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ST. LUCAS AND THE GULF OF CALIFORNIA.

139

The sun throws a ray of light through the mottled sky; the sea rolls sluggishly; porpoises are sporting about, now throwing themselves into the air, and now rushing into schools of flyingfish which are frightened from their element and pursued by the albatross. As we approach still nearer, immense rocks tower up from the margin of the ocean, some rising to the height of one hundred feet, some being columns of granite, presenting an appearance as uniform as if cut by the hand of man. (See Plate.) Here are seen huge rocks with arches worn through at the base by the action of the sea, sufficiently large to admit large row boats. The billows come dashing and thundering into these caverns, then recoil, chafing and foaming with the most terrific fury.

Here the sea rolls high, but with such uniformity that when breaking upon the shore the air is caught underneath, which bursting through throws up columns of spray. Three coyotas, members of the California Harmonic Society, are seen on the beach; they appear to be at rehearsal. Along the shore are huge cacti, growing to the height of thirty feet, being sufficiently large, and frequently used for building timber.

St. Lucas, like Santa Barbara, is hardly deserving the name of a town, containing but thirteen houses, which are constructed of adobes and cactus. The only peculiarity is that the natives speak the English Language. The surrounding country is extremely barren, producing but just enough to sustain the inhabitants; vessels touch here for water, which is superior, and beef, which is obtained back of the mountain. This town is situated at the outer point of the entrance to the Gulf of California. The time is probably not far distant when the river Gila will be navigated by steam, and the fertile plains bordering on its banks, and those of its tributaries, be brought into subjection to the plow, when this vast empire must disgorge its unbounded resources through the Gulf of California, and dispense its agricultural and mineral wealth to all parts of the civilized world. I say the time is probably not far distant; it is at hand; it is in the nature of things, that the Gila country within ten years will be a State in the Union. Then St. Lucas may become a city, and many others of great commercial importance will spring up along the shore of the Gulf of California, and at the mouth of the Gila will be one of the marts of the Pacific.

Our next point is Acapulco, distant about six hundred miles; this part of the route presents some of the finest scenery on the Pacific coast, and perhaps the most imposing in the world. It is a succession of volcanos, including Popocatapetl, the most elevated volcano in Mexico; this towers up through masses of clouds, appearing shrouded in gloom at its base, but rears its head in majestic triumph, offering its light to the stars.

Each of these volcanos presents some different features; from the craters of some the smoke issues with as much regularity as from a chimney; others are enveloped in smoke; some seem to have almost subdued the internal fires; the emission of smoke being almost imperceptible. The most striking phenomenon was exhibited by one of great elevation, rearing its head above the surrounding mountains, at some distance from the coast; it would belch forth a cloud of smoke, which for a moment would seem a huge ball suspended over the crater; this would soon commence to assume a different form, the lighter parts of the smoke ascending and expanding, while the more weighty would settle-elongating the cloud-giving it the appearance of a huge pine tree. This would float away on the atmosphere, and after an interval of half an hour, would be followed by its

The regularity of these manifestations was most astonishing; the volcano seemed to have entered into a contract with the atmosphere to furnish it with a cloud every half-hour.

The mountains in the background tower up, one above another, until the last loses itself in the blue of heaven. These seemed undergoing a constant change; now a cloud throws & deep cavern-like shade here, and now the sun chases it away, and shows us a vale watered by a mountain stream and teeming with the choicest plants of nature; now we see in the distant blue what appears a gigantic marble column; we look through a glass and it proves a cascade breaking from the crest of a mountain; now we see a mountain rearing its head into the very clouds, and shrouded in eternal snow, this reflecting the rays of the sun, appears the dome of some vast structure. Al. though volcanos are grand and impressive by day, nothing

a

successor.

THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

ASTOR, LENOX
TILDLN FOUNDATICHE

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