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This is the largest and most densely populated and the most uniformly prosperous Province of the Republic.[23] It is bounded on the North by the Provinces of Santa Fé and Córdoba, on the West by the Territories of the Pampa Central and Rio Negro and on the East and South by the Paraná and Plate Rivers and the Atlantic Ocean. Its capital, La Plata, is of a somewhat sadly monumental aspect. It is indeed as yet but a monument to the still unrealized dreams of its modern founders and architects. It was to have been a great city with a busy port; it is now a place where Provincial parliamentarians, lawyers, university students and Law Court and Police officials spend some hours each day, coming each morning and returning each evening from and to the superior activity and attractions of the Federal Capital.

Nevertheless, La Plata has long, wide, eucalyptus-planted avenues; its chief Plaza, in which are the Municipality and the Cathedral, is not much smaller than Trafalgar Square; its Museum is world-renowned for its pal?ontological collections; and its Law Courts, University, Theatre, Police Offices and the above-mentioned Municipality are[140] huge, magnificently solid-looking buildings. But the lack of all perceptible movement in La Plata leads one to imagine that if its broad avenues and noble Plazas are not grass-grown the fact is due much more to the action of street cleaners than to that of traffic. Truly, one may often gaze down a very long vista of pavement between tall eucalyptus trees for many minutes without seeing one single other human being.

The Port works of Buenos Aires have drained its only source of commerce from La Plata. Still, some day the trade of the Republic may need it also.

At the same time it is only just to add that La Plata makes out a claim to nearly 100,000 inhabitants. Where they all get to when one visits it is mystery. Perhaps they in their turn spend their days in Buenos Aires; returning home to sleep in the deep stillness of the Provincial Capital.

The real chief port of the Province of Buenos Aires is Bahia Blanca. First of all, in 1896, the National Government decided to build the naval port and arsenal now in existence there: subsequently the Buenos Aires Great Southern and the Buenos Aires and Pacific Railway Companies realized the conveniences and situation of Bahia Blanca as a place of export for the produce of their great and ever-increasing southern and south-western zones and each company constructed a port for the almost exclusive purposes of its own traffic.

The Great Southern Railway’s port is called Ingeniero White and that of the Pacific Railway Puerto Galvan. Besides these, separate and distinct constructions, Bahia Blanca has a fourth port, Cuatreros, at the interior end of the bay, which exports large and increasing quantities of frozen and chilled meat.

The great railway ports of Bahia Blanca are fitted with every modern mechanical appliance, huge cranes, electric endless belts for loading loose grain, and immense grain warehouses and elevators. The town of Bahia Blanca is[141] rapidly growing in importance and influence. Its municipal administration is largely in the hands of British exporters and merchants.

On the Atlantic coast, between Bahia Blanca and Buenos Aires and some 400 kilometres from the latter city, is the famous seaside resort of Mar-del-Plata, the Argentine Monte Carlo—Trouville-Biarritz-cum-Ostend (before the War!).

During the season there (at all other times of the year it is deserted) vast Hotels and Restaurants charge famine prices for accommodation and food and there is always more demand than available supply of either. Wealthy Argentine families have, of course, their palatial “Chalets,” and the Rambla, as the great promenade by the sea is called, is a very brilliant scene at all times during the weeks in which it is fashionable.

Music and dancing contribute to the nights’ amusement at the Casino, large Hotels and private houses; and at the Club members can indulge in those games in which chance plays a greater r?le than skill.

As one young gentleman, who had failed to get a bed at any of the Hotels he thought worthy of his patronage, once remarked, “No matter, one can always play Baccarat till it is bathing time again.”

The air of Mar-del-Plata, that of the wide Atlantic, would doubtless be a powerful restorative to anyone who could resist the temptations of amusement sufficiently to give it a chance. Some people possibly do, but if so keep very silent about it.

Mar-del-Plata is, however, destined to show a more serious side of its possibilities in consequence of the building of a commercial port; the construction of which has been entrusted to a French firm, also the constructors of the new port works of Montevideo. Potatoes which are deemed the best in the Republic come from near Mar-del-Plata.

Other chief towns of the Province of Buenos Aires are Avellaneda (situate on the Provincial side of the boundary[142] line between the Province and the Federal City of Buenos Aires, but to all intents and purposes a district of the latter with which it is connected by unbroken lines of streets and houses), Chivilcoy, Pergamino, Tres Arroyos, Nueve de Julio, Azul, the residential suburbs (of Buenos Aires), Temperley and Lomas de Zamorra and many smaller “camp” towns.

All these minor camp towns of the Province of Buenos Aires look much alike and none of them are very interesting in appearance. Their stores, however, do good business in supplying the needs of large surrounding rural districts, and some of these towns have periodical cattle shows and sales which are well worth visiting.

Temperley and Lomas de Zamorra consist chiefly of Villa residences, of all sizes and styles of architecture, and some shops.

The Province of Buenos Aires, half as large again as the whole Republic of Uruguay, possesses some of the best land in Argentina, and in it farming has reached the highest developments as yet attained in either Republic. In it intensive farming has already made its first appearance in South America—as needs must when high land-values drive. The surface of this Province is one almost unbroken level plain.

It at present produces one-third of the whole output of wheat, nearly a similar proportion of maize, one-fifth that of linseed, 87% of that of oats, and also contains about 37% of the live stock of the whole Republic.

Good water is obtainable nearly everywhere in practically close proximity to the surface. This fact, combined with the comparatively few running streams and the tendency of these to dry up in hot weather, causes some parts of this Province to have the appearance of a forest of tall skeleton iron windmills. These are set up over artificially sunk wells, to draw water for animals and domestic purposes.

A detailed description of the Province of Buenos Aires[143] would extend to a very great length indeed; as this Province is, as far as its climatic conditions permit, a compendium of the industrial activity, at its best, of the whole Republic. That it is so is due to its situation on, or always in relatively close proximity to, the estuary of the River Plate; the cradle of the civilization and progress of the countries under discussion.

Farming and most other industries find their highest expression within easy reach of and in the Federal Capital.

As far as its physical aspect is concerned, the Province of Buenos Aires has been accused with considerable justice of being generally uninteresting. Certainly its surface is one huge flat plain, until one gets south to the ranges of the Sierra de la Ventana and the Tandíl hills. Past them, nothing but monotonous plain again till its southernmost boundary, the Rio Colorado, is reached.

Its only romantic scenery, though that is delightful indeed, is on its north-eastern frontier, along the small River Tigre and the majestic Paraná; the banks and innumerable islands of which are clad with useful osiers, flowering reeds, peach trees and a large riot of other beautiful and luxuriant vegetation. Many a spring day can be passed in idyllic enjoyment among the islands of the Tigre.

At Tandíl, on the south-eastern side of the Province, there are quarries of fine marble and building stone, and until a year or so ago there was a famous rocking-stone perched on another rock, the surface of which is inclined at an angle of something like 45 degrees. To all appearances a mere gust of wind would have toppled the upper stone down into a hollow beneath; but the tale goes that Se?or Benito Villanueva, a wealthy and sportsmanlike Argentine, once tied a rope round the rocking-stone and attached the other end to a double span of oxen on the plain below. The oxen pulled; but without any other effect on the rocking-stone than temporarily to cant it just as many centimetres as it could be moved by a good push from a man’s hand.[144] Now, alas for Tandíl, someone has succeeded in dislodging the rocking-stone from its uncanny-looking eminence, so that it has, literally, fallen from its high celebrity.

