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security, a neat globular cell of fine dry grass, with an aperture jusf; large enough to admit a finger, and so compactly formed, that it might almost be rolled over the floor without receiving injury. The burrowing owl (strix cunicularia) is stated to be ' a fellow-citizen of the prairie-dog, dwelling in burrows precisely the same;' but whether they inhabit them in common with the marmot, or by right of conquest, or make them for themselves, the travellers had not the opportunity of deciding. Mr. James says, ' from the remarkable coincidence of note between these two widely distinct animals, we might take occasion to remark the probability of the prairie-dog being an unintentional tutor to the young owl, did we not know that this bird utters the same sounds in the West Indies, where the prairie-dog is not known to exist.'
But the animal that interested them the most, was the wild horse, which in vast herds, of various colours and sizes, was occasionally seen scouring over the plains with amazing fleetness. 'Their playr fulness,' says Mr. James, ' rather than their fears, seemed to be excited by our appearance, and we often saw them, more than a mile distant, leaping and curvetting, involved by a cloud of dust, which they seemed to delight in raising.' It is scarcely necessary to say, that they are the offspring of those animals which were carried by the Spaniards into the new world. They would often approach very near to the strangers, but eluded all attempts to take them alive. A singular method is sometimes adopted for catching them, by shooting the animal through a particular part of the neck, with a rifle ball, without touching the spine; the blow fells him to the ground, and stuns him to such a degree, that he allows himself to be taken; this is called 'creasing.' The Osage Indians run them down, by stationing three parties at a distance from each other, in the direction that they are pretty well assured the troop of wild horses will take; the first party chases them to the second, which gallops after them to the third, who then joins in the pursuit till they are fairly tired, and suffer themselves to be noosed and captured'.
In the 102d degree of longitude, the Platte divides into two branches, called the North and the South Forks; they are equally large, that is to say, about 800 yards wide near their confluence, both shoal and rapid, and both running over large sandy beds. These forks have their origin in the Rocky Mountains, at the distance of about one hundred and twenty miles apart. The party took the direction of the latter stream; but it was understood that the former skirted a more fertile and interesting country; among other animals, it was said to abound with the beaver, which is less disturbed here than in the vicinity of the white population, and the Indian hunters in their employ.
The party had now arrived at a spot where the influence of the Rocky Mountains was evidently exerted on the temperature of the atmosphere. In the. heat of the day, a light and refreshing breeze sprung up, blowing directly from the mountains; whilst the mornings and evenings were calm and oppressive. If these mountains, covered with snow, be considered as the shore to the wide sea of sand at their base, we have an easy explanation how this influence is created; it is the rarifaction of the air over the latter, causing an ascending current, whilst its place is supplied by the rushing down of the condensed air from the mountains, and thus producing those alternate land and sea breezes, so well known in tropical regions. Even the ants appeared to be aware of this influence, for, of the innumerable hillocks raised by this insect, it was observed that the entrance was invariably on the east side. The temperature rarely exceeded 80° of Fahrenheit, whilst that of the water of the Platte was about 75°. 'Yet,' says Mr. James, ' though there were only about five degrees of difference between the temperature of the air and that of the water, it was remarked by several of the party, that a sensation of extreme cold was felt on passing from the one side to the other.' (vol.ii. p. 174.)
Hitherto they had not met with a single human being, nor any traces of one on this desolate and dreary desert; but on a nearer approach to the mountains, and on the bank of the Platte, they discovered the remains of an Indian encampment, which, to all appearance, had but recently been abandoned; it was a small circle, built, to the height of five feet, with half-decayed logs of wood, intermixed with skeletons of bisons. In front of the entrance, at a little distance from it, was a semicircular row of sixteen bison skulls, with their noses pointing down the river, and a separate skull marked with a number of red lines; the interpretation of which was said to be,—' that the camp had been occupied by the Pawnee Loup Indians, who were returning from an expedition against some of the western tribes;'—the red lines, it seemed, showed the party to have consisted of thirty-six; the position of the skulls denoted their return home; and two rods, with two parcels of hair tied to each, signified that four scalps had rewarded their exertions. 'And here's now mystery, and hieroglyphics!' • .
