Imágenes de páginas

Bay Company, to a population of five thousand, there was but a single physician, and he told me, that without an additional salary allowed him by the Company, the diseases of the settlement would not afford him a living.'

None of the American Lakes can compare with Lake Superior in healthfulness of climate during the summer months, and there is no place so well calculated to restore the health of an invalid, who has suffered from the depressing miasms of the fever-breeding soil of the Southwestern States. This opinion is fast gaining ground among medical men, who are now recommending to their patients the healthful climate of this favored lake, in preference to sending them to die in enervating southern latitudes.

The waters of this vast inland sea, covering an area of over 32,000 miles, exercise a powerful influence in modifying the two extremes of heat and cold. The uniformity of temperature thus produced is highly favorable to animal and vegetable life. The most delicate fruits and plants are raised without injury, while four or five degrees further south they are destroyed by the early frosts. It is a singular fact, that Lake Superior never freezes in the middle; and, along the shores, the ice seldom extends out more than fifteen to eighteen miles. The temperature of its waters rarely, if ever, change, and are almost always at 400 Fahrenheit — the maximum density of water. In midsummer its climate is delightful beyond comparison, while, at the same time, the air is softly bracing. The winds are variable, and rarely continue for more than two or three days in the same quarter.

In my opinion, there is nothing relating to Lake Superior more misrepresented, and less understood, than its winters, the very mention of which, a few years ago, and even at the present time, in the Atlantic States, conveys almost a sensation of misery—but how far from the reality ?

Instead of snow, sleet, rain, and fog, alternating with very little sunshine, what do we find ? The winter season is said to be, by the oldest residents, the most agreeable part of the year, with plenty of clear blue sky, fine bracing atmosphere, and very little rain from the month of November until April. Besides, coughs, colds, and discases of the lungs are comparatively unknown here, and this alone should recommend the climate of Lake Superior.

'Tis true, snow falls to a considerable depth, making the roads level, and filling up all their inequalities; and, so far from being an inconvenience, adds greatly to the comfort and happiness of all. This is the season for bilarity and social enjoyment; its lengthened eve is full of fireside joys. In this region, less snow falls than in either the New England States or northern part of New York. The testimony of the oldest fur-traders, long accustomed to this climate, proves the truth of these assertions.

The Hon. Henry M. Rice, the present delegate from Minnesota Territory, in a letter dated June 30, 1854, says: “For several years, I had trading-posts extending from Lake Superior to the Red River of the North, from 46° to 49° north latitude, and never found the snow so deep as to prevent supplies being transported from one post to another with horses. Between the 45th and 49th degrees north latitude, the snow does not fall so deep as it does between the 40th and 45th degrees; this is easily accounted for, upon the same principle that, in the fall, they have frosts much earlier near the 40th than they do near the 45th degree. Voyageurs traverse the territory from Lake Superior to the Missouri the entire winter with horses and sleighs, having to make their own roads, and yet with heavy loads are not detained by snow. I have also gone from the head waters of the Mississippi to the waters of the Hudson Bay, on foot, and without snow shoes. I spent

one entire winter travelling through that region, and never found the snow over eighteen inches deep, and seldom over nine inches. One winter, north of 47° north latitude, I wintered about sixty head of horses and cattle, without giving them food of any kind, except such as they could procure themselves under the snow. Owing to its altitude, the atmosphere is dry beyond belief, which accounts for the absence of frosts in the fall, and for the small quantity of snow that falls in a country so far north.”

There are but few islands in Lake Superior. The largest of them is Isle Royale, in the western part. Some of the best harbors on the lake are on its shores, but, as yet, they are rarely visited. Its sides are covered with forest. In winter, the ice has been known to extend from the Canadian shore to this island, a distance of twenty miles. Isle Royale is celebrated for its copper mines, the most important of which are to be found on its northern shores; but, at present, the explorations have been too limited to form a just impression of their value and extent. It is also celebrated for its valuable fisheries, and exports several thousand barrels to the Eastern markets.

Between Isle Royale and the main land are two large islands, of which, however, little is known ; in the northern part of the lake are four more. The most interesting group of islands is the Apostles’ Isles, a cluster of considerable importance, embraced within an area of four hundred square miles. Madeline is the largest, being thirteen miles long, and with an average breadth of two miles. Its surface is level, and the soil rich and fertile. This island is situated about three miles from the Wisconsin coast, forming one of the best uatural harbors on the lake. Its climate is justly celebrated. Tempered, as well in summer as in winter, by the vast expanse of water that surrounds it, and which, except at the immediate surface, is

almost always at 40° Fahrenheit, its climate is milder, at once, and more equable, than any part of Wisconsin, whether it be on the main land of Lake Superior, or further south, on the Mississippi.'

Though Madeline Island contains some fifteen thousand acres of valuable arable land, and a population of over three hundred souls, but two or three hundred acres are under cultivation. Any one who supposes this region is too far north to raise good fruit and vegetables, should ramble through some of its gardens, in the month of August or September, and see for himself the fine thrifty vegetables, ripe currants, etc., besides apple trees and grape vines laden with fruit.

Bear Island and Esqua gendeg are the next largest islands of this group, and are each about four miles long by two and a half wide. They are principally covered with a thick growth of evergreens along the shores, while the rest of their surface is covered with cedar, hemlock, birch, aspen, and pine, with occasional natural meadows. The waters around them teem with the finest fish. We believe that these islands have been, within the last two years, claimed by settlers.

Grand Island, extensive and rock-bound, lies in the southern part of the lake, two miles from the Michigan shore, and forms a most excellent harbor. The remaining islands of Lake Superior are near its outlet, including the island of Michipicoten, which is one-third as large as Isle Royale, and believed to abound in copper.

Lake Superior is subject to as violent storms as the Atlantic, rendering the navigation at times, and particularly late in the fall and winter, exceedingly dangerous. Owing to the lofty crags which surround it, the winds sweeping over the lake impinge upon its surface so abruptly as to

1 Owen's Geological Report.

« AnteriorContinuar »