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Photo by Asahel Curtis, Seattle
AN ALASKAN TOWN, WITH ITS SAWMILL WHICH IS SUPPLIED BY THE NATIONAL FOREST
LAST OF THE FRONTIER
BY W. B. GREELEY
LASKA is the last of the Ameri- sources as equivalent in importance to powers to the Interior Department, on can frontier. Alaska is the only her area. Because the management of the plea of cutting out conflicts and
place left where “trails run out this vast frontier wealth is a National overlaps in administration. Some of and stop," where people are killed by job—and the last of its kind-Alaska is the proposals, like building a National bears, where unmapped ranges challenge a 'storm center. Over and above her railway from the coast to the interior, the explorer. In Alaska we are reliving surge the schemes of politicians, the de- like utilizing Federal steamers to give the absorbing story of the West. We signs of corporations, constructive pro- Alaska better marine transportation, are see as on a screen the mushroom mining posals, well-based criticisms, biased at: constructive. Some are futile, some are camp and the bleak homestead, the tacks, and the unreconstructed
dangerous. The development of Alaska pioneer and the tin-horn gambler, the ploiters of the West who would break has not been guided wisely in all resingle-handed enterprise of the frontiers- Alaska up and parcel her out if they spects. Certain Federal laws under man living on the present and the mon- could. Federal mismanagement is held which she is governed are obsolete or eyed interest intrenching for the future, accountable for the slow progress of inadequate. Some of them have been men who create industries and men who Alaska, for her decline in population. enforced too arbitrarily or at too great play with forests, mines, or water pow- Incessant reiteration has led many to a distance. But in seeking the progress ers as with poker chips. It is the story believe that Alaskan affairs have been of our northern frontier there are cerof Idaho or California retold. Old muddled by a multiplicity of Federal tain bed-rock facts which every one clashes reappear. The pioneer is res- bureaus, that she has been bound down must heed. tive, the speculator at odds with bureau- with red tape, that her industrial The commercial growth of Alaska is crats.
growth has been blocked by Conserva- not a matter of laws, bureaus, or reguAlaska is the Nation's last big job in tion theories.
lations. It is a matter of geography and frontier management. She contains one- To "free Alaska" it has been urged trade. It is controlled by her location sixth as much land as all of the States that all public property and administra- on the northwestern tip of the conticombined, and ninety-eight per cent of tive agencies in the Territory be turned nent; by the cost of moving her prod. it is National property. Alaska is no over to a local Development Board. An- ucts to people who want them; by the longer "Seward's Folly" or "Uncle other plan simply regroups certain Fed- value of gold, copper, fish, and paper in Sam's ice-box." It is probably no ex- eral functions, particularly by transfer- the markets of the world; by the cost aggeration to appraise her
ring the National Forests and water of labor, machinery, and supplies. Hiti:
erto there have been no paper mills in the publicly owned forests of Alaska for precisely the same reason that there have been no sawmills in millions of acres of privately owned forests of Oregon. The mining of low-grade gold ore has slumped in Alaska, just as the mining of silver pre slumped in Colorado and Nevada when the cost of producing the metal exceeded its market price. Millions of fertile areas lie untilled in the Yukon Valley solely because the world's wheat market can be supplied more cheaply from North Dakota or Argentina. The deserted placer camps of Alaska are no whit different from Poker Flat and a hundred other abandoned “diggings" in the Sierras. Wise laws and efficient bureaus can, and must, aid the industrial development of Alaska, but they cannot work magic. Alaska is no more immune to the economies of manufacture and trade than any other part of the United States. She will develop only so fast as the markets of the world can absorb her products.
The impatience of the frontier is unwilling to accept these stern realities. Alaska is still under the spell of the gold strike, the quest for quick wealth under which men made fortunes or went broke. And Alaska has a fine faith in herself. Things are bound to lappen; new industries are bound to come. Something must be holding the country back. And that "something" is found in the way Alaska's resources are governed. The Federal bureaus furnish an easy target. Hence the assertion, often repeated and as often accepted at face value, that the bursting wealth of the young country is padlocked by Washington bureaucrats.
