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Alexander von Humboldt: „[The Darien Canal]“, in: ders., Sämtliche Schriften digital, herausgegeben von Oliver Lubrich und Thomas Nehrlich, Universität Bern 2021. URL: <> [abgerufen am 16.06.2024].

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Titel [The Darien Canal]
Jahr 1859
Ort New York City, New York
in: Frederick M. Kelley, The Union of the Oceans by Ship-Canal without Locks, via the Atrato Valley, New York: Harper & Brothers 1859, S. 88–89.
Sprache Englisch
Typografischer Befund Antiqua; Auszeichnung: Kapitälchen.
Textnummer Druckausgabe: VII.112
Dateiname: 1856-The_Darien_Canal-5
Seitenanzahl: 2
Zeichenanzahl: 5406

Weitere Fassungen
The Darien Canal (London, 1856, Englisch)
[The Darien Canal] (Paris, 1857, Französisch)
Letter of Baron von Humboldt to Mr. Frederick M. Kelley (London, 1857, Englisch)
[The Darien Canal] (Berlin, 1857, Deutsch)
[The Darien Canal] (New York City, New York, 1859, Englisch)

Frederick M. Kelley, Esq. Sir,

—It is with the deepest satisfaction that I made myself acquainted,during your short stay in Berlin, with the sound and extensive series ofmeasurements and levels which, by your direction, have been executedsince the beginning of January, 1855, upon the course of the great RioAtrato and its affluents on the West, by an able engineer, Mr. William Ken-nish. This survey and those previously undertaken by your orders, and towhich my learned friend, Mr. Alexander Bache, Superintendent of the CoastSurvey of the United States, had already drawn my attention, are so muchthe more deserving of regard, since you purpose to have examined with thesame precision the pass from the port of Cupica to the Rio Naîpi (Napipi),and the points situated above the mouth of the Truando, which are all veryimportant in the solution of the vast problem of an oceanic canal. “The great number of charts and sections on a large scale in your pos-session furnish all the elements necessary for judging of the possibility ofestablishing a communication between the two oceans by the mouths of theAtrato, the Rio Truando, and a canal leading to the Pacific Ocean. Itwas on account of his not having made so thorough an examination of themountainous country between the Gulf of San Miguel and Caledonia Baythat Mr. Lionel Gisborne’s plan of 1852 could not be carried out. The ig-norance he was in as to the localities, and the absence of measurements ofaltitude, led to the unfortunate issue of the courageous expedition of Lieu-tenant Isaac Strain. “The great object to be attained is, in my opinion, a canal which wouldunite the two oceans without locks and without tunnels. When the plansand sections can be placed before the public, a free and open discussion willelucidate the advantages and disadvantages of each locality, and the execu-tion of this important work, which interests the civilized nations of the twocontinents, will be intrusted to engineers who have successfully distinguish-ed themselves in similar enterprises. The Junction Company will find sub-scribers among those governments and citizens who, yielding to a noble im-pulse, will take pride in the idea of having contributed toward the executionof a work worthy of the intellectual progress of the nineteenth century.More than fifty years ago I earnestly expressed the same opinion, and Ihave incessantly labored in the propagation of those geographical views,which tend to prove the practicability of establishing commercial communi-cations, either by canals (with or without either stop-gates or locks) or bymeans of railroads uniting opposite coasts and rivers flowing in contrarydirections. “I was the means of obtaining through General Bolivar the exact geo-desic survey of the Isthmus of Panama; and I was the first, from informa-tion found in the Archives of the Viceroyalty of Mexico, to lay down inmy Mexican Atlas the course of the two rivers, the Huasacualco and the|89| Chimalapa. I pointed out the proximity of the almost unknown port ofCupica to the sources of the Rio Naîpi, and to the waters of the Atrato, andalso the existence, with which Europe was unacquainted, of a very smallnavigable canal ‘excavated’ in 1788, under the superintendence of a monk,the Priest of Novita, by the Indians of his parish, in order to unite the wa-ters of the Rio de la Raspadura, an affluent of the Rio de Quito (Quibdo),to the waters of the Rio de San Juan de Chirambira. “I think nothing more dangerous to the extension of commerce and tothe freedom of international relations than to inspire an aversion to all fu-ture investigation by an absolute and imperious declaration that all hope ofan oceanic canal must now be abandoned. I expressly described in my‘Political Essay on New Spain’ (compare vol. i., p. 202-248, with vol. ii.,p. 95-145, 2d edition) the immense work of cutting through the mountainsan open channel for the Desague Huehuetoca, which was executed by theSpanish government at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and Ihave too much faith in the powerful means afforded by the present state ofcivilization to be yet discouraged. “The important communications for which I am indebted to the courtesyof Colonel Augustus Codazzi and to the exceeding kindness of M. PastorOspina, Minister of the Interior at Bogota, have made me fully aware thatthe line from Cupica to the Rio Naîpi presents a series of elevations; in di-recting this passage to be leveled you will, therefore, be rendering a fartherservice to geography. Captain Robert Fitzroy, R.N., whose name is justlyrenowned among navigators, in his ‘Memoir on the Isthmus of CentralAmerica,’ says: ‘Of all the comparatively well-known routes, it has beenshown that the Atrato and Cupica line seems the most suitable for a canal,and the Panama route for a railway. The officer who recently surveyedCupica (Lieutenant Wood, R.N.) states, with respect to the land between itand the Naîpi, that he set out one morning from Cupica at eight o’clock,walked with native guides to the Naîpi, bathed in the stream, and reachedhis ship (the Pandora) at noon.’ The most elevated ground was, in hisjudgment, 300-400 feet.—Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, vol.xx., 1850, part ii., p. 178.

“Receive, my dear sir, etc.,“(Signed), Alexander von Humboldt.