THE COPPER RIVER & NORTHWESTERN RY (Historic Information)
The Copper River & Northwestern Railway which penetrates the Copper River Valley to a distance of 200 miles from Cordova, maintains train service, modern and first-class in every respect, with rolling stock and power of the best. The roadbed is rock-ballasted and carrying 70-pound steel rails; the trains carry a dining car. Four huge steel bridges, spanning rivers and gorges, were built at a cost of over $2,500,000.
From Mount St. Elias and Mount Logan (18,000 and 19,500 feet in height) there stretches westward for a distance of over 500 miles the grandest and most rugged of the coast ranges, broken only by the gorge of the Copper River. On the slopes of this range are formed the largest glaciers in the world, excepting only the polar ice sheets. To the north and skirted by the Copper River rise the Wrangell Mountains, with numerous peaks and volcanoes from 14,000 to over 16,000 feet in height. Both the tourist over the railway and those coming from the Interior of Alaska over the Chitina-Fairbanks road enjoy scenes of beauty and grandeur unsurpassed. Tourists make this trip via Skagway by the White Pass & Yukon Route and down the Yukon by way of Dawson to Fairbanks, thence over the government automobile road to Chitina, thence via the Copper River & Northwestern Railway to Cordova.
The Richardson Highway stretches south from Fairbanks to the Alaska Coast at Valdez and Cordova. From Fairbanks the direction is southward, up the Tanana Valley, passing prosperous looking farms on the outskirts of the town. It lies along the U. S. Signal Corps telegraph lines the entire distance, and as practically all the roadhouses are equipped with telephones leading to the various offices along the route, one is never out of touch with the outside world.
The trip by automobile can be made in 2 1/2 days, a distance of 370 miles.
Sixty miles from Fairbanks is Birch Lake filled with pickerel and white fish, the former ranging in size from the smallest to savage 40-pounders.
From Birch Lake the route is through Richardson, a small trading post on the banks of the upper Tanana River, where there is a post office, telegraph office, roadhouses and several stores. At McCarty the highway crosses the Tanana River, a ferry being located there. Prom there the route turns up along the Delta River and on by Donnelly telegraph station, Flannigan's Roadhouse. At Summit Lake, one of the prettiest inland bodies of water in Alaska, lurk lake trout weighing as much as 35 pounds. Down the wooded benches of hills winds the road, giving glimpses here and there of the steeply descending Gulkana River. Off in the distance may be seen the towering head of Mt. McKinley, and as one approaches the coast Mt. Drum, Mt. Wrangell, and Mt. St. Elias loom up from tablelands dwarfing the intervening foothills and mountains by their majestic heights. At Copper Center, population, 71 (1920 census), the famous Cooper River is bridged and the road again ascends the plateau and stretches ascending and descending gentle declivities to Willow Creek where one branch of the road turns off to Chitina and the Copper River and Northwestern Railway, the other leading into Valdez. By going by automobile direct to Valdez one crosses the Coast Range of mountains, with its rugged mountain scenery that has no equal ascending and descending in long winding courses over benches, crossing through and over on bridges numerous glacier streams, passing close to large glaciers and parallel to the famous Keystone Canyon into the town of Valdez which is located in one of the most picturesque spots in Alaska.
Those taking the highway route from Fairbanks to Valdez should not fail to take a side trip out of Cordova over the Copper River and Northwestern Railway up to McCarthy, population, 127 (1920 census). This is one of the wonder scenic routes of the North, passing the famous Miles and Childs glaciers. The railroad runs along the Copper River for a great distance and its construction is not the least interesting of the objects encountered on the trip. The railroad connects the great Kennecott copper mines with tidewater at Cordova.
This same trip is available for those who desire to come from Fairbanks over the Richardson Highway to Chitina. From Willow Creek to Chitina are many things of interest to repay the traveler and it compares favorably with the Willow Creek-to-Valdez route.
Kennecott. This is the inland terminus of the Copper River & Northwestern Railway, a town of 494 (1920 census). The Kennecott copper mines, reduction plants and shops compose the town, in which there is a postal savings bank, hospital, public schools, water and lighting systems. Potatoes, ruta-bagoes, hay, etc., are raised on ranches seven miles from town.
McCarthy P. O. (Shushanna Jet.). Located on Copper River & Northwestern Railway, 191 miles from Cordova, and surrounded by snow-capped mountains and glaciers which excel in grandeur anything in Switzerland. This town is the outfitting point for big game hunters going into the White River country, 80 miles distant. Principal scenic attractions hereabout are Great Canyon of the Chittistone River, Icy-Lake, and the Pot Hole at McCarthy. The Commercial Club recommends the following: Time for sightseeing, May 1st to October 1st; fishing, June 1st to October 1st; hunting bear, April 15th to June 1st; other big game during open season, which, north of 620 latitude, opens August 1st, and south thereof August 20th. There are sheep, moose, caribou and goat; also some grizzly and black bear. Hunting parties headed for White River country should reach McCarthy early in August.
