Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852 / by Randolph B. Marcy ; assisted by George B. McClellan. Page: 58 of 368
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DISTRIBUTION OF RAIN.
June 22.-In our course this morning, we struck one of the principal
branches of the Salt Fork near its source, and followed it down upon
the left bank to its confluence with the main stream. Below the junotion
the stream was fifty yards wide, but only about one-fourth of its
bed covered with water. This branch of Red river, like the other, heads
in the border of the "Llano estacado," and directly at the source is an
elevated hill with abrupt vertical sides, terminating in a level summit;
below this, upon the south bank, are two round mounds that can be
seen for many miles.
We were much gratified in finding the water at the head of this
branch, as in the north fork, sweet and wholesome. This settles the
question that these branches of the river do not take their rise in salt
plains, as has heretofore been very generally supposed. On the contrary,
at their sources, which are in the eastern borders of the "Llano estacado,"
the water is as pure and wholesome as can be desired. And this charaoter
continues upon all the confluents until they enter the gypsum formation,
when they become impregnated with salts, that impart a new character
to the water, which continues to its junction with the Mississippi.
A solitary cotton-wood, with an occasional clump of willows, constitute
the sylva of this portion of the river. The soil in the valley is an
arenaceous red alluvium, and would be productive with the aid of artificial
The bluffs bordering the valley are, at this place, about one hundred
feet high, and composed of a deep red clay, overlaid with a stratum of
drift; and this surmounted with a capping of calcareous sandstone from
five to fifteen feet thick.
Upon the rocky bluffs bordering the river we found silicified wood in
great quantities, strewed about over a distance of two miles. The petrifaction
was most perfect, exhibiting all the fibres, knots, and bark, as
plainly as in the native state, and was quite similar to the cotton-wood.
This evening we have another rain coming from the northwest, which
will increase our chances for finding water in advance.
As it will be seen by a reference to the meteorological tables, our
barometer has, in almost every instance, been a certain index to the
weather from the commencement of the march. Sometimes, indeed, it
has exhibited a most extraordinary depression of the mercury for two or
three days previous to a storm; but in no instance has it failed to rain
before the instrument would resume its usual range.
During the last three summers which I have spent upon the plains,
as has been before observed, I have seen no rain of consequence from
about the middle of May to the middle of August. And after passing
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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/m1/58/: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .