- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
420

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
blue hills far away ; and in the midst of the desolate
forest lay these prisons, while a little way off the rail
way drew its yellow line of sand through the wastes
of the taiga westward to the world and its life. But
there is gold everywhere. Here by the station there
is not enough to work ; it scarcely comes to half a
gram to the cubic metre. But twenty or twenty-five miles
to the north there are rich gold-washings, where they
find ten to twelve grams to the cubic metre. This is
on the river Urkan, a tributary of the Séya. On a good
day a man may wash out as much as fifteen roubles’
worth, and last year—as far as I understood—a ton and
a half of gold had been extracted.
On the grassy plain near the station about a hundred
Mongolian oxen were feeding. They were the meat
supply for the labourers; but there were no haystacks
to be seen, and the beasts were probably slaughtered
when the pasture became too scanty towards winter.
There is no difficulty in getting the meat to keep in
this cold. Otherwise there was no sign of agriculture
or grazing hereabout. But in one place farther on I
saw some hay in stacks in the fields, which probably
meant that some cows were kept, unless it was for
horses.
We were still slowly ascending, until beyond Keråk
station we came to a tunnel 1050 yards long through
the crest of the Nuksha range, which forms the water
parting between the sources of the Séya on one side
and the little river Never, which falls into the Amiir, on
the other. The Nuksha ridge is a branch which runs from
the Yåblonovi Mountains on the north-west and there
forms the water-parting between the river Nuksha,
which flows towards the Lena, and the Oldoi, which
flows into the Amiir. The tunnel stands at a height
of 2030 feet above the sea, and the crest of the mountain
420

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