Desert Trails of Atacama

Desert Trails of Atacama

Desert Trails of Atacama

Desert Trails of Atacama

Excerpt

I have attempted herein to describe and interpret a region, traversed on three field expeditions, which has more strongly attracted me than any other part of South America -- the Desert of Atacama and the high ranges and plateaus of the Central Andes which end in the Puna de Atacama on the south. The narrative is brief, personal experiences being introduced, as a rule, only when they serve to complete the geographical picture. Near the southern end of the desert are the towns of Copiapó and Vallenar, and the longest chapter is devoted to their fascinating life and especially its pioneer character. Of equal interest to the geographer is the girdle of settled country that runs about the high and cold Puna de Atacama. I have not limited the story to the desert country alone but have included a brief account of the Chaco or grasslands of northeastern Argentina and adjacent Bolivia, because the currents of business flow naturally from these border settlements across the Atacama country and deeply affect its life.

My grateful acknowledgments are due the Editor, Miss Gladys M. Wrigley, who has performed her task in so constructive a manner as quite to transcend the usual editorial function, supplying many historical data, especially in the chapter on mining, and giving the whole work logical arrangement and precision. I am also indebted to Miss Elizabeth T. Platt for her scholarly assistance in assembling reference material; and to Lt.-Col. Michael Kostenko, who in his craftsmanlike compilation of the Iquique, Atacama, and Coquimbo sheets of the American Geographical Society's Millionth Map of Hispanic America has supplied a most helpful basis for geographical research in the Atacama region. It is a pleasure to record my obligations to Yale University under whose auspices two of the field expeditions were carried through. To the Officers and Council of the Society I desire to express my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for their support of field work in South America and their interest in this as well as my earlier and more technical publications on the region.

ISAIAH BOWMAN

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