Schlagwort-Archiv: train

Darjeeling to Benares, 9 February 1893

At half past 7 o’clock we were awakened in Manihari Ghat at the terminal of the narrow gauge railway, crossed the Ganges on a steamboat and continued our journey at Sakrigali Ghat station with the East Indian Railway on to Mughal Sarai, a familiar journey to us. The landscape we were rushing through can not be compared to the luxurious delta areas. It is nevertheless very fertile, densely populated and intensively cultivated. The shores of the Ganges, being part of alluvial sediments, copiously supplying trade plants, bread and garden fruits, carry with them, like all „bread baskets“ of the earth, a character of monotony. The monotony of the Ganges plain, its fertile plains and green fields is only broken up by numerous mango groves and small hills which are peculiarly only sparsely covered with vegetation but are filled with rocks one on top of the other without a rule.

Towards 8 o’clock in the evening we arrived in Mughal Sarai, continued our journey on the Oudh and Rohilkund Railway, passing casually over a 1200 m long iron bridge over the Ganges and arrived after 8 o’clock in station Benares Cantonment. We were received in the station — in absence of the Commissioner — by Mr. Brereton, a communal councilor, and went to our quarters, Nandeshwar Kothi palace owned by the Maharaja of Benares, escorted by mounted police. Like all modern Indian palaces, it is built very airy, decorated without taste  so that only a few old pictures of earlier Maharajas catch the attention. We sat around the open fire which comfortingly warmed us as India is said to never have experienced such a harsh winter which might be related to the exceptional cold in Europe of 1892/93. In a Raja double bed of enormous dimensions, surrounded by Raja ancestors looking down astonished at me, I soon entered into the sleep of the just.

Links

  • Location: Benares, India
  • ANNO – on 09.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. Empress Elisabeth is still sightseeing in Barcelona. A visit to the monastery of Montserrat is on the agenda. Her ship was to set out to Marseille, France. Given the current outbreak of cholera there, her route might change. There was a heavy earthquake on Zakynthos with over 600 houses destroyed, an island Franz Ferdinand passed by on his route from Trieste.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a comedy “Der Präsident”, while the k.u.k. Hof-Opermtheater shows Richard Wagner’s “Rheingold”.

Darjeeling, 6 February 1893

Thus on this audacious human-created vehicle we drove up the Himalaya, the highest mountain range on Earth! Created by elementary revolutions, in nearly unreachable peak striving towards heaven, the Himalaya, „the snow helmet“, rises over the colossal mountain wall which separates the Aryans from the Mongols, India from Inner Asia. Never has an enemy crossed it, timidly they passed it by. Stretching over 24 degrees of longitude, from the Hindu Kush to the gap of Brahmaputra, the Himalaya stands on its northern en on the bare plateau of Tibet and on its southern end on the Indian subcontinental plain. It separates the climates, plants, animals, peoples and cultures of Inner Asia and South Asia.

Through the present valley we approached his region. rise to his southern precursors which look down on blooming, green, luxurious wooden mountains fanned by delicious air. We look out towards the peaks of the central mountain range. Beyond the northern precursor range lies wild bare and jagged highland. Across the wood covered mountains that border this valley to the north the railway winds itself up to Darjeeling, up to the foot of the biggest glacier groups of the Earth, up to the region in which tower Dhaulagiri (8176 m), Kangchenjunga (8585 m) and that highest peak on Earth we call Mount Everest (8840 m) or Gaurisankar. Kangchenjunga — „the five white brothers“ — whose giant mountain range covered in eternal snow, criss-crossed by glaciers and rising out of thick woods we have come to see lies in Sikkim, a small protectorate wedged between Nepal and Bhutan. It is linked to the Ganges plain by the audacious mountain railway that ends in Darjeeling.

Driven by the hope to be able to admire the magic of this incredibly beautiful and majestic mountain world in its fullest splendor, I looked out of my window long before sunrise to observe the weather and draw my conclusions whether we would have a clear, fog free day or not. Even though the morning was clear and the sunrise promised to e beautiful, I discovered in the west small, lengthy cloud streaks which are interpreted in our own mountains at home to all experienced weather prophets as a bad sign as they indicated rain or fog most of the times. Unfortunately, these unmistakable signs proved true here too. When we reached the foot of the outer mountains we saw the peaks already covered in fog.

After 7 o’clock we departed from Siliguri. The mountain railway Siliguri—Darjeeling, which is 82 km long and reaches an altitude of 2180 m is probably the most interesting railway in the world. Not so much due to its construction and installations but because of its incredible panorama views it offers. The railway has a track gauge of only 61 cm. To offer a free full view, it has open carriages and can absolutely be called an audacious and unique work. Please consider this: a mountain railway which reaches such heights without a tunnel and has cost in total — according to the chief engineer — only 231.000 fl. in Austrian currency! The puzzle is partially solved by the fact that the railway ha only construct a special railway bed for 24 km, while it could use the existing mountain road bed which winds itself up in the sharpest turns; the railway ascends in such serpentines and bends that, in many spots, one can already see, some meters above, the tracks to be driven over in the minutes to come Where serpentines and bends would not be sufficient to ascend a steep height, this is solved by having the railway continue straight for a time only to turn at a sharp angle into the opposite direction with the machine pushing, to ascend the heights in a zigzag way.

But what are all this technical arts against the splendor and diversity of nature!  Born in green Styria and loving the mountains above all, it has always been my most ardent wish to get to know the king of all mountains, the Himalaya, and to see the tropical mountain world. Even though I have read and heard so much about the extraordinary beauty of the Himalaya, what I now saw surpassed all my expectations and put me into a state of indescribable rapture.  The light clear mountain air alone is extremely refreshing — no wonder that we all by and then started yodeling in the waggon as if we were in the mountains of Upper Austria. Even though the fog unfortunately covered all peaks with an impenetrable veil and also the visibility from afar was lessened, that what we could see close up was sufficient to make the journey unforgettable.

The attractions of the landscape all around are truly amazing: a mountain higher than 8000 m, covered up to an elevation of 3000 m with tropical vegetation, mighty mountain ranges, deeply cut valleys, overhanging rocks, cragged slopes, boundless abysses — all green or becoming blurred in tender purple colors. And what a plant cover girdles the south end of the Himalaya! The vegetation makes one think of that on Ceylon; but even higher and more beautiful as the giant trees on Ceylon the trunks here with their luxurious leaf crowns strive upwards;  even thicker and wilder are the plants entwined around the trunk and branches. The trees are up to the highest branch covered with ferns, orchids and other parasite plants, while thick lianas connect the trunks with each other. And even cragged slopes, the wildest abysses are covered with a green carpet of thickly placed trees. At each turn, at each serpentine a new image captures us. Especially the many abysses many thousand meters deep which one drives alongside at shoulder length add much diversity to the panorama.

