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All danger of international complications having disappeared the first step of the government was to exchange contracts for war material amounting to some millions of dollars, into contracts for railway material for immediate use in the construction of lines between the Atlantic and the Andes.

Let me say, before examining the actual condition of that land, that the name “Patagonia" is not a political denomination of a certain section of Argentine soil. Its northern limit has always been considered to extend from Rio Negro to the Strait of Magellans, not including the pampa territory more immediate to Buenos Aires, which is much more populated and richer, and in such an actual prosperous condition that as soon as the census lately ordered by congressional law is finished, it will be incorporated without any doubt in the number of the Argentine provinces.

Patagonia, properly speaking, is divided into four national territories, Rio Negro, Neuquen, Chubut and Santa Cruz, each one with a governor and other authorities appointed by the national executive power. Its total area is 323,000 square miles, which is about the same in size as all the States of New England together with the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, both Virginias and North Carolina.

A slight description of the territory will give you an idea of its nature and climate.

The valleys irrigated by the capacious rivers Negro and Colorado, navigable in their larger part, are made fertile by the periodic flows of these fluvial arteries; but as the flows sometimes become so great that they constitute a danger, the national government has made a contract for the construction of enormous works of canalization and irrigation, with the object of fertilizing great extensions of land that are now deprived of that benefit. It will not be surprising when the work now begun is finished, to see the district or valley embraced by both rivers transformed into one of the most productive agricultural sections of the country.

The climate is generally dry and healthy. The mean temperature is 57° F. All the region is adaptable for agriculture. Wheat, flax, barley and vegetables grow perfectly,


as well as alfalfa and other forage fit for live stock. All kinds of fruit are cultivated and vines of esteemed value are harvested.

There are fifty schools in that district where 3000 students receive instruction.

The oriental part of the territory of Neuquen is flat and very rich in pastures, while the occidental is crossed by the branches from the Cordillera, which leave between them beautiful and picturesque valleys irrigated by many rivers and brooks. Generally all the territory is fertile.

The climate is very healthful and adaptable for the development of animal and vegetable life. Nevertheless, it varies according to the districts: in the east and southwest it is cold and at the summit of the mountains there are perpetual snows.

The Nahuel Huapí Lake, one of the largest of the Patagonian region is at a height of 2952 feet above the level of the Pacific Ocean. Its contour is very irregular, and in its steep borders there are deep gulfs similar to the Norwegian “fiords.” The beautiful panorama that nature offers in the rugged regions that surround the lake, can only be compared with the picturesque Central Alps, the summit of Mount Tronador being 6600 feet in height, with deep valleys and forrests of pines, cypresses, araucarias and other trees which thrive similarly.

The bluish waters of the lake which are fresh and drinkable, agitate as those of a sea on account of the strong winds of the Cordillera. Its depth exceeds 200 fathoms, and is navigated by steamers that connect with the ports on its borders.

It contains thirty-five small islands; receives water from several tributaries from which the capacious Limay River, a branch of the River Negro, navigable in all its extension, has its origin.

Important hydraulic works will be made on this territory; among them the most remarkable one, which is almost finished, will be the dam in the Vidal basin, a natural depression of the land that makes an enormous receptacle of which the hydraulic capacity is enough to provide with artificial fertilization the territories of Neuquen and Rio Negro; both will then be able to give their soils a permanent and sure agricultural exploitation without being exposed to the chances of good and bad harvest.

Actually in those Andean valleys, irrigated by capacious rivers whose currents will some day be used as an economic motive power, there are more than a quarter of a million acres of land, unsurpassable for the production of cereals, vines, and fruit trees; and there are already several agricultural colonies that obtain valuable crops of grain and grapes.

The live stock wealth is also plentiful in proportion to the inhabitants. The agricultural and mining products are exported through Bahia Blanca and a large quantity of the meat products are exported to Chile. The native flocks are being refined with thoroughbreds from the septentrional countries of Europe which are those best adapted to the climate and to the topography of the country.

The mining industry promises a great future and there are now three companies working its rich mines of gold. Copper, quartz and coal also exist. Oil beds have been discovered, which are easily accessible, but at this time no work has begun.

