« PreviousContinue »
rookeries, weffi spectators at the birth of a new mountain peak, and their description of the awe-inspiring sight as a steaming mass of lava was raised above the water's surface, sending a pillar of flame and vapor miles into the heavens, while lightning and thunder accompanied the spectacle, proves that every scenic effect was called into play to produce a mighty triumph of the cosmic forces.
Nor is the volcanic action confined to this one isolated spot in the dreary wastes of Bering Sea; for when Bogoslof plunges into a series of activities the effect can be felt a thousand miles along the Alaskan shore.
Accompanying the last upheaval of the Bogoslofs, Alaska's most active volcano, Mt. Makushin, near Unalaska, has been in eruption, and vessels plying between Seattle and Nome reported its sides and top covered with chocolate colored effluvia, while smoke and steam arose from its crater.
Originally Bogoslof was a jagged rock rising out of Bering Sea. With turrets and buttresses it looked like a feudal castle, and after the United States acquired Alaska from Russia it came to be known as Castle Rock. Admiral Bogoslof of the Russian navy had charted the island in 1790. Castle Rock seemed to alter its size and shape between the visits of different ships, and between the seasons of 1886 and 1887 there sprang into being a second island
United States Cruiser lit
ralo. Rrconnoitering In Alaskan Aters.
as a rule and more
about four miles to the northwest. Castle Rock was about sixty miles to the northwestward of Unalaska.
When the United States revenue cutter Perry approached the islands in 1906 the officers found that a new peak had risen out of the sea between Castle Rock and Fire Island. This was named Perry Peak. Smoking and steaming, it looked like a gigantic new-made pudding. The three islands in the Bogoslof archipelago were estimated to be about 800 feet in height.
It was on the Fourth of July, of the following year, that the revenue cutter McCulloch passed the Bogoslof, and there out of the sea another peak had raised its head, this one right by the side of Perry Island and virtually forming a part of the year-old mound. This was called McCulloch Peak. Evidently it had just come into being, for it was formed of soft earth mingled with great boulders, and from its fissures great clouds of steam constantly arose to heaven.
But this peak was destined for a short life. Passing the Bogoslofs September 1, 1907, the whaler Herman, of San Francisco, after a season in the Arctic, beheld the disappearance of McCulloch while flame shot up through clouds of steam and smoke, and the superstitious sailors foresaw the end of mundane things. It happened that the United States auxiliary cruiser Buffalo, commanded by Capt. Charles F. Pond, sent north to investigate the sealing operations about the Pribilof Islands, was not far away, and when Captain Pood" heard of a shower of ash on the nearby islands he determined to head for the Bogoslofs and see what new act of legerdemain had been worked among those restless islands. When the Buffalo reached the spot Captain Pond found that since the visit of the revenue cutter McCulloch, earlier in the season, the strangest alterations had taken place, for the three islands had been merged into one, and the sea was 2,000 feet deep where McCulloch Peak had stood.
At one end of the new island stood Castle Rock, changed beyond recognition, by the latest disturbance, and with its outline softened and smoothed by a coating of volcanic dust and lava. Perry Peak had been much reduced in height, and a low bar of land connected the three bits of higher ground.
"Rocks as large as a house were occasionally detached from the sides of Perry Peak," Captain Pond related, ''rolling down with thunderous noises to the
water's edge. Strange to relate, a colony of sea lions that for several years had made their home south of Castle Rock, were nourishing despite their proximity to the center of activity, and were apparently enjoying the warm waters that surrounded the island."
About this time the steamship Pennsylvania arrived at Nome with her decks sprinkled with ash, and reported that analysis of this effluvia showed the presence of gold. Coincident with the disappearance of McCulloch Peak earthquake shocks were felt along the coast of Alaska to the eastward and a number of uncharted rocks made their appearance,- even in southeastern Alaska. It was a little later than this that the government cable between Sitka and Valdez was snapped by the sudden rising of a submarine mountain.
Perry Peak lived a few months longer, but it had disappeared when the United States fisheries cutter Albatross visited the Bogoslof group July 7, 1908. A narrow band of land then joined Castle Rock and Fire Island, but the officers of the Albatross beheld a new manifestation of the restive forces beneath the sea. What seemed to be the surface of the water adjoining the strip of land rose up
in a gigantic dome-like swelling, as large as the dome of the capitol at Washington. Then it subsided, only to rise again. Before each subsidence there was a tremendous escape of gas, like a huge bubble pushing its way through the water.
Following this phenomenon great clouds of smoke and steam issued from the same spot, gradually growing in immensity until the spellbound spectators began to fear they would be engulfed in a terrific cataclysm. The sky was filled with seething clouds of vapor, while fire, smoke and white hot lava streamed from this sea-level volcanic crater. The column that rose heavenward officers of the Albatross declare was three miles in diameter.
The cutter Perry was the next visitor to the islands, and found a new-made
peak on the site of the old Perry Peak. Members of the crew led by officers braved the danger and stood upon the shore of Bogoslof, but the heat was so great they could not long remain.
It was September 10 of this last season when the revenue cutter Manning first approached the Bering Sea volcano, and the adventurous spirits insisited on going ashore. Changes were many since the Perry had been upon the scene. Again Perry Peak had become two small mountains. Evidence of terrific heat was plain, not only in the coating of lava, moulten and dust, that covered the island, but in the skeletons of multitudes of seafowl that plainly had been roasted alive in the twinkling of an eye. The bones, scattered by thousands crumbled to fine dust at the touch.