Like the character of the county, so the people have changed — we are in Sikkim, at border to Tibet and China. Here in Sikkim live tribes which even though they mixed their blood with Indian blood and have been influenced by Indian culture,  they remain in type and language close to the Tibetans. The Lepcha people which live in Sikkim and also in Darjeeling, are unmistakably part, despite some Aryan elements, of the semi-culture peoples of the Mongolian race.  Inner Asian imprints are also typical for the inhabitants of the small, dispersed mountain villages. Of pure Mongolian type are the Tibetans who have immigrated here from the north as traders of workers. The type of the Lepchas is completely different from all the peoples already seen. At first glance one notices the features of the Mongolian race:  the yellow-brown color of the skin, the broad face, the small slanted eyes, the strong bulging jawbones, the small stature, the coarse hair, the sparse growth of beard. Both men and women are extremely ugly. The latter have the strange custom to grease their faces with ox blood in winter as a protection against the cold which gives them an especially hideous appearance. The most extreme look are created by widows who color their noses black as a sign of mourning.

The men’s dress consists of a long colored kaftan kept in place by a broad belt into which are pushed weapons, plus at the upper end loose and at the lower end narrowing pants and high colored boots cut from a single hide or Cracow shoes. On the head, the lepchas wear felt hats or caps strongly reminding of Chinese caps. The neck is embellished by silver gems, small turqouis amulets or coral bands. Some men wear instead of the Kaftan some sort of shirt and cover it with an open coat made out of thick loden. The women have wide clothes with folds as well as belts and seemed to love jewelry very much as even the poorest adorn themselves with chain-amulets and especially turqouis ear rings. Some wear on their head a straight standing circlet of turqouis and coral. The braids which adorns both genders as well as the fingers are decorated with rings.

During the drive we came past some small villages. Our wagons nearly touched the houses and this offered us the opportunity to glance at the activities of daily life of the Lepchas who still are at a still very primitive level of civilization. A chilling impression during these observations make the ugly dirt which is everywhere. Strange is the common method here to determine somebody’s age. The Lepchas calculate their age according to the number of worn clothes. Thus one gets the answer: „This one or that one is seven clothes old.“

From time to time there is a stop at a station to refill water for the locomotives. These moments are used by the natives to close in to the wagons and offer many beautiful weapons, especially sharply polished knives.

At the elevation of 1525 m is a subsidiary of a Jesuit college of St. Xaver in Calcutta. Then it goes up even more and finally we drive past some patches of snow, the marks of the last strong snowfall.

The higher we were the colder it was and the thicker became the fog so that the view around became more and more limited. One could not see anything of the mountain peaks and also the valleys now began to covered in fog. Thus I had time to look at things at a closer range, to look at the fauna. The mighty giant trees with their aerial roots enchanted me not less than the huge diversity of ferns of which there were many species from the mighty tree fern which grows here in large quantities to the small ferns that resemble female hair.  Up to now I had seen tree ferns only as crippled specimens in our green houses. Now I could see thousands of these splendid plants at an elevation of 2000 m.

„At higher elevations, the beauty of the landscape is impacted by the many tea plantations;  because everywhere, even at the steepest inclines and at the most cragged slopes has the cultivating hand of man seeking profit destroyed the majestic jungle.and replaced by rows of tea plants. Against the ancient trunks of many hundred years is raged barbarically; as wood is of so little value here that one uses a simple method to gain more space for cultivation: The woods are simply burned to the ground on thousands of hectares. The prose of economic life does not feel constrained by the poetry of the enchanting vegetation. It is understandable then that the destruction of the woods ordained to death is proceeding in the cheapest way possible at large scale. But the unplanned destruction may cause grave problems. The wood will revenge itself for the neglect. A hurtful feeling rises in a friend of woods when he sees pillars of smoke grow out of fires that destroy parts of ancient wild nature — only to gain ground for the cultivation of tea. How large the economic interest may be, it can not excuse that tea has been the driving force or excuse to organize countless soirées and afternoon teas.

At 10 o’clock in the morning, we reached Kurseong Station, where Hotel Clarendon was festively decorated, and arrived at 1 o’clock in Darjeeling, in Tibetan „sacred place“. Here we were received by the deputy commissioner Mr. Waller and major Ommaney as well as a large crowd of Europeans and natives.  Darjeeling, founded in 1835, is now the capital of the district of the same name  (3196 km2), which the English have split off from the protectorate of Sikkim, whose raja resides in Tamlung, for an annual rent of around 3750 fl. in Austrian currency.

Due to its high elevation and its gorgeous climate, Darjeeling is a favorite summer retreat in India. Its mild climate, which equals about that of Meran, is given testimony by the fact that in this blessed place tea is planted at up to 2000 m, fruits at an elevation of close to 3000 m and the cultivation of grains is possible at more than 3000 m. The small town consists beyond the small native quarter with a rich bazaar mostly of villas, hotels and public buildings, in particular Sanatoriums and hospitals which overflow in summer with Europeans, mainly from Calcutta. Situated on a flank of the Jalapahar, a ridge of the main Himalaya range, Darjeeling is looking towards the north on to the mountain of Kangchenjunga, while in other parts of the world the eye can see numerous mountain ridges, peaks and green valleys of the mighty mountain. From time to time, the sun made an appearance and peaked for a few moments at the houses of Darjeeling The mountains remained covered in impenetrable clouds.

We first made ourselves comfortable in the Woodlands Hotel and then began to take a walk to a bazaar which turned out to be a rich ethnographic treasure for me. Here were interesting weapons, knives which could cut rupees with a single strike, strange sun dials on a stick, numerous idol figures in bronze, original jewelry, finally a number of musical instruments and drums, among them some made out of human skulls,  as well as pipes from human hip bones. The drums consist of two inverted skulls pushed together whose lower parts have been cut and replaced with hide. A drumstick with a metallic button makes it vibrate to create sound. The skulls are said to be of adulterers who were condemned to death in Tibet and whose heads are then reused for musical purposes. A drastic expression of deterrence theory! At a German trader’s I found a valuable butterfly and bird skin collection which I acquired for my museum. Darjeeling yields the most  in all of India in terms of butterflies and beetles; the diversity and color range of the individual specimens is truly wonderful.

Our hope that we could see the mountains even for an instance was not realized; the fog proved to be merciless.

