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BC Historical Books

The new Eldorado: a summer journey to Alaska Ballou, Maturin Murray, 1820-1895 1889

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A TREASURY OF THOUGHT.   An Encyclopaedia of Quotations from
Ancient and Modern Authors.    8vo, full gilt, $4.00.
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NOTABLE THOUGHTS ABOUT WOMEN. A Literary Mosaic.   Crown
8vo, $1.50.
Full of delicious bits from nearly every writer of any celebrity, English,
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When one takes up the book it is difficult to lay it down, for one is led on
from one brilliant or striking thought to another, in a way that is quite absorbing. — Portland Transcript.
PEARLS  OF THOUGHT.    Choice Sentences from the wisest Authors.
i6mo, full gilt, $1.25.
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"pearls" are offered in a jewel-box of printing and binding. The selections have the merit of being short and sparkling. Authors, ancient and
modern, and" of all nations, are represented. — New York Tribune.
DUE WEST; or, Round the World in Ten Months.    Crown 8vo, $1.50.
It is a book of books on foreign travel, and deserves to be in the hands of
all subsequent writers as combining just the qualities to give the greater information and zest. — Boston Commonwealth.
DUE   SOUTH ; or, Cuba Past and Present.    Crown 8vo, $1.50.
Full of information concerning the Bahama Islands, the Caribbean Sea,
and the island of Cuba. Of the finest and most extensive culture, Mr.
Ballou is the ideal traveler. — Boston Traveller.
- DUE  NORTH ;  or, Glimpses of Scandinavia and  Russia.    Crown 8vo,
$1.50.
The author has the tact to travel without an object; he strolls. He sees
things accidentally; you feel that you might have seen the same things,
under the same circumstances. He never lectures; rarely theorizes. It is
as useful to read him as it is enjoyable to travel with him. — Journal of
Education.
UNDER  THE   SOUTHERN   CROSS:  or, Travels in New Zealand, Australia, and Tasmania.    Crown 8vo, $ r.50.
Few persons have traveled so extensively, and no one more profitably
both to himself and the public, than Mr. Ballou. — Edwin P. Whipple.
EDGE-TOOLS   OF   SPEECH.    Crown 8vo, $3 50.
A remarkable compilation of brilliant and wise sayings from more than a
thousand various sources, embracing all the notable authors, classic and
modern, who have enriched the pages of history and literature. It might
be termed a whole library in one volume. — Boston Beacon.
GENIUS   IN   SUNSHINE  AND   SHADOW.    Crown 8vo, $ 1.50.
Mr. Ballou displays a broad and thorough knowledge of men of genius
in all ages, and the comprehensive index makes the volume invaluable as a
book of reference, while — a rare thing in reference books — it is thoroughly
interesting for consecutive reading. — The Journalist (New York).
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO., Publishers,
Boston and New York. THE NEW ELDORADO 
A SUMMER JOURNEY TO ALASKA 
BY 
MATURIN M. BALLOU 
I pity the man who can travel from Dan to Beersheba, and cry: " 'T is
all barren! " and so it is, and so is all the world to him who will not cultivate the fruits it offers. — Sterne.
BOSTON  AND   NEW  YORK
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND  COMPANY
THE RIVERSIDE PRESS< CAMBRIDGE
1889  PREFACE.
The Spaniards of old had a proverb signifying
that he who would bring home the wealth of the
Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with
him. If we would benefit by travel we must take
with us an ample store of appreciative intelligence. Nature, like lovely womanhood, only reveals herself to him who humbly and diligently
seeks her. As Sir Richard Steele said of a certain
noble lady: " To love her is a liberal education."
Keen observation is as necessary to the traveler
who would improve by his vocation as are wings
to an albatross. The trained and appreciative
eye is like the object-glass of the photographic
machine, nothing is so seemingly insignificant as
to escape it. Careless, half-educated persons are
sent upon their travels in order, it is said, that
they may " learn." Such individuals had best
first learn to travel. Those who improve the
modern facilities for seeing the world acquire an
inexhaustible wealth of information, and a delightful mental resort of which nothing can deprive VI
CONTENTS.
CHAPTER IV.
The Great Yellowstone Lake. — Myriads of Birds. — Solitary
Beauty of the Lake. —The Flora of the Park.—Devastating Fires. — Wild Animals. — Grand Volcanic Centre.
— Mountain Climbing and Wonderful Views. —A Story of
Discovery. — Government Exploration of the Reservation.
— Governor Washburn's Expedition. — " For the Benefit
of the People at Large Forever " 47
CHAPTER V.
Westward Journey resumed. — Queen City of the Mountains. — Crossing the Rockies. — Butte City, the Great
Mining Centre. —Montana.—The Red Men. — About the
Aborigines. — The Cowboys of the West. — A Successful
Hunter. — Emigrant Teams on the Prairies. — Immense
Forests.—Puget Sound.—The Famous Stampede Tunnel.
— Immigration 57
CHAPTER VI.
Mount Tacoma. — Terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad. — Great Inland Sea. — City of Tacoma and its Marvelous Growth. — Coal Measures. — The Modoc Indians.
— Embarking for Alaska. — The Rapidly Growing City of
Seattle. — Tacoma with its Fifteen Glaciers. — Something
about Port Townsend. — A Chance for Members of Alpine
Clubs 73
CHAPTER VII.
Victoria, Vancouver's Island. — Esquimalt. — Chinamen. —
Remarkable Flora. — Suburbs of the Town. — Native
Tribes. — Cossacks of the Sea. — Manners and Customs. —
The Early Discoverer. — Sailing in the Inland Sea. — Excursionists. — Mount St. Elias. — Mount Fairweather. —
A Mount Olympus. — Seymour Narrows.—Night on the
Waters. — A Touch of the Pacific 84 CONTENTS.
Vli
CHAPTER VIII.
Steamship Corona and her 'Passengers. — The New Eldorado. — The Greed for Gold. — Alaska the Synonym of
Glacier Fields. — Vegetation of the Islands. — Aleutian
Islands. — Attoo our most Westerly Possession. — Native
Whalers. — Life on the Island of Attoo.—Unalaska.—
Kodiak, former Capital of Russian America. — The Greek
Church. — Whence the Natives originally came   ....
109
CHAPTER IX.
Cook's Inlet. — Manufacture of Quass. — Native Piety. —
Mummies. — The North Coast. — Geographical Position.
— Shallowness of Behring Sea. — Alaskan Peninsula. —
Size of Alaska.—A "Terra Incognita." — Reasons why
Russia sold it to our Government. — The Price comparatively Nothing. — Rental of the Seal Islands. — Mr. Seward's Purchase turns out to be a Bonanza 127
CHAPTER X.
Territorial Acquisitions. — Population of Alaska. — Steady
Commercial Growth.—Primeval Forests. — The Country
teems with Animal Life. — A Mighty Reserve of Codfish.
—Native Food. — Fur-Bearing Animals Islands of St.
George and St. Paul. — Interesting Habits of the Fur-
Seal. — The Breeding Season. — Their Natural Food. —
Mammoth Size of the Bull Seals 143
CHAPTER XI.
Enormous Slaughter of Seals. — Manner of Killing.—Battles between the Bulls.—A Mythical Island. — The Seal
as Food. — The Sea-Otter. — A Rare and Valuable Fur. —
The Baby Sea-Otter. — Great Breeding-Place of Birds.—
Banks of the Yukon River. — Fur-Bearing Land Animals.
Aggregate Value of the Trade. — Character of the Native
Race	
159 V1U
CONTENTS.
CHAPTER XII.
Climate of Alaska. — Ample Grass for Domestic Cattle.—
Winter and Summer Seasons. —The Japanese Current. —
Temperature in the Interior. — The Eskimos. — Their
Customs. — Their Homes. — These Arctic Regions once
Tropical. — The Mississippi of Alaska. — Placer Mines. —
The Natives.— Strong Inclination for Intoxicants    .   .   .
173
CHAPTER XHI.
Sailing Northward. — Chinese Labor. — Unexplored Islands.
— The Alexander Archipelago. '■— Rich Virgin Soil. — Fish
Canning. — Myriads of Salmon. — Native Villages. —
Reckless Habits. —Awkward Fashions and their Origin.—
Tattooing Young Girls. — Peculiar Effect of Inland Passages. — Mountain Echoes. — Moonlight and Midnight on
the Sea 186
CHAPTER XIV.
The Alaskan's Habit of Gambling. — Extraordinary Domestic Carvings. — Silver Bracelets. — Prevailing Superstitions. — Disposal of the Dead. — The Native " Potlatch."
— Cannibalism. — Ambitions of Preferment. — Human
Sacrifices. — The Tribes slowly decreasing in Numbers. —
Influence Of the Women. — Witchcraft. — Fetich Worship.
— The Native Canoes. — Eskimo Skin Boats	
199
CHAPTER XV.
Still sailing Northward. — Multitudes of Water-Fowls. —
Native Graveyards. — Curious Totem-Poles. — Tribal and
Family Emblems. — Division of the Tribes.—Whence
the Race came. — A Clew to their Origin. — The
Northern Eskimos. — A Remarkable Museum of Aleutian
Antiquities. — Jade Mountain. — The Art of Carving. —
Long Days. — Aborigines of the Yukon Valley. — Their
Customs 212 CONTENTS.
IX
CHAPTER XVI.
Fort Wrangel. — Plenty of Wild Game. — Natives do not
care for Soldiers, but have a Wholesome Fear of Gunboats.
— Mode of Trading. — Girls' School and Home. — A
Deadly Tragedy. — Native Jewelry and Carving. — No
Totem-Poles for Sale. — Missionary Enterprises. — Progress in Educating Natives. — Various Denominations engaged in the Missionary Work 222
CHAPTER XVII.
Schools in Alaska. — Natives Ambitious to learn. — Wild
Flowers.—Native Grasses. — Boat Racing. — Avaricious
Natives. — The Candle Fish. — Gold Mines Inland. —
Chinese Gold-Diggers.— A Ledge of Garnets. — Belief in
Omens. — More Schools required. — The Pestiferous Mosquito.— Mosquitoes and Bears. — Alaskan Fjords.—The
Patterson Glacier 231
CHAPTER XVni.
Norwegian Scenery. — Lonely Navigation. — The Marvels
of Takou Inlet. — Hundreds of Icebergs.— Home of the
Frost King. — More Gold Deposits. — Snowstorm among
the Peaks. —Juneau the Metropolis of Alaska. — Auk and
Takon Indians. — Manners and Customs. — Spartan Habits. — Disposal of Widows. — Duels. — Sacrificing Slaves.
— Hideous Customs still prevail 246
CHAPTER XIX.
Aboriginal Dwellings. — Mastodons in Alaska. — Few Old
People alive. — Abundance of Rain. — The Wonderful
Treadwell Gold Mine. — Largest Quartz Crashing Mill in
the World. — Inexhaustible Riches. — Other Gold Mines.
— The Great Davidson Glacier. — Pyramid Harbor.—
Native Frauds. — The Chilcats.—Mammoth Bear. — Salmon Canneries 25J x CONTENTS.
CHAPTER XX.
Glacier Bay. — More Ice Bays. —Majestic Front of the Muir
Glacier. — The Bombardment of the Glacier. — One of the
Grandest Sights in the World. — A Moving River of Ice.
— The Natives. — Abundance of Fish. — Native Cooking.
— Wild Berries. — Hooniah Tribe. — Copper Mines. — An
Iron Mountain. — Coal Mines 275
CHAPTER XXI.
Sailing Southward. — Sitka, Capital of Alaska. — Transfer of
the Territory from Russia to America. — Site of the City.
— The Old Castle. — Russian Habits — A Haunted
Chamber. — Russian Elegance and Hospitality. — The Old
Greek Church. — Rainfall at Sitka. — The Japanese Current.— Abundance of Food. —Plenty of Vegetables. — A
Fine Harbor	
293
CHAPTER XXII.
Contrast between American and Russian Sitka —A Practical Missionary. — The Sitka Industrial School. — Gold
Mines on the Island.—Environs of the Town. — Future
Prosperity of the Country. — Hot Springs. — Native Religious Ideas. — A Natural Taste for Music. — A Native
Brass Band. — Final View of the Capital 304
CHAPTER XXIH.
The Return Voyage. — Prince of Wales Island. — Peculiar
Effects. — Island and Ocean Voyages contrasted. — Labyrinth of Verdant Islands. — Flora of the North. — Political
Condition of Alaska. — Return to Victoria. — What Clothing to wear on the Journey North. —City of Vancouver.
— Scenes in British Columbia. — Through the Mountain
Ranges 321 CONTENTS.
XI
CHAPTER XXIV.
In the Heart of the Rocky Mountains. — Struggle in a Thunder-Storm. — Grand Scenery. — Snow-Capped Mountains
and Glaciers. — Banff Hot Springs. — The Canadian Park.
— Eastern Gate of the Rockies. — Calgary. — Natural
Gas. — Cree and Blackfeet Indians. — Regina. — Farming
on a Big Scale. — Port Arthur. — North Side of Lake
Superior.—A Midsummer Night's Dream 338  THE NEW ELDORADO.
CHAPTER I.
Itinerary. — St. Paul. — The Northern Pacific Railroad. — Progress. — Luxurious Traveling. — Riding on a Locomotive. —
Night Experiences. — Prairie Scenes.— Immense Grain-Fields.
— The Badlands. — Climbing the Rocky Mountains. — Cinnabar. — The Yellowstone Park. — An Accumulation of
Wonders. — The Famous Hot Springs Terrace. — How
Formed. — As Seen by Moonlight.
A JOURNEY from Massachusetts to Alaska was
a serious undertaking a few years ago. It involved great personal risk, considerable expense,
and many long months of weary travel; but it is
now considered scarcely more than a holiday excursion, a good share of which may be denominated a marine picnic. That an important country,
so easily accessible, should remain comparatively
unexplored seems singular in the nineteenth century, especially when its great mineral wealth and
natural attractions are freely admitted. The trip
to Sitka, the capital of the Territory, and back
is easily accomplished in three months, affording
also ample time to visit the principal points of
interest on the route, including the marvels of the
Yellowstone National Park, in Wyoming, which THE NEW ELDORADO.
is not only not surpassed in grandeur and beauty
by any scenery on the continent, but in fact has
no parallel on the globe. The traveler also naturally pauses on his way to examine at least one of
the great mining centres of this gold-producing
country, such as Butte, the | Silver City" of
Montana, where he may behold scenes eclipsing in
affluence the fabulous story of Midas. The plan
adopted by the author, as herein detailed, was to
make the westward journey by the Northern Pacific Railroad to Tacoma, on Puget Sound, where
the remarkable inland sea voyage begins, thence
sailing north to Pyramid Harbor and Glacier Bay,
stopping as usual at the intermediate places of
interest.
On the homeward passage, to vary the journey
and to enjoy the wild scenery of British Columbia, Alberta, Assiniboia, and Manitoba, he left
the steamer at Vancouver, returning by the Canadian Pacific Railway, which presents to the lover
of nature such famous scenic advantages.
The journey westward seems practically to
begin when the traveler reaches St. Paul, the
capital of Minnesota, by way of Chicago, as here
he strikes the trunk line of the Northern Pacific
Railroad, which has an exclusive and unbroken
track thence to Tacoma, a distance of nearly two
thousand miles, the whole of which is covered
with novelty and interest.
We will not pause to fully describe St. Paul,
that youthful city of marvelous growth, promise,
and beauty, with her mammoth business edifices EXPANSION OF RAILROADS.
of stone and brick, her palatial private residences,
and her charming boulevards. The most casual
visitor is eloquent upon these themes, as well as
regarding the open-handed hospitality of her
two hundred thousand inhabitants. Three iron
bridges span the Mississippi at St. Paul, one of
which is nearly three thousand feet long, supported upon arches^two hundred and fifty feet in
span, and having a roadway elevated two hundred
feet above the water.
St. Paul is situated upon a series of terraces rising from the left bank of the Mississippi River,
its site being both commanding and picturesque.
Thus built at the head of navigation on a great
waterway, it naturally commands a trade of no
circumscribed character, besides enjoying the prestige of being the State capital.
Were it not for the unlimited facilities of transportation afforded by the grand and beneficent
railroad enterprise embraced in the Northern Pacific system, the development of the vast and fertile country which lies between Lake Superior and
the Pacific Ocean would have been delayed for
half a century or more. It should be remembered
that so late as 1850 there was not one mile of
railroad in existence west of the Mississippi River.
In 1836 there were, at most, but a thousand miles
in operation on the entire American continent.
This is an epoch of progress. Japan is traversed
by railways, even China has caught the contagion,
and is now building roads for the use of the iron
horse in more than one direction within that an- 4 TEE NEW ELDORADO.
cient and widespread empire, while Russia and
India are 1 gridironed " with rails.
It was remarked in a congressional speech in
the year 1847 that the Rocky Mountains would be
the limit of railroad enterprise across our continent ; that the barrier presented by these huge elevations and the extensive " desert tract" beyond
them must certainly prevent the development of
the Pacific States.
I Desert," indeed !
No land on the globe produces such remarkable
cereal crops as this very prairie soil is doing each
successive year, not only supplying our own rapidly
increasing population with the staff of life, but
also feeding the less fortunate millions of Europe,
where excessive labor and costly enrichment must
make up the deficit arising from an exhausted soil
and circumscribed area. The reader who follows
these pages will not fail to see how liable legislators are to be mistaken in their predictions, and
how apt events are to transcend the weak judgment of the confident and inexperienced declaimer.
Even that Titan statesman, Daniel Webster, put
himself on record in the United States Senate,
while speaking against a proposition to establish
a mail route through a portion of the western
country, as follows: " What do we want with
this vast, worthless area—this region of savages
and wild beasts, of deserts of shifting sands and
whirlwinds of dust, of cactus and prairie dogs?
To what use could we ever hope to put these great
deserts or those endless mountain ranges, impene- EDEN  OF THE NORTH PACIFIC. 5
trable, and covered to their very base with eternal
snow? What can we ever hope to do with the
western coast, — a coast of three thousand miles,
rock-bound, cheerless, uninviting, and not a harbor on it?  What use have we for this country?"
In crossing the continent by the route we have
chosen, one passes through a country whose grand
scenic charms can hardly be exaggerated, in describing which superlatives only will apply, and
whose agricultural advantages, natural resources,
and mineral wealth are probably unequaled in
the known world. We are taken through the
productive wheat-fields of Minnesota and Dakota,
among the gold and silver bearing hills of Idaho
and Montana, into the prolific, garden-like valleys
of Washington, whose lovely hopfields rival the
gorgeous display of Kent in England, and whose
abundant supply of coal and iron is only second to
that of Pennsylvania.
The State has been, and may well be, denominated the Eden of the North Pacific.
On our way we are constantly meeting immense
freight trains, laden with grain, flour, cattle, and
other merchandise, bound for the Atlantic coast;
long strings of coal cars, winding snake-like round
sharp curves, and creeping up steep grades; passenger vans crowded with animated, intelligent
people, all together testifying to the great and
growing traffic of the West and Northwest. We
pass scores of lofty grain elevators, high piles of
lumber, and miles of various kinds of merchandise
prepared for, and awaiting, shipment  eastward, 6
THE NEW ELDORADO.
all of which evinces a local capacity for production far beyond our computation. How marvelous is the change from the conditions existing
in this region a few years since, when millions of
buffaloes roamed unmolested over these plains,
valleys, and hills from Texas to Manitoba! The
skeletons of these herds still sprinkle the prairies,
bleached by the summer sun and crumbled by the
winter's frost. Hundreds of carloads are annually
shipped eastward to the factories which manufacture fertilizers.
As we speed on our western journey day and
night, gliding through long tunnels and deep rock
cuttings, over airy trestles, immense embankments,
bridges, and viaducts, representing the skillful accomplishments of modern engineering, we carry
along with us the domestic conveniences of home.
The train, in fact, becomes our hotel for the time
being, where we bathe, eat, sleep, and enjoy the
passing scenery seated in luxuriously upholstered
easy-chairs, which at night are ingeniously transformed as if by magie into soft and inviting beds.
The elegance and comfort of these parlpr, dining,
and sleeping cars is calculated to make traveling
what it has in a measure become, an inviting luxury. The miraculous cap of Fortunatus would
seem to have been pressed into our service. So
thoroughly perfected is the transcontinental railroad system that it is quite possible to enter the
cars in an Atlantic city, say at Boston or New
York, and not leave the train until five or six days
have expired, when the objective point on the Pacific coast is reached. A NIGHT RIDE ON THE ENGINE. 7
While passing through deep gorges at night, or
creeping over a mountain top, the effect from one's
seat in the cars is weird and curious, especially
when the winding track makes long curves in the
train, so that the panting iron horse is seen from
the rear, all ablaze and emitting dense clouds of
smoke. The snow-tipped peaks on one side and
the threatening gulch of unknown depth on the
other assume a mantle of soft, gauze-like texture
in the clear moonlight. At times one half believes
the rails are laid upon the tree-tops, the branches
of which loom up so close to us. Away in the valley, two thousand feet and moi'e below our level,
a rippling stream sparkles in the silvery light
while on its way to swell some larger watercourse
which drains the rocky hills. Looking far across
the valley we try to make out the distant mountains, but only dim phantoms of gigantic size are
seen, gliding stealthily away in the darkness.
We make interest with the conductor and engineer of the train for a special purpose. We are
in search of a new sensation, to wit, such as may
be derived from a night-ride on the engine, where
one can see all the engineer sees, which is indeed
little enough. The headlight of the locomotive
throws its rays dimly on the darkness for a few
rods in advance of the train. But what does that
amount to, so far as being able to avoid danger ?
That brief space is passed in a second of time, and
it is impossible to see what is beyond. The faithful engineer stands with both hands upon the machinery, one with which to instantly apply the 8
THE NEW ELDORADO.
*
brakes, the other to shut off the steam if danger
shows itself ahead. That is all he can do. What
a boisterous, asthmatic monster it is that drags
the long train through the darkness at the rate
of a mile in two minutes! How its hot breath
belches forth, and how it springs and leaps over
the iron track, fed incessantly with fresh fuel by
the stoker! To one not accustomed to the oscillating motion, it is nearly impossible to keep his
footing, much more difficult than on board of a
pitching or rolling ship at sea. The motion is
short, quick, and incessant. Black, — black as
Erebus; how venturesome it seems to dash into
such darkness! What a tempting of fate! Yet
how few accidents, comparatively, occur ! " The
law of averages is what we calculate upon," said
the engineer of No. —; " about so many people
will be killed annually out of a given number of
railroad travelers. We take all reasonable precautions to prevent accidents, but there are thousands of exigencies beyond our control." If any
one proposes to you, gentle reader, to indulge in a
night-ride on a locomotive, take our advice, and
don't do it.
One does not linger in bed when passing
through a country famous for its scenery. The
experienced traveler has learned that the opening
hours of the day are those in which his best and
clearest impressions are received. He therefore
rises betimes to enjoy the cool, dewy freshness of
the morning. Now and again a prairie-owl is
seen groping its winged way to shelter from the IMMENSE  GRAIN-FIELDS.
9
increasing light. He is sure to see plenty of coyotes, gray wolves, and graceful antelopes on the
rolling prairies, each of these animals exhibiting in some special and interesting manner its
natural proclivities. The prairie-dog nervously
diving into and leaping out of its little prairie
mound ; the wolf bravely facing and glaring at
the passing train, though careful to keep at a
wholesome distance; and the antelopes in small
herds hastening away by graceful bounds over the
nearest hills, far too pretty and far too ornamental to shoot, suggesting in form and movements
that most picturesque of wild animals, the Tyrolean chamois.
Minnesota presents to the eye of the traveler a
grand and impressive country in the form of rolling prairies, diversified by lakes, — of which there
are said to be ten thousand in the State, — forests,
and inviting valleys, the latter particularly adapted
for raising wheat and for dairy farming. Vast
fields of ripening cereals are seen stretching for
miles on either side of the railroad, without a
fence to break their uniformity. This State possesses among other advantages that of a climate
particularly dry, invigorating, and healthful. Four
hundred miles of our route is through Northern
Dakota, where the farming lands are easily tilled,
well watered, and wonderfully prolific in crops.
The choicest wheat grown in America, known as
hard spring wheat, comes from this section, which
has been called " the granary of the world." The
gigantic scale on which wheat-raising is here con- 10
THE NEW ELDORADO.
ducted would- seem incredible if faithfully described to an old-time New England farmer. The
improvement which has been made in machinery connected with sowing, reaping, harvesting,
and threshing grain enables one man to do as
much in this western country as a dozen men
could accomplish twenty-five or thirty years ago.
There are wheat farms- here embracing twenty
thousand acres each, where economy in labor is of
the utmost importance, and where the employees
are so numerous as to be kept under semi-military
organization. The author has seen the big grain-
fields of Russian Poland in their prime, but they
are as nothing when compared with those of
Northern Dakota, nor are the farming facilities
which are generally employed throughout Europe
nearly equal to those of this country.'
At Bismarck, capital of the State, which is a
small butenergetic and thriving place, the Missouri
River is crossed by a magnificent iron bridge,
hung, high in air, which cost a million dollars.
This is the acme of successful engineering, passing our long, heavy train of cars over a track of
gleaming rails from shore to shore without the
least perceptible tremor, or the deflection of a
single inch. The great waterway which it spans
measures at this place fully twenty-eight hundred
feet from bank to bank, though it is at this point
two thousand miles from its confluence with the
Mississippi.
The route we are following soon takes us
through what are called the Badlands, a most THE BADLANDS.
11
singular region, where subterranean and surface
fires are constantly burning, where trees have
become petrified, and where the natural blue clay
has been converted into terra cotta. This locality, extending for miles and miles, has been called
Pyramid Park, on account of its fantastic forms
presented in a singular variety of colors, and because of its mounds, domes, pyramids, and rocky
towers. These vary as much in height as in form,
some measuring ten feet, some two hundred, while
all are clad in harlequin costume, black, white,
blue, green, and yellow. It is called Badlands
in contradistinction to the adjoining country,
which is so very fertile, but the district is im-
proved as good grazing ground for many thousands
of cattle which supply our Atlantic cities with
beef. Some of the best breeds of horses furnished
to the Eastern States are raised, fed, and brought
into marketable condition on these peculiar lands.
This region forms a sort of tangible hint of
what we shall experience still farther on our
Wonderland journey in the interesting and un-
equaled valley of the Yellowstone, where there
are abundant evidences of volcanic force and subterranean fires, and where Nature is seen in her
most erratic mood.
Just as we pass from Dakota into Montana, a
short distance beyond the Little Missouri River,
a lofty peak called Sentinel Butte is seen, at an
elevation of nearly three thousand feet above sea
level. The teeming, vigorous young life of the
Northwest is manifest all along the route, with 12
THE NEW ELDORADO.
its wonderful energy and its almost incredible
rate of progress. We were told that in the State
which we had just left three thousand miles of
railroad had been built and properly equipped
before it contained a single town of more than five
hundred inhabitants.
f
In the State of Montana we find a more hilly
country than that through which we have so recently passed, yet it is well adapted to farming
and possesses large areas of excellent grazing
land. Indeed, there is scarcely any part of this
territory, except the mountain ranges, where the
climate is not sufficiently mild for cattle to winter out-of-doors. Undoubtedly they will thrive
better for being housed at night in the coldest
weather here or anywhere, but this is not absolutely necessary. No food is required for them
except the native bunch grass, which cures itself,
and' stands as hay until the succeeding spring.
Cattle are very fond of and will quickly fatten
upon it. Sheep husbandry is also a great and
growing interest here. We observe now and
again a thrifty flock, tended by a boy-shepherd
accompanied by his dog, recalling similar scenes
in Tasmania and on the plains of Russia.
Statistics show that there are over two million
acres now under cultivation in Montana, and that
the territory is also fabulously rich in minerals.
The present output of gold, silver, and copper is
at the rate of three million dollars per month, and
the yield of the mines is steadily on the increase.
As we hasten on our way, looking on one side CLIMBING THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.      13
far down into sombre depths, and on the other at
threatening, overhanging bowlders, or backward
at the road-bed cut out of the solid rock which
forms the cliff, we Wonder at the successful audacity which conceived and built such a difficult
highway. We have seen few instances of similar
engineering so remarkable as is exhibited at certain points on the Northern Pacific Railroad.
Equal difficulties have been overcome on the Zigzag Railway over the Blue Mountain Range, near
Sidney, Australia, and also in Northern India,
where the narrow gauge railroad climbs the foot-
hills of the Himalayan Range to Darjeeling,
about eight thousand feet above the plains of
Hindostan, but in neither of these instances is
the work so thorough, or on so gigantic a scale,
as where the Northern Pacific crosses the Rocky
Mountains.
We are quite conscious of being on an up
grade, the large engine panting audibly from its
extra exertion, and the train moving forward
no faster than one could walk. Presently tall,
snow-capped peaks come trooping into view, like
mounted Bedouins clad in fleecy white, as the
small city of Livingston is reached. This locality
is about forty-five hundred feet above the sea.
The town is situated in a beautiful valley, with
nothing to indicate its altitude except the snow-
crowned mountains not far away, standing like
frigid sentinels. The observant traveler will also
notice a certain rarefied condition of the atmosphere.    Here we are about midway between the 14
THE NEW ELDORADO.
Great Lakes and the Pacific coast, — between
Superior, the largest lake on the globe, and the
Pacific, the largest ocean in the world.
Livingston contains three thousand inhabitants,
and is a thriving place, the frequent resort of
many lovers of the rod and gun, both large and
small game being found in abundance hereabouts.
Forty miles north of Livingston is Castle Mountain mining district, rich in silver ores, and from
whose argentiferous soil millions of dollars have
been coined and hundreds of enterprising prospectors enriched. A branch road is taken at this
point which runs directly southward to Cinnabar,
a distance of nearly fifty miles, from which place
coaches convey the traveler about six miles farther to the Wonderland of our continent, — the
Yellowstone National Park.
The terminus of the railroad is known by the
name of Cinnabar because it is situated at the base
of a mountain bearing that title, remarkable for its
exposure of vertical strata of three distinct geological periods. Here is a famous place known as the
Devil's Slide, a singular formation caused by the
^1 washing out of a vertical stratum of soft material
between one of quartzite and another of porphyry.
The slide is two thousand feet high, and being of
different color from the rest of the rocky mountain
side is discernible for many miles away.
We have now reached one of the most remarkable points of our excursion, which demands more
than a passing notice, sharing with the great glaciers of Alaska the principal interest of the present journey westward across the continent. THE  YELLOWSTONE PARK.
15
This magnificent territorial reservation is situated in the northwestern part of Wyoming, embracing also a narrow strip of southern Montana
and southeastern Idaho, lying in the very heart
of the Rocky Mountains. It was wisely withdrawn from settlement by an act of Congress in
1872, and is beneficently devoted forever to " the ^
pleasure and enjoyment of the people." It forms
a great preserve for wild animals, and a natural y.
museum of marvels free to all. The well conceived liberality of this purpose is only commensurate with the unequaled grandeur of the Park
itself, though at the time of passing this law comparatively little was actually known of the stupendous marvels contained within its widespread
borders, besides which fresh discoveries of interest
are still being made annually.
Of all those who have endeavored to depict this
locality, none have been able to convey with the
pen an adequate idea of its wild magnificence, or
to give a satisfactory description of its acccumu-
lated wonders. The eye alone can appreciate its
indescribable beauty, majesty, and loveliness.
By the judicious expenditure of public money
and the liberal outlay of corporate enterprise in
road and bridge building, not to mention other facilities, one can now pretty thoroughly explore the
Park in the brief period of a week or ten days.
.To do this satisfactorily heretofore required thrice -
this length of time, besides which, camping out
was necessary ; but it is no longer so, unless one
chooses to play the gypsy.    This plan is adopted 16
THE NEW ELDORADO.
by a few summer tourists, who take with them a
regular camp outfit, depending upon the fish they
catch for a considerable portion of their food supply during this out-of-door life.
The Park is under the control of the Secretary
Y of the Interior. A local superintendent lives here,
who is assisted by a few game-keepers and government police, besides which there is a small gang
of laborers constantly at work during the favorable season, building roads and bridges, opening
vistas here and there, and clearing convenient footpaths, under the direction of an army engineer.
Two companies of United States cavalry make
their headquarters in the Park during the summer
months, distributed so as to prevent any unlawful
acts of visitors. The size of the reservation is
sixty-four miles in length by fifty-four in width,
-yl thus giving it an area of over three thousand six
hundred square miles. Or, to convey perhaps a
clearer idea of its extent to the reader's mind, it
may be said to be nearly one half the size of the
State of Massachusetts. It is a volcanic region
of incessant activity, with mountains ranging from
eight to twelve thousand feet in height, and
embracing a collection of spouting geysers, hot
springs, steam holes, petrified forests, cascades, extraordinary canons, and grand waterfalls, such as
are unequaled in the known world.
We do not forget the well-known geysers of Iceland, or the Hot Lake district of New Zealand,
with which the traveled visitor finds himself contrasting the phenomena of the Yellowstone.
< THE HOT SPRINGS TERRACE. 17
The writer of these pages happened lately to see
an article upon our National Park, written by the
Earl of Dunraven, in which that gentleman questions whether the singular natural exhibitions here
are not exceeded by those of New Zealand. We
are familiar with both localities, and shall dismiss
such a supposition simply by saying that the hot
springs of the British colony referred to are no
more to be compared with those of the Yellowstone Park, than is an artificial Swiss cascade comparable with Niagara. If Nature has anywhere
else shown so wonderful a specimen of her handicraft, it has not yet been our lot to see it.
All the natural objects best worth visiting in
the Park are now accessible by daily stages, which
start at convenient hours from the hotel at Mammoth Hot Springs, making the round of the interesting sights ; thus affording the general public
every needed facility for examining the strangely
attractive vicinity.
Near the hotel is an area of two hundred acres
and more, covered here and there with boiling,
terrace-building springs, which burst out of sloping ground in ceaseless pulsations, at an elevation
of about a thousand feet above the Gardiner River
near by, into which the main portion of the chem-
.ically impregnated waters flow. Five hundred
feet from the base of the springs the water becomes cool, tasteless, and perfectly clear to the
eye, as refreshing to drink as any water from the
purest mountain rill. In ordinary quantities it
has no evident medicinal effect, but is thought to 18
THE NEW ELDORADO.
be a wholesome tonic, with blood-purifying power.
Some springs in the Park, though inviting in appearance, are to be avoided on account of certain objectionable medical properties which they
possess. The hot springs adjacent to the hotel
issue from many vents and at various elevations,
slowly building for themselves terrace after terrace with circular pools, held in singularly beautiful stalactite basins, formed by depositing in thin
layers the chemical substances which they contain.
Some are infused with the oxide of iron, and produce a coating of delicately tinted red ; others are
Y- exquisitely shaded in yellow by an infusion of
sulphur; while some, from like causes, are of a
dainty cream color. Upon numerous basins there
are seen wavy, frill-like borders of bright green,
indicating the presence of arsenic. Here and there
the margins of the pools are scalloped and edged
with a delicate bead-work, like Oriental pearls,
while others are curiously honeycombed, and fretted with singular regularity. No artistic hand,
however skillful, could equal Nature in these delicate and exquisitely developed forms. The grand
terrace, viewed as a whole, is like a huge series
of stairs or steps, two hundred feet high and five
hundred broad, decked with variegated marble,
together with white and pink coral. This immense calcareous formation might represent a
frozen waterfall, or a congealed cascade. The
water, in most instances, is at boiling heat as it
pours out of the various openings, charged with
iron, magnesia, sulphur, alumina, soda, and other THE PARK BY MOONLIGHT.
19
substances. Every spring has its succession of
limpid pools spreading out in all directions, the
basins varying in size from ten to forty feet across
their openings. When the sun penetrates the half
enshrouding mist, and brings out the myriad colors of these beautiful terraces, the effect is truly
charming; it is as though a rainbow had been
shattered and the pieces strewn broadcast. While
thus wreathed in vapors, as the evening approaches and the whole is touched by the rosy
tints of the setting sun, the entire facade glows
with softest opaline blushes, like a conscious maiden challenged by ardent admiration. For a moment, as we gaze upon its illumined expanse, it
seems like a gorgeous marble ruin half consumed
and still ablaze, the fire of which is being extinguished by an avalanche of snow-clouds. Such a
scene cannot be depicted by photography; it cannot be represented faithfully by the artist's skillful
touch in oils, because, like the vivid beauty of a
sunset on the ocean, the light and shade are momentarily changing, while the prismatic hues *•
gently dissolve into each other's embrace.
If possible, let the visitor witness the magic of
the spot by moonlight. It is then fairy-like indeed, shrouded in a thin, silvery screen, — " mysterious veil of brightness made," — like the transparent yashmak of an East Indian houri. CHAPTER II.
Nature in Poetic Moods. — Is there Lurking Danger ? — A Sanitarium. — The Liberty Cap. — The Giant's Thumb. — Singular Caves. — Falls of the Gardiner River. — In the Saddle. —
Grand Canon of the Yellowstone. — Far-Reaching Antiquity.
Obsidian Cliffs. —A Road of Glass.— Beaver Lake. —Animal Builders. — Aborigines of the Park. — The Sheep-Eaters.
— The Shoshones and other Tribes.
How unapproachable is Nature in her poetic
moods! how opulent in measure! how subtle in
delicacy! No structure of truest proportions
reared by man could equal the beauty of this
lovely, parti-colored terrace. It recalled — being
of kindred charm — that perfection of Mohammedan architecture the Taj-Mahal at Agra, as
/-seen under the deep blue sky and blazing sun of
India. Since the late sweeping destruction by
earthquake and volcanic outburst of the similarly
formed pink and white terraces in the Hot Lake
district of New Zealand, at Tarawera, these of
the Yellowstone Park have no longer a known
rival. We may therefore congratulate ourselves
in possessing a natural formation which is both
grand and unique. In the far-away southern
country referred to, there were no more symptoms foretelling the awful convulsion of nature
which buried a broad, deep lake, together with an
entire valley and native village, beneath lava and A SANITARIUM.
21
volcanic ashes, than there is exhibited in our own
reservation at this writing. What signifies it that
the Yellowstone Park has probably remained in
its present comparatively quiet condition for many,
many ages ? The liability to a grand volcanic outburst at any moment is none the less imminent.
History repeats itself. It has ever been the same
with all great throes of Nature. Centuries of
comparative quiet elapse, and then occurs, without any obvious predisposing cause, a great and
awful explosion. The catastrophe of Pompeii is
familiar to us all, which, in its turn, repeated the
story of Herculaneum.
The Mammoth Hot Springs of the Yellowstone
Park are not only beautiful in the tangible forms
which they present, and the kaleidoscopic combinations of color which they produce, though their
seeming crystal clearness is indescribable, but they
have also remarkable medicinal virtues which enhance their interest and practical value. It is on
this account that the place is gradually becoming
a popular sanitarium, drawing patients from long
distances at suitable seasons, especially those who
suffer from rheumatic affections and skin diseases.
Persistent bathing in the waters accomplishes
many remarkable cures, if current statements can
be credited* and there is ample reason for such
a result. The pure air of this altitude must also
be of great benefit to invalids generally, but more
especially to those suffering from malarial poison
and nervous prostration. The chemical properties of each spring are distinctive, most of them 22
THE NEW ELDORADO.
tf?
having been carefully analyzed, and the invalid is
thus enabled to choose the one which is presumably best adapted to his special ailment.
Groups of pines, or single trees, find sufficient
nutriment in the calcareous deposit to support
life, and thus a certain barrenness is robbed of its
depressing effect, while the whole is partially
framed by densely wooded hills which serve to
throw the terraces strongly into the foreground.
When we last looked upon the scene the sun was
setting amid a canopy of gold and orange hues,
as the evening gun of the military encampment
in the valley echoed again and again in sonorous
tones'among the everlasting hills, and died away
in the distant gorges of the Yellowstone.
A lady visitor who entered the Park at the
same time with the author, on the first day of her
arrival placed a pine cone in one of the springs
near to the hotel. So rapid is the action of the
mineral deposit which is constantly going on that
at the close of the eighth day the cone was taken
from the spring crystallized, as it were, being encrusted with a silicious deposit nearly the sixteenth
of an inch in thickness. Branches of fern, acorns,
and other objects are treated in a similar manner,
often producing very charming and peculiar ornaments which serve as pleasing souvenirs of the
traveler's visit.
In sight of the hotel piazza there is a curious
and interesting object, built up by a spouting
spring long since extinct, and which has been
named the Liberty Cap.    It is a little on one side THE GIANTS THUMB.
23
but yet in front of the terraces, and appears to be
composed entirely of carbonate of lime. With a
diameter of about fifteen feet at the base, it gradually tapers to its apex forty feet from the ground.
This prominent formation, though remarkable, is
yet no mystery. It was produced by the waters
of a spring, probably forced up by hydrostatic
pressure, overflowing and precipitating its sediment around the vent, until finally, the cause ceasing, the pressure become exhausted and the cone
was thus formed. It may have required ages of
activity in the spring thus to erect its own mausoleum, — no one can safely conjecture how long.
Still nearer to the terraces is a similar formation
called the Giant's Thumb. Both are slowly becoming disintegrated by atmospheric influences;
we say slowly, since they may still exist, slightly
diminished in size, a hundred years hence. There
is manifestly a tendency in the springs which are
now active in other parts of the neighborhood to
build just such tall cylinders of sinter about their
vents. Some of the partially formed cones in the
vicinity are perfect, as far as they have accumulated, while others present a broken appearance,
as if shattered by a sudden explosion.
There are several caves in the neighborhood of
the terraces daintily ornamented with stalactites
of snowy whiteness, where springs which have
long since become exhausted were once as active
as those which now render this place so interesting. From one of these caves there issues a pe-
culiar gas, believed to be fatal to animal life.    A 24
THE NEW ELDORADO.
bird, it is said, flying across the entrance close
enough to inhale the vapor will drop lifeless to
the ground. We are not prepared to vouch for
this,—indeed we very much doubt the guide's
story, — but it naturally recalled the Grotto del
Cane, near Naples, where it will be remembered
the guides are only too ready to sacrifice a dog for
such visitors as are cruel enough to permit it, by
causing the animal to inhale the poisonous gas
which settles to the lower part of the cave so
named.
There is another cave not far from the hotel
very seldom resorted to, and which appears to
have once been the operating sphere of a large
geyser, but which is now only a dark hole. Into
this one descends by a ladder. It is a weird,
uncanny place, requiring torches in order to see
after entering its precincts. Aroused by the artificial light, myriads of bats drop from the ceiling,
until the place seems alive with them. Now and
then in their gyrations one touches the visitor's
hand or cheek with its cold, damp body, causing
an involuntary shudder. Verily, the Bats' Cave
is not an inviting place to visit.
One of the first places which the stranger seeks
after enjoying the attractions of the terraces and
a few curiosities near to the hotel is the Middle
Falls of the Gardiner River, situated three or
four miles away in a southerly direction. Here
we look down into a broad, dark canon considerably over a thousand feet deep, and whose rough,
precipitous  sides  are  nearly  five   hundred   feet THE  GRAND  CANON.
25
apart at the summit, gradually narrowing towards
the bottom. The Gardiner River flows through
the gorge, having at one place an unbroken fall of
a hundred feet; also presenting a mad, roaring,
rushing series of cascades of three hundred feet
descent. The aspect and general characteristics
of this turmoil of waters recalled the famous
Falls of Trolhatta, in Sweden. The hoarse
music of the waters, rising through the branches
of the pines which line the gorge, pierce the ear
with a thrilling cadence all their own, while the
dark canon stretches away for many miles in
its wild and sombre grandeur. It is well to visit
this spot before going to greater distances from
the hotel. Impressive as it is sure to prove,
there is yet a much superior feature of the Park,
of similar character, which remains to be seen.
We refer to the Grand Canon of the Yellowstone
River, where an immense cataract is formed by
the surging waters near the head of the gorge,
which here narrows to about one hundred feet.