The second basic fact which must be recognized by every one who studies the Alaskan situation is that, whatever faults may exist in her administration, the locking up of natural resources is not one of them. "Pinchotism" has been anathema to many Alaskans because the Conservation policies of Roosevelt and Pinchot were not fully understood, and particularly because their fruition was long delayed by inspired opposition. Extensive withdrawals of forests, water powers, coal and oil lands were made prior to 1910. The Alaskan coal fields were opened to development by the Coal Leasing. Law of 1914 and her oil deposits by the Oil Leasing Law of 1920. A number of public water powers were utilized under the inadequate laws preceding the Power Act of 1920, which provides a fair basis for developing these resources comparable to that established for the use of coal, oil, and timber.
The twenty million acres of National Forests in Alaska have always been open to local use or export. They have supplied every sawmill on the Alaskan coast with its logs. They have furnished packing-cases and piling to most of the Alaskan salmon canneries and mining timbers to many of her mines. They have provided free building material and fuel for the prospectors, fisher
men, and settlers of southern Alaska. They have been widely used for fish plants, manufacturing enterprises, settlements, and town sites. They have paid a substantial revenue to the roads and schools of the Territory. They have produced high-grade spruce lumber for the general markets and war needs of the country. Their paper-making resources have been systematically studied and offered for development under terms which insure industrial stability, terms which experienced manufacturers accept. The Federal Water Power Commission is handling more business in Alaskan power sites to-day than in any other section of the United States where the development of forest industries is the commercial motive; and large quantities of National Forest timber have already been secured by paper manufacturers.
Give every bad law and piece of red tape its due weight; the net effect upon the development of Alaska is relatively unimportant. Check off the imposing list of Alaska's resources--metals, fish, timber, coal, petroleum, marble, water power, fur, agricultural land-every one of them is available to men of energy and capital. Every one of them will be developed as rapidly as economic conditions warrant. Let us lay once for all the ghost of the Federal sentry patrolling a dead-line around Alaska's wealth.
The considerable number of Federal agencies in Alaska is often attributed by critics to bureaucratic jealousies and outreachings. What does the presence of thirty-odd administrative and investigative activities in the Territory really signify? Simply the range and vastness of her resources, the number of different things that must be done through public initiative to convert Alaska from a frontier wilderness into a State. With thousands of miles of uncharted coast,
with the greatest sea-food resources of the world, with many million acres of raw plow land in a climatic zone largely untried by American agriculture, with forests and minerals of vast extent, Alaska has need of the best brains and organized skill of the Government in many different specialized branches. Were the bureaus created for technical or administrative work in these various fields not on the job in Alaska, it would be proof of their inertia or incompetence. No one appreciates this fact better than the thinking business men of Alaska.
Nor will anything be gained by shuffling the Federal agencies in Alaska and redealing them between departments. The work must still be done, and each part of it must be done by specialists in that subject. A staff of rangers, supervisors, and lumbermen will be needed to run the National Forests under Department X no less than under Department Z. This is a large-sized job which cannot be done well without an organization of trained and experienced men and a local head responsible for it and nothing else. There is small prospect of betterment in either cost or efficiency through transferring this organization to some other executive in Alaska and cutting it off from the department which is handling identical work everywhere else in the United States. And what is true of Alaska's forests is true of her fisheries, her agricultural lands, her unreserved public domain, her minerals, her migratory birds.
