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History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania
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Topography and Geology of Tioga County.
Tioga County is bounded on the north by Steuben, in the State of New York; on the east by Bradford; on the south by Lycoming and Clinton; on the west by Potter; its north line is 34½ miles long; its south line, 33¼; its east line, 28¼; its southeast line along Lycoming Creek, 5. Area, 1,125 square miles-just more than the State of Rhode Island.
The mean annual rainfall is 40 inches; the mean summer temperature, 63 degrees Fahrenheit; the mean winter temperature, 23 degrees Fahrenheit. The climate is therefore a cold one, which results from its elevation, but more from its geographical position, being on the north slope of the Allegheny backbone, where cold, dry northwest winds prevail in winter, carrying the mercury at times down to 25 or 30 degrees below zero. Under such conditions the peach will not thrive, except in sheltered locations among the hills.
The mean altitude above tide water is about 1,500 feet; lowest point in the county, 820 feet; highest point, about 2,300 feet. Lawrenceville above tide, 1,006 feet; Nelson, 1,186 feet; Elkland, 1,142 feet; Somers Lane, 1,018 feet; Tioga Junction, 1,021 feet; Summit, east of the Junction, 1,593 feet; Trowbridge, 1,440 feet; Millerton, 1,246 feet; State Line, 1,092 feet; Mitchell’s Creek, 1,022 feet; Tioga, 1,042 feet; Mill Creek, 1,077 feet; Lamb’s Creek, 1,111 feet; Mansfield, 1,140 feet; Canoe Camp, 1,163 feet; Covington, 1,208 feet; Blossburg, 1,348 feet; Morris Run, 1,678 feet; Arnot, 1,682 feet; Fall Brook, 1,842 feet; Holiday, 1,151 feet; Middlebury, 1,178 feet; Niles Valley, 1,192 feet; Wellsboro, 1,319 feet; Summit near Antrim, 1,862 feet; Antrim, 1,672 feet; Roaring Branch, 940 feet. In the foregoing reference is had to the top of the rail at the railroad stations. Other places are as follows: Pine Creek where it leaves Tioga to enter Lycoming, 820 feet-the lowest point in the county; mouth of Babb’s Creek, 833 feet; mouth of Marsh Creek, 1,100 feet; mouth of Long Run, at Gaines, 1,230 feet; Pine Creek where it enters Tioga from Potter, 1,255 feet; Osceola, 1,130 feet; Knoxville, 1,190 feet; Westfield, 1,250 feet; Roseville, 1,200 feet; Mainsburg, 1,240 feet; State Normal School (Mansfield, new building, 1,224 feet; top of Normal Hill, 1,362 feet; highest mountain land near the head of the Tioga River, about 2,300 feet; highest mountain land north of Gaines, on "the barrens," about 2,300 feet; highest mountain land four miles east of the Tioga River from the mouth of Mill Creek, about 2,200 feet; summit of Briar Hill, on the road from Blossburg to Liberty; 2,200 feet.
From these figures it will be seen that there is considerable inequality in the surface of Tioga county. Pine Creek (the Indian "River of the Pines") and the Tioga and Cowanesque Rivers have plowed deep furrows through it, while three mountain ranges occur within its borders, and another skirts it on the southeast, which latter is the Barclay and Ralston Mountain, rising from the waters of Lycoming Creek and Roaring Branch.
The Blossburg Mountain is projected north, 60 degrees east, from the southwest corner of the county, and beyond through Blossburg into Bradford county, where it stops with the bold knob known as Mount Pisgah, one of the most conspicuous topographical features in northern Pennsylvania, being separated from the main mountain mass, with which it was once connected, by a broad valley of erosion, and rendered prominent by its altitude as well as its isolation. The range is known locally as the Armenia Mountain, and holds by far the most valuable coal field in the northern tier. Its accompanying synclinal axis is not exactly in the center, but nearest the north side, and crosses Pine Creek two miles above the mouth of Babb’s fork, the Tioga River at Blossburg, the Northern Central Railway at Troy and the Susquehanna River at Horn Brook. Its northern acclivity, where it overlooks the valley of Wellsboro and Mansfield, crosses Pine Creek near the northwest corner of Morris township, the Tioga River about two miles above Covington village, and the Bradford county line in the southwest corner of Columbia township. Its southern acclivity, where it overlooks the Liberty Valley, runs from a point near Oregon Hill along the north side of Zimmerman’s Creek, and about a mile north of Ogden’s Corners, crossing the Bradford line at the south corner of Armenia township, so that it comprises the south part of Elk, about all of Morris and Duncan, the north part of Liberty and Union, the south part of Covington and Sullivan, and all of Bloss, Hamilton and Ward townships. It is drained northward by the Tioga and its tributaries, and southward by the numerous branches of Pine Creek.
