Chapter XLIII - Landscapes Past and Present

History of Hampshire County West Virginia From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present
By Hu Maxwell and H. L. Swisher
Morgantown, West Virginia; A. Brown Boughner Printer; 1897

PART 2 County History
Pages 498-532

This chapter, which deals with the physical features of Hampshire, will present a study of the county's hills and valleys, rivers and smaller streams, soils and products, the rocks which appear on the surface, and what is beneath the surface, so far as known, together with a few easily understood facts of the county's geology and mineralogy.

Altitudes above the Sea. — While Hampshire county is hilly or mountainous, it yet has no mountains equaling in height and ruggedness those of some of the counties west, particularly Grant, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Webster and Randolph. The most elevated point in Hampshire county is 3,100 feet above the sea. The lowest point is the bed of Capon river where it flows across the line from Hampshire into Morgan 510 feet. The county, therefore, has a vertical range of 2,590 feet. Every point in Hampshire lies somewhere between these two extremes. The average elevation is probably not far from 1,200 feet. It is a prominent feature of the mountains of this county that they have few peaks which rise sharply above the surrounding ranges. This is because the mountains of Hampshire county are very old, geologically considered, and peaks which may once have existed have been worn down till they now rise little above the ridges, and appear as broad, rounded domes. In the present chapter the altitudes of the most prominent points in this county will be given. This will include the elevation above the sea of the hills and mountains; of the beds of the rivers at different points; and of the towns and postoffices. These calculations have been carefully made and are believed to be correct in every particular, as nearly as can be shown by a barometer. This chapter will also give the distances and directions from Romney of all the important points in Hampshire county, and of several places in adjoining counties. These distances have all been calculated from latitude and longitude, and thus are what are known as "air lines." That is, they are the shortest lines between the two points, and take no account of roads, nor of irregularities of the land surface. They are always shorter than any road can be constructed between the two points, because a road is always, in this county, more or less crooked, and therefore longer than an "air line." This difference often amounts to considerable. Sometimes the road is nearly twice as long as the direct line between the two points.

The elevation of some of the mountains and hills of Hampshire are shown in the following list: South branch mountain, one mile east of the head spring of Trout run, 3,100 feet; South branch mountain at the Hampshire-Hardy line, 3,000; High knob, near the head of Big run, 2,900; Capon mountain, two miles south of the Hampshire-Morgan line, 2,900; Short mountain, four miles west of Delray, 2,800; Capon mountain, at the Hampshire-Morgan line, 2,700; High knob, in Mill creek mountain, at the Hampshire-Hardy line, 2,600; Great North mountain, three miles southeast of Lafolletsville, 2,600; Great North mountain, two miles southeast of Capon springs, 2,500; the ridge on which is the common corner of Hampshire, Hardy and Mineral counties, 2,300; the mountain three miles east of Delray, 2,300; the mountain two miles northeast of Sedan, 2,200; Mill creek mountain, across the river opposite Romney, 2,000; Sandy ridge, the highest point of which lies west of the road leading* from Forks of Capon to Cold stream, 1,800; the hill south of Romney one-fourth mile, 1,100.

In the following list will be found the altitude of the beds of streams at various points in their courses in Hampshire county: Capon at the Hampshire-Morgan line, 510 feet; North river at its mouth, 580; Little Capon at the Hampshire-Morgan line, 600; the Potomac at the Hampshire-Morgan line, 625; South branch at the mouth of Town run below Romney, 700; Capon, two miles above Cold stream, 700; South branch at Moorefield, 800; Mill creek, two miles above Moorefield junction, 800; Mill creek at Pargatsville, 900; Little Capon, where the road from Higginsville to Frenchburg crosses, 1,000; North river, two miles above Sedan, 1,000; Tearcoat, where the Northwestern pike crosses, 1,025; Capon, at the Hampshire-Hardy line, 1,040; North river at the Hampshire-Hardy line, 1,100; Grassy run at the Hampshire-Hardy line, 1,500.

The list which follows will show the altitude of towns, places and postoffices in Hampshire county: Forks of Capon, 600 feet; Cold Stream, 700; Higginsville, 700: North River Mills, 775; Glebe, 780; Springfield, 800; Moorefield Junction, 800; Capon Bridge, 800; Pargatsville, 900; Romney, 900; Sedan, 980; Yellow Spring, 980; Hanging Rocks, near North river, 1,000; Delray, 1,050; Frenchburg, 1,050; Pleasant Dale, 1,100; Mutton run, 1,100; Bloomery, southeast of the Forks of Capon, 1,100; Adams Mill, 1,150; Mill Brook, 1,200; Lafolletsville, 1,200; Lehew, 1,275; Slanesville, 1,300; Augusta, 1,300; Capon Springs, 1,400; Bloomery, northeast of the Forks of Capon, 2,500.

Distances from Romney. — The following list shows the distance in an "air line" from Romney to the several points named; and it also shows the direction of each from Romney. The directions are expressed in the general terms of "east," "southeast," "east of southeast," etc., and are not given in degrees. They are accurate enough for all practical purposes, although not strictly correct in all cases. From Romney to Springfield, north of northeast, 8 miles; to Greenspring run, north of northeast, 13-1/2 miles; to Higginsville, northeast, 11 miles; to Slanesville, east of northeast, 13 miles; to Frenchburg, east of southeast, 6 miles; to Augusta, east of southeast, 7 miles; to Pleasant Dale, east of southeast, 10 miles; North River Mills, east, 13-1/2 miles; Hanging Rack, east of southeast, 12-1/2 miles; Adams Mill, southeast, 6 miles; Ruckman, southeast, 7-1/2 miles; Delray, southeast, 13 miles; Mutton Run, southeast, 17 miles; Sedan, southeast, l2-1/2 miles; Mill Brook, southeast, 15 miles; Yellow Spring, southeast, 16-1/2 miles; Glebe, south of southwest, 8 miles; Ruckman, southeast, 7-1/2 miles; the Mineral county line, west, 4 miles; Moorefield junction, southwest, 5 miles; Pargatsville, southwest, 17 miles; Burlington (Mineral county), west 8 miles; Ridgeville, (Mineral county), west 12 miles; Headsville (Mineral county), northwest, 6-1/2 miles; Keyser (Mineral county), west of northwest, 13 miles; Old Fields (Hardy county), south of southwest, 15 miles; Hampshire-Hardy line crossing the South branch, south of southwest, 12 miles; Moorefield (Hardy county), south of southwest, 22 miles; Wardensville (Hardy county), south of southeast, 20 miles; common corner of Hampshire and Frederick counties, southeast, 21-1/2 miles; common corner of Hampshire, Morgan and Frederick counties, east of northeast, 24 miles; the Virginia line, east 21-1/2 miles; Bloomery, east of northeast, 21-1/2 miles; Cold Stream, east, 17-1/2 miles; Capon Bridge, east of southeast, 17-1/2 miles; Capon Spring's, southeast, 19 miles; Lafolletsville, southeast, 19-1/2 miles; Lehew, southeast, 19 miles; Winchester (Frederick county), east of southeast, 33 miles; Gerrardstown (Berkeley county), east, 35-1/2 miles; Darkesville, (Berkeley county), 39 miles; the Virginia state line at the nearest point, east of southeast, 18 miles.

