The rocks which form the basis of Sullivan county are what are termed stratified or sedimentary", having been formed under deep water.1 These strata form a portion of the series known as palozoic rocks, formerly termed lower secondary;2 and they embrace what is known to British geologists as the Devonian and Upper Silurian System. In the Natural History of New York, Part IV., by W. W. Mather, these rocks are grouped under the following heads:
In other volumes of the State Survey, different names have been assigned to these beds.
By far the larger extent of the county is covered by the Catskill division. The remaining rocks of the New York system are only exposed in the eastern sections of the towns of Neversink and Forestburgh, Mamakating, and in the southern portion of the county.
These rocks have, generally speaking, one common dip and strike, from which the deviations throughout the county are but trifling. The angle of elevation of the strata is so small, that there is not presented over the county any mountain mass one thousand feet above the level from which it rises. The uniformity of the strike, and the similarity in form of the hills produced by such slight elevation are at once presented to the eye of the observer looking from the top of Walnut Mountain, Mutton Hill, or any other elevated position, where the whole county presents the appearance of an ocean, crested with parallel waves of nearly equal height, rolling in one direction.
The dip of the strata in the county is westerly, and the strike north-east. (The particular deviations from this general occurrence will be noticed hereafter.) In traveling across the county from East to West, the newer strata appear; and it is by traveling in the county in this direction, rather than North and South, that the most correct information of the position and thickness of the strata can be collected. The courses of the rivers and creeks being generally from North to South, afford m many places good points of observation.
The rocks of the Catskill group deserve to be noticed, from their occupying so large a surface in extent. These rocks, commonly known as the old red sandstone, are the newest formed rocks in this section of the State of New York. They form the basis rock in which the coal fields of Pennsylvania he, and rising from under these, they constitute the bed of the Delaware river, and spread into Sullivan, Ulster and Greene counties, covering up the lower groups of the New York system, which only emerge from under their beds in the East and South of the county.
Beds of rock of very different color and appearance are classed together in this group; the predominance of sand, generally ferruginous, forming beds of sandstone, shale and conglomerate. The grits are both coarse and fine, and of various shades---red, green, brown, grey and mottled. The arrangements of these beds generally is from above downward: 1. Conglomerate and coarse grits. 2. Red shales, slates and grits. 3. Grey and greenish grits and slates. 4. Chocolate-colored grits, with red shales and slates.
The total thickness of these beds of rock, at the point where their greatest development has been measured, is about four thousand feet; but nowhere does it reach this measurement in Sullivan county; for the beds are so broken up, and the same series so continually upraised in distances not far apart, that the whole series is not exposed upon the surface.
The mountain elevations are also so slight, that only a few hundred feet of thickness of the strata can be read off the escarpments. "Walnut Mountain has the highest summit in the county, and stands about six hundred feet above the plane of the base. The strata of which it is composed from above downward are---
|1. Quartz conglomerate;||4. Grey sand-rock;|
|2. Grey sandstone;||5. Red shale;|
|3. Red sandstone;||6. Green grit.|
A section of a hill on the "Three Thousand Acre Tract," two miles west from the village of Liberty, afforded the following succession:
|1. Quartz conglomerate;||6. Red sand-rock;|
|2. Red and green grit;||7. Conglomerate;|
|3. do do||8. Grey sand-rock;|
|4. Grey grit;||9. Green sand-rock.|
|5. Red shale;|
These two hills appear to be composed of the same beds. The bed marked 5, being well defined, constitutes a good point of comparison.
Mutton Hill lies more to the East, and has less of the Catskill strata forming its structure, as is evident from the section of its East side:
|1. Reddish conglomerate;||3. Grit;|
|2. Quartz conglomerate;||4. Grey grit.|
This hill corresponds to beds marked 6, 7 and 8 on the "Three Thousand Acre Tract." Mutton Hill has not the upper beds capping the other.
These illustrations will serve to show how the same lines of rocks are repeated over a few miles. This must arise from fracturing of the strata.
The evidences of this are well seen on the Mount Hope and Lumberland turnpike road, where the red and grey grits and shales overspread in several places, where the faults and bendings of the strata occur, so as to make the beds show themselves repeatedly.
The fractures and bendings of the strata are more inclined in the South of the county than in the "West, and more in full on the Shawangunk hills.
One of the most common characteristics of the grits of this group are the irregular lines which mark their surface, and which are so frequent as to form a ready means of classifying the rock when observed. These lines of lamination indicate the direction of the current of water which deposited them. These must not be confounded with the lines of stratification.
Their oblique lamination is more common in the grey grits, though discernible in many of the strata of the red grits. The boulders3 on the roadside show this lamination often more distinctly than the rock in place. The rocks of this division, however they may be in appearance, belong to but two varieties; that is conglomerate and sandstone. The sandstones are admitted to have been formed by what is termed shore action---by the action of a large body of water on a rocky beach, washing and wearing it down, and sifting the finer matters from the coarse, and conveying the latter down under the water level, and spreading it along the shore bottom, covering it for several miles. The similarity in appearance of the present sea shores and the red sandstone rocks, warrants the belief. This shore action existed previous to and during the period of the coal deposits in Pennsylvania, and was produced by the joint action of equatorial and polar currents of water during this period.
A great portion of the present continent was under deep water, and what is now known as the Gulf Stream, and the currents of ice-cold water from the poles, flowed directly over the continent. The directions of the mountain chains in South America---similar chains in the East and "West, and the elevated land in the North, altered the direction of the current of warm water flowing from the tropics, and caused it to flow circuitously by the base of the Rocky Mountains, part flowing into the Arctic Sea and Hudson's Bay; and the remainder in a south-easterly course, through the St. Lawrence valley, and along the Blue Ridge around to the Mississippi, where it would mingle with the original stream. The current of polar ice and water flowed down the St. Lawrence and Hudson valleys, and mingling with the other stream, gave it this curved direction, and formed an inland bay or sea of great dimensions, and consequently a largo extent of shore. This shore, covered up by future deposits of vegetable remains and earthy matters, constitutes the Catskill group, or the old red sandstone.
Formed by the disintegration of primary and metamorphic rocks, which were very micaceous, or hornblende, these sandstones contain a quantity of iron in the state of red or peroxide. To this mineral the tinge is due, which is from the lightest shade of red until the iron oxide accumulates in such quantities as to make the stone almost ore of iron. It is a fact generally occurring, but not yet accounted for, that hardly any fossils are found imbedded in stratified rocks in which this peroxide of iron is found; it usually being in the grey grits that fossil remains exist. The red rocks of this series are not homogeneous in character, some strata being more argillaceous than others. Hence the terms used in this report of red shale and red sandrock; the former "weathering" more rapidly, and splitting up more readily when struck; the sandrock is closer, harder, more granular, generally of a deeper red, and not decomposing or fracturing so readily.
The following analyses of these two rocks serve to illustrate the difference in their chemical composition:
|Moisture and soluble salts||8.||7.|
|Peroxide of iron||11.||3.|
|Quartz and red sand insoluble in acid||74.||80.31|
The proportions of peroxide of iron and alumina vary more than the other ingredients in different specimens; but the alumina is always in excess in the shale, and the iron in a few specimens rose up to 21 per cent of the whole mass.
The chocolate-colored grits differ very little from the above matter, the tints being due to a small portion of vegetable matter mixed with the peroxide of iron.
In the grey and green grits the iron is mostly in the condition of rust oxide, the quantity of the metallic oxide being small.
The conglomerates have been formed by action somewhat different from the dissolving and sifting actions which produced the grits. Conglomerates are gravel bound together by cement---(sometimes a paste of red sand-rock---sometimes of grey grit)---in which the gravel is embedded. These may be formed by the drifting action of currents of water sweeping the pebbles forcibly along, and depositing them in a mud or paste, perhaps of the same origin. The production of beds of conglomerate generally implies shallow bodies of water.
These alternations of grey and red grits with conglomerates occupy the whole surface of Rockland, Bethel, Cochecton, Fremont, Thompson and Liberty. The quartz portion is the western of Neversink and Fallsburgh.
Seams and layers of fine anthracite are found occasionally between the courses of these strata about Cochecton, at Barryville, and through the town of Liberty.4 These seams are rarely more than half au inch thick, and from their frequent occurrence lead to the impression, that by boring a good seam may be reached; but such impression is erroneous. The coal beds are above the Catskill group. It was the shore into which the drift timber was floated. The coal-bearing beds are upon these, and in the basin formed by the decay of the sandstone strata. The traces of vegetable matter in the Catskill group are too slight to warrant a belief that any but the smallest traces may be found. The elevated region in Rockland, in the East of Delaware and the West of Ulster, are the most probable portions of the State in which coal may be found.5 But the examination along the Williwemoc and Little Beaverkill yielded no evidence of coal.
A portion of shale forwarded as coal, removed from one of these seams, afforded on incineration---
There is an opinion prevalent that these thin seams widen as they pass downward, and excavations have been made with the hope of reaching a good thick vein; but such an opinion is erroneous.
