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"My vision played a trick on me
And set my eyes a-roaming free
Till once again I glimpsed the Wonder Blazes…"
~ Frank B. Camp, Alaska Nuggets, 1922

Descriptions of the aurora were composed by the adventurers, fur traders, gold miners, and settlers who followed the polar explorers into the Arctic.

These often fanciful accounts of the aurora were left by these early settlers, who perhaps penned them by lantern or candle light in the long darkness of the northern winter.

In his Travel and Adventure in the Territory of Alaska (1868), Frederick Whymper described the aurora as a "snake of electric light."

Miners sometimes imagined that the light, which seemed to emanate from a point in the distance, was gold vapor rising from gold mines. Poet Robert Service reflected this view in his "The Ballad of the Northern Lights,"

thumbnail of snake sketch
A snake of electric light
click for larger image

Helpful links

Robert W. Service
original homepage

thumbnail of vapor column
Miners imagined the aurora was
vapor rising from gold mines
click to see larger image

  "But I'll tell you now - and if I lie, may my lips be stricken dumb--

It's a mine, a mine of the precious stuff that men call radium

It's a million dollars a pound, they say, and there's tons and tons in sight

You can see it gleam in a golden stream in the solitudes of night….
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site last modified: August 2003 maintained by Asahi Aurora Web Manager