a Spanish priest explored and mapped a great portion of the wild region east and southeast of the Island of Chiloe. An Argentinian expedition, accompanied by several Chilean scientists, explored the region between latitudes 46 and 47 degrees. The Chilean government was considering the cutting of a canal through the Peninsula of Taitao, which would save steamers bound along the inland waterway from navigating the open sea. South of Taitao the scenery changed. The islands terminated in abrupt cliffs and glaciers came to the sea. Even at that great distance from the Equator, the trees were evergreen and the temperature rarely fell below zero. They came at last in their voyage to that winding, river-like channel, that cleft in the Andes which the great Portuguese navigator, in the service of Spain, discovered in 1520. To the north laid the South American mainland; to the south the Fuegian archipelago. Those western reaches of the Straits of Magellan were treacherous; there, the Pacific was misnamed.
The Chilean city of Punta Arenas, on the mainland facing the Strait, was the metropolis of the region; but the Argentine town of Ushuaia, in Tierra del Fuego, was the southernmost permanent settlement in the world. From Cape Pilar to Punta Arenas, they looked on virgin country – a huge mass of rock, a land suited for neither farmer nor shepherd; but from Punta Arenas on to the Chilean boundary, both sides of the Strait were well adapted to agriculture. For its population, which was about 24,000, Punta Arenas was the most commercially successful of all Chilean cities. It owed its prosperity to the growth of the sheep industry. Exports to the U. S. last season [in 1922] totaled $12,000,000. There was also a considerable export of frozen mutton to Great Britain. In the 1860s, the first steamship line between Valparaiso and Liverpool was inaugurated, and Punta Arenas, the most isolated port in South America, came into importance. It was 1,100 miles from Bahia Blanca, the nearest big port on the Atlantic, and 1,200 miles from Talcahuano, on the west coast. At the time of their first visit to Punta Arenas, whenever the bell at the end of the long pier tolled, there was great excitement. It heralded the coming of a steamer. Out rushed the inhabitants of that “tail-end” city, eager for news from home. Telegraph and wireless finally brought that region, so long cut off, in touch with the rest of Chile. The Panama Canal struck Punta Arenas a hard blow. Trade was diverted. But, in spite of its waning importance as a port of call, the city continued to thrive. Turning its eyes from sea to earth, sheep ranchers multiplied. Motor roads stretched out toward the Argentine pampa, and a steadily increasing fleet of small vessels sailed into the Fuegian channels. The metropolis of Magallanes had taken on a pleasing, prosperous air.
It had long been an important fur market. Guanaco skins, pampa fox, cordillera wolf, white hare from the icefields, and muskrat were on sale. Belgian Hares, introduced in recent years, had become such a pest that the government had placed a bounty on their heads. In the old days, seals, sea-lions, and otters were mercilessly hunted, the seal rookeries to the south eventually being destroyed. The seals used to devour the crabs, which with other shellfish, swarmed Fuegian beaches. The most characteristic animal of the region, the guanaco, was now freed from the fear of the Indian with his arrow, but there was still the sheep ranger’s shotgun. That animal had never been domesticated, like its cousin the llama. Herds of several hundreds of those graceful, ruddy, dappled creatures could still be seen [in 1922] in the interior of Tierra del Fuego. Wild cattle, descended from those introduced by early settlers, were found in the mountains. In the 1880, there was a rush of miners to that part of the world. The prospectors bought boats instead of burros, and headed into the labyrinth of canals south of the Strait. Gold had been found in the black beach sands and in the river beds. The gold fever had passed. Some of the disappointed miners took to sheep farming. One of the largest sheep-farming companies in the world was located in Punta Arenas, its dividends in the last four years [from 1922] amounting to $14,000,000. There were five canning and freezing plants in that territory. Most of the Chilean sheep-ranges were on the Island of Tierra del Fuego, where cold climate made for firm flesh and thick fleece. Beside its sheep-farming and placer mines, Chilean Fuego had its coal deposits, of a rather poor quality, and an abundance of peat, which could be used for fuel. Its lakes were salty, some rich with pure salt. Some deposits were taken out by the spadefuls and shipped to Punta Arenas for table use.
