- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
315

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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IRKUTSK TO VLADIVOSTOK
315
Khilåk, which flows into the Selengå and then into
Lake Baikål, being continued by the Angarå and
Yenisei, on one side, and on the other the River Ingodå,
which runs into the Amur. Just to the north of us, and
within sight, rise the sources of the Vitim, which flows
into the Lena. This is thus the watershed between
the Yenisei and the Lena on one side and the Amur
on the other ; that is, between the Arctic Ocean and
the Pacific.
On the other side of the watershed the line descends
rapidly. The low ridges are everywhere covered with
thin forest. Farther down there are stretches of pas
ture here and there, but still no settlements to be seen.
But beyond Yåblonovaya station we began to see a few
cornfields among the pastures. The country is here
wide and undulating. Then we arrived at the town of
Chitå, which stands in the middle of an extensive grass
country, and we saw ploughed fields and green patches
of cultivation here and there. This is the most im
portant town in these parts and the capital of Trans
baikalia. At the beginning of last century it was a
Cossack post with a couple of hundred inhabitants ;
but the little village was entirely transformed when
the Decembrists were sent here in 1825 and had to
build their own prisons, while their wives built their
own houses in the " Dåmskaya," or " Ladies’ Street,"
which has kept its nåme to this day. According to the
census at the close of the nineties, the town had about
11,500 inhabitants, but it has grown enormously in the
last few years, especially since the war, and I was told
that the population is now 70,000 or 80,000. The town
is well situated on the plain, where the little tributary
Chitå falls into the River Ingodå. The latter joins the
Onon to form the River Shilka, which again joins the
Argiin to form the Amur. Small steamers can reach

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