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westward, and over a belt ten to fifteen miles wide, in a northeast and southwest direction ; the brown sandstones prevail to the exclusion of all other rocks.
The village of Beatrice is pleasantly located on a second terrace in a bend of the Big Blue, and is a prosperous place, surrounded with a thickly-settled farming region, and bids fair to become an important inland town. It contains thirty or forty houses, several stores, a saw and grist mill, &c.
The soil of Gage county does not equal that of Pawnee county, or the counties along the Missouri, as a whole. The bottom lands are excellent, but the upland soil is thin. The grass is less luxuriant and the timber along the streams less abundant. For wheat, however, this soil, composed as it is largely of the eroded materials of the cretaceous sandstones, contains a large amount of silica and seems to be most favorable. A bushel weighs more than that of the river counties, but the corn and other kinds of grain are not quite as good. Yet too much cannot be said in favor of Gage county as an agricultural and grazing region. No coal will ever be found there, and the sooner the farmers commence planting trees the more prosperous' and happy they will be.
Comparatively little peat will be found in the county, so that the question of fuel must be determined by the intelligence and industry of the people. If they plant trees now they cannot suffer for fuel, for before that which they now have is gone the planted forests will be ready for use.
In regard to fruits, garden vegetables, &c., the same may be said of Gage county as of the other counties before described. Success will attend all welldirected efforts that way.
There are several fine springs of water in this county, but they are not numerous. Good water is always obtained by digging wells, and the depth beneath the surface generally depends on the elevation above the principal water-courses. Wells vary from twenty to sixty feet in depth. Near Blue Spring Mr. Tylor dug a well twenty five feet deep through the yellow marl to a point on a level with the bed of the Big Blue river, or perhaps a little below it, and obtained a copious supply of water which never fails. At the village of Blue Spring a well was dug on an elevated terrace fifty-five feet through clays and quicksands without passing through a particle of rock-all alluvium or superficial deposits. At the depth of fifty-four feet the bones of a mastodon were found. At another locality a well was dug forty-four and a half feet through alluvial marl and gravel to a bed of clay on a level with the bed of the Big Blue, and the water flowed in and now continues permanently eigbt feet in depth.
The excellence of the water in springs and wells in this county is a most important feature in a sanitary point of view.
There are no minerals that can be worked to advantage in this portion of the State. In the cretaceous sandstones there are large masses of limonite, (hydrated sesqui-oxide of iron,) but they are so full of silicious matter that they can never be of much value. Even if there was an abundance of iron in this county, there is no fuel to prepare it for use. Every county bears testimony to the statement that Nebraska is wholly an agricultural and grazing State. For building stone, gravel, lime, different kinds of clay, materials for making brick, &c., this county compares favorably with any others in the State.
Most of the settlers came into the county poor and have not yet commenced planting fruit and forest trees to any extent.
Very little attention has been paid to hedges, but all the cereals are most excellent, and the grasshoppers passed by without doing much damage, and the harvests of this autumn will be the best known since the State was settled. There are many fine horses and cattle in the county; very few sheep as yet.
JEFFERSON COUNTY. The Nebraska legislature of 1866.67 united the two counties of Jones and Nuckols under the name of Jefferson, Leaving Beatrice we took a southwest
course across the divide between the waters of the Big Blue and those of the Little Blue. The first branch we came to and the first living water that we saw was at Rock creek, a branch of the Little Blue, twenty miles distant. We travelled at least eighteen miles over the almost waterless and treeless prairie; about fifteen miles of our journey without any water at all.
There were no exposures of rock, but a broad level prairie much of the way, too flat to possess a suitable drainage. I knew, however, that the underlying basis rocks were cretaceous, probably the loosely aggregated sandstone seen on Blakely's run, near Beatrice. The configuration of the surface everywhere would indicate that the rocks beneath were of a texture to yield readily to atmospheric influences and the little ravines and valleys were grassed down to the edge of the water.