Buenos Aires is, naturally, the Province of palatial estancia houses surrounded by model farms. The Queen Province. The most densely populated and cultivated and the one with the largest revenues.

This Province ranks next to that of Buenos Aires in respect of area and population, while its output of both maize and linseed is slightly greater than that of the Queen Province; in regard to wheat it stands third among the Argentine Provinces, Córdoba coming immediately after Buenos Aires, and in respect of oats it again comes second. In point of live stock it comes only fifth, after Buenos Aires, Entre Rios, Corrientes and Córdoba.

It is bounded on the North by the Territory of the Chaco, on the West by the Provinces of Santiago del Estero and Córdoba, on the South by the Province of Buenos Aires and on the East by the River Paraná.

The northern part of Santa Fé is covered with vast forests, continuations of those of the Provinces of Santiago del Estero and the Territory of the Chaco. These forests are rich in Quebracho wood, and from them also come large supplies of firewood and charcoal.

The other parts of Santa Fé are devoted to stock and agriculture.

The streams of this Province, although more numerous than those of Buenos Aires, have (with the exception of the great River Paraná) the same tendency to dry up as have those of the Queen Province, and, therefore, water-drawing windmills are in proportionate evidence.

Its Capital, the city from which it takes its name, is one of the oldest in the River Plate countries. Its movement[145] is, however, little else than that of a merely political capital; the town of Rosario, with its port, being the centre of most of the commercial activity of this part of the Republic. Until the rise of Bahia Blanca, Rosario held the undisputed rank of the second commercial centre of Argentina.

The City of Santa Fé nevertheless possesses an old-world beauty and charm, with its palm avenues and spacious Plazas, its many churches and its large one-storied residences. Rosario, on the other hand, is as unsightly and uninteresting a place to the eye as could well—or, rather badly—be conceived. It has, however, a large share of the cereal export trade. This Province has also other important ports on the Paraná, viz. the port of Santa Fé itself, Villa Constitution, Colastiné and several minor ones, all of which are available for ocean-going ships.

After Buenos Aires, Santa Fé is the Province with by far the greatest and most conveniently situated railway mileage.

Mixed agriculture and stock farming is practised in many districts; though Santa Fé has not yet felt the economic need of other than extensive farming. Still, land values have, until recent events prejudicially, if only temporarily, affected all such values, followed those in Buenos Aires on an upward course. Santa Fé sends large quantities of potatoes to the Buenos Aires and local markets.

The milling industry of this Province ranks not only next in importance to that of Buenos Aires, but its output of flour is very much greater than that of Entre Rios, the next most important Province in this regard. The Department of Reconquista, in the North of the Province, has sugar mills, and other industries are the production of ground-nut oil, dairy produce, tanneries, preserved meats and maize alcohol.

This Province is bounded on the North by the Province of Santiago del Estero, on the North-West by the Province[146] of Catamarca, on the West by the Province of La Rioja and San Luis, on the South by the Territory of the Pampa Central and the Province of Buenos Aires, and on the East by the Province of Santa Fé.

Córdoba is the second Province of the Republic in point of wheat and linseed production, being not far behind Buenos Aires in this regard. Its maize production, however, does not amount to one-third of that of either Buenos Aires or Santa Fé, while in oats it about ties with the latter. In live stock it ranks fourth among the Argentine Provinces, though it has less than half the number possessed by Entre Rios and only about half of that of Corrientes. In the matter of population it ranks fourth among the Provinces of the Republic, with about one-third that of Buenos Aires.

As one travels towards the ancient capital of this Province one begins to realize that the cosmopolitan delights of the city of Buenos Aires do not reflect the soul of the Republic: the soul that fought for its liberty under the blue sky and warm sun of 25th of May, now over a hundred years ago. One begins involuntarily to dream of the Gaucho Wars and to feel the atmosphere of wilder bygone times amid the steep water-cut and cacti-crowned banks of the five great rivers which traverse the land from west to east. And when one gets to “The Learned City” the illusion is not dispelled. Only one extremely modern-looking Hotel in a corner of the Plaza jars; the rest of old Córdoba exhales the magnolia-scented atmosphere of Old Colonial days. The Cathedral, the University (founded in 1613) and the innumerable churches, the bells of which all clang incessantly on Feast-days, all help to preserve in the old part of the City of Córdoba an atmosphere of the Middle Ages, when monasteries and learning were indissolubly connected. And of monks and nuns, brown-robed, black-robed, white-robed and blue-robed, many there be in Córdoba. Wherever one looks, across the Plaza, up one street or down another, one sees them walking in twos or small groups with a uniformly[147] measured step which, as one instinctively feels, nothing could hurry nor retard. And the black-coated citizens of Córdoba walk silently with eyes downcast. But there is fierceness behind those cast-down eyes and quick hot blood in the veins of those men in black; as anyone would soon find out to his cost were he suspected of too close enquiry into local political ways and means.

The writer speaks feelingly on this subject since when, a few years ago, he was visiting Córdoba with a quite natural but equally innocent curiosity for the old-world corners of the City, he unfortunately disclosed in conversation with an eminently respectable-looking, immaculately dressed gentleman that he, the present author, was a journalist.

Soon afterwards his adventures began. He was molested in indirect ways, and finally invited to pay a visit to the Central Police Station. There he was given cigarettes and coffee by the Comisario, who floridly apologized and expressed his deep regret and shame for the treatment an honourable stranger had received. It was, however, but a series of regrettable accidents arising from unfortunate error of certain bad characters who were now in durance vile in consequence.

Here he rang a bell and ordered the answering policeman to bring in the culprits. They were duly brought in and recognized.

“Now,” said the Comisario, “you will have no more trouble. Besides,” he added, “one of our plain-clothes men will accompany you in future wherever you go—for your better protection.”

The plain-clothes man certainly obeyed orders; so persistently that the whole why and wherefore at last dawned on my confused brain.

The intention was to worry me so much in a polite quasi-legitimate fashion that I could have no ostensible cause of complaint; but, at the same time, so that I should incontinently quit the ancient City of Córdoba in disgust.[148] The reason for all this was the fact that, having nothing better to do on the evening of my arrival, I had wandered into the basement of my Hotel and there found a person who looked like, and indeed was, a leading local politician running a roulette to catch the nickels of a crowd of working men. At that time the roulette was the scarcely concealed vice of the town, rife in the back room of every bar.

It is an illegal game in Argentina, as elsewhere except Monte Carlo, and shortly after my visit it was the cause of a great outcry and scandal in which several Provincial High Officials were involved.

I was a journalist and, therefore, dangerous. So a course of delicate hints to me to get out had been planned and executed.

