Lost Golden City of Manos
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In the Jungle there is
but one law:
the bloody rule of claw and fang . . .
LOST GOLDEN CITY OF MANOS
Sleepy rivers writhe sinuously between the deep green of tropical
undergrowth covering muddy banks. Great trees, giants of the jungle,
arched overhead, their thick limbs heavy with foliage. Somewhere
downstream, the slimy coils of a giant anaconda, largest of living
reptiles, slips into the dark, mysterious waters of the river. A
vagrant ray of sunshine picks out a spot between the shadows, and
finds a trace of movement, the black and gold body of a jaguar,
the tiger of the Amazonian jungles. Without a sound he slinks by,
his dappled body blending almost indistinguishably with sunlight
is not the forest. This is something threatening, something evil,
something ominous with unknown danger. This is something fever-haunted
and poisonous, streaming in the tropical heat of Brazil, a bizarre
pageant of exotic beauty suspending a veil over lurking death. This
is the jungle. The jungle as it must have been in those dim, prehistoric
ages when great reptiles roamed the earth. Here, even now, there
is but one law: the bloody rule of claw and fang. It is a court
of no appeal. The coils of a great snake, the jaws of a giant saurian
whose snout seems no more than the end of a sunken log in the muddy
water; the creeping jaguar or the more insidious death of fever,
all await the wanderer whose temerity leads him to dare these strange
wildernesses. Birds of gorgeous plumage flit through the trees overhead,
and somewhere off in the distance there is the crashing of a giant
tapir as he bolts through the jungle.
About the name of this
are fashioned legends strange and vague . . .
Somewhere, in a vast, lonely region of Brazilian jungle, in a curious
blend of beauty and sudden death, is a ruined city. The fabulous
Golden City of Manos, the lost religious capital of a vanished civilization.
Somewhere, a heap of broken idols, fallen columns, vast walls and
temples; great masses of sculptured visions dreaming through the
centuries of a dead world's beauty, a beauty that still speaks with
all the voiceless eloquence of stone. About the name of this fabled
city are fashioned legends strange and vague, which in our historic
day had their origin with the travels of Columbus.
OF ROMANCE was a magazine published by some of the same
group of Oklahoma City publishers that printed Louis book
of poetry, Smoke from this Altar. It had hoped to be a competitor
to National Geographic but lasted only a few years. The Lost
Golden City of Manos was one of a series of travel articles
that Louis wrote for LANDS OF ROMANCE during the days
when he was first struggling to make a living as a writer.
Back then, Louis was billing himself as a writer of adventure
stories, and building a reputation as someone who had both
studied about, and traveled in many exotic environments. The
LANDS OF ROMANCE series gave Louis a terrific opportunity
to build that reputation.
Louis L'Amour's Lost Treasures we will present the entire
After Columbus came the conquistadors, those swash- buckling adventures
who thronged to the New World on the heels of the Genoese navigator.
With their pointed beards and rapiers, their prancing horses and
glittering armor, they rode into the black wilderness of unknown
lands as though to a knightly tourney. A thousand legends, gave
them enchanting visions of the vast wealth to be won by valor. Whatever
else these adventurers may have had, they did possess all the color
and glamour one usually associates with adventure. In Mexico and
Peru they destroyed civilizations of greater cultural value than
their own, they looted and killed with abandon, and thought of nothing
but gold. De Soto and Coronado sought for the legendary Seven Cities
of Cibola. Ponce de Leon sought the Fountain of Eternal Youth.
De Soto found a dark grave in the waters of the Mississippi; Coronado
found wide, unbroken prairies; Ponce de Leon found misfortune, death,
and at last a grave on Puerto Rico. It remained for Cortez and Pizarro
alone to find the gold they sought. Cortez, landing on a swampy
coast of southern Mexico, found a great civilization with temples
and cities, a religion and a court. Like Caesar the conquistadors
came, saw, and conquered, leaving behind them a trail of looted
cities drenched with the blood of native peoples. But the stories
of the vast wealth they found remained to haunt the imagination
of all who still possess a spirit of adventure. Montezuma gave to
Cortez, among many other vast treasures, a disk of gold as large
as a cartwheel, computed to be worth more than a quarter of a million
In Peru, Pizarro found even greater treasures, and another civilization,
distinct from that of the Aztecs. A civilization ruled by an Inca,
where no poverty was known, where they had cities, bridges, and
extensive irrigation projects. Pizarro captured the Inca and held
him for a ransom that would have caused present day kidnappers to
turn as green as corroded gold. Pizarro was offered a room full
of gold, a room twenty-two feet long, seventeen feet wide, and filled
to a height of nine feet. This vast treasure was estimated at no
less than fifteen and a half million dollars!
All of which proves that there was gold in those countries--that
great civilization mined and stored that gold, leaving the belief
that if such great treasures were freely given, still greater ones
remained hidden. And thus is blazed the trail for the story of the
lost City of Gold.
The Amazon river flows from the foot of the Andes to empty into the
Atlantic on the northeast coast of Brazil, not far from 300-year old
Para, founded by the Portuguese. The river, 180 miles wide at its
mouth, drains 4,200,000 square miles of territory, most of it jungle.
Of all this vast expansive practically nothing is known. Here and
there it has been scratched; there are cities, villages, and plantations.
Rubber cruisers have wandered through many miles hitherto unexplored.
THE MOUTH OF THE AMAZON
While the Amazon is surpassed in length by the Nile, it carries
the largest volume of freshwater in the world, accounting for
nearly 20 percent of the Earth's discharge into the oceans.
Millions of cubic feet of water empty into the Atlantic every
second, and the effluent is transported across very large distances
from shore. You can actually dip fresh water out of the ocean
up to 200 miles off shore!
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