The volume of water is very great at the point
where it rushes over a ledge nearly four hundred
feet in height, at one bold leap. This is known
as the Lower Fall, there being another half a mile
above it, called the Upper Fall, which is one hundred and fifty feet high. These falls are more picturesque, but less grand than the Lower. They
are presented to our view higher up among the
green trees, where lovely wild flowers and waving ferns cling to the rocks, and under the inspiring rays of the sunlight add to their brightness 26
THE NEW ELDORADO.
I
-i
and crystal beauty. A waterfall, like an oil-
painting, may be hung in a good or a disadvantageous position as to light, and both are largely
dependent upon this contingency for their inspiring charm.
The Great or Lower Fall of the Yellowstone
Canon is twice as high as Niagara, while the beautiful blazonry on the walls of the deep gorge, like
some huge mosaic, all aglow with matchless color,
marvelous in opulence, adds a fascinating charm
unknown to the mammoth fall just named.
These varied hues have been produced by the
snow and frost, vapor and sunshine, the lightning
and the rain of ages, acting upon certain chemical
constituents of the native rock. This is said to
be the most wonderful mountain gorge, when all
of its belongings are taken into consideration, yet
discovered. It is over twenty miles long, and is
in many places from twelve to fifteen hundred
feet deep. The author has visited the imposing
canons of Colorado, the thrilling gorges of the Yo-
semite, and some of still greater magnitude in the
Himalayan range of northern India, but never
has he seen the equal of this Grand Canon of the
Yellowstone, or beheld so high a waterfall of
equal volume.
A safe platform has been erected at the edge
of the fall, where one can stand and witness its
amazing plunge of over three hundred and fifty
feet. The stranger instinctively holds his breath
while watching the irresistible volume of water as
it advances, and follows it with the eye into the VIEW FROM INSPIRATION POINT.
27
profound depth of the canon. The best view of the
gorge, however, is that obtained from Lookout
Point, situated about a mile south of the Lower
Fall. A half mile farther in the same direction,
and at the same elevation, lies Inspiration Point,
from whence a more comprehensive outlook may
be enjoyed. The grouping of crags, pinnacles,
and inaccessible points is grand and inexpressibly beautiful. Eagles' nests with their young are
visible at eyries quite out of reach, save to the
monarch bird itself. On other isolated points, far
below us, are seen the nests of fish-hawks, whose
builders look like swallows in size as they float
upon the air, or dart for their prey into the swift,
tumultuous stream that threads the valley. Gazing upon the scene, the vastness of which is bewildering, a sense of reverence creeps over us,
— reverence for that Almighty hand whose power
is here recorded in such unequaled splendor. At
last it is a relief to turn away from looking into
the sheer depth and reach a securer basis for the
feet. Still we linger until the sunset shadows
lengthen and pass away, followed by the silvery
moonlight. Every hour of the day has its peculiar
charm of light and shade as seen upon the canon
and its churning waters.
The excursion out and back from the hotel to
view the principal points of interest in the neighborhood covers a distance of about seven miles
through the woods and along the threatening brink
of the gorge. A rude Indian trail affords the only
means of reaching the several outlooks.    Saddle- 28 THE NEW ELDORADO.
horses are supplied for the excursion by the hotel
proprietor, and visitors generally avail themselves
of this mode of transportation. The horses employed for the service are remarkably sagacious
and sure-footed. Understanding exactly what is
required of them, they overcome the deep pitches
and abrupt rises of the narrow, tortuous way with
great ingenuity and caution. At times one is
borne so near the brink of the awful chasm as to
make the passage rather exciting. It must be admitted that a single misstep on the part of the animal which bears him would hurl horse and rider
two thousand feet down the canon to instant destruction. There is no barrier between the cliff
and the few inches of earth forming the path.
Visitors are cautioned at starting to give the
horses their heads, and not attempt to guide them
as they would do under ordinary circumstances.
The intelligent animals fully comprehend the exigencies of the situation. On the occasion of the
writer's visit the equestrian party consisted of nine
persons, including the guide; of these, two ladies
and one gentleman abandoned the saddles after the
first mile, finding the seeming danger too much
for their nerves, and completed the long tramp on
foot.
" What wonderful majesty and beauty are hidden here from an unconscious world," said an experienced member of our little party whom chance
had brought together at the brink of the gorge.
"Everybody visits Niagara," he continued, "but
few, comparatively, participate in the glory and A  GLASS ROAD.
29
loveliness of this place, and yet how superior in
attraction it is to those lines of summer travel, the
Natural Bridge of Virginia, the Mammoth Cave
of Kentucky, or even the justly famed Yosemite
Valley;"—a sentiment which all heartily indorsed.
In these pages we pass rapidly from one great
attraction to another, because we have only a
limited space in which to speak of them, but the
intelligent and appreciative visitor will be more
leisurely in his examination. Hours may be profitably occupied in the careful observation and
thorough enjoyment of each locality, the interest
growing by what it feeds upon. One hardly realizes the passage of time when occupied in the
contemplation of such strange and absorbing objects, and is apt to linger thoughtfully until he
is warned by the business-like suggestion of the
guide.
Another interesting spot which the stranger
will hasten to visit is the Obsidian Cliffs, situated
about a dozen miles from the hotel. These singular and, so far as we know, unique cliffs are
formed of volcanic glass, and measure a thousand
feet in length by nearly two hundred in height,
recalling in general effect the Giant's Causeway
in the north of Ireland. They rise in almost
vertical columns from the eastern shore of Beaver
Lake. The color of the glass is dark green, like
that of which cheap quart bottles are made, and
though the glass glistens like jet it is opaque. A
carriage road has been provided, — a glass road,
— a quarter of a mile long, running by the base 30
THE NEW ELDORADO.
of the cliffs. To construct this road large fires
were built upon the obsidian mass, which, when
thoroughly heated, was dashed with cold water,
causing it to crack and crumble to pieces. It was
a tedious undertaking, but an available roadway
was at last the result.
Close at hand is Beaver Lake, of artificial origin, having been created by the industrious animal after which it is named. A colony have here
built a series of thirty dams, thus forming a sheet
of water of considerable depth, half a mile in
width, and two miles long, framed by tall, straight
.pines, and covered near the shore with aquatic
flowers. As we passed the lake, in its shady corners were seen flocks of ducks in gaudy colors
and of many different species, while on the far side
representatives of the beaver tribe were kind
enough to exhibit themselves for our amusement.
The series of dams which these little creatures
have constructed hereabouts have falls of from
three to six feet each, extending for a distance of
nearly two miles. The lily plants which bordered
Beaver Lake were of a curious amber color, growing here and there in groups of great density.
At a snap of the driver's whip a bevy of wild
ducks rose, but lazily settled again upon the water
close at hand. " They have read the printed regulations of the Park," said the driver, " and know
that no one will attempt to shoot them." Beyond
the lake are broad patches of level meads, sprinkled with lovely wild flowers, in which yellow,
purple, and white prevailed.    The delicate little THE ABORIGINES.
31
phlox, modestly clinging to the ground, was fragrant above all the rest. Occasional spots bordering the pine woods showed the exquisite enamel of
the blue violets, which emitted their familiar and
welcome fragrance. These were dominated by a
tall, regal flower, clustering on one stem, whose
name we know not, but which formed great masses
of purple bloom.
Close to the curious and interesting Obsidian
Cliffs is a pleasant resort called Willow Park, a
cool, shady spot, where a clear stream of good
water flows through a stretch of rich pasture land,
forming a delightful rural picture, full of peaceful
and poetic suggestiveness. This is a favorite
camping ground for those who adopt that mode of
visiting the several sections of the Park.
The stranger looks about him in silent amazement, wondering how long Nature has been displaying her erratic moods after the fashion exhibited here, now smiling with winning tenderness,
and now frowning with implacable sternness. He
sees everywhere evidences of great antiquity, and
beholds objects which must date from time incalculably remote, but there is no recorded history
extant of this strange region. The original Indian
inhabitants of the Park were a very peculiar people, — a sort of gnome race, — a tribe individually
of Liliputian size, who lived in natural caves, of
which there are many in the hills, where rude and
primitive implements of domestic use belonging to
the aborigines have been found. They do not
seem to have possessed even the customary leg- 32
THE NEW ELDORADO.
ends of savage races concerning their surroundings
and their origin. This tribe, the former dwellers
here, were called the Sheep-eating Indians, because they lived, almost solely upon the flesh, and
clothed themselves in the skins, of the big-horn
sheep of these mountains, — an animal which is
found running wild in more or less abundance
throughout the whole northern range of the Rocky
Mountains, even where it reaches into Alaska.
These natives are represented to have been a timid
and harmless people, without iron tools or weapons of any sort, except bows and arrows, to which
may be added hatchets and knives formed of the
flint-like volcanic glass indigenous to the Park.
They were an isolated people from the very nature of their country, which was nearly inaccessible
at all seasons, and entirely so during the long and
severe winters.
Other native tribes were debarred from this
region through superstitious fear, induced by the
incomprehensible demonstrations of Nature exhibited in boiling springs, spouting geysers, and
the trembling earth, accompanied by subterranean
explosions. This seemed to them to be evidence
of the wrath of the Great Spirit, angered, perhaps,
by their unwelcome presence. The Sheep-eaters,
born among these scenes, gave no special heed to
them, and rather fostered an idea which prevented
others from interfering with the surrounding
game, and which also gave them immunity from
the otherwise inevitable oppression of a stronger
and more aggressive people than themselves.    As INDIAN IMPROVIDENCE.
33
civilization advanced westward, or rather as the
white man found his way thither, this Yellowstone
tribe gradually dwindled away or became united
with the Shoshones of Iowa. Their individuality
seems now to have been entirely lost, not a trace
of them, even, being discernible, according to
more than one intelligent writer upon the subject.
No Indians of any tribe are now permitted in
the reservation, otherwise, lazy as these aborigines
are, they would soon make reckless havoc among
the fine collection of wild animals which is gathered here. The Indians are all in the annual
receipt of money and ample food supplies from
the government; and the killing of extra game
arid selling the hides would furnish them with
only so many more dollars to be expended for
whiskey and tobacco. These tribes have no idea
of economy, or care for the future. The reliance
they place upon government supplies pi'omotes a
spirit of recklessness and extravagance. If their
potato crop fails, or partial famine sets in from
some extraordinary cause, it finds them utterly
unprepared to meet the exigency. Oftentimes it
is found that the government rations and supplies
have been sold, and the money received therefor
• lavishly squandered. I.
CHAPTER III.
Norris Geyser Basin. — Fire beneath the Surface. — A Guide's
Ideas. — The Curious Paint Pot Basin. — Lower Geyser
Basin. —Boiling Springs of Many Colors. — Mountain Lions
at Play. — Midway Geyser Basin.—"Hell's Half Acre." —
In the Midst of Wonderland. —" Old Faithful."—Other Active
Geysers. — Erratic Nature of these Remarkable Fountains.
A pleasant drive of twenty miles in a southerly direction from the Hot Springs Hotel, through
the wildest sort of scenery, over mountain roads
and beside gorgeous canons, will take the visitor to the Norris Geyser Basin, a spot which
promptly recalled to the writer somewhat similar
scenes witnessed at the aboriginal town of Ohine-
mutu, in the northern part of New Zealand.
Clouds of sulphurous vapor constantly hang alike
over both places, produced by a similar cause,
though the scene here is far more vivid and demonstrative. This whole basin is dotted by hot
water springs and fumaroles, which maintain an
incessant hissing, spluttering, and bubbling, night
and day, through the twelve months of the year.
The water which issues from these sources is of
various colors, according to the impregnating principle which prevails, the yellow sulphur vats being
especially conspicuous to the sight and offensive to
the smell.   What a strange, weird place it is!    No A  GUIDE'S IDEAS.
35
art could successfully imitate these extravagances
of Nature. Some of the rills are cool, others are
boiling hot; some are white, some pink or red,
and one large basin, fifty feet across, is called the
Emerald Pool, because of its intensely green color;
yet it appears to be quite pure and transparent
when a sample is taken out and examined. Each
spring seems to be entirely independent of the
rest, though all are situated so near to each other.
An almost constant tremor of the earth is realized
throughout this immediate region, as though only
a thin crust separated the visitor from an active
volcano beneath his feet; and, notwithstanding the
various scientific theories, who can say that such
is not actually the case ?
11 know all about the idea that these eruptions
of boiling water, steam, and sulphurous gases are
produced by chemical action," said our guide.
" I 've heard lots of scientific men talk about the
subject, but I don't believe nothing of the sort."
I And why not ? " we asked.
| Do you believe," he said, " that chemical action in the earth could create power enough, first
to bring water to 212° of heat, and then force it two
hundred feet into the air a number of times every
day in a column four or five feet in diameter, and
keep it up for quarter of an hour at a time ? "
" Well, it does seem somewhat problematical,"
we were forced to answer.
1 After living here summer and winter for six
years," he said, " I have seen enough to satisfy
me that there is a great sulphurous fire far down 36
THE NEW ELDORADO.
I I  v
in the earth below us, which, if the steam and
power it acccumulates did not find vent through
the hundreds of surface outlets distributed all over
the Park, would seek one by a grand volcanic
outburst."
" Put your hand on the ground just here," he
continued, as we walked over a certain spot where
our footfall caused a reverberation and trembling
of the soil.
" It is almost too hot for the flesh to bear," we
said, quickly withdrawing our hand.
" Too hot! I should say so. Now I don't believe anything but a burning fire can produce such
heat as that," he added, with an expression of the
face which seemed to imply, " Ldon't believe you
do either."
" The original volcanic condition of this whole
region seems also to argue in favor of your deductions," we replied.
"That's just what I tell 'em," continued the
guide. " Them big fires that first did the business
for this neighborhood are still smouldering down
below.    You may bet your life on that."
This rather startling idea is emphasized by a
smoking vent close at hand, which is also constantly sending forth superheated steam and sulphurous gases, like the extinct volcano of Solfatara,
near Naples. Sulphur crystals strew the ground,
and are heaped up in small yellow mounds. Not
far away an intermittent geyser bursts forth every
sixty seconds from a deep hole in the rock-bed of
the basin, showing a stream of water six inches in GIBBON PAINT POT BASIN.
37
diameter, and sending the same skyward thirty or
forty feet. Here also is a powerful geyser called
the Monarch, which leaps into action with great
regularity once in twenty-four hours, throwing a
triple stream to the height of a hundred and thirty
feet, and continuing to do so for the space of fifteen or twenty minutes. Beneath the sun's rays
all the colors of the prism are reflected in this vertical column of water, and not infrequently the
distinct arch of a rainbow is suspended like a halo
about its crown. Nature, even in her most fantastic caprice, is always beautiful.
There are several other high-reaching and powerful geysers in this vicinity, but we will not
weary the reader by pausing to describe them.
Gibbon Paint Pot Basin is next visited, being a
most curious area, measuring sOme twenty acres,
more or less, situated in a heavily-wooded district^
not far from Gibbon Canon. Here is a most
strange collection of over five hundred springs of
boiling, splashing, exploding mud, exhibiting many
distinct colors, which gives rise to the name it
bears. One pot is of an emerald green, another is
as blue as turquoise, a third is as red as blood, a
fourth is of orange yellow, another is of a rich
cream color and consistency. The visitor is struck;
by the singularity of this hot-spring system, which
produces from vents so close together colors diametrically opposite. The earth is piled up about
the seething pools, making small mounds all over
the basin, and forming a series of pots of clay and
silicious compounds.   Near the entrance of Gibbon. 38
THE NEW ELDORADO.
u
III
Canon is a remarkable collection of extinct geysers ; the tall, slim, crystallized structures, originating like the Liberty Cap already described, look
like genii totem poles, corrugated by the finger of
time, and forming significant monuments of bygone eruptions, while the surrounding volcanoes
were slowly exhausting their fury. Even about
these long-extinct geysers there is an atmosphere
indicating their former intensity, though it is quite
possible they may have been sleeping for ten centuries.
The locality known as the Lower Geyser Basin is
filled with striking and somewhat similar volcanic
exhibitions, though there are more hot springs
here than other phenomena, the aggregate number
being a trifle less than seven hundred, including
seventeen active geysers. I n some respects this spot
exceeds in interest those previously visited, being
more readily surveyed as a whole. The variety
of form and the large number of these springs
are remarkable. As a rule they are less sulphurous
and more silicious than those already spoken of.
Here, as at the terraces near the hotel, the last
touch of beauty is imparted by the sun's rays
forcing themselves through the white vapory
clouds which are thrown off by the mysteriously
heated waters. One of the large basins, measuring forty by sixty feet, is filled with a sort of
porcelain slime, notable for its soft rose tints and
delicate yellow hues, which are brought out with
magic effect dnder a cloudless sky. This basin
has an elevation .of over seven thousand feet above MIDWAY GEYSER BASIN.
39
the level of the sea, and is surrounded by heavily-
timbered hills which are four and five hundred
feet higher. Numerous as these springs and geysers are, each one is strongly individualized by
some special feature which marks it as distinctive
from the rest, and renders it recognizable by the
residents of the Park, but which, however interesting to the observing visitor, would only prove
to be tedious if here described in detail.
While sitting at twilight on the piazza of the
rude little inn where we passed the night in this
basin, there came out from the edge of the wood
on to a broad green plateau a couple of long tailed
mountain lions. They were not quite full grown,
and were of a tawny color. These creatures,
savage and dangerous enough under some circumstances, seemed half tame and entirely fearless,
playfully romping with each other, and exhibiting
catlike agility. The proprietor of the inn told
us that not long since, upon a dark night, they
* came to the house and attacked his favorite dog,
killing and eating him, leaving only the bones to
explain his disappearance in the morning. They,
too, must have read the regulations, " No firearms
permitted in the Park."
The Midway Geyser Basin is situated a few
miles directly south of that just spoken of, and
contains an extraordinary group of hot springs,
among which is the marvelous Excelsior Geyser,
largest in the known world. It bursts forth from
a pit two hundred and fifty feet in diameter, worn
in the solid rock, and which is at all times nearly 40
THE NEW ELDORADO.
full of boiling water, above which there is constantly floating a dense column of steam, which
rising slowly is borne away and absorbed by the
atmosphere. The water which flows so continuously over the brim has formed a series of terraces
beaming with beautiful tints. This stupendous
fountain is intermittent, giving an exhibition of
its startling powers at very irregular periods, when
it is said to send up a column of water sixty feet
in diameter to a height of from fifty to one hundred feet! So great is the sudden flood thus produced in the Firehole River, which is here between
seventy-five and a hundred yards broad, that it is
turned for the time being 'into a furious torrent of
steaming, half-boiling water. The Excelsior has
also a disagreeable and dangerous habit of throwing up hundred-pound stones and metallic dehris
with this great volume of water, while the surrounding earth vibrates in sympathy with the
hidden power which operates so mysteriously.
Visitors naturally hasten to a safe distance during
these moments of extraordinary activity.
About midway between Firehole and the Upper
Geyser Basin is a strange, unearthly, vaporous
piece of low land, which is endowed with a name
more expressive than elegant, being called "Hell's
Half Acre." Here again it seems as if this spot
is separated from the raging fires below by only
the thinnest crust of earth, through which numerous boiling springs find riotous vent. The soil
in many parts is burning hot, and echoes to the
tread as though liable to open at any moment and HELL'S HALF ACRE.
41
swallow the venturesome stranger. During the
season of 1888, a lady visitor who stepped upon a
thin place sank nearly out of sight, and though instantly rescued by her friends, she was so severely
scalded as to be confined to her bed for a month
and more at the Mammoth Springs Hotel. The
.air is filled with fumes of sulphur, and the place
would seem to be appropriately named. There
are forty springs in this " Half Acre," which, by
the way, occupies ten times the space which the
name indicates, where the seething and bubbling
noise is like the agonized wailing of lost spirits.
The place has another, and perhaps better, designation besides this satanic title, namely, Egeria
Springs. Great is the contrast between the heavens above and the direful suggestions of the earth
below, as we behold it under the serene beauty of
the blue sky which prevails here in the summer
months, and which renders camping out in the
Park delightful. " You should come here during
a thunder-storm," said our companion, who is a
dweller in this region. " I have done so twice,"
he continued, " simply to witness the fitness of the
association: rolling thunder overhead and flashes
of lightning in the atmosphere, through which the
boiling vats, hissing pools, and steaming fissures
are seen in full operation, as though they were a
part and parcel of the electric turmoil agitating
the sky."
It is impossible to appreciate these various phenomena in a single hurried visit. Like the Falls
of Niagara, or the Pyramids of Gizeh, they must 42
THE NEW ELDORADO.
become in some degree familiar to the observer
before he will be able to form a complete, intelligent, and satisfactory impression which will remain with him. One cannot grasp the full significance of such accumulated wonders at sight.
We look about us among the green trees that border the open areas, surprised to behold the calm
sunshine, the tuneful birds, and the chattering
squirrels, moved by their normal instincts, utterly
regardless of these myriad surrounding marvels.
The grandest spouting springs are to be found
in Upper Geyser Basin, where there are twenty-
five active fountains of this character. Here is
situated the famous " Old Faithful," which, from
a mound rising gradually about six or eight feet
above the surrounding level, emits a huge column
of boiling water for five or six minutes in each
hour with never-failing regularity, while it gives
forth at all times clouds of steam and heated air.
The height reached by the waters of this thermal
fountain varies from eighty to one hundred and
twenty feet, and it has earned its expressive name
by never failing to be on time. It seemed, somehow, to be a more satisfactory representative of the
spouting spring phenomenon than any other in
the entire Park, though it would be difficult to say
exactly why. Its prominent position, dominating
the rest of the geysers of the basin, gives it special
effect. Irrespective of all other similar exhibitions, the stately column of " Old Faithful" rises
heavenward with splendid effect in the broad light
of day, or in the still hours of the night, once in if
THE BEEHIVE AND THE  GIANTESS.       43
every sixty minutes, as uniformly as the rotation
of the second-hand of a watch. The effect was
ghostly at midnight under the sheen of the moon
and the contrasting shadows of the woods near at
hand, while not far away, across the Firehole
River, the lesser geysers were exhibiting their erratic performances, casting up occasional crystal
columns, which glistened in the silvery light like
pendulous glass. There is quite a large group of
geysers in this immediate vicinity, which perform
with notable regularity at stated periods. There is
one called the Beehive, because of its vent, which
has a resemblance to an old-fashioned straw article of the sort, the crater being about three feet
in height. The author saw this spring throw
up a stream three feet in diameter nearly or quite
two hundred vertical feet for eight or ten minutes,
when it gradually subsided. There are over four
hundred geysers and boiling springs in this basin.
Among them is the Giantess, situated four hundred feet from the Beehive, which does not display its powers oftener than once in ten or twelve
days; but when the eruption does take place, it
is said to exceed all the rest in the height which
it attains and the length of time during which it
operates. It has no raised crater, but comes forth
from a vent even with the surface of the ground,
thirty-four feet in length and twenty-four in
width. When it is in action, so great is the force
expended that miniature earthquakes are felt
throughout the immediate neighborhood. There
are seen, not far away, the Lion, Lioness, Young 44
THE NEW ELDORADO.
Faithful, the Grotto, the Splendid, etc., each one
more or less operative. We have by no means
enumerated all the active fountains in this basin,
seeking only to designate their general character.
However well prepared for the outburst, one cannot but feel startled when a geyser suddenly rises,
mysteriously and ghost-like, close at hand, from
out the deep bowels of the earth, its white form
growing taller and taller, while the spray expands
like weird and shrouded arms. To heighten this
sepulchral effect the atmosphere is full of sulphurous vapors, while strange noises fall upon the ear
like subterranean thunder. What puzzling mysteries Nature holds concealed in her dark, earthy
bosom!
Let us not forget to mention, in this connection,
one of the largest fountains of the Firehole Basin,
namely, the Grand Geyser, which is placed next
to the Excelsior in size and performance. This
fountain has no raised cone, and operates once in
about thirty-six hours. Of course the visitor is
not able to see each and all of these strange fountains in operation. He might remain a month
upon the ground and not do so ; consequently, he
is obliged to take some of the dimensions and performances on trust; but most of the statements
which are made to him can easily be verified.
When this Grand Geyser is about to burst forth,
the deep basin, which is twenty feet and more
across, first gradually fills with furiously boiling
water until it overflows the brim; then it becomes
shrouded by heavy volumes of steam, out of which h
VARYING ACTION OF THE GEYSERS.     45
come several loud reports, like the discharge of a
small cannon, when suddenly the whole body of
water is lifted, and a column ten or twelve feet
in diameter rises to a height of ninety feet, from
the apex of which a lesser stream mounts many
feet higher, until the earth trembles with the force
of the dis'charge and falling water as it rushes
towards the river. This strange exhibition lasts
for eight or ten minutes, then the fountain slowly
subsides, with hoarse mutterings, like some retreating and overmastered wild beast, growling
sullenly as it disappears.
It will thus be seen that these geysers vary
greatly in their action, in the duration of their
eruptions, and in the intervals which elapse between the performances. Some of them labor as
though the water was slowly pumped up from vast
depths, some burst forth with full vigor to their
highest point at once, while others become exhausted with a brief effort. There are a few that
subside only to again commence spouting, being
thus virtually continuous; but these are not of
such power as to throw their streams to a great
height. One group of this sort is called the Minute Men, some of which spout sixty times within
the hour; others eject small streams incessantly.
This immediate valley is very irregular in surface and thickly wooded in parts, showing also the
ruins of many extinct geysers. It is a dozen miles
long and between two and three wide, literally
crowded with wonders from end to end. It contains a collection of boiling and spouting springs 46
THE NEW ELDORADO.
on a scale which would belittle all similar phenomena of the rest of the known world, could they be
brought together.
As the reader will have understood, the period
of activity with all the geysers is more or less
irregular, except in the instance of Old Faithful.
We have no knowledge of a simultaneous eruption having ever taken place. Many of these
active springs which now exist will, doubtless,
sooner or later subside and new ones will form to
take their places, a process which has been going
on, no one can even guess for how many ages. fc»
CHAPTER IV.
The Great Yellowstone Lake. — Myriads of Birds. — Solitary
• Beauty of the Lake. — The Flora of the Park. — Devastating
Fires. — Wild Animals. — Grand Volcanic Centre.—Mountain Climbing and Wonderful Views.—A Story of Discovery.
— Government Exploration of the Reservation. — Governor
Washburn's Expedition. — " For the Benefit of the People at
Large Forever."
In the southern section of the Yellowstone Park,
near its longitudinal centre, is one of the most
beautiful yet lonely lakes imaginable, framed in a
margin of sparkling sands, and surrounded by Alpine heights. One stretch of the shore-about five
miles long is called Diamond Beach ; the volcanic
material of which it is formed, being entirely obsidian, reflects the sun's rays like brilliant gems,
while the beach is caressed by wavelets scarcely
less bright. Surrounded by many wonders, the
lake is itself a great surprise, lying in the bosom
of rock-ribbed mountains at an elevation of nearly
eight thousand feet above the sea. We know of
but one other large body of water on the globe at
any such, height, namely, Lake Titicaca, in South
America, famous in Peruvian history. The Yellowstone Lake is always of crystal clearness, and
is fed from the eternal snow that piles itself up
on the lofty peaks which surround it, and which
are sharply outlined in all directions against the 48
THE NEW ELDORADO.
blue of the sky. The outlet of the lake is the
Yellowstone River, which issues from the northern
end, while the Upper Yellowstone runs into it on
the opposite side. The lake is twenty-two miles
long by fifteen in width, and has an area of a hundred and fifty square miles. Its greatest depth
is three hundred feet, and it is overstocked with
trout, many of which, unfortunately, are infested
by a parasitic worm which renders them unfit for
food; but this is not the case with all the fish; a
large portion are good and wholesome. Geologists
find sufficient evidence to satisfy them that this
lake, now narrowed to the dimensions just given,
in ancient times covered two thirds of the present
Park. Aquatic birds abound upon its broad surface, and build their m}'riad nests on its green
islands. They are of many species, comprising
geese, cranes, swans, snipe, mallards, teal, curlew, plover, and ducks of various sorts. Pelicans
swim about in long white lines; herons, in their
delicate ash-colored plumage, stand idly on the
shore, while ermine-feathered gulls fill the air
with their loud and tuneless serenade. Hawks,
kingfisher's, and ravens also abound on the shore,
the first-named watching other birds as they rise
from the water with fish, which they make it their
business, freebooter-like, to rob them of. The
lake has many thickly-wooded islands, and there
are several long, pine-covered promontories which
stretch out in a graceful manner from the mainland, the whole forming a grand primeval solitude.
Now and again a solitary eagle, on broad-spread YELLOWSTONE LAKE.
49
pinions, sails away from the top of some lofty pine
on the mountain side to the deep green seclusion
of the nearest island. Even the presence of this
proud and austere bird only serves to emphasize
the grave and solemn loneliness which rests upon
the locality.
It is a charming feature of this placid lake
which causes it to gather into its bosom a picture
of all things far and near: the clouds, | those
playful fancies of the mighty sky," seem to float
upon its surface; the blue of the heavens is reflected there ; the tall peaks and wooded slopes
mirror themselves in its depths. As we look upon
the lake through the purple haze of sunset, a picture is presented of surpassing loveliness, tinted
with blue and golden hues, which creep lovingly
closer and closer about the quiet isles; while there
come from out the forest resinous pine odors, delightfully soothing to the senses, accompanied by
the soft music of swaying branches, and the low
drone of insect life.
To linger over such a scene is a joy and an inspiration to the experienced traveler, who, in
wandering hither and thither upon the globe,
places an occasional white stone at certain points
to which memory turns with never-failing pleasure. Thus he recalls a sunrise over the silvery
peaks of the grand Himalayan range ; a thrilling
view from the Mosque of Mahomet Ali at Cairo,
localizing Biblical story ; or a summer sunset-glow
on the glassy mirror of the Yellowstone Lake.
Along the mountain side, east of the lake, are
1 50
THE NEW ELDORADO.
ancient terraces, indented shorelines, and other
evidences which clearly prove that, at no very
remote geological period, the surface of this grand
sheet of water was at least five or six hundred feet
higher than it is at the present time. Nearly two
hundred square miles of the Park are still covered
by lakes.
As to the flora of the Yellowstone Park, seventy-
five per cent, of the whole area seems to be covered
by dense forests, the black fir being the most plentiful, often growing to three or four feet in diameter and a hundred and fifty feet in height. The
white pine is the most graceful among the indigenous trees, and is always remarkable for its
stately symmetrical beauty. The thick groves of
balsam fir are particularly fine and fragrant, while
the dwarf maples and willows are charming features as they mingle abundantly with larger and
more pretentious trees. Wild flowers, Nature's
bright mosaics, are found in great variety during
the summer, though there is rarely a night in this
neighborhood without frost, while the winters are
truly arctic in temperature. The larkspur, columbine, harebell, lupin, and primrose abound,
with occasional daisies and other blossoms. Yellow water-lilies, anchored by their fragile stems,
profusely sprinkle and beautify the surface of the
shady pools. Exquisite ferns, lichens, and velvety mosses delight the appreciative eye in many
a sylvan nook which is only invaded by squirrels
and song-birds.
Here, as in  the valley of the Yosemite, it is WILD ANIMALS.
51
I
melancholy to see the track of devastating fires
caused by the half-extinguished blaze left by careless camping parties. It is difficult to realize how
intelligent people can be so wickedly reckless as
to cause such destruction. Many a forest monarch stands bereft of every limb by the devouring
flames, and large areas are entirely denuded of
growth other than the shrubbery which springs
up quickly after a sweeping fire in the woods, as
though Nature desired to cover from sight the
devastating footsteps of the Fire King. The
grasses grow luxuriantly, especially alpine, timothy, and Kentucky blue grass.
There are many wild animals in the Park, such
as elk, deer, antelope, big-horn sheep, foxes, buffalo, and what is called the California lion, a small
but rather dangerous animal for the hunter to
encounter. The buffalo is rarely seen in the
West, and it is said is now only to be found wild
in this Park. The streams and creeks also swarm
with otter, beaver, and mink. These animals are
all protected by law, visitors being only permitted
to shoot such birds as they can cook and eat in
their camps, together with any species of bear
they may chance to fall in with; and there are
several kinds of the latter animal to be found in
the hills. At least this has been the case until
lately; but stricter rules have been found necessary, and no visitors are now permitted to take
firearms with them while remaining in the Park.
The purpose of the government is to strictly preserve the game, the effect of which has already 52
THE NEW ELDORADO.
been to render the animals gathered here less shy
of human approach, and to greatly increase their
number.
So abundant are the evidences of grand volcanic action throughout the lake basin that it has
been looked upon by scientists as the remains or
centre of one enormous crater forty miles across !
Dr. Hayden, the profound geologist, who was sent
professionally by the government to report upon
the Park, declares it to have been the former
scene of volcanic activity as great as that of any
part of this planet, a conclusion which the observer of to-day is quite ready to admit, inasmuch
as the subsidence has yet left enough of the original forces to demonstrate the sleeping power
which still lurks restlessly beneath the soil. We
wonder, standing amid such remarkable surroundings, how many centuries have passed since the
valley assumed its present shape. Everything is
indicative of high antiquity, and it is probably
rather thousands than hundreds of years since
this volcanic centre was at its maximum power
and activity. The valley has been partly exca^-
vated out of ancient crystalline rocks, partly out
of later stratified formations, and partly from
masses of lava that were poured forth during a
succession of ages which make up the different
epochs of the earth's long history.
The lowest level of the Park is about six thousand feet above the sea, and the average elevation,
independent of mountains, is much over this estimate.    It is very properly designated as the sum- MOUNT WASHBURN.
53
mit of the continent, and gives rise to three of the
largest rivers in North America, namely: on the
north side are the sources of the Yellowstone; on
the west, three of the forks of the Missouri; and
on the southwest are the sources of the Snake
River, which flows into the Columbia, and thence
to the distant Pacific Ocean.
If possible, before leaving the neighborhood,
the visitor should ascend Mount Washburn, the
highest point of observation within the great
reservation, a feat easily accomplished on horseback. Such an excursion is particularly desirable
since all the scenery of the Park is circumscribed
while we are at the level of its springs, geysers,
and lakes. The grand view from this elevation
will repay all the time and effort expended in its
accomplishment. Its height above the base is five
thousand feet, its height above the sea five thou-
sand more. A clear day is absolutely necessary
for the proper enjoyment of such an excursion,
in order to bring out fairly the panorama of forests, lakes, prairies, and mountains, decked by
the golden glory of the sunshine. In some directions the vision reaches a hundred and fifty miles
through space. Here, on the summit of Mount
Washburn, we virtually stand upon the apex of
the North American continent, if we except one
or two of the sky-reaching peaks of the Territory
of Alaska.
As we face the north, just before us lies the
valley of the Yellowstone, and in the distance,
looming far  above  its  surroundings, is the  tall '
54
THE NEW ELDORADO.
Emigrant Peak. To the eastward Index and
Pilot peaks pierce the clouds, beyond which
stretches away the Big Horn Range. In the
west the summits of the Gallatin Mountains follow one another northward, while trending in the
same direction, but farther towards the horizon,
is the lofty Madison Range. We gaze until bewildered by peak after peak, mountain beyond
mountain, range upon range, mingling with each
other, all combining to form a glorious view embodying the indescribably grand characteristics of
the Rocky Mountain system, the equal of which
we may never again behold.
The tall range of mountains which girdle the
Park are snow-covered all the year round, frigid,
giant sentinels, which long proved a complete
barrier to organized exploration, forming an amphitheatre of sublime and lonely scenery. The story
of the discovery of this Wonderland is briefly told
as follows: It seems that a gold-seeking prospector
named Coulter made his way with infinite perseverance into the region in 1807, and after many
hair-breadth escapes from Indians, wild beasts,
poisonous waters, and starvation, finally succeeded
in rejoining his comrades, whom he entertained
with stories of what he had seen, which seemed
to them so incredible that they believed him to be
crazy. Afterwards, first one and then another adventurer found his way hither, and though each of
them corroborated Coulter's story, they were by
no means fully credited. But public attention and
curiosity were thus aroused, leading the govern- f%"
GOVERNOR   WASHBURNS EXPEDITION.    55
ment to send Professor Hay den and a small exploring party to carefully examine the region.
This enterprise not only corroborated the stories
already made public, but greatly added to their
volume and amazing detail.
It was found that the representations of Coulter
and those who followed him, so far from exaggerating the wonders of the Yellowstone, in reality fell
far below the truth.
During the year 1870 Governor Washburn,
accompanied by a small body of United States
cavalry, entered the Park by the valley of the
Yellowstone, and thoroughly explored the canons,
the shores of the great lake, and the geyser region
of Firehole River, together with the various interesting localities of which we have spoken. On
returning he declared that the party had seen the
greatest marvels to be found upon this continent,
and that there was no other spot on the globe
where there were crowded together so many natural wonders, combined with so much beauty and
grandeur.
Finally Congress, foreseeing that the greed of
speculators would lead them to monopolize this
Wonderland for mercenary purposes, promptly
took action in the matter, setting the region aside
as a National Park and Reservation, for the benefit
of the people at large forever, retaining the fee
and control of the same in the name of the government.
Not many persons have ever attempted to
traverse the Park in the winter season, but it has 56
THE NEW ELDORADO.
been done by a few hardy and adventurous people,
who nearly perished in the attempt. Such individuals have reported that the raging snow-storms
and blizzards which they encountered were on a
scale quite equal to the other demonstrations and
natural curiosities of the place. The trees in their
neighborhood were beautifully gemmed with the
frozen vapor of the geysers, and the heated springs
seemed doubly active by the contrast between
their temperature and that of the freezing atmosphere. It was only by camping at night upon the
very brink of these boiling waters that life could
be sustained, with the atmosphere at forty degrees
below zero.
One who comes hither with preconceived ideas
of the peculiar sights to be met with is sure to be
disappointed, not in their want of strangeness, for
the Park is overstocked with curiosities having
no counterpart elsewhere, but the features are so
thoroughly unique that his anticipations are transcended both in the quality and the quantity of
the food for wonder which is spread out before
him on every side. 1%'
CHAPTER V.
Westward Journey resumed. — Queen City of the Mountains.—
Crossing the Rockies. — Butte City, the Great Mining Centre.
— Montana.—The Red Men. — About the Aborigines. — The
Cowboys of the West. — A Successful Hunter. — Emigrant
Teams on the Prairies. — Immense Forests.—Puget Sound.—
The Famous Stampede Tunnel. — Immigration.
After a delightful, though brief, sojourn of ten
days in the Yellowstone Park, realizing that twice
that length of time might be profitably spent
therein, we returned to Livingston, where the
Northern Pacific Railroad was once more reached,
and the westward journey promptly resumed. The
Belt Range of mountains is soon crossed, at an
elevation of over five thousand five hundred feet.
A remarkable tunnel is also passed through, three
thousand six hundred feet in length, from which
the train emerges into a grand canon, and soon
arrives at the city of Bozeman. This place has
a thrifty and intelligent population of over five
thousand, and is notable for its rural and picturesque surroundings, in the fertile Gallatin Valley,
which is encircled by majestic ranges of mountains, shrouded in " white, cold, virgin snow."
Having passed the point where the Madison and
Jefferson rivers unite to form the headwaters of
that great river, the Missouri, whence it starts
m 58
THE NEW ELDORADO.
upon its long and winding course of over four
thousand miles towards the Mexican Gulf, we
arrive presently at Helena, the interesting capital
of Montana. This is called the " Queen City of
the Mountains," and is famous as a great and successful mining centre, the present population of
which is about twenty thousand. It is said to
be the richest city of its size in the United States,
an assertion which we have good reasons for believing to be correct. The vast mineral region
surrounding Helena is unsurpassed anywhere for
the number and richness of its gold and silver-
bearing lodes, having within an area of twenty-
five miles over three thousand such natural
deposits, the ownership of which is duly recorded,
and many of which are being profitably worked.
The city is lighted by a system of electric lamps,
and has an excellent water-supply from inexhaustible mountain streams.
We were told an authentic story illustrating the
richness of the soil in and about Helena, as a gold-
bearing earth, which we repeat in brief.
It seems that a resident was digging a cellar on
which to place a foundation for a new dwelling-
house, when a passing stranger asked permission
to remove the pile of earth that was being thrown
out of the excavation, agreeing to return one half
of whatever value he could get from the same,
after washing and submitting it to the usual treatment by which gold is extracted. Permission was
granted, and the earth was soon removed. The
citizen thought no more about the matter.  After a NORTHERN PACIFIC COUNTRY.
59
couple of weeks, however, the stranger returned
and handed the proprietor of the ground thirteen
hundred dollars as his half of the proceeds realized from the dirt casually thrown out upon the
roadway in digging his cellar.
Between Helena and Garrison the main range
of the Rocky Mountains is crossed, and at an
elevation of five thousand five hundred and forty
feet the cars enter what is called the Mullan Tunnel. This dismal and remarkable excavation is
neai'ly four thousand feet long. From it the western-bound traveler finally emerges on the Pacific
slope, passing through the beautiful valley of the
Little Blackfoot.
The region through which we were traveling
stretches from Lake Superior to Puget Sound, on
the Pacific coast, and spreads out for many miles
on either side of the Northern Pacific Railroad,
known as the " Northern Pacific Country." No
portion of the United Sates offers more favorable
opportunities for settlement, and in no other section is there as much desirable government land
»still open to preemption, presenting such a variety
of surface, richness of soil, and wealth of natural
productions. Intelligent emigrants are rapidly
appropriating the land of this very attractive
region, but there is still enough and to spare.
Europe may continue to send us her surplus population for fifty years to come at the same rate she
has done for the past half century, and there will
still be room enough in the great West and North-
west to accommodate them. gt
1
i
■ 111
I 1 •
;
60
THE NEW ELDORADO.
As we left the main track of the Northern Pacific Eailroad at Livingston to visit the Yellowstone Park, so at Garrison we again take a branch
road to Butte City, situated fifty-five miles southward, and which is admitted to be the greatest
mining city of the American continent. Here, on
the western slope of the main range of the Rocky
Mountains, stands the "Silver City," as it is generally called, though one of its main features is its
copper product, which rivals that of the Lake
Superior district in quantity and quality, giving
employment to the most extensive smelting works
in the world. There are thirty thousand inhabitants in Butte, and it is rapidly growing in territory and population. Its citizens seem to be far
above the average of our frontier settlers in intelligence and thrift. The Blue Bird silver mine is
perhaps the richest in this locality, yielding every
twelve months a million and a half of dollars in
bullion; while the Moulton, Alice, and Lexington mines each produce a million dollars or more
in silver yearly. There are several other rich
mines, among them the Anaconda copper mine,
which gives an aggregate each year larger in value
than any we have named. The Parrott Copper
Company, also the Montana and Boston Copper
Company, each show an annual output of metal
valued at a million of dollars. In place of there
being any falling off in these large amounts, all of
the mines are increasing their productiveness
monthly by means of improved processes and
enlarged mechanical facilities.    But we have gone MONTANA.
61
sufficiently into detail to prove the assertion already made, that Butte City is the greatest mining
town on the continent. Eight tenths of its population is connected, either directly or indirectly,
with mining.
" It would seem that the United States form
the richest mineral country on the globe," said an
English fellow-traveler to whom these facts were
being explained by an intelligent resident.
" That has long been admitted," said the
American.
" And what country comes next ? " asked the
Englishman.
" Australia," was the reply. 1 But the United
States," continued the American, " have another
and superior source of wealth exceeding that of
all other lands, namely, their agricultural capacity. There are here millions upon millions of
acres, richer than the valley of the Nile, which
are still virgin soil untouched by the plow or
harrow."
Not mining, but agriculture forms the great
and lasting wealth of our broad and fertile Western States, rich though they be in mineral deposits,
especially of gold and silver.
Before proceeding further on our journey, let
us pause for a moment to consider the magnitude
of this imperial State of Montana, which measures
over five hundred miles from east to west, and
which is three hundred miles from north to south,
containing one hundred and forty-four thousand
square miles.    This makes it  larger in  surface 62
THE NEW ELDORADO.
than the States of New Hampshire, Vermont,
Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, and Indiana combined. With its vast
stores of mineral wealth and many other advantages, who will venture to predict its future possibilities ? It would be difficult to exaggerate them.
