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Art. IX.- NAVIGATION OF THE CONFLUENTS OF THE RIO DE LA PLATA.*
The navigation of the rivers Paraná, Paraguay, and their tributaries, is of such vast extent and importance, that we are desirous of increasing the public knowledge of a part of our continent, which, ere long, must engross a large share of commercial attention and enterprise.
This interior navigation, unexampled in our own country, is almost entirely free from any kind of obstruction, and therefore offers an open course for vessels or steamers of great capacity. Nature, of her own accord, has left these beautiful canals in a more perfect state for the use of mankind, than all the efforts of human industry have been able to produce in other rivers, save at the cost of constant trouble and expenditure.
In order to describe aright such an enormous extent of fluvial navigation, it will be necessary to divide it into different sections, each one of which, already possessing a greater or less population upon its banks, presents, in its numerous ramifications, the means conducive to the richest commerce, and will gradually cause the springs of great riches, and high prosperity, to flow downward to the ocean.
Let us consider, in the first place, the principal line of the Paraná, which ascends from Buenos Aires to the confluence of the Paraguay, and, leaving the latter on the left, continues ascending, until it penetrates into the center of Brazil. This grand line presents to us a majestic extent; for it has a fine, wide, and deep bed, adorned with beautiful islands, and its shores are formed, now by gentle slopes of arable lands, and again by abrupt promontories, covered with virgin forests. Many pleasant villages are seated upon these shores, and many new ones must appear, as if by enchantment, when a navigation so fertile as this shall have acquired its natural liberty.
During the course of this magnificent river, numerous tributaries send their waters to swell its gigantic flood. These are so many doors which open the commercial entrance to the almost interminable regions from whence they flow.
Let us travel on the map now before us, and, assisted by the memory of our own voyages, proceed from Buenos Aires to the center of Brazil, noting, by the way, only the most important points of this navigation, for our limits forbid detail.
The Gualeguay first attracts our attention, flowing from the center of the province of Entre-Rios. It empties into the Paraná, twenty-six leagues above Buenos Aires, in which distance we pass upon the left, or western hand, the departments of Conchas, Cruz Colorada, Zaraté, Barredéro, and San Pedro.
The rivers Tercéro and Saládo, mixing their torrents, flow into the Paraná, forty-six leagues above the Gualeguay, or seventy-two from Buenos Aires. In the interval between the two confluents, we pass, on the west bank from whence they penetrate, the city of San Nicholas, and the village of San Pedro. Between these runs the Rio del Medio, the boundary of the territories of Buenos Aires and Santa Fé.
The river Tercéro rises in the province of Córdova, which it crosses, as
* Thirty-second number of “ El Paraguayo Independiente." Asuncion. December, 1845. Voyages dans L'Amerique du Sud par Don Felix D' Azara. -Carta Corographica do Imperio do Brazil, dedicado ao Instituto Historico e Geographico Brazileiro pelo Coronel Engenheiro and Socio eflectivo Conrado Jacob de Niemeyer, pelo mesmo aranjada sobre os melhores trabalhos existentes, antigos, e modernos, contendo igualmente as Plantas, que se poderao obter, das cidades capitaes, o outros lugares importantes. Lithographada no Estabelecimento de Heaton & Rensburg, Río de Ja neiro, 1846.
well as that of Santa Fé. It offers the means of an extensive commerce, and a free navigation with the interior of these vast territories. The Salado rises in the center of the province of Salta, intersects Tucumán and Santa Fé, and after running parallel to the Paraná, thereby forming a long peninsula of the capital of this latter province, and the adjacent land, associates itself, as we have already said, with the river Tercéro, to make their joint presentation to the Great Paraná.
One hundred leagues above Buenos Aires, the city of Paraná, or the Bajáda, is found upon the east bank, and ranks as the capital of the province of Entre Rios. Nearly opposite, on the west, is the city of Santa Fé, capital of the province of the same name; and thirty-eight leagues further up, we meet with the village of Cabayú Cualiá, or La Paz, on the Eutrerian bank.
The river Guaiquiraró is the fourth of the principal confluents of the Paraná. It divides the provinces of Entre Rios and Corrientes, entering from the east, about eight leagues above the afore-mentioned village of La Paz.
The river Corrientes disembogues from the same side, twenty leagues above the latter, and therefore one hundred and sixty-six above Buenos Aires. It rises in the great lake of Iberà, and, crossing an extensive part of this province, washes with its southern shore the interesting village of La Esquina.
About twelve leagues still farther advanced, the river Batéles is seen entering the Paraná, derived from the same source as the Corrientes, and flowing in an almost equal and parallel course.
The city of Goya is found upon the east bank, some twenty leagues above, or one hundred and ninety-eight leagues from Buenos Aires. This valuable position is already very remarkable for its commerce, which will naturally increase with every future impulse. Moreover, its central location is of much consequence to its commercial relations with the greater parts of the provinces of Corrientes and Entre Rios; because it possesses the advantage of the terminus of the highway from the town of Los Libres, on the river Uriguay, whose commerce is thus brought into contact with that of Goya.
