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In the alluvial clays, near Tecumseh, interesting remains of animals exist, which appear to have been numerous, at one period, all over the west.
Just over the cap rock of the coal seam two molar teeth of a mastodon were discovered while stripping away alluvial clays, one of which was obtained by the geologist.
About six miles west of Tecumseh a molar tooth of the species Elephas Americanus was discovered. This huge animal, it is conjectured, ranged all over the region east of the Mississippi, its remains of late years having been found in California and Colorado, and that the molar referred to is the first evidence of its existence found in the Missouri valley. The geologist discovered, in 1858, the remains of a number of extinct animals in some pliocene tertiary deposits, on the Niobrara river, and among them a species of mastodon, which an eminent naturalist of Philadelphia described as mastodon munificus ; also of an elephant, called elephas imperator, a third larger than any before known. The surface of Richardson is more rugged than any of the interior counties, the underlying rocks being composed of limestone, sandstone, and clays, belonging to the age of the upper coal measures.
In Nemaha county, near Peru, the bluffs along the Missouri seem to be formed of irregular beds of soft sandstone and laminated clays. High up on the hills, at some distance from the river, is a bed of sandstone twelve to eighteen inches thick, which is extensively quarried. A fine quarry of limestone of very superior quality for building purposes has also been found at Brownsville ; i he bed being about three feet thick, and near the edge of the Missouri river. The observations of the geologist, north of the Platte river, in Douglas and Sarpy counties, resulted in the belief that the limestones of the upper coal measures pass from sight beneath the water level of the Missouri river at De Soto, and are then succeeded by sandstones of the cretaceous age. These coal-measure limestones occupy about two-thirds of Douglas county-limestone of good quality being found near Omaha, in that county, all over Sarpy, and on both sides of the Platte, as far up as the mouth of the Elkhorn river. The geologist reports a remarkable peculiarity he has discovered in regard to the surface of this rock, which, on the superincumbent drift being removed, is found planed so smoothly by glacial action, that it will, without further working, make excellent facings for caps and sills; this glacial action being also visible at Plattsmouth.
The southern portion of Lancaster county is underlaid by rocks of the permian or permo-carboniferous period, the basis rocks of three-fourths of this county being composed of the rusty sandstone of the cretaceous formation or Dakota group. No exposures of the underlying rocks are found after passing from the sources of the Nemaba to those of Salt creek ; yet in this portion of the country are found some of the exposures of the permo-carboniferous rocks, occupying an area of about five miles square.
The entire thickness of the rocky strata at this point is from ten to fifteen feet, arranged in layers from six inches to two feet. The texture of the rocks is very fine, and they are of a light cream-color. Several quarries at that point are of importance, as they yield the only good building material for nearly fifty miles north, south, and west, and from ten to twelve miles east of the designated capital of the State. On the Platte, near the northwest corner of Cass county, a yellow magnesian limestone, not observed in any other part of the State, is obtained for building, being durable, tenacious, and easily worked
The geological formations in Cass county are of the upper carboniferous strata, capped along the west and south west portions with the sandstones of the Dakota group. The coal-measure rocks appear near the water's edge at the mouth of Salt creek, in the vicinity of Ashland, in Saunders county. East of this point for some distance the red sandstones occupy the hills along the Platte ; but the limestone continues to rise higher, assuming more importance; the sandstone disappearing fifteen miles west of Plattsmouth. In both sandstones and lime
stones extensive quarries have been opened, the former adapted to general building purposes, the latter used for walls and ornamental work. On the Weeping Water, in the central part of Cass county, heavy beds of limestone are found of great economical value.
In the State of Nebraska the beds of rocks are horizontal, or nearly so, with a slight inclination of the strata to the west or northwest.
