Nelson, the principal town of all this region, is built scatteringly upon the hillside and rambles down to the lake. A thoroughly modern town. Electric cars run up and down the steep streets and electric lamps light them at night. It has schools and churches and hotels, and all the other essentials of civilization. Behind the town stretches up the mountain an aerial tramway that connects the mines of the hall Company on Toad Mountain with their smelter. It looks like a broad, black ribbon, stretching across the shoulder and breast of one of the eternal hills. One sees, in the streets of Nelson, many Indians-men, women and children-remnants of the fine tribe of Kootenays, who once were masters of all this region, but have been dwindling, as their red brethren everywhere, before the inevitable. Baedeker says of them: 'The Kootenay Indians, belonging to the Selish stock, are favorable specimens of red men. Their canoes of pine bark are of unique shape, with long, sharp cut-waters at each end.'
From Nelson to Robson the trip is by rail and the train skirts the Kootenay River for nearly the entire distance.
This marvelous river is one of the surprises of the trip. The journey is a constant wonder. There is nothing like it except the trip through the Niagara Gorge.
The river rushes tempestuously down its channel from the lakes above, leaping in torrents over mighty precipices, rolling and tumbling into foam among the rocks, circling into whirlpools, dashing into clouds of spray, gathering into a swift central current that speeds like an arrow, defying the most skillful oarsman or master of canoe, anon bearding into a calm pool, as if to rest for a moment and renew its strength, before repeating its furious and foaming career. Its terrible grandeur writes itself upon the brain and one can think of nothing else-does not remember until afterwards that there was here and there a fisherman casting a line form some projecting rock near shore, into some little pool that had escaped the central fury; does not remember till he comes to think it all over that some one told him on a train how all this vast power is beginning tobe harnessed to the service of man, is being made to turn the wheels of industry and give light to distant towns.
Robson is at the end of the Lower Arrow Lake, and about eighty-nine miles from Nakusp. It is a center from which trains run out in one direction to Trail, the great mining camp of the Trail Creek district, where are located the Le Roi and other very productive mines; in another direction through the Boundary district ninety-nine miles to Midway, on the international boundary, passing Grand Forks and Greenwood, where immense smelters are always in operation. But we are not going out of Robson by any of these routes. We do not care for mines just now, and are not upon a tour of inspection. The outside aspects of the country interest us a great deal more than the interior depths.