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Missouri, a distance of 843 miles. Over these falls the Mississippi 'has a perpendicular pitch of forty feet.' Here the banks of the river begin to be skirted with a rugged line of limestone rocks, generally denominated bluff's, which rise from one hundred to four hundred feet in height, and are characterized by the growth of cedars and pines on their summits. The. width of the river between these bluffs is about ()00 feet. One hundred miles below the falls, the river expands into a beautiful sheet of water, of twenty-four miles in length and two in breadth, called Lake Pepin. It is bounded on the east by a lofty range of limestone bluffs, and on the west by an elevated prairie, destitute of trees, but covered with luxuriant pasturage. On issuing from this lake, the Mississippi exhibits in a striking manner those extensive and moving sand-bars, innumerable islands and channels, drifts and snags, which more or less impede navigation to its very mouth.
In this division, the large tributaries which it receives, are, from the west, St. Peter's, the Ocano,'Jowa, Turkey, Desmoines and Salt rivers; on the east, the St. Croix, Chippeway, Black, Ousconsing, Rock and Illinois. The rapids of the Rock River extend six miles, and oppose an effectual barrier to steam navigation, although keel-boats and large barges may ascend. The rivers St. Croix and Bois-brule connect, by a short portage, the Mississippi with Lake Superior, as do also the Chippeway and the Montreal; and between the Ousconsing and Fox Rivers, the portage is only a mile and a half over a flat country; and so trifling is the difference in the level of the two streams that, during the time of high waters, canoes frequently cross from one river to the other; and thus is the Mississippi also connected with Lake Michigan. Such, indeed, is the general level of this part of America, that it has been suggested that a barrier of eighteen or twenty feet high, thrown across the embouchure of Lake Erie at Buffalo, would turn the whole of the waters of the great American lakes into the Gulf of Mexico, leaving the St. Lawrence nearly dry:—a circumstance which, in the event of any future war, will greatly facilitate the conquest of Canada!
At the Ousconsing, Mr. Schoolcraft takes leave of the Mississippi with a description of that part of it in the immediate neighbourhood.
'The valley of the Mississippi between Prairie du Chien, and the lead mines of Dubuque, is about two miles in width, and consists of a rich deposit of alluvial soil, a part of which is prairie, and the remainder covered with a heavy forest of elm, sugar tree, black walnut, ash, and cotton wood. It is bounded on each side by corresponding bluffs of calcareous rocks, which attain a general elevation of four hundred feet, and throw an interest over the scene—which, prairies and forests —woody islands, and winding channels, beautiful and picturesque as they certainly are, must fail to create. It is to these bluffs—now shooting into spiral columns, naked and crumbling—now sloping into grassy hills or intersected by lateral vallies—here, grouped in the fantastic forms of some antiquated battlement, mocking the ingenuity of man—there, stretching as far as the eye can reach in a perpendicular wall—but ever varying—pleasing—and new—it is to these bluffs, that the valley of the upper Mississippi owes all its grandeur and magnificence. Its broad and glittering channel—its woodless prairies and aspiring forests—its flowering shrubs and animated productions—only serve to fill up, and give effect to the imposing outline, so boldly sketched by the pencil of nature, in these sublime and pleasing bluffs.'— pp. 354, 355.
The fourth division of the physical aspect of the Mississippi, according to Mr. Schoolcraft, (no part of which however, on the present occasion, was seen by him,) takes place at the confluence of the Missouri, which is so complete that the character of the former is entirely lost in that of the latter, which is in fact much the largest of the two streams. The waters of the Mississippi are here transparent and of a greenish hue—those of the Missouri turbid and of an opaque whitish colour, and they are said not to incorporate for twenty, thirty, and even forty miles below their junction. From this point to the mouth of the great drain in the Gulf of Mexico the distance is 1220 miles: instead, however, of allowing, with Mr. Schoolcraft, that the same ' characteristic appearances' are carried through this distance to the ocean, we should rather be disposed to divide it into three distinct portions; the first, from the Missouri to the Ohio, about 250 miles; the second, from thence to the Arkansas, 400 miles; and the third to the sea.
