Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

and upon the calcareous rock, eight inches beneath the surface, it rose to 80°. This result was uniform over the whole surface, which was about a quarter of an acre.

On searching they found a spring, about fifteen inches under the surface, in the water of which the thermometer shewed a temperature of 130°. Beneath the black mould was found a brown mixture of lime and silex, very loose and divisible, apparently in a state of decomposition, and progressing towards the formation of black mould ; under this brownish mass it became gradually whiter and harder, to the depth of from six to twcive inches, where it was a calcareous sparkling stone. It was evident that the water had passed over this place, and formed a fat superficies of silicious lime stone ; and that its position, nearly level, had faciliated the accumulation of earth, in proportion as the decomposition advanced. Similar spots of ground were found higher up the hill, resembling little savannas, near which hot springs were always discovered, which had once towed over them. It appears probable that the hot water of the spring's, at an early period, lad all issued from its grand reservoir in the hill, at a much greater elevation than at present. The calcareous crust may be traced up, in most situations on the west side of the hill looking down the creek and valley, to a certain heighit, perhaps one hundred feet perpendicular; in this region the bill rises precipitously, and is studded with hard silicious stones ; below the descent is more gradual, and the soil a calcareous black earth. It is easy to discri. minate the primitive hill,from that which has accumulated, by precipitation, from the water of the springs ;' this last is entirely confined to the west side of the hill, and washed at its base by the waters of the creek, no hot spring being visible in any other part of its circumference. By actual measurement along the base of the hill the influenee of the spring's is found to extend seventy perches, in a direction a little to the east of north : along the whole of this space the springs have deposited stony matter, calcareous, with an addition of silex, or crystalized lime. The accumulation of calca. reous matter is more considerable at the north end of the hill than the south ; the first may be above a hundred feet perpendicular, but sloping much more · gradually that the primitive hill above, until it approaches the creek, where not unfrequently it terminates in a precipice of from six to twenty feet. The difference between the primitive and secondary hill is so striking, that a superficial observer must notice it ; the first is regularly very steep, and studded with rock and stone of the hardest flint and other silicious compounds, and a superficies of two or three inches of good mould covers a red clay ; below, on the secondary hill, which carries evident marks of recent formation, no flint, or silicious stone, is found ; the calcareous rock conceals all from view, and is, itself, frequently covered by much fine rich earti. It woull seem that this compound, precipitated from the hot waters, yields easily to the influence of the atmosphere ; for where the waters cease to flow over any portion of the rock, it speedily decomposes ; probably more rapidly from the heat communicated from the interiour of the hill,as insulated masses of the rock are observed to remain without change.

The cedar, the wax myrtle, and the cassina yapon, all evergreens, attach themselves particularly to the calcareous region, and seem to grow and thrive even in the clefts of the solid rock.

A spring, enjoying a freedom of position, proceeds with great regularity in depositing the matter it holds in solution ; the border or rim of its basin forms an elevated ridge, from whence proceeds a glacis all around, where the waters have flowed for some time over one part of the brim; this becomes more elevated, and the water has to seek a passage where there is Jess resistance ; thus forming, in miniature, a crater, resembling in shape she conical suminit of a volcano. Thic bill being steep above the progress

moss.

of petrifaction is stopped on that side, and the waters continue to flow and spread abroad, incrusting the whole face of the hill below. The last formed calcareous border of the circular basin is soft, and easily divided ; at a small depth it is more compact ; and at a depth of six inches it is generally hard white stone. If the bottom of the basin is stirred up, a quantity of the red calx of iron rises, and escapes over the summit of the crater.

Visitants to the hot springs, liaving observed shrubs and trces with their roots in the hot water, have been induced to try experiments, by sticking branciies of trees in the run of hot water. Some branches of the wax myrtle were found thrust into the bottom of a spring run, the water of which was 150°. by Fahrenheit's thermometer ; the foliage and fruit of tlie branch were not only sound and healihy, but at the surface of the water roots were actually sprouting from it : on pulling it up the part which had pene. trated the hot mud was found decaved.

