National Geographic : 1900 Aug
RAILWAYS, RIVERS, STRATEGIC TOWNS IN MANCHURIA 327 igation on the Sungari River, will soon be the largest and most thriving inland city of Manchuria. It is a good example of Russian enterprise and push in the Far East. In February, 1898, not even a hut marked the spot. On the open ing of navigation in the Sungari River that year the Russian engineers found that their larger steamers could not ascend the river to the point first chosen as the junction of the three railway branches, Khulanchen; so they decided on the site of the present Harbin, which is 30 miles lower down the river. In the few months since there has risen a splendid city of substantial houses and office buildings, with broad, well-paved streets, all lit by electricity. Blagovestchensk, the capture of which was attempted by the Chinese re cently, is on the Amur River, somewhat more than half-way between Stryetensk and Khabarosvk. It is important strategically, as its possession by Chinese troops would interrupt all communication between these towns, which, until the railroad from Onon to Harbin is finished, is the only route by which Russia can send to Vladivostok and Port Arthur the supplies and soldiers coming over the Siberian Railway. The town has 38,000 inhabitants, some of whom pos sess much wealth and handsome residences. At Aigun, a town of 15,000, and also the scene of some fighting, was signed in 1858 the treaty which opened the Sungari to Russian steamers. Along the northern bank of the Amur at intervals of 20 to 30 miles are numerous thriving villages, which were planted as Cossack posts by Mouravieff previous to 1858. Kirin, ten days by steamer from the mouth of the Amur, is the center of the most fertile country of Manchuria. It has a population of about 200,000. A small Russian garrison is located here. Tsitsikar has about 30,000 inhabitants and Petuna nearly 60,000 G.H.G. CULEBRA, lying 20 miles east of Porto Rico, is about five miles long and two and a half miles wide. Viegas, or Crab Island, is half as far away, and is four or five times the size of Culebra. Dr Ullrich, the medical officer attached to the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey party that has been surveying the eastern shore of Porto Rico and connecting it with Viegas, Culebra, and St Thomas, gives some interesting information about Culebra. The climate is somewhat cooler and less rainy than that of Porto Rico. The general health of the people is good, but, strange as it may seem, the most prevalent diseases are consump tion and rheumatism. Malaria also exists to a considerable extent where the soil favors its development. There is no good drinking water on the island except what the natives catch during the rainy season in two large cisterns. This water is dealt out daily to the people at the rate of one gallon per head for adults and one-half gallon for children. There are only two streams on the island that flow during the entire year. Water can be found by digging wells, but it always develops a peculiar odor after standing, and has a cloudy appearance and .brackish taste. The island has excellent grazing facilities, and at least 2,000 head of fine cattle were seen. The most urgent recommendation of Dr Ullrich is that all drinking water should be either distilled or boiled. If this precaution is taken, he believes the climate of Culebra will prove as healthy as that of many favored places in the United States.