The Tioga takes its rise in a tamarack swamp on the eastern crest of the mountain, in Armenia township, Bradford county, where it is known as Tamarack Creek. At the county line it is joined by Morgan Creek and other small streams, after which it is known as the Tioga River. Its general course for the first twelve or fifteen miles is to the southeast. At the mouth of Carpenter’s Run, two miles above Blossburg, it turns to the north-northwest, and after running about five miles in that direction it breaks through the outside mountain wall three miles below Blossburg, into the valley of Mansfield and Wellsboro. The point where it turns is in the deepest part of an oblong oval basin on the line of the synclinal axis which holds the Blossburg coal field. Within this basin it is joined by South Creek, Fall Brook,
Carpenter’s Run, Taylor’s Run, Morris Run, Coal Run, Johnson Creek and East Creek, all rapid streams, which have removed thousands of acres of coal.
The end of the Kettle Creek Mountain is seen jutting into Tioga county about five miles, but stops short two or three miles west of Pine Creek, and about twelve miles south of west from Wellsboro. The road from Elk Run to Leetonia passes over the end of this mountain. The New Bergen anticlinal axis, which separates it from the Mill Creek-Pine Creek Mountain, also stops west of Pine Creek, and southwest from Ansonia. The New Bergen Valley opens out into the Wellsboro Valley at the same place.
The Mill Creek-Pine Creek Mountain comes into Tioga county about midway of its western line, and is projected north, 70 degrees east, crossing the Tioga River at the mouth of Mill Creek, and ending in a point, boldly, just at the edge of Bradford county. It holds valuable beds of coal in the western part of the county, north of Pine Creek. Its accompanying synclinal axis crosses Long Run about three miles north of Gaines, runs close to Middlebury Centre, and crosses the Tioga River near the mouth of Mill Creek, and the Bradford county line near the northeast corner of Rutland township. Continuing eastward, it crosses the Northern Central at South Creek, the Susquehanna near Athens, and the State line at the northeast corner of Bradford county. The mountainous region includes the greater part of Gaines and Shippen, the south edge of Clymer, Chatham and Jackson, the northern end of Delmar and Charleston, the south side of Middlebury and Tioga, the northern edge of Richmond, and the northern side of Rutland townships. Like the Blossburg Mountain it is drained southward by numerous branches of Pine Creek—as Marsh Creek, Long Run, etc.; and northward by the Tioga and its tributaries—as Crooked Creek, Mill Creek, etc. These streams, through their transporting power, have well nigh accomplished the destruction of a once continuous and extensive coal field, valuable tracts only remaining in the western townships. As the Gaines coal field represents an oblong oval basin on the line of the synclinal axis, so the Tioga River where it cuts through the mountains marks the transverse axis of another similar basin, but smaller.
The Cowanesque Mountain enters the county from Potter where the river of the same name crosses the county line, and is projected north 75 degrees east, as far as the northeast corner of Deerfield township, where it ends in a long pointed knob known as Norway Ridge, just within the State of New York. No coal is left on this range in Tioga county. The synclinal axis crosses the Potter line with the Cowanesque River, and the State line northeast of Elkland, the Tioga River near Lindleytown, the Chemung below Elmira, and runs a little north of Owego. The elevated ridges remaining in this synclinal trough are found in the south part of Brookfield, the northern part of Westfield and the central part of Deerfield township. The drainage is all through the valleys of the Cowanesque and its branches. Potter Brook, the North Fork, Troop’s Creek, Holden Brook, Camp Creek, etc. These streams have cut deep channels, producing a vastly changed condition of the surface since they commenced their operations.
