Prefatory; Origin of County Name; Topography; Geology; Artesian Wells
History of Winneshiek
and Allamakee Counties Iowa,1882
"The lapsing years joined those beyond the
Each filled with loves, griefs, strifes and honest toil;
And thus, as shadows o'er the checkered plain,
Children their fathers followed to the grave,
The fruitage of their lives and deeds is ours."
A history of our county must necessarily consist largely of narratives of a personal or biographical character, as the history of a comparatively few individuals is the history of this entire region during the early days of which we are called upon to write. It is eminently fit and proper that the deeds of these pioneers should be placed on record in a convenient and permanent form for preservation, ere the hand of the relentless harvester has plucked the last of them from among us, and sealed their lips forever upon the facts they might relate regarding the early settlement and development of the county, which will be of increasing value and interest to their children, and children's children, as the years grow upon years. Already have so many of them gone to that borne whence no traveler returns, that anything like a complete record of the settlement and organization of the county is beyond the bounds of possibility. It seems hardly credible that no record of the organizing election of Allamakee County can be found either among the state or county archives; but it would appear that the organizing Sheriff had failed to make report of such election; and not even the scratch of a pen remains of the transactions of county business under the old Commissioner system. In some instances not the slightest record is to be found regarding township organizations. And now:
"Beneath those whispering pines, that oak
Where heaves the turf in many a moldering heap,
Each in his warm cell forever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep."
To collate the facts still accessible and record the history of the works by which they have left us so goodly a heritage as is our fair county to-day, would be a pleasing task were it not so fraught with difficulties and disappointments, because of the failing memories and consequent conflicting recollections of those still left who were witnesses of and participants in the events of the early days. But if this work is ever to be done the time is opportune.
In the preparation of these pages great care has been taken to verify dates and statements by such records as are obtainable, and to corroborate by cumulative testimony. Errors will doubtless be found, but we believe that in the main the history is accurate and reliable. No similar work has heretofore been attempted, and we therefore have nothing to build from as a basis. The writer is indebted to the valuable and interesting sketches prepared for the Makee township Early Settlers' Association in 1880, by G. M. Dean, and to the sketches by John Bryson, and others, for quotations here and there; and by diligently poring over old newspaper files he has discovered numerous items of interest bearing upon our early history, and establishing dates that could not otherwise be obtained. To those who have in any manner aided in his researches, he would express his thanks. If he has, in the time and space, to which he was limited, succeeded in putting together in permanent shape and convenient reference the more important facts relating to the county history, and in an acceptable manner, it is all he expected to accomplish.
There are two theories as to the origin of the name "Allamakee", each of which has it supporters. One of these theories is that it is the name of an Indian chief. The other is about as follows, as we find it stated in the proceedings of a meeting of the Early Settlers" Association of Lansing, published in the Mirror of Nov. 28, 1879:
"Dr. J. I. Taylor spoke of the subject of the selection of the name of the county, as he had it from John Haney, Jr., deceased. It was his recollection that David Umstead, in the Legislature from this unorganized portion of the state, gave the county its present title. An old friend of Umstead was Allen Magee, an Indian trader, who was familiarly known to the Winnebago tribes, and, in their guttural dialect, called Al-ma-gee. Calling to mind this fact, Mr. Umstead, caused the name "Allamakee" to be inserted in the organizing act, and it was thus legalized."
Which of these theories is correct we will not attempt to decide, although we incline to prefer the first. According to the official records "David Umstead" did not represent this section in the Legislature, which organized this county (the Second General Assembly). Samuel B. Olmstead was a member of the First General Assembly, which held two sessions: Nov. 30, 1846, to Feb. 25, 1847, and Jan. 3, 1848, to Jan. 25, 1848. During the first of these sessions an act was passed defining the boundaries of several counties, among them the then unorganized county of Allamakee, and it is probable its name was officially given at that time. David Umstead was a member of the Second Constitutional Convention, in 1846. We have been to some pains to investigate this subject, but find nothing fully authoritative. Co. S. C. Trowbridge, a resident of Iowa City, who came to Iowa in 1837 and surveyed and organized Johnson County, states positively that "the name Allamakee is an Indian name purely, all speculative theories to the contrary notwithstanding."
