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This is the largest and most densely populated and the most uniformly prosperous Province of the Republic.[23] It is bounded on the North by the Provinces of Santa Fé and Córdoba, on the West by the Territories of the Pampa Central and Rio Negro and on the East and South by the Paraná and Plate Rivers and the Atlantic Ocean. Its capital, La Plata, is of a somewhat sadly monumental aspect. It is indeed as yet but a monument to the still unrealized dreams of its modern founders and architects. It was to have been a great city with a busy port; it is now a place where Provincial parliamentarians, lawyers, university students and Law Court and Police officials spend some hours each day, coming each morning and returning each evening from and to the superior activity and attractions of the Federal Capital.

Nevertheless, La Plata has long, wide, eucalyptus-planted avenues; its chief Plaza, in which are the Municipality and the Cathedral, is not much smaller than Trafalgar Square; its Museum is world-renowned for its pal?ontological collections; and its Law Courts, University, Theatre, Police Offices and the above-mentioned Municipality are[140] huge, magnificently solid-looking buildings. But the lack of all perceptible movement in La Plata leads one to imagine that if its broad avenues and noble Plazas are not grass-grown the fact is due much more to the action of street cleaners than to that of traffic. Truly, one may often gaze down a very long vista of pavement between tall eucalyptus trees for many minutes without seeing one single other human being.

The Port works of Buenos Aires have drained its only source of commerce from La Plata. Still, some day the trade of the Republic may need it also.

At the same time it is only just to add that La Plata makes out a claim to nearly 100,000 inhabitants. Where they all get to when one visits it is mystery. Perhaps they in their turn spend their days in Buenos Aires; returning home to sleep in the deep stillness of the Provincial Capital.

The real chief port of the Province of Buenos Aires is Bahia Blanca. First of all, in 1896, the National Government decided to build the naval port and arsenal now in existence there: subsequently the Buenos Aires Great Southern and the Buenos Aires and Pacific Railway Companies realized the conveniences and situation of Bahia Blanca as a place of export for the produce of their great and ever-increasing southern and south-western zones and each company constructed a port for the almost exclusive purposes of its own traffic.

The Great Southern Railway’s port is called Ingeniero White and that of the Pacific Railway Puerto Galvan. Besides these, separate and distinct constructions, Bahia Blanca has a fourth port, Cuatreros, at the interior end of the bay, which exports large and increasing quantities of frozen and chilled meat.

The great railway ports of Bahia Blanca are fitted with every modern mechanical appliance, huge cranes, electric endless belts for loading loose grain, and immense grain warehouses and elevators. The town of Bahia Blanca is[141] rapidly growing in importance and influence. Its municipal administration is largely in the hands of British exporters and merchants.

On the Atlantic coast, between Bahia Blanca and Buenos Aires and some 400 kilometres from the latter city, is the famous seaside resort of Mar-del-Plata, the Argentine Monte Carlo—Trouville-Biarritz-cum-Ostend (before the War!).

During the season there (at all other times of the year it is deserted) vast Hotels and Restaurants charge famine prices for accommodation and food and there is always more demand than available supply of either. Wealthy Argentine families have, of course, their palatial “Chalets,” and the Rambla, as the great promenade by the sea is called, is a very brilliant scene at all times during the weeks in which it is fashionable.

Music and dancing contribute to the nights’ amusement at the Casino, large Hotels and private houses; and at the Club members can indulge in those games in which chance plays a greater r?le than skill.

As one young gentleman, who had failed to get a bed at any of the Hotels he thought worthy of his patronage, once remarked, “No matter, one can always play Baccarat till it is bathing time again.”

The air of Mar-del-Plata, that of the wide Atlantic, would doubtless be a powerful restorative to anyone who could resist the temptations of amusement sufficiently to give it a chance. Some people possibly do, but if so keep very silent about it.

Mar-del-Plata is, however, destined to show a more serious side of its possibilities in consequence of the building of a commercial port; the construction of which has been entrusted to a French firm, also the constructors of the new port works of Montevideo. Potatoes which are deemed the best in the Republic come from near Mar-del-Plata.

Other chief towns of the Province of Buenos Aires are Avellaneda (situate on the Provincial side of the boundary[142] line between the Province and the Federal City of Buenos Aires, but to all intents and purposes a district of the latter with which it is connected by unbroken lines of streets and houses), Chivilcoy, Pergamino, Tres Arroyos, Nueve de Julio, Azul, the residential suburbs (of Buenos Aires), Temperley and Lomas de Zamorra and many smaller “camp” towns.

All these minor camp towns of the Province of Buenos Aires look much alike and none of them are very interesting in appearance. Their stores, however, do good business in supplying the needs of large surrounding rural districts, and some of these towns have periodical cattle shows and sales which are well worth visiting.

Temperley and Lomas de Zamorra consist chiefly of Villa residences, of all sizes and styles of architecture, and some shops.

The Province of Buenos Aires, half as large again as the whole Republic of Uruguay, possesses some of the best land in Argentina, and in it farming has reached the highest developments as yet attained in either Republic. In it intensive farming has already made its first appearance in South America—as needs must when high land-values drive. The surface of this Province is one almost unbroken level plain.

It at present produces one-third of the whole output of wheat, nearly a similar proportion of maize, one-fifth that of linseed, 87% of that of oats, and also contains about 37% of the live stock of the whole Republic.

Good water is obtainable nearly everywhere in practically close proximity to the surface. This fact, combined with the comparatively few running streams and the tendency of these to dry up in hot weather, causes some parts of this Province to have the appearance of a forest of tall skeleton iron windmills. These are set up over artificially sunk wells, to draw water for animals and domestic purposes.

A detailed description of the Province of Buenos Aires[143] would extend to a very great length indeed; as this Province is, as far as its climatic conditions permit, a compendium of the industrial activity, at its best, of the whole Republic. That it is so is due to its situation on, or always in relatively close proximity to, the estuary of the River Plate; the cradle of the civilization and progress of the countries under discussion.

Farming and most other industries find their highest expression within easy reach of and in the Federal Capital.

As far as its physical aspect is concerned, the Province of Buenos Aires has been accused with considerable justice of being generally uninteresting. Certainly its surface is one huge flat plain, until one gets south to the ranges of the Sierra de la Ventana and the Tandíl hills. Past them, nothing but monotonous plain again till its southernmost boundary, the Rio Colorado, is reached.

Its only romantic scenery, though that is delightful indeed, is on its north-eastern frontier, along the small River Tigre and the majestic Paraná; the banks and innumerable islands of which are clad with useful osiers, flowering reeds, peach trees and a large riot of other beautiful and luxuriant vegetation. Many a spring day can be passed in idyllic enjoyment among the islands of the Tigre.

At Tandíl, on the south-eastern side of the Province, there are quarries of fine marble and building stone, and until a year or so ago there was a famous rocking-stone perched on another rock, the surface of which is inclined at an angle of something like 45 degrees. To all appearances a mere gust of wind would have toppled the upper stone down into a hollow beneath; but the tale goes that Se?or Benito Villanueva, a wealthy and sportsmanlike Argentine, once tied a rope round the rocking-stone and attached the other end to a double span of oxen on the plain below. The oxen pulled; but without any other effect on the rocking-stone than temporarily to cant it just as many centimetres as it could be moved by a good push from a man’s hand.[144] Now, alas for Tandíl, someone has succeeded in dislodging the rocking-stone from its uncanny-looking eminence, so that it has, literally, fallen from its high celebrity.

Buenos Aires is, naturally, the Province of palatial estancia houses surrounded by model farms. The Queen Province. The most densely populated and cultivated and the one with the largest revenues.

This Province ranks next to that of Buenos Aires in respect of area and population, while its output of both maize and linseed is slightly greater than that of the Queen Province; in regard to wheat it stands third among the Argentine Provinces, Córdoba coming immediately after Buenos Aires, and in respect of oats it again comes second. In point of live stock it comes only fifth, after Buenos Aires, Entre Rios, Corrientes and Córdoba.

It is bounded on the North by the Territory of the Chaco, on the West by the Provinces of Santiago del Estero and Córdoba, on the South by the Province of Buenos Aires and on the East by the River Paraná.

The northern part of Santa Fé is covered with vast forests, continuations of those of the Provinces of Santiago del Estero and the Territory of the Chaco. These forests are rich in Quebracho wood, and from them also come large supplies of firewood and charcoal.

The other parts of Santa Fé are devoted to stock and agriculture.

The streams of this Province, although more numerous than those of Buenos Aires, have (with the exception of the great River Paraná) the same tendency to dry up as have those of the Queen Province, and, therefore, water-drawing windmills are in proportionate evidence.

Its Capital, the city from which it takes its name, is one of the oldest in the River Plate countries. Its movement[145] is, however, little else than that of a merely political capital; the town of Rosario, with its port, being the centre of most of the commercial activity of this part of the Republic. Until the rise of Bahia Blanca, Rosario held the undisputed rank of the second commercial centre of Argentina.

The City of Santa Fé nevertheless possesses an old-world beauty and charm, with its palm avenues and spacious Plazas, its many churches and its large one-storied residences. Rosario, on the other hand, is as unsightly and uninteresting a place to the eye as could well—or, rather badly—be conceived. It has, however, a large share of the cereal export trade. This Province has also other important ports on the Paraná, viz. the port of Santa Fé itself, Villa Constitution, Colastiné and several minor ones, all of which are available for ocean-going ships.

After Buenos Aires, Santa Fé is the Province with by far the greatest and most conveniently situated railway mileage.

Mixed agriculture and stock farming is practised in many districts; though Santa Fé has not yet felt the economic need of other than extensive farming. Still, land values have, until recent events prejudicially, if only temporarily, affected all such values, followed those in Buenos Aires on an upward course. Santa Fé sends large quantities of potatoes to the Buenos Aires and local markets.

The milling industry of this Province ranks not only next in importance to that of Buenos Aires, but its output of flour is very much greater than that of Entre Rios, the next most important Province in this regard. The Department of Reconquista, in the North of the Province, has sugar mills, and other industries are the production of ground-nut oil, dairy produce, tanneries, preserved meats and maize alcohol.

This Province is bounded on the North by the Province of Santiago del Estero, on the North-West by the Province[146] of Catamarca, on the West by the Province of La Rioja and San Luis, on the South by the Territory of the Pampa Central and the Province of Buenos Aires, and on the East by the Province of Santa Fé.

Córdoba is the second Province of the Republic in point of wheat and linseed production, being not far behind Buenos Aires in this regard. Its maize production, however, does not amount to one-third of that of either Buenos Aires or Santa Fé, while in oats it about ties with the latter. In live stock it ranks fourth among the Argentine Provinces, though it has less than half the number possessed by Entre Rios and only about half of that of Corrientes. In the matter of population it ranks fourth among the Provinces of the Republic, with about one-third that of Buenos Aires.

As one travels towards the ancient capital of this Province one begins to realize that the cosmopolitan delights of the city of Buenos Aires do not reflect the soul of the Republic: the soul that fought for its liberty under the blue sky and warm sun of 25th of May, now over a hundred years ago. One begins involuntarily to dream of the Gaucho Wars and to feel the atmosphere of wilder bygone times amid the steep water-cut and cacti-crowned banks of the five great rivers which traverse the land from west to east. And when one gets to “The Learned City” the illusion is not dispelled. Only one extremely modern-looking Hotel in a corner of the Plaza jars; the rest of old Córdoba exhales the magnolia-scented atmosphere of Old Colonial days. The Cathedral, the University (founded in 1613) and the innumerable churches, the bells of which all clang incessantly on Feast-days, all help to preserve in the old part of the City of Córdoba an atmosphere of the Middle Ages, when monasteries and learning were indissolubly connected. And of monks and nuns, brown-robed, black-robed, white-robed and blue-robed, many there be in Córdoba. Wherever one looks, across the Plaza, up one street or down another, one sees them walking in twos or small groups with a uniformly[147] measured step which, as one instinctively feels, nothing could hurry nor retard. And the black-coated citizens of Córdoba walk silently with eyes downcast. But there is fierceness behind those cast-down eyes and quick hot blood in the veins of those men in black; as anyone would soon find out to his cost were he suspected of too close enquiry into local political ways and means.

The writer speaks feelingly on this subject since when, a few years ago, he was visiting Córdoba with a quite natural but equally innocent curiosity for the old-world corners of the City, he unfortunately disclosed in conversation with an eminently respectable-looking, immaculately dressed gentleman that he, the present author, was a journalist.

Soon afterwards his adventures began. He was molested in indirect ways, and finally invited to pay a visit to the Central Police Station. There he was given cigarettes and coffee by the Comisario, who floridly apologized and expressed his deep regret and shame for the treatment an honourable stranger had received. It was, however, but a series of regrettable accidents arising from unfortunate error of certain bad characters who were now in durance vile in consequence.

Here he rang a bell and ordered the answering policeman to bring in the culprits. They were duly brought in and recognized.

“Now,” said the Comisario, “you will have no more trouble. Besides,” he added, “one of our plain-clothes men will accompany you in future wherever you go—for your better protection.”

The plain-clothes man certainly obeyed orders; so persistently that the whole why and wherefore at last dawned on my confused brain.

The intention was to worry me so much in a polite quasi-legitimate fashion that I could have no ostensible cause of complaint; but, at the same time, so that I should incontinently quit the ancient City of Córdoba in disgust.[148] The reason for all this was the fact that, having nothing better to do on the evening of my arrival, I had wandered into the basement of my Hotel and there found a person who looked like, and indeed was, a leading local politician running a roulette to catch the nickels of a crowd of working men. At that time the roulette was the scarcely concealed vice of the town, rife in the back room of every bar.

It is an illegal game in Argentina, as elsewhere except Monte Carlo, and shortly after my visit it was the cause of a great outcry and scandal in which several Provincial High Officials were involved.

I was a journalist and, therefore, dangerous. So a course of delicate hints to me to get out had been planned and executed.