All the land that we passed over was clothed with a thick covering of grass, the soil appeared to be fertile, and the great proportion of silica in the soil, derived from the erosion of the cretaceous sandstones, would render these broad, level prairies admirable for wheat. Although the grass is so abundant and nutritious, I fear the lack of living water will prevent certain portions of this region from being useful for stock-raising. It seems to me too flat and wet at certain seasons for sheep to prosper well. There is an interval of about eighteen miles between Big and Little Blue rivers along this road without a dwelling. On Rock creek the settlements begin to grow numerous again, and nearly all the bottom land of the Little Blue is taken up by the actual settlers. There are some excellent farms here, and the crops the present season are very bountiful.
On Rock creek, a little branch six or seven miles long, we saw the first exposure of rock-the red sandstones of the Dakota group. Along the Blue for eight or ten miles quite precipitous ravines are formed by this rock, as shown by the illustration.
Fig. 1 shows a bluff or projecting ledge of sandstones along the Little Blue, and Fig. 2 represents one of the many rugged ravines near the mouth of Rock and Rose creeks. The clays, sand, and sandstones of the Dakota group extend down the Little Blue to a point about two iniles below the south line of Nebraska, and of course influence the agricultural character of the entire region.
The soils of a district are generally composed, to a greater or less extent, of the eroded materials of the underlying basis rocks. The sandstones of this formation being largely composed of silica, the soils and sub-soils are largely formed of silica also ; and the consequence is that wheat and oats grow remarkably well, but corn crops are not as good.
T'he wheat raised in the district underlaid by the sandstones of the Dakota group is said to weigh more per measured bushel than that from any other portion of the State.
These districts also produce most excellent nutritious grass, and the hills, though covered with a thin soil, would be superior for sheep grazing. Indeed, as we go west of this latitude, the uplands are more suitable for stock-raising. The water, though somewhat scarce, is most excellent, and the climate healthy. A section of the rocks along the Little Blue, below the Big Sandy, would be as follows, descending :
5. Yellow and dark brown rust-colored sandstones of the cretaceous or Dakota group, so well known in many other portions of the west. A few dicotyledonous leaves were found. This bed is of irregular thickness---from 50 to 100 feet.
4. Moderately coarse, yellowish-white sand, with irregular laminæ of deposition—50 feet.
3. Dark-colored, arenaceous, laminated clays, with particles and seams of carbonaceous matter. All through are beds of carbonaceous clay, 18 inches to 3 feet thick-much sulphuret of iron and silicified wood-30 to 50 feet.
2. Variegated arenaceous clays; the slopes exposed are so great that I can
not give the exact thickness ; probably 50 to 70 feet. Some seams of excellent potters' clay.
1. Dark bluish shaly clay, upou which the foundation of Mr. Jenkins's mill rests. It is, undoubtedly, permian or permo-carboniferous, but is not exposed to view by natural excavations until we reach a point south of the Nebraska line, near Marysville, Kansas.
The dark bed in division 3 of the above section has been regarded by the settlers with a good deal of interest as indieating the proximity of a workable bed of coal. I gave all the exposures a careful examination, and found them of no possible value.
Large masses of iron pyrites, some with brilliant crystalline forms, were found; others mixed with bits of charcoal and large masses of petrified wood, showing the vegetable structure with great distinctness.
Bones of some extinct saurian animal are frequently found in these beds. In the sandstones of the upper bed many impressions of leaves similar to those of our existing forest trees are found. They comprise the cinnamon, fig, laurel, sycamore, sassafras, magnolia, and many others belonging to genera common to both tropical and temperate climates, but all belonging to extinct species.
Indeed, the cretaceous period marks the dawn of the existence of dicotyledonous trees, or those similar to our existing forest, fruit, or ornamental trees on our planet, and consequently forms a new and most important era in the progress of American geological history.
I shall have more to say in regard to them in my description of the geology of other counties.