The precious metals mined in the State during the
last year gave a total value of over forty million
of dollars, which was an increase of six million
over that of the preceding year. Between forty
and fifty million dollars in value is anticipated as
the result of the local mining enterprise for the
current twelve months, and yet we consider this
to be the second, not the first, interest of Montana;
agriculture take the precedence.
Returning to Garrison, after a couple of days
passed at Butte City examining its extremely interesting system of mining for the precious metals,
we once more resume our western journey.
Along the less populous portions of the route
groups of dirty, but picturesque looking Indians
are seen lounging about, wrapped in fiery red
blankets. These belong to various native tribes,
such as the Sioux, Blackfeet, Cheyennes, and
Arapahoes. Bucks, squaws, and papooses gather
about the small railroad stations, partly from curiosity, and partly because they have nothing else
to do; but they are ever ready to sell trifles of
their own rude manufacture to travelers as souvenirs, also gladly receiving donations of tobacco
or small silver coins. The men are fat, lazy, and
useless, scorning even the semblance of working THE  WARDS OF THE GOVERNMENT.      63
for a livelihood, leaving the squaws to do the
trading with travelers. These are " wards" of
our government, who receive regular annuities of
money and subsistence, including flour, beef, blankets, and so on. Support is thus insured to them
so long as they live, and no American Indian was
ever known to work for himself, or any one else,
unless driven to it by absolute necessity.
When the author first crossed these plains,
nearly thirty years ago, before there was any
transcontinental railroad, the Indian tribes were
very different people from what we find them today. The men were thin in flesh, wiry, active, and
constantly on the alert. They were ever ready
for bloodshed and robbery when they could be
perpetrated without much danger to themselves.
Contact with civilization has changed all this.
They have become fat and lazy. They have borrowed the white man's vices, but have ignored
his virtues. When not fighting with the pale
faces, the tribes were, thirty and forty years ago,
incessantly at war with each other, thus actively
promoting the fate which surely awaited them as
a people. Their pride, even to-day, is to display
at their belts not only the scalps of white men
and women taken in belligerent times, but also
the scalps of hostile tribes of their own race.
We believe most sincerely in fulfilling all treaty
obligations between our government and the In-
dians* to the very letter of the contract, nor have
we any doubt that our official agents have often
been unfaithful in the performance of their duties;
I 64
THE NEW ELDORADO.
but when we attempt to create saints and martyrs
out of the Red Men, we are certainly forcing the
canonizing principle. They are entitled to as
much consideration as the whites, but they are
not entitled to more. They are crafty and cruel
by nature ; this is, perhaps, not their fault, but it
is their misfortune. Nothing is really gained in
our fine-spun moral theories by attempting to deceive ourselves or others. The plain truth is the
best.
A little way from the railroad station on the
open prairie the camps of these aborigines may
often be seen, consisting of a few rude buffalo
hides or canvas tents, while a score of rough looking ponies are grazing hard by, tethered to stakes
driven into the soil. Here and there in front of
a tent an iron kettle, in which a savory compound
of meat and vegetables is simmering, hangs upon
a tripod above a low fire built on the ground,
presided over by some ancient squaw, all very
much like a gypsy camp by the roadside in far off
Granada.
The male aborigines wear semi-civilized clothing made of dressed deerskins, and woolen goods
indiscriminately mixed; their long coarse black
hair, decked with eagle's feathers, hangs about
their necks and faces, the latter often smeared
with yellow ochre. Now and then a touch of
manliness is seen in the bearing and facial expression of the bucks; but the larger number are debauched and degraded specimens of humanity,
who impress the stranger with some curiosity, but COWBOYS.
65
with very little interest. Like the gypsies of
Spain, they are incorrigible nomads, detesting the
ordinary conventionalities of civilized life. The
Indian women are clad in leather leggings, blue
woolen skirts and waists, having striped blankets
gathered loosely over their shoulders. No one
can truthfully ascribe the virtue of cleanliness to
these squaws. The papooses are strapped in flat
baskets to the mothers' backs, being swathed,
arms, legs, and body, like an Egyptian mummy,
and are as silent even as those dried-up remains
of humanity. Whoever heard an Indian baby
cry ? The mothers seemed to be kind to the little
creatures, whose faces, like those of the Eskimo
babies, are so fat that they can hardly open their
eyes.
We are sure to see about these railroad stations
in the far West an occasional " cowboy," clad in
his fanciful leather suit cut after the Mexican
style, wearing heavy spurs, and carrying a ready
revolver in his belt. His long hair is covered by
a broad felt sombrero, and he wears a high-colored handkerchief tied loosely about his neck. He
enjoys robust health, is sinewy, clear-eyed, and intelligent in every feature, leading an active, open-
air life as a herdsman, and being ever ready for an
Indian fight or a generous act of self-abnegation
in behalf of a comrade. He will not object on
an occasion to join a lynching-party who happen
to have in hand some horse-thief or a murderous
scoundrel who has long successfully defied the
laws.    These cowboys are splendid horsemen, sit- 66
THE NEW'ELDORADO.
ting their high-pommeled Mexican saddles like
the Arabs. They are oftentimes educated young
men, belonging to respectable Eastern families,
seeking a brief experience of this wild, exposed
life, simply from a love of independence and adventure. They are chivalric, and nearly always
to be found on the side of justice, however quick
they may be in the use of the revolver. Their
life is spent amid associations, and in regions,
where the slow process of the law does not meet
the exigencies constantly occurring. The reader
may be assured that they are nevertheless governed bj' a sense of " wild justice," in which an
element of real equity predominates. To realize
the skill which they acquire, one must see half a
dozen of them join together in " rounding up " a
herd of several hundred cattle, or wild horses,
scattered and feeding on the prairie, and from the
herds collect and sort out the animals belonging to
different owners, all being distinctly branded with
hot irons when brought from Texas or elsewhere.
In doing this it is often necessary to lasso and
throw an animal while the operator is himself in
the saddle and his horse at full gallop. No equestrian feats of the ring equal their daily performances, and no Indian of the prairies can compare
with them for daring and successful horsemanship. Indeed, an Indian is hardly the equal of a
white man in anything, not even in endurance.
I An intelligent white man can beat any Indian,
even at his own game," says Buffalo Bill. Each
one of the aborigines has his pony, and some have PRAIRIE SCHOONERS.
67
two or three, but they are as a rule of a poor
breed, overworked and underfed. They are never
housed, never supplied with grain, but subsist
solely upon the coarse bunch grass of the prairie.
The poor, uncared-for animals which are seen as
described about the natives' encampments tell
their own doleful story. The Indian ponies and
the squaws are alike always abused.
As we cross these plains straggling emigrant
teams are often seen, called " prairie schooners."
The wagons as a rule are much the worse for
wear, being surmounted by a rude canvas covering, dark and mildewed, under which a wife and
four or five children are generally domiciled. A
few domestic utensils are carried in, or hung upon
the body of, the vehicle, — a tin dipper here, a
water-pail there, a frying-pan in one place, and an
iron kettle in another. These wagons are usually
drawn by a couple of sorry-looking horses, and
sometimes by a yoke of oxen. Beside the team
trudges the father and husband, the typical
pioneer farmer, hardy, independent, self-reliant,
bound west to find means of support for himself
and brood. Many such are seen as we glide
swiftly over the iron rails, causing us to realize
how steadily the stream of humanity flows westward, spreading itself over the virgin soil of the
new States and Territories, and producing a
growth in population no less legitimate than it
is rapid. These pioneers are almost invariably
farmers, and by adhering to their calling are sure
to make at least a comfortable living. 68
THE NEW ELDORADO.
While stopping at a watering-place in the early
morning, the picturesque figure of a hunter was
seen with rifle in hand. Over his shoulder hung
the body of an antelope, while some smaller game
was secured to his leathern belt. He had just captured these in the wild brown hills which border
the plateau where our train had stopped. Cooper's Leather-Stocking Tales were instantly suggested to the mind of the observer, as he watched
the careless, graceful attitude and bearing of the
rugged frontiersman, whose entire unconsciousness
of the unique figure which he presented was especially noticeable.
After traveling more than five hundred miles
in Montana, which is surpassed in size only by
Alaska and Dakota, we enter northern Idaho, attractive for its wild and picturesque scenery, — a
territory of mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, and
prairies combined, second only to Montana in its
mineral wealth, and possessing also some of the
choicest agricultural districts in the great West,
where Nature herself freely bestows the best of
irrigation in uniform and abundant rains. While
traveling in Idaho we find that the route passes
through a magnificent forest region, where the
trees measure from six to ten feet in diameter,
and are of colossal height, such growing timber
as would challenge comment in any part of the
world, consisting mostly of white pine, cedar, and
hemlock.
We soon cross into the State of Washington,
its   northern   boundary being  British  Columbia SPOKANE FALLS.
69
and its southern boundary Oregon, from which it
is separated for more than a hundred miles of its
length by the Columbia River. Its form is that
of a parallelogram, fronting upon the Pacific
Ocean for about two hundred and fifty miles, and
having a length from east to west of over three
hundred and sixty miles. This State has immense agricultural areas, as well as being rich in
coal, iron, and timber. We pause at Spokane
Falls for a day and night of rest. It is on the
direct line of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and is
the principal city of eastern Washington, having
the largest and best water-power on the Pacific
slope. Government engineers report the water
fall here to exceed two hundred thousand horsepower, a small portion only of which is yet improved, and that as a motor for large grain and
flouring mills. Here we find a thrifty business
community numbering over twelve thousand, the
streets traversed by a horse railroad, and the place
having electric lights, gas and public water works,
with a Methodist and a Catholic college. It com-
mands the trade of what is termed the Big Bend
country and the Palouse district, and is the fitting-
out place for the thousands of miners engaged in
Cceur d'Alene County. In spite of the late disastrous fire which she has experienced, Spokane,
like Seattle, will rapidly rise from her ashes.
Official reports show that over nine million acres
of this State are particularly adapted to the raising of wheat. Our route, after a brief rest at
Spokane Falls, lies through Palouse County, where
1 70
THE NEW ELDORADO.
this cereal is raised in quantities proportionately
larger than even in Dakota, and at a considerably
less cost. Thirty-five to forty bushels of wheat
to the acre is considered a royal yield in Dakota
and the best localities elsewhere, but here fifty
bushels to the acre are pretty sure to reward the
cultivator, and even this large amount is sometimes exceeded. One enthusiastic observer and
writer declares that Palouse County is destined to
destroy wheat-growing in India by virtue of its
immense crops, its favorable seasons, its economy
of production, and its proximity to the seaboard.
In the western part of the State, on Puget
Sound, the lumber business is the most important
industry, giving profitable employment to thousands of people. The productive capacity of the
several sawmills on the sound is placed at two million feet per day, and all are in active operation.
A new one of large proportions was also observed
to be in course of construction. The forests which
produce the crude material are practically inexhaustible. The pines are of great size, ranging
from eight to twelve feet in diameter, and from
two hundred to two hundred and eighty feet in
height. No trees upon this continent, except the
giant conifers of the Yosemite, surpass these in
magnitude. United States surveyors have declared, in their printed reports, that this State
contains the finest body of timber in the world,
and that its forests cover an area larger than the
entire State of Maine.
The most productive hop districts   that   are IMMIGRATION.
71
known anywhere are to be found in the broad
valleys of this State, where hop-growing has become a great and increasing industry, yielding
remarkable profits upon the money invested and
the labor required to market the crop. The
course of the railroad is lined with these gorgeous
fields of bloom, hanging on poles fifteen feet in
height, planted with mathematical regularity.
Large fruit orchards of apples, pears, peaches,
cherries, and other varieties are seen flourishing
here ; and residents speak confidently of fruit raising as being one of the most promising future industries of this region, together with the canning
and preserving of the fruits for use in Eastern
markets. We are reminded, in this connection,
that the United States crop reports also represent Washington as producing more bushels of
wheat to the acre than any other State or Territory within the national domain. This grand
region of the far northwestern portion of our
country is three hundred miles long, from east
to west, and two hundred and forty miles from
north to south, giving it an area in round numbers
of seventy thousand square miles. That is to
say, it is nearly as large as the States of New
York and Pennsylvania combined.
The immigration pouring into the new State
of Washington is simply enormous, its aggregate
for the year 1889 being estimated at thirty-five
thousand persons, the majority of whom come
hither for agricultural purposes, and to establish
permanent homes.     One train observed by the 72
THE NEW ELDORADO.
author consisted of nine second-class cars filled
entirely with Scandinavians, that is, people from
Norway and Sweden, presenting an appearance
of more than average sturdiness and intelligence.
As the Pacific coast is approached we come to
the famous Stampede Tunnel, which is nearly ten
thousand feet long, and, with the exception of the
Hoosac Tunnel in Massachusetts, the longest in
America. On emerging from the Stampede Tunnel the traveler gets his first view of Mount
Tacoma, rising in perpendicular height to nearly
three miles, the summit robed in dazzling white-
ness throughout the entire year. CHAPTER VI.
Mount Tacoma. — Terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad. —
Great Inland Sea. — City of Tacoma and its Marvelous
Growth. — Coal Measures. — The Modoc Indians. —Embarking for Alaska. — The Rapidly Growing City of Seattle. —
Tacoma with its Fifteen Glaciers. — Something about Port
Townsend. —A Chance for Members of Alpine Clubs.
The city of Tacoma takes its name from the
grand towering mountain, so massive and symmetrical, in sight of which it is situated. We
cannot but regret that the newly formed State did
not assume the name also.
This is the western terminus of the Northern
Pacific Railroad, and is destined to become a great
commercial port in the near future, being situated
so advantageously at the head of the sound, less
than two hundred miles from the Pacific Ocean.
Its well-arranged system of wharves is already a
mile and a half long, while there is a sufficient
depth of water in any part of the sound to admit
of safely mooring the largest ships. The reports
of the United States Coast Survey describe Puget
Sound as having sixteen hundred miles of shore
line, and a surface of two thousand square miles,
thus forming a grand inland sea, smooth, serene,
and still, often appropriately spoken of as the
Mediterranean  of the North Pacific.    It is in- 74
THE NEW ELDORADO.
dented with many bays, harbors, and inlets, and
receives into its bosom the waters of numerous
streams and tributaries, all of which are more or
less navigable, and upon whose banks are established the homes of many hundred thrifty farmers.
History shows that long ago, before any Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, Spanish voyagers
planted colonies on Puget Sound. From them
the Indians of these shores learned to grow crops
of cereals, though according to the ingenious Ignatius Donnelly's " Atlantis " they brought the
art from a lost continent. Puget Sound may be
described as an arm of the Pacific which, running
through the Strait of Fuca, extends for a hundred
miles, more or less, southward into the State of
Washington. Nothing can exceed the beauty of
these deep, calm waters, or their excellence for
the purpose of navigation; not a shoal exists either
in the strait or the sound that can interfere with
the progress of the largest ironclad. A ship's
side would strike the shore before her keel would
touch the bottom. Storms do not trouble these
waters; such as are frequently encountered in
narrow seas, like the Straits of Magellan, and
heavy snow-storms are unknown. The entire expanse is deep, clear, and placid.
Tacoma has about thirty thousand inhabitants
to-day; in 1880 it had seven hundred and twenty !
The assessed valuation eight years ago was half
a million dollars. It is now over sixteen million dollars, and this aggregate does not quite
represent the rapid increase of real estate.    Here, TACOMA.
75
months have witnessed more growth and progress
in permanent business wealth and value of property than years in the history of our Eastern cities.
At this writing there is being built a large and
architecturally grand opera house of stone and
brick which will cost quarter of a million dollars,
besides which the author counted over forty stone
and brick business edifices in course of construction, and nearly a hundred two and three story
frame-houses for dwelling purposes, of handsome
modern architectural designs. Away from the
business centre of the city the residences are universally beautiful, with well-kept lawns of exquisite green, and small charming flower gardens
fragrant with roses, syringas, and honeysuckles,
mingling with pansies, geraniums, verbenas, and
forget-me-nots. It is astonishing what an air of
leisure and refinement is imparted to these dwellings by this means,—an air of retirement and culture, amid all the surrounding bustle and rush of
business interests.
The city claims an ocean commerce surpassed
in volume by no other port on the Pacific except
San Francisco. Its substantial and well-arranged
brick blocks, of both dwellings and storehouses,
lining the broad avenues, are suggestive of permanence and commercial importance, while a general appearance of thrift prevails in all of the
surroundings. Pacific Avenue is noticeably a fine
thoroughfare, — the principal one of the town.
The place seems to be thoroughly alive, and
especially in the vicinity of the shipping.    The \
iii; (i:!
76
THE NEW ELDORADO.
author counted fifteen ocean steamers in the harbor, and there were at the same time as many large
sailing vessels lying at the wharves loading with
lumber, wheat, coal, and other merchandise, exhibiting a degree of commercial energy hardly to be
expected of so comparatively small a community.
We were informed that four fifths of the citizens
were Americans by birth, drawn mostly from the
educated and energetic classes of the United
States, forming a community of much more than
average intelligence. Young America, backed by
capital, is the element which has made the place
what it is. It was a surprise to find a hotel so
large and well appointed in this city as the
" Tacoma" proved to be; a five-story stone and
brick house, of pleasing architectural effect, and
having ample accommodations for three hundred
guests. It stands upon rising ground overlooking
the extensive bay. The view from its broad
piazzas is something to be remembered.
Across Commencement Bay is a point of well-
wooded land, called " Indian Reservation," where
our government located what remains of the Modoc tribe who so long resisted the advance of
the whites towards the Pacific shore. These former
belligerents are peaceable enough now, fully realizing their own interests.
Statistics show that there is shipped from Tacoma, on an average, a thousand tons of native
coal per day, mostly to San Francisco and some
other Pacific ports. A large portion of this coal
comes from valuable measures belonging to the THE LUMBER BUSINESS.
77
Northern Pacific Railroad Company, situated thirty
or forty miles from Tacoma, and some from the
Roslyn mines farther away. The Wilkinson and
Carbonado mines form the principal source of
supply for shipment, and the Roslyn for use on
the railroad. These last are thirty-five thousand
acres in extent. One of the many veins of the
Roslyn coal deposit is estimated to contain three
hundred million tons of coal, conveniently situated
for transportation on the line of the Northern
Pacific Railroad.
The great Tacoma sawmill does a very large and
successful business, finding its motor in a steam
engine of fourteen hundred horse-power, and having over seven hundred men on its pay-roll. This
number includes mill-hands, dock-men, choppers,
and watermen, the latter being the hands who
bring the logs by rafts from different parts of the
sound. There are a dozen other sawmills in and
about the city. The lumber business of this
region is fast assuming gigantic proportions, shipments being regularly made to China, Japan, Australia, and even to Atlantic ports. A whole fleet
of merchantmen were waiting their turn to take
in cargo while we were there. We believe that
Tacoma will ere long become the second city on
the Pacific coast, and perhaps eventually a rival
to San Francisco. Its abundance of coal, iron, and
lumber, added to its variety of fish and immense
agiicultural products, are sufficient to support a
city twice as large as the capital of California.
One sturdy gang of men, who are bringing in 78
THE NEW ELDORADO.
a large raft of logs, attracts our attention by
their similarity of dress and general appearance,
as well as by their dark skins and well-developed
forms. On inquiry we learn that they are native
Indians of the Haida tribe, who come down from
the north to work through a part of the season as
lumbermen, at liberal wages. They are accustomed to perilous voyages while seeking the whale
and fishing for halibut in deep waters, commanding good wages, as being equal to any white laborers obtainable.
We embark at Tacoma for Alaska in a large and
well-appointed steamer belonging to the Pacific
Coast Steamship Company, heading due north.
The first place of importance at which we stop
is the city of Seattle, the oldest American settlement on the sound, and now having a busy commercial population of nearly thirty thousand. It
has an admirable harbor, deep, ample in size, and
circular in form; the commercial facilities could
hardly be improved. Here again are large substantial brick and stone blocks, schools, churches,
and various public and private edifices of architectural excellence. Enterprise and wealth are
conspicuous, while the neighboring scenery is
grand and attractive. To the east of the city,
scarcely a mile away, is situated a very beautiful
body of water, deep and pure, known as Lake
Washington, twenty miles long by an average of
three in width, and from which the citizens have
a never-failing supply of the best of water. The
lake has an area of over sixty square miles, and is SEATTLE.
79
surrounded by hills covered with a noble forest-
growth of fir, spruce, and cedar. Seattle has four
large public schools averaging six hundred pupils
each, and a university to which there are seven
professors attached, with a regular attendance of
two hundred students.
Among the great natural resources of this region there is included sixty thousand acres of
.coal fields within a radius of thirty miles of Seattle. These coal fields are connected with the city
by railways. Tacoma and Seattle are also joined
by rail, besides two daily lines of steamboats.
Great is the rivalry existing between the people
here and those of Tacoma, but there is certainly
room enough for both; and, notwithstanding the
destructive fire which lately occurred at Seattle, it
is prospering wonderfully. About four miles distant from the centre of business is situated one of
the largest steel manufactories in this country, the
immediate locality being known as Moss Bay.
Here timber, water, coal, and mineral are close
at hand to further the object of this mammoth
establishment, which, when in full operation, will
give employment to five thousand men. Real
estate speculation is the present rage at Seattle,
based on the idea that it is to be the port of
Puget Sound.
Between the city and hoary-headed Mount
Tacoma is one of the finest hop-growing valleys
extant. It has enriched its dwellers by this industry, and more hops are being planted each
succeeding year, increasing the quantity exported 80
THE NEW ELDORADO.
by some twenty-five per cent, annually. It may
be doubted if the earth produces a more beautiful sight in the form of an annual crop of vegetation than that afforded by a hop-field, say of
forty acres, when in full bloom. We were told
that the land of King County, of which Seattle is
the capital, is marvelous in fertility, especially
in the valleys, often producing four tons of hay
to the acre; three thousand pounds of hops, or
six hundred bushels of potatoes, or one hundred
bushels of oats to the acre are common. It must
be remembered also that while there is plenty of
land to be had of government or the Northern Pacific Railroad Company at singularly low rates,
transportation in all directions by land or water is
ample and convenient, a desideratum by no means
to be found everywhere.
From the deck of the steamer, as we sail northward, the irregular-formed, but well-wooded shore
is seen to be dotted with hamlets, sawmills, farms,
and hop-fields, all forming a pleasing foreground
to the remarkable scenery of land and water presided over by the snow-crowned peak of Mount
Tacoma, which looms fourteen thousand feet and
more skyward in its grandeur and loneliness. How
awful must be the stillness which pervades those
heights! As we view it, the snow-line commences at about six thousand feet from the base,
above which there are eight thousand feet more,
ice-topped and glacier-bound, where the snow
and ice rest in endless sleep. There are embraced
within the  capacious bosom   of  Tacoma fifteen MOUNT TACOMA.
81
glaciers, thi-ee of which, by liberal road-making
and engineering, have been rendered accessible to
visitors, and a few persistent mountain climbers
come hither every year to witness glacial scenery
finer than can be found in Europe. Persons who
have traveled in Japan will be struck by the
strong resemblance of this Alpine Titan to the
famous volcano of Fujiyama, whose snow-wreathed
cone is seen by the stranger as he enters the harbor of Yokohama, though it is eighty miles away.
As we steam northward other peaks come into
view, one after another, until the whole Cascade
Range is visible, half a hundred and more in
number.
The summit of Tacoma is not absolutely inaccessible. A dozen daring and hardy climbers have
accomplished the asGent first and last; but it involves a degree of labor and the encountering of
serious dangers which have thus far rendered it
a task rarely achieved. Many have attempted to
scale these lonely heights, and many have. given
up exhausted, glad to return alive from this perilous experience between earth and sky. Members
of various Alpine clubs cross the Atlantic to climb
inferior elevations. Let such Americans test their
athletic capacity and indulge their ambition by
overcoming the difficult ascent of Tacoma.
Port Townsend is finally reached, — the port of
entry for Puget Sound district and the gateway
of this great body of inland water. Tacoma,
Seattle, and Port Townsend are all lively contestants for supremacy on  Puget  Sound.     The 82
THE NEW ELDORADO.
business part of Port Townsend is situated at the
base of a bluff which rises sixty feet above the
sea level, upon the top of which the dwelling-
houses have been erected, and where a marine
hospital flies the national flag. To live in comfort here it would seem to be necessary for each
family to possess a balloon, or that a big public
lift should be established to take the inhabitants
of the town from one part to the other. It is
rapidly growing, — street grading and building
of stores and dwelling-houses going on in its several sections. Vancouver named the place after
his distinguished patron, the Marquis of Town-
shend. We were told that over two thousand
vessels enter and clear at the United States custom-house here annually, besides which there are
at least a thousand which pass in and out of the
sound under coasting licenses, and are not included in this aggregate. The collections of the
district average one thousand dollars for each
working day of the year.
Port Townsend is nine hundred miles from San
Francisco by sea, and thirty-five hundred miles,
in round numbers, from Boston or New York.
It is the first port from the Pacific Ocean, and
the nearest one to British Columbia, besides being the natural outfitting port for Alaska. We
were surprised to learn the extent of maritime
business done here, and that in the number of
American steam vessels engaged in foreign trade
it stands foremost in all the United States. Its
climate is said to be more like that of Italy than PORT TOWNSEND.
83
any other part of America. The place is certainly remarkable for salubrity and healthfulness,
and is universally commended by persons who
have had occasion to remain there for any considerable period. The view from the upper part of
the town is very comprehensive, including Mount
Baker on one side and the Olympic Range on the
other, while the far-away silver cone of Mount
Tacoma is also in full view. The busy waters
of the sound are constantly changing in the view
presented, various craft passing before the eye
singly and in groups. Long lines of smoke trail
after the steamers, whose turbulent wakes are
crossed now and then by some dancing egg-shell
canoe or a white-winged, graceful sailboat bending to the breeze.
Certain custom-house formalities having been
duly complied with, we continued on our course,
bearing more to the westward, crossing the Strait
of Juan de Fuca, bound for Victoria, the capital
of Vancouver Island and of British Columbia, at
which interesting place we land for a brief sojourn. To the westward the port looks out
through the Strait of Fuca to the Pacific, southward into Puget Sound, and eastward beyond the
Gulf of Georgia to the mainland. CHAPTER VII.
Victoria, Vancouver's Island.—Esquimalt.— Chinamen. — Remarkable Flora. — Suburbs of the Town.—Native Tribes.—
Cossacks of the Sea. — Manners and Customs. — The Early
Discoverer. — Sailing in the Inland Sea. — Excursionists. —
Mount St.Elias. —Mount Fairweather.—A Mount Olympus.
— Seymour Narrows. — Night on the Waters. — A Touch of
the Pacific.
The city of Victoria contains twelve thousand
inhabitants, more or less, and is situated just seventy miles from the mainland; but beyond the
fact that it is a naval station, commanding the entrance to the British possessions from the Pacific,
we see nothing to conduce to the futui'e growth of
Victoria beyond that of any other place on the
sound. The aspect is that of an old, steady-going,
conservative town, undisturbed by the bustle, activity, and business life of such places as Tacoma
and Seattle. Yancouv6r, on the opposite shore,
being the terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway, bids fair to soon exceed it in business importance, though it has to-day less than ten thousand
inhabitants. The population of Victoria is highly
cosmopolitan in its character, being of American,
French, German, English, Spanish, and Chinese
origin. Of the latter there are fully three thousand. They are the successful market-gardeners
of Victoria, a position they fill in many of the VICTORIA.
85
English colonies of the Pacific, also performing the
public laundry work here, as we find them doing
in so many other places. In the hotels they are
employed as house-servants, cooks, and waiters.
Yet every Chinaman who lands here, the same as
in Australia and New Zealand, is compelled to pay
a tax of fifty dollars entrance fee. The surprise is
that such an arbitrary rule does not act as a bar
to Asiatic immigration ; but it certainly does not
have that effect, while it yields quite a revenue
to the local treasury. At most ports the importation or landing of Chinese women is forbidden,
but some of the gayest representatives of the sex
are to be seen in the streets of Victoria, with bare
heads, having their intensely black hair, shining
with grease, dressed in large puffs. The heavy
Canton silks in which they are clothed indicate
that they have plenty of money. They affect
gaudy colors, and wear heavy jade ear-rings, with
breastpins of the same stone set in gold. The
lewd character of the Chinese women who leave
their native land in search of foreign homes is so
well known as to fully warrant the prohibition relative to their landing in American or British ports.
The effort to exclude them is, however, not infrequently a failure, as with a trifling disguise male
and female look so much alike as to deceive an
ordinary observer. The Asiatics are up to all
sorts of tricks to evade what they consider arbitrary laws.
Officially Victoria is English, but in population
it is anything else rather than  English.    Until THE NEW ELDORADO.
1858 it was only a small trading station belonging
to the Hudson Bay Company; but in that year
the -discovery of gold on the bar of the Fraser
River and elsewhere in the vicinity caused a great
influx of miners and prospectors, mostly from California, and it was this circumstance which gave
the place a business start and large degree of importance. The houses are many of them built of
stone and bricks, the gardens being also neatly
inclosed. The streets are macadamized and kept
in excellent order. The city is lighted by electric
lamps placed on poles over a hundred feet high,
and has many modern improvements designed to
benefit the people at large, including large public
buildings and a fine opera house.
The harbor of Victoria is small, and has only
sufficient depth to accommodate vessels drawing
eighteen feet of water; but near at hand is a second harbor, known as Esquimalt, with sufficient
depth for all practical purposes. If quiet is an
element of charm, then Victoria is charming; but
we must add that it is also rather sleepy and tame.
It might be centuries old, everything moving, as
it does, in grooves. Business people get to their
offices at about ten o'clock in the morning, and
leave them by three in the afternoon. There is no
evidence here of the fever of living, no symptom
of the go-ahead spirit which actuates their Yankee
neighbors across the sound.
Esquimalt is situated but three or four miles
from Victoria, and is the headquarters of the English Pacific squadron, where two or three British ir*
ESQUIMALT.
87
men-of-war are nearly always to be seen in the
harbor, and where there is also a very capacious
dry-dock and a naval arsenal. At the time of our
visit a couple of swift little torpedo-boats were
exercising about the harbor and the sound. The
well-wooded shore is dressed in " Lincoln green,"
far more tropical than boreal. The many pleasing residences are surrounded with pretty garden-
plots, and flowers abound. We have rarely seen so
handsome an array of cultivated roses as were found
here. So equable is the climate that these flowers
bloom all the year round. A macadamized road
connects Esquimalt with Victoria, running between fragrant hedges, past charming cottages,
and through delightful pine groves. We see here
a flora of great variety and attractiveness, which
could not exist in this latitude without an unusually high degree of temperature, accompanied with
a great condensation of vapor and precipitation of
rain. Victoria is admirably situated, with the sea
on three sides and a background of high-rolling
hills, and also enjoys an exceptionally good climate, almost entirely devoid of extremes.
The suburbs are thickly wooded, where palmlike fern-trees a dozen feet high, and in great
abundance, recalled specimens of the same family,
hardly more thrivingly developed, which the writer
has seen in the islands of the South Pacific. The
wild rose-bushes were overburdened with their
wealth of fragrant bloom; we saw them in June,
the favorite month of this queen of flowers. No
wonder that Marchand, the old French voyager, THE NEW ELDORADO.
when he found himself here on a soft June day,
nearly a century ago, amid the annual carnival of
flowers, compared these fields to the rose-colored
and perfumed slopes of Bulgaria. If the reader
should ever come to this charming spot in the far
Northwest, it is the author's hope that he may see
it beneath just such mellow summer sunshine as
glows about us while we record these pleasant impressions in the queen-month of roses. Gluti-
nously rich vines of various-colored honeysuckles
were draped about the porticoes of the dwellings,
whence they hung with a self-conscious grace, as
though they realized how much beauty they imparted to the surroundings. The drone of bees
and swift-winged humming-birds were not wanting, and the air was laden with their delicious perfume. The wild syringas, which in a profusion of
snow-white blossoms lined the shaded roads here
and there, were as fragrant as orange-blossoms,
which, indeed, they much resemble. The air was
also heavy with a dull, sweet smell of mingled
blossoms, among which was the tall, graceful spi-
rea with its cream-colored flowers, so thickly set
as to hide the leaves and branches. The maple
leaves are twice the usual size, and fruit-trees bend
to the very ground with their wealth of pears,
apples, and peaches. The alders, like the ferns,
assume the size of trees, and cultivated flowers
grow to astonishing proportions and beauty. The .
bark-shedding arbutus was noticeable for its peculiar habit, and its bare, salmon-colored trunk
contrasting with its neighbors. BRITISH COLUMBIA.
89
A portion of the site of Victoria is set aside as
a reservation, and named Beacon Hill Park, containing choice trees and pleasant paths bordered
with delicate shrubbery. But the whole place is
park-like in its attractive picturesqueness. In the
interior of the island there is said to be plenty of
game, such as elk and red deer, foxes and beaver.
These forests are dense and scarcely explored;
sportsmen do not have to penetrate them far to
find an abundance of game, so that in the open
season venison is abundant and cheap in the town.
British Columbia, of which this city is the
capital, embraces all that portion of North America lying north of the United States and west of
the Rocky Mountains to the Alaska line. Its
area is three hundred and forty thousand square
miles, and it certainly possesses more intrinsic
wealth than any other portion of the Dominion,
except the eastern cities of Canada. It is but
sparsely settled, and its natural resources are
quite undeveloped.
The well-constructed roads in and about Victoria give it an advantage over most newly settled places, and the idea is worthy of all commendation. The seaward, or western shore of
Vancouver, overlooking the North Pacific is very
rocky, and is indented by frequent arms of the
sea, like the fjords of Scandinavia, while the surface of the island is generally mountainous.
The Haidas and the Timplons are the two native tribes of Vancouver, who are represented to
have once been very numerous, brave, and warlike. 90
THE NEW ELDORADO.
Some of their canoes were eighty feet long, and
most substantially constructed, being capable of
carrying seventy-five fighting men, with their
bows, arrows, spears, and shields of thick walrus hide. These war-boats were made from the
trunk of a single tree, shaped and hollowed in fine
nautical lines, so as to make them swift and buoyant, as well as quite safe in these inland waters.
In these frail craft the natives were perfectly at
home, and excited the admiration of the early
navigators by the skill they displayed in managing
them, so that Admiral Liitke named them the
| Cossacks of the Sea."
But the Haidas, like the tribes of the Aleutian
islands and the Alaska groups generally, have
rapidly dwindled into insignificance — slowly fading away. People who subsist on fish and oil as
staples can hardly be expected to evince much
enterprise or industry. It cannot be denied, however, that as a race they appear much more intelligent and self-reliant than the aborigines of
our Western States. Vincent Colyer, special
Indian commissioner, says with regard to the
natives of the southern part of Alaska and the
Alexander Archipelago: " I do not hesitate to say
that if three fourths of these Alaska Indians were
landed in New York as coming from Europe, they
would be selected as among the most intelligent
of the many worthy emigrants who daily arrive
at that port."
When these islands were first discovered by the
whites, the native tribes  occupying them were NATIVE TRIBES.
91
almost constantly at war one with another. The
different tribes even to-day show no sympathy for
each other, nor will they admit that they are of
the same origin. Each has some theory of its ex-
clusiveness and independence, all of which is a
puzzle to ethnologists.
There seems never to have been any union of
interest entertained among them. Before and
after the advent of the Russians tribal wars raged
among them incessantly. Blood was the only
recognized atonement for offenses, and must be
washed out by.blood; thus vengeance was kept
alive, and civil war was endless. Bancroft in
his " Native Races of the Pacific" tells us that
the Aleuts are still fond of pantomimic perform-'
ances; of representing in dances their myths and
their legends; of acting out a chase, one assuming the part of hunter, another of a bird or beast
trying to escape the snare, now succeeding, now
failing, until finally a captive bird is transformed
into an attractive woman, who falls exhausted into
the hunter's arms.
With well-screened foot-lights, verdant woodland
surroundings, characters assumed by a trained ballet troupe, framed in the usual proscenium boxes,
with orchestra in front, this would be a fitting entertainment for a first-class Boston or New York
audience.
The Indians, or portions of the native race, seen
in and about the streets of Victoria are of the
most squalid character, dirty and unintelligent,
being altogether repulsive to look upon. 92
THE NEW ELDORADO.
Isji
The Indians of the west coast of the island are
brought less in contact with the whites, and still
keep up to a certain extent their native manners
and customs, wearing fewer garments of civilization, and being satisfied with a single blanket
as a covering during some portions of the year.
They are fond of wearing curiously carved wooden
masks at all their festivals, — some representing
the head of a bear, some that of a huge bird, and
others forming exaggerated human faces. There
seems to be a spirit of caricature prevailing among
them, as it does among the Chinese and Japanese.
These Vancouver aborigines have an original
and extraordinary method of expressing their
warm regard for each other, in isolated districts
where they are quite by themselves. When they
meet, instead of grasping hands or embracing,
they bite each other's shoulders, and the scars
thus produced are regarded with considerable satisfaction by the recipient. Their sacred rites are
sanguinary, and their notions of religion are of a
vague and incomprehensible kind. They believe
in omens and sorcery, suffering as much from fear
of supernatural evil as the most benighted African tribes. The west coast of Vancouver is nearly
always bleak; the great waves of the North Pacific breaking upon it, even in quiet weather, with
fierce grandeur, roaring sullenly among the rocks
and caves.
The distant view from the eastern side of Vancouver is of a most charming character, embracing
the blue Olympic range of mountains in the State VANCOUVER.
of Washington, whose heads are turbaned with
snow, while the lofty undulating peaks, taken en
masse, resemble the fiercely agitated waves of the
sea; a view which vividly recalled the Bernese
Alps as seen from the city of Berne.
Vancouver is the largest island on the Pacific
coast, and is well diversified with mountains, valleys, and long stretches of low pleasant shore.
Its name commemorates that of one of the world's
great explorers. Vancouver had served, previous
to these notable explorations, as an officer under
Captain Cook for two long and eventful voyages,
and was thus well fitted for a discoverer and pioneer. He made a careful survey of Puget Sound
with all of its channels, inlets, and bays, and wrote
a faithful description of the coast of the mainland
as well as of the islands. Though this was about
a century ago, so faithfully did he perform his
work that his charts are still regarded as good authority, though not absolutely perfect.
That practical seaman, in his sailing-ship, puts
us to shame with all our science and steam facilities as regards surveys of this complicated region.
The coast survey organization of the United States
has done little more than to corroborate a portion
of Vancouver's work. It is surprising that the
government should neglect to properly explore
and define by maps the islands, channels, and
straits of the North Pacific coast. Notwithstanding our boasted enterprise, we are behind every
power of Europe in these maritime matters.
The island of Vancouver has an area of eighteen 94
THE NEW ELDORADO.
thousand square miles, and is therefore larger than
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and
Delaware combined. It is only by these familiar
comparisons that we can hope to convey clearly
to the mind of the average reader such statistical
facts, and cause them to be remembered.
Reference has been made to the favorable climate of Victoria. We should state that the maximum summer temperature is 84° Fah., and the
minimum of the year is 22°.
From here our course lies in a northwest direction, leading through the broad Gulf of Georgia, which separates Vancouver from British Columbia. The magnificent ermine-clad head of
Mount Baker is seen, for many hours, to the east
of our course, looming far, far above the clouds,
and radiating the glowing beauty of the sunset,
which happened to be exceptionally fine at the
close of our first day out from Victoria. The
atmosphere, sea, and horizon were all the color
of gold. The surface of the water was unbroken
by a ripple, while it flashed in opaline variety the
brilliant hues of the evening hour. The grand
scenery which we encounter foreshadows the character of the voyage of a thousand miles, more or
less, northward, to the locality of the great glaciers, forming a vast interior line of navigation
nnequaled elsewhere for bold shores, depth of
water, numberless bays, and inviting harbors.
The course is bordered for most of the distance
with continuous forests, distinctly reflected in the
placid surface of these straits and sounds.    At SAN JUAN.
95
times the passage, perhaps not more than a mile
in width, is lined on either side with mountains
of granite, whose dizzy heights are capped with
snow, up whose precipitous sides spruce and pine
trees struggle for a foothold, and clinging there
thrive strangely upon food afforded by stones
and atmospheric air. Occasionally we pass some
deep, dark fjord, which pierces the mountains far
inland, presenting mysterious and unexplored vistas. We come upon the .island of San Juan, not
long after leaving Victoria, which was for a considerable period a source of serious contention
between England and America, the ownership
being finally settled by arbitration, and awarded
to us by the late Emperor of Germany. San Juan
is remarkable for producing limestone in sufficient quantity to keep scores of lime-kilns occupied for a hundred years. The island was only
important to us by its position, and as establishing certain boundary lines.
Now and again smoke is seen winding upwards from some rude but comfortable cabin on
the shore, where a white settler and his Indian
wife live in semi-civilized style. A rude garden
patch adjoins the cabin, carpeted with thriving
root crops, bordered by currant and gooseberry
bushes, while numerous wooden frames are reared
close by on which to dry salmon, cod, and halibut for winter use. Three or four half-breed
children, with a marvelous wealth of hair, and
clothed in a single garment reaching to the
knees, watch us with open eyes and mouths as 96
THE NEW ELDORADO.
we glide along the smooth water-way. At last
the father's attention is called to us by the exclamations of the papooses, and he waves us a salute with his slouchy fur cap. It is only a little
spot on the lonely shore, but it is all the world to
the squatter and his brood. One pauses mentally
for an instant to contrast this type of lonely existence with the fierce and furious tide of life
which exists in populous cities. Steamers, sailing
craft, or native canoes have no storms to encounter here; the course is almost wholly sheltered,
while coal or wood can be procured at nearly any
place where the steamer chooses to stop. The
fierce swell of the Pacific, so very near at hand,
is completely warded off by the broad and beautiful islands of Vancouver, Queen Charlotte, Prince
of Wales, Baranoff, and Chichagoff, which form
a matchless panorama as they slowly pass, day
after day, clad in thrifty verdure, before the eyes
of the delighted voyager. Throughout so many
hours of close observation one never wearies of
the charming scene.
The trip between Victoria and Pyramid Harbor, in many of its features, recalls the voyage
from Tromsoe, on the coast of Norway, to the
North Cape, where the traveler beholds the grand
phenomenon of the midnight sun, — passing over
deep, still waters, winding through groups of
lovely islands, covered with primeval forests and
veined with minerals, amidst the grandest of
Alpine scenery, where the nearer mountain peaks
are  clad  in  misty purple  and  those far away THE INLAND SEA.
97
are wrapped in snow shrouds, where signs of human life are seldom seen, and the deep silence
of the passage is broken only by the shrill cry of
some wandering sea-bird. In both of these northern regions, situated in opposite hemispheres,
grand mountains, volcanic peaks, and mammoth
glaciers form the guiding landmarks. The glaciers of Alaska are not only many times as large
as anything of the sort in Switzerland, but they
have the added charm of the ever-changing beau-
ties of the sea, thus altogether forming scenery
of peculiar and incomparable grandeur. One often finds examples of the Scotch and Italian lakes
repeated again and again on this inland voyage,
where the delightful tranquillity of the waters so
adds to the appearance of profound depth. It requires but little stretch of the imagination to believe one's self upon the Lake of Como or Lake
Maggiore.
The enjoyment afforded to the intelligent tourist on this delightful route of travel is being more
and more appreciated annually, as clearly evinced
by the fact that over two thousand excursionists
participated in the trips of steamers from Puget
Sound to Sitka last year, by way of Glacier Bay
and Pyramid Harbor, representing nearly every
State in the Union, and also embracing many
European travelers. "I thought it would be as
cold as Greenland," said one of these tourists to
us ; " but after leaving Port Townsend I hardly
once had occasion to wear my overcoat, night or
day, during the whole of the fourteen days' sum- II f
'•'
i
1
if!
H
98
THE NEW ELDORADO.
mer voyage through Alaska's Inland Sea. The
thermometer ranged between 68° and 78° during
the whole trip, while the pleasant daylight never
quite faded out of the sky."
