Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852 / by Randolph B. Marcy ; assisted by George B. McClellan. Page: 39 of 368
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June 3.--We were in motion again at 3 o'clock this morning, our
course leading us directly towards a very prominent range of hills
situated upon the north bank of Red river, and immediately on the
crest of the third terrace or bench bordering the river valley. Their
peculiar formation, and very extraordinary regularity, give them the
appearance, in the distance, of gigantic fortifications, capped with battlements
of white marble. Upon examination they were found to consist
of a basis of green or blue clay, with two super-strata of beautiful
snow-wjhite gypsum, from five to fifteen feet in thickness, resting horizontally
upon a sub-stratum of red clay, with the edges wholly exposed,
and so perfectly symmetrical that one can with difficulty divest himself
of the idea that it must be the work of art, so much does it resemble
masonry. In many places there are perfect representations of the reentering
angles of a bastion front, with the glacis revetted with turf, and
sloping gently to the river. Several springs issue from the bluffs, and
(as I have always found it to be the case in the gypsum formation) the
water is very bitter and disagreeable to the taste.
I am inclined to believe that this same formation extends in a southwesterly
direction from the Canadian river to this place, as I passed
through a belt of country upon that stream somewhat similar to this,
and in a position to be a continuation of it. We crossed the river near
the lower extremity of the bluffs, at a point where we found it fifty
yards wide and sixteen inches deep, with a current of three miles per
hour, running over a bed of quicksand. We passed without difficulty
by keeping the animals in rapid motion while in the stream, and encamped
upon the high bluff on the south side. By following up the
course of a ravine in the side of the gypsum bluffs, where there were
detached pieces of copper ore, we discovered a vein of this metal which
proved to be the "green carbonate," but not of so rich a character as
that we had seen before. At this point we are nearly opposite the
western extremity of the chain of Witchita mountains.*
* Professor Shephard's analysis of a specimen of the sub-soil from the valley of
the river near our camp on the third June, gives the following result:
----. 79. 30
Peroxide of iron-.--
Carbonate of lime ---......---.-------------------.--------
Sulphate of lime, with strong traces of sulphate of soda and chloride of
Water ....--...--. ..........--...-----...---...--..... ..---
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Marcy, Randolph Barnes. Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852 / by Randolph B. Marcy ; assisted by George B. McClellan., book, 1854; Washington, DC. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6105/m1/39/: accessed November 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .