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Beering's Strait, a channel fifty-one miles in width, connnecting the Pacific with the Arctic (or Icy, or North Frozen) Ocean, on the western side of which strait, opposite Cape Prince of Wales, is East Cape, the eastern extremity of Asia. Beyond Beering's Strait the shores of the two continents recede from each other. The north coast of America has been traced from Cape Prince of Wales northeastward, to Cape Barrow, in latitude of 71 degrees 23 minutes, which is probably the northernmost point of America, and thence eastward for more than a thousand miles, though not continuously to the Atlantic ; no vessel has, however, yet proceeded beyond Beering's Strait as far as Cape Barrow.
The southernmost point of the west coast of North America is Cape San Lucas, in latitude of 22 degrees 52 minutes, the extremity of the great Peninsula of California, which stretches from the American continent on the Pacific side, nearly in the same direction, and between nearly the same parallels of latitude as that of Florida on the Atlantic. The Californian peninsula joins the main land under the 33d parallel ; south of which, it is separated from Mexico, on the east, by the long arm of the ocean called by the Spaniards the Vermillion Sea and the Sea of Cortes, but more generally known as the Gulf of California.
The coast extending between these two capes is not less than four thousand miles in length, and is bordered by a continuous line of mountains, which in most places overhang the sea, and are nowhere distant from it more than eighty miles. From Cape San Lucas the general direction of the shores is northwest as far as Cape Mendocino, near the 40th degree of latitude; thence it runs almost due north to Cape Flattery, at the entrance of the Strait of Fuca, near the 48th degree, where it makes an angle by turning to the east. South of Cape Flattery the coast is comparatively regular and free from great sinuosities, and there are only a few islands, all of which are small, in its vicinity ; northward of that point, to Cape Spenser near the 58th degree, it is, on the contrary, indented by numerous bays and inlets penetrating the land, and it is completely masked by islands separated from each other and from the continent by narrow and intricate channels. These islands compose the Northwest Archipelago; they lie together in a recess of the continental . coast between Cape Flattery and Cape Spenser, in length about seven hundred miles, and in breadth about one hundred and twenty; and they are, indeed, simply a continuation, through the sea, of the mountainchain which forms the westernmost rampart of America. Beyond Cape Spenser the American coast makes a bend, running northwest to the foot of Mount Saint Elias, the loftiest peak on the continent, and the most striking landmark on its western shore; thence westward nearly in the course of the 60th parallel, and then southwest to the extremity of the Peninsula of Aliaska, in 54 degrees 40 minutes, around which it again turns to the north, and continues in that course to Cape Prince of Wales. Aliaska is, like California, formed by the projection of a lofty mountain-ridge into the Pacific; from its extremity, and as if in continuation of it, a chain of islands, called the Aleutian Archipelago, extends westward, across the sea, to the vicinity of the opposite Asiatic Peninsula of Kamschatka.
IV. Of the north westernmost division of the American coast, extending from Cape Prince of Wales, southward, to the extremity of Aliaska, little need be said. The part of the Pacific north of the Aleutian Islands,
which bathes those shores, is commonly distinguished as the Sea of Kamschatka, and sometimes as Beering's Sea, in honor of the Russian navigator of that name who first explored it. From this sea several arms run up into the main land of America, of which the largest are Norton Sound, on the south side of the peninsula terminated by Cape Prince of Wales, and Bristol Bay, called by the Russians Kamischezgaia Gulf, on the northwest side of Aliaska. The upper part of Bristol Bay receives the waters of a large lake called Lake Shellikof; a little west of the outlet of which, on the shore of the bay, stands the small Russian factory, or fur-trading establishment, of Alexandrowsk, the only spot on this whole coast occupied by civilized persons.
The Aleutian Archipelago is considered by the Russians as consisting of three groups
of islands. Nearest Aliaska are the Fox Islands, of which the largest are Unimak, Unalashka, and Umnak; next to these are the Andreanowsky Islands, among which are Atscha, Tonaga, and Kanaga, with many smaller islands, sometimes called the Rat Islands; the most western group is that first called the Aleutian or Aleoutsky Islands, which are Attou, Mednoi, (or Copper Island,) and Beering's Island. On the latter Beering was wrecked and lost his life in 1741. These islands are nearly all, like Aliaska, rocky, mountainous, and volcanic; they are of little value in an agricultural point of view, but the Russians derive great advantage from the skins and furs of animals in and about their shores, for procuring which they have several establishments in the Archipelago, particularly on Unalashka. The original inhabitants are a hardy and bold race, whom the Russians had great difficulty in subduing; these people are, however, at the present day, employed by their masters in fishing and hunting for furs in every part of the Pacific, and they compose a large proportion of the population of all the Russian settlements in America. There are other islands in the Sea of Kamschatka, of which the largest are Nunivak, near the American shore, under the 60th parallel, and Saint Lawrence or Clerke's
Island, at the entrance of Beering's Strait. V. Kamschatka is a large peninsula formed of volcanic mountains, extending from the Asiatic continent southward to the latitude of 52 degrees 10 minutes, under which its southernmost point, Cape Lopatka, is situated. West of the peninsula, between it and the main land of Asia, is the Sea of Ochotsk, which is separated from the Pacific on the southeast by the Kurile Islands, extending southwest from Kamschatka towards Japan. The principal place in Kamschatka is Petro-Paulorosk, or the Harbor of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, on the Bay of Avatscha, in latitude of 53 degrees 58 minutes; it is a small town, the inhabitants of which are all engaged directly or indirectly in the fur trade.