Mount St. Elias, inexpressibly grand in its proportions, is probably the highest mountain in
Alaska, and, indeed, is one of the half dozen loftiest peaks on the globe, reaching the remarkable
height of nearly twenty thousand feet, according
to the United States Coast Survey. It may fall
short of, or it may exceed, this measurement by a
few hundred feet. Owing to the low point to
which the line of perpetual snow descends in this
latitude, St. Elias is believed to present the greatest snow climb of all known mountains. Another
notable peculiarity of this grand elevation is, like
that of Tacoma, in its springing at once from the
level of the Pacific Ocean, whereas most mountains, like those of Colorado, Norway, and Switzerland, say of twelve or fourteen thousand feet in
height, rise from a plain already two or three
thousand feet above sea level, detracting just so
much from their effectiveness upon the eye, and
from their apparent elevation. Vitus Behring, a
Dane by birth and the discoverer of the strait
which bears his name, first sighted this mountain
on St. Elias' day, and so gave it the name which
it bears. When the American whalemen on the
coast saw the summit of Mount Fairweather from
the sea, they felt sure that some days of fair
weather would follow, hence we have the expressive name which is bestowed upon it.    Mount St. MOUNT FAIRWEATHER.
99
Elias, with its snow and ice mantle reaching nearly
down to sea level, is higher than any elevation in
Norway or Switzerland, rising from its base in
pyramid form, straight, regular, and massive, to
three times the height of our New England giant
in the White Mountain range of New Hampshire,
namely, Mount Washington. Only the Himalayas and the Andes exceed it in altitude. Eleven
glaciers are known to come down from the south
side of St. Elias, one of which, named Agassiz
Glacier, is estimated to be twenty miles in width
and fifty in length, covering an area of a thousand square miles !
Fairweather is situated about two hundred miles
southeast of Mount St. Elias, its hoary head being
often visible a hundred miles and more at sea;
rising above the fogs and clouds, its summit is
recognizable while all other land is far below
the horizon. We were told that when the earthquake occurred at Sitka in 1847, this mountain
emitted huge volumes of smoke and vapor. The
force of volcanic action in Alaska is, however,
evidently diminishing, though occasional slight
shocks of earthquakes are experienced, especially
on the outlying islands of the Aleutian group
and near the mouth of Cook's Inlet.
Besides. these loftiest mountains named, —
"Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads
touch heaven," — Mount Cook, Mount Crillon,
and Mount Wrangel should not be forgotten.
Lieutenant H. T. Allen, U. S. A., makes the height
of the latter exceed that of Mount St. Elias, but J   !l
100
THE NEW ELDORADO.
we think it very questionable. This officer's statement that Mount Wrangel is the birthplace of
some of the largest glaciers known to exist seems
much more likely to be correct. In this region,
therefore, this far northwest territory of "the
United States, we find the highest elevations on
the North American continent. The mountain
ranges of California and Montana unite with the
Rocky Mountains, and turning to the south and
west form the Alaska Peninsula, finally disappearing in the North Pacific, except where a high
peak appears now and then, raising its rocky crest
above the sea, like a giant standing breast-high
in the ocean, and thus they form the Aleutian
chain of treeless islands, which stretch away westward towards the opposite continent. That these
islands are all connected beneath the sea, from
Attoo, the most distant, to where they join the
Alaska Peninsula, is made manifest by the exhibition of volcanic sympathy. When one of the lofty
summits emits smoke or fiery debris the others are
similarly affected, or at least experience slight
shocks of earthquake. So the several islands
which form the Hawaiian group are believed to be
joined below the ocean depths, and several, if not
all, of the islands of the West Indies are considered to be similiarly connected.
This has been in some period, long ago, a very
active volcanic region, as the lofty peaks, both
among the Aleutian Islands and on the mainland,
which emit more or less smoke and ashes, clearly
testify; not only suggestive of the past, but sig- TEX AD A.
101
nificant of possible contingencies in the future.
There are, in fact, according to the best authorities, sixty-one volcanic peaks in Alaska. One of
the extinct volcanoes near Sitka, Mount Edge-
combe, according to the Coast Pilot, has a dimension at the ancient crater of two thousand feet
across, and an elevation of over three thousand
feet above the sea. The depth of the crater is
said to be three hundred feet. From the top,
radiating downwards in singular regularity, are the
deep red gorges scored by the burning lava in its
fiery course, as thrown out of the crater less than
a hundred years ago.
This is a Mount Olympus for the natives, about
which many ancient myths are told by these imaginative aborigines.
For more than twenty-four hours after sailing
from Victoria the irregular, kelp-fringed shore of
Vancouver, which is three hundred miles long, is
seen on our left, until presently the large, iron-
bearing island of Texada, with its tall summit,
appears on the right of our course. The magnetic
ore found here in abundance is of such purity as
to render it suitable for the manufacture of the
highest grade of steel, and it is shipped to the
furnaces at Seattle and elsewhere for this purpose.
It is found in pursuing the voyage northward
that the fierce tide-way prevailing in some of the
deep, narrow channels produces such turbulent
rapids that steamers are obliged to wait for a
favorable condition of the waters before attempting their passage, as the adverse current runs at 102
THE NEW ELDORADO.
the rate of nine miles an hour. This was especially the case in the Seymour Narrows, which is
about nine hundred yards wide, and situated at
no great distance from Nanaimo, in the Gulf of
Georgia. It is a far more tumultuous water-way,
at certain stages of the tide — which has a rise
and fall of thirteen feet — than the famous Maelstrom on the coast of Norway. The latter is also
caused by the power of the wind and tide, though
it was long held as the mystery and terror of the
ocean.
The author remembers in his school geography
a crude woodcut, which depicted a ship being
drawn by some mysterious power into a gaping
vortex of the ocean, and already half submerged.
It was intended to represent the terrible perils of
passing too near the Maelstrom, off the Lofoden
Islands. In after years he sailed quietly across
this once dreaded spot in the North Sea, without
experiencing even an extra lurch of the ship.
Thus do the marvels and terrors of youth melt
away. Travel and experience make great havoc
in the wonderland of our credulity, and yet modern
discovery outdoes in reality the miracles of the
past.
A powerful steamer which attempted to pass
through the Seymour Narrows at an unfavorable
state of the water, last season, was unable to
make way against the current, and came near
being wrecked. By crowding on all steam she
succeeded in holding her position until the waters subsided, though she made no headway for NANAIMO.
103
two hours. It was here that the United States
steamer Saranac was lost a few years since, being
caught at disadvantage in the seething waters,
and forced upon the mid-channel rocks. Her
hull now lies seventy fathoms below the surface of
the sea. Since this event took place the United
States ship Suwanee struck on an unknown rock
farther north, and was also totally wrecked. Perhaps after a few more national vessels are lost
in these channels our government will awaken
from its lethargy, and have a proper survey
made and reliable charts issued of this important
coast and its intricate water-ways. A single vessel is now engaged in this survey, but half a
dozen should be employed in Alaskan waters.
Nanaimo is situated on the east side of Vancouver Island, seventy miles from Victoria, with
which it is connected by railroad. It is a thrifty
little town, mainly supported by the coal interest,
though there are two or three manufacturing establishments. The extensive coal mines in its
neighborhood are of great value, and are constantly worked. These coal deposits are of the
bituminous sort, particularly well adapted for
steamboat use, and are so situated as to facilitate
the growing commerce of these islands. Many
thousands of tons are shipped during the summer
months to San Francisco. We are told that it
cost the proprietors of these coal mines one dollar
and a half a ton to place the product on board
steamers, which on arriving at San Francisco
fetches  from  twelve to fifteen dollars per ton. 104
THE NEW ELDORADO.
There are five mines worked here, giving employment to some two thousand men, who receive
two dollars and a half per day as laborers.
There is not a lighthouse upon any headland
amid all of these meandering channels, though it
must be admitted that navigation is rarely impeded for want of light in summer, as one can see
to read common print at midnight upon the ship's
deck without artificial aid any time during the
traveling or excursion season of the year.
Now and again we look ahead inquiringly as we
thread the labyrinth of islands and wonder how
egress is possible from the many mountainous cliffs
rising, sullen and frowning, directly in the steamer's course. The exit from this maze is quite invisible ; but presently there is a swift turn of the
wheel, the rudder promptly responds, and we
gracefully round a projecting point into another
lonely, far-reaching channel framed by granite
peaks a thousand feet in height.
At night, when all but the watch were sleeping, how gaunt and weird stood forth those tall,
black sentinel rocks, past which we were gliding
so silently, while overhead was spread the broad
firmanent of space, dimly lighted by heaven's distant lamps! How suggestive the dark, mysterious shadows! how active the imagination ! Was
the atmosphere indeed peopled with the invisible
spirits of bygone ages? Did the air-waves vibrate
with the history of the long, long past, the unknown story of these silent fjords and deep water
gorges?    Is it only thousands, or tens of thou- r
THE  GULF OF GEORGIA.
105
sands, of years since the first human beings appeared and disappeared among these now wild,
untrodden shores?
The inlets which are found at the head of the
Gulf of Georgia, northeast of Vancouver Island,
are miniature Norwegian fjords, deeper and darker
than the sombre Saguenay; a hundred and eighty
fathoms of line will not reach the bottom. They
are from forty to sixty miles in length, with an
average width of nearly two miles, being walled
by abrupt mountains from four to seven thousand
feet in height. A grand elevation, whose name
has escaped us, stands eight thousand feet above
the sea at the head of Butte Inlet, while Mount
Alfred, at the head of Jarvis Inlet, is still higher.
A remarkable feature of these elongated arms of
the sea is their great depth, some of them measuring over three hundred fathoms. It is a popular idea that the phosphorescence of the sea is
exhibited in its strongest effect in the tropics;
but we have seen in the Gulf of Georgia, after
sunset, so brilliant an illumination from this cause
that it was only comparable to liquid fire, quite
equal in intensity to anything the author has witnessed in the Indian Ocean or the Caribbean Sea.
It is impossible to convey by the pen an idea of the
novel splendor of the scene. A drop of this flamelike water, dipped from the sea in equatorial or
Arctic waters and placed under the microscope is
found to be teeming with the most curious living
and active organisms. These myriads of tiny
creatures are so minute that, were it not for the 106
THE NEW ELDORADO.
revelations of the microscope, we should not even
know of their existence. Nor are these infinitesimal objects the smallest representatives of animal life ; glasses of greater power will show still
more diminutive creatures.
Persons who are accustomed to make sea-voyages do not forget to supply themselves with a
good but inexpensive microscope, for use on shipboard. The abundant specimens of minute animal and, vegetable life which the sea affords,
form a source of instructive amusement by which
many otherwise monotonous hours are pleasantly
beguiled. A little familiarity with the instru-
ment enables one to profitably entertain a whole
ship's company with its powers.
In the region between Vancouver and Queen
Charlotte Island we cross an open reach of the sea,
and while the Pacific swell tosses us about after
the usual erratic fashion of its unpacific waters,
we observe a few ocean sights which serve pleasantly to vary the experience of the trip. A school
of humpback whales put in an appearance, full of
sport and frolic, in such extraordinary numbers
that three or four are seen in the act of spouting
all the while. In spots the sea is yellow, where
its surface is covered for acres together with that
animated food for other piscatory creatures, the
jelly-fish. The shining, furry head of a sea-lion
comes up to the surface now and again, gazing
curiously at us with big, glassy eyes, and turning
its face nimbly from side to side. A school of
porpoises play about the hull of the steamer, leap- ON THE PACIFIC.
107
ing high out of the water and falling back again
in graceful curves. The only shark we chanced
to meet with on the entire voyage was observed
in our wake just before entering Smith's Sound,
.south of Calvert Island. In this region the huge
gona-bird was seen sailing slowly on the wing, re-
calling the albatross of the low latitudes in its
long, lazy sweeps, as well as by its size and gracefulness. These bird-monarchs of the north measure eight feet from tip to tip, and glide with or
against the wind on their broad, outspread pinions without the least visible muscular exertion,
a mystery of motive power which is sure to challenge the observer's curiosity.
In the narrow passages the tall peaks, arched
by the soft gray of the clouds and the clear blue
of the sky, cast deep shadows where the water
looked like pools of ink, whose blackness intensified the fact of their great but unknown depth.
The American whalers have never been accustomed to seek their big game in these immediate
waters, preferring to attack the leviathans in lesser
depths, such as the waters of Behring Sea, or farther north in the vicinity of the strait, between
the frozen ocean and the North Pacific. There,
if a whale dove after being struck by the harpoon,
he was sure very soon to fetch up in the muddy
bottom; but here, among the channels of the islands, he might dive, and dive again, to almost any
depth, and unless great care was taken he was liable in his lightning-like velocity to carry down
with him a whole boat's crew and all their be- THE NEW ELDORADO.
longings. Were it not that the whaling industry
has gradually declined here, as it has done in
all other sections of the globe, the possession of
Alaska, with its great number of safe harbors,
would be an invaluable boon to those of our countrymen engaged in that branch of commercial enterprise.
Inland sea travel is the perfection of steamboat-
ing, but the rapidly-changing landscape of these
wild Alaskan shores, rimmed with sharp volcanic
peaks, at last wearies the senses, and one is forced
to seek a brief intermission by finding rest in
sleep, only, however, to again renew the charm
with greater zest on the morrow. CHAPTER VIII.
Steamship Corona and her Passengers. — The New Eldorado. —
The Greed for Gold. — Alaska the Synonym of Glacier Fields.
— Vegetation of the Islands. — Aleutian Islands. — Attoo
our most Westerly Possession. — Native Whalers. — Life on
the Island of Attoo. — Unalaska — Kodiak, former Capital of
Russian America. — The Greek Church. — Whence the Natives originally came.
Our journey through that portion of Alaska
known as the Inland Sea was made in the steamship Corona, Captain Carroll, a commander who
has had long experience in these waters. His
pleasure seemed to lie in the degree of enjoyment which he could afford his passengers, and
the amount of information which he was enabled
to impart to them. There were on board the Corona the members of a large excursion party conducted by Raymond & Whitcomb of Boston,
numbering some eighty persons. We have rarely
seen together a large party of ladies and gentlemen embracing so many cultured and agreeable
persons. They had already occupied some weeks
•in a tour of Mexico and southern California. It
was exceedingly pleasant to see the courtesy and
consideration exercised among them towards each
other, — amenities which go so far to lighten the
inevitable inconveniences of travel, and to enhance its enjoyments.    Oftentimes friendships are 110
THE NEW ELDORADO.
formed under such circumstances which continue
through every exigency to the very end of life.
Having reached latitude 54° 40' (the fifty-four
forty or fight of 1862), we come to the boundary
line between British Columbia and the United
States, Dixon Entrauce being on the left and Fort
Tongas on the right. Here the far-reaching Portland Canal, or more properly channel, penetrates
the mainland for a great distance, precisely like
the Norwegian fjords, presenting, with its various
arms, stupendous watery canons, whence arise
mountain precipices thousands of feet high on
either side of the deep narrow course, their heads
shrouded in perpetual snow. This channel, or
fjord, runs nearly due north, and forms a boundary
line to its head between the English and United
States possessions.
Opposite and just south of Fort Tongas lies
Fort Simpson, on British soil, and close at hand
is Metla-katla, where that self-sacrificing missionary, Mr. Duncan, gathered and established a village of a thousand Christian residents from the
various savage tribes of the vicinity. By his individual effort, with almost miraculous success, he
raised from the lowest depths of barbarous life a
law-abiding, religious, industrious, and self-supporting community, who justly considered him
their moral and physical savior. Official persecution drove Mr. Duncan from Metla-katla to the
nearest available American island, namely, An-
netta, lying some sixty miles northward. Eight
hundred of  these  aborigines whom he had re- THE METLA-KATLA INDIANS.
claimed from savage life and its terrible practices
have followed him with their families, freely abandoning all their property and improvements at
Metla-katla, and are now struggling to create for
themselves a new and permanent home under the
United States.
The Senate committee, whose members lately
visited Alaska, made a call at Annetta, and
"found," as one of its members writes to the
press, " the Indians living in an apparent condition
of contentment, and engaged in almost all the pursuits of the whites. Their execution of artistic
designs upon silver wrought by themselves into
bracelets, rings, and all kinds of jewelry is marvelous. Baskets made in brilliant colors from
stripped reeds constitute a beautiful and artistic
employment of most of the women of the tribe.
Their particular ambition is their anxiety to possess lands in severalty, or to have certain parcels
set aside for them, that they may cultivate and
hold in individual right. They ask that the whole
of Gravine Island be given to their tribe. They
found the state of the morals of the Indian women
at Annetta, or, as they call it, New Metla-katla, far
above the average of Indian women of this Terri-
tory. At Sitka the committee visited the habitations of the Indians, and learned much from personal intercourse as to their habits and needs. It
was found that the companionship and virtue of
the women is a matter of simply dollars and cents
and not difficult to negotiate for."
" The committee were surprised to observe such IM
112
THE NEW ELDORADO.
an apparent freedom from rowdyism, quarrels, and
disturbances of any character in any portion of the
Territory, and remarked the entire absence of six-
shooters about the person of a single individual, a
feature always so prominent in the mining camps
of the West."
Until Alaska — The New Eldorado — came
into our possession, it was from the persistent and
adventurous fur-traders that our knowledge of the
country was almost solely obtained. To most of
the public it was (and is still to many) scarcely
more than a geographical expression, occupying
an insignificant space on the extreme northwest
portion of the maps of North America, without any
regard being paid to the scale on which the other
States and Territories of the country are delineated. The fact nevertheless stares us in the face,
that Alaska is nearly as large as the whole of the
United States lying east of the Mississippi River,
or three times as large as France. Within the last
twenty years greater intelligence has been shown,
in part through missionaries, — self-sacrificing and
devout men, — who have sought by their teachings
to abolish the wild superstitions of the natives,
together with their cruel rites of Shamanism. Organized companies of explorers, as well as enterprising miners and prospectors, have also liberally
furnished us with general information relating to
this great outlying province, which has been found
to be so full of mineral wealth and future promise.
But so vast is the Territory, so varied the climate,
and so undeveloped are the means of access to its AGENTS OF PROGRESS IN ALASKA.     113
several parts, that our information as regards detail is still very meagre. There are not ten miles
of roadway in all of Alaska outside of the island
of Kodiak; or rather, we should say, the island
just opposite Kodiak, namely, Wood Island, which
has a road constructed completely round it, covering a dozen miles or thereabouts. The only
road at Sitka is not over a mile and a half in
length, and these two are the only ones in this
vast Territory. Two objects of commercial gain,
the profitable fur-trade and seeking for gold, have
been the great agents of progress and development
thus far in Alaska. In a like manner it was the
greed for gold that"first sent the Spaniards to Mexico and Peru; in pursuit of the lucrative fur-traffic the French and Britons opened the way for
civilization in Canada. Here in Alaska it will
not be philanthropy, — some of whose noblest exponents are upon the ground, — but self-interest;
not government enterprise, but the seeking for
precious metals, which will gradually unfold the
great wealth and resources of this extensive province, whose area is greater than the thirteen original States of this Union. The hope of commercial gain has doubtless done nearly as much for
the cause of truth and progress as the love of
truth itself. The course of multitudes, guided by
the natural instinct of selfishness, will be overruled
by a higher power for the general good.
The very name of Alaska has to the popular
ear a ring of glacier fields and snow-clad peaks,
conveying a frigid impression of the climate quite 114
THE NEW ELDORADO.
"4m.
contrary to fact. The most habitable portions of
the country lie between 55° and 60° north, about
the same latitude as that of Scotland and southern Scandinavia, but the area of this portion of
Alaska is greater than that of both these countries combined. The name is derived from Al-
ay-ck-sa, which was given to the mainland by
the aborigines, and which signifies " great coun-.
try." On the old maps it is very properly designated as Russian America, and so it really was
until its transfer from the possession of that government to our own. It was at the request of
Charles Sumner, whose able, eloquent, and consistent advocacy did so much towards its acquirement, that the aboriginal title of Alaska was
adopted. The portion of the country which is
at present visited by excursionists is the southeastern coast line and the archipelago of the Sit-
kan Islands or Alexander group. If one desires
to reach the vast country and islands lying to the
west and northwest, the proper way to do so is
to sail direct from San Francisco for Unalaska
and Kodiak. The last named island lies south of
Cook's Inlet, one of the most remarkable volcanic
regions in the Territory. Sitka is five hundred
and fifty miles to the eastward of Kodiak. Cook's
Inlet is well named, as the great discoverer sailed
to its very head in 1778, being the first white
man who ever did so, and, indeed, few have done
it since. This was while he was prosecuting his
vain search for a northwest passage around the
Continent  of  America.    The  finest  and  largest DOMESTIC GARDENING IN KODIAK.     115
salmon which were ever known are taken in
Cook's Inlet, reaching the weight of one hundred
pounds in some instances, and measuring six' feet
in length. The island of Kodiak is also famous
for its excellent and abundant salmon fisheries.
In 1874 a committee from the Icelandic residents of Wisconsin, aided by our government,
made an excursion to Alaska to determine whether
it would be advisable to recommend their people
in Iceland to seek homes in and about Kodiak.
The report of this committee, which consisted of
three experienced and intelligent men, was published from the government printing-office in
Washington, and from it we quote as follows : —
" Potatoes grow and do well, although the natives have not the slightest idea of how they
should be cultivated, which goes to show they
would thrive excellently if properly cared for.
Cabbages, turnips, and the various garden vegetables have great success, and to judge from the
soil and climate there is no reason why everything
that succeeds in Scotland should not succeed at
Kodiak. Pasture land is so excellent on the
island, and the hay harvest so abundant, that
our countrymen would here, just as in Iceland,
make sheep breeding and cattle-raising their chief
method of livelihood. The quality of the grass
is such that the milk, the beef, and mutton must
be excellent; and we had also an opportunity to
try these at Kodiak."
The purpose of colonizing portions of Alaska
with people from Iceland is being revived, and
?C 116
THE NEW ELDORADO.
active measures to this end are now progressing.
The people of that country are eager to avail
themselves of such an opportunity. They are
being gradually crowded out of their native land
by the increased flow of volcanic matter over
their plains and valleys. Alaska, while it affords
them in certain portions, say the valley of the
Yukon, a climate similar to their own, offers them
also many advantages over the place of their
nativity. It is authoritatively stated that over
Y* fifty thousand souls will gladly avail themselves of
this chance to emigrate to Alaska, provided our
government will aid them in the matter of transportation. At this writing, in the village of
Afognak, on the island of Kodiak, with a population of three hundred natives, over one hundred
acres of rich land is planted in potatoes and turnips, and has yielded annually a large crop of excellent vegetables for three or four consecutive
years. If it were necessary we could point to
several other successful agricultural developments
in islands even less favorably situated than is the
Kodiak group. Nevertheless, there are plenty of
writers who assert that domestic vegetables will
not grow in Alaska. One has no patience with
such perversion of facts.
Miss Kate Field says in a late published article
relative to Alaska : " In agriculture Alaska is not
promising, but the country is by no means as
impossible in this respect as it has been represented. ' There is not an acre of grain in the
whole territory,' wrote Whymper.    Because there ATTOO.
117
was no grain grown, it by no means follows that
grain cannot be grown in certain localities. Hundreds of acres of land near Wrangel can be drained
and cultivated. The Indians on the neighboring
islands raise tons of potatoes and turnips for their
own consumption. Butter made for me by the
Scotch housekeeper of Wrangel mission was a
sweet boon, and proved that cows were a success
in that region, and that dairies were a mere question of time."
The island of the Aleutian group situated the
farthest seaward is named Attoo, and forms the
most westerly point of the possessions of the
United States. This island is situated about
seven thousand five hundred miles in a straight
line from the eastern coast of Maine, and is a
little over three thousand miles west of San Francisco, making that city about the central point
between the extreme east and west of this Union.
It would be nearer, if one desired to l'each England from Attoo, to continue his journey westward, rather than to travel east and cross the
Atlantic. A few moments' examination of the
globe or a good map of the world is especially
desirable in this connection, and unless one is
already familiar with this region will prove interesting and instructive. The Aleutian group,
besides innumerable islets and rocks, contains
over fifty islands exceeding three miles in length,
seven of them being over forty miles long. Uni-
mak, which is the largest, is over seventy miles
long, with an average width of twenty. 118
THE NEW ELDORADO.
It seems almost impossible to conceive of these
islands having ever been densely populated, where
human life is so sparsely represented to-day, and
yet scientific investigation gives ample proof that
in the far past every cove and bay echoed to the
cry of the successful otter hunter, and the beaches
now lined with numberless bidarkas or native
canoes. The mummies which W. H. Dall brought
hence may have been ten centuries old. This
able investigator tells us of ruined villages and
deserted hearths, to be found in almost any
sheltered cove or favorably situated upland. A
few strokes of the pick and the spade is sure to
unearth arrow-heads, stone axes, and chipped implements of flint, or perhaps even the singularly
proportioned bones of a now extinct human race.
Bones have been exhumed on these islands which
have puzzled scientists to account for.
When these islands were discovered by the
Russians the inhabitants of Attoo were numerous, warlike, and brave, being well supplied with
otter skins, and altogether were a self-reliant and
thrifty tribe. Now the place contains but one
small village, numbering about a hundred and
twenty souls, situated on the south side of the
island in a sheltered cove.
There are residents living upon Attoo to-day
who have in their time witnessed two wrecks of
Japanese vessels upon their shores; and who can
say that Attoo was not originally peopled in this
manner by Asiatics thousands of years ago? It
was so late as 1861 that the last Japanese junk ATTO WHALERS.
119
was stranded upon the island ; three of the Japanese sailors surviving were ultimately sent home
by way of Siberia overland.
The sea-otter has been driven from this immediate neighborhood by too vigorous and indiscriminate pursuit, but the sea-lion, various waterfowls, and plenty of cod, halibut, and salmon still
abound among these lonely islands of the North
Pacific. Occasionally a dead whale is stranded
on the shore, which is considered a cause for great
rejoicing, every part of the animal being utilized
by the natives. No matter how putrid the flesh
may be, it is eagerly eaten by these people, both
raw and cooked. When a school of whales appears
in sight of these shores, the natives go out in their
frail boats, and with lances so prepared as to work
into the vitals of the big creatures, they pierce
them in the most vulnerable places, leaving the
animal to die where it will, and trusting to the
currents to carry the body where they can reach
it. To their lances there are securely attached
inflated sealskin buoys, which render diving a
very laborious exertion to the whales, and which
aid finally in securing the carcass. In this way,
it is said, the natives get one whale out of
fifteen or twenty which they succeed in harpooning. Whales, singular to say, are more esteemed
as food by all the Alaskan shore tribes than any
other product of the sea, or, in fact, any other sort
of food. The securing of one is an event celebrated with limitless feasting and rejoicing. A
New England whale-ship captain told the writer 120
THE NEW ELDORADO.
f
that he had seen these natives cut long strips of
blubber from the body of a stranded whale, which
had been so long dead that it was with difficulty
he could breathe the atmosphere to leeward of the
carcass, and chew upon the same with the greatest
relish until it had entirely disappeared down their
throats, the oil dripping all the while in small
streams from the corners of their mouths. This
is not a practice confined to the Aleuts, but extends throughout the several groups of islands, and
is also a marked habit of the Eskimos proper,
living both north and south of Behring Strait, and
on the coast of the Polar Sea.
" The natives would rather have a dead whale
drift ashore," says Mr. George Wardman, United
States Treasury agent in Alaska, ** than to own
the best crop of the .biggest farm in the United
States. Dead whale is a great blessing in the
Aleutian part of our Alaska possessions, and agricultural products are but little sought after or
valued. The dead whale may be so putrid that
the effluvia arising from it will blacken the white
paint of a vessel lying one hundred yards distant,
but, all the same, the whale is a blessing."
There is a variety store kept on Attoo by an
agent of the Alaska Commercial Company, where
the natives exchange their furs for tea, sugar,
and hard biscuit, besides tobacco and a few fancy
articles.
The mountains which surround the settlement
are two or three thousand feet in height, " rock-
ribbed and  ancient  as the snn," and are white DRIFT-WOOD.
121
with snow for a considerable portion of the year.
These Aleutian Islands, bounded by wave-battered
rocks, stretching far out in the Pacific towards
Asia, have no trees, the soil not having sufficient
depth to support them, but they are thickly covered with S, low-growing, luxuriant vegetation in
great variety. Between the mountains and the
sea are many natural prairies, with a rich soil of
vegetable mould suitable for domestic gardening.
The wood consumed by the inhabitants as fuel is
the product of drift-logs or trees reclaimed from
the sea. On the breaking up of winter in the
large islands at the northeast and on the mainland,
the unsealing of the ice-bound rivers sends down
from the great forests through which they flow
thousands of fallen trees, many of which are very
large. This is especially the case with the Yukon
River, which empties its immense accumulation of
debris into Norton Sound, and the Kuskoquin,
emptying into a bay of the same name one hundred and fifty miles farther south. When these
tree trunks find their way to the open sea, the
prevailing currents bear them southward to the
Aleutian Islands, where a large number become
stranded at Attoo, and are promptly secured
and stored for use as fuel. It would seem to be
rather a precarious source of supply to depend
upon for this purpose, but we were told that, as a
rule, it was ample to meet the demand. There is
also a stocky vine growing in great abundance
upon the islands, which the native women gather
and dry, and this makes a quick, strong fire.    At 122
THE NEW ELDORADO.
Ill
lif
certain seasons the women may be seen in long
lines coming from the hills, each one bearing upon
her back a monster bundle of this product, which
they store for use when the other source of fuel
fails them or proves insufficient. The people of Attoo have tamed the wild goose, of which they rear
considerable flocks for domestic use, similar to our
New England custom with the tame bird, and it is
said they are the only tribe in Alaska who do so.
Long since the blue fox was by some means introduced upon the island, and being at first properly
protected, the place has become fairly stocked with
them, a certain number only being killed annually
by the natives, and from their valuable fur these
Aleuts realize quite a large sum. Were it necessary, lumber could be brought in small quantities
from the island of Kodiak, or even from the mainland far away; but there is very little use for it
in Attoo, the houses being built of drift-logs and
not of boards. Besides the low, thrifty species of
shrubbery growing on these islands, there are also
wild berries in great abundance, the original seeds
having probably been brought by the birds from
the mainland. Grasses grow luxuriantly, being
cut and cured to feed a few small Siberian cattle
through the winter months, though it is hardly
necessary to house them at all. They are kept
on only one or two of the larger islands of the
group. Domestic animals might do well here with
a little care, but the attention of the natives is
given almost exclusively to the products of the sea,
whose very bounty demoralizes them.    At Una- UNALASKA.
123
laska, of this same group, the natural grass grows
to six feet in height, and with such body that one
must part it by exerting considerable force in order to get through. The natives braid it into useful and ornamental articles, hats, baskets, mats,
and the like. This prolific growth is represented
to be remarkably nutritious, and cattle are very
fond of it. W. H. Dall predicted that this Aleutian district will yet furnish California with its x
best butter and cheese; while Dr. Kellogg, botanist of the United States Exploring Expedition,
wrote: " Unalaska abounds in grasses, with a climate better adapted for haying than the coast of ^,
Oregon. The cattle are remarkably fat, and the
milk abundant." This is the refitting station for
all vessels passing between the Pacific Ocean and
Behring Strait, and here also is the principal trading post of the Alaska Commercial Company.
Mr. George Wardman, United States Treasury
Agent, that stated on his late visit to this island
he saw in one warehouse sea-otter skins ready for
shipment which were worth quarter of a million
dollars in the London market. This will represent, perhaps, two thirds of all this class of pelts
furnished to the world annually, as comparatively
few go from any other quarter. Other land furs
are brought here for shipment to San Francisco,
two fur companies having headquarters at Unalaska. The place has some sixty native houses,
and perhaps five hundred inhabitants. Unalaska
is known to be rich in both gold and silver mines,
one of which is owned by a San Francisco com-
?*» 124
THE NEW ELDORADO.
\\ I
pany, and which it is proposed to fully develop
and work during the coming year, careful tests having proven its prospective value.
The same fertility seen at Unalaska exists also
at Kodiak and Atagnak, where the small breed of
cattle that live upon the grass are as fat as seals,
and require no shelter all the year round. There
is a small ship-yard near the first named island,
where vessels of twenty-five and thirty tons are
built for fishing in the neighboring sea. These
two islands, situated just off the eastern shore of
the Alaska Peninsula, are called the garden spots
of this region, enjoying more sunshine and fair
weather than any other part of the Territory.
They contain rich pastures, beautiful woodlands,
and broad open fields, which during the summer
are carpeted with constant verdure and wild flowers. Kodiak was for a long time the capital of the
Russian American, possessions, but the government headquarters were removed for some reason
to Sitka. On Wood Island, opposite Kodiak, is
the clear and spacious lake which so long furnished ice to the dwellers on the Pacific coast, but
particularly to the people of San Francisco. The
whole range of Aleutian Islands from Attoo to
Kodiak contains between four and five thousand
inhabitants, nearly all of whom are called Christians, being members of the Greek Church. They
are very generally half-breeds, that is, born of intermarriage between emigrant Russians and native
women. Professor Davidson was struck by the
strong resemblance of the aboriginal tribes inhab- NATIVE ARTISTS.
125
iting these islands to the Chinese and Japanese,
and was satisfied that they came originally from
Asia. There are many very intelligent persons
among them. " They are docile, honest, industrious, and very ingenious," says Professor Davidson.
The women of Unalaska have always been noted
for the beauty and variety of their woven grass
mats and various other ornamental work, particularly in the combinations of colors and unique
designs.
This cunning of the hand and artistic ingenuity
is not confined to the women ; the men are also
skillful carvers and engravers. Whenever they
have been afforded a fair degree of instruction,
and the opportunity to exercise their ability, they
have proved themselves to be adepts especially in
this last mentioned branch of skilled labor. We
have seen artistic work produced by a native Un-
alaskan which it was difficult to believe was not
the performance of some experienced and thoroughly educated European.
The thirty-eight charts in the Hydrographic
Atlas of Tebenkoff were all drawn and engraved
on copper by a native Aleut.
On the island of Unga, one of the Shumagin
group, situated half way between Unalaska and
. Kodiak, is a small settlement of a score of white
men and about a hundred and fifty natives. By
a regulation of our Treasury Department, only
natives are allowed to hunt the sea-otter, and
therefore these white men have married native
wives, thereby becoming natives in the eyes of the 126
THE NEW ELDORADO.
law. The revenue derived from the sea-otter trade
on this island is said to average from six to seven
hundred dollars a year to every family. Off the
southern shore of the Shumagin group is the best
cod fishing bank that is known. It is estimated
that a million good-sized cod were taken here last
season and shipped to San Francisco. This metropolis of California once depended upon the
product of our Newfoundland fisheries for its
salted cod, but has drawn its supply for the last
few years almost entirely from the coast of Alaska,
and the consumption has increased every year.
Wt
1 r^
CHAPTER IX.
Cook's Inlet. — Manufacture of Quass. — Native Piety. — Mummies. — The North Coast. — Geographical Position. — Shallowness of Behring Sea. — Alaskan Peninsula. — Size of
Alaska. — A " Terra Incognita." — Reasons why Russia sold
it to our Government. — The Price Comparatively Nothing.
— Rental of the Seal Islands. — Mr. Seward's Purchase
turns out to be a Bonanza.
Cook's Inlet, which lies to the north of the
island of Kodiak, was esteemed by the Russians
to be the pleasantest portion of Alaska in the
summer season, with its bright skies and well
wooded shores. It stretches far inland in a northeasterly direction, and is quite out of the region
of the fogs which prevail on the coast. Gold has
been profitably mined for some years on the Kak-
ny River, which empties into the eastern side of
this extensive inlet, and good coal abounds in the
neighborhood.
When the Russians first came to this region
they taught the natives to make what they called
quass, a cooling and comparatively harmless acid
drink. To produce this article rye meal is mixed
with water, in certain proportions, and allowed to
remain in a cask until fermentation takes place
and it is sour and lively enough to draw. Lat-
terly the natives have learned to add sugar, and
thus to produce a fermented liquor of an in toxica- 128
THE NEW ELDORADO.
ting nature. Progress in this direction has been
made until now they mix a certain portion each
of sugar, flour, dried apples, and a few hops, when
they can be obtained, putting the whole into a
close barrel or cask. When fermentation has
taken place and the mixture has worked itself
clear, it forms a strong intoxicant. This article
proves the cause of a thousand ills among the aborigines. In each of the scattered villages among
the islands there is sure to be seen a few broken-
down victims of this active poison, who have impoverished their families and wrecked their own
constitutions.
In each of these Aleutian islands thei*e is found
a Russian - Greek chapel and a regularly appointed priest, this religion being preferred by
the natives to that of all other sects, captivating
their simple minds by its gorgeous show and its
mystery. Their honest devotion, however, to a
religion which they cannot comprehend may be
reasonably questioned. There can be no doubt
that their idolatrous customs and original pantheism have been almost entirely abandoned, — ceremonies which were elaborately described by the
early voyagers, and which involved strange incantations and even human sacrifices. Intercourse
with the whites has at least had the effect of
abolishing the most objectionable features of their
early superstitions. The bishop of the organization is a Russian and resides in San Francisco,
whence he controls these parishes, which he occasionally visits, being amply supplied with pecu- p»
NATIVE PIETY.
129
niary means by the home government at St. Petersburg. The piety of these Aleuts is very pronounced, so far as all outward observances go, and
we were told that they never sit down to their
meals without briefly asking a blessing upon their
rude repast. Golovin, a Russian who lived many
years among the Aleuts, says: " Their attention
during religious services is unflinching, though
they do not understand a word of the whole rite."
The same author goes on to say, " During my ten
years' stay in Unalaska not a single case of murder happened among the Aleutians. Not an attempt to kill, nor fight, nor even a considerable
dispute, although I often saw them drunk." Hunting is the principal source of their support, and to
get the sea-otter they often make long, exposed
trips in their undecked boats, and experience
many trying hardships. When they return to
their homes at the close of the season, having been
nearly always reasonably successful, the quass
barrel is brought into requisition, and its contents
partaken of to excess, drunken orgies following
with all their attendant evils.
The Aleuts are a very honest people, quite unlike the Eskimos of the north, who are natural
pilferers. They are also possessed of a certain
stoicism which compels admiration. When they
are sick or suffering great pain they utter no complaint, and outwardly are always content, no matter what the future may send as their lot. An
Aleut is never known to sigh, groan, or shed a
tear.    If he feels it, he never evinces immoderate 130
THE NEW ELDORADO.
joy, but is always quiet, moderate, and grave.
They are in a great degree fatalists, and believe
that which is decreed by the power in the sky
will come to pass, whatever they may do to prevent it.    It is Kismet.
It is an interesting fact that before these islands
were discovered by the Russians, the natives were
in the practice of preserving their dead in the
form of mummies, and this had probably been
their habit for centuries. Satisfactory evidence
is afforded by what is found upon the islands to
show that they have been the residence of popu-
| lous tribes for over two thousand years. Mr.
Dall, in his indefatigable researches, was able to
secure several examples of the mummified dead
on these outlying islands, eleven of which came
from one cave on the south end of Unalaska, but
none were ever found or known to have existed
upon the mainland. This fact is looked upon
by ethnologists as an important addition to our
knowledge of the prehistoric condition of these
peculiar people of the far Northwest, now part
and  parcel  of  our widespread population.    The
■^ mummies of Peru and those of Alaska are now
arranged side by side in the cases of the Smithsonian Institution at Washington, and what is
very singular is that they seem, in their general
appearance, to be almost identical.
The interior of Alaska and its more Arctic
regions north of the valley of the Yukon remain
still only partially explored. No more is actually
known of it than of Central Africa.    It would be POINT BARROW.
131
anything but a pleasure excursion, at present, to
penetrate the extreme northern harbors of the extended coast line, which are mostly uninhabited,
and which are tempest-swept for a large portion
of the year. Northwestern Alaska shares with
northeastern Siberia the possession of the coldest
winter climate in the world, but we must remember it is not always winter, and thousands of Eskimos here find life quite tolerable. Beyond 70°
of north latitude no trees are to be found; even
shrubs have disappeared, giving place to a scanty
growth of lichens and creeping wood-plants. Even
here, however, Nature asserts her prerogative and
brings forth a few bright flowers and blooming
grasses in the brief midsummer days. Point
Barrow is what might be termed, in common parlance, " the jumping-off place ; " the beginning of
that mysterious ocean where the compass needle,
which lies horizontal at the equator, attracted by
an unexplained influence dips and points straight
downward. There is no lack of animal life in
this frozen region, the sea is as full as in the
tropics; the whale here finds its birthplace, and
herring issue forth in countless columns to seek
more southern seas, while the air is darkened by
innumerable flocks of sea-fowl. The wolves, the
polar bear, and other fur-bearing animals afford
meat and clothing to the Eskimo to an extent
far exceeding his requirements. Only thoroughly
organized expeditions and a few adventurous
whalers attempt to pass Point Barrow, a long
reach of low barren land, and the most northerly 132
THE NEW ELDORADO.
IS
portion of the Territory, which projects itself into
the great Arctic Ocean very much after the fashion of the North Cape of Norway, in the eastern
hemisphere, at latitude 71° 10'.
There is a village at Point Barrow containing
about a hundred and fifty people, living in houses
partly under ground as a protection against the
cold. The roofs are supported by rafters of whale
jaws and ribs. This people we call the Eskimo
proper. They have a severe climate to contend
with, but are abundantly supplied with food and
oil from the sea. They have a strange aversion
to salt, and any food thus cooked or preserved
they will not eat unless driven to it by dire necessity. Our government is just about to erect a
comfortable structure here as a sort of refuge to
shipwrecked navigators of the Polar Sea, this
being the verge of those unknown waters which
guard the secret of the Pole.
A peninsula makes out from near the centre
of the western coast of Alaska, the terminus of
which is the nearest point between this continent
and Asia, the two being separated by Behring
Strait, where the East and the West confront
each other, and where the extreme western boundary of our country is the line which separates Asia
from America. This is called Cape Prince of
Wales, a rocky point rising in its highest peak
to twenty-five hundred feet above the sea. Here
is a village of Eskimos numbering between three
and four hundred souls, who do not bear a good
reputation.    They are skilled as fishermen on the CA VE-D WELLE RS.
133
sea and hunters on the land, to which it may be
added that they are professional smugglers. Here
it is quite possible in clear weather to see the
Asiatic coast *— Eastern Siberia — from United
States soil, the distance across the strait being
about forty miles. There are two islands in the
strait, known as the Diomedes, almost in a direct
line between Cape Prince of Wales on one side
and East Cape on the other; stepping-stones, as it
were, between the two continents. Occasional intercourse between the natives of the two opposite
shores is maintained to-day by means of sailing
craft, and doubtless has been going on for hundreds, if not for thousands, of years. So moderate
are the seas, and so calm the weather hereabouts
at some portions of the year, that the passage is
made in open or undecked boats.
On King's Island, fifty miles south of Cape
Prince of Wales, there is a tribe of veritable cave-
dwellers. The island is a great mass of rock,
with almost perpendicular sides rising seven hundred feet above the sea. On one side, where the
angle is nearly forty-five degrees, the Eskimos
have excavated homes in the rock, about half a
hundred of which are two hundred feet above the
sea. These people openly defy the revenue laws,
and are the known distributers of contraband articles, especially of intoxicants.
Behring Sea, where it washes the shores of
Alaska, from Norton Sound to Bristol Bay, is
slowly growing more shallow, having but fifteen
fathoms depth, in some places, forty miles off the 134
THE NEW ELDORADO.
west shore of the mainland, and growing shallower as it approaches the continent. This has
caused a speculative writer to suggest the possible
joining of Asia and America, at some future
period, by the gradual filling up of Behring Sea.
The reason of this is obvious. The Yukon River
brings down from its course of two thousand miles
and more many hundred tons of soil daily which
it deposits along the coast, while the Kuskoquin
River, second only to the Yukon in volume, is engaged in the same work about a hundred and fifty
miles south of where the greater river empties into
Norton Sound. These large water-ways carry,
like the Mississippi, immense deposits to the sea,
and the process has been going on night and day
for no human being knows how long.
One hundred and fifty miles from the mouth
of this Kuskoquin River the Moravians of Bethlehem, Pa., support a missionary establishment.