Following the gambling scandal, a leading Opposition politician was shot dead in his carriage on the high road a short way outside the city. When I read this news I was glad that I had not persisted in seeming to pry into cupboards containing Córdoba’s official skeletons, and for similar reasons I am still somewhat shy of Córdobese gentlemen with downcast eyes and soft, measured tread.

All that, however, belongs to Old Córdoba. The parts of the city called New Córdoba and Alta Córdoba are replete with palatial residences as fine and as new as residential palaces need be.

The City of Córdoba is not only the traditional seat of learning par excellence of the Republic, it is also, as a consequence of old-time associations no doubt, its chief centre of clerical influence.

Córdoba is intensely and, if one may be permitted to say it, intolerantly Catholic. Were it not subject to the democratic laws of a modern and very go-ahead Republic one would hardly be surprised to find disciplinary institutions of an Inquisitorial type still in full swing in this old-world city of South America. As it is, there is no doubt of the[149] predominance of priestly influence in Provincial politics. Much of the best freehold property in the city is owned by Monastic Orders or by the Society of Jesus.

Most of the Province consists of a large plain; which, naturally, is the chief productive area. But Córdoba has hills famous for the purity of their air and great resorts for consumptive patients. Alta Gracia, with its fine hotel, golf links, etc., has of late years acquired a very favourable reputation as a place in which anyone may spend a very pleasant and healthful week or so.

In the North-West of the Province are great salt marshes, in and around which only a very scanty and meagre vegetation flourishes, and in the North-East is the Mar Chiquita, a large and, in parts, very deep lake, the waters of which are salty like those of the sea. Hence its name.

Córdoba also possesses large forests, as yet chiefly exploited for building timber and firewood.

Rio Cuarto, on the river of that name, is the next largest town in the Province in point of population, but it is likely soon to be altogether surpassed in importance by Bell Ville, on the Central Argentine Railway, a rapidly advancing centre of the cereal trade, and some day also, probably, by Marcos Juarez, comparatively close to it on the same line.

Goats abound in the North of Córdoba. Land values have increased and are increasing; especially in the most fertile regions in the South-Eastern parts of the Province.

Córdoba has given and continues to give much attention to irrigation and possesses one of the largest semi-natural reservoirs in the world, certainly in South America, in the Dique San Roque, which is formed by means of a wall of masonry placed across the mouth of a mountain gorge. Its capacity is 260,000,000 cubic metres, and its operation is completed by a basin situated some fifteen miles from and below it, from which the water flows through two great primary canals. The area so irrigated is some 130,000[150] hectares. Other large irrigation works are in course of construction, and more still are under consideration.

Córdoba has also a large share of industrial enterprise, of which the chief are lime and cement works, ornamental and other tile manufactories, potteries, sawmills and butter factories.

The hills of this Province have some practically unexploited mineral deposits. The area between the city of Córdoba and the Provinces of Santa Fé and Buenos Aires is covered with a close network of railway lines, in great contrast (as may be seen by a glance at the railway map) in this respect with the more Northern parts of the Province.

There has for a long time been talk of a canal to run from near the city of Córdoba to a point close to the port of Rosario, utilizing the surplus waters of the Primero, Segundo and Tercero Rivers.

There is something almost incongruously prosaic about the naming, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, of the rivers which traverse a Province in which so much of the old romantic atmosphere lingers.

The Alfalfa fields of Córdoba are in extent second only to those of Buenos Aires, covering an area equal to more than half that devoted to this forage in the latter Province.

This Province is bounded on the North by the Province of Corrientes, on the West and East by, respectively, the Rivers Paraná and Uruguay (hence its name “Between Rivers”) and on the extreme South by the River Plate, which is formed by the conjunction of the Paraná and Uruguay.

As has been seen, Entre Rios comes second among the Argentine Provinces for production of oats; but in respect of other cereal crops it is still far behind Buenos Aires, Santa Fé and Córdoba. It is, however, rich in live stock,[151] having nearly three times the quantity possessed by Córdoba. In point of population it ranks fourth among the Argentine Provinces.

Until the accomplishment of the Entre Rios railway this Province was known as the “Poor Sister” of Buenos Aires and Santa Fé. Now, this disparagement cannot be thrown on her; for her prosperity is advancing literally by leaps and bounds. This is very largely owing to the communication and transport afforded by the Railway and its train-carrying Ferry Boats which run between Zárate on the Buenos Aires side of the River Paraná and Ibicuy on the Entre Rios side, thus permitting of traffic without change of car between the Federal City and the Entre Rios system—and, in fact, also, onward through the Province of Corrientes and the Republic of Paraguay to Brazil, by several links in the chain of railway lines one day to run the whole length from North and South of the two Americas.

The journey by rail from Buenos Aires to Paraná, the capital of Entre Rios, is a delightful one, not the least pleasant part of it being the voyage in the well-appointed Ferry Boats up and across beautiful winding reaches of the Paraná River.

From the Provincial capital one can again take a train through interesting country across the Province to Concórdia, on the River Uruguay, and so back to Buenos Aires by one of the fine and comfortable River Boats. That is, if one does not first of all go further North to the famous falls of Iguazú, further mention of which will be made when writing of the National Territory of Misiones.

The City of Paraná is a quiet, pleasant Capital, redolent of the memory of General Urquíza, the one-time “Tyrant” of these parts of the River Plate Territories. One sees the old large low building which was the head-quarters of his government, and where, as history hath it, he contrived to have many of his political enemies put to death. On the other hand, there is much evidence of his enlightenment in[152] the shape of schools, first established by him and later fostered by “The School Master President” Sarmiento. The fact is that Urquíza, like Rozas, whom he supplanted, and Artígas, the national hero of Uruguay, were all strong men of good purpose according to their lights and times; times which were turbulent and in which it was necessary for him who would govern to kill first if he would not himself die by an assassin’s hand.

Opposition politicians had short shrift in those days. They were caught, convicted and executed almost before the plots of which they were found guilty had been fully formed.

Each of these tyrants had a far-reaching and minutely penetrating police system, from which nothing was hid of the movements and meetings of other people in those sparsely populated days; days when no man’s business was a secret to his neighbour. As a result, order sprang out of disorder and was maintained by iron rule.

Looking back from this distance of time one can perceive the great and good work done by these men for their country. Their methods were of the time; necessary.

On the cliff-like bank of the river is the really charming Urquíza Park. The chief Plaza, “Primero de Mayo,” is gay o’ nights with electric light shining on the tables outside the Cafés, whilst a band plays in the midst of the garden in its centre. Paraná has trams and a theatre, and altogether is quite a busy commercial centre. Still it is, as has been said, quiet with the distinctive quiet of really Provincial towns all the world over.

But the most charming place of all (to the writer’s mind, one of the most charming in the Republic) is Concórdia. Its cobbled streets and orange-scented gardens, its pure air, bright sun and cool breezes combine to give one the feeling of having at last reached a true haven of rest from the turmoil of the outer world; a haven in which one might dream the remainder of one’s life away happy and passing rich on the Argentine equivalent to forty pounds a year.


Yet Concórdia is busy, busy in its old Colonial way with sending produce down the broad River Uruguay to the great noisy port of Buenos Aires.

The Entre Rios farmers do good business in cattle fattening; for which their usually well-watered and rich pasturage is peculiarly fitted. Yet, at times, Entre Rios has suffered from severe drought, and more frequently from locust invasion, a plague which, however, is now already fairly well held in check by the measures adopted and strictly carried out by Government for the gradual elimination, as it is hoped, of these insects from the Republic.

Entre Rios, still only just, so to speak, opened up by the railway, is still conservative in respect of the maintenance of large land holdings. These are, however, slowly but surely being divided up owing to demand and in accordance with the more utilitarian spirit of the times.

Entre Rios is a chief centre of the jerked-beef industry, and the Liebig factories are an economic feature which cannot go unmentioned. Grease factories, for which large quantities of mares are slaughtered annually, also constitute one of the chief industries of this Province.

Entre Rios has a very considerable acreage under barley.

Corrientes may be regarded, economically, as well as geographically, as still being one of the outlying Provinces, inasmuch as its population and cereal production are much less than those of the Provinces already dealt with.

It is, however, numerically richer in Live Stock than either Córdoba or Santa Fé[24] and has large areas under maize cultivation.


Corrientes is bounded on the North by the River Paraná, which forms the boundary between it and the Republic of Paraguay. This river is also its Western boundary, while on the East it is bounded by the National Territory of Misiones and the River Uruguay, and on the South by Entre Rios.

It is served by the Argentine North-Eastern Railway system, which links up and is in every way closely connected with the Entre Rios Railway: and by a small narrow-gauge industrial railway which runs through a large area of Quebracho forest and also serves some sugar mills.

Other communication is by old-world diligences. Another railway is, however, projected to run almost along the north boundary of the Province from the City of Corrientes to Posadas in Misiones.

The inhabitants of Corrientes, like their Paraguayan neighbours, from whom, especially in the more Northern parts of this Province, they differ but slightly in racial characteristics, are the true lineal descendants of Spanish soldiery and their native Guaraní Indian wives. They are as a rule a pleasant enough people, good-humoured and somewhat indolent. As to the latter quality one must, however, remember that in Corrientes one is already among subtropical vegetation (Palms begin to rear their tufted heads in the North of Entre Rios). One of the most beautiful examples of this vegetation is the Lapacho with its great branches of pink flowers.

One must not delay long, however, if one wish to still catch the old-world flavour of Corrientes. Its capital, founded in 1588 with one of the long names in which the Spanish conquerors appear to have delighted, namely, San Juan de la Vera de las siete Corrientes (St. John of Vera of the Seven Streams), is already provided with modern waterworks and electric trams. Still, one yet finds many mysterious looking low houses with vertically barred windows, and covered verandahs lining long narrow streets. Modern[155] buildings, however, are rapidly spoiling the attraction of the place for those who appreciate the charm of more leisurely, spacious times. That charm yet lingers in the city of Corrientes, but, as has been said, is already being startled into flight by modernity.

The latter and Corrientes are, nevertheless, still fairly far apart. It would be curious to know how many inhabitants of the Federal Capital have even the faintest notion of what City of the Seven Streams is like (?). Very few indeed; except those who have or have had direct interests in the latter place. The notions of the rest would be similar to those of the average European regarding the Pampa.

Corrientes is for the most part well watered, and has immense tracts of excellent pasturage.

Besides its Capital, Corrientes possesses as its, even more commercially important, centres the towns of Goya, famous for its cheeses, Ituzaingó, Bella Vista, and Empedrado, all ports or rather possible ports on the Paraná, Mercedes, the centre of prosperous sheep-farming districts, and Curuzú Cuatia and Monte Caseros, with good railroad facilities.

With the necessary expenditure on wharves, etc., Corrientes could be brought into a much greater economic activity than it shows signs of as yet; by utilizing its great natural riparian means of communication, although the River Uruguay is at this height difficult of navigation, owing chiefly to the rapidity of its current and frequent floods.

The Correntino has not yet, however, developed much commercial enterprise. His cattle still show the native long horned and limbed characteristics of wilder days and he himself seems to find it less trouble to get tobacco, mate, sugar, coffee and many other things from Brazil or Paraguay than to grow and manufacture them himself; as he could do easily and profitably. Much of his nature is Indian; to be modified in time by the overwhelming forces of civilization.


One cannot leave Corrientes without mention of the lake Iberá in the North of the Province, a vast natural hollow filled with water, the surface of which is in many parts covered so solidly with interlaced bamboos, grasses and aquatic plants as to enable one to walk on it as if on a huge raft. There has been much talk of reclaiming the land by draining Lake Iberá, a task which owing to the gradients of the surrounding lands would not present great difficulties; if so be that the lake is not connected by subterranean channels with the Rivers Paraná and Upper Uruguay, as there are several reasons to suppose it may be.

The islands of this lake form a perfect zoological garden of animals and reptiles long since practically extinct in the surrounding country; among which are Jaguars, Alligators and Boa Constrictors.

The present writer remembers an interesting if somewhat terrifying collection of such and other wild specimens being cast up a little more than a decade ago on the river shores of the Province of Buenos Aires, near to the Federal Capital, by the swollen waters of the Paraná during extraordinary floods. These creatures were washed down clinging to trunks of trees and islets of intertwined vegetation which had been torn away by the force of the waters. It is safe to assume that they were much more terrified than were even the peaceable inhabitants of the places where they involuntarily landed.

The illustrious General San Martin was a Correntino, born in what was once called Yapeyú, now an important Live Stock centre and renamed after him.

A monument has also been erected there to his memory, a patriotic embellishment which no Argentine township, however, is without.

This Province is bounded on the North by the Province of La Rioja, on the West by the Provinces of San Juan and[157] Mendoza, on the East by the Province of Córdoba and on the South by the Territory of the Pampa Central.

Until the coming of Alfalfa, San Luis was chiefly interesting for its mineral possibilities. Even now, after Salta and Jujuy, it is the most sparsely populated of the Argentine Provinces. Nevertheless, it now has large areas under wheat; and sandy salty tracts which not long ago, in common with similar tracts in the West of the Province of Buenos Aires and in the Territory of the Pampa Central, were looked on as useless deserts, are covered with an extraordinarily luxuriant growth of lucerne. The salty nature of the soil is favourable to this valuable forage plant, and its tap roots find their way easily through the sandy surface to the closely adjacent damp subsoil and surface waters.

Irrigation is destined to play an important r?le in other parts of San Luis.

At present this Province runs Santa Fé very close in point of number of Live Stock; though the general average of quality is a good way behind that found in the “home” Provinces or Córdoba.

San Luis cultivates an appreciable quantity of good table grapes, and, as is noticed in another chapter, also produces some wine.

The Province is intersected in its North and Central parts by four lines of the Buenos Aires Pacific Railway and in the South by two of the Buenos Aires Western Railway.

It is evident that the mineral deposits of San Luis were worked in the prehistoric days prior to the Spanish Conquest, but little has been done to exploit them in modern times except as regards the beautiful green marble, commonly called Brazilian Onyx, large quantities of which are exported. Gold mining has been attempted in modern times, but without as yet any very appreciable results. San Luis, however, produces a certain regular supply of Wolfram.

