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no doubt but that there is tract of country of more than one hundred and fifty miles in extent capable of producing good mica, in quantities sufficient to supply a very large demand. Should that demand continue, these mines might be worked profitably to the depth of a thousand feet or more, and for centuries to come.
No other mineral of much commercial value has yet been found in the mica veins, but it is to be hoped that at some point or other the beryls found may occur in the form of emeralds. I have seen two or three transparent white beryls, and several small aquamarines, some of which I had cut. This last mineral, though used as a gem, is, in fact, worth little more than the cost of cutting it. As however the emerald owes its fine green color to the presence of less than one per cent. of the oxyd of chromium, and as chrome ore is widely dispersed throughout this section, we may hope that at some point emeralds may be found. I need scarcely remind you that the emerald ranks next in value to the ruby and the diamond.
Very respectfully yours, &c.,
T. L. CLINGMAN.
MOUNT PISGAH, NORTH CAROLINA.
By Hon. T. L. CLINGMAN.
[From APPLETON'S JOURNAL, December 27, 1873.]
Many of our readers have learned, from the careful measurements of Professor Arnold Guyot, of Princeton-prosecuted as they were through three summers-that there are in North Carolina about thirty designated mountain-peaks that surpass in altitude Mount Washington, of New Hampshire. The elevated area of North Carolina is more than two hundred miles in length, by an average breadth of fifty miles. Its eastern boundary is the Blue Ridge, which separates the waters of the Atlantic from those falling into the Mississippi. It attains its greatest elevation at the Grandfather Mountain. The western boundary of this plateau is the great Alleghany chain, which, though cut by the rivers through several passes, has a greater general elevation, and many higher peaks, than any in the Blue Ridge.
Through North Carolina this range is known in its course by the several names of Roan, Unaka, Iron and Smoky. The last name indicates that portion which, from its extent, large mass, great altitude, and the number and height of the ridges connected with it, has been pronounced by Professor Guyot the culminating point of the Alleghanies. Its highest peak, as measured and named by him, appears on the maps of the Coast Survey as Clingman's Dome.
Besides these great ranges, there are a number of cross-chains, the most prominent of which are the Black and the Balsam. The last of these, from its extent, and general altitude, and the great number of its peaks, surpassed only by those of the Black and Smoky, is the most important of all the cross-chains. It extends from the Smoky, across
the State, to the border of South Carolina, and, for the distance of nearly fifty miles it is covered by the Balsam trees, from which it takes its name.
On some of the old maps, at a point in its course, one may see marked "Devil's Old Field." This spot must not be confounded with the "Devil's Supreme Court-House," in which the devil, according to Cherokee lore, was to try all mankind at the last day. This Devil's CourtHouse, situated twenty miles west, on the border of Jackson and Macon counties, is an immense precipice, nearly a mile long, and eighteen hundred feet high, being so curved as to form a part of the arc of a circle. When one in front looks at its concave surface, he sees, half-way up, an immense opening, which constitutes the throne of the author of evil, where bad spirits are to hear their doom.
But the Devil's Old Field is an opening of several hundred acres on the top of the Balsam range. The Cherokees regard the treeless tracts, at various points on the mountains, as the footprints of Satan, as he stepped from mountain to mountain. This old field, however, being his favorite resting-place, was more extensive than were his mere footprints. In fact, this was his chosen sleeping-place. Once, on a hot summer day, a party of irreverent Indians, rambling through the dense forests of balsam and rhododendrons, suddenly came into the edge of the open ground, and with their unseemly chattering, woke his majesty from his siesta. Being irritated, as people often are when disturbed before their nap is out, he suddenly, in the form of an immense serpent, swallowed fifty of them before they could get back into the thicket. Ever after this sad occurrence, the Cherokees, as the sailors say, gave this locality “a wide berth."
After the whites got into the country, a set of hunters, known by the name of Q-, either by daring or diplomacy got on better terms with the old fellow. As their reputation was anything but good, envious people used to say that they escaped injury at the hands of Satan upon the same principle that prevents a sow from eating her own pigs. These Q's spoke in favorable terms of the personal cleanliness of his majesty, and his regard for comfort, asserting that they had gone to the large, overhanging rock, in the centre of the field where he slept, and, out of mischief, in the evening had thrown rocks and brushwood on his bed, and that next morning the place was invariably as clean as if it had been brushed with a bunch of feathers. Of late years no one has seen him in those parts, and it is believed that, either tired of the loneliness of the place, or because he could do better elsewhere, he has emigrated.