These ranges are so many spurs from the great western plateau of the Allegheny Mountains. Their summits are elevated several hundred feet above the surrounding country, rising up boldly and with great regularity to a nearly uniform height, and making a sky outline which, at a little distance, appears to be nearly horizontal in some places for many miles in succession. These chains are nearly parallel and separated from each other by broad northeast and southeast anticlinal valleys. Standing on the top of one of these chains and gazing away five or ten miles, as the case may be, to the top of another, either to the north or south, the spectator looks over one of these anticlinal valleys lying far below, and which may be described as a rolling hill country covered thickly with farms and dotted with villages. Running through the center of each of these valleys, and in the same direction with them, is a flattened arch, or what the geologist would call an anticlinal axis, from which the rocks dip down and away to the north and the south and pass under the mountains. In the heart of the mountains, and running in the same direction with them, is an inverted arch, or what the geologist would call a synclinal axis, from which the rocks rise out to the north and south, over the anticlinals.
There are three great anticlinal valleys. The Liberty Valley lies between the Barclay and Ralston Mountains on the south and the Blossburg Mountain on the north. It is about four miles wide in Tioga county, widening to ten miles in Bradford county, and about fifty miles in length. At the Susquehanna River it opens on the highlands of eastern Bradford, and a little west of Nauvoo, in Tioga county, where Zimmerman’s Creek turns to the south, it heads up in a broad amphitheatre against the great southwestern plateau. It embraces parts of Morris, Liberty and Union townships, where the surface features are those of low rounded hills, intersected by small streams. In Liberty the land is gently rolling, becoming more hilly to the northeast. The whole district included in this fine valley is well adapted to agriculture. It is drained by the head waters of Little Pine and Lycoming Creeks, which take their rise in the Blossburg Mountain and flow to the south, across the anticlinal axis. These streams are Zimmerman’s Creek, Blockhouse branch, Roaring branch, West Mill Creek, East Mill Creek and Sugar Works Run. Good beds of fossiliferous iron ore are found in this valley.
The Mansfield and Wellsboro Valley lies between the Blossburg Mountain on the south and the Mill Creek Mountain on the north. It is from six to eight miles in width. The surface is rolling, consisting of a succession of hills and valleys, varying but little in general appearance. The soil is moderately good, and the region may be described as being rich in agricultural resources. Hay, grain, fruit, vegetables and the products of the dairy are among the chief productions. It includes a large portion of Delmar, Charleston, Richmond, Sulli-
van, Rutland and Covington townships. Its accompanying anticlinal axis is two miles south of Wellsboro and a mile and a half south of Mansfield. It crosses the Northern Central Railway three miles north of Columbia Crossroads, and the Susquehanna River two miles below Milan. At Pine Creek this axis is deflected more to the southwest, running in between the Blossburg and the Kettle Creek Mountain, and leaves the county about three miles north from its southwest corner. At the Bradford county line the valley opens out into a rolling country. It is well watered throughout by the Tioga River and Pine Creek, Marsh Creek, Stony Fork, Wilson Creek, Catlin Hollow Creek, Hills Creek, Lamb’s Creek, Mann’s Creek, Elk Run, Corey Creek, Canoe Camp Creek, Mill Creek, etc. Pine Creek where it crosses the anticlinal valley is a stream of considerable volume, flowing in a deep canyon, with very narrow flats at the bottom. The Tioga, on the contrary, has a broad and fertile valley. Some valuable beds of fossiliferous iron ore are found in the Mansfield and Wellsboro Valley, but mainly in the eastern part of the county.
The Chatham-Farmington Valley lies between the Mill Creek-Pine Creek Mountain on the south and the Cowanesque Mountain on the north. It is about five miles wide in Clymer township, but widens to eight or ten in Farmington. At the Tioga River it opens on the highlands of southern New York, in which axes of upheaval and depression are diminished in force, and the country has been eroded to a more uniform level. At Pine Creek, southwest of Sunderlinville in Potter county, and forty miles from the confluence of the Tioga and Cowanesque Rivers at Lawrenceville, it heads up, the mountains closing around it. It embraces the larger part of Clymer, Chatham, Elkland and Osceola, with all of Farmington, Nelson and Lawrence, and a part of Tioga, Middlebury, Deerfield and Westfield. In topographical features it closely resembles the Mansfield and Wellsboro Valley, and the soil is alike productive and adapted to the wants of a farming community. The drainage of this valley is through the Tioga and Cowanesque Rivers and Crooked Creek, with such branches of the same as Potter’s Brook, Mill Creek, the Jamieson, the Elkboro, etc.
Such in the main are the salient features in the topography of Tioga county. But perhaps the reader will think that the valley wherein he dwells, which has changed so little within his memory; that the hill which rises behind his home,
"Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun,"—
that these, with all their varied outline of surface, are essentially the same as when they came from the hand of the Creator. But whoever entertains such a belief cannot be a close observer of nature. He who is the first great cause has set certain forces at work which have never ceased to operate through countless ages. Marvel not therefore when I tell you that the active agent in scooping out every valley in the county, from that of the largest river, cut down five hundred or a thousand feet, down to that of the smallest rill, is the stream flowing at its bottom.
We see then how the country has derived its contour of surface in a great measure from the structure and condition of the underlying rocks. As they are hard or soft, and as the angle which they make with the plane of the horizon is steep or gentle, have they yielded to or resisted the action of water in motion, frost, etc. The direction of the streams and the outline of the hills are largely the result of the same causes. The existing inequalities have followed the action of erosive agents upon sedimentary rocks; while the inclination of the strata, which lie in the form of anticlinal and synclinal waves, together with the alternations of hard and soft beds, have in a great measure controlled and tended to modify the effects of this wearing process. As I understand it, the sediments which now constitute our rocks were in a nearly horizontal condition at the time of their deposition in the ancient Appalachian ocean. But the contraction of a cooling globe, by which the surface has been forced, through lateral pressure, to accommodate itself to a smaller space, has resulted in folding and crimping the strata, and thus elevating the Appalachian Mountains. This action of internal forces through every age since the coal, taken in connection with subsequent erosion, has given rise to that principal feature in the topography of Tioga county—namely, long ranges of synclinal mountains, with their intervening anticlinal valleys, running in a northeast and southwest direction.
We will now turn to the rocks which underlie the country we have thus briefly described. We will begin with the lowest rocks which reach the surface, and describe the formations in the ascending order, when it will be seen that the geology of Tioga county is wonderfully simple.
The Chemung is the lowest formation in the county. It is the surface rock in all three of the great anticlinal valleys, except along their borders, near the synclinal mountains, where, owing to the dip, it begins to be overlaid by the Red Catskill formation. It consists of shale and sandstone, with bands of calcareous rock. The color is gray, bluish, and greenish, with some of an olive and some of a reddish tint. It is a thousand feet thick in the Chatham-Farmington Valley, seven hundred in the Mansfield and Wellsboro Valley, and three hundred in the Liberty Valley. Only the upper part of the Chemung is visible in Tioga county, the lower part coming to the surface farther north, in the State of New York. It is everywhere loaded with fossil remains, consisting for the most part of marine shells, though fish and plant remains are not wanting. The characteristic shells are Spirifer disjunctus and S. mesacostalis; Productus hirsuta, P. Boydii, P. speciosa, P. arctostriata, and P. rarispina; Athyris angelica, Rhyunchonella contracta, Streptorhynchus pandora, Atrypa spinosa, Mytilarca Chemungensis, Grammysia elliptica, Pteronites Chemungensis, Orthis impressa, Edmondia Burlingtonensis, Ambocoelia umbonata, Aviculopecten rugae, Leiorhynchus mesacostalis, Strophodonia Cayuta and S. perplana. There are others, but these are among the most common. They are not usually all found in any one place, but some in one place and some in another.
The bones of fishes are occasionally met with, scattered here and there through the rocks. They often retain their natural color, and appear to have belonged to fishes of large size, but widely different from the finny tribes of the present day. Perhaps the nearest approach to them is found in the gar-pike and the sturgeon. When old ocean was here it must have teemed with this ichthyic life, if we may judge from the numerous remains of this character, especially in some of the iron ore beds. The plant remains are of a Carboniferous type, and indicate the approach of that gorgeous flora which mantled the earth in the time of the coal. Of these, the stems of reed-like plants are perhaps the most abundant, although ferns and lycopodites are not unknown, while fucoids are rather common.
Exposures of Chemung rocks are frequent. One of the best in the Liberty Valley is on a small stream running into the Roaring Branch from the north, about a mile above Green’s saw-mill, where the rocks are dipping at a high angle to the south. A good deposit of iron ore comes to the surface in the main road a mile southeast of Ogden’s Corners. There are four beds in a space of thirty feet, ranging in thickness from eight inches for the thinnest up to four feet for the thickest or uppermost bed. Two of the beds, aggregating two feet and over, lie ten feet below the upper bed and twelve feet above the lower one, and are separated from each other by only twenty inches of rock. They can be worked as one bed. But the upper bed is the best, containing as it does over 39 per cent. of iron; while the middle beds together contain about 34 per cent., and the lower bed about 29 per cent.
