National Geographic : 1906 Feb
TRANSPORTATION METHODS IN ALASKA* BY CAPTAIN GEORGE S. GIBBS SIGNAL CORPS, U. S. ARMY IMAGINE, if you can, a country which has none of the hundreds of necessities of existence at hand and few of the thousands of accessories to industry-a country having a valuable output of products, almost all of which are useless to that country and are of value only when carried to far-distant lands. Such is Alaska - dependent upon transportation for its very existence as a habitation and equally dependent upon transportation to give value to its ores and its furs. Two expressions, heard every day from Skaguay to Nome, tell just how the Alaskan pioneer feels about his position in this regard when he refers to Alaska as "on the inside" and the rest of the world as "on the outside." The implied barrier is significant, and it exists in fact, just as though the country were surrounded by a great wall, impassable for eight months in the year and none too easily scaled during the remaining short period. Of course the ports of Juneau, Skag uay, and Valdes, and others on the southeastern coast, are open the year round, but neither freight nor passengers are carried to or from the interior of Alaska during the long winter season. A small amount of United States mail mat ter is carried in and out regularly by means of dog teams in relays, and each year a few adventurous and hardy travel ers beat the season a few weeks by mak ing the overland trip on foot and with dog team, either via Skaguay or Valdes. So great is the transformation from an ice-bound, snow-covered, wind-swept wilderness to a land covered with luxuri ous vegetation and traversed by streams of navigable waters that the two seasons, summer and winter, suggest a convenient division of the methods of transportation. Railroads, in the few places where short sections have been built, are in "Foxy" One of the dogs belonging to the repair team at the U. S. Military Telegraph Station at Chena, on the Tanana River, Alaska operation the year round, but with one exception they serve only local interests. Two short lines on the Seward Peninsula run from Nome and Solomon, on the * The photographs were taken by the author.