- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
407

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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FROM THE BURÉYA TO TRANSBAIKALIA
407
here, again, wc see that the river has higher ground with
steeper slopes on its right, or western bank, while the
land on the eastern side, the left bank, is quite low, with
flat beaches. The hills on the western side are wooded,
chiefly fir mixed with birch. The captain says that the
wood of this Siberian fir is strong, but not a good timber
for building, as it is so liable to split. Here, again, the
trees are rather small and far apart, and there are bare
patches among them ; this is due partly to ill-regulated
felling and partly to forest fires.
It is a rich river that wc are ascending ; there is gold
everywhere in the sand here ; enough in some places to
yield three or four roubles a day by washing, Dr.
Gusakovski told me ; but as a rule it does not return
a sufficient daily wage ; later on, higher up the river
at Alexéyevsk, wc saw people sitting on the shore
washing gold. There were several prosperous looking
villages as wc went on ; for these districts along the
river have long been inhabited, and it was here no doubt
that the Chinese had settled.
Wc then approached the newly laid-out town of
Alexéyevsk, where the bridge crosses the Séya, and while
still far off wc saw its piers rising above the flat country
in the sunshine. Wc passed first a steamer towing
a lighter, then another steamer, and then a moored
dredger ; here again was life and movement. Else
where on the same river wc saw a big timber-raft
drifting downstream, with men steering ; they had
their horses and all necessary household goods on the
raft, on which they lived while going down the river.
That is the old way of travelling in these regions ; the
steamers, the railway and the dredger belong to the
new age. The piers of the bridge seemed pretty nearly
finished. Beyond the bridge wc saw a strange kind of
ferry crossing the river, full of people ; it was driven

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