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Nevada

To the farmer who comes to this thirsty land from beneath rainy skies, Nevada seems one vast desert, all sage and sand, hopelessly irredeemable now and forever. And this, under present conditions, is severely true. For notwithstanding it has gardens, grainfields, and hayfields generously productive, these compared with the arid stretches of valley and plain, as beheld in general views from the mountain tops, are mere specks lying inconspicuously here and there, in out-of-the-way places, often thirty or forty miles apart.

When we force our way into the depths of the forests, following any of the rivers back to their fountains, we find that the bulk of the woods is made up of the Douglas spruce (Pseudotsuga Douglasii), named in honor of David Douglas, an enthusiastic botanical explorer of early Hudson's Bay times. It is not only a very large tree but a very beautiful one, with lively bright-green drooping foliage, handsome pendent cones, and a shaft exquisitely straight and regular. For so large a tree it is astonishing how many find nourishment and space to grow on any given area.

When the traveler from California has crossed the Sierra and gone a little way down the eastern flank, the woods come to an end about as suddenly and completely as if, going westward, he had reached the ocean. From the very noblest forests in the world he emerges into free sunshine and dead alkaline lake-levels. Mountains are seen beyond, rising in bewildering abundance, range beyond range.

As one strolls in the woods about the logging camps, most of the lumbermen are found to be interesting people to meet, kind and obliging and sincere, full of knowledge concerning the bark and sapwood and heartwood of the trees they cut, and how to fell them without unnecessary breakage, on ground where they may be most advantageously sawed into logs and loaded for removal. The work is hard, and all of the older men have a tired, somewhat haggard appearance.

The pine woods on the tops of the Nevada mountains are already shining and blooming in winter snow, making a most blessedly refreshing appearance to the weary traveler down on the gray plains. During the fiery days of summer the whole of this vast region seems so perfectly possessed by the sun that the very memories of pine trees and snow are in danger of being burned away, leaving one but little more than dust and metal.

Ambitious climbers, seeking adventures and opportunities to test their strength and skill, occasionally attempt to penetrate the wilderness on the west side of the Sound, and push on to the summit of Mount Olympus. But the grandest excursion of all to be make hereabouts is to Mount Rainier, to climb to the top of its icy crown. The mountain is very high[29], fourteen thousand four hundred feet, and laden with glaciers that are terribly roughened and interrupted by crevasses and ice cliffs. Only good climbers should attempt to gain the summit, led by a guide of proved nerve and endurance.

The monuments of the Ice Age in the Great Basin have been greatly obscured and broken, many of the more ancient of them having perished altogether, leaving scarce a mark, however faint, of their existence - a condition of things due not alone to the long-continued action of post-glacial agents, but also in great part to the perishable character of the rocks of which they were made.

Oregon is a large, rich, compact section of the west side of the continent, containing nearly a hundred thousand square miles of deep, wet evergreen woods, fertile valleys, icy mountains, and high, rolling wind-swept plains, watered by the majestic Columbia River and its countless branches. It is bounded on the north by Washington, on the east by Idaho, on the south by California and Nevada, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean.

Nevada is one of the very youngest and wildest of the States; nevertheless it is already strewn with ruins that seem as gray and silent and time-worn as if the civilization to which they belonged had perished centuries ago. Yet, strange to say, all these ruins are results of mining efforts made within the last few years.

Like the forests of Washington, already described, those of Oregon are in great part made up of the Douglas spruce[32], or Oregon pine (Abies Douglasii). A large number of mills are at work upon this species, especially along the Columbia, but these as yet have made but little impression upon its dense masses, the mills here being small as compared with those of the Puget Sound region.

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