Montana Animal Life

Montana still is home to an abundance of wild life. The proudly tossed antlers of an elk or buck deer outlined against the sky, a bear shuffling through the underbrush, the flash of a pheasant rocketing from a hidden nest, the gleam of trout rising to a fly through the transparent waters of a mountain stream: these are familiar pictures to frequenters of Montana's forests.

Moose, mountain goats, and antelope are nearly at a standstill; mountain sheep are growing fewer. There is a surplus of elk in the Flathead, Lewis and Clark, Gallatin, and Absaroka Forests, where the range is over-grazed to the point of extermination for the most valuable forage plants, and in some places to total denudation. Attempts at control by extension of the hunting season have proven unsatisfactory.

The commonest game birds include Chinese, or ring-necked, pheasant; Hungarian partridge; blue, ruffed, and Franklin (fool hen) grouse; mallard; teal; canvasback and gadwall ducks; and Canadian geese.

The hatcheries are at Big Timber, Sweet Grass County; Hamilton, Ravalli County; Emigrant, Park County; Libby, Lincoln County; Lewistown, Fergus County; Ovando, Powell County; Polson, Lake County; Red Lodge, Carbon County; Somers, Flathead County; Havre, Hill County; Wolf Creek, Lewis and Clark County; Anaconda; Great Falls; and Miles City.

Spawning stations are at Flint Creek and Steward Mill on Georgetown Lake, Deer Lodge County; Ashley and Rodgers Lake, Flathead County; Hebgen Lake, Gallatin County; Lake Ronan, Lake County; and Lake Francis, Pondera County. A pond cultural station is maintained at Miles City.

High, almost inaccessible slopes in Glacier National Park, the Mission Range, and the rugged Cabinet Mountains are the stronghold of the mountain goat, an obscure member of the antelope tribe--to which the American "antelope" does not belong. It lives usually above timber line, amid snowbanks, glaciers, and precipices, and feeds chiefly on the short moss that grows on rocks and in crevices. It climbs the sharpest slant easily, and can be approached only from above, being apparently unable to understand that anything can descend upon it.

Buffalo have been wholly restricted to game preserves since the first protective legislation in 1894. Among predatory animals, cougar and wolf are most dangerous to young livestock. The weasel and coyote are the worst chicken thieves. Damage to field crops by gophers and Jack rabbits yearly reaches a high figure. A prime nuisance is the pack rat, which carries off anything that takes its fancy.

The pelican, with its large ugly fish-pouch jaw, is a bird rare in Montana. The great blue heron summers along marshy streams. Wild canaries, juncoes, meadow-larks, blackbirds, bobolinks, chickadees, and scores of other bird species are common. A showy but unpopular one is the ubiquitous magpie, a long-tailed, noisy, black and white scavenger that frequents highways in search of gophers and rabbits killed by cars. Peculiarly hateful is its practice of harassing livestock by picking at little wounds and scratches.

Of all the fauna in the State, the greatest menace to life and health is the tick. One species, Dermacentor andersoni, of the class popularly known as wood tick, carries tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever to human beings and tick-paralysis to humans and animals. It also causes serious local lesions. The wood tick feeds on many animals; in immature stages it usually fastens upon small rodents, such as mice or squirrels. Like its relative, the dog tick, this species is marked with reddish-brown splotches on the back.

In early spring the ticks emerge from the ground and the bark of stumps. Unable to endure hot dry weather, they disappear from the lower elevations during June and July and from the higher ones in later summer.

The pine butterfly, which defoliates yellow and white pine, is black above and white beneath, with white wings netted with black. A few hours after mating, it lays eggs along the needles of the treetops. The eggs remain over the winter and hatch in June; the larvae eat the needles, and in late July, lowering themselves as much as 75 feet by silken threads, pupate in shrubs, grass, fences, and stumps.

Many kinds of grasshoppers and cutworms, army worms, and Mormon crickets, have caused serious damage to Montana agriculture. In contrast, the bee is highly profitable. The abundant alfalfa and sweet clover of the irrigated valleys form the major sources of supply. In the fruit-growing counties bees have great value in cross-pollination.

A rare animal in Montana is the axolotl (Mex.: plays in the water), a larval salamander found in the pools and mountain lakes of Madison County. Mexicans regard it as edible. It is six to ten inches long, and identical with young amblystoma tigrinum, terrestrial salamanders of the warmer parts of the United States and Mexico. The axolotl retains its external gills and breeds in the larval stages. But, should its native pool dry up, it is capable of becoming an adult salamander, adapted to land life.

Rattlesnakes, the only poisonous reptiles in Montana, occur in twentythree central, southern, and western counties. They average four feet in length, and are yellow to brown with a symmetrical row of darker rounded and separated blotches on the back, narrowly bordered with yellow or white. A distinct V of light color is on the shield above each eye. Natural enemies of destructive rodents, rattlesnakes are also dangerous to man. Occasional organized hunts keep them well under control.

Montana's more than two thousand species of flowers

Montana's more than two thousand species of flowers and many nonflowering plants may be divided into three somewhat overlapping groups --subalpine, montane, and plains.

The subalpine group, characterized by plants that appeared after the recession of the glaciers, or moved in along the mountains from the Arctic, has made the higher altitudes in the northern Rockies famous for their profusion of color in the short midsummer season. When the snowbanks melt and all the flowers bloom at once, the earth is brilliant with glacier lilies, alpine poppies, columbines, white dryads, globeflowers, Indian paint-brushes, asters, and arnicas. The summits are, on the whole, too rigorous for any marked growth of shrubbery, but white and purple heathers, Rocky Mountain laurel, and Labrador teas are present.

The montane group includes most of the coniferous forests, and ranges from the lower border of the subalpine to the valley grasslands. Its most characteristic species is the spire-crowned alpine fir, sometimes associated with Engelmann spruce and white-barked and limber pine (also known as limber-twig pine). There are many shrubs: huckleberries, Menziesia, mountain ash, and scrubby birches and alders. Blue phacelia and, in damp places, red monkey flower and fringed parnassia are conspicuous. In the moister parts of the lower montane forest are Moneses and prince's pine, lowland and Douglas fir, and western larch; but in dry places, lodgepole and western yellow pine, and mountain balsam are more common. Bear grass lifts its beautiful domed column of white blossoms among Mariposa lilies, dogtooth violets, and windflowers. There are many shrubs, such as kinnikinnick, which are not found in the upper montane.

The plains group varies, being characterized on the eastern prairie by grasses such as buffalo and blue grama; in the west, by bunch grasses and by flowers such as the yellow bell, shooting star, bluebell, blanketflower or gaillardia, golden aster, and daisy. On the eastern grasslands are found sand and gumbo lilies, prairie evening primrose, and a little shrubby scarlet mallow with conspicuous waxy petals; clumps of small cacti bear red and yellow blossoms of a delicacy hard to reconcile with the aspect of the plants themselves. Wherever overgrazing, fire, or erosion has destroyed the soil's water-holding capacity, desert shrubs from the south have crept in; the familiar sagebrush is found with greasewood, sea blite, ranger brush, and mountain mahogany. Moist areas are often called camas prairies because of the blue camas, an onionlike May-blooming plant used by the Indians in making pemmican. Death camas, a plant similar to blue camas, but highly toxic, has caused heavy losses among sheep; even men, mistaking it for blue camas, have been poisoned. It bears a star-shaped flower, usually white; its grasslike leaves are most often folded. Common on the plains are yucca or Spanish bayonet, many species of Pentstemon, and sego lily, which blossoms in nearly every color.

Subsurface moisture encourages stream bank forests composed largely of cottonwood and aspen, but often containing alders, river birches, willow, and the like. In swampy areas, cattail, bulrush, and water plantain flourish beside water buttercups and various mints. Coulees and other favored grassland spots support serviceberry, currant, gooseberry, hawthorn, fragrant mock orange, and wild rose.

The State flower is the bitterroot. Flathead Indians who used its root for food gave it the name later applied to the valley, river, and mountains of the region where it was found most abundantly. It is small, with a rosette of 12 to 18 leaves; its low-set pink blossoms turn white after a few days in the sun. White men called it Lewisia in honor of Captain Meriwether Lewis, and rediviva (Lat., lives again) in recognition of its vitality. The gumbo lily, most abundant in Carbon County, is like the bitterroot, and even more beautiful. It is not so commonly found, however.

Montana's four species of cactus are much smaller than southwestern ones. Most common is prickly pear, valued in the East as a houseplant because of the indescribably tender tints of its blossoms. In Montana its beds of sharp spines would make it a pest--if anything so beautiful could be a pest. Cacti are very easily transplanted; a stem set in the ground will take root.

Wild roses are common along mountain trails as well as in coulees on the plains. A low-growing variety sometimes becomes a nuisance in fields.

Sagebrush, common on open plain and hillside, is an erect shrub, one to six feet high, with many branches, silver-gray leaves, and small, clustered yellow flowers.

The Oregon grape of the lower montane forests has bright yellow flowers and glossy green leaves. The stem is thick, the root a yellowish hardwood used by Indians in concocting stomach medicine and spring tonics. In autumn the fruit, a small, blue, rather bitter grape, is used in making jelly. The plant grows in shaded places, often near large rocks. It is conspicuous in autumn, when, after other growth is gone, a single leaf may present an array of orange, brown, and red.

Kinnikinnick, with its small red berries, also provides much autumn color. It grows in great vinelike masses over large rocks; its sturdy root often spreads several feet; its small dark green leaves provide food for deer and other animals. The Indians used its bark for smoking.

Mountain mahogany grows in the hills, and the pussy willow thrives along the banks of streams in all parts of Montana. Foothills and valley are well stocked with edible berries: huckleberries, currants, gooseberries, chokecherries, serviceberries, and buffalo or bull berries. A few wild cherries grow near Martinsdale, in Meagher County. Wild strawberries and raspberries are found in many wooded sections.

Montana has many varieties of forage grass. Some of the most important are June, wheat, and pine grasses, bluejoint, and bluestem. Besides the grasses, edible ferns and mosses flourish in the forests. When forage grasses are overgrazed, an almost worthless "cheat grass" sometimes takes their place. Nourishing enough early in the spring, it is spoiled by summer weather.

