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ALASKA
ALASKA
247

sent all of the North American continent west of the 141st meridian of western longitude, with a narrow fringe of land between the Pacific and British territory, all the islands along the coast, and the Aleutian chain. The acreage, according to the Governor's report for 1901, is 360,529,600. This great empire is equal in size to all of the States east of the Mississippi. Its heart is a great central plateau, 600 miles long east to west and 400 miles broad north to south, although its extreme limits are 800 by 1,000 miles; this does not include the Aleutian Islands—the stepping stones to Asia—that stretch from its southwesterly portion westward into the Pacific about 1,500 miles. Numerous inlets provide an easy coastwise intercommunication, but the chief natural highway is the mighty Yukon, navigable for 2,500 miles from east to west. It divides the Alaskan territory near the centre, and is ice-free from June to October. Petrof says that at its mouth it discharges into the Bering Sea a greater volume of water than the Mississippi. Several large navigable rivers, notably the Koyukuk and Tanana, flow into the Yukon, but many of the smaller streams, running into the Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean, are shallow, and available only for small craft, a circumstance which is retarding the work of prospecting and mining. Various railways in and through Alaska are projected, one or two of which are under construction. The completion of these new channels of inland transportation will advance a hundredfold the interests of the country. Alaska is mountainous, but contains extensive river valleys of productive soil. From Seattle to Skagway is a distance of about 1,000 miles, a little more than from New York to Chicago; and from Seattle to the most distant point of Alaska is about the distance from New York to San Francisco. The gold-fields of the Yukon are reached from Seattle by ocean steamer, rail, and river steamer in about six days. It takes about twice as long to reach the placer mines of Nome. Communication is open during the summer season only; in winter, transportation is carried on with the aid of dog-teams.

III. Resources.—The actual wealth of Alaska consists in fur-seals, fisheries, and gold mines. The principal breeding ground of the fur-seal is on the Pribilof Islands, just north of the Aleutian chain. From 1868 to the middle of 1903 the seals taken by the lessees of these islands represent a value of $35,000,000; other furs to the value of $17,000,000 bring the total value of the Alaskan fur trade in this period to the sum of $52,000,000. These figures take no account of the pelagic-seal catch. The salmon fisheries are another source of wealth: in 1901, 19,000 barrels of canned salmon were sent to the United States, and in 1905 the total value of the fish exportation was $9,010,089. The cod fisheries promise, by reason of their vast area and rich supply, to exceed in value those of Newfoundland or any other part of the world. Placer gold has been located in many places in Alaska—a fact which proves that the territory is only beginning to reveal its wealth. Gold mines are being successfully worked in three localities: southeastern Alaska, the Yukon River and its tributaries, and the Cape Nome district opposite the coast of Asia. The output of gold in American Alaska in the fiscal year 1905 was about $10,000,000. It copper, coal, tin, silver, gypsum, and marble now enter into the calculations of commerce. There is abundant supply of valuable timber, especially in south-eastern Alaska, but it is not yet legally available for export, as the public lands have not been surveyed. Agriculture is possible in about 100,000 square miles in southeastern Alaska, which owes to the "Japan current" its temperate climate, and which can produce wheat, oats, grasses for cattle, and vegetables in great variety. The latest official reports speak with praise of the supplies raised by the Holy Cross mission on the Yukon. It would be possible for the land to furnish at least a portion of the food supply needed by the present population. The total wealth accruing to the United States from its Alaskan possessions between 1867 and 1905 is calculated at nearly $160,000,000. In 1891, Dr. Sheldon Jackson introduced reindeer from Siberia into northern Alaska, but their usefulness as a means of transportation, and a source of supplies for miners and natives, is still a matter of experiment. The animals are farmed out in herds to various mission centers on the Yukon, along the Bering coast, and on the Kotzebue Sound. Reindeer moss, indigenous to northwestern Alaska, furnishes abundant food for those animals, whose numbers now reach about 6,000.

IV. Climate.—Alaska offers a great variety of climates. Along the southern and southeastern coast the "Japan current" distributes a part of its equatorial heat, and creates on the fringe of the islands, and some twenty miles inland, a distinct temperate zone. The mean temperate of Sitka is 32° Fahrenheit. Winter opens in December, and the snows are gone by May, except on the mountain-sides. Little of the warmth of the "Japan current" reaches north of the Aleutian range. The winter in the Yukon and Seward peninsula is rigorous and long; the summer warm and brief. The winter sun rises in the Yukon valley from 9:30 to 10, and sets between 2 and 3. The summer sun rises at 1:30 in the morning and sets at 10 in the evening, and the twenty hours of daylight are followed by a diffused twilight. In general, the changes of climate in the north are rapid and extreme, the mean summer temperature being from 60°–70° Fahrenheit, while the winter cold registers as low as 50° and 60° below zero, and near the Arctic Circle still greater extremes are met with, the thermometer reaching 70° below zero. However, owing to the dryness of the atmosphere, the intense cold is not disagreeable, and white men in those northern regions experience no inconvenience in traveling over the tundras with their dog-teams and sleds.

V. Government and Revenue.—Alaska, though called a territory, is properly known as the "District of Alaska". It has no legislature and no territorial form of government, but is governed directly by Congress, and locally administered by a governor, assisted by a secretary, and a surveyor-general, United States marshals, and attorneys, appointed by the President, subject to the approval of the Senate. It constitutes a judicial district, with three subdivisions and three courts. The governor is required to make an annual report to the Secretary of the Interior. The capital is Sitka, on Baranof Island, a city founded by the Russian Governor of that name in 1799, and the oldest town in Alaska. The sale of liquor to the natives is governed by special regulations. From 1867 to 30 June, 1903, the Government revenues amounted to $9,555,909, of which $7,597,331 were paid in as a tax on fur seals, and $528,558 as customs.

VI. Education.—The pupils are under the official supervision of a United States general agent for education in Alaska, who resides in Washington. In 1905, there were fifty-one public schools, with sixty-two teachers and 3,083 pupils. From 1884 to 1901 Congress made a small annual grant for the support of these schools, but in 1901 an act was passed by which license fees collected by unincorporated towns were to be applied in part to the establishment and maintenance of schools "for the education of white children and children of mixed blood who lead a civilized life". Such schools are placed in charge of the Governor of Alaska as ex-officio superintendent of education. By the same act the edu-