Valdez. Located at the head of Port Valdez on the north shore of Prince William Sound; population, 466 (1920 census). The ocean terminus of the Valdez-Fairbanks auto road, which at Willow Creek connects with the route from Chitina. The scenic attractions via this route are on a par with those on the Copper River & Northwestern Railway to Chitina. Port Valdez, the most northerly ice-free port in Alaska, is the headquarters of gold quartz mining and industry and its trade extends to all the mines of the numberless islands and inlets of the sound. It is a modern town with stores, banks, a good water supply, electric lights, etc.
Latouche. Population, 505 (1920 census), 10 per cent of which is native. It is on the north end of the island of the same name. There are paved streets, a hotel, restaurants, room-houses, several stores, safe deposit bank, telegraph, 'phone, water and lighting systems and five fish canneries. The garden patches in the town raise every variety of common truck.
Montague Island, the largest island in the Prince William Sound group is 85 miles by an average width of 9 miles and entirely uninhabited by reason of the ferocity of the brown bear which holds forth thereon. It is of the same species and aggressive ferocity as the Stikine River (Southeastern Alaska) bear. Sportsmen who would seek a finished combat with this particular fighter will find Latouche the logical starting point. It is said, however, that the Stikine bear is not hunted by the best Indian hunters.
Seward. The southern terminus of the government railroad under construction to Matanuska coal fields and Fairbanks is located on Resurrection Bay, a magnificent deep water inlet on the south coast of the Kenai Peninsula. It is also the starting point for the steamer which makes monthly trips to all the ports along the Alaska Peninsula as far as Unalaska, a distance of 1,146 miles. Seward is the outlet for the quartz and placer mines of the Kenai Peninsula and has a valuable fishing industry. It is a flourishing town with a population of 652 (1920 census), with several hotels, good stores, a bank, good water supply and electric lighting system.
The Government Railroad in Alaska passes through 540 miles of virgin country, full of interest from a scenic standpoint. Starting at Seward on beautiful Resurrection Bay, inclosed by picturesque mountains and evergreen forests, the road climbs the south slope and crosses the Coast Mountains, and passes through an interior valley, following the shores of Kenai Lake, a beautiful body of inland water. In the summit district of the Kenai Mountains the road winds down from an elevation of 1,100 feet to sea level in a long double loop, passing very close to gorgeous glaciers, through rocky tunnels, and in view of mountain scenery unsurpassed in any part of the world. The road skirts along the northern shores of Turnagain Arm with high mountains on the one hand and the sea on the other, to Anchorage, head of navigation on Cook's Inlet, and Government Railroad headquarters.
Leaving Anchorage, the road pushes northward to Nenana and Fairbanks, through the Matanuska, Susitna, and Tanana valleys, already awakening to their agricultural possibilities as evidenced by little farms springing into view. Two branch lines take the visitor into the coal fields around Chickaloon and the gold fields north of Fairbanks.
The streams abound with trout, grayling, and white fish beyond the fondest dream of anglers, and the caribou, mountain sheep, moose, and bear in countless number roam the northern slopes of the Alaska Range, making this section of Alaska a paradise for sportsmen.
Overshadowing all other scenery in grandeur stands Mount McKinley, nearly four miles high, visible for 300 miles from the railroad, crowned, as it is, monarch of North American mountains by eternal snows.
Anchorage, the third largest town in Alaska, is government-owned with population, 1,856 (1920 census), on Cook Inlet at Turnagain Arm. Practically every religious denomination is represented; all the principal fraternities have chapters here; schools second to none in the Territory; electric light, water, and sewer system, a paid fire department, two banks, two theaters, daily newspaper, and a chamber of commerce. The average temperature of the district for June—August is 65°, with an average for these months of sixteen to eighteen hours' sunshine per day. The principal resource is coal. Vegetables and strawberries have generous yields; barley and wheat mature and oats produce prolifically. Rainbow trout, Dolly Varden trout, grayling, and white fish are plentiful. Anchorage is the trade center of the Cook Inlet and Susitna region.
Points of interest: Spencer Glacier, on Government Railroad, four hours distant, in a picturesque region; Old Kink reached by launch in two hours; historic old Russian church. The U. S. Government is operating two coal mines fifty-seven and seventy-four miles north of Anchorage. The former is furnishing coal for the construction and operation on the railroad; the latter for coal for the Pacific Fleet of the U. S. Navy.
Talkeetna. On the U. S. Government Railroad 227 miles from Seward with population, 70 (1920 census), has telegraph and 'phone service. On near-by farms are raised potatoes, turnips, cabbage, beets, carrots, celery, peas, strawberries, etc. The Cache district gold mines are 40 miles west.