Foxtail is a detriment to some pastures. At the top of an 8-inch stem it bears a spiculate tassel resembling the tail of a fox. Animals seldom attempt to eat it, but if they do the bristles may stick in their throats. Feather grass and needle grass, both species of Stipa, are other nuisance grasses. When ripe, their twisted awns catch in the wool of sheep, work into the skin and eyes, and cause infections and blindness.

Among Montana's worst weeds are Russian thistle and "Jim Hill" mustard, both tumbleweeds. Easily uprooted or broken off at the base, they roll before the wind, scattering seeds, and then pile up along fences. High winds strike these walls of piled weeds with such force that miles of fence are sometimes torn up and dragged out into the fields.

Montana geologic history

All geologic periods have left traces in Montana. During the Archaean, the entire region was the bottom of an arm of the Pacific Ocean. It shared the heavy vegetation of the later Paleozoic, and was the swampy residence of Mesozoic reptile terrors. During the mountain building at the close of Cretaceous time, the predecessors of the Rocky Mountains were formed and Montana assumed something like its present surface pattern. Volcanic action upthrust lava in the form of conical hills ranging to several thousand feet in height.

During the Pleistocene epoch four great ice sheets plowed down from the northern part of the continent. Each erased most of the effects of its predecessor; thus the fourth, or Wisconsin, sheet had the most easily traceable influence. Its vast bulk (of an estimated 10,000-foot thickness in places) smoothed out the plains, filled in valleys, and created new stream courses and lakes. It deposited silt in piles hundreds of feet thick and many miles long. But it came only as far as the Missouri River and only east of the Rockies. Similar effects in western Montana were due to the action of piedmont glaciers independent of the Wisconsin sheet.

Great dams or moraines heaped up by the mountain glaciers created hundreds of lakes, two of the largest being the long-dry Missoula Lake, formed by the blocking of Clark Fork of the Columbia, and Flathead Lake, now one of the largest fresh-water bodies in the United States. Other remaining glacial lakes dot the Glacier Park region.

Passing, the glaciers left the surface substantially as it is today. Their less spectacular effects appear in the composition of the State's soils.

An outstanding geologic phenomenon is the Boulder batholith, an intrusive mass of igneous rock, 40 miles in mean width, extending southwest from near Helena to the Big Hole River. Formed at the beginning of the Rocky Mountain building period, it apparently occupies a huge basin whose dissected sides contain remnants of the entire series of sedimentary rocks from pre-Cambrian shales to late Cretaceous sandstones. Its principal rock is a dark coarse granite.

Seventy percent of Montana's exploited mineral wealth is concentrated in Silver Bow County, a division of this region. Gold and silver first brought Butte to the Nation's attention, but copper, zinc, and lead are now of first importance.

Ancient forms of life have left their signatures abundantly in Montana's rocks. The first were one-celled algae, followed several million years later by metazoa, tiny worms. Their marks are found in the Algonkian strata of the Proterozoic era, in the Little Belt Mountains, and in several ranges of the Rockies. Fossil mollusks, snails, corals, and trilobites of Paleozoic age are found throughout Montana. Extensive coal deposits, remains of the luxuriant forests of the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods, are, broadly speaking, the State's most valuable fossils.

Several important discoveries have been made near Harlowton, Wheatland County, including some Paleocene mammals, especially seven species of the condylarth, and the oldest primate remains known to science. Several dinosaur skeletons, usually the most publicized of fossils, have been unearthed in Montana. Dr. Barnum Brown discovered an almost complete skeleton of Tyrannosaurus, largest and fiercest carnivorous dinosaur, on Hell Creek north of Jordan, Garfield County. In Wheatland County he found one of the smallest dinosaurs known to science. Triceratops, an armored brute larger than a modern rhinoceros, was first found 14 miles south of Glendive, Dawson County. This grotesque animal had a 3-foot horn projecting over each eye; another jutted from its snout; and a collar of bone enveloped its neck like an Elizabethan ruff. A second skeleton, almost complete, was found in Treasure County.

Remains of Stegosaurus, weirdest of all armored dinosaurs, were found in 1924 at Sheep Creek, 25 miles north of Great Falls. Besides having hindlegs that boosted its rear skyward while its head was within two feet of the ground, the stegosaur had thick armor plates that stood erect in a staggered row along its back from head to tip of tail.

Partial skeletons of Ichthyosaurus and Plesiosaurus, seafaring reptiles of the Jurassic, have been found in Cascade and Wibaux Counties. A trachodon jaw is in the Larimer collection at Glendive, together with such oddities as gizzard stones--rocks worn smooth in saurian digestive processes.

Hoplitosaurus, a 15-foot horned toad found 32 Miles south of Billings, had been broken into 20,000 pieces by earth movement and exposure. Many other reptile fossils have been taken from the Yellowstone Valley, including two camptosaurs, two nodosaurs, and a tenantosaur.

Montana climate, annual precipitation

The mean annual temperature is 42.60. The warmest areas are in the south-central section traversed by the upper Yellowstone Valley, while the coldest habitable areas are in the northern prairie counties. The highest mean temperature (46.30) in the State is recorded in the Billings region; Bowen, Beaverhead County, because of its elevation, has the lowest mean, 32-3°. The highest recorded temperature, 117°, occurred on July 20, 1893, at Glendive, Dawson County; the lowest, --65°, at Fort Keogh, Custer County, on January 15, 1888. Usually July is the warmest month and January the coldest. In the eastern section hot winds sometimes cause rapid deterioration of grain crops and range grasses, but in late summer and early autumn the winds become beneficial, curing the grasses to provide excellent fodder. Autumn, dry and temperate, usually lasts until December.

The average annual precipitation is 15.48 inches. In the west, rainfall is distributed through the year, but in the east it is heaviest in late spring and early summer. Mineral County and Bull River Valley in Sanders County have the heaviest precipitation, 30 to 34 inches. Regions of lightest precipitation are Dell, Beaverhead County, with 8.7 inches, and (curiously, because of its nearness to the place of heaviest precipitation) Lonepine, Sanders County, with 10.3. In 1909 Snowshoe, in Lincoln County, established an all-time record with 79.75 inches; and in 1894 Fort Shaw, Cascade County, parched with 4.24 inches. Averages in eastern Montana range from 12 to 16 inches, but the peculiar topography causes wide variations within small areas. June is usually the wettest month, February the driest.

Snowfall is heaviest in the mountains. Saltese, Mineral County, averages 160 inches; Fallon, Prairie County, 13. Snow on the lower levels has less water content, and diminishes rapidly by melting and evaporation. Strong winds sweep it into drifts, leaving ranges uncovered for grazing. Fallplanted grains, lacking cover, often winter-kill.

The frost-free growing season is longest in low altitudes. The southeast has 125 frostless days yearly, the northeast 123, the southwest 105. In high mountain districts freezing occurs every month. Average number of clear days is 161; partly cloudy, 107; cloudy, 97. The long daylight hours of this latitude stimulate crops.

Montana Physical Characteristics

The name Montana is derived from the Spanish montaña, meaning mountain. The State, third largest in the Union, is bounded on the north by Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia; on the east by the Dakotas; on the south by Wyoming and Idaho; and on the west by Idaho. Its area is 146,997 square miles, of which 866 square miles is water surface.

Two-thirds of the surface of the State is a plain broken by a network of valleys, many of the smaller ones carrying no water except during rare floods, and by isolated groups of low mountains. The western mountainous section, roughly 200 miles wide, is composed of generally parallel ranges on a northwest-southeast axis, but the Continental Divide follows a meandering course north and south. In the north the main range of the Rockies fronts the eastern plain, but farther south an increasing spread of ranges lies east of the Divide, comprising the sources of the Missouri River and its tributaries.

The highest peaks are east of the Divide rather than along its crest. Granite Peak (12,990 alt.), near the southern boundary, is the highest point in the State. Fairview (1,902 alt.), on the Dakota boundary, and Troy (1,892 alt.), in the northwest corner, have the lowest altitudes. Montana is generally lower than other Rocky Mountain States. In eastern Montana, along the Yellowstone River and other streams where erosion has been too rapid to allow vegetation to gain foothold, grotesque badlands formations in vivid colors extend for many miles.

Montana's most important eastern rivers are the Missouri and Yellowstone. As evidenced by its broad alluvial plain, the Yellowstone is the older; it also has the most direct course. Its valley, one of the most productive agricultural districts in the State, has terraced landscapes shaped by long processes of land elevation and erosion. The Missouri is the larger river, formed by the junction of the Madison, Jefferson, and Gallatin at Three Forks; it describes a huge, irregular northerly arc on its course eastward. Its valley bottom is narrower, the sides generally lower and smoother than those of the Yellowstone, but more rugged than those of the Milk, an important northern tributary. Between the Missouri and the Yellowstone lies the vast expanse of prairie, cut by tributary streams into grassy uplands and rocky hills.

Clark Fork of the Columbia is the master river of western Montana. Coursing westward from its source near Butte, it is joined by the Blackfoot, the Bitterroot, and the Flathead. Generally slow-running, it becomes turbulent in places. The Kootenai River, which joins it in British Columbia, makes only a brief dip into the northwestern corner of the State. In volume of water, the Kootenai compares with the Missouri.

The Continental Divide separates Montana into distinct climatic divisions, partially protecting the area to the west from severe southwardsweeping cold waves and forcing condensation of much of the moisture carried by westerly winds. Winters west of the Rockies are therefore more moderate, summers cooler, and rainfall more plentiful than in subarid eastern Montana. The State's climate as a whole shows great changeability. In January and February, fierce unpredictable storms may be followed suddenly by warm chinook winds and sunshine. Late freezes and snowfalls may delay spring locally until June, and are not unknown even in July. In any of the mountain areas excessive daytime heat is sure to be relieved by cool nights. Westerly winds prevail.

Montana is too large and diverse

Montana is too large and diverse for definition or characterization in general terms. Children in its schools are taught that the name Montana means "mountains," but many of them see only prairies rolling to the horizon. They are told that Montana is still a great ranching State, where cattle graze and cowboys ride, but some of them, as in Butte, see only ore dumps, great dark sheds, and barren buttes.

To the dry-land farmer in the eastern part of the State, Montana is a vast agricultural plain checkered with brownish fallow land and fields of green wheat that ripen to a dusty gray-gold in August; or it is a drab waste seen through a haze of wind-blown soil. For him the mountains of the western part exist chiefly as the goal for some long-deferred vacation.

To the resident of the mountain region, Montana is a land of rich valleys, small thriving cities, and uncounted mineral treasures. He hesitates to admit that anything important or interesting can exist in the immensities of dead brown grass and gray stubble that make up the eastern twothirds of his State. At best, he believes, tank towns are there, and cattle and wheat. Less than best means badlands, coyotes, tumbleweeds, and dust.

These attitudes of high valley dweller and plainsman derive, on the one hand, from knowledge of the importance of the western region, the greater economic security of its rural population, and its relative wealth in people and in cultural opportunity; on the other, from knowledge of the sheer immensity of the plains and from the comfortable thought that the crops and livestock they produce are worth more to the State, in prosperous times, than are the minerals dug in the mountainous area.

The people vary less than might be expected, considering that they live far apart and in widely contrasting environments. They number only 6.19 per square mile, compared with 80.00 for the Nation, and are thus as scattered as the residents of Baltimore would be if distributed over Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and New England. But they make frequent long trips, and think of a hundred-mile drive to a Saturday night dance as part of the regular order of living. Modern highways, built mostly since 1925, have emphasized this trait by making communication easier. A "neighborhood" on the plains, or the "environs" of a city, may include points separated by distances that would seem absurd to a stranger.

Where physical vastness in land and resources is an accepted fact, people are likely to be prodigal in measuring the size of their enterprises. The copper industry is most conspicuous for its leviathan structure. But every cowpuncher scales his ambition to the proportions of the great old-time cattle outfits. Every farmer wants to own or rent more land, buy more and bigger farming machines, and then acquire still more land to keep his machines profitably employed. Little avarice or scheming is involved in this continued reaching out; there is plenty of land for everyone. Montanans are merely so accustomed to vastness that anything less than huge seems trivial to them.

The compulsion to be big is solidly rooted in the State's history, with its traditions of big fur companies, big cattle and sheep outfits, and big mining operations. During Montana's period of greatest growth ( 1880-1920), size became an end in itself. Population increased 1,400 percent, and still more manpower was needed. Many argued that the area and resources of this "Treasure State" warranted a population of millions. Here day-laborers could become owners, and owners could become wealthy. To gain wealth in the new empire (Montanans liked the word) became the hope of everyone. The prime requirement was to "get in on the ground floor."

Even when expansion itself faltered, with the post-War failure of prices and credit, the habit of thinking in terms of expansion continued. Farmers, however, remembered that Montana is semiarid, and began to use moisture-conserving tillage methods. The mining industry had serious troubles: profits on Butte copper dwindled in competition with open-cut operations elsewhere; silver was not in demand; coal had two rivals, oil and gas, growing steadily in importance. In business, sales were slow, collections difficult. The trend of population was away from the State.

In Montana's "wide, open spaces" the cowpuncher no longer rides hour after hour, unimpeded by fences. He wears few fancy togs and carries no gun; he is a workingman who does his job well and cares nothing about the traditions of the motion-picture West. But he does ride. In at least the southeast quarter of the State, the resident, male or female, who cannot sit a horse well is a rarity.

Increasing tourist trade and a growing dude ranch industry have made Montanans think of themselves as hosts, and has added a certain smoothness to the simple good-fellowship and bluff hospitality of older times; but, among themselves, they remain informal and respect few artificial conventions. Hospitality, as proud a tradition West as South, has come down from the days when a rancher's home was everyone's castle and a good citizen never locked his door, knowing that a cold, tired, and hungry rider might need to enter and cook a meal.

Castle Garden was first built as a fort by the Federal government

Castle Garden, which had already passed nine million immigrants into America under the supervision of the State of New York, also had a colorful background before it became an immigrant station.

It is a coincidence that Castle Garden was first built as a fort by the Federal government. Erected in 1807 and called Castle Clinton, it was manned by soldiers through the War of 1812 and owned by the United States until 1822, at which time it was ceded to the city of New York. About two years later it was leased to private interests and became a place of amusement. Not until 1839, however, did Castle Garden come into prominence as a beautiful and fashionable resort.

French and Heiser were the names of the two proprietors who managed it until 1854, the year before it became an immigrant station. Walking through it in these times to view the great collection of fish which graces the New York Aquarium, one finds it difficult to believe that it was once a lavishly decorated auditorium containing a stage and six thousand seats, and was considered one of the most beautiful resorts in the world.

Immediately upon obtaining their long lease in 1839, French and Heiser announced a new policy, and in contrast to the honky-tonk tawdriness of the offerings which had gone before them they provided New York with minstrels and music. A company of minstrels, in which were Barney Williams, Billy Whitlock, Dan Gardner and others, was the attraction in 1845 and 1846.

After being closed for renovations in the latter part of 1846 and spring of 1847, the Garden reopened with a stock company.

The outstanding event and one for which old Castle Garden will ever be famous was the triumph of Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale.

P. T. Barnum was her manager. And what a success she scored! After her first concert the demand for seats was phenomenal.

Afterward an Italian Opera Company reigned for a season at Castle Garden. Grisi and Mario made their American debuts to an audience of fifteen thousand. Equestrian exhibitions followed in October and November of that year, 1854. In May, 1855, Castle Garden was closed in order that it might be converted into an immigration depot.

With the establishment of Castle Garden as an Immigration Station under the supervision of the State of New York, things began to happen.

The facilities were inadequate for the proper care and treatment of the immigrants who had commenced to arrive in flood-tide numbers. The German revolution of 1848 had started an exodus from that country, while the Irish and Scandinavian peoples were also joining the caravan.

Hospital patients from Castle Garden were detained at Ward's Island in the East River. At Ward's Island riots frequently occurred. Many immigrants escaped by swimming to the Manhattan shore, asking to be arrested and confined in the New York jails, rather than remain there with the insane and, as some charged, in a state of starvation. An investigation on one occasion revealed the startling fact that the bodies of dead immigrants were being used for purposes of dissection.

With this curious and chequered background, the Ellis Island Immigration Station, conducted by the Federal government, commenced to function in the year 1892.

The Chronicle of Ellis Island

Had Columbus landed at Ellis Island on a summer day he would have Found the braves of the Manhattan Indians fishing from its Shores, with their squaws and papooses around the tepees and camp fires in the background. And only the Chief of the Manhattans and his favored braves would have been there, for in those days, and for years to follow, it was a retreat of the privileged.

In the days of Peter Stuyvesant, and through the tenure of the second Dutch Governor, Wouter van Twiller, Ellis Island, then called Oyster Island, was a gay and exclusive resort.

At this time, early in the seventeenth century, rollicking young Dutch boys with gleaming shoe buckles, blue pantaloons and bright doublets, took their buxom and tightly-laced Dutch sweethearts to Oyster Island in small boats. There all drank ale and ate roasted oysters, feasting, singing and dancing until the sun went down.

For almost one hundred and fifty years Oyster Island continued to be New Amsterdam's favorite resort for picnics, oyster roasts, clam bakes, and fishing parties. It passed finally into the hands of Samuel Ellis, a farmer of Bergen County, New Jersey.

His strange will, recorded in Abstracts of Wills, New York, says among other things: I give to the child to be born to Catherine Westervelt, if it be a son, Oyster Island, commonly known by the name of Ellis Island, with all the buildings thereon. The Island became known as Bucking Island and passed a few years later into the hands of the state.

In 1808, however, New York ceded the island to the Federal government. It was then used as a powder magazine and arsenal, doubtless because of the recent experience of the colonies with the British.

The government employees in those days lived on the island, and because of the great stores of powder and munitions kept there it was a fearsome, forbidding place, shunned by all who sailed pleasure craft in the harbor and the residents of the nearby Jersey shore.

But once again the island of changing destinies was due for a new name. In the early spring of 1831, the notorious pirate, Gibbs, was captured and brought to justice. After his trial and conviction, he was taken to Bucking Island with the three associates convicted with him, and there plunged through the trap door of a rudely constructed hangman's gibbet. After that, Ellis Island was called Gibbet's Island.

In 1841 the Federal government commenced the erection of Fort Gibson upon Ellis Island. This harbor defence took three years to build and cost Uncle Sam $5,096. It mounted fifteen guns and required a garrison of eighty men.

Originally the Island comprised an area of but three and threetenths acres, but the Federal government has increased the area throughout the years by filling in the shallow waters which surround it. The Island, which to-day contains twenty-one acres, is built of soil from all parts of the world, since much of it was formerly the ballast dumped from foreign ships.

Other nicknames, "Gull" Island, "Kiosk" Island, and "Government" Island have been applied to it at various times, but because it appears reasonable to believe, from the papers of Governor Tompkins, that Samuel Ellis actually conveyed the Island to the state of New York, it must be assumed that the name Ellis was chosen in legal manner for that reason.

In 1890, after the celebrated Supreme Court case in which the Federal government assumed jurisdiction over immigration, Ellis Island was designated as an immigrant station. This caused great satisfaction to the citizens who resided near the Jersey shore, for they had for years feared an explosion of the government powder magazine there. At first there was a demand that the immigrant station be established on Bedloe's Island, but because thousands of American citizens had donated funds for the erection of the Statue of Liberty, following its presentation to the United States by France, the reaction of the donors thwarted that plan.

So it was that on May 25, 1890, the Federal government, having removed all guns, powder and other munitions, formally placed the Island under the supervision of the United States Treasury Department.

New Zealand two decades following Cook's discovery

The two decades following Cook's discovery and exploration had yielded little knowledge of the country inland from the coasts, but they had served to make these coasts well known. A steady intercourse with the Maori of North Island had begun for supplies, labor, and the gratification of sexual appetites. In the Bay of Islands on the North Auckland peninsula an unstable, rowdy settlement of Europeans grew up. Its reputation for lawlessness was to make the name of New Zealand synonymous with the outermost pale of civilization for many decades. To the south, European settlement was slower to be established and more directly concerned with the immediate economic problems of obtaining seals and whales.

A sealing vessel of 1792 which landed a party in Dusky Sound has already been mentioned. It was apparently the earliest occasion on which a group of Europeans spent so much time on South Island. When the men were picked up a year later, they had built a forty-foot boat (probably the first entirely constructed to European plans of Australasian timber) and had procured forty-five hundred sealskins. Thus was sealing--of such great significance to the subsequent invasion of peoples, plants, and animals--initiated in South Island. Important as it was, however, it was destined to last but little more than a quarter of a century; by 1830 it had virtually ceased on the shores of South Island proper.

In the last decade of the eighteenth century, the area about Bass Strait and the southern shores of Tasmania had been the great sealing grounds of Australasia. Bass himself, one of the most famous of the sealers, who visited Dusky Sound to secure timber, brought back fresh reports of the abundance of seals along New Zealand coasts. This contrasted with the depleted condition of the old grounds. Baudin, commander of the scientific expedition sponsored by Napoleon on the ship Géographe et Naturaliste, wrote, in 1802, from King's Island to Governor King of New South Wales:

There is every appearance that in a short time your fishermen will have drained the island of its resources by the fishery of the sea-wolf and the sea-elephant. Both will soon abandon their resorts to you if time be not allowed them to recruit their numbers which have been much diminished by the destructive war carried on against them. They are becoming scarce already and if you do not issue an order you will soon hear that they have entirely disappeared.

No effective heed was given to Baudin's conservational broadside; with this decimation of the quarry in Australian waters, Bass himself led the shift to New Zealand in 1803 (although he and his ship were lost on the first voyage), when one small schooner of thirty-one tons spent three months sealing at Dusky. In 1804 an English whaler, the Scorpion, visited Dusky en route to Port Jackson and secured some skins there. In the same year an American whaler first recorded the existence of Foveaux Strait. Advertisements in the Sydney Gazette on April 14 and April 21, 1805, speak of vessels frequenting, or occasionally touching at, Dusky Sound and its vicinity. These, it may be suspected, refer to sealers visiting occasionally and whalers regularly, the latter for refreshment.

Sealing by colonial ships based upon Port Jackson had to contend with the repressive measures devised by the still powerful mercantilist groups at "home," particularly in the periods from 1795 to 1801 and from 1805 to 1808; by the end of the second period, sealing had begun the shift from South Island proper to Stewart Island and the various antarctic islands ( Antipodes, Bounty, Campbell, Auckland, Macquarie, etc.), most of which were officially named by 1810. The second decade of the nineteenth century marked the height of the sealing industry in what were called "New Zealand" waters, and seventy to eighty thousand skins were secured there each year selling in the Sydney market at fifteen shillings each, 16 but these must have been largely taken to the south.

The primary reason for the shortness of the period of interest of sealers in the Foveaux Strait area (as had been the case in the Bass Strait region earlier) was the rapid decline in number of seals there. Up until 1825 at least, a few sealskins continued to be recorded among mixed cargoes derived from the area, thus precluding any opportunity for the remaining seals--too few to be objects of sealing per se--to recruit their ranks. When Captain Benjamin Morell of the American schooner Antarctic visited the Auckland Islands and the Snares in the late eighteen-twenties, he could not find one seal on those formerly prolific grounds. In the twenties the decreasing number of sealers became altogether based on Australian ports, as British and American ships joined the rush to the South Shetland Islands following their discovery in 1819.

The mention of traders calling for other cargoes suggests interest in the area beyond the taking of seals. One of these was the continuing search for "flax" (Phormium) by the official and mercantile interests of New South Wales. Attempts to rely upon a combination of "imported" Maori labor and Norfolk Island fiber had failed. In 1813 one of the many syndicates formed for the purpose of increasing this supply of raw material for cordage and canvas explored the area around Foveaux Strait very thoroughly. The report of this journey by one Williams, a Sydney rope-maker attached to the expedition as an expert, is most informative. From a base on Stewart Island, now called Port Williams, he crossed to Bluff and penetrated some distance into the Southland plain. He found that the local Maori were growing large crops of white potatoes, which not only formed their own staple food but also gave them a surplus for trade with visiting ships.

The actual evidence of other visits is spotty. In 1808 two ships from New South Wales, the Pegasus and the Governor Bligh, had officially recorded the insularity of Stewart Island, and in 1809 the Pegasus (Mr. Stewart first officer and navigator) returned with the report that "The coasts of Stewart Island were explored by the ship Pegasus (Capt. S. Chase) in 1809. The island was then uninhabited, abounding in wood . . . containing several excellent harbours and runs of the finest water . . ." The Pegasus then sailed up the east coast of South Island and first recorded the peninsularity of Banks "Island." The Sydney Gazette of March 12, 1809, reported that a sealing party abandoned on an islet west of Stewart Island had spent four years in the area, but after the report of Williams' visit in 1813, a period of thirteen years has left scant record.

Then in 1826, William Stewart, late of the Pegasus and apparently acting for an English syndicate, directed his attention to the island which bore his name. He first visited the Bay of Islands in North Auckland peninsula. Kororareka on this bay bad maintained the reputation for disorderliness established early in the century. A rough, lively, enterprising, undisciplined assemblage of white men, Maori, and half-castes, including ship deserters and convicts, had established a lawless community there. From this motley group, Stewart recruited some Europeans, including two sawyers and two shipwrights. He brought them to Stewart Island and established them at Port Pegasus on the southeast coast to start a small timber and shipbuilding yard. They were shortly visited by two ships sent out by the New Zealand Company of 1825 which were en route to the Bay of Islands. From this trip, leaving his employees on the island, Stewart returned to New South Wales with but four hundred and sixty sealskins and a ton and a half of prepared flax--a very poor cargo. As the project looked increasingly unprofitable, it was abandoned, although the little community thus established on Stewart Island struggled on for some years.

In this fashion did the southern shores become known to sealers, traders, and the officialdom of New South Wales; though little is recorded, a good deal of intercourse with the southern Maori is almost certain to have occurred as ships took seals, refreshed, or traded. Moreover the nature of sealing had required that gangs be left for varying periods of time to conduct the sealing and be picked up later with their catch. Some fought the Maori, some traded with them, some lived with them; in all, the southern shores obtained potatoes, half-caste children, and some rather devastating European diseases, along with some useful metal goods and varied new techniques.

There are at least two good reasons for presenting at such length this rather laboriously culled story of the earliest contacts of Europeans with South Island. In the first place, there has been little emphasis on the degree to which seamen out of Port Jackson were familiar with the shores of South Island in the earliest part of the nineteenth century, and this study will stress the importance of the area's cultural inheritance from the New South Wales. In the second place, Australian knowledge of South Island was largely confined to the cool and rainy southern shores. Half Moon Bay on Stewart Island has some sixty inches of rain distributed over two hundred and twenty-nine days a year; there are many days as well which are cloudy without actual rain. Over the region as a whole the rainfall averages between fifty and one hundred fifty inches a year and is just as evenly spread. Not only does the rain seem virtually perpetual but there are few windier parts of New Zealand than the Foveaux Strait area, a circumstance which created serious navigation hazards resulting in a series of shipwrecks during this period. Such conditions of climate seemed to be unsuitable for agriculture and sheep-running, and the difficulties of preparing flax due to the unavailability of wood (for heating water) in the areas where flax could be found, discouraged the development of the flax industry. There seemed to be little in this unfriendly coastal environment to encourage permanent settlement.

New Zealand After Cook's Death

After Cook's tragic death in the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands, Captain George Vancouver, erstwhile midshipman on Cook's Resolution (second voyage), had been appointed to continue his work in mapping the coast of northwestern North America. Vancouver's ship sighted New Zealand on November 2, 1791, putting into Dusky Sound with both ships of his expedition. The Italian scientist, Alessandro Malaspina, in command of a Spanish expedition, attempted to make a call at Dusky Sound on February 25, 1793, but bad weather forced him to put to sea again without entering the fiord. These voyages served to make New Zealand still better known.

Between the visits of Vancouver and Malaspina, Dusky Sound became the site of the first European attempt at commercial exploitation of South Island's resources. Cook's journals had described the great seal population there, and his accurate charts made navigation of the narrow channels less hazardous. It was in Dusky Sound, in November of 1792, that the first sealing party anchored. This was to be the real beginning of a series of steps by which sealers, "flax" gatherers, whalers, pastoralists, agriculturists, and gold miners explored, exploited, and settled South Island. Before discussing the initial sealing party in more detail, however, it will be useful to review some general features of New Zealand's position in the antipodean world at the turn of the century.

Cook's journals had publicized not only the seals but also the flax (Phormium tenax) and the excellent timber of northern North Island. In three of the schemes for the settlement of New South Wales (then southeastern New Holland) proposed between 1783 and 1786 this flax was mentioned. Phillip, the first governor of New South Wales, suggested in 1787 that the flax should be imported to that colony from New Zealand. When a settlement, based on New South Wales, was established on Norfolk Island in 1788, it was found that Phormium grew there too but that there were no natives with skill in working it. A first attempt to kidnap two Maori for the purpose in 1792 failed, but the captain of the ship involved in the try became, incidentally, the first whaler off the New Zealand coasts. It was a returning ship of Vancouver's expedition which finally succeeded in the abduction of Maori from New Zealand for this purpose. The search for timber began in 1794 with the visit of the brig Fancy to collect a load of flax and spars in the valley of the Thames River, to the east of the present site of Auckland; two more ships followed in 1801. The raw material for buildings, as well as that for canvas and rope, was in great demand across the Tasman Sea, the "white pine," or kahikatea, being the earliest timber exploited (the more famous thick-boled kauri did not become a staple until 1820).