Fuego was approximately 1,000 miles farther south than Cape Town, in Africa. The forest was rich in conifers and beeches – a dark gloomy, dripping forest, on the whole, yet the haunt of innumerable beautiful birds. The author admitted she could not name them all. The albatross, penguin, cormorant, and the like seemed at home there; but she was surprised to see woodpeckers, thrushes, and parrots so far south. Great flocks of flamingoes arrived from the north, followed by the white, black-throated swans. In 1904, they still were able to find some of the original Fuegians. The Alacalufs used to inhabit the western reaches of the Strait; the Yaghans lived near Cape Horn. The Onas were, to the author, the most interesting of the three groups. During the last years of nineteenth century and the first fifteen of the twentieth, those Fuegians steadily decreased and were practically exterminated. Mrs. Adams was glad she had gone there in time to see a little of the Onas, hunters and fishermen, with round, smiling, Mongoloid faces, elaborately painted, their hair bobbed. They wore fur caps and guanaco-skin garments, fur side in. Cape Horn, on Horn Island, was Chilean, the tip end of South America. The cape, rising about 1,400 feet above the sea, withstood the pounding of the tempestuous surf. In southern Tierra del Fuego, mighty glaciers reached the sea, calving icebergs. It was, in truth, the dropping-off place of the Andes.
The author’s party had made three trips to southern Chile. On the last journey, instead of sailing around into the Atlantic, they returned to Valparaiso and crossed the Andes via the Transandine Railroad to Argentina. That journey proved eventful. A trip that normally took 48 hours and covered 888 miles comfortably in a Pullman coach, turned into a struggle for survival. Winter had set in, and an avalanche in the mountains blocked the road. After many fruitless trips to Los Andes, at the foot of the Cordillera, they joined a party of pilgrims determined to cross the Andes. They survived a two-day trek over the range. They scaled icy ledges, plunged through snowdrifts, and through a two-mile railroad tunnel, 10,000 feet above sea level. They left Chile in sunlight, and entered Argentina in a raging snowstorm. They reached the next train terminus, and continued by train into Argentina.
The second article in this month’s issue is entitled “Some Aspects of Rural Japan” and was written by Walter Weston, author of “The Geography of Japan” in the National Geographic Magazine. The article contains twelve black-and-white photographs. One of these photos is full-page in size and serves as the frontispiece for the article.
Of all the poetic titles applied by the Japanese in olden times to their land, perhaps the most ancient was that of Toyo-ashiwara-mizuhono-kuni, “The fertile, reed-clad country, rich in grain”. In that title, we had the information that from the earliest ages of the national experience, agriculture had been the occupation of the majority of the people and their most fruitful source of livelihood. The sudden emergence of modern Japan from the hermit-like seclusion of former days into the rush and competition with the Western World had tended to blind the eyes of many observers to that which really formed the basis of its national prosperity. It was only in rural Japan that we gained an insight into the most characteristic features of the life of the people. The real strength of national organization could not be fully appreciated until one passed from the crowded cities to the fields and farms of one of the most intelligent and friendly peasantries in the world. In spite of the rapid strides in manufacturing and mining in recent years, agriculture still constituted the chief source of wealth and power of the Japanese people. The rural population numbered 60% of the whole, and it was they who supplied the empire with most of its food, and the greater part of its raw material for manufacture. There were few large landed proprietors, and a feature of agriculture was the tillage of small holdings. That was carried out by the whole of the farmer’s household. Only about 12% of Japan was cultivable, and even that was not naturally very fertile. It was only made to yield by a detailed and careful system of subsoil working, manuring, terracing, and irrigation. Those were carried on with a thoroughness that almost suggested gardening rather than farming. There was practically no machinery employed and nearly all the work was done by hand, hoe, and spade, helped out, at times, by the ox or the horse. Their subjugation of the land to the service man showed the best characteristics of the Japanese people – patience, perseverance, intelligence, ingenuity, and self-control.