Resurrection Bay. Extends north and south about 16 miles with a width of from 3 to 5 miles. It is mostly surrounded by high precipitous mountains which with certain exceptions extend to the water's edge.
Kenai, population, 332 (1920 census), is on the east shore of the inlet at the mouth of Kaknu River. It is a center of considerable fishing and agricultural activity.
Kodiak (called by the Russians St. Paul), population, 374 (1920 census). It is composed of Indians, half-breeds, Russians, and a few Americans, who live in comfortable frame cottages, generally with a small garden attached. For here is a region of birds, of blooming wild flowers, of grasses and groves of low fragrant spruces, of vistas of distant mountains capped with snow and the usual Greek church. The people fish and hunt the sea otter.
"The mighty emerald billow that rises from the rear of the village! The climber soon finds himself knee deep in ferns, grasses and a score of flowering plants. The wild geranium here is light blue, and on the summit may be found a most exquisite forget-me-not of a pure delicate blue with yellow center, a lady's slipper, pale yellow striped with maroon; and here the dwarf rhododendron, and patches of lupine, bluebells, Jacob Ladder, iris, saxifrage, cassiope, and many others. And here are numerous birds, notably the golden-crowned sparrow, the little hermit thrush, pine grosbeak, gray-cheeked thrush, and the Oregon robin."—John Burroughs.
Bidarkas. In this region are seen the first bidarkas, small boats made of seal or walrus hides stretched over a light wooden frame. They are made by first constructing the frame, in which there is neither mortise, tenon, or scrap of iron—the several parts being securely tied together with sealskin thongs, after which the hides, properly prepared and sewed together are stretched tightly and completely over the frame, except a round hatch left in the top center for the occupant. Around the projecting rim of this opening the user ties the lower end of a waterproof shirt made from the intestines of the seal, and which is called a kamalyka. This shirt is supplied with a hood which is dra.wn closely around the neck and likewise secured at the wrists and thus the water is prevented from getting into the body of the boat. Bidarkas are made in three sizes, with one, two, and three hatches and are called by the natives yaks, bidarka being the Russian name.
From Kodiak the route extends through a narrow strait between Kodiak and Spruce Islands into Marmot Bay, at the head of which are the Creole and Kanaig settlement of Afognak, population, 308 (1900 census), on an island of the same name. At the west end of the narrow strait referred to is the little Creole village of Oozinki. All the houses in the Creole settlement have gardens attached in which the inhabitants grow their own vegetables.
Leaving Afognak, the course is north, passing inside of Marmot Island and heading to the westward of Barren Island, which are located about midway between Cape Elizabeth and Cape Douglas. Sailing on northward, leaving Augustine Island and volcano to the right, there is during the day a fair view of Illiamna and Redoubt volcanoes, the former of which has been more or less active for over a hundred years, and has never ceased to emit smoke and ashes.
The next important water way encountered, heading toward the west is Cook Inlet wherein the tides are perhaps more violent and rapid than at any other point on the Pacific Coast. They at times run at the rate of 8 to 10 miles an hour with an average rise and fall of 25,to 28 feet. The distance from theentrance to the head of the inlet is about 200 miles. Large steamers dock at Anchorage on Knik Arm.
Alexandrofsky. At Graham Harbor is the old Russian settlement of Alexandrofsky, and a few miles north thereof is Seldovia, population, 258 (1920 census).
Along the coast from Cape Elizabeth to Copper River on the east, on the islands of the Kodiak Archipelago and along the whole water from way around to where the eastern boundary line intersects the Arctic Ocean, and on a large part of the Alaska Peninsula, are found Eskimos only, the Atha-baskans being hemmed into the interior at all points save the one named above.
The waterway which separates Kodiak and Afognak Islands from the Alaska Peninsula is the route the ships take to Karluk, population, 99 (1920 census), the seat of the largest canning industry in Alaska. The scenery throughout this strait is indescribably grand and awe-inspiring.
Karluk is at the mouth of the river of the same name on the southwestern side of Kodisk Island. Here are a half dozen or more canneries.
The white population of Karluk is augmented during the canning season by whites and Chinamen who come up from San Francisco, Seattle, etc., in the early summer and return in the fall.
Climatic Regions of Alaska
The Katmai National Monument. This volcanic region is in the Aleutian Range, on the Alaska Peninsula, facing on Shelikof Strait, which latter separates Kodiak Island from the mainland.
Its boundaries extend from Cape Kubugakli (the south point of entrance to Katmai Bay), northwest 32 miles, thence north 26 miles, east 10 miles, southeast 52 miles to the shore of Shelikof Strait, and thence along the coast 55 miles to place of beginning. The area is approximately 1,o88,ooo square miles.
"Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes" extends through the center of this region. The National Geographic Magazine of February, 1918, says: "Nothing approaching it has ever been seen by the eye of man .... indeed if one could pick up all the other volcanoes in the whole world and set them down together, side by side as close as they would stand, they would present much less of a spectacle—always excepting a period of dangerous eruption—than doew the "Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes" every day in the year.
