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Letters from Alaska and the Pacific coast Briggs, Horace 1889

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     Letters from Alaska
The Pacific Coast,
Horace Briggs, Ph. D.
1889.  PREFACE.
\f||/OST of the letters erqbraced iq this parqphlet,
describing the places oq the Pacific coast  visited
by   my   father,    have   already   appeared   iq   tr)e
Commercial Advertiser of this City.
They are re-published iq this form, with some
additions aqd cfjaqges, in the belief that th,ey
will contribute sonqething to the general knowledge of a very interesting portion of our vast
Dora Briggs North
51 park place,
Buffalo, January, i889.  CONTENTS
Portland. Oregon
Arqerica's .Venice
J\\e Greek Church
Natives of Alaska
The Sitkan Mission
The Story of Metlakahtla
Puget Sound
A Lesson iq Geography
The Geology 1 Climate -- Geography -- The Wool
Tariff -- Vis-a-vis with a Panther.
John Day Valley, )
April,   1888.    j
The whole State is a lava-bed, and for that matter, so is a
large part of Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. The great need of
these territories and states is water, and as this can be distributed by irrigation on limited tracts only, the vast areas of
upland which cover most of their surface must remain unproductive.
If the plow-share of reconstruction had, in'past geological
ages, scooped out the country between the Rockies and the Sij
erras, from the Columbia River to the Gulf of California, letting in an arm of the Pacific six hundred miles wide, and leaving the few fertile spots as islands, we believe the territory
on each side of this supposed gulf would be much
more productive than now; that it would more than offset the loss of so much sand. The eastern part of Oregon would be included in this inland sea, and the brown hills
now affording scanty grass for present demands, and the Blue
Mountains sparsely covered with yellow pine trees, would go to
fill up some of the fathomless caverns in the great Western ocean.
But Oregon, of which I wish particularly to speak, is as it is,
that is, it was left in a tumble when its surface cooled,
so  that there is little of level land in all its ninety thousand 10
square miles. The Blue Mountains and their foothills are
scattered wildly over nearly two-thirds of its surface; the
Cascade range, and fifty miles further west, the Coast
range, traversing the State from north to south, together
with their adjoining lands, occupy the other third.
The Cascade range, a continuation of the Sierra Nevadas, is
appropriately named, for waterfalls mark its course from Southern California to British Columbia, the most noted of which are
those of the Yosemite Valley, but the most picturesque of them
all is the Multnomah Falls, near the Columbia. The stream,
twice the size of the Scajaquada at Main Street, plunges in a
white foam, down a fall of basalt, seven hundred feet, and is
kept nearly uniform in size all the way down by fringes of vines
and mosses which are always green. Then again, two tall,
shapely trees in the foreground frame the whole in a picture of
exquisite beauty surpassing Minnehaha, Giesbach, or the Bridal
Veil in the Yosemite.
The Columbia river, in carving its way through the Cascades, has left many pinnacles, castles and towers, standing entirely isolated from the massive walls of the range, and, at a
distance, looking like works of art. One of these, Castle
Rock, has quite a tree growing from its apex. This, from its
unapproachable position, has been named the tree of Forbidden
Fruit, a fragment left of Eden. From his propensity to overcome what are usually regarded as impossibilities, some Yankee
will doubtless invent a method of scaling this cone, and plant
the Stars and Stripes a hundred feet above the valley.
The lava, on.cooling, here crystallized in the usual form
of all basaltic rocks, when not amorphous—that of five-sided,
sometimes four-sided, prisms.
These columns are usually in a perpendicular position, and
rarely more than fifty feet in length. Packed together as they
are with lines of stratification only to separate them, they form 11 *
the massive walls on each side of the river rising tier after tier
upon the ones below, for hundreds of feet.
At Shoshone Falls in Idaho, this columnar structure pre- \
sents a wall a thousand feet high, and nearly six miles
in length. The valley of the Willamette river between
the Coast and Cascade ranges, fifty miles in width, and
extending far to the south, is the garden of Oregon. A
crop of wheat, oats, flax, and potatoes, can confidently be expected if planted with any care, and apples, pears and cherries
are as prolific and of as fine a quality as can be found in any
state on the continent.
Indeed, the soil from lava is well known to be fertile and
adapted to fruit culture. The vineyards around Mt. Vesuvius
and Mt. ^Etna are fruitful yet, after the cropping of a thousand
years, and the soil of Oregon is not an exception.
The vapors arising from the Pacific are precipitated by the
v lofty range of the Cascades so freely that, in most seasons, rains
fall as frequently as in England, and the residents of Willamette
valley are hence, by way of derision and envy, called " Web-
feet" by the people east of this range,—by envy, because
the clouds, squeezed of their moisture, by the cold peaks o"f
the mountains on the west, are rainless to them.
Nearly the whole of the State has a rich soil, but the west-
tern third only is favored with moisture enough to render crops
certain without irrigation, and this must be confined to narrow
The Columbia, called in Thanatopsis the Oregon, drains
an immense territory, having its main sources in British Columbia and in the Yellowstone National park. Its chief tributaries are the Spokane, Snake, John Day, Deschutes and the
Willamette. Much the larger part of the 175,000 people in the
State are to be found along the valleys of these rivers. They
are cosmopolitan, tracing their origin and nationality to Spain, 12
England, New York, and last but
rewd observer of the times, re-
Palestine, Germany, Ireland,
not least, to China.
An  old  resident  and
marked that 1 the Jews and tht Chinamen have got this coast."
The shekels are in the h . Is of the former, and | John "
has captured the labor. This is a " new country " and fortunes
must be made by somebody, and the Hebrews, who have always
been a thrifty people, secure them ; but they also cling to their
gains with great tenacity, and are hence called "Mossbacks,"
for their want of public spirit.
| John " is insulted on the slightest provocation, or even
without excuse. Cities enact ordinances discriminating against
him, and he is boycotted, but he swings along the streets with
easy gait, peddles vegetables that are fresher and crisper than
the natives furnish, has plenty of washing in spite of " white
laundries," is almost the only laborer on the railroad tracks, is
on the farm and in the kitchen, works over old placer beds, and
thrives on what would cause a "strike" among Hibernians.
The patois of the eastern part of the State is an interesting study
for the philologist. For instance, a farm is a " ranch, " a frying-pan is a " skillet," a pail is a "bucket," a flock or a herd
is a " band, " and to carry is to " pack, " as when o.ne brings
water from a spring he is said to " pack " it. At one place in
John Day Valley where I staid a few days, bread was passed to
me in a "steamer" in which it had been moistened and warmed,
for cold or stale bread is rarely seen on their tables. My tea
was brewed.in a can, the label on which was | Sugar Corn,
Bangor, Me., " and the hostess poured coffee for another guest
labelled " Deviled Turkey, " both the devil and the turkey appearing as a part of the illuminated label. The great industry
east of the Cascades was once the rearing of cattle, but within
a few years, sheep have, in great degree, replaced them and ruined the country for grazing, by their close cropping and sharp 13
hoofs. President Cleveland's wool tariff has made every sheep-
owner a republican. Canned. goods and eastern bacon comprise a large part of the edibles of cattle-producing regions, and
the stream of immigration and travel can easily be traced by
the long line of empty tin cans and Milwaukee beer-bottles.
The glory of Oregon is its climate. There is scarcely a
day in the year in which the sun does not shine. Winter lasts
about five weeks only. The air east of the Cascade range is
dry and highly aromatic, for no trees of any size buc evergreens
are to be found. In these forests, usually on mountains and
foot-hills, few dangerous wild animals remain. Occasionally one does appear to render the situation interesting, especially to one who is unarmed. Permit me here to
illustrate, even at the price of using the pronoun in the first
person. During a journey of a hundred miles over the Blue
Mountains by stage, of which the driver and I were the only occupants, about two o'clock one morning, a long-bodied, short-
legged animal darted out from the shadow of a clump of bushes
into the moonlight, thirty yards from the stage, which, by the
way, was an uncovered buck-board, and began to lash his tail.
At first I was startled and asked the driver if he was armed.
He had a pistol of a large caliber, but refused to use it, or permit me to try my skill at our companion, through fear of rendering the horses unmanageable. " If you should wound the
panther," for such he was, "he would raise a cry, and no horse
in Oregon would abide his yell. " His reasons were of such
force that I contented myself by watching the beast as he trotted
along on the snow nearly parallel with the road, and kept a
sharp eye upon us. Intense interest soon took the place of my
fright, for I had my first opportunity of seeing so formidable
an animal in his native wilds, and I deeply regretted that he
parted company in that lonely forest after having been vis-a-vh
with us for more than three miles. PORTLAND, OREGON.
Rapid, Growth-Enterprise - Mt. Hood- Mt. St. Helens.
Portland, May, 1
This aspiring city, the metropolis of Oregon, is situated
on the Willamette river, a dozen miles from its confluence with
the Columbia, and a hundred miles from the sea.
It has a population of about 45,000 made up chiefly of
" Eastern people, " Hebrews and " Celestials, " and is a good
example of the rapid growth of American towns; for, forty-
five years ago, the site was a general rendezvous of the native
tribes that held undisputed possession of nearly all this part of
the Pacific coast.
The Willamette Valley, the most fertile portion of the State,
has contributed much to make Portland what it is, besides
bringing into being and supporting several other flourishing
towns like Salem, the capital, Albany, Eugene and Corvallis.
It is built upon a slope rising gently and running back a
mile to a line of steep hills or bluffs which nearly hem in the
town on three sides. This slope has been so nearly occupied,
that the town has begun to climb the bluffs, and the growth in
that direction >will be aided by a cable road now nearly completed. These hills are slashed with deep ravines, hence the
new growth will be on very uneven ground.
The city is laid out in squares, about 400 feet on each side,
which generally observe the cardinal points of the compass,
and are bordered by a vigorous growth of poplar, maple, and 15
locust trees, giving it quite the appearance of an eastern city.
Few of the streets are paved, macadam and gravel covering
the greater number.
Business blocks, about three stories high, are of brick,
but much the larger number of all its. structures is of fir, which
clothes the Pacific coast from California to the Arctic circle,
and like nearly all the evergreens, have a trace of the same
color, pale red, as the Sequoias of the Nevada range. The
Chinook Salmon seems to have tinged fish and flower and tree,
as gold was supposed to gild the waters of the Pactolus.
The city is by no means compactly built, the residences in
particular, having large grounds around them, and hence, it
has a decidedly suburban appearance. The only notable structure is the High School Building, and .that is nondescript in
architecture, finical with mouldings and other ornamentations,
and does not impress the spectator with the idea of fitness or
Subscriptions to the amount of half a million have been
obtained for the purpose of erecting a decent hotel, and the
subscribers propose to utilize the foundation laid by Mr. Vil-
lard, some years since, when he controlled the finances of the
Northern Pacific Railroad ; and the progressive men of the
town have just completed a Fair Building for the purpose of
displaying the products of the coast.
The municipal authorities are putting forth the strongest
efforts to absorb East Portland and Albina, on the east bank of
the river, and they also hope to utilize the great water-power of
Willamette Falls, a dozen miles up the river, either by dynamic
or electric machinery, for manufactories, few of which Portland has yet on account of the high price of fuel. Most of the
manufactured goods found on her markets bear labels from
towns east of the Mississippi.
Portland has a large wholesale and jobbing trade with Oregon,   Washington  Territory,   British   Columbia and  Alaska, 16
amounting in the aggregate to $85,000,000, and its retail sales
are nearly as large.
Altogether this is a lively, enterprising and ambitious town
and is generally disliked by its rivals because of its boasting,
and bold pretensions.
Young men are now coming to the front, and demanding
of the I Mossbacks, " with some show of success, more liberal
contributions for improvements in the city, for attracting trade,
and for extending her lines of commerce to more remote
sources of supply and demand.
Until the U. S. Government gives deeper water on the bar
at the mouth of the Columbia, vessels of over 2,000 tons will
not be able to reach her wharves, and her trade with China cannot therefore attain to large proportions. Yet she has a large
coasting trade, and English sailing vessels frequent her harbor
for lumber and salmon.
The Portlanders are hospitable to strangers. The far-seeing, not only in Portland, but even in Buffalo, desiring to attract capital and population, have come to understand that a
genial welcome to a new-comer often wins more than a formidable array of facts and figures.
There is malaria on the alluvial lands along the river, quite
evident from the sallow faces seen on the streets ; hence, quinine is in demand,—f'Mix it with our dough, " remarked a
captain of one of the river-boats.
■}-'J^ Take it all in all, however, it is a bright, active, flourishing
town, having more pleasant homes, and more well-to-do people
in proportion to the number, than can be found in any other
this side of the Missouri river.
jjiyV.The Portlanders are pardonably proud of the mountain
views from their upland streets. The long line of the Cascade
range, to the east, is marked by such peaks as Hood, Jefferson,
Adams and St. Helens, on a clear day, all in full view. 11
The former, scarred and seamed and often veiled in[clouds,
towers far above his neighbors, and, from under his crystal
cap hung 12,000 feet in air, with his weather eye he watches
the gambols of Pacific's waves seventy-five miles away. He
surveys a large part of the Stale, catches glimpses of Shasta
in California, and exchanges nods with the regal Ranier on
Puget Sound.
His sister, Mt. St. Helens, just over the Columbia in
Washington Territory, is almost a perfect cone, with clear-cut,
regular sides. She stands quite alone, supported by no outlying foot-hills, and her isolation challenges instant attention.
With her feet planted in a sea of dark evergreens, she lifts
her shapely form 8,000 feet cloud-ward, and down to the base,
is robed in a snowy mantle which she wears the entire year.
For symmetry she has probably no equal on the globe ; not
even that queen of the Alps, the Jungfrau, ranks her in this
quality. Turning a corner of almost any of the upper streets in
Portland, her slender form suddenly confronts the stranger like
a specter from the unseen world—she is revealed to him in a figure striking because so lofty, matchless in proportions, and so
chaste in color, that he is wont to stop in amazement, and then,
like the pious Chinook Indian, to adore—to worship at the
shrine of peerless beauty. If Constantine's mother, after
whom this peak was doubtless named, is correctly typified by
it, by unquestionable right she rnust be permitted to enjoy her
title, Saint. Just before sunset she exchanges her mantle of
spotless white for one of delicate pink, then for that of saffron,
and as the sun cuddles down into the Pacific for a night's
rest, sheflashes out with the radiance of the opal, and again,
as the light fades, she is marble, then gray, and finally,
steel-blue, harmonizing with the star-gemmed sky. She is
so tall, so chaste in form and color, the contrast between the
snowy gem and the dark green setting is so striking, she is
radiant with such varied hues, and there is so much of grace
in her general appearance, that Parthena, maiden, ought
to have been her baptismal name ; her resplendent summit
might well have been the scene of the Transfiguration, or the
foot-stool of the Ascension. AMERICA'S VENICE.
Salmon Catching -- Packing Machinery - Going-
Astorta, May, 1888.
This city, made famous by the pen of Washington Irving,
is situated on a bay of the Columbia river, about six miles from
the sea. Astoria was founded in 1811, by John Jacob Astor,
and here was laid the foundation of the fortune of the present
Astor family of New York, whose assets are counted by the million.