Also mainly associated with North Island, but important to the eventual southern settlements, was deep-sea whaling. The first recorded in Australasian waters, in 1791, was undertaken by a fleet of ten transports, some of which were ordinary whalers bound for the western coasts of the Americas after dumping their convict cargoes at Port Phillip ( Melbourne). They were satisfied with the first month's fishing in the Tasman Sea, but then, feeling that the weather was becoming too difficult, they left for their original goal. Not until 1798, when rumor reported three Spanish cruisers off Cape Horn as a repercussion of the European war, did three more whalers appear. In the next half century they were followed by increasing numbers which divided their attentions between deep-sea and shore whaling, the latter of much the greater significance to South Island. McNab reports these whalers to have been a cosmopolitan group, two of the eight ships recorded in 1805 having come from New Bedford, Massachusetts.

A European first saw New Zealand

It appears that a European first saw New Zealand when two ships under the command of Abel Janszoon Tasman sighted the west coast of South Island, perhaps just south of Hokitika, in 1642. Tasman was a practical and efficient seaman and his voyage was one of commercial exploration from Batavia for Governor Anton Van Diemen who was actively interested in finding new fields of exploitation for the already fabulous Dutch East India Company. Seventeenth-century science was, however, ably represented on the voyage by the geographer, Francoys Jacobzoon Visscher, whose writings (especially Memoir Concerning the Discovery of the Southland which according to Beaglehole was produced in January 1642) and speculations may have prompted the venture.

Tasman skirted the west coast of South Island from his landfall to Golden Bay where an attempt to land a boat's crew ended in the killing of four men by the occupants of a Maori war canoe. Known as Massacre Bay, or as Tasman named it, Moordenaer's Bay, it was the effete taste of a recent generation that caused it to be renamed Golden Bay. Although Tasman tacked about in the wide western expanse of Cook Strait to the north, he missed the strait and mapped it as a bay. Tasman and Visscher then sailed up the west coast of North Island and on to discover the Tongan group, although no member of the expedition set foot on New Zealand soil. Hocken, one of New Zealand's great early historians, aptly suggested that the Netherlanders be credited with a "descry" rather than a "discovery."

To that part of the New Zealand coast which he saw, Visscher gave the name of Staedte Landt. Its possible extent and content excited the imagination of cartographers, explorers, and chancelleries for the next century and a third. In various imagined contours it appeared in productions of the Dutch schools of cartography and was copied thus into dozens of contemporary European atlases. Most spectacularly it was inlaid with a world map on the pavement of Amsterdam's new Town Hall in 1648. Few Europeans doubted that Tasman had indeed skirted the western shores of a vast continent in the southern Pacific, Terra Australis incognita, apparently confirming the earlier representations of Ortelius.

When the British Admiralty dispatched James Cook and his party in the bark Endeavour to observe the transit of Venus of June 3, 1768, at King George's Island (Tahiti) in the eastern Pacific, it gave him sealed orders to be opened and followed when that enterprise was concluded. These orders indicated that there still existed in Europe a conviction of the existence of a great southern continent despite lack of corroboration since Tasman's time. The legendary continent was now known as New Zealand; its presumed eastern extension off South America, when proved insular, had kept the name of Staten Land (now preserved in the name of Staten Island, off Tierra del Fuego).

The orders enjoined Cook to proceed southward "in order to make discovery of the continent above-mentioned, until you arrive in the latitude of 40°, unless you sooner fall in with it; but not having discovered it, or any evident signs of it, in that run you are to proceed in search of it between the latitude before mentioned and the latitude of 35°, until you discover it or fall in with . . . land discovered by Tasman and now called New Zealand." 8 The instructions continued in elaborate detail. Following them in his famous painstaking manner, Cook sighted the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand on October 7, 1769.

While Tasman was content with a "descry," Cook was intent on discovery and some exploration; quite probably he was concerned with the possibility of adding to the dominions of his sovereign. After three months spent in exploring the coasts of North Islands, the bark finally swung around Cape Egmont from the north and into Tasman's "bay," sighting the north coast of South Island on January 15, 1770. On the following day the anchor was dropped in the lovely harborage of Ship's Cove near the mouth of Queen Charlotte Sound. The first Europeans set foot on South Island that day, and three weeks were spent in careening and scrubbing the bark and replenishing supplies.

On February 6 the Endeavour sailed through Cook Strait and proved the insularity of South Island by circumnavigating it, though without again putting a boat ashore. Contrary winds which kept the ship well offshore caused some curious inaccuracies in an otherwise remarkably careful chart of the coast (Banks Peninsula was rated an island and Stewart Island a peninsula). After sighting Farewell Spit again, Cook was off to New Holland and the homeward journey. He made several subsequent visits to Ship's Cove, and in 1772 rested in and charted Dusky Sound, one of the larger fiords at the southwestern extremity of the island. We are interested in these visits from the point of view of any cultural introductions which resulted from them. As for Cook himself, however, New Zealand was to figure in his plans only as a refreshing and refitting station en route to further Pacific voyages.

The vast publicity attending Cook's discoveries and the wide circulation of published accounts, together with the reports of the voyages of de Surville and Marion du Fresne, brought New Zealand to the attention of the world. The climate was described with particular favor and several schemes for colonization were tentatively launched; Benjamin Franklin was associated with one such plan as early as 1771. Yet permanent settlement was slow to develop. The experience of Marion du Fresne and a number of his crew, who were killed and eaten after landing on the North Auckland peninsula, added to the already unsavory reputation of the antipodean area in general in the popular European mind. This reputation had already a connotation of "convict settlements" engendered by the dumping of convicts at Botany Bay (near the present city of Sydney, Australia) in 1788. The European situation from 1770 to 1830, which needs no retelling here, did not allow for much energy to be expended on overseas migration; after the American Revolution, ardor for colonization had cooled with particular rapidity.

Maori, Polynesians who settled New Zealand

Out of the islands we now call Indonesia, at some unknown period in the remote past, the Polynesian peoples came to the mid-Pacific. Indefatigable voyagers and explorers, they penetrated the far reaches of the greatest of oceans but do not appear to have found New Zealand until the tenth century of the Christian era. The Polynesians who settled New Zealand, and are known today as the Maori, have a well-established tradition that the first discovery of their islands was made by the famous Polynesian navigator, Kupe. Although other scouting expeditions followed, it was not until the fourteenth century, only six hundred years ago, that a carefully planned colonizing expedition, the "Fleet" of Maori tradition, set out from central Polynesia for New Zealand. The reason generally given for this mass emigration is overpopulation and the resulting social discontent in the home islands (probably the Society group). For some reason yet inadequately explained, all contact of the Maori with other Polynesian groups Feems to have ceased until after the arrival in 1769 of the earliest European visitor, Captain Cook, although Cook's Tahitian interpreter was able to speak easily with the Maori.

There is no satisfactory estimate of the size of the fourteenthcentury migration and, indeed, rather wide disagreement as to the numbers present in both islands at the time of Cook's arrival. An estimate of fifty thousand in all, with less than ten thousand of these in South Island, would seem to accord best with the known facts. The Maori in South Island were not only few in number but were also unevenly distributed. The limited archaeological work in location of settlement sites is not too helpful because of the roving nature of the Maori. Most permanent camps are believed to have been on or near the coasts, and from onethird to one-half of the island's population is thought to have been concentrated on the shores of Cook Strait, particularly in the Marlborough Sound area. Scattered camps (rather than settlements) were to be found along the eastern and southern coasts as far as Fiordland. The Maori frequently did move inland on hunting and gathering expeditions, and sometimes large parties reached Westland in search of the prized greenstone ( New Zealand jade, a variety of nephrite). The cross-island trails and camp sites so far determined, however, yield no evidence of even semipermanent occupation of the interior or the west coast. The largest permanent settlement in the eighteenth century, although it may have had a very short history, was at Kaiapoi just north of Banks Peninsula.

In pre-European times the Maori lived in much the same manner as did the neolithic folk of Britain, in communities, the size of which was controlled by the food Supply." Although we may postulate other "controls" on the size of the community, Maori culture is well termed "neolithic," lacking metals; also absent, however, were the wheel, pottery, and true weaving. In South Island the reasonably broad base of domesticated plants and animals of Polynesia had been narrowed by climatic exigencies and transport limitations to one plant, the sweet potato (Maori "kumara," Ipomea batatas). Other imported plants, including taro and paper mulberry, found their climatic limits not far south of the North Auckland peninsula of North Island. The domesticated dog and rat, both used for food, survived the canoe journey to New Zealand (as pigs and fowl apparently did not), but there is no evidence that they contributed much to the staple diet. Birds and fish supplied the major foods. There was but one general utility fiber, derived from the leaves of Phormium tenax, and from it most clothing and nets were made. Stone tools were simple, the basic implement being a stone adze which was morphologically a hoe but functionally an axe.

New Zealand Climate South Island

The size, rugged relief, latitude, and isolated maritime location of South Island all affect the conditions of the air above it. With no considerable body of land nearer than Tasmania, each air mass which moves in over it must have been subjected to oceanic influences in its lower strata for considerable periods. The excessively high rainfall of the west coast, and the advanced rate of accumulation in the snow fields which feed the island's glaciers, are attributable to the universally moist and potentially unstable character of these strata. The significance of the slow oceanic drifts along each coast, with a general direction to the northeast, is not well established beyond a possible lowering of the mean air temperatures.

The oceanic aspects of the climate are, however, much obscured by the effects of the rugged relief. Not only do we have marked rain-shadow effects in the eastern lee of the mountains, but in the same locations moderately high temperature ranges occur, a characteristic usually associated with continentality. Above all, uneven terrain creates a sharply varied pattern of climates in limited contiguous areas, contributing to vivid local contrasts in habitat character. Despite this obvious limitation, generalizations must be made, but the implicit qualification should always be recognized.