The station is named Bethel, one of the most isolated points in Alaska, receiving a mail but once
a year ! Truly, nothing save fulfilling a conscientious sense of duty could compensate intelligent
people for thus separating themselves from home
and friends.
We have spoken of a peninsula-making out at
the north towards Asia, but this comparatively
insignificant projection from the mainland should
not be permitted to confuse the reader's mind as
regards the Alaska Peninsula, properly so called,
which extends from the southern part of the Territory, ending in the islands which form the Aleu-
■I I*-
f*»
VOLCANOES.
135
tian group. This peninsula is undoubtedly one
of the most remarkable in the world, being fifty
miles broad and three hundred long, literally piled
with mountains, some of which are but partially
extinct volcanoes, emitting at the present time
more or less smoke and ashes, sometimes accompanied by blazing gases discernible at night far
away over land and sea, appearing to the midnight watch on board ship like a raging conflagration in the heavens. The principal islands of
the group of which we have been speaking, and
which stretch far away from the southwestern
corner of the Alaska Peninsula towards Kam-
schatka, as though extending a cordial hand from
the Occident to the Orient, are as follows: Uni-
mak, with a volcanic peak nine thousand feet
high; Unalaska, whose peak is five thousand
seven hundred feet high ; Atka, with a height of
four thousand eight hundred feet; Kyska, which
is crowned by an elevation of three thousand seven
hundred feet; and Attoo, whose tallest peak is
over three thousand feet. This island is just about
four hundred miles from the Asiatic coast. Uni-
mak has a large lake of sulphur'within its borders,
and all of these islands have more or less hot
springs. From those in Unalaska loud reports
issue at intervals, like the boom of cannon, recalling our late similar experience in the Yellowstone
Park.
Alaska constitutes the northwestern portion of
the American continent, and has a coast line exceeding  eleven  thousand   miles.     The extreme 136
THE NEW ELDORADO.
f
f
length of the Territory, north and south, is eleven
hundred miles, and its breadth is eight hundred.
It is bounded on the north by the Arctic Ocean,
on the east by British Columbia, on the south by
the Pacific Ocean, and on the west by Behring
Strait and the North Pacific. Our geographies
and encyclopaedias help us to little more than the
boundaries of this great Territory, which contains
nearly six hundred thousand square miles. The
latest published estimates give the aggregate
number of square miles as nineteen thousand less
than the amount we have named, but Governor
Swineford and other residents of the Territory
believe it to be an underestimate. As there is
no actual survey extant, the figures given can only
be a reasonable approximation to the true number. The boundary dividing Alaska and British
Columbia was settled by treaty between England
and Russia in 1825, and the same line is recognized to-day as separating our possessions in this
quarter from those of Great Britain. Alaska is
as large as all of the New England and Middle
States, with Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin,
Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee combined.
So far as size is concerned, the Territory is, therefore, an empire in itself, being equal in area to
seventy-one States like Massachusetts, and containing as many square miles as England, Ireland,
Scotland, Wales, France, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, and Belgium united. It has been estimated
by competent judges that, with its islands, it has
a coast line equal  to  the circumference of the A TERRA INCOGNITA.
137
globe. Very few of our people, even among the
educated class, have an adequate idea of the immensity of this northwestern Territory, two thirds
of which abounds in available resources, only Y
awaiting development. Were Alaska situated on
our Atlantic coast it would extend from Maine to
Florida.
Miss Kate Field, in a comprehensive article
already quoted from, published in the " North
American Review," justly censuring Congress for
its supineness and ignorance in relation to Alaska,
says: " American citizens, living comfortably on
the Atlantic seaboard, knowing their own wants
and dictating terms to their submissive representatives, take little heed of those new additions to
the United States which are destined to be the
crowning glory of the Republic. When a nation
is so big as to render portions of it a terra incognita to those who make the laws, there's something rotten this side of Denmark! . . . The
march of empire goes on in spite of human fallibility, and now the land of the midnight sun
knocks at the door of Congress. She is twenty-
three years old, and asks to be treated as though
she were of age. The big-wigs at Washington
rub their eyes, put on their spectacles, and wonder
what this Hyperborean hubbub means? "
In examining the geographical characteristics of
Alaska, we observe a peculiarity in its outlying
islands which is also found in the construction of
the continents. They all have east of their south-
ern   points  series of  islands.    Thus, Alaska has 1
m
1 '
■   *
I
1
l!
I
1
.11
|!
138
THE NEW ELDORADO.
the Sitkan or Alexander group; Africa has Madagascar; Asia has Ceylon ; Australia has the two
large islands of New Zealand; and America has
the Falkland Islands. Alaska is the great island
region of the United States.
It is not for us to enter into the brief history of
the country, that is, brief as known to us, but it
is well to fix in the mind the fact that Russia's
title was derived from prior discovery. Behring
first saw the continent in this region of North
America, July 18, 1741, in latitude 58° 28', and
two days later anchored in a bay near a point
which he called St. Elias, a name which he also
gave to the great mountain overshadowing the
neighboring shore. It is sufficient for our purpose that we know this Territory was purchased
from Russia by our government in 1867, after
that country had occupied it a little more than a
century, paying therefor the sum of seven million
two hundred thousand dollars. It has been truly
said that it was practically giving away the country on the part of Russia ; but doubtless diplomatic
reasons influenced the Tzar, who would much
rather have presented it outright to the United
States than to have it, by conquest or otherwise,
fall into the hands of England, who was known
to crave its possession as connected with her
Pacific coast interests. So when the first Napoleon
sold us Lonisana, he did so not alone in consideration of the money, which was doubtless much
needed by his treasury, — amounting to sixty million francs, — but because he was  not willing A BONANZA.
139
to leave this distant territory a prey to Great
Britain in the event d£ hostilities between France
and England, which were then imminent. He
was glad, as he remarked, " to establish forever
the power of the United States, and give to England a maritime rival destined to humble her
pride;" adding, "It is for the interest of France
that America should be great and strong."
Alaska was a white elephant to Russia, but in
our hands it has already proved a bonanza.
Any one can now see that the sum named as an
equivalent for this colossal territory was a trifling
value to place upon it, when its great extent is
realized, together with its vast mineral wealth and
inexhaustible supply of fish, fur, and timber. It
is in fact the only great game and fur pi-eserve left
in the Western world, inviting the trapper and
hunter to reap a rich return for their industry.
Nowhere else on this continent do wild animals
more abound, or enjoy such immunity from harm,
as is afforded them in the dense, half-impenetrable
forests of Alaska, where Nature herself becomes
our gamekeeper, preventing the too rapid extinction of animal life.
From a lease in favor of the Alaska Commercial
Company of San Francisco, giving them the exclusive right to take seals on the Prybiloff group
of islands, our government has received four and
one half per cent, interest, annually, during the
last nineteen years, on the entire purchase-money
paid to Russia. This same company, whose term
is just about to expire, would gladly renew the 140
THE NEW ELDORADO.
lease with our government at a considerable advance upon the amount heretofore paid; but it is
an open question whether the continuance of this
great monopoly is for the best interest of Alaska,
when considered in all its bearings.
Undoubtedly this contract is a real benefit in
one way. The company, through its agents, will
take good care to see that no outside interest interferes with their rights so as to permit any indiscriminate slaughter of the seals. Whereas, were
the capture of these peltries not guarded, an end
of the product would be brought about in a very
short time. There is a manifest injustice in all
monopolies, as we view them; but of two evils, in
this instance we should perhaps feel inclined to
choose the least by selling the privilege to a responsible company. It must be admitted that the
high-handed course of the present company, their
arbitrary assumptions, and their treatment of the
natives generally, are represented in a very bad
light by many residents of Alaska ; but little else,
however, could be expected of so great a monopoly. One thing is certain, and that is, the company has realized a great fortune by its contract.
There were plenty of people who ridiculed the
acquisition of this Territory at the time when it
was brought about; but there were also some fai-
seeing statesmen, influenced by no selfish motives,
who felt very different about the matter, among
whom was Mr. Seward, then Secretary of State,
and to whom the credit is mostly due for consummating the important  purchase.    That able SEWARD'S CROWNING GLORY
141
diplomat considered the transaction to have been
the most important act of his official career, and
put himself on record to that effect. He remarked,
in discussing the matter at a public meeting, " It
may take two generations before the" purchase is
properly appreciated." Mr. Seward was right. It
was a crowning glory for him to have added a
new empire to his country's domain, though in
1867 its great commercial importance was hardly
known, even to himself. Its valuable gold deposits were then thought possibly to exist; but subsequent developments have already far outstripped
anticipations in that direction, and the large yield
of the precious metal is annually increasing.
" I thought when Alaska was purchased, in
1867," says that keen observer and clever writer,
Captain John Codlnan, " that it might answer for
a great skating park; but now I know, from
merely coasting along its southeastern shores and
landing at a few of its outposts, that the seven
million two hundred thousand dollars paid for it
is less than the interest of the sum that it is worth.
A great part of it is yet unexplored, for its whole
area is three times greater than the republic of
France; but what has been discovered is invaluable, and wh/tt has not been discovered may be
valuable beyond calculation."
So little did we, as a people, appreciate the new
acquisition that it was almost entirely neglected
for seventeen years. Not until 1884 was it
granted a territorial government, Hon. John H.
Kinkead, ex-governor of Nevada, being the first
I f
J
ii
w
I*
142
THE NEW ELDORADO.
governor appointed for Alaska. "Twenty years
ago," says Governor Swineford of Alaska, " I made
political capital out of Seward's purchase. I called
it the refrigerator of the United States. I heaped
obloquy on William H. Seward. I shall spend
the rest of my life in making reparation to what I
have so foully wronged." Such has been the
general testimony of all who speak from personal
observation, and uninfluenced by sinister motives.
.1 CHAPTER X.
Territorial Acquisitions. — Population of Alaska. — Steady Commercial Growth. — Primeval Forests. — The Country teems
with Animal Life. — A Mighty Reserve of Codfish. — Native
Food. — Fur-Bearing Animals.—Islands of St. George and
St. Paul. — Interesting Habits of the Fur-Seal. — The Breeding Season. — Their Natural Food. — Mammoth Size of the
Bull Seals.
The subject of the addition of Alaska to the
United States suggests the fact that our territorial acquisitions from time to time form certain
decided and interesting landmarks in the history
of the country. Thus, in 1803 we acquired Louisiana from France by the payment of fifteen million dollars. In 1845 Texas was annexed and
her debt assumed, amounting to the sum of seven
million five hundred thousand dollars. In 1848
California, New Mexico, and Utah were acquired
from Mexico, partly through war, and by the
payment of fifteen million dollars. In 1854 Arizona was purchased from Mexico for ten million
dollars. And last, but by no means least, Alaska,
as has been* stated, was obtained from Russia in
1867 for seven million two hundred thousand dollars. "By this purchase," said Charles Summer
in his able speech before Congress, " we dismiss
one more monarch from this continent. One by
one they have retired; first France; then Spain ; 144
THE NEW ELDORADO.
then France again; and now Russia; all give way
to the absorbing Unity which is declared in the
national motto, JE Pluribus Unum."
At the time of the transfer of Alaska, the native
population, Russians, half-breeds and all, did not
probably exceed forty thousand; indeed, careful
inquiry seems to indicate that this is an overestimate. Since that period the native population
has steadily decreased, but the white population
has increased, it is believed, sufficiently to make
good the estimated aggregate of twenty-two years
ago. In 1867 the commerce of Alaska was officially reported as being two million five hundred
thousand dollars for the current year. The published estimate for the last year made it a fraction
less than seven million dollars, of which about a
million five hundred thousand dollars was in gold
bullion. Certainly this shows a very steady if
not rapid commercial growth. Competent individuals estimate that the commerce of the Territory for the year 1889 will reach ten million dollars in amount. The increase in the number of
fish-canning establishments alone will add two
millions to last year's aggregate. The shipment
of preserved salmon exported in tins and barrels
is increasing annually.
The available timber now standing in the Territory might alone meet the ordinary demand of
this continent for half a century. Though the
extreme northern part of Alaska is treeless, its
southern shores, both of the islands and mainland,
are covered with a dense forest growth, the Aleu- FORESTS.
145
tian group excepted. It is the visible wealth of
the country, and a source of admiration to all appreciative visitors.
Fort Tongas is very near the southeast point of
Alaska, and about ten miles north of Fort Simpson ; the former American, the latter English
territory. When the ground was cleared to establish the American fort, " yellow cedar-trees," says
W. H. Dall, " eight feet in diameter were cut
down. The flanks of all the islands of this archipelago bear a magnificent growth of the finest
timber, from the water's edge to fifteen hundred
feet above the sea." It must be a cedar of magnificent proportions out of which the natives can
hew and construct a canoe seventy feet long capable of carrying one hundred men. This the Haidas
do, producing models both swift and seaworthy,
the prows extending in a peak not unlike the
ancient galleys of Greece, decorated with totemic
designs. These magnificent forests, having never
felt the stroke of the axe, present a growth naturally very dense and peculiar, the branches of the
tall trees being often draped with long black and
white moss, dry and fine as hair, which it resembles. This characteristic recalled the same effect
observed upon the thickly wooded shores of the
St. John River in Florida, and the Lake Pontchar-
train district of Louisiana. The fallen trees and
stumps are cushioned by a growth of green, velvety moss, nearly ten inches in thickness, and are
also decked with creeping vines in the most picturesque manner; among which is seen here and I:
146
THE NEW ELDORADO.
there deep red clusters of the bunch-berry. The
timber is pronounced by good judges to be as valuable as that of Oregon and Washington, compared with which our forests in Maine are hardly
more than tall undergrowth. A very large percentage of the Alaska timber grows at the most
convenient points for shipment, making it especially available. The white spruce, called the
Sitka pine, rises to a height of from a hundred
and fifty to a hundred and eighty feet, and measures from three to six feet in diameter. When
this growth is cut into dimension lumber it very
much resembles our southern pitch-pine. There
is also found in these forests the usual variety of
cedar, fir, ash, maple, and birch trees, mingled with
the others of loftier growth. The yellow cedar of
this region grows nowhere else of such size and
quality. It is much prized, and best adapted for
shipbuilding, having been found to be unequaled
for durability, and also because it is impervious
to the troublesome teredo, or boring worm, which
destroys the ordinary piles under the wharves at
Puget Sound, as well as at Sitka, so rapidly as to
render it necessary to renew them every three or
four years. Southern latitudes, in the neighborhood of the Gulf of Mexico, suffer equally from
the depredations of this active marine pest. The
Alaska cedar is also a choice cabinet wood, possessing a very agreeable odor, considerable quantities of it being shipped for select use in San Francisco and elsewhere. The coast of the Alexander Archipelago comprises nearly eight thousand AN INEXHAUSTIBLE LUMBER SUPPLY.    147
miles of shore line, forming long straight avenues
of calm deep water many miles in length, sprinkled with islands densely wooded from the water's
edge, while the number of good harbors is almost
countless, in which vessels may lay alongside the
land and receive their cargoes of timber or lumber
in the most convenient manner.
When the woods of Maine and Michigan cease
to yield satisfactory, as they must do by and by,
we have here a ready source of supply which no
ordinary demand can exhaust in many years. One
enthusiastic writer upon this subject predicts that
this part of the North Pacific coast will eventually
become the ship-yard of the American continent.
One is hardly prepared to indorse so sweeping a
prediction, but that there is a nearly inexhaustible supply of the necessary timber for such a purpose even an inexperienced visitor cannot fail to
realize. It is gratifying to know that these forests
are free from all danger by fire, which often
proves so destructive in the State of Washington
and elsewhere. This immunity from a much
dreaded exigency is owing to the frequent rains,
which keep the undergrowth in Alaska so moist
that the flames cannot spread.
Speaking of Fort Tongas, we should not forget
to mention that a native couple, educated by the
missionaries, are here teaching a school of young
natives numbering fifty pupils, for which our government pays them five hundred dollars per annum. The success attained by these instructors
in teaching the ordinary branches of an English 148
THE NEW ELDORADO.
education is surprising. Tongas, it will be remembered, is the most southerly point of our Alaska
possessions.
The country teems with animal life. The sea
which laves its shores and the outlying islands is
so full of excellent fish as to have been a wonder
in this respect since the days of the earliest navigators. The same may be said of its rivers, inlets,
and lakes, the former being famous for the abundance, size, and excellence of the salmon which
they produce, and which are annually packed for
exportation in such large quantities to various
parts of the world. We were told by the overseer of the canning factory at Pyramid Harbor
that the entire product of the establishment was
already — the season but just commencing — engaged by a Liverpool house. To secure the delivery the foreign merchant had cheerfully advanced
five hundred pounds sterling.
"The Alaska banks would be an ocean paradise
to the Newfoundland fishermen," says Professor
Davidson. " The eastern part of Behring Sea ' is
a mighty reserve of cod,' and the area within the
limits of fifty fathoms of water is no less than
eighteen thousand miles." " What I have seen,"
said W. H. Seward at Sitka, in 1869, "has almost
made me a convert to the theory of some naturalists, that the waters of the globe are filled with
stores for the sustenance of animal life surpassing
the available productions of the land." The coast
also abounds in oysters, clams, mussels, and crabs.
r>  The oysters are small, but of excellent flavor, and FUR-BEARING ANIMALS.
149
might be greatly improved by cultivation. Clams
and mussels are much esteemed by the aborigines,
the first-named being large and of prime quality.
They dry the clams, as they do salmon and cod,
using no salt in the process, but stringing them
by the score on long blades of strong grass, and ^t
in this shape laying them away for winter use.
There is certainly some special preservative quality in the atmosphere here which enables the
natives to keep clams unfrozen in good condition
for several months. The matter of " ripeness,"
however, makes no diffei'ence to these Indians,
who seem actually to prefer their fish a little *
putrid, and oil is purposely kept until it becomes
so before they will use it.
The hills and vallej^s of the islands and the
mainland support more fur-bearing animals than
can be found on any other part of this continent,
and we cei'tainly believe of any other part of the
world. The great variety includes bears of several
species, wolves, beavers, deer, foxes, caribou, martens, mountain goats, moose, musk-oxen, and
others. Herds of walruses are found on the far
north coast, as well as in Behring Sea, which
yield food to the natives, and the best of ivory
for sale to the traders. It is a curious fact that no
reptile, toad, lizard, or similar animal is to be **
found in Alaskan territory. The waters of the
North Pacific, from the most westerly of the Aleutian Islands up to Behring Strait, swarm with
cod, haddock, sturgeon, large flounders, and halibut, while our hardy whalemen successfully pursue
fe*' IB
150
THE NEW ELDORADO.
!    I
their mammoth game both north and south of the
strait. When the country was first discovered,
there was another important animal found here
in considerable numbers, known as the sea-cow,
which furnished Vancouver and his crew with
wholesome and palatable meat, and which had
formed a source of food supply for the aborigines
probably for centuries. But this large, amphibious animal, thirty feet long and seal-like in shape,
has now entirely disappeared. This was owing to
merciless slaughter by the Russians, who found
the sea-cow an easy prey to capture, because of
its inactivity and clumsiness in the watei*, besides
which, the creature is said to have been utterly
fearless of man, making no effort to escape when
attacked. They are represented to have been
fierce when attacked by the wolves, and to have
been fully able to defend themselves.
Two islands lying to the north of the Aleutian
group form a favorite resort of the fur-seal, which
so abounds in this region that nearly a century
of active war waged upon them by the hunters,
for the sake of their valuable skins, has produced
no perceptible diminution in their numbers.
This is partly owing, however, to the fact that of
late years the killing has been restricted as to the
aggregate annual number, and also as to the sex
and age of the seals. The pelts sent from Alaska
have not fallen short of a hundred thousand annually for the last twenty years, and it is believed
by those who should be able to judge correctly
that this number has been very much exceeded. M
THE SEAL ISLANDS.
151
There is hardly an uninterested person in the
Territory who will not express this opinion.
The two islands referred to in Behring Sea,
namely, St. Paul and St. George, together with
two smaller and unimportant ones named respectively Otter Island, which is situated six miles
south of St. Paul, and Walrus Island, about the
same distance to the eastward, are known as the
Prybiloff group. St. Paul is thirteen miles long
by four broad; St. George is ten miles long and
between four and five broad. Neither of them
have any harbor in which vessels can safely lie,
but they anchor half a mile or more off shore, and
freight is taken or delivered by means of lighters. So violent is the surf at times on these
islands in mid-ocean that if the wind is unfavorable no attempt at landing is made. Otter Island is peculiar in being nothing more nor less
than an extinct volcano, with a still gaping, threat-
erring crater, and an elevation of three hundred
feet above the surrounding sea. Its only occupants consist of water-fowl and blue foxes, both
as plentiful as peas in a pod. The animals were
introduced long ago for breeding purposes, and
have greatly increased. These are the " seal
islands" so often spoken of, and which furnish
four fifths of all the sealskins used in the markets
of the world. This sounds like an extravagant
estimate, but it is believed to be quite correct.
The islands are of volcanic origin, having been
thrown up from the bottom of the sea in comparatively modern times.   When one speaks of geolog- 152
THE NEW ELDORADO.
ical facts, one or two thousand years are considered
very brief periods. At the time of their discovery,
St. George and St. Paul were uninhabited, but
native Aleuts, the nearest of whom lived about two
hundred miles south of these islands, were brought
hither and domesticated, to work for the Russian
Fur Company. Since the transfer to our government these people have worked uninterruptedly
for the Alaska Commercial Company, which has,
in addition to the headquarters of the seal-fishery,
some forty trading stations in the Territory.
We speak of the " seal-fisheries," but there is
in reality no fishing about the business. The
seals are all taken on land. The employees of
the company get between the seals and the water
and drive such as are selected inland like a flock
of sheep. They move slowly, pulling themselves
along by their fore flippers, as a dog might do
with his hind legs broken, but they get over the
ground at the rate of one or two miles in the hour,
and are driven the latter distance to the warehouse
before the killing takes place.
It is curious that these two islands only, with
a few small spots in the North Pacific, should possess the peculiar conditions of landing-ground and
climate combined which are necessary for the perfect life and reproduction of the fur-seal. H. W.
Elliott, who acted as United States government
agent for four seasons at the seal islands, and who
is good authority upon this special subject, says :
" With the exception of these seal islands of
Behring  Sea,  there are none elsewhere in  the OTHER SOURCES OF SUPPLY.
153
world of the slightest importance to-day. When,
therefore, we note the eagerness with which our
civilization calls for sealskin fur, in spite of fashion
and its caprices, and the fact that it is and always
will be an article of intrinsic value and in demand, it at once occurs to us that the government
is exceedingly fortunate in having this great amphibious stock-yard, far up and away in this seclusion of Behring Sea, from which it can draw
continuous revenue, and on which its wise regulations and its firm hand can continue the seals
forever."
This writer's remarks should be qualified, however, so far as to state that the Russians possess
some profitable " rookeries " situated on the Commander Islands, seven hundred miles to the southwest of the Prybiloff group, where the same policy
of protection for breeding purposes is enforced as
govern the traffic on our own islands. It is true
that the product of the Russian islands is as nothing compared with that of St. Paul and St. George.
A small number of fur-seal are also secured on the
coast of Brazil, and at the Shetland and Falkland
Islands, giving perhaps twenty thousand pelts annually from other sources than those named in
Alaska. It is our own opinion that at least forty
thousand pelts are sent to market by unauthorized people from the islands and coast of Alaska,
which number should be added to the hundred
thousand which the regular company are entitled
to export, in getting at the aggregate produced
by the Territory. THE NEW ELDORADO.
The two seal islands leased to the Alaska Commercial Company are about thirty miles apart,
and are seemingly among the most insignificant
landmarks known in the ocean. It is only on
very modern maps that they are designated at all,
but they afford to the seals the happiest isolation
and shelter, their position being such as to envelop
them in fog banks nine days out of ten during
the entire season of resort. Neither the seals nor
the natives can long bear the glare of the summer sun, and so find no fault with this prevailing
screen between them and the sky. There are
no icebergs, properly so called, in these waters.
Behring Strait is too shallow for anything but
light field ice to pass into the North Pacific or
Behring Sea; there is therefore no fear of visits
from the polar bears often seen floating about in
the frozen sea at the north. They would make
sad havoc among the seals wei'e they to get so far
south, and drive them away altogether. Ice floats
off from the immediate shores in the spring, but
encountering the thermal current, this soon dissolves, and is no impediment to navigation. It is
marvelous that the natives dwelling on the group
do not die of the poisoned atmosphere arising
from the thousands upon thousands of seal carcasses annually slaughtered, and which are left to
decay upon the ground. The stench thus created
is so powerful that vessels sailing to leeward,
three or four miles off shore, are permeated by it,
and though their captains may not have been able
to get a solar observation for many days, they can HABITS OF THE SEAL.
155
easily tell their exact latitude and longitude by
| dead reckoning." Naval surgeons have been
detached by government to visit and examine the
physical condition of the people on St. George
and St. Paul, touching this very matter, and they
have reported that the natives enjoyed good
health, the mortality among them being at a very
low average compared with that of other semi-civilized communities favorably situated. There is a
church and school-house on each of the islands,
with white teachers, and also a skilled physician,
who is paid for his services by the Commercial
Company.
The fur-seal traffic has heretofore exceeded all
other regular business in value conducted in this
Territory, though the product of the precious
metals will in future probably take the lead, hard
pressed by the rapidly growing development of
the fisheries. The habits of the seal are interesting and very peculiar. It is a social animal, and
evinces a degree of intelligence nearly approaching that of the dog. Occasionally a young one
is found domesticated among the natives of the
more populous islands, and when thus brought up
among human beings they become very tractable,
and are easily taught many amusing tricks. They
move in herds, coming to the breeding grounds in
large numbers, and at regular periods of the year,
that is in the latter part of May and early in
June. The contrast between the male and female
seal is great, the former being large, bold, and aggressive, the latter small, peaceful, and quiet; both 156
THE NEW ELDORADO.
are models of grace and symmetry after their
kind. While the males are specimens of great
physical strength, the females «re delicate, timid,
and affectionate. The young are born blind and
so remain for a couple of weeks, or more. When
they are about six weeks old the mother takes
them into the water to teach them to swim.
They are very shy of the sea at first, but persistent effort on the mother's part soon makes them
expert swimmers, and rapidly develops that side
of their nature. During the breeding season the
old males remain on shore, fasting all the while,
and growing extremely thin, living by absorption
of the blubber which they accumulate while at
sea, so that upon retiring at the end of the season
they are but a mere shadow of their former selves.
They return again the next season, however, as
plethoric as ever.
"All the bulls," says Mr. Elliott, "from the
very first, that have been able to hold their positions, have not left them from the moment of
their landing, for a single instant, night or day;
nor will they do so until the end of the rutting
season, which subsides entirely between August
1st and 10th. It begins shortly after the coming
of the cows in early June. Of necessity, therefore, this causes them to fast, to abstain entirely
from food of any kind, or water, for three months
at least; and a few of them actually stay out four
months, in total abstinence, before going back
into the ocean for the first time after ' hauling
up.'    They then return as so many bony shadows t*
ON THE BREEDING  GROUNDS.
157
of what they were a few months previously, covered with wounds ; abject and spiritless, they laboriously crawl back to the sea to obtain a fresh lease
of life."
The natural food of the seal is believed to be
small fishes and kelp, that prolific product of the
ocean which is found floating in nearly all latitudes, being torn from its rocky bed by storms
and carried everywhere on the tides and currents.
The females seldom give birth to more than one at
a time, and though they are naturally a very docile animal, the mother will fight savagely for her
young. The old males weigh from two to three
hundred pounds each, when they first land, soon
gathering a harem about them of a dozen females
or more, and permitting no other bull to approach
the circle. There are occasional elopements among
the females, enticed away by young bachelor seals,
who have no family ties to occupy them, but as
a rule the females remain loyal, at least during
the season. The full grown male reaches seven
feet in length, and the female about five feet; the
latter averages about a hundred pounds in weight,
the former weigh twice as much and often more.
Nature seems to produce a much larger number
of females than of males, besides which the law
protects the female from the hunter. The killing
of these animals on St. Paul and St. George is
nearly all done in six weeks of each year, say
from the 10th of June to the 20th of July. As
regards the fur, a seal at four years of age is
thought to yield the best, and is therefore con- 158
THE NEW ELDORADO.
sidered to be at that time in his prime. It is the
males of this age, accordingly, which are selected
for slaughter. So numerous are these animals
that the shore is often black with them, three or
four thousand being in sight within the space of a
hundred square rods. The pups are full of playfulness, rolling and tumbling about like a litter of
kittens. The rule not to kill the old bulls and
female young is a necessary precaution to prevent
the extermination of the race, which indiscriminate slaughter has probably done in so many other
places.
M CHAPTER XI.
Enormous Slaughter of Seals. — Manner of Killing. — Battles
between the Bulls. — A Mythical Island. — The Seal as Food.
— The Sea-Otter. — A Rare and Valuable Fur. — The Baby
Sea-Otter. — Great Breeding-Place of Birds. — Banks of the
Yukon River. — Fur - Bearing Land Animals. — Aggregate
Value of the Trade. — Character of the Native Race.
Surgeon J. B. Parker tells us in a published
article upon the fur-seals of Alaska, that just
previous to the transfer of the country to this
government five hundred thousand sealskins were
being taken from these islands annually, though it
was pretended by the Russians that they restricted
the number to one quarter of this total. The
strange instinct of the animals which causes them
to return yearly in such marvelous numbers to be
slaughtered is a mystery difficult to solve. Persistent cruelty exercised towards them for a century has not disturbed their affection for this
chosen breeding-place of their ancestors in Behring Sea.
The seals are universally killed by a sharp blow
upon the head from a club, which fractures the
skull and produces instant death. The natives
are so skillful in dealing this blow that a second
one is not necessary, and the seal cannot reasonably be supposed to suffer any pain, so that the
operation is robbed of all cruel features.    The fre- 160
THE NEW ELDORADO.
ill!
quent battles fought between the old bulls to maintain possession of their chosen ground and their
harems are represented to be of the fiercest character, sometimes ending in the death of one of the
combatants, though they are so very hardy and
tenacious of life that this is by no means common.
The breeding season is at its height in the middle
of July. Early in September, the pups having
learned to swim, the "rookeries" are gradually
broken up for the season, old and young departing
together for the deep-sea feeding grounds, nothing
being seen of them again as a body until the following May or June. It is quite a mystery as to
where they go, but that they promptly disperse in
various directions seems most probable, as no seals
are met with in large numbers by navigators of
the Pacific or the South Seas, and they only land
for breeding purposes. The author has seen a few
in the month of March off the Samoan group of
islands, also in the month of December near the
coast of Cochin China. And again, in crossing
the Indian Ocean from Bombay to the mouth of
the Red Sea, in February, an occasional head of
the fur-seal would appear above the surface of the
ocean, showing how widely dispersed these animals are. There is a theory which has long existed, to the effect that when the seals depart from
Behring Sea they seek a lonely island group in the
central Pacific Ocean, somewhere between 53° and
55° north latitude, and longitude 160° to 170°
west, where they pass their winter months in peace
and plenty.    Expeditions have been fitted out at "ALASKA PARK."
161
San Francisco for the purpose of discovering these
possible islands, but no one has ever seen them.
Those most conversant with seal-life do not entertain this supposition, and for good reasons. If any
such land existed in the region designated it would
surely have been discovered, as it is too near the
direct track of commerce not to have been sighted
long ago.
The flesh of the fur-seal is eaten by the natives,
and the blubber also serves for fuel, as well as furnishing a much-used oil. The stench of the burning fat is extremely disgusting to one not accustomed to it. There is but little lean meat on the
animal; nearly the whole body is composed of
blubber. The whites eat the flesh of the young
seal, which is not unpalatable when properly prepared, and is called Alaska pork. When the females arrive at the " rookeries," like the old males,
they are in remarkably good flesh, so much so, indeed, as to render locomotion difficult; but though
they do not fast like the bulls, they nevertheless
become quite thin by the end of the season.
St. George and St. Paul islands contain about
three hundred and fifty Aleuts, whose sole business is killing and skinning the seals, and afterwards salting and packing the pelts for shipment.
They are all in the regular employment of the Commercial Company, which leases the islands. By
the terms of the lease from our government, only
natives of the Aleutian group of islands can be employed to kill the seals; no whites except the overseers are permitted to remain on the two islands. 162
THE NEW ELDORADO.
An agent of the United States occasionally visits
them to see that the spirit of the lease is faithfully
adhered to ; otherwise they are quite isolated from
the outer world. Under the protective system,
which is presumedly adhered to, the number of
seals is said to be on the increase, and the space
on the shores which they occupy is enlarged yearly.
It has been officially estimated, after actual inspection, that over one million seals are born
on these islands every year. It is asserted that
double the number of pelts now authorized could
safely be taken from the Pribyloff group annually,
and it would certainly seem so, when this extraordinary fecundity is realized. But it must also be
taken into consideration that man is not the only
enemy which the fur-seal has to encounter. When
the young ones leave the shore to begin their deep-
sea life, they become the prey of many marine
cormorants, among which the shark is said to be
the most active. This tiger of the ocean does not
attack the large, full-grown seals, who are too
wary and active for him, but the young ones often
fill his capacious maw.
The aborigines employed upon the seal islands
do not reach a very old age; persons of over fifty
years are seldom found among them. Consumption is the most fatal disease which they encounter ; this runs its course with singular speed
after being once contracted. All attempts of the
physicians are in vain; the patient, falling into
a condition of hopeless indifference, soon passes
away.    We were told that the natives of Alaska ;?»
THE SEA-OTTER.
163
generally were very difficult to treat medically, ignoring the benefit of medicines, and generallv
refusing to take them. These semi-savages will
not hesitate to resort to incantations to exorcise
evil spirits (or disease, which to them is the same
thing), but they fear to use the white man's agent
to remove these evil influences.
For a number of years the manufacture of oil
from seal blubber was followed by the fur company with profit, thus disposing of the carcasses
of the animals whose skin had been removed; but
oil-making on the seal islands has been discontinued, as being no longer a paying business.
The sea-otter is a large animal, having fine,
close black fur, sprinkled with long, white-tipped
hairs, which strongly individualize it and add
much to its beauty. Its pelt is used mostly for
trimming, being both too heavy and too expensive
for making up into entire garments. The size of
a full-grown skin is about four feet in length by
about two and a half wide. It is a solitary marine
animal, never seen in numbers, rarely even with
a mate, and is extremely shy, demanding great
patience and shrewdness in the hunter to insure
its capture. This animal rarely lands except to
bring forth its young, and the natives say that it
sometimes gives birth to its progeny on floating
sedge or kelp at sea. Of this material the ingenious creature makes a sort of buoyant nest, according to the natives' ideas. When sleeping, it
floats upon its back, carrying its young clasped
to its body in a ludicrously human fashion.    The 164
THE NEW ELDORADO.
Indians hunt the animals by going out a consid
erable distance to sea in their frail canoes, and
watching for the appearance of the otter's nose
above the water, they paddle silently towards it
so as not to disturb the game. At the proper
moment the well-balanced and delicate lance
is thrown with unerring aim. A careful watch
is then kept for the reappearance of the otter,
which must soon come to the surface to breathe,
being a warm-blooded, respiratory animal. A
second lance is pretty sure to disable the otter,
when it floats helpless on the surface, falling an
easy prey to the pursuer. At times six or eight
natives in single canoes join in the hunt, so as to
form a broad circle ; the nearest one to the otter
when he rises after being wounded is the one to
throw the second lance. The hunters obtain from
the local traders between forty and fifty dollars
for a full-grown otter skin, and sometimes double
that amount, so that if successful in the pursuit
they are well rewarded for many hours of patient watchfulness, aside from which they realize
a keen enjoyment in the pursuit as sportsmen.
The hunters oftenest pursue their game alone,
and if a native secures an otter after a whole week
of watching he feels well repaid, though during
that time he has lived on a scanty supply of food,
and has slept nightly in the open air exposed to
the rain. Sometimes his watch is kept in his
boat upon the sea, and sometimes among the
rocks on the shore, in a bay where the otters are
known to resort occasionally.     A few years of THE FUR OF THE SEA-OTTER.
165
such rough life and exposure ages even an Alaskan
Indian, and it is not surprising that rheumatism
and consumption should so prevail among them.
Up to a certain stage such a life may harden the
hunter, but the turning-point comes at last, and
when the native begins to fail in physical strength
he does so rapidly; simply giving way to the
first attack, rejecting all medicine which the
white man may offer, and unless he is an important member of his tribe, a chief or a leader of
some sort, even the shaman or medicine man with
his incantations is not called in. Good nursing is
discarded, the invalid considers it to be his fate to
die, and seems to go half way to meet the grim
destroyer.
The fur of the sea-otter varies in beauty of
texture and value according to the animal's age
and the season of the year in which it is captured.
They are considered to be in their prime when
about five years old, and those skins which are
taken in winter are always of a more beautiful
texture than those which are secured in summer.
Of all animals hunted by man it is most on the
alert, and, as we have said, most difficult to obtain. One intelligent statement declares that before they were so systematically hunted eight
thousand skins were shipped from Alaska in a
single year, but we believe that from four to five
thousand otter skins would be considered a good
twelve months' yield in these days. The Saanack
islets and reefs are the principal resort of these
animals on the coast, and hither the natives come
r1 si  ^
166
THE NEW ELDORADO.
from long distances to hunt them, camping on the
main island. Frequent attempts have been made
to rear the young sea-otter, specimens being often
taken when the mother is captured, but they always perish by starvation, never partaking of
food after being separated from the mother ; a
well-known fact, which was referred to with not a
little sentiment by the experienced hunter who
related the circumstance to us. " Him die of
broke heart," said the native, attempting an expression of tenderness upon his egg-shaped features, which proved a ludicrous caricature. We
saw a stuffed specimen of a young sea-otter in a
native cabin at Juneau, consisting of the skin
only, but very cleverly mounted and preserved by
the hunter who had captured its mother.
It is somewhat singular that the world's supply of otter fur, like that of sealskin, comes almost
entirely from the coast of Alaska, in the North
Pacific and Behring Sea. Otter fur may be said to
be almost confined in its geographical distribution
to the northwest shores of America.
The successful pursuit of the animal, so far as
the natives are concerned, is of even more importance than that of the fur-seals, for contingent
upon its chase, and from the proceeds of its pelts,
some five thousand natives are enabled to live in
comparative luxury. It requires, as we have
shown, great energy, hardihood, and patient application to effect its capture, but the sea-otter is
a most beneficent gift of Providence to these aborigines, and administers, as well, to the pride of r1
BIRDS.
167
the fashionable world. The natives in former
times attached great importance to preparing
themselves for hunting the sea-otter, fasting, bathing, and performing certain mystic rites before
embarking for the purpose. After his return
from a successful hunt the Aleut was accustomed
to destroy the garments which he wore during the
expedition, throwing them into the sea, so that
the otters might find them and come to the conclusion that their late persecutor had been
drowned and there was no further danger in fre-
quenting the shore. This practice, ridiculous as
it seems to us, serves to illustrate the superstitious
character of the Alaskan natives, who seldom fail
to see omens in the most trifling every-day occurrences.
The interior and northern parts of Alaska are
the greatest breeding - places for birds in the
world, being the resort of innumerable flocks,
which come from various parts of this continent,
and others which make the tropical islands their
home a large portion of the year on both the
Atlantic and Pacific sides of America. These
myriads of the feathered tribes consist largely of
geese, ducks, and swans, coming hither for nesting, and to fatten upon the wild salmon berries,
red and black currants, cranberries, blackberries,
bilberries, and the like, which greatly abound during the brief but intense Arctic summer. There
are eleven kinds of edible berries which mature in
August, among which the wild strawberries are
the finest flavored we have ever eaten.    It is said 168
THE NEW ELDORADO.
that the geese especially become so fat feeding
upon the plentiful supply of wholesome food that
at the close of the season they can hardly fly, and
are thus easily caught by the natives, who, in
turn, feast luxuriously upon their tender and succulent flesh. Explorers tell us that they have
seen on the banks of the Yukon — the great river
of central Alaska, and the third in magnitude
in America — the breeding-place of the canvas-
back ducks, which has been heretofore a matter
of some mystery. They prepare on the banks
of this northern watercourse broad platforms of
sedge, mingled with small twigs and bushes, laid
compactly on marshy places, and without building a carefully arranged nest deposit their eggs
in untold numbers. That keen and scientific
observer, the late Major Kennicott, says he saw
on the banks of the Yukon acres of marshy
ground thus covered with the eggs of the canvas-
back ducks, in numbers defying computation.
" The region drained by the Upper Yukon is
spoken of by explorers," says Mr. Charles Hal-
lock, editor of " Forest and Stream," " as being
a perfect Eden, where flowers bloom, beneficent
plants yield their berries and fruits, majestic
trees spread their umbrageous fronds, and songbirds make the branches vocal. The water of the
streams is pure and pellucid; the blue of the rippled lake is like Geneva's; their banks resplendent with verdure, and with grass and shining
pebbles."
At the first approach of winter the augmented THE HAIR-SEAL.
169
millions of birds take flight for the low latitudes,
or their homes in the temperate zone, the old
birds accompanied by the broods which they have
hatched in the solitudes of the far north. Those
which have come from the neighborhood of the
Caribbean Sea turn in their flight unerringly in
that direction; those from the South Pacific
islands heading as surely for that tropical region.
Only the ptarmigan and the Arctic owl, with a
few of the white-hawk family, remain to brave
the winter cold of northern Alaska, with the
hardy Eskimo, the walrus, and the polar bear.
The smaller tribes of birds are well represented
here in the summer season, even including several
species of swallows, martins, and sparrows, these
tiny creatures seeming to follow some general
bird instinct. Even the domestic robin is seen as
far north as Sitka. Limited scientific research
has recognized and classified one hundred and
ninety-two different kinds of birds which are
found in this Territory, a considerable number of
which were unknown to science previous to 1867.
We have said nothing relative to the hair-seals,
or sea-lions, of Alaska, because their importance
is comparatively insignificant, having no commercial value. Nevertheless, they are utilized by
the ingenious natives in various ways; the hides
serve as a covering for a certain class of boats,
made with wooden frames, and are also employed
for several domestic purposes. The walrus is
found in largest numbers on the north coast, in
the true Arctic region, affording some valuable 170
THE NEW ELDORADO.
oil, together with considerable ivory, in carving
which the natives are very expert. Though the
fur-trade of the land is by no means equal to that
of the sea, still its aggregate results are very considerable. It employs numerous hunters and
gives profitable business to many white traders,
nearly all of whom make a permanent home in
the Territory. Undoubtedly the most prolific
and valuable fur-yielding district on the mainland is the valley of the Yukon, where the beaver,
marten, several kinds of bears, with the wolf and
fox, afford the best fur. We saw at the principal store in Wrangel many packages of bearskins
prepared for shipment to San Francisco. These
packages would average five hundred dollars each
in value, and had been gathered from those
brought in by the natives during the two weeks
intervening between the arrival of the regular
steamers. Single bearskins sell here, according to
their marketable character, for from twenty-five to
thirty-five dollars each. The natives make little
or no use of these skins, preferring the woolen
blanket of commerce. The red and cross fox is
found everywhere in the Territory, and its skin is
comparatively cheap. It is singular that the blue
fox is found only on the islands of St. Paul, St.
George, Attoo, and Atkha, while the white fox is
to be sought only at the far north. There is also
the black fox, which, however, is a great rarity,
thought to be an occasional accident of nature;
the skins always bring extravagant prices from
the traders.     The black fox is not found in any THE FUR-TRADE.
171
special locality, but occurs now and again in any
part of the Territory. The skin of the silver fox
is also highly prized, and proves a valuable peltry
to the native hunters, forty dollars each being
the usual price paid by the white traders. Only
a few hundred are taken yearly. The land-otter
and the beaver so abound as to make up a large
total value annually. The latest official records"
show that there has been produced and shipped
from Alaska annually an average of fifty-seven
thousand beaver skins; eighteen thousand land-
otter skins ; seventy-one thousand foxes' skins of
the various sorts; and of musk-rats two hundred
and twenty-one thousand. These figures should
be largely added to in each instance (we were
told by one official that this aggregate estimate
should be doubled), in order to include the unregistered pelts which are annually secured by
various hunters, both whites and natives, and
which find their way to distant markets through
irregular channels, more especially over the borders of British Columbia.
