National Geographic : 1896 Feb
VENEZUELA: ping business is transacted upon the beach. The government has concentrated at Ciudad Bolivar the civil and military au thority. It has the only custom-house upon the entire Orinoco system and practically the only courts. The city resembles other Spanish-American towns, for they are all alike, has a number of pretty foliage-shaded squares, several rather imposing government buildings, a cathedral, a public market, a theater, a college, and the inevitable statues of Bolivar, the liberator, and Guzman-Blanco, the regenerator of Venezuela. The volume of business done there is enormous in proportion to the population, as it is the supply point and the port of shipment for a large and productive area. Within the last few years the exports of gold alone from that little town have been valued at $39,000,000. The principal merchants are Germans, the restau rant keepers are Italians, and the laboring classes are negroes from the West Indies or Canary islands. Ships from all ports in the world land at the piers, and the flags of every nation may be seen floating from the poles on the house-tops. The manu facture of cigars is extensive, as excellent tobacco is cultivated in the neighborhood, and in almost every household the women employ their spare time rolling the leaves into what are known in the nomenclature of North America as " Wheeling stogas." These are used in amazing quantities by the negro roustabouts, and are sent down the river to Los Tablas, from whence they are carried on mule-back 150 miles into the interior to the mines. The most profitable mine in Venezuela, and one that is famous all over the world, is El Callao, situated on the borders of the disputed territory, in the state of Bolivar, about one hundred and fifty miles south of the Orinoco river. I suppose that the richest gold mine ever discovered was the Consolidated Virginia, the mine from which so many of the Cali fornia mining kings drew their enormous fortunes. It is diffi cult to calculate the output of the old Spanish mines in South America, but El Callao is reckoned second to the Consolidated Virginia in the amount of gold produced, and I understand that it has already produced more " free gold " than any other ever opened. It was worked by the Indians long ago; at least its location corresponds with that of a legendary deposit from which the savages of Venezuela got much of the gold taken from them by the Spaniards, but after the latter took possession of the coun try its existence was a matter of much doubt, until four Jamaica negroes happened to run across it on a prospecting tour.