National Geographic : 1899 Jul
248 NICARAGUA AND THE ISTHMIAN ROUTES Greytown for the years 1890, 1891, 1892, and a portion of 1893. The Nicaragua Canal Commission took observations at a num ber of points during the year 1898, in connection with other meteorologic and hydrographic measurements. An examina tion of the records and diagrams shows in a striking manner the fact that along the east coast there is no definite dry season. The maximum rainfall yet measured was that for the year 1890, when nearly 300 inches of rain fell at Greytown, and the year 1892 showed nearly as much. In the region of Lake Nicaragua and on the west coast there is a distinct dry season from about December 1 to the middle of May, when rain seldom falls, and never in large quantities. The total rainfall on the east coast is much greater than on the west, both from the absence of any dry season and from the heavier monthly rainfall, the mean so far observed at Rivas being under 70 inches, while that at Grey town is about 250. This fact is easily explained by the direc tion of the trade winds, which, blowing with remarkable persist ency and uniformity from the Caribbean sea, are robbed of the greater part of their moisture in passing over the mountains east of Lake Nicaragua. The gap formed in these mountains by the San Juan, however, allows a portion of the moisture to be car ried past, even during the dry season, so that at Fort San Carlos, where the San Juan river leaves Lake Nicaragua, rain is liable to fall any month in the year, though in quantities far less than on the Atlantic coast, while on the east and south shores of Lake Nicaragua, a few miles north or south of Fort San Carlos, no rain falls in the dry season. Although Nicaragua is almost entirely covered with dense forest growth, the really useful timber is not abundant. A dis trict on the Atlantic slope near Bluefields affords large quantities of yellow pine of fair quality, which, however, is not yet easily accessible. The only timber yet used to any extent for lumber is the cedar, which is soft, straight-grained, easily worked, and durable. The trees are scattered and not plentiful. The lum ber is mostly sawed by hand. The timber of greatest value is the mahogany, which is cut for export to be used as an orna mental wood and in cabinet making. The monopoly of its ex port is conceded to an American firm. The wild cotton tree is sometimes used in making canoes. A number of the forest woods found in Nicaragua are heavy and so hard that it is im possible to drive nails or spikes into them, but they are exceed ingly durable. A variety of dye-woods is found in various parts.