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41

Monday, September 30th 2019, 12:38am

Iquitos, 18 June1949

Felix Wankel breathed a sigh of relief when he received the telegram advising him that the next supply ship bearing the necessary materials for the next phase of work on the floating dry dock had arrived at the Brazilian river port of Manaus. It was customary for freighters arriving from Europe to call there to off-load cargo before ascending the river to enter the upper Amazon. Freed of some of their cargo, the ships would ride higher in the water which guarded against grounding. The telegram also advised him that in addition to the pontoons and structural steel for the next phase of construction on the dry dock the supply ship was bearing additional workmen to help assure that the project remained on schedule; this last point he did appreciate, for with more skilled workmen on the scene there would be time enough for the supplemental tasks his team were always being asked to tackle. Based upon past experience, Wankel expected the supply ship to arrive within a week, ten days at the outside. He started making notes to discuss with his foremen in the morning.

42

Wednesday, October 2nd 2019, 6:35pm

Gran Hotel Bolivar, Lima, 20 June 1949

Robinson had returned to his hotel after a long day of meetings with representatives of the many facets of Peruvian bureaucracy involved in developing the mineral wealth of the country. He mixed himself a whiskey and soda and loosened his tie, and sat down to review the day’s progress before dining with Ambassador Pawley.

Thanks to Pawley’s cogent advice Robinson had managed to avoid some of the pitfalls that might have derailed his mission at the outset; as it was, he had at least interested the principal decision-makers in the project for which he sought backing. More than ten years ago a survey team had discovered exploitable deposits of copper and molybdenum near Haquira, in the Apurimac Region, but the report had been filed when the Andean War had broken out and in the subsequent disruptions it had been forgotten. Had he not rediscovered the report during the research for his Masters’ degree, it would have remained so.

Copper was sufficiently abundant around the globe that it alone would not have drawn him to South America, but Utah Construction and Mining was very aware of the important role molybdenum played in modern metallurgy and, if the old survey findings were correct, the ore at Haquira was particularly rich in that mineral. Sipping his drink, Robinson counseled himself that patience was required to deal with the proud Peruvians, whose caution in embracing the Yankee dollar was readily apparent; but Robinson as an individual, and Utah Construction as a firm, were willing to play for the long game.

43

Friday, October 4th 2019, 6:19pm

Iquitos, 25 June 1949

The arrival of the freighter Imtraut Cords not only brought relief to Felix Wankel and his construction crew but pleased the merchants of Iquitos who were able to receive the goods ordered months ago. The rising tide of prosperity that had lifted Iquitos out of the commercial doldrums and returned her to her rightful place as the commercial center of the Tres Fronteras, but this depended upon the continued flow of consumer goods brought upriver and the export of primary products to the wider world – products that now waited their turn in riverside warehouses.

Wankel’s pontoons, which were carried on the freighter’s fore and after-decks were the first items to be off-loaded; they had to be in order to clear the ship’s hatchways. Once these encumbrances were dealt with the ship’s crew and the local dock workers took to bringing up the goods that would keep the economic life of the city going. The Imtraut Cords carried bales of textiles and ready-made clothing, shoes, boots, and leather goods; machinery and metals to be fabricated into the machetes and other tools that would clear the jungle and make way for new plantations; cases of bottled beverages and spirits destined for the many cantinas of the city; bricks, boards, cable, and wire – to keep the pace of construction up to the mark. Unloading the ship would take several days – after which she would take on a return cargo of rubber, timber, and other forest products.

44

Monday, October 7th 2019, 3:15am

Diario Oficial El Peruano (Lima), 29 June 1949

The transport ships Bambas and Matagaga were launched today at the Mollendo-Matarani dockyard of the Servicios Industriales de la Marina. The second pair of Corongo-class vessels to be constructed for the Armada they are due to be completed by early December. The lead ship, Corongo, and her sister Parcartambo, are expected to complete next month and enter service before the end of the year. Their arrival is expected to significantly increase the ability of the Armada to support regional development and communication along the nation’s lengthy coastline.