In the first portion, no tributary of any magnitude swells the stream; the rocky-bound shore ceases about thirty miles above the junction of the Ohio, where a transverse chain of rocks forms a serious impediment to navigation; here the alluvial banks begin, the hills retiring to a considerable distance from the river. Up to this point, the Mississippi has channelled out a passage in the horizontal strata of sandstone under which, on the Illinois side, are found extensive beds of coal. A mass of rock standing in the middle of the stream, about 150 feet high, is called, The Grand Tower, which Mr. James thinks may one day be made use of as the centre pier of a bridge over the Mississippi. About the middle part of this portion of the river, and near the stream of Kaskasia, are lead mines on the western, and salt springs on the eastern1 bank; but neither of them very productive. Here begins, on the eastern side, that alluvial valley, well known as the ' Bottom;' the fertility of which forms a complete set-off, in the mind of the American land-speculator, against the dreadful insalubrity of the air: parts of it, we are told, have ' been cultivated successively
without without manure for a hundred years, and are still loaded annually with luxuriant crops.'
The second portion consists wholly, on the western side, of that low uninterrupted tract of land known by the name of the Great Swamp, or, as it is sometimes called, the Dismal Swamp. Scarcely a tree or a bush for 300 miles is to be seen except the funereal cypress (Cupressus Disticha), ' whose innumerable conical excrescences,' says Mr. James, ' called knees, which spring up from the roots, resembling the monuments in a churchyard, give a gloomy and peculiar aspect to the scenery of these cypress swamps.' This tree is common in England, but we believe has not been known to ripen its seed, or to throw out these large ' knees;' the climate, perhaps, being too cold; for, Mr. James says, it is rarely met with in America, north of latitude 38°. The eastern banks are also low, with here and there some partial elevations, called the ' Chickasaw Bluffs;' the river flowing in one uniform current, dangerous, however, to navigation from the numerous ' snags, mugs and sawyers.' This part of the river, Mr. Nuttall says, ' is truly magnificent, though generally bordered by the most gloomy solitudes, in which there are now no visible traces of the abode of man.' A little farther down, however, some French exiles had built a few log-huts, which they dignified with the name of New Madrid! This part of the valley is not only extremely unhealthy, but subject to earthquakes, which overthrow the houses, tear up the forests, and rend the banks of the river in a most extraordinary manner. These ' shakes,' as the concussions are called, are very frequent; but so accustomed to them are the few miserable sickly inhabitants, that when some travellers, on feeling the house which they had entered, so violently shaken as scarcely to allow them to stand on their feet, were expressing their terror, they were desired by the hostess not to be alarmed, ' for (said she) it is only an earthquake.'
The third portion consists of one great alluvial surface, in which, however, the river has worked a channel of at least a hundred feet deep; the crumbling banks consisting of clay, ferruginous sand, and quartzy gravel. Almost every flood undermines some part of these banks, when they fall in, and carry with their ruins
Stirpesque raptas, et pecus, et domos,' and fields and plantations into the stream, now increased by the Big Black river, the Arkansas, the Waspita, and the Red river from the westward. At Point Coupee, near the town of St. Francisville, the banks begin to descend, till at Baton Rouge and from thence to the sea, they are scarcely elevated above the level of the river, and would be overflowed during the freshes, but for
the the artificial embankments, called levees, by which a long narrow line of plantations is defended, extending from about eighty miles above, to sixty miles below, New Orleans. All beyond is one vast level swampy surface, cut into a thousand different channels, covered with rank grass, reeds and rushes, and totally destitute of trees. The inundations are said to reach to the enormous height of fifty or sixty feet.
