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No customer reviews. Customers who viewed this item also viewed. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. Joy Ride. A pair of dwarfs, man and woman, bunched up in sheep-skins and gayly tinted shawls, neither of them bigger than a child of twelve, seemed to have walked straight out of a gnomish page of Grimm.
By candlelight a tall, mop-headed student, his flat blue cap tilted rakishly over his ear, passed the time teaching a little fellow of ten to learn and repeat, viva voce, marked passages in a book of poetry.
Such were our fellow passengers. It took three nights and nearly four days to reach the Urals, three nights and four days of rumbling eastward through an ocean of deep snow that stretched, unblemished for the most part by even a trackside fence, from the metals to the far horizon.
Add a few birches, fewer pines and firs, neck-deep snow that filled giillies and stream beds to the brink, swallowed bushes and shrubs and left the approach to peasants' low, mud-walled huts a clear-cut in- clined plane diving into the bowels of the earth.
The drag up the Urals was long and exhausting to our wood-stoked engines, but when the top was reached the engineer threw out his throttle and we coasted down the other side into Asia.
It was founded in , the name being derived from the Baskir chieftain Tcheliab. For generations it has been an etape or clearing-house for exiles, but since Eussia has gone seriously into colonizing her big side yard, Tcheliabinsk has become a distributing point for immigrants.
The quarters for these settlers accom- modate 2,, and they are always crowded. A branch of the railroad, the first in Siberia, runs north from Tcheliabinsk and connects Tinmen and Ekaterinburg, thence crossing the Urals to Russia. From Tcheliabinsk our train rumbled on again, skirt- ing the desolate Khirgis, Ishim and Barbara steppes.
The word desolate must be qualified. We were now in the Government of Tobolsk, the wheat district of Siberia, a region that by winter is barren and snow clad, but rich, with crops in summer. There was Kurgan, for example, whose name signifies that it was the place an immense barrow once existed. No trace of it remains. And there was Petropavolask on the Ishim river that sh ending in the names of Eussian towns, by the way, means they are situated on a river. Petropavolask, with 35, inhabitants, has a famous annual hide and skin fair.
The natives of the Tobolsk Government have a weakness for fairs. There were listed one year. But with desolation outside, we found our third class fellow travelers far more interesting than the little towns we passed.
And they, in turn, after the manner of Eus- sians en route, gave absolutely no heed to the scenery beyond the windows. The oflficial cleanliness on our train was highly com- mendable. Every hour or two an assistant conductor, or the man who looked after the steam heating, passed through with a broom or a handbrush, assiduously sweep- ing up every cigarette-butt, cedar nut shell — cedar nuts are the peanuts of Russia — or scrap of rubbish tossed on the clean floor.
And every two days, during an hour's wait at an important station, an old woman would come through the train to wash the linoleum. Well, there were several. There were double windows, and three iron doors had to be passed before reaching the open air on the plat- form at each end of the car.
Ventilation was afforded only by little traps in the ceiling that, at night, the Rus- sians insisted on screwing doMTi tight. No amount of argument could convince these simple folk that by morn- ing our coach would rival the Black Hole of Calcutta for atmosphere. It usually did, but the Russians appeared not to mind it. The mingling of the sexes in sleeping quarters was at first embarrassing. At Tcheliabinsk we had captured two bunks, an upper and a lower. The opposite seats were occupied by an old grandmother and a young girl.
By day we sat face to face, hardly an arm's reach separating us. But not until the second night did we grow accus- tomed to this twenty-year old girl pulling off her boots and generally disrobing, though it was rather annoying when she took a notion to roll a cigarette about midnight and insisted on scattering half the tobacco on the face of the one of us who happened to be asleep on the shelf below.
They were very crude. Men and women shared them alike. One confusing note in all Russian railways is that they are run on St. Petersburg time. This necessitates an end- less amount of figuring, and, unless one is a mathematical genius, he gets to the station either an hour too late for his train or a day too early.
There were many delays on the line. Often we were shunted off to a siding and lay there while the great Trans-Siberian Express rolled by. Once or twice we had to wait while arrestante wagons full of criminals and exiles were linked to our train. But the stops gave oppor- tunity to wander along the track and chat with the natives who gathered around.
There was still another rather annoying feature to our third class train. Every hour throughout the day and three or four times during the night, the conductor and two assistants raked through the train with a fine-toothed comb, ticket clipping and inspecting.
Thirty-one times were our tickets clipped before we reached Omsk. On the twenty-fifth occasion, we begged the conductor to clip them five times and then leave us in peace for a day, but he evidently believed in conserving his simple pleasures for a more leisurely enjoyment. Thus passed the time until, a few hours short of five days after leaving the Moscow terminal, our train crept into the station at Omsk. Both are big and thriving cities according to Siberian standards; that is to say, great clusters of log buildings, generally one story high and containing two or three rooms; next to no street lighting or paving; no art gal- lery; a park; three or four murders a week; a scattering of schools ; and two or three shabby hotels, each merely a hive of bedrooms and a restaurant among the waiters of which are usually a murderer or two who have served their time in the dread ohlasts of the frozen north.