There would be little sense in having one Federal agency manage the 136,000,000 acres of National Forests in the present States and different and wholly disconnected organization manage the 20,000,000 acres of National Forests in a future State. There is little to commend, either as business or
Photo by courtesy of U. S. Forest Service
CUTTING SPRUCE AND HEMLOCK LOGS IN THE TONGASS NATIONAL FOREST, ALASKA
ganization or public policy, in having ests at stake in the agricultural re- absurdity. Much of the red tape which one organization of Federal experts deal sources of Alaska as in the agricultural has been criticised in Alaska is in the with the fisheries of the Atlantic coast resources of the Great Plains, in the black and brown bear class—more or and Puget Sound, while a separate and forests and water powers of Alaska as less ridiculous and more or less inconseunrelated staff of the same kind-in an- in the forests and water powers of the quential. Certain things are serious, other department-deals with the fisher- western Cascades. As the migratory like the delay in securing title to public ies of Alaska. It is not difficult to see birds of the far north cross many States land after all legal requirements have whither such proposals lead us. An im- in their yearly travels, so are the prod- been met or the statutory rule which mediate result is the very duplication of ucts of Alaskan forests, mines, and fish- compels the advertisement of very small functions and duties in different execu- eries distributed over the entire coun- lots of National Forest timber before it tive departments which the Government try. The problems of Alaska are simply can be sold. The shifting or consolidahas specifically undertaken to eliminate. parts of National problems. Each of tion of Federal bureaus would A more serious result is cutting Alaska them must be treated as a whole. We remedy such conditions in the slightoff from the technical and financial re- have developed a National policy as to est, and, on the other hand, there is not sources of Federal agencies whose ex- public water powers, as to public for- one of them but could be made right by pert services the Territory needs. The ests, as to public coal and oil deposits. simple changes in laws that are now very frontier character of Alaska makes Each of these National policies should obsolete or in the local conduct of public her need all the greater for the best the be carried out in Alaska by the same business. country can give in developing each National agency
as in Wyoming or The greatest evil in the management group of resources, and that best can be Oregon, whatever that agency may be, of Alaska is government at long range. given only by the Federal departments with the same direct relationship, the Too much authority is kept in Washing. organized and built up for the maximum same fundamental authority, and, above ton. There are too many delays in getservice, each in its own field. Yet it is all, with the same public responsibility. ting things done. Officers in Alaska are even advocated that the Department of The greatest danger underlying most of bound by too many cut-and-dried reguAgriculture, the most effective leader in the proposals for "something different lations or decisions which may be hoary agricultural science the world over, and apart" in Alaska is the danger of a in departmental usage but not should surrender its experiment stations gradual breakdown in the policies adapted to the conditions of the far in Alaska, leaving the future of her which this country has adopted for North. The General Land Office, for exfarm lands to a local "development making its public resources of the ample, has three separate offices in the board."
widest and most permanent benefit. Territorial capital-a Register, a SurLet us not forget that Alaska is part What, then, of the overlaps and con- veyor-General, and a Chief Examiner. of the United States. Alaska is the last flicts in the management of Alaskan They all function independently, each as of the Territories, and some day will be affairs, of the duplicating bureaus and to its own part in the entry, survey, and a State in her own right.
harassed settlers? It is a pity that the patenting of public lands; they all regraphical and economic relations to the black and brown bear have at last been port separately to the Commissioner of rest of the country are scarcely different placed under the same official guardian, the General Land Office at Washington; from those of Oregon or Washington in depriving the Alaskan reformer of the and none of them finally settles any1870. The Nation has the same inter- most classic example of administrative thing. A homestead or mining claim
shuttles back and forth between one or of National Forest timber. Another, of through appropriate instructions and another of these local offices and Wash- greater importance, prohibits homestead inspection. By this means the evils of ington-four or five round trips at least entries, conveying surface rights only, long-range administration will be overbefore a patent is secured, although less on fertile agricultural land which is come, but without endangering our Nathan a single acre may be involved. underlaid with coal. The legislation tional policies for the use of public reThese old laws should be changed. A dealing with Alaskan fisheries needs sources and without cutting Alaska off representative of the General Land revision to prevent a serious depletion from the effective help of each Federal Office in Alaska might well direct all of of this great resource. Betterments of department in its own field. its activities, with authority to accept this sort are in progress, and bureau- The greatest National interests at entries, approve surveys, and issue crats responsible for work in Alaska stake in Alaska are her timber and patents. But the Interior Department are taking the lead in bringing them water power. Sooner or later these reshould retain control of policies and de- about.
sources will support a large paper incide appeals.
And, finally, the National interests in dustry. Trade conditions since the war Pleas for the mere shifting of bu- Alaska should be handled very largely have brought them into demand and reaus in Alaska may easily divert us by men in the Territory itself. Decen- given them commercial value. It is from real ways of aiding the Territory. tralization, the doing of things on the within the power of the people of the The Government cannot speed up the ground, is the cure for red tape. Ninety- United States to create in Alaska a industrial development of Alaska in any five per cent of the National Forest busi- paper industry as enduring as that of great measure. But in three respects ness in Alaska, including all ordinary Norway or Sweden, an industry which its management can be improved. The uses of land or timber, is despatched by can furnish a million and a half tons first is to overcome Alaska's handicap men on the spot. Only large questions of paper yearly for all time to come, or of isolation, not only by Federal aid in of policy and transactions of special im- a third of the country's present conthe construction of railways and high- portance are referred to Washington. sumption. For the first time in our hisways, but also by furnishing adequate Every bureau or department should tory we have an opportunity, in Alaska. marine transportation. The second is to place its functions in Alaska under a to develop the vast forests of a new work over the laws dealing with Alas- resident officer intrusted with the great- region as a permanent rather than a diska's resources and bring them in line est authority possible to act on the appearing resource, because the Nation with a common-sense plan of develop- ground, but by the same token should it owns them. However and by whomever ment and use. Such a law is that re- retain control of basic policies and Alaskan affairs are managed, that opquiring advertisement of very small lots stand responsible for their enforcement portunity must not be lost.