Allamakee County occupies the extreme northeastern corner of Iowa, with the Mississippi river on its eastern border, Minnesota on the north, and Winneshiek and Clayton counties on the west and south respectively. It is about twenty-nine miles in length from north to south; twenty miles from east to west at the northern line, and twenty-eight in extreme width through the center tier of townships, averaging about twenty-three; giving an area of 664 square miles. At the southern line of the County the Mississippi river is about 625 feet above the sea level. Along the river front the County is bordered its entire length with a bold outline of bluffs from 300 to 400 feet high, from the tops of which the surface gradually slopes upward until at Waukon, eighteen miles back, it reaches an altitude of 655 feet above the river at low water mark.
The Upper Iowa River and its tributaries water the northern portion of the county; Village Creek and Paint Creek take their rise near its center and flow eastward into the Mississippi. The former north and the latter south of east-while the Yellow River takes its course through the southern tier of townships. These streams have all cut their channel deeply into the rocks, especially the Upper Iowa, which flows through a narrow, winding valley, with bluffs on either side, which have an elevation near its mouth but little less than those along the Mississippi. In many places the fall of these streams is quite rapid, furnishing the very best of waterpowers. Along the course of the Iowa and lower part of Yellow Rivers, and a strip four to six miles wide on the river front, the surface of the country is of course, rough and badly broken, but much of this bluffy country is well wooded, as are also many of the valleys of the streams, as well as the uplands in some portions of the county. Back from the river the county represents a more attractive appearance to the agriculturist. The oak and hickory openings, the rich hazel-brush lands, the prairie with their deep, black loam, the warm and sometime sandy valleys, together with the rich alluvial deposits of the river bottoms, afford a diversity of soil well adapted for all his purposes.
The prairies occupy the central and western portions of the county, as well as parts of the extreme northern and southern tier of townships, and are unsurpassed for natural fertility and beauty. They are well watered with innumerable gushing springs of clear, cold and pure water, are dotted here and there with groves, and are just sufficiently rolling to afford excellent drainage, as also relief from the monotonous level of some prairie countries.
In the valley of the Mississippi where the channel does not approach the base of the bluffs, are some extremely fertile bottom lands, and a net work of sloughs, lakes and islands; some of the sloughs being of sufficient size to at times allow the passage of large steamers, as is the case with Harper's channel along the front of Taylor Township. At some points the main channel is three to four miles from the bluffs, and again it skirts their very base.
The principle tributaries of the Iowa are: on the north, Bear, Waterloo, and Clear Creeks; and on the south, Coon, Patterson, Mineral Silver, and French Creeks. Those of the Yellow River are: from the north, the north fork, and Bear Creek; from the south, Hickory and Suttle Creeks. No less than seven of these creeks-including Village and Paint-have their sources in springs near the highest part of the county, surrounding Waukon, and flow thence in all directions except to the southwest. Some of these springs bubble up through the earth at the foot of a hill-slope, frequently covering a surface many feet square and forming a good-sized brook at once; others have a less pretentious origin; while there are numerous instances in the County where the water issues in a torrent from near the base of the cavernous face of a limestone cliff from twenty to fifty feet high, on a side-hill.
It is to be regretted that no complete geological survey of this County has ever been made. Enough is now known, however, from the experience of practical observers, to show that, while our system of rocks in on the whole a simple one, as demonstrated by the early explorers, in its details it is far more complicated than they supposed, owing to interruption of the regular stratification; and as it is more studied and examined the more it exhibits surprising evidences of disturbance during its formation.
