Page:Face to Face With the Mexicans.djvu/300

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de C—— thus expressed our sensations on taking our departure from Mexico: "After we leave Colonia station, as the cars carry us rapidly past the familiar landmarks, the restfulness of the landscape seems reflected in ourselves. But for the church towers and the roofs and the fortified walls of Chapultepec rising abruptly from the plain, the historic valley of Anahuac with its snowy sentinels, shining lakes, and circle of blue mountains, presents the same air of tranquillity that invited the Toltecs, weary from their long wanderings, to establish their lares and penates here."

The Mexican National Railway, or Palmer-Sullivan, has its westward extension now under construction from the capital toward the Pacific Coast at Manzanillo. The Texas frontier at Laredo is the starting point of the main line, but so far it has only reached Saltillo on its way to the capital.

The western division of the National Railway has revealed the natural beauties of a region which hitherto have been as a sealed book to the ordinary tourist and traveler, the country being not only almost inaccessible, but also bandit-infested. The difficulties of engineering were also of a kind to appall even daring and progressive Americans. As an instance, seventeen bridges were constructed across the Rio Hondo in the space of a few miles, and a very insignificant stream it is in appearance, but its crooks and turns are quite amazing.

The intrepid little engine winds about the valley, now and again apparently thrusting itself against the foot-hills and mountains: then over dark abysmal ravines, spider-webbed bridges, and around horseshoe curves where both ends of the train almost meet; then across gurgling waterfalls; through Indian villages, forests of pine, and along grassy slopes, continuing in its serpentine course to give one every phase of scenery to be desired. The most lovely view is that of the capital and the Lake of Tezcuco smiling and shimmering in the distance.

Our attention is divided between Nature's handiwork as shown in