National Geographic : 1898 Apr
120 THE FUTURE OF THE YUKON GOLDFIELDS natural desire to retain national control of the means oftransit, can be justified for a moment. The true interest of Canada, as well as of the United States, lies in the fullest development of the resources of the region, and without accepting all possible means of transportation this is impossible. Those who may be able from their own resources to push through a year's supply of pro visions for themselves will in the long run be as much interested as any others in the welfare of the whole mass of immigrants, for a starving man will respect no property rights in food, and no man in the face of starving people may hope to keep his own store intact. Leaving out of account the impending crisis on the Yukon, it is the writer's belief that it is imperatively necessary for the de velopment of the goldfields that transportation for coal should be provided from the seacoast to the Yukon, avoiding the inter rupted navigation of the Lewes river. Here, again, the change from the sea-going vessel to a river steamer on the Stikine, from that steamer to the railway, and then to another steamer on the Teslin marks the Stikine route as impracticable. One transship ment to the railway at Pyramid Harbor and from the cars to barges on the Yukon is so much simpler and cheaper as to put an end to argument. The present method of using wood of so poor a quality as spruce on the Yukon steamers cannot last if the country is to be per manently developed. With coal floated downstream on barges from the headwaters the steamers might be abundantly supplied with suitable fuel, and two or even more trips a season might be reckoned on as a certainty. British Columbia has coal in abun dance, and here would be a means of its indefinite utilization, by which a far greater profit would inure to the people of that province than is possible through any short-sighted monopoly of transportation, which would infallibly strangle the develop ment of their Yukon goldfield in a very short time. A broad and generous cooperation of both countries is essen tial to a satisfactory outcome of the projects now in contempla tion. Let us hope that it may be realized before it is too late. The length of the coast-line of Alaska is estimated at 18,211 miles, which is greater than that of the entire coast-line of the United States.