Page images

the eye a bold view of mountain scenery. Inclining to the east the soil is naturally fertile, warm and productive. For the purposes of grazing particularly, it is of more than ordinary richness.

TREES.-Oak, chestnut, and sugar maple, are found most abundant in the south part of the town and on the hills. White oak and walnut begio to make their appearance, but at present exist in very small proportions. Beech, white maple, birch, hemlock, hackmantack, spruce, and pine, constitute the common growth of the soil. Elm, basswood and ash are scattered through the forest, but not in great numbers. The single and double spruce and the silver fir or balsam tree are found in the low lands and on the margins of small streams. The giant of the woods, however, in this as in all other parts of the country, is the pine. In the early settlement of the town this was by far the most numerous and abundant member of the forest. It has been for many years, and still continues to be a productive source of wealth. Demand for it, as a material for building, increases with the advance of population. The forests are yet comparatively extensive, but are rapidly disappearing before the axe of industry. The time is not far distant when the majestic pine, like the red men who reclined beneath its musical branches, will be removed from its rightful soil to give place to intruding strangers; for whenever this is cut off a thristy growth of beech, birch, maple, &c. immediately succeed.

The stupendous height to which the mature pine attains is remarkable. Mr. Williams in his history of Vermont mentions one of two hundred and forty seven feet, but observes that is not so great as might be found. Although it might be difficult, and, perhaps, impossible, to find one of the dimension given above in this town, yet many have been measured whose length exceeded two hundred feet.

MINERALS.—This town affords little interest to the mineralogist. The number of specimens found is not great, and these are not remarkable either for variety or beauty. Bog iron ore, sulphuret of iron, and yellow earth or ochre, are most deserving of notice. The iast of these is found in considerable abundance at the north part of the town, on the west bank of Otter river. The process of cleansing and preparing it for domestic purposes has heretofore been followed, but of late has been abandoned. The extent to which iron abounds is doubtful. Appearances indicate, however, its existence in considerable quantities. Mine Hill in the south part of the town yields sulphuret of iron in great plenty. It is imbedded in a loose .

granite, and with some care beautiful specimens may be procured. Bag ore is found in the crevices or interstices of the rock, and it is not improbable that at some future day rich and valuable beds may be disclosed. The water issuing from the sides of the hill is highly chalybeate in taste, and is thought by some to possess medicinal properties in an eminent degree. No analysis has yet been had. It has been successfully employed in some cutaneous complaints, and little doubt is entertained, that could the virtues of the water be properly fortified by some of the luxuries of life, as at Lebanon, Saratoga, and elsewhere, the springs of Mine Hill, which now flow idle and unemployed, would be sought after with eagerness and avidity by afflicted and disordered human nature.

CURIOSITIES.-The cavern discovered on Mine Hill in the early part of the autumn of 1824, has been the subject of much speculation. Conjecture supplies the place of records and its origin is involved in much doubt and uncertainty. That it was wrought in the days of a comparatively remote antiquity is evident from appearances about its mouth. It has ever been a common report that there was an excavation somewhere in the hill, but in what particular place, was unknown until the recent disclosure. The entrance to it is about one third of the way from the bottom to the top of the bold rock rising abovc it. A trench or ditch was first excavated, which in the deepest place may be twelve feet; at the end of this commences the shaft. It penetrates the solid rock in a horizontal direction fifty seven feet and a half. The height and breadth of it will average four and a half or five feet square. Its arched roof bears the marks of the drill, and the quantity of rock thrown out affords ample testimony of the industry and perseverance of those who wrought it. At the foot of the hill, a short distance from the commencement of the ditch, is the well, and near by, the remains of the cellar, for the accommodation of the miners in the prosecution of their work. These are yet in a tolerably entire and perfect state.

The fragments of rock brought from the excavation do not give the slightest indication of the presence of ore. The granite is interspersed with black mica, and is imperfectly stratified. The Miners were induced to commence their operations undoubtedly at this place in preference to any other, from the appearance of the rock immediately over the excavation. It rises perpendicularly forty or fifty feet, and presents a surface of bright yellow color. This, to persons unacquainted with the business of mining, or the science of

mineralogy, would easily lead to the conclusion that precious ore most be concealed within the bowels of the hill; but this originates from the decomposition of the sulphuret of iron lying on the ledge above several rods distant. The water thus impregnated, during the wet season, washes the rock, and imparts to it a deep yellow.

The entrance to the excavation was concealed until recently re-discovered. Its existence was apparent, however, from the marks of the trench or ditch leading to it, and the mass of rock thrown out. Stones and earth had fallen in and entirely bid its mouth. A tree, whose layers or concentric circles denoted the age of upwards of seventy years, had sprung up directly in the trench, where the entrance to the cave began, and thus concealed it from sight.