In the evening, after the dinner which we took freezing in an airy glass saloon of the hotel, we were surprised by Mr. Waller with a Tibetan dance which was performed in an open space even though it was raining heavily. This did not cool the fiery ardor of the dancing artists. The accompanying music resembled Indian music in its monotony, with plentiful use of kettledrums and cymbals. The dance was much more intense, even wild and more adapted to the character of a rebellious mountain tribe. Especially the ladies were in their movements very active and accompanied the dance with a howling song which sounded like a war cry. Men and women did not dance together but separated according to gender. The dance illustrated, among others, the fight against wild animals. Two men who wore grotesque masks similar to our clowns rushed as „wild animals“ at one of the dancers and began to wrestle with him, which then turned into an alternating dance of the wild animals and the dancer. Dragons, lions and giant birds were brought alive drastically by the artists.

Links

  • Location: Darjeeling, India
  • ANNO – on 06.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Neue Freie Presse offers a recap of Franz Ferdinand’s stay in India up to now and an outlook of his trip to Nepal in March.
Franz Ferdinand in India, Neue Freie Presse 6.2.1893, p. 3, part a

Franz Ferdinand in India, Neue Freie Presse 6.2.1893, p. 3, part a

Franz Ferdinand in India, Neue Freie Presse 6.2.1893, p. 3, part b

Franz Ferdinand in India, Neue Freie Presse 6.2.1893, p. 3, part b

  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a comedy “Der Störefried”, while the k.u.k. Hof-Opermtheater is performing a ballet “Ein Tanzmärchen”.

From Bombay to Tandur, 20 January 1893

Having used the morning to prepare the mail, I drove to Tellery again to complete my shopping, third time being a charm.

At noon there was a group photography to preserve a fixed memory of my visit at Government House of me, Lord and Lady Harris and all the staff of the house.

Then I inspected the stables of Lord Harris. In open boxes Australian carriage horses as well as English and Arabian riding horses and polo ponies are quartered. Acting as an equerry of the governor is his personal doctor who masters this task as outstandingly as the medicinal one. The horses are in fine condition, although some are broken down due to the sharp turns, namely on chivvies on hard ground. In all of India, one preferably uses Australian horses, tall and strong with their characteristic carp back, as carriage horses. The price of these horses fluctuates between 380 and 1550 fl. in Austrian currency. To ride and play polo one uses in British India mostly Arabians and some locally raised animals. Very funny are the 12 to 14 hands high ponies of which first-rate specimen can be had for the ridiculous price of 12 to 17 fl. in Austrian currency.

Now it was time to leave Bombay behind. I said good.bye to Lady Harris and drove with Lord Harris to the station where the special train of the vice king was awaiting me which the vice king has been put at my disposition for the duration of my journey across India. With heartfelt thanks I and the governor parted ways and soon the train rode towards our next destination, Tandur, where we were expected to hunt tigers.

Well acquainted with the English grasp of the relationship between comfort and luxury and expecting to see the special train of the highest magistrate of India equipped to the utmost Oriental opulence, I was truly astonished about the simplicity of the fittings and equipment of the wagons of this train which would leave many an Englishman to miss their familiar comfort, especially in matter of the bedding. Especially remarkable was the fact that the wagons and even the individual compartments were without direct passages, corridors or doors so that the „cell mates“ of the neighboring compartments could only communicate during the rare way stations.

From Bombay to Tandur which lies in a south-eastern direction of Bombay, we made use of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway to Wadi. It first crosses Bombay’s suburbs, then past Parel and the government salt mines across a large bridge over the estuary that separates Salsette island from the mainland and then turns towards the mountains.

The physiognomy of the area changes quickly. High mountains, rich in bizarre forms, assembled out of regular parallel layers that display themselves as long strips or lines, followed by valleys dedicated mostly to growing rice. Small palm tree groves, some tall palm trees alternate with thin Euphorbia hedges, but the vegetation is not as rich and majestic as in Ceylon. Higher up the mountain, the valley are narrower with dry yellow grass and some crooked trees, steep and abrupt ridge. In the valleys and canyons deep down below us one can see teak trees (Tectona grandis), wild bananas, Ficus religiosa und Ficus indica.

The railway is built similar to the one from Colombo to Kandy with steep ascents, crosses many tunnels and offers charming views on the fancy rock needles, the long, narrow and steep wall-like rocky ridges, the mostly bare tops of the Western Ghats. Ghats are called the stair-like steps  of the numerous parallel mountain ranges on the Indian West and East coast bordering the Dekhan high plateau. To the south the seemingly less wild than arduous Western Ghats at an average altitude of 1200 m and the lower and less important Eastern Ghats continue in mountain ranges of up to 2630 m that are covered in woods, called Nilgiri Hills (blue mountains). At Lanauli Station the railway reaches its highest point and continues almost at an even altitude across cultivated land. Late at night we passed  Poona, 119 km south-east of Bombay, the favorite summer retreat of the governor. The same location also has camps for all troops that maneuver there.

Links

  • Location: Poona, India
  • ANNO – on 20.01.1893 in Austria’s newspapers, The Neue Freie Presse reminds its readers about the centenary of the execution of Louis XVI of France iby guillotine on 21st January 1793 which plunged Austria into two decades of war first against the French republic then Napoleon. Much space is devoted to the report about the fourth ball of the city of Vienna. The weather is still dreadful, even though some sport is taking place on the frozen Danube canal.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing the comedy „Magnetische Kuren“, while the k.u.k Hof-Operntheater combines the opera „Freund Fritz“ (l’amico Fritz) by Pietro Mascagni with Carinthian songs „Am Wörthersee“.

Kandy to Kalawewa, 7 January 1893

In the morning at 6 o’clock we started on the hunting expedition into the interior of the island of an expected duration of five days, 108 km north from Kandy to the ponds and jungle of Kalawewa.

Up to Matale we took a special train to Mahaiyawa Station through smiling valleys an high mountain peaks covered in light mist while deeper down thaw was glittering on the leaves and flowers. The day was glorious and cool.

We reached Matale in a bit less than three quarters of an hour and mounted high wagons there, after the baggage, the guns, the photographic apparatus and Hodek’s sorcerer’s toolbox stuff were loaded.

The road led through the most beautiful palm and banana groves in which there were plenty of Sinhalese settlements whose inhabitants were lining the road with curious eyes. Colorful birds and majestic butterflies flew past among which was a Papilio iophon  of carmine red with white-black wings and a intensive black-yellow Ornithoptera darsius which caught my special attention given my particular professional interest to its color choice. The bearer of our colors we renamed into “Lepidopteron austriacum”. We also observed the white and orange colored Hebomoia glaucippe which followed our wagon for a long time, as well as the white black Hestia iasonia, multiple small lemon yellow Terias, also the glorious white black and light-blue speckled Papilio parinda and in the jungle swarms of Chilasa clytioides. The first parrots we saw were greeted by our wild cries.