One of the most extensive outcrops in the Mansfield and Wellsboro valley occurs on Pine Creek, along the road to Round Islands, where three hundred feet or more of Chemung rocks are exposed, containing fossils. They must be declining to the southwest, for even the top of this thick mass is not visible at Leetonia, in the deep vale of Cedar Creek. But they are visible at the forks of Elk Run, in the New Bergen Valley. Sandy, shaly, and calcareous beds of a gray and bluish color and containing fossils are exposed around Wellsboro, as in the hill north of the village and along the railroad below the depot. Half a mile south of Stony Fork, on the site of an old salt lick, a well has been bored three hundred feet deep for salt. A stream of water issues from it, enough to fill a two inch pipe, which is quite strongly impregnated with salt. Important beds of iron ore are found in this valley, but mostly in the eastern part of the county. They occur in at least three different horizons, all in the upper Chemung. The lowest of these is in the river bed about three-quarters of a mile below Mansfield. The thickness of this bed is unknown, as doubtless some of it has been eroded by the river, so that less than a foot remains where it is visible. This, however, is remarkably rich, containing over 43 per cent. of iron, and is characterized by small flattened pebbles of quartz imbedded in it. One hundred and sixty feet above this bed, on the Wilson estate, is another which is 16 inches thick, and characterized by a peculiar seedy or oolitic structure, while it contains over 31 per cent. of iron. It is regarded as the equivalent of the bed worked on Whipples’s Hill, and on Bixby’s Hill, where it contains over 35 per cent. of iron; also of the bed opened at Roseville, Austinville, etc.; evidence of which is found in the fish remains so common to this bed. The Roseville ore contains about 42 per cent. of iron. The third or upper horizon is 375 feet above the bed mentioned as occurring on the Wilson estate, and 528 feet above the river, near the top of Pickle Hill, where it has been mined to considerable extent for the Mansfield furnace. Here at one place, near the school-house, it contains nearly 43 per cent. of iron. The northern dip takes it beneath the river at Lamb’s Creek. The same bed has been mined extensively about three miles from Mansfield, on the road to Wellsboro. Several thousand tons of ore from this bank have been manufactured into iron since the year 1854. It is from two to three feet in thickness, and is characterized here as everywhere by its numerous fossils, mostly Spirifer and Productus. It contains about 39 per cent. of iron. Not far from the horizon of this ore, on a hill about a mile north of Mansfield, there is a bed of limestone six feet in thickness, which has been used in the iron works, and which contains about 29 per cent. of lime, and about 23 per cent. of carbonic acid, and may in time become valuable as a fertilizer. It is made up in large part of comminuted sea shells, ground up and broken into fragments by the waves. The upper Chemung also contains beds which will furnish good flagging. A flagstone quarry has been opened on a hill a mile and a half north of Mainsburg, which has gained considerable celebrity. Stones of great breadth and smoothness have been obtained here and sent away in large quantities. But that Chemung rocks should ever have been thought to contain anthracite coal seems almost incredible. Yet the "Arienio shaft" in Charleston, a quarter of a mile south of Dartt Settlement, excavated, it is said, at an expense of more than $10,000, will long remain to testify that such was once the case. The excitement over this ignis fatuus was continued through months and even years; a day was set apart for a basket picnic, when speeches were to be made and the coal opened. It is needless to say that no coal was ever found.
In the Chatham-Farmington Valley some good exposures of Chemung rocks may be seen on Waddell’s Brook, in Clymer; on Elkhorn Creek, in Tioga and Farmington; along the Cowanesque Railroad, two miles west of Lawrenceville; and along the Tioga Railroad, opposite the village of Tioga. At the last named locality nearly eight hundred feet of rocks are visible. It is probably the finest exposure of Chemung strata in the county, and was visited in 1841 by Sir Charles Lyell, one of England'’s greatest geologists. The beds are rich in organic remains. In the Elkhorn rocks the writer has discovered a new genus of ganoid fishes, which Dr. Newberry has described under the name of Heliodus, in the Geology of Ohio. None of the iron ores mentioned above have been found in the Chatham-Farmington Valley so far as is known, except around the head waters of Long Run, in Clymer township. In Jackson the surface is strewn in many places with sandstone boulders, mostly a coarse gritty rock, weathering white, and belonging probably in the horizon of the Chemung conglomerate.
