Page:The cruise of the Corwin.djvu/134

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THE CRUISE OF THE CORWIN

within fifty miles of the mouths of the Yukon, the temperature changed suddenly to 42°.

The mirage effects we have witnessed on the cruise thus far are as striking as any I ever saw on the hot American desert. Islands and head lands seemed to float in the air, distorted into the most unreal, fantastic forms imaginable, while the individual mountains of a chain along the coast appeared to dance at times up and down with a rhythmic motion, in the tremulous refracting atmosphere. On the northeast side of Norton Sound I saw two peaks, each with a flat, black table on top, looming suddenly up and sinking again alternately, like boys playing see-saw on a plank.

The trading post of St. Michael was established by the Russians in 1833. It is built of drift timber derived from the Yukon, and situated on a low bluff of lava on the island of St. Michael, about sixty-five miles northeast of the northmost of the Yukon mouths. The fort is composed of a square of log buildings and palisades, with outlying bastions pierced for small cannon and musketry, while outside the fort there are a few small buildings and a Greek church, reinforced during the early part of the summer with groups of tents belonging to the Indians and the traders. The fort is now occupied by the employees of the Alaska Com-