After about 30 km the scenery and vegetation change. High tall deciduous trees mixed with impenetrable bushes and mighty Euphorbias replace palm trees. The wildlife also changes and becomes more numerous. We observed a cuckoo bird named Indian jungle crow, multiple heron species, noticeably many bee-eaters, striped squirrels and a mongoose.

Every 19 to 20 km government built small, one floor rest stop houses provide accommodation for the travelers, food and sometimes also horses along the excellent road cutting through the park-like landscape. We changed our horse teams regularly at these stops. These horse teams were sometimes 17 hands tall Australians, sometimes small Indian double ponies or military horses. Everything went according to plan and we drove extraordinarily quickly.

Towards 11 o’clock in the morning, we had travelled for 45 km to have a breakfast rest on the cone-shaped rock Dambulla after a visit to its famous Buddha temple. At the foot of the rock we were received by the most respected local nobleman escorted by his spear-armed lifeguard. As the ascent to the temple is rather long and steep, we were carried on small seats mounted on poles by teams of eight Sinhalese. The poor devils were sweating and breathing mightily but in the tropical heat my egoism has to surpass my compassion, so I staggered comfortably up to the entrance of the temple which is remarkable both due to its age and construction style.

Five important caves with very small entrances have been hacked by humans into the rock and serve as a temple for Buddha. His image and scenes from his life are depicted in countless variations. At the entrance to this temple caves one can see on the opposite side under a canopy a statue of Buddha which shows him as an example of tranquility partly standing as an instructing god partly sitting with his hands folded in his lap. The face of god which expresses nothing less than intelligence as well as his extremities are in all images covered in flashy yellow color while his dress is playfully colored. In a third posture, namely lying, Buddha is present five times in the temple caves of Dambulla. These statues are hewn out of the rock, each 20 m long and 3 m high and resemble more whales than an image of a god. Around these representations are pedestals with a number of sitting Buddhas of larger-than-life size partly made out of stone, partly made out of burned clay.

The walls and the ceiling of the caves are often covered in highly imaginative paintings which most of the times treat the life of Buddha and give the impression of a large hanging rug due to their thoughtful arrangement and disposition. Apart a few statues of Buddha we saw in the temples also those of the Indian king Räma, the legendary conqueror of Ceylon.

A mythical darkness reigns in these six-hundred-year-old rooms as only a few beautiful bronze lamps decorated with giant peacocks emit a bit of light while the scent of white flowers, temple flowers which amply grow outside the temple, are overpowering the senses.

A number of bonzes told us – naturally in Sinhalese language – apparently highly interesting things of which we understood nothing which ended with a very comprehensible demand for baksheesh.

The charming governor who cared so much about our well-being had had a tiny house built out of bamboo sticks and palm leaves on the height of the rock near a small pond. There we found a dining room with kitchen as well as a luxuriously equipped cabin for each of us to rest at noon. We blessed Sir Arthur E. Havelock in thought, as that comfortable place nor only allowed us ample refreshment and quiet rest but also an almost fairy-like panorama of that part of the island. Deep down below us was the wide green sea of palm and deciduous trees out of which one could detect a small lake or a Sinhalese settlement and, island-like, mountain peaks in blue hue. Also the famous and notorious Sigiri mountain on which the kings of yore had built important fortresses with stone galleries that could be viewed with a spyglass.

For long we could not force us to separate us from this enchanting panorama but as another 37 km were still to be covered we had to enter into the wagon again.

The heat had diminished and quickly we drove along the road. The only interruption was caused by two Sinhalese high priests who offered with many bows a long piece of writing which asked for a contribution for the restoration of a Buddha temple as one of the men in the party translated. Perhaps one head of the Buddha is now receiving an even more beautiful canary yellow coating thanks to my small contribution.

The sun was just setting when the thick tropical forest opened up in front of us.

A cry of amazement escaped from our lips after we had reached the top of the high dam in front of us which offered a completely new picture. On the one side the enormous water basin of Kalawewa, a pond in glittering blue in which hundreds of dead large trees pushed their branches to the sky – the golden red light of the sun rays relay turns this landscape into one of Dore’s fantastic landscapes. On the other side of the dam is the endless jungle with its closed canopy and the grotesque forms of the mountain peaks in the distance.

The dam on which we moved – built by king Dhatu Sena during the 5th century AD, incredibly without any technical assistance but only with the use of human labor – had a length of 9.6 km, a height of 20 m, a width of 7 m and dams the water of two rivers so that a pond is formed as a reservoir which covers a circumference of 64 km. The goal of this great land improvement work is the irrigation of numerous rice fields in the surrounding areas while a large bifurcating canal with locks supplies water to the 83 km distant Anuradhapura as well as over 100 village ponds on its way.

With time, the giant stone and earth dam had become loose and the dam broke and the whole surrounding area was flooded. Everywhere the fever, nourished by the miasma, ravaged the population so much that the survivors decided to emigrate. After the canal leading to Anuradhapura had been repaired some kilometers from that place by governor Sir William Gregory (1871-1877) did the British government order the whole canal repaired during the years from 1884 to 1887 and also to repair the dam which also restored the pond. The government intends to urge Sinhalese from the northern provinces to settle in this area offering the settlers free land, a measure only partially successful as people still fear the fever. The fear of the fever is grounded in reality as we could personally witness seeing many locals deeply marked by treacherous disease.

The accumulated water due to the restitution of the dam has made large tracts productive but flooded and killed the large trees at the edge which formerly had stood on firm ground.

We had reached our destination and found our home for the next days, the hunting camp, ready. Up on the dam crest, next to a small engineer house small bungalows out of bamboo and palm leaves had been built which made a comfortable and friendly impression. First were the small rooms for me and the men of my entourage, then a large dining room, the kitchens and, a bit lower down, a barn for about thirty horses.

For a long time we sat in front of our bungalows on this beautiful evening and enjoyed the myriads of fireflies swarming around the tree branches.

Links

  • Location: Kalawewa, Ceylon
  • ANNO – on 07.01.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Swiss government informs that it denies the rumors circulating in the press that it will replace its ambassador to Austria, Mr Aepli. Amidst the turmoils of the Panama scandals in France, it is unclear whether the former minister Charles Baïhaut has been arrested, as Le Figaro says, or not.
  • The Neue Freie Presse informs its readers about Franz Ferdinand’s journey with an update about his time in Aden and informs about his sightseeing trip to the city.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing Adolf von Wilbrandt’s  „Der Meister von Palmyra“; the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater again combines an opera and a ballet: Pietro Mascagni’s Die Rantzau and the ballet the „Four Seasons“.