The people of San Luis are frequently accused of indolence.[158] Certainly the Province is not a wealthy one, nor do its inhabitants appear over alert to seize the opportunities which nature and modern methods combined now offer them.

This Province is bounded on the North by the Province of Salta and the National Territory of Formosa, on the West by the Province of Tucumán and Catamarca, on the East by the National Territory of the Chaco and the Province of Santa Fé and on the South by the Province of Córdoba.

Irrigation has led to a considerable development of wheat-growing in this Province and to irrigation it must chiefly owe its future progress; for, in its almost tropical climate, rain only falls in the summer months and usually is absorbed almost as soon as it falls by a sandy and dusty soil.

The average temperature of Santiago del Estero is highly favourable to maize, but, here again, the question of water supply arises, only to be met by artificial means. Already principal and subsidiary irrigation canals have been constructed in the areas through which pass the two rivers of the Province, the Dulce and the Saladillo, and further works of the kind are in active contemplation.

The salt sandy soil of much of this Province has been found as favourable to Alfalfa as such soil is elsewhere when there is water not far down or at least a damp subsoil. So that Santiago boasts of an already large and an increasing number of Alfalfares, as lucerne-bearing lands are called. The chief industries of the North of this Province are in connection with its forestal products, the cutting and rough trimming of Quebracho wood, firewood and charcoal burning. The people engaged in these occupations are mostly totally uneducated and are unacquainted with any of the higher developments of civilization. They are indeed in some respects similar to the stock-riding Gaucho of the past in other provinces, but without the intelligence he displayed[159] within the limits of his punctilious observance of custom.

Dancing, card-playing and drinking are the only amenities of life known to the wood-cutters of Santiago del Estero, unless fighting be added as a pendant to, and consequence of, the last-named pastime of alcoholic indulgence. Like all Gauchos, however, they are really only dangerous to one another in this regard, a stranger being treated by them with all the good-humoured courtesy at their command.

The Santague?os of the forests have been singled out by one very observant and reliable writer on South American countries, Monsieur Paul Walle,[25] as having superstitious faith in “Curanderos” or quack doctors, people of their own class. They do indeed show a perfectly childlike faith in quack nostrums; but in this, leave must be taken to say, they are by no means alone among the rural populations of the River Plate. The present writer has known the queerest kinds of remedies believed in implicitly and practised even in that hub of progress, the Province of Buenos Aires.

Active official efforts have for some time been devoted to the weeding out of Curanderos and Curanderas; but, as in the medi?val days of England, they are still sought out, more or less secretly, by neighbours who have infinitely more faith in their “cures” than they would have in the treatment of whole Colleges of Physicians.

Possibly these quacks often do cure by suggestion. The writer has, for instance, heard strong oral evidence of the efficacy for toothache of expectorating into the mouth of a frog, caught at a certain hour of the night. There could be no doubt about it. Many people have been entirely relieved from pain by that simple expedient. The rather revolting rite performed, the frog must be set at liberty and carries away the pain with it!

Much of this quackery is relatively harmless, but much of it is also highly dangerous, not only to the actual patient,[160] but to the community in general; as preventing the former from seeking orthodox treatment which, while really curing him, would at the same time prevent the spread of infectious and contagious disease.

To sum up, Santiago del Estero undoubtedly has a rich future before it, dependent chiefly on irrigation.

This Province is bounded on the North by the Province of Salta, on the West and South by the Province of Catamarca and on the East by the Province of Santiago del Estero.

It has the smallest superficial area of all the Argentine Provinces; being less than one-eleventh the size of Buenos Aires and less than one-fifth that of Santiago del Estero.

It, however, is a very important Province, because it produces over 90% of the whole sugar output of the Republic. It also grows an appreciable quantity of maize, but when, in Argentina, one says Tucumán one is almost invariably thought to be about to speak of sugar.

It always has been the sugar-producing area of the River Plate Territories; from the time of the Jesuit Missionaries, say, about the middle of the eighteenth century. The first modern sugar-manufacturing machinery was set up in Tucumán in 1879.

The whole matter of the Argentine Sugar industry was for long hedged about with fiscal and other questions and a great sensitiveness on the part of the growers and refiners in regard to their discussion. That a certain number of companies divided the whole of the industry between them was undoubted fact, as was the equally obvious one that they carried on business in accordance rather with their ideas of their own commercial interests than in any larger or more philanthropic spirit. Sugar is still much dearer for the Argentine consumer than there seems any good reason for. Special legislature has operated until recently as an exceptional[161] protection to this industry, thus maintaining, as was vehemently urged in many quarters, a monopoly, to the extent of being relieved of any foreign competition, in the hands of the Tucumán Companies who conducted their affairs in a mutually friendly fashion.

Their opponents throughout the country said that Tucumán (the sugar interests there are still inseparably connected with Provincial politics and politicians) not only waxed fat at the public expense, but did so by means and methods opposed to the public interest. Certainly legislature offered temptation to artificial limitation of output, and it was chiefly in regard to this—burning of productive cane-fields and so forth—that the sugar companies long stood accused.

On whichever side the balance of the arguments for or against the doings of the Tucumán sugar industry may have lain it may be safely asserted that no political influence can nowadays continue to bolster up commercial malpractices of any magnitude in Argentina. The National Government has already seen and will see to it that no hole-in-the-corner Provincial politics shall interfere with the National welfare and credit. Influence, although still powerful in minor matters, can no longer suffice to avoid any matter of public importance being exposed to examination by the full light of day.

Tucumán is well aware of this, and therefore can be relied on, and indeed must be, to trim her sails to the healthy wind by which the course of the Republic is now determined.

It is only fair to add that the Tucumán Sugar Companies’ argument in their own defence to the suggestion of an inequitable monopoly exercised by them is, in effect, “Well, supposing that we have been making very large profits of late years, we have borne the brunt of hard times for many more, before the industry had developed to its present extent and before we were able to obtain assistance or even practical encouragement from the State. And besides, were we wrong in making hay whilst the sun shone? Any day may bring[162] us competition in the shape of the rise of new cane-fields in other Northern districts of this fertile Republic.”

This is at least sympathetic if not strictly legitimate reasoning.

In the meantime the Province of Tucumán has grown prosperous, and the employment of more enlightened methods of conducting all branches of its sugar industry has recently resulted in enhanced prosperity coupled with a largely increased output. The City of Tucumán, its Capital, one of the pleasantest and most progressive towns in Argentina, has no less than five different railway stations pertaining to lines connecting it with Buenos Aires (of which the Central Argentine is the most direct) and local systems.

The vegetation of the Plazas and Boulevards of the City is subtropical and social demands have provided Tucumán with an ornate Casino connected with a vast modern Hotel and theatre. Electric light and tramways abound in its orange-flower scented streets and public places, among which must now be counted a huge Park designed to celebrate the 1910 centenary. A special building enshrines the historic room in which the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Buildings of the Colonial period still exist in Tucumán and its outskirts, but the dominant tendency is towards modernity in architecture and all else. The City is picturesquely situated in a valley among hills which appear to surround it and give it a curious appearance of having, with its Casino, brilliantly lit avenues and gardens and its luxuriant vegetation, sprung into existence as a scene on some vast stage.

It has a winter season of ever-growing social importance; during which the great Sugar Families occupy their palatial villas and display dark beauty and grace to the music of the band in the Plaza Independencia and at the Casino and Theatre.

Irrigation is easily attained over the most part of this[163] Province, from the Dulce River and its many tributaries as well as from several other streams.

Tucumán grows some wheat, but not much, its principal crops (after, of course, sugar) being maize and alfalfa.

It has comparatively little live stock, owing largely to the general humidity of its soil. It has, however, an exceptionally large aggregate of population for its size in comparison with other Provinces.

Parts of Tucumán are forest, part mountainous with peaks clad in everlasting snow from which accumulate innumerable turbulent mountain streams. For picturesque and varied scenery of almost every kind Tucumán is perhaps preeminent in the Republic. Its valleys are with very few exceptions fertile and well watered.

This Province has several fairly important towns situated on the railways which traverse its central and southern districts.

This Province is bounded on the North by that of Salta and the National Territory of Los Andes, on the West by Chile, on the South by the Provinces of La Rioja and Córdoba and on the East by those of Santiago del Estero and Tucumán. As can be imagined from its geographical situation, it produces a certain quantity of maize and, given advantages, to be mentioned later, undoubtedly could produce a great deal more. As yet it is sparsely populated, and the influence of progress is only just being forced upon it by a paternal National Government which not only has irrigation schemes in hand, but has already constructed a railway—the North Argentina—one of the new Government lines, to afford transport for the future wealth of this hitherto dormant Province. Irrigation, transport and fresh elements and methods of labour are the three requisites for Catamarca’s advancement. She has plenty of what is easily convertible into fertile soil; and, without doubt, rich mineral deposits.[164] Both of these resources would long ago have been advantageously exploited had the population of the Argentine Republic attained larger figures than as yet represent it.

Catamarca is mountainous over a large portion of its area, but this area is interspersed with very fertile valleys and possesses a vast tableland, called the Campo del Pucara. In a hollow of this tableland is the capital city of Catamarca.

There are plenty of mountain streams from which to irrigate the greater portion of the soil of this Province, and also a water bed not far from the surface from which irrigation could be obtained. At present—most of the surface soil being extremely loose and porous—the water brought down by the mountain streams is immediately absorbed, and the climate generally is dry. The mean temperature naturally varies according to altitude, but the lower valleys are very hot in summer-time.

The City of Catamarca is still a veritable sleepy hollow, poor and indolent, but picturesque with the gardens and orange and other orchards of Colonial times.

The population of this Province is mostly of mixed Spanish and Indian origin; as indeed is that of practically all the northern outlying Provinces and Territories of the Republic.

The needs of these people are few, and they continue in a lethargic condition of conservative content. One district, however, of Catamarca—Andalgalá—boasts of an aristocracy of pure Spanish blood, resident since the early days of the Conquest.

At present all the best brains of Catamarca find their way to Buenos Aires; in despair of the small scope, and even opposition to any suggestion of innovation, offered by their native Province. Still, Nature in Catamarca, as elsewhere throughout Argentina, only awaits the call of man to respond with rich gifts.

There is no doubt about the existence of valuable mineral[165] deposits, silver, copper and especially tin, in Catamarca. The chief obstacle to the due exploitation of these up to the present has been the difficulty and cost of transport. The railway should soon, however, render the working of these mines profitable on a much larger scale than hitherto has been commercially possible.

This Province is bounded on the North and North-East by the Province of Catamarca, on the West and South-West by Chile and the Province of San Juan, on the South by the Province of San Luis, and on the East by Catamarca, again, and the Province of Córdoba.

La Rioja is another outlying Province of which can be said, as of so many as yet comparatively unproductive parts of Argentina, that water, labour and transport alone are needed to make them rich far beyond any dreams of avarice which have yet occupied the minds of their few and easy-going inhabitants. Maize flourishes in this hot, dry climate, as do all manner of subtropical and even tropical fruits, including dates, wherever water is available. Even wheat grows splendidly in some districts, given irrigation. And, as in many other salty and saltpetre-impregnated soils, there are large areas in La Rioja highly favourable to the growth of Alfalfa.

At present this Province is more sparsely populated than any other in the Republic except Jujuy, but it boasts of a fair number of (mostly native) cattle. As in all the Andine Provinces and Territories there is a relatively considerable export trade of cattle on the hoof to Chile.

La Rioja produces some wine, and at some future date will, no doubt, produce more, in view of the advantages for vine culture of its soil in many parts and its warm, dry climate. At present the wine of La Rioja is mostly consumed in the province itself and the immediately neighbouring Provinces.


Large irrigating works are in progress, and more are under consideration by the National Government for the development of the agricultural industries of this Province.

Contemporaneously with or possibly before such development will have been able, on account of lack of population, to assume any very notable progress, one may reasonably expect to see a largely increased activity in the exploitation of La Rioja’s mineral wealth (apparently much greater than that of Catamarca) by reason of the enormously increased facilities for transport afforded by the National North Argentine Railway. La Rioja has rich deposits of silver, copper, nickel, tin, cobalt, topaz and many beautiful kinds of marble.

The mining district best known at present is that of La Famatina; from which a cable-way of 35 kilometres in length was constructed by the National Government some years ago to connect the hillside mines with the rail-head at Chilecito.

La Rioja has, however, many other evidently rich mineral areas, including some containing quartz and alluvial gold. The unsystematic exploitation of these has as yet given but small satisfactory results.

The city of La Rioja, the Capital, is still in a state of arrested development, similarly with Catamarca, only even more so. It has not yet experienced sufficient prosperity to enable it to recover from the paralysing effects of the civil disturbances which raged in and around it for very many years after the overthrow of the Spanish rule. The people, the great majority of whom have a large admixture of native Indian blood, are, however, of a rather more lively and energetic disposition than their Catamarcan neighbours. This is no doubt due to a difference in their racial origin; the Indian ancestors of the natives of La Rioja having apparently belonged to tribes which in bygone times inhabited, or were in close relations with those which inhabited, Peru[167] and thus possibly absorbed something of the Inca civilization.

The surface of La Rioja has two general aspects; one part is broken and mountainous and the other an immense plain, needing, as has been said, only labour and irrigation to yield rich agricultural results. The one important river of the Province is the Bermejo. The mineral wealth of this Province lies almost if not entirely exclusively, in its mountainous districts.

Jujuy has its very special interest for the Anglo-Saxon race, since it affords, in the history of the Leach family, a striking example of the colonizing enterprise and patience of that race.

Look at the position of Jujuy on the map and imagine what colonizing must have been like in the middle of last century when the brothers Leach first settled in what has since become a Province, but then was a wild district inhabited by native Indians.

One of the brothers, especially, Mr. Walter Leach, seems to have exercised a peculiar and highly beneficial influence over these people, and managed to introduce ideas of industry and gradual civilization to tribes whose former lives had been mostly occupied with warfare one with another.

