- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
232

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
us, dark and rapid. The whole effect was one of gloomy
power. Higher up the gorge narrowed, and the rapids
swept through it more furiously again. We had to forge
ahead by the bank. After passing this place we came
once more into calmer water and were able to go a good
distance before anchoring for the night at about seven
o’clock off the end of a little sandy island. On the bank
to the east of us there was the light of a fire ; no doubt
some fishermen were camping there.
As we came up this last part of the rapids, before
reaching the island, we saw many huts on shore. The
fishermen live in them in the winter to catch sturgeon
under the ice in the pools among the rapids, where it
may be 200 feet deep ; the sturgeon stay there a great
part of the winter.
Wednesday, September 17. Early next morning we went
on up the rapids. The channel was here marked by red
and white beacons and brooms and larger sea-marks, as the
navigation was difficult, with many banks and rocks.
Vostrotin told me how they make use of the severe
winter cold here for removing rocks and banks from the
bottom of the river. They cut a broad groove in the ice
of the river, taking care not to go so deep that the water
breaks through. By the next day a fresh layer of ice
freezes underneath this thin part, and by removing
a sufficient quantity of ice daily and allowing new ice to
form below and on the sides, they are able to go deeper
and deeper through the water, right down to the bottom.
Thus a shaft is formed surrounded by thick walls of ice,
where they can work comfortably and dry-shod, and
remove what rocks and banks they wish from the bottom.
It seems a good way of turning harsh nature to account.
Vostrotin also told me that they use a somewhat
similar method in prospecting for gold in river beds
and in marshy land. In the river, of course, they can
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