STORIES AND STORY-TELLERS
BY STEPHEN LEACOCK
*T is my candid opinion that no man
ought to be allowed to tell a funny
story or anecdote without a license. We insist rightly enough that every taxi-driver must have a license, and the same principle should apply to anybody who proposes to act as a raconteur. Telling a story is a difficult thing-quite as difficult as driving a taxi. And the risks of failure and accident and the unfortunate consequences of such to the public, if not exactly identical, are, at any rate, analogous.
This is a point of view not generally appreciated. A man is apt to think that just because he has heard a good story he is able and entitled to repeat it. He might as well undertake to do a snake dance merely because he has seen Madame Pavlowa do one. The point of a story is apt to lie in the telling, or at least to depend upon it in a high degree. Certain stories, it is true, depend so much on the final point, or "nub,” as we Americans call it, that they are almost fool-proof. But even these can be made so prolix and tiresome, can be so messed up with irrelevant detail, that the general effect is utter weariness relieved by a kind of shock at the end. Let me illustrate what I mean by a story with a “nub" or point. I will take one of the best known, so as to make no claim to originality-for example, the famous anecdote of the man who wanted to be "put off at Buffalo." Here it is:
A man entered a sleeping-car and said
to the porter, "At what time do we get
get off at Buffalo, and I want you
Now this story is as nearly fool-pr
“There was a fellow got on the train
place, and the porter came through and said, “Do you want an early call?_or no, he went to the porter-that was itand said,"
But stop. The rest of the story be. comes a mere painful waiting for the end.
Of course the higher type of funny story is the one that depends for its amusing quality not on the final point, or not solely on it, but on the wording and the narration all through. This is the way in which a story is told by a comedian or a person who is a raconteur in the real sense. When Sir Harry Lauder narrates an incident, the telling of it is funny from beginning to end. When some lesser person tries to repeat it afterwards, there is nothing left but the final point. The rest is weariness.
As a consequence most story-tellers are driven to telling stories that depend on the point or “nub" and not on the narration. The story-teller gathers these up till he is equipped with a sort of little repertory of fun by which he hopes to surround himself with social charm. America especially (by which I mean here the United States and Canada, but not Mexico) we suffer from the story-telling habit. As far as I am able to judge, English society is not pervaded and damaged by the story. telling habit as much as is society in the United States and Canada. On our side of the Atlantic story-telling at dinners and on every other social occasion has become a curse.
phase of social and intellectual life one grateful cries of “No! no! go ahead," they are sinless in this respect. As I is haunted by the funny anecdote. Any show how great the tension has been. see it, they hand round in general conone who has ever attended a Canadian Nine times out of ten the people have versation something nearly as bad in or American banquet will recall the sol- heard the story before; and ten times the form of what one may call the litemn way in which the chairman rises out of nine he damages it in the telling. eral anecdote or personal experience. and says: “Gentlemen, it is to me a But his hearers are grateful to him for By this I refer to the habit of narrating very great pleasure and a very great having saved them from the appalling some silly little event that has actually honor to preside at this annual dinner. mantle of silence and introspection happened to them or in their sight, There was an old darky once" and which had fallen upon the table. For which they designate as "screamingly so forth. When he concludes he says, the trouble is that when once two or funny," and which was perhaps very "I will now call upon the Rev. Dr. three stories have been told it seems to funny when it happened but which is Stooge, Head of the Provincial Univer- be a point of honor not to subside into not the least funny in the telling. The sity, to propose the toast 'Our Domin- mere conversation. It seems rude, when American funny story is imaginary. It ion.'" Dr. Stooge rises amid great a story-teller has at last reached the never happened. Somebody presumably applause and with great solemnity be- triumphant ending and climax of the
once made it up. It is fiction. Thus gins, “There were once two Irishmen—" mule from Arkansas, it seems impolite, there must once have been some great and so on to the end. But in London,
to follow it up by saying, "I see that palpitating brain, some glowing imagiEngland, it is apparently not so. Not
the ex-Emperor Karl has escaped again.” nation, which invented the story of the long ago I had the pleasure of meet- It can't be done. Either the mule or
man who was put off at Buffalo. But ing at dinner a member of the Govern. Karl-one can't have both.