The party, after much fatigue and some hardships, reached, on the 6th July, the chasm in the Rocky Mountains out of which the south fork of the Platte flows; it was here twenty-five yards wide, and three feet deep; the water clear and cool, and the current rapid. Here they encamped, and determined the position to be lat. 38° 18' 19" N. and long. 105° 39' 44" W. The sandstone formation of the desert, which had risen rapidly in its slope as they approached the mountains, here became a rocky barrier,
B 2 from from one to two hundred feet high, and nearly perpendicular, running in a parallel direction with the great chain. The intervening valley between this rampart and the Rocky Mountains was about a mile in width, studded with insulated columnar rocks, some of a snowy whiteness, standing like pyramids and obelisks, among mounds and hillocks, formed, as it seemed, from the disintegration of similar masses. Of this sand-stone ridge or wall, Mr. James gives the following account:—
'This extensive range, rising abruptly from the plain, skirts the base of the mountains like an immense rampart, and to a spectator placed near it, intercepts the view of the still more grand and imposing features of the granitic ridge beyond. It is made up of rocks composed of the broken down and comminuted fragments of pre-existing aggregates, embosoming reliquiae of the animals of a former world, known to us only by the monuments which these remains exhibit. Though rugged and precipitous, its elevation is small, when compared to that of the stupendous Andes, which rise above it far into the regions of perpetual winter. The stratifications with which it is distinctly seamed, penetrate the mass with various degrees of obliquity, sometimes running perpendicularly to the horizon; seeming unequivocally to prove, that the whole has receded from its original position, and that these immense rocky masses have, by the operation of some powerful agent, been broken off from their original continuity with the strata now found in a horizontal position in the plains.'—vol. ii. p. 188.
Beyond the valley a second crust of sandstone was found to rest against the primitive range; near the base and in the more compact parts of which, were the remains of terebratula, and other submarine animals. A detachment of the party determined to ascend to the highest peak. Having surmounted the superincumbent sandstone, on which were growing a few oaks and junipers, they reached the first range of primitive rocks of coarse red granite, with loose fragments of gneiss lying about the surface; among these was a scanty vegetation of prickly pears, yuccas, stunted oaks, and junipers. In one place they found a few large and delicious raspberries, and some red currants which, though ripe, were hard and juiceless, and occasioned a head-ache to those who ate them. At the elevation nearly of the limit of phamogamous vegetation, the hop, the box' elder, the sarsaparilla of the eastern states, and many other common plants were found growing. .
At the point where the Alpine plants first appeared, a change was observed in the character of the rock, which was now a compact finegrained aggregate of quartz, felspar, and hornblende. The red cedar and the flexile pine were observed to grow at a greater elevation than any other arborescent plants; they were low and stunted, with thick and rigid trunks, without limbs or bark on the upper side or that exposed to the falling masses of rock. In the neighbourhood bourhood of this region, the beauty of the Alpine plants it spoken of with rapture by Mr. James. The flower in many of them is the most conspicuous and largest part of the plant, and in all, the colouring is said to be astonishingly brilliant. A dark blue is the most prevailing; and it was noticed that the penstemort erianthera, the mountain columbine, and some other plants common to less elevated districts, were here much more deeply coloured than in ordinary situations; which is ascribed to the mtensity of the light transmitted from the bright and unobscured atmosphere of those regions, and increased by reflection from the immense impending masses of snow. This may very well be; but when it is asked,' if the deep cerulean tint of the sky may not have an influence in producing the corresponding colour so prevalent in the flowers of these plants?' We have no hesitation m saying, 'No;' the colours peculiar to the several flowers are elaborated in the plant, independent or nearly so of external circumstances, but the intensity of each colour depends on light, air, a clear atmosphere, &c.
