National Geographic : 1932 Jun
SURVEYING THROUGH KHORESM REMOVING SILT FROM A CANAL IN KHORESM Large quantities of sand are carried into the canals every year, requiring so much effort on the part of the population to keep them clean that they cannot properly care for their land. wondered for a moment if this was to be the end of our trip, but no damage was done and we were soon headed downstream again. Darkness caught us only a few miles above the irrigated region of Khoresm and Tuya Muyun, where a diversion for the irrigation of 750,000 acres was contem plated. After an inspection of the Tuya Muyun site, we continued down the river past the Holy Island, a small wooded bit that has withstood erosion for so long that tradi tions have sprung up about it. A few miles below Tuya Muyun is a volcanolike mound called Genghis Khan Mountain. According to native lore, Gen ghis Khan, while on the road to, conquest, ordered each of his soldiers to bring a hat ful of earth and in that way to build the mound. Upon his return he had a similar mound built, and by comparing the sizes of the two estimated his losses in warriors. IRRIGATION GOES ON UNDER DIFFICULTIES The region below Tash Saka, a down stream alternate to the Tuya Muyun diver sion site, is well suited to cotton-growing; but water, with the primitive irrigation sys- tems now in use, cannot be delivered to the land early enough in the spring for this pur pose. The bottoms of the present canals are below high stages of the river,but above low stages; thus the amount of water di verted depends upon the river stage, which is high only in summer. A large amount of silt is carried into the canals every year, and the farmers must devote so much time to clearing it away that they cannot prop erly care for the land. The Soviet Government plans to put in modern engineering structures, lower the canals enough to permit the diversion of water early in the spring, and install equip ment to keep the ditches clean. Two mod ern dredges are now in operation, but thus far little progress has been made toward the solution of the irrigation problem. Our studies of the projects began in ear nest with a ride of about 15 miles through the sandy desert and irrigated oases, on horses so small and slow that they re quired constant prodding to keep moving. It seemed incredible that no better mounts were obtainable in the country noted for its famous horsemen in Tamerlane's time (see illustration, page 778).