The Tahotna's men found a crater fifteen hundred feet in diameter, seething with lava, fire, boiling water and steam. They describe it by likening it to a huge colander with streams of boiling water spurting upward through the holes, and a geyser in the center much larger than the rest. On insecure footing of baked mud, which in places gave way under their weight, the situation of the observers was perilous, and the roar of the crater drowned their voices.
Nine days later the Tahoma was again approaching Bogoslof when, at 4 o'clock in the morning, the lookout reported to Capt. J. H. Quinan that a terrific thunderstorm, with lightning of unusual brilliance was raging dead ahead. The captain issued orders to fix the vessel's lightning rods, and then inquired the exact location of the storm center.
"That's Bogoslof in eruption again," he exclaimed, and soon all the revenue cutter's officers and men were on deck to witness the display, which was then about twenty miles away.
Lieutenant F. E. Bagger gives a detailed account of the Tahotna's remarkable experience at the birth of a new mountain on Bogoslof:
"We were on a northeast course, making about ten knots an hour when the officer of the watch noticed perhaps twenty-five miles ahead flashes of vivid lightning. Through the gloom we could discern a mass of dark and lowering clouds, and as the day dawned one immense cloud hung over the group directly in our path. Flashes of blinding light lit the sea and sky to the horizon, and showed us the rough outline of Bogoslof as the center of the disturbance. Every eye was strained to watch the developments of the awe-inspiring spectacle.
"By six o'clock the Tahoma had drawn within twelve miles of Bogoslof. With the rays of the rising sun old Fire Island could just be distinguished at the edge of heavy clouds of ashes, steam and smoke that completely enveloped the remainder of the island.
"When the revenue cutter had approached within ten miles of the scene it was plainly to be observed that the flames, molten lava, ashes, steam and smoke were issuing from the old crater, which had been partly surrounded by a salt lagoon. Titanic forces were at work creating a prodigious disturbance, and the heat which was being freed from the center of the earth began to produce an eddying wind that even from our distance could be plainly felt. As we continued to near the land the force of the increasing wind began to scatter the clouds of smoke which hovered over the northeast end of Bogoslof, and by 6:15 o'clock the land sprang plainly into view.
"Soon the Tahoma had reached a point sufficiently near for the eye of the camera, and we obtained some very fine views of the spectacle. At 6:30 we were only six miles distant, and the heat began to be oppressive. The continuous shower .of ash and lava dust made it necessary for us to keep to windward of the island.
"A little before 9 o'clock we were only four miles from this belching, roaring volcano. A column of red-hot glowing lava was rising to a height of half a mile, through the center of the vapor and clouds. The steam from the crater reared its head as high again into the clouds, in immense billows. Even above the vapor streams of living fire rose and fell in a pyrotechnic shower.
"Accompanying all this display there was a constant roar while sounds like thunder issued from the cauldron on the island. Still keeping to leeward to escape the heat, we crept to within a mile of the shore. But we did not long remain there as ashes and sparks lighting on the deck told of our imminent danger, and Captain Quinan turned the Tahotna's prow about and we headed for the Aleut village of Chenofski, near Unalaska. But as we left we could see through the clouds of vapor that a new mountain had been born on Bogoslof, and doubtless it will be known as Tahoma Peak."
Since the Tahotna's return to winter quarters the coast of Alaska has been racked by quakes and jars, so that it is more than probable Bogoslof has assumed a new shape even since September.
WITH the ever increasing cost of lumber, the value of cement as a building material is growing more and more apparent. It is, moreover, becoming one of the most prized of materials to the engineer, who uses it for bridges, for retaining walls, for substructure and other purposes. For side walks it is unrivalled and has usurped the place of all other materials. Mr. Edison considers it one of the most pliable, esthetic and economical of house materials, and Mr. Lorado Taft, the sculptor, is demonstrating the fact that it is amenable to the purposes of art.
Mr. Taft is causing to be erected in Ogle County, Illinois, near the delightful village of Oregon, on the banks of the Rock river, a statue of Black Hawk, once chief of the Sac and Fox Indians, who possessed the rich and picturesque country of that region. A chieftain at once wise and brave, he is worthy of commendation, and Mr. Taft has chosen to place his statue upon a rocky bluff which commands a fine sweep of the river both North and South. Tradition says that this was a favorite retreat of Black Hawk's.
The dimensions of this statue are 48 feet without the pedestal, and being set as it is, upon a bulwark of rock, the effect from the river is one of melancholy and imposing grandeur. Mr. Taft has not attempted a portrait of Black Hawk, but has made what might be regarded as a composite face of the Indians of the Middle West.
As is his custom, the first figure Mr. Taft designed was but eight inches high; the next two feet; the third six feet. This figure was set in a frame which forms a part of a pointing machine, and by means of a system devised by Mr. Taft and his assistant, Mr. John Gottlieb Prasuhn, it has been possible to enlarge this figure seven times, and to preserve accurately every feature of the finely finished, six foot model.
The builders of this huge statue had no precedent by which to work, and the successful development of Mr. Taft's idea is the result of the ingenuity and mathematics of Mr. Prasuhn.
First a central tower of wood was built, and upon this and from it was developed an edifice which indicated the form of the figure. Small sticks were nailed over this at close intervals and numbered. These showed wherever there was to be a curve or a variation, and the extent of that variation. A sketch of the frame work in this condition, with each point numbered was then made on paper, and every proportion was tested with plumb line and square. When all corresponded to the working model—a correspondence which the pointing machine could prove or disprove by its infallible comparisons, with one end operating from the small model, and the other indicating the point at which a seven-fold enlargement was to be made—the whole surface was covered with chicken wire. Mr. Prasuhn began at the neck and wrapped this around and around the figure, and then