The soil of Chubut is fertile and adapted to the tillage of the temperate zone, as is proven by the prosperous Welsh colonies, established on the lower basin of the Chubut River which is formed by wash-out lands unsurpassable for the cultivation of cereals. It is true that there are besides these valleys, arid, rocky and dry districts, but there are also prairies with good pastures, and in the basins of the lakes and rivers there are great stretches of woodlands, with trees that supply excellent white wood, such as araucaria, oak and pine.

The expansion of agriculture to any great extent in the valleys of the Cordillera is not at present possible, notwithstanding the fertility of the soil, as the enormous distances to the ports of shipment together with the lack of means of transportation, make impossible their development. Future railroads that will connect these valleys with the Atlantic coast will establish an epoch of agricultural production of an incalculable value.

Santa Cruz is made up of a series of extensive sloping plateaus that descend in succession, from the Cordillera towards the sea, whose sinuous shores are bordered by hills or sand banks of small height.

The Deseado River is dry toward the interior and is now only a deep entrance of the sea. The Santa Cruz River is navigable in its larger part, carrying to the Atlantic the waters of the great lakes Misterioso, Viedma, Argentino and others; all of these are joined by narrow but deep channels.

The general aspect of the region of the lake is similar to the one previously referred to when speaking of the NahuelHuapí Lake.

The climate is cold and healthy. The minimum temperature registered at Gallegos, which is the coldest point of the coast, is 10° F. below zero. Generally 4° below zero is reached during winter.

Santa Cruz has rich gold mines, rich placer mines, coal and salt mines; on its shores there are a large number of seals. The Andean region has an enormous forest wealth.

Even though the population is small, the commerce of the territory is enormous; there are at the capital (the town of Gallegos), very important exporting concerns and branches of three banks. There is a refrigerating plant that turns out about 200,000 muttons yearly.

In all this enormous extension of land, there are at present only 100,000 inhabitants, something like 30,000 in each of the northern territories and 10,000 in Santa Cruz; as a total there is one inhabitant every three square miles. In the states of Arizona, Wyoming and Nevada there were more than double this per square mile in 1890.

Those 100,000 inhabitants of Patagonia are of the white European race, with the exception of a very few Indians and half-breeds whose number does not reach 5000.

In 1866 a small Welsh colony was founded in the territory of Chubut, who emigrated from their country under conditions similar to those of the Pilgrims of Massachusetts. Before twenty years elapsed, the first Patagonian railway connected their prosperous colony at the valleys of the river with Port Madryn which offered a natural port for their products. Nothwithstanding certain difficulties in assimilating them to the life of the country, we can give assurance that the present generation of Argentines, sons of these Welshmen, love the land where they were born and the flag that protects them, and offer themselves with enthusiasm to the military service which is compulsory in our country.

This has been brought about in part by the frequent visits of ships of our navy which practice now and then on that coast, as well as by certain Italian immigration with which they have begun to mix.

Further south, near Lake Munster and Colhuapé, there are some Boer colonies to which the national government gave land and facilities. The rest of the population, in the ranches to the Straits, is of English and German origin; there are also Austrians, Swedes, Norwegians and Dutch, but in the commerce of the towns the Italians and especially the Argentines predominate.

In this region there are now 295,000 acres of land that have been cultivated, half of this being in the territory of Rio Negro. There is a total of 841,000 cows, 10,000,000 sheep, 500,000 horses and 300,000 goats. How many acres of cultivated land and how many of these animals could Patagonia have, whose climate is well superior to that of many countries, when it will be populated in the proportion of the poorest State of the United States, is hard to guess.

Of the quadrupeds of the Patagonian fauna the common ones are the guanaco, the hare and the fox. The number of guanacos increases towards the south and that of the hares diminishes until they almost disappear at the Strait.

It is impossible to calculate the number of guanacos scattered in that enormous territory; I have seen twenty years ago in valleys near Gallegos River multitudes of those animals which densely cover all the hills giving to them the red tint of their backs as far as the eye-glasses could reach. The impression was that there were right there, thousands of thousands Since the establishment of ranches the owners do not pursue them any more in order to avoid the destruction of their wire fences; therefore, they have gone towards the Cordillera losing the advantage of spending the severe winters in the temperate valleys near the Ocean; owing to

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