Now we may almost say that “Leach” is synonymous with “Jujuy” and vice versa, and enterprises initiated by this family now embrace all branches of industry of which the Province is yet capable, including large sugar plantations and machinery. Now, the National Central Northern Argentine Railway connects Jujuy with the outer world, but before its advent it was indeed a far-off land to be reached only after many weeks’ arduous journeying. Jujuy is the most distant and, after Tucumán, the smallest Province of the Republic.

It is bounded on the North and North-West by Bolivia,[168] on the West by the National Territory of Los Andes and on the South and East by the Province of Salta.

Jujuy produces not inconsiderable quantities of wheat, maize, barley and alfalfa and, as has been said, sugar.

In the North it has a number of salt lakes, which are exploited commercially, as also are some deposits of borax.

The climate of Jujuy is very varied, according to altitude, but in general is much more temperate than the actual latitude of the Province would lead one to suppose. There is always a considerable rainfall during hot weather. Its chief river is the Rio Grande de Humahuaca, a tributary of the Bermejo, which coming from the North curves in a semicircle through the Central and South-Eastern parts of the Province.

Jujuy, with its broken surface, claims rivalry with Tucumán as the most picturesque of the Argentine Provinces. In some of its southern districts the vegetation is tropical. In the North-West there is a high tableland much of which is dry and practically desert, interspersed with fertile valleys.

In the South of the Province the population is of mixed racial origin with a very large element of native Indian blood. In the North it is practically pure Indian. The native Humahuaca dialect is preponderant everywhere, even in Spanish as spoken there. In the North there is little or no pretension to speak anything but Humahuaca.

The Capital, however, the City of Jujuy, was, strangely enough, the first Argentine town to have its streets paved. It was the scene of the assassination of General Lavalle, one of the heroes of the Wars of Independence, and possesses the original flag of General Belgrano, the blue and white chosen by him for the nascent Republic, and ever since retained by it. Later the National Colours and those of Uruguay (a slightly different arrangement of the same blue and white) were officially emblazoned with the golden “Sun of May”; the 25th of May, 1810, being the date of the Declaration of Independence from the rule of Spain.


As has been mentioned above, most of such prosperity as Jujuy as yet possesses is due to the patient energy of the Leach family. Such administrative and fiscal discredit as attaches to the Province is, on the other hand, due to the native element among its politicians. These evils inevitably must soon be swept away by the advance of civilized ideas and necessity for better management by public authority. The mass of the population will, no doubt, continue to live in its own long-accustomed primitive fashion.

It hardly contains the racial elements of rapid advance towards a much higher civilization.

Future immigration must be relied on to do much to develop Jujuy’s natural resources.

At present a certain amount of rather primitive, and some contraband, export and import trade is done with Bolivia in the Northern parts of the Province.

Jujuy is poor in Live Stock even of the native kinds.

With Salta we complete the list of the less important outlying Argentine Provinces.

Like Jujuy, it is bounded on the North by Bolivia, on the West by Jujuy and the National Territory of Los Andes, on the South by Tucumán and Santiago del Estero, and on the East by the National Territory of Formosa.

Salta is indeed historic ground; so full of reminiscence of the Wars of Independence that it may almost be called the cradle of the Republic. It was also in Salta that Jabez Balfour was at length taken into custody, after a long struggle for an extradition treaty between Great Britain and Argentina.

The writer is well acquainted with a gentleman, since then become a prominent figure in the railway world of the River Plate, who “specially” drove the engine of the train which brought Balfour down to civilization and captivity. The[170] prisoner had money which he had spent freely among his new neighbours, and attempts at rescue were expected. So the train rushed on its downward course with a velocity to which the then permanent way and rails were totally unaccustomed, but, as all the world was soon made aware, arrived at its destination without accident.

The prisoner had been the victim of his own luxurious habits, for he had grown so fat that it was impossible to convey him through frontier mountain passes into Bolivia, as his friends had intended and as would have been possible, in point of time, to do before the expected warrant for his arrest could have found its way into the not too willing hands of the local authorities.

Until his recent death, the present generation had scarcely heard of Jabez Balfour. Yet he was widely celebrated in contemporaneous popular song as “The man who broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.”

In Salta is still to be found a much more really interesting personage in the Gaucho, the Cavaliere Rusticano of the River Plate and the hero of all its earlier poetry and romance. He of the guitar-accompanied improvised verse, of the quick flashing knife and equally quick Rebenque.[26] He was no small element in the victories won over the Spanish soldiery nor in the long years of civil war which followed Independence. He is still in Salta; one of the last parts of the Republic in which he can be found. Comparatively uncontaminated by the encroachments of the drab uniformity of civilization.

He remains romantic and brutal, chivalrous and treacherous, hospitable and quick to resent the mere implication of an insult. Still a cattle herd adept with lazo or boleadora,[27] a nomad ever seeking fresh fields and pastures[171] new within the limits of his native territory. Give him a uniform he is a very useful soldier, and a fair military policeman, save for his rather erratic fits of truculence. For the rest no good at all outside of the few spheres mapped out for him by the limitation of his own strongly marked individuality. But he will always know again an animal he has once seen, and will track out a lost sheep across a very maze of confused spoor.

Mr. Herbert Gibson[28] has written of the gaucho with true feeling and appreciation in the following words:—

Skilled in horsemanship, quick of hand and of eye; in his beginnings the Arab and nomad of the plains; indifferent of his neighbour’s life, for his own he carried in his hand to risk at the first hazard, yet “loyal to his own law” even in his most lawless exploits—the gaucho of the Pampa constitutes the genuine emblem of the Argentine genius. He is the materialized expression of the spirit of the vast and lonely plain. “Bearing allegiance to neither King nor thing,” as Azara writes, he followed the fate of the live stock of the colony; when the cattle escaped control he too declared himself free, running wild and beyond the pale of even nominal domestication. The Pampa was his home, and in his ears the breeze moving over the plains whispered to him of liberty. To colonial rule succeeded the new order of Independence, and the gaucho, inured by his style of living to the stress of weather and to the struggle with savage animals, became the right hand of the petty chiefs of party faction, ever joining the side in conflict with the ruling power. The words law and order signified for him oppression and servitude, and he became the declared enemy of all authority. But with all his faults the gaucho, in his own element, mounted on his beloved horse, with lazo secured to the back of his saddle and his boleadora hanging from his waist, was the henchman beyond price for the work of the old estancia, knowing how to dominate and domesticate the savage herds and droves of wild mares. In all that he has seemingly been modified by the progress of the times, he has remained unmodified in his spirit which is the essential manifestation of his climate and of his habit. The nomad gaucho of the colonial period converted into the loyal[172] gaucho of the estancia, the man with no other belongings than his horses and the silver clasp and buttons hanging at his belt to whom the breeder entrusted all his herds, and the grazier the money wherewith to buy the droves of bullocks, without for one moment thinking, either the one or the other, that he would neglect his charges or fail to render account to the uttermost farthing committed to his care. Alike loyal and venturesome in the fulfilment of his duties, and kindly and hospitable in his lowly home life, he is the hero of the rural romance of the Pampa. Not without regret and tender reminiscences must we take farewell of a period of pastoral life, from whose remembrance all the hardships and bitterness have disappeared, only leaving to us the recollection of that patriarchal and wholesome life which the late Hernandez has so skilfully depicted in the picturesque language of the gaucho who tells his story by the fitful light of the fire on the kitchen hearth while his fingers caress the melancholy strings of the guitar.

And now approaches the new era of railways, of fenced-in paddocks, of ingenious drafting gates and all the mechanical entourage of the modern pastoral industry. The gaucho, like Othello, is without an occupation, but the spirit which in divers forms and epochs has characterized him shall not die. It is the native spirit of the Argentine genius which enters the immigrant ere for long he has settled in the land and which inspires the sons born to him in this country; it is the instinct of independence and individuality engendered by the free air of a rural life, and which is the antithesis of the dependent spirit symbolized in city life by socialism.

Salta is a large, sparsely populated Province, the inhabitants of which outside the circle of its aristocratic families, are composed of our friend the Gaucho and his families and the Coya Indians. These last, cowboys and shepherds, are much more unpleasant people; morose, avaricious in their necessarily small way, and full of sullen duplicity. Their only obvious virtue is their devoted attachment to the small allotments of land they can call their own. This solitary virtue does not, however, make them any the pleasanter to strangers; all of whom indiscriminately they regard as possible enemies come to[173] rob them of their rights in some mysterious way or other.

Naturally, with such a population and on account of its distance from the great commercial centres of the Republic, Salta is not yet very far on the road to any great or settled prosperity.

It has some sugar plantations, cultivates some tobacco and makes some wine, but with its many generally well-watered and easily irrigable large areas of rich soil it could easily, and of course eventually will, progress.

It could grow a great deal more maize and alfalfa than it does, and could carry much more and better live stock than it yet troubles to do.

It produces some fruit and could produce all sorts of much choicer kinds in great variety; also potatoes, cotton and, as experts affirm, excellent coffee.

Of course there are here the old difficulties of irrigation, in some places, cost of transport and lack of intelligent labour. The first two are rapidly being overcome by the National Government, the last must be looked for overseas. The Gaucho and the Coya not only are not sufficiently numerous for Salta’s future needs, but (alas for the romance of the former!) they must be classed amongst the doomed unfit; to be merged in or overwhelmed by the march of modernity.

The aspect of Salta, like that of most of the northern Provinces and Territories, is varied. Mountain and low valley, broad plain and forest, deep river and rushing stream all alternate and give picturesqueness and diversity of climate. Goats, mules and sufficient horses for existing local needs are to be found here as in the neighbouring Provinces; all of which are justly famous for products, the mention of which must on no account be overlooked, the native cloths and PONCHOS, hand-woven of vicuna and guanaco wool. Soft, warm and durable, these cloths are highly and justly valued in the more civilized regions of the River Plate.


The manufacture of them dates from times which are prehistoric in America.

The forests of Salta contain a great quantity of Quebracho of excellent quality, and there are several indigenous creepers of caoutchouc-bearing kinds. This latter has as yet been little exploited, and then only in an extremely primitive manner.

Salta boasts a large hydropathic establishment in connection with the hot mineral springs of Rosario de la Frontera.

Salta, the Capital, is another of the old Colonial cities, amid the low houses of which fine new public buildings occur incongruously; iconoclastic. It has also a zoological garden which, wisely, contains many interesting specimens of local fauna, fine, luxuriantly planted public gardens and Plazas and an excellent Police Band.

In the oligarchic days of only a very few years ago the police forces of these outlying Provinces were extremely important political instruments. Under the Constitution the Provinces cannot raise or maintain independent soldiery; but who could say them nay if the exigencies of an uncultured population necessitated a large police force armed with Mausers?—to ensure due obedience to the orders of and agreement with the policy of the Provincial powers that were.

There are few commercial centres in Salta having populations sufficient to give them importance as towns. Metan is the largest, and after it come Cafayate, Campo Santo and Rosario de la Frontera, which, as has been said, is noted for its hot springs.


This is one of the richer Provinces on account of its vines and the large wine-making industry. Similarly with Tucumán and Sugar, one may say that Mendoza and Wine are in Argentina practically synonymous; this observation[175] also applies to its neighbour, San Juan, the second great wine-producing Province. Indeed it is quite common—very common indeed, in fact—to say of a person who shows signs of being under alcoholic influence that he is “Entre San Juan y Mendoza” (between San Juan and Mendoza).

Besides those of its vines, the greatest agricultural products of Mendoza are alfalfa, grown over very considerable areas of salt-impregnated soil, and a much smaller proportion of maize.

The population of Mendoza is small and the number of its live stock very little larger: although in point of superficial area Mendoza ranks third (after Buenos Aires and Córdoba) among the Argentine Provinces. It is only fair, however, to add that much of the Western Area of Mendoza is very mountainous, since it includes a long stretch of the Eastern side of the Andes.

This Province is bounded on the North by that of San Juan, on the West by Chile, on the South by the National Territories of Neuquen and the Pampa Central, and on the East by the Province of San Luis.

Its department of San Rafael is a very large one, larger indeed than the whole of the rest of the Province put together; in it is found the greatest agricultural activity, including the great alfalfa fields. The Mendoza cattle are of all kinds and varieties, little attention having been yet, generally, given to the science of cross-breeding. It, however, exports numbers of cattle to Chile, either by way of mountain passes or the Transandine Railway; but a great many of these have been bred in neighbouring Provinces and sent to Mendoza for a fattening period before exportation.

Irrigation is a great feature of Mendoza, which was the first Province to receive any notable attention in this regard. Now, if we except, perhaps, the great irrigation works and schemes already well advanced in the National Territories[176] of Neuquen and the Rio Negro, Mendoza has, with San Juan, the largest and most comprehensive systems (both existing and in advanced stages of consideration) in the whole Republic.

The fall of the mountain rivers and the eastward drop of the whole surface of the Province makes irrigation here a comparatively easy task, while the natural fertility of the soil quickly and richly repays the initial cost and upkeep of reservoirs and canals. One menace there is which hangs ever over Mendoza, that of volcanic eruptions. The whole of its Capital was completely destroyed as recently as 1861. The city has, however, been rebuilt on its former site, a sort of shelf of land situated on the spring of the great Andine range. Gradually the loosely built low adobe houses have been and are still being replaced in the New Town by several-storied buildings of solid masonry; courage growing as the date of the last great earthquake grows more remote. Still slight shocks are of frequent occurrence in the Capital and elsewhere in this Province.

The City of Mendoza is rich in public gardens and avenues filled with luxuriantly umbrageous vegetation and has, of course (what self-respecting Argentine town has them not?), electric light and trams; but its just pride is the great West Park, situate on another level shelf of land projecting from the foot of the Cordillera on a higher level than that on which the City is built.

This Park has a sheet of water of almost a mile in length by some seventy-five yards broad, in which are ornamental islets and on which regattas are held. For these festal occasions there is a huge stone grand stand at one end of the water. The Park has many magnificent electric-lighted avenues lined with trees of majestic proportions, and all over it are gardens of subtropical shrubs and plants. Within its great bronze gates are also a zoological and a, specifically, botanical garden.



