National Geographic : 1915 Jan
SOME PERSONAL EXPERIENCES WITH EARTHQUAKES what dreams must have visited the pil lows of these brave fellows on that event ful night, but to me one of the wonders of this wonderful experience was the matter-of-fact obedience to orders mani fested by these sorely tried men. FINDING OURSELVES HIGH AND DRY The morning sun broke on a scene of desolation seldom witnessed. We found ourselves high and dry in a little cove, or rather indentation in the coast-line. We had been carried some 3 miles up the coast and nearly 2 miles inland. The wave had carried us over the sand dunes bordering the ocean, across a valley, and over the railroad track, leaving us at the foot of the seacoast range of the Andes. On the nearly perpendicular front of the mountain our navigator discovered the marks of the tidal wave, and, by measure ments, found it to have been 47 feet high, not including the comb. Had the wave carried us 200 feet further, we would inevitably have been dashed to pieces against the mountain-side. Therewelayonasevenakeelasif still afloat, with our flag flying and our port anchor and 100 fathoms of chain led out as carefully as we could have placed them there. Was it possible that this, our heaviest anchor and chain, could have drifted with us throughout all the mazes of our voyaging of the afternoon? And why was not the chain parted by the last shock, as were the others? We found near us the wreck of a large English bark, the "Chanacelia," which had one of her anchor chains wound around her as many times as it would go, thus showing she had been rolled over and over; a little nearer the sea lay the Peruvian ship, the "America," on her bilges; and the sand was strewn with the most heterogeneous mass of plunder that ever gladdened the heart of a wrecker: Grand pianos, bales of silk, casks of brandy, furniture, clothing, hardware; everything imaginable was there. A rough estimate placed this emptying of the custom-house at $I,Ioo,ooo. "WE SAVED THE FLAG, SIR !" Our first work was to establish a cor don of sentries around the ship, while a strong working party stove in the brandy casks and shattered the wine cases, for we did not propose having drunkenness added to the other horrors surrounding us. One of the incidents of the morning was the return of the midshipman and crew from the wrecked Peruvian ship and the laconic report of the youngster in command: "Returned on board, sir. I have to report the loss of the second cutter, 12 oars, and two boat-hooks; but we saved the flag, sir." Most of the surviving Peruvians, when they discovered the "America" was on shore, deserted the ship, and were drowned by the next incoming wave, which, though not a breaker, was high enough to sweep them away, while our officer held his men until daybreak. In a few days the savage Araucanian Indians from the mountains descended upon us with long trains of llamas, the camels of the Andes. They broke open boxes,, cut the fastenings of bales, and started back to their retreats loaded down with plunder. We were not able to argue with them, but there was an invitation to stop in the shriek of our shells that all understood. By firing in front of them with one of our smaller guns we "hove them to" and made them approach and unload their cargoes near us. Soon we had accumulated an assorted pile of mer chandise much larger than our ship. MUMMIES CARRIED TO WASHINGTON The earthquake shocks continued at varying intervals, but none of them so violent or long-continued as at first; some of them, however, were severe enough to shake the "Wateree" until she rattled like an old kettle, and caused us to abandon the ship and camp on a considerable plateau, some Ioo feet high, and over looking the ship and wreckage. Here we had an opportunity of seeing the dis astrous results of the earthquake on land. We found in some places immense fis sures, many of them over Ioo feet wide and of unknown depths; others were mere cracks. Some of them proved the graves of the fleeing inhabitants. In one instance, I remember, we found the body of a lady sitting on her horse, both swal lowed up while fleeing for their lives.