Following the gambling scandal, a leading Opposition politician was shot dead in his carriage on the high road a short way outside the city. When I read this news I was glad that I had not persisted in seeming to pry into cupboards containing Córdoba’s official skeletons, and for similar reasons I am still somewhat shy of Córdobese gentlemen with downcast eyes and soft, measured tread.

All that, however, belongs to Old Córdoba. The parts of the city called New Córdoba and Alta Córdoba are replete with palatial residences as fine and as new as residential palaces need be.

The City of Córdoba is not only the traditional seat of learning par excellence of the Republic, it is also, as a consequence of old-time associations no doubt, its chief centre of clerical influence.

Córdoba is intensely and, if one may be permitted to say it, intolerantly Catholic. Were it not subject to the democratic laws of a modern and very go-ahead Republic one would hardly be surprised to find disciplinary institutions of an Inquisitorial type still in full swing in this old-world city of South America. As it is, there is no doubt of the[149] predominance of priestly influence in Provincial politics. Much of the best freehold property in the city is owned by Monastic Orders or by the Society of Jesus.

Most of the Province consists of a large plain; which, naturally, is the chief productive area. But Córdoba has hills famous for the purity of their air and great resorts for consumptive patients. Alta Gracia, with its fine hotel, golf links, etc., has of late years acquired a very favourable reputation as a place in which anyone may spend a very pleasant and healthful week or so.

In the North-West of the Province are great salt marshes, in and around which only a very scanty and meagre vegetation flourishes, and in the North-East is the Mar Chiquita, a large and, in parts, very deep lake, the waters of which are salty like those of the sea. Hence its name.

Córdoba also possesses large forests, as yet chiefly exploited for building timber and firewood.

Rio Cuarto, on the river of that name, is the next largest town in the Province in point of population, but it is likely soon to be altogether surpassed in importance by Bell Ville, on the Central Argentine Railway, a rapidly advancing centre of the cereal trade, and some day also, probably, by Marcos Juarez, comparatively close to it on the same line.

Goats abound in the North of Córdoba. Land values have increased and are increasing; especially in the most fertile regions in the South-Eastern parts of the Province.

Córdoba has given and continues to give much attention to irrigation and possesses one of the largest semi-natural reservoirs in the world, certainly in South America, in the Dique San Roque, which is formed by means of a wall of masonry placed across the mouth of a mountain gorge. Its capacity is 260,000,000 cubic metres, and its operation is completed by a basin situated some fifteen miles from and below it, from which the water flows through two great primary canals. The area so irrigated is some 130,000[150] hectares. Other large irrigation works are in course of construction, and more still are under consideration.

Córdoba has also a large share of industrial enterprise, of which the chief are lime and cement works, ornamental and other tile manufactories, potteries, sawmills and butter factories.

The hills of this Province have some practically unexploited mineral deposits. The area between the city of Córdoba and the Provinces of Santa Fé and Buenos Aires is covered with a close network of railway lines, in great contrast (as may be seen by a glance at the railway map) in this respect with the more Northern parts of the Province.

There has for a long time been talk of a canal to run from near the city of Córdoba to a point close to the port of Rosario, utilizing the surplus waters of the Primero, Segundo and Tercero Rivers.

There is something almost incongruously prosaic about the naming, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, of the rivers which traverse a Province in which so much of the old romantic atmosphere lingers.

The Alfalfa fields of Córdoba are in extent second only to those of Buenos Aires, covering an area equal to more than half that devoted to this forage in the latter Province.

This Province is bounded on the North by the Province of Corrientes, on the West and East by, respectively, the Rivers Paraná and Uruguay (hence its name “Between Rivers”) and on the extreme South by the River Plate, which is formed by the conjunction of the Paraná and Uruguay.

As has been seen, Entre Rios comes second among the Argentine Provinces for production of oats; but in respect of other cereal crops it is still far behind Buenos Aires, Santa Fé and Córdoba. It is, however, rich in live stock,[151] having nearly three times the quantity possessed by Córdoba. In point of population it ranks fourth among the Argentine Provinces.

Until the accomplishment of the Entre Rios railway this Province was known as the “Poor Sister” of Buenos Aires and Santa Fé. Now, this disparagement cannot be thrown on her; for her prosperity is advancing literally by leaps and bounds. This is very largely owing to the communication and transport afforded by the Railway and its train-carrying Ferry Boats which run between Zárate on the Buenos Aires side of the River Paraná and Ibicuy on the Entre Rios side, thus permitting of traffic without change of car between the Federal City and the Entre Rios system—and, in fact, also, onward through the Province of Corrientes and the Republic of Paraguay to Brazil, by several links in the chain of railway lines one day to run the whole length from North and South of the two Americas.

The journey by rail from Buenos Aires to Paraná, the capital of Entre Rios, is a delightful one, not the least pleasant part of it being the voyage in the well-appointed Ferry Boats up and across beautiful winding reaches of the Paraná River.

From the Provincial capital one can again take a train through interesting country across the Province to Concórdia, on the River Uruguay, and so back to Buenos Aires by one of the fine and comfortable River Boats. That is, if one does not first of all go further North to the famous falls of Iguazú, further mention of which will be made when writing of the National Territory of Misiones.

The City of Paraná is a quiet, pleasant Capital, redolent of the memory of General Urquíza, the one-time “Tyrant” of these parts of the River Plate Territories. One sees the old large low building which was the head-quarters of his government, and where, as history hath it, he contrived to have many of his political enemies put to death. On the other hand, there is much evidence of his enlightenment in[152] the shape of schools, first established by him and later fostered by “The School Master President” Sarmiento. The fact is that Urquíza, like Rozas, whom he supplanted, and Artígas, the national hero of Uruguay, were all strong men of good purpose according to their lights and times; times which were turbulent and in which it was necessary for him who would govern to kill first if he would not himself die by an assassin’s hand.

Opposition politicians had short shrift in those days. They were caught, convicted and executed almost before the plots of which they were found guilty had been fully formed.

Each of these tyrants had a far-reaching and minutely penetrating police system, from which nothing was hid of the movements and meetings of other people in those sparsely populated days; days when no man’s business was a secret to his neighbour. As a result, order sprang out of disorder and was maintained by iron rule.

Looking back from this distance of time one can perceive the great and good work done by these men for their country. Their methods were of the time; necessary.

On the cliff-like bank of the river is the really charming Urquíza Park. The chief Plaza, “Primero de Mayo,” is gay o’ nights with electric light shining on the tables outside the Cafés, whilst a band plays in the midst of the garden in its centre. Paraná has trams and a theatre, and altogether is quite a busy commercial centre. Still it is, as has been said, quiet with the distinctive quiet of really Provincial towns all the world over.

But the most charming place of all (to the writer’s mind, one of the most charming in the Republic) is Concórdia. Its cobbled streets and orange-scented gardens, its pure air, bright sun and cool breezes combine to give one the feeling of having at last reached a true haven of rest from the turmoil of the outer world; a haven in which one might dream the remainder of one’s life away happy and passing rich on the Argentine equivalent to forty pounds a year.


Yet Concórdia is busy, busy in its old Colonial way with sending produce down the broad River Uruguay to the great noisy port of Buenos Aires.