The Red Catskill formation overlies the Chemung, making a red border to all the anticlinal valleys, and a red frame in the base and sides of the synclinal mountains. It consists of red shale and sandstone, bluish shale and gray sandstone. The sandstone is nearly all false-bedded. Red is the predominating color, both of the rocks and of the soil resulting from their disintegration. The thickness varies from say two hundred feet or more in the Cowanesque Mountain to three hundred or more in the Mill Creek-Pine Creek Mountain and four hundred or more in the Blossburg Mountain. The fossils are principally fish and plant remains, with some of the
Chemung shells in the lower part. Several different genera of armor-clad fishes are represented, of which Holoptychius appears to have been the most abundant. There are bones, scales and teeth, usually in the most perfect state of preservation, the enamel of the teeth and scales often retaining something of its original lustre. The scales of some species are a quarter of an inch in diameter, of others two inches or more; while some of the teeth are an inch in length. These wonderful fishes have been invested with additional interest for all time to come through the glowing descriptions of the lamented Hugh Miller.
The typical locality of Red Catskill rocks in the Blossburg Mountain is along the railroad midway between Blossburg and Covington. It is known as "Red Rock," and is noted for abundant fossils of the kind named above, more than a ton of which I have myself obtained.
These strata are well exposed in the Mill Creek-Pine Creek Mountain on Seeley Creek, a branch of Lamb’s Creek, four miles northwest of Mansfield. Chemung shells are found pretty high up among the red beds at this place; while fish remains are abundant in the upper part of the ravine, in red shale with calcareous layers. Holoptychius, Bothriolepis, Dipterus and other large ganoid fishes are represented. Dipterus Sherwoodi from this locality is the first relic of that genus found on this continent, and is named in honor of the discoverer by Dr. John S. Newberry, in the Geology of Ohio, Vol. II. Part II, Palaeontology, page 61. Another good exposure occurs on Shutter’s Hill, above the railroad, southeast of Tioga. The so-called "Hathaway ore," said to combine new and wonderful properties, gives interest to this locality. But that no ore or mineral of any value whatever exists at this spot is perfectly certain; and the time and money spent in honey-combing the hill with shafts and trenches is time and money wasted. A. S. McCreath, State chemist at Harrisburg, has written to me as follows:
"The specimen of ‘Hathaway ore’ you sent to this
laboratory has been analyzed with the following results:
|"Sesqui-oxide of iron,……………………………..||8.571|
|"Sesqui-oxide of manganese,…………………..||.290|
|"Potash and soda,………………………………...||5.109|
"The analysis shows that it is simply a ferruginous slate, containing the ordinary constituents of that rock, with a mere trace of titanic acid. The analysis has been very thorough and satisfactory. Nothing exists in the slate aside from what is mentioned in the above table. It contains no gold, silver, mercury, copper, tellurium or palladium. I have likewise examined with great care certain alloys, so-called, which have been forwarded to me by Mr. G. W. Hathaway and Mr. T. G. Hall, and have made special tests for a ‘new metal’ which they claim to have discovered. It scarcely seems necessary to say that I have found nothing unusual in these substances. They are not alloys; unless an exceedingly silicious, cold-short white cast iron can be termed an alloy. I have been especially careful in the examination of these substances, on account of the local interest manifested in the subject."
The Red Catskill is succeeded by the Gray Catskill or Vespertine, extending well up the sides of the synclinal mountains. It is composed of thin-bedded gray sandstones, with occasional bands of red shale, while one stratum is a peculiar breccia-like limestone. The sandstones are false-bedded. The thickness varies from say five hundred feet in the Cowanesque Mountain to six hundred feet in the Mill Creek-Pine Creek Mountain and seven hundred in the Blossburg Mountain. The carbonized remains of plants allied to those of the coal are occasionally met with in the thin, gray and flaggy sandstones, but no shells. They are usually in a fragmentary condition, as if broken and ground up by waves and streams before they were floated off and deposited at the bottom of the sea, where they were imbedded in sand. At the very top of this formation is sometimes found a thin seam of coal mixed with fire clay, as on the north branch of Painter Run, in Tioga township.