Just now the claims of both Omsk and Tomsk are fairly evenly balanced. Omsk is the agricultural center, the hub of 2, square miles of fine pasture land: Tomsk is the office of the Altai Mining District, and, with its university and fifty-five other educational institutions, pre- eminently the educational capital of Siberia.
There is a good deal of talk of the huge offices of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, a gem in the crown of Tomsk, being transferred to her rival city.
At the best of times there is keen com- petition existing between the two, and wherever two or three Tomskians and Omskians are gathered together in a Siberian vodka shop there is usually trouble. Omsk, with a station three miles from the town on the main line of the Trans-Siberian, 1, miles east of Mos- cow, has a population in the neighborhood of 96, It was one of the first big bases made by the old-time Rus- sian pioneer. To-day it has a large garrison in continual residence, varying in numbers from 5, to 20, according to local conditions and season.
The garrison reaches its fullest strength in winter. The city has one long, shop-lined street and a sprouting of muddy side alleys, a cathedral of St. Nicholas, three libraries, thirty schools, a large theater and a bad criminal record.
The natives point to all of these with pride. Through the heart of the town flows the Irtish Eiver, the second great water system of Siberia, which makes Omsk the port of some 15, miles of navigable water- ways.
One can take a boat on the river quay at Omsk and travel north to the Arctic, south to the Mongolian border, west through the Tobol to the Urals, and east via the Ob, Ket and Kass rivers, the Kass canal and the Angarar to Lake Baikal.
On the bank of the Irtish, while we were there, was a stack of American harvesting machinery fifty feet deep, as high as a two story building, and yards long, wait- ing for the ice to go out of the river before being shipped to farmers upon the northern steppes. The American harvester can be seen in all parts of Siberia — as far north as Yakutsk and southward on the edge of the Gobi Desert where camels draw the machines.
Omsk has four principal articles of export — skins and hides, meat and butter. In this respect Omsk is the Chi- cago of Siberia. To buy a wolf pelt in winter at Omsk, when the skin is in the finest condition, you have to pay three or four dollars.
The ermine pelt now fetches two dollars. It could have been obtained for twenty cents less only a few years ago. Hare skins for make-up into spurious furs are in great demand.
The requirements of fashion were the cause of the greatest destruction in of wild animal life in the history of Siberia.
There were 4,, gray squirrels killed in the Siberian woods ; the sales of the tails alone, used for boas and dress trimmings, amounted to twenty-one tons. One and a half million white hares were killed and 12, sables. From this one might suppose that furs are sold for a song in the Omsk shops. The prospective purchaser, however, has an awakening in store for him. There is no fur making-up industry in Siberia. All furs go to the big German clearing-house at Leipsic or to Poland, and presently come back made into fur coats and stoles.
Thus, in Omsk a fur coat costs more than it does back in Poland. Centrally located in 2, square miles of excellent grazing land, Omsk is also a great meat and butter market. Last year it exported to Russia alone the contents of nearly 4, cold storage cars of meat. Consequently meat is very cheap for home consumption. In summer time meat can be purchased in the Omsk market for hopecJcs cents a pound; in winter, only I'opecks. A dead hare costs thirty hopecks in winter, and you can purchase a pair of geese for about a rouhle, half a dollar.
Potatoes are not much in demand in Siberia. The far less nourishing salted and pickled cucumbers are mostly consumed. The brined cucumber is to Siberia what the potato is to Ireland.
Each summer sees the establishment of a big water- melon market. Eine melons can be bought for the equiva- lent of a nickel. But now and again, when cholera and intestinal diseases make their appearance, the health au- thorities step in and forbid all melon sales. The Siberian butter trade amounts to some 80,, pounds annually. Prior to no butter was produced or exported; to-day it is Siberia's greatest article of ex- port.
The Government, appreciating the possibilities of this region, has established dairy schools at various points and is subsidizing them at gi'eat expense. The butter business is largely in the hands of Danish companies which employ agents to travel everywhere up and down country to watch conditions and earmark each season's supply. In the square of the church of St. Nicholas at Omsk the traveler is shown a crumbling gateway that, a century ago, served as corner for the old stockade.
Hardly until then, unless he has studied it elsewhere, does he appreciate that Siberia has annals other than the records of exile. Like the winning of our own West, Siberia's history is the tale of a new land with wondrous resources, a tale of natural expansion, of battles with nomadic tribes, of fear- less adventurers and explorers, and then, with the coming of the engine and railways, the tale of a virgin country OMSK — THE COMING CITY 13 opened up by the progress and the inventions of the past century.
The first mention one finds of Eussian relations with the peoples east of the Urals was when, early in the Six- teenth Century, the family of Stroganovs of Novgorod, the great trading company of the day, attracted by some pelts brought to Novgorod by the Samoied tribesmen from Siberia, had a band of trappers accompany the returning Samoieds to their home country.
From that time on the Stroganovs engineered a number of trading expeditious thither which brought great wealth to themselves and much news of the land to the eastward. The man who led the first of these great expeditions, and whose name in Siberian history is quite comparable with Daniel Boone's in American, was Yermak Timokeiev, who, with a band of Cossacks sent out by the Stroganovs, pushed the Eussian eagles the other side of the Ural Mountains.