As classified by geologists all the rocks of our county come under the head of Lower Silurian, and many of them are rich in fossils of mollusks peculiar to that age. These rocks are oldest in order and lowest in the earth's superstructure, the Potsdam Sandstone that is exposed in the valley of the Upper Iowa river, lying next above the rocks of the Azoic Age-the foundation of all. Above the Potsdam Sandstone in the following order are the Lower Magnesian Limestone, the St. Peter's Sandstone, the Trenton and Galena Limestones. The dip, or inclination of all these strata in this region is to the south, so that theoretically in entering the county from that direction one finds the last mentioned rock occupying the surface, and in passing northward he crosses in succession the surfaces occupied by the Trenton, St. Peter's, and the Lower Magnesian, meanwhile passing downward or backward in the order of their formation. And this is nearly correct practically, also. Prof. C. A. White, in his report on the Geological Survey of Iowa (unfortunately never completed) published in 1870, says: "The Upper Iowa rises in the region occupied by Devonian rocks and flows across the outcrops respectively of the Niagara, Galena and Trenton Limestones, the St. Peter's Sandstone, the Lower Magnesian Limestone, and Potsdam Sandstone; into, and through all of which, except the last, it has successively cut its valley, and deepest valley in Iowa, reaching a depth in its lower part of more than four hundred feet from the highest ground in the vicinity. That portion of it which traverses Allamakee County had the Potsdam Sandstone composing the base of it valley sides, the Lower Magnesian Limestone forming the remainder of them. They are everywhere high and steep, the Limestone cliffs giving them a wild and rugged aspect. The farming lands of the higher surface, however, extend almost to the very verge of the valley. This stream has the greatest slope per mile of any in the State; consequently it furnishes immense water power. This river and its tributaries are the only trout streams in the State."
Potsdam Sandstone.----In his report on the Geology of Iowa, published in 1858, State Geologist James Hall says of this rock: "It attains its greatest exposure in Minnesota and Wisconsin, north of the limits of Iowa, and about the region of Lake Pepin. From this point the rock dips both to the northeast and southwest. The excavation of the Upper Iowa River has removed the Calciferous Sandstone (Lower Magnesian Limestone) so that in following up that river the Potsdam Sandstone forms its banks for more than twenty miles along its meandering course. Below the mouth of the Upper Iowa, this rock forms the bluffs along the Mississippi, extending for a greater or less distance up the ravines and valleys of the larger streams. The tops of the high bluffs near the river, however, soon become capped by the lower Magnesian, and the sandstone gradually declines from cliffs several hundred feet in height to the level of the river, beneath which it finally disappears at the foot of Pike's Hill, opposite the mouth of the Wisconsin River, and a short distance below McGregor's landing. It is usually a light drab color sometimes nearly white, and not infrequently stained brown by the oxide of iron which at some places appears in great abundance.
"Some slightly calcareous bands of this rock contain fragments of trilobites, and in numerous localities shells of Lingula are found. These fossiliferous bands appear in the vicinity of Lansing, where the bed containing trilobites lies some sixty feet above the river. In its general character this sandstone is a friable mass, usually crumbling on exposure to the frost and sun."
Lower Magnesian Limestone. ----Of this formation, Prof. Hall says: "The great dolomitic mass which overlies the Potsdam Sandstone in the Valley of the Mississippi is known throughout that region as the Lower Magnesian Limestone. This rock becomes a conspicuous member of the series where it forms the bluffs which overhang the Mississippi from Prairie du Chien far up the St. Croix. The undulations of the strata bring it to the surface in many valleys in Wisconsin where the Galena or Blue limestones occupy the elevated prairie (and this is also true on the west side of the river). Within the limits of Iowa the Lower Magnesian is most conspicuous along the Upper Iowa River, it also crops out in the valleys of Paint Creek and Yellow River, but the amount of surface covered by it is quite small."