These grits occupy all the elevated parts of Sullivan county except the Shawangunk mountain, and in the northern region produce very picturesque and romantic scenery. Nothing can exceed m beauty and wildness the course of the Beaverkill, in Rockland, where dense woods, overhanging rocks and beautifully clear and placid water are united together. It is the grey sandrock which prevails mostly over this town, as at Little Flats, the hill west of Steele's store. Elk Hill, and Hodge Pond. The greater part of Neversink is also capped by the grey grits, and in some places by quartz conglomerate.
At Mutton Hill and at Palen's tannery, in Neversink, the red sand-rock occupies a portion of the surface, and may be seen in the water courses, stratified with the grits and conglomerates.
The red shale, or argillaceous sandstone, is spread over a large surface of Liberty, Callicoon, Fremont and Thompson, as at the hill on which the old Presbyterian church at Liberty stood; on B. Sherwood's farm and on the Demarest and Blue hills; in Fallsburgh at O. H. Bush's; over the Expense Lot, and over the town generally. Farther south, this argillaceous shale is replaced by a hard sand-rock, which is derived from the wearing down of mica slates, retaining some of the mica still undecomposed. This micaceous sandstone underlays the village of Monticello and the high grounds of the surrounding neighborhood. The red rock of Monticello is in many places capped by grey grits and conglomerates to the thickness of twenty-five feet, which stand out like isolated masses, and not, as they really are, portions of what was a continuous bed. Generally speaking, the grey grits and conglomerates cover up the red rock and shales. The uppermost of the red rocks contain the hardest and most micaceous beds. The lower ones are soft and shaly. The red hard rooks occupy the county in Monticello, and parallel to it, in a line drawn northeast and southeast. For two and a half miles southerly, the red rocks are those which occupy the greatest surface, when grey grits emerge from below, becoming the surface rock, to the vicinity of the Delaware river.
North of Monticello, the red rocks dip under and are covered almost completely by grey hard grits and conglomerate, which generally occupy the county between Monticello and White Lake. In the southern towns, these red sand-rocks and shales do not cover any extensive surface, and the chocolate and grey grits, as already stated, generally predominate.
Dynamic forces have produced the high land, as well as the fractures and elevations of the strata. There has been another operation at work which has caused the exposure of rock quite as frequently as the upheaving forces. This is the action of denudation, or that force exerted by moving water in passing over land, and by its mechanical force and friction, wearing away deep channels in the rocky strata over which it rolled. This force of moving water has been exerted both by a large body of water which at a former period covered the county, and at a later period by water courses occupying the position and flowing in a direction which corresponds to that of the present streams. It depends on the nature of the rock over which the water runs, what the amount of denudation or abrasion shall be.
The Catskill mountains are themselves splendid examples of denudation, and the phenomena of abrasion may be witnessed in the courses of nearly all the rivers in the county. The Beaverkill above Big Flats, in Rockland, shows it remarkably, and the Neversink and the Mongaup exhibit it at several points of their course. A very remarkable instance is at Bridgeville, below the bridge, where the banks of the river are eighty feet high. On the west side of the river the strata dip, and rise on the east, showing that they were one until by the wearing action of the liver stream it obtained its present level. The strata on each side correspond as follows:
1. Greenish sandstone conglomerate with quartz grits;
2. Soft red shale and harder sand-rocks;
3. Hard sand-rock;
4. Soft red shale;
5. Grey sand-rock (grit) underlaid by quartz conglomerate;
6. Green grits and slate;
7. Bed of the river.
This affords one out of many illustrations of the power which moving water, acting through an immensely long period, can exert on even the hardest surfaces; the whole chasm, from the present bed of the stream to the top of a height of eighty feet, having been worn away by the Neversink river.
This action has been in operation since the county has been upraised from the sea-bottom upon which the sand-rocks were deposited, and belong to what is termed the modem period. The beds marked 2 and 4 are of soft shale and slate, and decompose more readily when exposed to the air than the rocks above and below, which produce the overhanging cliffs and cavernous hollows termed rock-houses. Wherever these strata are found upheaved, these rock-houses exist, as on the hill near Fallsburgh; at Fairchild's Pond near Monticello;6 near Beaver Brook, in Lumberland, and in numerous other places in the county.
In Fallsburgh, one of the creeks cuts through the red and grey sandstones, and the valley in which the creek lies is a valley of denudation, the strata being exposed on each side, and the dip not exceeding eight degrees. In the valley of the water channel on each side of the stream, at some distance up, is a well marked layer of stones, showing the existence of a former water channel of greater dimensions than the present. Probably the whole was the bottom of a wide stream, on the sides of which these stream stones were arrested by the slowness of the current.
Underneath the red grits, shales, and conglomerates, exists a series of beds of rock generally termed greywacke, and classed in the New York Survey as the Erie group or division. These also are sandstone. They arc highly indurated and of a greenish grey or dark color. Shales and slates of a similar character accompany the sandstones. The dip of these is W. N. W. These rocks occupy the southern part of the county, and are best seen in Mamakating valley. They run from the Delaware river through Lumberland west of Mongaup into the Mamakating valley, of which they form the northwest side, running parallel to the Delaware and Hudson canal, and towards Kingston, in Ulster county. The upper beds of the Erie division are termed the Chemung group, and occur in distinct courses, with an infinite variety of structure, and numerous fossil remains. The series, when exposed to the weather, passes into a brownish olive, which forms the external appearance of all these slates, that even then are internally of the deepest green. There is a tendency to conglomerate in the upper beds. The lower beds of the Erie division are called the Hamilton group. In Sullivan county, those two subdivisions are not very distinct, and in this report may be classed together. They both differ from the Catskill, or old red sandstone division, in containing well marked evidences of land plants as fossil remains---obscure species which have not received sufficient attention. The green and olive shales are loaded with impressions of strophomena, delthyris and atryra. The great indestructibility of this group of rocks gives a peculiar aspect to the surface. A series of terraces upon the hills about Beaver Brook, in Lumberland, and a similar appearance in Mamakating indicate the Erie rocks. A fine section of these may be obtained along the Erie railroad from Narrowsburgh south, and along the Delaware and Hudson canal. In the latter place the strata dip N. W. about 15°. In the green shales partial faults may be observed, and in some places the strata are bent, or arched upwards. This arching up of the strata is well marked at the 101 mile post on the railroad, and still better on the Pennsylvania bank of the Delaware river, opposite the canal, three-fourths of a mile east of Barryville. The cracks and faults, and the arching of the rocks are produced by subterranean elevating forces, which have been excited very strongly in the south part of the county.
Where full exposures of this group are made, there is discovered a good bed of flag-stones, or thick splitting slate, averaging twenty-eight inches thick, lying upon a soft crumbling shale, and covered by a slaty grit, having well marked lamina of deposition in them. These flag-stones crop out in several places, and are occasionally used in building. They have been quarried somewhat extensively in Mamakating west of Wurtsborough.7 These flag-stones are of good quality generally.
At Griffin's quarry, seven miles south of Wurtsborough, and three miles from the canal, the same stones are raised. They are also exposed in the beds of the Mongaup and the Neversink rivers.
On the Sandburgh creek, a little west of Red Ridge, the Junction of the Erie and Catskill groups is discoverable; and in the lower bed of the former, or the upper bed of the latter, (for they are not easily distinguished,) are the remains of a shaft where an opening had been made in the expectation of meeting coal. The shaft is now filled up, and the lower stones which were raised may be found on the side of the road. The rock is a dark shale, full of vegetable matter, and loaded with impressions of fossil plants. No coal seam of sufficient thickness was discovered, and the work was abandoned. There are appearances in this locality which would encourage expectation for coal. These beds of rock generally dip to the north and west at a much greater angle than the Catskill series, and partake of the disturbance of the southern part of the county, which has upturned all the rocks of the Mamakating valley to a nearly vertical position.
Along the Sandburgh creek, west of the county line, the Chemung group may be well studied by the geologist. For all practical purposes the Erie division possesses but little interest, yielding only the bed of slate alluded to.
The Helderberg division consists of a series of limestones of various chemical composition, with beds of slate and slaty grits. The limestones generally occupy the lowest beds. They constitute a great natural group, and are so well developed in the Helderberg mountains as to receive from thence their name. In Sullivan county they emerge from under the Chemung group of the Erie division, and occupy the greater portion in breadth of the valley of Mamakating. They dip at a very high angle. The upper beds are covered by the drift in the valley. The limestones are only slightly elevated above the canal, under which they dip W. N. W., at an angle of 55° and 63°. A short distance east of Wurtsborough, the limestone rises out of the canal, and forms the mountain bench. It is here composed of two distinct kinds; the one a shaly, soft, decomposing rock---the other a hard, compact stone of a dark bluish color. At Carpenter's Point, on the Delaware river, the position and character of the entire series may be studied more readily than at any place in the county of Sullivan, where they are almost completely hidden. The portions exposed belong to the water-lime group described by Mr. Mather in the New York Survey, Vol. IV., p. 349.