the English “screamingly funny" story ment. I fully anticipated that as a The English, I say, have not de- is not imaginary. It really did happen. member of the Government he would veloped the American custom of the It is an actual personal experience. In be expected to tell a funny story about funny story as a form of social inter
short, it is not fiction but history. an old darky, just as he would on our course. But I do not mean to say that I think—if one may say it with all side of the water. In fact, I should
respect—that in English Society girls have supposed that he could hardly get
and women are especially prone to narinto the Government unless he did tell
rate these personal experiences as cona funny story of some sort. But all
tributions to general merriment rather through dinner the Cabinet Minister
than the men. The English girl has a never said a word about either a Metho
sort of traditional idea of being amusdist minister, or a commercial traveler,
ing; the English man cares less about or an old darky, or two Irishmen, or any
it. He prefers facts to fancy every time, of the stock characters of the American
and as a rule is free from that desire to repertory. On another occasion I
pose as a humorist which haunts the dined with a bishop of the Church. I
American mind. So it comes about that expected that when the soup came he
most of the "screamingly funny" stories would say, "There was an old darky--"
are told in English society by the After which I should have had to listen
women. Thus the counterpart of "put with rapt attention, and, when he had
me off at Buffalo" done into English finished, without any pause, rejoin,
would be something like this: "We “There were a couple of Irishmen
were so amused the other night in the once-” and SO But the bishop
sleeping-car going to Buffalo. There never said a word of the sort.
was the most amusing old Negro making I can further, for the sake of my
the beds, a perfect scream, you know, fellow-men in Canada and the United
and he kept insisting that if we wanted States who may think of going to Eng
to get up at Buffalo we must all go to land, vouchsafe the following facts. If
bed at nine o'clock. He positively you meet a director of the Bank of Eng.
wouldn't let us sit up-I mean to say it land, he does not say: "I am very glad
was killing the way he wanted to put us to meet you. Sit down. There was a
to bed. We all roared!”
BY mule in Arkansas once," etc. How they
Please note that roar at the end of do their banking without that mule I
DOROTHY CANFIELD the English personal anecdote. It is the don't know. But they manage it. I can
sign that indicates that the story is certify also that if you meet the pro
“A Great Love" will be
over. When you are assured by the narprietor of a great newspaper he will not published in The Outlook
rators that all the persons present begin by saying, “There was a Scotch- next week.
"roared" or "simply roared," then you man once.". In fact, in England, you can
can be quite sure that the humorous in
This is the second of the Bymingle freely in general society without
cident is closed and that laughter is in being called upon either to produce a
ways of Human Nature series
place. funny story or to suffer from one.
of character stories by the au
Now, as a matter of fact, the scene I don't mean to deny that the Ameri. thor of "The Brimming Cup." with the darky porter may have been, can funny story, in capable hands, is
when it really happened, most amusing.
“Old Man Warner" appeared amazingly funny and that it does
But not a trace of it gets over in the brighten up human intercourse. But
in The Outlook of January story. There is nothing but the bare the real trouble lies, not in the fun of 11. It has been read with assertion that it was "screamingly tile story, but in the painful waiting for keen appeciation. One reader
funny” or “simply killing." But the the point to come and in the strained
English are such an honest people that
praises it as an acute, searchand anxious silence that succeeds it.
when they say this sort 'of thing they Each person around the dinner table is ing, yet humorous delineation
believe one another and they laugh. trying to “think of another." There is of New England character But, after all, why should people ina dreadful pause. The hostess puts up that has few equals.
sist on telling funny stories at all? Why a prayer that some one may “think of
not be content to buy the works of some
Three other stories in this another.” Then at last, to the relief of
really first-class humorist and read them everybody, some one says: “I heard a
series will follow “A Great
aloud in proper humility of mind withstory the other day—I don't know Love."
out trying to emulate them? Either whether you've heard it,” And the
that or talk theology.
A GREAT LOVE