Above the Gray Catskill occurs a second series of red rocks, called the Umbral. It is composed largely of red shale, so soft that they do not often reach the surface, though we may know of their presence by the color of the overlying soil. With the shales are beds of greenish-gray sandstones; while toward the top are black and dark colored slates and slaty sandstone, with such plants as Calamite, Lepidodendron, etc., and sometimes a thin seam of coal. Beneath the above is also found a bed of argillaceous iron ore, which is five feet thick on Painter Run, and was formerly mined at Blossburg.
The Coal is the last and highest of the rock formations, and is only found in places along the center line of the synclinal mountains, as in the Blossburg and Pine Creek coal regions. The coal measures consist of alternations of sandstone and shale with seams of coal, all together aggregating 225 feet in the Gaines coal basin and 275 in the Blossburg basin. The formation was ushered in with the coal conglomerate, from 30 to 60 feet thick, boulders of which are scattered far and wide. It is a coarse, gritty, white and quartzose sandstone, filled in some places with pebbles of quartz. Wherever this rock reaches the surface the scenery is almost always highly picturesque. East of the Tioga River, on Painter Run, it caps the mountains; and west of Niles Valley, at "the sand-bed barrens," large masses have disintegrated, forming beds of pure white sand. The coal is represented by eight or ten different veins, separated by intervals of rock, generally some kind of sandstone or shale, and all in a vertical section of from two to three hundred feet. These veins are not always all present in one place, but some of them are often wanting. Only three of them are persistent and can be said to have any commercial value, viz., the Bloss coal, the Seymour coal and the Bear Creek coal, in the Blossburg region; and about the same number of veins in the Gaines region. The coal at Blossburg was first developed by Aaron Bloss, a man by the name of Clements, and another by the name of Knapp; that at Gaines by Henry Baker and a man by the name of Hurd. The Bloss vein has thus far supplied nearly all the coal shipped to market. Perhaps originally the finest natural exposure of coal measures in the county was in Coal Run, at Blossburg. Before any mining was done there some of the lowest beds of coal were visible, together with a bed of sandstone filled with the remains of a strange and wonderful vegetation, which flourished ages before man appeared. How different were the conditions then, when plants of a tropical character found here a congenial home; where in place of hill and valley, a "great dismal swamp" extended for miles and miles. To some it may be a matter of wonder how beds of coal were formed, one above another, and having a lateral extent of many miles; and probably few who sit before their fenders and toast their moc-
casins have ever stopped to consider the origin of coal. But it is no longer to be doubted that coal is of vegetable origin, because it consists of vegetable tissues, while the accompanying shales and sandstones contain numerous roots, leaves and trunks of trees. The peculiar conditions under which it was produced were doubtless similar to those existing in the peat bogs of our own time, only on a much grander scale. In those ancient and widely-extended marshes, just as in the great Dismal Swamp of Virginia at the present day, vegetation flourished and decayed until a deposit of carbonaceous matter sufficient to form a coal bed had accumulated, when the land subsided beneath the waters and strata of sand and clay were deposited; for all sandstones were once beds of soft, incoherent sand, and shales were soft mud or clay at the bottom of the sea. This process was continued during a long period of time, until all the veins of coal had been produced. The coal beds mark the eras when the surface remained stationary, while the sandstones point to times of subsidence. Such movements seem to have been common in those early ages, when the earth’s crust was much thinner than now; for it is a well-established fact that our earth was once a vaporous mass, "without form and void"; that afterward it condensed to a burning, fiery mass, over which, in the cooling process of time, a thin crust had formed which gradually thickened until the warmth no longer radiated from the still heated and molten interior. With a thinner crust—warmed through and through from beneath—grew, as in a great hot-bed, many curious and tropical plants, even far to the northward, in lands now locked in eternal ice. As in imagination we picture the landscape when God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed," we feel like Gulliver in Swift’s wondrous tale, who lost himself in an immense cornfield, where the corn grew up tall as trees; only our forest is composed not of corn but of gigantic ferns and palms. We are surrounded with tall calamites and sombre sigillaria; but God has not yet planted a beautiful flower, or sent forth a warbling songster. No quadruped comes forth by day or night to seek its prey; only swarms of insects darken the air. The stillness of death reigns in this old forest so wide and deep, and we seem to see—to use the language of peerless Hugh Miller—" in the multitude of trunks darkened above by clouds of foliage, the slim columns of an elder Alhambra." But those graceful columns, the sigillaria and the lepidodendron, have been extinct for unnumbered centuries. We may tunnel into the mountain where their blackened trunks are sleeping the dead and stony sleep of ages; but, as in the tumult of the mound-builders which dot the prairies of the west, no spirit comes forth to tell us of their history. Yet he is blind who cannot see in the adaptation of means to a preconceived end the evidence of design. It was design that produced them; it was design that preserved them; and the vast stores of fuel which they have contributed to make in this western world compel us to believe that the Designer has intended glorious things for ultimate America. For while there are 518 square miles of coal lands in Belgium, 2,000 in France, 4,000 in Spain, and 12,000 in Great Britain and Ireland, the number of square miles in North America cannot be less than 150,000. The contrast is not only striking but profoundly interesting, as shadowing forth a glorious future for the western hemisphere. We delight to think that here shall be reached a higher civilization than the world has yet seen; that here a republic is already established which shall be a terror to tyrants, and the glory of which shall last a thousand years. Our heart exults over the destiny in store for America, "the gem of the ocean," with her broad and fertile acres which shall feed her unborn millions, and containing as she does the stored-up fuel of the world, mountains of iron and richest mines of gold and silver. We live in the glimmering dawn of the day that is to be; yet looking down the vista of time we catch a glimpse of its noonday glory, when America’s ships shall whiten every sea, when her cities shall be vast hives, when her farms shall be gardens, when her poets and philosophers shall flourish, and when her fame shall be greater than that of Greece or Rome. Oh, that her foundations may be laid in righteousness, that the greatest kingdom of earth may become the kingdom of that Stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands!
We can only speak briefly of the different soils over-spreading the county, and which usually conceal the rock formations we have described. These are mainly derived in one way or another from the destruction and decomposition of the underlying strata. Sand was once sandstone and clay was once shale. An active agent in producing and distributing the soil has been ice, called by Agassiz God’s great plow. It seems clear that ice in the form of glaciers once moved across the county in a direction from northeast to southwest, corresponding very nearly with the direction of the mountain chains. We know the direction they took from the striae or groovings left in places on the surface of the harder rocks, and produced by stones frozen in the bottom of the glacier. Fine examples of polished and striated surfaces have been observed on the head of Lamb’s Creek; also near Cherry Flats; near Ogdensburg, and farther east; and again south of east from Veilstown; while the coal conglomerate on the very top of the mountain east of the river, in Tioga township, is polished smooth as glass. Near the last locality is a boulder of Red Catskill sandstone, about twelve feet in diameter, which has come from a stratum near the foot of the mountain, several hundred feet below. Some of the stones which have been instrumental in planing and furrowing the underlying strata were brought by these glaciers from great distances; as for example, boulders of granite, syenite, etc., from the region of the St. Lawrence River, and limestone from central New York. These travelers are usually small, and often have their surfaces scratched or polished. They are not so abundant as in some parts of the country, but are mingled with sand, gravel, clay and great quantities of water-worn stones derived from the immediate neighborhood, in which all our formations are represented. With such material as this all our valleys were filled during the cold period, in some cases to a depth of perhaps one hundred feet; while curious hilllocks were formed here and there, which are hard to be accounted for; and of which the "hog-back" in the marsh above Niles Valley is an example. Also, the knolls above Hammond’s on Crooked Creek, and again at and above the cemetery west of Tioga; the ridge above Nelson, where the river makes a curious ox bow bend; the hillocks south of the Lawrenceville depot, and especially the knoll on William S. Smith’s farm a little farther south, and another on the opposite side of the river, and one at Mitchell’s Creek. The terraces bordering the river plain along the Tioga and Cowanesque show to what extent the valleys were filled, and the depth of the channels now existing between them shows the amount of material which the rivers have removed while reopening their ancient channels. But they are not yet down to the old levels at which they ran before the filling took place. So that the Drift Period, one of the latest in geological history, no doubt; represents a hoar antiquity, though only at the threshold of that door which opens on the long vista of years.
Mansfield, Pa., April 1st 1882.
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