In the valley north of Wurtsborough, they can only be examined, as they sink down and are covered by the deposits of drift. The stone has been quarried and used as building stone and for burning, for which some of the courses only are adapted. The strata are but a few feet thick and, from proximity to the canal, cannot be advantageously worked.
The chemical composition of the hard blue rock is as follows:
|Carbonate of lime||93.|
|Sand and vegetable matter||2.|
|Alumina and peroxide of iron||3.|
|Soluble saline matters||1.14|
The proportion of alumina in this rock prevents it from forming good dry mortar lime; but by proper treatment in burning and mixing, it would make good hydraulic mortar. The comments made in the Report of Seneca county on the Manlius water-limestone are applicable here.
There are no other beds of lime-rock in this county except those of the Mamakating valley. Boulders of this rock, however are discovered in nearly every town.
ONTARIO DIVISION.---This contains two varieties of rock very well defined in Sullivan county. They are immediately beneath the last described rocks, whence they rise up to a considerable elevation, forming the base of the north and western slopes of the Shawangunk hills. The varieties are
1. The pyritous stratum;
2. The Shawangunk grit or conglomerate.
1. The first rock is a comparatively thin layer of quartz rock, loaded with crystals of pyrites, (sulphuret of iron). It varies very much in its texture, being, east of Wurtsborough and toward the county line, a whitish, compact quartz stone (in the interior of a mass) with pyrites. South of the village, it becomes a red rock, the pyrites having passed into the state of red oxide, and the hard nature of the rock is replaced by a softer shale. In other cases it is granular, and resembles a red sandstone. Crossing the mountain on the plank road from Wurtsborough to Middletown, this bed is met with at the 11 mile post, and is about twelve feet thick. It is here a hard, compact quartz rock, dipping at an angle of 60° "W. S. W. In the neighborhood of the "Montgomery mine," it is a chocolate-colored, soft, slaty sandstone; and at the "new mine," two miles south of Wurtsborough, it presents the appearance of a greenish grey grit. Exposed to the air, it becomes red, and where it is not a sandstone, the gradual oxidation of the pyrites rusts the rock to the depth of an inch.
2. The Shawangunk grit or conglomerate is described by Mather as a rock which "varies in texture from a conglomerate to a fine-grained grit, and is almost entirely silicious. It is generally white or light grey in color; but there is one bed near the upper part of its mass which is red. Most of the layers of the rock are very hard. Some are sandy and others slaty. Its colors are white, grey, greyish, reddish-white and brick-red." This covers the whole" northern side of the mountain, dipping at variable angles toward the north-west and west. In many places, the dip is 60°; in others, 50°, and diminishes to 30°. The thickness varies in different parts of the range, being in some places apparently four hundred feet, diminishing down to one hundred and fifty feet. On the Wurtsborough and Bloomingburgh plank road, it approaches three hundred feet in thickness.
This rock is not used in this county for any economical purpose, although in other counties it is used in building, and for grindstones. While it presents so narrow a breadth, its length is remarkable. Traces of this conglomerate are discernible in Vermont, east of Whitehall, and in Western Massachusetts, and with the Shawangunk, it passes into New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
As this constitutes one of the most important beds of the Shawangunk range, though not by any means a large amount of the total hill elevation, it may be desirable here to allude to the whole chain of hills as a unity.
The Shawangunk hills extend from the New Jersey line to near Wawarsing, in Ulster county, where they sink down, and are lost. In New Jersey, they may be traced into the Blue Mountains, and from that State pass into Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. The rocks are upraised in what is termed an anticlinal axis, or in the form of an inverted V, (/\), the strata being broken and bent away from each other. The range in Sullivan county attains at its highest point 1007 feet above the sea level, which is in the north-east part of Mamakating. The dip of the strata varies from 30° to 57° to W. N. W., and the direction of the range is generally N. E. and S. W. There is very little disturbance or fracture of the strata in the county. Farther east, in Ulster, the breaks are well marked.
The great body or mass of the mountain is Hudson river slate, a rock whose color passes from light grey into black, and is sometimes soft and shaly, while in other places it is hard and fit for quarrying as building stone. It is a well marked stratified rock, and by the many curves and contortions which it presents, it shows what forces it has been subjected to. It constitutes the basis or lowest rock of the mountain range, and is not visible on the northern side of the hill. On passing over the Wurtsborough and Bloomingburgh plank road, toward the summit of the hill, near the 10 mile post, it comes into view as a bed of shale, very friable, dark colored, full of fractures, and about twenty feet thick. As the road descends, the shale passes into a harder rock, and the rest of the mountain downward on its east side is made up of alternations of shale and hard rock.
This Hudson river slate is continued from the base of the hill into Orange county, forming the surface rock of that portion of Sullivan south of the hills. In the low land, the elevation of the strata is but slight, and but little facility exists for the water of the soil above to escape through the strata. Hence in many places the land becomes water-logged, and gives rise to the production of rushy herbage, moss and bog. Some of the courses afford good furnace stones, and some a good building stone. The beds in the county do not afford any roofing slate.8
The thickness of the Hudson slate group is about eight hundred feet. Upon it, on the western side, rests the Shawangunk grit, which lies conformably upon it. Near the summit of the hills, the grit in some places lies nearly horizontal, and presents, to the south, perpendicular cliff's of white rock, from forty to two hundred feet high. This is overlaid by the pyritiferous stratum, which is better developed in the northern part of the valley.
The whole range is intersected by metalliferous veins. The neighborhood is full of traditions of Indians obtaining both lead and silver in abundance, and at so many points of the range, that it is looked upon as a bed of ores of undisputed richness.9 It is with that portion of the range within the limits of the county that it is the office of this report to treat; and it is very important that clear notions of the quantity and value of ore in the county should be rightly held, seeing that efforts are made by unusual means to create false notions of the mineral condition of the county.
The New York Geological Survey describes very accurately the Shawangunk mine, situated in this county, on the mountain range. At the time that survey was made (1843), and for a long time after, this was the only opening made into the range in Sullivan county. Very lately, new adits have been attempted both north and south of that point. This mine is now termed the "Montgomery Mine," as belonging to the New York & Montgomery Mining Company. It lies north-east of Wurtsborough about two miles, and eight hundred feet above the canal level. Dr. Mather's description (Vol. IV., p. 360), is nearly that of its present condition, and is as follows:
"The vein, in many places, has the aspect of a bed parallel to the contiguous strata of the grit rock of the mountain; but from a careful examination, it is believed to be a true vein which runs between the strata, and then cuts obliquely across them, without altering its dip in any great degree. The stratum of the vein corresponds nearly to that of the grit rock, but its aggregate dip is greater. The strata were observed to be more or less broken and bent, where the vein, after passing between them, crossed them obliquely. The grit rock on the mountain near the mine is traversed by small veins of quartz, which is more or less porous from the decomposition of its contained minerals. The vein on which the mine is worked, varies from two to five feet in width; and the larger portion of its mass, as far as has been explored, is a silicious rock similar to that forming the roof and floor, except that it contains fragments and particles of greenish and blackish slate. The vein stone is more or less loaded with blende, galena, copper pyrites, iron pyrites and crystalized quartz. The blende and galena constitute probably forty-nine-fiftieths of the metalliferous contents of the vein, and these minerals are in general more or less intimately mixed.
"The metalliferous part of the vein is from one to three feet thick in some parts; in others, it narrows to a thin, almost linear seam; in some places, the lead ore, in others, the zinc ore predominates. The ore, as an aggregate, may be said to lie in bunches, and the productiveness of different points of the vein is very variable. When examining the mine, three masses of galena, free from other ores and from gangue, were taken out of the mine, weighing about 800, 1000, and 1400 pounds.
"This mine is said to have been originally discovered by a hunter,10 and the first opening was made some forty or fifty feet from the present shaft of the mine. It was worked from the outcrop of the vein to a depth of about thirty feet, and some tons of lead ore were taken from the mine. This opening was abandoned in consequence of the thinning of the metalliferous part of the vein, and the difficulty of raising the ore through an irregular and sloping shaft. A vertical shaft was in process of excavation at the time of my first visit in 1837, and it had reached the vein at that time. Lateral galleries have since been driven on the course of the vein. An adit level was driven perpendicular to the 'strike of the vein through the intervening strata of grit rock, fifty-two feet below the mouth of the shaft, so as to intersect the vein at the distance of about two hundred feet from the main shaft. Galleries have been excavated latterly on the course of the vein from the extremity of the adit, and the southern one of these has been connected with the shaft. This adit and the contiguous galleries serve as a drainage level for the upper portions of the mine. Another adit level has been driven into the mountain, so as to intersect the vein at a perpendicular depth of seventy-five feet below the other, and the main shaft is continuous from this intersection, sloping up the course of the vein, to where this inclined shaft unites with the vertical one at the upper tier of the galleries. Lateral galleries have been excavated on the course of the vein from the sides of the inclined part of the main shaft, and it was in these that the miners were employed at the time of my visit.
