Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/577

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HOW THE EARTH WAS EXPLORED IN 1876.

ing trees, nor any trace of vegetation, in the vicinity, except a growth of stunted sage-brush.

"The largest tree yet found in California was discovered during the year in King's River Valley, Fresno County. Measured from the highest point to which a man could reach, it was found to be 150 feet in circumference, within a few inches, and its height was estimated at 160 feet. It is probably the largest tree in the world."

A report of the international commission for the survey of the boundary-line between the United States and British North America, from the Lake of the Woods to the Rocky Mountains, has been published. The region was one hitherto unexplored by whites, and was found, as represented by the Indians, to consist mainly of swamps, making the survey a difficult one. To this were added the rigors of the climate, as the work had to be conducted chiefly in the winter, when the swamps were frozen and with the mercury at 45° below zero. The country west of the Red River would be a fine grazing-ground but for the myriad mosquitoes which drive domestic cattle almost wild and keep them from gaining flesh. In one direction the boundary-line, in the course of thirty-five miles, crossed sixty-five pieces of water, twenty-five of which were lakes, requiring a survey by triangulation. Beyond Turtle Mountain the survey was extended over the Great Plains, the Great Coteau of the Missouri, and the Salt Lakes, and the arid, desolate country known as Les Mauvaises Terres. Beginning in 1872, the survey was completed in 1874 to the base of the Rocky Mountains, where they rise from the plain in precipitous peaks 10,000 feet high. The whole boundary from the Lake of the Woods to this point is now marked by stone cairns or earthen mounds, and by iron pillars at intervals of a mile for 135 miles along the boundary of Manitoba in British America, which, it is said, "is destined to become the great granary of the Dominion." There are, however, the drawbacks of the want of markets, the ravages of grasshoppers, and the scarcity of fuel. The latter difficulty may be obviated by developing the great bituminous coal-fields of the Saskatchewan. Immigration in this direction is going on; 4,000 Mennonites from Odessa, in Russia, have settled there, and also a colony of 300 Icelanders on the western shore of Lake Winnipeg.

The arctic event of the year has been the return of the English expedition of the Alert and Discovery, under Sir George Nares, from an attempt to reach the pole by way of Smith's Sound. The vessels had great difficulty in forcing their way through Smith's Sound and Kennedy's and Robeson's Channels. They were twenty-five days making their way from Cape Sabine to Discovery Bay, a distance of only 250 miles, beset with all the perils of arctic navigation.

"Regarded from a geographical and scientific point of view, the expedition was a success. I said in my annual address, several years ago, that to reach the pole was not the main object in an arctic ex-