A superficial deposit of yellow silicious marl occupies much of the country, and is largely developed in the valley of the Missouri river, extending from its mouth to the foot of the great bend above the mouth of White river. It is called the "bluff formation,” because it forms the picturesque bills or bluffs along the Missouri, especially on the Iowa side, between Council Bluffs and Sioux City. In the drift or gravel deposit in the bottom lands of the streams of Nebraska are abundant exhibitions of turbulent waters, but never in the yellow marl beds. The marl is full of nutritious matter for vegetation, it being probable that to this deposit is to be attributed the almost inexbaustible fertility of the river counties of Nebraska, The soil on the upland is usually from twelve to eighteen inches thick, and along the bottoms of streams fourteen to twenty feet. In the yellow marl formation are numerous shells identical with recent species showing the modern character of the deposit. There also bones of extinct animals, as the mastodon, the American elephant; also a species of beaver of huge dimensions, and other animals mingled with bones of species now living.
Along the Missouri the bluffs formed by the marl deposit are very steep, yet vegetation has been seen growing upon them where the sides had an inclination of fifty degrees.
These hills, although furnishing good grass, cannot be used for the raising of cereals ; yet, as the soil is chemically about the same as that of the loess of he Rhine, it is inferred it would be very suitable for the culture of the grape, and at some future time these marl hills may present some of the finest vineyards in America. The valleys of the streams are remarkably fertile, the upland soil being thinner and less productive; still there is scarcely a place not covered with a luxuriant growth of excellent grass. In proceeding westward in Nebraska the valleys are found suitable for agricultural purposes, while the uplands are more useful for grazing.
The materials for brick-making, such as clays and sands, are reported inexhaustible. The fertility of the soil of this region is best shown by its crops ; the average yield of wheat being from thirty to thirty-five bushels per acre, of oats from forty to fifty, and of corn from sixty to seventy-five bushels. The high prairies yield from one to two tons of hay per acre; the valleys, from two to three tons.
The soil in the belt of country underlaid with the Dakota group of rocks, being composed largely of silica, is particularly adapted to the raising of heavy crops of wheat and oats; the former weighing more to the measured bushel than the wheat produced on any other geological formation.
To more fully develop our vast mineral wealth and other natural resources, the establishment of geological surveys in the new and comparatively unexplored regions of the States and Territories of the west is recommended. The first object should be to obtain correct knowledge of the general geological structure of the country; that is, of the age, geographical extent, thickness, and boundaries of each of the great geological systems of rocks within its area; at the same time the nature of the various subordinate groups of rocks, their order of succession, thickness, composition, dip, and probable influence upon the soils, springs and drainage of the country, should be determined. Especial attention, from the first, should also be given to the various valuable minerals, their geological position, quality, quantity, mode of occurrence, location with relation to fuel, material for fluxes, and the construction of furnaces, as well as navigable streams or other means of transportation.
Attention should likewise be given to the materials for the construction of roads, houses, bridges, such as building-stones, limestones for the manufacture of quicklime, sand, clays for making bricks and tiles, as well as for potters' use.
Particular attention should be given to the various soils and subsoils, and their adaptability to the growth of different kinds of crops, fruit, and ornamental as well as forest trees. If the district is hilly or mountainous, barometrical observations should be made to determine the heights of the elevations above the sea and the principal streams, and attention should likewise be given to the climatology of the country.
Full sets of collections of all the different kinds of rocks, soils, ores, minerals, and mineral waters of every description, as well as of the various organic remains, characterizing the different formations, should be carefully collected and preserved for study and analysis. These collections to be arranged and permanently preserved in the department.
It is proposed that specimens of every kind be transported to the department for careful investigation, in order that final and more detailed reports may be made out, illustrated by maps, sections, diagrams and drawings of the various fossil remains, characteristic of the different rocks. Authority should be given for the publication of the final reports in a suitable form, and in such manner as to be creditable to the country.
A few such reports properly prepared by competent and reliable authorities, with full statistics of our resources, would, if distributed abroad, have a tendency to stimulate immigration, and cause the rapid settlement of our vast unoccupied public domain, thus increasing the national wealth and power, and relieving the burdens of general taxation.