Since each part of the earth's surface has a unique location, and the controls of climate are precisely repeated in no two places, it becomes a matter of some difficulty to identify "homoclimes" (areas of closely similar but not precisely duplicated climates) of South Island in other parts of the world. Yet there is no more useful way of suggesting the essential character of the regional climate. Although classifications of climate are legion, the system developed by Vladimir Köppen and his associates is both reasonably precise and widely understood, and is particularly useful for climatic comparisons. In South Island all stations with usable records fall within, his Cfb type; translated from the arbitrary symbols, this indicates a climate of mild to moderately cold winters, warm but not hot summers, and a precipitation regime which has a limited month-to-month variability. Traditionally this is called a "West Coast Marine" climate, and the type areas of the climatologist include coastal northwestern Europe, the state of Washington in the United States, the British Columbia coast, and southernmost Chile. There are areas of the same classification, however, in the northeastern United States, the western Caucasus, northern Honshu, and southeastern Australia.

In a search for similar climatic areas, South Island should be divided along the line of the major watershed. Its excessively humid west coast (the perhumid of Thornthwaite's 4 early classification) has its only analog in Chile's southern archipelago. Washington and Oregon have too uneven a distribution of precipitation throughout the year, and the British Columbia littoral too great an annual temperature range, for either to be comparable. More acceptable homoclimes exist for the drier eastern slopes of South Island with their greater extremes of temperature, yet there, too, we can quickly eliminate many possibilities. The northern Appalachians have too great a temperature range, the Biscayan coasts too warm a summer, northern Honshu too severe a winter. Apart from Tasmania, and little-known parts of southern Patagonia, the most nearly comparable area in the world, climatically, with eastern occupied South Island is found in the British Isles. This has been a matter of very great significance to the importation of British people, plants, and animals.

At a much higher latitude than South Island, the United Kingdom and Eire experience days much longer in summer and much shorter in winter. A lower total of sun energy received there directly each year is, however, apparently balanced by the great, poleward-moving oceanic drift of the northeast Atlantic which carries relatively warm water past northwestern coastal Europe. The greatest differences between the climates of South Island and Great Britain seem to be the greater cloudiness and humidity of the latter.

Of the individual climatic elements, little can be said of air pressure in a brief and nontechnical discussion. Pressure fluctuates with the passage of air masses of different character over the island, the fluctuations being associated with differences in the character of each mass and of the "fronts" which form between them. Most rising of air, condensation, and precipitation are associated with these fronts, and general changes in air temperature, as well as pressure, with the transition from one mass to another.

Careful study of the data of wind direction reveals only an expectable variation from one place to another in an area of such highly broken surface, except for a more than haphazard tendency toward winds from the northwest. Mean velocities appear to be rather lower than in other areas of similar (Cfb) climate, a conclusion which contradicts a belief widespread in New Zealand and which is undoubtedly fostered by the existence of certain local wind "funnels" where rather high wind speeds may be reached. Attention should perhaps be called to the phenomenon of the "Nor'wester" of Canterbury, a desiccating wind, in nature comparable to the chinook of the Rocky Mountains or the föhn of the Alpine valleys, which blows hot, dry, and sometimes with considerable force across the plains.

The accompanying isothermal maps do not show actual air temperatures, but rather these reduced to sea-level equivalents. Maps of actual isotherms would be most complicated, due to the normal decrease in temperature of 3 degrees F. for each thousand feet of increased elevation in an air mass, and would become, essentially, relief maps indicating little about the character of the atmosphere. The maps do indicate that the interior and east coast are much warmer in summer (January) and that the southeast, particularly Central Otago, is decidedly the coldest place in winter (July).

it is important to both plants and animals that the critical winter isotherm of 43 degrees F., and the somewhat less significant summer isotherm of 60 degrees F. both run through the center of the island. The latter isotherm (more precisely that of 57 degrees F. for the three summer months) has long been considered the critical limiting isotherm for the growing of most commercial varieties of wheat. The importance of the 43 degrees F. isotherm lies in the fact that if the average temperature of the coldest month in any place falls below 43 degrees F., a very large number of useful perennials which have no protective devices against frost cannot be grown. It is true that the actual isotherms, rather than those shown, would be the significant lines in these respects, but the actual isotherms would almost coincide with the sea-level lines in the chief, low-lying, farming areas.

An examination of actual monthly means for the several stations indicates a very moderate regime with respect to both annual ranges and extremes of temperature. Except in a few interior stations, the actual mean of the coldest month is uniformly above 40 degrees F., and only one known station has a mean monthly winter temperature below freezing. Whereas July is the coldest month throughout the island, the highest temperatures are unlikely to occur before late January, and February is the warmest month in several places. Similar "lags" are noticeable in Norway, for example, and indeed are characteristic of maritime places in general. The warmest station on the island has a summer mean of less than 65 degrees F., yet the lowest summer mean is above 54 degrees F. Briefly, the winters tend to be mild with occasional frosts, and the summers relatively cool.

New Zealand, West Coast, Scottish Highlands, island's geographic character

On the west coast the "plains" are tiny patches interrupted by rocky headlands and backed by high and difficult mountain country as far south as the mouth of the Grey. The peculiar multilevel "plain" of Westland lies south of that river and extends for less than a hundred miles. There may once have been a relatively level or slightly rolling plateau surface at some height above the sea; perhaps the coast has since risen a good deal. The steep slopes of the western mountains and their present heavy precipitation suggest that a great load of detritus would have been available to build such a marginal plain. In this now elevated mass the short, swift, mountain rivers have since cut valleys with the same marked development of terraces which is so generally characteristic of the valleys of the island, leaving terrace remnants which are often more extensive than what is left of the original surface. Progress north or south along the coastal margin is like nothing so much as the alternating ascent and descent of stairs. Even ignoring the tangle of the subtropical rain forest which covers it, this is far from easy country.

Most important of the minor land-form areas is Banks Peninsula. It is essentially a large volcanic island tied in with South Island relatively recently by the advance of the plains. Here, on a basement of rocks like those of the central mountain highland, two volcanoes built up flat cones perhaps as high as contemporary Egmont or Ruapehu on North Island. The results of erosion in the subsequent enlargement of the central craters, the development of radial streams, the drowning of their mouths with the formation of bayhead flats, and the faceting of the inter-valley spurs by wave action.

The configuration of the land surface is an extremely important element of the island's geographic character. South Island has its plains, its downs, and its lower hills, and on these areas the major agricultural and pastoral production has taken place; yet, as a shepherd born in the Scottish highlands told this writer once with pride and fondness in his eyes, "There's nowhere ye can go in the island without there's a friendly mountain looking over ye're shoulder." At many times and to many men, however, the mountains were far from friendly.

Central Otago, Nelson and Marlborough structural interpretations

In Central Otago, and in much of Nelson and Marlborough, the structural interpretations suggest a succession of broken, tilted blocks. Some slope "regularly" with a sharp fault-scarp face and a gentle back slope, as that between the Wairau and Awatere Rivers. In a few cases, notably the horst between the Takaka and Motueka valleys, blocks have risen relative to neighboring areas with little tipping. The greatest variety in angle and direction of dip of adjacent blocks is found in the Otago region. The schistose scarp ridges are often high, sharp, and jagged, inviting such names as "Raggedy" and "Rough Ridge". There is a structural resemblance to Nevada's basin-and-range country but Central Otago has a much larger proportion of its area in ranges; the basins are confined to rather narrow flats in the major valleys. Small as these valleys are, they had an important part in the drama of agricultural and pastoral invasion.

South of Central Otago, between it and the sea, lies the southern area of hills, valleys, and plains which Jobberns describes as "a maturely dissected upland with residual hills and valley plains." There the most extensive lowlands, and those economically most useful to the agriculturists and graziers, are adjacent to the lower courses of the Taieri, Clutha, Mataura, and Oreti Rivers. Much larger than any of these, and the principal element in the lowland east of the mountains, is the great plain of Canterbury. Its remarkably even coastline of over a hundred miles is interrupted only by Banks Peninsula. Tapering out along the sea at both northern and southern ends, it reaches its greatest breadth of forty miles just inland from the peninsula. The plain is built of coalescing gravel fans, and there is an almost imperceptible rounding up to the heights of the interfluves from the valleys of the mountain-born rivers which occupy the swales. The gravels are extremely porous and the covering soils thin. The great depth of ground water below the centers of the fans has had very important consequences in the utilization of the area.

The transition from mountain to plain is sometimes abrupt, sometimes gradual. In the latter case, the intervening areas, in the east as in the south, are termed hill-and-down country. This type of land form reaches the coast, with no intervening plain, east of the mouth of the Clutha, bordering the delta plain of the Waitaki on both sides, and again north of the outlet of the Waimakariri. In among the downs, hills, and low mountains are other plains or flats: the Cheviot, Hanmer, and Culverden basins of North Canterbury are examples. In the northeast the "plains" are discontinuous patches of river valleys and deltas between the tipped blocks. The Nelson plain proper is a narrow band around Tasman Bay, but it is often meant to include the low-lying gravelly Moutere Hills which form a small triangle southward with the true plain as its base.

New Zealand, South Island, coastline, land forms

The area of South Island is about fifty-eight thousand square miles, approximately equal to that of the state of Illinois, or of England and Wales taken together. Elongated northeast to southwest it extends for some six hundred miles between 40 degrees and 47 degrees south latitude. For most of that distance its width varies between a hundred and a hundred and fifty miles. The coastline (see end papers) is not greatly indented except in the extreme northeast, where subsidence of the land has drowned old river valleys to form the fretwork of bays and channels of the Marlborough Sounds, and in the fiorded strandlines of the southwestern tip. Rough terrain in the immediate hinterlands of these areas has, however, hampered the development of ports, which have appeared instead wherever they were fostered by economic demand, often in very inferior sites. Elsewhere good natural harbors are confined to inlets eroded from the volcanic debris of the Banks Peninsula, Dunedin, and Bluff areas.

The land forms are built of rocks which vary widely in age and type. Many have not been assigned precise chronological pigeonholes because of the absence of convenient fossil date tags. The surface rocks of Stewart Island, most of Fiordland, and western Nelson are much altered sedimentaries of Palaeozoic or greater age intermingled with granitic intrusions. Covering most of Otago and forming a thin core of the principal mountains through Westland, central Nelson, and into the Marlborough Sounds, are the schists. In these, long-continued heat and pressure have reduced the original rocks to a finely foliated mass, which breaks down into thin leaves and in which nearly all clues as to age have been obliterated. Extremely friable, they yet form some of the highest peaks of the Southern Alps where the nature of the rock is well advertized in the jagged crestlines between intersecting glacially eroded basins.