No structure remains of those reared by the first settlers,
the last one having been demolished three years ago. Its site
is still pointed out to strangers, as is that also of the little battery on the hill, in the rear of the settlement. Astoria is the
Venice of the great Northwest, for, barring a few buildings
straggling up the hill-sides, it is built out over the river,
differing from the city of the Doges in this, the streets and
walks are not water but planks.
By reason of the shallowness of the water inshore, wharves
and bridges to them were of necessity made at a distance from
the land, and soon freight houses crept up on piles to them,
and now the intervening space between the wharves and the
shore is occupied by other buildings that go to make a city.
Cellars are above high water mark, and the sewerage question
is reduced to the simple problem of cutting a hole in the floor.
The streets, raised several feet above the water, so as
to be  out of reach  of the  tides, rumble and roar as vehicles 19
trundle over them, giving forth a sound similar, doubtless, to
that created by the impious Salmoneus, when he attempted to
imitate the thunders of Jupiter.
Why this city should not have grown to be the metropolis
instead of Portland, a hundred miles inland, is one of the unanswered questions that have arisen all along in the history of
commerce. It has the same outlet, to the sea as its rival, and
looks out upon a harbor capacious and well-sheltered, and yet
Portland has eight times its wealth and population.
The chief industry here, as that along the Columbia for
a hundred and twenty miles, is catching and canning salmon.
There are sixteen hundred nets, each from twenty to twenty-
four hundred feet in length,and five thousand men, employed in
this work.
In this ambitious little city there are twenty-six canneries,
and some of them are running nights to keep even with the
catch, and you count as many more of these manufactories from
here to the Cascades. The boats engaged in this traffic dot
the river for ninety miles, and the nets are so thickly scattered
over the lower part of the Columbia, that vessels with
difficulty pick their way among them ; in fact, steamers get
afoul of them, and ruin more or less of them every day. By .
a law of the State these nets cannot be set on Sunday, so these
luckless fish can ascend the streams unmolested for twenty-four
Fish-wheels, thirty and forty feet in diameter, set in various #
places, and made to turn on their axes by the current, pick up,
with their wire nets, boat-loads daily.
Salmon scarcely multiply as fast as they are caught,'for
there is strong proof that they are not as numerous as even ten
years ago, but it is a mystery to a stranger how so many have
escaped nets, wheels, spears and anglers's hooks as now throng
the Columbia and its tributaries. 20
It is almost incredible that from thirty to fifty tons of this
royal fish are caught and packed every day, in this vicinity, for
six days in the week, and this continues for three months. You
readily infer that salmon are cheap—they sell for about five
cents per pound at the canneries, and at the markets, choice
steak bring only ten.
And  one infers, also, that this industry must bring a large
revenue  to this and to the states bordering on the Pacific, for
migratory fish  enter all the streams emptying into the sea from
California  to   the Yukon river in Alaska.    The largest part of
this product is shipped to England.
The plant for canning costs from two to eight thousand
dollars. All the labor, performed chiefly by Chinamen, from
the tin plates to the illuminated labels, is done in the factory.
Machinery is employed to cut the fish into proper shapes, to
cook them in the great " steamers, " to transfer them from one
set of operations to another, and even to solder the cans. This
is done while the cans roll, one after the other, down an inclined plane. In the sides of this plane, along which each end
of the cans just graze, there is a groove containing melted solder, and as they roll they take on a small quantity of the metal.
This is done at the rate of fifty a minute.
The refuse of the cannery goes to the phosphate manufactory, and thus every part of the fish is utilized. Salmon do not
bite at bait or a fly so greedily as in streams which they frequent on the Atlantic coast, but when one is hooked he is said
to be quite as gamy as his brethren of the East. And now,
indulgent reader, did you ever go a-fishing ? Taking it for
granted that you have been, and that therefore you will the
more readily grant some indulgence to a fellow-angler, I take
the liberty to relate a bit of my recent experience in angling at
Willamette Falls, about twelve miles from Portland.
For an hour yesterday the smaller fry had attempted to deceive  me  by slight  twitches  at  my hook, but  the nerve that 21
trembles along the line quickly recognizes the minnow or the
monster, and hence moves no hand by feeble nibblings.
The river below the Falls was unruffled; the afternoon was
drowsy, and the disciple of the genial Isaac Walton was in
sympathy with the hour and was almost dozing. There ! that
was a jerk that almost left him without^ rod, and it called into
play every nerve in fish and fisher—one eager for triumph, and
the other fighting for life.
The line began to map out bewildering curves on the surface of the placid stream ; it hissed in the sockets ; the angler,
tried to check its outward flight, and his bleeding fingers rebuked his temerity—only ten feet of it left, and still he called
for more. He struck out in pirouettes and the river Was in a
foam. He leaped from his element as if he were a water-fowl.
His gyrations in the air took the form of parabolas and hyperbolas, and his sheeny sides flashed like a reflector. Then he
dropped like lead fathoms down and the rod was a crescent.
The reel derricked him from the depths and away he flew till
the angler, blanched with terror, noted that almost the last
foot of the hundred was again spent; but joy came when the
captive gave him six inches of grace and began to return—not
perfect joy, for he made toward his captor with terrific velocity
that he might take advantage of the slack. His trick, failed,
and chagrined at his defeat, again he leaped into the air and
revealed through his scales the pink blood brought to the
surface by his struggles.
Then he churned the river into froth again. 'Will the line,
stand the strain, will the leader bear another tussle, and will the
Limerick be true to its reputation ? Again the reel whizzed,
the sockets smoked, and the rod tossed like a tree in a tempest.
Will he never yield ? Twenty-five minutes, the Indian guide
said, the battle raged, and then, as he told off the periods, five
more, then one long breathless minute and.the royal Chinook
permitted himself to be drawn up on the sand 1 22
This was my first salmon, and he was a magnificent fellow ;
shapely, broad in the back, muscular, and so beautiful in the
sweep of his lines that no moulding could improve his form.
And the thought that such a right royal fellow was my captive,
thrilled my whole being with exultation. How gloriously he
fought, and how I trembled from the battle 1 But what had I
done ? I had slain the king of his tribe, and as he lay quiet at
my feet, I sincerely wished I could restore so noble a creature,
and give him one more chance for his life. Was it cruel ? Did
you have lamb for dinner ? The fish had an alternative—the
lamb had no choice—he was assassinated. He weighed—you
don't catch me there; but he did carry avoirdupois enough, he
wielded muscle and nerve enough to make me glad that he did
not weigh more. This is not a fish story. It is simply an
attempt to record my appreciation of the endurance, the
symmetry and the noble qualities of the princely Chinook. He
was as brave as he was beautiful, superb in battle and kingly in
If, in the great day of final adjudication for fishes in the
hyaline courts of Nereus, his conduct in life should be called
in question, I shall be glad to be summoned as a witness to testify to his peerless character. He deserves, to change the mythology, a conspicuous place in the Valhalla of all the worthies
that ever sported and fought valiantly in mundane waters.
For myself, there can be but few pleasures, in the way of
sports, in store for me, after such a victory. I have " squeezed
the best drop from the orange, " and am almost prepared to
sing, 11 Nunc dimittas. '' ALASKA.
Mr. Seward's Great Bargain- Extent of its Territory - A Rich Gold Mine - Land-Locked  Waters
\   --Fishing Grounds Unlimited-- The Tourist's
Delight-- The Great Glacier.
Alaska, June, 1888.
From a financial point of view, did Mr. Seward make a
mistake in the purchase of Alaska ? This is a question which
almost every tourist will ask, and happily, it is one which is
easily answered by many facts, only two of which will be
named here :
First: I1 he fur companies that lease the seal-producing
islands have already paid into the United States, treasury more
than five millions of dollars. W&
Second : One gold mine alone could not be bought for
the price paid for the territory.
But what of Alaska, a terra incognita to most people of our
country ? Well, this : According to the recent estimates by
Major Powell, who is regarded as good authority in the geography of the territory, it embraces as much land as all the
states east of the Mississippi. It has the highest mountain, in
North America, Mt. St. Elias, being 19,500 feet high. Its
glaciers are vastly greater in magnitude than those in Switzerland, and second in size to those in Greenland only. The
Yukon river is navigable for two thousand miles, and one
thousand miles from its mouth the average width is five miles. 24
Attu, the most westerly of the Aleutian islands, is farther
from San Francisco than Eastport, in Maine, is.
It is § the land of the midnight sun," and of ice and snow.
The cod and halibut fisheries are practically inexhaustible, and
factories for canning salmon are being establishsd on almost
every channel and strait. Prof. Bean of the Smithsonian Institute says that there are sixty species of food-fishes along its
coast. Of the numerous gold mines already discoveied, the
Treadwell, on Douglas Island opposite Juneau, is the most
noted, and of this we propose to speak in detail.
It is not a mine in the common acceptation of that term,
but a quarry, the ore, a sulphuret of iron and gold imbedded
in a vein of bluish-white quartz, being taken from the side of a
hill. This vein is two hundred and forty feet in width and extends more than a mile over the hill, showing enough at the
present rate of quarrying to last a hundred years.
The plant now consists of one hundred and twenty stamps,
soon to be doubled, driven by water power, and chlorination
works; and the present output is about $90,000 per month.
There is some native gold which is collected in the stamp-mill
by quicksilver, but much the larger product is from the
chlorination works by the following process :
The pulverized product of the stamps, a sulphuret of iron
and gold, is first roasted in capacious ovens, in which the sulphur is driven off by heat, leaving an amalgam of iron and
gold. This amalgam, inclosed in huge tanks, is saturated with
chlorine gas, the product being chloride of gold, soluble in
water. Leaching brings out from the whole mass the chloride
of gold in the form of a heavy yellow liquid. The addition of
a few drops of sulphate of iron precipitates the metal in the
form of a black residuum, and this in turn is reduced in the
crucible to solid gold.
This process illustrates the part that chemistry now plays in
the reduction oT nearly all the precious metals from their crude 25
state. Now, inasmuch as most of the gold ores of this
territory are sulphures, the methods for refining in other
mines are similar to those in the Tread well works.
Iron and coal have been found in great abundance, and
copper, lead, silver and antimony are widely distributed.
Again the Alaskan forests will be quite as valuable as the
minerals when the timber regions of Oregon and Washington
territory shall have become exhausted, and this result, at the
present rate of denudation, will be reached in the near future.
Of its timber resources, Secretary Seward thus discoursed:
" No beam, mast, spar, or plank, is ever required in land or
naval architecture, greater in length or size than can be had
from the forests of Alaska, and in close proximity to navigable waters."
Among the marked features of a sail through the numerous
channels that abound in southeastern Alaska, not the least
pleasing to the eye is the sight of the vast stretches of spruce
and black fir-forests clothing the hills and the mountains to the
snow line with their mantle of dark green. The growth is
thick-set, and on many extensive tracts the trees attain large
size. The Pacific states from Mexico to Behring Sea must
soon begin to draw upon these resources of timber, and fortunate it is that they can be reached by vessels of great burthen.
Now, summing the resources of this territory, a country
abounding in furs of priceless value, in mines the most extensive in our broad land, in almost measureless forests, and in inexhaustible fisheries, and all this in our indisputable possession,
it would seem that we could give an intelligent answer to the
question which heads this article. From a commercial standpoint did Mr. Seward, in negotiating for the purchase of Alaska,
over-estimate the advantage to this country ? He visited this
part of the territory, and in this town, Sitka, publicly declared
that he was gratified with the transaction, but he did not live
to know of   the treasures that have since been revealed.    In 26
fact, little was known of the richness of the mines in his
day, and next to nothing of the wealth in fisheries, which we
now regard with surprise. If the Canadians shall persist in the
policy of shutting out our fishermen on the Atlantic sea-board,
the coasts and bays of the Pacific coast will more than compensate for the loss we may. sustain through their pig-headed
policy. In truth Massachusetts fisherman are already here reaping a rich reward of their labors. Tons of cod are to-day drying on the frames, barrels of halibut are on the docks awaiting
shipment, and salmon canneries are packing, in the aggregate,
more than a thousand cases daily; all this and more is what
Alaska.is adding to the wealth of the world.
This is something about the territory against the purchase
of which determined opposition found expression not only in
the cabinet ofPresident Lincoln and in Congress, but in labored editorials and in "" magazine thunders. " Jokes passed for
facts, and senators and secretaries, favorable to the acquisition,
were said to hold their sessions by moonlight on an ice-berg in
Behring sea where they junketed on walrus-blubber.
But the tourist to this land of the " midnight sun " sees
more than furs, and fishes, and mines. From the head of Puget
Sound in Washington territory to Glacier Bay in Alaska, his
route for eleven hundred miles is through some one of these
numberless, narrow straits, broad channels, and inland seas,
hemmed in by islands some of which are empires in area, past
headlands, promontories, and hills whose rounded sides are
clothed in dark foliage, and mountains whose heads are usually
veiled in white mists, and whose evergreen skirts trail in the
" Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps o'er Alps arise "
Almost every-foot of land is in a grand and lofty tumble,'
but the sheltered waters are as calm  as  a pond except where
they are broken by the leaping salmon seeking to  escape   the pursuit of the  murderous  porpoise,  and even   he in  turn is
chased by the "killer" whale.
After threading the narrows of British Columbia, the voyager enters Alaskan waters, and then fishing villages, quaint in
architectural design, newly-built, and picturesque in situation,
appear on almost every bay and fiord. Besides the natives who
constitute the bulk of the population, here reside for three
months in'summer, factors of the old Hudson's Bay Company,
New England skippers, and Oregon fisherman, whose Indian
employees scour every inlet and sound and bay, every day in
the week during the short season, and gather a rich harvest of
salmon, halibut, and cod.
In these chill waters, fed incessantly by the mountain
snows, for the mountains are always white, the finny tribe have
a firm texture of fibre, and delicacy of flavor, produced only in
high latitudes ; and the fishes that he sees upon the docks, and
in storehouses are almost as numberless as the snow flakes.
Not the least interesting feature of an Alaskan trip is the
sight of numerous glaciers treading the mountain glens, and
filling with icy mass, from two hundred to a thousand feet in
thickness, the valleys, and broad basins.
On their surface they are heaved into hillocks, split into.
pinnacles, and rent by yawning crevasses, and go crackling
and crunching, and growling down their easy slopes ; and when,
with bold and glistening front, they have reached the channels,
huge masses cleave from the parent glacier, and float away as
icebergs, so numerous that the steamer is often obliged to
change its course to avoid a collision.
The color of these wandering masses varies from a dead
white to ultramarine and sapphire, and they too are often surmounted with turrets and castellated forms, shapely and shapeless.
The most notable of the glaciers in southeastern Alaska, is
the Muir, named from Prof. John Muir, a geologist of some 28
reputation, since he gave the first uncolored description of it.
It is forty miles long, and back on the land, in a basin of the
mountains, being reenforced by fifteen tributaries coming
down the glens from different points of the compass, it swells to
an icy sea twenty-five miles in diameter. Thence it moves with
resistless power, bearing rocks and long lines of detritus on
its billqwy surface.    Just before it  reaches  the bay it is com
pressed by two sentinel mountains into, and is forced through,
a gorge one mile in width.