The Soils of Hampshire. — The soil of a country is usually understood to be the covering of the solid rock. It is very thin in comparison with the thickness of the subjacent rock, not often more than four or five feet, and frequently less. This is not the place for a chemical discussion of soils; but a few plain facts may be given. What is soil? Of what is it made? In the first place, leaving chemical questions out, soil is simply pulverized rock, mixed with vegetable humus. The rocky ledges underlying a country, become disintegrated near the surface; they decompose; the sand and dust accumulate, washing into the low places, and leaving the high points more or less bare, until a soil of sufficient depth is formed to support vegetation. A soil in which little or no vegetable humus is intermixed, is poor, and it produces little growth. Sand alone, no matter how finely pulverized, is not capable of supporting vegetation, except a few peculiar species or varieties. This is why some of the hillsides of Hampshire are so nearly bare. The soil is deep enough, but is poor. The state of being poor is nothing more than a lack of humus, or decaying vegetation. Those poor hillside soils either never had humus in them, or it has been washed out. A soil tolerable fertile is sometimes made miserably poor by being burned over each year when the leaves fall. The supply of vegetable matter which would have gone to furnish what the soil needed, is thus burned and destroyed; and in course of time that already in the soil is consumed or washed out, and instead of a fertile woodland, there is a blasted, lifeless tract. Examples of this are too often met with in West Virginia, and as often in Hampshire as elsewhere.

Excessive tillage of land exhausts it, because it takes out the humus, and puts nothing back. It does not exhaust the disintegrated rock — the sand, the clay, the dust; but it takes out the vital part, the mold of vegetation. Fertilizers are used to restore the fertility of exhausted land. That process is misleading, in many cases. Too often the fertilizing material is a stimulant rather than a food to the land. It really adds no element of fertility, but, by a chemical process, compels the soil to give up all the remaining humus; and when the vegetable matter is all gone from the soil, all the fertilizers of that kind in the world would not cause the land to produce a crop. The intelligent farmer does not need be told this. His experience has taught him the truth of it. No land is so completely sterile as that which, through excessive use of fertilizers, has been compelled to part with its vegetable matter. Something cannot be created from nothing. If a soil has no plant food in it, and a fertilizer contains no plant food, the mixing of the two will not produce plant life. The most apt illustration is that of alcohol and the human body. Let the body represent a soil, and alcohol the stimulant. There is no nutritive element in alcohol, yet when taken into the stomach it stimulates the body to greater activity for a while. It simply calls up the reserve force; but after a time the body has no more force in reserve, and no amount of alcohol can stimulate to further action. So, the soil, as long as it has strength in reserve, can be stimulated to activity; but when its reserve strength is exhausted, it cannot be further stimulated. It must have more food before it can do more work.

A crop of clover, of buckwheat, of rye, or any other crop, plowed under, fertilizes land because it adds vegetable matter to the soil. Then if the soil is stubborn about yielding up its fertility, a treatment of the proper fertilizing agent will compel it to do so. Bottom lands along the rivers and creeks are usually more fertile than lands on the hills because rains leach the uplands and wash the decaying leaves and the humus down upon the lowlands. The soil along the river bottoms is often many feet deep, and fertile all the way down. This is because the washings from the hills have been accumulating there for ages faster than the vegetation which annually drew from it could exhaust the supply. It sometimes happens that the surface of a deep soil is exhausted by long cultivation; and that a sub-soil plow, which goes deeper than usual, turns up a new fertile soil which had lain beyond the reach of plant roots for ages. Occasionally a flood, which covers bottom lands leaves a deposit of mud which is full of humus. This enriches the land where it lodges, but the mountain districts from which it was carried were robbed of that much fertility.

Disintegrated rock of every kind cannot be made fertile by the usual addition of vegetable humus. Certain chemical conditions must be complied with. Limestone generally forms good soil because it contains elements which enter into plants. Strata of rock, as we now see them, were once beds of soil. They hardened and became stone. Sandstone is formed of accumulations of sand; shale is made from beds of clay or mud; limestone was once an aggregation of shells and skeletons of large and small living - creatures. When these rocks are broken up, disintegrated and become soils, they return to that state in which they were before 'they became rock. The limestone becomes shells and bones, bat of course pulverized, mixed and changed; sandstone becomes sand again; shale becomes mud and clay as it originally was. This gives a key to the cause of some soils being better than others. A clay bank is not easily fertilized; but a bed of black mud usually possesses elements on which plants can feed. So, if the disintegrating - shale was originally sterile clay, it will make a poor soil; but if it was originally a fertile mud, the resulting soil will be good. If the disintegrating sandstone was once a pure quartz sand, the soil will likely be poor; but if it was something better, the soil will be better. The fertility of limestone soil is mainly due to the animal matter in the rock. If should always be borne in mind, however, that the difference of soils is dependent not so much upon their chemical composition as upon the physical arrangement of their particles.

Plants do not feed exclusively upon the soil. As a matter of fact, the principal part of the material which enters into the construction of the stems and leaves of some plants is derived from the air. It is often said, but is not quite true, that the ash remaining when wood is burned represents the portion derived from the soil, while the invisible portions which escape as smoke and gasses, were derived from the air. Some plants prosper without touching soil. A species of Chinese lily nourishes in a bowl of water with a few small rocks in the bottom. On the other hand there are plants that will wither in a few minutes if taken from the ground. This shows that some plants extract more material from the soil than other. It is a common saying that buckwheat rapidly exhausts land.

