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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/324

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

into Lac la Biche. The present name is said to have been the joint production of Schoolcraft and the Rev. Dr. Boutwell, who were the first white men to seek this lake as the Mississippi's source. Desiring to hail it at first sight with an appropriate title, Schoolcraft asked his companion for the Greek or Latin words meaning the true source of a river. Though somewhat rusty in his classics, the reverend explorer finally recalled the two Latin words Veritas caput—truth head. These

PSM V65 D324 Map of the mississippi basin above pokegama falls.png

map of the mississippi basin above pokegama palls.

were written down, the first and last syllables crossed out, and presto! the name Itasca. The former designation, Elk Lake, is now applied to the largest of the tributary lakes.

The single island in Itasca is called Schoolcraft, in honor of the pioneer explorer, who spent a few hours upon it in 1832. The Mississippi, a tiny stream ten to fifteen feet in width and one or two in depth, issues from the north end of the lake, and, though its general course to the Gulf is east of south, its direction at first is west of north! By a curious coincidence a tributary of the Red River of the North, rising but fifteen miles west of Itasca, also begins its long race to the sea by taking a direction diametrically opposite to the true one—flowing south instead of north!

The peril mentioned in my first paragraph assailed the forests about the headwaters. The fine stand of white and Norway pines that once covered that part of Minnesota is fast disappearing, and the great lumber companies are on the lookout for every acre that can be made to yield its growth of centuries for their enrichment. For convenience of transportation the lumbermen have followed in the main the natural waterways, floating their logs down-stream to some suitable point for