"The rock is usually checkered with seams and joints on its exposed surfaces, and presents a very rude exterior. In some localities, however, it will produce a durable building material." "The materials of the rock appear to have been broken up while partially indurated; the interstices are often filled with sand, and fragments of friable sandstone are often found mingled with the broken rock itself. In some instances these fragments bear evidence of having been torn from masses of rock previously indurated. In many cases the breceiated character seem to be due in some degree to internal action among the materials of the rock itself." In some regions, "sudden depression occurs, where the succeeding rock comes in at a much lower level than it occupies on either side. The appearance is that of sudden small faults or downthrows, as if the rock over a certain area were abruptly depressed before the deposition of the succeeding one." The annexed section on Bear Creek, near New Galena, thirteen miles due west of the Mississippi, shows the character and relations of this rock to the over and underlying sandstones.
|Soft friable red sandstone||12 feet|
|White Crystalline dolomite, partly concealed, but showing itself at various points||168 feet|
|Beds of passage from dolomite to sandstone||30 feet|
|White sandstone, to level of Bear Creek||83 feet|
This shows "a thickness of one hundred and sixty-eight feet of the Lower Magnesian limestone, of which the lower one hundred and fourteen feet are concealed by a grassy slope. The upper fifty-four feet are exposed in a vertical cliff of hard white dolomite, irregularly stratified and somewhat concretionary in its structure. Of the upper----or St. Peters's----sandstone only twelve feet are here exhibited: it is a friable rock of red color." "The indications of the existence of organic life during the deposition of this limestone are few."
Sulphuret of lead has been found in the Lower Magnesian in such quantities that formerly many persons were led to suppose that this rock might one day become of as much importance as the Galena limestone has been. We quote Prof. Hall: "The most important deposits of lead in this rock which have been observed within the limits of Iowa, are situated in the valley of Mineral Creek, a stream flowing north, through a valley lined with precipitous bluffs, into the Upper Iowa river, and about three miles south of a small settlement called New Galena: the diggings are on the southwest quarter of section 13, township 99, range 6 west. In this vicinity the Upper sandstone is well exposed on the top of the bluff, and a shaft has been sunk in it. Along the face of the bluff, in which a thickness of one hundred and twenty to one hundred and fifty feet of the Lower Magnesian limestone is exposed, a number of drifts have been extended into the rock, a little below its junction with the sandstone, and considerable galena has been taken out. The ore appears to be associated with irregular strings, and bunches of calcareous spar, ramifying through the rock, but nowhere assuming a regular form like that of a vein, or appearing to occupy a well developed fissure. It is said that between fifty and one hundred thousand pounds of lead had been obtained from these diggings; but it seems hardly possible that the operation should have been, on the whole, a profitable one; and, we see little to encourage farther expenditures at this point."
The "mine" was abandoned about that time, of which we shall speak further in another place; and although during the quarter of a century since then there have been a number of persons faithful to this idea of finding lead in paying quantities in the county, none as yet has been developed. Small quantities have been found from time to time, in various portions of the county----in Paint Creek, Jefferson, Ludlow and Union Prairie townships, on Portland Prairie, and notably in the valley of Yellow River and a small tributary three or four miles from the Mississippi. In the last mentioned locality specimens have been found as lately as 1881, which assayed 89 per of lead, with 249.7 ounces of silver to the ton, and a trace of gold. Copper has also been observed in some of these specimens, as also in specimens from the New Galena region. Zinc deposits have long been known to exist in the vicinity of New Galena, and at this day there are parties prospecting with the purpose of developing its value and quantity.
We quote further: "The Yellow River cuts into the Lower Magnesian, but not through it. At Volney this rock is seen rising in cliffs from the bottom of the valley to the height of thirty or forty feet. On the south side of the river, above the Lower Magnesian, may be seen cropping out the Upper, or
St. Peter's Sandstone.----"This rock occurs as a friable or incoherent mass, having a thickness of from fifty to eighty and even one hundred feet, and sometimes having so little coherence as to be removed from the bank like ordinary sand or gravel. Although the grains of which it is composed are of white or lipid quartz, the mass is often and particularly near the base, much stained by oxide of iron, while the upper portions are frequently quite free of discoloration, This sandstone will furnish an excellent material for glass making, whenever that branch of industry shall be established in the Mississippi Valley."