Some of the finest fighting men in the army were drawn from the peasant classes. Most of them came from the hill country. During the Russo-Japanese war, British officers remarked that in open country, along goat paths or across pathless gullies and crags, each man finding his own way and meeting his company again on the other side, it was the native mountaineers of the lowest ranks who led them to take the best possible route. In mountain warfare, the hillmen in the infantry displayed some of the attributes and mobility of cavalry. It was among the hill people that one found human nature most unsophisticated and unspoiled. The materialism of the twentieth century had not yet affected them. Their simplicity and courteous bearing justified the title for Japan of Kunshi no Koku, “The Country of Gentlemen”. One of the most striking features of the countryside was the minute care with which the hills were terraced from the base to the summit. Wherever a single blade of rice, or ear of corn could be made to grow, the resultant landscape resembled a gigantic chessboard decked in yellows, golds, and greens of every shade. What made those agricultural achievements the more astonishing was the fact that they were attained with the most primitive of instruments. The whole of their agricultural system was borrowed from China nearly two thousand years ago and had known practically no change. The plow they used was the same as that of the Egyptians of Pharaohs’ time; the spade, hoe, sickle, harrow, and flail differed little from those of China. The wagon and the wheelbarrow were almost unknown. Of all the ancient and popular festivals of Japan, those that were celebrated with zest, invariably belonged to the life of the countryside. The so-called “national ones”, those festivals dealing with historical events, were of official origin, and nearly all were quite modern. Their observance was chiefly confined to the large towns.
The author next document some of the rural festivals. One of the earliest in the year was that of Inari-Sama, the Goddess of Food, held in March on behalf of a fruitful rice harvest. She was sometimes referred to as the Fox Goddess, and was commonly identified with her servant, the fox. In view of the all-importance of rice to the whole nation, it was natural that that divinity to be held in such honor. The fox was credited with supernatural powers of enchantment. Japan was one of the most richly watered countries in the world, and every swift-flowing river and mountain torrent had its own presiding divinity. Not surprisingly, they were credited with the power to hurt or help the lands through which their waters passed. In flood districts, services of intercession were held in April at the shrines like those of the River Goddess of Kofu. The month of May was busy with the barley, wheat, and millet ripening and tea ready to pick. The grains were the staple of the rural districts. The peasantry could not afford to live on rice, and only indulge on high days and holidays, or in case of sickness. The chief festival of that season was that of the God of Hailstorms. Nearly every article of food and domestic utility was committed to the care of its own guardian divinity. Of special significance was the festival of the rice harvest, with its twin observances – the offering of the first fruits in October, and in November when the emperor sampled the new rice. The former of those observances was an essentially popular festival, and the best of the precious grain was presented at thousands of village altars throughout the length and breadth of the land. There was one other festival which was highly popular with the peasantry in late autumn, that of Ebisu, the God of Honest Hard Work, as well as of Wealth. That was kept with twofold energy, partly because all desired to be rich, and partly based on “sympathetic magic”. Ebisu alone of all the eight million divinities had not gone to visit the great Shinto shrine in Izumo, for being deaf, he could not hear the summons thither.
It was impossible to get a clear idea of the life of rural Japan until one realized the all-importance of the rice crop to the nation at large. Two-thirds of the cultivated land was devoted to it, and no less than 4,000 varieties were produced. Until, at the Restoration, in 1868, the Daimyo, the old feudal lords, retired into private life, their incomes were paid in rice, and in 1922, the peasants paid their rent in the same commodity. Japan was not only the third most important rice-producing country, but its rice stood first in quality. Its cultivation was carried out according to the strictest rules. The sowing must take place on the 88th day of Spring. Before sowing, the seed was soaked in salt water for a week, washed in fresh water, then dried. After it was dried, it was planted in well-watered “nursery” beds. About the end of May, it was transplanted into “paddy” fields in small bunches about a foot apart, an operation employing hundreds of thousands of men and women knee-deep in water and mud. The most momentous period of the whole year, however, came at the end of August or the beginning of September, the 210th day. The rice was ripening fast. It was at that precise moment that there was usually the gravest peril threatening, in the dread typhoon. It marked the end of summer. Next in importance to rice came the silk and tea industries, which furnished revenues of $100,000,000 and $25,000,000 respectively, silk being produced in central and tea in central and southern Japan. There were many features of interest connected with the cultivation of silk. The worm was treated with respect; it was popularly called O ko sama, “The honorable little gentleman”. During the period of his “intensive cultivation”, mainly in August, the whole household was occupied, day and night, satisfying his voracious appetite. The leaf-strewn trays, arranged in tiers, filled nearly every room of the house, and the sound of the ceaseless nibbling of the countless myriad was heard throughout the home.