With all this, if Mendoza has drawn somewhat on the[177] future to foot the bill of its many embellishments, it has done no more than many other cities of the still new South American countries, and with more immediate prospect of justification for its expenditure than have several others. What Mendoza has got to do now is to create an export trade for its wines, on the condition precedent that it manufacture wines that will keep and will improve with keeping. Otherwise with increased irrigation it may run the risk of over-production, since the home consumption is as yet a limited one. The increase of the population of the River Plate countries is, as we have seen, still slow, and outside the towns very little wine is drunk by the majority of the people except on special and rare occasions; mate sufficing for their habits and needs.

Mendoza sends large quantities of table-grapes and other fruit to Buenos Aires, and hopes one day to send them overseas. This latter consideration depends greatly on the adoption of improved methods of picking and packing, matters to which the management of the Buenos Aires Pacific Railway has given much practical attention. Care in such details is, however, but little in the Argentine nature generally, and even in a less degree in that of the strong mixture of Indian blood which marks the working classes of Mendoza, as it does in all except the littoral Provinces. Very good canned peaches come from the Mendoza factories and are in large demand throughout the Republic.

Coal and petroleum have both been found in the Province, but further working tests are needed before their probable commercial value can be ascertained.

From the City of Mendoza the Buenos Aires Pacific Railway (familiarly B.A.P.) strikes upward to where it passes through the Transandine tunnel; on the Mendoza side of which is the famous Puente del Inca (the Inca’s bridge), a vast block of stone which, lying across a ravine, makes a natural bridge, recalling the giant-built palace of the old Norse Gods. Here are also some hot mineral springs[178] celebrated for treatment of rheumatism; to which treatment the dry, rarefied mountain air perhaps contributes its less recognized quota.

This Province is bounded on the North and East by the Province of La Rioja, on the West by Chile, and on the South and South-East by the Provinces of Mendoza and San Luis respectively.

Of all the Argentine Provinces San Juan has shown itself, until very recent times indeed, probably the most recalcitrant towards financial orderliness. A repeated non possumus was the only answer its inertness returned to the many periodical fulminations and menaces of the National Government in respect of its treasury bonds or depreciated Provincial paper money. So depreciated, in fact, that it was worth nothing at all outside the Province itself, and was by no means welcome, although legal, tender within its boundaries.

San Juan pleaded that it could not call this paper in since it had nothing with which to replace it—all the little National money it got for its wines and other produce went immediately back to Buenos Aires again for necessary purchases.

The National Government insisted that San Juan must remove the disgrace from its financial escutcheon or all sorts of things would happen. San Juan regretted deeply and asked for time. In the meanwhile it contrived to raise another of those loans, without much more than a shadow of adequate security or provision, which long have been the nightmare of the National Government, and it still kept on using its depreciated notes. So, and in many other ways for long, very long, did San Juan wrestle, successfully according to its lights, with the spirit of progress until irrigation, fostered by the National Government, came to the aid of the latter in a way there was no denying.



San Juan had to become more prosperous and to begin to pay its way in respectable fashion. It evidently did not in the least want to do so, but it could not any longer see any way by which it could avoid recognition of its just liabilities. Thus are the good old times of this Province vanishing; the good old times which made sufficient provision for an aristocratic oligarchy and in which vassals had no opportunity of acquiring luxurious tastes.

First the railway, slow in this case, however, in its usually tonic effects and then irrigation, which poured water on to a naturally very fertile soil, brought it about that one day San Juan woke up to find itself faced with financial responsibility.

People from the littoral and even from overseas came and bought land and paid good prices in hard cash for it and then planted vines of new, productive kinds; trimmed them in new, productive ways; and made better wine out of them than San Juan had ever deemed at all necessary. Other people planted wheat and alfalfa, and even troubled to grow more maize than there had been before. In fact, if ever a Province had greatness thrust upon it in a bewilderingly short space of time it was San Juan. People are even prospecting and actually exploiting its long-latent mineral wealth, looking for and finding deposits of gold, silver, copper, iron, zinc, lead, sulphur, alum, mica, rock salt, lignite and marble.

The exploitation of many of these has not yet attained any very great commercial importance,[29] but that of others has already done so, and all the companies concerned have brought money into the Province and pay wages to many native workers. All this troublesomeness tends to curtail the daily siesta, but a consequent bundle of full-value national dollars operates as a consolation to even the most conscientious observer of traditional custom. The next[180] generation of San Juan inhabitants will doubtless be as wide awake as their neighbours, and strikes may take the place of old-time rebellion to the orders of patriarchal overlords; while the latter will be put to it to work their ancestral lands intelligently in order to maintain the due measure of their proper dignity.

Not only has the National Government fostered large systems of irrigation in and given irrigation to this Province, but it has also run a railway connecting the City of San Juan with the Federal Capital; thus providing another outlet for its grapes, wines and other produce.

An instance of the former commercial apathy of San Juan, and of its neighbour Mendoza for that matter, was, not long ago, to be found in the manner in which the growers of table-grapes allowed themselves to be continually and methodically jockeyed by the fruit ring of Buenos Aires.

The worthies composing this ring were low-class, ignorant men, who could only grasp the possibilities of monopoly and market rigging on a very small scale. Their simple method was to put only a certain limited quantity of fruit each week on the retail markets of the Federal Capital and to charge exorbitant prices therefor. To the poor, three-quarter Indian, ignorant people of the islands of the Paraná they said that Buenos Aires did not care much for peaches, and so they only went there once a week or so to fetch a few, at miserable prices, for market. The rest of huge crops were left to rot on the trees. San Juan (and Mendoza) were evidently given to understand that a similar situation existed in regard to grapes.

How this could have been so is hard to understand, except on the ground of extreme apathy on the part of the Provinces concerned, for lots of vineyard owners live at least half the year in Buenos Aires, and could have told of the scarcity and high price of fruit in that city.

However this may have been, the fact remained that so many kilos of table-grapes, and no more, went down to[181] Buenos Aires in specially constructed trucks placed on the B.A.P. trains three days per week. Until the General Manager, Mr. J. A. Goudge, decided to act in the better interests of the Provinces concerned and, incidentally, also in those of his company, by running grape trains six days a week.

He thought, perhaps, that the Buenos Aires fruit merchants would call at his offices with illuminated testimonials. If he did so he was entirely mistaken. They did call, but it was to curse not bless. He would ruin them all, they said; they had comfortably arranged for such and such supplies of grapes, but more would upset their plans and businesses completely! They left Mr. Goudge unconvinced. So much so, indeed, that considering the menace of the ring to boycott his new trains, he hit on the simple but adequate expedient of running three grape trains per week from San Juan, non-stopping at Mendoza, and three starting from the latter place. San Juan needed its three trains, so did Mendoza, and therefore no one could boycott either service. Result, the arrival at Buenos Aires of six grape trains per week. The ring soon accommodated itself to the extra supply and went on robbing the busy, light-hearted Porte?os (as people born in Buenos Aires are called) till the continued efforts of a paternally wise Municipality at last, after a long and bitter struggle, crushed the power of all the food rings in that formerly ring-ridden city.

This little piece of economic history is here intended to show the depths of somnolence and blindness to their own interests in which the grape growers of San Juan and Mendoza reposed till, so to speak, only the other day.

San Juan is capable of producing good quality cotton and tobacco. Its general climate is warm, hot in summer, and in parts very dry; though the humidity of the soil and atmosphere of the chief vine areas are greater than in those of Mendoza. Hence the relative general superiority and freedom from insect pests of the Mendoza vineyards.


The city of San Juan is Colonial in almost all its aspects, and its public and private gardens, filled with mingled tropical and temperate zone trees, shrubs and flowers, exhale the lazy atmosphere of days the memory of which is so constantly recurrent in all distant Argentine towns. Sleepy hollow; maybe, but its charm! A charm which will not nor can ever be “reconstructed,” try all those of us who are afflicted with unhappy artistic temperaments, never so hard. But that charm is still in San Juan, in Misiones (the one-time “Jesuit Empire”), Salta and Jujuy; in spite of new Government and Municipal Buildings, electric light and trams.

Later, we will go to the Falls of Iguazú, greater and more magnificent than Niagara or the Victoria Falls. These wonderful Falls are in the great up-to-date, go-ahead Argentine Republic. What proportion of our “Man-in-the-street” has ever heard of them? And how many good intelligent inhabitants of Buenos Aires have any clear idea of what they are really like?

The name of the Pampa is also redolent of romance; of memories of vast herds of wild cattle and horses, picturesque gauchos and raiding Indians; but the Pampa Central of to-day is a great and ever-growing cereal area, soon, no doubt, to become in its own right the fifteenth Province of the Republic. A Province probably destined to outstrip rapidly many of its older compeers in the race for wealth and very modern in its utilitarian progressiveness.

Its superficial area is approximately equal to that of Mendoza, and though as yet it lacks population, that will come to it sooner than to many other parts of the Republic,[183] since it already grows much more than double as much wheat as all the rest of the Republic put together, after exception made of the Provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fé and Córdoba, and more than double as much linseed after exception made of the Provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fé, Córdoba and Entre Rios. It also produces more maize than any Province or other Territory with the exception of the last-mentioned four.

Its development has been the most rapid of any part of quick-moving Argentina. No just comparison of progress can be made with Uruguay; the conditions under which the latter country has until so recently struggled having been adverse to rapidity of material development, whereas the Pampa Central was freed from its only, though great, disturbing element, nomadic hordes of native Indians, as long ago as 1884.

This Territory is bounded on the North by the Provinces of Mendoza, San Luis and Córdoba, on the West by Mendoza and the National Territory of Neuquen, on the South by the National Territory of Rio Negro, and on the East by the Province of Buenos Aires.

Some parts of the Pampa Central are hilly and wooded and, as in some parts of the Province of Buenos Aires, ever-moving sand-hills vary the monotony of other portions of its surface, but the greater part of it is the continuation of a vast plain, begun in the Province of Buenos Aires, the Pampa of the Indians, from which it takes its name. It is, in fact, the Central Pampa; the Eastern being in the Province of Buenos Aires and the Southern extending into Patagonia.

Though the Pampa Central boasts only two great rivers, the Rio Colorado and the Rio Negro, the latter of which forms its southern boundary, it has many both fresh-water and saline lakes, and water is seldom to seek far from its surface.

The chief products of the Pampa Central are wheat,[184] linseed, maize and oats, but with the growth of its alfalfa fields and the planting of good grasses in lieu of the native hard pasturage, it has also become a great centre of the Live Stock fattening industry, especially during the winter months.

The sandy, salty soil of much of this territory, with water near the surface, provides, as has been said of similar tracts elsewhere, just the conditions most favourable to lucerne; while in other parts the soil is extremely rich in humus.

Three of the great railway systems serve the Pampa Central; viz. the Buenos Aires Western, the Buenos Aires Pacific, and the Buenos Aires Great Southern, carrying its produce to the ports of both Buenos Aires and Bahia Blanca.

Santa Rosa de Toay is the Capital of this Territory; a purely commercial town which by its rapidly grown importance supplanted the old Capital, General Acha.

The Pampa Central has also numerous other active centres of the cereal trade and general commerce.

On the question of its becoming a Province of the Republic there is considerable local difference of opinion; a good many of its business men holding that honour dear at the price of having to maintain a Provincial Congress and various Ministries and the rest of the appanages of autonomy. In this they are right. Direct National Government is certainly the cheapest and it is also very far from being the worst.

The Pampa Central now exports large quantities of high-class wool and hides. It also has some copper mines, the present output of which, however, is not of great importance.

This territory would already, no doubt, have been much more populous than it is had it not been the scene of one of the most glaring of the labour-exploiting scandals referred to elsewhere in these pages.

Here the cases were sufficiently numerous and contemporaneous to render a menace of serious disturbance possible to and partially effective by people who had been cajoled into developing virgin land only to be threatened with[185] expulsion (as soon as that work had been done and before they had been able to derive any profit from it) by owners who only revealed their existence at what seemed to them the propitious moment for their appearance on the scene of other people’s labours. Compromises were arrived at by which the farmers consented to pay rent for their holdings, but the scandal undoubtedly kept many others away from the Territory, and even now an evil result of it continues in the shape of almost every tenant being obviously only anxious to get the most he can out of the land while it is his to work. Few tenant farmers in the Pampa spend much money in buildings or other improvements.

The Pampa Central is a crying case for the adoption and insistence by the National Government on the real practical working out of a true colonization policy. A policy by which the small farmer could obtain the indisputable freehold of land which he develops and on which he lives, be he Argentine or foreigner.

In all else the foreigner actually enjoys under the Constitution the same privileges (except eligibility for high Government office, etc.) as a born Argentine. But land! It must go hard with an Argentine ere he part with his ultimate rights in that. Yet, I repeat, he must make up his mind to do so on a large scale or he will find his whole progress arrested as surely as if the Antarctic zone had suddenly extended its icy influence over half of his Republic. If he will not give them land the class of colonist he most needs—the real settler—will continue to give the country a wide berth and its output must remain stationary at the point at which it fully occupies all available labour.

This is one of the least generally known parts of Argentina. Misiones figures in the history of the Spanish Conquest and that of the Jesuit Missionaries,[30] from which it[186] takes its present name; the Territory of the Rio Negro has of late years become prominent by reason of great schemes of irrigation (these, however, also affect the Eastern portions of Neuquen); Chubut came into notice in connection with the not over-successful establishment of a Welsh colony; the Chaco is vaguely associated in the general mind with Indian Reservations and occasional real or reported disturbances caused by the aborigines confined therein; but the Territories of Santa Cruz, Formosa, Los Andes and Neuquen are still little more than geographical expressions to even the vast majority of the inhabitants of the rest of the Republic.

A principal cause of this is that most of the inhabitants of Neuquen are to be found on the Western and most distant side of it (in which the most fertile, and almost the only really fertile parts of it, until irrigation is an accomplished fact, are situated) and because they not only do all their trading with Chile, but, to all intents and purposes, are Chileans.

It is quicker and easier to get backward and forward through well-known Andine passes between Neuquen and Chile than to accomplish the journey between the rail-head at Senillosa, a little to the West of the township of Neuquen, and the productive and well-watered Andine valleys. The Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway, which serves this Territory, now, however, has under construction an extension of the Neuquen line to far up the Andes; from whence it is intended to connect with the Chilean Railway system.

Therefore the richest parts of Neuquen are as yet practically Chilean colonies; from which cattle and agricultural produce find their way, some paying and much contriving to escape payment of duty to the neighbouring Republic, which in return sends such manufactured articles as the colonist’s somewhat humble needs demand.


This Territory is bounded on the North by the Province[187] of Mendoza, on the West by Chile, on the South by the Territory of the Rio Negro, and on the East by the Territory of the Pampa Central.

Neuquen, though Argentina at large knows little of it, grows more wheat than any other National Territory, except the Pampa Central, and more alfalfa than any except the last named and the Territory of the Rio Negro. It also sends small quantities of potatoes and other table vegetables to Chile. Its chief exports to that country consist of cattle and sheep on the hoof.

The whole of the Andine side of Neuquen is extremely picturesque, and abounds in fertile valleys well watered by mountain streams. These streams, after their arrival at the foot of the Andine range, form a network of ultimate tributaries of the great rivers Colorado and Negro; after having formed a whole system of lakes of which Nahuel Huapí is the largest. The scenery of this lake, with the great snow-covered volcanic mountain Tronador (the Thunderer) on its Southern end, is Scandinavian in its tree-clad magnificence. The superficial area of this lake is some 1000 square miles and its depth in some parts is over 700 feet.

On one of its islands, Victoria, the enormously wealthy Argentine family of Anchorena have founded a colony to work its wealth of virgin timber, on a 99 years’ lease from the National Government.

A number of small steam and sailing boats ply on this lake, gathering the wood, hides and other produce of the farms on its borders and bringing to the farmers their necessary supplies.

Neuquen is credited with alluvial goldfields and has some copper. Its mineral wealth is as yet, however, really unascertained; the prospecting and tentative exploitation of it having been up to the present only done by syndicates or small companies whose resources have been too limited for the tasks they have set themselves in, from the point of view of transport, such inaccessible regions.


The Western and South-Western parts of this Territory are rich in timber, and its Eastern plains should, with irrigation, repeat the prosperous history of the Pampa Central.

It has many hot and other mineral springs, the medicinal and other virtues of which are already known in Chile; from which country they attract many sufferers from rheumatism and stomachic and other ailments.

In dealing with all the yet little known outlying parts of the vast Argentine Republic one is apt to become wearisomely tautological in one’s endeavours to give some true idea of their enormous latent natural wealth. Yet if one set out, ever so modestly, to bring some conception of them home to the Northern Hemisphere, one must tell the truth even at the risk of reiteration. And the truth is that for the future wealth of all these regions there is only one word, Incalculable.

The Territories of Neuquen and the Rio Negro will soon have irrigation on a vast scale and of most modern design. This work is being carried out for the National Government by the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway Company and is already far advanced.

The virgin soil of the plains of these Territories is almost incredibly rich in humus and alluvial deposit; and they have a wealthy Railway Company ready to afford all necessary means of transport to deep-water ports which nature has already provided on the Atlantic Ocean at, comparatively, no great distance from any of, and in many instances close to, what will be their chief centres of agricultural production (in the widest sense of that term).


The most important of the general observations applicable to this Territory have already been made immediately above; remains in their connection only to be said that the[189] Northern side of the valley of the Rio Negro itself contains some of the naturally richest soil to be found anywhere in the Republic. Anyone armed with a watering-pot can grow any temperate-zone crop, fruit or plant and be astounded by the brobdingnagian proportions of its yield, accomplished in a space of time suggestive of Jack’s Beanstalk.

And this anywhere in the midst of what now is an arid desert, on which the only vegetation is sparse, stunted, scrubby, useless bush.

The reasons for this are that these eastern regions of the South have practically no rainfall at all and that all the water running from the Andes to the Sea has already found its way, farther west, into one or other of the great Rivers Colorado and Negro.

The huge irrigation scheme now being carried out will utilize an enormous natural hollow formerly known as the Cuenca Vidal, now rechristened Lago Pellegrini (after a once prominent Argentine statesman) as a natural storage reservoir. The surplus water from the lake and river system, which makes a network over the whole of the western part of the territories of Neuquen and the Rio Negro, at the base of the Andes, will be utilized for the irrigation of their eastern plains. This system is also destined to serve another necessary purpose: namely, to regulate the flow of the Rio Negro.

This is very necessary indeed; for this river, swollen by the melting of Andine snow and ice, which has in some years taken place in an exceptional degree, comes down suddenly with overpowering violence, headed by what is like a huge tidal wave, and sweeps everything within miles of its normal, deep-cut, banks before it.

Several times during the past fifty years have settlers been tempted by the rich alluvial soil, brought down by centuries of just such floodings, to establish themselves near enough to the actual river to irrigate by some one or other rough lift system, and remained there year in year[190] out, in the false security enjoyed by peasants on the slopes of a volcano, till one day a thunderous roar has been the only warning of the immediate approach of a torrential flood. Lucky the man who could catch and mount his horse in time to gallop away and thus save his life. All the rest, cattle, house and crops, were swept away in a second by the great head wave and following floods of the river suddenly swollen by the simultaneous overflowing of its innumerable tributary lakes.

Now all this will be guarded against, and, incidentally, the Rio Negro may be rendered really navigable for a very considerable distance by other engineering works for the removal and control of its bar.

However, and when, this last may be, there can be no doubt about the magic change that the first partial irrigation of these present desert plains will quickly create. Trees will soon grow on the irrigated portions, and these trees and other vegetation will arrest the clouds which now fly on unheedingly to the superior attractions of the Andes or the southern hills of the Province of Buenos Aires. The very southernmost portion of that Province is now in the same sad case as the rest of the valley of the Rio Negro, of which it forms a part.

As the result, smiling verdure will replace arid desert; in a short space of time, because of the natural fertility of the soil on which the transformation will take place.

Already two dotted lines on the railway map, one between Bahia Blanca and Carmen de Patagones, near the mouth of the Rio Negro, and the other branching from it to San Blas, show where the Buenos Aires Pacific Railway intends to run its first two lines through the southernmost strip of the Province of Buenos Aires which lies between the Rios Colorado and Negro, and other two dotted lines, one running southwards from the township of Rio Colorado to the bay of San Antonio, in the San Matias Gulf, and the other from the centre of the first to a junction, near Choele Choel, with[191] the main line to Neuquen, show the first intentions of the Buenos Aires Great Southern line towards that portion of the valley of the Rio Negro which falls within its agreed sphere of influence.

In agreeing to a division between them of the productive and prospectively productive areas of the southern parts of the Republic, these two great Railway Companies not only removed from their own paths the disastrous temptation to cut each other’s throats by tariff war, but also to a considerable extent precluded profitable competition by outside enterprise.

The National Government has now a line running from the port of San Antonio running East and West right across the Territory. The construction of this line will soon reach Lake Nahuel Huapí.

San Blas deserves special mention as the probable future chief port of the Rio Negro valley. On a long inlet of the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of which is a large projecting island and having deep water right up to its shores, San Blas has been described by high British authority to be the finest natural port, after Rio de Janeiro, on the Atlantic coast, both for commercial and strategic purposes.

It formed part of a concession made many years ago by the National Government to the late Mr. E. T. Mulhall, the Editor and, with his brother, Mr. Michael Mulhall, the eminent statistician of his time, joint founder of The Buenos Aires Standard, in recognition of services done for the development of the Republic; which in those days of its obscurity and distress was much aided towards a better and truer knowledge of its possibilities in Europe by the efforts of what now is the oldest established newspaper in America. The Standard is printed, as it always has been, in the English language.

The Rio Negro Territory already grows a good deal of wheat and oats and has the largest area under alfalfa of any National Territory except the Pampa Central; it also has[192] some vineyards and many European fruit trees grow in the fertile valleys at the foot of the Andes.

The minerals of this Territory are as yet an almost unknown quantity, except some copper and salt. Petroleum has also been found at Bariloche, but its commercial value is not fully ascertained.

The climate of the Rio Negro is temperate and, as has been indicated, for the most part very dry. One disadvantage to agriculture in the flat parts of these southern Territories is the furious winds which frequently sweep over them. The force of these will, it is reasonably hoped, be broken by trees in the days to come.

This reminds one of the tragi-comic history of the contemplated exploitation of certain great salt marshes situate not very distant from San Blas.

The brine from these was to be, and indeed on a great inaugural occasion was, run through pipes into immense shallow basins, where it was to lie until its moisture had been evaporated by the sun and wind. Afterwards the salt was to be shipped at the port of San Blas to Buenos Aires or elsewhere.

All seemed very well with this plan. The brine was duly accumulated in the drying basins, the sun shone fiercely on it—and, then, the wind blew and blew. So hard that it emptied the basins and distributed the brine they had contained over the rest of the Universe. Thus was a good scheme brought to naught by the miscalculations of its initiators. These, however, were wealthy enough to take the matter in good part. Indeed, it was from one of them that the present writer had the story. Still there is plenty of good salt in the Territory.

The Rio Negro has as yet only townships of rough-and-ready architecture, the centres of its nascent commerce. Viedma, its capital, is in a fertile tract of land at the mouth of the Rio Negro; it was, however, almost completely destroyed by a great flood in 1899. Its communication[193] with the Federal Capital is maintained by the steamers which call at Carmen de Patagones, on the opposite bank of the river, and by ferry thereto and coach to the head of the above-mentioned new line of the Buenos Aires Pacific Railway which already reaches half-way between it and Bahia Blanca. The completion of this line will greatly affect Viedma for the better, while the regulation of the current of the Rio Negro will protect it from repeated destruction by flood. This Territory has a fair stock of sheep, but few cattle.

Chubut has struck oil, literally. Petroleum was discovered there only a few years ago (1907), and since the first discovery many more wells have been sunk in greater or less proximity to the first find in the district of Comodoro Rivadavia, situate almost on the southern boundary of this Territory and on the Gulf of San Jorge. On this gulf of the Atlantic Ocean, the new oil-fields enjoy an admirable commercial situation. Remains only to prove fully their commercial value; of which the great Argentine Railway Companies are evidently not yet fully persuaded as far as fuel for their purposes is concerned, since they still use imported coal.

A long continuance of this present European war might, however, give stimulus to experiment with Chubut petroleum, which evidently has some value, even if it need more preparation for use than the North American and European kinds.

These oil-fields were, as has often been the case in such matters, discovered by accident, but the discovery was made by the National Hydrological Department in the course of a search for an available water supply for the then new Comodoro Rivadavia port.

On these fields claims have been allotted to Companies and private individuals and a certain area has been reserved[194] to itself by the National Government. Most brilliant results of tests of all kinds are announced, the Government line of railroad from the Rio Negro port of San Antonio to Lake Nahuel Huapí “uses no other” (fuel); and yet, and yet, Comodoro Rivadavia petroleum is slow to make history in the markets of the world.[31]

Still, time must be given for proof, especially in Chubut, the general appearance of which Territory suggests that it was the last word of creation, in one sense, after, of course, utterly desolate Tierra del Fuego. It is only about two decades since the Argentine authorities themselves seem to have grasped the idea that such a place did exist in their dominions. It is only so long ago, anyhow, that the National Government thought fit to send the first resident Government officials to Chubut to look after whatever might need to be looked after there. Before that, a small part of it was under the absolute control of a Colony of Welsh people who first settled there in 1856-66. The rest of it was, and to a great degree still is, almost exclusively inhabited by native Patagonians.

The capital of the Territory, Rawson, was founded by the Welsh colonists at the place of their first landing on the South Atlantic coast. It has twice been destroyed by the flooding of the Chubut River, at the mouth of which it stood; but it has now been rebuilt more solidly than before and on a site rather more out of harm’s way.

The original Welsh colonists seem to have been a strangely puritanical and narrow-minded set of persons to find themselves in such an out-of-the-way corner of the earth as Chubut then was. So, however, it may be observed, were certain other persons who landed in North America a much longer while ago from a ship called the Mayflower. Anyhow, the Welsh built and their descendants still maintain Protestant[195] churches and a stern religious spirit in their town of Rawson, a somewhat bigoted spirit, be it added, since it forbade the inter-marriage of its flock with anyone not of their own, or at any rate British, nationality; nor would it, until very recently, permit their acceptance of the most tempting offer to sell any part of the land within the colonised areas to a “foreigner,” Argentine or otherwise. And this last restriction does not seem to have been so much due to foresight of a future increase in land value as to a simple objection to the admission of any stranger within the fold.

Time will change this no doubt, and change it as soon as Chubut begins really to advance, but all that time has as yet done for the Welsh colony appears to have been to sap the energy of its forefathers; the men who in the face of discouragement and deaf official ears turned to their just grievances, struggled on, themselves constructing irrigation canals, and changed disaster into comparative prosperity. The Chubut “Welshman” of to-day seems as lazy as his forebears were energetic. A fresh strain of blood is possibly needed for his case.

The superficial area of Chubut is very large. After the Territory of Santa Cruz (to which would seem to have been allotted all that was left over of the Republic except the Argentine half of Tierra del Fuego, after the Government of the more populated parts had been arranged for) it is the largest National Territory of Argentina, and much larger than any Province except that of Buenos Aires.

Its estimated population averages scarcely more than one per ten square miles, so that there is plenty of elbow room in Chubut. With a superficial area approximately equal to that of Italy, the total estimated number of its inhabitants is but 31,000.

However, no doubt there are good times coming for Chubut as elsewhere in Argentina, though, petroleum and its general effects apart, there is relatively little in Chubut to hasten their coming, except its fertile Andine valleys. Sheep certainly thrive on its rough, scanty vegetation, and[196] seem to find just sufficient shelter on its wind-swept plains; but Chubut has little rainfall and its available fresh waters are few and far between at any practicable distance beneath the surface. It has only one great river, the Chubut, from which it takes its name, and this runs very shallow in the summer, while many of the lakes dry up altogether. In the West, the Andine region, however, there is ample rainfall, and this is as yet the only really productive part.