This sandstone is found in many places in the county, and where accessible have proved very useful for building purposes as in the case of beds of it near Waukon. "It occurs in several outliers on the south side of the Upper Iowa River, some of them occupying considerable areas." On the banks of "the Mississippi the summits of the cliffs recede abruptly from the terrace formed by the Magnesian, owing to its less power of resisting denudation," but where the Trenton Limestone appears over the sandstone, the cliffs again assume their sharp outline above, though, "even then they present a recession above the Magnesian. Sloping abruptly from this, they are capped by the succeeding limestone, which rises in perpendicular or overhanging cliffs. In consequence of this character the bluffs have the aspect of a double terrace, the first being formed by the Magnesian, and the second, some eighty feet higher, by the Trenton limestone."
The Trenton Limestone, with its usual fossiliferous bluish-gray layers, occupies the elevated surface of the country through the center of this county, over a space of some ten or twelve miles in width. This rock is usually concealed by the superficial formations (drift, etc.), but crops out in the valleys, where it is quarried for lime and as a building stone, for both of which uses it is well adapted. The Trenton limestone proper is marked in some localities by numerous species of its characteristic fossils, while elsewhere they are extremely rare. This rock is mostly thin-bedded; through the drab-colored layers are firmer, thicker, and usually free from seams, furnishing building stone of moderate dimensions, and, rarely of the thickness of eighteen or twenty inches. The increase in thickness is chiefly at the base of the formation." The limestones at the base of the Trenton, appear, from their chemical composition, to be better qualified to make good hydraulic cements than any others found in the State of Iowa. The following analysis will give an idea of the composition of the Trenton limestone as it exists in the northeastern corner of Iowa. The specimen is from a quarry four miles south of Waukon:
"This is a very light drab-colored rock, not materially
changing its color or appearance by weathering. It breaks with a
smooth fracture into rectangular fragments. Its texture is finely
crystalline, and it is very compact and homogeneous with the
exception of minute specks of crystallized calcareous spar and
bitumen, which are sparsely scattered through it. It is in all
respects a good building stone, splitting out in good shape,
dressing easily and keeping its color well. This is not from one
of the very fossiliferous layers of the blue limestone; but it
contains a few fossils, and is colored by a trace of organic
|Insoluble (silicate of alumina)||4.07|
|Carbonate of iron||.62|
|Carbonate of lime||94.08|
|Carbonate of magnesia, alkalies, chlorine, sulphuric acid and loss||1.23|
"The specimen analyzed above represents in character and composition the lower portion of the Blue limestone, as developed throughout the northeastern corner of the State. It is quarried in numerous places, and affords the best material, both for building stone and for lime, being an almost pure carbonate of lime. It sometimes fades slightly on exposure by the gradual disappearance of the organic matter which it contains; and is not unfrequently colored of a light buff on the exterior by the oxidation of the iron which it contains in the form of carbonate of the protoxide."
"The passage from the Trenton into the Galena limestone above is not an abrupt one; on the contrary there are, in many localities, several alternations of calcareo-magnesian and purely calcareous layers between the two formations."
The Galena Limestone is found in this county, only in the southern portions, occupying the surface of the elevated country south of the Yellow River. North of that stream a few outliers of this rock are found on the highest points, above the Trenton, but as we proceed northward these disappear entirely, and give place to the Trenton which occupies by far the largest portion of the surface of the county, south of the Upper Iowa, and is the most valuable rock we have, economically considered, because of its properties for building purposes, for lime and other uses; although portions of the Galena and the Lower Magnesian are also well adapted for building purposes. The Galena is the rock in which are found the valuable lead deposits of this State in the vicinity of Dubuque; but it does not appear in this county in sufficient thickness to warrant expectations of any future developments of value in that respect.
Prof. Hall says: "The Galena limestone usually developed is a rather thick-bedded, light-grayish or light yellowish-gray dolomite, distinctly crystalline in its texture and usually rather course grained, although occasionally so finely granular as to be almost compact." It "closely resembles in lithological character, as well as in chemical composition, the Lower Magnesian from which it is separated by the Trenton. It is, however, more uniform in its texture, and does not exhibit the breceiated and concretionary structures."
