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THE "TROUBLE MEN" IN ALASKA HAVE ARDUOUS WORK BEFORE THEM.
Repair party starting from a station.
Aside a close chinked log hut in
N enlisted man of the Signal post on a humane errand, and now mo
Corps of the United States mentarily he expects the reply that will Army, snowshoe shod, is har give him permission to risk his own life nessing his dogs to a sled out- to save that of another. The word comes
and the relief expedition starts. the Alaskan wilderness. He is making Thirty minutes to Washington and ready for a hard driving dash to the back, five thousand miles! Ten years rescue of a prospector who, native report ago how long would the soldier have has it, is starving and freezing to death waited on the edge of the Kinnoko Valin a hut in the Valley of the Kinnoko. ley for an answer to his hurry-up mes
The soldier is waiting the order to sage sent to the Potomac Valley? Before start, waiting for it to come from Wash- it came he would have counted the days ington, the Capital of the United States, and the weeks and the months, and in five thousand miles away. Thirty minutes the meantime what would the cold and before he had asked the War Department hunger have done to the blizzard-besieged for the word of authority to leave his prospector in the wilderness hut?
The picture in part is fancy, for no would reach from Wyoming to the American soldier would wait thirty Bahamas, off the Coast of Florida. The minutes or thirty seconds for an order cables used would reach from Newfoundto save life. It is drawn only to show land to Ireland, and the land lines from that today the military authorities in Washington to Texas. Washington are in telegraphic touch with This achievement of General James the remotest points in Alaska, and that Allen, Chief Signal Officer of the Army orders can be transmitted to Nome with and the officers and men under his convirtually the same rapidity that they can tro!, won the admiration of Congress, be sent to Fort Myer, which lies close to and it was to be supposed naturally that Arlington within sight of the Washing- in view of it, the lawmakers would have ton Monument.
been willing that the Service should be The Signal Corps of the United States given opportunity to seek results in other Army has made this instant communica- fields in no way foreign to those in which tion possible. There are only a few hun- the corps is employed, and yet for two dred members of the service, but they years there was refusal to give the have completed in the face of forbidding signalmen the modest sum that they conditions a cable and land line system asked in order that they might keep which army officers of other countries abreast of the armies of the world in the have said, “is unique in the annals of science of aviation. Recently by dint of telegraphic engineering.” If plotted on pleas from the service and from the counthe map of the United States this system try Congress consented to open its purse.
The United States has brought south- are branch cables from Sitka to Juneau eastern Alaska, the Valley of the Yukon and to Skagway, and from Valdez to and the region of the Behring Straits Fort Liscum, Seward and Cape Whitinto instant communications with the shed. Branch land lines run from Gulentire civilized world. General Adolphus kana to Eagle City, which is on the bounW. Greeley, formerly Chief Signal Offi- dary line between the British and the cer of the Army, not long ago said, American Alaskan possessions. "There yet lacks to complete the dream Within a few weeks a wireless station of half a century ago of telegraphically has been put into commission at Kotlik uniting America and Asia via Behring at the mouth of the Yukon River. The
. Strait, a cable to the Asiatic shore and new station is eighty miles from Fort St. a Russian line of about 1,500 miles to Michael with which it is intended to comNikolaevisk.” The dream
municate. The Kotlik office will be used realization much more quickly than any to exchange messages with vessels enterman not charged with the electric en- ing Norton Sound from the sea. General thusiasm can believe.
Allen in his last report says that the The main Alaska cable and land lines operation of the wireless telegraph stalaid and strung by the men of the Signal tions in Alaska has been of such a charCorps run under the sea and through the acter as to warrant consideration being air from Seattle in the State of Wash- given ultimately to the abandonment of a ington, to St. Michael. From St. Michael portion of the land telegraph lines over across Norton Sound to Nome the com- the routes now covered by wireless, “thus munication is by wireless. This is the relying on these as the sole means of route: Cable, Seattle to Sitka, Sitka to communication instead of as an auxiliary Valdez, 1,684 miles. Main land lines to the land lines as originally intended.” from Valdez to Fairbanks, to Fort Gib- During the past year there have been bon, to St. Michael, 1,068 miles. There 213 men of the Signal Corps on duty in
parently happy with their hardships. They are there today, some of them in log huts, and others in better quarters but with no other change in their surroundings to make lighter the load of isoiation which they bear. Danger comes to these men frequently and difficulties daily, and it is theirs to test the truth of Byron's line, "There is society where none intrudes."
The cable line from Seattle to Sitka and thence to Valdez, with the branches now established. was laid under the direction of General James Allen and Major Edgar Russel, who were chosen for the work because of their cable laying experiences in the Philippines and of their high knowledge of electric engineering. The cableship, Burnside, was brought from China where it was undergoing repairs. The cable was manufactured in New Jersey and transported around Cape Horn, a distance of 12.000 miles. The work of laying was prosecuted in large part under the most unfavorable circumstances, gales and bad weather generally delaying operations and frequently endangering not only the success of the work but the safety of the
COPYRISHT, HARRIS TWINO
BRIGADIER GENERAL JAMES ALLEN, CHIEF OF SIGNAL
Corps. UNITED STATES ARMY.
Alaska, enough to make a battalion of infantry of ordinary peace time strength. A few soldiers of the line, mainly infantrymen, have been detached for service with the Signal Corps in the Alaskan work. These men in little squads, barely enough in many cases to complete a set of fours, are stationed at long intervals on the rude roads and the blazed trails above which the wires of the telegraph are strung. Nine months of winter each year these soldiers remain cut off from anything save a humming wire to remind them that somewhere men live in cities and go to their work in the companionship of multitudes.
The soldiers of the Signal Corps in Alaska must fight the elements. For two years during the construction of a part of the land lines a little squad of service men made their headquarters in a log hut as primitive in building fashion as any ever thrown up by a pioneer forefather when the tide of migration flowed over the Alleghenies in the New West. Two years, eighteen months of winter, working daily with the thermometer marking degrees way below the zero point, these soldiers stayed there, ap
ship and the lives of the men engaged in factured in New Jersey, transported by the duty. Success finally came and Seat- rail and sea, installed between Valdez tle talked to Sitka, and Sitka talked to and Sitka and thrown open to commerValdez.
cial business in five months and twelve In the service of cable laying a detach- days." ment of the Signal Service did the more The crew of the Burnside was comarduous and technical work "with such posed of Filipinos, and there also was a success as to reflect new credit on the detachment of “Little Brown Brothers" resourcefulness of the American soldier." who were used as cablemen. General
In writing of the cable laying an officer Allen has commended them "for activity, of the Signal Service has said: “The willingness, thoroughness and reliabilcelerity with which the Valdez-Sitka ity," and he has added, "the previously
“ cable of over five hundred miles in expressed good opinion of the services length was put under contract, manufac- of the Filipinos as crew and cable men tured, transported, and laid, illustrates has been strengthened by late experiAmerican possibilities. Congress appro- ences.” priated the money on April 24, the con- The cable lines of the Alaskan system tract was awarded, the cable was manu- are “safe down under the water.” The