- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
338

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
land was full of a rich, pulsating life, with roads and
traffic and war. But all this vanished suddenly, as
though at the nod of a supernatural power, and died
away for several hundred years. The Russian colonist
has established himself in the old fortifications, and when
he ploughs or digs the ground he linds knives, arrows,
metal ornaments and swords, or great jars and dishes.
Not knowing their value, he perhaps glances at them
for a moment and then throws them aside, out of the
way of his ploughing, or lets his children play with them.
The intrusive wave of modern European civilization
will soon have effaced the last trace of vanished times.
Beyond comparison the most important city in the
whole Russian East is that which bears the proud nåme
of Vladi Vostok—that is, "Rule the East." Since
the fall of Port Arthur, it has been the centre of Russian
power on the Pacific, and perhaps in no distant future
it may become the focus of great and important events.
The Russian naval station on the Pacific was originally
at Petropavlovsk in Kamchatka, where the harbour is
closed by ice for a great part of the year. After 1860,
it was moved to Nikolåyevsk at the mouth of the Amiir,
but in 1872 it was transferred to Vladivostok ; and
after the few years at Port Arthur, it is back there
again. Valdivostok has a situation of rare beauty on a
peninsula, the high ground of which descends to a
well-defended bay called " The Golden Horn " (Solotoy
Rog), an arm of Peter the Great Bay. It is a splendid
and well-protected harbour, and though it is frozen
over for some months in winter, from the end of Decem
ber till the end of March, a channel is kept open by ice
breakers, at any rate for larger ships, of over 800 tons.
In 1910 the town had 89,600 inhabitants, not including
the garrison, and of these 23,000 were women. There
were about 53,000 Russians, 29,000 Chinese, 3200
338

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