As the party approached the top, the Alpine plants became less frequent, and at length entirely ceased. The summit was nearly level, containing an area of ten or fifteen acres, on which scarcely a lichen was to be seen. Here the mercury fell to 42°, while at the encampment it was 96° at the same hour, and kept above 80° to a late hour in the evening. The upper part of the peak was a compact, indestructible aggregate of quartz and felspar, with a little hornblende, in very small particles. The weather was calm and beautifully clear, but the air at one time was ' filled in every direction with such clouds of grasshoppers, as partially to obscure the day they had mounted, it would seem, too high in their flight, as numbers had fallen on the snow and perished. The view was grand and extensive. Three parts of the circle presented ranges of mountains with snowy peaks; and on the east, the immense desert was spread out like a map, with narrow strips of wood skirting the rivers, while the occasional glimpses of the streams shone like quicksilver. The party in their descent lost their way, and were obliged to pass a second night upon the side of the mountain, with the thermometer at 38°. The altitude of this peak, which when seen from the desert appears to be the highest, was determined by trigonometrical measurement to be about 8,500 feet from its base, which being estimated at 3,000 feet, gives the altitude above the level of the sea, 11,500 feet: this agrees pretty well with the tables for estimating heights by the inferior limit of perpetual snow, which was here, in latitude 40°, about 1,650 feet below the summit.
Not far from the base of the superincumbent sandstone was discovered what Mr. James calls a ' boiling spring.'
'It is,' says he,' a large and beautiful fountain of water, cool and transparent, and aerated with carbonic acid. It rises on the brink of a small stream, which here descends from the mountain, at the point where the bed of this stream divides the ridge of sandstone which rests against the base of the first granitic range. The water of the spring deposits a copious concretion of carbonate of lime, which has accumulated on every side, until it has formed a large basin overhanging the stream; above which it is raised several feet. This basin is of a snowy whiteness, and large enough to contain three or four hundred gallons, and is constantly overflowing.
'The spring rises from the bottom of the basin, with a rumbling noise, discharging about equal volumes of air and of water, probably about fifty gallons per minute; the whole kept in constant agitation. The water is beautifully transparent; and has the sparkling appearance, the grateful taste, and the exhilarating effect, of the most highly aerated artificial mineral waters.'—James, vol. ii. p. 212, 213.
The temperature of the water was 63°, when that of the air in the shade was 68°. At the bottom was observed a great quantity of Indian beads and other ornaments, supposed to have been offerings made to the springs, which are regarded with great veneration by the savages of the desert.
The party now turned off to the southward till they reached the Arkansas, up which a detachment was sent to its place of exit from the mountains; here they found seven springs, whose waters were impregnated with muriate of soda and other salts. The river pours down with great impetuosity through a deep and narrow fissure in the gneiss rock, which, rising abruptly on both sides, to a considerable height, opposes an impassable barrier to all further progress. From hence it takes its course across those desolate plains which the party had passed higher up, and were again destined to traverse. Here they divided, one detachment under Captain Bell descending the Arkansas, and the other, under Major Long, the Canadian, farther to the southward; being a branch of the Arkansas which was mistaken for the Red River, that rises and runs through a part of the Spanish territory of New Mexico, which it had been the intention of Major Long to descend. The length of the Arkansas, to its junction with the Mississippi in lat. 34° long. 91 °, is about 1500 miles; of the Canadian, to its confluence with the Arkansas, 1000 miles.
Both these parties suffered much from stormy weather, want 6f provisions, and particularly of water, that of the rivers being generally brackish or muddy. Naked beds of sand occupied the greater portion of the valley of the Arkansas as far as the desert extended, which were frequently covered with an incrustation of salt, like thin ice. The beds of both rivers were three or four thousand feet in width, and that of the Canadian mostly without water, except