The Mount Katmai Volcano is now proved far exceeding in size. Kilauea (Hawaii), the latter having been considered the greatest active crater on earth.
Briefly the dimensions of the crater are: Width of rim, 3 miles; circumference at highest point of rim, 8.4 miles; area, 4.6 square miles. The lake in the bottom is 1.4 miles long, 9/10 wide; the precipice from the lake surface to highest point of rim 3,700 feet; the cubical capacity is 4,500,000,000 cubic yards.
Greater New York uses 525,000,000 gallons of water daily. This crater filled would equal 1,635 days' supply for the Metropolis.
During the sixty hours of explosive activity in June, 1912, the amount of rock blown off from the mountain was approximately 11,000,000,000 cubic yards which is over forty times the amount of earth and rock removed in the construction of the Panama Canal.
The whole of this National Monument is by no means a devastated wilderness. The upper end of Naknek Lake, which extends within the boundary of the park, lies between Mount LaGorce, 3,000 feet, and Mount Katolinet, 5,800 feet. Lying parallel with Naknek Lake are Grosvenor, 28 miles long,described as "the most beautiful spot in Alaska," Coville and Brooks lakes. These lakes are among the greatest spawning grounds in the world for red salmon and breeding place of innumerable waterfowl. There are also in the vicinity white fish and giant trout, and bears of unbelievable size. Moose, elk, foxes, grouse, swans, geese, ducks are also here in numbers.
Unga. Again under way towards the setting sun the ship passes Semidi Island and rounding the Shumagin group lands at Unga, population, 313 (1920 census), a village pleasantly situated on the island of the same name and the largest island of the Shumagin group which includes among others Popoff, on which, the principal cod-fishing stations are located. Unga is 26 miles in length and about half that width.
The Alaska Peninsula is a most remarkable tongue of land, the inner end of which is marked by the entrance to Cook Inlet on the. east and the head of Bristol Bay on the west, from which points it extends southwesterly for nearly 500 miles to the strait of Issannakh.
'Steve" Fester's Hunting Cabin in Lake Minchumina Region of Alaska
Belkofski on the ocean side of Alaska Peninsula is a pleasant looking hamlet of perhaps seventy-five frame houses, with an impressive background of towering mountains covered to the very summit with a vestment of green. Here is to be found a Greco-Russian church, perhaps the finest church edifice in Alaska. The population, 129 (census 1900), includes about an equal number of Creoles and Aleuts. The former are principally sea-otter hunters; Belkofski being the point from where the largest number of these skins is obtained. The adjacent country furnishes a wide range of excellent grazing land, upon which there is a natural growth of wild grasses, the luxuriance of which has never been excelled on the richest prairies of Illinois or Iowa. During the run from Unga to Belkofski, about 70 miles, there is a splendid view of Pavloff volcano. Skirting the east coast of Unimak Island on the way to Unalaska there is to be had an occasional glimpse of Mts. Shishaldin and Isanotski, volcanic peaks more or less active, and credited with an elevation of 10,000 feet.
The principal eastern pass to Bering Sea lies between the island of Unimak on the northeast and Ugamok, Tigalda, and Akun on the southeast.
When the voyager shall have arrived at Unalaska he will have some idea of the extent of the Alaskan coast as compared with that of the Atlantic, Lake, Gulf, and Pacific states. The distance in a straight line across the continent from Eastport, Me., to Astoria, Ore., is, in round figures, 2,700 miles. Astoria is in longitude about 123 degrees west and Sitka, 1,000 miles to the northward, is in longitude 135 degrees, while the 193-degree marks the western boundary of Alaska. Sailing west by south it is nearly 1,500 miles to Unalaska, and from thence at least 1 000 miles due west to the boundary line, about 100 miles east of which is the island of Attu, our most westerly land possession. That is to say, traveling in a straight line from the most easterly point of the United States to a directly opposite point in Oregon, the traveler could yet continue on 3,000 miles further and then finds himself in United States territory. Traveling to the northward and passing the 600 miles of British coast he would have to cover not less than 4,000 miles before reaching the most northerly point of Alaska. A glance at the map will disclose the fact that Unalaska is very nearly in the same longitude with East Cape, the most easterly point of Asia, beyond which our possessions extend nearly 900 miles.
Unimak is the most easterly of the great Aleutian chain of islands, and is separated from the mainland by the unnavigable strait of Issannakh, with Akun, Ugamok, Tigaldo, Akutan, Avatanak, Unalga, and a number of the smaller islands lying between it and. Unalaska.
