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Enrique Martinez

MARTINEZ, Enrique (mar-tee'-neth), sometimes improperly called ENRICO MARTIN, Mexican engineer, b., according to Torquemada, in Germany, but probably, according to late researches, in Ayamonte, Andalusia, about 1570" died in Mexico in 1682. He studied mathematics, geography, and hydraulics, was appointed cosmographer to the king, and, coming to Mexico as interpreter of the inquisition, established a printing-office in that city. The valley of Mexico being threatened repeatedly with inundation by the overflow of the lakes of Zumpango and San Cristobal into that of Texcoco, the viceroy, Marquis de Salinas, appointed a scientific commission which recommended a plan that was proposed by Martinez and the Jesuit Juan Sanchez to cut an open canal from Lake Zumpango to Cuautitlan river at Huehuetoca, and thence construct a tunnel through the hills of Nochistongo, the lowest spot in the mountains bounding the valley on the north, to El Salto on Tula river. Martinez was put in charge of the work, which was begun on 28 November, 1607, with great solemnities. More than 15,000 Indians were employed in the work. After scarcely ten months of labor the tunnel was finished, and on 23 September, 1608, the water passed through it for the first time. It was more than five miles long, eleven feet wide, and fourteen feet high, but it soon proved insufficient, and the loose earth through which it was cut began to crumble. Martinez asked for an appropriation to enlarge the tunnel, but without avail. In 1614 the Flemish engineer Boot recommended a system of dikes, which failed to give relief, and Martinez's tunnel was maintained, but without giving him the means for the required enlargement. In 1623 the new viceroy, Marquis de Guelves, desiring to show that the tunnel was superfluous, ordered the water of Cuautitlan river to be returned to its former bed, and the entrance of the tunnel to be obstructed, but in the same year heavy rains fell and Lake Texcoco began to threaten an inundation of the city. The communication with the tunnel of Nochistongo was restored, and Martinez was ordered to repair it, but with insufficient means, and on 20 June, 1629, heavy rains swelling the rivers, the dikes broke and the city was inundated to the depth of nearly six feet. Martinez, accused of tampering with the sluices in order to demonstrate the necessity of improving the tunnel, was imprisoned by order of the viceroy. The city remained flooded till 1682, when Martinez was set at liberty and ordered to finish the work of drainage by enlarging the tunnel, but his sufferings and a cold that he had contracted in supervising the laborers resulted in his death soon afterward, and the work was alternately abandoned and resumed at the approach of danger. In 1637 it was resolved to change the plan of the work by substituting an open cut through the mountain for the tunnel. A Franciscan monk, Luis Flores, was put in charge of the work, which was continued with many interruptions, and was not finished till 1767. It has never entirely fulfilled its purpose, and it is probably reserved for American enterprise to complete the project of draining the valley of Mexico. The cut is now (1888) about ten miles long, the greatest breadth 361 feet, and the greatest depth 197 feet, and the Mexican central railway runs through it at a height of from 100 to 200 feet above the water-course, sometimes almost directly over the canal. In 1883 a statue was erected to the memory of Martinez oil the square of the Sagrario, east of the cathedral of Mexico. (See illustration.) Martinez wrote "Discurso sobre la magna conjuneion de los planetas Jfi-piter y Saturno, acaecida en 24 Diciembre 1603 en Sagitario" (Mexico, 1604); a treatise on cosmography, under the title "Repertorio de tiempos, 5 historia natural de la Nueva Espana" (1606, printed by the author); and other works: and designed thirty-two maps of the Pacific coast of Mexico and plans of its ports and bays that are preserved in the archives of the council of Indies.

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