Some lands are more affected by drought than others, when both receive the same rainfall. This may be due to the character of the underlying rocks, although usually due to a different cause. If the soil is shallow, and the subjacent rocks lie oblique and on edge, they are liable to carry the water away rapidly by receiving it into their openings and crevices, thus draining the soil. But if the subjacent rocks lie horizontally, water which sinks through the soil is prevented from escaping, and is held as in a tub, and is fed gradually upward through, the soil by capilliary attraction. This land will remain moist a long time. But the more usual reason that one soil dries more rapidly than another, is that one is loose and the other compact. The compact soil dries first. The smaller the interspaces between the ultimate particles which make up the soil, the more rapidly water rises from the wet subsoil by capilliary attraction, and the supply is soon exhausted. The more compact the soil, the smaller the spaces between the particles. In loose ground the interspaces are larger, the water rises slowly or not at all, and the dampness remains longer beneath the surface. In the western countries where the summers are hot and rainless, the farmers irrigate their land, thoroughly soaking it from a neighboring canal. If they shut the water off and leave the land alone, in a few days it is baked, parched, hard and as dry as a Done. But the farmer does not do this. As soon as the water is turned off, he plows and barrows the land, making the surface as loose as possible. The result is, the immediate top becomes dry, but a few inches below the surface the soil remains moist for weeks. The water cannot escape through the porous surface. The same rule applies everywhere. If two cornfields lie side by side, especially in a dry season, and one is carefully tilled and the surface kept loose, while the other is not, the difference in the crops will show that in one case the moisture in the soil was prevented from escaping and was fed to the corn roots, while in the other case it rose to the surface and was blown away by the wind, leaving the corn to die of thirst.

The Romney Shale. — A peculiar rock formation takes its name from Romney, because it reaches its typical development in the vicinity of that town. In the United States Geological survey it is called "Romney Shale." It rests upon the Monterey sandstone (which is seen in Hanging Rocks below Romney), and is next to the lowest formation in the Devonian age in this part of the state. The Romney shale extends through Maryland into Pennsylvania, and in the other direction is found as far as Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties, and is abundant in some portions of Grant county. It probably extends westward beyond the Alleghanies, but is there buried beneath vast beds of more recent rock and has not been seen. The thickness of this shale m Maryland, north of Hampshire, is about seven hundred feet. In Grant county the thickness is about thirteen hundred feet, and in Hampshire it is between these extremes. A description of this remarkable and almost worthless rock will prove of interest to the people of this county, who are already more or less familiar with it. It is popularly called slate, but it is not slate. It bears the same relation to slate that dried clay bears to a burnt brick. Shale is indurated and partly pressed mud. Slate is burnt and completely pressed shale. If the beds of shale, as we now have them, were heated (from the internal heat of the earth), and, while in a semi-fused condition, were submitted to an enormous pressure and allowed slowly to cool, they would be slate, or schist.

Romney shale is found along the South branch valley, m the valleys of Patterson creek and New creek, in Mineral county, and along the flanks, near the bases, of the neighboring hills and mountains. It is usually black, but sometimes lighter colored, and in places is almost terra cotta. Near the base of the formation the color is darker. The lighter colors are near the top. It breaks and splits easily; and the typical mode of fracture is in long and slender pieces like slate pencils. In Romney it is used for sidewalks, and when newly made these sidewalks have the appearance of masses of broken slate pencils. The rock is easily pulverized, and is quickly ground to a powder so fine that the wind blows it away and the rain washes it off. It has been used in macadamizing roads, but it soon wears out, a covering a foot deep disappearing in a few years. However, when a road passes through a shale formation and the roadbed is cut from the solid rock, it makes an excellent highway, never becoming troublesome on account of mud or dust. The most solid roads in Hampshire are those which pass over strata of shale. The finest exposure of this formation in Hampshire county is at the river bluff, half mile, or less, from Romney, in a northwestern direction. There a perpendicular cliff, in places more than one hundred and fifty feet high, may be seen. The fissile nature of the rocks can be studied to advantage. The face of the precipice is shattered in multiplied millions of fragments, in size ranging from a few pounds to pieces like the smallest needle.

The manner in which these beds of shale were formed, ages ago, is clearly indicated. A former chapter in this book describes the method of rock building, such as we had in this part of West Virginia. It was there pointed out that all the rocks were formed in the bottom of the sea; the sandstone was made of sand; limestone of shells that settled to the bottom, and shale was made of mud. The chief difference between sandstone and shale is, that the former is made of coarser material — sandstone is consolidated sandbars; shale is hardened mud flats. The Romney shale gives us a glimpse of conditions in this part of the world millions of years ago. The sea was then shallow over an area covering several counties, with Hampshire in the center. The land toward the east, from which the mud was washed by rivers, was low, and the rivers were stagnant or sluggish. Had their currents been rapid they would have carried sand into the sea, and we would have had sandstone instead of shale. The shores were swampy and low. In fact, the whole area under consideration was probably a vast, dismal swamp, with lagoons, swales, channels, currents and counter currents, caused by the ebbing and flowing of the tides. The mud accumulated in these semi-submerged swamps to a depth of a thousand feet or more, and then an elevation of the neighboring land gave currents to the rivers, and sand came pouring in and covered the mud to a depth of more than two thousand, feet. This sand now exists as sandstone and overlies the shale in every part of Hampshire where it has not been stripped oft by erosion. The deep beds of mud thus buried were pressed and hardened and became shale.

Vegetation was somewhat abundant at that time, as is shown by the carbon in the shale, giving it its black color. In places the rock resembles - coal, and persons not acquainted with the geology of the section have attempted to open coal mines in this shale. Of course they never found any coal, except perhaps a thin and stony vein occasionally; for coal, in paying quantities, does net exist in formations as old as the Romney shale. Had vegetation been as abundant at the beginning of the Devonian as in the middle of the Carboniferous age, it is probable that the area of the Romney shale would have been a field of enormous coal beds. But the vegetation was lacking, and mud flats took the place of peat bog's, and we now have shale instead of coal.

There is no clearly denned line in Hampshire county between the shale and the overlying formation — called the Jennings. The sandstone of the latter lies upon the shale, and occasionally a layer sandstone is included in the shale, or a bed of shale is found among" the strata of sandstone. This shows that the change from the mud fiats to the sandbars — from the swampy shores to the elevated coast line bordering the ancient sea — was gradual.

There is another paragraph in the history of the rocks which may be read by following the Piney mountain road about a mile from where it leaves the Northwestern pike. Halfway up Town hill, after passing over various grades of sandstone, a ledge of coarse conglomerate is met with. It rests upon and lies beneath finer-grained sandstone. The conglomerate is made up of rounded, water-worn, white quartz pebbles, cemented in a strong mass. The most careless observer will notice the difference between this and the neighboring rocks. Conglomerate is found in all countries of the world, and is not confined to any age of rocks. All have the same general history. They are formed of pebbles worn round in the beds of swift rivers or by the churning of waves on stormy coasts. That ledge on Town hill has its story to tell. The pebbles of which it is composed were probably worn and polished in the headwaters of the rivers which brought the mud to sea to form the Romney shale. But these rivers became sluggish when they reached the low-coasted plain, and could not carry the pebbles to sea, and they there lodged for ages, while the upper portion of the Romney shale and the superincumbent sandstones were being deposited. Then a change in the elevation of the land increased the strength of the river currents, and the gravel was carried to sea and was cemented into rock as we now see it. Some of the pebbles are an inch in diameter. They are white quartz and originally were derived from veins of that beautiful rock which were formed in early ages of the earth's history. These white pebbles are remnants of mountains long ago ground down and which were scattered and spread over the bottoms of ancient oceans to form rocks for newer continents. The mountains from which the material was derived are believed to have stood east of the present Blue Ridge. Immense areas of very hard rock, supposed to be the remnants and foundations of ancient mountains, are still to be seen in that region.