"The ore is slidden down the inclined shaft to the lower adit level, whence it is removed to the ore heaps opposite this level. It is there picked and washed, and then sent to the smelting house on the bank of the canal, which, by the winding course of the road, is about a mile or a mile and a quarter."
From a personal inspection in May, 1852, the following were the particulars of this mine. It has an entrance by an adit opened upon the side of the mountain, nearly eight hundred feet above the canal level. To reach the vein of ore, the strata, were pierced through sixty yards. The strike of the range is E. N. E. by W. S. W., with a dip varying from 35° to 56° to the N. W. The vein runs parallel to the strike, and nearly parallel with the strata. When reached by boring to the above stated depth, it was found to vary in thickness from eighteen inches to four feet. About one hundred feet above the adit level, the ore crops out on the surface, a few inches in thickness, mixed with considerable gangue. The gangue stone is quartz, which intersects the vein, largely cutting it up and rendering it in some places too poor to work. The rock through which the adit is bored is the Shawangunk grit. At the inner extremity of the adit, a gallery has been extended at right angles to the adit, or in the line of the strike, thus following the course of the ore. It was stated that but little ore had been raised for the last six years, and the spots where the blastings were made were filled with water. The richest samples of ore taken at that period were said to be from spots now flooded. At the pit's mouth, there was a heap of sorted ore, and at some distance, a larger heap of finely powdered ore. The whole quantity did not exceed seventy tons. Within the mine, little was going on, either in draining or blasting. Smelting furnaces were then being erected at a great cost, and the extent of these seemed greatly incommensurate with the quantity of ore on hand, or even in the vein.
The ore is zinc blende (sulphuret of zinc) associated with galena and copper pyrites, the gangue stone quartz intersecting it in threads and crystals. The gangue varies from fifteen to fifty per cent, of the sorted ore.
The gangue is separable from the ore by crushing and sifting. When separated, the pure ore consists of
|42.004||in 100 parts.|
These were associated with sulphur, and may be looked on as blende, galena and pyrites associated. The copper is present in so trifling an amount as not to be regarded practically. An examination was made to determine the presence of silver associated with the lead ore; but the result, while it showed the presence of that metal', did not warrant the belief that any could be profitably extracted. This vein, then, is one of mixed zinc and lead ores; for of the other metals, (silver and copper) there is but a trifling amount, and the iron is a positive impediment in the reduction. There is a practical difficulty in separating galena and blende so as to preserve both metals. Either the zinc or the lead is sacrificed in obtaining the other metal.
The ordinary ores of zinc are the carbonate, the sulphuret and the oxide. The first yields from 25 to 40 per cent.; the second 66 per cent.; and the last 75 per cent, of pure metal. The first two are the chief European ores; the latter is the one worked at Franklin and Sterling, in New Jersey. The ore of the Montgomery Mine, considered as a zinc ore, is inferior to any of those recounted. It is similarly situated as a lead ore. The chief lead ore of this or any country is galena, (sulphuret,) which yields when pure 86 per cent, of metal, or more than four times the quantity which this ore, when free from gangue, could yield; so that this ore may be looked upon as a poor zinc and a still poorer lead ore. It has to be freed from a large amount of gangue, and to obtain the lead out of it, the zinc will have to be burned off; to obtain the zinc, the lead will have to be sacrificed.
Many attempts have been made to adopt processes whereby it might be possible to obtain both metals without loss; but without success on the large scale.
The New York and Montgomery Mining Company, in a pamphlet put forward by them, allude to a process of Mr. Seymour, (the chemist to the works at the mine) whereby this obstacle was overcome. It does not appear, however, that it ever was put in practice upon large quantities, and acted economically. The same pamphlet gives an analysis of the ore as containing zinc 30 per cent., lead 20 per cent., copper 5 per cent., and silver one-tenth of one per cent.
"In addition to the above, the cobalt produced from the ore, being of the purest kind, will probably equal in value any of the above named metals."
This statement led to a renewed analysis of the ore without detecting more than a faint trace of cobalt in one sample. Some samples of the ore contain more galena and less blende, and vice versa; but even taking the above as an average sample of ore which is mixed with from 15 to 50 per cent, of gangue, upon the showing of the Company's pamphlet, it is impossible to obtain either zinc or lead, or the preparations of these metals, at prices which would remunerate the outlay.
For some time back, the sorted and ground ore has been smelted, and the zinc and lead separated, and by the processes of chemical decomposition (in the moist way) oxide of zinc, chloride of zinc and other preparations of that metal, chromate and other salts of lead, and cobalt, are prepared to the extent of a few tons weekly, and sent to the city of New York, where its arrival has served to keep up the price of the Company's stock, and facilitate sales; but if the manufacture of these substances were intended as a remunerative speculation, they would have been abandoned before now. No individual manufacturer, seeking profit, would ever adopt the processes carried on in the factory at the mine; and in a short time, even the present operations must abruptly terminate.11
The existence of good lead mines and zinc ores in this country, where these metals may be obtained cheaply, prevents a mixed ore, whose preparations require a costly mode of separation, from being brought into competition with them; and when it is considered that even the New Jersey zinc ore can with difficulty compete with the English and Belgian zinc in its own market, it is manifest that the poor ore of the Shawangunk cannot venture into competition.
What has been stated of the Montgomery ore and manufacture, is true of mining in Sullivan county generally. The vein of ore which extends from Ellenville by Red Bridge and Wurtsborough, passes along parallel to the strike of the hills, and may be traced on the summit of the range to the western border of the county, and owing to the operations carried on at the Montgomery mine, various openings have been made by companies and individuals to reach the same vein at other places. The belief that the vein would widen at lower levels, (probable,) and that it would be a richer ore farther west, (improbable,) has led to a false estimate of the value of the ore, and of the locality as a place for investment of capital; and the excitement in the Mamakating valley has been unduly kept up by interested parties.
There is not a workable mine in this county; nor is there any mineral or ore which can be abundantly or profitably extracted. The manganese which is scattered over the whole extent, and occurs disseminated through layers of the shale and shaly limestone, is too earthy and impure to compete with that from other States. The anthracite which exists in the shale at the Sandburgh, and the half inch seam in Liberty, and which farther west is cut through by the Delaware, and washed down to where it accumulates in beds, at the bending of the river at Cochecton and elsewhere, is just sufficient to delude the unwary. The oxide of iron which accumulates in the sandstone at some places, as near Parksville, is sufficient to render the stone convertible into a mineral paint; but does not constitute a workable ore. The building and flag-stones, and the extensive deposits of brick clay which occur in every town, are the only mineral wealth of the county.
DRIFT.---In every northern latitude on this continent, as far south as 40°, there are found spread over the country, beds of clay, sand and gravel, accompanied with large loose stones, generally of rounded form. The beds of clay, sand and gravel, have been earned and deposited by currents of water running in a direction north and south, generally from the north-west to the south-east, and the loose stones or boulders may have been carried by similar means, or stranded and melted from ice. Sullivan county, at some remote period, was the bed of an arm of the sea, which extended from the Lakes to the Atlantic ocean, by the Delaware and Chesapeake channels. Of course, in the deepest portions, the current would be strongest, and the most earthy matters transported and deposited; and hence it is, that in the valleys we find the drift best marked. The soil of Mamakating valley is altogether of drift, and along its whole course, the conditions of the current which deposited the material may be distinctly traced. Sometimes the sand and gravel are in distinct layers; sometimes mixed, depending upon the amount of sifting action of the tidal current. The direction also varies slightly. Thus at Fraser's sand hill, in Monticello, the direction is N. N. E. and S. S. W. The south-west end of the hill is fine sand, while on the north-west it is rounded gravel, showing the direction of the current to be from north to south.
In Lumberland, the sand and gravel hills along the Delaware have a parallel direction.
The boulders of Rockland and Neversink are chiefly grey sand-rock and conglomerate, the lamina of deposit on the former rendering them easily distinguishable. In Liberty, grey grit boulders are extensively distributed about Parksville, with some red sand-rock and a white conglomerate resembling that of Shawangunk. In Rockland and Liberty, the silicious limestone containing manganese (referred to under the head of Economical Geology,) is met with very commonly. In Thompson, in the northern part, the quartz conglomerate prevails to south of Thompsonville. It covers the surface at Lord's pond, and on the Barrens generally, where grey grits and slate are also interspersed. About Bridgeville, they are mixed in with the sand and gravel hills on the bank of the river.
In the Mamakating valley, the farther north and east generally, the drift-sand is fine. At Phillips Port, it passes into fine sand and gravel, which he along the base of the hills on either side, the direction being generally E. N. E. and W. S. W. The whole west side of the valley is filled up with it. The drift is spread ever the east side of Shawangunk, and is mixed in with the soil derived from the slate.
