GLACIERS (Historic Information)
From Cross Sound to Cook's Inlet is the home of the largest glaciers in the world, outside of the polar regions. The warm air of the Japanese Current, loaded with all the water it can carry, meets the cold air of the summits of the highest mountain range in North America, and precipitates its burden on the coast side of the mountains.
Glaciers are caused by the accumulating of more snow in winter than can melt in summer, and glaciers of various sizes are found on all the higher peaks in the United States.
Glaciers like those of Greenland once almost covered our whole country. Their indelible marks are as enduring as time, and rocks as large as a farm were picked up in or near Alaska and deposited in the United States. They gouged, chiseled and ground the softer rocks and earth from the highlands, leaving only mountain peaks of granite for summits, and leveled and rounded the plains and valleys convenient for the advent of vegetation, animals and men. changing the contour and topography of the country from Cape Barrow to the Ohio River.
The rainfall and snowfall in Alaska behind the Elias Range and on the Arctic is not great, therefore but few small glaciers are found. This ice cap is the remnant perhaps of the parent that covered the country, and made much of the placer gold. It is rapidly receding at many places. One author made a careful estimate of Muir Glacier, stating that at the water it was 225 feet above, 450 below, and during his stay of 30 days emptied 149,000,000 cubic feet per day of bergs. This glacier now has receded to insignificance, compared with its former flow. There are numerous others, ancient children of the eternal snows of the summits of this range, leveling everything in their way to the ocean, in which, with a roar like the artillery of a great siege, they deposit morain. trees and debris, upon which some day may rest cities.
Constantly as the clock, these rivers of ice, covered with spires, spirettes. steeples, domes, minarets, pinnacles and needle points of ice, criss-crossed with gorges, fissures, crevasses and cracks; honeycombed with rivers and rushing torrents, and streaked with long lines of morain, plow their way to the ocean. Some of the glaciers are "dead," that is, they do not now reach the sea; others, in pearllike chunks, as at Hubbel, or shaded in blue from a light summer sky to a dark indigo, as at Taku, drop into it. Woe be to the person on the shore or near it in such place as Yakutat Bay when a berg the size of a twenty-story office building drops in. The reverberating roar and the grinding of bergs on such occasion is beyond my ability to describe.