Colombo — Kandy, 6 January 1893

There is an old tale that Ceylon had once been the location of paradise where Adam and Eve had lived prior to the fall of mankind. If that is true, our ancestors had enjoyed a truly heavenly place. Those who have seen Ceylon will understand the size of the damage caused by the frivolous game with the apple. This island, embellished by the incredible attractions and wonders of the tropical nature, inexhaustible in its delightful imagery, blessed with an exhaustive creative force, lost for all mankind for the sake of a single apple! The richness in vegetation taunts all possible description, not a single spot resembles another one. At every step, every drive, I might say, at every turn of the way the images changed. Now there are palm groves, then giant bushes covered in lianas and orchids, then cactus-like Euphorbias with magnolia-like totally straight branches that captivated us. In between are flowers of the most colorful kind such as the purple red Gloriosa superba and a sky-blue Ranunculacee. Scintillating butterflies fly from flower to flower. Striped squirrels (Sciurus palmarum) run up and down the trunks, the most colorful birds, parrots, bulbuls, kingfishers, herons and bee-eaters cross the sky.

For today, a trip to Kandy, the old capital of the kings of Ceylon and the favourite spot of the present governor, was planned. The city of 20.252 inhabitants is 119 km distant from Colombo. At 9 o’clock, I went on land and through the guard of honor to the railway station of the fort where another honor guard was waiting. Most lovely to look at was a tame antelope with gilded horns – black buck of the English – that was a mascot of the music band.

The governor and his entourage and we mounted the wagons oft he Kandy railway which are very suitably and airily built and operated for the climate. Sinhalese act as railguards while the conductors and civil servants are Europeans. In spite of the large costs of the enterprise it is highly profitable thanks to the tea exports and the native predilection for train trips.

The railway tracks led first through thick banana and palm groves which alternated with extended rice plantations. The rice harvest which occurs twice per year had been completed shortly prior to our arrival and so the heavily watered and terraced fields were most fresh and of young green color. Everywhere there were buffalos standing up to their head in the water, surrounded by cowboys who looked almost snow-white from the distance. At Rambukkana station, the railway starts to enter mountain territory and the panorama changes. Ever steeper and steeper the railway tracks snake upwards. Tunnels and overhanging stone galleries follow, everywhere there are sources, brooks, rivers which descend in the fastest path towards the plain and greatly enliven the scenery. The eye is feasting on the blue mountain peaks and the deep-cut jungle valleys – it is, I might say, a Semmering-Bahn transposed into a tropical world. A high black rock cone standing tall beside the track has gained sad notoriety as a Tarpeian rock during the time of the kings of Ceylon of the Mahawani family, as these rulers pushed inconvenient prisoners down into the abyss to their death. Close to Kadugannawa station is a monument to Captain Dawson paying tribute to his construction of the first stage of the railway.

In front of Kandy, the rice fields are displaced by tea and cacao plantations which offer a pleasant impression with their deep green leaves.

At the station at Kandy we were festively received. A honor guard of native volunteers presented arms while a newly organized mounted guard of native noblemen rode on excellent ponies in front of our government carriage and behind it. All Kandy was outside. Thousands of Sinhalese and many Europeans stood at the roadside or on the verandas to greet us and welcome us most friendly.

Kandy is very picturesque situated in a greenish smiling valley and distinguishes itself through its clean houses and mild climate.

Near the ruins of the old royal palace, gigantic, strongly anchored walls with imaginative crenelations, was installed a towerlike triumphal arch built out of bamboo and palm leaves. On the other side of it was the fairylike garden of Government House or Pavillon. Bamboo and rubber trees of unimaginable height, covered in blooming lianas, form an alley that leads to the Government House. It is built in tropical style with wide stairs and large airy halls and offers a very pleasant stay.

I first paid my compliments to Lady Havelock and was then presented by the governor to a numerous delegation of native noblemen, the old hereditary nobility of Ceylon, where the following protocol was observed: I stood in the middle of the large hall while the individual members of the delegation came up singly, bowed deeply, the vice governor declaiming their names which were particularly long.

The costumes of these dignified, long-bearded men are most imaginative: On the head they wear a four or six-pointed flat red hat on which is fixated an agraffe with a jewel. The upper body is covered by a small jacket wrought in gold. On the breast hang different amulets and badges on golden chains which are often heavily trimmed with diamonds. Among the jewelry, I especially noted a flying eagle decorated with rubies and emeralds which is said to have been owned by a minister of the last king. In broad belts are knives with richly ornamented blades. The strangest part of their attire, however, was the way they cover their lower extremities. Firstly these are covered with white narrow trousers that reach down to the ankles, around which are wrapped 54 m of muslin – a task which requires more than two hours. This somewhat strange costume turns their wearers into comically walking pears.

After the parade we rested. At the start of the cool evening we paid a visit to Buddha’s tooth, the largest sacred site of the Buddhists. With ear-shattering tam-tam noises and drum music we were received by temple guards and high priests at the foot of the temple and led inside by a number of small stairs. In the entrance hall, numerous priests, all with heads clean shaved and clad in yellow Sarongs, were smilingly bowing standing at attention. After a few rooms with images from the life of Buddha I was in a square dark Sanctuarium lit only by a few lamps in which the musty smell of decomposing cut flowers, present in great number, flowed towards me. The high priest mumbled a few prayers and then showed me the tooth which lies in a large golden rose. The god Buddha must have had giant dentures because the tooth measures 5 cm in length and 25 cm in width. It has a dark chestnut brown color and is said to be made out of ivory smuggled in by clever priests after the original tooth had been burned by the Portuguese. Many pilgrims and processions arrive here to this sanctuary annually. The tooth is encased in six or seven tower-like covers made out of massive gold and decorated with gemstones, true masterworks. The whole is kept in a barred cage that contains also another object of value, a 12 cm high statue of Buddha made out of a single pure emerald stone.

We saw here also a second relic with many especially crystalline Buddhas as well as the temple library which keeps old Sinhalese writings etched into palm leaves. Then we drove to the 6 km distant majestic botanical garden of Peradeniya which exceeds everyone’s wildest expectations by its variety of plants and trees as well as its tasteful composition into groups. The tropical climate that supports the gardener’s art is capable of achieving nearly fairy-like outcomes. Peradeniya is said to be the most beautiful botanical garden in the world. That it is unmatched I can firmly believe. The chief gardener tasked me with planting a tree to commemorate my visit, as did the Prince of Wales and the Tsesarevich. The tree planted by the first has already reached a sizeable height. The orchid collection of the park is housed indoors with straw mats replacing glass windows to safeguard the plants from the intense sun rays.