Unalaska, a village with population, 299 (1920 census), consists of about fifty frame buildings, a few of quite generous size and respectable outward appearance. The inhabitants consist of whites, Creoles, and Aleuts, the last named being in all respects superior to any of the other natives thus far met with—a naturally bright and quick-witted people, with a Japanese cast of features and undoubtedly of Asiatic origin. Both the Aleut and Russian authorities agree that before the Russian conquest of these islands on the Aleutian Islands there were 120 villages with a population variously estimated at from 15,000 to 25,000.
The island of Unalaska is 125 miles long and 30 to 50 miles wide. There is no timber on the island but this is offset by a wealth of nutritious wild grasses in the valleys and on the mountain slopes sufficient for the sustenance of as large herds of sheep as could be maintained on an average equal to the whole area of the island. The winters are not nearly so severe as those of the cattle-growing states of the northwest, the temperature rarely falling as low as 10° F.
There is an abundance of fish (salmon, cod, halibut, and a species of mackerel predominating) in the bays and rivers of Unalaska Island, but no fur-bearing animals of consequence. Nevertheless, it is the center of the fur trade of the Shumagin Islands on the east to Attu. It is the port of entry for all of western Alaska, and is supplied with wharves and other commercial facilities.
Dutch Harbor is on the eastern side of Unalaska Island in Captains Bay and is so named from the tradition that a Dutch vessel was the first to enter it. It is the coaling station for steamers en route to St. Michael and Nome. The harbor is an arm of the Bering Sea, 600 miles west of Seward, from which latter there is a monthly mail.
Bogoslof is the small island to the westward of Unalaska. History. records that on May 7, 1796, a Russian trader was stopping temporarily on the northeast end of Umnak Island, on account of storm, which abated on the next day, during which he observed at a distance smoke arising out of the sea. At night great flames ascended and an earthquake shook the whole island from which the trader was observing the phenomenon, while rocks were thrown across the intervening expanse from what afterwards was found to be the crater of a volcano. On the morning of the third day a newly created island loomed. In 1800 it had ceased to smoke, but fishermen visiting its shore found the solid rock too hot to permit landing. It continued to increase gradually both in height and circumference until 1823, when it had attained a height of 1,000 feet. After that year it gradually diminished and finally disappeared in a single night, another islet of about the same circumference making its appearance about two miles distant. The new Bogoslof is gradually rising and from it there is a constant emission of steam and smoke.
The Pribilof (seal) Islands are St. Paul, St. George, Walrus, and Otter. St. Paul, the most northerly, is about 230 miles from Unalaska; its greatest length 13 miles and greatest width about 6 miles. At one time about one-half of its 40 miles of coast was occupied by seals.
St. Paul, a village with population, 212 (1920 census), consists of about 100 native frame houses, in addition to which there are about a dozen company buildings. There is a Greco-Russian church, -priest's residence, and a finely appointed school house. The resident inhabitants of St. Paul and St. George are Aleuts. What is true concerning the natives of Unalaska will apply equally as well to their brethren on the Seal Islands. They are practically a civilized people, not in the sense of being fully educated but that they are converts to the Christian religion and have adopted civilized ways in the matter of dress and mode of living.
Grass and Timber on Nin Ridge, Kechatna Valley
The seals begin to arrive at the islands about May 1st, a few bulls constituting the advance. These do not land at once but swim idly about for some days as if inspecting the land, or possibly waiting for the arrival of others. From the date of the arrival, if the weather be clear, until June 1st the number is not materially increased; but if the summer fogs set in earlier, then the bulls begin to come by the thousands and lose no time in selecting and locating upon suitable ground which they guard and hold against all new comers until the cows arrive — from two to three weeks later. Those that come first locate immediately on the water line of the breeding ground, and between themselves and the newcomers there is a constant fight for possession; those that come latest, being the freshest and strongest, generally driving those that preceded them farther back. This continues until the cows arrive; every bull having in the meantime been obliged to fight a dozen or more battles in order to maintain the ground he has chosen; the weaker ones having been driven from place to place until all have been located. These seal pre-emptions may be said to cover a space about eight feet square, and the pre-emptor, unless driven off by a covetous bull stronger than himself, never leaves his claim for a single instant until the end of the rutting season which continues from July ist to August 15th. From the time he hauls out in May, and certainly not later than June ist, he fasts continuously until the breaking up of his harem in August. Weighing 400 to 600 pounds when he comes out of the water, he goes back into it a mere skeleton, and very seldom returns to land during the same season. The cows begin to come in numbers about June 20th and before the middle of July the harems are filled, each bull taking to himself all the way from ten to forty cows. The female seals give birth to their young soon after their arrival, bearing each a single pup. By the middle of September the rookeries are entirely broken up, the young seals have learned to swim, and by the end of November they have, as a rule, all departed from the island. Whence they come and where they go is a mooted question.