Emerging from this narrow gateway, it moves on, at the
rate of forty to sixty feet a day, to the waters whence it originally came, buttressing the bay with a perpendicular wall
eight hundred feet high, three hundred feet of ultramarine crystals tipped with purest white being above the surface; and
being pushed beyond its support in the underlying rock, a
battle begins between cohesion and gravity. The latter force
always prevails, and vast masses break from the glacial torrent
with the combined crash of falling walls and heavy thunder, and
tumble into the bay with a dash and a shock that agitates
the waters miles away, making navigation perilous to craft of
all sizes. The almost deafening roar made when these masses
are rent away, the splashing baptism they receive in their fall, and
the leaping waters, are lively witnesses to the birth of an iceberg,
which henceforth, as an independent existence, goes on its mission of girding the shores, butting against its fellows, and of.
scaring navigators.
While the ship was resting unmoored near the front of this
icy barrier, we were startled by the sudden appearance of a
mass of dark crystal, vastly larger than our own ship, shooting
up from the depths, and tossing our steamer as if it were an ess-
shell. As the vessel careened, the frightened passengers were
sent whirling against each other, over chairs, or prostrate upon
the deck. This strange visitor had doubtless been broken off
from the roots of the icy mountain, hundreds of feet below the 29
surface, and hence, had unexpectedly appeared upon the scene.
Had it struck the ship fairly, nothing but a miracle could have
saved us.
Having recovered somewhat from our dumb amazement,
about twenty of us were sent on shore in the captain's gig.
Landing some distance below the ice-wall, vwe climbed seventy
feet up a lateral moraine, crawled, shoe-deep in wet gravel,
down into the valley of a glacial river, forded it, paddled
through glacial mud covered with shingle just deep enough
to hide the creamy pools, slipped prostrate upon ice made
treacherous by a thin disguise of detritus, and barked our shins
and cut our shoes on the sharp angular blocks of granite and
basalt strewn for two miles, in great profusion, along our perilous route.
Blocks of fimest marble hedged our pathway, we trod upon
chips of jasper and chalcedony, the product of different mountains far up on the peninsula, and we passed two exquisitely
beautiful boulders of Veined porphyry, weighing two or three
hundred pounds each, rounded and polished by centuries of attrition. They were of dark purple, streaked with quartz
spotlessly white, very desirable specimens for a cabinet, or for
out-of-door ornamentation.
After more than an hour of plunging, and sprawling, and
of pulling each other out of gray mire, about half of our number reached the uncovered glacier, and at the first glance, we
felt that here we should stand with uncovered heads, for we
were in the presence of the marvellous manifestations of superhuman power in action, and looked, with unveiled eyes, upon
the potent agencies by which much of this planet has been
Away in the distance was the white lake fed by numerous
frozen rivers, and these rivers were born of mountain snows fifty
miles distant. The white robed mountains themselves, aeons
in the  past, were  smoothed  and  grooved  far up their flinty 30
sides, when this same glacier was three-fold deeper, and many
times more ponderous and mighty than it is to-day.
Stretched along the base of the mountains till they are only
a line in the distance, were the records of those gray old years
in the form of moraines, a hundred feet high, and appearing
like a range of hills.
The lateral portion of this crystal river, perhaps an eighth
of a mile in width, is heaved into rounded hills and beetling
precipices, quite resembling the sea in a storm, while the middle and much the wider part is splintered into countless spires
and needles and pinnacles, ten, twenty, thirty feet in height,
and of a beautiful ultramarine at the base shaded to a dead
white at the summit.
In the onward march of the glacier, these pinnacles are occasionally wrenched from their seats in the solid ice beneath,
—they nod, then totter, and then make a plunge, and are shattered into a cloud of acicular crystals that sparkle like the
frosted sriow under a full moon of a winter's night, only with
more of color,—they are diamonds on the wing.-
Again, the whole surface is riven by a thousand crevasses,
along the bottom of which streams of clear water find their
way, often broken by waterfalls that plunge farther down into
the dark blue abysses out of sight. These chasms are frightful
gaps to one peering down a hundred feet between their
turquoise walls. A slip, a frail alpenstock, a feeble grasp of
the guide's rope, and gravity would close the scene without
further ceremony.
The molecular structure of the glacier is continually changing, adjusting itself to the elevations and depressions of its
rocky bed, and hence, there is an incessant clicking and
crackling, interrupted here and there by an explosion, heard
over every inch of the surface.
The whole scene is weird, and strange   in sight  and  in
sound,—in the voices that rise to the air from the azure depths, • 31
—fascinating because every step is perilous, majestic from its
massiveness, and awful because its march is irresistible..
Consider what a force in wearing away mountains and
glens- an icy torrent must be, one mile wide, eight hundred
feet deep, and in the middle flowing sixty feet a day; it goes
grinding and groaning and cracking in startling explosions,
all mingled in a loud wail like that from the Titans imprisoned, under Mt; ^Etna.
Now let any one in fancy frame for himself this picture :
Snow-capped mountains in the back-ground, two of them,
Fair weather and Crillon, more than 15,000 feet high, thick set
with glittering peaks and clear cut as silhouettes on a dark sky ;
the great glacier, child of Arctic snows, -turreted and pinnacled,
and splintered into a thousand strange forms, Upon which Iris
has flung the varied hues of amethyst, and turquoise, and sapphire : huge masses riven from the crystal river with a thundering roar, reeling and toppling into an amber sea, thickly dotted with new-born and vagrant icebergs ; and all this scene
glorified and transfigured by the setting sun,—looking upon
this picture through the creative power of imagination, one
can readily conceive that the enraptured tourist, standing in
the presence of the realities, would call that day spent with the
Muir glacier, the day of all the days he ever passed in gazing
upon and listening to the wild wonders of our planet.
But hark1. That was not an explosion of the glacier's artillery,—it was the echo of the steamer's whistle ringing along
the glens of the mountains, softened, indeed, by distance, as
are the notes of the Alpine horn.
In just one hour we must be on the ship, or be left without
couch, or food, or fire, in these wild and awful solitudes, ninety
miles from the nearest habitation ; and we made it in time, regardless of shoes or shins. SITKA.
Baranoffs Castle-A Dismantled Palace that ought
to be Preserved-- The "Boulevard" - Notable
Buildings-- The Solitary Mule -- Climate.
Sitka, July,  1888.
Archangel, the first settlement in this part of the Russian
possessions in America, and dedicated to the Archangel Gabriel, was founded in 1800, on Gavan bay, about six miles from
the present capital, but its inhabitants having been murdered
by the natives, Baranoff, then governor of the province, erected
in 1804, a warehouse on Katalan's rock, a noted eminence in
the present seedy town, and dedicated it to the Archangel
Michael, and named it New Archangel, or Sitka, although
Tchirikofl,a captain in Behring's fleet, visited it in 1741. From
1804, then, till 1867, the date of occupation by the United
States; Southeastern Alaska also was subject to Russia, as the
more northern portion had been before, and Sitka was made the
capital of all the Russian-American possessions.
Baranoff, a brutal old soldier and trader, having been elevated to some rank among the nobility, transformed the warehouse into a castle, held his court there, and began a series of
amusements and fgtes which were repeated for many years by
succeeding governors with more or less semi-barbaric display.
Traces of the former glory of the place are still to be seen in
moss-covered structures of great size,—in warehouses stepping
out on piles a hundred feet over the harbor, in court-house,
jail, and custom-house, in club-house, barracks, and workshops, all of spruce logs closely fitted together, and  bolted, 33
each tier to the one below, so that they would scarcely fall
apart if tumbled over. The better class of these were covered
with boards, and painted with ochre; they had double windows, and a huge half-moon window in the gables. Solid,
ponderous, and rude as old Baranoff himself, during whose
iron sway the most of them were erected, had they been better
protected at the foundation, they would yet last a hundred
Those venerable buildings, about twenty-five in number, a
dozen rusty cannon and carronades of ancient pattern and
doubtful efficiency drawn up in front of the custom-house, a
dilapidated dock, and a broken fire-engine, are part and parcel of the appurtenances turned over to- the United States at
the time of the transfer in 1867.
Towering above all its old-time associates, the castle is the
first building seen as one approaches from the sea. Katalan,
an Indian chief, gave his name to the rock on which the castle
now stands, and made it his seat of government long before
the tyrat Banranoff built his warehouse, afterward his palace.
Since the removal of Katalan's wigwam, three structures
have been erected on its site; the first was burned, and was replaced by one of brick brought from Holland, each brick having the word STENWICK in block letters stamped upon it.
This second edifice was demolished by an earthquake, and
Dutch tiles are now to be found in chimneys of modern date,
or strewn along the beach.
The present castle, one hundred and forty by seventy feet,
was built of heavy cedar logs, fastened to the rock and to each
other by copper bolts, and sheathed with boards painted yel-.
low. Recently it has been robbed piecemeal of its costly furniture, its broad mirrors, and showy chandeliers, and nothing
now remains but the bare walls, and Russian brick stoves cased
with sheet-iron and reaching to the ceiling. A few rooms
are  pointed  to  as having been fitted up for Secretary Seward 34
and party while here, but they too have been stripped of their
furnishings, the doors swing with every wind, and the boys have
made the windows a target with damaging effect. So much of
the history of Alaska, and especially of Sitka, clusters around
this decaying palace, that Congress ought to appropriate a few
hundred dollars to preserve it from further desecration and ultimate ruin.
The customary ghost story comes in for a share in the
history of this ducal mansion. A beautiful Russian, daughter
of one of the old governors, was compelled by her " cruel
parients'' to pledge her hand to a man whom she did not
love. During the festivities of the evening appointed for her
marriage, she absented herself, and when she was sought by
her friends with some apprehension that all was not right, she
was found lifeless in her boudoir. She now haunts the drawing-room and paces the governor's cabinet, and wherever her
spectre passes it leaves behind a slight perfume of roses.
Mr. Seward and suite were not interrupted by a visitation
from her, probably because they were not expecting it, since
the tale had been carefully withheld from them until they were
about to depart.
The only street proper—Lincoln is its modern name—begins with the dock and extends half a mile, curving with the
shore of the crescent-shaped bay. Huge warehouses, government offices, a village inn in which Lady Franklin, in 1870,'
was a guest while waiting for tidings from her lost husband,
three or four stores that have on sale everything from nails to
silks and seal-skins, and a score of dwellings, are strung along
this thoroughfare, nearly all built of heavy logs, and reared by
the Russians away back in the "wee sma' hours " of the century. There are lanes and by-ways, leading to the Russian
quarter on the east, and an alley through a gateway in an old
stockade to the more populous Indian division on the west but 35
all these more recent dwellings look puny beside those of the
Baranoff pattern.
Conspicuous among the structures on the one street, is the
bid Russian Club House, which was second only in imponance
to the castle, as the centre of gayety, especially in winter, when
from ten to fifteen men-of-war lay in the harbor, and the
officers were quartered on shore. Gambling and dancing were
the chief amusements engaged in, to which horse-racing was
added, the animals having been transported here at great expense. According to all accounts, the semi-barbaric splendor
of their sports and festivities was scarcely inferior to those of
the home country.
But the glory of the club house has departed. Decay has
seized upon the unprotected foundation logs, the roof is moss-
grown, impecunious tenants find a lodging in the office and
gaming-rooms, and handkerchiefs once waved by beauty's hand
to her favorites from the now creaking balconies, have fluttered
out of sight.
On a rise of ground back of the Indian division of the
town, there are little toy houses over Indian graves, more notic-
able than the airy homes on the beach their tenants dwelt in
while living. Adjacent to these is the Russian cemetery,—a
three-barred cross marks each mound, and inscriptions in
Graeco- Roman characters are engraved on a few prostrate slabs.
On the same eminence and hard by the cemeteries, are two
crumbling Martello towers, one pentagonal, and the other octagonal in form, having loop-holes for musketry. From the
fact that they were roofed over, cannon were probably never
mounted upon them. In short, the old is everywhere ;—beside
the tottering buildings, old samovars, old andirons, matchlock
muskets, bits of ancient crockery and tiles, and queer fastenings for doors, are to be found in situ, or in the curio shops.
The only team within ninety miles is a span of superannuated
mules drawing the only wagon on the only street in  Sitka; 36
although a still older army mule, left by Gen. Jeff. C. Davis
and his army at the time of, and after, the transfer in 1867,
wanders in the lanes unmolesed and unharnessed, or stands
with bowed head in the lee of some crumbling structure,
only a little more'ancient than himself, and seemingly in
sympathy with him, musing, doubtless, on the perilous scenes
he had witnessed in war, or on his more fearful sufferings in
crossing the plains. In summer he mumbles grass and weeds,
in winter he shares with vagrant dogs the contents of garbage-
buckets, or follows the receding waters of the sea, and dines
on clams. In this latter method of appeasing hunger, he often
has the companionship of the improvident Sitkans, since
their custom reiterates the proverb : '' When the tide is out,
the poor man's table is spread. "
In the channels made by the many islands between Baranoff and the open sea are fine fishing-grounds, affording salmon, salmon-trout, halibut, bass and cod. The sound or air-
bladder of the red cod, a species living in deep waters, expands and fills the throat on being brought to the surface;
hence, in that condition, he is unable to return to the deeps
During the month of July, salmon retail at about three-
fourths of a cent a pound, and halibut are a trifle cheaper, and
venison brings six or seven cents. Most of the other supplies
for the table come from the "States, "and by the time they
reach here they have nearly doubled in price from the large
freight charges I hence, leaving out of the account fish and
game, comfortable living is expensive.
Sitka is in an amphitheatre, hemmed in by mountains on
all sides except that fronting the sea. Notable in this semicircle of peaks is Edgecombe, an extinct volcano, named by
Capt. Cook, the great navigator, and Verstovia, so called
because it was supposed to be a Russian verst in height.    It 37
is now known to be higher than that.    Its base is in the outskirts of the village.
This little capital is farther north than Queen Victoria's
palace in Scotland, yet it experiences no such extremes of temperature as Balmoral feels. The mountains are covered perpetually with snow, although the thermometer rarely falls
to zero, and sinks below that point only once in about
every three years; and the average temperature for twelve
months in 1886-7 was only a little less than that for Buffalo,
being forty-two degrees.
The precipitation of moisture, however, is enormous, varying from seven to ten feet—that of the year named above was
one hundred and thirty inches, and there were two hundred and
nineteen cloudy days, and yet it is asserted that clothes will dry
under an open shed during a rainstorm, and that when it rains
it never pours. Thunder-storms and cyclones never visit Sitka,
and, like Ireland, there are no snakes or toads on the island.
Agriculture can never be an important factor in the resources 6f the country, for two reasons ; the summers are comparatively cold, and the land is nearly all set up edgewise.
Little snow falls in the valleys, and frosts rarely occur till late
in October, so that vegetation has nearly six months' range of
growth, but edibles make no rapid advance by reason of the
cool days and chilly nights.
Potatoes, lettuce and cabbage mature in ordinary seasons,
and the grasses grow luxuriantly wherever they can get a foothold. Black alders, the only deciduous tree, sometimes six
inches in diameter, are found along "the streams, but spruce,
often of gigantic size, covers the country up to the snow line.