The green substance discoveralle at the bottom of the hot springs, and which at first sight has the appearance of plush, on examination by the microscope, was found to be a vegetable production. A tiim of green matter spreads itself on the calcareous base, from which rise fibres more than half an inch in length, forming a beautiful vegetation. Before the microscope it sparkled with innumerable nodules of lime, some part of which was beautifully crystalized. This circumstance might cause a doubt of its being a true vegetable, but its great resemblance to some of the mosses, particularly the byssi, and the discovery which Mr. Dunbar made of its bee ing the residence of animal life, confirmed his belief in its being a true

After a diligent search he discovered a very minute shell fish, of the bivalve kind, inhabiting this moss ; its shape nearly that of the fresh water muscle ; the colour of the shiell a grevish brown, with spots of a purplish colour. When the animal is undisuwbed it opens the shell, and thrusts out four legs, very transparent, and articulated like those of a quadruped ; the extremities of the fore legs are very slender and sharp, but those of the hind legs somewhat broader, apparently armed with minute toes : from the extremity of each shell issues tiree of four forked bairs, which the animal seems to possess the power of moving ; the fore legs are probably formed for meking incisions into the mess for the purpose of procuring access to the juices of the living plant, upon wlicli, no doubt, it feeds : it may be provided with a proboscis, although it did not appear while the animal was under examination : the hind legs are well adapted for propelling it in its progress over the moss, or through the water.

It would be desirable to ascertain the cause of that perpetual fire, which keeps up the high temperature of so many springs, as How from this hill, at a considerable distance from each other : upon looking arourd, however, sufficient data for the solution of the difficulty is not discoverable. Nothing of a volcanick nature is to be seen in this country ; neither could they learn that any evidence in favour of such a supposition was to be found in the mountains connected with this river. An immense bed of dark blue schis. tus appears to form the base of the hot spring bill, and of all those in its neighbourhood : the bottom of the creek is formed of it ; and pieces are fre. quently met with rendered soft by decomposition, and possessing a strong alunnious taste, requiring nothing but lixiviation and crystalization to complete the manufacture of alum. As bodies undergoing chemical changes generally produced an alteration of temperature, the heat of these springs may be owing to the disengagement of calorick, or the decomposition of the schistus :

: another and perhaps a more satisfactory cause may be assigned : it is well known, that within the circle of the waiers of this river vast beds of martial pyrites exist; they have not yet, however, been discovered in the vicinage of the hot springs, but may, nevertheless, form immense beds

under the bases of these hills ; and as in one place at least, there is evidence of the presence of bitumen,* the union of these agents will in the progress of decomposition, by the admission of air and moisture, produce degrees of heat capable of supporting the phenomena of the hot springs. No sulphurick acid is present in this water ; the springs may be supplied by the vapour of heated water, ascending from caverns where the heat is generated, or the heat may be immediately applied to the bottom of an immense natural caldron of rock, contained in the bowels of the hill, from which as a reservoir the springs may be supplied.

A series of accurate observations determined the latitude of the hot spring's to be 34° 31' 4", 16 N. and long 6h. 11' 25', or 92° 50454 west from the meridian of Greenwich.

While Mr. Dunbar was making arrangements for transporting the baggage back to the river camp, doctor Hunter, with a small party, went on an excursion into the country. He left the hot springs on the morning of the 27th, and after travelling sometimes over hills and steep cragky mountains with narrow valleys between them, then up the valleys and generally by the side of a branch emptying into the Washita, they reached the main branch of the Calfat in tho evening, about twelve miles from the springs. The stones they met with during the first part of the day were silicious, of a whitish-grey, with flints white, cream-coloured, red, &c. The beds of the rivulets, and often a considerable way up the hills, shewed immense bodies of schistus, both blue and grey, some of it efflorescing and tasting strongly of alum. The latter part of the day, they travelled over and between bilis of black, hard, and compact flint in shapeless masses, with schist as before. On ascending these high grounds you distinctly perceive the commencement of the piney region, beginning at the height of sixty or seventy feet and extending to the top. The soil in these narrow valley's is thin and full of stones. The next day, which was stormy, they reached a branch of the bayau de saline, which stretches towards the Arkansa, and empties into the Washita many leagues below, having gone about twelve miles. The mountains they had passed being of the primitive kind, which seldom produce metals, and having hitherto seen nothing of a mineral kind, a little poop iron ore excepted, and the face of the country, as far as they could see, presenting the same aspect ; they returned to the camp, at the hot springs, on the evening of the thirtieth, by another route, in which they met with nothing worthy notice.

In consequence of the rains which had fallen, Mr. Dunbar, and those who were transporting the baggage to the river camp, found the road watry. The soil on the flat lands under the stratum of vegetable mould is yellowish, and consists of decomposed schistus, of which there are immense beds in every stage of dissolution, from the hard stone recently uncovered and partially decomposed to the yellow and apparently homogeneous earth. The covering of vegetable earth between the hills and the river is, in most places, sufficiently thick to constitute a good soil, being from four to six inches ; and it is the opinion of the people upon the Washita, that wheat will grow here to great perfection. Although the higher hills, three hwd. red to six hundred feet in height, are very rocky, yet the inferiour hills, and the sloping bases of the first, are generally covered with a soil of a middling quality. The natural productions are sufficiently luxuriant, consisting chiefly of black and red oak, intermixed with a variety of other woods, and a considerable undergrowth. Even on these rocky hills are three or

Having thrust a stick down into the crater of one of the springs, at some distance up the hill, several or ps of petroleuin, or naptha, rose and sprcad upon the surface : it ceaeed to rise after three or four attempts.

four species of vines, said to produce annually an abundance of excellent grapes. A great variety of plants which grow here, some of which in their season are said to produce flowers highly ornamental, would probably reward the researches of the botanist.

On the morning of the 8th of January, 1805, the party left Ellis's on the Tiver camp, where they had been detained for several days waiting for such a rise in the waters of the river, as would carry their boat in safety over the numerous rapids below. A rise of about six feet, which had taken place the evening before, determined them to move this morning; and they passed the chuttes about one o'clock. They stopped to examine the rocky promontary below these fills, and took some specimens of the stone which so much resembles the Turkey oil stone. It appears too hard. The strata of this chain were observed to run perpendicularly nearly east and west, crossed by fissures at right angles from five to eight feet apart ; the lamina from one fourth of an mch to five inches in thickness. About a league below, they landed at iVhetstone hill and took several specimens. This projecting hill is a mass of greyish blue schistus of considerable hardness, and about twen. ty fect perpendicular, not regularly so, and from a quarter to two inches in thickness, but does not split with an even surface.

They landed again on the morning of the 9th, in sight of the bayau de la prairie de champ.gnole, to examine and take specimens of some free stone and blue state. The siate is a blue schistus, hard, brittle, and unfit for the covering of house ; none proper for that purpose have been discovered, except on the Calfat, which Dr. Hunter met with in one of his excursions.

On the evening of the 10th they encamped near Arclon's Troughs, hav. ing been only three days in descending the distance which took them thirteen to ascend. They stopped some time at the camp of a Mr. Le Fevre. He is an intelligent man, a native of the Illinois, but now residing at the Arkansas. He came here with some Delaware and other Indians, whom he had fitted out with goods, and receives their peltry, fur, &c. üt a stipulated price, as it is brought in by the hunters. Mr. Le Fevre possesses considerable knowledge of the interiour of the country; he confirms the account before obtained, that the hills or mountains which give rise to this little river are in a manner insulated; that is, they are entirely shut in and inclosed by the immense plaius or prairies which extend beyond the Red river, to the south, and beyond the Missouri, or at least some of its branches, to the north, and range along the eastern base of the great chain, or dividing ridge, com: monly known by the name of the sand hills, which separate the waters of the Mississippi from those which fall into the Pacifick ocean. The breadth of this great plain is not well ascertained. It is said by some to be at certain parts, or in certain directions, not less than two hundred leagues ; but it is agreed by all who have a knowledge of the western country, that the mcan breadth is at least two thirds of that distance. A branch of the Mis. souri called the river Platte, or Shadow river, is said to take its risc so far south as to derire its first waters from the neighbourhood of the sources of the Red and Arkansa rivers. By the expression plains or prairies, in this place, is not to be understood a read flat, resembling certain savannas, whose soil is stiff and impenetrable, often under water, and bearing only a coarse grass resembling reeds ; very different are the westen prairies, which expression signifies only a country without timber. These prairies are neither flat nor billy, but undulating into gently swelling Lawns and expanding into spacious vallies, in the centre of which is always found a little timber growing on the banks of the brooks and rivulets of the finest waters. The whole of these prairies are represented to be composed of the richest and most fertile soil; the most luxuriant and succulent her. bage covers the surfice of the earth, interspersed with millions of flowers and lowering shrubs, of the most ornamental kinds. Those who have viewed only a skirt of these prairies, speak of them with enthusiasm, as if it was only there that nature was to be found truly perfect; they declare, that the fertility and beauty of the rising grounds, the extreme richness of the vales, the coolness and excellent quality of the water found in every valley, the salubrity of the atmosphere, and above all the grandeur of the enchanting landscape which this country presents, inspire the soul with sensations not to be felt in any other region of the globe. This paradise is now very thinly inhabited by a few tribes of savages, and by the immense herds of wild cattle, (bison) which people these countries. The cattle perform regular mișrations according to the seasons, from south to north, and from the plains to the mountains ; and in due time, taught by their instincts, take a retrogade direction. These tribes move in the rear of the herds, and pick up stragglers, and such as lag behind, which they kill with the bow and arrow, for iheir subsistence. This country is not subjected to those sudden deluges of rain which in most hot countries, and even in the Mississippi territory, tear up and sweep away with irresistable fury, the crop and soil together : on the contrary, rain is said to become more rare in proportion as the great chain of mountain is approached; and it would seem that within the sphere of the attraction of those elevated ridges, little or no rain falls on the adjoining plains. This relation is the more credible, as in that respect our new country may resemble other flat or comparatively low countries, similarly situated ; such as the country lying between the Andes and the western Pacifick; the plains are supplied with nightly dews so extremely abundant, as to have the effect of refreshing showers of rain ; and the spacious vallies, which , are extremely level, may with facility be watered by the rills and brooks which are never absent from these situations. Such is the description of the better known country lying to the south of Red river, from Nacogdoches towards St. Antonio, in the province of Taxus : the richest crops are said to be procured there without rain ; but agriculture in that quarter is at a low ebb: the small quantities of maize furnislied by the country, is said to be raised without cultivation. A rude opening is made in the earth, sufficient to deposit the grain, at the distance of four or five fcet, in irregular squares, and the rest is left to nature. The soil is tender, spongy and rich, and see this always to retain humidity sufficient, with the bountcous de ws of Heaven, to bring the crops to maturity.

The Red and Arcansa rivers, whose courses are very long, pass through portions of this fine country. They are both navigable to an unknown dis. tance by boats of proper construction ; the Arcansa river is, however, understood to have greatly the advantage with respect to the facility of navi. gation. Some diflicult places are met with in the Red river below the Nakitosh, after which it is good for one hundred and fifty leagues (probable computed leagues of the country, about two miles each); there the voyager meets with a very serious obstacle, the commencement of the “raft,” as it is called ; that is, a natural covering which conceals the whole river for an extent of seventeen leagues, continually angmenting by the driftwood brought down by every considerable fresh. Tris covering, which, for a considerable time, was only drift-wood, now supports a vegetation of every thing abounding in the veighbouring forest, not excepting trees of a consider. able size ; and the river may be frequently pissed without any knowledure of its existence. It is said that the annual inundation is opening for itself a rew passage through the low grounds ne:r the hills ; but it must be long before nature, unaided, will excavate a passage sufficient for the waters of Red river. About fifty leagues above this natural bridge, is the residence of the Cadeaux or Cadadoquies nation, whose good qualities are already mentioned. The inhabitants estimate the post of Nakitosh to be half way

« ZurückWeiter »