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the east side of the new course of the river. Now the point raised was, how shall the tract thus placed by the change in the river on its east side be dealt with by the department? It was ruled that its powers in regard to it had been exhausted by the survey and sale which had been made in Kansas, and the owners would hold according to the original lines of survey without reference to the change in the course of the river, in our judgment the political jurisdiction in relation to the detached tract remaining as originally established.
Where lakes have been meandered as navigable and permanent bodies of water, but the beds of which afterwards become dry by evaporation or other cause, this office deals with the premises as with other public lands over which the lines of survey may be extended by the department, and which thereafter are liable to disposal by the United States. When, however, the meandered lake proves to be permanent, yet an accretion may arise from an inconsiderable recession of the water, such accretion inures to the use of the front proprietors.
GEOLOGICAL SURVEY IN NEBRASKA. In the second section of the act of Congress, approved March 2, 1867, making appropriations and to supply deficiencies, it is declared, “ that the unexpended balance of the appropriations heretofore made for defraying the expenses of the legislative assembly of the Territory of Nebraska, shall be diverted and set aside for the purpose of procuring a geological survey of Nebraska, to be prosecuted under the direction of the Commissioner of the General Land Office."
It has been estimated that the unexpended balance applicable to the geological survey is $5,000. Under that authority Dr. F. V. Hayden was appointed on the 29th April, 1867, to make a geological examination and survey, with compensation of $2,000 per annum. With the limited means provided, he was allowed an assistant geologist and paleontologist, at the rate of $1,000; three collectors and laborers, at not exceeding $700, the sum of $300 having been set apart for chemistry and natural history, while the sum of $1,000, or the residue of the means, was designed for general expenses of outfit and incidentals in the service, which was restricted to one year from the date of the appointment.
The geologist was directed to proceed as soon as necessary arrangements could be made to the sphere of his operations. He was instructed to ascertain the order of succession, arrangement, relative position, dip, and comparative thickness of the several strata and geological formations in the State; to search for and examine all the beds, veins, and other deposits of ores, coals, clays, marls, peat, and other like mineral substances, as well as the fossil remains of the various formations; to obtain chemical analyses of such of those substances, and of the different varieties of soils, whereof it may be deemed desirable to ascertain the elementary constituents. He was required also to determine by careful barometrical observations the relative elevations and depressions of the different parts of the State of Nebraska, and to gather in the field of his explorations collections in geology, mineralogy, and paleontology, to illustrate the notes taken in the field.
In order to enable the Commissioner to present to Congress the results of the geological survey, it was stipulated that a preliminary report should be made of the progress of the work, accompanied by such maps, sections, and drawings as might be considered requisite to illustrate the report; it having been ordered that the final report under the appropriation should embody the results of the entire survey, and be accompanied by a geological map, with carefully prepared sections and diagrams, showing by different colors and other marks and characters the principal localities and geographical range of the various geological formations to the extent explored, and by drawings and descriptions of the characteristic fossil remains of the different groups of strata, advance data having been called for at short intervals in order that the department might know the progress of the work.
It was required in our instructions that the region of Nebraska south of the Platte river should be first examined, it being occupied by the limestones of the true coal measures, and that a careful search should be instituted for the localities, depths, and extent of deposits of that most valuable mineral. It was deemed'important to extend the explorations and examinations along the Missouri to Sioux City, as it had been reported that there was a bed of coal outcropping from rocks of the chalk formation near the Omaha reserve, then under survey for the accommodation of the Omaha and Winnebago Indians. It was desired that the geologist, who was furnished with a map of public surveys, should locate geological formations by townships and ranges of the sixth or governing principal meridian in Nebraska As the unsurveyed region also includes settled portions of the State, it was required that the explorations should also be then directed to determine the location and extent of natural resources in coal, metallic ores, hydraulic and common limestone, fire-clays, freestone, flagstone, and marbles, properly belonging to the various formations there existing, and which would be of immediate use to the people. As the predominating interest in the State is farming, his attention was directed to the examination of its soils and subsoils, to their adaptability to particular crops, as well as to the best methods of preserving and increasing their fertility. Information was also called for in regard to the introduction of suitable forest trees, in order to promote the growth of timber. Pursuant to instructions the geologist has prosecuted his labors with diligence and energy, reporting results of his explorations in preliminary returns, of which the following is an outline:
The geological exploration has embraced the counties of Cass, Douglas, Gage, Jones, Jefferson, Johnson, Lancaster, Lucas, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee, Richardson, and Sarpy, comprising the larger portion of the settled counties south of the Platte.
An extensive collection has been procured of carboniferous fossils, and abundant materials are expected illustrative of the geology of the State, which for agricultural and grazing purposes promises to be second to none in the Union.
The present geological survey has been looked to with anxiety, in expectation of the discovery of coal-beds adequate to the supply of fuel for a dense population. Coal-measure rocks from Des Moines across Iowa to Nebraska City have been traced, rendering it probable that this important fuel will be found by boring below the water level of the Missouri. The clays and limestones, it is supposed, may increase in thickness in their westward extension, so that in Nebraska it may be necessary to bore six hundred to eight hundred feet before reaching good beds of coal, which even at that depth might be profitable. In England coal has been mined 1,794 feet beneath the surface, and numerous pits are worked there from 800 to 1,200 feet in depth.
In Nebraska thin coal-beds, fifteen to eighteen inches thick, have been found in various localities, and worked with considerable profit; an outcrop at Nebraska City having been advantageously wrought by drifting in a distance of three hundred yards. On the Missouri bottom, in Otoe county, in sinking a well sixteen feet, a seam of coal was penetrated four inches thick on one side of the well and ten on the other. At Brownsville a seam of coal is found, showing that many plants had existed peculiar to the carboniferous rocks in other States. In Nemaha county, at Aspinwall, the most favorable exhibition of coal exists which has yet been observed in the State, the general dip of the beds appearing to be up the Missouri, or nearly north or northwest. The rocks at Aspinwall are all geologically at a lower horizon than the Nebraska City strata, and generally beneath the Brownsville beds, so that the inclination must be eight to ten feet per mile. There are two seams at Aspinwall, one cropping out near the river fifteen feet above the water, twenty-four inches thick, the coal of good quality. The rocks hold such a position at this point that it is
presumed the finding of profitable coal-beds here would determine the existence of available coal strata running through Nemaha, Pawnee, Richardson, and Johnson counties.
Abrupt termination of the seams is a peculiarity everywhere along the Mis. souri, probably attributable to an inclination towards the river of the superincumbent beds; irregularity in the thickness of seams being bere quite apparent, varying from one to twenty-four inches. A short distance below Rulo a bed of coal has been successfully worked by drifting, the vein having been struck by a shaft sunk from a point bigher up the side of the hill, and found twelve feet below the position at the outcrop, showing considerable inclination of the beds from the river towards the west Tbis dip may be accounted for by the extensive erosion of the rocks prior to the deposition of the yellow marl or drift deposits. This erosion has given rise to many perplexing local inclinations of strata, the thickness of the coal bed at this point being ten to twelve inches, increasing in one instance to seventeen inches. On the lowa reserve, along the Great Nemaha river, a bed crops out in the ravines or banks of little streams, several hundred bushels of coal having been taken out from time to time for years past. Underlying the coal is a bed of gray fire-clay full of fragments of plants, as fern leaves and stems of rushes, the same as occur in the underlying clays in the Ohio and Illinois coal fields.
Nine miles southeast of Hiawatha, the county seat of Brown county, Kansas, a bed of coal is worked with success, the quality being bighly spoken of. It is supposed to be of the same character as that found along the Missouri river in Nemaha and Richardson counties, in Nebraska. Although no seams were observed at any considerable distance from the Missouri, in Richardson county, yet soon after reaching Pawnee coal was discovered.
This important fuel has not been found on the Nemaha river itself, but bas been discerned on its branches. The reason of this is supposed to be the great erosion of the underlying rocks in the river valley, and the subeequent depression of alluvion of vast thickness, effectually concealing all outcroppings. The coal seems to be packed down on the clay like masses of flat rock, the clay below being hard, filled with fragments of fern leaves and stems of rushes, similar to the clay underneath the coal seams in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The under surface of the coal appears to be composed of stems of grasses, as if the vegetable debris began upon a thick, grass-covered surface. The vegetable impressions do not go down into the searn, for where the coal ceases all traces of vegetable matters disappear. In Johnson county, at Tecumseh, a thin seam, varying from ten to filteen inches thick, has been opened and worked with success. The returns thus far do not indicate the discovery, by the geologist, of any thick coal beds in the region he has traversed.
FOREST CULTURE. It is reported by the geologist that sufficiently numerous experiments have been made to demonstrate the fact that forests, in comparatively brief periods, may be restored to the almost treeless prairies of the west. It is supposed that during the time the brown coal beds were deposited all these treeless plains were covered with a luxuriant growth of forest trees, like those of the tropical and eub-tropical climates, such as palm trees, gigantic sycamores, maples, poplars, cedars, hickories, cinnamon, and fig trees ; large portions of the upper Missouri being now covered with the silicified trunks of trees of huge dimensions, exhibiting the annual rings of growth with great distinctness.
The counties of Otoe, Nemaha, and Richardson, in Nebraska, contain more timber than any other portions of the State. Hundreds of acres have been covered with fine, healthy growth of hickory, walnut, oak, soft maple, coffee bean, and basswood, within the past ten years, since the young trees have been
guarded from fires and protected by settlers. The geologist has given this matter special attention, reporting the theory as untenable which holds that trees could not be reared successfully on the prairies of the west, and that the climate and soil are unfavorable to forest culture. The trees now in cultivation are generally indigenous varieties, such as the cottonwood, soft maple, elm, basswood, black walnut, honey locust, and willow.
At a point selected six hundred feet above the level of the Missouri, near Omaha, cottonwood trees were found ten years old between two and three feet in circumference, thirty feet in height, while often substantial trees of different species and lesser proportions succeed, such as the soft maple, common locust, honey locust, and black walnut; a cottonwood reared in the vicinity of Nebraska, of same age, having been reared from the seed, four feet in circumference and fifty feet in height—a fine grove of the variety mentioned existing ten miles south of Plattsmouth.
The Scotch, Austrian, white, and Russian pines, spruce, balsam fir, arborvitæ, red cedar, and Lombardy poplars, are all of healthy and vigorous growth in the State. The cultivated forests, it is supposed, will prove more desirable than
growth. A large number of intelligent, enterprising farmers are engaged in planting forests in some of the counties of the State, in nearly the whole extent of which all the common fruit trees can be raised from the seed as easily as corn.. The planting of ten to fifteen acres of forest trees on each quarter section is recommended by the geologist, with a view to increase the moisture, adding greater fertility to the soil, and producing beneficial effects upon the climate. It is ascertained that for twelve or fourteen years past the rain has gradually increased in quantity, and is more equally distributed through the year. It is supposed this change will continue to extend across the dry belt to the foot of the Rocky mountains, as se ents are extended and the forest trees are planted in proper quantities.
Experiments have been eminently successful in the propagation of all kinds of hardy fruits and vegetables ; apples, peaches, pears, cherries, apricots, pluins, blackberries, currants, gooseberries, and grapes, having been cultivated to great perfection of the grape, the Hartford Prolific, Catawba, Clinton, Concord, and Delaware varieties have been propagated with entire success; such being the case also with the Diana grape at the mouth of the Platte.
Peat is regarded by the geologist as ranking next to coal as fuel, there being several kinds of it, the grass turf, leaf turf, heath turf, mud turf, &c. That found in Ireland is generally composed of a kind of moss or sphagnum. It is an accumulation of half-decomposed vegetable matter formed in wet or swampy places, and may therefore be composed of any plants growing in such localities. Under the water the vegetable matter undergoes slow decomposition or combustion as it were, so that spontaneous charcoal is formed, principally differing from true coal in not having been subjected to the immense pressure by which the latter is formed.
Several kinds of peat were found by the geologist in Otoe, Nemaha, Richardson, Pawnee, and Johnson counties, there being but few parts of the State, it is supposed, in which peat may not be found; and although the areas of the peat bogs are limited, yet they must be considered as one of the most reliable sources of fuel in that region. Near Table Rock, six miles northeast of Pawnee City, there is a low flat marsh of one hundred acres, which will furnish peat of good quality, two feet or more thick over the whole surface. In the vicinity of Pawnee City, there is a small peat bog six hundred feet in length and three hundred in width in which the peat is ten to twelve feet in thickness; and twenty-four miles southwest of Brownsville, in Nemaha county, there are places
where peat is found to the depth of ten to fifteen feet, and ten miles west of that place there are other peat bogs which have attracted considerable attention, there being quite extensive beds at Falls City and Salem, in Richardson county.
The great salt basin, situated near the town of Lancaster, covers an area of four hundred acres. Several minor basins and isolated springs also exist in that vicinity, covering miles in extent. These basins are depressions in the surface, which is covered with accumulations of salt, appearing in the distance like the mirage of a desert.
The brine, in small quantities, issues from the surface of the great basin in a number of places, the water flowing from it being estimated at from six to eight gallons per minute. Another basin of importance is situated between Oak and Šalt creeks, covering an area of two hundred acres, and another of like extent, known as Kenosha basin, is found on Little Salt creek. Numerous small basins exist on Middle creek, having an estimated surface of six hundred acres, a number of much less extent being situated between Middle and Salt creeks.
The largest spring is on Salt creek, issuing from sand rock, in one stream, at the rate of four gallons per minute. The geological formations in the vicinity of these basins are of the upper carboniferous and lower cretaceous age. These salt springs are supposed to come from the upper carboniferous rocks, at a great depth below the surface.
From June to November, 1866, two companies were operating in these basins, producing, in that time, about sixty thousand pounds of salt.
THE ROCKS OF VEBRASKA.
Sandstones abound in the country along the Little Blue river, nearly to the mouth of Big Sandy, where masses of whitish limestone appear on the summits of the hills; about ten miles west of the Big Sandy these rocks assume an important thickness.
They are composed of bivalve shells, closely packed, with carbonate of lime enough to cement them. They are very useful for building purposes, and make excellent lime. The same hard rocks occur on Swan and Turkey creeks, also on the Big Blue, above the mouth of Turkey creek. The belt of country underlaid by the sandstone of the Dakota group runs northeast and southwest, and, extending through Kansas and Nebraska into Iowa and Minnesota, is from forty to fifty miles wide. In this group are strata from forty to fifty feet thick, of yellowish white friable sandstones, of economical importance, containing small quantities of quartz. The bottom lands of all the streams in this region are said to have a soil from five to fifty feet in depth, and to be of the greatest fertility.
South of Beatrice are numerous exposures of limestone, and four miles east of that place, on Bear creek, is a large ledge from fifteen to twenty feet in thickness. The same bed is seen along the Big Blne to Beatrice, forming some of the most important quarries in that portion of Nebraska. Fine large columnar masses, a foot or more thick, and from ten to twelve feet in length, are worked for buildings. They are of beautiful cream-color, soft but tenacious in texture, and from which caps and sills can readily be fashioned. Limestone suitable for building purposes is abundant all over Pawnee county, scarcely a farm being without a quarry. The best quarry in Pawnee county is eight miles west of Pawnee City; it is soft, of cream color, full of small cavities, and the true fusulina limestone, valued for building purposes. The general inclination of all the beds in this part of the State being towards the west and northwest, new beds are constantly making their appearance in advancing westward.
The whole of Johnson county is underlaid by rocks of the upper coal measure; very few exposures of rocks being found along the Nemaha and its branches.