The Kuro Siwo, or Japanese current, sweeping from the tropical regions along this coast, moderates the rigor of the
climate usual in high latitudes, and furnishes material for the
abundant rainfall. It drifts into the bay, the alga; of more
southern   seas, and the teredo also,   which  ruin the harbor 38
piles in about five years—a pest whose customary habitat is far
less than 60 degrees of latitude.
Ravens, held sacred by the natives, eagles, ducks and a
russet humming-birds, comprise the more common of the feathered tribe, and there is just one pair of swallows in all Sitka.
By a recent census the population of this picturesque town
was about one hundred whites, three hundred Russians, and
eight hundred natives. Notwithstanding the mixed character
of the population, government officials and their families, officers of the U. S. gun-boat stationed here, and their wives, help
much to make a choice circle, so that the sojourner finds agreeable people in several pleasant homes.
. If there, is any one thing more than another to which the
Sitkans point with pardonable pride, it is their boulevard, which
is simply the extension of their only street to Indian river, a
beautiful stream a mile away. It skirts the bay and is bordered
on each side by, and overshadowed with, Irees, with occasional
openings to give outlooks npon the island-dotted sea. Now
frame these snatches of charming scenery in a circle of dark-
green mountains whose heads are often veiled in a filmy mist of
purest white, sometimes so thin as to reveal the more distant
peaks as spectre mountains of a shadowy world, and the tourist
is ready to confess that he has seen few such promenades in all
his journeyings.
At the junction of the river with the sea there is a small
glade to which the " whites'' resort for picnics, the Russians
for a revel, and the whole population for a stroll. All the water
for drinkin'g and cooking is wheeled from the river along this
boulevard in hand-carts, for the word enterprise has not yet
found a place in the lexicon of the drowsy Sitkans. At all
times by day and far into the night, some one may be seen
on this embowered thoroughfare.
The term night, just used, has little significance in this
latitude, or rather, it is a misnomer for weeks in mid-summer. 39
The sun of course goes out of sight, but his rays so linger
about the northern horizon that, without artificial light, and in
absence of the moon, it is not difficult to read at midnight.
People retire as the fowls seem to do, by the clock, and not
for the darkness,—"the evening shades prevail" here at no
hour. If the sleeper awakes at half-past three in the morning, he
is quite likely to find his room flooded with sunlight, and children from lower latitudes complain of being sent to bed before
The sun never scorches, its light is never dazzling, as it
often is in Buffalo, but it is subdued as in England, and, despite its long continuance, it does not interfere with ten hours
of sleep for the tourist. He eats and sleeps as if he were born
for these exercises alone, and if there were scales in town he
would generally be found to be rapidly increasing his avoirdupois. The atmosphere is saturated with drowsiness and repose,
and there are few sounds and little bustle to disturb one's quiet.
Taking into account, then, the salubrity of the climate,
the opportunity for undisturbed rest, the ease of access to the
fine fishing grounds among the islands and to game in the forests, the quaint structures reared by the old Russians, the
unique character of its people, the interesting history of the
town, its' charming surroundings, and the unequaled scenery On
the way here, we believe that, for three months in summer, Sitka is one of the most attractive resorts in all our broad domain. THE GREEK CHURCH.
Remarkable Paintings -- The Russian Ritual -- Curious and Anomalous State of Affairs - - Not a
Territory  Prohibition in Alaska -- A Law
Unto Themselves.
Sitka, July 11, 1888.
The Greek Church in Sitka—in form a Greek cross, and
placed on an expansion of Lincoln street,—is the first structure
sought by tourists just landed from the steamer ; and sensibly,
too, for it is a well-preserved building, and the only one serving
the people now as it did the old Russians, and because, also,
there are only two others in America, and the ceremonies in
this church are strictly orthodox, quite up to the forms observed
in Russia. It is built of the universal material used here, spruce
logs, sheathed with boards, which are protected with' a dove-
colored paint and trimmed with white. The spire resembles a
minaret, and the dome over the central part of the church has
the bulge of a Mahomedan mosque, both of a bright green color
and each surmounted by a gilded cross with triple bars.
A raven, a common bird of the country, is said, to
perch upon one of these crosses whenever the gun of
an incoming steamer announces the approach of tourists, and
to croak his welcome to them in a strain as harsh and dolorous
as the "Nevermore" of Poe's uncanny bird. In the open
belfry there is a chime of six sweet-toned bells which make
almost the only sounds that break the silence of the sleepy vil- 41
lage. The interior is gaudy with paintings, intended to represent patriarchs and prophets, draped in silver and gold, and
two bronze doors of open-work pattern, with panels bearing
images of saints and holy men, cut off the altar and robing-
room from the auditorium. Into this altar-room no woman is
permitted to enter,
Without the metallic coverings, some of these paintings are
said to have merit, the undraped copy of the Transfiguration
is far superior to ordinary church pictures. In a side room is an,
exquisite Madonna '< with sweet Byzantine face." The holy
child, in an erect posture, leans against her shoulder, and his
face, like his mother's, has a look of deep meaning. This too
is a painting of great merit, and even a third of the thirty will
bear criticism.
The priest conducts the intoned service in the altar-room,
with the bronze doors wide open, so that the worshippers, standing in the auditorium under the dome, have a fair view of the
performance. During the Miserere, however, the valves are
closed, and his wailings are thereby subdued.
The choristers, shut off from the audience by a screen, respond to almost every sentence uttered by the priest, and their
part is well performed. The whole service is in Russian, and
since three-fourths of the audience are native, not more than
that proportion understand it.
The ritual is more elaborate than that of the Roman
Catholic church, and the genuflections, the crossings, and the
prostrations of Russians and Indians alike, can scarcely be outdone by the most thoroughly ceremonial church in the mother
country ;—in two words, they are strictly orthodox ; for during
the hour of worship, there is an almost incessant pointing of the
fingers to the head and breast, or kneeling, or crouching with
the head upon the floor; each motion performed three times.
This can be done in a  church in which there are neither pews 42
nor seats, and where every one from czar to meanest subject,
worships in a standing position when not going through with
the movements.
As a part of the exercises, the priest presents himself before
the congregation with a golden chalice in each hand. Each of
these cups, covered with a little doyley, is said to contain, the
one bread, the other wine. He pronounces, a blessing, and,
returning to the throne-room, is supposed to partake of the
emblems vicariously. At a very early period in life, however,
the worshippers do have the sacrament administered to them in
person. The parents come forward with the babe to a dais on
which the priest stands holding a chalice of gold, gemmed and
elaborately etched. He first adjusts a scarlet bib under the chin
of the infant, and with a delicate spoon, pours into the mouth
of the little copper-face a few drops of wine, pats the tongue
three times and dismisses him for another. An acolyte stands
near who administers the bread, and the faces of the parents
beam with joy that the child is now saved. A sermon, extemporaneous, about ten minutes long, and uttered with great earnestness, follows. Lastly, the priest brings out a heavy golden
crucifix, set with rubies and emeralds, and presents it to be
kissed, first to the babies, then to the youth, and finally to the
adult worshippers, and then there is a rush for the door.
In funeral ceremonies, the body, covered with a thin veil
only, and preceded by the priest, bareheaded, swinging a censer, and chanting a dirge, is borne from the house of the
deceased, and is followed by mourners wailing as in Oriental
This church was once a cathedral, had a resident bishop,
and was the possessor of large wealth in crucifixes, crosiers, and
plate, adorned with precious stones ] but after Alaska became a
part of the Union, most of the Russians went back to the mother
country, and the bishop soon followed, leaving only three real
Muscovites in the diocese. -The rest of the congregation is made 43
up of Creoles, Indians and half-breeds, the latter exhibiting the
vices that generally come of mingling the blood of degenerate
races. The present priest is highly respected by all Sitkans.
He puts forth great efforts to correct in his people their inborn
love for drinking, and rebukes them for idleness and disregard
for law and order , but he has become discouraged, has sent his
resignation to the Czar-Pope, and contents himself with teaching the children, and with the simple performance of his duties
as priest.
To the tourist, at first, it seems strange that so conspicuous
a structure as this church is, should be set down in this shabby '
town, but when he studies its history, rich in past glory and
usefulness, and finds that, for long years, it has kept faithful vigil
among these moldering structures, and been an open gate to the
people, leading to a higher life, he is forced to feel that, however much those races have failed to realize the enjoyments of
that better life, a beneficent hand that guides all things well, did
plant this church in Sitka, the capital of this great territory.
Congress unwittingly established a monarchy in Alaska,
and made the judge the autocrat; and it was brought about in
this way : By a stroke of the pen, that body enacted " that the
general laws of the State of Oregon, now in force, are hereby
declared to be the law in this district, so far as the same may be
applicable and not in conflict with the laws of the United
States." Note the | English as she is wrote," and that this is
not a territory, but a district.
Now, when a case is brought before the judge, it rests solely
with him to determine whether the laws of Oregon apply to it
or not, and whenever an appeal from his conclusions has been
made to the higher courts in Oregon, no decision has ever been
given of it, because those courts declare that misdemeanors
in Alaska do not come under their jurisdiction. Again we
quote another enactment, which will be new to most people in
the "States."      "The importation, manufacture, and sale of 44
intoxicating liquors in said district, except for medicinal,
mechanical, and scientific purposes, is hereby prohibited." Do
people generally know that a stringent prohibitory law, enacted
by the United States Government, applies to one-fifth of our
country ?
Despite this prohibition, in Juneau there are twenty saloons,
six in Sitka, and one in almost every settlement in Alaska, openly
selling liquor to any one except to Indians, and the judge now
presiding daily violates this law by patronizing these saloons
in Sitka. No retailer can be punished for these infractions,
for there are so few qualified jurymen in the settlements, that a
vendor of liquors, or a patron, or sympathizer, is sure to find his
place on the jury.
Alaska has no legislature, and no one in Washington to
bring her wants to notice. In fact, Congress has refused to afford
her any relief by enacting wholesome laws. It is a case of culpable neglect on the part of that body. The compensation
granted to the people is that there is no taxation. There is no
ownership of land or home, except that promised by the treaty,
to persons in rightful possession at the time of the transfer.
Hence there is no inducement for people to make this a permanent residence. There is no organized town, no officer of a
village, not even a road-master, and of course, no corporate
authority to compel the observance^of sanitary regulations, or
ordinances for the public weal.
Under this singular condition of affairs, disturbances of the
peace, and the violation of personal rights, must be expected ;
the only wonder is that they are not of more frequent occurrence. The general regard for fair play, and an innate love for
decency and order on the part of most of the white people, save
the country from anarchy.
The officers of the " District " are a governor, a district
attorney, a marshal, and four commissioners, or justices, who
take cognizance of minor offences and cases, one each for Sitka,
Wrangel, Juneau, and Ounalaska ; but these authorities have no
vessel by which to reach far-off settlements, sometimes a thousand miles distant, and hence the people in those remote places
must necessarily be a law unto themselves. The whole blame
for this anomalous and loose state of affairs rests upon Congress. NATIVES OF ALASKA.
Evidence   of Japanese Origin -- Skill and Taste in
the Arts -- Some Lnteresting Products - The Totem-Pole- The   Wonderful  Chilcat Blanket
--Accomplishments of the Women-- Curios for Tourists -- The Medicine
Man -- Houses --Mrs. Tom, the
Rich Beauty.
Sitka, July, 1888.
Naturalists study types of the animal kingdom best in the
embryo, or as near to that condition as is practicable.
Adopting this method of investigation, and comparing the
pappooses of the Thlingkits, the natives of Southeastern Alaska, with the babies of the Japanese as seen in San Francisco
and Portland, we were struck with what to us was a discovery
that the Thlingkits are not Indians, but Japanese in origin. In
some instances, so striking is the resemblance in the eyes,
cheek-bones, lips, noses, and form in general, that, should the
little rolly-polies change cradles, we believe the mothers only
could detect the transfer; and the mothers themselves differ no
more than one could readily suppose they would, living for a
hundred years or longer in 'conditions quite dissimilar in respect to climate, food and surroundings.
The Thlingkits use several words, and have not a few customs', that prevail in some parts of Japan. Again, Japanese
junks have been found from time to time stranded along the
coast, ever since Alaska was first visited by explorers. 46
Finally, the United States district court for Alaska, has
declared that " these people are not Indians, and that they
can sue and be sued, and go and come at pleasure." Our
conclusion, that they derive their origin from Japan, not from
China, is simply a theory, and we present it for what it is
In further support of this theory, however, it may be added that, unlike the Indians of the other territories, these people seek employment, and are to be found in canneries, in
mills, and voluntarily engage in service as sailors, as 'longshoremen, and even as house-servants. Like the Japanese,
they are skillful artisans in wood, bone and silver. From huge
logs of spruce, they fashion their canoes to fine lines and even
balance, without square or gauge, guiding their simple tools,
the axe and the adze, by the eye alone.
From the horns of the mountain goat, first by boiling till
they are soft, and pressing them in a wooden matrix, they mold
spoons and ladles, and cover the long handles with grotesque
figures, so neatly carved and so smoothly polished, that the
supply never equals the demand. Their canoe-paddles, worked
out with an axe and knife, are marvels of curve and poise.
With the head of an axe for an anvil, a cold chisel, and a
clumsy hammer, the Thlingkit silversmith, seated on a plank,
fashions from coin, bracelets, rings and pins, in forms so
unique, and with a jack-knife etches them with figures so original, that lady tourists capitulate at first sight. The scheming
Siwash, with grave countenance but illumined eye, indicates
the price with uplifted fingers, and it is always paid. In a word,
he rivals the Swiss carver in producing curios and articles for
ornamentation, and is quite as shrewd in a bargain with indiscreet visitors. But it is in Totem-poles that their ideals of the
carver's art find their fullest expression. These so-called poles
are huge logs, from ten to sixty feet in length, and are generally
erected in front of a chiefs dwelling.    They are genealogical 47
and historical, containing in carved hieroglyphics the record
of the brave deeds of the sachem and of those of his lineage,
deep cut and sharp in outline, so that they can easily be distinguished, although parts of them are high in the air, and
readily interpreted by those versed in Thlingkit traditions!
Prominent among the grotesque figures that crowd the front of
the pole from bottom to top, are the hideous forms of the chief
and his ancestors, generally sitting in a squat position, having
broad faces, the maiked characteristics of which are great,
threatening eyes, grim and terrible, glaring upon their enemies
beneath, writhjng under tortures. Around and between these
figures are distributed, so as to leave but little unoccupied
space, the images of the raven, their creator and the repository
of the souls of their fathers, of the eagle, their sovereign, and
of the salmon, the preserver of life ; and from the midst of the
assemblage of hideous forms, on a few poles, the great eye of
evil looks out askance, suggesting devil-worship among the
barbarous tribes of America, as in Africa.
It is asserted by those who have mingled with these people, that the great end sought in worship is the same that
is striven for by heathen all over the world, that of propitiating evil spirits, thinking that good spirits will take care of
themselves, or, at the worst, will not harm them.
