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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/659

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643
THE GOLD SANDS OF CAPE NOME.

dred and twelve dollars—a magnificent specimen, measuring upward of four inches in length—was obtained from the tailings of "No. 1 below"; a larger one, of the value of four hundred and thirty-four dollars, is to the credit of "No. 1 above." It is interesting to note that these rich claims are located at the very issuance of Anvil Creek from the mountains—i.e., at the contact with the upper rise of the tundra—and other good properties are found still lower down, a condition which makes it certain that the inner reaches of the tundra, whatever the whole tundra may be, must yield largely in gold.

The city of Nome itself might properly be termed a model of production. Before the end of June, 1899, there was practically nothing on its present site; in early July it was still a place of tents, but by the middle of September it had blossomed out into a constructed town of three to four thousand inhabitants, more than one half of whom were properly housed in well-built cabins, the lumber for which was in part brought from a distance of two thousand miles, and none of it from less than one hundred miles. Numerous stores and saloons had arranged themselves on both sides of a well-defined street (which was here and there centrally interrupted by building transgressions), the familiar signs of dancing and boxing bouts were displayed in front of more than comfortably filled faro and roulette establishments, and in a general way the site wore the aspect of riding a boom swell. And indeed there was plenty of activity, for the final weeks of fine weather warned of the impending wintry snows and blasts, and much had to be done individually to shield one from these and other discomforts. There was at that time a threatening shortage in building material, and fears were expressed for those who seemingly would be obliged to spend the winter months—a dreary expanse of nearly one half the year, with hurricane blasts of icy wind blowing with a velocity of fifty to eighty miles an hour, and under the not very comfortable temperature of –40° to –60° F.—in the frail shelter of tents. How many, if any, remained in this condition can not now be known. Much driftwood and some coal had been secured by many of the more fortunate inhabitants, and it is possible that some provision has been made by which everybody of the two or three thousand wintering inhabitants will receive a proper measure of heating substance, without which the utmost discomfort must prevail. The last coal before my departure sold for seventy-five dollars per ton, but I suspect that later importations must have realized the better part of double this amount. In early October flour could still be purchased for seven to eight dollars per sack, and meat for a dollar a pound, but these prices