Panama Portage.

I've been reading a book on the US trans-continental railway and a few things caught my eye. Correct me if I'm wrong but California was incorporated in the USA in 1848 and the Gold Rush started in 1849? Apparently it took 6 months to cross the US by land, around Cape Horn and across the Panama ithsmus. What's more sustaining the US Army garrison in California was costing $30 million a year, a fair sum in those days.

However the description of travelling to California via the Panama isthmus in 1849 broke down as 8 days by steamship from NY to the isthmus, 3 days crossing the tropical, disease-filled, shithole that the isthmus was in those days, 2 months waiting in Panama for a ship and 106 days at sea because of a lack of wind.

So WI this route was organised and developed from 1849? A reasonable ship to shore facility and road across the isthmus and regular-ish steam ship runs from the isthmus to San Diego or wherever? This could cut transit times down from 6 months to 6 weeks, and make it a very useful route in peacetime until the railway was finished. The govt could help establish and support it to speed up and reduce the cost of govt business with California and gold rush traffic could also be a money spinner for private enterprise. Between them is it possible and practical?
 
IIRC, the portage was used, particularly by say California's Congressional delegation in the 1850s. The problem of course is that "staying in Panama for up to 2 months" waiting for the winds to be right is courting death in a very, very profound way. Plus, Panama isn't the only option: indeed, Cornelius Vanderbilt made quite a bit of money by offering a route via Nicaragua at a discount to prices via Panama.

As far as I know, the Panamanian route was fairly well developed: steamship lines to Panama were numerous (enough); travel from Panama to San Francisco was available on the ships of the Pacific Mail Steamship Co., organized by NY Merchants to carry the US mail to California. So, in my mind, the real question is not a POD that allows the route to develop, but one that puts in jeopardy requiring it to be protected.
 
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