National Geographic : 1889 Oct
320 National Geographic Magazine. narrow limits was, up to 1885, almost entirely unknown. Between Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific, however, every pass from the Bay of Salinas to the Gulf of Fonseca had been examined. In 1885 the party of which I was a member pushed a nearly direct line across the country from a point on the San Juan, about three miles below the mouth of the Rio San Carlos, to Greytown, a distance of thirty one miles by our line, as compared with fifty six miles by the river and forty-two miles by the former proposed canal route. In December, 1887, I went out in charge of a final surveying expedition, consisting of some forty engineers and assistants and one hundred and fifty laborers, to resurvey and stake out the line of the canal preparatory to the work of construction. The information and personal experience gained in previous surveys made it possible, without loss of time, to locate the various sections of the expedition in the most advantageous man ner, and push the work with the greatest speed consistent with accuracy. The location lines of the previous surveys were taken as a pre liminary line and carefully re-measured and re-levelled. Pre liminary offsets were run ; the location made, and staked off upon the ground ; offsets run in from three hundred to one hundred feet apart, extending beyond the slope limits of the canal; borings made at frequent intervals ; and all streams gauged. The result of this work was a series of detail charts and pro files, based upon rigidly checked instrumental data, and covering the entire line from Greytown to Brito, from which to estimate quantities and cost. As may be imagined by those familiar with tropical countries, the prosecution of a survey in these regions is an arduous and difficult work, and one demanding special qualifications in the en gineer. His days are filled with a succession of surprises, usually disagreeable, and constant happenings of the unexpected. Prob ably in no other country will the traveler, explorer, or engineer, find such an endless variety of obstacles to his progress. Every topographical feature of the country is shrouded and hidden under a tropical growth of huge trees and tangled under brush, so dense that it i impossible for even a strong, active man, burdened with nothing but a rifle, to force himself through it without a short, heavy sword or machete, with which to cut his way.