Lady Havelock which we encountered in that part of the garden with her daughter invited us to a cup of tea in the garden pavilion.

At 8 o’clock there was a grand parade dinner in Government House in Kandy which was attended by numerous dignitaries and multiple ladies. Giant Indians with long spears were set up in the staircase as a guard of honor. The table in black and yellow was richly decorated with flowers. For the delicious meal, musically accompanied by the band of the 6th regiment that played lovely melodies, I sat between Lady Havelock and the German wife of our consul general Schnell, who was born in Calcutta. At the end of the dinner the governor declared a toast to the queen’s health, to that of our emperor and to mine, accompanied to the people’s hymn.

After the conclusion of the dinner, a religious procession called the Perahera procession, which is performed but once a year and which is attended by all the nobles of the land from the most distant places with their attendants and their elephants to create the largest pomp possible, started in the large forum in front of the Buddha temple. The glittering procession of the dignitaries, the nobles and the men, the majestic elephants, the gaudy play of the colors, the glittering and sparkling gold and gems, the activities of the crowd, the performance of fantastic dances, the magic scenery – all covered in a clear light of torches, turned it into a Arabian Nights fairy tale. The procession moved with a deafening sound of the drums past the Buddha temple on whose dais all guests of the governor and the members of the English colony had taken their seats.

At the front of the parade marched a beautifully ornamented giant elephant that carried a representation of the golden hull of Buddha’s tooth on a rich silk blanket. The giant was escorted by two smaller elephants, then about a hundred Sinhalese with colors and torches came. Then, surrounded by dancers moving in grotesque jumps, followed the nobles of the land in their dress sparkling with diamonds. In the procession of at least 800 to 1000 m length were assembled forty elephants ornamented in the most diverse of trappings. All houses up to the roofs and the whole large forum were filled with the mass of the united country folk which set up a captivating strange background in their red and white Sarongs and the disquieting changing illumination. Twice the procession passed by us. Then we returned home to the governor’s pavilion, enriched by the interesting day’s events.

Huts in Colombo, Ceylon

Huts in Colombo, Ceylon

Links

  • Location: Kandy, Ceylon
  • ANNO – on 06.01.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Panama scandal in France is always a good topic to fill the pages, apart from the snow storm that is.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Krisen“ – a character study by Eduard von Bauernfeld; the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents a French opera „Der Prophet“.

Stuttgart — Vienna, 17 to 18 October 1893

In Stuttgart was finally realized what I had dreamed about in the hunting camp at Tandur1 to hold my sister in the arms as a new wife in her freshly constituted home. But understandably I wanted to return home and thus the next day I rushed on home.

When the train reached the marking of the black and yellow boundary posts at Braunau and knew to be once again in Austria, my heart was filled with joy that increased all the more the closer the Orient Express approached, flying through the well known beautiful regions of Upper and Lower Austria, to the heart of the homeland.

In St. Pölten I celebrated a happy reunion with my parents and siblings and arrived in their company in Vienna at last.

Safe and secure I returned home after a long voyage around the world. Thankful to providence in my heart, I saluted again after a year’s time  — the old eternally young Imperial city.

Links

  • Location: Stuttgart, Germany and on 18 October, Vienna, Austria.
  • ANNO – on 17.10.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing the comedy „Ein Nachtlager Corvins“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing „A Santa Lucia“ and the ballet „Die verwandelte Katze“.
  • The Neue Freie Presse reports that Franz Ferdinand did not meet anyone in Paris and stayed in the Grand Hôtel under the incognito of Count Wartholz.
Franz Ferdinand visits the Eiffel tower in Paris.

Neue Freie Presse reported that Franz Ferdinand visited the Eiffel tower and stayed at the Grand Hôtel in Paris.

Neue Freie Presse reports about Franz Ferdinand's reunion with his family at St. Pölten. He apparently has lost weight - lanky ("schmächtig") is not a favorable descriptor.

Neue Freie Presse, 18 October 1893, reports about Franz Ferdinand’s reunion with his family at St. Pölten. He apparently has lost weight – lankier („schmächtig“) is not a favorable descriptor.


  1. While he already mentions the marriage of his sister at Tandur, it is the next day in Hyderabad on 24 January 1893 that he mentions the planned reunion in Stuttgart. 

Niagara Falls, 4 October 1893

The sleep was again severely interrupted by the heavy blows during the switchovers. In the morning we could again note the loss of multiple wine bottles and the injury of one of our serving Negroes who had been thrown against the wagon wall by the impact.

We had barely left Chicago on the Michigan Central Railroad towards our next destination, the Niagara Falls,  when we entered the territory of the states of Indiana and later that of Michigan. Near Detroit we crossed in the railway train the Detroit river on a large traject ship. The Detroit River connects Lake Huron and the smaller  Lake St. Clair with Lake Erie. And we finally reached at Windsor the territory of the Canadian province of Ontario.

The day was beautiful and the area quite charming as forests and forest lots alternated with farms, fruit gardens and fields. The trees were already bearing their autumn dress that was much more intensively colored than in our hemisphere and showed itself in the numerous oak and maple trees in a remarkably beautiful red varying from a light vermilion to a dark crimson and effectively contrasted by thee yellow and brown of the poplars and chestnuts. The fruit tress, among them a scarlet Ailanthus, were bearing fruits.

Despite these pretty images of which we could never see enough, I regretted not to spend the 4th October as usual high up in the Carinthian mountains in order to breathe clear air in my small hunting lodge and to enjoy pure nature, surrounded by the calling deer and hunting boys and bloodhounds and let the eye glance upon the incomparable landscape of our Alps. Man is thus devoted to his habits and misses what he cherishes.

The sudden stop of the train tore me out of my thoughts and everything shouted: „the Niagara, the Niagara“. The railway administration had arranged a stop of a few minutes to allow the travelers a view upon the fall that disappointed and disillusioned me in the first moment. Since my earliest childhood I had imagined this natural wonder that stood in stark contrast to its reality. The river falls in a completely flat area out of which rise cities, hotels and smoking factory stacks from a rocky ledge that is quite similar to a giant dam. Nevertheless I can not deny that this mightiest waterfall of the world has a quite great character that however loses much in my eyes by the absence of a scenic landscape. The dignified frame is missing in this picture.

