Redway's Geographical Readers
WEALTH OF THE WORLD'S WASTE PLACES AND OCEANIA
JEWETT C. GILSON Former Superintendent of Schools, Oakland, California
Charles Scribner's Sons New York 1913
Copyright, 1913, by Jewett C. Gilson
Although the term "Waste Places" carries an implied meaning of "worthless," yet, interpreted in the light of Nature's methods, each region described, useless as it may apparently seem, possesses a definite relation to the rest of the world, and therefore to the well-being of man. The Sahara is the track of the winds whose moisture fertilizes the flood-plains of the Nile. The Himalaya Mountains condense the rain that gives life to India. From the inhospitable polar regions come the winds and currents that temper the heat of the tropics.
Nature has secreted many of her most useful treasures in most forbidding places. The nitrates which fertilize so much of Europe are drawn from the fiercest of South American deserts, and the gold which measures American commerce is mined in the arctic wilds of Alaska or in the almost inaccessible scarps of the western highlands. The description of these regions and the portrayal of their relation to the rest of the world is the purpose of Part I of this book.
Part II of the book deals with Oceania—more especially with our island possessions in the Pacific Ocean. It presents the salient features of the ocean grand division in the light of most recent knowledge.
The author wishes to give credit to Mr. Jacques W. Redway, F.R.G.S., for suggesting the subject of Part I and for the inspiration he received from the distinguished geographer in developing the subject.
J. C. G.
Oakland, California, December 25, 1912.
PART I—WEALTH OF THE WORLD'S WASTE PLACES PAGE
CHAPTER I. THE WEALTH OF THE ARID SOUTHWEST 4 II. THE GRAND CANYON OF THE COLORADO 27 III. YELLOWSTONE PARK 35 IV. TWO PREHISTORIC CEMETERIES—GIANT REPTILES AND GIANT TREES 51 V. DEATH VALLEY 58 VI. THE MINERAL WEALTH OF THE ANDES 67 VII. THE CZAR'S GREATER DOMAIN 82 VIII. THE MYSTIC HIGHLANDS OF ASIA 97 IX. THE PRIMAL HOME OF THE SARACEN 105 X. THE SAHARA 115 XI. POLAR REGIONS—THE CONQUEST OF THE ARCTIC 128 XII. POLAR REGIONS—ANTARCTICA 147 XIII. ICELAND, THE MAID OF THE NORTH 160 XIV. GREENLAND 170 XV. WHERE THE TWO GREAT OCEANS MEET 175 XVI. RECLAIMABLE SWAMP REGIONS 183 XVII. STRANGE ROCK FORMATIONS—NATURAL BRIDGES 190 XVIII. STRANGE ROCK FORMATIONS—TABLE MOUNTAIN OF CALIFORNIA 195 XIX. STRANGE ROCK FORMATIONS—GIBRALTAR 199 XX. THE BAKU OIL FIELDS 206 XXI. THE SOUTH AFRICAN DIAMOND FIELDS 211
XXII. THE ISLANDS OF THE PACIFIC 226 XXIII. AUSTRALIA 233 XXIV. THE GREAT BARRIER REEF 244 XXV. THE GOLD FIELDS OF AUSTRALIA 250 XXVI. TASMANIA 258 XXVII. NEW ZEALAND 262 XXVIII. SAMOA AND FIJI 270 XXIX. THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS 277 XXX. GUAM 285 XXXI. THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS 289 XXXII. THE DUTCH EAST INDIES—JAVA 301 XXXIII. THE DUTCH EAST INDIES—SUMATRA AND CELEBES 311 XXXIV. BORNEO AND PAPUA 319
The great Rainbow natural bridge of southern Utah Frontispiece
Map of Islands of the Pacific Facing 1
Mohave Desert, California. Buzzards' Roost 6
Gila monsters 9
A giant cactus in Arizona 12
The Roosevelt Dam, Arizona, showing south bridge and spillway 17
Shoshone Project, Wyoming 25
The Grand Canyon of the Colorado 29
Grand View Trail 33
The Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, looking down canyon from Grand Point 37
The Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Mammoth Hot Springs, Summit Pools 45
The Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Beehive Geyser 47
The Brontosaurus 53
The Allosaurus 55
Twenty-mule borax team 61
The Oroya Railroad, Peru, showing four sections of the road 73
Llamas resting 77
Silver-smelting works at Cassapalca, on the Oroya Railroad, Peru, 13,600 feet high 79
Fishing for sturgeon through the ice of the Ural River. Catching the material for caviare 83
Gathering salt at the mouth of the Ural River 87
Driving over the tundra in winter 91
Train on the steppes of Russia 95
Dunkar Spiti, Himalaya Mountains, India 99
Khaibar Pass, the gateway to India 107
On the sands of the desert 117
The yak not only serves as a beast of burden, but furnishes milk, butter, and meat 103
A group of Arabs with their dromedaries 111
A caravan crossing the desert on the road to Jaffa 125
Peary's ship, the Roosevelt 137
Commander Robert E. Peary and three of his Eskimo dogs on the Roosevelt 141
Musk ox 144
An antarctic summer scene 149
The penguin defies the cold 153
Street in Reykjavik, Iceland 163
North Cape, Iceland 167
Stone igloos on the bleak coast of Greenland 171
A large iceberg 173
A group of Eskimos in south Greenland 174
The Straits of Magellan. Cape Pilar is the extreme western end 177
The Everglades of Florida 184
Group of Seminole Indians in the Everglades of Florida 187
The Devil's Slide, Weber Canyon, Utah 191
Witch Rocks, near Echo Canyon, Utah 193
This strong and impregnable place is the Rock of Gibraltar, and the city nestling at its base, Gibraltar 201
Landing-place for commerce on the Caspian Sea 209
Open workings of the diamond mine, Kimberley 219
Sorting gravel for diamonds in the Kimberley mine 223
A Malay girl 229
A Malay boy 231
A giant fig-tree, 140 feet in circumference 235
A mother kangaroo with a young kangaroo in her pocket 237
An Australian emeu 239
Homestead and station in Young district, Australia 243
The Great Barrier Reef of Australia, the most remarkable animal structure in the world 247
Melbourne is the largest city of Australia and contains nearly half a million people 257
Maori pa, or village 263
The Petrifying Geyser, New Zealand 265
Native canoe, Fiji Islands 275
General view of Volcano House, Kilauea, Hawaii 279
A lake of white-hot molten lava. The volcano of Mauna-Loa, Hawaii 281
Native ploughing in rice-field, Guam. One may find rice-farms as skilfully cultivated as those of Japan or China 287
The carabao, harnessed to a dray or wagon, shuffles along 291
The harbor of the city. Scene on the Pasig River, Manila 295
Extracting indigo in Ilocos Province, Philippine Islands 297
Manila hemp as it is brought in from the country 299
A breadfruit tree in Java 303
Coffee-drying in Java 309
Natives in the jungle, Sumatra 313
A jungle, scene in Sumatra 316
WEALTH OF THE WORLD'S WASTE PLACES AND OCEANIA
WEALTH OF THE WORLD'S WASTE PLACES
There is a great wealth of literature about what we call the world's productive lands—that is, the densely peopled lands that yield grain, meat, sugar, fruit, and all the various foodstuffs. In any well-equipped library we may find great numbers of useful books that will tell us all about the places where cotton, wool, and silk are grown, or where coal and iron are mined. All these lands are the dwelling places of many people. Networks of railways connect the various cities and villages, and probably a majority of the people living in them have travelled in and about much of the area of these lands.
A large part of the earth's surface is commonly called "unproductive." As a rule this is only another way of saying that such parts of the world produce little foodstuffs. We must not take the word "unproductive" either too literally or too seriously, however, for Dame Nature has a way of secreting some of her choice treasures in places so forbidding and so desolate that only the most resolute and daring men even search for them. For instance, the mineral once much used by the makers of carbonated or "soda" water comes from a part of Greenland that is so bleak, cold, and inhospitable that no human beings can long exist there unless food and fuel are brought them from afar off. The famous "nitrates" of Chile are obtained in the fiercest part of the Andean desert. Not only the food but the water consumed must be carried to the miners, who are but little better than slaves. Most of the gold and silver is obtained in regions that are unfit for human habitation. The largest diamond fields in the world are in a region that will not produce even grass without irrigation—a region that would not be inhabited were there no diamonds. From the most inhospitable highlands of Asia comes a very considerable part of the precious mineral, jade. Death Valley, in the southern part of the United States, on account of its terrific heat, is perhaps the most unhabitable region in the world, but the borax which it produces is used in every civilized country. And so we might name regions by the score that are practically unhabitable, which nevertheless produce things necessary to civilized man.
We call them "waste places," but this is far from true. For the greater part they are quite as necessary as the places we call fertile. Of foodstuffs, for instance, the greater part of the Rocky Mountain highland produces not much more than the State of New York. Yet the presence of this great mountain wall diverts the moist warm air from the Gulf of Mexico northward, making the Mississippi basin one of the foremost granaries of the world. The absence of rain in the west slope of the Peruvian Andes makes much of the western part of Chile and Peru a desert. But that same absence of rain makes the nitrate beds possible; for had there been yearly rains, the nitrates long since would have been leached out. So, the lands the nitrates now fertilize are far greater in area than that of the region of the nitrates.
