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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/198

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184
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

headlong plunge into the river. At times these streams, taking their rise in some extensive glacier, are of considerable magnitude, and fairly roar as they leap and hurl themselves downward from their dizzy height. And here we learned a curious fact about the river: in summer it falls when it rains, and rises when the sun shines, so rapidly do the pent-up snows of winter disappear and rush down the mountain sides under the heat of the spring sun.

Until noon of the second day we had been making good time, but now the fun began, for we had left deep water and had arrived at the first flight of the eight-hundred-foot stairway which the Caledonia had to climb ere Hazelton could be reached. The river had been gradually widening as one island after another had been passed, until now it was nearly half a mile wide and flowed through four channels. The captain attempted one channel, but we couldn't gain an inch, and in drifting back again down the rapids the current carried the boat against the rocks and, with a crash and a lurch, but minus some woodwork, she was in the stream again. Then two other channels were tried, but without avail, although the wheel was throwing water and gravel over the pilot house. The fourth channel was next tried, but the current was too strong. Then we "lined her out," and this novel method of getting a huge steamboat up a stream soon became only too commonplace. The method of procedure is this: The boat is forced against a sand bar and allowed to rest while men go forward in a skiff with a long four-inch cable, which is made fast to a tree on the bank or to a "dead man," a long spar buried deep in the earth of a sand bar and heaped over with bowlders. When all is ready, the boat is attached to the capstan and the wheel begins to revolve. It is tedious work and often provoking, as when the cable parts, or the "dead man" gives up his hold, and the whole work must be done over again. The boat quivers from stem to stern, and the wheel, with all possible steam on, is simply one revolving-ball of water. We fairly hold our breath as we listen to the dull vibration of the boat, the rumbling of the capstan, and the grating sound of the keel of the steamer as she is being dragged through the rapids over the bar; but above all can be heard the voice of Captain Bonser as he shouts to his Indian pilot, "Go 'head capstan," "Stop steamboat," "Stop capstan," "Go 'head steamboat," "Go 'head capstan!" In four hours we have made about fifty yards, but we are in open water again and the boat settles down to its regular chug, chug, chug.

Eighty miles from Essington the Skeena in its flight to the sea makes its first plunge into the Cascade Mountains, and its entrance is indescribably grand. No pen or brush can do justice to the beauties of the Kitselas CaƱon. At its mouth we are in a broad,