1902 Encyclopedia > Yenisenisk

Yenisenisk, Eastern Siberia




YENISEISK, a province of Eastern Siberia, which extends from the Chinese frontier to the shores of the Arctic Ocean, with an area of 992,870 square miles—as large as one-half of European Russia—has Tobolsk and Tomsk on the W., Yakutsk and Irkutsk on the E., northwestern Mongolia on the S., and the Arctic Ocean on the N. (see vol. xxii. pi. I.). Its southern extremity being in 51° 45' N. lat. and its northern (Cape Tcheluskin) in 77° 38', it combines a great variety of orographical types, from the Sayan alpine regions in the south to the tundras of the Arctic littoral.
The border-ridge of the high plateau of north-western Oro-Mongolia, which is known under the general name of theSraPhy-Western Sayans, and reaches altitudes of from 7000 to 8000 feet, limits it in the south. This is girdled on the north-western slope by a zone, nearly 100 miles wide, of alpine tracts, characterized by narrow valleys separated by several parallel chains of mountains, which are built up of crystalline slates, from 6000 to 7000 feet high. Here in the impenetrable forests only a few Tungus families find a precarious living by hunting. Towards the south, in the basins of the tributaries of the Tuba, the Sisim, and the Yus, and in those of the Kan, the Agut, and the Biryusa, the valleys of the alpine tracts contain rich auriferous deposits, and numerous gold-washings have been established along the taiga. In 53° 10' N. lat. the Yenisei emerges from the mountain tracts into the wide steppes of Abakan and Minusinsk, from 1500 to 2000 feet above sea-level, which extend along the base of the mountain region north-


eastwards towards the upper Lena. A flattened ridge of mountains, hardly attaining more than 3000 to 3500 feet, shoots north-east from the Kuznetskiy Atatau (see TOMSK) and separates the dry steppes of Minusinsk and Abakan from the next terrace of plains, from 1200 to 1700 feet in height, which also stretches in a north-eastern direction from Barnaul in the Altai to Krasnoyarsk, and into the upper basin of the Vilui. Another system of mountains, known under the general name of the Yeniseisk Taiga, rises on the outer border of this terrace, in the space be-tween the Upper Tunguska, or Angara, and the Podka-mennaya Tunguska. This system consists of several parallel chains running south-west to north-east, from 2500 to 3500 feet in altitude, though they are much lower on the left bank of the Yenisei, and passing on north-eastwards into the basin of the Olenek. For many years past the Yeniseisk Taiga has been one of the richest auriferous regions of Siberia, not so much on account of the per-centage of gold in its alluvial deposits (which are poor in comparison with those of Olekminsk) as on account of the facilities for supplying the gold-fields with articles of food produced in the steppes of Minusinsk. Low- Beyond the Yeniseisk Taiga begin the lowlands, which lands. at no point rise more than a few hundred feet above the sea and which slope gently towards the Arctic Ocean, They are covered with lakes, thin forests, and marshes; and, as they approach the ocean, they assume more and more the characters of barren tundra, devoid of tree vegetation and covered with lichens. Beyond 70° IN", lat. trees occur only along the courses of the rivers. Two ranges, however, break the monotony of the lowlands,—the Tungusskiy ridge, which stretches north-east between the Khatanga and Anabara rivers, and the Byrranga Mountains, which run along the north-western shore of the Taimyr peninsula. Arctic The shores of the Arctic Ocean are indented by deep shores, estuaries, that of the Taz penetrating 600 miles into the interior of the continent, and that of the Yenisei 300 miles. Gyda Bay, between the estuaries of the Ob and the Yenisei, and Taimyr, Thaddeus, and Khatanga Bays, are wide and deep indentations, ice-bound almost all the year round. Taimyr peninsula, which protrudes as a massive block of land between the Yenisei and the Khatanga, is an utterly barren stony tundra.
Geology. In the south are the granites and granitic syenites of the border-ridge of the plateau. In the alpine region all varieties of crystal-line slates—gneisses, diorite slates, talc and mica-schists, and clay slates—are found, the latter being auriferous, and the whole inter-sected with dykes and veins of protogene, diorites, porphyry, marble, and quartz. The same crystalline rocks are met with in the Kuznetskiy Atatau, the Yeniseisk Taiga, and the Byrranga Mountains. The plains are built up of Silurian, Devonian, Car-boniferous, and Triassic limestones and sandstones, with extensive freshwater deposits of the Jurassic period. Chalk and Eocene de-posits are met with farther north. The mountain region bears traces of extensive glaciation, and the lowlands of having been covered during the post-Glacial period with immense lakes and marshy tundras, where thousands of mammoths and rhinoceroses were buried, along with other (now fossil) representatives of extinct Tertiary and post-Tertiary mammals. All the country gives evi-dence of having been covered with numberless lakes during the Lacustrine period.
Minerals. Yeniseisk is exceedingly rich in all kinds of metals and minerals.
Gold dust appears in three different regions,—the northern Yeniseisk Taiga, where 100,740 oz. of gold were extracted in 1884 ; the region of the Kuznetskiy Atatau and its spurs, with the basins of the Tuba, Sisim, and Black and White Yus (25,860 oz. in 1884); and the upper parts of the tributaries of the Kan and Agut (12,540 oz.), where the gold-washings merge into those of the Nijne-Udinsk district of Irkutsk. Silver ore is found at several places in the basin of the Abakan, hut the mines have been abandoned. Iron ore occurs almost everywhere in south Yeniseisk, but there is only one iron-work on the Abakan (25,000 cwts. in 1884). Salt lakes are very common, and about 50,000 cwts. of salt are extracted every year.
Rivers. The whole of Yeniseisk is watered by the Yenisei and its affluents. The Yenisei rises in north-western Mongolia in several branches (Bci khem, TJlu-khem, &c), the chief of which, the TJlu-khem, has its source in marshes to the west of Lake Kossogol at a height of more than 5000 feet. As far as the Russian frontier its course crosses the plateau at an altitude of not less than 3000 feet; on entering Yeniseisk it pierces the great border-ridge and the series of parallel chains of the alpine region. At Sayansk (53° 10' N. lat.) it emerges from the highlands and traverses the elevated steppes, receiving the Abakan on the left and the Tuba on the right. In 55° N. lat. it suddenly turns to the north-east, skirting the base of a low range of hills, on the northern slope of which flows the Tchulym, a tributary of the Ob, separated from the Yenisei by an isthmus only 6 miles in width. The possibility of connecting at this point the two great river-systems of Siberia has often been discussed ; the difficulty is that the Tchulym valley is 440 feet higher than the other. A little below Krasnoyarsk the Yenisei is joined by a great tributary, the Kan, and farther north by the Angara or Upper Tunguska, which brings the waters of Lake Baikal and is navigable from Irkutsk, notwithstanding a series of rapids in its middle course. The right-hand tributaries of the Ob,—the Ket, the Tym, and the Yakh,—approach the Yenisei so closely, and their sources are so thoroughly inosculated with those of the left-hand tributaries of the Yenisei, that the question of con-necting the two systems by means of a canal has been more than once raised ; indeed something has been done to connect the Great Kas, a tributary of the Yenisei, with the Ket,—a boat with some 150 cwts. of cargo having already piassed from the one to the other.* A railway across the narrow isthmus between the Tchulym and the Yenisei is now regarded as the best solution of the question. In 61° N. lat. the Yenisei, already more than two miles broad, divides into several branches, which wind amidst many islands, and has several dangerous rapids. Then, before piercing a ridge of hills, it expiands into a kind of lake, 10 miles across, just above its junc-tion with the Podkamennaya Tunguska. Almost exactly at the Arctic Circle, opposite Turukhansk, it receives from the right another large tributary, the Lower Tunguska, which rises within a short distance of the upper Lena. The Yenisei, thus augmented, becomes more than 6 miles wide in lat. 68°. Its estuary begins at the village of Dudino, and has a breadth of 40 miles ; it contains numberless islands. The great river narrows once more (12 miles) before entering the Arctic Ocean (Yenisei Bay), after a total course of more than 8000 miles. It is navigable on its middle and lower courses, steamers plying between Krasnoyarsk and Minusinsk, as also on the lower Yenisei. Its mouth has been visited almost every year of late by steamers from Norway or Great Britain ; and it is expected that regular communication will be established between Dudino and European ports.