It is submitted that a comparatively small outlay in this way would be followed by manifold returns to the national treasury. BOUNDARY LINES BETWEEN COLORADO AND NEW MEXICO, CALIFORNIA AND
OREGON, AND OREGON AND IDAHO. In the appropriation act of March 2, 1867, authority is given and provision made at the rate of not exceeding sixty dollars per mile for the survey of the 37th parallel of north latitude, so far as it constiutes the northern boundary of the Territory of New Mexico, estimated to be in length three hundred and twenty miles.
The work is one of unusual difficulty, on account of the Rocky mountains, the several lofty spurs of the Sierra Madre, San Juan, La Plata, La Late, and the summit of the Raton mountain, extremely rugged, snow-capped, and only accessible in the middle of summer.
In order to run, mark, and permanently establish the boundary great perseverance, ability, and experience are required, so as to fix astronomically the line, involving the ascertainment and determination of the parallel of latitude and longitude.
In May last, the propositions of several gentlemen of skill and ability were submitted, among which was the application of Governor William Gilpin, of Colorado, who proposed to associate with him two highly accomplished and skilful artists. That gentleman was earnestly recommended as possessing superior knowledge of the mountain system over which the line of demarcation will pass, as he had, in various expeditions, traversed those mountains, and possessed a knowledge of their topographical features and surrounding objects of the country, with the ability to represent them. The department having selected Governor Gilpin, a contract was made with him on the 6th of June, 1867, in which it was agreed that he should establish by astronomical observations the 37th parallel of north latitude between the 103d and 109th degrees of west longitude from Greenwich, being a boundary common to New Mexico and Colorado as defined by acts of Congress approved September 9, 1850, section
2, Statutes at Large, volume 9, page 447, and February 28, 1861, section 1, of the act providing “a temporary government for the Territory of Colorado," Statutes at Large, volume 12, page 172.
As this is so important a geographical line, it was stipulated that the contractor should determine the same by a series of astronomical observations, eleven nearly equidistant stations near the 37th parallel of north latitude included between the aforesaid points, in order to establish the boundary, and that he should take at least six hundred observations of circum-meridian and circumpolar stars for latitude, and east and west stars near the prime vertical for time. These observations to be reduced and subjected to a rigorous discussion, and the final results deduced in accordance with well-established mathematical formulæ, a complete record of the astronomical, magnetic, and other observations, with the various reductions and final results, to be forwarded to the Commissioner of the General Land Office, in proper form, to be permanently preserved for future reference.
Opposite each of the eleven astronomical stations it is required there shall be erected on the parallel a monument, to be a shaft of not less than twelve inches in diameter in any part, and at least six feet in length, three feet of which to project above the surface, one-half the length being imbedded in the earth. Twelve inches at the top of the shaft are to be squared to correspond with the cardinal points of the compass, on which are to be durably inscribed, by chiselling the stone, on the north, “ Colorado;" on the south, “ New Mexico;" on the east, “1867;" on the west, “ 37° N. L.” Around this shaft a circular mound is to be constructed five feet in diameter, of stone boulders firmly imbedded in the ground, and tapering up to the shaft at the height of two feet. On each of the four sides facing the shaft the contractor is to dig a pit two feet square, eighteen inches deep, and six feet from the base of the mound, and if there be any permanent natural objects which can be made available in perpetuating the monument, the bearings and distances of such objects from the monument are to be carefully ascertained and described in the notes as “witnesses,” while full and accurate descriptions of the monument are to be given.
When the eleven astronomical monuments shall have been established, the intermediate boundary line is to be surveyed and marked. In doing this it is agreed that a “transit” of approved manufacture and Gunter's chain shall be used, and an extra standard chain carried, with wbich the one used shall be compared and tested every morning, and as much oftener as may be necessary to insure accuracy. As the work progresses, observations at night on polaris, upper and lower culmination, will be taken, and at the greatest elongation of the same star, the instrument being reversed, a similar test of the accuracy of the line will be made.