The killing of female seals is prohibited by law, and of males those of from two to four years are considered the most desirable— the three- and four-year-old ones having the thickest and finest fur. The males who take and hold possession of the rookeries are never less than six years of age, the younger ones being wholly excluded from the breeding grounds. As a consequence, the young male seals are compelled to haul out in places wholly separate and apart, sometimes miles away from the rookeries. These are the ones doomed to slaughter; those on the breeding grounds are never disturbed. During May and June herds of young "bachelor" seals haul up on land, 1 not very far from the water's edge, when a number of natives quickly and quietly run along between the surf, and the sleeping seals who, being startled and seing their retreat to the water cut off, scramble farther back. The Aleuts then walk leisurely on the flanks and in the rear of the drove and drive it, possibly a mile, to the killing grounds. If the weather is cool they can be driven at the rate of a half mile per hour—only three or four men being required to control the movements of as many thousands. These drives are usually made in the early morning, and if the drive is a long one, the seals are permitted to halt and rest. -'Heating them injures the fur. The killing grounds are near the salting houses for convenience in handling and shipping. When on a drive the seals raise their bellies entirely from the ground upon their flippers, and they can get over the ground with a speed almost equal to that of a greyhound.
Historic Block House, Sitka, Alaska
They are never hurried, however, for if driven too fast they crowd and bite each other and injure their skins. After reaching the killing ground, they are allowed time to cool off. All seals which are undesirable are singled out and allowed to escape. The desirables are killed by men, each armed with a "big stick" of hickory who drive out from 50 to 150 seals and form what they call a "pool." Circling around this pool they narrow it down to a huddle until the seals are within reach of their clubs. Every desirable seal receives a blow which stuns if it does not kill outright. The undesirable are urged to go away. The insensible victims are quickly drawn out, placed on their backs so that they do not touch each other, and killed — all very quickly done, not only to prevent a "heating" which causes the hair and fur to peel off, but to insure the men against being bitten by seals who have been only half killed. Promptly following the killing and bleeding comes the skinning which the Aleuts do with a celerity that is marvelous. The native who is unable to flay a seal in less than three minutes is classed third or fourth in division of the earnings.
The skins are taken to the salting house, which is partitioned into large bins called "kenches," into which they are put, fur side down with a layer of salt between, and where they become sufficiently cured in a week's time. They are then taken from the kenches and piled up into what are called "books," with the addition of more salt, and then finally prepared for shipment by rolling them into compact bundles each containing two skins. At the close of the season they are shipped to St. Louis where they are dressed, plucked, and dyed.
The Nushagak is one of the great rivers of Alaska. It has its source in the lake of the same name and empties into Nushagak Bay. Nushagak, the settlement, is on this river about 100 miles from its mouth, which latter is 20 miles in width. The population, 16 (1920 census), consists of a trader's store, church and parsonage, a few fairly neat buildings occupied by Creoles, and a number of subterranean houses similar to the barbararas already described herein.
The Kashima. In every Eskimo village there is a common or public house, known as "Kashima," built after the style of the subterranean dwellings, but larger. Entrance is down a hole about six feet, then through a low tunnel, crawling ten feet, then ascending to a level with the roof of the tunnel into a room say 20 feet square. A raised platform extends all the way round the sides leaving room in the center for an open fire which is built on a bare square spot of earth some three feet below the surrounding platform. The platform is on a level with the top of the entrance tunnel, the end of which can be opened at will to permit persons to pass under the platform. When the fire' is not needed it is covered over with planks even with the platform.
In this house the men do all their domestic work, such as the construction of bidarkas, sleds, etc. Here are held all public meetings; here all public business is transacted. It is also open at all times as shelter for guests or visitors who are there entertained instead of being taken to private habitations. It is the sleeping place for unmarried adult males, and is likewise used as a bath house, for theatrical performances, mask dances, etc. In the matter of scenic representations these natives are on a par with the Chinese. There are combats; stuffed animals are moved about by hidden strings, devils with masks with movable eyes are introduced, and wooden birds with flapping wings. The actors enter through the fire-hole.
The store houses, of which there are about as many as there are dwellings, are on posts ten feet high to protect the contents in each village from the dogs, who devour anything they can get hold of. These storage boxes are about 8 feet square and the only entrance thereto is by a small square hole on one side which is reached by means of a notched stick set on end which is used as a ladder. In these safe deposit boxes are kept their arrows, spears, snowshoes, meat, berries, fish, beluga, blubber, oil, etc.
There is no recognized form of chieftainship or form of government among these people; nor can they be called a tribe as commonly accepted. This is true of all the so-called tribes of Alaska; none has distinct organization. In each settlement some one man, by reason of his wealth or superior skill and bravery, is recognized as a sort of leader, and as such his advice and counsel are more or less respected. But there is no "chief " invested with any authority by his people. The medicine men (shamans), who pretend to cure by incantations, exercise more influence than self-constituted chiefs. They direct all the festivals, dances, etc., in which old and young participate almost continuously during the winter months, and by their sorcerous pretensions acquire an influence equal to absolute power of life and death to be exercised at will against those who incur their displeasure. No such power is recognized in a chief. A judgment that a life shall be taken is not pronounced by a chief but by the popular voice, and every male adult becomes a self-appointed executioner.