Then, perhaps, we turn our eyes oceanward. What! wealth in these great wastes? Most certainly, and indispensable wealth at that. Let us forget for a moment that the oceans produce about as much meatstuffs as the land; this is really the least important feature about them. The oceans produce one thing that is absolutely necessary for every living thing almost every hour of the day, and that is fresh water. Every drop of fresh water that falls on the land is born of the ocean. Even the cold, polar oceans are indispensable to life, for their waters are constantly flowing out into the warmer oceans, thereby tempering the water of the latter and preventing it from being too warm for living things.
Thus we see that, after all, Dame Nature is not very unkind to her subjects. Compensation is her great law; if her supplies are "short" in one direction they are "long" in another. And when we take the broader view we must conclude that there are no waste places. It is only when we take the extreme and narrow view that we voice the persiflage of the poet Pope:
"While man exclaims: 'See all things for my use'— 'See man for mine,' replies a pampered goose."
Now, these waste places are of various kinds and in pretty nearly every locality. Some are deserts pure and simple; some are very dry and, to avoid hurting our national feelings, we politely refer to them as "arid regions"; some are so rugged and inaccessible that nothing short of dirigible balloons and aeroplanes could open a general communication with them; still others are in polar regions and too bleak and desolate to produce foodstuffs or support human life. The purpose of these chapters is to present the characteristics of these waste places. Most of them have been conquered by man, and their resources have been opened wide to the world. Possibly others yet remain to be conquered, but "what man has done, man can do."
THE WEALTH OF THE ARID SOUTHWEST
Years ago the maps of the United States depicted a vast region west of the Missouri River stippled with dots, which were supposed to imitate sand, and marked with the portentous legend, "Great American Desert." As sturdy pioneers pushed their settlements farther and farther westward, the great American desert began to shrink in size until the roseate descriptions of prospectors and land speculators led one to believe that this whole region needed only a touch of the plough and the harrow to produce the most bountiful crops grown anywhere in the world.
Nevertheless, the great domain extending from the twenty-five-hundred-foot level to the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is a region so deficient in rainfall that, for the greater part, ordinary foodstuffs will not grow without irrigation; so farming must be confined mainly to the flood-plains of the rivers. Here and there considerable areas have been made fertile by capturing rivers, damming their streams so as to create great reservoirs, and then measuring out the waters to the farm lands below. The Salt River dam in Arizona, recently completed, will supply water to two thousand square miles, or about twenty-five thousand fifty-acre farms.
But in spite of all that man has done and can do to make this region fruitful, not far from half a million square miles will ever remain barren so far as the production of foodstuffs is concerned. Now this whole region, irrigated lands included, does not produce more wealth than the State of New York alone—possibly it does not produce so much.
Indirectly, however, it is worth more than two thousand million dollars yearly to the rest of the United States; for it is a great highland whose rims, the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountain ranges, are about two miles high. Now, these lofty ranges wring almost every drop of moisture from the rain-bearing winds of the Pacific Ocean, leaving them too dry to shed any moisture over the eastern half of the United States. Because of this great mountain barrier, the winds that bring rain and bountiful crops to the Mississippi Valley and the Atlantic slope, follow an easier passage, flowing directly from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. And the copious rains are the chief wealth of this midland region.
But the arid western highland possesses a great wealth of its own—a wealth whose influence is world-wide, for it is one of the world's chief storehouses of gold, silver, and copper. Gold and silver are the mediums of commercial transactions, and copper is the chief medium for the transmission of electric power. These metals, therefore, are quite as necessary as are iron and steel. Moreover, this great waste, a seeming incubus on the face of the earth, is each year disclosing more and more of its mineral and agricultural wealth.
Gold is the most widely disseminated of all metals, and is said to be where you find it. That this statement is true has been demonstrated many times, especially during the last few decades. In the north it has been found in the frozen ground of Alaska and Siberia, in the south in the sands on the surf-beaten shores of Tierra del Fuego and in the reefs of the Transvaal, while it is found in numerous places lying between these extremes.
The vast tract of land in the western part of the United States whence most of these metals are obtained has been the scene of many tragedies. It is an inhospitable region, scanty in both animal and vegetable life, where climatic conditions call for heroic daring on the part of those who would search out its hidden mysteries; it is a land of death-dealing mirages, yet containing untold wealth for the miner, and likewise for the husbandman who can irrigate the fallow parched surface.
The bold prospector has unearthed in many places of southern Nevada gold-bearing rock assaying thousands of dollars to the ton, the result being the building up of cities and towns and the construction of connecting railroads to meet the demands of the growing commerce. Until recently, silver was the principal metal sought and found in the State of Nevada; but now gold is king, and his throne has been shifted from one desert camp to another, each laying claim to his abundant presence, while new claimants are ever bringing new treasures into light.
The two most valuable deposits of the precious metals now known in Nevada are at Tonopah and Goldfield, the discovery of the first having been made in 1901 and of the latter in the following year. Some of the Goldfield ore has assayed as high as thirty thousand dollars per ton, and so rich were many of its ores that they were sacked and carefully guarded until landed at the reduction works. In one year and a half from the discovery of gold at Goldfield the output reached four million dollars.
These mines of the Nevada deserts excel in the richness and abundance of their ores, while in the future these camps bid fair to outrival in development all other sections of the United States. A few years ago the southern part of the Silver State was considered utterly worthless and a region to be shunned like a charnel-house, on account of its barren and dangerous character. Now it is the Mecca of the gold-seeker.
These mines have already made many a poor man wealthy and many a wealthy man a millionaire. Each hillock, ledge, or ravine holds a possible fortune, and no hardship and peril is too great for the prospector lured by the hope of a rich find. The prosperous desert mining town, first built of canvas and rough lumber, is soon replaced by a better class of buildings, and water is brought through long miles of pipe from the nearest available source. Anon, electric-lighting and other modern conveniences are added, thereby making life more tolerable in a fierce climate of heat and cold, of fiercer winds and blinding dust.
Not only is gold found in these desert wastes, but borax, nitre, sulphur, silver, salt, soda, opals, garnets, turquoises, onyx, and marble form a part of its resources. Rich gold mines have built the towns of Randsburg and Johannesburg in the midst of the Mohave desert, while finds of rich ore made elsewhere are of frequent occurrence. It is thought that in the near future sufficient nitre can be obtained from the deserts of California and Nevada to render the United States independent of Chile, from whose desert, Atacama, the world's chief supply of this mineral is now obtained.
Perhaps there is no part of the United States more healthy and at the same time more deadly than the southeastern part of California, embraced in those indefinite areas called the Mohave and Colorado deserts. That life and death should lay claim to the same regions with equal strength seems somewhat of a riddle, but a careful investigation of the conditions will make good the claims of both. Here are regions rivalling the Sahara in heat, lack of water, and barrenness, and in many parts as difficult to traverse; regions full of surprises in deceptive mirages, peculiar vegetation, strange animal life, occasional cloud-bursts, purity and exhilarating effects of atmosphere, charm of ever-changing colors reflected from the mountains, wealth of floral display in early spring, and marvellous fertility of soil when touched by the magic wand of water. All these and a certain weirdness of beauty difficult to define give these great wastes a peculiar attraction of their own which only those who have spent much time there can understand and appreciate.
For the dread white plague in its early stages there is no medicine and no other climate that can equal the pure, healing atmosphere of these deserts. A new lease of life may be gained by the nerve-racked man or woman who will lay aside all home worries and spend a few months at some congenial home on one or another of these deserts.
Among the animal life found on the desert are the wildcat, coyote, rabbit, deer, rat, tortoise, scorpion, centipede, tarantula, Gila monster, chuck-walla, desert rattlesnake, side-winder, humming-bird, eagle, quail, and road-runner. Wild horses and wild donkeys, or "burros," frequent these great wastes, cropping the vegetation that grows on the oases.
One of the most interesting of these animals is the desert-rat, whose habits, seemingly intelligent and equally curious, enable him to maintain a home amid surroundings most unfavorable to his survival. He is a big, active fellow of a glossy gray color, and since he always leaves something in place of whatever he may carry off, he is often called the trade rat. Night-time is his "busy day."
The house that he builds for himself is a veritable fortified castle built in up-to-date desert-rat style, under a protecting bush or rock, or beside a cactus—preferably a prickly pear. This stronghold, from four to five feet long and three feet high, is made of sticks interwoven with pieces of prickly cactus, thorny twigs, and odd bits in general—great care being taken to have most of the thorns project outward. His private quarters consist of a shallow hole burrowed under the centre of this thorn-woven pile. Access to the interior is gained by a winding passage.
The only enemy that might try to thread the mazy hallway is the rattler, who by an ingenious device is deterred from even making the attempt. To keep his snakeship from intruding on domestic privacy Mr. Rat takes several strips of spiny cactus and lays them flatways across the passageway leading to his retreat.
It is well known that a rattlesnake will not crawl over a prickly substance; hence a traveller when camping out at night in rattlesnake regions often surrounds his sleeping place with a horsehair rope as a safeguard against such an unwelcome intruder. Even the hungry, prowling coyote, who would make short work of the rat could he but get at him, fights shy of lacerating his paws by attempting to tear down the formidable pile.
The desert-rat has a morbid desire to carry to his home any small article which he may chance to find lying around, as many a desert miner has found to his discomfiture, but he always leaves something in its place, such as a strip of cactus or a stick.
For downright strategy no creature inhabiting the desert surpasses the road-runner, sometimes called the ground-cuckoo or snake-killer. Though omnivorous, this bird lives chiefly on reptiles and mollusks. It is decked in a gay plumage of coppery green, with streaks of white on the sides and a topknot of deep blue. In fleetness of foot it is said to equal the horse. Many stories are told of its surrounding a coiled sleeping rattlesnake with strips of cactus and then tantalizing its victim until, baffled in every attempt to get away, the snake finally inflicts a deadly bite on itself. Then the road-runner leisurely proceeds to devour the suicide.
The characteristic plants of these deserts are sage, mesquite, greasewood, and a great variety of cacti. Of the cactus family, the most conspicuous is the saguaro, or giant cactus, which frequently attains the height of fifty feet. All the cacti are leafless and abundantly supplied with sharp, needle-like spines which protect them from herbivorous animals. The bark or outer covering has a firm, close texture that prevents the sap from evaporating during the long, dry season. In traversing the deserts during May and June, one is amazed at the display of beautiful blossoms of white, yellow, purple, pink, and scarlet issuing from their thorny stalks.
The plant most welcome to the thirsty traveller, and which has saved the lives of many a wandering prospector, is the "well of the desert," a barrel-shaped cactus thickly studded with sharp spines. When one cuts out the centre of the plant in a bowl-like form, the cavity soon fills up with a watery liquid that is most refreshing.
Hot and forbidding as are these terrible wastes, they are the dwelling places of several tribes of Indians. The desert cactus furnishes them a large part of their food, and the fibre is woven into cloth to provide them with clothing. These Indians have been acclimated to the desert for centuries and are well versed in all of its moods and mysteries. They know of no better abode; neither can they be induced to leave it for a more congenial climate and fertile soil. Travellers and prospectors have told many stories about their experiences in these deserts. But perhaps no story has possessed a greater fascination than that of the lost Pegleg Mine.
The story of this lost mine has been told and retold with many variations for the past seventy years, and more than a score of persons have lost their lives in attempting to rediscover it. In 1836, according to the traditional story, a man named Smith, distinguished from the rest of the Smith family by the possession of a wooden leg, was journeying with several companions from Yuma over the Colorado desert. On account of his wooden stump he was dubbed "Pegleg" by his fellow-travellers.
After having been out several days and not finding any springs or water holes, the prospectors became greatly alarmed and hastened toward three small buttes which they saw standing out in the desert, in the hope of finding water in the dry wash leading from their bases. On arriving at the foot of the hills they were sadly disappointed; diligent search revealed no signs of water. He of the wooden leg climbed to the top of one of the buttes to get a better view of the country, and to the northward saw a high mountain; but before descending, he observed some black stones under his feet and on picking one up found it heavy and filled with a brassy-colored metal. He then picked up several of the stones and put them into his pockets, but being desirous of reaching water as soon as possible, he gave little thought to his find.
He told his companions of the mountain seen to the north and advised all possible haste to reach it, saying that he believed that they would there find water. The next day at nightfall they succeeded in reaching the base of the mountain in an exhausted condition and found a spring of cool, clear water. They were thus barely saved from a lingering death by thirst. The mountain was named Smith Mountain.
At San Bernardino, Smith showed his ore to an expert, who pronounced it nearly pure gold. The real importance of the discovery did not seem to dawn on the one-legged man, however, until thirteen years afterward; then, in 1849, it was heralded to the world that wonderful discoveries of gold had been made in several parts of California and that a man could dig out of the ground a fortune in a few days or weeks. Smith became enthusiastic and organized an expedition in San Francisco to seek for his desert mine where gold could be had for the picking up.
The expedition started out from Los Angeles. One night, just before reaching Smith Mountain, the Indians who had been taken along to pack the supplies secretly decamped with the provisions, thus compelling the prospectors to return as speedily as possible to save their lives. Smith felt discouraged and left the company at San Bernardino. Whether he perished in again trying to find his mine or left the country is not known. At any rate, he was never heard of afterward.
In 1860 a man named McGuire deposited in one of the San Francisco banks several thousand dollars in gold nuggets which he said he obtained near Smith Mountain. He organized a party of six to hunt for the Pegleg Mine. What they found, however, will never be known, for they all perished, and their bleached bones were found on the desert a long time afterward. They were not alone in disaster, however, for very many others in trying to find the legacy of Smith have met the same fate.
But the hidden wealth of this great region, so long known as the "Great American Desert," is by no means confined to its storehouses of gold, silver, and copper. Here, there, and almost everywhere are areas that lack but one element to make them the most productive regions of the world, and that one element is water.
The conquest of the Colorado desert is not the first instance of desert land reclamation in the United States, but it is certainly one of the marvels of the world's history. A more pronounced and inhospitable desert never existed; and, in proportion to the area reclaimed, it is doubtful if one can find greater productivity than the lands that constitute Imperial Valley. Let us take a glance at nature's work in this region.
Long before the Mississippi was born the Colorado was an ancient river and it formerly flowed through a fertile valley. During countless ages it has stripped from the plateau and carried into the Gulf of California a deposit of rock waste from the land surface of its basin many feet deep, and abraded billions of tons of material from its channel. All this silt and detritus have served to fill up the northern part of the gulf, the result of the deposit being an immense land area. At length a great bar was formed across the northern part of the gulf, making a sort of inland sea. Then the hot climate caused the water to evaporate, while from time to time the Colorado overflowed its banks, spreading a rich sediment over the former sea-bed.
Various parts of this depression, which, like Palestine, lie below the sea-level, are known as Salton, Coahuilla, and Imperial Valleys. The lowest part, now filled with water, is usually called the Salton Sea. The whole of this region is comprehended under the name of Colorado Desert. In 1900 a company was formed to reclaim that part of the desert included in Imperial Valley, by taking water out of the Colorado River a few miles below the boundary between California and Mexico.
A main canal, called the Imperial Canal, one hundred miles long, seventy feet wide, and eight feet deep carries water from the Colorado to Imperial Valley, where it is distributed by hundreds of smaller canals. The irrigation facilities are already sufficient to water more than one hundred thousand acres.
This region, rightly named the hot-house of America, produces marvellous crops of hay, grain, and fruits; it is an ideal place for raising live-stock and poultry as well. Some of this land already brings into its owners from three hundred dollars to seven hundred dollars yearly income per acre, and because of its wonderful fertility it is likened to the valley of the Nile.
In 1904 the Imperial Canal was filled with silt for some distance, thus preventing the flow of the proper amount of water needed for irrigation. To remedy the defect a temporary canal was cut around the head-gate. This expedient had been tried and then the gap had been closed up before high water. At this particular time high water came earlier than usual, and a great flood tore out the channel of the temporary canal to such an extent that before it could be prevented the whole Colorado River was flowing through the breach, leaving its own bed perfectly dry to the Gulf of California, filling up the Salton Valley, burying up the Salton salt-works, and making an inland sea such as formerly existed there. After most strenuous efforts, and at the enormous expense of upward of a million dollars, the gap was at length repaired and the Colorado made to flow in its own bed.
One should remember that in the development of these deserts the prospector owes a deep debt of gratitude to that patient, faithful little beast, the donkey, or "burro," as it is commonly known; without the service of this animal many a man would have suffered a lingering death. As a matter of fact, it is unsafe to venture far out into the desert unaccompanied by this oft-maligned creature—about the only animal fitted to carry supplies.
But the use of dams and canals to conserve and supply water for irrigation prevailed even in most ancient times. Extensive irrigation works were built in Egypt three thousand years ago, and in India, China, Persia, and the countries bordering on the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers irrigation dates back centuries before the Christian era.
The Romans introduced irrigation into southern Europe. When Pizarro conquered the empire of the Incas he found the people possessed of wonderful systems for irrigation. Likewise, Cortez found the Aztecs making extensive canals. Remains of great irrigation works are found to-day in Arizona and New Mexico, where our modern engineers wisely adopt the canal routes which were established by a race now extinct.
At the present time India is irrigating twenty-five million acres of land, the United States thirteen million, Egypt seven million, and Italy three million. It is estimated that the United States has left one hundred and eighty million acres of arid and semi-arid land available for reclamation and four times as much that is incapable of being reclaimed.
No other question of to-day is of such vital and far-reaching importance as that of the reclamation of the millions of acres of sleeping arid lands in the western part of our country. Mines may be exhausted, forests slain, and cities annihilated, but wastes made fruitful through the potency of water will remain everlasting sources of wealth to the nation.
During the last few years our government has been very active in promoting irrigation by building impounding dams and constructing canals and tunnels for the delivery of water. In connection with the various irrigation works the government has already established five hydro-electric plants which furnish water, motive power, and light as may be required. From the big Roosevelt Dam and the drops of the level in the canal connected therewith, twenty-six thousand horse-power will be developed incidental to the reclamation of two hundred thousand acres of land.
The miracle-working agent, water, has already reclaimed thirteen million acres of our domain, and these areas now produce two hundred and sixty million dollars annually; moreover, they furnish homes to more than three hundred thousand people. Prosperous rural communities with thousands of happy, rosy-cheeked children, blooming orchards, broad, fertile fields prolific beyond comparison, and flourishing cities replace wastes of sand and sage-brush.
The United States Government alone has spent already sixty millions of dollars under the Reclamation Act which went into effect in 1902, and the end is not yet, for as the vista of human achievements in this line broadens still greater works will be inaugurated and successfully consummated. In Arizona, California, Colorado, South Dakota, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming the United States Government already is working on or has completed twenty-six important irrigation projects.
The most wonderful work combining the highest engineering skill and daring is found in the western part of Colorado, where from Black Canyon, an almost inaccessible gorge three thousand feet deep, the whole Gunnison River has been diverted to the Uncompahgre Valley. To take the water out of the river it was necessary to bore a tunnel six miles long through a mountain from the canyon to the valley.
To determine the feasibility of diverting the course of the river, it was first necessary to make an exploration of the canyon. No one before had ever had the hardihood to even make the attempt, on account of the extreme danger of a journey between the narrow black walls of this gloomy abyss.
In 1853 Captain Gunnison discovered the river which bears his name. He traced its course to where it plunged into a chasm so deep and dangerous that he feared to follow it farther and named the gorge Black Canyon. Some twenty years later Professor Hayden of the United States Geological Survey, looking over the brink of the abyss, declared it inaccessible.
The State of Colorado, desiring to find some way of utilizing the waters of the Gunnison River for irrigating the arid land adjacent, in 1900 called for volunteers to explore the canyon. Five men responded.
Provided with boats, life-lines, and other accessories, the men started from Cimarron on their perilous trip. On the third day their provisions gave out, and later they were obliged to abandon their boats and nearly everything else except their blankets, which were protected in rubber bags. They knew it was impossible to retrace their steps and that their only salvation lay in going on. At night they rolled themselves up in their blankets and tried to encourage one another. They travelled fourteen miles between granite walls from two thousand to three thousand feet high; and for sixteen days they were almost without food. Then they came to a cleft in their prison walls which seemed to offer a means of escape.
At their feet the water plunged over a precipice down to an unknown depth. To go on meant almost instant death. They were dying of starvation. Should they go on? They had not accomplished their task. Life was sweet and there were loved ones dependent upon them for support.
So they decided to attempt escape while they had strength. Wearily they climbed the steep and rugged path that led them to freedom. Starting early in the morning, they reached the summit, two thousand five hundred feet above the raging torrent, at nine o'clock at night. They were ready to drop in their tracks, yet hope inspired them to renewed exertions. They struggled on fifteen miles more ere they staggered into a farm-house on the verge of collapse.
In the following year, 1901, the United States Government, becoming interested in diverting the waters of the Gunnison, sent out one of its engineers, Professor Fellows, to look into the practicability of the project. After looking over the field, the government engineer succeeded in enlisting in his service Mr. Torrence, who was a member of the first expedition. They planned to accomplish the feat which the former explorers failed to accomplish, namely, to go entirely through Black Canyon.
Profiting by the previous trip, they provided for themselves a complete equipment, consisting of a rubber raft, two long life-lines, rubber bags for food and clothing, a camera, hunting-knives, and belts. Until they reached the water-falls where the previous expedition had left the canyon, the "Fall of Sorrow," the first part of their trip possesses little of interest beyond what had been experienced before. But from this point on unknown dangers menaced them.
The roar of the plunging water from below rose upward with a deafening sound as they gazed into the seething current. The rising mists obscured the tree tops on either side far below. Should they press on or retreat, as those before them had done? Yes, they must go forward whatever the hazard. They clasped hands, bidding each other good-by. Torrence threw himself into the water first and Fellows followed. A few seconds later both clambered upon a bowlder in the pool below. The narrow cleft by which the former company effected their escape was passed and no alternative but to go forward was left to them.
They encountered many other perilous adventures in their thirty-mile trip. Before they escaped from the canyon their provisions gave out. Death by starvation stared them in the face once more. Weakened by hunger and about to give up, they spied at the base of a cliff two mountain sheep.
Now, mountain sheep, which roam among the rugged crags, are exceedingly difficult to catch. One of the sheep darted into a cleft. With a quick movement born of desperation Torrence rushed before the opening, but scarcely had he reached the spot before the frightened sheep, in attempting to escape, jumped into his arms.
Realizing that his life and that of his companion depended upon securing the animal, he succeeded in killing it with his knife after a fierce struggle. The meat obtained saved their lives and sustained them until they reached a ranch fourteen miles from the place from which they emerged from the end of the canyon. In making the perilous journey they had swum across the river seventy-four times.
Although their instruments and most of the other articles which they had taken were lost, yet the valuable data, sought for and recorded in the engineering book, were safely brought out and contained enough encouraging information to lead the government to take up the project of diverting the waters of the Gunnison River to the Uncompahgre Valley.
Salt River Valley, one of the most fertile sections of Arizona, has been settled for many years, but the lack of a sufficient supply of water for extended irrigation has caused a large portion of this rich desert land to remain dormant. To meet the demand for more water in this valley the United States Government has just completed one of the greatest water impounding reservoirs in the world, the construction of which called for the greatest engineering skill and cost nearly nine million dollars.
Salt River enters the valley after a tumultuous passage through a deep and rugged canyon forty miles long. It derives its name from the saltness of its waters, which results from the discharge of salt springs into the main stream as it courses through the gorge.
Though unsuited for drinking purposes the water does not contain enough salt to make it detrimental for irrigation, and the soil, stimulated by the water, produces marvellous crops. Here extensive farming can be carried on with the greatest success. Six crops of alfalfa, averaging eight tons per acre, are harvested yearly. The oranges, dates, figs, lemons, grape fruit, olives, and peaches grown upon these lands are of superior quality and flavor and yield abundantly. The climate during eight months of the year is unsurpassed.
Ostrich farming here is becoming an important industry. There are at the present time in the valley about eight thousand birds, and the number is rapidly increasing. The value of the feathers plucked yearly from each full-grown bird is from thirty dollars to forty dollars. Indications are that in the near future Arizona will lead the world in ostrich farming and the production of ostrich feathers.
The history of this remarkable reservoir is full of human and natural interest. It is located in a land whose civilization was old when Rome was founded, a land of lost races, perpetual sunshine, forbidding deserts, and picturesque wonders. Strange vegetation and scenes that are novel are reflected in soft, changing tints from plain and mountain. From dawn to dark they possess an indescribable charm.
The government engineers, in looking over the ground, found an ideal spot for a reservoir formed by two valleys hedged in among the mountains at the head of the canyon. It was necessary only to build a dam across the narrow cleft where the river enters the gorge in order to impound the water.
The place being practically inaccessible, much preliminary work had to be done before commencing construction on the dam. A road forty miles long was made through the rugged mountains by which to transport provisions, machinery, and other supplies. A greater part of the road was cut out of the solid rock; other portions were constructed of masonry. At places on this wonderful highway, a stone dropped over the edge of the road will fall almost a thousand feet without stopping. The scenery along the whole route is both beautiful and awe-inspiring.
The question of supplying cement for constructing the dam was for a while a difficult one; the price asked by the manufacturers was nine dollars per barrel delivered. The engineer then summoned to his aid the government geologists, and they discovered near at hand limestone rock suitable for making good cement. But in order to convert the limestone into cement, it was necessary to have a mill and motive power to run it. Coal mines were five hundred miles away and such fuel would be too costly. The engineer said, "Why not use as a power electricity generated by the river itself?"
Accordingly a canal extending twenty miles up the river was constructed; with a two-hundred-and-twenty-foot drop it was capable of delivering water enough to generate four thousand two hundred horse-power. A mill was built and an electric plant installed which ran the mill and machine shops besides furnishing power for laying the heavy stones, lighting the works and town, and leaving a large surplus amount for pumping water from numerous wells in the Salt River Valley fifty miles away. By the economy of self-manufacturing, the cost of the cement to the government was but two dollars per barrel, thereby making a saving of nearly half a million dollars.
To provide proper accommodations for all of the employees and their families, a regular town was built on the floor of the reservoir, to be submerged when the works should be completed and the flood gates closed. The town, which was christened Roosevelt, contained a population of upward of two thousand, and bore the reputation of being the best behaved in all Arizona.
The dam, also named after Colonel Roosevelt, then President of the United States, floods two valleys, one twelve and the other fifteen miles long and each from one to three miles wide. The reservoir is nearly two hundred feet deep on the average. It is two hundred and eighty feet high, and the thickness of the dam ranges from one hundred and seventy-five feet at the bottom to twenty feet at the top, where its length is one thousand and eighty feet. Massive iron gates weighing sixty thousand pounds guard the outlet of the flood. To do the preliminary work and construct the dam nearly eight years were required, and during a part of this time a thousand men were employed both night and day, several hundred of whom were Apache Indians.
This region was previously the haunt of Chief Geronimo and his murderous band of Apaches. Near by are two groups of cliff dwellings formerly occupied by a race now extinct.
The capacity of this immense reservoir exceeds that of the Nile pent up by the Assouan dam, and the water would be sufficient to fill a canal two hundred feet wide and twenty feet deep, extending entirely across the United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific. When full there is sufficient water to submerge the city of Washington to the depth of thirty-four feet.
Among the other many important irrigation works may be mentioned the Shoshone and Rio Grande Dams. The Shoshone Dam in Wyoming impounds sufficient water to irrigate one hundred and fifty thousand acres in the valley below. This dam was completed January 10, 1910, and is the highest in the world, its height being three hundred and eighty-four feet. Twelve miles below the dam proper a diversion dam was built across the river which turns the stream into a tunnel connected at the other end with a canal, which delivers water upon one hundred thousand acres of fertile land.
The Rio Grande Dam involving the construction of a storage dam opposite Eagle, New Mexico, across the Rio Grande River will irrigate one hundred and eighty thousand acres of land in New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico.
THE GRAND CANYON OF THE COLORADO
Nowhere else on the face of the globe is one so vividly impressed by the vastness of the work of corrasion as in the northwestern part of Arizona. Here the mutilated breast of Mother Earth discloses a chasm from three thousand feet to seven thousand feet deep, cut through horizontal strata of sandstone, shale, limestone, and granite, chiefly by the agency of water.
This stupendous chasm is the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River. It is more than two hundred miles long; and from rim to rim its walls measure in places twenty miles across. It is not a clean-cut open channel from wall to wall, but, on the contrary, it is filled with castellated peaks, buttes, pinnacles, ridges, seams, and lesser canyons. Down deep in its lowest part, hurrying onward with impetuous speed, is the river itself.
Geologists tell us that this stream was an ancient river before the Mississippi was born and that it formerly watered a valley as fertile.
Ages ago when Time was young the river found its channel closed by an obstruction—just how, or where, or by what, no one knows. So it spread out into a great lake, or, perhaps, into an inland sea several thousand feet deep. The rock waste carried into its basin hardened into sandstone—red, pink, and white of many shades.
After this great inland sea had become dry the Colorado River was born—just how, or when, or because of what, one can only guess. But when it was born it began to undo what its predecessor had done. It cut a channel in the surface of the sandstone and then began business in earnest. It loosened little pieces of sharp flint from the sandstone and swept them along with such force that each became a tiny mallet and chisel combined to cut and carry away other rock. And so it kept on until it had carved a passage not only to the original granite bed rock but in places a thousand feet or more into it. A few localities excepted, the canyon does not form a single gash; nor has it the usual V-shape of canyons in regions of plentiful rainfall. On the contrary, its cross-section takes the form of a succession of steps and terraces, as though the river cut the channels successively in decreasing widths. And because the region through which it flows is one of very slight rainfall, all the landscape outlines are bold and sharply angular.
All told, an area comprising two hundred thousand square miles has been denuded to the depth of six hundred feet, and the material borne southward by the Colorado and its tributaries, while the land through which they flow has been literally drained to death. Even the tributaries have formed deep lateral canyons that meet the level of the main stream. It staggers the mind to try to grasp the time expressed in countless eons since the youth of this now senile river.
As early as 1540 Spanish explorers made known to the world the fact that a deep and impassable gorge existed in one part of the Colorado River, and again in 1776 a Spanish priest revived a knowledge of its existence.
Then, for many years afterward, the canyon claimed but little attention because it was so difficult of access, and so little was known of its colossal dimensions and the marvellous carvings within its walls.
Just above the Grand Canyon and continuous with it is Marble Canyon, so called because of the immense beds of marble that form a part of its walls. In both canyons the limestone sometimes takes the form of marble, or gypsum, or alabaster—crystallized forms of limestone which take a fine polish.
This remarkable river with its canyons was first explored by Major Powell in 1869. With nine men and four boats he started from a landing on Green River in Utah, floated down Green River to its junction with the Grand, and thence down the Colorado below the mouth of the Virgin to the Grand Wash. There he landed after having passed through the entire length of the canyon.
The time spent in this voyage was ninety-eight days, and the distance travelled was upward of one thousand miles. Four of his men left him when the voyage was but partly finished, being frightened by the perils that beset them. They were killed by Indians. The others, after many accidents and hair-breadth escapes, succeeded in getting through in safety.
In addition to the rapidity of the current the river has many rapids and water-falls with jagged projecting rocks which make boating extremely hazardous. All these perils were conjectured but unknown to Major Powell's party, and every new bend of the river was liable to disclose a cataract more dangerous than any encountered before. Then the reverberating sound of the roaring river as it struck the sides of its lofty prison walls together with the deep gloom of the mighty abyss was calculated to terrify the bravest. Thus, facing death at every turn of the stream, the men were kept constantly in a tense state of excitement.
A wealth of adjectives has been expended in attempting properly to describe the immensity of this great handiwork of nature, and scores of persons have produced fascinating word-paintings of its awe-inspiring grandeur.
Leading back from the river the canyon walls are made up in part of shelving rocks and terraces. These, with peaks, buttes, and myriads of other structures arising from the great gulf, show plainly the different strata of rocks of which they are composed. Many of these rocks are richly colored; the tints as a rule result from the salts of iron and other mineral matter disseminated through them. In some instances the coloring material of the upper strata has been washed down by the storms and has stained the rock of the walls below. This is the case in the Grand Canyon, where the limestone wall is colored red by the iron in an overlying stratum.
When the gigantic forms partly filling the chasm, yet standing apart from each other, are seen near sunrise or sunset with their shifting shadows, they leave on the mind remembrances that will never fade.
To appreciate properly the magnitude and height of these towering masses one should examine them not only by travelling along the brink, but by descending to the river level in order to examine them from below. Then only will the awful grandeur and immensity of this monumental architecture of nature begin to dawn upon the understanding.
To the geologist this chasm is an intensely interesting book which reveals much of the history of the past in world-building.
Some years ago a company was formed in New York to build a scenic railroad through Marble and Grand Canyons. Engineers were sent out not only to make a careful survey of the canyons but also to make a series of photographs which should form a continuous panoramic view of the proposed route. A large sum of money was spent in making the surveys; then the project was abandoned. Possibly at some future time the scheme may be revived and a road be built, using as its motive power electricity generated by the river itself.
The Grand Canyon is now easily reached by the Santa Fe Railway system. From the main line at Williams a branch road extends to El Tovar, Grand Canyon station, which is located near the edge of the canyon. The descent to the bottom of the canyon can be made by several trails. Those noted for easy descent and the best views are Grand View and Red Canyon Trails from Grand View, Bright Angel Trail from El Tovar, and Bass Trail from Bass Camp. Each has its own special charms, and for one limited as to time it is difficult to make a choice.
The course of the Colorado and its tributary, Green River, presents some interesting problems. The latter has cut its channel directly across the Uinta Mountains, and the Colorado has sawed its channel to the base level of a series of plateaus, sometimes called the Sierra Abajo. And the interesting problem is—how was the sawing process accomplished? It needs only a moment's thought to understand that the river could not flow against the base of a mountain range and bore a passage through it, much less clear out an open passage miles in width.
Major Powell has shown how this mighty work of mountain cutting was accomplished; the sawing process was begun, not at the base of the range, but at its top. It is merely a question of age. The Colorado and its chief tributaries are older than the mountain uplifts which they have severed. Moreover, the level of their channels is much the same now as it was before the mountains were born.
The mountain levels, however, have been changing ever since their uplift began. And when the rock layers of which they are composed began to be pushed upward the uplift was so slow that the rivers cut downward just as rapidly. In time the ranges were pushed upward to their present height; but when the uplift was completed, in each case it was sawed to the bottom by the river. It is in very much the same manner that a huge log is cut in twain as it is pushed against the saw. The mountain range, as it is pushed upward, represents the log; the river, which is stationary, represents the saw.
One might look a long way to find the wealth created by this muddy torrent. But the wealth is there, though it is certainly a long way from the canyon; moreover, the rock waste itself is the wealth, and great wealth it is. The water of the river is very muddy. Dip up a bucket filled to the brim and allow it to stand for ten or twelve hours. There is an inch or two of clear water at the top, while at the bottom there is a thick, muddy paste of sand, clay, and red earth. All this rock waste the current is sweeping along to the Gulf of California.
Every overflow along the banks of its lower course spreads this rich, nutritious rock waste over the flood plain. Imperial Valley is filled with it; and this, together with the flood plain above and below, constitutes an area of productive land about as large as the State of Illinois. Moreover, the area is constantly increasing, because of the enormous amount of rock waste which the river daily bears to the Gulf of California. In time, a long time as years are measured, the gulf will be entirely filled—and what a valley of prairie land there will be.
In the northwestern part of Wyoming, at the summit of the continent, is a tract of land containing more than three thousand square miles. It is a region which attracts thousands of sightseers every year; yet inconceivable as it may now seem, this marvellous region was unknown to the world until 1870. Being difficult of access, because flanked by high mountains on all sides, and possessing no mineral deposits of value, there was but little inducement for any one but a hunter or a trapper to penetrate it.
John Coulter, a frontiersman, was probably the first white man to set foot within its territory. He was a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and, having observed that there were many beavers in the headwaters of the Missouri River, desired to try trapping there. Having obtained permission to leave the expedition before its return to St. Louis, he forthwith set out to hunt and trap in that region. This was in 1807.
While following his favorite employment he met with many strange and exciting adventures with both Indians and wild beasts. And during his wanderings he beheld sights so marvellous as to tax the credulity of even his own senses; among them a glass mountain, geysers sending up great volumes of water hundreds of feet high into the air, boiling hot springs, deep and gorgeously painted canyons, stupendous water-falls, curiously colored rock formations, and a mountain lake filled with the finest of fish.
So well versed was he in woodcraft that he could travel through pathless forests and over rugged mountains as unerringly as by well-beaten trails. A love for wild nature and adventure had become his ruling passion. After hunting and trapping for several years he returned to St. Louis. Here he told his friends the marvels that he had seen and his adventures with Indians and wild beasts; but his hearers being doubting Thomases, listened with incredulity to his astonishing stories.
He related his experiences and what he had seen to an editor of a St. Louis paper, who, after listening patiently to the narrative, informed Coulter that his wonderful adventures, glass mountain, and boiling springs among the snows were falsehoods and could find no place for publication. Coulter gave interviews to many other persons, and stuck so persistently to his statements that the region which he had so minutely described was derisively dubbed "Coulter's Hell."
Coulter's experiences certainly were marvellous. On one occasion, when he and a companion were trapping along the Madison Fork of the Missouri River, they were surprised by a company of Blackfeet Indians who killed his friend but spared his life for the time being. After the Indians had consulted for some time in regard to what should be done with Coulter, the chief asked him if he could run fast. Coulter replied that he could not. He was in reality the fleetest runner among the western hunters, but he told the Indians that he could not run fast, since he concluded that there was a chance of saving his life by running should he be given the opportunity.
He was stripped naked and taken several miles away to give the Indians some sport before killing him. Then the chief commanded his followers to remain back while he led the captive some three hundred yards in front of them. At a given signal he told Coulter to save himself if he could. At once the war whoop resounded and six hundred demons were on the track of the fugitive. Coulter strained every nerve to outdistance his murderous pursuers. His great exertions caused the blood to spirt from his nostrils and smear the front of his body.
After running a while he heard footsteps, and turning saw an Indian with a spear but a few yards behind him. Being exhausted, and fearing that at any moment the spear might be hurled at him, he concluded to surprise the Indian. Stopping suddenly he wheeled about and presented his bloody body and outstretched arms to the Indian.
The red man, greatly astonished, in attempting to stop quickly stumbled and fell, breaking his spear. Before the prostrate runner could recover himself Coulter seized the head of the shaft and quickly pinioned his foe to the ground.
Then the fleeing hunter ran at his topmost speed toward the river, about a mile distant. Arriving there a little ahead of his pursuers, he plunged into the water and swam as fast as he could. Observing a raft of drift-wood that had lodged against a small island, he dived under the debris, and thrusting his head up between the tree-trunks of the heterogeneous mass succeeded in getting into a position where he could breathe and yet be concealed.
No sooner had he hidden himself than the yelling savages appeared on the river's bank. They looked in all directions for their missing captive, but in vain. They even went on the island and climbed over the drift-wood, scanning every possible place of concealment. Seeing no trace of their white prisoner they reluctantly returned to the mainland. Coulter remained under the raft in dreadful suspense until night, when, hearing nothing of his foes, he silently slipped from under the raft and swam down stream a long distance before landing.
His situation was now indeed a desperate one; his feet had become filled with thorns from the prickly pear while running across the prairie; he was also naked, hungry, and without means to kill the wild game for food; moreover, the distance to the nearest fort was at least a seven-days' journey. But he was in excellent physical condition and, being inured to hardships and skilled in traversing the pathless wilderness, he at length reached the fort, having subsisted in the meantime chiefly on roots whose nutritious value he had learned from the Indians.
John Bridger, a famous hunter, was familiar with the region now known as Yellowstone Park as early as 1830, and he endeavored to have his descriptions of it published, but he could find no periodical or newspaper willing to print his statements. In Bridger's case, however, there was ground for doubt, inasmuch as he had a reputation for exaggeration, and the facts that he related about the wonders of the Yellowstone were considered mere fabrications.
One of his most astounding stories concerned an elk. He claimed that while hunting he espied an elk that seemed to be only a short distance away; taking a good aim he fired, but the animal was unmoved by the shot. He again fired with more deliberation, yet with the same result as before. Having fired twice more with no effect he seized his rifle by the barrel and rushed toward the antlered monarch; but all at once he ran up against what seemed to be a high vertical wall. On investigation the wall proved to be a mountain of perfectly transparent glass. And still the elk kept on grazing quietly!
The strangest thing about the mountain he said was that its curved form made it a perfect telescopic lens of great power. On going around to the other side of the mountain he caught sight of the elk, which he judged must have been at least twenty-five miles away when he first saw it by the powerful glass-lens mountain!
In 1860-61 gold was discovered in Montana, and prospectors began to extend their search for the precious metal into adjoining territory. The Indians were troublesome; nevertheless many prospectors ventured into the region of the Upper Yellowstone during the years succeeding, and reported seeing wonderful volcanic agencies at work.
To settle the many flying accounts about volcanic wonders in the Yellowstone section, two expeditions headed by prominent citizens of Montana were formed to ascertain the truth concerning these statements. The expeditions set out during the consecutive years 1869 and 1870. On their return excellent descriptions of what they had seen were published in the Montana papers, and these accounts were copied by the leading papers of the country.
The second, or Washburn-Doane, expedition of 1870 was the most successful in its explorations, since it was provided with a military escort. One of the members of this expedition wrote up a series of excellent articles which were published in Scribner's Magazine, thus giving further authenticity and wide publicity to the discovery.
In 1871 interest awakened by the last expedition caused the United States Government to send out a special expedition of geological and engineering men to collect exact data, take photographs, and make a survey of the Yellowstone region. The geological section was under the direction of Dr. P. V. Hayden. Mainly through Hayden's influence and foresight Congress withdrew the tract now comprising Yellowstone National Park from occupancy or sale, and dedicated and set it apart as a public park or pleasure ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people. The bill was signed by the president March 1, 1872. In 1872 two United States geological surveying parties were sent out and detailed explorations were made during the next ten years.
The park is now under the management of a military commander as acting superintendent, aided by a detachment of United States troops, who maintain order, prevent acts of vandalism, and see that the rules and regulations of the park are obeyed. No one except the troops is allowed to bring firearms into the park, and the wild animals, now carefully protected by law, have greatly multiplied. Through subsequent acts of Congress two forest reserves have been added to the park proper, the Madison Forest Reserve in 1902 and the Yellowstone Forest Reserve in 1903. These additions make the total area reserved from settlement about seventeen thousand six hundred square miles.
The only living beings that are permitted to fell as many trees as they wish are the beavers, which use them in constructing their dams. The grizzly and the black bear flourish in the park and have become quite tame. In the neighborhood of the camps and hotels they have become an intolerable nuisance because of their propensity to break into tents and buildings in search of food.
The lordly elk nourishes here and numbers of them may be seen at almost any time of day. A herd of buffaloes is jealously protected, and food and shelter are provided for them during the winter when necessary. These animals are increasing in numbers. Many antelope, deer, and mountain sheep are seen in the park.
The mountain lion and the coyote are two animals that the authorities of the park feel justified in killing in order to preserve the other game, but the wild ruggedness of the territory, which affords these pests ample opportunity to multiply unmolested, prevents their extinction.
During the fall of the year wild geese and ducks frequent the park in great numbers; some of the latter remain all winter long in places where the hot springs keep the water of the streams from freezing. The United States Fish Commission has taken special care in stocking the fishless streams with trout, and now the Yellowstone Park furnishes the finest trout-fishing in the whole world. Visitors to the park are granted full license to fish, but they must use only hook and line.
About one-fifth of the reservation consists of tracts suited for grazing, but for agricultural purposes the park is worthless, since frosts occur every month of the year.
The forests consist of a variety of trees, but only one kind, the Douglas spruce, is suitable for good lumber. The quaking aspen is the only deciduous tree that is abundant. Elk and deer browse about these trees and keep them trimmed at a uniform distance from the ground.
During the long rainless season the distant hills and mountains are bathed in an atmosphere of soft purple and blue in ever-varying intensity, while later in the season Jack Frost with his magic brush paints the mountain-sides with the most varied and gorgeous colors, and the aspen changes to rich autumnal tints.
At the proper season Yellowstone Park is a vast garden of wild flowers which are dense and rich in colors even up to the snow line. Several varieties of the lupine and the larkspur clothe the hillsides with every shade of color, while the modest violet seeks secluded spots in which to bloom. Forget-me-nots, geraniums, harebells, primroses, asters, sunflowers, anemones, roses, and many other plants are abundant.
The climate puts new life and energy into the visitor. Contrary to the general opinion, the climatic conditions in the park are not extreme, notwithstanding its high elevation. The average temperature at the Mammoth Hot Springs in January, the coldest month, is 18 deg. F., and in July, the hottest month, 61 deg. In the plateau regions, averaging fifteen hundred feet higher, the temperature is 8 deg. in January and 51 deg. in July.
Good roads have been constructed throughout the park connecting all points of interest, and in many instances these roads have been built at an enormous expense. The United States Government has already expended upward of one million dollars in road-making and bridge-building. There are now over sixty bridges and five hundred culverts to supplement the five hundred miles of roads within the park proper and the forest reserves.
We enter the park from the north and then proceed to visit a few of the most interesting places. Our tour embraces Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin, Firehole Geyser Basins, Yellowstone Lake, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone River.
Leaving the Northern Pacific train at Gardiner, the entrance station to the park, we take a coach for Mammoth Hot Springs, five miles distant, and ride along the foaming, dashing Gardiner River through a canyon bearing the same name. Portions of the way unfold bold, picturesque scenery, giving a fitting introduction to the marvels and greater scenic beauty that are in store for us. We cross the river four times on steel bridges within one mile.
Just after crossing the last bridge we see an immense stream of hot water issuing from an opening in the rocks and discharging directly into the Gardiner River. This stream, the Boiling River, we are told, comes through subterranean channels from the famous Mammoth Hot Springs a mile and a half away.
Arriving at the springs, we find here a large, well-equipped hotel, where are also the administration head-quarters of the park. After resting a short time, we visit the world-renowned Hot Springs.
The Mammoth Hot Springs rise from the summit of a hill of limestone formation three hundred feet high, built by the deposit of mineral matter held in solution by the hot water that issues from them. The terraces, containing upward of two hundred acres, are delicately tinted in beautiful shades of red, yellow, orange, brown, and purple. Those over which the water is still flowing present the most attractive appearance, the colors being fresh and rich; the others have dull, ashen colors.
Calcareous deposits are rapidly building up these terraces in various beautiful forms, the edges of many being supported by delicate columns, some of which resemble organ pipes. Different names are given to the terraces according to form or fancy, as Pulpit Terrace, Jupiter Terrace, Narrow Gauge Terrace, Minerva Terrace, etc.
The overhanging bowls built up by these deposits are exquisite specimens of Nature's work and are filled with water of wonderful transparency; while the variety of forms of these receptacles and their charming colors fascinate the beholder.
Scattered over the formation in all directions are numberless curiosities, such as the Devil's Kitchen, Cupid's Cave, and the Stygian Cave. In many of these caves there is an accumulation of carbonic-acid gas sufficient to destroy animal life. This is especially true of the latter cave.
We now journey by coach to Norris Geyser Basin. On the route we pass by Obsidian Cliff, sometimes called Obsidian Mountain, which is an immense mass of black volcanic glass. This mineral was used by the Indians for making arrow-heads and spear-heads.
In constructing a road around the base of the cliff, great difficulty was encountered on account of the hardness of the obsidian. The superintendent in charge of the work hit upon a happy device by which to quarry it. Log fires were built along the base, and when the volcanic glass was hot cold water was thrown upon it. This method cracked the material into fragments which were easily removed.
Opposite the base of Obsidian Cliff is Beaver Lake, the home of numerous beavers and a great resort for waterfowl during a part of the year. After passing Obsidian Cliff, hot springs become more numerous until we reach Norris Geyser Basin. In this locality the odor of sulphur is strong and unpleasant. A little farther on a loud roar startles us, and a few moments later we see the cause of the explosion; it is a powerful steam jet issuing from the summit of Roaring Mountain. When Dame Nature "turns on steam" there is no nonsense about it.
Norris Basin seems to be of more recent volcanic development, since some of the steam vents in other basins have ceased action during the past few years; moreover, several new ones have opened, one of which rivals Roaring Mountain. Constant and Minute-Man Geysers, though small, are frequent and vigorous in action. In passing through this section the road-bed is hot for some distance, showing that the subterranean rocks which heat the water cannot be very deep down in the earth.
In going to the Firehole Basins we follow Gibbon River to within four miles of its mouth, then, crossing a point of land to the Firehole, we ascend the right bank of the stream to Lower Basin. On the road we pass many springs; the most conspicuous of which, Beryl Spring, lies close to the road. It discharges a large volume of boiling water and the rising steam frequently obscures the road.
In one locality outside the beaten track of tourists there is a veritable Hades on earth. Here, as we walk over ground that is very hot, we are nearly suffocated by the fumes of sulphur. All around us are hundreds of seething, boiling vats of water, and the whole area is cracked and filled with holes from which noxious vapors rise.
Soon after we leave this infernal region we hear a constant roar like that coming from a large steamer about to leave its moorings. We follow in the direction from which the sound proceeds and at length discover the cause.
On approaching the source of the sound we see a large volume of steam rushing with immense velocity from an opening in the ground, while the rock around the orifice is black as jet. The guide tells us that this huge steam vent is called the Black Growler, and that it continues vigorously active summer and winter, year in and year out. Its roar can be heard four miles away.
The chief wonder of Lower Firehole Basin is the Great Fountain Geyser. Its formation is unique. At first sight one is led to believe that the broad circular structure which he sees is artificial. On close inspection numerous pools, moulded and nicely ornamented, are seen sunk in this stone table, while in the centre there is a large and deep pool filled with hot water, but looking like a beautiful spring. At the time of eruption this central pool of water is shot up to the height of one hundred feet or more. Near the Great Fountain Geyser is a small valley in the upper part of which is a large hot spring called the Firehole.
When this spring is visited on a windless day, a light-colored flame seems to be constantly issuing from the bottom, flickering back and forth like a torch, and the visitor feels sure he is gazing at the hidden fires beneath that heat the water. It is the illusion caused by superheated steam escaping through a fissure in the rock and dividing the water. The reflection from the surface thus formed and a black background formed by the sides and bottom of the pool account for the phenomenon.
Surprise Pool is found near the Great Fountain; it will make good its name should you throw into it a handful of dirt. Excelsior Geyser, not far away, is really a winter volcano, its crater being a seething caldron near the Firehole River, into which it sends six million gallons of water each day, even when not in eruption.
At times it sends up a column of water, fifty feet in diameter, to the height of two hundred and fifty feet. The eruptions take place at long intervals—seven to ten years. On account of the great depth and extent of this geyser it has sometimes been denominated "Hell's Half-Acre."
Following along Firehole River we pass into the Upper Basin, a section the most popular with the majority of tourists. Among the geysers in this basin we shall find Grotto, Castle, Giant, Giantess, Bee Hive, Splendid, Grand, and Old Faithful. Each of them has an interest peculiarly its own, but Old Faithful is always true to its name and is perhaps best appreciated by visitors.
The opening through which Old Faithful disgorges its water is at the summit of a mound built up by its own exertions. The wrinkles on its face tell of long-continued service. Every seventy minutes this faithful worker sends up a column of water to the height of one hundred and eighty feet, and at each eruption more than one million gallons of water are thrown out.
We now pass through a section noted for its wild and picturesque scenery and considered the pleasantest on the trip. In leaving the Upper Basin we follow along Firehole River to the mouth of Spring Creek, then along this creek to the Continental Divide. From there, travelling a few miles along the Pacific slope, we cross the Divide and descend the mountains into the valley of the Yellowstone.
Near the central part of the park, encircled by a forest and elevated nearly eight thousand feet above the sea-level, lies a remarkable body of water supplied by ice-cold streams formed by the melting snow on the surrounding mountains. This body of water, of which the Yellowstone River is the outlet, is the famous Yellowstone Lake, thirty miles long and twenty miles wide; it is filled with trout.
Here the fisherman can catch hundreds of trout in a short time, but unfortunately most of them are afflicted with a parasitic disease, rendering them unfit for food. Researches have been made seeking the cause of the disease in order, if possible, to apply a remedy, but so far to no purpose. It is conjectured that the superabundance of fish together with a dearth of suitable food lowers their vitality, thus rendering them liable to disease.
Yellowstone stands next to Lake Titicaca as the highest large body of water in the world. The sunrise and sunset effects on the lake are most beautiful. A steamer plies on the lake carrying mail and passengers. The bird life on this body of water and its shores is represented by swans, geese, ducks, cranes, pelicans, curlews, herons, plovers, and snipe.
For beauty and grandeur the lower falls and canyon of the Yellowstone River are unsurpassed. A body of water seventy feet wide rushes forward with impetuous speed and joyously takes a leap of more than three hundred feet to the rocks below, where, breaking into millions of particles, it forms a great cloud of spray. The water then dashes on with renewed vitality between the walls of a canyon fourteen hundred feet deep, and most gorgeously painted by nature in such a variety and lavishness of tints that they defy the most skilful artist to reproduce them.
As one gazes from the edge of the chasm into and along the depths below, he attempts in vain to measure the fulness and beauty of this handiwork of nature. He is too amazed for utterance and remains spellbound, communing only with himself and nature regarding the unfathomable significance of such marvels. When the famous painter, Thomas Moran, desired to reproduce in colors on canvas this masterpiece of nature, he gathered his inspiration from Artist Point, and after he had finished the celebrated painting which now adorns the Capitol at Washington, he acknowledged that the beautiful tints of the canyon were beyond the reach of human art.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone has no equal on the face of the globe. With a breadth equal to its depth, this richly decorated canyon stands out unique among the world's wonders. Its beautiful panorama of stained walls, down which trickle streams of water which brighten the tints in some places and soften them in others, extends for a distance of three miles. The entire canyon is fifteen miles in length.
A most interesting place to visit, but outside the itinerary of most tourists, is the Fossil, or Petrified, Forest. This section, especially attractive to the scientist, lies in the northeastern part of the park just north of Amethyst Mountain.
To one who can read Nature's books, a wondrous volume is open, disclosing in its strata the hidden secrets of many by-gone geological ages. Here on the north flank of the mountain are two thousand feet of stratifications. On the ledges, tier above tier and story above story, are seen the opal and agate stumps and trunks of twenty ancient forests, some of the trunks being ten feet in diameter.
What wonderful stories do they tell of life and death, of flood and volcanic fire, ranging through the eons of the past! So perfect are these petrifactions that the annual rings can be easily counted and even the grain of the wood is plainly visible.
As one traverses this wonderland he is impressed by the evidence of the stupendous forces that lie smouldering beneath the crust of the earth. It is not improbable that at some future time, by the further wrinkling or sinking of the surface of this part of the American continent, the slumbering volcanic fires may be awakened to new life and activity.
TWO PREHISTORIC CEMETERIES—GIANT REPTILES AND GIANT TREES
Although reptiles appeared first in the period known as the Carboniferous Age, or age of plant life, they did not attain their greatest development until Jurassic and Cretaceous times, when many were of prodigious size and ruled the world. The gigantic ichthyosaurs, mesosaurs, and dinosaurs held dominion over the sea and land, and the monster flying reptile, the pterodactyl, over the air.
Ages ago a great inland sea embracing Wyoming and the surrounding region occupied the area east of the Rocky Mountains. For many years students of geology had found this section a fertile field for the study of rock formations and the collection of fossils; but not until 1898 was the geological wonderland of central-south Wyoming discovered.
This discovery proved to be a graveyard of prehistoric monsters dating back probably several millions of years ago. Entombed in the rocks of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, many lizard-like animals of gigantic size called saurians were found. Several fossil skeletons of these animals have been chiselled out of the solid rocks and mounted in museums, the work entailing a vast amount of labor and expense. The discovery was made by Mr. Walter Granger, who had been sent out by the American Museum of Natural History, of New York, to hunt for fossils.
In the desert section near Medicine Bow River, Wyoming, he found what seemed to be a number of dark-brown bowlders. On a critical examination they proved to be ponderous fossils that had been washed out of a great bed of reptilian remains. The fossil graveyard in question was found to be two hundred and seventy-five feet in thickness. Near by was a Mexican sheep-herder's cabin, the foundations of which were constructed of huge fossils. The vicinity was christened Bone Cabin Quarry. Ten miles south of the Bone Cabin Quarry, in the Como Bluffs, another bed containing the remains of huge dinosaurs was discovered. From these remarkable cemeteries many fossils have been obtained.
The term saurian means "lizard," and it has many prefixes to indicate the different genera and species. The prefixes generally express to a certain extent the characteristic appearance or habits of the different kinds of saurians. Some were flesh-eaters; others were herbivorous. Some lived on land; others, in the shallow waters and lagoons, fed on succulent aquatic plants; still others frequented the deeper waters and lived on fish.
The name dinosaur, meaning terrible lizard, represents an order of fossil reptiles. They are allied to the crocodile, but, like the kangaroo, their hind legs were much longer than their front ones. The neck and tail were very long and the body short but of immense size. These monsters were from twenty to eighty feet in length and weighed from thirty to one hundred tons. The long, slender neck supported a small head that contained a correspondingly small brain, from which it is thought that the creature possessed a low order of intelligence. The tail was much thicker than the neck and in some species was flattened. When rising on its hind legs and resting on its tail it could look into the window of a four-story building. Some of these strange animals had bills like those of a duck; some possessed teeth for grinding and others sharp teeth for tearing. These were by far the largest land animals that ever lived. The different species often waged titanic battles with one another for the supremacy of the earth.
It is conjectured that their disappearance was due to violent upheavals of the earth, to the draining of the water, to changes of climate, and to deprivation of suitable food.
The mounted brontosaur in the American Museum of Natural History, New York, will enable one better to appreciate the size of these giants of the ancient world. This typical specimen, though not the largest found, is sixty-seven feet long and stands fifteen and one-half feet high. Its neck measures thirty feet in length and its tail eighteen. The body weighed about ninety tons. This huge fossil, enclosed in its stone matrix, was sent from the quarry to the museum. After it had been received two men were employed constantly for nearly two and one-half years in removing the matrix, repairing, and mounting the fossil.
Let us turn now to the burying ground of a giant forest. Long, long years ago, before man appeared on the earth, an inland sea occupied what is now the northeastern part of Arizona. It was a sea bordered with sandstone and surrounded by coniferous forests, where stately trees nodded in the breezes.
At length there came a great change. The rim of the basin gave way, and the great volume of water, freed from restraint, overwhelmed the forest with earthy material, prostrating and burying it deep beneath the flood of sand.
In time the woody structure disappeared, and was replaced by beautifully stained opal and agate. Again, in the lapse of time the old forest bed was once more lifted above its former level, forming a mesa, or plateau, of considerable extent. During subsequent ages, the elements scarred and furrowed the plateau, forming canyons, gulches, valleys, and buttes, thus revealing in part this ancient forest. Could these dead trees but talk, how interesting would be their story! We can read their history but imperfectly by examining the mutilated breast of Mother Earth, in and on which lie these mute stone trees, dead yet made more beautiful through their transformation.
This region is called the "Petrified Forest," or "Chalcedony Park." It is about one hundred square miles in extent, and is visited annually by thousands of people from all parts of the world. On account of its strange geological character it is of special interest to the scientist.
Let us make a brief trip to this wonderful stone forest. We take light hand-baggage and board a Santa Fe train. The railway passes near the most interesting part of the forest, and we change cars before entering Arizona in order to take this line. The railway officials have made a station at Adamana, six miles from the edge of the forest, in order to accommodate the travelling public. We leave the train here and procure a team to carry us to the forest.
Unless informed of what is to be seen one is apt to be greatly disappointed. One's idea of a forest is usually that of a timber-covered area in which the trees stand erect, with outspreading branches; but we look in vain for a standing tree, or even a stump that is erect.
All are branchless trunks, prostrate on the ground, many wholly or partly buried; moreover, they are lying in all sorts of positions, some entire and others broken into sections; some are massed closely together; others lie apart; and millions of pieces of all sizes are scattered around. At places we can travel a long distance by stepping from one log to another.
But what is that pile of variegated disk-like objects looking like the primitive Mexican ox-cart wheels? They are cross-sections of stone logs, some large and some small, seemingly thrown together carelessly. It is a characteristic of petrified trunks to break into cross-sections or blocks, varying from a few inches to several feet in length; and this tendency prevails here.
We are told that the trees of this forest antedate those of the Yellowstone Park by a long period of time. How the loftiest flights of the imagination are piqued as we contemplate the marvellous changes since this primeval forest depended on the soil and sun for their life-giving elements! As we wander through this wonderful forest our feet seem to be treading on the rarest gems. And well may it seem so, because when polished these pieces display a beauty of coloring and a lustre that rivals the glint of precious stones. There is no other petrified forest in the world in which the mineralized wood assumes so many varied and interesting forms and colors.
Many years ago a firm at Sioux Falls undertook to manufacture table tops, mantels, pedestals, and various decorative articles out of sections of this agatized wood by cutting them into the desired forms and polishing them. Tiffany and Company, the famous jewellers, also used this material for the base of the beautiful silver testimonial presented to the French sculptor, Bartholdi.
At a later date, an abrasive company of Denver conceived the plan of grinding up these trunks to make emery because of their extreme hardness; in fact, a plant was shipped to Adamana station for that purpose. Fortunately for the public, however, it was not put into operation because the company learned that a Canadian firm had put on the market an article at such a reduced price that to grind up these beautiful logs would be unprofitable.
Fragments, branches, and trunks of all sorts and sizes are found lying around, many of them richly colored, forming chalcedony, opal, and agate; some approach the condition of jasper and onyx.
Before the Petrified Forest was set aside as a national park by Congress, many acts of vandalism were committed, to say nothing about the quantities of mineral carried away by manufacturing firms and curiosity-hunters. Keepers now have charge of the park, and no one is permitted to take away specimens for commercial use. Previously many of the finest logs were destroyed by blasting in order to procure the beautiful crystals which are found in the centre of many of them.
One object of special interest in the park is the National Bridge, a petrified trunk which spans a chasm thirty feet wide and twenty feet deep. The part of the trunk crossing the gulch lies diagonally and is forty-four feet long. The length of the trunk exposed by erosion is one hundred and eleven feet; a fraction still remains embedded in the sandstone.
The ruins of several ancient Indian pueblos are scattered about the park, nearly all of them built of logs of this richly colored, agatized wood. The forest was a storehouse for ages, whence primitive men obtained material from which to make agate hammers, arrow-heads, and knives, as is shown by implements found hundreds of miles distant from these quarries.