There is another important series of rocks named from its abundance in this county. It is called the "Hampshire Formation." It lies above the Romney shale and is separated from it by the Jennings Formation more than two thousand feet thick.

Mill Creek Mountain. — The student of Hampshire county's geography and geology will be Well repaid by careful study of Mill creek mountain and its relations to the South - branch of the Potomac. In this chapter Mill creek mountain is understood to include that range which begins in Hardy county north of Old Fields, and extends parallel with the South branch, sometimes on one side of it and sometimes on the other, to the North branch, at. the Maryland line, between Green Spring station and South Branch station. Different portions of the mountain have different names in the several localities, but the government charts, made in 1891, from the surveys of 1883, 1884 and 1885, give the general name, Mill creek mountain, to the range. The casual observer might suppose that the range is properly divided into several mountains. That which gives it the appearance of district mountains is the fact that it has been cut through again and again from side to side, and in one instance cut down from summit to base lengthwise for seven miles — split open as it were — by the South branch. It therefore becomes a profitable subject for study. Instances are rare in this state, and rare in any part of the world, in which the relative ages of a mountain and a river can be so clearly seen, and for which the proof is so manifest. The proof is conclusive that the South branch was flowing along nearly its present course before Mill creek mountain had an existence.

The method by which rivers cut through mountains has been discussed somewhat at length in a former chapter of this book. The discussion will not be repeated here. It was formerly held by geologists that w 7 here a river has cut a gap through a mountain it first was stopped in its course by the sudden upheaval of the mountain across its channel, and formed a lake by the backwater which rose higher and higher until it found an outlet through the lowest gap in the obstruction, and then burst through with tremendous force, tearing the rocks out and cutting a passage through the mountain to its base, and draining the lake in a short time, perhaps in so short a time that the whole work partook of the nature of an explosion, bursting through the rocks and hurling them before the rushing waters from the pent-up lake. This view r of the case is now known to be erroneous. The process was not one of violence. There were no lakes, except in rare cases. Had it been possible for a man to have lived so long, and had he stood at Hanging Rocks below Romney and watched the whole operation of the river cutting its channel through the mountain at that place, he probably would never have witnessed anymore violence than can be seen at present. The work is perhaps going on today in the same manner as in past ages. The river was flowing" before there was a mountain across its path. The mountain was formed by the upheaval of rocks from below the surface. Vast beds of limestone, sandstone and shale, which once lay flat, were folded by stupendous pressure, and the folded part rose above the surface as a vast arch. This arch, is it now exists, forms the mountain. It can thus be understood how the gaps were cut through it by the river. The mountain rose out of the earth so slowly that as it appeared above the general surface of the country and across the channel of the river, the stream kept its old channel, cutting and wearing the rocks away as they rose higher and higher.

The most northern gap through this mountain, in Hampshire county, is that made by the North branch, between Greenspring and South branch station. The main line of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad passes through it, along the bank of the North branch. It will be presently shown that, had this mountain been older than the river the mouth of the South branch would be at Greenspring instead of where it is. If the mountain had been there first, the only method by which the river could have gotten through it would have been by backing up, forming a lake, until the water poured over the top of the mountain. Take the case of the lower Hanging Rocks, where the wire bridge use to be, and see what the result would have been, had the South branch attempted to back up before the gap existed, forming a lake till it overflowed the mountain where the gap now is. The general height of the mountain in that vicinity is now from eleven hundred to fourteen hundred feet above sea level. The bed of the South branch at that point is now about seven hundred feet above sea level — a few feet less, perhaps. Thus, the river would impound its waters and form a lake four hundred feet deep before finding escape over the mountain to commence cutting the gap. But, before the waters had risen in that lake to a depth of two hundred and fifty feet it would have flowed through the low gap at the head of Greenspring run and would have emptied itself down the present valley of Greenspring into the North branch, and it would not have cut the gap at the wire bridge at all. This is conclusive proof that the gap was cut slowly, as the mountain rose out of the earth.

If further proof is wanted, take the case of the upper Hanging Rocks, four miles below Romney, and the same argument will lead to a similar conclusion. The South branch, for fifteen miles above Hanging Rocks, flows along the eastern base of Mill creek mountain, and at Hanging Rocks breaks through to the west side. If the mountain had been there first it would have been necessary that a lake form from the pent-up water till it overflowed the mountain at that plaice. The mountain is twelve hundred feet above sea level, or five hundred above the bed of the river. A lake must have formed five hundred feet deep to overflow the mountain toward the west. But, before the water had risen three hundred feet it would have passed out through the low gap, on the east side of the mountain, between the upper and lower Hanging Rocks. That gap is less than eight hundred feet above sea level, and the river would have made its channel there and would not have cut through the mountain, which is more than two hundred feet higher. Water always flows through the lowest gaps. This proof is conclusive that, had the South branch, when it first started on its course to the sea, found Mill creek mountain across its path at upper Hanging Rock, it would have continued down the east side of the mountain, and the gaps at both the upper and lower rocks would not have been made.

Mill creek gap, or Mechanicsburg gap, is another case to the point. This passage through the mountain was not made by the South branch, but by Mill creek, just before it empties into the river. Mill creek is a comparatively small stream, and the amount of labor it has performed, in sawing a passage for its water through that lofty mountain, is almost incredible. A river like the South branch may be expected to do great things; but so much work seems out of the question with so small a stream as Mill creek. Yet, by working steadily through countless ages it has sawed a gap through the mountain from top to bottom. This stream is also older than the mountain. Its entire course, except the lower two miles, lies west of that range. It drains a basin of about sixty square miles, and empties through a pass cut to a depth of not less than twelve hundred feet. It is a much deeper gap than any of the three made by the South branch and the North branch below that place. The mountain on both sides of the pass is nearly two thousand feet above sea level, and the bottom of the pass is less than eight hundred, showing a perpendicular cut of twelve hundred feet. Had it been necessary for Mill creek to form a lake until it overflowed the mountain, before the cutting process began, the lake would have been more than a thousand feet deep. If no water had been permitted to escape, except by evaporation, the rain and snow of a thousand years would not have sufficed to accumulate water to that h eight. It would have been impossible for a lake to form at that place to a depth of a thousand feet; because before it had reached one-third of that depth it would have found two passages for escape, one through the low gap above Pargatsville into the South branch near Old Fields, and the other through the low gap toward the north, at the head of Dumpling run, a small stream which empties into the South branch about five miles below Romney, near the residence of Franklin Herriott. The divide between Dumpling run and the water of Mill creek is only nine hundred and seventy feet above the sea, and the divide between the water of Mill creek and Mud lick, near the Hardy county line, is eleven hundred feet above sea level. The mountain through which Mill creek made its outlet is two thousand feet; so it can be seen that the water, if sufficiently accumulated, would have passed through either gap long before it would have overflowed the mountain. Where rivers once fix their courses, there they usually keep them, not suffering themselves to be turned aside by mountains thrust across their paths.