The region about the Nushagak River has the appearance of a high rolling prairie covered with rich verdure. A more luxuriant vegetation or a greater variety of wild flowers than is to be seen growing along the banks, wild timothy, red top and blue point grasses waist high, as far back as the eye can reach, is seldom found anywhere. No western prairie before cultivation ever presented a more inviting aspect than does this wild stretch of treeless country with its almost boundless billows of waving grass, thickly interspersed with wild flowers of almost every hue and variety.
North America—July Temperature
There are salmon canneries on this river which employ during the fishing season about 150 white men and 300 Chinese. The fish taken in this river are the "king," some of which weigh over 100 pounds. The smaller rivers and lakes in this section teem with food fishes of various kinds—white fish, similar to the Lake Superior, and trout similar in size and appearance and fully as fine flavored as those of Northern Michigan and Wisconsin. What is true here applies with equal force to all that part of the mainland bordering on the coast and the islands lying in front of it from the southern boundary to Kotzebue Sound. A few miles above Nushagak is a Moravian school called "Carmel," and on the river beyond and also scattered along the sea coast are a number of villages of Eskimos seldom visited by white men.
The Kuskokwim is another great river of Alaska. Its waters are received from the glaciers on the north stretches of the Alaska range and reach the Bering Sea through Kuskokwim Bay. It is 9 miles wide at its mouth and is navigable for over 600 miles inland.
The valley of the Kuskokwim has an area of about 50,000 square miles, and the snowcapped mountains which frame it are known to contain rich gold deposits. The most important metal of the region, however, is cinnibar (the principal ore from which mercury is extracted), of which there are great deposits in the vicinity of Bethel, the principal center of that part of Alaska, and the most immediately tangible asset of the region is salmon which every spring run up the river in great schools to spawn.
The natives own the reindeer herds which range over the tundra, and live upon the flesh of the animals and upon fish.
Bethel is a settlement located about 100 miles up the river, consisting of 50 whites and 275 natives. It is at the head of ocean navigation and it is also the transfer point for all merchandise for up river. Truck gardens nearby produce all kinds of vegetables.
White inhabitants of the region drained by the Kuskokwim are probably less than 300 during the greater part of the year. The native population consists of about 1,000 Behring Sea Eskimos.
Georgetown is another small white settlement on the river, about 250 miles from its mouth.
Tokotna is at the head of navigation.
McGrath. This place, located near Tokotna, has population, 90 (1920 census), and is one of the stations of the U. S. Government radio system of Alaska.
Nome, in the Seward Peninsula, is the trade center of Northwestern Alaska and is the center of a rich placer and gold mining district. It is reached by steamship during the open season of about five months, the distance from Seattle being 2,372 miles. During the winter months the mails are carried by dog teams from Seward and letters from the States take about six weeks for delivery. Population, 852 (1920 census).
St. Michael (called by the Russians Redoubt St. Michael), is on the inner side of the island of the same name, lying near the southeast shore of Norton Sound. Population, 371 (1920 census). It is the ocean terminus of the Yukon River steamers. The island, which embraces about 12 square miles, is in 6o° 30" north latitude, and the surface is carpeted with a most luxuriant growth of wild grasses and variegated flowers. The natives are Eskimos — always busy carving ivory, making baskets, etc. The soil, a rich mold, is capable of producing all the vegetables that can be grown in the extreme northern states. The temperature ranges from about—45° F. in winter to 850 F. in summer-—about the same as Northern Minnesota. Unalakleet River empties into Norton Sound, about fifty miles northeast of St. Michael. Here is a Swedish mission and an Eskimo settlement. Unalakleet population, 285 (1920 census).
Port Clarence, within a short distance south of Cape Prince of Wales, is a coaling station from which government vessels and steam whalers are supplied, and here is located the principal reindeer station established by the Government, with a view of providing for the necessities of the native people.
Cape Prince of Wales, projecting from the mainland at the southern end of Bering Strait, is the most westerly point of the continent. Population, 136 (1920 census). The men and women are better looking than the general run of Alaskan natives. The women wear long hair, but the men shave the upper two-thirds, leaving a bare crown surrounded by just a fringe of hair.
Cape Prince of Wales is in latitude 650 30" and longitude 165° 50" and lies nearly opposite the most easterly point of Asia. The small area of land lying at the foot of a slope of hills, as well as the higher level, is covered with verdure, and, surprising to say, a dozen different varieties of wild flowers of as many hues embellish the landscape. Here the natives possess graphite ornaments, which mineral, they say, can be found in great abundance within three miles of the settlement. A few hours steaming, passing Fairway Rock, and the vessel reaches what the treaty of cession denominates the Frozen Ocean.
