San Ignacio in the early 1900's was a tiny village in the frontier of Western Belize. With no road, the only access to San Ignacio was via steam boat (remember African Queen)! They were commonly reffered to as "Cayo Boats"! From Cayo (San Ignacio) to Belize would take about four days but the return trip often took more than ten days. The distance was less that 60 miles in a straight line but over 170 by river! From Belize City came canned and dried goods and returning, the boats would take fresh bananas,citrus, and other fruits and vegetables,along with livestock and wild game.
Some of the Cayo Boats were over 50 feet long and were later powered by very basic diesel engines. Many of the rapids on the Belize Old River were very swift and shallow. At the top of some rapids winches were placed to help drag the boats up!
Besides the many boats that serviced San Ignacio, there were boats that went North from Belize City to Orange Walk and Corozal and South to Dangriga, Placencia, and Punta Gorda!
From the Boat Warf in San Ignacio, horses, mules, and oxen were used to transport supplies through the jungle to even smaller villages like Crysto Rey, San Antonio, San Jose Succotz, and Benque Viejo Del Carmen.
Cattle trains were among the means used to transport supplies to the outpost villages of San Miguel, San Luis, Millionarios, San Jose Succotz, Benque Viejo Del Carmen, and many more. This photos shows down town San Ignacio in the early 1900's. All the construction was wood. Notice the rain vat in the left of the photo. It was made just like a wine barrel out of Spanish Cedar (Cedrela odorata), also known as "cigar-box cedar.
However, the real job for the cattle trainswas hauling logs from where they were cut in the jungle to Baccadeers (a clearing were logs were gathered during the dry season or logging season).
Once the rains came in June, the logs would be slid down a "chute" (right side of photo) in to the river. There they would be chained into rafts and floated down the Macal River into the Belize Old River.
As the logs neared the Caribbean Sea, the current of the river would slow. According to the old lumber jacks, the breeze would blow so hard up river in the day-time that the rafts would drift back upstream unless tied off to the trees on the river's banks. Then, once the breeze died down at night, they'd untie the rafts and continue floating down stream to Burrel Boom. Burrel Boom is a village still in existence today. Named after the Burrel Family, there was a huge iron chain strung across the river to catch the logs. The logs would be removed from the river at that point and sawn into lumber and flitches to be shipped to England!