Of tea, the national beverage of Japan, was always drunk without sugar or milk. Like most good things in Japan, it was introduced from China about 800 A. D. and for a thousand years its use was almost confined to the aristocracy and the court. It was picked after three years’ growth of the plants, and was nearly all consumed in the country, with the exception of some fifty million pounds exported to Canada and the U. S. One of the interesting acquaintances in rural Japan was the country policeman – ever ready to act, when needed, as guide, philosopher, and friend – upon his lonely beat. Some years prior, the police force received instructions to not offend foreigners by criticizing their attire, gestures, or language. They were also warned of foreigners’ sensitivity to animal cruelty, and that if a foreigner looked at his watch, he had business elsewhere, and it was time for the officer to leave. And lastly, don’t expect foreigners to loan money. During one of his expeditions in the Japanese Alps, the author met a policeman who insisted on sharing Mr. Weston’s room. It was small and in a primitive hut where they spent several nights. The policeman insisted on sleeping on the floor. In the article contributed to The Geographic for July 1921, the author wrote of the strange contrasts that were often met in modern Japan. At times the author couldn’t tell if he was in the twentieth century or the tenth. Since the time of that article, a curious example of that contrast came to the author’s attention. Near the Naval Yard in Kure, in southern Japan, a ceremony was held for the souls of departed bullocks. One hundred oxen, gaily garlanded, were led in solemn array to the chief Buddhist temple, where prayers were said for their departed comrades. This was followed by a feast. A mile away, Japan was building one of the largest battleships in the world.
The third item list on this month’s cover is entitled “The Picturesque Side of Japanese Life” and has no byline. It is not an article, but “Sixteen Illustrations in Full Color” instead. The sixteen full-page photographs are embedded within the previous article and are numbered I to XVI in Roman numerals and represent pages 283 through 298 in the issue. The illustrations appear to be colorized black-and-white photographs, but most are so well colorized that they look like true color photos. The credits just say: “Photograph by …” and not “Autochrome by …” used for previous true color photographs, further indicating that these plates are colorized.
Here is a list of the caption titles from this set of plates:
The fourth item listed on the cover of this month’s issue is entitled “Alexander Graham Bell” and has no byline. This editorial by Gilbert Grosvenor is a simple, one-page death notice for Dr. Bell shown here:
The fifth item (third and last article) in this month’s issue is entitled “Map-Changing Medicine” and was written by William Joseph Showalter, author of such articles as “The Panama Canal”, “The Countries of the Caribbean”, “Redeeming the Tropics”, “How the World Is Fed”, “Exploring the Glories of the Firmament”, etc. in the National Geographic Magazine. The article contains twenty-six black-and-white photographs, eight of which are full-page in size.