These sandstones continue up the Little Blue until we arrive within four miles of the mouth of the Big Sandy, when masses of a whitish limestone make their appearance on the summits of the hills, and eight or ten miles west of the Big Sandy these rocks assume an important thickness.
They are composed of a bivalve shell, (Inoceramus problematicus,) which is as closely packed together in these rocks as if they had been subapitted to pressure, with enough carbonate of lime to cement the shells together. The settlers find it useful for building stones, but more useful for converting into lime. It is a chalky shell limestone, and burns into the best lime of any rock in the State. Whether it will be found in great quantities either in the valley of the Little or Big Blue rivers remains still to be determined.
On account of the hostility of the Indians in that region, I did not think it safe or prudent to extend my examination more than about eight miles above the mouth of the Big Sandy.
The same rock occurs on Swan creek, Turkey creek, and the Big Blue above the mouth of Turkey creek. This rock was first studied on the Missouri river, and first appears capping the hills about 30 miles below Sioux City, Iowa, and extends to the foot of the Great Bend, near Yancton, the capital of Dakota Territory. It occupies the whole country, to the exclusion of all other rocks,
posed that the chalk of commerce is not found in any portion of America, and although this rock has the appearance and nearly the chemical composition of impure chalk, the formation itself has not yet been clearly shown to be the geological equivalent of the true chalk beds of Europe.
On the Missouri river this formation covers an area about 200 miles wide and 400 long. The cretaceous rocks in the valley of the Missouri were, several years ago, separated into five divisions by Mr. Meek and the writer, and were for a long time designated by numbers, as 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
In a paper published in the proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, December, 1860, we published a general section of the cretaceous rocks of the northwest. The sandstones which we have referred to in this report we designated the Dakuta group, or Formation No. 1, because these
rocks were then supposed to reach their largest development along the Missouri river near Dakota Territory; Formation No. 2 was called the Fort Benton group, having its greatest thickness adjacent to Fort Benton, near the sources of the Missouri river.
Formation No. 3 was named the Niobrara division, from the fact that it is most conspicuous near the mouth of the Niobrara river. These three divisions constitute the lower series of cretaceous rocks in the west, and are supposed to be the equivalent of the lower or gray chalk and upper green sand of British geologists.
Formation No. 4 we called the Fort Pierre group, because it reaches its greatest thickness near this post along the Missouri river.
Formation No. 5 was called the Fox Hills beds, from the fact that they form a conspicuous range of hills between the Big Cheyenne and Moreau rivers. These two groups of rocks constitute the upper cretaceous series of the west, and are regarded as the equivalent of the upper or white chalk and the Maestricht beds of Europe.
This brief description of the nomenclature of the cretaceous rocks of the west is considered necessary in this place, from the fact that I shall be compelled to refer constantly to the various subdivisions in all my future reports.
The limestone rocks referred to as exposed on the high hills rear the Big Sandy, and on the upper portions of the Big Blue and its tributaries, belong to cretaceous Formation No. 3, or the Niobrara division-Formation No. 2, or the Fort Pierre group, I did not see exposed to view in this region with certainty.
The foundation of a saw-mill on the Little Blue, about four miles above the junction of the Big Sandy, rests upon a dark pudding-stone, which I suspect belongs to this group, but it cannot be of very great thickness. About a mile above the mill, 50 or 60 feet of a dark gray calcareous shale occurs, holding a position beneath the true limestone, which I suppose belongs to the Niobrara division, but whịch may possibly be included in the Fort Benton group. I would remark just here, that paleontologically Formations Nos. 2 and 3 are embraced in one division, and Formations 4 and 5 also—the fossils of one group of rocks passing up into the other.
As a general rule, all these formations are lithologically distinct. The soil of the valleys of the streams in Jefferson county is excellent, and produces abundant crops. Some of the most productive and highly cultivated farms which I observed in the State were seen in the valleys of the Little and Big Blue rivers and their tributaries.