Lake Spenard, Alaska. Anchorage Bathing Resort
"In this region the tundra was of a greenish brown color and rose from a long crescent shaped beach in a very gentle ascent to low cones and bare volcanic peaks, many miles away. This is the tundra that covers much of North America, where the ground remains perpetually frozen to an unknown depth, thawing out only a foot or so on the surface during the summer. Lured on by the strangeness, in a few moments our hands were full of flowers which we kept dropping to gather others more taking, to be in turn discarded as still more novel ones appeared. I found myself very soon treading upon a large pink claytonia, many times larger than our delicate April flower of the same name. Then I came upon a bank by a creek covered with a low nodding purple primrose; then masses of the shooting star attracted me, then several species of pedi-culatis, then a yellow anemone, and many saxifrages. There were wild bees here too, and bumble bees boomed by, very much as at home. A tundra is always wet in summer as the frost prevents any underground drainage, but is very uniform and the walking not difficult-—-moss, bogs, grass, and flowering plants covered it everywhere. The Savanna sparrow and the Alaska longspur were here, and so were golden flowers, the gray-cheeked thrush, Townsend fox sparrow, and Canada tree sparrow."—John Burroughs.
The Midnight Sun. Crossing the Arctic Circle, latitude 6o° 32", astronomically determined, the course is eastwardly, heading towards Cape Blossom in Kotzebue Sound, in the land of the midnight sun. There is practically no night, only four hours of twilight intervening between the rising and the setting of the sun, the declination of which is only about 2 degrees. One can see to read ordinary newspaper print at midnight without the aid of artificial light.
Capes Espenberg on the south and Kruzenstern on the north are the head lands of Kotzebue Sound and at each there is a small native village.
Eskimo Clothing. A full suit consists of parkay, pantaloons, boots, and sometimes includes a fur cap, but, except during the short season of intolerable summer's heat, the average Innuit goes bareheaded. The parkay is usually double so as to provide fur inside and out. The men wear one pair of pantaloons, with fur inside in summer, but in winter have an undergarment, generally of tanned reindeer skin. The women wear two pairs of pantaloons, one made of tanned reindeer fawn skin and the fur inside, and the other of coarser material with the fur outside. The boots for winter wear are made mostly of the skins of reindeer legs and reach about half way to the knees; those for summer are made of hair-seal skin with tops reaching above the knee. The soles are from the thick hide of the old bull seal.
To protect the eyes against the snow blasts of winter on the one hand, and against snow blindness on the other, they wear goggles with wood where the glass is in ordinary spectacles. In this bowl which covers the eye there is simply a narrow slit through which the wearer enjoys a wide range of vision. Hats are worn only in the extreme hot weather of July and August. The sun hats are carved out of single blocks of wood with broad oval brims in front, and are generally ornamented with strips of ivory set on edge, and upon which is carved the totem of the family of which the wearer is a member. They wear hose made of grasses, closely and neatly braided, and which are preferable to any other in that climate. These interior natives, as well as those on King Island and the coast, generally shear the crown of the head "tonsure" style and sport labrets, some of the latter being of enormous size, though these fashions are confined principally to the males. Among the northern natives every male of any consequence must have two slits through the lower lip—one at each corner of the mouth in which he wears a pair of labrets about the size of an ordinary cuff button. These are generally made of a kind of mottled stone resembling gray granite, of jade, of ivory, etc., varying in design, round, square, oblong; the largest flange always worn outside. They are worn as personal adornment. The women wear stone and ivory ear trinkets.
Chickaloon Coal Mine, 75 miles from Anchorage, Alaska
At Point Hope, probably the most barren, desolate place imaginable, there is the largest Eskimo settlement on the Arctic Coast. Point Barrow is a low, flat sand pit that projects eight miles from the main coast, on which there are two native villages, Ooglaamie and Noowook.
Point Barrow, population, 322 (1920 census), is the summer rendezvous of the Arctic whaling fleet. The Eskimo whaling season opens as soon as the ice begins to break away from the shore in the spring or early summer. During the fall and winter they hunt walrus and hair-seal.
Point Barrow, the northernmost cape, is warmer than any point in the world as far north of the equator, and Alaska's southern shores bordering the North Pacific Ocean are likewise .warmer than any point in the world in similar latitudes during the winter months as the result of the beneficent influence of the Japan Current.
Norway alone can approach it in these respects, but in Norway the mountain backbone runs parallel to the coast line, its rivers are insignificant streams, and there is no room for extensive valleys; while in Alaska the immense quadrangle is divided into three zones by lofty mountains on more or less east and west lines which leave between them broad plains, through which such streams as the Kuskokwim with 600 miles and the Yukon with over 2,000 miles of navigable waters open up its vast interior.
North America—January Temperature