Bits & Pieces

September 9, 2010

La Venta Inn, Sea Travel in Panama, Central Ave before 1943

1. La Venta Inn
La Venta Inn about 1946.  I never visited the place, but I believe many of the readers did.
I only went to La Venta once, that I can recall, to visit the house of Rodolfo and Estelita Herbruger.
I never did understand the difference between La Venta and Santa Clara.  Explanations are welcome.
 
2. Sea Travel In Panama
 
1915 photo of what could be the "Panama"
or "David"
 
Up until 1904, the predominant way of travel between the city of Panama and the rest of the country was by means of small sailing ships along the Pacific coast of the country.  The first steamship, a paddle wheeler, went into regular service in 1867 when two American brothers, John and Henry Schubert, bought the vessel in order to supply their meat business with cattle from Chiriqui.  Named the "Montijo", it traveled along the coast making a few stops along the coast picking up cattle and some passengers.
 
This ship was soon followed by two others, the "Cargador" and the "Independencia".  As time went by, the  "Montijo" sunk in the gulf that bears its name in the Province of Veraguas, the "Cargador", when heavily damaged, was sold to the Panama Railroad Company to be used as a barge and the "Independencia" met its end when it became so worn out as to be totally unusable.
 
Sometime around 1875 and 1880, another American in Panama, Marcus J. Kelly, who was the manager of the business Arosemena Hermanos, which I think still exists, brought two steamships to the isthmus and began operating on the same coastal route.  But this time, he included Puntarenas in Costa Rica as a port of call.  The ships carried cattle, cargo and some passengers.  However, lack of proper maintenance finally wore out these ships which were abandoned in the mangroves at the mouth of the Rio Platanal at Pedregal in the Province of Chiriqui.  As of 1985, their iron skeletons were still visible.
 
The next enterprise to try its luck on the coastal route was the Pacific Steam Navigation Company around 1885-1890.  They brought in five ships, the "Huacho", "Casma", "Chala", "Chiriqui" and "Taboga".  The last two of these were specifically designed for the trade.  Nevertheless, in spite of these efforts, the main means of transportation on the coastal seas was the small sailing ship. 
 
But in 1904, shortly after Panama had gained its independence from Colombia, the Pinel brothers, Prospero and Pablo, already owners of a large fleet of sail ships, bought the  "Cocle" of 80 tons and the gunboat "Boyaca" from the government of Panama. Then they bought the "Taboga" from the Pacific Steam Navigation Co. and established a regular and reliable steamship service along the coastal cities of Panama.  These ports of call, from East to West, included La Palma in Darien, Taboga, Panama, San Carlos, Aguadulce, Chitre, Guarare, Sona, Remedios and Pedregal as well as a few other minor ports.
 
The ships carried passengers comfortably, cattle and other animals and general cargo as well as mail of the newly organized postal system. The public soon became used to this competent method of transportation which offered safety and reliability.
 
Unfortunately, the "Taboga" ran into the rocks at Punta Guanico, near Tonosi in the Province of Los Santos,  at 7:50 on the night of May 23, 1911.  Twenty-three people lost their lives.  Among them were nine passengers from Santiago de Veraguas, five from Chiriqui and nine members of the crew.  The deceased passengers belonged to distinguished families of Chiriqui and Veraguas including several young women returning to the capital to resume their high school studies.  The sinking of the "Taboga" was a tragic event that shocked a nation only 8 years old. 
 
In 1915, the two remaining and competing ship lines merged into the National Navigation Company with a fleet consisting of the following steamships: "Panama" of 900 tons, 200-foot length and 35-foot beam; "David" of 150 tons, 130-foot length and 30-foot beam; "Veraguas" of 120 tons, 110-foot length and 24-foot beam; "Los Santos" of 120 tons, 110-foot length and 24-foot beam; and "Cocle" of 60 tons, 70-foot length and 15-foot beam.  On May 11, 1923, the teamer "David" collided with the "Yorba Linda" belonging to the General Petroleum Corporation while traveling on Canal Zone waters.  The lawsuit went on for several years but I do not know the results of the litigation.  Nor do I know if the National Navigation Company is still in business.
 
Sources: Epocas , April 1985 and the Internet
 
3. Central Ave Before 1943
Central Avenue when we still drove on the left hand side before 1943.  This is probably before the war.
I think the side street on the left is where Cafe Duran had its place as well as Tony the Barber.
I think we are looking toward Santa Ana Plaza.  Can you help identify?
 
Again, we are driving on the left.  This one I cannot tell where it is, except that it is Central Avenue.
I think that is Mireille at the bottom right hand side of the photo. Note the man in the suit.
 

- Luis R. Celerier
Longview, Texas