It will be seen by those who are conversant with the geological system of this county, that while the survey by Prof. Hall twenty-five years age is substantially correct, he was not aware of the great irregularity in the various strata throughout the interior of the county which as since been developed in the shape of "faults", undulations, upheavals and other evidences of internal disturbances. In numerous instances "breaks have occurred in such manner as to show the entirely different formation of rock abutting upon each other, and side by side occupying large tracts of country on the same level, as in the case just northeast of Waukon, where a pure sand rock composed the entire surface, hills and valleys, on the east of an abrupt dividing line which separates it from a purely limestone formation.
In this place it is appropriate to allude to Hon. Samuel Murdock's discovery of a fossiliferous rock underlying the Potsdam Sandstone. We quote from an article written by him in 1875.
"From the neighborhood of Lansing there is a rapid southern dip in all the formations along the river, and this is so rapid that the whole thickness of one formation is entirely hid in the space of twenty miles, and this rate will correspond with the whole of them. Now if this dip was confined to any one of these formations alone we might conclude that it was originally formed at this angle, but when we see them all conform to the dame dip and preserve a uniform thickness, it forbids the idea of an original slant. From the neighborhood of Lansing there is also a corresponding northern dip in all the formations, leaving the conclusion upon us, that somewhere in the neighborhood of this city, a powerful subterranean force is constantly being exerted to heave up a large portion of Iowa and Wisconsin, I am therefore strongly disposed to look to the new rock which I have recently discovered, lying beneath the Potsdam sandstone, as the great lever that is doing the work."
"At the city of Lansing it rises to an altitude of more than two hundred feet above the level of the river, and can be traced to the water's edge, is largely composed of lime, and this substance in contact with both heat and water would furnish, perhaps, the largest expansive force of any other rock known upon the globe. Having recently traced this rock for several miles up the Little Iowa, and again into Wisconsin up and along the Kickapoo, and determined that it has both a northern and southern dip, I am therefore prepared to say that it forms a ridge in this neighborhood of only about ten miles across, when it is lost again from sight upon either side. How far this new rock can be traced east and west from Lansing I am not prepared to say, but I am inclined to believe that ten by thirty miles will cover the whole area of its exposure, when it fades out of sight beneath the Potsdam sandstone. This new rock is undoubtedly of vast thickness, and like some huge monster of the great deep, is pushing its way upward with giant strength, lifting and tilting everything above it, as if they were but feathers in its way. It contains within its folds the remains of a dead world that flourished in the dim long ago, and over these remains the future geologist may well ponder, and contemplate the vast cycle of time that has elapsed since they flourished in live and activity."
And again, from an article published in 1876:
"Several years ago while wandering over the beautiful bluffs that overlook the thriving city of Lansing, in Allamakee County, in company with James I. Gilbert, he called my attention to a peculiar ledge of rocks that forms the base of the hill in the immediate rear of the city. Since that time, I have found that it run under the Potsdam sandstone.
"With the exception of this fact, I supposed it to be devoid of geological interest, and it was not until a recent visit to Lansing that I discovered this rock to be rich in fossil remains. I discover both the vertebrate fish and the articulated worm in great numbers, and I have no doubt that upon a closer examination, both the Radiates and Mollusks can be found in equal numbers.
"Dr. Ranney, an intelligent scientist of Lansing, while disputing with me the facts that this rock underlies the Potsdam, but claims that it only exists in a basin, and is of a modern lake deposit, informs me that he found in this rock in a fossil state, a perfect catfish, resembling in every particular its fellows of our present rivers.
"The city of Lansing is built upon this rock, while it still rises above the town and forms a second bench about two hundred feet above the level of the river, while its lowest strata runs beneath the water.
"About two miles south of the city it is again seen beneath the Potsdam, but at a much lower level than its surface at the city, and here it is rapidly dipping to the south, while at the city it rapidly dips to the north, and in a few miles either way it descends out of sight.
"Some great internal force has served to raise it up north of the valley of the Lansing creek that did not operate south of that stream, and must have broken a fissure which afterwards became the valley of the stream.