The Niagara River is the outflow of the Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie and descending on its 58 km length by 100 m it develops a torrential velocity. At the edge of the fall the river bed is split by Goat Island and thus two falls are formed, namely the 322 m wide American and the 915 m wide crooked Horse Shoe or Canadian fall. The border between the United States and Canada passes straight through the middle of the Horse Shoe fall. Both falls together send 425.000 m³ water per minute downriver. Below the falls the river narrows and forms roaring rapids that one can watch from the high Cantilever Bridge of the Michigan Central Railroad, a freely suspended bridge that crosses the Niagara without any supporting pillars. About 90 m further downstream the Railway Suspension Bridge hangs suspended, a chain bridge that also carries below the railway tracks another bridge for the road traffic.

The train stops after having passed over the cantilevered bridge into American territory outside of the city of Niagara Falls that owes its existence to the foreign tourists and not to the few industrial establishments. Every year more than 400.000 visitors are coming here.

Soon we reached Queen Victoria Niagara Falls Park on the Canadian shore that, well tended with lush green lawns and ornamented with mighty trees, follows alongside the river for about 4 km and offers everywhere splendid views on the falls. Table Rock is the point from which the Horse Shoe Fall makes the most dramatic impression. With a deafening noise the water masses crash down while the fine water mist in which the sun weaves gorgeous rainbows is twirled up highly.

In a nearby house one receives a rubber dress that only leaves the face uncovered. Then one drives with an elevator down to the foot of the fall, passes first through a cave and then walks on a narrow runway between the rocks and the thundering water masses. It was a strange I might say constricting feeling to be in the midst of the roaring water and the rock wall. Our voices could not overcome the enormous noise. From time to time we received a douche coming down from a considerable height. The rocks here consist of sandstone and a very crumbly slate that was continuously shedding larger pieces so that the sense of security was much weakened while walking. On steps and ladders and frequent glitches on the slippery rocks we go down another 30 m,  and came again in front of the fall and could again enjoy the greatness of the spectacle greeted by another extended water baptism. Very effectively the rays of the setting sun produced a magic reddish illumination of the fall.

My name day was celebrated during dinner in the wagon and we then wanted to enjoy a pleasurable evening in the much praised Niagara Falls Music Hall. But the art on display was quite mediocre and the audience too of the lowest sort.

Links

  • Location: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
  • ANNO – on 04.10.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing the comedy „Landfrieden“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing „A Santa Lucia“ and other pieces.

Manitou — Chicago, 2 October 1893

Also during today’s long journey we had the opportunity to experience in a quite disagreeable manner the ruthlessness with which our Pullman Car was switched at all the crossing points. If a traveler dares to ask the locomotive driver or conductor for a more attentive treatment, he will be laughed at or receives the answer that nobody is forced to use the railway. As a proof of the force and intensity of the blows we received serves the case that nearly all our wine bottles were broken even though they had been well packaged and stored in wooden racks. The incessant use of the locomotive bells that serves as a warning signal gets on the nerves as the sound of the bell is striking similar to that of our passing bell.

During the night we passed through the great city of Denver that features numerous industrial companies. In the morning we no longer saw beautiful landscapes or canyons as we were driving Eastwards on the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad through the fertile area of the state of Nebraska, an endless plain. One sees corn and corn again that my please the farmer’s eye but in the length of time appears highly monotonous to the traveler. Numerous artesian aquifers are operated by wind motors and irrigate the fields. The farms and cities show the characteristics of a quick, overly hasty development and discomfort. The private houses  are unadorned except for numerous promotions and bill boards. Everywhere agricultural machines replace human labor. Herds 0f cattle and horses are roaming around.

In Lincoln, the capital of Nebraska, our ambassador lost his hat and baggage during the switch-over. Here too we received the disagreeable news that we would probably not find the baggage we sent ahead there on the day of our arrival in Chicago.  The much praised American railways look quite different if seen up close as when one believes the sugar-coated descriptions. And even in Italy I have not seen similar conditions such as here. Thus there is but a single baggage wagon on these enormously long trains and the baggage of numerous passengers is left behind if there is no space left without informing the passenger and it reaching its destination only 24 hours later.

Omaha, „the gate city“, is one of the main entrance way stations to the West and will be remembered for the onrush of the local reporters upon our wagon during our quarter hour stop. When I went out for a short time to catch some fresh air, I could only with difficulties escape from imminent interviews.  The intrusiveness here in the service of public opinion I could not have imagined it, even though the American press might have let one expect everything. Liberty of the press is interpreted here as fair game on fellow men whose most intimate private life is spared nothing and made public. The newspapers, from the largest to the smallest gossip rag are full of sensational news, of vilifications as well as spicy stories. In the political arena all means are used. That my person too had to undergo such treatment, that the readers were served with lies and bloopers of the most vile kind, I had to take note with indifference  which is the only dignified response for such actions.

Near Omaha, the rail track comes close to the Missouri, then follows its right shore for some time and finally crosses it on a high and long bridge which the train, already on the Chicago, Burlington und Quincy Railroad, passes over very slowly. The Missouri is a very languid river with numerous tributaries and dirty colored water.

No game enlivened the area. The wetlands however offered a pleasing view as they reminded us of our own wetlands where one can now hear the rutting call of the stags and every hunter is spending the most beautiful hours of the year. Oaks, maples, poplars, willows, in short all representatives of the wetland forests were to be seen here. Forest areas in small submerged grounds or valleys embellished the overall view of the area, even after we had already left the current of the river.

Links

  • Location: Omaha, Nebraska, USA
  • ANNO – on 02.10.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing the tragedy „Die Braut von Messina“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Der fliegende Holländer“.
  • In contrast to Franz Ferdinand’s statements above, at least the digitized Omaha Bee is very respectful about the distinguished if reclusive foreigners.

 

The Omaha Bee mentions "distinguished foreigners" in Denver

The Omaha Bee of 2 October 1893 mentions „distinguished foreigners at Denver“ in the morning edition

The Omaha Bee 2 October 1893 in the evening edition includes a respectful account of the stop in Omaha.

The Omaha Bee 2 October 1893 in the evening edition includes a respectful account of the stop in Omaha.

Colorado Springs, 30 September 1893

On the line of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad we were rolling towards our next destination, Colorado Springs, after we had turned Eastwards at Provo City. As far as the landscape is concerned, this route has to be described as very interesting as the tracks cross a great number of splendid canyons. Narrow rocky valleys and gorges exist in Europe too but neither in such numbers and extent, nor showing such grotesque formations we were encountering here. Unfortunately, the bad weather spoiled our enjoyment of the scenery as it was snowing when we passed the wild canyon of the Grand River and dense flakes and masses of fog covered the mountain peaks as well as the higher wall some of which rose almost vertically up to 750 m.

