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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/660

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644
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

were run up very materially in the period of the next two weeks. Good meals were only a dollar, and fractions of meals could be had for twenty-five and fifty cents. Magnificent oranges were only a quarter apiece, and watermelons four and five dollars. All these prices were, at the least, doubled before the first week in November, when the locality was finally cut off from contact with the rest of the civilized world. The principal commercial houses doing trade in Alaska—as the Alaska Commercial Company, the North American Trading and Transportation Company, the Alaska Exploration Company, all of which, besides others, have their agencies in Dawson and at various stations on the Yukon River—have well-constructed, iron-sheathed warehouses, and carry large lines of goods. The energy which in so short a period has planted these interests here, and in so substantial a manner, is certainly astonishing. Who a year ago could have expected that the needs of a resident population situated close under the Arctic Circle, and along the inhospitable shores of Bering Sea, would have demanded depots of sale of the size of those that one finds in cities of importance in the civilized South?

Nome prints to-day three newspapers, the first issue of the first journal, the Nome News, appearing about the 10th of October. Its selling price was twenty-five cents. Up to the time of my leaving, there were no serious disturbances of any kind, but indications of trouble, resulting from the disputed rights of possession, whether in the form of squatter sovereignty or of purchase, were ominously in the air, and it was feared that should serious trouble of any kind arise, neither the military nor civil authorities would be in a position to properly cope with it. It was freely admitted that the community was not under the law that so strongly forces order in Dawson and the Klondike region. Much more to be feared than disturbance, for at least the first season, is the possibility of conflagration; closely packed as are the tents and shacks, with no available water supply for combating flames, a headway of fire can not but be a serious menace to the entire location, and one which is in no way lessened through the general indraught of hurricane winds. The experiences of Dawson should have furnished a lesson, but they have seemingly not done so, nor has apparently the average inhabitant profited in any effort to ward off the malignant influences arising from hard living, unnecessary exposure to the inclemencies of the weather, and a non-hygienic diet. Hence, typhoid or typho-malarial disease, even if not in a very pronounced form, has already sown its seeds of destruction, and warns of the dangers which here, as in Dawson, man brings to himself in his customary contempt for the working of Nature's laws.