On the back of the poles there is a rectangular niche cut
deeply inward, as a receptacle for the ashes of the deceased; for
they are far in advance of their white brethren in mortuary ceremonials, having practiced cremation time out of mind. At
Fort Wrangel a few weeks since, the ashes of a chief were removed from a pole in which they were deposited forty years
since. They were buried by his tatterdemalion son, who hopes
that his remains will find the place once occupied by his father's;
but that is doubtful, for the pole is cracked and crumbling,
and can scarcely bear the rigor of another Alaskan winter.
i 48
Hard by this tottering stub is another surmounted by a
raven, one by an eagle, one by a statue of a chief wearing a
plug hat—this is a recent addition—and another by a nondescript animal, hideous to the last degree.
Conspicuous among these monuments is a log pen surmounted by a huge alligator, very old, holding wide open a
mouthful of formidable teeth. Where did these people, so long
ago as when this image was erected, get their idea of. an alligator ? *
Missionaries have discouraged cremation, and where they
have made converts, totem-poles are now rarely carved, so that
these two customs, peculiar to these people, and, to our notion, excusable, have fallen into desuetude.
The native women exhibit great skill, and good taste in
weaving and coloring baskets. The material is the inner bark
of the root of the yellow cedar, and until recently, the dyes
were all from plants indigenous to the country. Now aniline
dyes are employed, deeper and more glaring than, but not so
soft, as the home products. The baskets made by the Yakutat
" women are preferred by travelers, and reasonably, for they are
firm, durable, and so compactly braided that they hold water,
and by throwing in hot stones, potatoes can be boiled in them
without harm to the texture.
Besides basket-work, the women in Sitka weave from the
same material, mats and gaudy coverings for walking-canes,
and bottles, and they know how to sell them. They have two
prices for their wares, one for residents, and for tourists any
price they think they can induce a stranger to pay. On
| steamer-days," which occur every two weeks in summer, the
natives and the white traders combine to make the most of
their opportunity, and lady passengers, to the utter disgust of
their more discreet husbands and brothers, on seeing a tempting array of Indian curios, go wild at the sight, and pay the
price usually given for  the gratification   of misguided fancy. 49
These women ply their trade in furs, in berries, in baskets, or
in carved wood and horn, sitting in the usual squat position on
the walls, or docks, but they rarely invite attention to them,
either by word or gesture—they simply display them upon a
bit of cloth and look their appeals to those passing.
They wear silver ear-drops, have numerous rings upon
their fingers, and sport a bundle of bracelets on each wrist,
the number being measured by their bank-account, and the
wealthiest of the belles have' surpassed their fairer sisters in the
adornment of their persons, in that they insert a labret, a
stem of bone, in a hole made about an inch below the edge
of the lower lip; and fashion rages among the dusky beauties of Juneau to the extent that they, too, daub their faces with
paint—not with rouge and flour, but with fish-oil and lampblack, presenting a spectacle more hideous, according to our
fancy, than do the belles of a modern ball-room. However,
tastes differ.
The ambition of the average lady tourist to possess an ornament which her neighbor is unable to procure, is quite gratified when she has gathered among her treasures a Chilcat blanket. These are made of the hair of the mountain goat, are about
two about yards long by one in width, and have a long fringe
on three sides. . The body of the blanket, very thick and firm, is
a curious arrangement of white, black and yellow colors, in
parallelograms, rhombs, and Roman key-work. Conspicuous
. among these figures and widely apart, two great eyes, elongated horizontally, peer out from the maze, with so steady, solemn, and searching a look, that when seen for the first time,
they incline one to shrink from their stare.
Shamans, or medicine men, array themselves in these
blankets when they practice their incantations, and Chilcat
dudes in dances. They are showy but harmonious in the arrangement of the colors, and civilized people use them with
great effect in   mural decorations.    A   Chilcat   woman   can 50
weave and embroider a fine specimen in about six months, and
it readily sells for $75. The Shaman, or medicine man, like
the poet, is born, not made. At birth there are certain indications that he is to be set apart for the sacred office of healing,
and when he is of suitable age, he is put into training for, his
work. One of the indispensable conditions for success in it
is that the student shall partake of the flesh of a witch, and
unfortunately some innocent and defenceless member of the
tribe must suffer to satisfy the demand.
All ailments are supposed to be produced by demoniacal
possession, and hence the doctor enters the sick-room dressed
in fantastic costume, pendent to which are rattles, beads and
little bells ; his hair stands bristling, his eyes glare wildly, he
dances in the fire and shakes a big rattle which he carries in
his hand, he puffs and blows and screams to scare away the
witches. If he succeeds, the young Shaman becomes a Tyee
doctor, that is, a great medicine-man. If the patient does not
recover, it is evident that the witch is a strong and dangerous
one, and must be traced to some luckless person who harbors
the evil spirit, and that person must pay the penalty by becoming food to fortify and nourish more doctors.
The usual manner of treating those accused of being witches
was illustrated at Chilcat last March. The victim was a young
woman, eighteen years old, and her accuser was an enemy. Her
hands were tied behind her naked body, her head was drawn
by her hair backward at right angles with her chest, her feet
were stretched up on the back, and both feet and head were
fastened to the hands. In this condition she was to remain
until she perished, but after six days of suffering she was rescued
and sent away from her would-be murderers.
Their traditions are childish, like those of all barbarous
people—one will suffice. They worship the spirits of the air
and of water, and imagine that the souls of their ancestors,
which  they also  worship, have  their final  rest in the raven: 51
hence that bird, regarded sacred, is quite tame, and in winter
comes to their dwellings for food.    A boy-tourist tried his gun
on one of them at Juneau, and learned by the rumpus he raised
that he had, in the eyes of the natives, committed a sacrilegious  j
To overcome the difficulty the white traders and the different tribes had in holding communication, the Hudson's Bay
Company, many years ago, framed a Polyglot language out of
the various tongues spoken on this coast, comprehensive enough
for commercial purposes, thereby anticipating Volapiik by forty
years, and this mongrel tongue is now in common use from
Oregon to Siberia. This jargon in which, beside Indian, many
English, French, and Scotch words find a place, is the far-
famed Chinook.
The population of Alaska is about forty thousand, found
chiefly among the Aleuts, Innuits, Tinnehs, Hydahs, and
Thlingkits. The latter are divided into ten tribes occupying
southeastern Alaska, and number more than six thousand.
It has been the policy of both the Russian and American
governments to keep the natives in a separate portion of a village from the traders, and to encourage them to build better dwellings than wigwams. Hence along the coast comfortable habitations are common. The Sitkans, a tribe of the
Thlingkit people, live in frame houses all numbered in multiples of fifty.    The population is above eight hundred.
In summer it is much less, few but women and children
being left, for the males are away at work in mills and canneries, or catching and drying fish for their food supply. "In-
diantown" would then be as quiet as the rest of Sitka, except
for the fights of the vicious wolf-dogs, almost as numerous as
the people. In winter, when the bucks are at home, times are
livelier. Although a stringent enactment by Congress prohibits
the sale of intoxicating liquors in the territory, the law is violated many times a day, even by the officials appointed by the 52
United States government, and the natives, hovering around
drink-holes in Sitka, get a taste occasionally, despite the penalty for selling liquor to Indians. Among the vices the natives
have learned from the touch of a quasi civilization, is that of
the home manufacture of a drink called hoochinoo, the " Jersey
Lightning" of these children of the Arctics. It.is made in a
rude still from fermented molasses, and is probably the vilest
stuff ever invented, for when taken it sets on fire the blood, lets
loose the baser passions, and throws the victim into a state of
uncontrollable frenzy. The United States marshal has broken
up several of these illicit distilleries, but the territory is so large
that he has not yet reached a tithe of them.
Several of their houses have cooking-stoves in them, and
are neatly kept as housekeeping goes in Alaska, while in other
and larger ones inhabited by three or four families and as many
villainous dogs as there are people, the fire is built in the
middle of the one room, and the larger volume of smoke finds
its way out of a hole in the roof. There is also a dais about a
foot high, extending around the room, one side for each family,
on which are deposited, in seeming disorder, beds, stools,
clothing, provisions, and the implements of their pursuits.
Their houses are set close together and at all angles near the
rocky shore, and in front, high up on the rocks, out of reach
of the tide, lie their light canoes, covered with rags to preserve
them from cracking ; while still higher above these, on frames,
hang long strips of salmon and malodorous codfish-drying.
The women, dressed in civilized costume of bright colors,
sit by their doors, weaving baskets, or awaiting customers for
their curios spread before them, and the men use the rocks as a
work-bench on which they hew out their canoes or carve paddles.
For so many generations have they sat curled up in these tottering boats, and swung their paddles, that they have spindling legs
and chests abnormally developed. 53
Anna Hoots, a man, and Sitka Jack, sport door-plates,
and the former claims to be the sagamore of the tribe, but he
has never yet given a potlach worthy of a chief, and hence his
claim is not acknowledged.
The great Tyee lady of Indiantown is a Mrs. Tom, whose
wealth is estimated at all sums from ten to fifty thousand dollars,
chiefly in blankets; for these articles are the legal tender of the
tribe. She is rich in furs also, and valuable curios, and silver,
all of which she has acquired by trading, making long journeys
in her canoe all alone, in order to barter with distant tribes,
among whom furs are cheap. She speaks several dialects, and
Chinook fluently, and this acquirement has given her great
pecuniary advantage. The great Tyee lady is " fat and forty,"
is always beaming, dresses in fashion, and on " steamer days"
and Sundays, wears an abundance of jewelry. She is the
nabob of the village. THE SITKAN MISSION.
Its Growth - The Industrial Department -- A Lively Prayer Meeting--Enemies of the Mission --
What of their Future?
Sitka, July 1888.
Among the places of interest in this quaint town, the Mission holds the first rank. Long before the tourist reaches the
capital, he has heard the story of its one live institution, and,
as soon as he sets foot on shore, taking in the Greek church
on the way, he makes a bee-line for it. Although quite young,
it has a national reputation. It is beautifully situated on a
curve of the bay, just outside the old village limits, but quite in
sight of the town.
Like all great successful enterprises, it is a growth,
although its hopeful beginning in April, 1880, can scarcely be
called a growth, for it jumped into notoriety by registering at
the opening 103 pupils, chiefly Indian children.
Miss Olinda Austin, the first teacher, was sent out by a
mission society in the city of New York. Under her management, the number soon increased so as to include nearly all
the native childre nof suitable age, and even parents applied
for admission, but could not be received for want of room.
From a day school it developed into a boarding school,
in this way : Some of the boys applied to the teacher
for permisssion to live in the school-house, because, as they
alleged, there was so  much drinking, talking and carousing 55
at home, that they could not study. When the teacher
told them that there were no accommodations for them,
they replied that they would provide for themselves, and
having permission to try the experiment, seven native
boys voluntarily left their homes, each with -blanket and
dry provisions, and took up their abode in a vacant room.
Soon other boys joined them, and thus commenced the boarding department of the school.
Early in 1881, Capt. Glass of the U. S. steamship Jamestown, then stationed in Sitka, established a rule, " compelling,
the attendance of the native children upon the school." He
also ordered Indian-town to be cleaned up, ditches to be dug
around the houses for drainage, the houses to be numbered, and
a neat tin label to be appended to the neck of each child,
containing his or her number, together with the number of his
house. With these numbers and the teacher's register as guides,
a truant could be traced to his home, and the- father called
upon to account for the absence. These were arbitrary proceedings, but, as there was no civil law to meet the case, the
naval officer assumed the responsibility, and broke up truancy.
The school continued to grow, not only in numbers, but also
in the influence which it gained over the adult native population.    There are now 175 pupils.
A great revival occurred in 1884. Nearly all the larger
pupils and many of the parents professed religion, and a church
was organized, which, excepting the Greek church, is the only
one existing in the capital. It now numbers more than a hundred members.
In 1885, by the advice of the Mission Society, an Industrial and Training school was added, to which Congress gave a
liberal support at a fixed price per pupil. Then came the call
for more buildings, and other teachers and instructors in the
trades, and the benevolent responded cheerfully and generously.
Mrs. Elliott F. Shepard, a descendant of the Vanderbilts of New 56
York, contributed [the means to erect a carpenter's shop, a
shoe-shop, and a hospital for girls, and others have with like
generosity, assisted the Missionary Society in building and furnishing a blacksmith's shop, a printing office, and a laundry,
so that the institution now numbers a dozen structures, two of
them quite large.
Within five years, the average time the pupils spend in
school, they acquire a fair knowledge of the English
language, and show proficiency in reading, writing, and in
mathematics. The girls learn to cook, sew, knit, make
garments, and do laundry-work; the boys, to build houses,
make furniture, to do work in the lathe, in the shoe and blacksmith's shop, and are quite as expert in carving as the girls are
in embroidery,—both do excellent work.
They are studious in school, and although their minds
work slowly, they are patient and persevering. They are neat in
person, note carefully the conduct of visitors, and desire to
imitate "Boston people" as they call tourists; but they are
sharp critics when "Boston" behaves itself unseemly. At
meal-time they march quietly to their places, ask a blessing by
singing a few lines, take their seats at a signal, eat with a fork,
use a napkin, make little clatter of dishes, and speak no words
above a whisper while at the table. The young men make a
fine appearance in a military parade, and are passionately fond .
of the drill, and when, at one of their exhibitions, the writer
counseled them to be loyal to the Union, they warmly
Some of the whites in the village, considering their inferiority in numbers in comparison to that of the Indians, have
protested against the policy of allowing these cadets to have
real muskets for drill, and when, on the Fourth of July, these
dusky young soldiers in line marched proudly through the town, a
few terror-stricken people were loud in j their denunciations of
such exhibitions as that of Indians under arms ; but every man 57
of them, had there been occasion, would have Stoutly defended
the flag under which he was marching, and all who sought protection under its sheltering folds.
In their celebration of Fourth of July they sang patriotic
songs, read the Declaration of Independence, listened to an
oration by a native, and cheered the flag. During the recep- •
tion which, by permission, they gave in the evening, they were
quite as decorous as would be an equal number of white boys
and girls. Their parents came also, and looked on, apparently
For some time past these children have all been indentured
to the Mission for a term of years, to be clothed, fed and
trained as the children of a great family. The object in binding
them legally is to keep them in a healthful atmosphere, morally
and physically, and away from debasing influences. The regime of the Mission is similar to that which obtains in our
military and naval schools, except that more of parental tenderness is exercised in the case of the native.
Besides their Thlingkit names, these pupils often take
those of noted persons of whom they have heard, or of their
benefactors,—people who pay for the maintenance of a child
in the mission.
Our table-waiter at the little hotel in Sitka, had assumed
for his newnomen, "Benjamin Butler,"or more briefly, "Ben,"
as he is known in the political world.
The change wrought in their condition is indeed marvelous. They are civilized and seemed to be pleased with their
new life, and a large majority of the students are leading
exemplary, Christian lives.
Now let any one look into the wigwams, malodorous and
filthy to the last degree of endurance, in which these children
passed their first years, and then observe them in school, on the
play-ground, and in the shops, clean, cheerful, industrious,
"clothed and in their right mind," and we think he will be
quite ready to exclaim,   " What God hath wrought." , 58
The prayer-meetings for adults are unique. Their chaplain,
the Rev. Mr. Austin, opens the meetings, and then tells them
that the further exercises are in their hands. Immediately a
a native arises and offers prayer or brief remarks, all in the
Thlingkit tongue, and another verse is sung. Scarcely before
its last note is ended, another is on his feet, sometimes two or
three at a time; and thus there is a rapid alternation of song
and prayer for thirty minutes, and even at that they complain
that the time allotted is too brief, for all have not had a chance.