The cases already cited are those in which streams have cut across mountains, making a way through from one side to the other: Mill creek gap, the passes at the upper and the lower Hanging Rocks, and that between Green spring and South branch station. A remarkable and peculiar case of mountain cutting remains to be described. It is the Trough. There the river did not cut across the mountain, from one side to the other, but made a passage through it from end to end. It may be compared to a circular saw, cutting a log lengthwise. The narrow, trough-like gap made by the river is about seven miles long, partly in Hardy county and partly in Hampshire. The process by which the passage was made, was without doubt similar to that already described in the excavation of the other passes through the same range. The river was flowing upon its course before there was a mountain. When the folding rocks began to rise from the earth, the axis, or anticline, of the fold was directly beneath, and parallel with the river which began the work by cutting a trough along the backbone of the embryonic mountain. As the elevation of the range became greater, the river cut deeper, until at the present day the gorge is hundreds of feet deep, and the South branch flows in a narrow channel at the bottom, with nearly perpendicular walls of rock on either side.

It seems almost superfluous to examine again for proof that if the mountain had been their first, the river would have sought and found a channel very different from the one it now follows. It is out of the question that a stream would flow over a mountain, along its summit lengthwise when it could have found an outlet hundreds of feet lower on either side. Had the South branch, when it first started out upon its course, found itself confronted by the end of Mill creek mountain, below Old Fields, it would have formed a lake, until the empounded waters escaped through the lowest gap. That gap would probably have been found near Pargatsville, although the gap on the east side of the river, through which the road from Romney to Moorefield passes, is on nearly the same level. Both gaps are about eleven hundred feet above the sea, or three hundred above the bed of the river at Moorefield. Had a lake been formed there, it would have found drainage down Mill creek before it attained a depth above three hundred feet. The mountain through which the Trough extends was split from end to end. Half the mountain is now east of the river, half west. But the larger half (if an expression so unmathematical may be allowed,) is west of the Trough. At least, it is the higher portion. It rises above the bed of the river to a height of nineteen hundred feet, culminating in High Knob, on the Hampshire-Hardy line. The portion to the east of the river rises nine hundred feet above the bed of the stream. There the two portions of the mountain stand facing each other, with a yawning chasm between them. The appearance is, that some terrific convulsion of nature had burst the mountain from end to end, and that the river, finding a channel thus ready made, adopted it. But convulsions of nature, especially in that region, have never burst mountains in such a way. The chasm was made by flowing water, through ages unnumbered; yet, the evidence does not contradict the theory that the work may have been facilitated by the rupture of the top of the strata under the immense strain as they were folded and thrust upward.

Without dwelling more at length on this subject, the conclusion may be thus presented: When the South branch first commenced flowing, near the close of the Carboniferous age, if it had found Mill creek mountain in its path at the south end of the Trough, the course of the river would have been very different from what it is now. It would have been as follows: Passing through Old Fields it would have made a channel through the low gap near Pargatsville, thence down Mill creek valley, through the gap at the head of Dumpling run, down that brook, following the present course of the river from upper to lower Hanging Rocks, thence through the low gap above Spring field, and down Green spring run to the North branch of the Potomac. The fact that the river did not take that course is proof that it already had its course before the mountain came into existence, and the mountain could not deflect or obstruct it.

There is no doubt that the whole face of the country has been much worn down since the upheaval of Mill creek mountain, and the topography was different in early times from what it is now. The divides near Pargatsville, at the head of Dumpling run, and at the head of Greenspring run, were probably not so low as now; but the mountain was also higher once than it is now, and the logic of the argument is not changed.

The Romney Terrace. — The village of Romney stands on a river terrace, the average of which is about one hundred and fifty feet above the South branch. It was known as Pearsall's Flat before the town had an existence probably because a man of that name lived there at a very early time. Pearsall's fort, which was built under the personal supervision of Washington, did not stand on the terrace where Romney stands, but on a smaller and lower terrace one half mile further south, nearly opposite the present bridge across the South branch. These two terraces demand more than a passing mention when considered from the standpoint of geography and geology. The upper one, where the town stands, is the older of the two; that is, it was made first. They were both carved by the South branch. Each was in its turn a portion of the bed of that river. This may seem unreasonable, if considered in relation with the present land features; but geology takes into account ages almost unnumbered, and in that immense time great results are accomplished. River terraces, far above the present channels of the streams, are found in many parts of the world, and are studied with interest and profit. They give us hints of former landscapes. The gravel and bowlders, now buried under soil, tell us what manner of rocks were brought down by the ancient floods, and whether they were different then from those now carried down by the same streams.

There was a time when the valley which now lies between Romney and the mountain on the other side of the river had not been scooped out. A plain level with Indian Mound cemetery then extended to the mountain west of the South branch — the bottom of that valley being about one hundred and seventy-five feet above the level of the present valley. It was no doubt a wide and beautiful plain but the evidence which remains is not sufficient to fix its exact boundaries or dimensions; nor to justify a conclusion as to its vegetable or animal life, except within certain wide limits. The ancient floor of that whole valley has been worn down and washed away, except one little fragment. This fragment is the terrace now occupied by Romney. The river has cut far below the ancient level; but the fragment of the old bottom remains to show where the river once flowed.

What is the evidence of this? The position, slope and general appearance of the terrace suggest its origin; but the direct and positive proof that the river once flowed there, is found in the beds of rounded bowlders covering the whole terrace. These bowlders are exactly like those found in the present bed of the river. Their rounded and polished surfaces show that they were rolled a long distance. They are typical water-worn bowlders, and cannot have any other origin. They rest upon the solid bedrock, and they are covered with several feet of soil. The solid rock was first cut out by the river. Next the bowlders accumulated. Then the river cut a deeper channel and left the beds of bowlders to be covered by soil. Any person who will follow the edge of the terrace, beginning at the ravine south of the cemetery, and passing northward for a mile, will find beds and layers of river bowlders exposed in many places, usually where the soil has been removed or cut through by small ravines and gullies. Near the top of the grade where the Northwestern pike ascends the hill at the cemetery, the layer of bowlders is exposed, resting upon the shale.