The boulders of the Mamakating valley are composed of the rocks of the mountain in the neighborhood, mingled with the northern drift.
In this valley, the bones of the mastodon and fossil elephant were found in digging the Delaware & Hudson canal, in a peat bog, between Red Bridge and Wurtsborough.
The whole valley is interesting as showing the effects of drift; its mode of deposit; and the grooving or scratching on the hillsides, caused by the passage over them of moving ice, containing impacted stones. The facts in this connection, communicated to Silliman's Journal, Vol. XXIII., p. 43., by William A. Thompson, of Thompsonville, are interesting. They are as follows:
* * * * * "I have examined this part of the State with considerable care, and have found that in more than fifty different places where I have seen the solid strata, the grooves and furrows appear from an inch to one-fourth of an inch deep, and from one-fourth of an inch to three and four inches wide; and in some cases they run due north, and in every direction from north to twenty-five degrees south of east. I have found them also in the bottoms of cellars, in excavations made in digging wells, and where the earth has been removed by making roads, and in many instances where I have uncovered the solid rock for the purpose of observing the effects of the diluvial action. I have paid some attention to this subject while traveling in the Eastern States, and I could find none of the furrows; but the solid stratum appears to be worn very smooth by attrition, by the motion of some bodies smaller and less solid than those which have produced the distinct traces in this part of the State of New York.
"It may be proper to remark first, that Sullivan county is bounded south and west by the Delaware river; north by Delaware and Ulster counties, and east by Orange; that the county lies on the easterly part of the Alleghany range of mountains, and that the mean altitude of the country is on a level with the highlands below Newburgh---about one thousand five hundred feet above the tide water; that this level is continued westerly through Sullivan county and the State of Pennsylvania, from the Shongham mountain to the Susquehannah river; that a space of above fifty miles wide of this level lies, continuously, in the Alleghany range, until you come to mountains of a great height, on the west side of the Susquehannah; that the depth of the earth above the solid rock gradually and regularly increases from Shongham mountain to the Susquehannah; that the average depth of earth in Sullivan county is not more than twenty-five feet, nor more than thirty-five through the State of Pennsylvania; that the range of the Kattskill mountain bounds the north part of Sullivan; that south of this space of fifty miles the altitude of the mountains considerably increases; in this intermediate space it appears that tops of the ridges had been dilapidated by mighty force, and that the current had pressed easterly, and often times carried large pieces of rock to a considerable distance, say from fifty to two hundred rods, and if the fragments are of very considerable size they always rest on the solid strata. In many instances, sections of the strata were broken out and raised by the violence of the current and left on the tops of the highest hills; I have seen an instance where a rock twenty feet square has been carried half a mile on the level surface of the strata that are covered about three feet with earth, and there left in that position; the violence of the current having ceased to effect its farther removal from its original position.
"The upper strata of the whole section of the country before the deluge, appear to have been composed of a common grey sandstone covering the surface of the rock from twelve to twenty-four inches thick. This seems to have been the last marine formation; it is full of fissures and cracks, being broken into small angular pieces by the first violent surges of the deluge, and now scattered on the surface of the ground.
"The next lower strata are pudding stone, filled with quartz and feldspar and other primitive minerals; its parts are generally water-worn and are from the size of a robin's to that of a hen's egg. The next rock underneath is the old red sandstone, which is universally found in the bottoms of the valleys; on the tops however of the highest hills the red clay slate is universally found, and for eighty or ninety miles west, gives a reddish color to all the soils of the country, and passes southerly through New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
"The valleys in this section of country uniformly run from north to south, are in many instances from ten to twelve hundred feet deep, and are the beds of the large streams. The lesser valleys are covered with pieces of red and grey sandstone of a convenient size for making fences. The most free and feasible land is always found on the tops, and on the eastern sides of the hills, the western sides being uniformly steep and broken. The whole of the earth or soil appears to have been removed from the soil strata at the deluge, and most, if not all the upper strata of sandstone, were then broken up. A small portion of the pudding-stone was also broken up in large square blocks, and occasionally pieces of the old red sandstone were detached from the bottom of the valleys. It is probable that previous to the deluge there was little or no soil on this section of the country, that the hills, valleys and streams were the same previous to the deluge that they are at this time, excepting that the hills were dilapidated and lowered, and the deep valleys were made still deeper by the tremendous cataracts and surges, the water being carried violently over the high ledges and hills and then, in crossing the ridges from west to east, falling ten to twelve hundred feet into the valleys. While contemplating such a scene, our imagination must fall infinitely short of the reality. The single wave that totally destroyed the port town of Lima, or the surge that overwhelmed the Turkish fleet in Candia, comes nearer to the terrific scene than any similar events that are recorded.
"That these large masses of rocks should be broken up and tin-own upon the tops of high hills will appear in no way surprising when we consider what must be the effect of the precipitation of the cataracts into deep valleys and of their subsequent violent reflux over the high hills; a power more than sufficient to raise the large masses of rock that were left on the high grounds in the country.
"That water has the power to carry rocks and other heavy bodies over the tops of mountains, is evinced by the simple fact, that the only place where the millstone is found within two hundred miles, is at Kizerack, on the west side of Shongham mountain, fifteen or twenty miles from Esopus or Kingston, up the Rondout Kill. At this place, all the country or Esopus millstones are sold. Now over a great part of the west side of Shongham mountain, which is composed of the millstone-grit, this rock has been carried to the height of ten or twelve hundred feet, so as to pass over the top of the mountain, and it lies scattered through the country for many miles east, between Newburgh and Shongham mountain, and as there is no other similar stone within two hundred miles, this is conclusive evidence that the violence of the surge carried the rocks over the top of the mountain and left them in the position in which we now see them; some of the stones weigh from three to four tons.
"Professor Eaton, in his geological survey of the Kattskill or Alleghany, says that all the eastern slope of the Alleghany is capped or protected by the millstone-grit, but what he called the millstone-grit, I call the conglomerate, or pudding-stone; both are formed in part of quartz, but in the true millstone-grit, the fine parts are formed by abrasion of the quartz only, while common sand mixed with globular pieces of quartz, forms what he calls the millstone-grit of the Alleghany range.
"I have never been able to find any grooves or furrows, on the west side of the hills and ridges in the county; nothing appears but the traces and breaches where the rocks have been torn up by some violent agent. It very rarely- happens that any traces can be found on the red argillaceous sandstone; it is not sufficiently solid to sustain the force of heavy bodies moving in contact with it, although in some instances the grooves appear for fifteen or twenty feet, and then the strata are rough or broken, but the traces are mostly on the solid pudding-stone, and the common grey sandstone which remained solid and unbroken at the deluge. In those cases where the old red sandstone appears, if the slope or side of the hill faces the north, I have seen three or four instances in which the furrows run in that direction for half a mile, and on meeting a ridge of rocks in the low grounds, the furrows turned due east, and after passing the obstruction, again turned north-east or east. Not a mile from the same place, on descending from the same high ground, the furrows run east, tallying with the face of the hill. On the high lands west of the Shongham, and where there could be no obstruction for seventy or eighty miles, I examined ten or twelve different places in which the furrows were deep and distinct, and found them to rim from ten or twelve degrees north of east, and they continued in the same direction for a considerable distance down the mountain; at no great distance to the south, the furrows tended twenty-five degrees south of east, leading to a low opening in the Shongham mountain, through which the currents of water naturally ran. I have rarely examined the strata below the decomposing effects of frost, without discovering distinct traces of diluvial action. Near the banks of streams, I hardly ever found any such marks, but the solid strata appeared broken and very little altered by attrition. In one place where the earth was removed and where there was no visible obstacle to alter the current of water, the furrows crossed each other, showing that the current took a new direction, after the first furrows were made. About twelve or fourteen miles west of Newburgh, I found the marks on the solid graywacke to run nearly north and south. At Coxsakie, in Greene county, in digging a well and coming to the solid strata, the furrows ran northerly and southerly about in the direction of the mountain. I found that in different places, between thirty and forty miles apart, the furrows ran about ten degrees north of east, especially where the current had a free course for any considerable distance without any obstacle. Where the solid strata remained, but a part has been removed by some powerful agent.
"On examination, I have found, that the corners of rock have been worn off by abrasion from eighteen to twenty-four inches, and that the furrows made on the rocks by the abrasion of hard substances, were very distinct, although the edges of rock were rounded. This fact is of frequent occurrence. On the high land, as well as on the low, the furrows appear near small streams, in every possible situation, showing, without a doubt, that the rivers and hills remain now as they were before the flood. Pieces of the solid strata with the furrows on them, are often found where part of the strata was broken up after the furrows were made, but more of the argillite than of any other rock appears in fragments. It was supposed that these grooves were made by the Indians, before the settlement of the country by the white people. Large fragments of rocks or boulders are found in every part of the country, which fragments, in passing over the surface of the strata, have doubtless made these furrows. Most of them have the corners worn off. There are but few instances in which other stones are found besides the natural strata of the country. In some instances, the stones are composed altogether of sea shells; in two instances, I have found palm leaves and ferns incorporated in the soft gray slate. The soil is much fuller of the small particles of quartz and feldspar than in Orange county, or in the New England states. The disintegration produces a fine sand, upon which there rises an abundant growth of pine and hemlock. For three hundred miles to the westward, it is evident that the soil or earth was raised and increased very much by the deluge, and the mountains and ridges were lowered and robbed of their loose stones, by the same cause. The opening of about fifty miles wide through this part of the Alleghany ridge has probably tended in some measure to control and direct the course of the current of the water. The mastodon appears not to have been a native of this section of the country', but was probably an inhabitant of the champaign countries to the west, and the bodies may have been borne, on this mighty current, through falls and cataracts to the low, basin-like counties of Ulster and Orange, where they were finally deposited. Before the deluge, the counties of Orange and Ulster were probably formed of low sharp ridges of graywacke and limestone, and narrow short valleys running in different directions, with little or scarcely any soil or earth either in the valleys, or on the low sharp ridges, and of course such countries would not be the natural residence of the unwieldy mastodon. The carcasses of these animals were probably in some cases brought whole, in others they were lacerated and torn asunder, or bruised, and the bones broken, before the flesh had decayed and dropped from them. This appears from the place and the condition in which the bones are found. The first skeleton found in Orange was taken out of a swamp near Crawford's on the Newburgh turnpike. This carcass was deposited entire and unbroken m a pond or basin of water, and after the flesh was decayed from the bones, they were spread over an area of about thirty feet square; the outlet of this pond is a firm rock; the pond has been filled up by decayed vegetable substances, and now forms a swamp of about ten acres covered with maple and black ash. In the north part of this swamp, about two years ago, on digging a deep ditch to drain the ground, a skeleton of the mammoth was found; this skeleton I immediately examined very minutely, and found, that the carcass had been deposited whole, but that the jaw-bone, two of the ribs, and a thigh-bone had been broken by some violent force while the carcass was whole; on taking up the bones, this was evident, from every circumstance. Two other parts of skeletons were, some years since, disinterred, one near Ward's Bridge, and the other at Masten's meadow, in Shongham; in both instances, the carcasses had been torn asunder, and the bones had been deposited with the flesh on, and in two or three instances, the bones were fractured. That the bones were deposited with the flesh attached to them, appears from the fact that they were found closely attached to each other, and evidently belonged only to one part of the carcass, and on a diligent search, no part of the other bones could be found within a moderate distance of the spot. If the animal had died where the bones were found, the whole skeleton would have been found at or near the place. Great violence would be necessary to break the bones of such large animals; in the ordinary course of things, no force adequate to that effect, would be exerted; I think it therefore fair reasoning, to say, that at the deluge, they were brought by the westerly currents to the place where they were found; that the carcasses were brought in the first violent surges, and bruised, broken and torn asunder by the tremendous cataracts, created when the currents crossed the high mountains and ridges, and fell into the deep valleys between Shongham mountain, and the level countries at the west; that those carcasses that came whole to the place where they finally rested, arrived after the waters had attained a greater height, and were probably less violent, and of course the bodies were less liable to be beaten and bruised by coming in contact with the rocks. This view of the facts appears to me fairly to account for the condition in which the bones of the mammoth are found.
"I have thus given a desultory sketch of a number of facts relating to the currents of water at the deluge, and their effects on the face of the country; if they should not appear to be new, they may still be received as evidences of diluvial effect in different parts of our country."
There are in various parts of the county, in the troughs12 formed by the wave-like elevations of the strata, drift stones, which lie in the direction of a stream, and which forcibly convey the suggestion that they were dropped by melted glacier ice.
Manganese is an abundant metal in the county. It is formed in the sandstone strata, through which it is disseminated sparingly, and from which it is washed out by water, and by the natural decomposition of the rock. It exists mostly in Fallsburgh and Liberty. In the former place, there is a collection of boulders, which are scattered somewhat plentifully over the northern part of the county.13 These stones are abundant on Mr. Benjamin Kyle's farm, in Fallsburgh, where they have the following composition:
|Alumina and peroxide of iron||13.00|
|Oxide of Manganese||10.00|
The manganese easily separates from the rocks, and collects in low situations as black earthy oxide. It is too impure to be of much commercial value. It is remarkable that, associated with the manganese is a trace of cobalt. This metal exists with the former wherever met in the county, and also in the mixed zinc and lead ore of Shawangunk. The cobalt ore is too sparingly scattered to be recovered profitably as an article of manufacture.
Iron is found united with sulphur as pyrites in the grits of Shawangunk, and in western Neversink in the conglomerates. In contact with vegetable matter, it passes into red oxide, and in this condition is found in Lumberland and Forestburgh, where the pyrites have been washed out, and oxidized.
CLAYS.---Stiff clays are scattered abundantly over the county. Suitable clays for brickmaking are found in Rockland, none of which have been used for twenty years past. In Neversink, along the streams, are beds of heavy plastic clay. On Thomas E. Taylor's and is a very good blue clay. The bed is one foot deep and twenty rods long. A similar clay is met with near Charles C. Decker's land, which, from its great whiteness, is used for whitewashing. A large amount of the subsoil of Neversink is a stiff clay. The same kind is found in Liberty in several places. An ordinary brick clay is met with in Monticello, and in nearly all the swamps in the vicinity. B. F. Willetts, on the Thompsonville road, manufactures merchantable brick from the clay of his farm.
If the clays of Sullivan county were better treated by screening, washing and sifting, previous to being burnt, they might be applied to other domestic purposes; yet the beds, though numerous, are not sufficiently extensive to justify an outlay upon the spot for these purposes. There is an application of clay, however, which brick manufacturers might with safety adopt; that is, the manufacture of draining tiles. A large extent of the country requires to be drained, and there is abundance of clay suitable for the manufacture of tiles.14
SOIL.---All soils are derived from the decomposition of rocks. These rocks may be either at the spot, or at some distance; so that the existence of soil over a rock bottom does not necessarily imply that it is derived from the rock on which it is found, and in considering the value and fertility of land, the sources of the soil must be attended to.
The soils of Sullivan county may be chiefly classed under two heads---
1. Those of the red sandstone or Catskill division.
2. Those of the drift origin.
Under the first are included all those soils derived from the red sandstone series, viz : argillaceous shale, red sandstone-grit, grey grits and shales.
Under the second are comprised those soils which, lying upon either the Catskill or Erie division, yet do not to any extent partake of the materials of the rocks. These soils occupy the lowest sections of the county, and are chiefly confined to Mamakating valley. South of the Shawangunk range, the soil appears to be made up chiefly of decomposed shale, derived from the Hudson river group. It occupies, however, but a small portion of the county's surface.
Among the soils of the Catskill group there are two which have a red color: one derived from a thin bed of argillaceous shale, which occupies an upper portion of the series---the other from a red sand-rock, a gritty stone. These soils differ slightly in their physical qualities; that derived from argillaceous shale being more tenacious clay, and generally more fertile. The soils derived from the sand-rock (grit) are more extensively distributed. They occupy a considerable space in Cochecton, Bethel and Thompson, and west of the Mongaup river. The argillaceous lies mainly between the Mongaup and Neversink rivers. In their chemical character these two classes of soil differ very slightly---not in any important degree. They are very sandy to the feel. Their various tints are due to variable amounts of organic matter present. When freed from this and burnt, the residue treated in muriatic acid and dried, and then examined under the microscope, it is seen to be chiefly made up of fine sandy clay, and a large amount of fine grains of pure white quartz. These grains are rounded. When the sand-rock or shale is treated in the same way, a similar quartz residue is seen; so that there is little doubt of the relations between the rock and the soil here.
The soils of the county, taken as a whole, have a general resemblance in their chemical constitution, as well as their physical texture. They are chiefly light and sandy lands, containing a large amount of silica, sometimes existing as line white quartzose sands; sometimes as gritty red sand, (silicate of iron); while sometimes the iron is not peroxidized, and, though present, does not give the rusty tint; but the peculiar green which some salts of iron possess. The sand in a majority of the soils approaches eighty-six per cent.; the lime is generally below one-half of one per cent.; the soluble saline matters from one to two per cent., with generally a very small amount of phosphoric acid. They possess small quantities of every useful mineral, but no large quantities of any. And this is exactly what could be expected from soils of this origin.
What could grow upon the sandy shores of Long Island or Massachusetts, where the tide rolls over every day, and washes out every trace of soluble matter? If it were diked and drained, what would such a soil be but a red sand, with just so much saline matter as the tide-water, held to the soil by cohesion, retained? And what is an old red sandstone more than this? An ancient sea beach, formed and acted upon as beaches now are, it is almost identical in constitution. Such soils contain but little nutritious matter for plants, and as the parent rock is. slow in decomposition, these elements are but slowly augmented, even though the soil be left uncultivated; but by the usual cropping, where so much is taken off the land and so little returned, the effect is to remove these matters faster than they are supplied; and the result is that the soil becomes permanently impoverished after a few rotations of such farming.