The author started by predicting, in short order, the eradication of yellow fever and hookworm disease, and the control of malaria. Those history-making announcements were safely forecast by an examination of developments in the worldwide warfare on disease being waged by the sanitarians of the world under the leadership of such agencies and institutions as the U. S. Public Health Service, the health departments of several States, the British Schools of Tropical Medicine, the India Office, the Dutch Institute for Tropical Medicine, and the French Institute of Colonial Medicine. In man’s battle against disease, the World War served to demonstrate that germs could be conquered. Straining every nerve for victory, the nations that faced the foe, from Bagdad to Burges, had to make sure that epidemic disease should not attack the firing line from the rear. Consequently, half-way and temporized methods were taboo and preventive medicine had free reign. The results were amazing. Although never before in human history was there such an intermingling of peoples, such a crossing and recrossing of seas, such an invitation to contagion to spread to the ends of the earth, only one epidemic succeeded in breaking the barriers erected by the sanitarians. And as if to emphasize man’s power to master the major contagions, not one of those with which the world’s public health official were familiar escaped from the regions where it was endemic, while influenza, which was a stranger, broke away and swept over the face of the earth. India was a hotbed of smallpox. Nine million of its population were vaccinated, without a single death therefrom, and the disease no longer threatened that country’s participation in the war. The Philippines also suffered from smallpox. Millions were vaccinated there, again without a single death, and the disease disappeared. Typhus, likewise, was practically held to lands where it existed before the outbreak of hostilities.
Conditions in the trenches were such that the battle lines of France might well have become an inferno of infection; but preventive medicine stepped in and held typhoid fever, malaria, and other communicable diseases in check in a way that was startlingly effective. It was natural, therefore, that when peace came again, the lessons of prevention and sanitation learned during the war were driven home in the minds of Public Health official. Epidemic diseases, the major menace to civilization in peacetime, could be mastered. The sanitarians threw themselves into the fray with redoubled energy. The first target of an international campaign was hookworm disease. That disease sapped the strength of hundreds of millions of people in the tropic and temperate zones. No other disease was so easily cured – a dose of Epsom salts, a dose of thymol, another dose of salts, followed by the elimination of the worms. The results were so successful that communities carried the campaign forward with their own funds. They found it worthwhile to extend the campaign to other forms of infection, and to sanitation in general. Reaching as far north as Nashville, Tennessee, and Osaka, Japan, and as far south a Valdivia, Chile, and Wellington, New Zealand, the hookworm zone of the earth embraced more than half its population. When operating in conjunction with that other microscopic monster, the malaria germ, the hookworm was doubly an evil, and both diseases reached their highest development in the same environment – the hot, damp regions of the earth. With hookworm’s onset insidiously gradual, it was far less spectacular than smallpox or yellow fever; but deaths directly or indirectly traceable to it were higher in percentages than those traceable to almost any other disease except tuberculosis. As a slow acting disease that saps strength and lowers resistance to further infections, hookworm was, perhaps, with the exception of malaria, the world’s outstanding malady.
The results were dramatic, with convincing “before” and “after” exhibits. The Hookworm, therefore, lent itself admirably to the cause of community sanitation. In 1922, those Southern States’ communities whose health organizations took up the anti-hookworm war had the satisfaction of knowing that hookworm disease had been greatly reduced, both in severity and prevalence; that the people had been enlightened as to its importance, its relief, and its final control; that permanent agencies committed to its elimination had been rooted in the soil; and that a sustained public sentiment had been created in the interest of more general measures for the better protection of the public health. Through the spirit of health progress thus created, legislative appropriations for public health purposes in the South had increased more that 500% during the past decade [of 1922]; full-time county health organizations were being developed; and, through tax-supported health service, state and local, the certain outcome would be the final and complete control of hookworm and other preventable diseases. How rapidly general sanitation had moved forward in the Southern States was shown by the fact that there were around 131 counties in 12 Stated had full-time health departments. In Virginia, the number of cases of typhoid fever was cut from 14,398 in 1909 to 2,493 in 1920. In North Carolina, the deaths from typhoid fever had been greatly reduced. Globally. hookworm was widespread. About three out of five persons in China were infected, three out of four in Siam, and five out of eight in various parts of India. Two-thirds of the population of Bengal had the disease, and more than half of in inhabitants of India were victims of it. Similar conditions prevailed in Brazil, Colombia, Central America, the West Indies, and elsewhere. It was estimated that the total number of people infected with hookworm was four times the population of the U. S.
For a long time, it was believed that hookworm disease could not be reduced to a stage where it would be harmless, without completely successful efforts to prevent soil pollution. But that proved wrong. Richmond County, Virginia, where the war on hookworm had its inception, stood out as an example of what could be accomplished, and showed it was much less difficult than formerly supposed. When work began, around 1909, 82% of the people had the disease. A few years later, it was reduced to 35%. A more recent survey reduced it to 2%, and in 1922, it was announced that there was not a single person in the entire county in whose body the worms were numerous enough to produce any symptoms of the malady. There were two kinds of hookworm, an Old World species (Ancylostoma duodenale) and a New World species (Necator americanus). Some years ago, specimens of the “American species were found in Africa, and it was believed that it was imported to America in the days of the slave trade. Blacks were far less susceptible to the disease than were Whites or Native Americans, just as both the malaria and the yellow-fever mosquito showed a preference for biting white folk. Even more insidious than the hookworm, and not so dramatically eradicable, was the microscopic animal that caused malaria. If yellow fever could point to pre-Columbian civilizations destroyed by it, and if hookworm disease could lay claim to being a strong factor in making backward that half of the worlds population who dwelt within the frostless latitudes, malaria could offer evidence that it had helped to make Africa the Dark Continent, that it was largely responsible for the passing of the “glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome”, and that, in 1922, laid a heavy hand upon the eight hundred millions of people who dwelt within areas where it was endemic. In India alone, 1,300,000 people died annually of malaria and 100,000,000 more suffered from its attacks.
Although suspected of carrying malaria for fourteen centuries, a British army surgeon, Major Ronald Ross, proved that the anopheline mosquito was guilty of spreading the disease. Under his leadership, Ismailia, on the Suez Canal, with a population of 8,000, set to work to free itself from malaria. It succeeded so brilliantly that the disease was entirely wiped out. Panama and a hundred other places had been largely freed from malaria by the application of the principles for its control developed by Ross and his coworkers. In Italy, under Celli, the number of deaths due to malaria had been brought down from 28,000 in 1888 to less than 2,000 in 1910. In the district of Klang, Malay States, Watson succeeded in reducing the number of hospital cases from 334 in 1901 to 12 in 1906. In the Dutch East Indies, the Department of Public Works at Sibolga succeeded in driving down the mortality rate from 79 out of every thousand people in 1912 to 18 in 1920. To rid themselves of malaria, our own Southern States had implemented large-scale, community-wide experiments. The anopheline mosquito was essentially a rural resident, in contrast to the yellow-fever carrier, which preferred urban situations. Therefore, the malaria problem was a matter to be dealt with mainly by small towns, villages, and county districts. A group of villages and countryside were selected and methods of combat tested. It was demonstrated in many towns and villages in Arkansas and Mississippi that from 75% to 95% of the malaria in a community could be eradicated at an outlay of from 45 cents to $1.00 per capita. So successful were those demonstrations that, in 1919, officials decided to make concerted demonstrations in fifty-two towns in ten Southern States in 1920. The results were astonishing. At an average cost of 78 cents per capita, those fifty-two communities, which had been hot-beds of malarial infections, were largely freed from the disease. The measures employed were: simple drainage, filling pits and shallow pools, channeling streams, clearing the margins of streams and pond, removing obstructions, turning in the sunlight, oiling, enlisting the service of the top minnow, and administering quinine.
In the worldwide crusade for the conquest of contagion inaugurated after the close of the World War, yellow fever stood out as an insolent foe that had been defeated in organized warfare, but that had now [in 1922] resorted to sniping and bushwhacking in tropical America and Africa. How finally to drive it beyond the bounds of civilization and into the land of extinction became the thought of the world’s leading sanitary organizations. General William C. Gorgas was induced to head a board whose mission was to run down that disease to its lair and stamp it out forever. Unfortunately, he died in London, when he had almost realized his life’s dream of “writing the last chapter of the history of yellow fever.” After Major Walter Reed and his fellow workers in Cuba had demonstrated that yellow fever was a mosquito-borne disease, General Wood and Colonel Gorgas, by following the principles laid down by Reed, banished it from Cuba; Colonel Gorgas drove it out of Panama; Doctor Oswaldo Cruz eliminated it from Rio de Janeiro, and Doctor Liceaga exterminated it in Vera Cruz. But there still remained a few places that served as seed-beds of the disease, against which the world had to quarantine constantly. One of those was Guayaquil, Ecuador, and there were others in Yucatan, Guatemala, and elsewhere. Finally, Guayaquil sought help. The invitation was accepted, by American, Latin, and Japanese sanitarians. In less than a year, the last case of yellow fever was cured; and in less than two years, all danger of its recurrence was past. While in Guayaquil, Dr. Hideyo Noguchi discovered, under microscope, the germ that caused yellow fever. He named it Leptospira icteroides. His work led to a serum to cure the sick. But Noguchi did not stop with developing a serum. He undertook to make a vaccine that would render who used it immune from attack. Borrowing a page from the experience of those who made the typhoid vaccine, he was successful. More than 8,000 people had been vaccinated.