The Entre Rios farmers do good business in cattle fattening; for which their usually well-watered and rich pasturage is peculiarly fitted. Yet, at times, Entre Rios has suffered from severe drought, and more frequently from locust invasion, a plague which, however, is now already fairly well held in check by the measures adopted and strictly carried out by Government for the gradual elimination, as it is hoped, of these insects from the Republic.

Entre Rios, still only just, so to speak, opened up by the railway, is still conservative in respect of the maintenance of large land holdings. These are, however, slowly but surely being divided up owing to demand and in accordance with the more utilitarian spirit of the times.

Entre Rios is a chief centre of the jerked-beef industry, and the Liebig factories are an economic feature which cannot go unmentioned. Grease factories, for which large quantities of mares are slaughtered annually, also constitute one of the chief industries of this Province.

Entre Rios has a very considerable acreage under barley.

Corrientes may be regarded, economically, as well as geographically, as still being one of the outlying Provinces, inasmuch as its population and cereal production are much less than those of the Provinces already dealt with.

It is, however, numerically richer in Live Stock than either Córdoba or Santa Fé[24] and has large areas under maize cultivation.


Corrientes is bounded on the North by the River Paraná, which forms the boundary between it and the Republic of Paraguay. This river is also its Western boundary, while on the East it is bounded by the National Territory of Misiones and the River Uruguay, and on the South by Entre Rios.

It is served by the Argentine North-Eastern Railway system, which links up and is in every way closely connected with the Entre Rios Railway: and by a small narrow-gauge industrial railway which runs through a large area of Quebracho forest and also serves some sugar mills.

Other communication is by old-world diligences. Another railway is, however, projected to run almost along the north boundary of the Province from the City of Corrientes to Posadas in Misiones.

The inhabitants of Corrientes, like their Paraguayan neighbours, from whom, especially in the more Northern parts of this Province, they differ but slightly in racial characteristics, are the true lineal descendants of Spanish soldiery and their native Guaraní Indian wives. They are as a rule a pleasant enough people, good-humoured and somewhat indolent. As to the latter quality one must, however, remember that in Corrientes one is already among subtropical vegetation (Palms begin to rear their tufted heads in the North of Entre Rios). One of the most beautiful examples of this vegetation is the Lapacho with its great branches of pink flowers.

One must not delay long, however, if one wish to still catch the old-world flavour of Corrientes. Its capital, founded in 1588 with one of the long names in which the Spanish conquerors appear to have delighted, namely, San Juan de la Vera de las siete Corrientes (St. John of Vera of the Seven Streams), is already provided with modern waterworks and electric trams. Still, one yet finds many mysterious looking low houses with vertically barred windows, and covered verandahs lining long narrow streets. Modern[155] buildings, however, are rapidly spoiling the attraction of the place for those who appreciate the charm of more leisurely, spacious times. That charm yet lingers in the city of Corrientes, but, as has been said, is already being startled into flight by modernity.

The latter and Corrientes are, nevertheless, still fairly far apart. It would be curious to know how many inhabitants of the Federal Capital have even the faintest notion of what City of the Seven Streams is like (?). Very few indeed; except those who have or have had direct interests in the latter place. The notions of the rest would be similar to those of the average European regarding the Pampa.

Corrientes is for the most part well watered, and has immense tracts of excellent pasturage.

Besides its Capital, Corrientes possesses as its, even more commercially important, centres the towns of Goya, famous for its cheeses, Ituzaingó, Bella Vista, and Empedrado, all ports or rather possible ports on the Paraná, Mercedes, the centre of prosperous sheep-farming districts, and Curuzú Cuatia and Monte Caseros, with good railroad facilities.

With the necessary expenditure on wharves, etc., Corrientes could be brought into a much greater economic activity than it shows signs of as yet; by utilizing its great natural riparian means of communication, although the River Uruguay is at this height difficult of navigation, owing chiefly to the rapidity of its current and frequent floods.

The Correntino has not yet, however, developed much commercial enterprise. His cattle still show the native long horned and limbed characteristics of wilder days and he himself seems to find it less trouble to get tobacco, mate, sugar, coffee and many other things from Brazil or Paraguay than to grow and manufacture them himself; as he could do easily and profitably. Much of his nature is Indian; to be modified in time by the overwhelming forces of civilization.


One cannot leave Corrientes without mention of the lake Iberá in the North of the Province, a vast natural hollow filled with water, the surface of which is in many parts covered so solidly with interlaced bamboos, grasses and aquatic plants as to enable one to walk on it as if on a huge raft. There has been much talk of reclaiming the land by draining Lake Iberá, a task which owing to the gradients of the surrounding lands would not present great difficulties; if so be that the lake is not connected by subterranean channels with the Rivers Paraná and Upper Uruguay, as there are several reasons to suppose it may be.

The islands of this lake form a perfect zoological garden of animals and reptiles long since practically extinct in the surrounding country; among which are Jaguars, Alligators and Boa Constrictors.

The present writer remembers an interesting if somewhat terrifying collection of such and other wild specimens being cast up a little more than a decade ago on the river shores of the Province of Buenos Aires, near to the Federal Capital, by the swollen waters of the Paraná during extraordinary floods. These creatures were washed down clinging to trunks of trees and islets of intertwined vegetation which had been torn away by the force of the waters. It is safe to assume that they were much more terrified than were even the peaceable inhabitants of the places where they involuntarily landed.

The illustrious General San Martin was a Correntino, born in what was once called Yapeyú, now an important Live Stock centre and renamed after him.

A monument has also been erected there to his memory, a patriotic embellishment which no Argentine township, however, is without.

This Province is bounded on the North by the Province of La Rioja, on the West by the Provinces of San Juan and[157] Mendoza, on the East by the Province of Córdoba and on the South by the Territory of the Pampa Central.

Until the coming of Alfalfa, San Luis was chiefly interesting for its mineral possibilities. Even now, after Salta and Jujuy, it is the most sparsely populated of the Argentine Provinces. Nevertheless, it now has large areas under wheat; and sandy salty tracts which not long ago, in common with similar tracts in the West of the Province of Buenos Aires and in the Territory of the Pampa Central, were looked on as useless deserts, are covered with an extraordinarily luxuriant growth of lucerne. The salty nature of the soil is favourable to this valuable forage plant, and its tap roots find their way easily through the sandy surface to the closely adjacent damp subsoil and surface waters.

Irrigation is destined to play an important r?le in other parts of San Luis.

At present this Province runs Santa Fé very close in point of number of Live Stock; though the general average of quality is a good way behind that found in the “home” Provinces or Córdoba.

San Luis cultivates an appreciable quantity of good table grapes, and, as is noticed in another chapter, also produces some wine.

The Province is intersected in its North and Central parts by four lines of the Buenos Aires Pacific Railway and in the South by two of the Buenos Aires Western Railway.

It is evident that the mineral deposits of San Luis were worked in the prehistoric days prior to the Spanish Conquest, but little has been done to exploit them in modern times except as regards the beautiful green marble, commonly called Brazilian Onyx, large quantities of which are exported. Gold mining has been attempted in modern times, but without as yet any very appreciable results. San Luis, however, produces a certain regular supply of Wolfram.