These remarks on sandstone soils are not made with the object of depreciating them. If they have their disadvantages of being less rich in mineral elements, they have the advantage of being more permeable to air and water, and are more easily cultivated. It is yet a question which kind of soil (a sand or clay) a farmer should select. Certainly, within one hundred miles of New York, the sandy land would be preferred. Good tillage and high manuring will make it equal to the best of soils.
Almost the whole of Sullivan county is occupied with sandrocks; and hence the uniformity of the character of the soil. Generally speaking, however, the western slopes of the strata have their soil formed from the rocks below without any change; while on the eastern slopes the soil is mixed with drift to a more or less extent, which, in the majority of instances, improves it.
The only portion of the county where sand-rocks do not exist is in Mamakating valley, where the Helderberg limestones are met with; but they lie so deep, being covered with drift, and being placed so nearly vertical that an edge of the stratum, and not one of its sides, is presented; and thus the rock cannot wear to any extent, or communicate its more valuable element, lime, in any remarkable amount, to the soil.
The pristine character of the strata underneath is no unimportant matter. In the northern and middle part of the county, Mie dip of the strata is not more than 70°, and as the rock is nearly impervious to water, the latter will be very slowly delivered from such a horizontal surface. It collects in the course of the year in the lower layers of the soil, and there it remains until slowly drained off at its lower outlet, or until it is evaporated by the summer sun. The soil is thus undergoing a double injury; its lower stratum is chilled, and vegetation prevented from traveling down; and when the water is raised by capillary action, it cools the soil, and thus retards the vegetation upon the surface. It may thus be seen that a sandy soil, which would naturally drain itself, and whose upper portion is dry because it has done so, may yet be unable, from the hard rock beneath, to drain itself thoroughly. And this is the condition of much of Sullivan county. A large portion of the land, though dry above, is wet below, and although a sand, it requires to be drained, and will, by increased crops, repay the intelligent farmer who adopts this practice.
The elevation of the county limits the period of growth of plants, and prevents the successful cultivation of some cereals. Therefore it is desirable to lengthen the period of growth. Drainage will accomplish this by letting in the hot air of spring. It will give one fortnight more of summer existence to plants. This fortnight would save the corn crop in many years, and this saving alone would repay the expense.
No amount of manuring will sufficiently warm land which has not been drained. It is a waste to add it to wet soils. They are antagonistic.
Subsoiling is only beneficial to dry lands, and should not be practiced on wet soils. Moss, rushes and coarse grass betray a superabundance of moisture lurking in some of the finest soils of the county.
The drift soils are, as has been stated, confined to Mamakating valley, where they attain a considerable thickness, amounting in some places to thirty feet in depth. They also occupy the eastern edge of many of the hills and slopes, where they mingle with the sandstone or slate. These soils have not the redness of the sand-rocks, nor the gritty feeling of the Catskill soils. They have less silicious matters, and more clay than the latter; are somewhat richer in the saline matters, and much richer in lime.
The soils of Morrison, Dill and Holley are examples of drift soils. Although a richer soil per se than the Catskill, it contains no means of sustenance within itself, and will therefore be worn out, as the former.
The drift soils stand intermediate between the Catskill and the Hudson river rock soil in the amount of alumina they contain.
The soils south of the Shawangunk range are of a heavier texture than those north. They are derived from the Hudson slates, which decompose readily, and furnish a good soil, and constantly replenish it. It is less susceptible of exhaustion than either of the former varieties of soil. It is less fine in its texture, and more difficult to work. It partakes somewhat of the character of the soil of Orange county. North of the Shawangunk, the soil is homogeneous; south of it, the clay predominates.
The green and grey grits which underlay Lumberland afford a deep soil. It is remarkably fine in its texture; is readily cultivated, and is a primitive soil. It is comparatively abundant in mineral, and rich in organic matters. It is, to a great extent, drained naturally by the softer character of the shale, and being more elevated in its angle toward the horizon, owing to its proximity to the upheaving force which raised Shawangunk.
This part of the county has as yet been but little from its primitive condition. It will well repay any treatment which will make it cultivated land. Its slope to the east; its position (being several hundred feet below the rest of the county, thereby rendering it more warm and sheltered) recommend it as having a more equable climate than the more elevated land of the central and northern towns.
Alumina and lime are the two deficiencies of the whole county. A substitute may be found for the former in vegetable matter---pond or swamp muck, composted barn-yard manure, or by plowing in clover. Much lime is not suitable to sandy soils. Less should be applied to them than to clays. Small quantities (ten to twenty-five bushels to the acre) will be found efficacious, and less exhausting than large ones, which are washed through a sandy soil, and burn out the vegetable matter too rapidly. Wet soils should be drained before lime is applied. It is not advisable to add caustic lime to slate soils until it has been composted, when it will not leach out so rapidly, and its good effects will be as apparent.
The spent tan which exists so abundantly in the county is an excellent material for composting with lime, and is as good as pond or swamp muck for that purpose. The cereal plants require alkalies and phosphate of lime. The amount of the latter in the natural or virgin soil is very slight. It has been very generally recommended for cereal plants.
The farmers of Sullivan should cultivate root crops extensively; select improved breeds of cattle; raise stock; raise and consume their own hay; stall feed more; send their milk and butter to market, followed by the flesh;15 cultivate the best apples and pears, and make them a staple export. In this way, they will learn for what then- soil is best adapted. In these products this county need not be excelled, as the soil of Sullivan is of that kind which furnishes the best dairies and orchards.
|Hudson river slate||E. side of Shawangunk, on plank road.|
|Shawangunk conglomerate,||" "|
|Green grit||" " on plank road.|
|Ferruginous quartz crystals in grit||" " at county line.|
|Red rock||" " on plank road.|
|Pyritiferous graywacke||" " at county line.|
|Helderberg limestone||Delaware and Hudson canal, lock 37.|
|Rhomboidal calc-spar||" " "|
|Dark slate and shale||Phillips Port, a few rods west.|
|Anthracite coal, impure, shaly||"|
|Dark slate, with fossil vegetation||County line, near Red Bridge.|
|Gray grit||South of Lord's pond.|
|Gray sandstone||Neversink river, Bridgeville.|
|Coarse sand-rock||" "|
|Red sandstone||" "|
|Gray sand-rock||" E. bank, near Wm. Hall's.|
|Red sandstone shale||" " "|
|Bed micaceous sand-rock||Monticello.|
|Red shale||Great Lot 4, Fallsburgh.|
|"||B. Sherwood's, Liberty.|
|Gray sand-rock||" underneath shale.|
|"||O. H. Bush's farm, Fallsburgh.|
|Manganese rock||Kyle's farm, "|
|Black oxide manganese||" "|
|Red sandstone||Mutton Hill, upper bed.|
|Gray sand-rock||" lower bed.|
|Green slate flag-stone||Hill under Presb'n church, Liberty.|
|Steatitic rock||" " between the seams.|
|Red sandstone||Hill east of Brown Settlement.|
|Gray sand-rock, with seam of anthracite||Hill on 3,000 acre tract.|
|Gray sand-rock||Base of hills in Brown Settlement.|
|Red sandstone||Big Flats, Rockland.|
|Limestone boulder||Little Flats, Rockland.|
2 - "Rocks," said Davy, "are generally divided by geologists into two grand divisions, distinguished by the names of primary and secondary. The primary rocks are composed of pure crystalline matter, and contain no fragments of other rocks. The secondary rocks or strata consist only partly of crystalline matter, contain fragments of other rocks or strata, often abound in the remains of vegetables and marine animals, and sometimes contain the remains of land animals. The number of primary rocks which are commonly observed in nature are eight: 1. Granite, composed of quartz, feldspar and mica ; when these are arranged in regular layers in the rocks, it is called gneiss. 2. Micaceous schist, composed of quartz and mica. 3. Sienite, which consists of hornblonde and feldspar. 4. Serpentine, composed of feldspar and resplendent hornblende. 5. Porphyry, which consists of feldspar. 6. Granular marble, or pure carbonate of lime. 7. Chlorite schist, a green or grey substance somewhat analogous to mica and feldspar. 8. Quartzose rock, composed of quartz. The secondary rocks are more numerous than the primary; but twelve varieties include all that are usually found in these islands: 1. Graywacke, which consists of fragments of quartz or chlorite schist. Imbedded in a cement principally composed of feldspar. 2. Silicious sandstone, which is composed of flue quartz, or sand, united by a silicious cement. 3. Limestone, or carbonate of lime, more compact in its texture than in the granular marble, and often abounding in marine oxuvia. 4. Aluminous schist, or shale, consisting of the decomposed materials of different rocks, cemented by a small quantity of ferruginous or silicious matter, and often containing the impressions of vegetables. 5. Calcareous sandstone, which is calcareous sand cemented by calcareous matter. 6. Ironstone, formed of nearly the same materials as aluminous schist or shale, but containing a much larger quantity of oxide of iron. 7. Basalt or whin-stone, which consists of feldspar and hornblende. 8. Bituminous or common coal. 9. Gypsum or sulphate of lime, 10. Rocksalt. 11. Chalk, which usually abounds in the remains of marine animals, and contains horizontal layers of flints. 12. Plum-pudding stone, consisting of pebbles cemented by ferruginous or silicious cement." [Elem. Agri. Chem., p. 192.