It will easily be imagined, that the breaking down of the lev£e and the tremendous rush of such a vast body of water as is contained between the two banks, must be certain destruction to those plantations near which the accident happens. Strict regulations are therefore established for its prevention, and for affording assistance on the occurrence of so calamitous an event. At such times the whole surface beyond the sloping banks or glacis, exhibits, for many thousand square miles, one vast ocean. This has been the casein the present year, when upwards of three hundred plantations were laid under water, and their crops entirely destroyed. The unhealthiness of such a country may readily be supposed; and the churchyards of New Orleans furnish a thousand melancholy records of the mortality of the place. The extremes of heat and cold are very great. Heavy snow has been known to fall at Natchez, in lat. 31 J°, and they have frost every winter at New Orleans, in lat. 29° 5f.
In summer the thermometer frequently stands at 90°, and has been known at 98°. The severe cold of winter, which pervades every part of North America, is usually attributed to the northwest wind blowing from the Rocky Mountains, but we doubt the sufficiency of this cause; and should rather assign it to the immense extent of surface covered with lakes and swamps, and stagnant plashes of water.
Mr. Schoolcraft estimates the elevation of the source of the Mississippi (calculating from that of Lake Superior) to be 1330 feet above the Atlantic; which, he says, in '2,978 miles, (the whole length of its course,) ' will give a mean descent of two feet, inches,' and that ' he is not aware of any fallacies in these calculations.' We are rather surprized that so sensible a man, and a philosopher, could make so egregious a blunder, and be satisfied with such a result; which he has obtained by dividing 2,978 by 1330, (and dividing it wrong,) instead of reversing the operation. According to his data, the average descent of the Mississippi will be 5.36 inches, instead of 2 feet 3in. nearly, which would make its source 6,700 feet (instead of 1330) above the level of the sea. But we are persuaded that Mr. Schoolcraft has overrated the elevation of its source, and that it does not exceed 1,000 feet; and the ground of our opinion is this:—It has been found, from the
surveys surveys of the line of the great canal of New York, that the elevation of Lake Erie is only 564 feet above the level of the Atlantic; and from this, Major Long deduces the head of the' Illinois at 450 feet. The length of this river to its mouth in the Mississippi, is 1,200 miles, and from thence to the gulf of Mexico 1,200 more. Now a fall of 450 feet in 2,400 miles gives no more than 2j inches per mile; and as the Illinois and the Mississippi run nearly parallel, and must be nearly on the same level, the Mississippi, at 2,000 miles from its mouth, cannot, we think, have more than 500 feet elevation. It is the rush of waters from the westward, rather than its slope, that impels its stream at a mean velocity of about 3 J miles an hour, which, below the junction of the Missouri, becomes four miles, and sometimes more.
It is now time that we should return to Major Long's party, and accompany them in their steam-boat up the Missouri; first, however, noticing an object which attracted their attention on the bank of the Mississippi near the point of confluence, namely, distinct impressions of two human feet, on the horizontal surface of the limestone rock upon which the town of St. Louis is built, and which some American geologists, we are told, have been pleased to consider as 'contemporaneous with those casts of submarine animals, which occupy so great a part of the body of the limestone.' Mr. James supposes that the induration of the mud, consisting of clay and lime, left on the shelvings of the rocks, may account for the phenomenon, by giving the appearance of an impression in the limestone itself. We think differently, and have little doubt they are the work of some ingenious Frenchman of the town of St. Louis, at an early period of the settlement.
Near the confluence of the two rivers are a multitude of those earthy tumuli of various forms and magnitude, which are found in almost every part of the vale of the Mississippi, some of them from two to three hundred feet in length, and seventy feet in height; generally of a pyramidal form, like those of Mexico, and sometimes surrounded by a ditch. Mr. Nuttall notices one of large dimensions, on the banks of the Ohio, on the summit of which was growing, among other trees, 'a white oak, of not less than two centuries duration.' This proves very little of that vast antiquity which has been assigned to these cemeteries, for such they appear to be; and such, in fact, but of smaller dimensions, are still raised over the deceased bodies of their chiefs by the present Indians. Thus a chief of the Omawhaws, named Blackbird, who died in 1808, was interred sitting on his favourite horse, on the summit of a high bluff on the bank of the Missouri, and a mound raised over his remains. On a recent mound being opened, the body of a white officer was discovered in a sitting posture,