The climate, though very severe throughout, offers, as might be Climate, expected, great varieties. The Minusinsk steppes have a dry and relatively mild climate, so that they are sometimes called the Italy of Siberia. At Krasnoyarsk (55° 1' N. lat.) the climate is more severe, and the winds are exceedingly disagreeable. The yearly fall of snow is so small that the winds blow it away in the neigh-bourhood of the town ; hence a circuit has to be made by the con-voys of sledges to avoid it, or the sledges changed for wheeled carriages. Yeniseisk (58° 27' N. lat.) has an average temperature below freezing-point, and at Turukhansk the coldest month (Febru-ary) has an average temperature of — 24° Fahr. On the Taimyr peninsula the average summer temperature hardly reaches 45°. For additional particulars, see SIBERIA, vol. xxii. p. 6.
2 According to Baron Aminoff's measurements, Lake Bolshoye, through which the canal would have to pass, is 66 feet above the Ket at its junction with the Ozernaya, and 181 feet above the Yenisei at its, junction with the Kas.
The highlands of Sayan and Atatau are thickly clothed with Flora-forests of cedar, pitch-pine, larch, elder, and birch, with a rich undergrowth of rhododendrons, Herberts, and Ilibes ; the Scotch fir appears only in the lower and. drier parts of the valleys. The summits and slopes of the mountains are strewn with debris and boulders, and thickly sheeted with lichens and mosses ; but there are also piatches of meadow land covered with flowers, most of which are known in Europe. Still, ths flora is poor as a rule, and Dr Martianoff, after several years' collecting, succeeded in gathering only 104 species of phanerogams. On the other hand, the flora of the Minusinsk plains and of the stepped of the Abakan at once strikes the traveller by the variety and brilliancy of its forms. The meadows are covered with bright flowers scattered amid the com-mon Graminese, and in June and July ttiey are adorned and per-fumed by the Polygala, Dianfhus, Medicago, Laihyrus, yellow sweet-scented lily, and scores of other flowers, mostly familiar in Europe, but attaining in Yeniseisk a larger size and greater brilliancy of colour. The rich carpet of grass and flowers is overtopped by the tall white blossoms of Areliangelica and Spirma Ulinaria, and the blue masses of the tall Veronica longifolia. The meadows of the moister localities, surrounded by thickets of willow, poplar, wild cherry, and hawthorn, are still more attractive, on account of their wealth in anemones, violets, gentians, and so on, and the numerous creepers which festoon the trees and shrubs. M. Mar-tianoff s lists enumerate a total of 760 flowering and 760 crypto-gamic plants. Of the lower Fungi and parasitical Myxomycetes 1300 species were noted, and out of the 823 species hitherto described by specialists no less than 124 have proved to be new. Farther north-ward the flora of Yeniseisk is similar in character to that of the Siberian lowlands (see SIBERIA, vol. xxii. p. 7). In the Taimyr peninsula it is represented by only 124 species of flowering plants. Fauna. For the fauna of Yeniseisk, see SIBERIA, vol. xxii. p. 7. Popula- The steppes of the upper Yenisei have been inhabited from a tion. very remote antiquity, and numberless Tcurgans, graves, rock in-scriptions, and smelting furnaces of the successive inhabitants are scattered all over the prairies of Abakan and Minusinsk. The present population exhibits traces of all these predecessors (see SIBERIA and TARTARS). Numerous survivals of Turkish and Samoyedic stems are found in the steppe land and in the Sayans ; but some of them are greatly reduced in numbers (only a few hundreds). The Kaibals, the Katcha Tartars, the Sagais, the Kyzyl and Milet Tartars, and the Kamasins have settlements of their own, and maintain their national features ; but the Karagasses, the Kotts, and the Arintses have almost entirely disappeared, and are represented only by a few families in the spurs of the Sayans. The Tunguses are scattered in the least accessible tracts, and may number about 2000, or less. Several hundreds of Yakuts inhabit the Turukhansk district; and in the tundras between the Taz and the Yenisei there are a few hundred OSTIAKS (q.v.) and Ynraks of the Samoyedic stem. The remainder of the population, which numbered in all 447,076 in 1885, consists of Russians,—partly exiles, but mostly voluntary settlers. Nearly 50,000 belong to the unfortunate category of "settled" exiles. The "indigenes"— Tartars, Tunguses, Ostiaks, &c.—number about 50,000. Occupa- The chief occupation of the Russians is agriculture, which pros-tions. piers in Minusinsk, the granary of the province; it is also carried on in west Kansk, Krasnoyarsk, and Atchinsk, and in a few villages of the Yeniseisk district, the total area of land under corn being reckoned at nearly 2,500,000 acres. Wheat, summer and winter rye, oats, barley, and buckwheat are the chief crops. Gardening is carried on in Minusinsk. Cattle-breeding is important, especially in Minusinsk. It has been estimated that there are in Yeniseisk about 270,000 horses, 240,000 cattle, 300,000 sheep, and 30,000 rein-deer in Turukhansk. These figures, however, must be below the true ones. The cattle being kept throughout the winter in the steppes, the snow-storms of early spring prove disastrous, as also do the murrains, to wliich no fewer than 200,000 head succumbed in the Minusinsk district in 1881. Hunting and fishing are an import-ant resource for most of the indigenes and for many of the Russians. The manufactures of Yeniseisk are hardly worth mentioning, all capital being engaged in gold-washing or in commerce. The chief trade is in furs (exported), and in groceries ard manufactured goods (imported). The gold-fields of the Yeniseisk Taiga are supplied with grain and cattle by river from the Minusinsk region, and with salt, spirits, and iron by the Angara. Attempts have recently been made to stimulate the trade in tea with north-west Mongolia. Towns. Yeniseisk is divided into five districts, the chief towns of which are KRASNOYARSK (q.v.), the capital, wdiich had 17,155 inhabitants in 1884 ; Atchinsk (7190) and Kansk (4050), two small towns on the great Siberian highway, of which the latter is an entrep&t for the gold-mines ; Minusinsk (8270) on the Tuba, close by its junc-tion with the Yenisei, which has now a small but excellent natural history and ethnographical museum ; and Yeniseisk (7050), the chief entrepot for the gold-mines, having a public library and a natural history museum, created of late by exiles. Turukhansk (139) is the chief town of a vast "region" (krai). (P. A. K.)


Footnotes

According to recent measurements, the Angara, where it issue* from Lake Baikal, has a volume of 121,400 cubic feet per second (Izvestia, East Siberian Geogr. Soc, xvii., 1886).

2 According to Baron Aminoff's measurements, Lake Bolshoye, through which the canal would have to pass, is 66 feet above the Ket at its junction with the Ozernaya, and 181 feet above the Yenisei at its, junction with the Kas.

N. Martianoff, " Materials for a Flora of the Minusinsk Region,"' in Trudy of the Kasan Society of Naturalists, xi. 3, 1882.








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