On the south side of the ravine at the same point, and all the way to its head, where it has cut back in the terrace, the bowlders are exposed to view. The covering of soil at that place is thin. A person would not need dig deep, anywhere in that vicinity, to find river bowlders and gravel. In many parts of Romney wells and cisterns have been dug through beds of bowlders. In one place a well passed nearly fifty feet through soil, gravel and bowlders before the bedrock was reached. From the cemetery northward, along the bluff for a mile, bowlders are found in layers between the soil and bed rock. In many places they have rolled down and have covered the face of the bluff from top to bottom. There are a few places, however, where bowlders are not found in large quantities; and some of the wells and cisterns in Romney reached bedrock without encountering* many. This exception to the rule is not difficult of explanation. At the present day the river deposits gravel and bowlders more bountifully in some portions of the bottom-lands than in others. It did likewise in ancient time.

The Romney terrace is not horizontal. It slopes from its highest part, near the cemetery, northward about one mile, reaching a much lower level. It seems to have originally been a series of terraces, one above the other, descending like steps in the direction of the flow of the river. But the erosion which has taken place, and the cross-cutting by ravines and gullies, have obliterated the dividing lines between the different planes, if such ever existed, and at present the whole terrace, from north to south, has a general and uniform slope, much cut by gullies and ravines, but still appearing from a distance as if it were one unbroken, oblique plane. The probable explanation of the obliqueness of the terrace — its slope toward the north — is that the higher portion, where Romney stands, is oldest. The river having cut out that part — a platform in the side of the mountain — sank to a lower level, leaving the platform dry, and cutting another a little further down stream and a little lower; thus continuing one after another until the whole series was done. Since then the South branch has continued to lower its bed, cutting deeper and deeper into the bedrock, until it is found today almost two hundred feet below where it flowed when it cut the highest part of the Romney terrace.

An examination of the bowlders which cover the terrace shows that the were, in most cases, brought from a great, distance. They were all carried to their present resting place by the South branch; and a comparison with the formations up the river warrants the conclusion that many of the bowlders came from the present limits of Pendleton county. The swift current of the river transported them, rolling them along the bottom until they found lodgment where they are today.

How long ago? The question cannot be answered. The time has been sufficient for the river to cut down through bedrock from the level of the cemetery to the present riverbed, and to widen the valley from hill to hill. The stream is probably still cutting deeper, and is certainly widening the valley. The evidence of this is open to every one who will inspect the almost perpendicular bluff north of the cemetery, where the river is undermining the terrace, and where the cliff of shale is constantly crumbling down. The stream is eating* its way across the terrace. It is cutting away the base, and the top falls down. By that process the valley is being widened. If the South branch continues to encroach upon the crumbling cliff, the time will come when the whole terrace on which Romney stands will be undermined and washed away. The work is rapid. The shale which forms the bluff is soft, and oilers comparatively little resistance. That is, it perhaps is carried away twenty times as rapidly as would be possible with the sandstone and chert-lentel of the Hanging Rocks, four miles below. As the cliff crumbles down, now and then a bowlder is loosened from the gravelly subsoil on the brow of the precipice and falls to the bed of the river, nearly two hundred feet below. One cycle of that bowlder's history closes, It was originally torn from its native ledge, perhaps in Pendleton. It was then an angular rock. In the course of a few centuries it was rolled by the river, had its corners rounded, and found lodgment in the old channel of Romney terrace. There it was covered with soil; forests grew above it; ages passed; the river cut a deeper channel, undermined it, and it fell, to be rolled again, onward toward the Atlantic.

There are many fragments of river terraces along the South branch in more or less advanced stages of ruin. Some have almost disappeared; others are being undermined and will ultimately be washed away. Without doubt many that formerly existed have been entirely destroyed by the ever-encroaching and never-resting river. It is a work of stupendous destruction. Miles of level uplands have been carried away. It has not been done by violent convulsions of nature, but quietly, ceaselessly, resistlessly, just as the present Romney terrace is being destroyed and obliterated by the river, which seems eternal when compared with the crumbling rocks and mountains which it has carried away.

To the east of the road leading from the bridge to Romney lies a smaller river terrace, about one-half as high as the cemetery. This is more clearly defined and is more nearly level than the larger one. It is not so old as the upper terrace, having been formed at a later period in the river's history.

The Levels. — In the northeastern part of Hampshire county is a region of fifteen or more square miles known as the Levels. It is a plateau, bounded on the north by the Potomac, on the east by Little Capon, on the west by the South branch, and on the south by the gradually rising ridges which skirt Jersey mountain. The average elevation of the Levels is about one thousand feet above the sea, a little more in places, and in others a little less. Viewed from the standpoint of geology and geography, the district appears to be an old base-level of erosion. That is, it was once worn down until it was little higher than the beds of the three rivers which then, as now, washed its three sides. It was then the bottom lands, with some slight irregularities, lying in the quadrilateral formed by the three rivers and the higher region of Jersey mountain. Long-continued rest at one altitude and never-ceasing erosion had worn down all the irregularities and made the district level. Without doubt the chief cause for the uniform surface over the area was the soft rock formation which underlies it. The rock is red shale, and it has comparatively little power to resist the action of the elements, rain, frost and wind; and consequently all wore down at a uniform rate and reached the same plane; while the harder rocks of the mountains beyond its borders resisted more successfully the wear and tear, and remained at greater altitudes, with more irregular outlines.

After the Levels had worn down nearly or quite to the plane of the rivers, there was an elevation of the land. The whole region rose together and became much higher than it was. The beds of the rivers of course rose with the land. But they continued to cut deeper, and have now reached a depth nearly or quite five hundred feet below the plateau. The bluff from the border of this upland plain, down to the present channels of the three rivers is, in many places, very steep, and in a few places quite precipitous. Since the elevation took place, the erosive forces have been busy with the plateau. It has been cut with ravines all round the borders where the rainfall on the plateau flows over the brink of the bordering bluff to reach the rivers below. These ravines are deeper and steeper where they descend the bluff; gradually becoming shallower and wider as they are followed toward their sources near the center of the upland plain. The result is, the Levels have the general appearance of a rolling prairie, the water courses being wide, shallow troughs, and the intervening ridges low, with graceful outlines and regular curves. One may here observe the first stages in the process by which plateaus are gradually cut to pieces and destroyed by flowing water. The work has but lately begun, when compared with the much more ancient results of erosion in the county. Future ages will see the Levels very different from what they are now. The ravines which have already cut deep into the bordering bluffs, will, as the ages glide away, cut deeper and work their way further back toward the center of the plateau, until the whole region will become a network of deep canons and steep hills, and ultimately, but very gradually, the face of the country will change and will wear away, becoming a hilly district instead of a nearly level upland.