Hardly less uniform in character than the schists, and embracing almost as large an area, are the graywackes, of which the hills of Southland and most of the mountain highlands of Canterbury and Marlborough are built. Sometimes finer than a typical graywacke, sometimes a rough pebbly conglomerate, these rocks are most commonly a coarse gray sandstone. With little evidence of folding or faulting and in the virtual absence of fossils, interpretations of structure and age remain tentative. It is doubtful, however, that the graywackes were deposited later than the Mesozoic era, and they may be older.

On the flanks of the mountains, chiefly on the eastern margins of the great masses of schists and graywackes, are limited remnants of younger covering beds. Tertiary for the most part, that is, under sixty million years of age, these rocks are softer as well as more varied in character than their older neighbors. From them much of the relatively gentle hill-and-downs country has been carved. Blocks of these newer rocks are also present in the faulted mountain area of the northwest. The large accumulations of gravelly debris and silts which are at the surface in most of the true plains and quasi-plains are hardly to be termed rocks at all; these accumulations were deposited during the last brief million years of the glacial or Pleistocene period.

Five major types of land form are identified in the highly generalized diagrammatic map: mountain highland, Fiordland massif, tilted blocks, hills and downs, and plains. Dominating the island's scenery and occupying a greater area than any other type of land form, the mountain highland, built of the schists, graywackes, and older rocks, extends almost throughout its length and, in some places, for more than half its width. The popular geographical cliché "backbone" has comparative validity only if one imagines a sinuous series of bare, knobby, disjointed, and loosely tied vertebrae. The graywacke areas are, in particular, "structureless" in the sense that there is no orderly system of "ranges" or "axes." Where these are described they are usually interfluves of haphazard trend. The greatest heights and the most striking evidence of deep-cutting mountain glaciation are in the stretch of a hundred and thirty miles between two relatively easy passes: Arthur's to the north linking tributaries of the Taramakau and the Waimakariri, and Haast to the south which connects the valley of the river of the same name with that of the southeastflowing Makarora. Here lie the great ice fields from which spectacular valley glaciers cut down through the subtropical rain forest of the west coast almost to the sea. Above the ice, Mount Cook rears its magnificent twelve-thousand-foot peak to dominate the island. However, most of the highland elevations are rather below five thousand feet than above, and passes at between two thousand and five thousand feet are common if not always easily traversed. The highest peaks and, in general, the watershed lie much nearer to the west coast than to the east.

Glacial action has broadened many valleys within the mountain complex. In such a valley Samuel Butler made his homestead in his days of sheep-running on South Island and from it he drew his description of the approach to Erewhon. Many, too, are the lakes--Wakatipu, Wanaka, Hawea, Ohau, Pukaki, Tekapo, Rotoroa, and others--which are legacies of the overdeepening by valley glaciers or of the damming of drainage channels by piles of morainic debris. Some larger basins which are probably structural also exist, notably the Mackenzie country, its floor smoothed and filled by glacial gravels and occupied by a trio of great glacier-fed lakes.

Fiordland and Stewart Island have not been very thoroughly studied, but the rocks appear to be generally ancient and crystalline. The word massif is chosen to describe Fiordland not only because of its geomorphologic connotation of amass of mountains, but also because of its literal French meaning of a solid block of masonry. The mass has been deeply gouged but there is little evidence of recent major folding or faulting movement. Here, in a region where contemporary precipitation often exceeds three hundred inches a year, the Pleistocene ice accumulations must have been enormous. The ice cap built up on an extensive, rolling, plateau-like surface, and the steep-sided fiords of the southwestern coast, resulted from deep ice-cutting followed by a rise in sea level as the major continental ice sheets the world over melted to release water to the oceans. Indeed the lakes on Fiordland's eastern margin are called "fresh-water fiords" by Jobberns.

New Zealand, New Zealand, southwest Pacific Ocean

The several islands which make up New Zealand are distinctly isolated in the great expanse of the southwest Pacific Ocean. The greatest unit, South Island, is diametrically opposed to the Iberian peninsula; the Canterbury plains along its middle eastern shore are the antipodes of the northwestern corner of Spain. More precisely, the exact center of the island is not far from 45 degrees south latitude and 170 degrees east longitude. Together with slightly smaller North Island and Stewart Island off its southern flank, South Island is separated by long distances from the nearest inhabited Pacific islands and lies some twelve hundred miles from the Australian continent.

The significance of the isolated location can hardly be overemphasized. The highly individualized flora and fauna indicate a period of separation from other land masses which is long in the geologic time scale. The first men (of perceptible record) visited the present islands of New Zealand probably little more than a thousand years ago. These islands were the last considerable land areas, outside of the highest latitudes, to be visited by Europeans. Indeed, by past or present routes of travel, they are the farthest habitable parts of the world from northwestern Europe. It is barely four centuries since the first European brought even a vague report of the island. Known to an apathetic world in the nineteenth century as the most distant of the Australian colonies of Great Britain, New Zealand was literally at the end of the line, a modern Ultima Thule.

South Island's location relative to the Polynesian islands on the northeast and the Australian continent to the west has played a highly significant role in the development of its contemporary regional character. Effective European settlement began in Australia some decades before it was extended to New Zealand. Because of prevailing winds, the sailing routes, and indeed the chief steaming routes until the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, from any part of northwestern Europe to New Zealand ran around the Cape of Good Hope and past Australia. Thus, South Island, and thence the rest of the country, derived the most important elements of its early pastoral and agricultural complex from Australia.

Costa Rica, Geographically, character of its population

The early settlers of Costa Rica, like their descendants, found the coastal districts less attractive than the small central plateau in which the moderate elevation tempered the tropical climate and in which lay the more easily worked agricultural lands. On the plateau was established the center of Spanish control, which by 1565 had at least nominally been extended to practically all the land now claimed by the Republic.

Geographically and in the character of its population, native and European, this southern projection of what later was the Captaincy General of Guatemala had features which from the beginning of the Spanish colonial period set it in contrast to the other divisions of Central America. It was isolated from the other provinces by lands either of little value or rendered difficult of access by mountain barriers. As a consequence, it did not attract large numbers of Spanish adventurers, but continued backward in its economic development and neglected by the representatives of the mother country. Later, when Costa Rica became independent, this physical separation from its neighbors contributed both to its development of local nationalism and to its comparative freedom from the intraregional dissensions which made the history of the neighboring republics turbulent.

The indigenous civilization was sharply differentiated from that of the northern states. In the latter states lived Indians with a developed tribal organization and a more advanced agriculture and local industry, all of which facilitated imposition of the typical encomienda system elsewhere found in the better-favored regions in which Spanish control came to be established. The colonial system came to rest on grants of Indian villages to the conquerors, who collected tribute from their subject serfs and in course of time developed the large landholdings typical of most of the Spanish-American colonies.

Costa Rica differs also from the other divisions of Central America in the character of its Spanish population. Elsewhere the conquerors and those who followed them are reported to have come largely from Andalusia, but Costa Ricans are said to have come largely from northwestern Spain.

Access to European markets in the colonial era and until late in the nineteenth century was by the roundabout Pacific route, causing an isolation from the rest of the world which kept the purchase of imported goods at a low level, and restricted the goods which could be sold abroad. Coffee was introduced only toward the end of the colonial regime. When bananas and plantains became a staple crop for local consumption is not clear, but their cultivation appears to have been well established by at least the early 1840's.

Panama - Strategic position of the republic

The back country is very sparsely settled, little exploited, and in some districts practically unexplored. Panama, as the world thinks of the republic, is the area close to the Panama Canal, and that is, in fact, the only portion now of significance in world affairs. In two cities of this area, Panama and Colon, live one-fourth of the inhabitants of the republic.

The strategic position of the republic, which lies on both sides of one of the world's great crossroads, gives it an importance in commercial and military affairs far out of proportion to its resources and their development. It is an area which has been coveted by the great maritime nations almost since the discovery of the New World.

Settlers early reached the west coat of Central America across the isthmus, and eastward across this neck of land, for generations, the precious metals trade passed on its way from Peru to Spain. Through the building of the Panama Canal, has the isthmian region become one through which has passed a far more valuable trade serving the world at large.

These two elements--world commerce, affecting particularly the United States, and the naval policy of the United States-give to Panama its major role in international affairs. Inevitably they exercise a far-reaching influence on the politics and prosperity of the little republic and make its relations with the United States of capital consideration. In comparison, its connections with its neighboring republics are of secondary importance and those with other foreign states of almost incidental significance.

Panama Earlier Canal Projects

Early in the nineteenth century, the Government of the United States became interested in the possibility of building a transisthmian canal. It was equally concerned with the problem of assuring to American citizens the free use of any canal which might be built. A treaty concluded with New Granada in 1846, stipulated "that the right of way or transit across the Isthmus of Panama upon any modes of communication that now exist, or that may be hereafter constructed, shall be open and free to the Government and citizens of the United States," in return for which the United States guaranteed the neutrality of the isthmus and the freedom of transit there, as well as the rights of sovereignty and property of New Granada therein.

In 1850, after a controversy arising from the activities of Great Britain on the Mosquito Coast, the United States entered into the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, which provided that neither the American nor the British Government would seek any exclusive control over a canal through Nicaragua. Other agreements regarding the proposed waterway were made from time to time with Nicaragua and with Costa Rica. A commission created by Act of Congress in 1872 gathered information regarding the various routes proposed and reported in 1876 that a canal through Nicaragua offered greater advantages with fewer difficulties than any other project thus far studied. Further investigations in Nicaragua were made by commissions appointed in 1895 and 1897.