The people of San Luis are frequently accused of indolence.[158] Certainly the Province is not a wealthy one, nor do its inhabitants appear over alert to seize the opportunities which nature and modern methods combined now offer them.

This Province is bounded on the North by the Province of Salta and the National Territory of Formosa, on the West by the Province of Tucumán and Catamarca, on the East by the National Territory of the Chaco and the Province of Santa Fé and on the South by the Province of Córdoba.

Irrigation has led to a considerable development of wheat-growing in this Province and to irrigation it must chiefly owe its future progress; for, in its almost tropical climate, rain only falls in the summer months and usually is absorbed almost as soon as it falls by a sandy and dusty soil.

The average temperature of Santiago del Estero is highly favourable to maize, but, here again, the question of water supply arises, only to be met by artificial means. Already principal and subsidiary irrigation canals have been constructed in the areas through which pass the two rivers of the Province, the Dulce and the Saladillo, and further works of the kind are in active contemplation.

The salt sandy soil of much of this Province has been found as favourable to Alfalfa as such soil is elsewhere when there is water not far down or at least a damp subsoil. So that Santiago boasts of an already large and an increasing number of Alfalfares, as lucerne-bearing lands are called. The chief industries of the North of this Province are in connection with its forestal products, the cutting and rough trimming of Quebracho wood, firewood and charcoal burning. The people engaged in these occupations are mostly totally uneducated and are unacquainted with any of the higher developments of civilization. They are indeed in some respects similar to the stock-riding Gaucho of the past in other provinces, but without the intelligence he displayed[159] within the limits of his punctilious observance of custom.

Dancing, card-playing and drinking are the only amenities of life known to the wood-cutters of Santiago del Estero, unless fighting be added as a pendant to, and consequence of, the last-named pastime of alcoholic indulgence. Like all Gauchos, however, they are really only dangerous to one another in this regard, a stranger being treated by them with all the good-humoured courtesy at their command.

The Santague?os of the forests have been singled out by one very observant and reliable writer on South American countries, Monsieur Paul Walle,[25] as having superstitious faith in “Curanderos” or quack doctors, people of their own class. They do indeed show a perfectly childlike faith in quack nostrums; but in this, leave must be taken to say, they are by no means alone among the rural populations of the River Plate. The present writer has known the queerest kinds of remedies believed in implicitly and practised even in that hub of progress, the Province of Buenos Aires.

Active official efforts have for some time been devoted to the weeding out of Curanderos and Curanderas; but, as in the medi?val days of England, they are still sought out, more or less secretly, by neighbours who have infinitely more faith in their “cures” than they would have in the treatment of whole Colleges of Physicians.

Possibly these quacks often do cure by suggestion. The writer has, for instance, heard strong oral evidence of the efficacy for toothache of expectorating into the mouth of a frog, caught at a certain hour of the night. There could be no doubt about it. Many people have been entirely relieved from pain by that simple expedient. The rather revolting rite performed, the frog must be set at liberty and carries away the pain with it!

Much of this quackery is relatively harmless, but much of it is also highly dangerous, not only to the actual patient,[160] but to the community in general; as preventing the former from seeking orthodox treatment which, while really curing him, would at the same time prevent the spread of infectious and contagious disease.

To sum up, Santiago del Estero undoubtedly has a rich future before it, dependent chiefly on irrigation.

This Province is bounded on the North by the Province of Salta, on the West and South by the Province of Catamarca and on the East by the Province of Santiago del Estero.

It has the smallest superficial area of all the Argentine Provinces; being less than one-eleventh the size of Buenos Aires and less than one-fifth that of Santiago del Estero.

It, however, is a very important Province, because it produces over 90% of the whole sugar output of the Republic. It also grows an appreciable quantity of maize, but when, in Argentina, one says Tucumán one is almost invariably thought to be about to speak of sugar.

It always has been the sugar-producing area of the River Plate Territories; from the time of the Jesuit Missionaries, say, about the middle of the eighteenth century. The first modern sugar-manufacturing machinery was set up in Tucumán in 1879.

The whole matter of the Argentine Sugar industry was for long hedged about with fiscal and other questions and a great sensitiveness on the part of the growers and refiners in regard to their discussion. That a certain number of companies divided the whole of the industry between them was undoubted fact, as was the equally obvious one that they carried on business in accordance rather with their ideas of their own commercial interests than in any larger or more philanthropic spirit. Sugar is still much dearer for the Argentine consumer than there seems any good reason for. Special legislature has operated until recently as an exceptional[161] protection to this industry, thus maintaining, as was vehemently urged in many quarters, a monopoly, to the extent of being relieved of any foreign competition, in the hands of the Tucumán Companies who conducted their affairs in a mutually friendly fashion.

Their opponents throughout the country said that Tucumán (the sugar interests there are still inseparably connected with Provincial politics and politicians) not only waxed fat at the public expense, but did so by means and methods opposed to the public interest. Certainly legislature offered temptation to artificial limitation of output, and it was chiefly in regard to this—burning of productive cane-fields and so forth—that the sugar companies long stood accused.

On whichever side the balance of the arguments for or against the doings of the Tucumán sugar industry may have lain it may be safely asserted that no political influence can nowadays continue to bolster up commercial malpractices of any magnitude in Argentina. The National Government has already seen and will see to it that no hole-in-the-corner Provincial politics shall interfere with the National welfare and credit. Influence, although still powerful in minor matters, can no longer suffice to avoid any matter of public importance being exposed to examination by the full light of day.

Tucumán is well aware of this, and therefore can be relied on, and indeed must be, to trim her sails to the healthy wind by which the course of the Republic is now determined.

It is only fair to add that the Tucumán Sugar Companies’ argument in their own defence to the suggestion of an inequitable monopoly exercised by them is, in effect, “Well, supposing that we have been making very large profits of late years, we have borne the brunt of hard times for many more, before the industry had developed to its present extent and before we were able to obtain assistance or even practical encouragement from the State. And besides, were we wrong in making hay whilst the sun shone? Any day may bring[162] us competition in the shape of the rise of new cane-fields in other Northern districts of this fertile Republic.”

This is at least sympathetic if not strictly legitimate reasoning.

In the meantime the Province of Tucumán has grown prosperous, and the employment of more enlightened methods of conducting all branches of its sugar industry has recently resulted in enhanced prosperity coupled with a largely increased output. The City of Tucumán, its Capital, one of the pleasantest and most progressive towns in Argentina, has no less than five different railway stations pertaining to lines connecting it with Buenos Aires (of which the Central Argentine is the most direct) and local systems.

The vegetation of the Plazas and Boulevards of the City is subtropical and social demands have provided Tucumán with an ornate Casino connected with a vast modern Hotel and theatre. Electric light and tramways abound in its orange-flower scented streets and public places, among which must now be counted a huge Park designed to celebrate the 1910 centenary. A special building enshrines the historic room in which the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Buildings of the Colonial period still exist in Tucumán and its outskirts, but the dominant tendency is towards modernity in architecture and all else. The City is picturesquely situated in a valley among hills which appear to surround it and give it a curious appearance of having, with its Casino, brilliantly lit avenues and gardens and its luxuriant vegetation, sprung into existence as a scene on some vast stage.