"This rock is composed of lime, sand and shale in alternate deposits; the streaks of sand often very thin, and alternating through the entire mass."
The "Iron Mountain"----Prof. Hall failed to notice any evidences of iron ore other than "in some localities the rock is highly charged with oxide of iron of which the origin appears to be from the decomposition of iron pyrites." "Oxide of iron, or hematite, is occasionally present in small nodules" in the Potsdam sandstone, etc. But it has long been known to some residents of the county that fragments and boulders of iron ore were scattered over the surface of the ground along and on either side of Makee Ridge, two or three miles northeast of Waukon, and that in some places the road-bed seemed to be of solid iron. No particular notice had been taken of this, however, by outsiders, until within the past few years, through the efforts of Mr. Chas. Barnard, who has taken pains to furnish several experienced iron men with samples of this ore, who have in every instance given analysis showing it to be a good quality of red hematite, of a purity ranging from 50 to 70 per cent. Mr. Barnard has examined the deposit carefully for several years, and is satisfied that it is not merely a shell, but a rich mine of great depth, and that if the surface ore which has been exposed to the air yields 65 per cent of the pure metal, the interior deposits must be as rich as any now known. Nothing but actual trial can determine whether this apparently great, solid mass of iron ore is really what it appears. However, now that outside parties of capital are interested in the matter, it would seem, at this writing (July, 1882) that its value will soon be ascertained. The following extracts from an article by A. M. May, editor of the Waukon Standard, published in that paper of May 18, 1882, will give a tolerably clear idea of the situation of this bed of ore:
"We know it is against the geological arrangement of strata as usually seen in this part of Iowa, that such a bed should exist, and that it is not mentioned in any report; and that we have been laughed at in years gone by for suggesting that iron did exist here in any appreciable quantity; but we have believed it because we have seen it and know it is here. The only question in our mind was: It is rich enough to pay for working?
"The ore bed is situated about two miles northeast of town. The Lansing road crosses it near the old Sloan place. It extends east or beyond where the road turns nearly north towards the poor farm. Thence irregularly southwest to a little below the old C. J. White place, and then with a northwesterly curve to the place of beginning. The old Stoddard house is somewhere near the northern center of the bed.
"Not long since we made a through examination of it in company with Mr. C. Barnard, who came from an iron and coal country and has had years of experience in mining. We first struck the ore on the south side near the old White place, and followed up the ravine nearly to the top of the hill; crossed the ridge to another ravine; and made a general examination of fields, ravines and washes. The bed is bounded on the south and east by the St. Peter sandstone; on the west and north by the Trenton limestone. The bed extends much further down the hill going south than it does going north. The change from the iron bed proper to the other formations is abrupt. At the old White and Stoddard places, there are springs of soft water, while all other springs in this county, as far as we know, are hard water. In following up the ravines a person can walk almost the entire distance on ore. No other rock formation shows itself. The ravines wash out till the ore is struck and can wash no lower. The sides of the washes are lined with ore. It crops out on the summits of the hills in large boulders. From our examinations, we should say there was at least two hundred acres two hundred feet deep of the ore. There are now thousands of tons of it in sight. This is an estimate, and not by measurement. Of course it cannot be positively determined to what depth it does extend; sinking a shaft only can determine that. Our opinion is that it is an upheaval of considerable and perhaps great depth, and not merely a shell on the surface."
And the following from the Dubuque Trade Journal of about the same date relates to its availability:
"Here would seem to be a mine of wealth, a genuine bonanza awaiting the advent of capital, enterprise and skill, to establish an industry that would redound in fortunes to all concerned. The only drawback is the want of fuel in the immediate vicinity. But fortunately, from the deposit to the Mississippi river, which is not far off, there is a continuous down grade. The ore can therefore be easily taken to the water and then floated in barges to Dubuque to be smelted. If thought advisable, smelting furnaces might be established in the Turkey river district, where an abundance of the best wood is found; or, for that matter, anywhere along the bands of the river on either side for a distance of more than seventy-five miles. Furthermore, a railroad connection of not more than three miles would place the valuable freightage in the hands of the Waukon railroad. By water or rail the grade is downward, so that under any circumstances the transportation would be of the easiest kind."
