6. TRANSPORTATION AND COM MUNICATION IN LATIN AMERICA. Railways.—Although several countries lay claim to having the oldest railway in South America it appears that the first road to be actually opened for service was a line five miles long, finished in British Guiana in 1848. In the next year a line was completed between Caldera and Copiap6, Chile, and in 1857 the first road began operations in Argentina, Brazil following a year later. Since that time con struction has been practically continuous, and now every country in South America has its railway system. Naturally expansion of rail way transportation has been most rapid in the level plains of Argentina, where rails have been laid at comparatively little expense, and it has made least progress in the west and north, where mountain construction often runs the cost up to more than $100,000 a mile. The railway mileage of South American countries (not in cluding minor private and other lines) was (1917) as follows: In each country this mileage serves national needs almost entirely, and tourists will find that communication between countries is still largely by coast or ocean vessels.
Travel to South America as a rule follows a well-beaten path. The tourist who" wishes to visit the chief centres usually travels on one of two routes — down the east coast to Buenos Aires, across the continent to Valparaiso, up the west coast to Panama, and thence to Colom bia and Venezuela, or the reverse of this jour ney, making the north-coast countries from Barbados or Trinidad. If he elects the for mer route his first stop will probably be at Pernambuco, where most ocean liners serving Brazil call. Coast steamers will carry him to Path, Natal and points between, but the tourist whose time is limited can continue by ocean steamer to Bahia and to Rio de Janeiro. From Rio a favorite trip is that by rail to Sao Paulo, thence by rail to Santos, where the steamer can again be caught for Rio Grande do Sul, Montevideo and Buenos Aires. From Buenos Aires various side trips can conveniently be made, including a visit to Asunci6n, capital of Paraguay. The only transcontinental line in South America affords rail accommodations between Buenos Aires and Valparaiso, Chile, where the traveler usually takes a boat for the trip along the west coast. If. he wishes to visit Bolivia he stops at Antofagasta, reaching La Paz from that port by rail in about 45 hours. Siroche or sickness?) how.
ever, caused by a too rapid change from the coast to an altitude of over 12,000 feet, may make a more gradual ascent advisable. From La Paz two other railways reach the coast, that leading to Mollendo, Peru, having hereto fore had the most passenger traffic. At Mol lendo the sea voyage is continued to Callao Lima, thence to the northern ports of Peru and to Guayaquil, Ecuador, from which the capital, Quito, can be reached in a two-days' journey. Steamships carry the traveler from
Guayaquil to Panama and through the canal to Colon, where connection can be made for Cartagena, Colombia. After possible trips to the interior cities of Bogota and Medellin, connections are made at Cartagena or Puerto Colombia for Venezuelan ports, the most important of which are Puerto Cabello and La Guaira, from both of which the capital, Caracas, can be reached by rail. As convenient the traveler can then either go to Trinidad or Barbados and catch a north-bound boat, or return to Colon.
It will be seen that on a South American tour of this kind a great part of the travel is by boat, and railways are as a rule of only local convenience. If he desired to do so, how ever, the traveler could land at Victoria, Brazil, and continue on the route mentioned entirely by rail to Mollendo, Peru.
Most of the railways of South America have been built by European capital, largely Eng lish. The equipment is therefore for the most part European. Government ownership and operation are most prominent in Chile, but exist also in Brazil, Argentina and other coun tries. There are a multitude of gauges, ranging from the broad 5 feet 6 inches of various Argentine lines to 2 feet 6 inches of the Anto fagasta (Chile) and Bolivia line in Chile, and even narrower private lines. Accommodations for passengers on many roads, notably those of the larger Argentine and Brazilian systems, are the equal of those in the United States, luxurious parlor-car, sleeping-car and dining car service being provided. Fares are variable but for the most part are not excessive. Rates for excess baggage, however, are usually high.
Before reviewing briefly the transportation systems of the various countries, the mucli &scussed project of the Pan-American Rail way should be mentioned. This project is the proposed linking-up of existing lines to afford railway service through North and South America, from New York all the way to Bue nos Aires. Existing lines could be utilized to the southern border of the United States, and the National Railways of Mexico line would carry the train to the Guatemalan border. Railways now in operation, being built or pro jected would afford passage through Central America to Panama, where construction to the Colombian border would involve the conquering of the tropical forest. At the other end of the line there is through trackage from Buenos Aires to Cuzco, Peru, except for a stretch of about 66 miles, now under construction between La Quiaca and Tupiza, Bolivia, and there arg various mountain lines in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru which would form links in the com pleted chain. Much of the construction yet to be affected, however, is in difficult country and it will be many years before the great dream is a reality.