The result will be brought about by the irresistible but inconceivably slow process which, in the unmeasured past, have chiseled continents, worn away mountains, widened valleys, and changed again and again the face of the whole world. No man knows how long will be the time required to cut away that five-hundred foot plateau and bring it down to the level of the present bed of the Potomac. The best geologist will not risk an estimate in years. But that the ages to come will be sufficiently long to accomplish that result admits of no doubt. The past eras have been long enough to accomplish greater results in the same places for the unerring and indubitable records of geology, written in the rocks, soils and sands about us, show that from the top of that same plateau, the Levels, there have already been stripped no less than seven thousand feet of rock, which once were piled stratum on stratum, and if now replaced would reach to the clouds. That stupendous work of destruction has been accomplished since the close of the Carboniferous age, one of the recent eras of geology.

Why Hampshire Has No Coal. — All theories and the deductions from all experience teach that Hampshire county has no coal in commercial quantities. For a century, from time to time, explorations have been made, and in some instances money has been spent in digging, and always with the result that prospects fail to materialize. To the observer who is guided solely by local appearances, there are places which promise to yield coal; but a knowledge of the conditions under which coal is always found, and outside of which conditions it is never found, makes it plain that this valuable product of the earth is not to be expected in Hampshire county. A brief explanation of what these conditions are will be given, after stating that coal is to be looked for only in rocks of the Carboniferous age. It is not found in paying quantities in older formations; and good coal is seldom or never found in newer formations.

Geologists segregate the rocks on the earth into great groups, called ages, the rocks of each age having something in common — usually fossils — to distinguish them. The oldest rocks lie deepest, the next oldest on top of them, thus ascending, layer on layer, until the highest and newest are reached. The clastic rocks — those in layers and which can be taken to pieces without breaking them — begin with the Algonkian age, the oldest. On these lie the rocks of the Cambrian age, next to the oldest. Third comes the Silurian age; then the Devonian age; and next is the Carboniferous age. There are later ages, but none of them ever had any representative rocks in this part of West Virginia, and it is not necessary to consider them, the oldest two ages — the Algonkian and Cambrian — are buried so deeply in this part of West Virginia that they have never been seen. Therefore, the only ages now represented in Hampshire are the Silurian and the Devonian. The Carboniferous rocks once were represented here. The rocks of each of these ages have a great thickness. It cannot be stated exactly how thick they are in Hampshire. They vary in thickness in different parts of the country. But partial measurements and estimates based on measurements elsewhere, indicate that the rocks of the Silurian age are thirty-five hundred feet thick, underlying Hampshire. More complete measurements show that the rocks of the Devonian age, resting upon the Silurian, are no less than sixty-six hundred feet thick.

If this is not plain already, it may be further explained that the rocks were formed on the sea bottom, layer upon layer, spread out flat. When these layers were piled up until their aggregate was thirty-five hundred feet thick, that completed the Silurian age. Then other rocks, layer on layer, were deposited on top of the Silurian rocks, and these newer strata reached a thickness of sixty-six hundred feet. That closed the Devonian age. But in all the rocks thus far formed there was no coal. Then came the Carboniferous age. Layers of rocks, aggregating thousands of feet in thickness, were deposited on top of the Devonian. At intervals, and in certain localities, beds of coal were formed among the layers of the Carboniferous rocks. The material of which the coal was formed was always de' posited on top, and then was covered by a new stratum of rock. It is believed that the positions and the sequence of formation of the rocks are now sufficiently plain to render easily understood the reason why Hampshire has no coal. It is simply because there are no rocks of the Carboniferous age in the county. The formations all belong to the Silurian and Devonian ages, and they have no coal. They never had any and never will have any. In the first part of this book is a chapter dealing with West Virginia's geology, and the reader who cares to do so, may refer to that for additional facts and conclusions.

Did Hampshire ever have coal? There is no positive evidence that it ever had any, but the probability is that it once had as much coal as the counties lying west. The reason why it now has none is because the rocks of the Carboniferous age, which once rested upon the Devonian, and if now restored would extend across the county far above the tops of the present mountains, have all been stripped off and washed away. They once formed the surface of the ground here; but the vast number of years since then has been sufficient to wear away the last pebble of the once enormous strata. The veins of coal which probably were sandwiched in among the rocks, have all been ground to pieces, broken up and washed into the Atlantic ocean. The South branch, Capon, North river, and all the tributary streams were the agents by which this pulverized rock was carried away. These rivers have been at work for millions of years carrying back to the sea the sand and pebbles worn and broken from the mountains of Hampshire. They are at work now the same as then. They are the mills of the gods; they grind slowly, but they grind exceeding line.

The work of denudation which has been done, even in the small space of Hampshire county, appalls the imagination. It seems impossible. Yet our reason compels us to believe it. Climb to the summit of some lofty eminence, as the writer of this has done — that conspicuous dome six miles southeast of Romney, rising with grandeur twenty-four hundred feet, fertile and cultivated to the very top. From that lofty watch-tower, an a clear day, read the open book of geology and it will teach a useful lesson. The whole county lies below, and the eye can reach the rolling hills and sequestered valleys of four states. Far off toward the west stretch the Alleghanies, which seem eternal; farther away in the east the regular and unbroken summit of the Blue Ridge meets the sky which bends above the valley of Virginia. Toward the north the mountains of Maryland and Pennsylvania are crowded together in beautiful confusion. In the south, mountains are piled on mountains as far as the eye can reach. But it is not the study of distant objects which now claims attention, but of the landscape near at hand, all cut and scarred, furrowed and trenched, until the original form of the land can scarcely be restored, even in fancy. Yet there was a time when not one of those valleys had an existence* not one of those rocks, hills or cliffs had ever seen the light of day. Every object on which the eye now rests was buried thousands of feet beneath the vast beds of the Carboniferous rocks which then rested upon them. The only feature of that ancient land which would now seem familiar, if we could see it, were the rivers. They were flowing then. They were cutting channels and valleys in the Carboniferous formations. They were carrying the spoil to the sea. The sand was being worn from the surface of the ground, and age after age the surface of the country changed. The streams cut deeper; the valleys widened; the hills became rounded in form. The merciless hand of erosion was laid heavily upon the land. The larger rivers finally cut entirely through the Carboniferous rocks and reached the upper layers of the Devonian. Then all the streams cut through the Carboniferous formations and the intervening hills were worn down and washed out to sea as sand, and at length the last vestige of Carboniferous rock had been stripped off and was gone. Hampshire's coal went too. The Carboniferous rocks were worn further and further back toward the Alleghanies, until today the edges of those vast strata may be seen sticking out of the side of that range, reminding one of a remnant of ice adhering to the bank after that which once crossed the entire stream has been broken up and washed away.

