Some of the River Tunnel Boats that plied the Belize Old River from Belize City to the Old El Cayo Landing (Boat Wharf), 1915
Jeremy A. Enriquez: The Landing at El Cayo, 1915. If you were traveling from PG to El Cayo (now known as San Ignacio Town) back in those days, as my grandparents did when my grandfather served as Principal of the school there in 1921-23, you would have to take an overnight boat from PG to Belize City, then take these boats upstream the Belize River from Belize City for a few days, to reach there.
This was the only way of traveling from Belize City to the West. Sometimes it would take a week to get from Belize City to Cayo. The boats could not continue their journey when the tide was low.
There were 26 such Boats with barges in tow - I have recorded the names of all these boats. The boat to make the trip up the river was the "THE CLARENCE MENGEL" belonging to the Mengel Lumber Company, and the smallest, "The SAN IGNACIO" belonging to the Roman Catholic Church.
They transported cargo such as food items, foot wear and building materials, etc. UP THE RIVER, and they carried Chicle, cattle, agricultural products erc. DOWN THE RIVER.- Of Interest to know is that this mode of transport supplied the Peten Department with their needs and served 107 Settlements on the Belize River starinting from Macaw Bank to Belize City.
I have been asked - How did these boats managed in those very shallow parts of the river ? Well Mr Austin Waight ( Everal Waight's Dad ) was assigned by the Public Works Department to blow a few sticks of dynamite to open a channel in the center of the stream.- This was done as soon as the dry weather began to settele. Tunnel Boats did NOT have their propeller sticking out but in a tunnel under the boat.
For those interested in the Belize Old river transport of old. THESE ARE THE NAMES OF SOME OF THE RIVER BOATS OF OLD. Clarence Mengel, Cruizer, The Cutter, Tenny Fly, The Zebu, The Chicle, The Cacique, The Cayo - Elenita, Apollo, Minerva, Deutz, The Buda, Nameless, Tiredless, The Creole, Amy, Olga, El Quetzal, The San Ignacio, Renee M, The Shultz, The Empress, and a few others.
The river is wider now. Wish the boats would travel again to pick up passengers or for those who would care to go on a cruise for the day. Would be so much fun.
Credit: The Archaeological Field Diaries of Sylvanus Griswold Morley, 1914–1916
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