In many places the gorge with its rocky walls is so narrow that the railway and the river have just enough space next to each other and daylight can only enter between the colossal jagged walls. Nevertheless crippled pines have set root in crevices and wherever there is a bit of earth between the rocks, intensely red and yellow colored bushes peek out. The sandstone rocks appear in the most adventurous forms, withered and crumbled parts alternate with deep long clefts and caves. One expects the overhanging walls and blocks to tumble down into the abyss at any moment. Down there the gushing river digs its bed deeper and deeper. Rocks that have been broken off by the force exerted by ice in places pile up to mighty masses enriching the gorgeous view that this wild romantic and dark area offers.

The Canyon of the Grand River is 27 km long until the valley in which much new snow was lying opens up without however losing its bare and rocky character. Whenever the fog was broken up by the current wind, we could also see the high mountains surrounding the canyon.

Soon we entered into Eagle River Canyon that resembled its predecessor but was still considerable narrower so that one can not look up to the walls even from the bottom of the wagon. Here too some narrow tunnels had to be dug even though the railway tracks follow the river shore closely. Like glued to the wall appear the small huts of the miners and the mine entrances that allow the extraction of the ore and are the main source of income for the thinly distributed population.

When we reached some sort of high plateau after having passed Eagle Canyon, we were received by light rays of the sun emerging from dense snow clouds. The rays illuminated multiple green fields, an unexpected sight. Grazing cattle and horse brought life into the landscape.

The two cities of Leadville and Salida were examples of the already repeatedly observed type of urban settlements even though the territory, like the whole of Colorado, had been Mexican for a long time before it had been annexed by the United States. Numerous mountain names remind of this past era, thus the snow covered Sangre de Cristo range and places like Pueblo, which we later passed.

Right after Salida we observed mighty round boulders that sometimes were piled up on top of one another that, individually, were larger than a small house. The vegetation here was very paltry and only represented by the roof-shaped dwarf spruce and cacti in yellow bloom.

As far as greatness is concerned, the latest of the canyons, the canyon of the Arkansas, is the equal of the Great Canyon in the Yellowstone Park, but it lacks the latter’s splendid light and color effects that delighted me. Instead the canyon of the Arkansas is marked by the jaggedness of the red sandstone as well by the quite amazing height of granite rocks. The rocks rise at the most narrow spot of this 13 km long pass, called Royal Gorge, up to 800 m.

Overwhelmed by the view I stood on the platform of the wagon, following the example of most other passengers, while the speeding train seemed to flee out of the area of the threatening gigantic masses. Such scary areas have certainly been imagined in our mind while we listened to accounts of Indian attacks on trains, of fights between them and the passengers and of other romances about the far West with all their ghastly elements.

Suddenly, and without any continuing spurs of the surrounding walls, the narrow valley stops and makes way to a wide prairie-like valley where timid trials of cultivating fields and fruit can be observed.

From Pueblo the railway turns North towards Colorado Springs, a spa town popular due to its healthy climate where we rested for the night in order to drive to Manitou the next day and climb Pike’s Peak of 4331 m altitude.

Links

  • Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
  • ANNO – on 30.09.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing the comedy „Der Veilchentreffer“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Die Afrikanerin“.

Livingston — Butte City, 28 September 1893

The train led on a branch line of the Northern Pacific Railway in a Southeastern direction across a bare and sad area, through uncultivated hilly terrain and only in the distance the peaks of the Rocky Mountains were visible. Everywhere we saw cattle in great numbers that seemed to be well nourished despite the poor soil. One and a half hour before Butte City the land turned mountainous. The train crossed deeply cut valleys and gorges on tall wooden bridges. Numerous round rock blocks of considerable size were laying around everywhere allowing only sparse tree growth in the few open places.

At many points we could see clear signs of mining that is very actively undertaken in this Rocky Mountain district rich in ore and centered on Butte City. This mining city in the purest sense of the word is situated in a bare valley surrounded by mountains and is recognizable from afar by its smoking stacks. In the middle of the surrounding area of the city rises a hill rich in ore whose copper and silver deposits are extracted by several mines. The attached machine houses, various laundries and large heaps of dead rocks covered the surface of the hill. Small tracks on which wagons and sledges with the mined ore moved led from site to site. Everywhere there was smoke, hammering and knocking.

Around this hill are arranged the city and some settlements that have in time become suburbs, so that Butte currently has 40.000 inhabitants. If American cities in general are known to have been built without taste and present a chilling sight, then Butte City must count to be among the worst.

One should imagine a community of a considerable extent where not one tree, not one spot of green, the motley houses are built on clay or sand and in the more distant roads are reminiscent of gypsy wagons. Everywhere the Non plus ultra of tastelessness is achieved. The roads are bumpy like a miserable country road. And still there are millionaires living in the city but they do not indulge in any luxuries here and do not embellish their sad homes and only amass dollars.

A dense network of wires extended over the roofs and bright boards with obtrusive ads covered the front and side walls of all buildings. In a two-hour tour I have never receiver viler impressions than here but am still satisfied to have seen Butte City as my opinion that one has to see for oneself and not let one’s judgement be formed only by descriptions was confirmed once more.

I was interesting in visiting one of the mines and thus I drove to a mine where I was informed that the officials and workers were at lunch and the mine at rest which made me conclude that a European shift organization that prevented the interruption of the work flow was not possible to install in this „free“ country here. After longer discussions, one worker was ready to show us the mine which was said to go down 335 m and we entered as seven on a sledge intended for four persons. Fortunately we stopped already at the second level and, each equipped with a flickering candle, followed a gallery until we arrived at the work place after we had climbed over multiple ladders. Here the copper and silver veins in the rock were visible in a strange clay mass.

Mining is done in terraces that lie one above the other and are supported by wooden pillars and as elsewhere, they do use plenty of the cheap wood here. The profit  of the mine seems to be small as only 60 workers were employed and everything looked quite shabby. I thus refrained from visiting the likewise resting laundry and smeltery and returned to the station.

Then started an extended period of shifting our wagons in which they were pushed together so forcefully that only their excellent construction prevented damage, as we often had had the opportunity to observe this.

Light-heartedly we parted from Butte City and drove up to dusk to the South towards Salt Lake City through a bare valley with numerous small stations. Alongside the tracks numerous herds were mingling. Some beautiful light effects were produced by the setting sun in the mountains and compensated for the strong monotony of the area.

Links

  • Location: Butte, Montana, USA
  • ANNO – on 28.09.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing the comedy „Das Heiratsnest“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the ballet „Die goldene Märchenwelt“.