The opening formed at the junction of the two streams is probably three miles in diameter, and of nearly circular shape. The mountains on the opposite side and toward the head of the East Fork are composed wholly of lava, heaped up in every imaginable form. In the center of the valley rises a table mountain, perpendicular on its sides, and capped with a horizontal stratum of trap rock about fifty feet in depth; standing isolated in the surrounding level valley, and between the channels of the two streams, it has a very singular and remarkable appearance. The channel of the Yellowstone, where it enters this valley, cuts to the depth of 300 feet, through a bed of gypsum, overlaid by a stratum of trap, the columns of which show great perfection of crystallization. The valley itself abounds in springs, small lakes, and marshes. The slopes and ravines to the right and beyond the Yellowstone are heavily timbered with pine, affording a strong contrast to the bare rocks on the opposite side of East Fork.

Descending from the plateau through a steep ravine into the valley, and skirting for a distance of two miles a swampy flat, we came to the first warm spring found on the route. This spring is on the right of the trail, and of small size; temperature, milk-warm, and highly impregnated with sulphur. Passing thence, the trail leads over a spur of the mountain coming in from the right, and through a deep ravine, crossing Warm Spring Creek, where we camped for the night, in company with the two hunters aforementioned. The remainder of the party did not arrive until the next day. We passed, a mile before going into camp,
near a small lake, the "wickey ups" of fifteen lodges of Crows, the Indians whose trails we had been following across the plateau. Distance traveled 18 miles.

Sixth day -- August 27. -- Barometer, 23.70; thermometer, morning, 46; elevation, 6,546 feet. We remained in camp at Hot Sprint Creek awaiting the arrival of the rest of the party. In the morning I rode down to the confluence of the two rivers and found the East Fork to be a smaller stream that Gardiner's River. This valley showed evidence of diminished volcanic action, calcareous mounds being frequently seen, which had originated in the action of hot springs, the waters of which had now ceased to flow. The valley was full of drift, and numerous prospect holes indicated the enterprise of the miners in penetrating these unknown regions thus far. At the mouth of Hot Spring Creek we found a system of sulphurous and mineral springs distributed for a distance of two miles in the bottom of the deep cañon through which the river runs. These springs were invariably small, several of them having the temperature at the boiling point; many of them were highly sulphurous, having in fact more sulphur than they could carry in solution, and depositing it in yellowish beds along their courses. Several of them were impregnated with iron, alum, and other substances. The sulphurous fumes could be detected at the distances of half a mile. The gypsum walls of the cañon were very remarkable, the excess of sulphur in the combination over the proportion of limestone giving a brilliant yellow color to the rocks in many places. The formation was usually very friable, falling with a natural slope to the edge of the stream, but occasionally masses of a more solid nature projected from the wall in curious shapes of towers, minarets, &c., while above and over all the solid ledge of trap, with its dark and well-defined columns, made a rich and beautiful border inclosing the pictured rocks below.

Standing on the margin of the stream, a few hundred yards further down, is Column Rock, a huge pile of alternate layers of basalt and amygdaloid cement, several hundred feet in height, surmounted by a 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