Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

OR Savage Mountain, as it is called in the books, is, as I said before, not so much of a mountain after all, compared with some of the great Alleghany ridges. Still it is about twenty-five hundred feet above the level of the sea. It is ascendable on horseback to the very top, on a tolerably good road, which is twice a-day traversed by mule teams to bring down loads of fire-clay from the summit. This road extends, I believe, quite over the mountain, and when you get on the other side you are in Pennsylvania. It is covered for the most part with a thick growth of all sorts of trees and shrubs, which look wilder at a distance than when you approach them. There is, in fact, nothing very savage about it; certainly nothing more so than the rest of the region for miles around. One who travels much in America sees so many such districts that it requires pretty tall hills, or very picturesque spots indeed, to rivet attention for any great length of time. Think of it! One may ride on a rail-road, the Erie for example, hundreds of miles through an almost uninhabited country; a country where, if you should chance to be dropped by the way, it would seem as if you would literally have

NOTHING to eat except bear's meat,
And nothing to drivk at all:

as the fireman on the Erie Rail-Road sung when, for the first time, he went over it in a solitary locomotive. Think of the Adirondack wilderness in the State of New-York, which Headley describes as scarcely ever having been explored, although as large as the State of Connecticut! Or take a ride in the stage across the mountains over the National Road, (they are making a rail-road there now,) if you would realize the extent of wilderness in even the most civilized portion of the New World. Think how the iron-horse is gradually working its way to apparently the most inaccessible spots, and carrying with it the overflowing population of Europe, filling up the habitable places, and developing the hidden resources of earth, tunnelling the mountains and bridging the valleys and rivers, making the desert to rejoice and blossom as the rose. I never ride on a rail without indulging in some of these poetical fancies; and they crowd upon me still more when standing on the Savage Mountain and looking over the dense foliage of the valley, so thick that it seems as if you could walk upon

Here and there are cultivated spots, which, though of many acres extent, look like small affairs. The iron-village, with the store prominent above all, and near it the tall chimneys of the works,' occupy another little

space, and off there above the trees the moving smoke denotes the approach of the locomotive. There is the out-crop

ware.

of an old iron mine on one side of the place where we stand; on the other side they are at work with pick-axe and spade getting out the bluish white clay. It is as hard as a stone, and you wonder how they ever came to think of grinding it up to make brick and pottery

The Pennsylvania side of the mountain is said to be much more savage and inaccessible. There are a few saw-mills there for cutting out the timber, and the people live in the most out of-the-way places, and in the most outlandish manner. Many of them know little of this world and less of the next, and live and die like the Dutchmen of New-Jersey, with a profound abhorrence of all new inventions for farming and all schools and other sources of taxation. They are content with pork and cabbage, potatoes and whiskey, and now and then a haunch of venison. They are shrewd at a bargain and think a man who gets money, no matter how, is a good fellow. Such is the character given me by a Gothamite who has been long sojourning there and perhaps judges too much by contrast with city life. Such people, however, are by no means uncominon in every state ; and when he mentioned their indifference for churches, I could not help thinking of that strange people who live on the Isle of Shoals, not far from Hampton beach. Some zealous Christians built them a church, and sent over a clergyman to preach to them. A large congregation was gathered by the novelty of the thing; but when the services were over, the old man who kept the keys, and officiated as sexton, instead of thanking the minister for the word' thus given without money

and without price, demanded five dollars for the use of the church, and his (the sexton's) sacrifice in leaving his fishing to come there! The minis. ter

gave them up as a hopeless set.

I am no great hand at climbing precipitous mountains simply for the sake of saying I have accomplished the feat, as many do who visit the White Hills in New Hampshire. They tire and strain themselves almost to death in clinging to the saddle or footing it up steep rocky pathways, and become bespattered from head to foot with mud, simply for the sake of being able to say that they have stood on Mount Washington and looked upon nothing but clouds and mist. That one who has science and taste enough to note the different degrees of temperature and the nature of the formations should fancy it I can imagine, but I had no patience when I saw a company of boarding-school girls come down from the mountains nearly dead with an exertion to which they were so little accustomed.

But when one can go up without an unreasonable degree of trouble and peril

, it is always well to climb to those points where you can overlook the country round and take in the whole at one view. No one can be said to have seen the Connecticut River who has not been to the top of Mount Holyoke. I do n't mean to say that the view from Mount Savage is to be compared with that, but from no point can a better landscape of a wild country just opening to the miner be obtained with less trouble.

So much for Mount Savage, or rather for what occurred to me as I rode up and back one day before dinner, alongside of my friend's eldest son, who expatiated on the scenery, the comparative speed of our nags, and the quantity of sugar he should secure by tapping the large maple-trees in the spring of the year.

There are two shafts in the side of the mountain, one for coal and the other for iron. If they go on working them they will one day come out on the other side, forming complete tunnels. Neither vein is as thick as that at Frostburg, but they make the passages about five feet square. In the iron tunnel they passed through a vein for some time without knowing it, such earthy shapes does the ore

assume.

We returned through Rhododendron Alley, so named from the number of plants of that beautiful flower which line the sides. An English botanist has promised to give them a long paragraph in his forthcoming book.

In the evening we had a visit from our minister and the draughtsman of the company, who is the beau of Mount Savage and of all other places where he appears. He is a perfectMother Carey's chicken ;' his presence always portending a storm on female hearts.

We had • Old Uncle Ned,' and divers other approved negro melodies, we had story-telling and flirtation, and other innocent amusements, until the clock tolled the hour of retiring,' and the parson and the draughtsman, who is one of his vestrymen, started down the hill with lamps in their hands and cigars in their mouths.

THE MINERS' SABBATI.

No

Now that the iron manufacture is suspended, nine-tenths of those who live in this region are, in one way or another, connected with the mines, and to them the Sabbath is indeed a day of rest. squeaking of the brakes is heard on the tram-road, no puff of the locomotive on the wide track; the horses and mules are quietly standing in their stalls, licking up the last oat of their morning's allowance, clearing the racks of the less dainty dish of bay, or, having disposed of all, are poking their noses in every corner, and expressively looking round in expectation of having something else to do. And now the interior of every workman's house at the Savage village, at the Maryland mines and at Frostburg, presents a busy scene; such washing and scouring and rubbing and scrubbing with soap and hot water and hard hands to get off the week's accumulation of coal. dust and soot! And then the donning of clean shirts, white or check pantaloons, gay neck-kerchiefs, and cloth coats with metal buttons, or the more seasonable brown linen wrapper, all contribute to effect such a metamorphosis, that you will scarcely know men whom you have met and conversed with every day for a week past.

A large proportion saunter up Church-Hill, and on a half mile farther to the Roman Catholic church, a large brick edifice, with the priest's house adjoining, which is a very prominent object as you look from any of the neighboring hills. The Welshmen have their hall in the village, where they listen to prayer and preaching in that

« PreviousContinue »