Offsets from tapgent to parallel are to be made from every astronomical monument east and west to the equidistant points between them, perpetuating the true points in the parallel of latitude as follows:
At the end of each mile an earthen or stone mound is to be raised four feet high, of a conical shape, with a pit two feet square, and eighteen inches deep on the east and west of the mound, and six feet from its base. Prior to the construction of the mound, an excavation is to be made in its proposed centre, three feet six inches deep, at the bottom of which there is to be placed a marked stone, charcoal, or a charred block, and above this there is to be planted a post eight feet in length, six inches square, bevelled at the top, three feet in the ground, leaving twelve inches to project above the top of the mound. Upon the post there will be durably marked, on the north side“ C.,” for Colorado; on the south, “ N. M.," for New Mexico; on the west, “ 1867;" and on the east, number of each mile from the initial station or point of intersection of the 103d degree of west longitude with the 37th parallel of north latitude.
Where the physical obstacles of the country on the parallel may be found such
as to preclude the possibility of overcoming them, such as the inaccessibility of snowy mountains, high and abrupt ridges, deep cañons or other insurmountable impediments to the direct measurement of the tangent, and the ascertainment of the differences of longitude between the astronomical station, then, and in that case, triangulation must be resorted to, checked by frequent determination of the latitude where the features of the country will afford the facilities for so doing, in order to obtain the distances over impassable barriers. In marking the parallel in such contingencies the contractor, to perpetuate the line, is required to avail himself of natural monuments, such as peaks of mountains, or other bold and prominent landmarks, though at irregular distances, yet standing on the parallel.
As the leading object in view is to make the boundary between New Mexico and Colorado visible to the people of the respective jurisdictions, it is agreed, in regard to monuments which cannot be placed at the proper mile-posts, that they shall be established near travelled roads, rivers, and mountain-passes.
Sketches are required to be made of the topography of the country immediately along the parallel, and that there shall be platted remarkable ranges of mountains, lofty peaks by which the vicinity of the boundary and of the monuments perpetuating it can be identified. The maps of the line, in triplicate, are to exhibit the eleven astronomical monuments, erected on the parallel, together with other topographical data, and the returns are to be accompanied by report showing the character of the observations, results, and their application to the determination and marking of the 37th parallel, coextensive with the common boundary between the Territories of New Mexico and Colorado. The initial and terminating points of the line, or the northeast and northwest corners of New Mexico, are to be commemorated by the erection of more conspicuous and promi nent monuments than those which will be built in intermediate places.
OREGON-CALIFORNIA, OREGON AND IDAHO BOUNDARIES.
On the 17th June last, Daniel G. Major, an astronomer of experience and energy, was designated by the department for the determination and survey of those boundaries; the former of an estimated length of 220 miles, starting from the intersection of the 120th meridian west of Greenwich, with the 42d north latitude, and extending thence westward to the Pacific ocean ; the latter 160 miles long, running from the mouth of the Owyhee, an affluent of Snake river, thence due south to the intersection of the northern boundary of the State of Nevada on the 42d degree of north latitude.
The principles and requirements of the contract for the survey of the northern boundary of New Mexico are made applicable for the survey of the OregonCalifornia and Oregon-Idaho lines, the service having been authorized and provision made for the same in the appropriation act of 2d March, 1867, (Statutes 1866 and 1867, pages 465 and 466.)
In the year 1864, Astronomer Major completed the determination, survey, and marking of that portion of the 46th parallel of north latitude included between the Columbia
and Snake rivers, forming the boundary between the State of Oregon and the Territory of Washington.
From the head of Walla-Walla valley, thence on to Snake river, that line traverses a continued succession of precipitous ridges of the Blue mountains, heavily covered with timber, through which the astronomer and party found it a slow and laborious task to work their way, made the more difficult by almost impassable barriers of fallen timber and embanked snow.
The field duties of the survey were thus completed, and subsequently there were transmitted, and are now on our files, the observations, reductions, fieldnotes, and maps of that boundary, duplicates of which were forwarded to the authorities of the State of Oregon and of Washington Territory, .