And what a lesson this is for participants in similar meetings in
civilized communities.
Even the great Tyee lady, of whom mention has been made
before, the Mrs. Croesus of the rancherie, Princess Tom, loaded
with bangles and rings, and arrayed in scarlet and yellow, and
envied by all the other belles of the tribe, is not ashamed to
take her place among the humblest of her sisters, and offer
prayer to the same Savior that they adore.
The Mission with its open doors, and comforts within,
has become a " refuge for those fleeing from death, the house of-
hope to the starving and friendless,and an asylum for girlhood,
and escaping slaves!'' Two or three cases out of many will
illustrate : A little girl, ten years of age, was accused of being
a witch, and two chiefs were dragging her, bound by a rope, to
to their prison for such persons. Rev. Mr. Austin rescued her,
and she found a refuge in the Mission. ' 'A girl of fourteen, about
to be sold into a life of sin for the benefit of a relative, escaped
from her grandmother who was guarding her, and fled to the
school." A boy who had been sold as a slave escaped, and
sought protection in this home of the friendless. In view of
the wonderful changes that have been wrought in the lives of
these people, it seems, at first thought, almost incredible that
many white inhabitants of Sitka are bitter enemies of the Mission ; but this opposition can be accounted for in most cases.
Because of this excellent work, the Greek church has fewer 59
communicants, and the parochial school a less number of pupils;
whiskey-dealers lose custom, traders make less profits, and the
impure find no favor with the chaste; and all these classes combined have been powerful enough to win to their party some of
the government officials.
The teachers have repeatedly been summoned before the
court for alleged illegal acts, and fined. The superintendent,
Rev. Sheldon Jackson, D. D., was imprisoned for rescuing
girls from leading shameless lives, and all the managers have
been denounced in public meetings for inducing the native to
make a man of himself; but the influence of the Mission still
grows, and bids fair to live down all opposition. Even during
the present summer, the U. S. Judge remitted a fine he had imposed upon Prof. Kelley, doubtless because he had found that
his decision was an unpopular one.
The Mission has already become the most important institution in Alaska for civilizing the native, and seems to have
almost solved the Indian problem in our country. Just one
question awaits an answer in Sitka—what shall be done with
the Indian when he has become civilized and educated ? There
are no manufactories in town, and there is little call for labor
in any of the trades.
The graduate is no longer an Indian,—even his relatives
sneer at him because he has departed from their customs. He
is above them and they will have no intercourse with him,
unless he resumes the breech-clout, which a few do. The
whites do not receive him into favor, because, as they allege,
he is still a " Siwash," a term used when speaking with contempt of an Indian,—and for menial service they prefer a
Chinaman. The poor fellow has been touched with refinement
enough to make him feel more keenly his isolation. A few find
work in the scattered industries along the coast, but the fact
that they have been taught not to labor on Sunday shuts many
out from employment. 60
In view of these discouragements many boys will not
attend the school, and the question has been agitated, even in
enlightened communities ; does education, after all, make the
Indian a better man ? The answer has almost invariably been
given in the affirmative by those best qualified to know j and
even traders and other enemies of missions are compelled to
acknowledge that the teacher and the preacher have wrought a
great change for good among them.
Taking another step in the attempt to improve the condition of the pupils in the school in Sitka, the managers have
commenced to colonize them ; that is, as soon as a young man
graduates, they advise him to marry some one of the girls of his
class, and to encourage him to take this step, and keep away
from his tribe, they furnish him with the materials with which to
build a cottage on the portion of the Mission grounds assigned
for this purpose. The enemies of the school protested against
the policy of establishing another Indian division within the
town limits, but three neat cottages are already occupied, and
more will be erected when needed.
The superintendent finds employment for these new families as best he can, and as soon as the institution can command
the means to build a saw-mill and a salmon cannery the problem will be solved without resorting to migration. The solution
has already been given at Metlakahtla, and this will be the subject of my next communication.
Note—According to an agreement entered into by the four denominations,—when, we do not know,—tbe southeastern part of Alaska was
assigned to the Presbyterians as their missionary ground, the Youkon
valley to the Episcopalians, and the great northwest portions, including the
Aleutian Islands, to the Baptists and Methodists. THE STORY  OF METLAKAHTLA.
William Duncan's  Glorious   Work--A  Cannibal
Tribe Converted --A Model Community, and How
Bigotry Destroyed It --Mr. Duncan Removed--
The Indians Despoiled of their Property--
They Seek Refuge on American Soil--
And Begin Life Anew.
Victoria, B. C., August, 1888.
"At Columbia, on the coast of the Pacific, a practical
missionary genius named William Duncan, has succeeded in
civilizing a body of Indians, degraded by cannibalism, and, at
his Metlakahtla mission, stands at the head of a community of
some thousand persons, which has a larger church than is to be
found between there and San Francisco. Testimony to the
value of the results was borne in 1876, by Lord Dufferin, then
Governor-general of Canada, who declared that he could hardly
find words to express his astonishment at what he witnessed."
—Encyclopedia Britannic a.
Some time in 1856, the English Missionary Society of London, having learned that this Mr. Duncan had volunteered to
go as a missionary among the Indian tribes of BritishColumbia, •
accepted his offer, and sent him out the next year under their
auspices. He left a lucrative position in England to accept the
munificent salary of £100 a year ! He arrived in Victoria, via
Cape Horn, and there decided to work among the tribes near
Fort Simpson, a trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company,
near the coast, about six hundred miles north from Victoria. 62
Sir James Douglass, then governor of the territory, endeavored by the strongest arguments that he could bring to bear
upon him to dissuade him from his purpose, declaring that from
his knowledge of them, he would fall a sacrifice, swift and
ghastly, to the murderous instincts of those barbarous hordes;
but Mr. Duncan, trusting in the Higher Power'which he believed had led him to this coast, kept his resolution and went.
When he arrived he soon learned to what jeopardy he had
exposed himself. Their ferocity had compelled the Company
to take extreme measures for safety. The fort was strongly
fortified, and, with few exceptions, no Indian was allowed within its walls. All goods to and from the post were conveyed
under a strong escort, and trading was carried on through a
small window; and even this was marked on its casings with
numerous bullets.
These savages were cannibals. They held captives as
slaves, and butchered and ate them at will. They believed in
witchcraft, in the scorcery of the Shamans, and in devils and
evil spirits which they propitiated by sickening orgies. They
were polygamists, and sold their daughters for immoral purposes to traders and whisky dealers.
Shortly after his arrival, Mr. Duncan witnessed, from the
wall of the fort, a scene which almost discouraged him : "A
party of painted and bedecked cannibals tore, limb from limb,
the body of a woman who had just been foully murdered by a
chief, each struggling for a morsel of the human flesh which they
devoured, accompanying their fiendish orgies with howls and
weird beat of their medicine drums."
Such was his introduction to the Tsimpshean Indians in
October, 1857, and this incident gave him his first lesson in his
For the first eight months he kept himself within the fortification, observing their conduct as best he could from the walls,
and studying and reducing to writing their language under  the 63
tutorship of a friendly Indian. Then he ventured out, and, to
their astonishment, began to talk to them in their own tongue.
In his interviews with them he endeavored to win their
confidence, first by giving cheap presents to the children, then
by taking an interest in their affairs, by counseling them, at the
same time " telling them about God, their Creator, and persuading them to love Him as their best friend."
Finally, contrary to the custom of the white men whom
they had before known, he began to trust them, and that, he
says, was the secret of his success. Then they trusted him,
listened to him, and believed him.
After a time Mr. Duncan " opened a school at the house
of one of the chiefs, and it was attended by both children and
adults." Finding the Indians responsive, with the assistance
of a few of his most zealous followers, he erected a log school
house, and soon had an attendance of 200. But, in all his
efforts he had to contend against the opposition of fur traders,
whisky dealers, soldiers and bad Indians.
Hence, after he had gathered a little church of about fifty
converts, he determined to seek another location, remote from
these evil influences, and he selected a place called Met-la-kaht-
la, a site of one of the ancient Tsimpshean villages, about
twenty miles from Fort Simpson.. To this place he resolved
that no one should be admitted as a resident who did not subscribe to certain rules, the substance of which is as follows :
To give up "ahlied," or devil-worship, to cease to call
medicine men when ill, to stop gambling, painting their faces,
using intoxicating drinks, to rest on the Sabbath, to attend religious instruction, to send their children to school, to be
cleanly, industrious, peaceful, honest in trade, to build neat
houses and to pay village tax.
Mr. Duncan organized a village council of twelve, three of
whom were chiefs, and a police force, and the inhabitants had
occasion to know, Mr. Duncan not excepted, that they were not 64
merely figure-heads. Gradually they became educated in the
principles of equity and order, grew to be industrious, and
seemed to be pleased with their changed mode of life.
For twenty years and more they continued to prosper until
a new generation arose who knew no other manner of living.
They built a saw-mill, and then better houses, laid sewers,
made roads and sidewalks, erected a church building at an expense of ten thousand dollars, built a fine school house, and
two houses for the entertainment of other Indians who came
there to trade. They established a co-operative store that
brought profit to the stockholders,—a great surprise to them.
They dug wells, built a cannery, an assembly hall, offices, and
carpenters' and blacksmiths' shops, and several practiced the
shoemaker's trade. They were taught how to make soap, and
then its use, and  how to weave cloth.
And Mr. Duncan himself had first to be educated in the
trades which he established, and, for this purpose, he went to
England, and there, like Peter the Great of Russia, he took
lessons in the various manufactories. In all his plans, two ideas,
that they might be inclined to lead Christian lives, and become
self-supporting and independent, seemed to have been prominent ; and these two objects pursued to their fulfillment, will,
in our opinion, solve the "Indian problem," not only in
British Columbia, but  in the United States.
In no one effort did Mr. Duncan reveal- his fitness for his
work more than in gradually modifying their domestic habits,
without shocking them by a sudden change, and he seems to
have felt his way along the line of procedure by a species of
At first, each family in the village had a separate cottage,
but the Indians, having been accustomed to herd together, several families in one large hut, were lonesome, and hence, back
of each two houses and coupling, both, he built a general assembly-room for the two families, somewhat after the fashion of a 65
wigwam, having a hearth in the center, and a large opening in
the roof for the escape of smoke.    This arrangement answered •
Mr. Duncan's idea of family privacy, and their  idea of social
Again, he insisted upon their taking one meal each day as
civilized people, sitting at the table and using knives and forks,
and left them free to take their food at other meals, both in kind
and manner, as they chose. They soon adopted the white
man's customs at every repast.
It will readily be seen that his labors were herculean, for he
not only taught school three hours a day, but he also superintended the manufactories, received traders and visitors, presided
at the village council, was sanitary engineer and overseer, settled disputes, conducted a large Sunday school, and preached
three times a week.    To the Indians he seemed ubiquitous.
Briefly, he was teacher, pastor, magistrate, and patriarch,
and the whole-colony loved him as a father, for he was true ancl
kind, though decided, in all his dealings with them. The
great wonder is, that before he had prepared trained assistants,
he did not utterly collapse under the burden, for he was generally in the harness fifteen hours a day.
At length he had the gratification of seeing as the fruit of
his labors, a community of twelve hundred happy, thrifty,
educated, well-dressed, well-behaved, civilized, Christianized
natives, a marvel in the history of missions on this continent
—all brought about by the wise counsel and firm-handed
guidance of a Christian hero.
Lord Dufferin gave his estimate of the value of his labors
in a speech before the provincial parliament of British
Columbia, in 1876, in these words : " I have visited Mr. Duncan's wonderful settlement at Met'lakahtla and have thus been
enabled to realize what scenes of primitive peace and innocence,
of idylic beauty and material comfort, can be presented by the
stalwart men and comely maidens of an Indian community, under 66
the wise administration of a judicious and devoted Christian
minister." The Bishop of Columbia said of this work : "All
former work, varied and interesting and" impressive as ministerial life is, seems insignificant before this manifest power of
the Spirit of God touching the heart and enlightening the
understanding of so many recently buried in the darkness and
misery of ignorant and cruel superstition."
The Church Mission Society, under whose auspices Mr.
Duncan was prosecuting his labors, so approved of his management, that they sent circulars containing an outline of his plans
to other missions under their control, and recommended their
leaders to also make industrial instruction a leading feature of
their work.
In brief, the triumph of the mission seems to have been a
a matter generally conceded by all except the traders, and
their opposition arose, of course, from self-interest. Bishops,
admirals, captains, honorables, and a long list of visitors,
warmly   expressed their   admiration of the  work.
But after twenty-five years of prosperity and sunshine, clouds
began to hover over the little community. Mr. Duncan was a
layman, and when urged to "take orders," he answered that he
thought he could do more good in the capacity of teacher and
general manager, than to add to those offices that of ordained
minister. Clergymen from Victoria and other places could, and
did come, to officiate in the more important ordinances of the
Church, and there was more pressing need for an industrial
teacher than for a priest. - But Mr. Duncan's suggestions were
disregarded, and right here began the rupture that has brought
religion into disgrace, and ruined the once united, happy,
and prosperous colony. The Society, yielding to ecclesiastical
pressure, sent them a bishop.
From the letters and voluminous reports we have read, and
from the numerous verbal accounts we have listened to, pro and
con, we are forced to the conclusion, that this particular bishop 67
was the wrong man for the place,—that he was dictatorial and
bigoted. Being a high churchman, he sharply criticised what
he termed Mr. Duncan's loose views in regard to the practice of
certain Church forms and ceremonies. He introduced so much
of pomp and color and ceremony in his ministrations, that the
people turned in astonishment to their leader for an explanation.
He claimed to be head of the mission by virtue of his office.
He demanded the accounts of the colony, and when produced,
he charged the man who had made Metlakahtla what it was, with
misappropriating funds, and claimed that all the moneys sent
by individuals to Mr. Duncan personally, and for a specific purpose, were the property of the society. These moneys had all
been invested in public improvements, and Mr. Duncan believed that they belonged to the colony.
It is needless to give further details of the rupture, nor is
it difficult to conjecture the result. Two factions arose. About
sixty gave adherence to the Bishop, a thousand remained loyal
to their leader, and some went back to their old ways, declaring that since Christians quarreled thus, they were no better than
At length the Mission Society felt called upon to sustain the
bishop, and consequently, to dismiss Mr. Duncan.- The Society
also claimed the land on which the little community had erected
their public buildings, and the government confirmed that
claim by declaring that "all public lands belonged to the
Queen;" although Lord Dufferin, governor-general of the
dominion, had assured the Indians that " they had a prescriptive right to their lands," and that they should not be
deprived of them without compensation. Consternation seized
the poor Indians, and they began to concert plans for a rebellion.
The minister of the interior wrote, in a bundle of negatives,
thus : "If there has not been an Indian war, it is not because
there has been no injustice." 68
With admirable tact Mr. Duncan suppressed attempts to do
violence, and went to England and to Ottawa seeking relief.