Near the southern end of the Balsam Mountain, two spurs leave it on the east side and run out for a dozen miles toward the north. As one goes along the most westerly of the two, he comes to the Shining Rock, an immense mass of quartz so white as to resemble loaf-sugar. Though the lightning for thousands of years has with furious anger launched its bolts against it, the mass, standing like an immense edifice of snowy marble, glitters in the distance, and is not unaptly termed the Shining Rock. A few miles further along, the ridge rises into an angular eminence more than six thousand feet high, known as the Cold Mountain. The name was applied on account of this occurrence: Several hunters were on the top of the mountain when it was covered by a thick sleet. The heels of one of them, to use a skater's phrase, "few up,"
causing him to sit down very suddenly. Instead, however, of his remaining quietly thus at rest, the merciless action of the force of gravity, conspiring with the inclination of the ground, caused him to slide rapidly for a couple of hundred yards down the mountain-side. When finally he did bring up in a bank of snow, he was decidedly of opinion that this mountain was the coldest one he had ever seen. In fact, when afterwards questioned if he was not very cold, he said: "Yes, as cold as Cicero in his coldest moment!" He had doubtless heard some local orator pronounced "as eloquent as Cicero," and thus concluded that the old Roman was a man of superlatives generally. Since that day the peak has rejoiced in the name of Cold Mountain.
The twin-ridge, which, leaving the Balsam near the same locality, gradually diverges to the east, terminates in the beautiful peak Mount Pisgah, of which a view is given. Its top, five thousand seven hundred and fifty-seven feet above the sea, is a triangular shaped pyramid. Standing alone as it does, it affords a magnificent view for a hundred miles around. It forms the corner of the four counties of Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania, and Haywood.
The view presented is from the valley of Homony creek, at a point a little to the east of north from the mountain. From whatever direction it is seen, its outline is not less pointed than it is in this picture, and is always a striking object before the eye of the spectator. Though one must travel twenty-two miles from Asheville to reach its summit, its distance in a direct line is under fifteen. Its beautiful blue on a summer evening is sometimes changed into a rich purple by the rays of a red cloud thrown over it at sunset. In winter it is even a still more striking object. Covered by a fresh snow in the morning, its various ridges present their outlines so sharply, that it seems as if they had been carved by a chisel into innumerable depressions and elevations. After one or two day's sunshine, the snow disappears on the ridges, but remains in the valleys. The mountain then seems covered from summit to base with alternate bands of virgin white, and a blue more intense and beautiful than the immortal sky itself presents.
While there are many views to be seen from Asheville and its vicinity that from McDowell's Hill, two miles south, is the best. When there, one sees in the west Pisgah, the Cold Mountain, and some of the highest peaks of the Balsam, with many intervening ranges; while to the northeast rises the great mass of Craggy, with its numerous spurs crowned by its pyramid and dome, and the southern point of the Black in the distance. The beautiful Swannanoa makes a handsome curve as it passes through the green carpet two hundred feet below, to unite with the French Broad, which seems to come afar from the base of Pisgah. One who has not been there, has yet to see the finest scene in North Carolina, probably not equaled by any east of the Mississippi.
Extract from a letter written in 1855, to Professor Joseph Henry, of the Smithsonian Institution.
From the head of the Swannanoa, at Mr. Stepps', where an angler can find speckled trout, there is an easy way to the Mountain House, built by William Patton, of Charleston, South Carolina. Its present occupant will provide one with pleasant lodgings, and, what mountain journeys render so welcome, all such comforts "for the inner man," as this region affords, with fresh salmon from Scotland, and champagne from France, to make them go down easily. After resting here awhile, at the height of five thousand four hundred and sixty (5,460) feet above the sea-level, two miles of travel on horseback, as hundreds of ladies can testify, will bring him to the top of Mount Mitchell.
When one is upon this peak, he appears to be on a centre, from which there run off five immense mountain chains. To the northward stretches the main ledge of the Black, with a succession of cones and spires along its dark crest. On its right, from the far northeast, from the Keystone State, across the entire breadth of Virginia, seemingly from an immeasurable distance, comes the long line of the Blue Ridge or Alleghany; but when it passes almost under him, it is comparatively so much depressed as scarcely to be perceptible, save where at the point of junction, stimulated by the presence of its gigantic neighbor, it shoots up into a pinnacle so steep, that, to use a hunter's phrase, it would "make a buzard's head swim, if he were to attempt to fly over it." Thence it runs southerly, till it touches South Carolina, when it trends to the west, and is soon hidden behind collossal masses that obstruct further vision in that direction. As the chain of the Black sweeps around westwardly, it is soon parted into two immense branches, which run off in opposite courses. The northern terminates in a majestic pile, with a crown-like summit, and numerous spurs from its base; while to the south there leads off the long ridge of Craggy, with its myriads of gorgeous flowers, its naked slopes and fantastic peaks, over which dominates its great dome, challenging in its altitude ambitious comparison with the Black itself.
Let the observer then lift his eye to a remote distance, and take a circuit in the opposite direction. Looking to the southeast and to the east, he sees beyond King's Mountain, and others less known to fame, the plain of the two Carolinas stretched out over an illimitable space, in color and outline indistinguishable from the "azure brow" of the calm ocean. Nearer to him, to the northeast, over the Linville Mountain, stands squarely upright the Table Rock, with its perpendicular faces; and its twin brother, the "Hawk-bill," with its curved beak of overhanging rock, and neck inclined, as if in act to stoop down on the plain below. Further on, there rises in solitary grandeur the rocky throne of the abrupt and wild Grandfather. This "ancient of days" was long deemed the monarch of mountains," but now, like other royal exiles, he only
retains a shadow of his former authority in a patriarchal name, given because of the grey beard he shows when a frozen cloud has iced his rhododendrons. Westward of him stands a victorious rival, the gently undulating prairie of the Roan, stretching out for many a mile in length, until its green and flowery carpet is terminated by a castellated cragthe Bluff.
From this extends southerly the long but broken line of the Unaka, through the passes of which, far away over the entire valley of East Tennessee, is seen in the distance the blue outline of the Cumberland Mountains, as they penetrate the State of the "dark and bloody ground." In contrast with the bold aspect and rugged chasms of the Unaka, stands the stately figure of the Bald Mountain, its smoothlyshaven and regularly rounded top bringing to mind some classic cupola; for when the sunlight sleeps upon its convex head, it seems a temple more worthy of all the gods than that Pantheon, its famed Roman rival. As the eye again sweeps onward, it is arrested by the massive pile of the great Smoky Mountain, darkened by its fir trees, and often by the cloudy drapery it wears. From thence there stretches quite through Haywood and Henderson to South Carolina's border, the long range of the Balsam Mountain, its pointed steeples over-topping the Cold Mountain and Pisgah, and attaining probably their greatest elevation towards the head of the French Broad river.
Besides these, the eye rests on many a "ripe green valley," with its winding streams, and on many a nameless peak, like pyramid or tower, and many a waving ridge, imitating in its curling shapes the billows of the ocean when most lashed by the tempest. And if one is favored by Jove, he may perchance hear the sharp, shrill scream of his "cloud-cleaving minister," and, as he sweeps by with that bright eye which "pierces downward, onward or above, with a pervading vision," or encircles him in wide curves, shows reflected back from the golden brown of his long wings,
"The westering beams aslant"
of the descending sun.
But from Mount Mitchell, where one is still tempted to linger, since my first visit a way has been opened quite to the highest point. one rides along the undulating crest of the ridge, he has presented to him a succession of varied, picturesque, and beautiful views. Sometimes he passes through open spots, smooth and green enough to be the dancing grounds of the fairies, and anon he plunges into dense forests of balsam, over grounds covered by thick beds of moss, so soft and elastic that a wearied man reposes on it as he would on a basin of fluid mercury. In the last and largest of the little prairies, one will be apt to pause awhile, not only for the sake of the magnificent panorama in the distance, but also because attracted by the gentle beauty of the spot, its grassy, waving surface, interspersed with flattened rocky seats, studded in the sunlight with glittering scales of mica, and here and there clusters of young balsams flourishing in their freshest and richest green, in this, their favorite climate, pointed at top, but spreading below evenly till their lower branches touch the earth, and presenting the outlines of regular cones.