3 - A remarkable boulder may be seen on the farm of Joseph H. McLAnghry, in West Settlement, in the town of Thompson. It is egg-shaped (nearly), rests upon the "small end," is about six feet high, five feet in diameter, and weighs at least twenty-five tons. Notwithstanding its great weight, it may be rocked from side to side with a single hand. Some are able to set it in motion with one finger! J. E. Q.
4 - Also in Fallsburgh and Forestburgh. J. E. Q.
5 - If coal should be found in workable quantities in New York, it will undoubtedly be in the high mountain region in the north part of Sullivan, the east part, of Delaware, west and northwest parts of Ulster, and the central and south parts of Greene counties, above the upper mass of red rocks from one hundred to five hundred feet.
[Mather's Reports, p. 313.
6 - Alfred B. Street describes this locality very accurately as follows:
"A rude wild place. The long and narrow ridge
Ends in a rugged precipice of rock;
A slope between it and a shallow pond
Bristling with withered hemlock and with stumps
O'erspotted. A faint narrow road winds by.
Hero to the village-there, amidst the woods
Bordered by laurel-thickets, to a glade.
A jutting of the rock has formed a nook
Along its base. A cedar's giant trunk.
Dead, barkless, and stained in spots by fire.
From the high bank above has pitched, and lies
With base upon the summit of the rock.
And fractured head upon the bank beneath,
A slanting ladder: and within a cleft
O'er a huge bulge upon the rugged wall.
Are birchen bushes, like green hanging plumes
In a gigantic helmet. At one spot
Within the nook, the back is hollowed out.
Shaping a scat. Naught is there to declare
Whether by freak of Nature or by man
This shelf was scoop'd. Upon the fissured sides,
And the smooth slate that, laid in scales, compose
This little terrace, names and letters rude
Are graven. With the massive roof above
Spotted by lichen-scales, and looking out
On the quiet pond, with its deep background woods,
Here have I sat in summer afternoons
Watching the long slim shadows of the trees
Slow creeping towards me, the rich halo'd sun
Melting the outlines of the forest tops.
Where it impended. In the hours of Spring,
When the damp softened atmosphere proclaim'd
The coming rain to beat the frost from out
The torpid earth, so that its lap might smile
Again with flowers, here also have I sat
And listened to the voices of the pond.
Those sweet prophecies of warmer hours.
Ringing like myriad tiny silver bells
Cheerfully on the ear." * * *
Big Rock, as this singular precipice is called, was once a favorite resort of the inhabitants of Monticello. It is now the terminus of the Monticello and Port Jervis Railroad. J E Q.
7 - They are also found in Fallsburg, Forrestburgh, Lumberland, Tusten and Highland.
8 - A bed of this slate is found at Pleasant Lake, in the town of Thompson. It is from fifteen to thirty feet thick, and is overlaid by red shale and grey sand-rock. It is believed that it will afford good roofing slate. J. E. Q.
9 - There is a tradition that lead ore also exists in the old town of Lumberland. Jacob Quick, a gentleman of undoubted respectability, (now dead), informed the writer that Tom Quick, about the year 1794, told him that, while setting a trap, he found it necessary to remove some earth from a spring, and came upon a tine vein of ere; and that he had since obtained the greater part of his lead from this source, as the discoverer could expect to reap but little more advantage from it, he promised to show our informant the locality, and appointed ft day for that purpose; but before the appointed time, the old man was taken sick, and was never afterwards able to go from the house in which he lived.
The location of this mine corresponds almost exactly with that of the lead mine since discovered near Ellenville. [See Mather's Report, page 358.
10 - The pioneers of Mamakating knew that the Indians obtained their lead not far from Wurtsborough. The natives always refused to show where it was to be found; and generally became angry whenever the mine was alluded to. Even the white men who were in part or wholly domesticated with them, could not get any information from them in regard to it. At last, a white hunter named Miller dogged them, at the risk of his life, until he ascertained that they got the ore near a certain clump of hemlock trees, which were the only ones of the kind within a considerable distance. He heard them at work; but did not dare to go to the locality until a considerable time afterwards, when he was sure the savages were not in the vicinity. Miller intended to show the mine to a man named Daniel Gonsalus. He told him the lead was on the mountain, near the hemlocks, pointed them out from the valley, and promised to go with him to the mine after he had paid a visit to his friends in Orange county. He went, but died at Montgomery during his visit there. Gonsalus never attempted to profit by what Miller had told him. In 1813, however, he communicated what he knew of" the matter to Daniel Niven, who, in 1817, hired a man named Mudge to assist him in searching for the lead, and they succeeded in finding it. Specimens of the ore wore sent to Doctor Mitchell, and others, chemists. Mr. Niven made a confidant of Moses Stanton, a resident of Wurtsborough, who, as well as Mudge, insisted upon sharing the profits which were expected to be made from the discovery, and the three became partners. Not long after, those who had analyzed the ore endeavored to purchase the mine of Mr. Niven and his associates. But the discoverers found a difficulty in the way of selling. The land did not belong to them, and they could not ascertain who did own it. They could not buy the mine nor sell it. So the matter rested until 1836---Mr. Niven and his partners mutually agreeing not to make any disclosure concerning the matter, unless with the consent of all three. Their secret, however, was revealed after it had been kept for almost twenty years. Stanton had an awkward habit of dreaming while asleep, and one night, while his eyelids were closed, spoke of the mine and its location so distinctly that his son, who was present, had no difficulty in finding it. Young Stanton was so fortunate as to ascertain who some of the owners were, and to make five hundred dollars by keeping his ears open, "while his father was "dreaming aloud!"
J. E. Q.
11 - The subsequent history of this mine fully verifies this prediction. J. E. Q.
12 - The basin or trough-form in which the strata are deposited, renders it not improbable that brine might be obtained by deep boring in the valley of the Delaware, between
Deposit and Narrowsburgh; in the valleys of both branches of the Delaware, and the lower parts of their main tributaries, and possibly in the valley of the Susquehanna about Sidney, in that of the Mongaup, and of the Neversink above Cuddebackville.
The rocks between the Susquehanna and the Catskill mountain dip slightly toward the valley of the Delaware, and in Schoharie county, they dip southward, giving a basin-shaped form to the stratification. It is a fact that has been forced upon my attention by extended observation, that many of our salt-well districts in the United States are in depressions of the strata; in other words they are within the undulations, as troughs or basins in the strata. [Ibid.
13 - One of the hills on the farm of Doctor Kyle is mainly formed of manganese rock.
14 - The State Surveyor, Mr. Mather, noticed considerable deposits of peat in the county, an article which may ultimately become of some value; he says that there are fifty acres of it on the summit between Wurtsborough and Red Bridge; five hundred acres south of Monticello, in the valley of Three Brooks; one thousand acres between Wurtsborough and Cuddebackville; about one hundred and twenty-five acres in various other places in the vicinity of Monticello. It probably exists in several other localities in the county. Many of our ponds if drained, would afford an inexhaustible supply of it.
Very valuable beds of clay and ochre have been discovered at Oakland, and on the line of the Monticello and Port Jervis R. R.
A valuable deposit of clay also exists on the farm of Charles Barnum in Thompson.
15 - All of the country containing the Catskill division of rocks is mountainous, but it lies in heavy swells of land, rarely precipitous, except where streams have cut deep gorges and ravines, and on the eastern and southern flanks of the mountains, where they bound the Hudson and Mamakating valleys. Nearly all the more elevated swells of land are capable of tillage to their summits. * * * The soil is porous enough not to wash, and springs of limpid pure cold water abound. The surface is stony and gravelly, but is well adapted to grass, oats, potatoes and barley. Wheat succeeds well for a few years after the land is cleared, as long as the roots of trees and bushes remain to keep the soil light; but after that time, the soil heaves by the frost, and the wheat is winter-killed. The county is admirably adapted for grazing, both for cattle and sheep, and the fine sweet grass and cold springs offer as great facilities for making excellent butter as the world affords. A large proportion of the butter sold under the name of Goshen butter, which is celebrated for its superior qualities, is made in the mountain region of Delaware, Sullivan, Ulster and Greene counties.
If you have any suggestions, please e-mail
Saturday, 26-May-2018 20:01:49 PDT
Thanks for Stopping By!
Volunteer / Subm Page       Query front end       NYGenWeb page