Ten leagues beyond Goya we find the mouth of the river Santa Lucia, and immediately adjoining to it, the village of the same name.
Following the east bank, we meet with the villages of Bella Vista, the Capilla del Senor, and others; after which, two hundred and fifty leagues from Buenos Aires, the beautiful capital of Corrientes bursts upon the view. It is situated upon the Paraná, in 27° 27' south latitude, and 15° 30' west longitude from Rio de Janeiro. The city contains about 30,000 inhabitants, and, enjoying a pleasant and salubrious position, is destined to become a place of great commerce.
Some ten leagues farther in latitude 27° 20', the abundant waters of the Paraguay meet, but mix not, for many leagues, with those of the Paraná. We will postpone the description of the former yet a while, to follow the line of the latter to its source.
As far as the island and rapid of Apipé, some thirty-five leagues beyond this confluence, the Paraná still presents an unembarrassed navigation, and, throughout this distance, both margins are covered with inhabitants and villages. Apipe is an important point, as well for the republic of Paraguay, as for the province of Corrientes, and that of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. From thence, freight wagons travel over the level pampas, a distance of thirty leagues, to the villages of Santa Tomé and San Borja, thus forming a commercial communication with the navigation and different towns of the river VOL. XXI.-30. I.
Uruguay. On the other side, Apipé governs the upper navigation of the Paraná, and the extensive territories and population on either shore. The rapid found here is small. At high water, large vessels can always pass by the western channel, and it is serviceable at all times for small craft. There will be a vast increase in the commercial relations with the interior of Paraguay, by way of the Villa del Pilar and the city of Asuncion, when the road which leads from Apipe to the river Tebicuari is improved.
Twenty leagues above Apipé, we arrive at the Villa de la Encarnacion, or Itapúa, in south latitude 27° 20', and 12° longitude west from Rio de Janeiro. This place presents the most delightful view that we have seen in the interior of South America; and it carried on all the commerce which was permitted by the tyrant Francia.
Ascending eighty leagues farther, we come to the bar of the deep river Iguazú, which flows with extreme beauty. Its latitude is 25° 25'. The cascades of this river are found in the center of the province of San Paulo, in Brazil. It crosses all the territory of Coritiba, and receives many large tributaries, which greatly ramify its navigation. It will become the channel of the commerce of the Brazilian settlements of Guarapuába, Larangeiras, and Palmas. The village of Santa Maria formerly flourished at its confluence with the Paraná.
The magnificent rapids of the Seven Falls are met with thirty leagues above the Ignazú, in latitude 24° 27'. They are classed by D'Azara as the second wonder of the earth, the Falls of Niagara being the first. This stupendous cataract is covered with a constant rainbow, and the immense masses of water falling in the most picturesque forms over the huge rocks, produce high eddies, and vast depths, in violent ebullition. It seems as if reserved, in its beauties, to enchant the traveler, and recompense him for all his fatigues. The Jesuits formerly opened a good road of eighteen leagues extent on the east bank of these rapids, by the means of which they brought cargoes for their missions of Guaira, Ciudad Real, and other villages.
After passing this barrier of nature, a vast and unobstructed navigation continues for more than a hundred leagues, until we meet with the majestic rapids denominated Urubupungá. These rapids are passed by a portage. Above them, for many leagues, good navigation is found, until encountering the rapids called Marimbondo. Finally, the river continues uninterrupted above these, to the center of the Brazilian province of Mindo Geraes.
Its sources are found near the boundary of the province of Rio de Janeiro, and not a hundred leagues from the city of the same name.
Above the Seven Falls, the Paraná receives, among others, the waters of the large rivers Piquiri, Iguatimí, Amambay, Toes Barras, Paraná, Panemá, San Anastasis, Rio Pardo, Orza, Verde, and Aguapú.
The most fertile margins of the Paraná, the rich mines, and the plentiful fruits which these wonderful regions inclose within their prolific bosoms, will produce a wealth and greatness in the future, such as we cannot venture to predict, without the imputation of extravagance. Meanwhile, we only desire that any mind of ordinary intelligence should draw the parallel between the vallies of the Mississippi and those of the Paraná. If the former is the true land of promise, the latter is, at least, its equal. We are confident that time will show the truth of our comparison.
Such is the first and great line of the navigation of the celebrated Paraná. Its distance is immense, crossing different latitudes and various climes—a distance, it is true, interrupted by some obstacles, but those are above its
most thickly populated regions, leaving still a vast course, intersected by numerous and ample ramifications, which must receive and transport the fruits and productions of thousands of leagues of the unappreciated regions of South America. Meantime all this is but a part of this splendid reality. Let us pass, therefore, to the other and most famous line, and travel
the great and beautiful river Paraguay.
Eleven leagues above the confluence of the Paraná and Paraguay, as already stated, in south latitude 27° 20', the river Bermejo is found. It enters from the west, and, from its size and importance, ought to be considered as another section of the navigation of which we treat.
Less than a league beyond is the Villa del Pilar. This town is the chief market for Paraguayan commerce, the importance of which daily increases. It is frequented by many foreigners, and generally has many vessels moored to its banks.