From a personal examination of this iron bed, in company with Mr. Barnard, we found that recent heavy rains had washed out the ravines so as to expose the ore in better shape, giving more favorable indications than before. In several places strata of fine blue clay are found of considerable thickness, possibly in sufficient quantities to warrant the undertaking of the manufacture of white brick. In other places, at the base of the iron exposure, there was observed a heavy bed of what is pronounced by those familiar with its appearance to be a superior quality of potter's clay.
The main portion of this iron deposit lies on Section 17, extending to the south on to Section 20, and to the west on to Section 18, covering a total area of about 328 acres. On its southern border is nothing but sandstone; to the west it abuts abruptly upon a limestone filled with fossils; a limestone without fossils lies on its north; while on the east are found sandstone, limestone and a black granite, the latter being found nowhere else in this region with the exception of small boulders of glacial deposit in some localities. The springs of soft water which flow from near the center of this area, are strongly impregnated with iron, but no complete analysis has yet been made. Numerous beds of blue clay are also found here and there over this area; and the more the region is studied the more wonderful geological surprises does it present to the observer.
Since the above was written one of the numerous analysis, made
by a thoroughly competent man, has been published, as follows:
Sesquioxide of iron..................................................................................52.571
Sesquioxide of manganese....................................................................... 8.054
Sesquioxide of cobalt............................................................................... .230
Sulphuric acid.......................................................................................... .047
Phosphoric acid........................................................................................ 4.092
Water and organic matter......................................................................... 13.134
Silicious matter......................................................................................... 18.631
In regard to the extent of the ore, Mr. Barnard, after careful examination, has made out the following list of owners and number of acres owned by each:
Thomas Meroney, acres.....................................................................35
Mrs. S. S. Johnson.........................................................................25
Total number of acres exposed.............................................333
Fossil Marble----This term is applied to the fossiliferous layers of blue limestone found in such profusion in certain quarries in the central portion of the county. These layers of strata are composed almost entirely of a mass of organic forms, the fossil remains of the numerous pieces of mollusks so characteristic of that epoch, possessing such a degree of cohesion, however, that the rock which they compose is used extensively in building, and is susceptible of a high degree of polish, like marble. When so polished, the surface presents a most beautiful appearance, showing as it does the hundreds of curious forms of shells, corals, etc., in one solid mass of confusion, though each distinctly preserved as they were huddled together by the wasters of the ancient ocean in which they had their existence, and from which they were so wonderfully preserved for our study and admiration. So wrought, this rock is useful for all ornamental purposes; is inexpensive and much used for mantels, table tops, etc., in place of marble, and is aptly christened "fossil marble".
Artesian Wells-----The well near Harper's Ferry was bored in
186-, with the hope of finding petroleum. Of course the project
was a failure. Prof. White says: "It is quite remarkable
that the most careful tests failed to find any iron in it. This
water has been reported to be strongly impregnated with salt. The
analysis will show no warrant for such a statement. One liter of
the water contains .79 grains of solid matter, of which there are
Sulphuric acid.................................................................................... .082 grams
Hydrochloric acid.............................................................................. .193 grams
Calcium oxyd.................................................................................... .096 grams
Magnesium oxyd.............................................................................. .045 grams
The depth of this well has been variously stated, and it has been found impossible to get a perfectly satisfactory account of the strata passed through by the drill"
The first artesian well at the foot of Main Street, in Lansing, was drilled in April 1877, and began to flow at a depth of 366 feet. Granite was struck at 760 feet, and the work ceased, with a flow of 320 gallons per minute; but this well not having a sufficient "head" of water for practical purposes (33 ½ feet only), another was started, but abandoned at 440 feet, and a third one undertaken further up town, which was completed in July, the depth being 676 feet, and the flow greater than at the first well. The water is clear, cold, and soft, with no bad taste.
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