The belt of country underlaid by the sandstones of the Dakota group runs northeast and southwest, extending through the States of Kansas and Nebraska into Iowa and Minnesota, and is about 40 to 50 miles wide. In this group there is about 40 to 50 feet of yellowish-white friable sandstone, the small particles of quartz scarcely adhering together, which I am confident will yet be made of great economic importance. The sand, which is very abundant, could be used in plastering, in the manufacture of bricks, and more especially in the construction of the patent concrete which is so popular in some portions of this country and Europe.
The soil is largely composed of silica from this rock, and thus it seems to be well adapted to the production of valuable crops of wheat, the berry being more plump then that raised on any other geological formation in the State.
On the more elevated prairie the soil is thinner, and we miss the yellow marl deposits which cover the first two tiers of counties along the Missouri. Still the grass is short and nutritious and the surface is dry and covered with a great variety of small pebble stones, rendering this district a most excellent one for sheep raising
There are many fine springs of the purest water scattered through the county,
but there are extended intervals between them, and there are many entire townships of land with no permanent living water in them.
Iron is found in considerable quantities in the sandstones, but there is no fuel to render it useful. There is only a narrow fringe of trees along the streams, and no workable bed is even within the range of probability.
There are a few good mill-sites, and several valuable saw and grist mills are now in process of erection.
There is really no fine valuable building rock in Jefferson county. From Beatrice for 30 or 40 miles up the valley of the Big Blue, only the rusty sandstones of the Dakota group are found, and these are exposed only in a few localities.
The same sandstones prevail in the valley of the Little Blue from the Nebraska line to the mouth of Big Sandy.
Even the whitish limestones of the Niobrara division, which are quite abundant west of the sandstone belt, although excellent for lime, are not tough and hard enough for building stone; so that no portion of the county can be regarded as well supplied with economical rocks.
Still, in the absence of the massive limestones of the carboniferous beds further east, these cretaceons sandstones and limestones will prove of much service. The ease, however, with which these rocks yield to atmospheric influence has given a most beautiful outline to the surface of most of the county.
The wide bottoms and gently sloping hills along the Big Blue and its tributaries can hardly be surpassed for their monotonous beauty. The high prairies are gently rolling, yet well drained.
I was not a little surprised at the advance of settlers so far westward. The valleys of the two Blues are nearly all occupied by the actual settlers. There are a large number of Germans who have taken farms in this county. Six years ago they came into this region and took possession of these homesteads, many of them without any money at all; now they have highly cultivated farms, with 20 to 40 acres of wheat that will average 30 bushels to the acre; oats, 40 to 50 bushels; corn, 60 to 70 bushels; a large number of fat horses and cattle, with everything comfortable around them.
By their industrious and frugal habits these Germans have made for themselves an independence in the short space of six years.
Surely the great west, with its broad fertile acres, to be had almost for the asking, through the generosity of our government, is the poor mau's paradise.
BRIEF NOTES ON THE PRESENT CONDITION OF THE OTOE INDIANS. In our wanderings over the State of Nebraska we came to the Otoe reserve, and pitched camp near the hospitable mansion of the agent.
In the absence of Major Smith we were most pleasantly entertained by Mr. Moore, the farmer for the Otoe Iudians. It occurred to me that I could not occupy my time better, in the brief space allowed me to remain here, than in securing, as far as possible, such information as suggested itself, in regard to the present condition of this once powerful tribe of Indians, now fast dwindling away.
The Otoe reserve is located on the Big Blue river, mostly in the southern portion of Gage county, but extending into Jefferson county. It occupies a surface 10 X 24 = 240 square miles = 153,600 acres of the finest land in southern Nebraska. The Big Blue, one of the most beautiful of the inland streams, with several of its most important branches, passes through it. Like all other portions of the State, there is, comparatively, little timber, yet as much as on other streams. Some of the branches have the most desirable farms bordering on them. They occupy a small village bordering on the Blue, and are not distributed over the reserve. The land is not divided out to them, but they are all aggregated together in a village of mud huts. They seem to have no idea of individual independence, but have all things in common, as it were.