He obtained promises, but relief never came. Then he
resigned his position as president of the village council,
and prepared to leave the colony, thinking that by his absence
the breach might be healed ; but the Indians, in full assembly,
unanimously recalled him to the leadership, promising to stand
by him at all hazards. By the advice of his friends in Victoria
he consented to return after a short vacation.
But what could the people do ? They could not live in
peace with the Bishop, and they had already been informed that
the adherents of Mr. Duncan had no claim to the mission
grounds, nor to the soil on which their ancestors had lived
for a century. Consequently, to abandon the place seemed to
be the only alternative; and finally they resolved to seek a
refuge beyond the dominion of ecclesiastical tyranny. Annette
Island in Alaska, uninhabited, and only ninety miles distant,
seemed to be a favorable location.
Mr. Duncan was deputed by the Indians to go to Washington and obtain, if possible, the permission to settle in that island,
and such exemptions from duties as could legally be granted
them. He bore with him a remarkable document, a part of
which is here copied :
Victoria, B. C, Nov. 16, 1886.
To the Lovers of Civil and Religious Liberty in America:
The bearer, Mr. William Duncan, for thirty years a devoted missionary of religion and civilization in North British
America * * is on his way to Washington, deputed by the
native Christian brethren of Metlakahtla to confer with the
United States authorities on matters affecting their interests and
Like the Pilgrim fathers of old, this afflicted but prospering and thrifty flock seek a refuge from grievous wrongs, and
hope to find it under the American flag. 69
They prefer abandoning the home of their fathers, and the
precious fruits of their industry, to submitting to the violent
seizure of their lands, and the intolerable stings of religious
greed and interference. *        *       *    '  *        *       *       *
This document was signed by Bishop Cridge, B.W. Pearse
surveyor-general, Senator Macdonald of the Dominion Parlia-
liament, and by several other prominent citizens of Victoria.
The Royalists of the province call this a "treasonable document." It is a sharp arraignment for illiberality and intolerance, but it cannot be gainsaid.
The secretary of the treasury at Washington remitted the
duties on their effects, and the authorities gave the Indians a
pledge that, "when the general land-laws of the United States
were extended to Alaska, ample provision would be made for
all law-abiding inhabitants." Relying on these promises, the
little colony, with sad hearts, began last summer to remove,
like the Pilgrims, to their Plymouth Rock, new Metlakahtla.
. Then came the question of meum and iuum ;—how much of the
property could they take with them ? When they were told
they could claim nothing of all the monuments of their labor,
save their personal effects, they appealed to the charitable and
benevolent of the United States to obtain means for the trans-
fer,and wherever Mr. Duncan told the story of their wrongs,
the people responded generously.
Now most of the dwellings of the old mission are unoccupied, the shops and the manufactories are idle,—it is a "deserted
village.'' A few gather for worship in the great church that once
was crowded, and the Bishop keeps up a show of activity, but
the heart of the colony has gone. Doubtless the *Bishop and
the government see their mistake, and would gladly undo the
wrong, but it is too late. The stricken, wronged, plundered
people are sheltered under the protecting wing of a great nation
that is able and willing to shield the weakest refugee.
*The Bishop has recently returned to England. 70
These colonists are poor, but hopeful, and they have
commenced to build their new city with all the ardor they exhibited in their earlier efforts to rear for themselves neat and
pleasant homes, feeling that their new possessions are theirs
permanently, and not to be taken away by the stupidity of a
priest, or by official plundering.
Mr. Duncan gray-haired, and weary, still leads them, encouraging them by his cheering words to live upright lives,
and to suffer all for the Master by whose spirit they have been
lifted up from the condition of cannibals to become "living
There has been no attempt in this sketch to glorify this
remarkable man,—it is a simple record of well-attested facts.
Being human, and stung as he was by the keenest provocations,
that of obstructing his cherished and successful work by ecclesiastical intermeddling, he made mistakes; but his great
heart was always right, and, living a simple, earnest, Christian
life, he has won respect, even from his enemies.
A resident of Victoria, a lady who is a shrewd observer
of men and things, and who has been acquainted with the mission from its beginning, epitomizes her opinions of it in these
words: " The conversion of the Tsimpshean Indians has no
parallel in the history of Christan work in all British America,
but the wonder of Metlakahtla is Mr. Duncan." PUGET SOUND.
Scenery -- Cities-- Growth-- Beautiful Victoria.
Victoria, August, 1888.
At present, the tide of migration in the United States is
toward the great  unoccupied Northwest, chiefly by Scandin?
During the past Spring and present Summer they have oeen
pouring into Oregon and Washington Territory at the rate of
one thousand a month. The Dane drifts naturally to the valleys
and lowlands,—the Swede and Norwegian, to the home-remembered and forest-covered uplands.
The first settlements are reasonably made about the great
water-ways, such as the Columbia and Puget Sound, but until
the bar at the mouth of the former has been deepened, and a
ship canal has been cut around its cascades, the latter will attract the trade in heavy staples, such as lumber and wheat, and
Washington Territory will get the larger number of settlers—just
now it is receiving two-thirds of the immigrants.
The Territory is quite uneven, tossed into ranges named
the Rockies on the east, the Cascades through the center, and
the Olympians in the west, answering to the coast range further
Mt. St. Helens, described in a previous letter, Mt. Ranier
near the head of the Sound, Mt. Baker in the extreme north, all
in the Cascade range, and Mt. Olympus in the west, are peaks
conspicuous not alone for their height, but especially for their
isolation, standing as they do almost alone. 72
Mt. Ranier, 14,444 feet high, is quite regular, but is scarred
and seamed, is grand and grim, very difficult of ascent, and can
be seen a hundred miles and more away. The Tacomans have
re-christened it after their own town, but the new baptismal
name is not recognized outside the city limits. It is so striking in altitude, isolation, and outline, it so challenges the
attention, that the tourist instinctively turns to it, even when
it just lifts its head above the horizon, as he does to the central
figure of a great painting.
The Sound is a beautiful sheet of water, and although it is
but one hundred and forty miles long, it has 2,000 miles of
coast, because of its numerous fiords and channels. Hood's
Canal cuts into .the land with a ram's-horn twist 75 miles.
Place the spread fingers of two hands upon a flat surface,
and let a mark be made close about them ; when the fingers
are removed, the outline will bear some resemblance to the projections of land and the firths and bays. There is no lack of
good harbors except where the water is too deep and the shore
is rocky.
Two cities, Tacoma at the head or south end of the
Sound, and Seattle, fifteen miles down and on the east side of
it, are fierce rivals; the latter at present, having the lead in
enterprise and population.
The Northern Pacific Railroad corporation gives the
weight of its powerful influence to build up the former, its
present western terminus, and the town has a phenomenal
growth, but the vim and push of the old Chinook town, Seattle,
have out-stripped the Tacomans in the race. They have a
better harbor, and are nearer the coal mines and lumber
A month'ago, Tacoma had a population of 12,000, and
Seattle, 15,000; but such is the influx by immigration that a
census remains accurate for scarcely a week. Ask a person on
the street for directions as to street or location, and in two out 73
of three instances the answer will be, " I do not know, I have
been here a few days only." Hotels are paying investments,
and the asking prices for corner lots are fabulous. Money
circulates freely, and labor commands it readily. The bustle
and rush, and daring in "taking chances," would surprise
a Chicagoan. There are structures in both places that would
be a credit to any city. The stranger within a week, catches
the spirit of the place, his pulse beats faster, he too quickens
his pace, hurries, he knows not why, to and from his meals,
spends his last minute in watching the surging crowd, or
listening to the illuminated tale of a real-estate dealer, and then
rushes to catch the train out of town. When he is in it, he
likes the feverish intensity that characterizes life in such places,
but he enjoys the calm when he is out of it, and contemplates
it at a distance.
These towns harmonize in one purpose, that of turning the
commerce of eastern Oregon and of the Territory from Portland to the Sound; and that purpose finds some fulfillment.
Port Townsend, on the angle of land where the Sound and
the Straits of Juan De Fuca unite, is also presenting its claims
as the coming city. It has a capacious harbor, commands the
channel, and is less than a three hours' sail from Vancouver's
Island. The fact that shrewd business men are putting their
money into substantial improvements for the town, shows what
they think of its future ; and two railroad corporations have
already made bids for accessible water-fronts. Nearly all the
commerce of the Sound must pass this gateway, and the contiguous territories are beginning to pay tribute in her mart.
Vancouver's Island, the pearl of British Columbia, for sixty
miles runs parallel with the northwest coast of Washington
Territory, and these two portions of land include between them
the Strait, the great channel to the Pacific.
And right here we pause to remark, that few Americans,
while on the ground, can contemplate with complacency, the 74
fact that this island and the adjoining province are governed
by a foreign power, since he knows that it belonged to us by
all considerations of justice, and of implied treaty stipulations,
but was lost, to us through the ignorance, stupidity, and cowardice of weak politicians. "Phifty-Phour-Phorty or Phight,"
was the sentiment of all true Americans, but the party which
shouted it most loudly was the first to surrender.
A range of mountains occupies a large part of the island,
leaving patches here and there only, fit for cultivation; but it
has the finest coaling stations on the coast from Mexico to the
Arctic Circle. They are Nanaimo and Wellington, on the west
side of the island, about eighty milels from Victoria. The coal is
semi-anthracite in character, and quite free from impurities, and
American steamers pass the great veins of Washington Territory
and pay an extra price here because of its superior quality.
Victoria, the capital and metropolis of British Columbia, is
the gem of all the towns of the Northwest, in location, in enterprise, and in promise. Her commerce embraces, not only the
whole north Pacific coast, but extends from Japan to Montreal,
New York, and even to England. Twenty wholesale firms do
business on her streets, and the old Hudson's Bay Company,
still rich and tyrannical, has one of its chief stations here.
It is a great entrepot for fish, lumber, and furs, and points with
. pride to the large number of its Crcesuses.
"We should soon be a dangerous rival to San Francisco,
if we could but annex the Pacific coast to British Columbia,"
whispered a far-seeing young Victorian facetiously, and so they
would, for they are 800 miles nearer Japan than those living j
within the Golden Gate, and are already winning the lion's
share of the Oriental trade.
The tea trade is practically their own now, both for Canada
and a large part of our own country. English ships that come
around the Horn for salmon, can place English goods on the
wharves at Victoria  without duty, and at a small  advance on f 75
the original cost, so that most articles of English manufacture
are quite as cheap there as in Buffalo.
The entrance to the inner harbor is long, rocky, and tortuous, and can pass ships no larger than 2,000 tons, but its
outer harbor, two miles away, is ample for ships of all sizes.
At Esquimalt, five miles to the northwest, there is a better
harbor, and the dominion government has just completed the
finest dry-dock on all the coast.
The population, of Victoria, about 14,000, is chiefly
Anglo-Saxon, with a large sprinkling of "Celestials" and
Here one notes genuine English customs. Business men
go to their offices at nine or ten in the morning, and leave at
four for their homes, real English homes, standing near the
center of large grounds, far from the street, walled in, and
concealed from the gaze of the vulgar by shrubbery. Here the
icy Englishman that held you at arm's length " on Change,"
unbends, and gambols like a boy.
When an outside barbarian has proved himself, or has come
properly introduced, he may be invited within; and if he is
thus honored, he finds to his surprise that the truculent master in business has suffered a complete metamorphosis, and that
he is a charming host, for he is cordiality itself, and dispenses
with a liberal hand.
According to the number of inhabitants, such families are
numerous, and being educated and well-to-do, and this being
the residence of governmental officials, society  is of a higher
order of intelligence and refinement than  in most towns   of
equal size.
As children they received their education in England,
hence, English customs and peculiarities are emphasized by the
Victorians as they are by colonists generally. But constant
intercourse in business with their cousins over the Straits of
Fuca, and the irruption of Yankees who have " come to stay," 76
are gradually working a change in the ways of doing things, to
the disgust of the staid " burghers." The younger men are
trying to keep step with their intruders, and begin to consider
annexation not an unmitigated evil, although as yet they discuss it in undertones.
The climate is cool, but quite as salubrious as that of any in
which the writer ever lived. The thermometer rarely rises to
80 degrees in summer, and does not often descend to zero in
winter,—for the three warm months of the year it registers
about 70 during the day, and 60 for the night. As in Alaska,
the Kuro Siwo accounts for the comparatively mild winters.
The air is invigorating, the sun is out daily, and from a sanitary point of view the climate is considered by many preferable
to that of California. Wheat, and fruits of the temperate
zones, rarely fail of giving good returns, and the city is in a
bed of flowers.
There are many pleasant drives into the surrounding
country in which one gets almost a surfeit of water and mountain views, and from Beacon Hill, rising in the center of the
Park, there is a fine outlook up the island ; east into the mainland, where Frazer's River has carved a deep passage through
the Cascades to the Gulf, southeast into the Territory where
Mt. Baker, with hoary head, looms up 12,000 feet, and nearer,
to the numerous islands at the foot of the Sound, among which
is San Juan, the possession of which our government saved
from surrender by arbitration ; while still farther south, 145
miles away by the lines of sight, is grand old Ranier, the most
commanding  of all the peaks of this coast.
From the Park, your place of observation, the Strait of
Juan DeFuca stretches away to the south and west twenty-five
miles to an almost precipitous wall,—a range known farther south
as the Coast Range, but here, the Olympian. Conspicuous
among its many peaks is Mt. Olympus, outrivaling his ancient
namesake, for he hangs his regal cap of snow 8,000 feet in air,
L_ 77
and wears a look more grim and awe-inspiring than the throne
of "High-thundering Jove" in Thessaly. The whole range
is crowned with snow till snow comes again in autumn.
Now let the spectator re-survey the views from Beacon Hill:
—at his back is a pleasant city; all around him is a long sweep
of waters, mountains are on every side as they were "round
about Jerusalem;" from three different points of the compass
great isolated peaks stare him in the face, while across the Strait
there arises the abrupt barrier of classic name, clothed to the
foot with dark evergreens; the Sierras are just tipped with snow,
and that edging is kindled into a lambent flame by the setting
sun,—this whole range for fifty miles thus adorned, and lifted
far above the observer, and outlined in sharp silhouette on a
sky of pale orange,—all this,with the surrounding views justmen-
tioned, make a picture that can never fade from his memory.
"Beautiful for situation" is Victoria, salubrious is its
climate, joyous is its sunshine, and hospitable are its people. A LESSON IN GEOGRAPHY.
The Canadian Pacific Railway-- The Selkirks and
the Rockies - The Great Glacier - Banff'-- Wheat
Fields -- Winnipeg-- Fort Garry - Legends.
Winnipeg, September, 1888.
