THE BLUE BONNET
The Galapagos Islands
WALDO L. SCHMITT
The Galapagos Islands might well have been called Nature's laboratory
of experimental evolution; a visual demonstration of the facts and the principles of evolution. They are, to this day, a living epitome of the ORIGIN
I have made three visits to the
islands and on them have traveled
trails unchanged since the early days
of man's sojourn there. Among those
trails is one up to the Salt Crater
Lake on James Island. Salt workers have come and gone over this
trail. Their shelters lay fallen and
forgotten over others that were constructed at even earlier periods.
THE STORY OF THE BARONESS
AND HER LOVERS
Here is a story written by every
newspaper in the land, yet there was
never a tale with less facts, more
misinformation and conflicting theories.
The setting lies on a small Galapagos Island known as Floreana, Charles, or Santa Maria (the second is the
most commonly used). With its spotty patches of fertility it is anything
but an Utopia or Eden. In fact a
grim struggle to eke out a bare living in even the choicest portions is
the lot of the settler there.
Before the advent of the three major characters, who were to tear the
normal tranquil life asunder with
hate, passion, and greed, two families and a Norwegian lived on the
island. Urholt, the Norwegian, the
1st permanent inhabitant, was joined
by a Dr. Friederick Ritter and a companion, Frau Dore Koerwin. The
latter couple fled from Germany after
leaving their more civilization loving
spouses. Shortly afterward a second
couple, the Wittmers, came to live on
To blast this rather doubtful harmonic life into shreds, and to focus
the eyes of the world on this little
portion of volcanic matter the three
characters made their sweeping entrance.
Baroness Eloise Bosquet de Wagner
Wehrborn of Vienna and Paris conceived the idea, in company with her
lover, Alfred Rudolph Lorenz, of
establishing a summer resort on the
island and having it a regular calling place for Grace Line ships. Together with Robert Phillipson they
arrived on the island,
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Upon the crest of the crater wall
stand an old rusty engine for operating an abandoned cable-way, idle
and dilapidated. Goats, descendants
of the original flock that escaped
Admiral Porter's men back in 1813,
still are plentiful.
Tagus Cove, indenting the western
shore of northern Albemarle, has
changed little in the last hundred
years, except for the disappearance
of the tortoises from the vicinity.
The precipitious rock walls of this
breached crater-harbor today carry
no end of large painted calling
cards of yachts from all parts of the
world, and of tuna fisherman and
various expeditions from the states.
At anchor far back in the most
sheltered place in the cove at the
time of my last visit was the small
yawl of the circumnavigator, Robinson, who was saved from an untimely end by an emergency appendicitis
operation by U. S. Navy doctors who
flew over from Panama on a wireless
There is no mistaking the wholly
volcanic nature of the Galapagos.
On every hand are craters of primary,
secondary, and lesser degree, fuma-
roles, cones, and vents, a graphic example of vulcanism to the nth degree.
The valley of Ten Thousand Smokes
would suffer, I believe, by comparison.
Indeed much of the Galapagos scenery and especially that about Christopher Point, the most westerly projection of southern Albemarle, prompts
one instinctively to exclaim, "The
Valley of the Moon!" No more typi
cally lunar landscape is to be seen
anywhere else on earth.
On Albemarle, steam jets are not
uncommon sights, and on adjacent
Narborough as well. Various expeditions have reported volcanic activity,
including brilliant eruptions, on a
number of the islands.
Chatham supports a larger popula-'
tion than any other of the islands.
Between two and three hundred persons cultivate its extensive, fertile
plantations, work in the sugar mill
when this is in operation, and engage
in cattle raising for export to the
Many years ago Charles Island supported about as large a population
as exists on Chatham today. These
people were described, at that time
as "nearly all people of color who had
been banished for political crimes".
They lived in an agricultural community consisting of some fifty of
more crude little homes distributed
about as many little chacras, or farms.
Traces of the original settlement and
a later attempt of colonization
remain - occasional bits of stone wall
or foundation, wild cattle and pigs,
burros, dogs and cats, even chickens,
a few plants that may have escaped
cultivation, and a host of orange and
These trees, though running wild,
are still flourishing in great profusion, so that in season the fruit falls
to the ground for want of hands to
pick it. Magnificent trees bear as
delicious oranges as any you ever
tasted. These trees must well be a
hundred years old or more, some
have boles a foot thick.
When the ripe fruit falls, the wild
pigs and the wild cattle swarm to the
feast, so that the place is no longer
safe for man. The wild boars and
the powerful, fierce, Black Spanish
bulls are not to be trifled with.
The climate of the Galapagos has
been described as ideal. Despite the
fact that the archipelago lies directly under the Equator, the average
temperature is quite low, ranging
between 70 and 80 degrees. This
uniformly low and even temperature
is due to the Humbolt current, a cold
stream that sweeps up along the
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