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The Southern Rocky Mountains 115

mining, towns, people, peaks, deposits, region and sometimes

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THE SOUTHERN ROCKY MOUNTAINS 115. What are the Rocky Mountains?— Geographers have given the name Rocky Mountains to the great mountain system that extends from New Mexico to Alaska. It is composed of many, many ranges. Name three of them (Fig. 91). Many beautiful, wide valleys lie between these ranges of the Rockies. Some of them are as large in area as one or two of the counties of an eastern state. Sometimes they are called "parks." In Wyoming the high valley of the upper portions of the North Platte River is so wide that it is called the Laramie Plains. This valley is higher than the tops of any of the mountains of New England.

116. How the mountains appear.—The Rocky Mountains are a wonderland of high, sharp peaks and great mountain ranges, many of which are snow-covered all winter and most of the summer. To reach the top of most of these lofty peaks, a traveler must climb all day on foot, at the risk of his life, and when he has reached the top, especially in Canada, he can sometimes see nothing but other snow-capped peaks and jagged rocks. There seems to be an endless procession of peaks, in front of him, behind him, to the right, and to the left, as far as the eye can see. Below the snow-capped peaks are places where in summer there are wide pastures, and still lower down on the mountainsides there are forests of evergreens clinging to the rocky slopes. Here and there are beautiful valleys dotted with farms and mining towns. High up the mountains, in gorges and canyons, clear, cold streams tumble and roar in foam ing white waterfalls as they rush down to flow at last into some irrigation ditch in the Great Plains far to the eastward.

117. Bounds of the region.—White men have settled in these mountains and built railroads through them as far north as Peace River in latitude 56°. In latitude 55° the Canadian Grand Trunk Railroad crosses over from the wheat country into the valley of the Skeena River, and reaches the Pacific Coast at Prince Rupert. To the north of this white men have not settled the moun tains, except at a few fur-trading posts. The region is left to roving bands of Indians, and to grizzly bears, caribou, and other wild animals. We shall study here only that part in which the white man lives, and we call this region the Southern Rocky Mountains.

118. Crowds and lonely men.—Although these mountains are in most places a region of few people and of lonely men, crowds of men work together at the mining towns and in the lumber camps. The lonely men are the prospectors lobldng for ore deposits, the forest rangers watching for forest fires, and the solitary sheep herders tending their flocks.

119. Mining and cities.—Mining is the chief industry of this region, many deposits of gold, silver, copper, and lead having been found here. Most of the cities in the moun tains were built at the mines. Many of these settlements began as mining camps far from a railroad. Sometimes dozens, hun dreds, and even thousands of men have lived for a time in these tent towns, away back in the mountains where the only freight carrier was the pack mule, with bundles balanced across his saddle. The pack mule clambering over the rocks could do the work if the gold or silver deposits were rich enough to pay the high freight. The cost of living was very high at first because the men had to live on food brought from a great distance.

The largest of these many mining cities is Butte, Montana, where live thousands of people who work in the copper mines in the wonderful hill of Butte. This hill is seamed through and through with hundreds and thousands of veins of copper. Anaconda, Helena, and Great Falls are busy smelting ores of copper, gold, .and silver. Electric power for much of this district comes from the falls of the Missouri River at Great Falls. Cripple Creek, Victor, and Leadville are mining towns in Colorado.

The town that depends upon the mine may not be long-lived, for, at best, mining is an industry that takes all of its product out, and finally leaves nothing but a hole in the ground. Sometimes the people of the mining town can take up some other industry, but many times they must move away when the supply of ore is gone. Leadville, which is 10,200 feet above the sea, is such a town. It had 12,455 people in 1900, 7,508 people in 1910, and only 4,959 in 1920. Such is the fate of many a mining town. Some towns are entirely deserted, even in so new a country as the Rocky Mountains, and others are springing up where new deposits are found.

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