National Geographic : 1957 Aug
265 Amos Burg A Scene from the Past: Cable Pulls Casca and Barge Through Five Finger Rapids Driving upstream, the stern-wheeler faces the swift current that was a boon to the foldboaters (page 259). Casca helps herself up the rapids by winching in a cable anchored to shore and stretched along the port side of the barge. On downstream passage the boat raced between the rock walls in a breath-taking two minutes, a run so risky that it was not attempted when the wind was blowing. "If a pilot missed the channel the first time, he didn't get another chance," mused one captain in the now-retired fleet. ferent pairs of men we encountered earlier along the river. The first pair hailed us ashore at Britannia Creek. "Have you seen the Whitehorse?" they yelled. "We want to get out of this hole." Dams May Give Yukon a New Shape We thought at first they must have been isolated there all winter. They turned out to be engineers surveying the river for a large company interested in damming the Yukon to create a head of water for an aluminum-proc essing plant. They had been on the river only two days and were frantic to get back to their car at Minto, to the speed of highway travel. Several hours later we beached to talk to yet another pair of men, also awaiting the re turn voyage of the Whitehorse. They were prospectors and had been in the country all winter. They had waited for many a river boat in their lives, through countless freeze ups and breakups. And they had plenty of time to wait for more. Besides, the sun was warm, the country was beautiful, and what would they do with any time saved, anyway? As we flew in a small plane, loaded with duffel and dismantled boats, from Eagle back to Fairbanks, we considered, somewhat sadly, the price of the modern tempo. Should we return again to the Yukon, we might find still more of its towns abandoned, replaced by new settlements along the roadways. If proposed dams are built, even the water will change. New lakes will crop up and nat ural ones disappear. The great river may even shrink in places to a mere trickle. We were glad we had seen the Yukon as it was when men patterned their lives around it.