It thus came about that there were four ways to combat yellow fever – by eliminating the mosquito that carried it; by keeping people out of reach of any remaining mosquitos; by vaccinating the non-immune; and by administering serum to those who had gotten the disease in spite of all precautions. In the course of their work for the eradication of yellow fever, the sanitarians found that the employment of surface-swimming minnows was a better way of combatting the mosquito than the use of an oil film on the surface of the water, because it was less expensive and more constant. Hardy, multiplying rapidly, and always hungry, those minnows were able to control the mosquito situation in 85% of the waters in which they were introduced. In 1919, a big epidemic of yellow fever, with more than 3,000 cases, broke out in northern Peru. The little top-minnow was put to work and proved an amazingly valuable ally in banishing the disease from the region. Commerce, as had been well said, carries dangerous infections as well as goods and ideas; but China had struggled to combat them with agencies as antiquated as the oxcart and the pony express. The consequence had been that that country had the world’s highest death rate, as much as 40 per thousand, or thirteen million a year. In 1922, thanks to American friendship for, and faith in China, the “Green City” of Peking was an accomplished fact. A great medical university had thrown open its doors. That University was the Peking Union Medical College. The need for trained sanitarians was worldwide. To meet that need, Johns Hopkins University had established a School of Public Health and Hygiene; Harvard had enlarged its work along similar lines; Columbia had expanded its medical activities; and all the health agencies of the U. S. were cooperating in the creation of a proper course of instruction in public health leadership. Canada, Belgium, Brazil, and England had all expanded their efforts.
There was another aspect to the international health situation that challenged attention. The most productive half of the earth’s surface lied within the latitudes where contagion was most rampant. As humanity expanded it would have to look more and more to the tropics for food. The population was growing rapidly: it went from 650,000,000 in 1804 to 1,615,000,000 in 1914. In 1922, thanks to sanitation, worldwide commerce was legion. A thousand ships sailed the seas, where one crossed them four hundred years before. Ten thousand persons travelled by train or automobile, where one journeyed by caravan in the days before sanitation’s rise. But even in those days, when we didn’t travel much, and the population was a fifth of what it was in 1922, all nations were frequently prostrated by epidemics. Resistance was useless, for no one knew how to resist. All that could be done was for the sick to bury the dead and wait for the fires of infection to burn themselves out because there was no more fuel. In a single epidemic of black plague, China alone lost enough of its population to fill five rows of graves reaching around the earth. Spreading to Europe, that same epidemic found enough victims to replace every casualty in the World War. But that was no isolated calamity. Now cholera, now smallpox, again the plague, now influenza, starting mayhap in the Orient, would follow the caravans to India, then journey with religious pilgrims to Mecca, and then scatter to the four corners of Europe overwhelming the Continent. Millions of graves, millions of pauperized survivors, millions of desolate homes followed every invasion. If such results grew out of the wanderings of a few traders and the journeyings of a few religious pilgrims, what would have happened in 1922 were it not that sanitary science had erected barriers everywhere for our protection? To see the death rate of progressive communities reduced to 10 per thousand, in the face of such a vast increase in international travel; to see the average life span in America lengthen from 31 to 40 years within four decades, mainly through the work of the sanitarian, were wonderful victories, with more still to come.