YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK.
during the past year discovered, near the head of
the Snake River, a basin which he believed, from casual observation, to
contain nearly as many springs and geysers as the Lower Geyser Basin on
the Fire Hole.
A party of tourists from Bozeman
also discovered a similar basin between Mammoth Springs at Gardiner's River
and the Fire Hole Basin. The whole country is full of interest, and presents
to tourists a rare opportunity for exploration, and to scientific men a
wonderful field of investigation.
The destructive and reproductive
agencies at work in all this region are not the least marvelous of its
phenomena. The two years which have elapsed since the first discoveries
in this region have wrought marked changes. In that period old geysers
have ceased to act, and new ones have been produced; small geysers have
increased in size, while large ones have decreased their volume. The same
may be said of the springs. Many that were clear two years ago are now
muddy caldrons, their contents boiled down to a thick paste. The mud volcano,
which on my first visit was in active operation, had entirely disappeared,
and when Professor Hayden visited the spot the following year, its only
remains were hillocks of mud and a shapeless hole thrice the former size
of the crater. Large pine trees, 125 feet high, which grew near the edge
of the crater in 1870, had been completely in engulfed by it at the time
of its destruction, before the summer of 1871.
The reproductive power of
the waters of the Mammoth Springs at Gardiner's River is very wonderful.
This is the only group of calcareous springs yet discovered in the park.
All the others are siliceous. The different pools formed by water of these
springs in the descent of the mountain, the frozen cascades, the corrugated
borders, all most exquisitely and delicately formed of lime deposit, may,
if broken up for specimens, or worn out by age, or abandoned by the falling
water, all be speedily restored to their beauty by exposing for a few days
the injured parts to the action of the waters.
The whole hill-side may by
this process be improved and made to assume any form, at the pleasure of
the most fantastic fancy. During the past summer little ornaments of wire,
baskets, and other objects, wound with cloth, have by suspension in these
springs, for a period of eight or ten days, been taken therefrom the most
beautifully incrusted with a coating of crystallized lime, pure as alabaster,
of half an inch in thickness. At any point, by penetrating the crusted
surface made by the flowing of these springs, a vapor bath is easily obtained.
I cannot close this report
without returning my thanks to Colonel Baker, commandant at Fort Ellis,
and to Captain Putnam, commandant at Fort Hall, for their kindness in furnishing
camp equipage and guns for myself and my assistant, and for many other
attentions; to Professor Hayden, for transportation and for unnumbered
personal kindnesses; and to Captain Stevenson and the members of the United
States geological survey, for the assistance rendered by them upon all
occasions, and to the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroad Companies
for the courtesy of free passes for myself and assistant. Their liberality
will not soon be forgotten. My assistant, Mr. Charles L. Spencer, will
also accept this public tender of my thanks for the able services he rendered
on a trip which was both protracted and toilsome, and afforded him no other
recompense for his assistance than an opportunity to see the wonders of
I desire, also, to add my
testimony to that of Dr. Hayden, in praise of the accuracy and artistic
skill with which that accomplished artist, Thomas Moran, has depicted the
grandeur, both in general appearance Go
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