River boat (or Tunnel Boat) arriving in San Ignacio, towing two pitpan, 1910's or so... Left bank is Santa Elena.
IN THE BEGINNING, the Western part of the country of Belize, known as the " WESTERN DISTRICT" could only depend on the river for transport (no Road services nor Air service existed).
SO, the Mengel Lumber Company, stationed behind Benque Viejo Town, introduced the first River Boat (called Tunnel Boats) in 1904.
This boat was baptized as the "CLARENCE MENGEL" followed by their second Boat named "THE CRUIZER".
In the beginning, these boats towed large PITPANS, which were loaded with cargo. But eventually, they built large barges that could carry more load. During those busy eras, up to 26 boats served the route, BELIZE CITY to SAN IGNACIO and back.
In the picture above, there you see one of those boats arriving in San Ignacio, towing two pitpan (Pitpans were long doreys but with flat bottom and wider than a dorey.).
Photograph courtesy Hector Silva
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