The work of erosion and denudation is going on now as rapidly as ever. The Carboniferous formations are gone; the Devonian rocks are going. The vastness of the work of destruction may be viewed from the summit of the mountain. On every side, in every direction, lie valleys, ravines and gorges. Each of them is the trench cut by some stream. The South branch, which lies in full view from one end of the county to the other, has cut entirely through the sixty-six hundred feet of Devonian strata, and is now attacking the upper layer of the subjacent Silurian. Beyond Mill creek mountain the wide, irregular valleys of Mill creek and Patterson creek show the work of erosion there. The rounding hills and intervening vales between the Mill creek mountain and Knobby, ten miles further west, are witnesses to the work of destruction, the grinding down of all the sharp angles of the hills, the scooping out of the valleys, the havoc of frost and rain, of flood and wind, throughout the unnumbered centuries of the past. It is the same in every direction. Trout run, a mere brook, with its source near the Hardy county line, lies in full view from head to mouth. It flows as straight as an arrow from its source, northward several miles, between two mountains, one of which is the highest in Hampshire county, thirty-one hundred feet. Then it turns to the west and reaches the South branch. That small stream has scooped out a ravine more than one thousand feet deep, several miles long, and two miles wide across the top, from summit to summit of the mountains between which it flows. This ravine lies entirely in Devonian rocks; but before the brook began the work which is now visible, it first cut through and carried away the thousands of feet of Carboniferous rocks which lay above the Devonian. The same may be said of the other ravines and valleys to the east and south, and of Grassy Lick and Tearcoat in particular. Fully one-half, perhaps much more than one-half, of the Devonian rocks which once covered Hampshire has already been stripped off. The time will come when these rocks will all disappear, as has been the case with the Carboniferous rocks which once rested upon them. Then the forces of erosion will commence upon the Silurian formations, and when the Silurian has been stripped off, the same forces will attack the still lower Cambrian; then the underlying Algonkian; and finally, when that shall have shared the same fate, the attack will be made upon the lowest of all, the Archaean rocks, which have no bottom that has ever been reached, but are supposed to extend so deeply that their lower portions rest upon the fused or plastic interior of the earth.

The belief is common among some people, in Hampshire as elsewhere, that coal may be found "by going deep enough." This is a false doctrine. In some parts of the world coal is reached by deep shafts, but that is because the Carboniferous rocks lie beneath the surface. In Hampshire the Carboniferous rocks and their coal veins, if they still existed, would be found overhead, somewhere near the present clouds. It is, therefore, plain that the deeper into the earth one goes in Hampshire the further he is from coal. He is digging away from it rather than toward it.

The statement has been made, and no doubt truthfully, that coal has actually been found in Hampshire county. In the first part of this article it will be remembered that the writer always qualified his assertion that no coal exists in rocks older than the Carboniferous, by saying that it does not exist in "commercial quantities," or "paying quantities." Why this qualifying term was used will now i be explained. Small and worthless seams and streaks of coal are frequently found in rocks older than the Carboniferous; and it is not uncommon to find beds of what is called "carbonaceous shale," which occasionally will burn in an imperfect manner. But all efforts to develop such deposits and make them valuable, result in failure, because they are either too limited in extent or too poor in quality. Coal, as is well known, is formed of vegetation. Vast quantities were required to make thick and good veins. The climate and other conditions of the earth were not suited to luxuriant vegetation until the Carboniferous age. When that age came, coal was formed, usually in vast swamps near the sea level, where the accumulation of trees, leaves and plants of many kinds formed beds of great thickness. But before that time there had been comparatively little vegetation, and there could be only thin seams of coal. Carbonaceous shale was made of a mixture of mud and accumulated vegetation. If there was only a small amount of vegetable matter present, the shale is probably black in color, but with little other resemblance to coal. If vegetable matter was more abundant, the shale may now contain enough of it to burn imperfectly. But, in any case, these deposits are nearly or quite valueless. They excite but never satisfy the hopes of the prospector.

If a capping of Carboniferous rocks should be found on some mountain of Hampshire, there might be a vein of coal discovered in it. But it is unlikely that such a capping will be found, and if found it will be exceedingly small. It would be only a limited patch of such rock not yet entirely worn away; and the places to look for such are on the tops of the highest mountains. But the writer has made a tolerably thorough examination of the mountains of the county, and has been unable to discover one pebble that can be assigned to the Carboniferous age. The strata in places are much folded and broken, and the intelligent observer will examine the troughs of protected synclines as well as the tops of anticlines for remnants of coal-bearing rocks. But the probability is that the search will be forever in vain in the future as it has been in vain in the past.

Lest there be a misapprehension, it is proper to state that the presence of rocks of the Carboniferous age is by no means a proof of the presence of coal. There are places where these rocks lie undisturbed, and yet they may be bored through from top to bottom without encountering veins of coal worth working. Coal was not formed everywhere over the earth's surface during the Carboniferous age. Some portions were too deep under water; in others perhaps the conditions were not favorable to the growth of rank vegetation. In most cases the important beds of coal are believed to have been formed on low coastal plains, similar to the Dismal swamp in Virginia. Deep water and high and dry land were not favorable to the accumulation of vegetable remains in vast quantities.

Starting from the summit of the Alleghanies, west of Romney, and traveling eastward to the Chesapeake bay, it is found that the surface rocks become older the further east, with local and slight exceptions. Rocks of the Carboniferous age are never met with after leaving the Alleghanies. First, the Devonian is the prevailing formation. Further east, in the valley of Virginia, the principal rock is the Silurian. Further east the Cambrian, Algonkian and the Archaean are encountered. It is like going down, stairs, beginning with the highest and newest, the Carboniferous, on the Alleghanies, and stepping first down to the Devonian in Hampshire, then to the still older Silurian in the valley of Virginia, and descending to yet older and older formations until the Chesapeake bay is reached. The deduction from this fact is this: These enormous platforms, or formations, or ages, or by whatever term we designate them, are wearing back toward the Alleghanies. The Devonian once extended further east than at present. It overlapped the underlying Silurian further toward the east than now. Its eastern edge is wearing off, thus uncovering more and more of the older rocks beneath. The same may be said of the rocks of the Carboniferous age. They once extended further east, overlapping the subjacent Devonian strata. But they have been wearing away until the eastern edge has retreated and uncovered wide areas of Devonian rocks which they once covered. This much can be affirmed with certainty; but when we endeavor to be more specific, and to state just how far east the Devonian once overlapped the Silurian, and how far east the Carboniferous overlapped the Devonian, we are brought to a halt. It is not probable that Devonian rocks ever existed east of the Blue Ridge. It is believed that the region east of that mountain was land at the time the Devonian rocks were being formed in the bottom of the sea which then covered the Alleghanies. In fact, the sand and mud of which our rocks were formed were washed into the sea from land east of the Blue Ridge. What is said of the Devonian rocks is equally true of the Carboniferous. They once extended out across Hampshire toward the east; but what this eastern limit was cannot now be definitely determined.

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