This fur-trade is open to all, but requires capital, organization, and persistency to make it profitable. The natives do nearly all of the hunting
and trapping, and will only engage in it, as a rule,
to supply themselves with means to procure certain luxuries from the trader's store, such as sugar,
tea, and tobacco. We"are sorry to add to these
comparative necessities the article of whiskey,
which is only too often furnished illicitly to the
eager natives.    When these wants are supplied 172
THE NEW ELDORADO.
they idle away their time until stimulated once
more by their necessities to go upon the trail of
the fur-bearing animals. Of course there are some
exceptions to this, many of them being steady and
willing workers, but we speak of the average native. There is no fear of the supply of furs being
exhausted under this system of capture; even a
combined and vigorous effort on the part of the
hunters could not accomplish that in many years.
Unlike our western Indians, these Alaskans are
a comparatively thrifty race, entirely self-sustaining, and never require support from the government, notwithstanding idleness is their besetting
sin, as is, indeed, characteristic of uncivilized people everywhere.
We were told of several of these aborigines who
had learned the lesson of thrift from the whites
to such good effect as to have saved sums of
money varying from one to five hundred dollars,
which they had deposited in the Savings Bank of
San Francisco, and upon which they drew their
annual interest; an investment, the safety and
economy of which they fully appreciated. CHAPTER XII.
Climate of Alaska. — Ample Grass for Domestic Cattle.—Winter and Summer Seasons.—The Japanese Current. — Temperature in the Interior. — The Eskimos. — Their Customs.
— Their Homes. — These Arctic Regions once Tropical.—
The Mississippi of Alaska. — Placer Mines. — The Natives. —
Strong Inclination for Intoxicants.
It is a well-known fact, proven by official observations, that the climate of the Pacific coast is
considerably more temperate than that of the
same latitude on the Atlantic side of the continent. The record of ten consecutive years, kept
at Sitka, gave an annual mean of 46° Fah.
This is in latitude 57° 3' north, and is found by
comparison to be four degrees warmer than the
average of Portland, Me., or six degrees warmer
than the temperature of Quebec, Canada. The
average winter is milder, therefore, at Sitka than
it is at Boston, however singular the assertion
may at first strike us, in connection with the commonly entertained idea of this northwestern Territory. The mean winter temperature of Sitka
and Newport, R. L, are very nearly the same, and
there is only a difference of six degrees in their
mean yearly temperature, though there is a difference of sixteen degrees of latitude.
We have before us a printed letter which appeared in the " Philadelphia Press," signed by 174
THE NEW ELDORADO.
Mr. C. F. Fowler, late an agent of the Alaska
Fur Company, who has resided for twelve years
in Alaska, in which he says : " You who live in
the States look upon this country as a land of perpetual ice and snow, yet I grew in my garden last
year, at Kodiak, abundant crops of radishes, lettuce, carrots, onions, cauliflowers, cabbages, peas,
turnips, potatoes, beets, parsnips, and celery.
Within five miles of this garden was one of the
largest glaciers in Alaska." In a certain sense it
is surely a country of paradoxes.
The harbor of Sitka is never closed by ice,
which cannot be truthfully said of Boston or New
York.
Dr. Sheldon Jackson, long resident in the Ter-
ritory as United States general agent of education for Alaska, tells us that the temperature of
Sitka and that of Richmond, Va., are nearly identical. Mr. McLean of the United States Signal
Service, who has been located at Sitka for several
years, says, " the climate of southern Alaska is
the most equable I ever experienced."
There is in Alaska a very large section of coun-
try, composed of islands and the mainland, where
the average temperature is higher than at Chris-
tiania, capital of Norway, or Stockholm, capital
of Sweden, — where the winters are milder and
the fall of rain and snow is less than in southern
Scandinavia, which is the geographical counterpart of Alaska in the opposite hemisphere. Sitka
harbor is no more subject to arctic temperature
than is Chesapeake Bay.    " It must be a fastidi- TEMPERA TURE.
175
ous person," said Mr. Seward in his speech upon
Alaska, "who complains of a climate in which,
while the eagle delights to soar, the hummingbird does not disdain to flutter." If it is sometimes misty and foggy on the coast, it is not so to
a greater extent than is the case during a large
portion of the year in the cities of London and
Liverpool.
Both the islands and mainland of this latitude
afford ample grass for cows, sheep, and horses,
also producing, with ordinary care, the usual do- ,
mestic vegetables, as we have shown, the assertion of certain writers to the contrary notwithstanding. We have not far to look for the cause
of this favorable temperature existing at so northerly a range of latitude. The thermal stream
known as the Japanese Current, coming from the
far south charged with equatorial heat, is precisely
similar in its effect to that of the better known
Gulf Stream on our Atlantic coast, rendering the
climate of these islands and the coast of the mainland of the North Pacific remarkably warm and
humid. We speak especially and at length of this
subject of the temperature of Alaska, because a
wrong impression is so generally held concerning
it. At a distance from the coast the temperature
•falls, and most of the inland rivers are closed by
ice half the year. Even in the interior we are in
about the same latitude and average temperature
of St. Petersburg. Thus on the line of Behring
Strait the annual mean at Fort Yukon, which lies
just inside of the Arctic circle, six hundred miles 176
THE NEW ELDORADO.
inland from Norton Sound, is 16.92°; this is in
latitude 64° north. Along the coast of southern
Alaska the fall of snow is not greater in amount
than is experienced during an ordinary winter in
the New England States, and it disappears even
more quickly than it does in Vermont and New
Hampshire. In the interior and at the far north,
the quantity of snow is of course much greater,
and covers the ground for about half the year.
But where the sun shines continuously throughout the twenty-four hours, the growth of vegetable
life is extremely rapid. The snow has hardly disappeared before a mass of herbage springs up, and
on the spot so lately covered by a white sheet,
sparkling with frosty crystals, there is spread a
soft mantle of variegated green. The leaves, blossoms, and fruits rapidly follow each other, so that
even in this boreal region there is seed-time and
harvest. The annual recurrence of this carnival
season is all the more impressive in the realm of
the Frost King.
The Japanese Current, already referred to,
strikes these shores at Queen Charlotte Island in
latitude 50° north, where it divides, one portion
going northward and westward along the coast of
Alaska, and the other southward, tempering the
waters which border upon Washington, Oregon,
and California; hence their mild climate. Sea
captains who frequently make the voyage between
San Francisco and Yokohama have told the author that this Japanese Current— with banks
and bottom of cold water, while its body and sur- t»
DIVERSITY OF CLIMATE.
177
face are warm — is so clearly defined as to be distinguishable in color from the ordinary hue of the
Pacific Ocean, and that its deep blue forms a visible line of demarcation between the greater body
and itself along its entire course. The thermometer will easily define such a current, and this the
author has often seen demonstrated from a ship's
deck; but it must be a very keen eye that can distinguish such differences of color at sea as the
above assertion would indicate.
In so extended a territory as that of Alaska,
with broad plains, deep valleys, and lofty mountain ranges, it is reasonable to suppose there must
be a great diversity of climate. The brief inland summer is represented to exhibit marked
extremes of heat, and the winter corresponding
extremes of cold. W. H. Dall, an undoubted authority in all matters relating to the valley of the
Yukon, though his book upon the country was
published some twenty years since, says : " At
Fort Yukon I have seen the thermometer at noon,
not in the direct rays of the sun, stand at 112°, and
I was informed by the commander of the post
that several spirit thermometers graded up to
120° had burst under the scorching sun of the
Arctic midsummer." Fort Yukon is the most
northerly point in Alaska inhabited by white men.
It is estimated that ten or twelve thousand Eskimos live in the uninviting region north of the Yukon valley. They are a most remarkable people,
who are struggling with the cold three quarters of
the year, and who seem to be strangely content 178
THE NEW ELDORADO.
with a bare existence. Their days and nights,
their seasons and years, are not like those of the
rest of the world. Six months of day is succeeded
by six months of night. They have three months
of sunless winter, three months of nightless summer, and six months of gloomy twilight. No
Christian enlightenment or religious teaching of
any sort has ever found its way into this region.
The people believe in evil spirits and powers who
are in some way to be propitiated, but have no
conception of a Divine Being who overrules all
things for good. Like the southern Alaskans they
are superstitious to the last degree, and discover
omens in the most ordinary occurrences. The
decencies of life are almost totally disregarded
among them, their highest purpose being apparently the achievement of animal comfort and
gorging themselves with food and oil.
Their sky is famous for its beautiful auroral display — gorgeous pyrotechnics of nature — in the
long, chill winter night, when a brilliant arch spans
the heavens from east to west, marked with oscillating hues of yellow, blue, green, and violet, rendering everything light as day for a few moments,
then falling back into darkness. So off the coast
of Norway among the Lofoden Islands, the hardy
men who pursue the cod-fishery in that region,
during the winter season, depend upon the Aurora
Borealis to light their midnight labor, that being
considered the most favorable hour of the twenty-
four to secure the fish. Without this nocturnal
meteoric illumination, it would be darkness indeed
in the polar regions for half the year. f
THE ESKIMOS.
179
This phenomenon in its Arctic development is
so much intensified as to quite belittle the exhibition with which we are familiar in New Eng-
land, and which is called the Northern Lights.
It is certainly very odd that these boreal natives,
the Eskimos proper, should have precisely the
same mode of salutation which the New Zealand
Maoris practice, though they are separated by so
many thousand miles of ocean, namely, the rubbing ^
of noses together between two persons, who desire
to evince pleasure at meeting. No matter how oily
the Eskimo's nose may be, or however dirty the
Maori's face, to decline this mode of salutation
when offered is to give mortal offense, either in
tropical New Zealand or in arctic Alaska, at
Point Barrow or at Ohinemutu. " The home of
the Eskimos," says Bancroft, in his excellent work
on the natives of the Pacific coast, | is a model of
filth and freeness. Coyness is not one of their
vices, nor is modesty ranked among their virtues.
The latitude of innocency characterizes all their
social relations ; they refuse to do nothing in public that they would do in private." They seem to
live in a primitive state, without craving anything
of the white man's possessions, except tobacco and
rum, which are smuggled to them by contrabandists, who come on to the coast to trade for furs and
ivory. This class of traders, sailing from San
Francisco, and stopping at the Hawaiian Islands
to procure a few hogsheads of the vilest intoxicant
which is made, pass along the northern coast of
Alaska, touching at certain places where they are THE NEW ELDORADO.
expected annually. The walrus not only supplies the Eskimo with food, but its tusks are
used as the common currency among them, and
are secured in considerable quantities by the illicit traders. The encroachment of unscrupulous
contrabandists renders the utter extinction of the
walrus only a question of time. It is to be regretted that the wholesale slaughter of this animal cannot be prevented. If this could be brought
about, as in the instance of the fur-seal, we might
continue to get ivory from the shores of the
Frozen Sea for all time. The natural enemy of
the walrus is the polar bear, but his most relentless pursuer is man.
These Eskimos wrap their dead in skins closely
sewed and lay them in the tundra, together with
the worldly possessions of the deceased, without
any funeral ceremonies. It would be sacrilege
for any one to disturb this property left with the
body, and no member of the tribe would think of
doing so.
In the Yukon Valley the remains of elephants
and buffaloes are found fossilized, as those of the
rhinoceros were discovered on the opposite continent in Siberia, thus showing that this now
arctic region was once tropical, a conclusion,
nevertheless, which seems to be almost impossible
to the traveler while gazing upon Niagaras of
frozen rivers in the month of July.
The Yukon River is the Mississippi of Alaska,
forming with its several tributaries the great inland highway of the Territory.    As yet there are THE  YUKON RIVER.
181
no roads in the country, everything is transported
by water or on the backs of the natives; the great
importance of such an extensive water-way can
therefore be readily understood. The magnitude
of the Yukon—one of the twelve longest rivers
in the world — will be realized by the fact that
it is still a matter of doubt among different writ-
ers which of the two rivers named is the largest
with respect to the volume of their currents,
though Ivan Petroff, in his report as agent of the
Secretary of the Interior, speaks thus confidently
upon the subject: " The people of the United
States will not be quick to take the idea that the
volume of water in an Alaskan river is greater
than that discharged by their own Mississippi;
but it is entirely within the bounds of honest
statement to say that the Yukon River, the vast
deltoid mouth of which opens into Norton Sound,
of Behring Strait, discharges every hour of recorded time as much, if not one third more, water,
than the 'Father of Waters' as it flows to the
Gulf of Mexico."
This writer does not seem to us given to exaggeration, but still we are a little inclined to question
the accuracy of his estimate as to the volume of
water borne seaward by this great Alaskan river.
The Yukon rises in the Rocky Mountain range
of British Columbia; entering Alaska at about
64° north latitude, and pursuing its course nearly
from east to west across the entire Territory, it
finally empties, as stated, into Behring Strait
through Norton Sound.   The river is navigable for 182
THE NEW ELDORADO.
fifteen to eighteen hundred miles, while its entire
length is computed at over two thousand miles, with
an average width of five miles for half the distance
from its mouth. There are several places on the
lower Yukon where one bank is invisible from
the other. It is seventy-five miles across its five
mouths and the intersecting deltas. At some
places, six or seven hundred miles inland, the
river expands to twenty miles in breadth, thus
forming in the interior a series of connected lakes,
which explorers pronounce to be deep and navigable in all parts. This great water-way can only
be said to have been partially explored, but those
persevering pioneers who have made the attempt
to unravel its mysteries have given us extremely
interesting details of their experiences, all uniting
in bearing witness that its banks are rich in fur-
bearing animals, and that its waters are stocked
with an abundance of fish, including the all-pervading salmon. These valuable fishes follow the
same instinct which they exhibit in other parts of
the world, in their annual pilgrimage of reproduction, that is, after entering a river's mouth, to
advance as far as possible towards its source.
Besides fish and fur-bearing animals, the region
through which the Yukon flows contains abundant
deposits of gold, silver, copper, nickel, and bituminous coal. Some placer gold mines which
were worked on its banks and in its shallows, so
long as the season permitted, are credibly reported
to have yielded to one party of prospectors
nearly eighty dollars per day to each man. THE INLAND TRIBES.
183
The trouble to be encountered in working these
placers is owing to their remoteness from all sources
of supply, and the exposure to the long winters
which prevail in the placer gold-producing regions.
These are obstacles, however, which will one of
these days be overcome by the erection of suitable
shelter, and a rich new mining field will thus be
permanently opened. There are a number of
trading-posts along the course of the Yukon at
which white men reside permanently to traffic
with the natives, purchasing furs from such as will
hunt; and there are many who are represented to
be industrious and provident, supplying the whites
with meat and fish as well as with pelts, fully appreciating the advantage of steady habits and regular wages. In this respect the inland tribes differ materially from most of those living on the
coast; the latter care little for work or wages until
they are driven by necessity to seek employment.
We speak in general terms; there are of course
many worthy exceptions, but savage races have
little idea of thrift, and like the wild animals are
aroused to action only by the demands of hunger.
In equatorial regions where the nutritious fruits
are so abundant that the natives have only to
pluck and to eat, they are sluggish, dirty, and
heedless, living only for the present hour. In this
Arctic region where the sea is crowded with food
and the fields are covered with berries, the same
listlessness prevails as regards the future with
nine out of ten of the aborigines. These remarks
do not apply to the Aleuts, from whom the Com- 184
THE NEW ELDORADO.
mercial Company obtains its workmen. These
are mostly half-breeds, who are far more civilized
than are our Western Indians.
The proprietors of the Treadwell gold mine,
Douglass Island, and of the works at Silver Bow
Basin, employ large numbers of the natives, finding them to be reliable and industrious laborers.
| Where we can separate these Alaskan natives
from-the objectionable influences which are apt to
grow up in populous centres, and especially from
multitudes of adventurous miners who come from
a distance, we find them to be faithful and tractable workers," said an employer to us.
" How about the Chinese ? " we asked..
I They are excellent workers," was the reply.
" Set them a task, show them how to perform it,
and it will surely be done. They are almost like
automatons in this respect and require no watch-
ing."
| Then why not employ them more generally? "
" Because of the prejudice, the unreasonable
prejudice, against them. Our other workmen rebel if we keep many Chinamen on the pay-roll."
This corresponded exactly with the author's
experience elsewhere, in various parts of the world
where the Chinese have sought a new home out-
side of China. John is not perfect, but he is infinitely superior to a large portion of the drinking,
rowdy, and restless foreign element which fills so
large a place in the labor field of this country.
The greatest care is necessary to keep spirituous liquors away from the aborigines, a craving NATIVE DESIRE FOR INTOXICANTS.    185
for which is beyond their control where there is a
possibility of its being obtained. When they fall
under its influence they seem to utterly lose their
senses, and become dangerous both to themselves
and to the whites. As has been intimated, the
only means of locomotion is afforded by the watercourses, and the natives, being excellent canoeists,
find ample employment of this nature, both in
traversing the rivers and along the shore of the
islands. The waters of the Yukon, like those of
the Neva at St. Petersburg, freeze to a depth of
five or six feet in winter. CHAPTER XIII.
Sailing Northward. — Chinese Labor. — Unexplored Islands.—
The Alexander Archipelago. — Rich Virgin Soil. —Fish Canning. — Myriads of Salmon. — Native Villages. — Reckless
Habits. — Awkward Fashions and their Origin. — Tattooing
Young Girls. — Peculiar Effect of Inland Passages. — Mountain Echoes. — Moonlight and Midnight on the Sea.
Y- Let us observe more order in these notes, and
resume the course of our experiences in consecutive form.
As we speed on our sinuous course northward,
inhaling with delight the pure and balmy atmosphere, bearing always a little westerly, winding
through narrow channels which divide the richly
wooded wilderness of islands, avoiding here and
there the ambuscaded reefs, the pleasurable sensation is intense. The scenery, while in some
respects similar to that of the St. Lawrence River
and the Hudson of New York, is yet infinitely superior to either. After having reached latitude
54° 40' we come upon Dixon Entrance, a reach
of the sea which separates Alaska from British
Columbia, and from this point we are sailing exclusively in the purple shadow of our own shore,
and in the waters of the United States. At times
we pass islands as large as the State of Massachusetts, whose picturesque and irregular mountainous surfaces are covered with immemorial trees, NATURE ALONE ANTIQUE.
187
and whose unknown interiors are believed to be
rich in coal, iron, silver, and other metals. The
axe has never echoed in the deep shade of these
dense plantations of nature ; they form a pathless
wilderness, solemn and silent, save for the stealthy
tread of wild beasts, the mournful music of waving pines, and the occasional notes of wandering
seabirds. The migratory flocks of the tropics as
a rule go farther north to raise their broods, but a
few, weary of wing, shorten their aerial journey
and build nests on these islands. For many centuries past the great columnar trees have grown
to mammoth size, and have then fallen only by
the weight of years, enriching the ground with
their decayed substance and giving place to
another similar growth, which, in its turn, has
also flourished and passed away. How like the
course of human races ! This process has been
going on perhaps for twice ten thousand years.
" Nature alone is antique," says Carlyle. The
past history of Alaska, except for a comparatively
short period, is a blank to the people of the nineteenth century.
Day after day there is a continuous and unbroken chain of mountain scenery. On the right
of our course is a broad strip of the mainland, an
Alpine region, thirty miles in width, which forms
a part of southern Alaska, bounded on the east by
British Columbia, and on the west by the many
spacious islands, which create so perfect a breakwater that the constant swell of the contiguous
ocean is not felt.   Some of these islands lie within lifpiu
188
THE NEW ELDORADO.
a quarter of a mile of each other, on either side
of our way, and yet the water is far too deep to
admit of anchoring, the peaks rising abruptly
from unknown depths to thousands of feet above
the sea. The channels seem still more narrow
from the great height of the mountains which line
the course. The eye catches with delight the
bright ribbons of waterfalls tumbling down their
sides, in gleeful uproar, foaming and sparkling towards the depths below. These are fed by melting snow and hidden lakes far up in the cloud-
screened summits. Some of these waterfalls,
narrow and swift, leap from point to point, now
forming small cascades, and now continuing in a
perpendicular form like a column of crystal.
Others, so abrupt and precipitous are the heights
from which they are launched, fall in an unbroken
stream, clinging to the cliffs at first, but quickly
expanding into a thin sheet rivaling the Bridal
Veil of the Yosemite, and reaching the base in a
constant gauzelike spi*ay.
The wide, open tracks seen now and then on
the steep, thickly-wooded mountain sides, reaching
from high up to the snow-line down to the very
surface of the water, are the pathways swept by
giant avalanches. What immense power and
lightning-like speed are suggested by the broad,
clean swath that is left! The wind caused by
the rushing avalanches is almost equally resistless, the trees on either side of the track being
torn into splinters by it.
Now and again, above the tops of the giant THE ALEXANDER ARCHIPELAGO.
189
pines, one can see moving objects on the exposed
peaks and cliffs, almost too far away and too
small for identification, but we know them to be
wild mountain goats, — the Alaskan chamois, —
quite safe from the hunters in these perilous
heights, never trod by the foot of man. The tender glow of twilight enshrouding mountain peaks,
emerald isles, and the gently throbbing bosom of
the sea, added daily a witching charm to a scene
which already seemed perfect in beauty.
The principal island group lying off the shore
of southwestern Alaska is named the Alexander
Archipelago, in honor of the Tzar of Russia. It. extends about three hundred miles north and south,
and is seventy-five miles from east to west, embracing over eleven hundred islands, scarcely one
of which has been explored. The group reaches
from Dixon Entrance to Cross Sound, in latitude
58° 25' north. Upon landing at one of these
islands it was found to be covered by an impervious forest; the mass of timber and undergrowth
was so compact as to defy our progress. The tangle of bushes, roots, vines, and branches formed
almost as impenetrable a wall as though built of
masonry. The wildest jungles of India are not
more dense. Where not covered and hidden by
trees, the earth was flecked here and there by
the sun, being carpeted with moss and ferns so
thickly spread as to form a spongy surface, upon
which only the velvety feet of small wild animals
could be sustained. A human pedestrian, were
he to attempt to pass over it, would sink in this 190
THE NEW ELDORADO.
vegetable compound knee-deep at every step.
There are no paths in these jungles; the natives
have no occasion to penetrate them, their living
comes from the sea, and the river courses are their
hunting grounds.
This virgin soil, were it to be drained and
cleared of trees, would be rich beyond calculation,
while the climate is such as to warrant the growth
and ripening of any vegetation which will thrive
on the Atlantic coast north of Chesapeake Bay.
One who has not seen it in Alaska knows not
what rank and luxuriant forest undergrowth is.
No tropical islands can surpass the Alexander
Archipelago in this respect. Thus far no one has
come to this region with the idea of testing its
availability for agricultural purposes; it is other
business which has attracted them. Nothing of
any account has ever been done in the way of
stock-raising, though the winters of southern Alaska, of Kodiak, and the Aleutian Islands are much
milder than are those of Wyoming or northern
Dakota, and there is plenty of food for innumerable herds all the year round. If government will
but give the Territory of Alaska proper land laws,
this region will promptly invite emigration, and
be rapidly peopled by thrifty stock-growers.
As we increase our northern latitude forests of
tall cedars, spruce, and hemlock still line the
shore of the mainland, and cover the countless
islands with a mantle of softest green. It is not
surprising that artists become enthusiastic over
the infinite variety of shades found in these ver- FISH-CANNING.
191
dant woods, an effect which we have never seen
excelled even in equatorial regions. Gliding over
the still, deep, pellucid surface of the ocean, we
behold these cliffs, forests, and mountains, with
coronets of snow reflected therein, as though there
was another world below, like that above the rose-
tinted sea. One finds almost exactly repeated
here the bold, towering peaks, and low-lying rocky
isles of the Lofoden group in the far North Sea
of the opposite hemisphere, whose sharp, jagged
pinnacles have been aptly compared to shark's
teeth.
Near Cape Fox, on the mainland, there are two
large fish-canning establishments, where salmon
are packed in one pound tin cases for shipment
to distant markets, and in which a few Chinamen
are employed. Some Indian women also find
occupation in the establishment, while their husbands capture and bring in the fish in large quantities. This is a rapidly growing and profitable
business in this region, there being already forty
or fifty such factories along the coast and among
the islands north of Cape Fox.
Kasa-an Bay makes into Prince of Wales Island twenty miles, more or less, from Clarence
Strait. Here there are several villages of Kasa-an
Indians. No spot on the coast is more famous for
the abundance and excellence of its salmon; at
certain seasons the waters of the bay swarm with
them. Here is a large cannery, or fish-packing
station, where native women do most of the indoor
work.    Two thousand  barrels of salted salmon 192
THE NEW ELDORADO.
*
were shipped from this bay last year. This was
independent of those used in canning. There
would seem to be no limit to the expansion of an
industry that can furnish such desirable, every way
wholesome, and nutritious food to be sold in all
parts of the world.
The North Pacific Trading and Packing Company of San Francisco has been doing a profitable
business on the coast for many years. In spite of
government neglect, commerce is steadily increasing and developing Alaska; it invades all zones,
proving the greatest of civilizing agencies. Not
only is it the equalizer of the wealth, but also of
the intelligence, of nations, and this one branch
alone is gradually populating whole districts.
When the active packing season is over there is
still profitable employment for all. Some are occupied in making the tin cans to hold one pound
each; others are taught to become coopers, furnishing the casks for shipping such fish as are
split, salted, and exported in that form; while others are occupied in making pine-wood boxes to
contain two dozen each of the filled cans. Thus a
well-conducted fish-packing establishment employs
many people, and presents a busy scene all the
year round.
The salmon are so plenty in the regular season
that an Indian will sometimes deliver at the canning factory three or four canoe-loads in a single
day. They are mostly caught by net or seine, but
often during the height of the season the natives
absolutely shovel the salmon out of the water and BEARS.
193
on to the shore with their paddle blades. We
were told that as many as three thousand salmon,
and even more, are sometimes taken at a single
haul of the seine; also that fish of this species
weighing from twenty to thirty pounds were common here. Great numbers are discarded at the
factories because they do not prove to be of the
high pink color which is required by the purchasers and consumers. It seems that the bears know
very well when the run of salmon commences, and
that there are certain quiet inlets where the fish
are sure to get crowded and jammed, so that Bruin
has only to reach out his paws and draw one after
another on to the shore and eat until he has his fill.
The bear-paths leading to these spots are strongly
marked, and the animals are thus easily tracked
and shot by the hunters. It is the white men who
capture them most generally, as the natives have
some mysterious reverence and fear combined regarding this animal. They do hunt them, however, but shrive themselves of all sense of wrong
by going through some mystic rites. Mr. Charles
Hallock says : " There are bears enough in Alaska,
grizzly, cinnamon, and black, to furnish every man
on the Pacific with a cap and overcoat, and leave
breeding stock enough for next year's supply."
The grizzly bear is a dangerous animal to encounter single-handed. A bullet seems to have no
more effect upon him, unless it strikes a vital spot,
than it does upon an elephant. It is necessary to
use guns of large calibre when hunting the animal,
and the whites rarely seek them unless several
tried men band together for the purpose.
I 194
THE NEW ELDORADO.
From time to time small native villages are seen
on the islands and the mainland, all typical of the
people, and quite picturesque in their dirtiness and
peculiar construction. Some of their cabins are
built of boards, but mostly they are rude, bark-
covered logs. In front of these dwellings stand totem-poles, presenting hideous faces carved upon
them in bold relief, together with uncouth figures
of birds, beasts, and fishes. A portion of these
tall posts are weather-beaten and neglected, significantly tottering on their foundations, green with
mould, unconsciously foreshadowing the fate of
the aboriginal race. Groups of natives in bright-
colored blankets, with scarlet and yellow handkerchiefs on their heads, come into view, watching us
curiously as we glide over the smooth water, while
bevies of half-naked children are seen shifting
hither and thither in clamorous excitement. What
wonderfully bright, black eyes these children
have! Some of the women are gathering kelp,
for the shores are lined with edible algae, possessing not only fine nutritious qualities, but being
also a recognized tonic, with excellent medicinal
properties. This sea-product is collected in the
most favorable season of the year, and after being
pressed into convenient sized and esculent cakes
is stored for future use. The native hamlets are
always built near to the shore, accessibility to the
water being the first consideration, because from
that source comes nine tenths of their subsistence.
To clear the forest and secure open fields presupposes more thrift and application than these na- B"
AWKWARD FASHIONS.
195
tives possess; but it would unveil some of the
richest soil in the world. These Alaskans have
no idea of sewerage, or the proper disposal of domestic refuse. All accumulations of this sort are
thrown just outside the doors of their dwellings,
to the right and left, anywhere in fact which is
handiest. The stench which surrounds their cabins, under these circumstances, is almost unbearable by civilized people, and must be very unwholesome. These natives have broad faces, small,
pig-like eyes, and high cheek bones, not very nice
to look upon, yet not without a certain expression
of real intelligence gleaming through the accumulated dirt.
" What is needed here," said a humorous observer to us, " is the mission teacher with his
Bible, spelling-book, and — soap ! "
The women cut their hair short on the forehead, nearly even with the eyebrows, causing one
to surmise that these Thlinkits — a generic name
given to the tribes in this vicinity — must have
set the fashion of " banging " the hair, which is so
popular among civilized belles. Just so the Japanese women originated the hideous fashion of the
" bustle." The author saw this awkward and unbecoming appendage worn upon the backs of the
women of Yokohama, Tokio, and Nagasaki three
years before it appeared upon the streets of Boston and New York. And now we hear of the
" clinging " style of drapery, in which underskirts
even are discarded, called the Grecian or classic
style.  Alas ! will nothing but extremes satisfy the 196
THE NEW ELDORADO.
importunate demands of fashion ? Heaven send
that we do not import another fashion from Alaska
or the South Seas, namely tattooing. It is quite
common here, among young girls of about twelve
years of age, whose cheeks and chins are often
thus disfigured by irregular lines. The more the
natives associate with the whites, however, the
more rarely this tattooing is resorted to, and it may
be said, as a fashion, to be going out in Alaska,
though it is undoubtedly one of the most widely
diffused practices of savage life, from the Arctic
to the Antarctic circle.
The Alaskans have an original way of producing this indelible marking, the color being fixed
by drawing a thread under the skin, whereas the
usual mode among various savages is by pricking
it in with a needle. The favorite colors are red
and blue. We were told that common women
were permitted to adorn their chins with but one
vertical line in the centre, and one parallel to it
on either side, while a woman of the better or
wealthier class is allowed two vertical lines from
each corner of the mouth. The New Zealand
Maori women tattoo their chins in a very similar
manner, keeping the rest of the face in a natural
condition.
We had threaded the intricate labyrinth of
islands, bays, and channels, guarded by miles upon
miles of sentinel peaks, nearly all day, on one occasion, under a depressing fog and rain, when suddenly a bold headland was rounded, which had
seemed for hours to completely bar our Way, and MOUNTAIN ECHOES.
197
we passed out from under the shadow of the
frowning cliffs and the gloom of the dark fathomless waters just as the sun burst forth, warm,
bright, and resistless, while the view expanded
before us nearly to the horizon. The mist, like
shrouded ghosts, stole silently away, vanishing
behind the rocks and cliffs. Every dewy drop
of moisture, on ship and shore, glittered like diamonds in the dazzling rays of the new-born light,
changing the verdant islands into a glory of
color, and the whole view to one of majestic loveliness, through which we glided as smoothly as
though in a gondola upon the Grand Canal at
Venice.
When approaching a landing or anchorage, a
signal gun is fired from the forecastle of the ship,
creating a series of echoes deep, sonorous, and
startling, but especially remarkable for the number of times the sound is repeated. One single
gun becomes multiplied to a whole broadside.
The report is taken up again and again by other
localities, and thus is conveyed for miles away,
finally sinking to a whisper, as it were, among the
foot-hills of the giant elevations.
The most impressive scenes realized by the traveler are those of moonlight and midnight. How a
love of the stars and the sea grows upon one, and
life has so few moments of perfect contentment!
What melody and magic permeate the pure,
placid atmosphere, bounded by the sapphire sea
and the azure sky ! How tender and beautiful is
the utter stillness of the hour!    Such scenes of 198
THE NEW ELDORADO.
gladness make the heart almost afraid, — afraid
lest there should be some keen sorrow lurking in
ambush to awaken us from pleasant dreams to
the stern, disenchanting experiences of real life.
Uftlll
81IfIt
1
J CHAPTER XIV.
The Alaskan's Habit of Gambling. — Extraordinary Domestic
Carvings. — Silver Bracelets. — Prevailing Superstitions. —
Disposal of the Dead. — The Native " Potlatch." — Canni-
. balism.— Ambitions of Preferment. — Human Sacrifices.—
The Tribes slowly decreasing in Numbers. — Influence of the
Women. — Witchcraft. — Fetich Worship. — The Native Canoes. — Eskimo Skin Boats.
The aborigines of Alaska are slow in their
movements, and in this respect resemble the Lapps
of Scandinavia, having also a drawling manner of
speech entirely in consonance with their bodily
movements. They are as inveterate gamblers as
the Chinese, often passing whole days and nights
absorbed in the occupation, the result of which is
in no way contingent upon intelligence or skill,
until finally one of the party walks off winner of
all the stakes. Their principal gambling game is
played with a handful of small sticks of different
colors, which are called by various names, such
as the crab, the whale, the duck, and so on. The
player shuffles all the sticks together, then counting out a certain number he places them under
cover of bunches of moss. The object seems to
be to guess in which pile is the whale, and in
which the crab, or the duck. Individuals often
lose at this seemingly trifling game all their
worldly possessions.    We were told of instances 200
THE NEW ELDORADO.
where, spurred on by excitement, a native risks
his wife and children, and if he loses, they become the recognized property of the winner, nor
would any one think of interfering with such a
settlement. These extreme cases, of course, are
rare.
It is impossible to see the aborigines eagerly
absorbed in the game without recalling Dr. John-
son's characteristic definition of gambling, namely,
" A mode of transferring property without producing any intermediate good."
Inside of the rude native houses one finds many
hideous carvings, representing impossible animals
and strange objects of all sorts, after the style of
the totem-poles, of which we shall have occasion
to speak. Many of their small domestic utensils are made from the horns of the mountain
goats, and are also curiously carved with nightmare objects, as evil to look upon as African
idols. Yet some of these articles show considerable skill and infinite patience in execution. We
have seen specimens that it was difficult to believe were executed by the hand of an uncultured
savage. Before the Russians introduced iron and
steel knives, the aborigines seem to have carved
only with copper and stone implements, producing remarkable results under the circumstances.
The young women wear silver bracelets, pounded
out of American dollar pieces, some of which
are an inch broad, and are covered elaborately
after civilized models, others bear native hei'aldic
devices of birds, beasts, and fishes, which are said £**»
SUPERSTITIONS.
201
to represent the arms of the wearer's family, it
being customary for each tribe and person to
adopt some distinctive seal or crest. They much
prefer silver ornaments to those of gold or other
material; though they are not slow to realize intrinsic values, probably they choose the less expensive metal because it is Alaska fashion.
In spite of all the missionary effort which is
made to enlighten these natives, they are still
slaves to the most debasing superstitions. Scarcely a month passes in which the civil authorities are
not called upon to interfere with the people for
cruelty. We were told of one instance which lately
occurred at Juneau. A native was seriously ill,
and the medicine-man, having failed to relieve him
by his noisy incantations, charged an old member
of the tribe with having bewitched the invalid.
He was consequently seized, tied up, and whipped
until nearly insensible, being left for three days
without food. By chance the authorities heard of
the case and released the old man. The two principal natives who had been guilty of the maltreatment were tried and fined twenty dollars each.
The very next day the old man was missing, and
it was found that he had again been tied up and
whipped. The two culprits admitted repeating
their cruelty, saying they had paid for the right
to whip out the witch from the old man, and it
must be done before the invalid would recover.
These ignorant creatures entertained no malice towards the old native ; it was only a matter of duty,
as they thought, to exorcise the evil one which 202
THE NEW ELDORADO.
had possessed the invalid. This is a fair sample
of the superstition of the average Alaskans.
When a member of the family dies, the body is
not removed for final disposal by the door which
the lWing are accustomed to use, but a plank is
torn from the side or back of the dwelling, through
s which the corpse is passed, after which the place
is at once carefully made whole. This, they say,
is to prevent the spirit of the defunct from finding its way back again, and thus bringing ill luck
upon the living. A still more superstitious and
savage custom prevails among some of these ignorant natives.
If a person dies in a cabin, it is held that the
place becomes sacred to his spirit, and therefore is unfit for the living. To avoid this difficulty the dying are passed out of the domicile
through some temporary hole into the open air to
breathe their last, so that neither the house nor
the threshold may be sacrificed to the spirit of
the dead. Slaves, besides poor widows and orphans, when they die, are often disposed of in
the most summary and unfeeling manner, being
exposed in the woods, or cast into the sea as
food for the fishes. In this connection we remember that the highly civilized and rich Par-
sees of Bombay do not hesitate to give the dead
bodies of their cherished ones to the vultures, in
those terrible Towers of Silence on Malabar Hill.
The ceremonies which follow all funerals among
these aborigines are peculiar affairs, and for the
carrying out of which each person saves more or FUNERAL CUSTOMS.
203
less of his worldly effects to leave after death. As
soon as the body of the deceased is disposed of,
then commences what is here called a " potlatch,"
signifying a " big feast," conducted very much
after the style of the New Zealanders on a similar
occasion. Everybody is invited and a free spread
or feast provided, the same being kept up for several days and nights, so long, indeed, as the purchasing power lasts. Whiskey is freely dispensed,
when it can be had, but if not obtainable, as it
is a contraband article, then "hoochenoo," made
^from flour and molasses well fermented, takes its
place, being equally intoxicating and maddening.
Dancing, wailing, singing, fighting, and grave indecencies follow each other, until the means to
keep up the potlatch left by the deceased are exhausted, and his surviving family oftentimes impoverished.
Cremation is the Thlinkit's favorite mode of
disposing of his dead. The bodies of slaves and
" witches" are disposed of with great secrecy.
They are not considered worth burial, and are
sometimes cast into the sea, but water burial is
infrequent. The bodies of chiefs lie in state several days; the people observe certain rites ; then
the body is cremated and the ashes are encased in
the base of a totem erected to his memory. Shamans (doctors) are never cremated. After lying
in state four days, one day in each corner of the
cabin, the body is taken out of the house through
the smokestack, or some opening other than the
door, and conveyed some distance to a deadhouse 204
THE NEW ELDORADO.
i   .''
:• ■
built for this particular occupant. There in its
last resting-place the body is seated in an upright
position. The paraphernalia of his rank and office,
some blankets and household effects to add to his
comfort in the spirit-land, are entombed with they
remains.
Another occasion for indulging in the potlatch
is when some one is desirous of securing extraordinary influence in his tribe, generally a chief
seeking to establish superior position or popularity over some rival. Natives have been known to
save their means for years, augmenting them by
industry and self-denial, in order finally to give
a grand and unequaled feast of this character.
When the time arrives not only are all the host's
own tribe invited, but those of the next nearest
tribes not akin to his own. Such a festival often
lasts for a whole week, until the last blanket of
the giver is sacrificed. These strange festivals,
we were told, are fast passing into disuse, at least
among those tribes brought most in contact with
the whites, though on a smaller scale they do still
exist all over the southern region of Alaska.
There is, perhaps, no positive evidence that cannibalism ever prevailed among the Indians of this
region, yet it is gravely hinted that it did on the
occasion of these funeral potlatches years ago. To
sacrifice the life of one or more of the slaves of
the deceased we know was common, and if their
bodies were not barbecued and eaten, then these
natives of the North Pacific were entirely different in this respect from those who lived in the DECAY OF THE RACES.
205
South Pacific. The medicine-men, even to-day,
devour portions of corpses, believing that they acquire control of the spirit of the deceased thereby,
and gain influence over demon spirits in the other
sphere. Such practices are, however, rare, though
Mr. Duncan of Metla-katla tells us he has witnessed the repulsive performance. The places near
each hamlet where the dead are finally placed
often number many more graves, or square boxes
containing the bodies, than there are present inhabitants in the settlement. All this region was
formerly many times more populous than it is today. Here, as in Africa, New Zealand, California, and Australia, where the white man appears
permanently, the black man slowly but surely
vanishes. The progress of civilization, as we call
it, is fatal to native, savage races all over the
world. Catlin, who lived among and wrote so
well about our Western Indians, summed up the
matter thus : " White man — whiskey — tomahawks— scalping-knives — guns, powder and ball
— smallpox, debauchery — extermination." But
it is not alone gunpowder, rum, and lasciviousness
which are the active agents to this end; there is
also a subtle influence which is not clearly understood, and which it is difficult to define, but which
is as potent, if not more so, than the agencies
above suggested. The destiny which heaven decrees for a people will surely come to them. This
has been clearly exemplified in the instance of the
North American Indians, as well as among the
South Sea  Islanders in Australia  and  the Ha- 206
THE NEW ELDORADO.
waiian Islands. Of an entire and intelligent people, the aborigines who once occupied Tasmania,
there is not to-day a living representative! The
land is solely possessed and occupied by white
Europeans, before whom the natives have steadily
vanished like dew before the sun.
Mr. Frederick Whymper, who wrote about the
Northwest some twenty years ago, speaking upon
this subject, refers to the experience of a Mr.
Sproat, a resident of the region near Puget Sound,
who employed large numbers of natives as well
as whites in manufacturing lumber. Mr. Sproat
conducted his large business and the place where
it was established on temperance principles; no
violence or oppression of any sort was permitted
towards the natives. They were in fact better
fed, better clothed, and better taught than they
had ever been before. It was only after a considerable time that any symptom of a change
was observed among the Indians. By and by a
listlessness seemed to creep over them, and they
"brooded over silent thoughts." At first they
were surprised and bewildered by the presence
of the white men, and the machinery and steam
vessels which they brought with them. They
seemed slowly to acquire a distrust of themselves,
and abandoned their old practices and tribal habits, until at last it was discovered that a higher
death - rate was prevailing among them. " No
one molested them," says Mr. Sproat; " they had
ample sustenance and shelter for the support of
life, yet the people decayed.    The steady bright- INFLUENCE OF THE WOMEN.
207
ness of civilized life seemed to dim and extinguish the flickering light of savageism, as the
rays of the sun put out a common fire."
Upon the same subject and people, H. W. Elliott says: " These savages were created for the
ml O
wild surroundings of their existence; expressly
fitted for it, and they live happily in it; change
the order of their life, and at once they disappear,
as do the indigenous herbs and game before the
cultivation of the soil and the domestication of
animals." We shall not comment upon these
remarks, though to us it is an extremely interesting subject; the reader must draw his own
inference.
The men of these native tribes are strong and
vigorous; the women are, however, forced to perform most of the domestic labor, and all of the
drudgery, yet it was observed that they held the
purse strings. That is to say, a native buck always defers to his wife in any matter of trade as
to the price either to ask or to pay. The women
of Alaska are certainly in a better condition and
are better treated than those belonging to any of
our Western Indian tribes, with whom we are acquainted. Though they are called upon to do
much menial work, they do not seem to be actually abused. The male Alaskan performs a certain liberal share of domestic duties, but not so
with the Indian of our Western reservations. The
latter makes his wife a beast of burden. They
are generally clothed in the garments of civilization, though of coarse material and of the cheapest 208
THE NEW ELDORADO.
manufacture. The ready-made clothing store has
reached even the islands of the North Pacific.
Polygamy is common among the aborigines, chastity is little heeded, and young girls are sold by
their mothers for a few blankets, she and not the
father having the acknowledged right of disposing of them. Dr. Sheldon Jackson writes most
feelingly as follows: " Despised by their fathers,
sold by their mothers, imposed upon by their
brothers, and ill-treated by their husbands, cast
out in their widowhood, living lives of toil and low
sensual pleasure, untaught and uncared for, with
no true enjoyment in this world and no hope for
the world to come, crushed by a cruel heathenism,
it is no wonder that many of them end their
misery and wretchedness by suicide."