It has a winter season of ever-growing social importance; during which the great Sugar Families occupy their palatial villas and display dark beauty and grace to the music of the band in the Plaza Independencia and at the Casino and Theatre.

Irrigation is easily attained over the most part of this[163] Province, from the Dulce River and its many tributaries as well as from several other streams.

Tucumán grows some wheat, but not much, its principal crops (after, of course, sugar) being maize and alfalfa.

It has comparatively little live stock, owing largely to the general humidity of its soil. It has, however, an exceptionally large aggregate of population for its size in comparison with other Provinces.

Parts of Tucumán are forest, part mountainous with peaks clad in everlasting snow from which accumulate innumerable turbulent mountain streams. For picturesque and varied scenery of almost every kind Tucumán is perhaps preeminent in the Republic. Its valleys are with very few exceptions fertile and well watered.

This Province has several fairly important towns situated on the railways which traverse its central and southern districts.

This Province is bounded on the North by that of Salta and the National Territory of Los Andes, on the West by Chile, on the South by the Provinces of La Rioja and Córdoba and on the East by those of Santiago del Estero and Tucumán. As can be imagined from its geographical situation, it produces a certain quantity of maize and, given advantages, to be mentioned later, undoubtedly could produce a great deal more. As yet it is sparsely populated, and the influence of progress is only just being forced upon it by a paternal National Government which not only has irrigation schemes in hand, but has already constructed a railway—the North Argentina—one of the new Government lines, to afford transport for the future wealth of this hitherto dormant Province. Irrigation, transport and fresh elements and methods of labour are the three requisites for Catamarca’s advancement. She has plenty of what is easily convertible into fertile soil; and, without doubt, rich mineral deposits.[164] Both of these resources would long ago have been advantageously exploited had the population of the Argentine Republic attained larger figures than as yet represent it.

Catamarca is mountainous over a large portion of its area, but this area is interspersed with very fertile valleys and possesses a vast tableland, called the Campo del Pucara. In a hollow of this tableland is the capital city of Catamarca.

There are plenty of mountain streams from which to irrigate the greater portion of the soil of this Province, and also a water bed not far from the surface from which irrigation could be obtained. At present—most of the surface soil being extremely loose and porous—the water brought down by the mountain streams is immediately absorbed, and the climate generally is dry. The mean temperature naturally varies according to altitude, but the lower valleys are very hot in summer-time.

The City of Catamarca is still a veritable sleepy hollow, poor and indolent, but picturesque with the gardens and orange and other orchards of Colonial times.

The population of this Province is mostly of mixed Spanish and Indian origin; as indeed is that of practically all the northern outlying Provinces and Territories of the Republic.

The needs of these people are few, and they continue in a lethargic condition of conservative content. One district, however, of Catamarca—Andalgalá—boasts of an aristocracy of pure Spanish blood, resident since the early days of the Conquest.

At present all the best brains of Catamarca find their way to Buenos Aires; in despair of the small scope, and even opposition to any suggestion of innovation, offered by their native Province. Still, Nature in Catamarca, as elsewhere throughout Argentina, only awaits the call of man to respond with rich gifts.

There is no doubt about the existence of valuable mineral[165] deposits, silver, copper and especially tin, in Catamarca. The chief obstacle to the due exploitation of these up to the present has been the difficulty and cost of transport. The railway should soon, however, render the working of these mines profitable on a much larger scale than hitherto has been commercially possible.

This Province is bounded on the North and North-East by the Province of Catamarca, on the West and South-West by Chile and the Province of San Juan, on the South by the Province of San Luis, and on the East by Catamarca, again, and the Province of Córdoba.

La Rioja is another outlying Province of which can be said, as of so many as yet comparatively unproductive parts of Argentina, that water, labour and transport alone are needed to make them rich far beyond any dreams of avarice which have yet occupied the minds of their few and easy-going inhabitants. Maize flourishes in this hot, dry climate, as do all manner of subtropical and even tropical fruits, including dates, wherever water is available. Even wheat grows splendidly in some districts, given irrigation. And, as in many other salty and saltpetre-impregnated soils, there are large areas in La Rioja highly favourable to the growth of Alfalfa.

At present this Province is more sparsely populated than any other in the Republic except Jujuy, but it boasts of a fair number of (mostly native) cattle. As in all the Andine Provinces and Territories there is a relatively considerable export trade of cattle on the hoof to Chile.

La Rioja produces some wine, and at some future date will, no doubt, produce more, in view of the advantages for vine culture of its soil in many parts and its warm, dry climate. At present the wine of La Rioja is mostly consumed in the province itself and the immediately neighbouring Provinces.


Large irrigating works are in progress, and more are under consideration by the National Government for the development of the agricultural industries of this Province.

Contemporaneously with or possibly before such development will have been able, on account of lack of population, to assume any very notable progress, one may reasonably expect to see a largely increased activity in the exploitation of La Rioja’s mineral wealth (apparently much greater than that of Catamarca) by reason of the enormously increased facilities for transport afforded by the National North Argentine Railway. La Rioja has rich deposits of silver, copper, nickel, tin, cobalt, topaz and many beautiful kinds of marble.

The mining district best known at present is that of La Famatina; from which a cable-way of 35 kilometres in length was constructed by the National Government some years ago to connect the hillside mines with the rail-head at Chilecito.

La Rioja has, however, many other evidently rich mineral areas, including some containing quartz and alluvial gold. The unsystematic exploitation of these has as yet given but small satisfactory results.

The city of La Rioja, the Capital, is still in a state of arrested development, similarly with Catamarca, only even more so. It has not yet experienced sufficient prosperity to enable it to recover from the paralysing effects of the civil disturbances which raged in and around it for very many years after the overthrow of the Spanish rule. The people, the great majority of whom have a large admixture of native Indian blood, are, however, of a rather more lively and energetic disposition than their Catamarcan neighbours. This is no doubt due to a difference in their racial origin; the Indian ancestors of the natives of La Rioja having apparently belonged to tribes which in bygone times inhabited, or were in close relations with those which inhabited, Peru[167] and thus possibly absorbed something of the Inca civilization.

The surface of La Rioja has two general aspects; one part is broken and mountainous and the other an immense plain, needing, as has been said, only labour and irrigation to yield rich agricultural results. The one important river of the Province is the Bermejo. The mineral wealth of this Province lies almost if not entirely exclusively, in its mountainous districts.

Jujuy has its very special interest for the Anglo-Saxon race, since it affords, in the history of the Leach family, a striking example of the colonizing enterprise and patience of that race.

Look at the position of Jujuy on the map and imagine what colonizing must have been like in the middle of last century when the brothers Leach first settled in what has since become a Province, but then was a wild district inhabited by native Indians.

One of the brothers, especially, Mr. Walter Leach, seems to have exercised a peculiar and highly beneficial influence over these people, and managed to introduce ideas of industry and gradual civilization to tribes whose former lives had been mostly occupied with warfare one with another.