Chubut grows and exports some alfalfa and sends some cattle to Chile, but its chief product is wool. Its wheat, however, though still small in quantity, fetches very good prices. A railway is projected to run East and West across this Territory. It already reaches from Puerto Madryn to Gainam, on the River Chubut, a little west of Rawson.

This Territory is bounded on the North by Chubut, on the West and South by Chile, and on the East by the Atlantic Ocean.

Santa Cruz is not by any means so desolate, on the whole, as Chubut. It is the land of the sheep, and its large, very large, estancias, either on the Andine side of it or on the banks of its rivers, mostly belong to British settlers, who have brought their own architecture, orchards and gardens with them to this really out-of-the-way spot. Anyone weary of the crowded world and its busy ways might live and die under the shadow of the ever-lessening, as one gets south, heights of the Andine range, in some snug, sheltered valley through which a rippling stream runs close to where he would sit on a green sward in the shade of his own orchard.

This is no fancy picture. As has been indicated elsewhere in these pages, nothing is so English, temperature, vegetation, the very breeds of sheep (Romeny March largely predominating), in America than some favoured spots in Santa Cruz. Only the climate is different in being drier, the rain mostly falling in blustering showers.


There is, of course, a contrast when one emerges from among the Andine valleys, rivers and lakes out on to the dry, wind-swept, desert-looking plains. Still, even there one comes at times to oases, on the banks of one or other of the several considerable rivers. Shelter from the furious winds which seem to blow eternally over Patagonia is the one necessity for man, beast and crops in Santa Cruz. Transport also is lacking. Even the railway which the National Government has partly constructed to run from Puerto Deseado, and for the rest has under advanced consideration, is apparently to strike almost immediately Northwards up into Chubut; leaving Santa Cruz, as it is now; almost a world of itself apart, as far at least as communication with the rest of Argentina is concerned. Its most fertile parts, like those of all these western and southern territories, are much more get-at-able from Chile than from their Atlantic sides.

However, a cold-storage establishment has been built at Gallegos, the chief port and the capital of this Territory; so that Santa Cruz may become a centre of the frozen and chilled mutton industry instead of, as formerly, exporting only wool and slaughtering sheep merely for their fat and skins. It is a good sheep country in the regions at all suitable for grazing, since disease is extremely rare in, if not entirely absent from, flocks reared in its cold dry climate. In respect of cattle and cereals the outlook is not so promising. Still, one cannot have everything even in Argentina. And one can grow wheat, oats and alfalfa, besides apples and pears in Santa Cruz.

First of all it may be said that there are no active volcanoes in Tierra del Fuego nor have been within the memory of man. Mr. Paul Walle, in his excellent work, already mentioned, L’Argentine telle qu’elle est, suggests that its[198] name may have been given it by early explorers who observed burning on it grass fires lit by the natives for the purpose of improving the growth of certain shrubs the leaves of which they use for food.

Be this as it may, the name “Fire Land,” as my friend the Government official translator naively has it in the English edition of the Monographs attached to the latest Argentine agricultural census, is anything but a warm spot; as certain demagogues who long troubled the industrial peace of Buenos Aires have shown that they are well aware.

These people were at one time periodically deported for inciting to commit or committing overt violence in connection with labour strikes. They were mostly anarchists of the type which tyrannical Governments all the world over persist in regarding as criminal. These men were put on board boats bound for their native countries, the police of which were telegraphically advised of their departure and intended destination. Needless to say, the anarchists took good care to contrive to leave the boat before she reached what was for them a danger zone. Usually they got out at Montevideo and soon were back again at their old work of stirring up strife in Buenos Aires.

At last the National Government had enough of this procedure and Congress passed a law whereby any person having been sentenced to deportation is, on being subsequently found in the Republic, liable to a term of penal servitude; and the fact that Tierra del Fuego would be the penal settlement to which recalcitrant anarchists would be sent was duly and insistently made public. This had a very beneficial effect for the Government and peaceable citizens at large. Dangerous anarchists thenceforth ceased to return to Argentina after deportation. They knew, or at least had read or heard, what the climate of Tierra del Fuego is; and that for people like them, used to fairly comfortable living, confinement there most likely meant burial there also.

Not quite half of this charming island, over which the[199] winds blow straight from the South Pole, belongs to Argentina and forms the National Territory under discussion. The other half of it belongs to Chile. Geologically most of this island is a prolongation of the Andes. On the Atlantic side of its forest-clad hills are sloping plains, the continuation of the Pampean formation. On these a peculiarly hardy breed of sheep graze, finding some shelter in valleys and hollows, and give a wool which fetches a good price in European markets. Grazing of a rough kind does also maintain cattle and horses on the Northern parts of the island. Fish and shell-fish of a multitude of kinds and good quality abound on the coast and afford material for a profitable industry, as also do the seal and whale fisheries, and penguins are hunted for their oil. All these fisheries are supposed to be under Government supervision, regulated by special laws; but, in fact, the practical difficulties of adequate supervision result in an enormous amount of highly destructive poaching.

The official estimate of the total cultivated area of Argentine Tierra del Fuego is 110 hectares, of which 90 are stated to be planted with potatoes and other table vegetables. The number of sheep is given by the same authority (Se?or Emilio Lahitte, Director of the Department of Rural Economy and Statistics in the National Ministry of Agriculture) as over 2,500,000 and cattle at about 15,000.

The Roman Catholic Silesian Brothers have a mission, schools and an estancia on the island; and a Protestant clergyman, the late Mr. Bridges, during his lifetime did a great deal towards civilizing and bettering the condition of the native Indians and also kept a self-supporting refuge home for the victims of the shipwrecks of small craft which are still too numerous on this wild storm-beaten coast. This good work is now being carried on by his son, the first child of European parentage born in Tierra del Fuego.

Ushuaia, the Capital, is chiefly notable for the penal gaol above alluded to. Formerly convicts were kept, but not[200] often for long before death overtook them, on an island which forms the very southernmost point of South America. It is a terribly cold, damp region where rain falls on an average 280 days in the year. On consideration, perhaps it is the reputation of this place which has so effectually damped the ardour of deported anarchists; as the Ushuaia gaol is a modern structure, said to be furnished with all the latest requirements for the well-being of prisoners. Still, even it, in Tierra del Fuego, can provide but uncomfortably cold lodging.

Tierra del Fuego is not lonely for it has many fishing ports and all navigation must pass it on the way through the Magellan Straits. For all that, one cannot but wonder why any but prisoners and prison and other officials go there (except, of course, fishermen and the adventurous spirits who are ever hunting in every accessible nook and cranny of it for alluvial gold) when there are so many much pleasanter and more profitable places, with, between them, all varieties of climates to choose from in the wide latitudes of the River Plate Republics. De gustibus, etc., one must suppose—and yield obedience to the final words of the saying.

If one has sufficient Spanish, one should read Leopoldo Lugones’ Imperio Jesuitico, and also the same author’s Guerras Gauchas, before going to Misiones. If not, one should go there all the same.

This territory is bounded on the North-East and South by Brazil, and on the West by Paraguay and the Province of Corrientes. It is sandwiched in between the rivers Paraná and Uruguay, but a very much smaller Paraná and Uruguay than we have seen further south.

Many parts of Argentina have been described as “The Garden of the Republic,” and many as its most picturesque region, but the latter description can surely only truthfully[201] apply to Misiones. If not sufficiently trim and cultivated to be called a garden, its superlative beauty and its crowning marvel the Iguazú Falls must leave even the most callous visitor pleasurably astounded; and not a little awestruck with its ruins and reminiscences of the dawn of South American civilization, which was heralded in these parts by the Jesuit Fathers. These Missionaries made most practical Christians of the surrounding tribes; teaching them the arts of architecture, carpentry, and such-like; not forgetting humility and obedience.

If one wants proof of all this one need but look on the ruins of monastery and church now half hidden amid an ever-encroaching luxuriant vegetation.

The descendants of those same Indians can hardly be got to do as much work in a lifetime now as they must have done in a week under the mild but very firm rule of the Jesuit Fathers. Eventually, the power these Missionaries had attained over the surrounding tribes became such as to label them dangerous to even Catholic Spain; and an order was given, and enforced, for their expulsion. They were scattered: and but the ruins of their solid, sculptured masonry, gardens and orange and olive groves now mark the places where once white-clad natives kept fast and feast days with as much solemn orderliness as ever so many timid monastic novices could do.

Nowadays, one can get from Buenos Aires to Misiones either by rail (North-East Argentine Railway) or by the Mihanovich company’s boats. Both ways furnish delightful travelling through interesting and picturesque country, though for pure scenery the river way is the best. The best of all, however, is to go up by rail and down again by boat and to see all there is, and there is a very great deal worth seeing, to be seen.

By either route one can stop at Posadas, the capital, evidently from its name an ancient resting-place for travellers (Posada being Spanish for an inn).


But people who are bent on reaching San Ignacio, a small river port, or rather clearance on the Upper Paraná, near which are the chief of the ruined Jesuit Missions, and the Iguazú Falls will probably leave Posadas for closer inspection if need be, on the return journey.

Once again we board a Mihanovich boat and go up a seeming river of fairyland.

An adequate description of the majestic splendour and beauty of the Iguazú Falls is far beyond the pen of the present writer. One is gradually prepared for the great sight by a series of smaller cascades and cataracts of other converging rivers which one passes on the way to where the Iguazú hurls its large volume of water in downward jumps or in one horseshoe-shaped, thundering, frothy mass. Where it falls one is face to face with the greatest waterfalls in the whole world,[32] as the following comparative figures will show:
    Volume cubic
per minute.[33]     Breadth.     Height.
Iguazú     28,000 ft.     13,133 ft.     196 to 220 ft.
Victoria (S. Africa)     18,000 ft.     5,580 ft.     350 to 360 ft.
Niagara     18,000 ft.     5,249 ft.     150 to 164 ft.

The only point of advantage of the Victoria Falls is their height.

The present chief source of wealth in Misiones is the various kinds of timber and valuable cabinet-maker’s woods found in its virgin forests. One day Misiones will doubtless export its rosewood and other beautiful and valuable products of its forests, which also produce pine and other building timber of superior quality to that which Argentina now imports from Europe. Transport of timber is effected by means of tying it into huge rafts which go down river as far as Corrientes. The timber supply of Misiones will long continue rich, since the tendency of the forest is ever to encroach on the surrounding land.

A growing industry on which great expectations are based is the cultivation of the Ilex Paraguayensis, or mate shrub.[203] The consumption of mate or Paraguayan tea, as it is sometimes called in Europe, is enormous throughout both of the River Plate Republics, which now import very large quantities annually from Paraguay and Brazil, while no sort of good reason seems to exist why the northern districts of Argentina should not grow sufficient to meet the home consumption.

The Jesuits evidently appreciated and cultivated this shrub, but they had the secret of growing it from seed, a secret the true re-discovery of which by modern horticulturists is not yet quite proved.[34]

Up till quite recently all Misiones mate yerba has been gathered from the abundant virgin growth of the shrub. Once Misiones produced larger quantities of sugar than it does now; and there is no reason why this industry should not revive from the almost total paralysis which it at present suffers; nor why one day the wine output of Misiones should not be improved in both quality and quantity.

Maize naturally grows well (it yields in six months) in Misiones; which Territory with the general warmth of its climate, sufficient rainfall and heavy dews, is most favourable to tropical and subtropical vegetation. Oranges, of course, bananas, pineapples, and guavas grow practically, if not quite, wild and ground nuts and the castor-oil plant are among its many valuable products. The whole of Misiones is well watered by a network of very numerous streams, and if its atmosphere by day is rather reminiscent of a hothouse, the nights are usually cool and refreshing.

The unevenness of its surface, while precluding much idea of extensive cultivation, is admirably suited for the shelter and care of the best natural produce of this exotically picturesque region.

Misiones has quarries of valuable granite at San Ignacio; close to the river as if they had been placed there for facility[204] of transport. These quarries furnished the Jesuits with the material for their famous buildings; though that they persuaded the natives, who before their coming had little ambition for anything save inter-tribal warfare, to quarry, transport and build up solid masonry is nothing short of marvellous. Truly Jesuit “influence” was a very real and concrete thing in the Misiones of those days.

One must not forget tobacco, or cotton, as other of Misiones’ hitherto greatly neglected industries.

One cannot insist too much upon the fact that no one who does not himself visit the River Plate Republics in all their length and breadth can really grasp even a faint idea of their diversified latent wealth. One is apt to suppose that because Misiones, for instance, does not produce much tobacco or sugar,[35] there is some pretty solid obstacle at the bottom of its relative non-productiveness. People naturally think, “Well, it’s all very well to chant dithyrambics of the marvellous might be’s of what evidently are your pet countries, but why does all this wonderful wealth of them continue latent, why does not one see, or at least hear, a great deal more about it, if all you say is true?”

The reply for this is, “Give me sufficient capital and sufficient suitable labour (especially the latter) and I will very speedily prove my every word.”

The River Plate Republics have not yet (again I say it) sufficient population to exploit even a part of their possible cereal industry, the one which naturally gets first attention because it combines the attractions of rich profit and comparatively little care or labour, under the almost primitive conditions under which most of it is still carried on.

When there is a surplus of labour after grain and cattle have been duly provided for, all sorts of other things will be attended to. But it is no good expecting ordinary people, without the many more or less occult advantages of early Jesuit Fathers, to get any constantly careful work, such as[205] cotton, tobacco and many other valuable crops require, out of native South American Indians. They can’t or won’t do it, anyway, they don’t; and it is probably easier to rediscover how to grow mate yerba from seed than how to rediscipline for practical purposes the race which built and gardened in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The North Argentine Railway has in project a branch from its Santo Tomé-Posadas line to run through the centre of Misiones to the North-West corner where the frontiers of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay join.