It was found on inquiry that the ratio of births
among the Alaskan shore tribes was considerably
greater than among civilized communities, but the
death-rate is, on the other hand, excessive. The
wretched ignorance of the mothers as to the observance of the simplest sanitary laws, as well ns
the gross exposure of their infants, is the principal
cause of this needless mortality.
The aborigines, where not brought in contact
with the government schools and missionaries,
still retain their system of fetich worship, being very much under control of their medicinemen, who pretend to influence the demons of the
spirit world, so feared by the average savage.
Their moral degradation is extreme, and their
practices in too many instances are terrible to NATIVE CANOES.
209
relate. Slaves are sacrificed, as already stated, at
the owner's death, that they may go before and
prepare for his arrival in the future state. Vile
witchcraft is still believed in among most of the
tribes, and murderous consequences follow in many
cases. All kinds of barbarity are inflicted upon
women, children, and slaves. We are told by Dr.
Sheldon Jackson that it was surprising to see how
quickly these savage practices yielded to the power
of Christian teachings, and how rapidly they faded
away before the influence of association with a few
intelligent, conscientious white teachers. What
these people need is education and Christian influence, which will work a great and rapid reform
among them in a single generation.
The canoes of the tribes about the Alexander
Archipelago are dug out of well-chosen cedar logs,
and are given the really fine lines for which they
are remarkable by means of hot water and steam,
together with the use of cunningly devised braces
and clamps. The wood being once thoroughly
dried in the desired shape, will retain it. Wondering how the exquisite smoothness was produced in
forming their boats without a carpenter's plane, it
was found by inquiry that the natives dry the
coarse skin of the dogfish and use it as we do
sandpaper. The time spent upon the construction
and ornamentation of these canoes is apparently
of no consideration to the native, and the market
value of the best will average one hundred dollars.
It is the Alaskan's most necessary and most prized
piece  of  property.     Some  which we  saw were 210
THE NEW ELDORADO.
eighty feet in length, and capable of holding one
hundred men. It must be remembered that almost the entire population live on the coast or
river banks in a country where there are no
roads. These canoes have no seats in them; the
rower places himself on the bottom, and thus situated uses his paddles with great dexterity. They
are quite unmanageable by a white man who is
not accustomed to them, as much so at least as a
birch canoe, such as the Eastern Indians build on
the coast of Maine. But the Alaskan boat is far
superior to the birch-bark canoe in every respect.
We saw one paddled by a boy at Pyramid Harbor,
neat and new, which the lad, say twelve years of
age, had dug out of a spruce log with his own
hands, quite unaided. Its lines were admirable,
and the finish was excellent. When the sun beats
down upon these boats, the owner splashes water
upon the sides about him to prevent their warping, and for this purpose carries a thin wooden
scoop. When not in use they are carefully covered up to shelter them from the sun's rays. Some
tribes use a double paddle, that is, an oar with a
blade at each end, which they dip on one side and
the other alternately; other tribes use the single-
bladed paddle. Each one of the males among the
natives has his canoe, for the water is his only
highway, and without his boat he would be as
helpless as one of our Western Indians on the plains
without his pony. When the " dug-outs" are
drawn up upon the shore in scores, they present
a curious appearance, packed with grass and cov- ESKIMO SKIN BOATS.
211
ered with matting to keep them from being
cracked and warped by the sun. The bows and
stern of many of them are elaborately carved totem-fashion, and also painted in strange designs
with a black pigment. The fore part of the boat
rises with an upward sheer, and is higher at the
prow than at the stern. There is another form of
boat used by the Eskimos and natives of the outlying islands, being a simple frame of wood, covered with sea-lion skin from which the hair has
been removed. These boats are covered over the
tops as well as the bottoms, being almost level
with the sea, leaving only a hole for the occupant
to sit in, thus making them absolutely watertight, a life-boat, in fact, which will float in any
water so long as they will hold together. The
waves may dash over them but cannot enter them.
These skin-covered boats, admirably adapted to
their legitimate purpose, are known on the coast
as "bidarkas," in the management of which the
natives evince great skill, making long journeys in
them, and braving all sorts of weather. Like the
Madras surf-boats, no nails are used in their construction, either in the skeleton frame or in putting on the covering, the several parts being
lashed and sewed together in the most artistic fashion with sinews and leather thongs, which enables
them to bear a greater strain than if they were
held together by any other means. The thongs
admit of a certain degree of flexibility when it is
required, an effect which cannot be got with nail
fastenings. CHAPTER XV.
Still sailing Northward. — Multitudes of Water-Fowls. — Native
Graveyards. — Curious Totem-Poles. — Tribal and Family
Emblems. — Division of the Tribes.—Whence the Race
came. — A Clew to their Origin. — The Northern Eskimos. —
A Remarkable Museum of Aleutian Antiquities. — Jade Mountain.— The Art of Carving. — Long Days. — Aborigines of
the Yukon Valley. — Their Customs.
Still sailing northward, large numbers of ebon-
hued cormorants are seen feeding on the low,
kelp-covered rocks, contrasting with the snowy
whiteness of the gulls. Big flocks of snipe, ducks,
and other aquatic birds line the water's edge, or
rise in clouds from some sheltered nook to settle
again in our wake. Higher up in air a huge bald-
headed eagle is in sight nearly all the while, as
we sail along the winding watercourse. The
eagles of Alaska, unlike those of other sections of
the globe, are not a solitary bird, but congregate
in considerable numbers, and residents told us
they had seen a score of them roosting together
on the branches of the same tree, but we must
confess to never having seen even two together.
Elsewhere the eagle is certainly a bird whose
solitary habits are one of its marked characteristics. We observe here and there near native
villages, more square boxes and totem-poles indicating the resting-places of the dead.    Some tribes AN ALASKAN GRAVEYARD.
213
continue to burn their dead, and these boxes contain only the ashes, but the missionaries and the
whites generally have so opposed the idea of
cremation that many of the natives have aban-
doned it. The burial above-ground in the square
boxes referred to is a peculiar idea. These coffins,
if they may be so called, are about three feet and
a half long by two and a half wide, and are often
elaborately carved and painted with grotesque
figures. The corpse is disjointed and doubled up
in order to get it into this compass, though why
this is done when a longer box would so much
simplify matters, no one seems to know. We
were told that some of the Alaskan tribes used
to place their dead in trees, or on the top of four
raised poles, a similar practice to that which once
prevailed among certain tribes of our Western
Indians, but the mode just described is that which
most generally prevails. There seems to be some
difference of opinion as regards the real significance of the totem-poles. They appear to be designed in part to commemorate certain deeds in
the lives of the departed, near whose grave they
are reared, as well as to indicate the family arms
of those for whom they are erected. Thus, on
seeing one special totem-post surmounted by a
wolf carved in wood, beneath which a useless gun
was lashed, inquiry was made as to its significance, whereupon we were told that the deceased
by whose grave it stood had been killed while
hunting wolves in the forest. This was certainly
a very literal way of recording the fate of the
hunter. 214
THE NEW ELDORADO.
Some tribes adopt the crow, some the hawk,
and some the bear or the whale, as their distinctive tribal emblem. The poles are. carved from
bottom to top, averaging thirty or forty feet in
height, — though some are nearly a hundred feet
high, — and from three to four feet in diameter,
the height also signifying the importance of the
individual, that is, his social grade or standing in
the tribe. Some of the carvings are mythological,
for these people have an oral mythology of the
most fabulous character, which has been handed
down from father to son for' many centuries.
The carvings on the coffin-boxes, though often
elaborate, to a white man's eye are meaningless.
As we have said, when a chief dies, some valuable personal effects are always deposited with
his body in the coffin, and one would suppose that
such objects were safe from pilfering fingers of even
strangers; yet these articles are constantly offered
for sale, and are eagerly purchased by curio-hunters who come hither from various parts of this
country.
The aborigines of Alaska are divided into various sub-tribes, such as Hooniahs, Tongas, Auks,
Kasa-ans, Haidas, Sitkas, Chinooks, Chilcats, and
so on.
Ivan Petroff, who was sent by the United States
Government to Alaska in 1880, as special agent
of the census, divides the native population of the
Territory as follows: —
First. — The Innuit or Eskimo race, which
predominates in numbers and covers the littoral ORIGIN OF THE NATIVE RACES.
215
margin of all Alaska from the British boundary
on the Arctic to Norton Sound, the Lower Yukon,
and Kuskoquin, Bristol Bay, the Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak Island, mixing in, also, at Prince
William Sound.
Second. — The Indians proper spread over
the vast interior in the north, reaching down to
the seaboard at Cook's Inlet and the mouth of the
Copper River, and lining the coast from Mount
St. Elias southward to the boundary and peopling the Alexander Archipelago.
Third. — The Aleutian race, extending from
the Shumagin Islands westward to Attoo, — the
Ultima Thule of this country, — whom Petroff
terms the Christian inhabitants. These last certainly conform most fully to all the outward practices of civilization and universally recognize the
Greek Church.
Whence these people originally came is a question which is constantly discussed, but which is
still an unsolved problem. Some words in their
language seem to indicate a Japanese origin, and
some seem clearly to be derived from the Aztec
tongue belonging to that peculiar people of the
south. Hon. James G. Swain of Port Town-
send, who has given years of study to the subject
of ethnology as connected with the tribes of the
Northwest, states that he found among them a
tradition of the Great Spirit similar to that of the
Aztecs, and that when he exhibited to members
of the Haida tribe sketches of Aztec -carvings,
they at once recognized and  understood  them.
* I
216
THE NEW ELDORADO.
y
Copper images and relics found in their possession
were identical with exhumed relics brought from
Guatemala. These are certainly very significant
facts, if not convincing ones. The Alaska natives
have some Apache words in their language, which
a points to a common origin with our North American Indian tribes, but these suggestions are purely
speculative. There are able students of ethnology who insist upon the origin of these Alaskans
being Asiatic for various good and sufficient reasons, instancing not only their personal appearance, but the similarity of their traditions and customs to those of the people of Asia. To have
come thence it is remembered that they had only
to cross a narrow piece of water forty miles wide.
This passage is frequently made in our times by
open boats. At certain seasons of the year, though
in so northern a latitude, the strait is by no means
rough. Mr. Seward says: " I have mingled
freely with the multifarious population, the Tongas, the Stickeens, the Kakes, the Haidas, the Sit-
kas, the Kootnoos, and the Chilcats. Climate and
other circumstances have indeed produced some
differences of manners and customs between the
Aleuts, the Koloschians, and the interior continental tribes, but all of them are manifestly of
Mongol origin. Although they have preserved no
common traditions, all alike indulge in tastes,
wear a physiognomy, and are imbued with sentiments peculiarly noticed in China and Japan."
The Eskimos proper differ but little from the
southern and inland tribes of Alaska generally; JADE MOUNTAIN.
few of them are ever seen south of Norton Sound
or the mouths of the Yukon. Their home is in the
Arctic portion of the Territory, bordering the
Frozen Ocean and Behring Strait. It is obvious
that climatic influences create among them different manners and customs, causing also a slightly
different physical formation, but otherwise they
seem to be of the same race as the people of the
Alaska Peninsula, the Aleutian Islands, or indeed
of any of the several groups and of the .mainland
lying to the south. That these Eskimos resemble
physically the Norwegian Lapps, to be met with
at about the same latitude in the eastern hemisphere, is very obvious to one who »has carefully
observed both races in-their homes. This similarity extends in rather a remarkable degree also to
their dress as well as domestic habits.
In the region they occupy, near the source of
the Kowak River, which empties into Kotzebue
Sound by several mouths after a course of two
' or three hundred miles, is Jade Mountain, composed, as far as is known, of a light green stone
which gives it the name it bears. An exploring
party from the United States steamer Corwin
brought away one or two hundred pounds of the
mineral in the summer of 1884. The hardness
and tenacity of these specimens are said to have
been remarkable, as well as the exquisite polish
which they exhibited when treated by the lapi-
dist. Jade Mountain must be in latitude 68°
north, between two and three hundred miles south
of the Yukon above the line of Behring Strait. ttdfcl
218
THE NEW ELDORADO.
I'll
Yet the exploring party found the thermometer to
register 90° Fah. in the shade, while their greatest annoyance was caused by the mosquitoes. The
Kowak abounds in salmon, pike, and white-fish.
" The 'color' of gold," says the printed report of
the expedition, " was obtained almost everywhere."
Nearly eighty species of birds were collected,
though the party were absent from the Corwin but
about seven weeks. The white spruce was found
to be the largest and most abundant tree, and the
inhabitants all Eskimos.
The remarkable museum of ancient arms,
dresses, wooden and skin armor," and domestic
utensils exhibited in New York city in 1868 by
Mr. Edward G. Fast, and which was collected by
him while in the employment of our government
among the people of the Northwest, revealed some
very important facts as to their history. The col-
f~ lection proved clearly that two or three hundred
years ago these natives of Alaska enjoyed a much
higher degree of civilization than is exhibited by
1 their descendants to-day. That they have deteriorated in industry, steadiness, and ability generally
is obvious. The art of forging must have been
known to them in the earlier times, as shown in
this collection of admirable weapons, clearly of
native manufacture and of most excellent finish.
The art of carving was possessed by them in far
greater perfection than they exhibit in our day,
while the skillfully made dresses of tanned leather
worn by the ancient Aleuts nearly equal those in
which the warriors were clad who accompanied THE ESKIMOS.
Cortez and Pizarro when they landed on this continent. Mr. Fast was singularly fortunate in securing whole suits of armor, masks, and war implements for his unique museum of Alaskan
antiquities. In association with Russians and
Americans for a century, more or less, these aborigines have readily adopted the vices of civilization, so to speak, and have sacrificed most of their
own better qualities. Indolence generally has
taken the place of the warlike habits and steadiness of purpose which must have characterized
them as a people to a large degree before the
whites came with firearms and fire-water. How
forcibly is the law of mutability impressed upon
us ! From a state of comparative power and importance, this people has dwindled to a condition
simply foreshadowing oblivion.
Rev. W. W. Kirby, a missionary who reached
the valley of the Yukon by way of British Columbia, fully describes the Eskimos whom he mingled
with in the northwestern part of the Territory.
He considers them to be more intelligent than
the average Alaska Indians, and far superior to
them in physical appearance, the women especially
being much fairer and more pleasing to look upon.
They are more addicted to the use of tobacco
than are these southern tribes, often smoking to
great excess, and in the most peculiar manner,
swallowing every swiff from their pipes, until they
become so poisoned as to fall senseless upon the
ground, where they remain in this condition for ten
or fifteen minutes.    They dress very neatly with 220
THE NEW ELDORADO.
deerskins, wearing the hair on the outside. The
men have heavy beards, shave the crown of their
heads, leaving the sides and back growth to fall
freely about the face and neck. Mr. Kirby is
obliged to censure the thievish propensities of this
people, which was a source of great trouble and
considerable loss to him. Speaking of his high
northern latitude when among the Eskimos, he
says: " As we advanced farther northward, the
sun did not leave us at all. Frequently did I see
him describe a complete circle in the heavens."
As far south as Pyramid Harbor, latitude 59°
11' north, the sun does not set in midsummer
until about two o'clock in the morning, rising
again four hours later. Even during these four
sunless hours fine print can be read on the ship's
deck without the aid of any other than the natural
light.
Mr Kirby found the Indians of the Yukon
valley to be rather a fierce and turbulent people,
more like our Western Indians than any other
tribes whom he met. Their country is in and
about latitude 65° north, and beginning at the
Mackenzie River, in British Columbia, runs
through Alaska to Behring Strait. They were
formerly very numerous, but have frequently been
at war with the Eskimos north of them, and have
thus been sadly reduced in numbers, though they
are still a strong and powerful people.
There is a singular system of social division
recognized among them, termed respectively
Chit-sa, Nate-sa, and Tanges-at-sa, faintly repre- YUKON MARRIAGE CUSTOMS.
senting the idea of aristocracy, the middle class,
and the poorer order of our civilization. There
is another peculiarity in this connection, it being
the rule for a man not to marry in his own, but
to take a wife from either of the other classes.
Thus a Chit-sa gentleman will marry a Tanges-
at-sa peasant without hesitation ; the offspring in
every case belonging to the class to which the
mother is related. This arrangement has had a
most beneficial effect in allaying the deadly feuds
formerly so frequent among neighboring tribes,
and which have been the cause of so reducing
their memorial strength by sanguinary conflicts. CHAPTER XVI.
Fort Wrangel. — Plenty of Wild Game. — Natives do not care
for Soldiers, but have a Wholesome Fear of Gunboats. — Mode
of Trading. — Girls' School and Home. — A Deadly Tragedy.
— Native Jewelry and Carving. — No Totem-Poles for Sale.
— Missionary Enterprises.—Progress in Educating Natives.
— Various Denominations Engaged in the Missionary Work.
We prefer to think it was to see the sun rise
that we got up so early on arriving at Fort Wrangel, and not because of the torturing fact that our
berth was too short at both ends, and kept us in
a chronic state of wakefulness and cramp.    The
distance passed over in coming hither from Victoria was about eight hundred miles.    The place,
having about five hundred inhabitants, is advantageously situated on an island at the mouth of
the Stickeen River, which rises in British Columbia and has a length of nearly two hundred and
fifty miles.    There is here an excellent and capacious harbor, surrounded by grand mountains,
while lofty snow-crowned summits more inland
break the sky-line in nearly all directions,—mountain towering above mountain, until the view is
lost among far-away peaks, blue and indistinct.
This elevated district contains wild goats, with
now and then a grizzly bear, fiercest of his tribe,
while in its ravines and valleys the little mule-
deer, the brown bear, the fox, the land-otter, the FORT WRANGEL.
223
mink, and various other animals abound. As to
the small streams and river courses which thread
the territory, they are, as all over this country,
crowded with fish, the salmon prevailing. The
inland haunts within twenty leagues of the coast
are little disturbed by the natives. The abundance of halibut, cod, and salmon at their very
doors, as it were, is quite sufficient to satisfy the
demands of nature, and it is only when tempted
by the white man's gold that the aborigines will
leave the coast to go inland in search of pelts and
meat, in the form of venison, goat, or bear flesh.
The town, consisting of a hundred houses and
more, is spread along the shore at the base of a
thickly wooded hill, flanked on either side by a
long line of low, square, rough-hewn native cabins.
A peep into the interior of these was by no means
reassuring. Dirt, degradation, and abundance
were combined. The few domestic utensils seen
appeared never to have been washed, being thick
with grease, while the stench that saluted the olfactories was sickening. There were no chairs,
stools, or benches, the men and women sitting
upon their haunches, a position which would be
a severe trial to a white and afford no rest whatever, but which is the universal mode of sitting
adopted by savage races in all parts of the world.
The place was named after Baron Wrangel, governor of Russian America at the time when it
was first settled, in 1834, being then merely a
stockade post. After the United States came into
possession of the country it was for a short time 224
THE NEW ELDORADO.
occupied by our soldiers, but ere long ceased to be
held as a military post, the soldiers being withdrawn altogether from the Territory. It was soon
discovered that the natives cared nothing for the
soldiers; they could always get away from them in
any exigency by means of their canoes; but they
had, and still have, a wholesome fear of a revenue
cutter or a gunboat, which can destroy one of
their villages, if necessary, in a few minutes.
A steamer can always move very rapidly from
place to place among the islands, making her presence felt without delay, when and where it is most
needed. At the outset of our taking possession
of Alaska, an example of decision and power was
necessary to put the natives in proper awe of the
government, and it followed quickly upon an unprovoked outrage committed by the aborigines.
One of their villages, not far from Sitka, was
promptly shelled and destroyed in half an hour.
Since then there has been no trouble of consequence with any of the tribes, who have "profound
respect for the strong arm, and to speak plainly,
like most savage races, for nothing else.
Fort Wrangel has two or three large stores for
the sale of goods to the natives, and for the purchase of furs, Indian curiosities, and the like. It
is also the headquarters of the gold miners, who
gather here when the season is no longer fit for
out-of-door work at the placers.
Seeing the natives crowding the stores, it was
natural to suppose the traders were driving a good
business, but a proprietor explained  that these GIRLS' SCHOOL AND HOME.
225
people were slow buyers, making him many calls
before purchasing. They look an article over three
or four different times before concluding they want
it; then its cost is to be considered. The native's
squaw comes and approves or disapproves; the
article is discussed with the men's neighbors, and,
finally, his resolution having culminated, he goes
away to earn the money with which to make the
purchase! " Such customers are very trying to
our patience," remarked the trader, " but after
you once understand their peculiarities it is easy
enough to get along with them."
A truly charitable enterprise has been established here; we refer to the Indian Girls' School
and Home, supported by the American Board of
Missions, where the pupils are taught industrial
duties appertaining to the domestic associations
of their sex, as well as the ordinary branches of a
common school education. No effort, we were
told, is made to enforce any special tenets of faith,
but these girls are taught morality, which is practical religion. The example is much needed here,
both among these native people and the whites.
To show what strict adherents these Alaskans
are to tribal conventionalities, we can do no better
than relate a singular occurrence, for the truth of
which Dr. Jackson is our authority.
" Near the Hoonah Mission, a short time ago,
a deadly tragedy took place. A stalwart native
came into the village and imbibed too freely of
hoochinoo. Walking along the street he saw a
young married girl with whom he was greatly in- 226
THE NEW ELDORADO.
fatuated. The girl was afraid to meet him and
turning ran to her bouse. The man gave pursuit
and gained entrance to the house. All the inmates escaped in terror. The desperado boldly
continued his hunt for the woman, and the husband of the woman with a few friends took refuge
in his own house again. The ravishing fiend returned, and demanding admittance battered in
the door with an axe, and as he entered was shot
and instantly killed. The friends of the dead
man met in council, and according to their custom demanded a life for his life. The husband
and protector of his wife's virtue gave himself into
the custody of his enemies and was unceremoniously killed!"
The production of native jewelry is a specialty
here, and some of the silver ornaments of Indian
manufacture are really very fine, exhibiting great
skill and originality, if not refined taste. Their
carvings in ivory are exceedingly curious, skillful, and attractive, especially upon walrus teeth,
whereon they will imitate precisely any pattern
that is given to them, with a patient fidelity
equaling the Chinese. The native designs are
far the most desirable, however, being not only
typical of the people and locality, but original
and fitting. The time devoted to a piece of work
seems to be of no consideration to a native, and
forms no criterion as regards the price demanded
for it. From the sale of these fancy articles the
aborigines receive annually a considerable sum of
money.    It is indeed surprising how they can get. NATIVE CARVINGS. 227
such results without better tools. With some artistic instruction they would be capable of producing designs and combinations of a choice character, and which would command a market among
the most fastidious purchasers. Their present
somewhat rude ornaments have attracted so much
attention that two or three stores in San Francisco keep a variety of them for sale. But it is
the charm of having purchased such souvenirs on
the spot which forms half their value.
Speaking of these souvenirs, the author was
shown some stone carvings at Victoria, on the passage from Puget Sound northward, which were
of native manufacture, and thought to be idols.
It was after wards learned that these were the
works of the Haidas of Queen Charlotte Island,
about seventy or eighty miles north of Vancouver
Island. There is here a slate-stone, quite soft
when first quarried, which is easily carved into
any design or fanciful figure, but which rapidly
hardens on exposure to the air. The stone is
oiled when the carving is completed, and this
gives it the appearance of age, as well as makes
it dark and smooth. The natives of this northwest coast do not worship idols, therefore these
are not objects of that character, though they are
curious and interesting. It is among these Haidas
that the practice of tattooing most prevails, and
they still cover their bodies with designs of birds,
fishes, and animals, some of which are most hideous caricatures. This tribe is said to be the most
addicted to gambling  of any on the  coast, the 228
THE NEW ELDORADO.
demoralizing effect of which is to be seen in various forms among them.
Fort Wrangel has several demon-like totem-
poles. There is a sort of fascination attached to
these awkward objects which leads one carefully
to examine and constantly to talk about them.
Before some cabins there are two of the weird
things, covered with devices representing both
the male and female branches of the family
which occupies the cabin. It was found that
much more importance was attached to these emblems here than had been manifested farther
south. An interested excursionist who came up
on our steamer, wishing to possess  himself of a
totem-pole, found one at last of suitable size for
v
transportation, and tried to purchase it, but discovered that no possible sum which he could offer
would be considered as an equivalent for it. All
of his subsequent efforts in this line proved
equally unsuccessful so far as totem-poles were
concerned, and yet we remember that they are to
be found in many of our public museums throughout the States, and we have seen large ones lying
upon the ground moss covered and neglected. It
appeared to be only the rich native who indulged
in an individual totem-pole. The cost of one, say
forty or fifty feet long, carved after the orthodox
fashion, with the free feast given at all such raisings, is said to be over a thousand dollars. The
more lavish the expenditure on these occasions, the
greater the honor achieved by the host.
There is a successful day-school established here MISSIONARY ENTERPRISES.
229
besides the Indian Girls' Home, which is accomplishing much good in educating the rising generation, and in introducing civilized manners and customs. The children evince a fair degree of natural
aptitude, learning easily to read and write, but
are a little dull, we were told, in arithmetic.
Adult, uneducated natives, however, are quick
enough at making all necessary calculations in
their trades with the whites, either as purchasers of domestic goods, or in selling their peltries.
The Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, Moravians, Quakers, Baptists, and Roman Catholics
all have missionary stations in different parts of
the country. Schools have also been established
for the general instruction of whites and natives at
Juneau, Sitka, Wrangel, Jackson, and other localities under direction of our government officials,
and proper teachers have been supplied, the whole
system being under the supervision of a competent head. Mrs. J. G. Hyde, who teaches school
at Juneau, in her last year's report, says : " Many
of the scholars, who, when the term began last
September, could not speak a word of English, can
now not only speak, but read and write it. They
can also spell correctly and are beginning in the
first principles of arithmetic. To the casual observer perhaps nothing seems more absurd than the
attempt by any process to enlighten the clouded
intellect of this benighted people. Indeed, the
most squalid street Arabs might be considered
a thousand times more desirable as pupils. But a
few days' work among and for them convinces the *
230
THE NEW ELDORADO.
teacher that she has not a boisterous, uncontrollable lot of children, but as much the opposite as
it is possible to imagine. Children who habitually refrain from playing during intermission that
they may learn some lesson or how to do some
fancy work are not to be classed with the wild,
wayward, or vicious. Boys who, when their regular lessons are done, are continually designing and
drawing cannot be said to be entirely devoid of
talent worthy of cultivation. While the development must be slow in most cases, there are a few
who would compare favorably with white children.
Their abnormal development of the faculty of form
gives them an inestimable advantage over their
more favored pale-face brothers in acquiring the
art of writing and drawing. Their mind acts very
slowly, but they make up in tenacity of purpose
what they lack in aptness."
At Sitka there is an industrial school which is
very successful training native boys and girls in
mechanical and domestic occupations, and of which
<we will speak in detail in a further chapter. CHAPTER XVII.
Schools in Alaska.—Natives Ambitious to learn. — Wild Flowers.—Native Grasses. — Boat Racing. — Avaricious Natives.
— The Candle Fish.—Gold Mines Inland. — Chinese Gold-
Diggers. — A Ledge of Garnets. — Belief in Omens. — More
Schools required.—The Pestiferous Mosquito. — Mosquitoes
and Bears. — Alaskan Fjords. — The Patterson Glacier.
The general plan of this school at Wrangel
struck us as being the most promising means of
improvement that could possibly be devised and
carried forward among the aborigines of Alaska.
We were informed that fourteen government day
schools were in operation in the Territory, under
the able supervision of that true philanthropist,
Dr. Sheldon Jackson, United States General Agent
for Education in the Territory. The natives almost universally welcome and gladly improve the
advantages afforded them for instruction, especially as regards their children. Many individual
cases with which the author became acquainted
were of much more than ordinary interest; indeed,
it was quite touching to observe the eagerness of
young natives to gain intellectual culture. Surely
such incentive is worthy of all encouragement.
One could not but contrast the earnestness of
these untutored aborigines to make the most of
every opportunity for learning with the neglected
opportunities of eight tenths of our pampered chil- 232 THE NEW ELDORADO.
dren of civilization. Here is the true field of missionary work, the work of education.
In the neighborhood of Fort Wrangel plenty of
sweet wild flowers were observed in bloom, some
especially of Alpine character were very interesting, — " wee, modest, crimson-tipped flowers," —
while the tall blueberry bushes were crowded with
wholesome and appetizing fruit, with here and
there clusters of the luscious salmon-berry, yellow
as gold, and so ripe as to melt in the mouth. At
the earliest advent of spring the flowers burst
forth in this latitude with surprising forwardness,
a phenomenon also observable in northern Sweden
and Norway. Such white clover heads are rarely
seen anywhere else, large, well spread, and fragrant as pinks. Among the ferns was an abundance of the tiny-leaved maiden's hair species,
with delicate, chocolate stems. The soil also
abounds in well-developed grasses, timothy growing here to four feet and over in height, and the
nutritious, stocky blue grass even higher. Vegetation during the brief summer season runs riot,
and makes the most of its opportunity. Although
south of Sitka, Fort Wrangel is colder in winter
and warmer in summer, on account of its distance
from the influence of the thermal ocean current
already described.
Sometimes a purse is made up among the visitors here and offered as a prize to the natives in
boat-racing. A number of long canoes, each with
an Indian crew of from ten to sixteen, take part in
the aquatic struggle, which proves very amusing, AVARICE.
233
not to say exciting. The native boats are flat-bottomed, and glide over the surface of the water with
the least possible displacement. An Alaskan is
seen at his best when acting as a boatman ; he
takes instinctively to the paddle from his earliest
youth, and is never out of training for boat-service so long as he lives and is able to wield an oar.
No university crew could successfully compete with
these semi-civilized canoeists. Well-trained naval
boat-crews have often been distanced by them.
The avariciousness of the natives is exhibited in
their readiness to sell almost anything they possess for money, even to parting with their wives
and daughters to the miners for base purposes;
though, as we have seen, they do draw the line at
totem-poles. It should be understood that these
queerly carved posts are emblems mostly of the
past; that is to say, although the natives carefully
preserve those which now exist, few fresh ones are
raised by them. Toy effigies representing these
emblems are carved and offered for sale to curio-
hunters at nearly all of the villages on the coast,
and as a rule are readily disposed of.
There is very little if any use in Alaska for
artificial light during the summer season, while
nature's grand luminary is so sleepless ; but when
these aborigines do require a lamp for a special
purpose, they have the most inexpensive and ingenious substitute ever ready at hand. The water V
supplies them with any quantity of the ulikon or
candle-fish, about the size of our largest New
England smelts, and which are full of oil.    They 1II'i
234
THE NEW ELDORADO.
<
are small in body, but over ten inches in length.
They are prepared by a drying process and are
stored away for use, serving both for food and
for light. When a match is applied to one end
of the dried ulikon, it will burn until the whole is
quite consumed, clear and bright to the last, giving a light equal to three or four candles. So
rich are these fishes in oil that alcohol will not
preserve them, a discovery which was made in preparing specimens for the Smithsonian Institution.
When the Indians of the interior visit the coast,
as many of them do annually, they are sure to lay
in a stock of candle-fish to take back with them
for use in the long Arctic night. This fish runs
at certain seasons of the year in great schools from
the sea, invading the fresh-water rivers near their
mouths, when the natives rake them on shore by
the bushel and preserve them as described. When
boiled they produce an oil which hardens like
butter, and which the Alaskans eat as we do
that article, with this important difference, that
they prefer their oil-butter to be quite rancid before they consider it at its best, while civilized
taste requires exactly the opposite condition,
namely, perfect freshness. Putrid animal matter
would certainly poison a white man, but the
Alaskan Indians seem to thrive upon it.
Some inland districts, which are most easily
reached from this point, are rich in gold-bearing
quartz and placer mines, but especially in the
latter. We were credibly informed that over
three million dollars' worth of gold was shipped INLAND GOLD MINES. 235
from here in a period of five years, though no
really organized and persistent effort at mining
had been made, or rather we should say no
modern facilities had been employed in bringing
about this result. The machinery for reducing
gold-bearing quartz has not yet been carried far
inland because of the great difficulty of transportation. Gold quartz ledges are numerous and quite
undeveloped in the neighborhood of Wrangel.
The well-known Cassiar mines are situated just
over the Alaska boundary on the east side in
British Columbia, but the gold discoveries in
Alaska proper are proving so much more profitable that those of the Cassiar district have ceased
to attract the miners. There is a curious fact connected with these deposits of the precious metal in
the region approached by the way of Wrangel. In
more than one instance, as reported by Captain
White of the United States Revenue Service,
placer gold, which is usually sought for in the
dry beds of river courses and in low lands, is here
found on the tops of mountains a thousand feet
high, where the largest nuggets of the precious
metal yet found in the Northwest have been
obtained. Many of the lumps of pure gold picked
up in this region have weighed thirty ounces and
over. The idea of finding placer deposits on the
tops of mountains is a novelty in gold prospecting.
The Stickeen River, which is the largest in the
southern part of the Territorjr, has its mouth in
the harbor of Fort Wrangel, discoloring the waters
for a long distance with its chalk-like, frothy flow, 236
THE NEW ELDORADO.
a characteristic of all Alaska streams into which
the waters of the snowy mountains and glaciers
empty. The river is navigable for light-draft
stern-wheel steamers to Glenora, a hundred and
fifty miles from its mouth. After reaching this
place, the way to the Cassiar mines is overland
for an equal distance by a difficult mountain trail,
it being necessary to transport all provisions and
material on the backs of natives, who have learned
to demand good pay for this laborious service.
The interior upon this route is broken into a succession of sharply-defined mountains, separated by
narrow and deep valleys, similar to the islands off
the mainland. This is so decided a feature as to
lead Mr. George Davidson of the United States
Coast Survey to remark: " The topography of
the Alexander Archipelago is a type of the interior. A submergence of the mountain region
of the mainland would give a similar succession
of islands, separated by deep narrow fjords." The
sandy bed and banks of the Stickeen are heavily
charged with particles of gold, ten dollars per day
each being frequently realized by gangs of men
who manipulate the same only in the most primitive fashion. Numbers of Chinamen availed themselves of this opportunity until they were expelled
by both the whites and the natives. The poor
" Heathen Chinee" is unwelcome everywhere
outside of his own Celestial Empire, and yet close
observation shows, as we have already said, that
these Asiatics have more good qualities than the
average   foreigners  who   seek  a   home  on   our
shores A  LEDGE  OF  GARNETS.
237
The scenery of the Stickeen River is pronounced
by Professor Muir to be superb and grand beyond
description. Three hundred glaciers are known
to drain into its swift running waters, over one
hundred of which are to be seen between Fort
Wrangel and Glenora. Near the mouth of the
river is the curious ledge of garnet crystals, which
furnishes stones of considerable beauty and brilliancy, though not sufficiently clear to be used as
gems. Choice pieces are secured by visitors as
cabinet specimens, however, and can be had, if
desired, by the bushel, at a trifling cost. They
occur in a matrix of slate-like formation, some so
large as to weigh two or three ounces, and diminishing from that size they are found as small as a
pin-head. It requires three days of hard steaming against the current to ascend the river as far
as Glenora from the mouth, whereas the same
distance returning, down stream, has frequently
been made in eight or ten hours. So necessarily
rapid is the descent of the Stickeen as to make
the downward trip quite hazardous, except in
charge of a careful pilot. In the neighborhood of
Fort Wrangel there are some very active boiling
springs, which the natives utilize, as do the New
Zealanders at Ohinemutu, by cooking their food
in them.
In the crater of Goreloi, on Burned Island, is a
vast boiling spring, or rather a boiling lake, which
has never been intelligently described, and which
is represented by those who have seen it to be
unique.    This strange body of water is eighteen 238
THE NEW ELDORADO.
miles in circumference. The natives are well
supplied with legends relating to these remarkable natural phenomena, including the extinct and
active volcanoes. Genii and dreaded spirits are
supposed by them to dwell in the extinct volcanoes, and to make their homes in the mountain
caves. They believe that good spirits will not
harm them, and therefore do not address themselves to such, but the evil ones must by some
active means be propitiated, and to them their
sole attention is given, or, in other words, their
religious ceremonies when analyzed are simply
devil worship. All of the tribes, if we except
the Aleuts, are held in abject fear by their conjurers or medicine-men, who seemed to us to be
the most arrant knaves conceivable, not possessing one genuine quality to sustain their assumptions except that of bold effrontery. This seems
particularly strange, as the aborigines of the Northwest are more than ordinarily intelligent, compared with other half-civilized races, both in this
and other lands.
They are firm believers in signs and omens.
When Rev. Mr. Willard and wife first came to
the Chilcat country the winter was one of deep
snows and stormy weather. The natives said that
the weather-gods were angry at the new ways of
the missionaries. A child had been buried instead
of burned on the funeral pyre in accordance with
their customs. The mother of the child became
alarmed and felt that her life was in jeopardy for
permitting her child to be buried, so she kindled BELIEF IN OMENS.
a fire over the grave in order to appease the gods
and bring fair weather. At school the children
had played new games and mocked wild geese.
So the girls of the Sitka Training School brought
on a very cold spell of weather by playing a game
called " cat's-back," and which caused a commotion at the native village. A white man out with
some natives picked up some large clam-shells on
the beach to bring home with him; the natives
remonstrated with him, saying that " a big storm
may overtake us, our canoe might capsize, and all
be drowned the next time we go on the water."
In tempestuous weather the native propitiates
the spirit of the storm by leaving a portion of
tobacco in the rock-caves alongshore, but in calm
weather he smokes the weed himself. It was
noticed, however, that the aboriginal Alaskans
were little given to the use of tobacco, less, indeed, than any semi-civilized race whom the writer
has ever visited.
Governor Swineford, in his annual report to the
department at Washington, dated 1886, says: " I
have no reason to change or modify the estimate
I had formed on very short acquaintance of the
character of the native Alaskans. They are a
very superior race intellectually as compared with
the people generally known as North American
Indians, and are as a rule industrious and provident, being wholly self-sustaining. They are
shrewd and natural-born traders. Some are good
carpenters, others are skillful workers in wood and
metals.  Not a few among them speak the English 240
THE NEW ELDORADO.
language, and some of the young men and women
have learned to read and write, and nearly all are
anxious for the education of their children."
Our government should act upon this hint and
freely establish the means of education among the
Alaskans. True, it is systematically engaged in
promoting the cause in various ways, though not
very energetically, Congress having voted forty-
five thousand dollars to be expended for the purpose during the year 1889. " School-houses are
the republican line of fortifications," said Horace
Mann. " Among those best known," says Dr. Shel-
don. Jackson, speaking of the native tribes, " the
highest ambition is to build American homes, possess American furniture, dress in American clothes,
adopt the American style of living, and be American citizens. They ask no special favors from the
American government, no annuities or help, but
simply to be treated as other citizens, protected by
the laws and courts, and in common with all
others furnished with schools for their children."
It was made the duty of the Secretary of the Interior, by the act providing a civil government for
Alaska, to make needful and proper provision for
the education of all children of school age without
reference to race or color, and all true friends of
progress and humanity will urge the matter until a
common school is established in every native tribe
and settlement having a sufficient number of
children.
We were told that there is good hunting inland
a  short  distance from  Fort   Wrangel;   winter, THE UBIQUITOUS MOSQUITO.
241
however, is the only season when this can be successfully pursued near to the coast in the wild districts. The marshy " tundra " is then frozen and
covered with snow, making it possible to cross.
This is the period of the year also when the natives of the interior prosecute their most successful trapping and hunting, coming down to the
coast by the river in the summer to sell their
pelts and to purchase stores of the white traders.
The Russians have long since taught the aborigines to depend much upon tea, but they care very
little for coffee. Rifles are greatly prized by them,
and though they are contraband nearly every Indian manages to possess one and knows how to
use it most effectually. They are very economical of ammunition, and never throw away a shot
by carelessness.
The pestiferous and ubiquitous mosquito is not
absent from these high latitudes. They are very
troublesome during the short summer season in
northern Alaska as well as among the islands of
the Alexander Archipelago. Strange that so frail
an insect should have reached as far north as man
has penetrated. Even while climbing the frosty
glaciers the excursionist will find both hands required to prevent their biting his face from forehead to chin. If they are a persistent pest in
equatorial latitudes, they are ten times more venomous and voracious in these regions during certain seasons. The author has experienced this fact
also in Norway at even a much higher latitude
than he visited in the western hemisphere.    The I '
242
THE NEW ELDORADO.
bites of these mosquitoes fortunately, like all flesh
wounds in this northern region, heal quickly, venomous as they are, owing to the liberally ozonized condition of the atmosphere as well as the
absence of disease germs and organic dust.
It is said that when the otter hunters or others
among the aborigines get wounded in any way,
their treatment is simple and efficacious, and
however severe the Wound may be, it is nearly
always quickly healed. The victim of the accident puts himself uncomplainingly on starvation
diet, living upon an astonishingly small amount of
food for a couple of weeks, and the cure follows
rapidly.
Frederick Schwatka, in his excellent book entitled I Along Alaska's Great River," tells how
the mosquitoes conquer and absolutely destroy the
bears, and it seems that the native dogs are sometimes overcome by them in some exposed districts
of the Yukon valley. The great brown bear,
having exhausted the roots and berries on one
mountain side, cross the valley to another range,
or rather makes the attempt to do so, but is not always successful. Covered by a heavy coat of hair
on his body, his eyes, nose, and ears are the only
vulnerable points of attack for the mosquitoes, and
hereon they congregate, surrounding the bear's
head in clouds. As he reaches a swampy spot
they increase in vigor and numbers, until the animal's forepaws become so occupied in striving to
keep them off that he cannot walk. Then Bruin
becomes enraged, and, bear-like, rises on his hind ALASKAN FJORDS.
243
legs to fight. It is a mere question of time after
this stage is reached until the bear's eyes become
so swollen from the innumerable bites that he cannot see, and in a blind condition he wanders helplessly about until he gets mired and starves to
death. The cinnamon and black bears are most
common, the grizzly being less frequently met
with. The great white polar bears are not found
south of Behring Strait, though they are numerous
on the borders of the Arctic Ocean.
At every landing made by the steamer on our
meandering course among the islands Indians
come to the wharves to offer their curios or homemade articles, only valuable as souvenii's of the
visit. As they mass themselves here and there,
either on the shore or the ship's deck, they form
picturesque groups, made up of bucks, squaws,
and papooses, presenting charming bits of color,
while they amuse the stranger by their peculiar
physiognomy and manners. During the excursion season they must reap quite a harvest by the
sale of baskets and various domestic trinkets.
After leaving Fort Wrangel we are soon in the
wild, picturesque, and sinuous narrows which bear
the same name. The water is shallow; here and
there are many dangerous rocks in the channels.
Inlets or fjords are often passed, so quiet and inviting in their appearance as to tempt the traveler
to diverge from the usual route. Some of these
marine nooks are deep enough to float the largest
ship, yet far down through the clear water one
can see gardens of zoophytes invaded by myriads 244
THE NEW ELDORADO.
of curiously shaped fish, large and small. The
bottom of these waters, like the land and sea of
Alaska, teems with animal life. A few hours'
dredging would supply the most enthusiastic naturalist with ample material for a year's study.
In the many stops of the steamer to take or
deliver freight, brief boat excursions can be en-
joyed. On one of these occasions we saw the
first live octopus, or devil - fish, with two of its
fatal arms encircling a small fish, which, after
squeezing out its life, the octopus would devour.
The one which was seen on this occasion was not
very large, the rounded body being, perhaps,
eighteen or twenty inches across, but its vicious
looking tentacles, six in number, two of which
securely clasped its victim, were each three times
that length. The large eyes seemed out of proportion to the animal's size, and were placed on
one side like those of the flounder.
The Patterson glacier is the first of the many
which come into view on this part of the voyage,
but they multiply rapidly as we steam northward. It is vast in proportions, though partly
hidden behind the moraine which it has raised.
Three or four miles back from its front rises a
wall of solid ice nearly a thousand feet in height.
The whole was rendered marvelously beautiful,
lighted up as we saw it by bright noonday sunshine, which brought out its frosty and opaline
colors of white, scarlet, and blue, in brilliant array.
Little has been written about the Patterson glacier, but it is one of the most remarkable in size GLACIERS.