The probable time when this excavation was made, is uncertaio. Mr. Whitney in his history of the County of Worcester, says the hill was supposed to abound in good iron ore, and hence its Dame; and that it was rich in other more valuable mines and minerals; that it was granted to Capt. Andrew Robinson, of Glocester, prior to the original grant of the township. The first meeting of the proprietors was on the 29th of October, 1733, at Concord. In his account of Hubbardston the same author says, “there is a hill in the Dorth part of it (Hubbardston) extending into Templeton, where a number of gentlemen from Boston and other places wrought near fifty years ago.* They dug several rods into the hill in quest of a silver mine ; but whether it answered their expectations or not, was not divulged. A war commencing, put a stop to their pursuit, and it never since has been resumed.”

It is not known from what source the venerable historian of our county derived his information respecting this singular excavation. It is believed that the records both of Templeton and Hubbardston are silent in reference to the facts stated above. It is probable persons were living at the time he gave the account who were acquainted with the adventurers.

The success attending the adventurers from Europe to South America induced the belief that this part of the Continent was equally rich in precious ores. The legislature of the Colony of Connecticut, as early as 1712, countenanced and encouraged the Search for mines.f Acts were passed affording relief to those engaged in working them, and the miners were exempted from military duty. The copper veins at Simsbury and Wallingford were about this time first opened, and as the Legislature indulged the hope of acquiring speedy wealth to the Colony by this easy mode, it is not remarkable that the spirit of mining should influence ali classes of the community. We see accordingly that excavations at an unknown period have been made in almost every part of the country, and it is more than probable that most of them were began a few years subsequent to the above date. The ignorant miners trusting too much to the guidance of divining rods, were led into laborious and unprofitable undertakings. Strengthened in the belief, from the sobriety with which the Legislature had engaged in the pleasing speculation, that unbounded wealth would be their reward, they plunged into the wilderness in pursuit of hid treasures. Cre. dulity magnified the mysterious virtues of the divining rod, and the fool bardy adventurers encountered the terrors of the untrodden forest, and surmounted every obstacle in the prosecution of their wild and delusive schemes.

* The History of the County was published in 1793. + Trumbull's History of Connecticut, Vol. II. 48.

Such must have been the character of those who wrought Mine Hill. The object of their pursuit was undoubtedly silver; though there is nothing indicated in the rock or in its vicinity that would warrant or justify the labor and expense bestowed in its excavation. It is evident that it was first opened before the meeting of the first proprietors of the town in 1733; for it appears that it was in the possession of Mr. Robinson prior to this date ; and evidence of the existence of precious metals in the hill, no doubt, resulted from having commenced digging. It appears, however, from the testimony of Mr. Whitney, that it was not finally abandoned until the commencement of the war, which was in 1744. The frontier set. tlements became alarmed by the suspicious conduct of the Indians as early as 1740, and from this circumstance it is reasonable to conclude that the mine was not wrought subsequent to this period.

It may not be improper to add, that an opinion is entertained by many that there is still another excavation, not yet disclosed.Drill marks appear in the rock where a shaft was intended to be sunk; but for some reason was abandoned. This is only a few feet above the one already described. This opinion is gathered from tradition,

[ocr errors]




BY DR. BREWSTER. WHEN we look at the surface of the moon with a good telescope, we find that its appearance is wonderfully diversified. Besides the large dark spots, which are visible to the naked eye, we perceive extensive valleys, and long ridges of highly elevated mountains, projecting their shadows on the plains below. Single mountains occasionally rise to a great height, while hollows, more than three miles deep, and almost exactly circular, are excavated in the plains. The margiu of these circular cavities is often elevated a little above the general level, and a high eminence rises in the centre of the cavity. When the moon approaches to her opposition with the sun, the elevations and depressions upon her surface in a great measure disappear, while her disc is marked with a number of brilliant points, and permanent radiations. “It is impossible to imitate,” says Mr. Leslie, “the lunar surface, with all its irregular

distribution of light and shade, by a very simple experiment. In· troduce a bit of phosphorus into a glass ball of two or three inches

in diameter, and, having heated it to catch fire, keep turning the ball round, till half the inner surface being covered with melted phosphorus, the inflamation has ceased. There is left a wbitish crust, or lining, which, in a dark place, will shine for some considerable time. Broad spaces will assume by degrees an obscure aspect, while circular spots, frequently interspersed, will yet glow with a vivid lustre."

Astronomers have not been content with merely inspecting the surface of the moon, they have even attempted to measure the height of the mountains, and the depth of her cavities; and though on this point there is a difference of opinion, greater than might have been expected, the results are still highly curious and interesting.

Dr. Herschel measured several of the lunar mountains with great care, and found that their height had been greatly over-rated by preceding astronomers. With the exception of a few, it appears that the general height of the mountains does not exceed half a mile.

It may be obserred with the aid of a common telescope, that the lunar surface is not only diversified with rocks and cavities, but that some parts of it are distinguished from others by their superi

« PreviousContinue »