Now we may almost say that “Leach” is synonymous with “Jujuy” and vice versa, and enterprises initiated by this family now embrace all branches of industry of which the Province is yet capable, including large sugar plantations and machinery. Now, the National Central Northern Argentine Railway connects Jujuy with the outer world, but before its advent it was indeed a far-off land to be reached only after many weeks’ arduous journeying. Jujuy is the most distant and, after Tucumán, the smallest Province of the Republic.

It is bounded on the North and North-West by Bolivia,[168] on the West by the National Territory of Los Andes and on the South and East by the Province of Salta.

Jujuy produces not inconsiderable quantities of wheat, maize, barley and alfalfa and, as has been said, sugar.

In the North it has a number of salt lakes, which are exploited commercially, as also are some deposits of borax.

The climate of Jujuy is very varied, according to altitude, but in general is much more temperate than the actual latitude of the Province would lead one to suppose. There is always a considerable rainfall during hot weather. Its chief river is the Rio Grande de Humahuaca, a tributary of the Bermejo, which coming from the North curves in a semicircle through the Central and South-Eastern parts of the Province.

Jujuy, with its broken surface, claims rivalry with Tucumán as the most picturesque of the Argentine Provinces. In some of its southern districts the vegetation is tropical. In the North-West there is a high tableland much of which is dry and practically desert, interspersed with fertile valleys.

In the South of the Province the population is of mixed racial origin with a very large element of native Indian blood. In the North it is practically pure Indian. The native Humahuaca dialect is preponderant everywhere, even in Spanish as spoken there. In the North there is little or no pretension to speak anything but Humahuaca.

The Capital, however, the City of Jujuy, was, strangely enough, the first Argentine town to have its streets paved. It was the scene of the assassination of General Lavalle, one of the heroes of the Wars of Independence, and possesses the original flag of General Belgrano, the blue and white chosen by him for the nascent Republic, and ever since retained by it. Later the National Colours and those of Uruguay (a slightly different arrangement of the same blue and white) were officially emblazoned with the golden “Sun of May”; the 25th of May, 1810, being the date of the Declaration of Independence from the rule of Spain.


As has been mentioned above, most of such prosperity as Jujuy as yet possesses is due to the patient energy of the Leach family. Such administrative and fiscal discredit as attaches to the Province is, on the other hand, due to the native element among its politicians. These evils inevitably must soon be swept away by the advance of civilized ideas and necessity for better management by public authority. The mass of the population will, no doubt, continue to live in its own long-accustomed primitive fashion.

It hardly contains the racial elements of rapid advance towards a much higher civilization.

Future immigration must be relied on to do much to develop Jujuy’s natural resources.

At present a certain amount of rather primitive, and some contraband, export and import trade is done with Bolivia in the Northern parts of the Province.

Jujuy is poor in Live Stock even of the native kinds.

With Salta we complete the list of the less important outlying Argentine Provinces.

Like Jujuy, it is bounded on the North by Bolivia, on the West by Jujuy and the National Territory of Los Andes, on the South by Tucumán and Santiago del Estero, and on the East by the National Territory of Formosa.

Salta is indeed historic ground; so full of reminiscence of the Wars of Independence that it may almost be called the cradle of the Republic. It was also in Salta that Jabez Balfour was at length taken into custody, after a long struggle for an extradition treaty between Great Britain and Argentina.

The writer is well acquainted with a gentleman, since then become a prominent figure in the railway world of the River Plate, who “specially” drove the engine of the train which brought Balfour down to civilization and captivity. The[170] prisoner had money which he had spent freely among his new neighbours, and attempts at rescue were expected. So the train rushed on its downward course with a velocity to which the then permanent way and rails were totally unaccustomed, but, as all the world was soon made aware, arrived at its destination without accident.

The prisoner had been the victim of his own luxurious habits, for he had grown so fat that it was impossible to convey him through frontier mountain passes into Bolivia, as his friends had intended and as would have been possible, in point of time, to do before the expected warrant for his arrest could have found its way into the not too willing hands of the local authorities.

Until his recent death, the present generation had scarcely heard of Jabez Balfour. Yet he was widely celebrated in contemporaneous popular song as “The man who broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.”

In Salta is still to be found a much more really interesting personage in the Gaucho, the Cavaliere Rusticano of the River Plate and the hero of all its earlier poetry and romance. He of the guitar-accompanied improvised verse, of the quick flashing knife and equally quick Rebenque.[26] He was no small element in the victories won over the Spanish soldiery nor in the long years of civil war which followed Independence. He is still in Salta; one of the last parts of the Republic in which he can be found. Comparatively uncontaminated by the encroachments of the drab uniformity of civilization.

He remains romantic and brutal, chivalrous and treacherous, hospitable and quick to resent the mere implication of an insult. Still a cattle herd adept with lazo or boleadora,[27] a nomad ever seeking fresh fields and pastures[171] new within the limits of his native territory. Give him a uniform he is a very useful soldier, and a fair military policeman, save for his rather erratic fits of truculence. For the rest no good at all outside of the few spheres mapped out for him by the limitation of his own strongly marked individuality. But he will always know again an animal he has once seen, and will track out a lost sheep across a very maze of confused spoor.

Mr. Herbert Gibson[28] has written of the gaucho with true feeling and appreciation in the following words:—

Skilled in horsemanship, quick of hand and of eye; in his beginnings the Arab and nomad of the plains; indifferent of his neighbour’s life, for his own he carried in his hand to risk at the first hazard, yet “loyal to his own law” even in his most lawless exploits—the gaucho of the Pampa constitutes the genuine emblem of the Argentine genius. He is the materialized expression of the spirit of the vast and lonely plain. “Bearing allegiance to neither King nor thing,” as Azara writes, he followed the fate of the live stock of the colony; when the cattle escaped control he too declared himself free, running wild and beyond the pale of even nominal domestication. The Pampa was his home, and in his ears the breeze moving over the plains whispered to him of liberty. To colonial rule succeeded the new order of Independence, and the gaucho, inured by his style of living to the stress of weather and to the struggle with savage animals, became the right hand of the petty chiefs of party faction, ever joining the side in conflict with the ruling power. The words law and order signified for him oppression and servitude, and he became the declared enemy of all authority. But with all his faults the gaucho, in his own element, mounted on his beloved horse, with lazo secured to the back of his saddle and his boleadora hanging from his waist, was the henchman beyond price for the work of the old estancia, knowing how to dominate and domesticate the savage herds and droves of wild mares. In all that he has seemingly been modified by the progress of the times, he has remained unmodified in his spirit which is the essential manifestation of his climate and of his habit. The nomad gaucho of the colonial period converted into the loyal[172] gaucho of the estancia, the man with no other belongings than his horses and the silver clasp and buttons hanging at his belt to whom the breeder entrusted all his herds, and the grazier the money wherewith to buy the droves of bullocks, without for one moment thinking, either the one or the other, that he would neglect his charges or fail to render account to the uttermost farthing committed to his care. Alike loyal and venturesome in the fulfilment of his duties, and kindly and hospitable in his lowly home life, he is the hero of the rural romance of the Pampa. Not without regret and tender reminiscences must we take farewell of a period of pastoral life, from whose remembrance all the hardships and bitterness have disappeared, only leaving to us the recollection of that patriarchal and wholesome life which the late Hernandez has so skilfully depicted in the picturesque language of the gaucho who tells his story by the fitful light of the fire on the kitchen hearth while his fingers caress the melancholy strings of the guitar.