Several unsuccessful attempts to construct a canal had been made by private companies, both American and European. Repeated efforts were made in Congress to obtain official assistance for the Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua, an American concern which had obtained a concession from Nicaragua in 1887, but which ceased work because of financial difficulties in 1893. Meanwhile, a French company had been endeavoring to construct a canal in Panama, under a concession granted by Colombia in 1878. The company had failed after some years because of financial mismanagement, but a new company had taken up the work, and the Colombian Government had thrice granted extensions of the time within which the canal was to be completed. The first company had done a very large amount of excavation, but its successor, unable to obtain capital, was obviously unable to make further progress. It had become evident by the end of the century that the canal would be built only if the power and resources of the United States Government itself were devoted to the task. During the Spanish-American War, the spectacular voyage of the Oregon around South America strikingly demonstrated the necessity for a canal from the standpoint of national defense, and stimulated American interest in the project. An Act of Congress, approved March 3, 1899, authorized a full investigation of all practicable canal routes, including particularly those in Nicaragua and Panama, with a view to the construction of a canal by the United States.

The Dominican Republic History

The first to come under Spanish control--it was discovered by Columbus on his great voyage in 1492--Hispaniola, later known as Santo Domingo, or Haiti, was also one of those early to pass from Spanish control.

During the seventeenth century the French established themselves in the west and at its end in 1697 succeeded in forcing Spain to recognize their claims. A century later, in 1795, France became also the owner of the eastern portion.

On the outbreak of the French Revolution political dissensions broke out in the west and the colonists of white blood, with the exception of a negligible number, were killed or forced to emigrate. The blacks then invaded the east and in 1801 established control over the entire island. Efforts of Le Clerc, the brother-in-law of Napoleon, to re-establish French authority were unsuccessful. Haitian domination in the eastern section was opposed by a revolution in 1808. Spanish control was re-established in 1814 but again lost through a revolution in 1821. Haiti next reinvaded the eastern section and ruled it for twenty-one years--till 1844. Santo Domingo then became independent, but was so weak that the rulers, fearing further interference by Haiti, sought a protectorate or annexation from Spain, France, Great Britain, or the United States--without success. In 1861 Spain hesitatingly re-established herself in the colony with the support of its then rulers and with but mild protest by the United States, the attention of which was then demanded by civil war in its own borders. In 1865, however, Spanish control was abandoned.

Thereafter renewed attempts were made by dictators of insecure tenure to obtain support by the United States. The most serious of these occurred in 1868 when President Baez negotiated a treaty of annexation with the United States. It was favored by an overwhelming majority in a "plebiscite" the voting in which, however, was controlled by the most arbitrary methods. The United States Senate rejected the treaty.

The government of the country continued throughout the rest of the nineteenth century to be disturbed and inefficient. True popular government did not exist. Meanwhile concessions, foreign loans, the yield of which was unwisely spent, and hypothecation of the customs receipts to foreign creditors complicated the international relations of the republic. The country was hopelessly bankrupt. Its debt and claims against it totaled more than thirty million dollars, its annual revenue less than two million. In view of these debts and "the imminent peril and urgent menace of intervention on the part of nations whose citizens" had claims, the Dominican Republic in 1905 asked the United States to assist in the collection and application of the customs revenues and in effecting an arrangement with its creditors. A modification of the terms of the agreement later proved necessary to meet the views of the United States Senate, and in this form it was approved by both countries in 1907.

On the reappearance of political disorder the United States sought again to contribute to the maintenance of peace by assuring the fairness of the elections through observers. Later, on the ground that the Dominican Republic had violated its agreement not to increase its public debt without consent of the United States, it tried to have the Dominican Republic appoint a financial adviser on the nomination of the president of the United States. The Dominicans declared such steps not contemplated in the agreement of 1907. The result of the differences arising was a military intervention by the United States on November 29, 1916, a step authorized by President Wilson "with the deepest reluctance." The intervention came to an end September 18, 1924. It had been efficient but not without abuses and in certain parts of the republic had caused the development of deepseated anti-American feeling.

On October 26, 1925, a new convention between the two republics was proclaimed replacing that of 1907. Its object was to refund the former bonds still outstanding, to modify the engagements concerning payments on the public debts, and to provide funds for improvements.

Economic development of the Caribbean

Even in 1800, perhaps a close student might have foreseen that a change was coming in the economic importance of the Caribbean--though the rôle which the great staples characteristic of its trade now play would not have been clear. This economic development was not to be in the precious metals, nor, indeed, was it to involve in major degree products native to the New World. The sugar and coffee transplanted from Asia rather than the native tropical products were to be the mainstay of the export trade of the Caribbean.

At the end of another century the discoverer would look back on developments some of which he could only have considered catastrophic and some of which he would have found highly encouraging. The Spanish continental holdings would have disappeared, replaced in the main by a group of republics the history of which was tarnished by wars among themselves and more frequently by civil commotions all of which had delayed their social, economic, and political advance. The islands also would have passed from Spanish control, some to European rivals of the mother-country, some into the control of their own populations, and some to the control, temporary or permanent, of a new world-power which had arisen in America itself.

From another point of view he would have found ground for encouragement. Already a great economic advance, which was a century before a matter of prophecy, was a reality. The trade to Europe was being supplemented by a northsouth trade which in the next quarter-century would revolutionize the commercial importance of the region. Old lines of production were assuming new importance and new ones were coming into being. Trade exchanges were under way which in their growth would make the rich old commerce of the Indies seem poor by comparison. Echoes could be heard of great projects which would make the Caribbean he had discovered one of the great crossroads of the world, a route toward a south to him unknown, and one of the great sea roads to the Far East which he himself had hoped in vain to reach.

Voyages of Columbus to the New World

On the four voyages of Columbus to the New World which he gave to Castille and to Leon he saw all the larger islands of the Caribbean and coasted along a not inconsiderable part of its shores. Could he have revisited the scene of his discoveries periodically in the three centuries following he would, it is safe to say, have been in many ways greatly disappointed. Instead of the oriental civilizations with their great riches which he had sought to reach he would have found that there were only the primitive Indian tribes such as he had himself encountered. Great riches, though not those of the Orient, he would have learned had been discovered and had been made a source of income to the Spanish crown and its representatives. This wealth had come to light, indeed, soon after he himself had passed away, but it was not in the regions he had explored but still farther on, in Mexico and in Peru.

The regions he had traversed remained for a long period a backwash, valuable not so much in themselves as because they lay on the way to the more easily exploitable, more thickly inhabited regions in which the precious metals were to be had.

The islands he discovered and the lands bordering upon the seas he sailed he might have thought were a doubtful blessing to the Spanish crown. They had to be defended and their scattered character made the task one increasingly difficult as other countries gained in power and reached a position in which they could dispute the national monopoly. It would have seemed to him, indeed, as if these islands and the then unproductive mainland areas were at times vantage-points from which the enemies of his most Christian majesty could operate against Spanish interests rather than bulwarks by which they might be defended.

At the end of three hundred years he would still have found the commerce through the Caribbean which Spain most prized to be transit trade carried up the west coast to the isthmus and from the far east and Mexico down to Vera Cruz and thence by fleets to Spain. Valuable it was, but not of great volume and not supporting frequent sailings to the home country.

He would have been disturbed by the fact that other countries had already begun to get a foothold in the territories claimed by Spain, and would have heard perhaps the rumblings of discontent which were soon to grow into revolutions and break down the great colonial system which his discoveries had made possible.

The Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea

Sunset Over the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, USA

Sunset Over the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, USA

Charles Sleicher

Buy This at

The Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea combined are a western bulge of the Atlantic Ocean. The fact that this ocean extension is island-studded and partially separates two continents has contributed to its past and present significance. The area of the combined seas is large, with a total water expanse of roughly 1.35 million square miles. The addition of 92,000 square miles of islands produces for the region a total area nearly half that of the conterminous United States. From Corpus Christi, Texas, to Barbados the distance is over 2,600 miles, whereas about 1,600 miles separate Colombia, at the southern margin of the Gulf of Darien, from Alabama. Location, distance, and area are unvarying geographic realities that affect human activities in a number of ways.

The Gulf/Caribbean area consists of two semienclosed seas joined by the Yucatan Channel. The Straits of Florida provide the only open-sea connection for the Gulf of Mexico. Often included in regional treatments are the Bahama Archipelago and the Turks and Caicos Islands, which lie in the Atlantic along the northeast flank. East of Cuba, a curving chain of islands picket the northern and eastern margins of the Caribbean.

Although not greatly different in size, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean are quite different in geopolitical terms. Only the United States, Mexico, and Cuba--militarily the three strongest countries of the region-face the Gulf of Mexico. Frontage on the Caribbean, on the other hand, is shared by more political entities than any other arm of the sea in the world.

Roughly a score of passages connect the Atlantic and the Caribbean, besides the Yucatan link with the gulf. The Panama Canal provides a water passage between the Pacific and the Caribbean. Unlike the gulf, the Caribbean also is important as an ocean route between distant places.

The main island chain is known as the Antilles, a term that predates discovery. It appeared originally on fourteenth-century European maps to designate unseen islands thought to lie west of Portugal. Common usage distinguishes between the Greater Antilles--Cuba, Jamaica, Hispañola, and Puerto Rico--and the Lesser Antilles--the string of small islands extending toward South America. Only the Netherlands Antilles use the term officially, although the French holdings are termed the French Antilles in speech and writing and their inhabitants are known as Antilleans. The strait between Dominica and Guadeloupe divides the Lesser Antilles into the Leeward Islands on the north and the Windward Islands on the south. Despite the fact that climatically there is little sense to the usage as the Northeast Trade Winds affect both groups, the appellation endures. For reasons no more clear, Barbados, Trinidad, Tobago, and the Venezuelan islands of Margarita and Tortuga are not regarded as part of the Antilles despite similarities in size and location.

Other islands, cays (keys), and banks interrupt the water surface of the Gulf/Caribbean. In particular, groups of islands fringe both main coasts of Cuba and lie off Central America from Yucatan to Colombia. The Cayman island group west of Jamaica is the largest of the open-sea islands. A cluster of land fragments east of Nicaragua includes Isla de Providencia (Old Providence Island) and Isla San Andrés (St. Andrews Island). Revival by the Sandinista government of a once-settled dispute with Colombia over ownership of these islands has added another issue to the geopolitics of the western Caribbean.