- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
327

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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IRKUTSK TO VLADIVOSTOK
327
from the plain, as much as 15 in 1000 in places, with
many curves up to the ridge of Kentei-alin, and then
down again in the same way on the other side. In a few
places on the summit of Kentei-alin we saw woods of
spruce and a few larches near the line. But the trees
were small and far apart and many of them had been
burnt. One cannot expect to see much forest any
where along the line ; in the first place, because sparks
from the engine often set fire to it ; as the fuel is wood
there is a continual stream of sparks, which easily catch
the dry grass. In the second place, of course, the
railway requires timber—for construction, maintenance,
and fuel—so that the forests naturally tend to dis
appear in its immediate neighbourhood.
After a descent to another river, the Muren, which falls
into the Ussiiri, there was in the course of the afternoon
another ascent, with even more curves, up to the saddle
of the Lau-yu-ling range, on the frontier between
Manchuria and the Russian Ussiiri province.
Baron von Hoiningen Huene, who has for many
years been attached to the Manchurian line and has
had special charge of the supply of timber to the railway,
has travelled a great deal in these parts in his official
capacity and can give much interesting information
about the country. Formerly the only cultivation
to be found here was that of opium, which is prohibited
rn China. It was carried on secretly far away in the
woods. When shooting high up in the lonely forest
tracts on the slopes of the mountains, one might suddenly
come upon fields of the poisonous red poppies hidden
away in secluded valleys. Only a narrow path led to
them through the forest. Here the Chinese had estab
lished themselves to grow the poison and avoid the
Chinese Government, and here they produced the opium,
and then carried it, well secreted in their hollow bamboo

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