VI. The next natural division of the coast is that included in the great bend between the southwest extremity of Aliaska and Cape Spenser. Here are to be remarked two deep gulfs, extending northward into the continent to the 62d degree, through each of which it was for some time hoped that a passage would be discovered communicating with the Atlantic. The westernmost of these gulfs was originally called Cook's River, but is now generally named on English maps Cook's Inlet, and is known by the Russians as the Gulf of Kenay; the other, which is only separated from the former by a peninsula, received from the British navigators the appellation of Prince William's Sound, and is distinguished by the Russians as the Bay of Tschugatsch; it is unnecessary
here to say more of them than that they contain many islands, and that the Russians have several factories on the shores of each. Further eastward are Comptroller's Bay and Admiralty, or Beering's, or Mulgrave, or Yakutat Bay, where it is generally believed that Beering first landed in America in 1741. In the reports of Beering's voyage, it is stated that the mouth of a large and rapid river was found on this part of the coast; none such, however, has been discovered, though a considerable stream called by the Russians Reca Mednaia, (or Copper River,) empties into Comptroller's Bay at some distance from the ocean.
On this coast are several islands, of which the most extensive is Kodiak, at the entrance of Cook's Inlet, separated from Aliaska on the west by the Strait of Shellikof; its surface is rugged and mountainous, and it is indented by many deep bays, on one of which, called the Gulf of Chiniatskoy, on the east side of the island, is situated Saint Paul, one of the largest Russian settlements in America. South of Kodiak, near the southern extremity of Aliaska, are the Schumagin Islands, called after a seaman of Beering's ship, who died and was buried on one of them. Mount Saint Elias is on the northeast side of the bend, nearly under the 60th parallel of latitude ; its height is estimated at seventeen thousand feet, and that of Mount Fairweather, a little farther south, at fourteen thousand. They are both volcanic, as are nearly all the mountains in this part of America.
The region bounded on the west and south by the divisions of the American coast above described is believed to be a frozen waste, traversed in all directions by mountains, and utterly incapable of affording a support to a population except in the immediate vicinity of the ocean. It is used by the Russians only for the purposes of the fur trade, which is carried on at the cost of a dreadful sacrifice of comfort and of life ; and, as the animals yielding furs are daily diminishing in number, this part of the world must, no doubt, ere long be abandoned by all civilized persons.
VII. The Northwest Archipelago is contained, as already stated, in a recess of the coast of the continent, between the 48th and the 58th parallels, (between which also extend the islands of Great Britain and Ireland on the western side of Europe.) This Archipelago was first minutely examined by British navigators, who have bestowed on the islands names derived almost exclusively from the lists of the royal family, the ministry, i the parliament, the peerage, the army, and the navy of Great Britain; none of which names are, however, or probably will be at any future period, used by the occupants of the islands. To present all these names would be a tedious and useless labor; and little more will be attempted than to afford some idea of the principal groups.
King George the Third's Islands are the most northwestern; the two largest of these are, respectively, called by the Russians who occupy them Chichagoff's and Baranof's Islands. Near the western side of the latter, and divided from it by a narrow strait, is a small island, in the middle of which rises a beautiful conical peak, named by the Spaniards in 1775, Mount San Jacinto, and by the English under Cook, three years afterwards, Mount Edgecumb. On the southeast side of this strait, called by the Spaniards Port Remedios, by the British Norfolk Sound, and by the Russians the Gulf of Sitca, stands Sitca, or New Archangel, the capital of all the Russian possessions in America. It was estab
lished on its present site in 1804; and, by the most recent accounts, it contains about a thousand inhabitants, more than three-fourths of whom are Aleutians. The fort mounts sixteen short eighteen-pounders, and ten long nine-pounders, and is garrisoned by about three hundred persons. The Admiralty Islands are between the first described group and the main land, being separated from the former by the Chatham Canal, and from the latter by Stephen's Passage. The part of the sea between these two groups and the continent on the north is called Cross Sound, from which the Lynn Canal, an extensive bay, stretches northward behind Mount Fairweather. South of the King George's and the Admiralty Islands are the groups of the Duke of York, the Prince of Wales, and Revillagigedo, (the last called after a Viceroy of Mexico,) between which are Prince Frederick's Sound, the Duke of Clarence's Strait, and other passages.
All the islands above mentioned are north of the parallel of 54 degrees 40 minutes, which is the latitude of the southernmost point of the Prince of Wales's Íslands, and are therefore all, with the coasts of the continent in their vicinity, among the territories on which the Russians claim the exclusive right of making settlements, in virtue of their treaties with the United States and Great Britain, as before stated at page 3.
