Слике страница

The principal port of Lower California is La Paz, situated near the mouth of the gulf. The bay on the shore of which the town is located, is of great extent and beauty, and possesses a large number of rich pearl oyster-beds-the pearl fishery having at one time supplied the chief article of traffic on this part of the coast. The country around the bay is clevated and picturesque, though rugged; the soil being composed principally of rock and sand, wildly and irregularly covered with the most prickly species of stunted bushes and shrubs of sunburnt hue. The town of La Paz is neatly built and presents a pretty appearance. The streets are lined with willow trees, and these meeting overhead, form a delicious shade during the heat of the day. The houses are all constructed of adobés, plastered white, and thatched with the leaves of the palm tree. The beach is lined with palms, cocoa-nut, fig and tamarind trees. La Paz was taken by the American volunteers during the war with Mexico, and considerable destruction of the orchards, gardens and houses of the town was the consequence. The harbor offers great advantages for a naval station, and such, doubtless, it will become.

San José, the most southern town of Lower California, is situated about half-way between Cape San Lucas and Cape Palmo, on a sort of desert plain, extending from the beautiful valley of San José to the ocean. It is located about three miles from the beach, and is one of the strangest creations in the shape of a town imaginable.

The heavy rains and freshets which occur in the wet season, in this region, render every elevation invaluable as a preservative against the dangers of sudden inundations; hence all the houses are built upon

steeps, rocks, and hillocks, necessarily irrespective of order; so that, even in the most densely populated districts, barren hills, as yet unoccupied by dwellings, are frequently to be met with, with deep hollows in every part, converting mere visits into positive enterprises, in most instances both tedious and disagreeable. To these great natural disadvantages, the indolence of the inhabitants has added others, their common practice being to dig for adobé clay at the nearest convenient spot, namely, for the most part, opposite their own doors; thus, one would imagine that the site of the whole town had been visited and disturbed by a succession of miniature earthquakes, which, whilst they had left the houses themselves unshaken, had heaved and perched them up in the most uncomfortable positions, and in the most inaccessible places. In the very centre of the principal street, which appears to have once upon a time been level, are three or four immense clay-pits, serving as a receptacle for dead dogs, cats, bones, vegetable refuse, and, in a word, every description of rubbish and nuisance a very dirty population can convey to or discharge in them.

But a description of the town would be incomplete without adding that it is dotted about in these hollows, and in the sand-holes in the rocks, with patches of thorn, brush, and cacti, forming a singular yet refreshing contrast with the general barrenness of the region. itself, the whole being surrounded by a bleak mountainous range, which increases in elevation until it blends with the clear sky, far in the distance.

The principal, indeed the only regular street in the town, is wide and long, the houses being constructed of adobés and cane, thatched with palm leaves. It is blocked up at the remoter end by the fort, which

stands upon a wide foundation of rock of considerable elevation; various portions of the adobé walls connecting the crags having been pierced, so as to allow artillery to be trained through the embrasures, whilst, in other parts, there are numerous loop-holes for musketry. There are some very awkward cavities amongst these rocks, produced by digging for clay for the adobé work. The fort is flat-roofed and parapetted, having portholes for cannon; and below, in the very centre of the building, occupying about a third of its entire length, runs a thick wall, forming a crescent, well mounted with heavy guns. At the end of this crescent, between it and the front wall, is the entrance to the fort-a mere aperture, barely wide enough to allow of one man's passing in.

These defences proved to be of great advantage to a small party of Americans that landed at San José, during the war between the United States and Mexico, and were compelled to take shelter in the old quartel, or barracks. There they were surrounded by the Californians, and stood a siege of several weeks', suffering incredible hardships. The population of San José numbers about three thousand, the majority being semi-Indians, or the pure descendants of the Mexicans. There is little promise of any considerable increase in the size of the town, owing to the natural disadvantages of situation.

The other towns of Lower California are-San Antonio, in the neighborhood of an extensive silver mine, which has been worked for a long time with considerable profit; Loreto, on the gulf coast, about two hundred miles north of La Paz; San Domingo and Todos Santos, on the Pacific coast. The latter town is situated on the bay of the same name, and is

the most northerly part of Lower California. The church and mission buildings at this place are the largest and most imposing structures of the kind in Lower California. The church has a handsome front and a lofty steeple. The mission is the residence of the head of the church in Lower California. There is every reason to believe, that, when the richer portions of Upper California begin to get a little crowded, the tide of emigration will be turned to the south, and the ports of the peninsula will become of great commercial importance. Then, if not before, the country will become the property of the United States, either by way of purchase, or after the manner of Texas.



THE state of things which induced the people of California to form a state government deserves to be fully set forth. Their condition was without precedent in history; and from a statement of that condition, it will be seen that the framing of a constitution and the organization of a state government was the only resource of the Californians. The representations of the report of Thomas Butler King to the government of the United States will not be contradicted, and these we insert.

"The discovery of the gold mines had attracted a very large number of citizens of the United States to

« ПретходнаНастави »