53 SOUTH: PATAGONIA


| November/December 1994



# Picture 01

Photo 1: Aveling & Porter Royal Letters Patent 8599.

108 Garfieid Avenue, Madison, New Jersey 07940

I want a ship that's homeward bound to plough the rolling sea, To the blessed land of Room Enough beyond the ocean bars, Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

(Dr. Henry Van Dyke)

One of the many aspects of travel abroad is that feeling that one gets when one's footsteps are finally directed homeward. For then it's time to realize that the sound of children's voices and the call of the whirling grey gull overhead are changeless the world around. People are people regardless of ethnic origins and religious beliefs. And. their industrial artifacts all have a familiar ring.

My most recent wanderings have taken me some 6,000 miles across planet Earth to as far away as latitude 53 degrees south and across the Strait of Magellan to Tierra del Fuego. I left home at 40 North in a howling January snowstorm to become increasingly warm in the southward trek towards summertime until the air grew cold again as there was nothing between me and Antarctica but a thousand or so miles of open ocean.

Punta Arenas, Chile, at the southern tip of mainland South America, was for many years a major seaport on the protected waters of the Strait until the Panama Canal was built, thus diverting ships that had been rounding Cape Horn to reach California or the far Pacific. Today it is a staging area for sea borne and airborne traffic to Antarctica. It too, is the home of the Institute de la Patagonia, founded to record and preserve the area's rich cultural history. Here to my wondering eyes was a collection of turn of the century steam machinery in the Museo de Recuerdo (Museum of Souvenirs).