This, the northernmost of the Argentine National Territories, does not merit the superlative of its name; especially it does not do so when compared with Misiones. Geographically and in its general superficial characteristics Formosa is a continuation of the Chaco, by which it is bounded on the South. On the North and East it is bounded by Paraguay except at its South-Eastern corner, where its boundary is the river Paraguay, with the Province of Corrientes on the other bank. On the West it is bounded by the Province of Salta.

Much of Formosa is almost unknown land as far as really scientific exploration is concerned; and some tribes of its Toba Indians still appear to have an inconveniently violent dislike of official explorers, several having been murdered by natives in recent times.

The real exploration of the interior of Formosa is done by squatters who, when turned off one holding, move on to a new one further from the civilisation which, such as it is, is mostly to be found on the River Paraguay, or near to it on the banks of its chief affluents, the Pilcolmayo (which forms the Northern boundary between this territory and Paraguay) and the Bermejo. The clearance of the rocks, sunken logs and masses of vegetation from the beds of these rivers as a preliminary to the carrying out of other works for the purpose[206] of making them navigable is under consideration by the National Government, which also proposes to build a railway line from Embarcación, in the Province of Salta, across the centre, almost, of Formosa, in a South-Easterly direction, to its capital, a town of the same name and, doubtless, the first to bear it. At present Formosa has no railroad at all.

This Territory has several other considerable rivers and streams all running nearly parallel to one another and to the Pilcolmayo and Bermejo, in South-Easterly direction, to the River Paraguay.

Almost the whole of its surface is a vast plain gently inclined; its South-Eastern part is largely covered with forests and dotted with many shallow swamp-like lakes—“Esteros,” as they are called.

The forests are very rich in various valuable woods; of which the chief object of present commerce is the Quebracho, which here, as elsewhere in the Republic, is found in two varieties, the red and the white. The former is the richest in tannin. Quebracho extract (for tanning purposes) will be seen to figure prominently in the tables relating to Argentine exports.[36] Quebracho logs are in constant demand for railway sleepers.

The wide glades and open spaces in the forest afford excellent pasturage, and are all eminently suitable for agriculture. Some parts of this territory are destined to become rich alfalfa fields, and already relatively considerable areas are under this forage. There is plenty of salt, sandy soil with water near the surface. Maize also, on account of climatic conditions and the nature of the soil in parts (where a rich layer of humus is superimposed on a moist, sandy subsoil), should form a valuable crop in this Territory.

Formosa, with its Northern situation and therefore almost tropical climate, has few sheep; but cattle, still of the native breed, thrive well in many parts.


Also, in Formosa, and in Misiones, a large proportion of traction bullocks must be reckoned among the numerical value of their cattle.

In Formosa the summer or rainy season lasts for about seven months of the year; little or no rain falls in the winter or dry season—as in the tropics. In the wet season many of the rivers overflow their banks and such, likely, inundations should be taken into account by any would-be purchaser of land in Formosa.

He should also keep his eyes open for dangers other than floods; for if scientific exploration cannot yet be said to have obtained any firm grasp of Formosa, how much less can measurements and boundaries be hoped to be in order. They are not so in most of this Territory, and a purchasing settler might eventually find himself with little for his trouble and money but the costs of a lawsuit forced upon him by some owner of an historic grant made by a grateful Republic in bygone days to the grandfather of such owner for distinguished service of one kind or another.

Latifundíos, these low-lying Argentine landowners are called; and it is not too much to say, as has been indicated elsewhere in these pages, that their existence is a pest and a menace to proper colonisation.

Every such absentee landlord should be forced by law to declare himself and his claims, and to furnish measurements and situation of the land, the subject of the latter to be checked by the Government surveyors and lawyers; and to do this within a fixed reasonable period from the date of the passing of such laws. His claim to lapse absolutely ipso facto in default of his doing so.

Then the National Government should proceed to allot fiscal lands to all desirable comers, and afford these the aids to starting their farms and plantations usual in other countries having unoccupied land awaiting development, as still is by far the greater part of the territory of the Argentine Republic.


Every educated Argentine is just as well aware of all this as the writer or you, the reader; but just think what a flutter in aristocratic dovecotes on the mere suggestion of the putting in practice of such Laws (they or drafts of them probably exist in the pigeon-holes of Government House in Buenos Aires)! What a fluttering in those dovecotes there was a few years ago when the discovery was made, and most imprudently revealed, that vast tracts of land supposed to belong to the Nation had in fact got, in one way or another, into the possession of private individuals.

The then President, Dr. Figueroa Alcorta, declared vehemently (and caused the declaration to be published far and wide) that whomsoever were found to be responsible for such a scandalous state of things would be dealt with without mercy, whoever he or they might be.

That was all.

The sentence was like those of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. No one really ever was executed. Nor, as far as the public ever knew, even called to account. Possibly someone was told not to do it again; it must be hoped so.

In Formosa, latent absentee landlord and squatter would almost appear to work on a mutually beneficial, if tacit, understanding. The former does not in the least mind his land being developed by the latter (there is no foolish worry about such things as prescriptive rights) and generally lets him be; until such time as he, the landlord, wants to occupy himself or sell.

Meanwhile the squatter has accumulated cattle and money by selling stock (contraband, if possible, or covered by a few duty-paying animals) in Paraguay, and need only move on a few leagues or so, when told to, with his herds. His house and furniture are usually negligible quantities.

Formosa does as much trade as the total of its general products (except timber, which goes South) allows of, because Paraguay is generally too much overrun by revolutionary,[209] or momentarily constitutional, forces to have much time or space free for industrial occupations. At the same time Paraguay does manage to produce large quantities of tobacco and mate yerba which Argentina takes, although, as has already been observed, her own lands could perfectly well produce them, given suitable labour.

As has been rather more than hinted at, the official Returns of Imports and Exports as between Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil and Argentina give but a faint idea of the actual trade between the last-named and her northern neighbours; and the present writer would be much surprised to learn that the upper reaches of the River Uruguay could tell no tales of systematic smuggling between the two River Plate Republics, or the Andes none of similar practices between Argentina and Chile.

The fact is that adequate guard of these enormous and sparsely populated lengths of upcountry frontier would cost more than the results of it would pay for. And why make a fuss while such prime necessities of life as mate and cigarettes are comparatively so cheap?

Formosa produces tobacco and sugar; the latter, as in Misiones, being chiefly used for the production of alcohol.

A great deal of foreign capital is now invested in timber cutting and exporting companies. Native labour is suitable for this work, but it is desirable in the interests of the companies concerned that the native overseers or gangers be controlled by whites conversant with native ways and also having the gift of forest topography.

This last consideration is suggested by the undoubted fact that many a pile of logs has been solemnly measured up and the felling paid for several times over by the white gentleman who has failed—in consequence of a slight rearrangement of the pile, no doubt—to recognise them on successive visits to glades and clearings which all look very much alike except to particularly experienced eyes.


Thus does the untutored Indian or half-caste sometimes laugh at civilization.

Formosa, although sparsely inhabited, boasts a large proportion of pure whites of various nationalities among its settlers and the timber companies’ employees. There are several Franciscan Mission Stations in the Territory.

This hasty run over the Argentine Republic has stirred many pleasant memories in the heart of the writer, and set him hoping that, perchance, some one reader may be tempted to take passage to the River Plate; at less cost than, and quite as luxuriously as, if he made his usual sojourn on the Mediterranean Riviera.

Would I could take him—an intelligently enthusiastic person he, of course, would be—on a personally conducted tour of my own designing.

We would go first to Buenos Aires, reserving the restful charm of Montevideo for after our journeyings. Then down South; where I should quite disabuse my gentle companion of any ideas he might have that the owners of square miles of wheat and thousands of cattle live in top boots and shirt sleeves in one-storied, corrugated-iron verandahed houses in the foreground of threshing machines. I would get him invited—and myself as well—to stay a day or two at an English estancia; the large, well-appointed two or three storied red-brick house of which, surrounded by lawns and spreading cedar trees, would make him rub his eyes several times before he were convinced that he had sailed out of England. He would surely find a house party from Buenos Aires or neighbouring—a wide term meaning, probably, many leagues away—estancias in possession; all the members of which would retain their old habits of dressing for dinner and breakfasting off a choice of several hot dishes and a tempting array of cold things on the sideboard. An English country house, in fact, with hall and magazines and illustrated papers complete.


Then we should make plans for the following, and, probably, many other morrows; plans which would almost inevitably include a neighbourly race meeting or polo match.

Amid all this he could dree his own weird for as long as might please him. I should not disturb any of his promised projects.

But one day I should take him North again; and still further North, to Córdoba, “The Learned City,” show him the Cathedral, the University and its Library, and let him breathe the monastically medi?val atmosphere of it all. And, outside the city, the wildness of cactus growth and gaucho life.

Back eastward to Rosario, merely to change train for Santa Fé, and across the Uruguay to Paraná. From thence to Concórdia; where at least one tranquil orange-scented morning must be spent before one crossed the Province of Entre Rios to where the Argentine North-East Railway should take us to Misiones.

After San Ignacio, the Iguazú Falls and the trip thereto and therefrom up and down the Upper Paraná, I should ask him if he ever wanted to go anywhere else again? Whether he has ever even dreamed of anything so beautiful? Then by river all the way back to Buenos Aires; and, one night, across to Montevideo. There we would sit awhile in the evening and listen to the band in the square where the little coloured lamps swing in the fresh sea breeze; and bathe next morning and roll ourselves in the hot dry sand of Pocitos or Ramirez.

Then we would take railway trips in Uruguay. Over billowy pasturage and through waves of wheat; not flat expanses such as those we shall have seen on the Pampa, but seas of corn-covered, undulating ground.

Then he could go back to Europe, if he liked. I should stay.


If a detailed sketch of each of the Departments of Uruguay be not given here it is not because they are altogether uniform in their landscapes; but rather because, apart from the hilly rockiness of some of the northern parts, the scenery of Uruguay does repeat itself. While the climatic differences are relatively slight in a country which barely extends over, from the point of its extreme northern angle to its most southerly point, five degrees of latitude; in comparison with those of Argentina, which extends over thirty-five degrees.

Uruguay, therefore, has no striking variety of climates; and except that the surface of the Northern Provinces is more broken with jagged mountain ranges and that in the neighbourhood of the River Uruguay and its affluents the country is more thickly wooded, there is not much change to be noted anywhere from its general character of an undulating grassy plain, with here and there a mount, or clump of low wood and brushwood, and an abundance of running streams.

Its indigenous flora comprises a rich wealth of rosemary, acacia, myrtle, laurel, mimosa, and the scarlet-flowered CEIBO; while its natural pasturage is gay with red and white verbena and other brilliantly coloured wild flowers. The best natural grasses are to be found in the Departments of Soriano and Durazno and in parts of Paysandú and Tacuarembó. That is to say where what is known as the “Pampa mud” of the soil is mingled with calcareous and siliceous matter and contains less aluminium, which last ingredient imparts cold and damp qualities.


It should not be assumed from the above short general description that the scenery of Uruguay is monotonously uninteresting. It is not; on the contrary, it is often very beautiful indeed, with sudden and delightfully surprising changes as the train speeds along. But these changes are[213] on a small scale, if one may so express oneself, compared with those which one experiences when passing from one distant Argentine Province or National Territory to another.

Indeed, as a glance at the map will show, geographically, Uruguay and the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul can almost be considered as parts of Argentina; as, politically, they once very nearly were.

The real great division of the nature of the surface of Uruguay is practically formed by the course of its Rio Negro; on each side of which are vast rolling plains, the northern of which, however, are, as has been said, traversed by ranges of indented rocky hills.

The whole of Uruguay is subject to abrupt changes of temperature and frequent strong winds of which the Pampero, from the South-West, is the most violent.

Generally, the climate is pleasantly mild. For while the summer suns are hot, especially in the North, sea breezes and winds from the snow-capped Andes modify the temperature. It is, however, from these conflicting elements of sun and wind that Uruguay gets her quick changes of temperature and frequent storms. The whole country is subject to alternate overflowing of its rivers and drought.

Uruguay is rich in table fruits. Grapes, oranges, lemons, apples, pears, quinces, melons, passion-flower fruit, peaches, apricots, cherries, medlars, figs, chestnuts, almonds and, in the North, olives, dates and bananas, grow in abundance. The list of her flora also includes sarsaparilla (very abundant), quinine, camomile and many other valuable medicinal plants. Uruguayans have also given themselves the trouble to produce relatively much larger quantities, and, generally speaking, better qualities of ordinary table vegetables than have the, perhaps busier, inhabitants of the larger Republic across the river; to which, however, Uruguay daily sends large quantities of such produce.

Uruguay has several large flour mills and exports flour, chiefly to Brazil.


Most of the soil consists of one composition or another of the Pampa mud before alluded to. This mud is really ancient alluvial deposit.

Of the latent mineral wealth of Uruguay there can be little doubt. The Department of Minas, as its name indicates, is one of the richest in this respect. Gold, in quartz formation, silver, copper, iron, lead, some coal, marble of various kinds, slate, rock crystal, agates, jasper, graphite, alabaster, black limestone and other minerals of commercial and industrial value are to be found in this Department and in other parts of the Republic. Fine building limestone is found in the Department of Maldonado. The Department of Colonia is rich in granite and other building stone, as well as other minerals. Rocha, Soriano, San José, Florida and Canelones are other Departments rich in mineral wealth.

This wealth has, however, as yet been little exploited. The old trouble here, as in Argentina, being that of insufficient labour to attend to more than the primary industries of Live Stock and Cereal production. Also the Uruguayan Mining Laws, though steps have recently been taken to amend them, have hitherto proved but a poor protection for capital.

Note.—The wealth of the Argentine National Territories of The Chaco and Los Andes is, as to the former still practically confined to the valuable forestal products, full mention of which has been made elsewhere in these pages. The future of Los Andes can only be concerned with the exploitation of its, probably rich, mineral deposits; this Mountainous Territory being so cold and arid as to be almost uninhabitable.


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