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托福听力短文 II-08-3

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(W-JA) Today, I want to talk about the Cariboo gold rush of 1858, which began when gold was discovered in the frontier town of Quesnel [k-NEL] Forks in the Canadian province of British Columbia. By 1861 thousands of men had flocked to the region hoping to strike it rich. Naturally, as the town grew, supplies had to be brought in, and this was done with mules.

Now the mules were quite reliable, but there were some drawbacks. For example, a mule carrying a heavy load could travel only 15 miles in a day --- meaning that a typical trip into Quesnel could take as long as 20 days. So, as the demand for supplies continued to grow, a group of merchants and packers decided to try a new approach --- believe it or not, they shipped in a herd of camels. I know that sounds strange, but camel trains had been used quite effectively during the California gold rush some 10 years earlier.

But the results in the Cariboo region weren't quite the same. In fact it was a disaster. The camels couldn't carry the heavier loads the merchants expected them to. Their two-toed feet were perfect for desert travel, but they weren't suited for Cariboo's rugged mountain terrain. To make matters worse, the mules became very agitated whenever they came across a camel --- and that caused a lot of accidents on the treacherous mountain trails. The mulepackers went so far as to threaten the camel owners with a lawsuit. But the reason the merchants finally got rid of the camels is because these animals simply weren't cut out for the job.

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