Between the 52d and 54th parallels, extends a large island, of triangular shape, which will be found on the map, bearing the name of Queen Charlotte's, or Washington's Island. Its western coast was discovered by the Spaniards in 1774; from which time to 1787 it was considered, like all the other islands of the Archipelago, as forming part of the continent. In the last mentioned year, Captain Dixon, commanding the merchant ship Queen Charlotte, of London, becoming convinced that it was an insulated territory, bestowed on it the name of his vessel; but it was first circumnavigated in the summer of 1789, by Captain Gray, in the sloop Washington, of Boston, who, without knowing any thing of Dixon's voyage, called the country Washington's Island. It was the favorite resort of the early American fur-traders in the north Pacific; and the manuscript Journal of Captain Ingraham, who commanded the brig Hope, of Boston, in that sea, from 1791 to 1793, contains minute descriptions and charts of several ports, particularly on its eastern side, which are not noticed in any published accounts or maps. The limits of this sketch do not admit of minute descriptions, or many interesting facts relative to the island in question might be related on the authority of Ingraham. He describes the soil and climate as being well adapted for agricultural purposes, particularly in the vicinity of Cummashawah Bay, a fine harbor on the east coast, in latitude of 53 degrees 3 minutes, and of Hancock's River, on the north side, called by the Spaniards Port Estrada, which was after it had been surveyed and named by the captain of the brig Hancock, from Boston.
Pitt's, Burke's, and the Princess Royal groups, are composed of many small islands, situated very near the continent, east of Queen Charlotte's. islands. On one of these, called Dundas Island, the British Hudson's Bay Company have a trading-post.
The largest and southernmost island in the northwest Archipelago, is that called Quadra and Vancouver's Island, extending, in its greatest length, from northwest to southeast about 200 miles, between the parallels of 484 and 51 degrees, and separated from the continent on the south and east by the arm of the sea called the Strait of Fuca. The spot on this
island most worthy of note is Nootka Sound, an extensive bay communicating with the Pacific in latitude of 49 degrees 34 minutes, and affording excellent harbors for vessels in many places, particularly in Friendly Cove, on the north side, about ten miles from the ocean. This place was for many years the chief rendezvous of the fur-traders on the northwest coast; and some of the most important events in the history of that part of the world occurred there, as may be seen in the 6th and 7th chapters of this memoir. The name of Nootka was first applied by Cook, who believed it to be that employed by the natives; no word has, however, since been found in use among thein more nearly resembling Nootka than Yuquotl, their name for Friendly Cove. A few miles southeast from Nootka is another bay called Clyoquot; and further in the same direction, at the entrance of the Strait of Fuca, is a third called Nittinat, in which are many islands.
The Strait of Fuca extends between the island last described and the continent, from Cape Flattery, directly eastward, about one hundred and twenty miles, and thence northwest about two hundred and fifty miles, communicating with the ocean in the north through an entrance, called by the Americans Pintard's, and by the British Queen Charlotte's Sound. The southern part of the strait is about forty miles in width; the part running northeast is in some places nearly as wide, but generally much narrower, and is filled with islands. This passage was discovered, in 1592, by Juan de Fuca, a Greek pilot, who declared that he had sailed through it into the Atlantic; his statement was, however, disproved in 1792 by Vancouver, Galiano, and Valdes, who surveyed it together, and determined that it was only a great sound. The island which it separates from the continent, in that year received its present long and inconvenient appellation, by agreement between Vancouver and the Spanish commandant, Quadra.
VIII. The parts of the continent contiguous to these islands have received from British navigators many names, such as New Norfolk, New Cornwall, New Hanover, and New Georgia; all of which have become obsolete. The country north of the 58th parallel is almost unknown. Two large rivers, the Peace River and the Turnagain, flow from it eastward through the Rocky Mountains into the Markenzie, which empties into the Arctic Sea; another river, called the Stikine, has also been lately discovered entering the Pacific east of Duke of York's Island, in latitude of 56 degrees 50 minutes, which is said to be three miles wide at its mouth and one mile wide thirty miles higher up.
The country on the Pacific, between the 49th and 58th parallels, is usually distinguished by the British fur-traders as New Caledonia; and, from all accounts, it resembles the northern part of Scotland in its ruggedness, its lakes, and its barrenness. Its principal lakes are Stuart's, Babine, and Frazer's Lakes, all situated between the 54th and the 56th parallels. Babine Lake communicates with the Pacific by a large stream called Simpson's River; Frazer's and Stuart's Lakes are head-waters of Frazer's River, which flows from them nearly due south about four hundred miles, and enters the ocean in latitude of 49 degrees. The soil of New Caledonia is everywhere steril, very small portions only being fit for cultivation; and the climate, though much milder than that of the other countries of America between the same latitudes, is generally
too severe for the pro-, duction of the esculent grains and vegetables. The British Hudson's