Fourteen leagues above the Villa del Pilar, the Tebicuari enters from the east, and presents a free navigation through the interior of Paraguay to Villa Rica, which country contains 27,000 inhabitants. Both the margins of this river are covered with settlements and villages.
Some ten leagues farther on we meet with Villa Franca, and at about an equal distance with Villa de Oliva, as also with La Villeta, eleven leagues above the latter.
Near La Villeta, one of the branches of the voluminous and celebrated river Pilcomayo joins its waters to the Paraguay; and six leagues above, the other is found, both flowing from the westward. We will treat farther of this river conjointly with the Bermejo.
One league above the northern branch of the Pilcomayo is situated the city of Asuncion. This capital is found in latitude south 25° 16'. Its position upon the eastern margin of the Paraguay enables it to command the view of an immense western horizon in the Gran Chaco. It is surrounded by populous parishes, and in its commercial markets the foreigner daily buys all kinds of products, not only for domestic consumption, but also for exportation. Beautiful, healthful, and with every means at hand to become great, this capital is destined to be the manufacturing and commercial emporium of an unexampled country; in a word, the St. Louis of South America.
Ten leagues above Asuncion, and after leaving the river Salado, which, together with its tributaries, gives a free navigation to different points of importance, the river Mandubira enters from the eastward, watering in its course several villages of the republic. Upon the same eastern margin, thirteen leagues above, is the village Rosario and the mouth of the river Cuarepoti, in latitude 24° 23'.
Ascending seven leagues, we arrive at the bar of the rapid river Jeguí, upon which the Villa de San Pedro is situated. This river is navigable up to its highest fountains, rising on the Brazilian frontier, crosses all the eastern territory of the republic. Valuable cargoes of yerba and tobacco are annually floated down its stream.
Twenty-four leagues above, the river Ipaneguazú pours its waters to the Paraguay. Like the Jejui, it crosses from the Brazilian frontier. Upon the right margin is formed the village of Belen.
In latitude 23° 23' south, the ancient village of Concepcion is placed upon the eastern bank. Like most of the villages of the first settlers, it is a little retired from the stream ; and some two leagues above the Ipaneguazú. It is settled by a commercial and happy population,
The river Verde enters six leagues above this village, flowing from the west. It opens a navigation to the interior of Bolivia, free from obstructions of any kind.
Three leagues above, the river Aquidabánique comes from the eastward.
Twelve leagues farther on, is the village of San Salvador. From thence the inhabitants navigate thirty-four leagues up the river Apa, and several important settlements are passed in this distance. After leaving, on the eastern hand, the river Tipoti
, and ascending twentyfour leagues to the Fuerte Olimpo, we meet with the river Blanco, flowing from the eastward.
Thirty-four leagues above this point, we arrive at the mouth of Lake Negra; and eleven leagues farther on, with the village and fort of Coimbra, in south latitude 19° 55'. Near to this point lies the village of Misericordia.
From Coimbra to the confluence of the river Miranda, the distance is ten leagues. Upon its right margin a flourishing village is situated. From thence to the river Tacuari
, the distance is five leagues. The Tacuari is the channel of navigation for the Brazilians of the province of San Paulo, in their commerce with the city of Cuyabá, the capital of the province of Matto Grosso.
The village of Albuquerque occupies a most picturesque situation, fifteen leagues above the Tacuarí.
Ascending still forty leagues, you arrive at the confluence of the river San Lorenzo, in latitude 17° 19' 43". At this height, the navigation of the Paraguay is divided into two great branches: the one formed by its own channel, the other by the San Lorenzo.
If we penetrate by the latter unto its confluence with the river Cuyabá, and pursue our way up the waters of this river, we shall arrive at the city of the same name, eighty-eight leagues from its mouth, having passed many different villages. The city of Cuyabá is in latitude 15° 36'. Surrounded by agricultural establishments, well stocked with cattle, and above all with mines of gold and diamonds, it is an important and commercial center for the population of the province. In addition to the navigation of the Paraguay, it possesses that of the rivers Madeira and Arinos, through the province of Pará, as well as that already referred to, through the province of San Paulo. The * rivers Xingu and Tecantius will also be new channels of industry and com
The river Cuyabá is still navigable for many leagues above the city. On the other side, among the many tributaries of the San Lorenzo, the Tequirá and Pequirí form a communication with the road of Curo, which comes from the province of San Paulo, upon the Atlantic sea-board.
Returning to the principal channel, or continuation of the celebrated river Paraguay, we see that its free navigation continues yet a long distance.
Thirty-four leagues above the confluence of the San Lorenzo, the river Negro enters from the eastward. Another advance of nineteen leagues brings us to the Jaurú, which comes from the west in latitude 16° 24'. There is only a small distance from the fountains of this stream and those of the river Amazon. The Villa Maria is situated several leagues above the mouth of the Jaurú.
Within the next four leagues, we find the rivers Cabazal and Sipotúba. The latter has an open channel for the space of sixty leagues, and its head waters are enlaced with those of the Sormidoro, which fall into the Amazon.
The Paraguay continues navigable for more than sixty leagues, when we