For scenic beauty, variety, and grandeur, North America
may challenge comparison with any other grand division of the
globe. There are no rivals to the canyons of the Colorado, or to
the Yosemite, or to the geysers of the Yellowstone, and in no
country do railroads defy such chasms as the Royal Gorge of
the Arkansas, or scale such heights as those of the Marshall and
Veta passes. Our neighbors, across our northern border, stimulated no doubt by the daring of the Yankees, have pushed their
continental track over and through difficulties that, forty years
ago, were considered insurmountable. The Canadian Pacific
Railway extends from the Pacific to Montreal, a distance of
almost 3,000 miles. Its present western terminus is Vancouver
which has grown, in two years, from a forest to a city of 5,000
people, and its inhabitants have shown their faith in the future
of the town by erecting numerous fine public and private buildings, notable for size, solidity, and comeliness. Steamers loading and discharging cargoes to and from the ports of Puget
Sound, San Francisco and Japan, frequent her harbor, Burrard's
Inlet", and in her warehouses are teas, silks, fish, and furs from
distant seas and lands. Swift steamers ply between the docks
and  Victoria,   the  capital  of the province,   on   Vancouver's ■^
Island, eighty miles away; so that the latter city shares with this
the honor and the advantage of being the western terminus of
the railway.
Leaving Vancouver for its trans-continental journey, the
train winds along Frazer's River, sometimes hanging out over it
two hundred feet below. The stream is quite rapid, although
navigable for a hundred miles, and as turbid as the Pactolus,
and for the same reason, since gold-hunters are boring the moun-,
tains, or with great jets are washing away the hills along its
banks, and the yellow sediment tinges the Gulf of Georgia
fifteen miles from the mouth of the river. On our pathway we
pass numerous hamlets, each regarded as the embryo of a future
metropolis, and rejoicing in unpronouncable names, some
foreign, but more Indian, and confused with Babel tongues;
and in eighteen hours from Vancouver, we reach, on a plateau
of the Selkirks, Kamloops, a town of 1,000 Scotch, Indians, and
Chinamen, and a sprinkling of as many other nationalities as
there are in San Francisco. The soil of this plateau is rich,
and wherever irrigation is practicable, wheat and fruits flourish.
It is also a fine grazing country, since bunch-grass clothes
all the glades and hills; hence, Kamloops, from its situation
and resources, has become the center of supplies for the vast
mineral and lumber regions of the interior of the province.
Here also is an old station of the omnipresent Hudson's
Bay Company, whose agents always selected the most favorable
places for trade and supplies, and the Company still holds them
despite the enactments of Imperial and Dominion Parliaments.
The Thompson River traverses this table-land for' fifty-
miles, expanding in several places into lakes bordered by trees,
or skirting along by prairies, glades, and farms, giving the
whole scene the appearance of a vast park. Now set this neat
little town on a gently-sloping bank of a tiny lake, and the
park in a frame of grass-covered hills and distant mountains,
and you have a picture which for softness and scenic beauty has
scarcely a rival in all the Dominion. f
. Leaving this " Sweet Auburn " and " Vale of Cashmere "
in one, we begin to climb the Selkirks, a range of mountains
scarcely recognized even in our modern geographies ; they are,
however, stubborn facts, presenting a barrier to railway building quite as formidable as that of the Rockies farther east. Up,
up we creep, two great mogul engines snorting with the effort,
and awaking echoes in the glens that heretofore have been disturbed only by the cry of the panther, or the scream of the eagle,
up above the timber-line, up among dizzy peaks where ice has
smothered every vestige of life, and frost is king. How pure
the air, how wide the expanse of glittering Sierras and
evergreen forests, how free and unfettered the soul, save
that sublimity and grandeur dominate all the emotions !
Winding along the sides of the peaks, and traversing the glens
of these upper regions, we just graze the base of Sir Donald, a
pyramidal monolith, towering a mile and half above the track,
and, turning a sharp curve, we come face to face with the Great
Glacier of the Selkirks. This is said to be 1,200 feet thick,'
a mile or more in width, and to have its origin far back among
the Sierras. Although it looms up a formidable barrier at first
sight, its surface is accessible, and can be safely traversed.
By the side of the track, a mile from the forefoot of the
glacier, is a pretty little hotel modeled after a Swiss chalet,
frequented by Englishman and Canadians ambitious for mountain climbing; and by young women of rosy cheeks and
masculine stride who also sport scrip and Alpenstock. From
this little pocket in the mountains our pathway doubles upon
itself many times as it climbs the valley of the Illicilliwaet
River, a turbulent stream, past great glaciers, Titanic walls and
naked peaks of basalt, to the gateway of the range, guarding
which is Cheops, a pyramidal peak of massive masonry, and
just over the Illicilliwaet, Ross Peak, symmetrical in form, and
bearing an immense glacier on its eastern slope. This is the
great pass of the Selkirks, and the outlook ought to be very 81
broad, but, to our disappointment, it is obstructed by thick-
clustering mountains. Hence, eastward we go, shooting
tunnels and snow-sheds, thundering over bridges, one of which
is 295 feet above the stream, and flying in our downward
course along mountain sides in mazy loops, and in sight of
numerous noted peaks, bare, and bristling to the right and left
on the range, we suddenly drop into the valley of the Columbia, a respectable stream even at this point, more than a
thousand miles from its mouth,—here on foreign soil, and
almost as far north of the 49th parallel, as Astoria, where its
waters pour into the Pacific, is south of that line. Here we
again find patches of arable land, and a softer air ; but not long
do we tarry in the lowlands, for there lies across our c«urse a
barrier that, with few breaks, spans this Western World from
the Arctics to the Straits of Magellan ; and again we begin to
ascend, first up the gorge cut by the Kicking Horse,a rapid and
noisy river, quite as large as the Genesee at Rochester. Again
two ponderous mogul engines tug at our train, and for five
hours, we "drag our slow length along," making only about
fifteen miles an hour. After six hours of stern battle with
gravity, we come off victorious, and our faithful moguls shake
great drops of sweat from their panting sides, and take breath
in the dry cool air of the summit.
We are on the^ dividing line of "the Rockies. Back of us
is British Columbia, which we are about to leave, forward are
the lessening peaks that point the way to the vast prairies of
British America. Above us soars Mt. Stephen, thrusting his bald
gray head three miles into the cold blue ether. Clustering
around, other peaks scarcely inferior in altitude, bearing such
names as Field, Cathedral, King and Deville, peer over into the
pass and look down upon our train. A few rods from the station the melting snows trickle down, now on this side toward
the Columbia and the Pacific, and now to the east into the
Saskatchawan, Hudson's Bay and the Atlantic,—a narrow line 82
on the ridge of the water-shed for the two oceans. A child
with little mud-dikes, could direct much of it east or west at
will. Here our moguls part company,—one goes tearing down
the gorges to the Columbia again, the other propelled almost
by gravity alone, guides us in its flight down the eastern slopes,
skirting the mountains in cork-screw loops and curves, past
peaks named and nameless, over dark chasms, through tunnels
whose breath is smoke, and snow-sheds more stuffy than
tunnels, along the bottom of weird gorges where frothy
streams dispute the passage of the road,—down, down through
space in a dizzy whirl, and vieing with Jupiter Tonans in awful
roar; so our iron horse, with compressed lips and [closed
nostrils and without puff or snort, leaped down the Rockies
among the foot-hills and into the National Park, and halted in
front of the far-famed Hotel Banff. Now that the tension was
removed, we caught our breath once more, and settled into
our seats, for had we not been shot out of the sky?
There has been little attempt to improve the Park. Centuries ago, nature saved all that trouble and expense, by
diversifying it with mountains of no mean magnitude, several
peaks being from eight to ten thousand feet in height, with
well-rounded hills from whose tops, easily reached, there can
be had far-away views, with healing springs, one of which is
regarded a real Bethesda, with gravel-bedded streams and lakes
teeming with fish, with, glades and meadows and surprises in
uncounted numbers. Its atmosphere has the purity and vigor
of the mountains, softened from its severity among the glaciers,
and is so conducive to repose that nervous people, in a few
weeks, are said to regain tone and almost unlimited capacity
for sleep. (This statement did not abate anything from the
writer's hotel bill.) Doubtless some old crofter from the Skye
or the Hebrides named it from his ancestral home, for there is
a Banff among the islands of the western coast of Scotland.
Quoting   from  the guide-book,   which,   for  once, does  not 83
so exaggerate that one does not recognize the place,—the
village of Banff is 4,500 feet above the sea-line. All the
surroundings of forest and glade and mountain dispose
one to repose,—they all whisper "rest." It really is one of the
most charming resorts in all trie Dominion.
But Buffalo, whose streets we have not trodden for six
months, is beckoning us, and in obedience to the call, onward
and downward we still go, till, among the last of the foot-hills
we reach the bright little town Calgary, the most important we
have seen since we left Vancouver. It is situated on a hill-girt
plateau overlooked by the white peaks of the Rockies, and in
turn it looks down upon the grassy plains eastward. It is the
center of traffic for great ranches, the entrepot for supplies for
the lumber and mining districts in the mountains, has a station
for the mounted police of the province, and a post of the all-
grasping Hudson's Bay Company.
Here we part company with our tired mogul, and under
the lead of a trim and fresh-looking racer, we soon arrive at
the head waters of the Saskatchawan and look out upon prairies
which, for compass, have no equal in North America;—
bounded for fifteen hundred miles on the west by the Rockies,
and stretching eastward a thousand.
The provinces bordering on the foot-hills, and reaching
northward into the basin of the Mackenzie, are grazing-grounds
for the countless beeves and horses that are destined to make
the Dominion master in the markets/while to the east and south,
the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchawan, Assiniboia, and Manitoba, are vast "wheat fields, each a rival of our own Dakota.
Regina is soon reached, the capital of Assiniboia, and the
point for the distribution of supplies for the provinces north
and south; and here also, is another station for mounted police
who are often judge, jury, and sheriff on horseback, and hold in
check the restive Indians, some of whom had a share in the Riel
rebellion.    Day and night we skim over the flowery prairies, 84
leaving in the rear, ranches and villages, the homes of cattle-
kings,—a vast expanse of treeless plain. And yet, monotony
does not reign supreme, for here and there are ponds frequented
by water-fowl, a belt of undulations resembling waves, a herd of
antelopes, a lone house, or station, on the wind-swept waste,
experimental farms cultivated by the railway company to exhibit
the capabilities of the soil, and miles of ripening grain stretching forward, and on each side of the track away beyond the
ken of the sharpest eye, and broken only by a station, an elevator, or a village. The tireless engine still descending—for we
are in the fertile valley of the Saskatchawan—sweeps on past
Q'Appelle, the seat of the late rebellion, and now of a flourishing Indian mission, past Brandon, the grain-center for two
provinces, past Indian Head,—where, on Bell's farm of one
hundred square miles, plowing in furrows four miles long,
was being done by brigades,—on through towns and villages, we
have not space to' name, till we reach the historic town, Winnipeg, a place we have long desired to visit. This is an enterprising and beautiful city of 25,000 people, two-thirds of whom
are of French, English and Scotch origin,.and the one-third
are' Indians and half-breeds. It is situated on a prairie, yellow
with flowers, at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers,
both navigable, is twenty miles from the lake from which it
takes its name, has railways radiating in several directions, by
which it commands the trade of the vast North and Northwest,
has an important post of the Hudson's Bay Company, and the
principal offices for the sale of railway lands in the different
provinces. It is handsomely built of brick, and of a yellow
limestone, mottled and variegated with fantastic figures,—has
street-railroads, electric lights, great flouring-mills and elevators, a fine court-house, a gaily-adorned postoffice, large stores,
and numerous other notable buildings, among which are the
parliament house and governor's residence. The extremes of
civilization meet without exciting  surprise in this quaint city;
I 85
moccasins, striped faces, and blanketed men, attract little more
attention than high-heeled shoes, Parisian bonnets, or the Englishman adjusting his monocular.    Quaintest of all vehicles is
the Red River cart, in the construction of which not an ounce
of iron finds a place,—that metal, as late as 1825, sold for one
dollar a pound..    It is, as its name signifies, two-wheeled, built
wholly of wood, with heavy felloes, spokes and shafts.    Necessity devised  it, and  it   has "filled the bill"  for eighty-seven
years, since it is better adapted to the soft, yielding soil of the
prairies than the iron-bound wheel of modern times.    A single
steer^ harnessed and driven as we do a horse,is the motive power.
Before the advent of   railways, Winnipegers made pilgrimages
in these carts to St. Paul, five hundred miles south, consuming-
weeks in   the journey, taking down   furs, and  bringing back
comforts for their homes.    An iron bridge over the Red River
leads to an odd little French village, St. Boniface, noted for its
cathedral, and  because the archiepiscopal residence of Prince
Rupert's Land is located here.    The cathedral   is of cream-
colored brick, quite plain, in both  exterior and interior finish,
and has a chime  of three  sweet-toned  bells.    Who wrote the
poem entitled "The Silver Chimes of Boniface"? The churchyard is nearly filled with graves, and  most of the inscriptions
are in French, several of which terminate with  R. I. P.    The
see-house is embowered in trees, and the grounds are lighted
up with a profusion of flowers.    Archbishop Teche, the present
incumbent, is fat and fifty, and arrays himself in a purple cassock, bordered with gold, but otherwise, without ornament.
He is always welcomed  wherever he carries   his genial face.
In-the extreme northern part of the city  is an  old  English
cathedral, founded in the early part of the century.    Building
and  surrounding yard, tout ensemble,   are  a   good type   of a
country church in England.
As early as   1792, Lord Selkirk, a nobleman of Scotland,
became  deeply interested in the condition of the  Highland 86    -
peasantry who had been evicted, and forthwith began to look
about for lands in the New World on which to colonize them;
but it was not until 1812 that a permanent settlement was made
on the Red River, the place selected. The Hudson's Bay
Company claim that they had a fort there in 1796, and hence,
they regarded the Scotch immigrants as intruders.
The site of the "Old Selkirk Settlement" is north some
twenty miles, near Lake Winnipeg, but the location at the junction of the Red. and Assiniboine Rivers was thought to be a
more favorable one, and hence the present site of Winnipeg
has been occupied with an increasing number of whites for
seventy-five years, although in 1870 the population was only
about a hundred. Fort Garry was its earlier name, and a crumbling gateway just off one of the principal streets of the city,
and traces of walls, mark the spot where there has been more
than one siege, and repulse, and capitulation. This gateway is
a high arch .of yellow limestone, having two heavy valves or
gates of wood, a look-out, a platform for cannon in the upper
part of the arch, and loop-holes for musketry ; and near it are
traces of a bastion. It is a very striking and interesting ruin,
and some day the Winnipegers will regret the total destruction
of Fort Garry ; and suffer us to add here, Buffalonians, .the
demolition of Fort Porter.
The origin of Indian names and traditions generally
awakes an interest in the tourist, arid those of the tribes in
Canada are no exceptions,—one of each must suffice. Tribes
living near gave name to the Assiniboines from one of their
customs. They do most of their cooking by dropping hot
stones into vessels containing their food, immersed in water;
hence they were called assini, (stone), and boine, (men),
stone-men,or Assiniboines. Manitoba is from Manitou,the Great
Spirit, and ba, pronounced in a low tone, whispering. The
name was applied in this way : Along the banks of the channel
which connects the two lakes, great and little Manitoba, are 87
numberless flakes of thin slate which, when struck, emit a metallic or tinkling sound. When the south wind stirs the waters
of this passage, these little flakes are rubbed against each other
and give forth low musical sounds, varied according to the
size of the fragments ; and these tones are interpreted by the
Indians to be the whisperings of the Great Manitou, or
Manito-ba.  3%%
■ l. 


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