To-day Yermak's banner hangs in the Cos- sack church at Omsk, and a short distance down the river from that city the Government has raised a statue to com- memorate his battles.
His victories are further pictured in paintings on the walls of the University of Tomsk. In the Seventeenth Century Eussian traders and ex- plorers made their way eastward, founding little strong- holds along the trail, stations that to-day are the cities of Tomsk, Yeniseisk, Kainsk, Krasnoiarsk, Irkutsk, Yakutsk and Nerchinsk. The Sea of Okhotsk was reached by the Cossacks in 1G By the post road from Moscow to the Sea of Okhotsk was a well beaten track.
The natu- ral waterways, the Ob, the Irtish, the Yenisei, the Amur and the Lena, had been traveled by hunters and explorers. Serious colonization began toward the end of the Seven- teenth Century. The Altai Mountains were explored by mining prospectors in , gold was found, and the first cabinet or govern- ment mine established at Kolyvansk. To the stream of immigrants joined many people who were discontented at home — religious dissenters, and the exiles.
The work of exploration was pushed actively in the reigns of Peter the Great and Catherine By a party of explorers had discovered America via the Bering Strait, and islands in the Bering Sea were settled.
Six years before the Declaration of Independence was signed, the Russian banner was planted over Alaska. Our own explorations at that time did not go much farther than the Mississippi. For years the post road was the only link that Rus- sians in Siberia had with civilization.
Not until Tsar Alexander III saw the strategic and commercial possibili- ties that only a railroad could afford, was there any change. By that time, , the West of the United States was pierced with trunk lines and new towns were being added to the map weekly. But Russia was slow to build railroads even in her European provinces and it is little to be wondered at that her Asiatic possessions north of Turkestan, except for that short line from Tuimen to Tcheliabinsk, were unconnected until The im- perial ukase then went forth saying that a railroad should be thrown across the continent of Asia " to facilitate com- munication between Siberia and the other countries of the Empire, and to manifest my extreme anxiety to secure the peaceful prosperity of the country.
Siberia's growth can be reckoned from that 19th of May, There were thirty miles of bridges to be constructed, one of them, that over the Ob, half a mile long. The work was pushed steadily until the continent was spanned. As an investment, it pays no in- terest, for to reach the status of interest it would have to carry 10,, tons of freight annually, three times as much as it carries each year now. As a military asset, it proved its worth when, in the late war with Japan, Prince Hilkoff trained his troops and their stores across the con- tinent of Asia to Manchuria on that single narrow line of rails.
Double tracking was commenced two years ago and is nearly finished at this time of writing. In spots, the present construction is not all that might be desired. The bed is often laid in swamps. The rails are light, and the embankments none too secure. Acci- dents occur regularly and will continue to occur until the entire structure has been strengthened.
The present running time for the express trains from Moscow to Vladivostok is 8 days, 17 hours, 35 minutes, and from Vladivostok to Moscow 8 days, 11 hours, 35 minutes. The time of the ordinary passenger train between these points is twelve and one-half days, and from Vladivostok to Moscow eleven and one-half days. The Minister of Ways and Communications hopes, before many years, to provide a six-day train from Vladi- vostok to St.
Several branch lines from the main trunk have been proposed — south over the old tea route through Kiakhta, Maimatshin, Urga via the Gobi Desert to Pekin. This will shorten by several days the distance between Moscow and Pekin and will open up Mongolian traffic and clinch Russia's hold over her new protectorate.
There has been projected and the route surveyed for a line to go northeast from Nizhneudinsk to the Lena, then southeast, skirting the end of Baikal, till it joins the Amur railroad near the junction of the Shilka and Argun, or the beginning of the Amur river. A branch line will run from Irkutsk along the west shore of Baikal and further connect the projected railroad.
This line will open up the Lena gold fields and will provide transporta- tion for the iron and oil now being found in great quanti- ties on the northeastern shores of Baikal. Aigun is the Chinese port on the Amur, forty versts below Blagowestchensk.
As yet, the Amur Railroad is far from completed, though work is being pushed. This line will open up Amurland, connect Blagowestchensk, Stretensk and Khab- arovsk, and, with the Usurri line from Vladivostok to Khabarovsk, complete the encircling of northern Man- churia by Russian railways.
At present the principal articles of transportation over the railroad are butter, meat, wheat, and furs. As it is to-day, great quantities of American wheat are bought by the Siberians. Siberia's greatest need is more railroads. What this one trunk line has done for Siberia in popu- lation alone is astounding. Omsk in had 37, souls; to-day it has over 96, The original population of one and one-half millions in Siberia before the rail- road came has been increased seven times.
Yet Siberia is to-day, and for many years to come will be, the zone of the railroad.Miss Jamaica (CD, Album) Sequence Records, Xtra Large Productions: none: US: Various: Showtime Juggling (Comp) 2 versions: VPXLCD US: Sell This Version: 2 versions General Degree / Unknown Artist - Stand By / Version (7", RE.