And now approaches the new era of railways, of fenced-in paddocks, of ingenious drafting gates and all the mechanical entourage of the modern pastoral industry. The gaucho, like Othello, is without an occupation, but the spirit which in divers forms and epochs has characterized him shall not die. It is the native spirit of the Argentine genius which enters the immigrant ere for long he has settled in the land and which inspires the sons born to him in this country; it is the instinct of independence and individuality engendered by the free air of a rural life, and which is the antithesis of the dependent spirit symbolized in city life by socialism.

Salta is a large, sparsely populated Province, the inhabitants of which outside the circle of its aristocratic families, are composed of our friend the Gaucho and his families and the Coya Indians. These last, cowboys and shepherds, are much more unpleasant people; morose, avaricious in their necessarily small way, and full of sullen duplicity. Their only obvious virtue is their devoted attachment to the small allotments of land they can call their own. This solitary virtue does not, however, make them any the pleasanter to strangers; all of whom indiscriminately they regard as possible enemies come to[173] rob them of their rights in some mysterious way or other.

Naturally, with such a population and on account of its distance from the great commercial centres of the Republic, Salta is not yet very far on the road to any great or settled prosperity.

It has some sugar plantations, cultivates some tobacco and makes some wine, but with its many generally well-watered and easily irrigable large areas of rich soil it could easily, and of course eventually will, progress.

It could grow a great deal more maize and alfalfa than it does, and could carry much more and better live stock than it yet troubles to do.

It produces some fruit and could produce all sorts of much choicer kinds in great variety; also potatoes, cotton and, as experts affirm, excellent coffee.

Of course there are here the old difficulties of irrigation, in some places, cost of transport and lack of intelligent labour. The first two are rapidly being overcome by the National Government, the last must be looked for overseas. The Gaucho and the Coya not only are not sufficiently numerous for Salta’s future needs, but (alas for the romance of the former!) they must be classed amongst the doomed unfit; to be merged in or overwhelmed by the march of modernity.

The aspect of Salta, like that of most of the northern Provinces and Territories, is varied. Mountain and low valley, broad plain and forest, deep river and rushing stream all alternate and give picturesqueness and diversity of climate. Goats, mules and sufficient horses for existing local needs are to be found here as in the neighbouring Provinces; all of which are justly famous for products, the mention of which must on no account be overlooked, the native cloths and PONCHOS, hand-woven of vicuna and guanaco wool. Soft, warm and durable, these cloths are highly and justly valued in the more civilized regions of the River Plate.


The manufacture of them dates from times which are prehistoric in America.

The forests of Salta contain a great quantity of Quebracho of excellent quality, and there are several indigenous creepers of caoutchouc-bearing kinds. This latter has as yet been little exploited, and then only in an extremely primitive manner.

Salta boasts a large hydropathic establishment in connection with the hot mineral springs of Rosario de la Frontera.

Salta, the Capital, is another of the old Colonial cities, amid the low houses of which fine new public buildings occur incongruously; iconoclastic. It has also a zoological garden which, wisely, contains many interesting specimens of local fauna, fine, luxuriantly planted public gardens and Plazas and an excellent Police Band.

In the oligarchic days of only a very few years ago the police forces of these outlying Provinces were extremely important political instruments. Under the Constitution the Provinces cannot raise or maintain independent soldiery; but who could say them nay if the exigencies of an uncultured population necessitated a large police force armed with Mausers?—to ensure due obedience to the orders of and agreement with the policy of the Provincial powers that were.

There are few commercial centres in Salta having populations sufficient to give them importance as towns. Metan is the largest, and after it come Cafayate, Campo Santo and Rosario de la Frontera, which, as has been said, is noted for its hot springs.


This is one of the richer Provinces on account of its vines and the large wine-making industry. Similarly with Tucumán and Sugar, one may say that Mendoza and Wine are in Argentina practically synonymous; this observation[175] also applies to its neighbour, San Juan, the second great wine-producing Province. Indeed it is quite common—very common indeed, in fact—to say of a person who shows signs of being under alcoholic influence that he is “Entre San Juan y Mendoza” (between San Juan and Mendoza).

Besides those of its vines, the greatest agricultural products of Mendoza are alfalfa, grown over very considerable areas of salt-impregnated soil, and a much smaller proportion of maize.

The population of Mendoza is small and the number of its live stock very little larger: although in point of superficial area Mendoza ranks third (after Buenos Aires and Córdoba) among the Argentine Provinces. It is only fair, however, to add that much of the Western Area of Mendoza is very mountainous, since it includes a long stretch of the Eastern side of the Andes.

This Province is bounded on the North by that of San Juan, on the West by Chile, on the South by the National Territories of Neuquen and the Pampa Central, and on the East by the Province of San Luis.

Its department of San Rafael is a very large one, larger indeed than the whole of the rest of the Province put together; in it is found the greatest agricultural activity, including the great alfalfa fields. The Mendoza cattle are of all kinds and varieties, little attention having been yet, generally, given to the science of cross-breeding. It, however, exports numbers of cattle to Chile, either by way of mountain passes or the Transandine Railway; but a great many of these have been bred in neighbouring Provinces and sent to Mendoza for a fattening period before exportation.

Irrigation is a great feature of Mendoza, which was the first Province to receive any notable attention in this regard. Now, if we except, perhaps, the great irrigation works and schemes already well advanced in the National Territories[176] of Neuquen and the Rio Negro, Mendoza has, with San Juan, the largest and most comprehensive systems (both existing and in advanced stages of consideration) in the whole Republic.

The fall of the mountain rivers and the eastward drop of the whole surface of the Province makes irrigation here a comparatively easy task, while the natural fertility of the soil quickly and richly repays the initial cost and upkeep of reservoirs and canals. One menace there is which hangs ever over Mendoza, that of volcanic eruptions. The whole of its Capital was completely destroyed as recently as 1861. The city has, however, been rebuilt on its former site, a sort of shelf of land situated on the spring of the great Andine range. Gradually the loosely built low adobe houses have been and are still being replaced in the New Town by several-storied buildings of solid masonry; courage growing as the date of the last great earthquake grows more remote. Still slight shocks are of frequent occurrence in the Capital and elsewhere in this Province.

The City of Mendoza is rich in public gardens and avenues filled with luxuriantly umbrageous vegetation and has, of course (what self-respecting Argentine town has them not?), electric light and trams; but its just pride is the great West Park, situate on another level shelf of land projecting from the foot of the Cordillera on a higher level than that on which the City is built.

This Park has a sheet of water of almost a mile in length by some seventy-five yards broad, in which are ornamental islets and on which regattas are held. For these festal occasions there is a huge stone grand stand at one end of the water. The Park has many magnificent electric-lighted avenues lined with trees of majestic proportions, and all over it are gardens of subtropical shrubs and plants. Within its great bronze gates are also a zoological and a, specifically, botanical garden.



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