National Geographic : 1896 Jan
ARCTIC CRUISE OF THE REVENUE CUTTER "BEAR" 29 point, Siberia, about 40 miles distant. There two Cossack officers of the Russian army were found taking a census of the village. This was the first visit of Russian officials to that section of the Siberian coast in many years, and the natives brought the Russian coins they had received from them over to the ship to sell as curios. Here, as elsewhere on the trip, the ship's surgeon went ashore to treat the sick and ailing. The principal native of the village is Koharri, who is a noted trader all along the coast. He has a little frame whale-house filled from floor to ceiling with tobacco, flour, and looking-glasses, which he has obtained from the whalers and from which he supplies the country for hun dreds of miles around. This man has been known to have as much as $75,000 worth of whalebone in his storehouse at one time. He does a business of probably $100,000 a year, and yet not a single coin of gold or silver nor a single bank note or bank check is used, nor are any books kept. All transactions are by barter, furs and whalebones being exchanged for tobacco, flour, and whisky. This wholesale merchant of the North Siberian coast can neither read nor write, nor can any one associated with him. Although so wealthy, he lives in an ordinary tent and sleeps on the ground, on a pile of reindeer skins. On several occasions the Bear,in search of reindeer, has turned southward from Indian point and sailed up Holy Cross sound, at the head of Anadir gulf, some 300 miles into Siberia. In 1893, while in search of reindeer, we discovered a large river emptying into Holy Cross sound. After visiting a herd of rein deer, an officer and crew entered the mouth of this stream, the Bear being the first ocean steamer that had ever plowed those waters. This season the Bear, turning northward, anchored, on July 1, off South head, St. Lawrence bay. Peter and Kaimok, the leading men of that section, came on board and sold 40 head of reindeer. The herd, however; was on the opposite side of the bay and could not be reached until the ice should go out, a month later. Being unwilling to wait, the captain set sail for King island, which was reached the next morning. At this point dur ing two previous seasons the Bear was caught and imprisoned in large ice floes. Leaving the island at 8 a. m., the Bear soon encountered large cakes of ice at the entrance to Port Clarence. Forcing her way through the ice, she found seven whalers at anchor inside, and news was received of the successful winter of the reindeer herds.
1895 Oct 31