245
and other characteristics in all Alaska. Vessels
from San Francisco have taken whole cargoes of
ice from these Alaskan glaciers and transported
the same for use in California. There seems to
be no reason why the gathering of such a supply
should not be both possible and profitable, though
ice can now be so easily manufactured by artificial
means.
The fact that these glaciers are slowly decreasing in size leads to the conclusion that the extreme Arctic temperature in the north is slowly
growing to be less intense. Intelligent captains
of whaleships have made careful observations to
a like effect. It was once tropical in the Yukon
valley, — of that there is evidence enough; who
can say that it may not again be so a few thousand years hence ? I   n
CHAPTER XVIII.
Norwegian Scenery. — Lonely Navigation. — The Marvels of
Takou Inlet. — Hundreds of Icebergs. — Home of the Frost
King. — More Gold Deposits. — Snowstorm among the Peaks.
— Juneau the Metropolis of Alaska. — Auk and Takou Indians. — Manners and Customs. — Spartan Habits. — Disposal of Widows. — Duels. — Sacrificing Slaves. — Hideous
Customs still prevail.
Before reaching Juneau we explored Takou
Inlet, where there are two large glaciers, one with
a moraine before its foot, the other reaching the
deep water with its face, so as to discharge icebergs constantly. The bay was well filled with
these, some of which were larger than our steamer
(the Corona), and all were of such intense blue,
mingled with dazzling white, as to recall the effect
realized in the Blue Grotto of Capri. This berg-
producing glacier was corrugated upon its surface
in a remarkable manner, being utterly impassable
to human feet. It was nearly a mile in width and
its length indefinite; we doubt if it has ever been
explored. A thousand ice and snow fed streams
poured into the bay from the surrounding mountains, which completely walled in the broad sheet
of water, so sprinkled with ice-sculpture in all
manner of shapes. The ceaseless music of falling
water was the only noise which broke the silence
of the scene.    A cavalcade of fleecy clouds, kindly TAKOU INLET.
0A7
47
forgetting to precipitate themselves in form of rain,
floated over our heads, producing delicate lights and
shades, with creeping shadows upon the surrounding mountains. The steamer's abrupt whistle was
echoed with mocking hoarseness from the surrounding cliffs, causing the myriads of white-
winged wild fowl to rise from the icebergs until
the air was filled with them like snowflakes. How
wonderful it was! A broad clear flood of sunshine enveloped the whole; everything seemed so
serene, so grand, the sky so blue, and the angels
so near. It was all as magnificent as a gorgeous
dream, to the thoughtful observer a living poem.
Close in to the precipitous cliffs of the myrtle-
green hills were inky shadows, which formed the
requisite contrast to the crystal clearness of the
surroundings. For thousands of years this glacial
action has been going on, the story of the earth is
so old; but its beauty is ever young, its loveliness
eternal.
On our way up Gastineau Channel — the tidewaters of which have a rise and fall of sixteen
feet — we have presented to us veritable Norwegian scenery, under a pale amethyst sky fringed
at the horizon with orange and crimson; now gliding close to precipitous cliffs enlivened by silvery
streams leaping down their sides, and now passing
the mouths of inlets winding among abrupt mountains leading no one knows whither, for there are
no maps or charts of these lateral channels. The
Indian canoes may have occasionally penetrated
them, but never the keel of the white man.    On 248
THE NEW ELDORADO.
the left stand the tall peaks of Douglas Island,
and on the right the jagged Alps of the mainland,
both rising to a height of a thousand feet or more,
on the continent side backed by elevations still
more lofty. The Takou River flows into the sea
and gives its name to the neighborhood. Here
the Hudson Bay Fur Company established and
maintained a trading-post for several years. All
this region is famous for its game, such as deer,
bears, caribou, wolves, foxes, martens, and minks,
together with the abounding big-horn sheep. In
plaGe of wool these latter have a coat somewhat
like the red deer, and except in the size of their
horns they resemble our domestic sheep. We
are told that this district is also rich in gold placer
mines, and according to Professor Muir it must
eventually yield extremely profitable results to intelligent mining enterprise. In many localities
the placers have paid for years, though worked by
the most simple means. The experience of California will undoubtedly be repeated in Alaska;
j^ the great aggregate of gold which was realized
there will be duplicated here. After due thought
and personal observation relative to the subject,
we are willing to stand or fall upon the correctness of this prediction. The result may not come
in the next year, or that following, but it will
come in the near future. Mining north of 54° 40'
is only in its infancy; its growth has been far
more rapid, however, than it was at the south,
both because of the richness of the mines, and because the business of mining is, and will continue
to be, done more intelligently. JUNE A U.
249
Just before reaching Juneau a singular phenomenon attracted our attention ; it was a furious
snowstorm among the mountain peaks, while all
about us was quite calm and pleasant. The thick
clouds of snow were driven hither and thither, from
one pinnacle to another, writhing and twisting like
a cyclone or water-spout at sea. It was a curious
contrast, the storm raging in those far upper currents, while we enjoyed a gracious wealth of sunshine in a temperature of 65° Fah.
Juneau, located one hundred and fifty miles
southeast of Sitka, and about three hundred north
of Fort Wrangel, is already a considerable mining
centre, with a population of about four thousand,
situated not far from Takou district, and is the
depot for the rich quartz and placer mines which
are located in the region back of it. The site of
the town is picturesque, being at the base of an
abrupt mountain cliff which is decked with sparkling cascades. We were told that there is a rise
and fall of twenty-four feet in the tide at the
wharf of Juneau, but think perhaps eighteen feet
would be nearer correct. The winter population is
swelled by the influx of miners when the placers
are not worked owing to snow and ice. Truth
compels us to say that the residents here, of both
sexes, are far from being of a desirable class. The
Indians of this vicinity are of the Auk and Takou
tribes; good traders and good hunters, but enemies
of each other, though not given to open hostility.
The native women, as if not content with the natural ugliness which has been liberally bestowed 250
THE NEW ELDORADO.
!i    i
upon them by Providence, besmear their faces with
a compound of seal-oil and lampblack, but for
what possible reason, except that it is aboriginal
Alaska fashion, one cannot divine. It is said that
this is a sort of mourning for departed relations or
friends; but the hilarity of those thus marked was
anything but an indication of sorrow. We can
well remember Yokohama wives, with blackened
teeth and shaved eyebrows, who looked, if possible, a degree worse than these Alaskan women.
In the latter case, however, the wives confessedly
sought to make themselves hideous to prevent jealousy on the part of their husbands ; but the native
women here do not assign any plausible reason
for smooching themselves in this offensive manner.
When their faces are washed, a circumstance of
rare occurrence, they are as white as the average
of white people who are exposed to an out-of-door
life. It is not the practice of the aborigines of
either sex to wash themselves with water. They
are sometimes seen to besmear their faces and
hands with oil, which they carefully wipe off with
a wisp of dry grass, or other substitute for the
towel of civilization. The effect is to make the
features shine like varnished mahogany ; but as to
cleanliness obtained by such a process, that does
not follow.
If it were possible to discover a soap mine here
there might be some hopes of introducing among
the natives that condition which common acceptation places next to godliness. A traveling companion remarked that although milk and honey FEMALE EMBELLISHMENTS.
251
could not be said to flow in this neighborhood, oil
does.
Many of the women, like those of the South
Sea and the Malacca Straits, wear nose rings and
glittering bracelets, while they go about with bare
legs and feet. The author has seen all sorts of
rude decorations employed by savage races, but
never one which seemed quite so ridiculous or so
deforming as the plug which many of these women
of Alaska wear thrust through their under lips.
The plug causes them to drool incessantly through
the artificial aperture, though it is partially stopped
by a piece of bone, ivory, or wood, formed like a
large cuff-button, with a flat-spread portion inside to keep it in position. This practice is commenced in youth, the plug being increased in size
as the wearer advances in age, so that when she
becomes aged her lower lip is shockingly deformed.
It is gratifying to be able to say that this custom
is becoming less and less in use among the rising
generation, and the same may be said as to tattooing the chin and cheeks. The hands and feet of
the women are so small as to be noticeable in that
respect.
The girls and boys endure great physical neglect in their youth, so that only the strongest are
able to survive their childhood. It was surprising
to see children of tender age of both sexes clothed
only in a single cotton shirt, reaching to their
knees, bare-legged, bare-footed, and bare-headed,
yet apparently quite comfortable, while our woolen
clothes and waterproofs were to us indispensable. o
11 1
1
If
\ If If i
252
THE NEW ELDORADO.
We were told that in infancy these children are
dipped every morning into the sea, without regard
to the temperature, or season of the year, commencing the operation when they are four weeks
old. This heroic, Spartan treatment of the bath
will probably harden, if it does not kill, but undoubtedly the latter result is the more likely of
the two. The adults of some of the tribes break
holes in the ice in midwinter, and bathe with
marvelous fortitude, not for purposes of cleanliness, but declaring that it makes them " brave and
strong, able to resist the cold, and to live long."
The next hour, however, they may be found sitting on their hams as close to the fire in the middle of their unventilated cabins as they can get,
closely wrapped in blankets, head and all. The
prevalence among them of rheumatism and consumption shows that Nature cannot be outraged
with impunity even by half-civilized Alaskans.
The natives do not seem to know anything
about medicine, but when seriously ill they call in
their shaman or medicine-man, and submit to his
wild and senseless incantations, a process which
would drive a civilized patient distracted. Fifty
years ago an epidemic of small-pox swept away
one third of the population of this part of the
North Pacific coast, besides which, from various
causes, the number in the several tribes is steadily
decreasing. Vaccination having been introduced,
a second visit of the dreaded disease just mentioned was accompanied with a very much smaller
fatality.    A scourge known as black measles is a RUM THE NATIVE'S BANE.
frequent visitor among the youthful Alaskans, and
is quite as fatal as small-pox.
Strong efforts are made by our government
officials to keep intoxicating liquors out of the
Territory, and the law makes them strictly contraband, but it is no more difficult or impossible
to smuggle in Alaska than it is in New York or
Boston. There are plenty of irresponsible whites
ready to make money out of the aborigines. Rum
is the native's bane, its effect upon him being singularly fatal; it maddens him, even slight intoxication means to him delirium and all its consequences, wild brutality and utter demoralization.
Molasses is sold freely to them, and the Indians
have learned how to distill rum from it, so that
they secretly produce a vile and potent intoxicant,
in spite of all prohibition.
When a native husband dies his brother's or
sister's son, according to their custom, must marry
the widow, but if there is no male relative of the
husband's living, the widow may then choose for
herself. If the individual who thus falls heir to
a widow does not fancy the conditions, he must
buy himself off, or fight the widow's nearest male
relative. Oftentimes, if the new alliance is particularly disagreeable, the victim escapes by paying so much cash or so many blankets. There
seems to be no hurt to a native's honor that pecuniary consideration will not promptly heal. Corporal punishment is considered by these aborigines
to be a great disgrace, and is very seldom resorted
to even with rebellious  children.    Theft is not !n
254
THE NEW ELDORADO.
I! i
i
looked upon as a crime; but if discovered, the
thief roust make ample restitution ; and when his
peculation is known he promptly does so without
question or murmur. They have the duel as a decisive means of settling family feuds. When matters have come to the last resort, there is no secret about the matter. The two combatants fight
publicly with knives, their friends looking on and
singing songs while the combat lasts. But these
duels, the same as with many other earlier savage
practices, are now nearly obsolete. Like our
Western Indians, their method of war was the
ambush and surprise, and like them they scalped
their prisoners and subjected them to savage cruelties. This also is more of the past than the
present, aa no open conflicts would now be permitted by the United States officials. The natives
deck themselves with paint, — yellow ochre, —
and look very much like the Sioux and Apache
Indians in this respect. A century ago they were
armed with flint-capped lances, bows, and arrows,
but association with the whites has now supplied
them with firearms. The old style of native *
weapons has consequently disappeared, except the
lance with which they hunt the sea-otter. Firearms they do not use in this occupation, fearing to
frighten away the valuable game altogether. They
still manufacture bows and arrows for sale as
curiosities to visiting strangers. They pride themselves upon their accomplishments in singing and
dancing, but which to civilized ears and eyes are
only the grossest caricatures.    In these notes of SLAVES.
255
the natives we refer to no one tribe, but to the
aborigines of Alaska generally. The various
tribes of course differ from each other. Those most
in contact with the whites, having abolished many
of their ancient habits, have adopted in a certain
degree such customs as they see the white people
follow. The holding of slaves is still practiced
among them. Formerly, as we have said, one or
two of these were sacrificed when their owner died,
if he was a chief, in order that he might be well
attended in the new sphere upon which he was
entering; but this practice also has passed away
in most communities, with many other cruelties
which were once common. These slaves are generally descendants of parents who were taken in
battle during civil wars, though they are also
bought and sold for so many otter-skins, or so
many blankets. Such persons are always submissive, and accept the position in which they find
themselves as a matter of course. This enforced
servitude will soon be entirely abolished.
Female infanticide has not been uncommon with
some tribes, but it does hot prevail as has been
represented by late writers. It is true that there
have been cases where mothers, dreading to bring
up their girls to such lives of hardship as they
have themselves endured, have resorted to this
desperate alternative, but careful inquiry did not
satisfy us that such a practice now prevails if,
indeed, it has not entirely ceased. In common
with nearly all semi-civilized and savage races,
the native Alaskans regard their women more in 256
THE NEW ELDORADO.
the light of slaves than as help-mates, and nearly
all the hard work, except hunting and fishing, falls
to their share. This is not a peculiarity of savage
life, after all; horses and mules are not harder
worked than are women in Germany and various
parts of Europe. The writer has seen women
carrying hods of bricks and mortar up long ladders in Munich, while their husbands drank huge
" schooners" of beer and smoked tobacco in the
nearest groggery.
Here and there among the several tribes, strange,
unnatural, hideous customs are still extant, relative to wives about to become mothers, and as to
young girls arriving at the age of puberty. We
realize, however, that is not for us to look at this
people through the lens of any small circumscribed moral code, but with kindly, hopeful
views, guided by a due consideration of their
normal condition. The conventionalities of civilization do not apply; latitude and longitude make
broad differences as to what constitutes vice and
virtue, reason or unreason. Modern instances are
inadequate as a criterion of comparison. One
who has traveled in many lands has learned to expand his horizon of judgment to accord with his
geographical experience.
Notwithstanding the light in which the Alaskan regards his women, there seems to be a universal concession made to them in all matters of
trade, wherein they undoubtedly hold the veto
power, and in some other respects their domestic
authority is promptly acknowledged.    Just where POLYGAMOUS WIVES.
257
the line is drawn does not seem to be clear to a
stranger. After a native had sold us some trifle,
his wife in more than one instance came and
demanded it back again, carefully refunding the
consideration which was given for the same. To
this interference the husband seemed forced to
submit in silence, — forced by the arbitrary custom of his tribe. We were told that even among
themselves an agreement amounted to nothing at
all, as they claim the right, and exercise it, of
undoing any contract at will, provided the consideration which passed is promptly refunded. Even
the white traders are obliged to yield to this
singular idea to a certain extent, for the sake of
peace.
The story so often told about polygamous
wives, that is women with husbands in the plural,
cannot be absolutely denied, but is an exaggeration of facts. Such relations we were told did
exist, but to no great extent, among the tribes of
Alaska. CHAPTER XIX.
Aboriginal Dwellings. — Mastodons in Alaska. — Few Old People alive. — Abundance of Rain. — The Wonderful Treadwell
Gold Mine. —Largest Quartz Crushing Mill in the World. —
Inexhaustible Riches. — Other Gold Mines. — The Great
Davidson Glacier. — Pyramid Harbor. — Native Frauds.—
The Chilcats. — Mammoth Bear. — Salmon Canneries.
In some portions of the country the aboriginal
dwellings are constructed partly under ground;
this is especially the case in the far north among
the Eskimos proper, on the coast of the Polar Sea.
Such cabins are entered by a tunnel ten feet long,
so low and small as to compel the occupants to creep
upon their hands and knees in passing through
it. The tunnel-entrance, which always faces the
most favorable point, is covered with a rude shed
to protect it from the snow and the severity of the
weather. The cabins are conical in form, covered with turf and mud, a hole being left at the
top to permit the smoke to escape. The fire is
built in the middle of the apartment on the
ground. Around the space left for this purpose
is a platform of a few inches in height arranged
for living and sleeping upon. At night, in extreme cold weather, a flap of skins is so arranged
that it can be drawn over the opening in the roof
which serves as a chimney, and thus, the entrance
being also closed, the occupants become hermeti- MASTODONS.
cally sealed, as it were, thoroughly outraging all
our modern ideas of ventilation. Twelve or
fifteen persons are often found together in such a
cabin with its one room, where the decencies of
life are utterly ignored, and where the stench to
civilized nostrils is really something dreadful to
encounter.
This description refers to the winter homes of
the people, where they hibernate like some species
of wild animals, but for the milder portion of the
year the Eskimos are nomadic, traveling hither
and thither, seeking the most favorable locations
for hunting and fishing, while living in rudely
constructed camps. They use tents adapted for
this itinerant life, made from prepared walrus
hides supported by a light framework of wooden
poles. The more thrifty supply themselves with
canvas tents bought of the whites, as being handier
for use and transportation.
Speaking of the interior of the country, we have
the authority of Mr. C. F. Fowler, late agent of
the Alaska Fur Company, and long resident in
the country, and of Ex-Governor Swineford, both
of whom have carefully investigated the subject,
for stating that there exists a huge species of anir
mals, believed to be representatives of the supposed extinct mammoth, found in herds not far
from the headwaters of the Snake River, on the
interior plateaus of Alaska. The natives call
them " big-teeth " because of the size of their
ivory tusks. Some of these, weighing over two
hundred   pounds   each,  were   from  animals   so 260
THE NEW ELDORADO.
lately killed as to still have flesh upon them, and
were purchased by Mr. Fowler, who brought them
to the coast. These mammoths are represented
to average twenty feet in height and over thirty
feet in length, in many respects resembling elephants, the body being covered with long, coarse,
reddish hairs. The eyes are larger, the ears smaller,
and the trunk longer and more slender than those
of the average elephant. The two tusks which
Mr. Fowler brought away with him each measured
fifteen feet in length.
The author has almost universally found among
savage races at least a few very old people of
both sexes, who were apparently revered and
carefully provided for by their descendants and
associates, but here among the aborigines aged
persons are certainly not often to be seen.
Whether it is that, hardy and robust as they generally appear to be, they do not, as a rule, live to
advanced years, or that a summary method is
adopted to get rid of them after they have outlived their usefulness, it is impossible to say. We
were told that such is certainly the case with
some of the tribes farthest from the influence and
supervision of the whites, and that half a century
ago the extremely old, being considered useless,
were frequently " disposed "of. It is clear enough
that there is nothing in the climate of this region
in any way inimical to health and longevity.
The women of the Takou district are very expert and industrious. They occupy a large portion of their time in weaving baskets of split RAINFALL.
261
cedar, far exceeding any similar Indian work
which we have chanced to see elsewhere, both in
the coloring and the very ingenious combination
of figures. Some of these baskets are so closely
woven out of the dried inner bark of the willow-
tree that they will hold water without leaking;
the author also saw drinking-cups thus manufactured. Visitors rarely fail to bring away interesting specimens of native work in this particular
line ; the fine straw goods of Manila do hot excel this in delicacy and beauty. In addition to
this attractive basket-work from the hands of the
women, the men of the tribe exhibit their natural
skill by carving silver bracelets (made from dollar and half dollar coins), miniature totem-poles,
horn and wooden spoons, baby rattles and canoes,
in a very curious and original manner. Once a
fortnight, during the summer season, on the arrival of an excursion party by steamer from the
south, the natives are, as a rule, completely cleared
out of their entire stock of these productions, and
they do not fail to realize fair prices, enabling
them to live very comfortably.
Though Sitka is the capital of the Territory,
Juneau is the principal settlement and headquarters of the mining interests, containing over seven
hundred white residents. We have seen no statistics of the annual rainfall here, but can well
believe it to be what a certain person told us it
was, namely, over nine feet. It seemed to us that
the permanent residents should be web-footed.
The cause of this humidity is very evident.  There 262
THE NEW ELDORADO.
I" ■
arises from the warm Japanese Current on the
coast a constant and profuse moisture. This the
winds convey bodily against the frosty sides of
the neighboring mountains, and then it is precipitated as rain; at certain seasons of the year it
continues for weeks together.
There is compensation even in the fact of this
large annual rainfall, which at first thought seems
to be such an objection to this district. The gold-
bearing quartz which prevails here is treated, necessarily, by what is known as the wet process, requiring at all times an ample supply of water.
One successful superintendent told the author that
ore which is here so profitable would be in a dry
region, like that of some portions of our Western
States, worthless, or comparatively so, as it would
have to be transported in bulk to a more favorable locality. It seems to require two rainy days
to one pleasant one, which is about the average
proportion in the year, to provide sufficient water
to work these large deposits properly. The system of disintegrating, and of reclaiming the precious metal from the flint-like combination in,
which it is held is marvelous in detail, evincing
the rapid progress which has been made in mechanical and chemical processes in our day.
It is found that June, July,, and August are the
favorable months for the traveler to turn his face
towards the shores of Alaska, this being the season when the pleasant weather is most continuous. It is not extremes of cold, but an over-abundance of moisture in the shape of rain, which one THE  TREAD WELL  GOLD MINE.
263
must prepare for. An ample waterproof outside
garment will be found at times very serviceable.
The Treadwell gold mine, just opposite Juneau,
on Douglas Island, is undoubtedly the largest in
the world, running at the present time two hundred and forty stamps, the mill and machinery
having cost over half a million dollars; and though
the author has visited the mines of Colorado, Montana, California, New Zealand, and Australia, he
has certainly never seen its superior in capacity
and golden promise. It is a true gold-bearing
quartz visible at the surface, four hundred and
sixty-four feet in width. The company owns
three thousand running feet upon this deposit, —
it can hardly be called a vein, — parts of which
have been tunneled and shafted simply to test its
extent, showing it to be practically inexhaustible,
no bottom having been found to the gold-bearing
quartz, nor any diminution in the quality of the
ore. The mill is run upon this quartz the whole
year, but as it is owned by a private corporation,
and there is no stock for sale, the exact output of
the mine is not known. The writer feels safe in
saying, however, that no such body of gold-bearing
quartz is known to be in existence elsewhere.
The laborers do not have to work in dark, underground channels; all is above ground, and in
the season when darkness comes it is dispelled by
electric lights. No timbering or shafting is required ; it is simpty an open quarry. Captain John
Codman, after visiting the mine, writes: " We
walked through the golden streets of this New 11
I'l
264
THE NEW ELDORADO.
Jerusalem, with golden walls on either side, and
wondered what men could do with so much
money.'' It is not a little confusing to a stranger,
when he first enters the great Treadwell Mill,
to be greeted by the deafening cannonade of two
hundred and forty stamps. Each stamp weighs
nine hundred pounds, and the crushing capacity
of the whole mill is seven hundred and twenty
tons per day. The gold is shipped to the mint in
San Francisco in the form of bricks worth from
fifteen to eighteen thousand dollars each.
Douglas Island was named by Vancouver in
honor of his friend the Bishop of Salisbury, and is
eighteen miles long by about ten in width. This
remarkable quartz vein is believed to run the
whole length, though it is not always visible at
the surface. Governor Swineford, in one of his
annual reports, expresses his belief that ere long
the gold produced in this section alone will exceed
annually the amount which was paid to Russia
for the whole of Alaska. This island, like Bara-
noff upon which Sitka is situated, is absolutely
seamed with gold-bearing quartz, and has been,
carefully prospected and recorded by people interested in mining. Three hundred laborers are regularly employed at the Treadwell Mill, whose seven
owners are opulent citizens of San Francisco. The
work is prosecuted with great system and intelligence. The quartz of this mine is not so rich as
that of many others, yielding on an average less
than ten dollars to the ton, but it is so immense
in quantity, and is so  easily worked, that the SILVER BOW BASIN.
265
aggregate yield of the precious metal is indeed
remarkable. The mill turned out in the first
twelve months after it was started seven hundred
and fifty thousand dollars in bullion, and is probably producing at this writing three times that
amount yearly.
The mine is admirably situated for the purpose of receiving or shipping freight, as vessels
drawing twenty feet of water can lie alongside of
the rocks which form the natural shore less than
one hundred yards from the quartz mill. We
were informed that sixteen million dollars have
been offered and refused for this property. The
would-be purchasers were members of a French
syndicate. The agent says that the owners have
but one price, namely, twenty-five million dollars, and they are in no haste to part with their
property even at that sum. On the mainland, just
across the channel from Douglas Island, three or
four miles back of Juneau, is Silver Bow Basin,
where there are gold deposits of vast extent and
richness. Here quite a population is engaged in
placer and quartz mining. The miners present
a motley crowd with their picks, shovels, and red
shirts, many with a stump tobacco pipe between
their lips, and all with eager faces.
A spacious and thoroughly equipped quartz mill
is being erected by a Boston company of capitalists
for the purpose of developing a large property
which it is thought will nearly equal the Treadwell in its output of the precious metal. This is
known as the Nowell mine, and it is said that the 266
THE NEW ELDORADO.
quartz assays one hundred dollars and over to the
ton. Silver Bow Basin is a small round valley lying in the lap of the mountains, accessible through
a deep gulch behind the town. It is surrounded
by noisy waterfalls, which supply just the needed
power for manipulating the gold quartz. Across
the range is another rich mineral locality, known
as Dix Bow Basin.
On Admiralty Island, near the northwest end of
Douglas Island, opposite Takou Inlet, there has
lately been discovered several gold deposits which
are owned by a Boston company. The prospect-
ings upon some of this well-defined vein have
developed a percentage of gold to the ton so large
that we hesitate to specify it. " Thirty years
ago," said Mr. Thomas S. Nowell to us, " the
mines of Alaska would have proved comparatively
valueless; the machinery and process that are
now so successfully applied to reducing the ores
were then unknown. The great economy and
consequent profit is derived from late discoveries
which are now perfected, producing machinery
which works as though ifr had the power of ,
thought."
The names of several other profitable mining
enterprises in this vicinity might be given, but we
have said enough to indicate the great mineral
wealth of this portion of the Territory, and to
justify our title of The New Eldorado. There
are abundant gold indications all along the coast,
as well as upon the islands. In the sands of any
considerable stream between Cape Fox and Cook's INEXHAUSTIBLE RICHES.
267
Inlet the "color" of gold can be obtained by the
simple process of panning. The question is not
where gold can be found in Alaska, for it seems
to be wonderfully and abundantly distributed, but
as to what localities will best pay to expend
capital in developing. A number of abandoned
claims show that the failure to realize a satisfactory profit in gold mining by eager, impatient,
and unreasonable individual seekers without proper
machinery is as frequent as in any other business
enterprise awkwardly planned. This is as apparent in Africa, Australia, and California as it is in
this region. The Treadwell mine on Douglas
Island is in latitude 58° 16' north, just about on a
line with Edinburgh, Scotland.
We quote once more Mr. Nowell's own words:
" The mountains of Alaska abound in gold-bearing quartz, the extent of their deposits exceeding
any similar discoveries in the world. There is
without doubt more gold-bearing quartz on Douglas Island alone, which can be worked at a handsome profit, than ten thousand stamps could crush
in a century; a well-defined vein from two to six
hundred feet wide traversing the island for at least
from six to eight miles."
There is a missionary family, supported by the
Quaker persuasion, located at Douglas Island,
whose earnest effort in civilizing and teaching
the natives has been crowned with considerable
success. The self-abnegation and conscientious
labor of these people are truly worthy of all commendation. 11
268
THE NEW ELDORADO.
Soon after leaving Juneau, when near the head
of Lynn Channel, the grand Davidson glacier
comes into view, filling the space between two
lofty mountains. It measures twelve hundred feet
high by some three miles in breadth, being as.
wide as a frozen sea and as deep as the ocean.
While looking upon it one is overawed by a sense
of its immensity and grandeur, as it seems hanging, poised, ready to drop into the fathomless sea..
Where we pass it there intervenes a terminal moraine overgrown with trees and green foliage, which
contrasts vividly with the icy background formed
by the glacier. The glaciers of Europe are mere
pygmies in comparison with this marvel, which is
named after Professor Davidson, who has carefully
explored and described it. Both the Muir and
Davidson glaciers are spars of the same great icefield, which has an unbroken expanse large enough
to lie over the whole republic of Switzerland.
The Muir glacier will be reached presently in
Glacier Bay.
Soon after leaving the Davidson glacier we are
in Pyramid Harbor. This is the region of the
Chilcats, who were formerly one of the most
.warlike tribes in the Territory, but who seem
to have outlived their belligerent propensities.
Their rude, but picturesque cabins dot the neighboring shore. The.little settlement here consists
mostly of bark huts and a substantial trader's
store, together with an extensive and successful
fish - cannery. The product of the latter is over
a million pounds of fish per annum, the whole THE CHILCATS.
269
being engaged for 1889 to a Liverpool firm. This
amount is shipped in seventy thousand cases of
about fifty pounds each ; the fish are packed in tins
holding a pound each. This is an average amount
as regards various factories on the coast, though
some very much exceed it. The Indians now
cheerfully accept employment from the whites,
and gladly receive the regular wages which may
be agreed upon. They appear to be the best carvers on the coast, and have an abundance of their
handiwork to sell to the interested white visitors.
These articles consist of carvings in ivory (walrus'
teeth), decorated sheep-horns, copper and silver
bracelets, bows, arrows, and spearheads. As engravers on copper and silver the Chilcats excel
all other people of the Northwest. Some of their
women wear a dozen narrow bracelets on each
arm, all of home manufacture. They are also
skillful in making ear-rings, and ornamental combs
out of ivory and sheep's horn. As successful
imitators they are remarkable, and will almost
exactly reproduce any design which is given to
them as a pattern. It seems strange that so aggressive and warlike a tribe should be skilled in
carving and many mechanical productions.
Certain people have bestowed much honest but
needless sympathy upon these "poor abused Indians." Such persons may be assured that they
are amply able to look out for themselves and their
own interests, as regards all material matters.
No white man can get any advantage over an
Alaskan native in the  way of trade; they are r
1 IP
lit
1    1 r
I) 51
■
lit
:?
II
h
si
270
THE NEW ELDORADO.
sharpness itself in such things. For instance,
these Chilcats a few years since observed that
the white traders were particularly desirous of
obtaining black fox skins, and that for such pelts
they would willingly pay a handsome advance
over skins of other colors; a fine skin of this
sort bringing as high as thirty dollars, while the
common red ones were not worth quarter of that
sum. The innocent natives soon began to produce the black skins in large quantities and received their pay accordingly. Surprise being at
last excited by the remarkable abundance of the
black pelts, an explanation of the cause was sought,
when it was finally discovered that by a secret
process of dyeing the natives had made the red
fox skins temporarily into black. This was done so
cunningly that nothing but a careful examination
would detect the outrageous cheat, and not anticipating anything of the kind the traders were
not on their guard. Of course no dyeing process
which they possessed was of a permanent nature
as applied to pelts, and these black furs when they
came to be prepared for market rapidly resumed
their natural color. When charged with this gross
deception, the Chilcats assumed the most innocent
expression and denied any knowledge whatever in
the premises, only saying: " Fox, him get black
before him caught," thus lying concerning their
trickery as volubly as any white rogue might have
done.
We are told of several of these tricks played off
by the "poor abused Indians," one instance of CHILCAT "APTITUDE.
271
which we remember as having occurred at Fort
Wrangel, illustrating the " aptitude " of the aborigines, not to give it any harder name. It seems
that a kindly disposed missionary, by exercising great patience, had taught some Indians to
read and write, and in the consciousness of his
own intentions felt amply paid by the goodly
progress of his pupils. One of these young men,
not over twenty years of age, was especially "curious about arithmetic, and made considerable progress in figures in a very short time. He was soon
after hired by the superintendent of a fish-canning establishment as a special assistant, with
good wages. Being given a note or due-bill of
twenty-five dollars by his employer, he quickly
saw his chance, and adroitly raised the figures to
two hundred and fifty dollars, got the bill cashed
at one of the neighboring trading establishments,
and suddenly disappeared with the proceeds thereof.    He has not since been seen.
The Chilcats have, until within a few years,
forcibly kept the natives of the interior away from
the coast and the white men, thus monopolizing
the land fur-trade by acting as middle-men, so to
speak, but this embargo is now entirely removed.
By this and some other means, being naturally
thrifty and saving, they have come to be the richest and most independent tribe of Indians in the
Northwest. Their women manufacture the famous
and really very fine Chilcat blankets, which are
slowly woven by hand on a primitive loom. The
base of these blankets is the long fleece of the 111 \m\
272
THE NEW ELDORADO.
mountain goats, which is tastefully manufactured
and ornamented, reminding one of the domestic
Oriental work offered for sale in the Turkish
bazaars of Cairo. The Chilcat blankets readily
bring forty dollars apiece, and the best of them
are sold for double that sum. They are ordinarily
about six feet long by four broad, having in addition a long, ornamental fringe at each end. The
colors are black, white, yellow, and a dull blue,
the coloring matter being also of native manufacture. These blankets used to be heirlooms in
the aboriginal families before the cheap woolens
of commerce were introduced among them, since
when they have become annually more and more
scarce, and are now purchased only by visitors to
carry away as curiosities. Even at the highest
price realized for them, if the maker's time were
to be reckoned of any account, the sum is a sorry
pittance for one of these blankets, which to properly finish will employ six months of a woman's
time.
Pyramid Harbor, in latitude 59° 11' north, is
the most northerly point reached by the excursion
steamers on this part of the coast. The place
takes its name from a prominent conical formation upon an island within its borders. The cluster of houses, cabins, and the canning factory
which make up what is known as Pyramid Harbor are situated upon a broad plateau on a sandy
beach, at the foot of a mountain which towers
three thousand feet heavenward, covered with
trees to its summit and beautified by a bright, PYRAMID HARBOR.
273
dashing waterfall visible from near the apex to
the bottom. This affords both a healthful water
supply for domestic use and a motor for the factory. The broad plateau, three or four miles in
length and one wide, grass-grown, and covered with
low shrubbery, is beautified by a floral display of
great variety, including wild roses, sweet peas,
columbines, white clover, and other varieties, having also an unlimited amount of berries. The
wide mouth of the Chilcat River, which makes
into the bay a mile from this settlement, is a
swarming place for the salmon. The river is
very shallow and not navigable for anything but
native canoes. Twenty miles inland on its bank
is a large, independent settlement of the Chilcat
tribe.
On the mountain side, nearly half way up, just
back of the steamboat landing at Pyramid Harbor, there is a small plateau not more than ten or
fifteen feet square, entirely bare of timber, but
closely surrounded by dense woods. This spot is
quite inaccessible to human feet. A large cinnamon bear shows himself here often during the daytime. A clear, sparkling stream of water comes
from far above this place, rushing by one corner
of it, and hither comes Bruin to slake his thirst.
He knows very well that he is out of the hunter's
reach, and he is actually beyond rifle range. He
looks at that distance skyward no bigger than a
good-sized Newfoundland dog, but to appear of
such proportions to us so far below he must be a
very monster.    Several attempts have been made 274
THE NEW ELDORADO.
m\
by the whites to get near enough to shoot him, but
without success. The bear sat upon his haunches
When we saw him and peered down upon us as
we stood on the deck of the Corona with a
cool insolence which must have been born of a
consciousness of entire safety. By using a good
glass his mammoth size became more apparent,
showing that even when upon his haunches with
his body erect he must have measured about six
feet in height.
A settlement opposite to Pyramid Harbor is
known as Chilcat, where two large fish-canning
establishments afford profitable occupation for
quite a number of the residents, both natives
and whites. New canning factories are being located in several places between Dixon Entrance
and this point, the supply of salmon being absolutely unlimited; the demand only is to be considered. The quantity shipped from here annually to San Francisco for distribution is enormous,
almost beyond belief, and is steadily increasing.
In addition to this profitable and important industry twelve thousand barrels of salted salmon were
exported last year from Alaska to southern Pacific
ports. The scenery about Pyramid Harbor is
arctic: the precipitous cliffs are covered with snow
on their tops, and range upon range of snowy
mountains frame in the bay. CHAPTER XX.
Glacier Bay. — More Ice Bays. — Majestic Front of the Muir
Glacier. — The Bombardment of the Glacier. — One of the
Grandest Sights in the World. — A Moving River of Ice. —
The Natives. — Abundance of Fish. — Native Cooking. —
Wild Berries. — Hooniah Tribe. — Copper Mines. — An Iron
Mountain. — Coal Mines.
FROM Pyramid Harbor we turn southward for a
short distance, and then again towards the north,
soon reaching the ice-strewn waters of Glacier
Bay, an open expanse of ocean fully thirty miles
long by from ten to twelve in width. This locality is thus named because of the number of glaciers which descend into it from the southern
verge of the frozen region. The still surface of
the water reflects the Alpine scenery like burnished silver, only ruffled now and again by the
icebergs launched from the majestic front of the
Muir glacier, which fall with an explosion like the
blasting of rocks in a stone quarry. It is curious
to watch these enormous masses of ice rise to the
surface after their first deep plunge, see them settle and rise again until their equilibrium becomes
fixed, and then slowly float away with their imperial colors displayed, to join the fleet gone before.
They seem to exhibit in their vivid colors a radiant
joy at release from long, imprisonment. It was a
gloriously bright day on which we approached the I
276
THE NEW ELDORADO.
Muir glacier, the sun pouring down its wealth of
light and warmth to temper the crisp morning air.
A side-wheel steamer could not have made headway among the hundreds of floating icebergs; but
the Corona wound in and out among them in
safety, piloted by Captain Carroll's skillful direction, occasionally leaving the color of her painted
hull along their sides by chafing them.
The ship was brought within fifty rods of the
glacier's threatening front, which was about three
hundred feet in height above the water, standing
like a frozen Niagara, and the lead showed it to
extend four hundred feet below the surface, making an aggregate of seven hundred feet from top
to bottom. What a mighty power was hidden
behind the dazzling drapery of its iridescent facade!
Standing upon its surface a short way inland,
one could hear from its depths what seemed like
shrieks and groans of maddened spirits torturing
each other, as the huge mass was crowded more
and more compactly between the two abutting
mountains of rock through which it found its outlet. The roar of artillery upon a battlefield could
hardly be more deafening or incessant than were
the thrilling reports caused by the falling of vast
masses of ice from the glacier's front. Nothing
could be grander or more impressive than this
y- steady bombardment from the ice mountain in its
resistless progress towards the sea. Neither Norway nor Switzerland have any glacial or arctic
scenery that can approach this bay in its frigid GLACIER BAY.
277
splendor. No natives are to be seen ; not a sound
falls upon the ear save the hoarse cannonading of
the glacier. The white, ghostly hue of the surroundings are startling ; even the daylight assumes
a certain weird, bluish tint, heightened by shimmering reflections from the ice-chasms and crevices.
The author, in a varied experience of many parts
of the world, recalls but two other occasions which
affected him so powerfully as this first visit to
Glacier Bay in Alaska, namely: witnessing the
sun rise over the vast Himalayan range, the roof-
tree of the globe, at Darjeeling, in northern India, and the view of the midnight sun from the
North Cape in Norway, as it hung over the Polar
Sea. Our power of appreciation is limitless,
though that of description is circumscribed. Here
both are challenged to their utmost capacity.
Words are insufficient; pen and pencil inadequate
to convey the grandeur and fascination of the
scene.
Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka tells us that a
veteran traveler said to him as they stood together
on the ship's deck regarding the scenery in this
remarkable bay : " You can take just what you
see here and put it down on Switzerland, and it
will hide all there is of mountain scenery in Europe. I have been all over the world, but you are
now looking at a scene that has not its parallel
elsewhere on the globe." The estimate has been
made by experienced persons that five thousand
living glaciers, of greater or less dimensions, are
>L 278
THE NEW ELDORADO.
now steadily traveling down towards the sea in
this vast Territory of Alaska.
Glacier Bay is always full of vagrant icebergs
which are of blinding whiteness when under the
glare of the midday sun. The variety of colors
emitted by the bergs is charming to the eye, the
prevailing hues being crystal-white mingled with
azure blue, a faint touch of pink appearing here
and there, together with dainty gleams of orange-
yellow. Where a large smooth surface is presented, the prismatic shimmering is like that of
starlight upon the water. The variety in the
shape of the bergs is infinite. Some of them exhibit singularly correct architectural lines, some
resemble ruins of ancient castles on the Rhine,
others, with a little help of the imagination, represent wild animals in various attitudes, or hideous
Chinese idols with open mouths and lolling
tongues. Sea birds hover over and light in large
numbers upon the opalescent masses. Ranging
alongside of a tall berg, a fall and tackle was rigged
out from the yard-arm of our steamer, while men
were sent to cut large blocks of dee from the hill
of frozen water. Two weighing nearly a ton each
were hoisted on board to keep our larder cool and
fill the ship's ice-chest. The ice was pure as crystal, and fresh as a mountain stream.
I Why don't you go nearer to the glacier ?"
asked one of the passengers of the captain.
" Because I think we are quite near enough,"
was the quiet reply.
" Those avalanches don't reach more than thirty AN UNPLEASANT EXPERIENCE.
279
or forty feet from the face of the ice cliff," continued the passenger.
" True," was the reply, " but they do not con-
constitute the only discharges from the glacier."
" Why, where else can they occur but from the
face," asked the inquirer.
" Shall I tell you a certain experience which
I had near this very spot ? " asked the captain.
" What was it? " inquired a dozen eager voices.
And then the captain told the group of listeners
that when the Corona was here last season, laying
just off the Muir glacier, those on board were
startled by the sudden appearance of a huge mass
of dark crystal, as large as the steamer itself,
which shot up from the depths and tossed the
ship as though it had been an egg-shell. Passengers were thrown hither and thither, and some
were severely bruised. It was a berg broken off
from the bottom of the ice mountain, four hundred feet below the surface of the water. Had it
struck the ship in its upward passage, immediate
destruction must have followed, and the steamer
would have sunk as quickly as though she had
been blown up with gunpowder.
Mount Crillon, Mount La Perouse, and Mount
Fairweather are all visible from Glacier Bay, the
latter rising in the northwest so high above the
intervening hills that all its snowy pinnacles are
clearly defined.
The great glacier which forms the prominent
feature of this bay was named after Professor
Muir, state geologist of California.    It has a front 280
THE NEW ELDORADO.
\w
three miles wide, and has been explored to a distance of forty miles inland. The top surface is
tossed and broken by broad fissures so as to be
impassable, unless one goes back at least a mile
from its toppling and dangerous front. This
glacier exceeds anything of the sort this side of
the polar zone, and is fed by fifteen other glaciers,
so far as it has been explored, towards its source
among the lofty snow-fields. In walking upon its
surface great care should be observed. A thin
crust of snow and half-melted ice is often formed
over fissures into which one may easily be precipitated. One of the party from the Corona, a lady,
was thus engulfed for a moment, escaping, however, with a thorough wetting and some slight
bruises, together with a very large measure of
fright. This lady was temporarily in charge of
the pilot of the steamer, hence it was very generally remarked that he was doubtless a good ship's
pilot, but a poor one for navigating glaciers.
From carefully conducted measurements it is
known that this immense body—frost-bound,
transparent, and resistless—is moving into the
sea, during the summer months, at the rate of
forty feet in every twenty-four hours, and discharging in that time one hundred and forty million cubic feet of ice into the bay. It is not necessary for us to discuss the cause of this regular,
uniform movement of the enormous mass; it may
be brought about by either dilation or gravitation;
both of which are most likely active agents to this
end, but certain it is that the glacier moves forward as described. THE MUIR GLACIER.
281
One could have passed days in studying the
grandeur and beauty of the Muir glacier, in watching its slow but steady advance, its tremendous
avalanches, its rolling, thunder-like discharges, its
irregular, translucent front decked with amethyst
and opal hues by the afternoon sunlight, but time
was to be considered, the day was closing, and we
finally steamed reluctantly away. Even after we
had lost sight of the great frozen river, we heard
its evening guns echoing among the mountains,
faint and fitful from the growing distance.
We pause for