Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852 / by Randolph B. Marcy ; assisted by George B. McClellan. Page: 57 of 368
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During the middle of the day, when the earth and the adjacent strata
of air had become heated by the almost vertical rays of the sun, we
observed, as usual, upon the "Llano estacado," an incessant tremulous
motion in the lower strata of the atmosphere, accompanied by a most
singular and illusive mirage. This phenomenon, which so bitterly deluded
the French army in Egypt, and has been observed in many other
places, is here seen in perfection.
The very extraordinary refraction of the atmosphere upon these elevated
plateaus, causes objects in the distance to be distorted into the most
wild and fantastic forms, and often exaggerated to many times their true
size. A raven, for instance, would present the appearance of a man
walking erect; and an antelope often be mistaken for a horse or buffalo.
In passing along over this thirsty and extended plain in a warm day,
the eye of a stranger is suddenly gladdened by the appearance of a
beautiful lake, with green and shady groves directly upon the opposite
bank. His heart beats with joy at the prospect of speedily luxuriating
in the cool and delicious element before him, and he urges his horse
forward, thinking it very strange that he does not reach the oasis. At
one time he imagines that he has made a sensible diminution in the
distance, and goes on with renewed vigor and cheerfulness; then again
he fancies that the object recedes before him, and he becomes discouraged
and disheartened. And thus he rides for miles and miles, and still finds
himself no nearer the goal than when he first saw it-when, perhaps,
some sudden change in the atmosphere would dissipate the illusion, and
discloses to him the fact that he had been following a mirage.
June 21.-On leaving our camp of last night, we crossed the creek
and continued a south course for about five miles, when we rose upon
the crest of a very elevated ridge which divides the waters of the north
from those of the middle or Salt Fork, the valleys of both of which can
be seen from this position. Descending upon the south side of the ridge,
we encamped upon an affluent of the south fork, which runs rapidly
through a narrow valley in an easterly course. The water is abundant4
and free from salts.
The geological formation upon this side of the dividing ridge is differ.
ent from that upon the north side, being here a soft, coarse, friable, conglomerated
sandstone, enclosing a small drift of quartz, felspar, mica, and
aerpentine. The country in this vicinity is much broken and cut up
with deep gorges and abrupt ridges, which are mostly impassable for
wagons, and we have been obliged in consequence to travel a very circuitous
route to-day, keeping the dividing ridges as much as possible)
where we invariably find good ground for a road.
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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/m1/57/: accessed January 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .