« AnteriorContinuar »
From this place the highest peak is soon attained. Any one who doubts its altitude may thus easily satisfy himself, for it stands, and will continue to stand, courting measurement. One who, from the eminence, looks down on its vast proportions, its broad base and long spurs running out for miles in all directions, and gazes in silent wonder on its dark plumage of countless firs, will feel no fear that its "shadow will ever become less," or that in the present geological age it will meet the fate fancied by the poet, when he wrote the words:
"Winds under ground, or waters forcing way,
Sidelong had pushed a mountain from his seat,
I fear, my dear sir, that I have made this letter much too long for your patience, and yet the vegetation and surrounding scenery of this mountain, peculiar and remarkable as it is, might well tempt me to say many things that I have omitted. I hope your interest in all that relates to natural science will find an apology for my having trespassed on your valuable time. I am very truly yours, &c.,
T. L. CLINGMAN.
[Inquiries are often made as to the heights of various mountains and localities in the western part of North Carolina. To meet such I append a letter of Professor Arnold Guyot. He, during three summers, continued his examination in that section of the State. After his third and last exploration he addressed a letter to the editor of the Asheville News, which was published in its issue of July 18, 1860.]
GUYOT'S MEASUREMENT OF THE MOUNTAINS OF
WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ASHEVILLE News:
For the last ten years I have devoted the greater portion of my summer excursions to the study of the geography of the Alleghany system, and to the measurement of the height of its mountains. After having ascertained the elevation of the most remarkable peaks of the White and Green Mountains of New England, and of the mountainous tract of the Adirondack in the State of New York, my attention was turned toward the beautiful mountain region of North Carolina, which was said to possess the most elevated peaks of the whole Appalachian range.
It is well known, however, to most of your readers, that when I began my investigations in the Black Mountain in July, 1856, accompanied by my friends, Rev. Dr. H. Green and Mr. E. Sandoz, no other measurements had been attempted in that region, or at least published, as far as I could learn, than those of the noble scientific pioneer in that field, the lamented Dr. E. Mitchell, of Chapel Hill University, and a partial measurement by Hon. T. L. Clingman, to whom also we are indebted for the first clear, accurate, and most graphic description of the Black Mountain. But the statements that Dr. Mitchell made, at different times, of the results of his measurement failed to agree with each other, and owing to unfavorable circumstances and the want of proper
instruments, the precise location of the points measured, especially of the highest, had remained quite indefinite, even in the mind of Dr. Mitchell himself, as I learned it from his own mouth in 1856. I was, therefore, the more anxious to solve these questions by making, first of all, a thorough examination of the Black Mountain. I did so. In my first visit in July, 1856, I had the pleasure of having Dr. Mitchell's company for two days, during that visit, and the second in 1858, which lasted one month each. I measured all the peaks of the Black Mountain; including the Roan and Grandfather Mountains. In a third, in 1859, I ran once more over the whole chain of the Black Mountain to the north end. These several measurements of different years agree so closely with each other, that I feel a considerable degree of confidence in their accuracy. I was confirmed in this belief by the result of a series of levels, carried by Major J. C. Turner from the same point on the Swannanoa river from which I started myself to the highest point on the Black Mountain. Major Turner, who had my own figures in his hands, passed through four of my points, and found them to agree with his own elevations within one or two feet, and the highest about within a yard. So close an agreement by two different methods, and on so great an elevation, is seldom expected.
My measurements have been made with excellent barometers, by Ernst, in Paris, and often and carefully compared with each other. The position of the points measured, has been determined and mapped down, by means of observations with the sextant and a small theodolite. The corresponding observations have been made by my young friends, Mr. E. Sandoz, in 1856, and M. E. Grand Pierre, in 1858 and 1859, both faithful and well practiced observers.
In my excursion last year, 1859, after having re-examined the Black Mountain, I devoted several weeks more to the measurement of the mountains in Haywood and Jackson counties, especially the various Balsam ranges and the great Smoky Mountains.
Though, when studying a group of mountains, my attention is far from being confined to the measurement of the elevation of the highest points, which is a fact of less importance than the physical structure, the proportion of all parts and the relative situation of the various chains composing it, being aware of the interest which was felt among the people of the mountain region in knowing the comparative elevation of the Black Mountain and the great Smoky range, I devoted a special care to that object. By a series of simultaneous observations for two days, taken every half hour at Asheville and at Waynesville, at the residence of Mr. J. R. Love and Colonel R. Love, whose guest I had then the pleasure to be, was found to be situated four hundred and sixty-six feet above Asheville court-house square; and assuming as I do, this last point to be twenty-two hundred and fifty feet, and not twenty-two hundred and sixty feet above the level of the sea, Colonel R. G. A. Love's house becomes twenty-seven hundred and sixteen feet above tide-water. By leveling, I found Waynesville at Welch's Hotel, and court-house sidewalk to be forty feet higher, viz : twenty-seven hundred and fifty-six feet above tide. By another series of two days of hourly observations, the house of Robert Collins, Esq., at the foot of the great Smoky Mountain, was found to be exactly
twenty-five hundred feet above tide. From this last point the highest peak distant about seven miles, was measured repeatedly in five different days, at all hours of the day. On my first visit to it, I encamped on its summit for twenty-six consecutive hours, the barometer being observed every half hour there and below at Mr. Collins' house, excepting from 9 P. M. to 6 A. M. The result was an altitude of sixty-six hundred and sixty feet above the level of the sea.
This height is considerably less than that found in 1858, by the observations of Hon. Thomas L. Clingman, Mr. Buckley and Professor Lecompt.
The difference, however, does not arise from any error of observation, or calculation in that measurement. It will be observed that a great portion of it is due to the difference in the elevation of Waynesville, where one of the barometers was observed, assumed by the gentlemen just mentioned; the rest is owing to the influence of the heat of midday, during which the observations were made, an influence which is considerable in fair weather, and which needs to be counteracted by morning and evening observations, in order to get the true height. It is to avoid these disturbing influences that, in the Smoky range, as well as in the Black Mountain, I spent one night, at least, on every one of the principal peaks, the height of which I wished to determine with a particular care.
I must be allowed to add a few words on the names used in the following list of heights. I have preserved for the peaks in the Black Mountain the names that I gave them in my first report on my measurements, made at the Albany meeting of the American Association for the advancement of Science, in August, 1856, before I was aware of any other name having been attached to these particular points. As a matter of course, it is for the people of the surrounding country to choose the one that they prefer. That one the geographer will adopt. What ought to be avoided by all means, in the interest of science and of all, is confusion. Only I may, perhaps, be permitted to express it as my candid opinion (without wishing in the least to revive a controversy happily terminated) that if the honored name of Dr. Mitchell is taken from Mount Mitchell and transferred to the highest peak, it should not be on the ground that he first made known its true elevation, which he never did, nor himself ever claimed to have done; for the true height was not known before my measurement of 1856, and the coincidence made out quite recently may be shown from abundant proofs, furnished by himself, to be a mere accident. Nor should it be on the ground of his having first visited it, for, though after his death evidence, which made it probable that he did, he never could convince himself of it. Nor at last should it be because that peak was, as it is alleged, thus named long before, for I must declare, that neither in 1856, nor later, during the whole time I was on both sides of the mountain, did I hear of another Mount Mitchell than the one south of the highest, so long visited under that name, and that Dr. Mitchell, himself, before ascending the Northern Peak, in 1856, as I gathered it from a conversation with him, believed to be the highest. Dr. Mitchell has higher and better claims, which are universally and cheerfully acknowledged by all to be thus forever remembered in connection with the Black Mountain.
He was the first daring pioneer who made that imperviable wilderness. known to the scientific world, and proved the superior height of these mountain peaks above those of the Northern mountains, so long cited as culminating points of the Alleghany system.
From these facts it is evident that the honorable Senator, to whom we are indebted for the first accurate knowledge of the geographical structure of that remarkable group, and whose name stands in the State map on the highest peak, could not possibly know when he first ascended it, that any one had visited or measured it before him, nor have any intention to do any injustice to Dr. Mitchell. As to the Smoky range and the mountains of Haywood county, wherever I do not find any name current among the people living about the mountain, I preserve the one attached to it by Mr. S. B. Buckley, in the publication of his meritorious measurements made in September, 1858. provided, however, that the points can be identified. Though these altitudes for the reasons assigned above will be found, I think, from fifty to eighty feet too high, yet they are very instructive approximations, for which we must be thankful to him. As to the highest group of the great Smoky Mountain, however, I must remark, that in the whole valley of the Tuckasege and Oconaluftee, I heard of but one name applied to the highest point, and it is that of Mount Clingman, the greatest authority around the peak, Robert Collins, Esq., knows of no other. This is but justice, for Mr. Clingman has for a long time directed his attention to that point. A year before the measurement took place, he invited me to ascertain its elevation, which I would have done if circumstances had allowed. He was the leader of a party which made, in 1858, the first measurement, and was composed, besides himself, of Mr. S. B. Buckley and Dr. S. L. Love. He caused Mr. Collins to cut a path of six miles to the top, which enabled me to carry there the first horse, kindly loaned by Colonel Robert G. A. Love, which was ever seen on these heights. It was would seem natural that the names of the three gentlemen of the party, and not that of one only, should be recalled by being applied to the three highest peaks which compose that group. The central or highest peak is therefore designated in the following list as Clingman's Dome, the south peak is next in height as Mount Buckley, the north peak as Mount Love. The name of Rev. Mr. Curtis, which was given by Mr. Buckley to Mount Love, is transferred to the western peak of Bullhead, the second in height to that group, the elevation of which was first ascertained by me in 1859.
To investigate the wild and extensive mountain tract of North Carolina is a long and arduous task, and I may be permitted to add an expensive one. For assuming it spontaneously and unaided I was prompted by no other motive than the desire of adding something to the knowledge of the scientific world, and to my own on the most interesting and most unknown portion of the great Alleghany range. It was, therefore, very gratifying to find among the many intelligent citizens of Western North Carolina, a lively interest in my enterprise, and a constant readiness in helping me, by giving in the most obliging manner all the information they could. It is a pleasure for me to return here, to all, my sincere thanks. To Hon. T. L. Clingman I am particularly indebted for much important information on the Black Mountain; to Mr. Blackstocks, of
Stocksville, for the communication of his survey of the same; to Dr. Hardy, of Asheville, for many kind services; to Professor W. Ć. Kerr, Davidson College, and his brother, for barometrical observations; to James R. Love, Esq., and his son, Col. Robt. G. Love, and Dr. S. L. Love, whose cordial hospitality I long enjoyed with my companions, and who rendered us all kinds of assistance, I am sincerely grateful; to Mr. W. A. Benners, of Waynesville, I am indebted for a long series of excellent barometrical observations that he made at my request. The aid of Mr. Jesse Stepp, my faithful guide in the Black Mountain, was to me invalnable; so was that of Mr. Brown, of Waynesville, for the mountain of Pigeon Valley, and quite particularly that of my excellent friend, Robt. Collins, Esq., of Oconaluftee Valley, for the Smoky Mountains. Mr. Collins placed himself and his sons at my disposal for more than a month and without his intelligent aid I scarcely could have succeeded, as I did, in exploring to my satisfaction that most wild and difficult portion of the mountains of North Carolina.
The following are the principal points, the altitude of which has been ascertained. The figures all refer to the ground of the places measured or to the waters in the rivers. The reduction to the level of the sea was derived from the levels of the Charleston and Cincinnati Railroad survey, the junction of Flat creek and Swannanoa river being assumed to be 2,250 feet above the level of the sea, and the ground at Asheville courthouse likewise 2,250 feet above the ocean.
Resting Place brook behind last log cabin..
Upper Mountain house...
Lower Mountain house-Jesse Stepp's floor of piazza.
W. Patton's cabins end of carriage road....
Ascending to Toe River Gap-passage main branch above Stepp's 3,902
IN THE BLUE RIDGE.
Toe River Gap between Potato Top and High Pinnacle.
High Pinnacle of Blue Ridge...
Rocky Knob's south peak..
Big Spring on Rocky Knob.