edges a deep fringe of rock, the points of which finally meet across the openings of the craters, forming a sort of sieve, which finally closes entirely, forcing the waters to break out in some other place. Numbers of these self-extinguished craters are seen scattered along both banks of the stream, having now become cones of solid rock. Most of the waters are clear, and the deposits are usually calcareous, but we found a few springs of water resembling ink, for which the deposit was a black hard rock, composed largely of silica, and extremely flinty, shattering the blades of our hatchets, and giving forth showers of sparks when struck by them. The valley here descended rapidly, and we soon saw in front dense columns of steam rising above the hills. After traveling two miles among these springs of various kinds, and through several bogs on the slopes, we came suddenly upon an open rolling valley of irregular shape, about two miles in width and three in length. This valley is known in the wretched nomenclature of this region as the Firehole, and contains phenomena of thermal springs unparalleled upon the surface of the globe. Crossing the river we moved down to a central point of the valley, and camped in a little grove of pine timber near the margin of a small marshy lake, around which were to be seen numerous fresh signs of buffalo, driven out by the noise of our hasty intrusion. Distance 6 miles.

Barometer, 22.70; thermometer, 40°; elevation, 6,626 feet.

The valley is of triangular shape, with an obtuse angle on the south side of the river, which runs parallel with its longer side, and about three hundred yards from the foot of the range. At the apex of the obtuse angle a stream 50 feet wide comes in from the south, joining the main river in the midst of the valley, below its central point. The mountain ridges on all sides are 1,500 feet in height, composed of dark lava, in solid ledges, are heavily wooded, and very steep. Small groves of timber also cover the highest points of the valley, which is a succession of ridges, and of rounded knolls capped by springs, the intervening depressions being rendered marshy by the overflow of their waters. The whole surface of the basin, to an unknown depth, is a calcareous bed, deposited from the springs. Near the head of the valley, immediately after crossing to the south side of the river, we came to one of the geysers, which was at the time throwing water, with a loud hissing sound, to the height of 125 feet. In a few minutes the eruption ceased, and we were enabled to approach the crater. This had originally been a crack or fissure in the calcareous ledge, the seam of which could be traced by minute vents a distance of 60 feet, but was now closed up by deposits from the water to an opening 7 feet long by 3 feet wide in the center, from which the steam escaped with a loud, rushing sound.  The hillock formed by the spring is 40 feet in height, and its base covers about four acres. Near the crater, and as far as its irruptive waters reach, the character of the deposit is very peculiar. Close around the opening are built up walls, 8 feet in height, of spherical nodules, from 6 inches to 3 feet in diameter. These, in turn, are covered on the surface with minute globules of calcareous stalagmite, incrusted with a thin glazing of silica. The rock, at a distance, appears the color of ashes of roses, but near at hand shows a metallic gray, with pink and yellow margins of the utmost delicacy. Being constantly wet, the colors are brilliant beyond description. Sloping gently from this rim of the crater in every direction, the rocks are full of cavities, in successive terraces, forming little pools, with margins of silica the color of silver, the cavities being irregular shape, constantly full of hot water, and precipitating delicate coral-like beads of a bright saffron. These cavities are also fringed with rock around the edges, in  Go to next page

Go back to Yellowstone Historical Almanac
Go back to Yellowstone History Guide
Go back to The Magic of Yellowstone front page
Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10
Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20
Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30
Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40